People who read blogs — me included — tend to have so many on their lists that no one really misses one that goes dark for a week or four.
I still get e-mails that start out something like "I read your blog every day…" although it’s been weeks since I wrote that often. (Of course, usually these messages continue with something along the lines of "And here’s a product that might interest your readers…" so it’s just possible that they’re not actual fans.)
Anyway, the reason I’m not writing much is simple: I’m not very happy right now.
And bloggers have to be happy, shiny, and funny, right?
The "things that stress me out" list is large. We’ve moved to a rented house while our too-expensive renovation is underway. And we may be homeless in a month. Fern has discovered the joy of opposition. And I’m finding that my vast elementary teaching experience is not helping even a little as I embark on working with preschoolers. Even the weather is crazy-making — 90-degree Indian summer to thunderstorms to fog in the space of three days.
So the crap level is high, but back in the old days (two years ago, when I started blogging), I would just write through it and feel better. Hell, no one I knew actually read this thing, anyway, so I could go for broke. But I’ve grown up, and now my wife reads the blog (sometimes), and my family too (hi, mom!), and lots more people whom I can actually touch in the real world.
Naturally, several of these people are likely to offer advice.
Ah, advice. I love advice and I hate advice. It’s well meaning, so I have to accept it graciously, and, even worse, it’s sometimes actually helpful. That infuriates me.
* * *
I have this one friend whose role is to call me out on my shit.
Every time I complain about something, or post a Facebook status about how lonely and persecuted I feel, this friend says something along the lines of "Shut up and stop complaining. Your life is leaps and bounds better than most people’s." Which is true, of course. Not a day goes by without one fantastically beautiful moment like this one:
Just last week, I took Fern and a new friend on a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, and their 30-minute nonstop giggle-laden conversation in their adjoining car seats will forever warm the memory stick in my head.
So things are good. And my friend is right, maybe I should look at all my problems and — to quote — "Get. Over. It. Already."
Still, it doesn’t quite ring true to say "Be done with suffering." Challenges are challenges, and pretending they don’t exist just because someone else has it worse is infantile.
So instead I do some projection. This is going to sound insane, but my coping mechanism is to imagine that I am my favorite superhero: Iron Chef Morimoto. I’m chopping and sautéing and broiling, somehow assembling a brilliant meal from gummi bears and goldfish crackers. And the Food Network of my mind surpasses the real show: it includes competitive events like “Clean Up the Bathroom Again” and “Stay Up All Night With a Coughing Child” and, hardest of all, “Don’t Get Snippy With Your Spouse.”
But I need more than my imagination to keep cheerful: I need to write about it. It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness, right? And for me, part of lighting candles has always been to write about things that are hard.
So here goes: I’m back to blogging, even though some of the subject matter isn’t going to be so pleasant. This, despite the paired risks of a) losing all (i.e., both of) my readers to the curse of “this blog is no fun anymore” and b) a shower of well-meaning advice, because for me one of the hardest parts about hard times is not being able to share them out.