The word “just” is used way too frequently by bloggers these days. “I just whipped this up!” “You just fold it here, here, and here, stitch there, and voila!” “Just pop these into your bag for an effortless…”
The word “just” is supposed to imbue the statement in which it is placed with an airy breeziness, an any-monkey-can-do-this feel. Just (fill in the blank) and presto-change-o a fabulous solution will occur that’s so aesthetically gorgeous you’ll want to photograph it in high resolution and post it up on Instragram.
“Just” is embedded into the text of almost every instructional blog these days. “Just pipe the red icing to create delicate rosettes around the edges…” (first of all, has anyone ever successfully made red icing before let alone used piping bags without a glitch?) Or, “Using an Exacto knife, just cut out the intricate stencil…” Been there. Fell for that.
I’ve read all about how to “just” bottle my own meats, “just” make a puppet theater out of PVC pipes, and “just” create magical hideouts for children.
I’ve decided all blogs assume I can confidently use power tools, have a degree in graphic design, own flood lights (because most of these projects need to occur in the middle of the night-I have kids), and that any more than three hours of sleep per night is extraneous.
Let’s follow one of these “justs” all the way down the path to fruition, “just” for fun. Here’s a hypothetical:
“Just toss up a pavilion on the sand for an all-day home upon the shoreline chateau,” someone’s post will say. The photo will include a pristine white tent which somebody with an incredible eye and even steadier hand has hand-stenciled in a retro shabby-chic sort of way, gossamer curtains billowing in the breeze and possibly what appear to be Gap models frolicking in the background. The photo is so delicious, so inticing-you will fall for it.
Next thing you know you’re out time and money researching various tents before you actually buy one. You consider making one yourself, but we won’t even go there. But either way, you’ll end up spending more money than you planned.
You’ll skip the stenciling part because even you have limits and so-called reasonable expectations of how much time you’re willing to put into this hair-brained project. Very sensible of you.
But then there’s the loading the behemoth and all her poles into the car with the chairs, boogie boards, sand toys, not to mention the children, while you’re husband repeatedly asks, “Why do we even need this thing again?” You’ll have no satisfying answer other than to huff, “I saw it on Pinterest. It will be fabulous!” which is about the equivalent of saying “I saw it once on Oprah.” (Note to self, “just” try substituting in the words Newsweek, Time or NPR into these situations and see what happens.) But since your husband is a wonderful husband, he will flex his Tetris prowess and somehow make it fit.
Then after lugging the contraption like a Sherpa down 300 man-made awkward stairs carved into the cliffside with crude instruments by convicts (probably), and a few Band-aides later (from scraping metal against metal when your fingers were in the way,) and perhaps a moment or two of berating that dagnabbit tent under your breath at the beach, hoping the white noise of the crashing waves washed away your choice words before they could swim into your children’s ears, the tent will be up. Voila. “Just” like that. “Just toss up a pavilion,” relax in the shade and let the frolicking begin. After you “just” hang up these gossamer curtains, of course.
They’re not hanging straight and you forgot to bring something to adequately secure them with, but no matter. They’re up. There. Billowing in the breeze, their gentle flapping noise is enough to lull you to sleep whilst your loved-ones frolic in the background.
Are they frolicking yet? No. They want lunch and the baby needs a diaper change in the worst way. What’s more, in their impatience, they’ve already started tugging at the 12 dollar a yard gossamer. Now one’s ripped. Drat. But nothing you can’t “just” stitch up later, right?
As for that gentle flapping noise, it’s sounding rather violent now, come to think of it. The wind has kicked up and is threatening to huff and puff the whole shoreline chateau into the shoreline. But before you can finish with the messy diaper change you’re conducting on your lap and before you can holler “All hands on deck!!” the whole Pinterest Dream is swept away like the Gale’s Kansas farmhouse and is headed straight for innocent bystanders, the thrashing gossamer curtains the last image they see before they black-out.
Now, do I paint an accurate picture or do I exaggerate?
I’ve fallen into this “just” trap countless times. I can count 4 or 5 or so in “just” the last week–cooking, creating and sewing things that took five times longer and were five times harder than anticipated “just” because the blogger made it sound so effortless–using not only the word “just” but “simply” “cinch” and “only.” You’d think I’d learn, but I can’t help it.
It’s “just” so hard to stop!
Read more by Margaret Anderson at www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com