Last night I, along with several of my fellow food bloggers, was fortunate enough to attend a special screening of Julie & Julia at the Arclight theatre courtesy of Hipcooks. The film, based on the book of the same title, alternates back and forth between the true stories of Julia Child’s journey from housewife to author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and food blogger Julie Powell’s journey cooking her way through Julia’s cookbook over the course of one year.
While watching Meryl Streep’s highly amusing (and accurate) portrayal of the incomparable Ms. Childs kept my sides aching with laughter, as a food blogger, I found Julie Powell’s story even more compelling. I identified so much with Julie’s struggles and victories that I felt like I was watching a version of myself on the screen. Albeit one with much shorter hair and a much better bed companion (Sophie the stuffed bunny is not as cuddly as Chris Messina.)
One of my favorite scenes in the film occurs when Julie finally receives her first comment on one of her blog posts. She leaps up to announce the good news to her cubicle neighbor, only to discover that the comment is actually from her mother. The moment is painfully relatable, and reminds me so much of the days when I was first starting out as a blogger. It was thrilling to get a comment – especially from someone who wasn’t my mother, roommate or best friend from college.
Today, I still get excited when I see a new comment pop up, and I am constantly hitting the refresh button on my latest post to see if anyone else has chimed in. Knowing that someone out there is reading and enjoying what I have to say is incredibly satisfying and uplifting to my sense of self as an aspiring writer. When I see that someone cares enough to say, “Hey, that salad looks awesome,” or “I’m neurotic about ordering too,” it partially legitimizes my exhausting obsession with documenting everything in my life that is food related.
Like Julie, who has a major meltdown in the movie, I also struggle with the question, “What am I doing?” with this silly pink blog o’ mine. I get frustrated when dishes I make don’t turn out and I have to admit to the blogosphere that “I failed.” I get mad when I feel compelled to cook something blogworthy rather than the frozen pizza that I actually want. And I get tired of lugging my camera around with me everywhere I go in case I happen upon some food item I want to photograph.
There have been more than a few moments in the past 15 months that all the effort doesn’t seem worth it, and I’ve wanted to throw in the frying pan and digital camera and go back to being a “normal” person who doesn’t feel the need to tell “the world” about her experience at Pinkberry or Pizzeria Mozza, again. Yet even with all the frustrations, burn marks, and weird looks from people who don’t appreciate my paparazzi-esque behavior in restaurants, something always brings me back to my little piece of cyberspace real estate.
Over the past year, my blog has become part of my identity. I’m not just Diana anymore; I’m “DianaTakesaBite.” I’m not just another tall blonde girl attempting to find herself and her true calling in the smoggy city of LA, I’m a part of a community that has made LA more accessible to me than I ever could have imagined when I arrived wide-eyed and sheltered from the OC.
In one slightly overly effusive scene in the film, Julie Powell tells her husband, “I was drowning and [Julia] pulled me out.” In many ways, my blog has done the same thing for me. It’s given me a sense of direction. It’s given me a purpose. And it’s given me the opportunity to meet some incredible people who share my passion for food.
This is what makes it worth it. Burn marks, weird looks, extra poundage and all.