Tea and Navel Gazing

On an ordinary sort of day Mrs S drinks four or five cups of tea. The first is always Extra Strong. This is a pragmatic decision: she doesn’t always get to finished this first cup before leaving the house, and she rarely gets breakfast, so maximising the caffeine concentration and brewing a cuppa with enough substance to stand a spoon in, are the best ways to resuscitate and sustain her brain, which tends to stutter and flicker until at least 8:30, or noon, or whenever. The next two or three cups are ordinary, pleasant, refreshing, and so forth. Their primary function is to facilitate the transition between tasks. They are consumed upon returning home and before beginning household chores, after lunch and before writing, after writing and before beginning dinner, or as needed for warmth, or in lieu of productivity. In truth, any, or every, one of these cuppas Mrs S could easily forgo. The only one she actually yearns for is the cup she makes after she tucks the children into bed. This cup she thinks about all day. This is the cup she wants to have even as she brews her first cup. This cup of tea is the summit of the day towards which she climbs on shaking knees from dawn to dusk. This cup of tea means comfort and respite. It means her tongue, actually sore from being metaphorically bitten so hard on so many occassions, can rest (or, indeed, be frivolously unleashed — poor Mr S!). It means she can stop pretending to have patience, for tomorrow is time enough to once again grope towards virtue. It means the cessation of babble and chatter — for all the S children are ‘talkers’ — and the chance to do some task of her own choosing uninterrupted, or just think about what she wants to think about without worrying that she will, in the process, burn dinner. No other cup of tea is like this cup of tea. It’s not always even that good, for it often gets stewed while the dishwasher gets loaded. But whatever its shortcomings, it will always be that  cup of tea: soothing in body and spirit. Comfort requires the same particularity as suffering, a here and now: it cannot happen in a diffuse or generalised way. It needs this song, this person, this book, or, more often than not, this cup of tea.

*          *          *

All of this rather exaggerated soul searching, with the trite non-revelations it occasions, is annoying to Mrs S, who, afterall, left highschool years ago. (And discovering such depths of worldly attachment in one soul is distressing, for it usually signals a very rough Lent on the horizon.)  But it has brought about consideration of her other conceits and attachments. This blog, for example. She has been neglecting it shamefully. The whole point of the thing was to acquire some form of discipline in narrative composition. It’s been more than a month now since she mused about the improbability of becoming either rich or holy. Of course, she’s been busy. She spent a few weeks in the US visiting the Matriarch. She’s been trying to bring some order to a household with three young children. To her credit, she has actually been working assiduously on the novel. There is no end to the excuses, both good and suspect. 

Mrs S does not lack things to say. She has no shortage of ideas for the blog. A few of them might even be worthwhile. Finding the time and the discipline is the difficulty. But beyond that, the constraints of form Mrs S has placed on this blog are wearing on her. Writing always in a narrative form, in the third person, makes it hard to write about some topics, or make the resulting essay feel contrived or overwrought (most of these are never published). Basically, if the only narrative link is “Mrs S was thinking about X, and you should too” or “Mrs S read Y, and it made her irrate in a manner you may find insightful and amusing,” this is never going to be a good post. Or, rather, the daydreaminess that would be required to make these sorts of things into good posts is too time consuming to fit around the house, children and novel. It seemed like such a good idea when she was starting out. In her mind it was this blog that made her a writer, rather than a failed philosopher. (You may laugh at the conceit: it’s not as though she was fighting an international reputation.) 

Devoted readers of Adventures, Considered — Heavens, there may be a dozen of you by now! — needn’t worry that the blog will be shut down. But Mrs S needs to consider the format. While in the US, she paid a visit to a convent of cloistered nuns, Sisters of the Visitation. Chatting with her old friends about the blog, she commented that she didn’t quite know if it was a parenting blog, a Catholic blog, a writing blog… Mr S suggested it was a Catholic-themed parenting blog. Mrs S, having asked for her work to be defined, immediately took umberage at any attempt to do so. The nuns who read the blog commented on the First Blessings entry. Mr S has long prefered It All Adds Up. Mrs S most enjoyed writing about Jane Austen and the Brontes. The most popular posts, by a long chalk, were on the Refugees and taking children to church. There truly is no clear genre to the blog.

This means that Mrs S finds her blog in the annoyingly self-regarding category of ‘Personal Blog.’ Ah well. Having pulled her head out off her own posterior just far enough to realise that no one has thought of her as a philosopher in years, and that, for a writer, having a strong voice and having a schtick are distinct and oppositional categories, Mrs S shall reconsider format and the like. She will not promise never to tell a story about her family in the third person again, but she shall cease to try to shoehorn all her subject matter into this form.

Thus endeth the semi-obligatory, over-earnest public soul-searching ahead of the reimagining of a blog.

I really need a cup of tea.

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