Today marks my 100th post on, “You Had Me at Butter,” but there is a far bigger reason why this day will forever live in my mind: I ran out of butter. Yep. True dat. Worse? I didn’t even realize it until I served Mr. B his lunch and he was smearing the last vestiges of butter over his cracker and like any good wife, I announced that I was off to the refrigerator for more butter.
But there was no more. Not in the refrigerator. Not in the freezer. Nor was there anymore butter in my big chest freezer in the garage or the other refrigerator that I like to keep filled with beer. Simply put: we were out of butter. As shocking as this was to me, it was even more startling to Mr. B who calmly set his knife down, relaxed his grip on the cracker he was holding and looked at me with incredulity: “What do you mean we’re OUT of butter?”
For as long as Mr. B and I have known each other, I’ve never been out of butter. On the contrary, there’s been butter tucked everywhere from the back of the fridge, to the butter dish to not just one freezer, but three freezers, and in a real pinch, I could always reach way back behind all that ice cold beer and put my hands on a box. We had enough butter tucked away in our reserves to get through not just the ending of the Mayan calendar, but another equally as feared disaster; we would run out of toilet paper, water—even booze, but we weren’t about to run out of butter.
“What can I say,” I shrugged—”I’ve been busy.” And it wasn’t just an excuse, it was the truth; I’ve been writing. A lot. Most all of the day, everyday. I write for a lot of other avenues than just here. In fact, this month, I will be even more visible as two new projects launch. Of course, that’s no excuse for running out of butter, and that’s just how Mr. B put it to me, because it’s all fine—it’s good; it’s great—write all you want, just don’t forget to buy butter.
I won’t. Because I get what he means, metaphorically and literally—butter is everything.
Way back when I was in graduate school—writing—I discovered something about myself. Whenever I’d sit down to write and I got writer’s block (which, just to let you know, was quite often) I could only resolve it by doing something else. Then, while I was doing that something else, I’d write in my brain, working out stories, outlines, letters to the editor—whatever I needed to write—and the words flowed beautifully and eloquently, but instead of recording it on the page, it was all in my memory.
It took me a long time to realize that I wasn’t the sort of writer who could sit down at the desk, a dozen sharpened Ticonderoga Woodcase #2 pencils within reach and a stack of empty notebooks ready at my elbow. Sure, I had those tools, but sitting at my desk, I drew a blank. Thankfully, I lived in a succession of very cheap apartments with very cheap refrigerators with tiny little freezers that seemed perpetually encased in ice. I quickly learned that with a fairly sharp knife, a blowdryer and a stack of towels, not only was I rewarded with a defrosted freezer, but that I effortlessly ‘wrote’ page after page and housed it deep in my brain until later, when I could transfer it to paper.
“Process,” my professor said when I asked him about it. “Writers,” he went on, “are like composers and well, some composers just compose in their heads; others need to sit down at the piano and tap it out one key at a time.” Ah, but it was a kernel of truth and in it, I learned to see myself in a new light, so that whenever I needed to write, instead of sitting down at the desk, I would go straight to the freezer.
But then I moved. And although the neighborhood was just as dangerous and the rent just as cheap, this particular landlord had invested in beautiful new kitchen appliances and much to my surprise—and sheer terror—the freezer was frost-free. Certain I was doomed, I wondered if I would ever write again, but my time spent wondering was short, for the next day I had a rather large paper due and to be truthful, I hadn’t even begun to write it. There was nothing to do, but to find some other activity to engage in as I put the sentences together in my mind. I opened the door to that perfectly new and brilliantly white frost-free refrigerator and I grabbed a few sticks of butter. I ferreted out the sugar and the flour and emptied cabinets. As I mixed and stirred and cooked, I, too, wrote each and every line and paragraph of my paper, thereby learning that while one may never have easy access to a freezer in need of defrosting, butter, along with a few other ingredients, a pan and a hot burner would take me far. I knew, I could always count on butter.
So, off to the store I go, to restock my butter supply so that I can cook my way to the next 100 posts!