Julie and Julia

December 6, 2009

It was the end of the exams for my sisters so I decided to take them out for a movie myself. We wanted to catch 500 days of Summer, but there were no more seats left and thus, we bought tickets to see Julie and Julia instead.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t give that movie much thought albeit its high recommendation by Professor Armstrong and in fact, I was a little glad that it wasn’t made compulsory to see as part of a class assignment because it sounded so boring. (Sorry!) But boy, I have never been more wrong. The first thing I did after I walked out of the theatre was to search the bookstore for Julia Child’s book. I didn’t manage to find it, but I really enjoyed the movie. It made my day.

Julie and Julia is a heart-warming tale starring Julia Child, the woman who introduced french cooking into America and Julie Powell,  one of Julia’s avid fan who blogs her journey of cooking through every single recipe in Julia Child’s famed cooking book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

The movie starts off in Paris, 1948 where Julia Child, an American woman is living at, due to her husband’s job. Julia, unhappy and bored of staying at home decides to take on a new hobby. She tries everything from hat making to attending an instruction in contract bridge but none of it interest her. In the end, she decides to learn cooking professionally and takes a diploma class in Le Cordon Bleu, one of the most famous cookery schools in the world today. She finds her passion in cooking and her dream was to share french cooking with American women.

Fifty years later, Julia Powell, at the age of 30, is going through her own personal crisis. Working in a cubicle dealing with customer complaints isn’t exactly her dream job. And it doesn’t help to have friends that are beyond successful in their careers. Even her home is no consolation. She just moved into a small apartment in Queens, with her husband and she isn’t happy about its size, the noise nor the kitchen. Despite her tragic lifestyle, she managed to find solace in cooking. In an attempt to gain control of her life again, she comes up with a crazy plan to finish cooking all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook in a year. She puts in all of her energy into it and writes her experiences in a blog which in turn got her featured on the front page of a newspaper that brought her a string of editors who wanted to write about her blog.

However, the biggest twist in the story that shocked me greatly was the phone call informing Julie that Julia Child did not like her blog. An entire blog, dedicated to Julia Child, her recipes and her wonderful character that Julie admired so much, what reason was there for Julia not to love her?

I tried to find the answer online, (yes google is my best friend and my constant life-saver) and here’s what I found in an article from the LA Times written by the very person who called up Julia Child and asked for her opinion on the blog.

Of course, I was also interested in what Julia might think about it. So I printed out the whole thing and took it up to her. She hadn’t heard about it, but promised to have a look and get back to me.

I didn’t hear from her for several days, so eventually I called her up. “So Julia,” I asked, “what do you think?”

There was a silence as she gathered her thoughts. Then in that familiar reedy voice she nailed the answer: “Well,” she said, “she just doesn’t seem very serious, does she?

“I worked very hard on that book. I tested and retested those recipes for eight years so that everybody could cook them. And many, many people have. I don’t understand how she could have problems with them. She just must not be much of a cook.”

I guess Julia Child wasn’t happy with the way Julie Powell was constantly complaining about how hard the recipes were and the screw-ups which she vividly described in her blog entries. After reading the article, I could understand why Julia wasn’t too fond of the blog. Imagine something you have worked hard to perfection for 8 years being discriminated publicly in a joking manner by a random stranger.

Well, all that aside, I’m hoping to get that book under my Christmas tree(: Yeah, you got the hint**.

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The truth hurts. (expression/privacy; punctuation)

October 26, 2009

During the last lecture on relational dialectics. I remember this one statement you mentioned that really got me thinking:

“One cannot be totally honest since our private thoughts and feelings would hurt others.”

I used to believe that honesty is the best asset anyone can have. And that I would rather know the worst of everything than to know nothing at all. I detest liars. I’m sure everyone does, but if I had to make a top 10 list for the kinds of people whom I think deserve to burn in hell, liars would top my list. It is hard for me to trust as it is. I don’t think it’s possible to trust a second time after being lied to. Once bitten, twice shy don’t you think?

