While most people were out enjoying the extended holiday weekend at the beach, on the poolside patio, on the veranda sparkling and twinkling with a dainty glass of Prosecco, I spent the better part of the Fourth of July weekend inside, at my desk, in front of my laptop, crying.
I have no idea why. I checked the calendar, and it was neither a full moon, nor any other “time of the month” that may cause spontaneous hissy fits of hysterical crying (and we’re not just talking about the menses – sometimes, Fridays make me cry, but I will get to that another day).
Technically, I know why I was upset in the first place. Accusations, lies, unrealistic demands, disappointment – they set me off, naturally, but I don’t know why it upset me so much that I was crying about it. On any other normal day, I would have let it all sink in, I would have stewed about it in silent anger, perhaps ranted with four-letter words about it in my diary, then diluted it with a Ketel/rocks. Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still partially bottled up inside me and won’t resurface again in a few months, but at that moment, it would be diffused. And de-fused.
But today, I was affected. Immediately. It didn’t just sink in. It took a running leap, cannon-balled into an enormous sea of emotions and retaliated by sending a spray of white hot tears that burned like battery acid onto my cheeks and onto my keyboard. It was hideous.
It had something to do with censorship. Blogging censorship. I didn’t even know that such a concept existed.
I was crying because I had been censored.
A few weeks ago, I published a post about a wedding. If you follow along with me in this Delicious Life, you know what a drunken, debaucherous Disney electric-lights-out-parade of a wedding it was. The wedding itself was beautiful and I did nothing but sincerely gush like a twittering cashmere twin-setted lady about how stunning the bride was in her dress, how GQ the groom was, how absolutely blissfully gorgeous the whole thing was.
But I had also written the back-story – the story about how I was invited and my speculation as to why I was invited. I spewed my immediate feelings into a post. There was no underhanded, vindictive intention of making the couple feel or look bad. I was simply expressing how I felt. I was hurt. I can’t, and shan’t, go into any more details about the post itself because in the end, I had to un-publish it.
I was censored.
Deleted. Bleeped out. Digitized and pixelated to protect identities of the innocent. Slapped with a warning label that ensured that no one would ever be offended, horrified, shocked, provoked, or unneccesarily exposed to smut.
Someone whom I shall refer to as “Mary” read my post, was offended, and asked me to “think about it.”
Mary said two things to me. First, she thought that what I wrote in the post would really hurt the feelings of the wedding couple about whom I wrote. If they were to ever read the post (which I doubt they ever would because who the heck reads this blog, let alone anyone I know), they would be shocked to find out how I really felt about the situation. Not about their matrimonial bliss, not about the event itself, but about the mechanics of the invitation.
Then Mary said that she thought that I was portraying myself in a very bad light, and that she didn’t want people to think that I was that horrible. Admitting that I had felt slighted in the first place made me seem small-minded and petty – that I should have been more understanding of the couple – and it was even more horrible to have acted so vindictively at the wedding. The worst of it though, she said, wasn’t what I actually did at the wedding, but the fact that I explained, in full expository detail, my stupid, childish, wholly immature and unrestrained behavior that makes me sound like the Asian version of Britney Spears, Yellow Trash. Yes, she was somewhat shocked that I (mis)behaved in that way, but utterly disappointed that I had publicized it.
I told Mary, though, that I couldn’t help the way that I felt, which later, she understood, but still didn’t agree with. I also explained that my behavior at the wedding was not premeditated. I had absolutely no vengeful intentions, and that I simply acted like a wild, Champagne-fueled baboon, only humiliating myself in the end. Apart from the 2-3 guests who were in my immediate vicinity, my actions went unnoticed by the 300 other guests, and in fact, Mary didn’t even know about it until she read my blog.
But, it was the fact that I blogged about it. To the whole world. For everyone to see. I should keep those things to myself.
Then Mary said she hoped that I don’t write about our other friends in that way in the future.
After our conversation ended, I sucked in a stunned breath and re-read the original post.
At first I was upset because I was upset. Does that make sense? Of course it doesn’t because emotions never make sense. Upset can mean a lot of things, and at that moment, upset meant every non-positive emotion from angry to sad to annoyed to frustrated.
I was angry that she thought I was wrong to even feel hurt in the first place. At least, as hurt as I made it sound in the post. I was hurt, dammit; that was how I felt. I cannot control how I feel. I was sad that she had been disappointed. Making fun of myself was unacceptable. Worst of all, I was annoyed and frustrated. By the time I realized that I had to censor myself, I was in tears.
