Small shrine part of Hachimangu in Kamakura
Photo: A Shinto shrine, with the torii dividing the secular from the sacred.

A while back, I posted about an encounter with Japanese Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was followed by a short exchange with the writer of the blog Fighting Windmills about religion, Latin American culture, and Japan. It was exactly the kind of feedback I’d hoped for when I started the blog. I commented on her blog and she is kind enough to comment here from time to time. I found her ideas interesting, although my politics don’t exactly align with hers. I was intrigued by her willingness to lay out her personal beliefs on prickly subjects. For me, her most interesting posts incorporated her knowledge of Japanese and Peruvian culture. For example, I like this post about praying mantises. I should have told her that a while ago.

In the spirit of her own blog, which she uses in an openly social way, she has invited me to participate in two blog memes, one in which I would write my memoir in six words, and the second would be links to old posts of mine with particular themes. I would then tag five other blogs with the same questions, and we would, presumably, all know a little more about each other. It’s the Internet as cocktail party game.

I’ve put off responding for quite a while. It was rude to ignore her, but I’m not sure she’ll like my response much better.

During a recent dinner conversation, a friend made a comment about blogs without knowing that I write one. (I don’t tell everyone I know that I write a blog; there’s a whiff of the disreputable in it.) He said, “I don’t know what you think of personal privacy, but in my family we believe that you should appear in the newspaper only three times in your life: when you are born, when you are married, and when you die.” Carlos looked over at me and grinned. We continued to talk about celebrity weddings and people who need to expose themselves on the Internet. There I was, nodding away, agreeing with him; here I am writing a blog.

I started this blog in part because my husband couldn’t open e-mail attachments on his ship’s firewalled Internet service. I thought friends and family (and perhaps some strangers) might enjoy stories of life in Japan. I didn’t think much about the private/public divide that I would have to negotiate. To maintain the divide, I keep this blog low-key. I don’t write in detail about my friends and family and I avoid topics that would offend my grandmother (but perhaps she isn’t that easily offended).

I could answer the meme questions and not expose anything more personal than what is already on the blog. So, why do I resist them? One reason is the questions don’t originate from within a relationship. Unlike the flow of conversation at dinner with our friend, meme questions are general rather than personalized. Although I very much hope many people read and enjoy my blog, my most faithful reader is my husband. In a way, my blog is a personal record of our nation of two. A post devoted to a blog meme would not flow from my own inspiration, but would feel to me like just another chain letter.

My compadre at Fighting Windmills is extending an invitation and I resist. Perhaps she’ll agree to meet me for a coffee when I get to Washington. Then we can ask each other lots of questions.

I did answer the first meme (a six-word personal memoir): it’s the title of this post.