Thursday, January 20, 2011

By request: Contradictions (revisited)

Originally published on Blushing Hostess Entertains on November 3, 2009 and republished now by request, Contradictions. To the long-time reader who asked for it once again - my pleasure, I am humbled.

When I think of what we have been through, you and I: All those things we endured although we quietly appeared on this page and read about God knows what besides who we really were and what was really going on in our lives: Centerpieces, sterling. It is remarkable how much of ourselves remains uncovered on both sides of the monitor.

At times, those things I am compelled to cover because they are part of my niche, sometimes make me want to bounce off the walls with boredom. Because life is so much bigger than this and there is so much more to you and I.

Have you read Martha Stewart's work? She never diverges. Once in awhile she will give an interview and there is a sign that she is deeper and greater than the sum of all her irons, garden trowels, and cakes; none of that appears on the headers of Omnimedia. When she admits to being a cougar there is an outcry because she is assumed to be one-dimensional. But she is decidedly not.

There must be a misconception, generally, about women who keep well-appointed homes and are skilled domestically. Now, I will grant that I am young and consequently having the mantle of grand dame and task master hurled upon my shoulders is not appealing for the overtones of moth balls and wool crepe I sense in the accusation. Intentionally, I have walked a fine line here and the content is geared to keep my mind away from the campor because the "hostess" subject matter is inherently mined with the stuff, only it is pleasantly tagged as "tradition". I have lived at least long enough to know a lot of this skill is what a person has been taught or picked up and has little to do with gender or social strata. Furthermore, the fact that one knows how to polish glassware and get stains out of damask does not alone make her a dyed-in-the-wool church lady.

Between myself and the twenty-somethings reading though, there is a decided gap. If they are single, they can make the mistake of thinking they are a long way from where I stand today. A well appointed life has no boundaries: Genderless, ageless, timeless. Just because we were getting away with things in our college house does not mean we were less obligated. Ours at Providence had everything it should have, only it was slapped together; obviously more geared to affording to go out than to be at home among our stuff.

Nonetheless; good girls, from good homes, and had you come to dinner, you would have been well served. Even then. In a house where, mysteriously, every time my roommate went out at night, she came home missing a shoe (and we were grateful that was all). If you knew her, you would be nodding right now at her contradictions too. She, not unlike others in that house, is a cocktail of a girl: Polished, confident, sharp-tonged, fiercely bright, well put together, and privately, one of the edgiest people I know. All the good ones are.

The other day, when I talked you about tattoos, were there ever emails (and just a reminder to those souls: Hate is monetized, so keep it coming). Then I happened to be over at blog-friend LPC's page reading about her Doc Martens. And it occurred to me that there must be a misconception that we should write from a one-dimensional perspective and accept an if-then relationship with our subject matter: If I know about china patterns and centerpieces, then, I must be a starched grand-old girl? If I married a Naval officer of an old tradition, then I must be a girl who wears twinsets and pearls and never asks for too much for herself in this itinerant life of his?

Nothing and no one is a straight line but sometimes the shade from blog trees overhead might lead some to believe the writers here might be as easily explained-away as their general subject matter. The depth, layers, and scars of the person before us have always seemed so much more worthy of investigation than their dust jackets, for me.

Moreover, if you are going to read a blogger or a magablog for any period of time, chances are you need them to have had as many lives as a cat, ridden high and crashed and burned mightily, and known a few characters who made them, broke them, loved them, and hated them. Who could stand it if they just went on and on about china day in and day out without any color whatsoever?

The people in this world of mine are good and dangerous. They live amongst these missives. Willingly. Their choice is to be heralded and infamous on these pages by virtue of having decided not to miss out on this one life, and in turn, this one page. In a sense, now that we have you, all have agreed to the shadowy explanation that is Blushing. To put perfect clarity to the thing that is me, or her, or it, would cause us all to live in the blinding light of a less than perfect reality. You did not sign up for that, neither did we or they, in many ways. So we must agree: Parts of me, us, her, belong to you. The rest is in the air somewhere.

In parts, all here kind of know Blushing. But the truth is, "she" is a little something we tolerate when keeping it real might be too out of character for the readership's tolerence. But we are all coming about.

Here, let me explain for the fifteenth time that this is both hand painted and - excitingly! - dishwasher safe! I care about it, because I need to serve food, but I am not living and dying by it. No, no. I save that drama for grilled shrimp at Safe Harbor, which I would lay down my life to protect.

Before we go any further, then, it is best for all concerned to understand that this still-young life has been lived at a furious and sometimes wild pace. Unapologetically.

Contradictions within a person are what make the ride with them worth the time, and in the end, worth the fall. Martha Stewart is no less an authority on table setting because she sleeps with young guys, LPC is no less the high wasp for her Doc Martens, and I too am no less this hostess because I was inked when I was 22.

If I told you I was anything less than green with jealousy that our men's colleagues can own up to their experiences with vigor, acceptance (in most cases), and pride, I would be a bold faced liar (as I have told them ad nausea). At the same time, I like a woman's cloak of mystery, and when it comes to letting mine slip occasionally here so that we might know one another better, it is not my favorite sensation, admittedly.

I have not a clue where the balance is but I am also not losing sleep over placing it on this page accurately.

If you judged me for classically educated of a fine home, conservative, and reverent then you have me safely right on one count.

Welcome to The Blushing Hostess. Be advised, she is a real live girl.

