Julia Child, High Heels, Julie Powell, & Mirrored Lives

Eirik and I just finished watching Julie & Julia, my third viewing, his first, and after my experience Monday night in the mustard heels, one of the most notable images in this film is Meryl Streep as Julia Child cooking in three inch platform heels (and pearls). 

I read an article about the costuming of the film that said Julia Child would have more likely been found in sensible shoes with a shorter heel and that the high heels only served to help give Meryl Streep the appearance of height.  But regardless of historical accuracy, it can't be denied that women of earlier eras were far more likely to be found functioning in high heels in a regular basis, and for that, I tip my absent hat to them. 

In college, after moving out of the dorm into my own apartment, I made all of my own bread from scratch.  One night, my friend Lela came to help, and we decided we were going to bake the bread in heels, red lipstick, and pearls.  I wore my best 60's scarf to compliment the ensemble, which included the jeans I ripped a giant hole in when I tripped over my own foot in the senior parking lot in high school and fell on my face, (in front of boys, which should definitely be mentioned here, in a public forum).  We aren't going to talk about the bangs.

Moving right along...

In the extra features of the film, one of the directors talked about how Julia Child always viewed herself as a teacher, rather than a writer.  Several of my co-workers have mentioned my continuous talk about my past three years as a classroom teacher and my identification as a teacher versus my new position, and of course I started making comparisons between myself and the woman I admire.

At one point, in the film itself, Julie Powell compares herself to Julia Child in that they were both secretaries, married to nice men, etc... and it turned my mind to thinking about mirrored lives.

Eirik and Lennon both tease me that I like the movie so much because I am very similar to Julie Powell - melodramatic, aspiring writer who can't fathom the idea of actually being a writer, blogger, (duh), project oriented... mostly banal details that describe lots of people, but regardless of origin, I still love the film. 

Most of my love stems from the idea of two women who don't start life with a certainty about where they are going or how they are going to move forward, but somehow life unfolds for them in an organic way they could not have devised or planned by scheming a certain trajectory, the way it seems everyone else I know has done.

When I look back on high school and college, (and at the dawn of the new year it seems appropriate to do so), it would seem as though everyone I knew had a strong sense of self and idea of where they were going, while I've just been drifting from one undertaking to the next.  Naval ROTC, international relations, English literature, poetry, teaching, various boyfriends, cities, states... I am unsettled and unsure of where the next foothold is. 

It's reassuring to know that a blind start is not the recipe (pun intended) for a disastrous finish.  While I can't mirror myself on any historical or popular personage, I'd like to think that the unplanned path is not an impossible one. 

And I suppose that the desired end depends greatly on how one measures success.  For myself, I've always set the bar of success on a writing career and comfortable finances, neither of which I've achieved.  But, knowing that Julie Powell didn't get there till her 30's, and Julia Child till her 40's or 50's, let's me know I have plenty of time, and that's a comforting thought.  Especially when Facebook inundates my news feed with marriage and baby announcements, a proclamation of semi-solidified paths that make me feel even more fluid and unstable.  But this is not reality, and my fluid path will allow me to hedge my own way about things, or at least that's one of the things I hope for 2010.  That, and more movies I love to watch on repeat.