Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Self loathing and how it alters the pattern

It's funny how humans act sometimes, and I feel that no one is as funny as me when it comes to dealing with my shortcomings.

Well, I see them as my shortcomings, but who knows how anyone outside my head and body would view what I am talking about-- they could see them as just the many facets of what makes me a crazy person. But let's just assume that they are just simple shortcomings for the sake of this blog post.

I think my biggest shortcoming of all is that I have a tendency to act like a person who is jaded and tired of the daily grind, almost bitter. It's not an everyday behavior pattern, but if my life were like one of those line graphs, and the majority of my days kept the line straight and static, signifying my overall satisfaction with my life, there would be sharp drops to the bottom of the graph every bit of distance where I am just fed up with it all, and self loathing takes place. There are also sharp spikes that drive me to the top of the graph, and although those are few and far between, when they happen, it is oh so sweet.

I am being especially reflective about this, perhaps in a cliche sort of way, because I watched the movie Julie & Julia today, and when it was over, I felt a mix of emotions that brought on the behavior I mentioned, the jadedness, the tiredness. Although I liked the movie, I found things wrong with it, none of which are a reflection of the quality of the movie itself, but rather the characteristics of a character.

I have absolutely no complaints about the Julia Child part of the story. In fact, thanks to Meryl Streep's impeccable portrayal of the culinary personality, I think I would love to meet Julia Child and have a talk with her-- and I don't even have any interest in cooking, whatsoever. So, that part's copasetic.

What irritated me, and I can't find any other way to describe the bad part of the mixture of emotions I felt as the credits rolled, was the character of Julie Powell. Julie Powell is a negative person, a writer, who dreams of becoming a writer, and who beats herself up about not being her idea of a writer.

Julie Powell is just like about 95% of the population, especially the population of those who dream of legitimately calling themselves writers, without having to explain why they call themselves writers. How much easier life would be for me if I could just say "I'm a writer," and talk about my job at a magazine where I actually write, or talk about my book that has just been bought by a big publishing house.

Instead, I am a grain of sand in a vast ocean of writers, all floating along. Some making headway toward land, some drowning. And some basking in the sun as they float close to the shore, sipping their beverages with the little tiny umbrellas, without a single care in the world, because they've already been on land and gotten their fill of land, and they now have the luxury to float for leisure rather than for a destination.

Julie Powell especially got on my nerves after she expressed her dislike of living in a run-down apartment with plenty of room, over a pizzeria in Queens, New York. Then she went on to express her dislike of close to everything about her life. Her job, her apartment, Queens... she complained about everything she could complain about.

To someone who lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado, the idea of someone hating their life in an urban, lively place like Queens, is like telling me someone hates how chocolate sticks to the roof of their mouth, so that they end up having to spend extra time tasting the chocolate in their mouth. In short, it's infuriating.

Julie Powell got me in her corner for a little while, when at a lunch with her circle of friends, who all seem to be much more successful in their work lives and clueless about how to be real, she showed her inability to fit in with such a group. I saw myself in Julie Powell at that point, and felt comfortable knowing that I'm not the only one who doesn't always feel like they fit in with their circle of friends who seem to be on a completely different wavelength than myself. That was cool.

I even saw myself in Julie when she sat in bed with her husband and gave all the no-good excuses one can muster to stave expectation or possibility of failure. Who hasn't done that... especially those who write? Julie mentions her inability to finish anything she starts and her ADD as excuses to not create and maintain the blog that in the end got her a book contract, and obviously, a movie deal.

Then Julie Powell really got on my nerves.

She created the blog, maintained it regularly, made delicious food, and, over time, began to get comments on her entries, regular followers and even gifts from readers. It wasn't long before Julie's blog was ranked in the top 5 of Salon.com.

I was rooting for Julie as things came together for her, I really was. Because I saw myself in Julie, I also saw the possibility of succeeding like her. Problem was that in the midst of all of this, she forgot everything else, and sometimes forgot just how far she'd come. She began to neglect her marriage, and all the good things that were going for her.

When dishes didn't come out right, or burned, she would sit and sulk and cry and whine to her ever-supportive husband, who encouraged her to begin the blog in the first place. At one point in the movie, I wanted to slap Julie, because when an important personality can't make it to dinner one night, her husband looks on the bright side, which is that they have more beef bovignon for themselves. Instead of just shrugging it off and remembering that it's an honor just to have such a chance, one that all bloggers and writers would kill for, Julie asks her husband, a magazine writer himself, to "stop looking at the bright side."

For someone who has a blog, and has gotten a total of maybe 10 comments since starting it in 2007, it's infuriating to see someone like Julie Powell who continues to wallow in unnecessary self pity. It's good to not be satisfied with just anything, but sometimes you are just pushing the limits, and Julie Powell does just that, especially with my nerves.

Perhaps I am just jealous, and I suppose I am. This relative nobody just decided to do something as simple as cook each recipe in a tome of a cookbook over the course of a year, and write about it. As a result, she ended up with a book and an Oscar-nominated movie with Meryl Streep in the lead. It doesn't get any better than that for any writer, I don't think.

As an aspiring writer watching this movie, it makes me wonder if my writing needs to be more narrowed down to one subject, whether I am living in the wrong environment, or if I am just destined to be in writing limbo, floating and searching for a place to land and become someone, preferably a writer.

Until that day comes when I can feel like I've sated my writing hunger, I will forever be annoyed with the likes of Julie Powell. Those who are never satisfied, no matter how many people read them, or respond to their words.

Out of all this negativity I feel toward the success of a writer who had the same doubts and hesitation I feel on a daily basis with my writing, there is a positive, believe it or not. I know that just being read as a writer by people who have no stake in your success are the best reward any writer can have, book and movie deal or not.

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