Sarah & Julie & Julia

Julia and me at the exhibit of her kitchen at the Smithsonian.

I’ve seen “Julie & Julia” three times now, having watched it yesterday for the third time.  And I’ll probably see it again. It might be my new favorite movie, right up there with “Elf,” “Zoolander,” “10 Things I Hate About You,” and “Center Stage” in terms of films I watch over and over (my taste, as you can see, is nothing but the highest quality in films).

At first I thought I liked the film because of Julia.  I mean, Meryl Streep is freakin’ fabulous as Julia Child, and really, Julia Child was just amazing. I said the first time I saw the film that I’d have rather just watched Julia, and had the Julie part left out altogether.  Amy Adams is a lovely actress, but her Julie just didn’t stand a chance next to Meryl’s Julia. Julia is/was vibrant and vivacious and in love with her husband and with life. I’d happily watch a whole movie of Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci grabbing each other’s butts and holding hands and making out and making jokes about cannolini being “hot as a stiff cock.”

Julie, on the other hand, drove me a little insane.  She was whiny and petty and mopey. She was selfish, snippy with her husband, and given to throwing lying-in-the-floor tantrums when things weren’t going so well in the kitchen, even though she was cooking for fun, as a hobby, and no one was freaking making her do it. I found myself annoyed by her the entire time I was watching the movie for the first time, and for most of my second viewing as well.

But yesterday, while watching the film for the third time, I had a revelation.  One thing I managed to pick up from all the Jungian psychology I learned as a lit major is that usually, the things we most hate in the Other are things we hate in ourselves.

Basically, I am Julie.

Like Julie, I’ve had to move and will move again because of my husband’s more prestigious job.  Like Julie, I’m a writer, but I’m not really a writer, not in the sense of getting paid to write things, and instead, like Julie, I work in a bureaucratic job that I don’t really love most of the time.  Like Julie, I feel that most of my friends are more successful than I am.  Like Julie, I feel I could be a magazine cover girl for a piece on failing to live up to one’s college potential.  Like Julie, I lack a best girl friend to confide in.  Like Julie, my hobbies include blogging and cooking. Like Julie, my husband encourages my hobbies and reminds me that I am too a writer and a good one at that (seriously, he even reads my academic papers, even though I’m sure they’re about as comprehensible to him as his medical journals are to me).

And that’s just the superficial stuff.  I even realized, while watching the scene where she drops a chicken on the floor and lays down and cries, a scene that annoyed me the first two times I saw it, I have done almost that exact same thing.  I can’t remember what I was cooking except that I burned it badly, and as I flipped out and opened windows and banged things around and generally acted like a toddler, my charming doctor husband informed me: “YOU ARE JUST LIKE THE HOSPITAL!” This was shocking, as it made no sense to me.  How was I just like a children’s hospital? He then explained that the hospital where he works has an ICU and a normal floor, but no “step down floor.” That is, there’s no level between “oh my God, things are serious and someone might die” and “things are probably going to be fine, everything’s routine, no need to worry.”  He was trying to tell me that I lack a level between HYSTERICAL HISSY FIT and lalala nothing to see here. Like Julie.

Maybe like Julie I’ll end up a bestselling author. Maybe I won’t.  But from now on, when I watch “Julie & Julia,” (and yes, I’ll probably be watching it again) I’ll be a little kinder and less judgmental of Julie. Because the things that bug me about her are things that bug me about me. And we’re both just doing the best we can.

4 Replies to “Sarah & Julie & Julia”

  1. Love this. Love that you are able to recongnize the wonderful and the banal in yourself. Also, who needs a step-down? Life is full of great and horrible, and everything else is just boring.

    keep being awesome.


  2. This makes me laugh. I don’t think I have a step down floor either. My ex boyfriend characterized it thusly, “fine, fine, fine, FURIOUS, fine, FURIOUS, FURIOUS, fine, fine…”


  3. I’m with Savannah – everything else IS just boring.

    I had the same experience with J & J – loving Meryl as Julia, terrified that I was just like Julie…


  4. I think what bothered me about the Julie part was that it was so dull compared to the life that Julia was leading; while I know that was the point, watching someone blog does not a fun film experience make.


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