Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Writing a Blog Gets Me In Trouble

*I first wrote this post almost two weeks ago.  At the time I was emotionally raw and angry.  Instead of posting it right away I sat on it.  I needed to be sure that I was ready to share and that I wasn't writing angry. Since writing this I have found a job, and have started working on a long-term goal of mine (to be shared at a later date).*

I started this blog almost three years ago as an outlet for my fast-growing love of cheese.  In that time I have been very careful to keep my blogging life, and my work life separate.  In the interest of full disclosure, I have let the two employers I've had since starting this venture know about my blog.  I have been very upfront about it, and have let them all know that I don't "name names".  I have not mentioned where I've worked, or any co-workers or bosses by name.  I even gave my brother a code name in a post I created in 2010.  I am not sponsored and I rarely accept promotional items from cheesemakers, or authors.  

By being a somewhat anonymous blogger I can be freer with my words.  I can write a post about a cheese that was so bad it hurt my soul and I don't have to worry about offending the advertisers, or getting my boss into trouble.  It's been a good run.  

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about being a goat. I was venting my sadness, how I miss the cheese, and my general ennui.   I thought long and hard about writing that post because it was so personal, perhaps something that would be better shared with a shrink.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the people I really wanted to share it with were the people who read my blog.  I wanted to let people know the reason for my infrequent posts.  If I am honest about cheese, I have to be honest about myself.  

So I posted it.

Shortly after the post went up I was called in for a talk with my boss and I was fired.  Although we had had pleasant email exchanges just two days prior, my boss let me know that one of the reasons I was being let go was because I was "writing nasty things about us".  

To say that I was stunned would be an understatement.  I've never been fired before.  I was angry, and if I'm going to be honest, confused.  For a brief moment I even thought about shutting the blog down.  

That's not going to happen.

So yeah, like millions of other Americans I’m unemployed.  Instead of looking at this as a negative, curling up in bed and watching endless episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer while living off of diet coke and chocolate I'm going to turn this into a positive.  The post I wrote about being a goat was about me feeling out of my element, floundering and being lonely without my herd.   It's time for me to go back to that world.  

When life gives you lemons, use the citric acid as a coagulant and make a fresh cheese.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Culture Magazine Weekend!

Last week I was invited to join a group of cheese lovers for a brainstorming session for Culture Magazine.  It was a great mix of journalists, cheesemakers & retailers.  Oh, and I got to meet Paul Kindstedt who wrote American Farmstead Cheese -one of the most in depth books on cheese on my bookshelf.

I was decidedly nervous about going to this get-together.  Was I really going to share my ideas in front of Kate Arding (ridiculously knowledgeable cheese geek)?  Somehow I managed to put on my big girl pants, and speak up-a bit.  I tend to get nervous in those types of situations, and have a then I go all blushy on my ears.  I'm not going to recap the ideas, all I can say is that the magazine and website are going to be even better in the months to come.  All in all, it was a fun time, and it was great to get a behind the scenes look at how the magazine is put together.

If you have any suggestions, critiques or compliments I know they'd love to hear them.  Follow the link and let them know what's on your mind.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I am a Goat

Last night while I was trying to find some type of visual entertainment to help me ignore the fact that I'm swimming in a sea of melancholy ick I finally figured out the underlying cause of my ennui and sadness.


I'm not talking about my astrological sign*, I'm talking about those super cute milk-giving quadrupeds that I love.  In addition to being smart, clever and cute, goats are social animals.  They need non-human (preferably goaty) friends to play and live with**

I think that it's the same with cheesemongers and other cheese folk.  We need to have other geeks to talk to about cheese.  We need other people to get really excited about new cheeses on the market.  We need to share photos and stories from festivals and conferences.  We need our herd.

Since leaving Chicago and moving back to Vermont I have been without my people.  Instead of being surrounded by cheese-lovin' fools I have a boss who says "It tastes like cheddar" every time she tries a cheese that she doesn't like.  There is mockery over my cheese excitement.  No one else has turned one of their veggie crispers into a cheese box.

I miss my herd.

Then in august I went to the ACS conference and was surrounded by people who love cheese.  Almost every meal had cheese, the seminars were full of cheese, I even volunteered to help set up the "Festival of Cheese".  There were cheese events, pairings, and chatter.  I went out to eat with other cheese-minded people and even though we didn't always get the cheesiest dish, it was great being surrounded by my people.

Upon finding out what I was doing for work in Vermont, one of my cheesemaker friends asked me a simple question "why?"  We spoke about "why" and I tried to answer the question not just for him, but for myself also.

Since coming back from the conference I've been listless, sad, depressed, filled with ennui and unable to write.  Each time I tried to write something I would think about how much I miss the cheese-filled part of my life, or how much I missed my cheesy Chicago friends.

I miss my herd.

Last night it occurred to me that nothing is wrong with me, I'm just a goat who needs other goats to frolic with.  I am going to attempt to get myself out of this funk.  One of the ways I'm going to do this is by writing again.  Every week I am going to write something about cheese.  I am not going to obsess about it.  I am not going to get hung up on the imperfections of my grammar or the fact that I like to make up words that don't exist in the english language.  I am not going to worry about making sure it's polished, and then getting so o.c.d. about it that I end up not writing anything.  I'm just going to write.

Hopefully this exercise will help me recapture my cheese joy and will give me a virtual herd of cheese enthusiasts.

*My astrological sign is capricorn, but this blog is about cheese, not signs or planets.  Although I don't read my horoscope, or put much stock in astrological signs, it is pretty clear that the traits associated with my sign can also be attributed to my favorite barnyard creatures.

**One of my girlfriends had some pet pygmy goats a few years back.  While the three goats enjoyed playing with each other, one of the goats developed a strong bond with my girlfriends' big boxer dog.   I've also heard that goats will bond with horses and other farm animals, they just need more than what we humans can give them.