julie & julia OR I’m a shitty sloth of a wife

In ALL, INTROSPECTION, MARRIAGE, MOVIES by Stephanie Klein23 Comments

Photos from Julie Julia 1250137446345

We’re about to witness a surge in cooking school applicants. It’s not due to the enticing Williams-Sonoma catalog covers that slip into our mailboxes weekly, nor is it related to the Sur La Table “Introduction to Sauces” emails (I dare you not to click). It’s not because of layoffs or the economy, no. The surge will come to pass because of the meeting of two powerful industries. It’s like introducing the Key Master to the Gate Keeper, chocolate to peanut butter, placenta to anti-aging cream: life dissatisfaction goes to the movies, then leaves with a plan.

I’m betting the first thought people entertain as they exit the theater after seeing Julie & Julia is I can go to cooking school! That or, I’m a shitty sloth of a wife. If Julie Powell found time to work a full-time job and grocery shop and do prep work and cook, then what the hell am I doing all day with my life? Or, you’re thinking, "Yeah, but she didn’t have kids." It’s all excuses. Bottom line: we can all make the time to do anything, but something’s gotta give. You need to whip up a meringue of priorities, list them, and keep to them. It’s the only way you’ll get things done. Wishing takes as much time as planning does. That’s not mine; it’s Elanor Roosevelt’s.

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Not French, But With Several Sticks of Butter, It’s Close Enough

What I loved most about the film adaptation of Julie & Julia is how much it inspires risk. You feel something beginning to unlock in you as the movie progresses. You’re watching Amy Adams scoop sploodge off the floor and shove it up a chicken, then see her lying on the floor, a wooden spoon still in her hand, and you’re thinking, Yes. I know. Me, too. Then you continue to view the film, and without realizing the moment it happened, you’re now thinking “I’m going to try even if it means I might fail, and I most certainly will face rejection, and it will not feel good, but I’m going to do it. I’m going to risk and put myself out there even if it kills me. Hopefully it won’t kill me. Will it kill me? Can you die from a broken heart? Holy shit, since when has my inner monologue become the pages of a self-help article in a beauty magazine?"

No sap aside, I think it’s such a beautiful thing in our lives: our willingness to risk, and more so, our willingness to continue even when it hurts. Those are the moments that define our lives, our ability to pick ourselves up and keep going, even when we’re having a melt down, when it seems impossible, when it feels too damn hard, when life hurts and is an unfair bitch… it’s then that we KNOW if we keep going it has to work out. The alternative is to shut down and live a life of fear. It ain’t easy, but it’s always, in the end–even if it feels like you have to wait forever–worth it.

A YEAR AGO: The Bellamy & Bromance
2 YEARS AGO: Seconds
 

Comments

  1. I went to see it with my mom, who brought me the infamous cookbook, and wrote a little something in it about getting to share Julia Child with her daughter. Excellent movie! The only thing I hated was Amy Adams hair in the movie, annoyed the piss out of me!

  2. I loved the book when I read it a couple of years ago because what you wrote in the last paragraph of this post is what I took away.

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but all the reviews prattle on about how wonderful Julia Child/Meryl Streep are and that the Julie Powell/Amy Adams part of the movie was the throwaway bit. While I give snaps to Julia/Meryl, the whole POINT of Julie’s experiment and subsequent life lessons were to remind us to find our joy and to take risks. It can be applied to so many things in life.

    Well said. I hope more people take this lesson away from the movie.

    1. I don’t think the whole point of the movie was Julie’s risks and experiment to pull herself out of a dull life. It was also Julia’s chances that were risky. Of course, now that everybody knows Julia Child we don’t tend to think of this as a movie where she risks anything, but Julia spent 8 fucking years on that GD cookbook with 1 great partner and 1 bum partner and rejection after rejection, from the people at Le Cordon Bleu and publishers.

      Believe me when I say I respect Julie Powell’s commitment to the project, but she comes off as a self-centered, egotistical, whiny brat in this film. It quickly becomes less about pulling herself out of the doldrums and more about pleasing her readers and getting a book deal. The only reason she is hell bent on completing this is to please her “public,” at the expense of her family and relationship with her husband (you all know she cheated on him shortly after the success of the book, right?). It’s all supposed to be discussed in her upcoming book (cleaving) which was supposed to come out during the movie run (hit movie=hit book) but was pushed back until December because they wanted to keep Julie as likable as possible.

