Julie & Julia

Submitted by Amisha Upadhyaya

ap_julie_juliaSaw the movie last night. Loved it. Well written and directed by Nora Ephron. As with everyone, I loved the Julia Child portion more.

I logged on to find a blogging community divided over Julie Powell. Rarely did it have to do with the actual quality of her book, which is the only assessment really to be made about Julie Powell.

Many times, the poison was spewed by food bloggers when the woman never claimed to be a chef.  Or, that she has some maligned Julia Child’s name when she did more to introduce Julia Child than any PR firm could have.  Or,  judging Julie for having an affair (that wasn’t shown in the movie) when she had a sweet supportive husband. Usually  by the same people who complained the movie isn’t like the book (2 diff mediums, people). It’s a movie!!  He wasn’t real! Somehow of all that got into the movie, the sweetness of the husband is the only thing that was true?

But I think the real reason people, esp women, feel so vehemently for or against Julie’s story is because the Julie Powell portion hits home.  I know because that’s how I felt about “Eat Pray Love” before reading it.  True enough, it not just hit home but knocked me out.

Julia Child’s charac is the woman we’d love to be: adored by all, quirky, world-traveled, at home with her plus-size body, loved unconditionally by a husband in a marriage where they never fight, wealthy with no financial issues. Julie is like us: rocky relationships, financial woes, careers that demand self-absorption if you’re going to make it work esp in NYC or any other urban centre, and plagued by societal conventions like having to “be something” by 30.  And no one likes to see too clear of a mirror.  (And poor Amy Adams’s gets the brunt of it for what represented rather than her performance.)

For one, well-adjusted never is interesting dramatic fare. Here are two terrific ladies with terrific husbands. Boring.

Two, the term itself has come to be a dismissive one rather than that which it signifies, like “slut” or when men dismiss a woman because she’s “emotional” or has PMS.  This also carries the danger of dismissing those who do need serious medical attention as with any term that segues into pop culture, like “insane” or “retarded.”

I have to bite my tongue for the women slapping on neurotic to dismiss others are often those who could easily compete in the categories of narcissism, competitiveness, or anal retention worthy of the cobb salad luncheon women in the movie.  Hell, I could host such a party leading the way w/my own set of negative adjectives.

The the truth is how can a modern woman not be at least slightly neurotic, a bit “emotionally unstable or overlyanxious”? In between fending for herself in a city, juggling dating or marriage, with none of the social and family daily networks that other cultures or smaller towns provide, plagued by society’s demands on their bodies and achievements and personal milestones of marriage and babies, how is it possible to stay naturally balanced? It’s not. It takes work to figure out what in your life will give you that balance and hunker you down to that strong core from which no chaos will wreak havoc.

For Julie, it was the cookbook. One recipe at a time she found her voice, which is what I strive to do with this blog and what most women allowed to go on journeys of self-discovery ultimately seek.

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