My previous relationship didn’t work out because we had conflicting views on so many issues. He wanted his space but I wanted a fully open relationship where we would never keep anything from each other. That was the my idea of  a relationship with perfect communication. But I never realized how impossible it was until we both wound up getting hurt. Of course, it was impossible to demand for a completely open relationship. He was someone who kept a lot to himself, and I couldn’t respect that. And the more I wanted him to be open with me, the harder he tried to keep things from me.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that he found a need to lie to me in order to get the space he needed. And ever since his first lie, I would test him over and over again, sneak around to find evidence just to prove that he lied to me. I could never bring myself to trust him again. And I started to try to take revenge on him by making him feel the most guilt he could possibly have before losing his sanity. (Yes, I was way childish back then, thank God that I grew up and realized how effed up I really was.)

We spent two years in that destructive relationship. Albeit he told me he was willing make the effort to change, I told him it was impossible because the amount of impeccable damage we have done was too much to try for a second chance. And of course, I’ve learnt well from this experience that I cannot hope for a relationship with flawless communication with anyone. There are bound to be disagreements, misunderstandings and secrets. And accepting that is simpler than striving for unachievable perfection.

Communication Theories

September 28, 2009

I remember stepping into my first communication class two Augusts ago, not knowing of what to expect from it. However, I have obtained much valuable information and insight into the world of communication just with that one module in communication. Things that I never once thought was of importance to me. Theories which I find that actually applies to me in reality. One of the few theories that intrigued my interest was the theory on relational dialectics.

Albeit the theory was based on things I have never bothered noticing. Thinking back on my previous relationships, I realized that the theory comes into play pretty often throughout the course of the relationship and had I have the information and the knowledge that I have inquired from that class, I could have changed so many things and prevented so many conflicts that has already occurred.

The word “theories” almost always brings about the thought of boring and dry concepts which are irrelevant to everyday issues. However, I have come to the startling realization that this isn’t true because more often than usual, we act on theories, automatically and unknowingly to us. Thus, these “theories” are actually relevant to our everyday lives, depending on whether or not we are able to apply them to our issues at hand.

There has been many benefits to me studying this course on communication theories. First of all, it has allowed me to think retrospectively on my past communication experiences and how I could have handled the different situations if I had the knowledge that I have obtained from the course thus far. Studying communication theories formally as a course can help me to be more effective in my communication skills as well as to prevent misunderstandings and misinterpretations in my daily interaction with people.There has been many benefits to me studying this course on communication theories.

First of all, it has allowed me to think retrospectively on my past communication experiences and how I could have handled the different situations if I had the knowledge that I have obtained from the course thus far. Studying communication theories formally as a course can help me to be more effective in my communication skills as well as to prevent misunderstandings and misinterpretations in my daily interaction with people.

Theories embodies us to predict what might happen in a certain situation, and this is helpful because we will be able to use the information to choose and control our actions in order to bring us to our desired outcome.

With communication theories, we are able to understand why we, as human beings behave in a certain way towards a general situation and thus giving us so much more knowledge to better understand ourselves.

Much of communication has to do with the symbols which we give meaning to. Just in July this year, I spent 6 weeks in Berkeley to attend summer school. It was my first time in the states. There was an immense culture difference as compared to my home country of Singapore. During my time there, I find myself needing to assign different meanings to the things that I once paid no attention to. It was hard enough just adapting to the fact that in America, everyone greets everyone. I had trouble grasping the concept that just because a stranger is greeting you on the streets out of nowhere for no particular reason does not necessarily mean that he has any sort of hidden motives.

With that, I can assign to this the “theory” that Americans are friendlier than Singaporeans thus they adapt to change and unfamiliarity faster than Singaporeans would.

Thus I am able to come out with an assortment of my very own communication theories just based on my experiences with the way American culture communicates. With this, I understand that most theories are based on people’s past experiences and point of views.

I am looking forward to learning more about communication theories and to slowly uncover how these simple theories encompasses the patterns of interaction in our daily lives.