Cooking, blogging, narcissism and parenting

P1020178I recently saw “Julie & Julia” and I found I had a lot of ways to relate to it.  Firstly, cooking is a bonding experience in my family; my kids love to watch cooking shows ranging from the cruelty of “Hell’s Kitchen” to the kitsch of “Iron Chef.”  And we all probably reveal much about ourselves as we debate whether Bobby Flay is getting nicer, not nicer or just pretending to be nicer…

In “Julie and Julia” I related to Julia Child through aspirational fantasy, at least as far as a love for Paris and a wish to be as emotionally brave and intrepid as she was.  I’ve also been told I bear a passing resemblance to Stanley Tucci, which gives me a great middle-age-balding-could-be-sexy feeling and helped me fantasize that I too could one day be unfailingly kind, enthusiastic and supportive like Julia’s husband (as my wife, Andy, evokes from me every bit as much pedal-to-the-metal adoration as far as I’m concerned, but my performance is piss-poor compared to Monsieur Tucci).  But then I’ve also been told that I bear more than passing resemblance to a goat.

Now in the film Mr. Child was a key positive emotional counterpoint to my uncomfortable identification with Julie, whose blogging sincerity and sanity are roundly called into question.  I must admit that I didn’t like Julie anywhere near as much as I liked Julia, but that could be chalked up to uncomfortable behavioral resemblances (i.e. wondering if anyone is reading my blog, then feeling some strange connection with readers… and also the parallel recognition of a self-imposed challenge of a year of blogging {see my post of June 21, 2009} that I took on, naively having no idea really about what blogging was all about… and still don’t).

I was most intrigued as a parent to think about how none of the key characters in the movie have children; and the corny but inescapable irony that a woman named “Child” could not have a child, but in turn put so much love into cooking that she obliquely nurtured a generation (of non-cooking kids mesmerized by her panting reedy inflection flickering over our black and white TVs).  Even though Meryl Streep can sometimes be a little to Berlitz for my taste, she was so winning as Julia that you just ended up wanting to cook, and eat and be friends with her; but as for Julie, as Borat might put it… “Not so much.”

So, even though I’m not entirely sure if us parent bloggers are doing the best by our kids, I would have to say that my criticisms of Julie are a mixture of projection and envy.  After all, she didn’t even have kids, and the criticism that Julia didn’t like her because she was leaching made me squirm and wonder if Lisa Belkin doesn’t like me for making comments on her Motherlode blog.  Ah, the narcissism can be never-ending!

And another strange thing about envy is that, as a writer, I’ve had the strangest sort of bad luck (i.e. producers suggesting that I move to Europe where they make more intelligent films; or a project dying when its financier was tragically killed in an avalanche—in fact, that was my sign from the universe to stop writing screenplays and write a parenting book… which, after seven years, was finished just in time for the virtual collapse of the publishing business, with Barnes & Noble declaring that they would not buy any general parenting books and Harper and MacMillian declaring that it’s excellent and they would publish it… if only anyone knew who I was).

So, as I sat watching “Julie & Julia,” I all the more deeply appreciated Julia taking rejection with aplomb, but also felt an squirmy recognition of Julie whining that “Julia hates me!” as I remembered rather too many moments of screen-writerly rejection where I just had to lie on the floor and breathe. 

Julia’s success was a triumph because it changed how we cooked, ate and think about food—arguably paving the very way for Food Network, not to mention the ready availability of great ingredients very unlike the way it was when I was a kid in Chicago.  But I also felt a hollow sense of recognition that Julie’s blog becoming a book and then a movie was little more than a passing pretext to allow us to remember Julia; the contrast in the two characters did not make me yearn for a book deal, but for a great meal eaten with love and laugher (something Julie never truly manages). 

While I remain committed to my blog, and to my sincere wish to serve children by serving parents, “Julie & Julia” also made me redouble my commitment to trying to heal my own narcissism (i.e. truly forget about me in favor of us, of relationships large, small, real and virtual)  by cooking more, blogging hopefully within reason (and trying not to check whether anyone’s bothering to read… at least not too often).

So here’s to being honest about our narcissism, to keeping it real, and to serving all our collective children by loving and adoring and cooking and eating with those real live human beings directly in our lives and by loving, in whatever ways we can manage, all the rest.

Namaste, BruceP1020191

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9 Responses to “Cooking, blogging, narcissism and parenting”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Hi Bruce,

    You don’t look like a goat!

    I love your photo — beautiful. It reminded me of all the great meals we’ve shared in past years. I also loved the movie — though through the filter of being a life coach, i.e. the power of a truly supportive person in our life to open our own imagination about our own destiny. And the growing we do when we let ourselves really BE, so we can let go of our wound and move. I’m sure you’ve seen the latter in your practice.

    I wonder what happens to the self when those kids begin cooking for us?

    Lots of love to all,

    Lisa

  2. marlene Says:

    Bruce,

    I actually thought of you when Julie started her blog…I’m reading – and enjoying. Thanks!

  3. Stephanie Says:

    Just wanted to let you know I read every night. I really enjoy it and am always happy when it appears in my in box. Thanks for the effort. I appreciate it. Steph

  4. Chris Sorgi Says:

    I READ (ALMOST) EVERY POSTING. Did you make that delicious looking food in the picture? Since I am trying to lose weight I have been avoiding the movie/ too much temptation. Chris

  5. privilegeofparenting Says:

    Thanks you guys!!! And as for the fruit tart, it was a true group effort, from berry picking to cooking to eating… now we’re all de-toxing from a couple of sugar filled weeks.

  6. Beth Kirk Says:

    You really put yourself out there in this one! I admire your risk-taking. And, yes, people are reading your blog!

  7. Susan Says:

    I am reading, learning, and appreciating your blogging efforts…quietly.

  8. jane Says:

    Hey Bruce
    I look forward to reading your blog every night after I finish my work, and before I go to sleep. Thank you for your insight, honesty, and inspiration.

    I am lucky enough to have an 11 year old son who loves to cook already. It is amazing to hear him brainstorm ingredient combinations so freely. And even if they seem crazy, they work! We should all be so inspired! Bon Apetit!

  9. Mwa Says:

    After that Borat quote and (very recognisable) blogger angst, I have just gone from being a follower to being a devoted follower of yours. I may give that movie a chance now.

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