Photos: Temporary quarters at Jacksonville, 2009.


JBM said...

We are on out our feet in Greenwich! Standing ovation over the orange juice glasses! Once they know her and all her fine points they will love her.

Cheering LOUDLY from back home. Lee

EAC said...

Hey now, nothing wrong with twinsets and pearls- but pearls and jeans are way better. A little tradition, a little "me". Keep sharing "you".

Bonjour Madame said...

Well said. I like the contradiction and interesting things about you.

Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita said...

very well said! you're a person, not a postcard - never apologize for having dimension. it is the sum of our experiences that make us who we are! I'm pretty new here - but I like what I see! best, Steph

Anonymous said...

Damn. Damn again. Well said. Be fearless. Ride high. Take no prisoners. This is the woman we want.

Like I said, you are on fire. Are you somwhere right now burning down a bedroom from the heat?

Write it. Write it all we can take it.

Karena said...

I think we all have our contradictions and I know I can be quite conservative at times, and at others a funky mess. Maybe being an artist is part of that! At any rate how boring would the world be without all of our interesting traits!

Shandell's said...

I am inked and so proud of it. The memories of why are always fresh in my mind. As for Doc Marten's, I just got myself a new pair, remembering that they saved my feet on cement floors years ago and they are doing the same now. I just love them.

Contradiction's is what makes you, you.

Thank you for sharing.

Mrs. Blandings said...

So great to see more of you here. A friend of mine stood incredulous as another friend of ours, a lovely, funny and accomplished woman, did something horribly cruel and petty. All I could say in response was, "People are complex. We're not sitcom characters."

I've told my husband a million times that if I were a little bit younger, five years even, I would probably have a tattoo. As unlikely as that may seem now.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

"A well appointed life has no boundaries." Absolutely well said! And the post today is worth reading over and again.

opheliabelle said...

Amen, sister. I only distrust those who don't reveal their own contradictions.

Ms. Bake-it said...

I applaud you! This was very well written. It is quite true that most of us are full of contradictions. Those are the very things which make us unique. Ironically, last night I had a conversation with a friend about this very subject. Sometimes people tend to see one another as one dimensional and when they perceive someone in a particular fashion it can be quite shocking to them to find out there is more to that person than they thought. Personally, I find it intriguing to discover the different facets of people I come in contact with.

~ Tracy

cdclaycomb said...

I recently found your blog and have thoroughly enjoyed making my way through the archives.

I too am inked and if you were to see me out and about, I would most likely be the woman in the twinset and pearls. My tattoo is for me, I share it only with my husband and a few close friends who know I have it, but have not seen it.

It symbolizes all that I am, not just the wife and mother who thinks a well-kept house is a gift to those I love and a pleasure to maintain.

Incidentally, I got my ink when I was 34 years old.

Keep writing BH, your words connect with me in a way few do.


LPC said...

"Moreover, if you are going to read a blogger or a magablog for any period of time, chances are you need them to have had as many lives as a cat, ridden high and crashed and burned mightily, and known a few characters who made them, broke them, loved them, and hated them." Yes. We all are who we are and if we are comfortable with that, can confess in the service of others. My very smart sisters calls it "The 'And' Model Of Identity." But we can call it Ink And Porcelain.

Anonymous said...

catherine - did you play kings of leon here a while ago? USE SOMEBODY. because I needed someone like you.

envy of women all over. And f'em if they don't like it. every thing about you is a stunning beauty. everything.

i am feeling like a champion after reading this.

thank you for bringing down the house.

JMW said...

Well said. Continue to offer us your lovely prose and insight. I enjoy it and I certainly am in no position to judge anyone. Why more people don't realize that is beyond me...

LindsB said...

Love this post, might be my favorite one :) I'm inked and proud too! Who says I cant be inked, wear a twinset with pearls and say the F-bomb when I want. I think most women are full of contradictions, well at least the great ones are.

Amy said...

I am not inked, but I have my indulgence. At the front of my closet, before the sensible but stylish wedges that allow me to chase my toddler, before the corduroy and wool blazers, before the classic cocktail dresses and formal gowns, there are my hot pink clear acrylic and lucite Rochas pumps. Oh, how I love them. Looking at me, and my house, one would never suspect what holds the place of honor in my wardrobe. I don't even need to wear them out. Just seeing them, every day, makes my heart smile. My private treasure.

little augury said...

Another post to read and read again-my third read. I agree. I am so impressed with your ink- all of it and the thank the kitchen gods and monsters for dishwasher safety.
What's next? GT

BRASWELL said...

Stand up and take a bow+(hear the clapping)BH..this is just as great as the first time! grand things are timeless.

Hollywood forever, Kevin said...

Hi Blushing Hostess, I just found your blog and started reading this post and could not stop. This is what I call a show stopper! If I could put my thoughts down in word form, the way you have done, I would be a happy camper. Well done!

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

Great read. Well said. But I think I always understood who The Blushing was... right from the start! Contradictions + all. ; )

Mrs. R said...

Thanks for posting this again!! I wear my pearls/argyle/ink with a smile! Do not put me in a box!

pve design said...

I have always admired turning over china just to admire it's moniker. I think people are the same. We are contradictions of our stamp. My Mother always told me that they broke the mold when they made me.

Tish Jett said...

Of course you were asked to re-print. You write so beautifully and your blog is a dream.

I must have told you that before today?