      My least favorite part of the film when ***spoiler alert***a special guest doesn’t show up for dinner, Julie says to her husband Eric “My readers will be so disappointed.” Screw your readers. It’s totally and completely fine to complain about your disappointment and share that with your husband, but it’s clear at that point she’s performing for an audience. Like a circus act. As Stephanie likes to say (not in these words, of course), when you start writing for other people, instead of just writing for yourself, then your work becomes less true. If you are always trying to churn out something that other people like, you’ll lose your voice. Fuck readers, talk about your feelings and your thoughts.

      In my opinion the only person Julia Child was interested in pleasing was herself and her husband. Their relationship is what kept her strong in the face of failure. Julie’s motivation were her fans and her blooming success. She may have gotten to keep the marriage (after some serious missteps and bumps), but it’s clear that her main focus was fame.

      I’ll join the chorus of people out there in cyberspace who wish this movie was just name Julia. And I even read the book (Julie & Julia). I recommend the other book the movie was based on, My Life in France.

      1. Couldn’t agree with you more, Danielle. I’m going to pick up My Life in France. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Kate… I felt the EXACT same way about the movie. Loved it but her haircut irritated me so much that by the end of the movie, I didn’t want to look at her anymore. How funny; I just told a friend that last night!

  4. I have to wonder if any guy who sees this movie thinks, huh I don’t come home from work and put together a dinner I am a shitty sloth of a husband :)

  5. I got some excellent advice once about risk taking…think about what the worst thing that could possibly happen to you if you go forward with said risky idea/action/plan. More often than not, whatever the worst outcome could be isn’t so bad. There are not too many things in life that are worth being frightened of.

  6. how about the risk of getting sued for using photos w/o permission/paying the fee??

  7. This post is exactly what I needed today. I started law school on Monday and risk, rejection and fear have all been part of the gamut of emotions I have felt this week. Thanks for the inspiration to keep on keeping on!

  8. I haven’t seen the movie but now I want to. I love this post. I always come to your blog expecting something great and inspiring and funny and I’m always proven right. Keep ’em coming.

  9. I loved (part of) the movie, NOT the book for a change. And I got something totally different from it. I found Julie to be an insufferable, narcissistic pain in the ass (pretty much the same goes for her rambling book; couldn’t finish it) and I couldn’t wait for the Julia scenes. I feel like Julie was the one who took all the risks; Julie just benefited from them. Julia made it happen; Julie found a gimmick. Julia didn’t lie on the floor whining when it took her 8+ years to get her book published, or when she wasn’t able to have children of her own. We are such a gotta-have-it-now culture it’s kind of disgusting. I won’t be reading Powell’s next book either, the one where she chronicles cheating on the husband who stood by her through all annoying navel gazing. Fail!

    1. I think a big part of that is that most of the time we focus on the moment of inspiration, of seeing a new possibility, and not on the hard work it takes to get from inspiration to success. You can be anything you want to be….. but you have to pick something and work like hell at it.

  10. THIS post is the reason I started reading you Klein. It was a long time ago but sticking around, for pieces like this, where you are humble and strong and honest – is worth all the blogs about television shows.

  11. We foodie-chefs have been on television for a while now, but it’s about time we hit the big screen! I for one believe you’re right about skyrocketing cooking school applicans, and look forward to reaping its benefits. My friends and I will be screening this film next week, and thanks to your post I’m even more excited about seeing Julie & Julia – I started my catering business, The Dinner Belle, and it was definitely a risk. I’m not a culinary-school-bred chef, though I have a different kind of extensive experience in the kitchen. Julie and Julia are both inspirations for me, and I hope you’re right about what’s going to happen; who doesn’t want more people to cultivate their skills to deliver to our taste-buds?

    Cheers,
    Kimberly Belle

  12. i’m so happy to read this having returned from vacation. traveling inspires so much in me – its when you leave your comfort zone and go meet other people and try different things that you realize that anything is possible. its meeting people that live differently that make you realize, holy shit, yes I CAN do it, yes my dreams are possible, YES a different life can happen. I always come back so inspired from traveling and this time, I’m going to act upon it.

  13. Gee, Stephanie, thanks for the treatise on risk, it’s so easy for you to take risks from your privileged station in life.

    How do you take risks in your own life? By being married to a guy — who you don’t seem to like too much — who could arguably called critically ill? Is it risky to be a mother to children who you don’t wish you’ve had?

    How exactly are you able to leave your life in Texas to spend an extended period in NYC? That’s an expensive place to live. (I know, I used to live in NYC.) Is that a monetary risk? Can you explain to your new readers?

    Waiting for explanations…

  14. For many years my mom worked a full time job, had what amounted to a second job writing (not fiction) at night, raised two kids (we were older than yours are now though) and shopped, prepped and cooked every night. It can be done, if it’s really important to you.

  15. Um, I didn’t see the movie yet. I just want some of that cookie dough!

    (Great post also.)

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