By Caitlin Kelly
So this little box arrived on my doorstep, with a return address in Los Angeles and $11.25 (!) in postage.
It rattled deliciously.
Improbably and very generously, Niva, who writes the terrific blog, Riding Bitch, had sent me some of her home-made granola — yes, really — all the way from L.A. to N.Y., a six-hour plane ride. She’d mentioned on her blog that she’d made too much.
I, of course, said: “Send me some?”
And she did.
Too funny. How completely bizarre, and lovely, that blogging made two women connect enough to send cereal winging its way across the vast fruited plains of the big ole United States.
This is the fourth present I’ve been sent by blogging pals, each of which was deeply touching and completely unexpected.
Elizabeth Harper, a fellow ex-pat, an American now living in Cornwall, who writes Gifts of the Journey, saw this bar towel and sent it to me across the Atlantic.
Danielle, a young American lawyer who writes I Heart the Brazil, from Auckland, sent me (!) a gift card to my favorite New York City indie bookstore, Posman’s. Which I promptly spent, and am still loving the books I bought with it.
And C., who writes Small Dog Syndrome, (and who’s been working as my [stellar!] part-time assistant for a few months), sent a box of calming tea from her then-home in far-away Utah. More than anyone, perhaps, she knows when I’m on my absolutely last nerve. (Of course, this might have been a gently — ahem — worded suggestion I chill the hell out.)
It’s hard to express how touching and lovely this is.
I’ve been writing for a living since 1978, with my work published in books, newspapers, websites and magazines and read by millions of readers — but only blogging has created this sort of sweet global bond, one that prompts us to email or call or send stuff to people we haven’t (yet!) met face to face.
It’s an interesting high-wire act, this calculated exposure, this calibrated intimacy — putting it out there into the blogosphere and awaiting a response. Blogging, more than any other medium, allows us to express some deeply private thoughts and emotions, which, and I’ve seen this for many years, emboldens others to say “Really? Me, too!”
Journalism is usually too structured and commercial a product to allow for this sort of authentic expression.
Whenever I get a paid assignment I consider myself a tailor — someone wants a suit made in gray gabardine or navy pinstripes in size 42 tall. Got it. They do not want me to come back months later with some wildly bohemian and personal Vision of a suit. They just want a suit, their suit, by X deadline, in X size.
Even my most personal of personal essays — one of which won my National Magazine Award for humor — was written for a specific audience, (Canadian women), and might well have read differently if edited by Americans for their readers. Ironically, the same idea was roundly rejected by Woman’s Day, a big American women’s mag.
This essay, written for The New York Times about my apartment building neighbors, was also created for a specific readership.
When I write for this blog, I have no idea who I’m talking to!
Well, to some degree, I do…There are regular commenters: an artist in Arizona, a student in Ohio, a professor in Massachusetts, a mother of six in the States and another mother of six in New Zealand. There’s a florist in Ecuador, a medical student in Lebanon, a celebrity’s relative, a 17-year-old in Ireland, a Maltese movie festival.
But I have no idea what will make y’all happy. I just put it out there and hope for the best.
Getting eyeballs is great.
Receiving pressies is pretty damn cool.