So what do you do when you’re censored so hard that you’re affected to tears?
Well, hell. You angrily slurp down tofu pho because Pho 99 is the only thing that is open on an American
holiday while your internal monologue is steaming. “Why do I bother?” You stab your chopsticks into the tangle of noodles in the bowl for emphasis. “Why do I even bother blogging!?!” twisting it to make it hurt. “Why do I even bother blogging when every single *bleep*ing thing I *bleep*ing blog will be scrutinized, censored and diluted down to *bleep*ing back issues of Highlights magazine?!?!?” Broth goes flying as you wave for your chopsticks in the air – award-winning melodrama for an audience that doesn’t exist.
When all that’s left is wilted cilantro and your injured soul in the bottom of your bowl, you write your final “Good-bye, cruel blogging world!” post, which you never publish because you can’t. You just “Save as Draft,” because you’d never really quit blogging, but you also save everything you write, including a book report on Call of the Wild that you wrote in the 4th grade.
The conversation with Mary isn’t the first time this issue has come up. It was, however, the first time that it affected me in such a powerful manner. It’s not quite censorship, but rather “What is acceptable here?” I have received comments, emails, IMs from readers who ask questions along the same vein. Do I really have to be so brutal and bitchy in a review? Do I really have to write so much about non-food things on this food blog? Do I really have to swear like a sailor, and use such erotic themes, innuendos and sometimes blatantly sexual statements that turn this blog into a whore-iffic exhibition of girl gone wild in the kitchen?!?!
My answer has always been…of course not. I don’t “really have to” anything. But I want to. It’s a blog for *bleep*s sake.
Television. Movies. Music. Even all manner of advertisments fall under the heavy axe of censorship for content, graphics, expletives and possibly potentially perhaps maybe implying something racy or race-y. They have responsibilities to a general public. They are big. They are business. They have legal-ness. Every so often, they need to be censored.
But this is a blog. Outside the big corporate blogs, even outside the personal blogs that have a wide audience, blogs are small. They are personal. They are opinions, and emotions, and feelings and fears that we’d never formalize in public but we put out there in public anyway. Blogs can’t be censored. What the *bleep* is the point of blogging if I am supposed to censor what I write? I am not writing a book. It’s not an article. I am not a professional. I am an amateur, a real person with real feelings and this is where I express them. On this blog. A food blog. Food. Where the most controversial thing is fois gras, and I don't even like fois gras.
So perhaps I am allowed to feel this way, but maybe I shouldn’t have expressed it. Publicly. *sob*
And now comes my inner therapist.
I think 30+ years of not expressing how I really feel, not stating my opinion for fear that it may be wrong, or *gasp!* worse yet, that it might be right, is what has brought me to boiling point. No, it’s not “I think....” I know. For 30+ years, I have kept my mouth shut, and that is a problem. I have been proper. I have been prim. I have been so highly, perfectly programmed into never talking about the big four Taboo for Talk: politics, religion, race, and sex. You can mention the weather, but you shouldn’t have an opinion about it. And for Heaven’s sake, don’t curse.
I have spoken only when spoken to, and I had to think before I spoke when spoken to, and in the end, there were so many rules and regulations, I just never spoke. I smiled through gritted teeth. I nodded silently. I never once confronted anyone about how hurt or sad or upset or frustrated or depressed or angry or scared I was about anything. Ever. The President? *smile* Political issues? *smile* Peace in the Middle East? *smile* Personal emotions? Why, I don’t have any, and even if I did, they’d be as happy as pretty pink posies in the sunshine. *smile*
It’s part of my personality, sure. Shy and introverted. It’s part of being a first born child, always expceted to be the “mature, reserved” one. It’s part of my culture where I have no opinion; where if some silliness *oops!* accidentally slips out of my mouth and you don’t like it, I immediately retract it, take a step back and punish myself; where I never use words with four letters because my mouth should only be big enough to squeeze out three at the most – “y-e-s” and “n-o”; where I pour your tea and quietly giggle. Like a geisha.
Or like Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty looks exactly like a geisha with her enormous white face, but unlike a geisha whose teeny tiny mouth is painted on in blood red, Hello Kitty does not have a mouth. She does not speak. She smiles with her eyes and purrs. On the inside.
I have always been Hello Kitty.
But I can’t do it anymore. I can't. No.
Hello Kitty has now grown a fucking mouth and she is going to use it.
Too bad there is noth
ing inherently controversial about the Sunday morning Farmers' Market in Brentwood.