Writing on the internet is weird, isn’t it?
On a purely fundamental level, these posts that I write are for myself – to de-stress, to preserve memories of my life in Shanghai for that time when I finally come home, and simply because once there was a time when I truly loved to write and somehow I’m finally starting to feel that feeling back again.
Now that I write for a living (I never thought I’d say that), it is a little more difficult to keep blogging since my days are filled with red strikethroughs, gerunds, and the (not-so) occasional peek at a thesaurus (how many different ways can I say soup? slurry? sludge? potage?). Yet, just this simple act, of simply sitting down at the end of a long day, with a hot cup of Japanese genmaicha tea and knowing that I have something to write about is incredibly comforting, when for years, I used to look at blank pages for hours, unable to come up with a single word.
Years ago, in middle school I used to keep diaries (I don’t quite think this counts as a diary, there aren’t enough heart scribbles and notes about boys for it to be considered a diary) and I filled up seven journals with nonsensical things about my days, about the silly details that came my way, and about.. well, life. And I’m still an embarrassingly slow writer, but I feel like as long as there is something to keep writing about, it doesn’t matter, you know?
At the same time, I am aware that people are reading these posts – from the comments, the likes, and the (ever so inaccurate) WordPress stats counter. And now that I’ve reaches a sort of milestones — over 50 followers, over 50 posts, and over 100 likes — maybe it’s time to go back to the roots and figure out what this blog is actually about. I gotta be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the blue and white color theme, but I have neither the time nor the patience to play around with CSS until I figure out something that works. Now, the name and tagline are a different story:
Last fall, I saw an infographic (I really like infographics) of six pages of every type of pasta imaginable and the foods that pair in a sauce with them. And I thought, “I’m going to cook everything on this list”
And so the name Pasta Republic sort of stuck. And now that I can no longer eat pasta, the name seems.. silly? Perfunctory? Unnecessary? But then again I kind of like it. The problem is that the name describes neither myself, nor the nature of the blog. In Shanghai, I barely cook (being able to get decent dinner for $4 and my lack of an oven takes care of that). Yes, I still think about things like apple pie, but that is (mostly) not what I write about. I can’t help but wonder whether the name is throwing people off.
The tagline is a little more complicated The original tagline of this blog was “one girl’s struggle with frugality, pasta, and kale”. When I moved to China, I changed the ‘pasta’ to ‘Shanghai’, so at least something on the blog made sense, and yet the tagline still feels unnecessary. Now that I am in a new city, an adult with a new job, it somehow no longer fits. I do still like kale (and miss kale smoothies like no other), but my days of being a frugal college student are over. I am living a lot more comfortably than I could have imagined. I’m still sticking to my guns however and being a huge spendthrift. I feel that in China, the cultural tendency is to buy everything in sight. But I like nice things a little too much to do that. I also hate spending money on myself, so most of my salary is going into my brokerage account back home. And besides, China doesn’t have Amazon Prime, so I can’t even de-stress from online shopping (although really all I used to buy from Amazon were rain boots, cat toys, and chia seeds). Needless to say, I am no longer living frugally and now, I feel like at least 2/3 of the tagline is a lie. Although I’m sticking to the silly blog title, I do feel that the tag line will get revamped in the coming weeks.
Which I guess brings me back to my original point. I am not keeping this blog for anyone but myself, not trying to impress anyone but myself. And that, in a way, is keeping what I write closer to the truth. There are still some things that are too private to post about online, like details about my personal life or my job, but I feel like this is an outlet for a lot of my fears and frustrations living abroad.
Cafe de Arte
I feel like I have finally found my little corner of Shanghai.
Tucked in somewhere between Changle lu and Xiangyang is Cafe de Arte. It’s remarkably tiny. There are about 5 seats, facing a wooden bar counter and white-washed walls covered by watercolors and black oil drawings right on the surface. Each seat has its own miniature goldfish bowl, which is at once delicate, but made me a little uneasy (do these goldfish have a larger tank at night?). It is also the only place I’ve been to in Shanghai that served a proper afternoon tea. All the hot tea I’ve had so far in cafes has been slightly of because it’s either served in a highball glass with a napkin handkerchief to keep me from burning myself (I’m looking at you Wagas) or comes in a lukewarm teacup with a Bigelow tea bag hastily spattered over it. In Cafe de Arte, darjeeling tea is served from a delicate tea pot into a porcelain glass. The owner kept insisting that I try the brown sugar milk because it was ‘good for woman’, but last time I was too intimidated to take her up on the offer, partially because I didn’t feel like drinking anything sweet and because I wasn’t quite sure what ‘good for woman’ could mean.
Frivolous Monsters says
After you mentioned a career in writing and food I was going to ask the next obvious question… oh well.
You blog name is quirky but I didn’t take it as literally, so wasn’t put off by it, and being honest as your tagline is only on your front page, and not each blog page, I hadn’t even seen it until now!
I really couldn’t remember how I found your blog, what tag you used or whether you were recommended on the right as “people you like also like this”, so I scrolled back and had a look expecting it to be “people watching” or “café culture” and I was surprised to find it was the tag “Orangina”. I recently blogged about that, and the effect it had on my life, in my posts Tastes Like Orange. I then had a look at who else was daft enough to blog about Orangina.
Every time you drink Orangina you’re reminded of genetic mutations, whereas every time I hear a girl say her name is Georgina I’m reminded of Orangina. Who would have thought that tag would be a winner?
I’m glad you found it by the tag! I am remarkably bad at tagging my posts so it makes me happy to actually get readers that way.
I’m not exactly sure why I feel weird talking about my job. Perhaps it’s similar to why I feel weird talking about personal/romantic developments in my life. As long as I’m writing about my inner monologues, it’s alright, but things get more difficult when other people get involved. I’m still not sure if that’s the right way to approach it. I am obviously putting my name/picture out here, but something is telling me to stay away from revealing too much about others.