Friday, August 7, 2009

Let's give em something to blog about...

For some reason whenever I can't think of anything to blog about, that Bonnie Raitt song "Let's Give 'Em Something to Talk About" always goes through my head, except in my head I sing it "Let's give 'em somethin' to blog about, a little mystery to figure out..." I can't believe I just actually wrote that out loud. I really must be desperate for material.

Here's what I want to blog about, but probably won't be able to very well because kids are constantly and literally all over me:

My very complicated feelings about the new Julie & Julia movie. Complicated? You're thinking, it's a Nora Ephron movie. What's so complicated? "Well, it's complicated," I would probably reply. This movie was made for someone like me. I love to cook, I'm a total sucker for romantic comedies, I blog (on a monthly basis). My feelings about it are complicated because I used to be friends with the Julie of the "Julie" part of the movie. Some background: the movie is about a real person named Julie who wrote a blog about cooking her way through a Julia Child cookbook. The blog became a book and the book became a movie.

Now, the whole blog-to-book-to-movie scenario is pretty much one of my favorite fantasies (in my version Jake Gyllenhall figures prominently). Until now, a movie based on a blog seemed like an impossible feat. The fact that it happened to someone I knew well in high school is weird and surreal and makes me feel very, um, er, happy for her, of course. Happy and maybe just the teensiest bit jealous, self-doubting and depressed at the same time? Does that make me a bad person? Probably.

Another thing I want to blog about is the fact that I can't get a single thing done lately. Oh, don't get me wrong. I do mountains of laundry, piles and piles of it. I just plowed through one of those big Costco-size Tide boxes in record time. I also do dishes, make beds, fold things, and clean out closets on such a continual basis that I'm wondering if it's like the lion, the witch and the wardrobe in my kids' rooms, and there is a whole other fairy tale land on the other side of their closets filled with half-man/half-deer type creatures who are secretly stashing too-small shoes and old onseies in there when no one is looking. I get that stuff done, and that stuff is important and all, but I'm really really aching to get some of my own writing done. Will this ever happen?? The baby is crying, so I'll have to report back to you on that later.

How is anyone ever going to make a movie out of my blog if I can't even finish a sentence?? The only thing tying this mess of a blog post together is my annoying use of the double question mark. What's up with that??

I actually relate to Julie's plight in the blog/book/movie. She's turning 30 and is worried that she hasn't made anything of herself, that she'll always be a lowly office temp, while her friends are making it big in New York. In my darker moments I feel the same way. I'm a very different person from Julie, but I worry sometimes that I've missed some important goal in life, that I have been so engrossed in being a mother, that I forgot to pursue other things and now I'm adrift on this mommyhood raft and can't quite figure out how to make it back to Elizabeth-land. (That's right, I said Elizabeth-land.) Every time I see a trailer of Julie & Julia it feels like this big Julia-Child-sized reminder of my own lack of accomplishment.

Today I got to go to the dentist by myself at 8:30 in the morning. It felt like such a small miracle being dressed and out of the house by myself so early in the morning. Driving to the dentist, I thought, this is what it would be like to have a job. I could just leave every morning with clean hair and a cute purse with only my stuff in it. Should I be looking for a job?? Every now and then I look for jobs online and wonder what it would be like to make money again. I've been at home so long with kids that the working world feels like another planet, like it would have a different atmosphere, different air than the air I am used to breathing. I really can't even fathom going back to work right now, but I like to fantasize sometimes. Maybe I wouldn't be getting paid to get my own writing done, but I'd be getting paid to get something done. Right??

This is what's going on in my head on bad days. On good days, I feel like I am accomplishing tons--it's just happening so slowly and so constantly that it's hard to see it. I wish someone would come do a time-elapsed video of my life with the kids for a year, so that I could see them growing and changing and getting smarter in the span of like five minutes. They could put it to a catchy song, like maybe something from an ipod commercial. Then maybe I would feel more accomplished, or at least my accomplishments would be more tangible.

Right now I have to go because my kids are fighting over an empty vitamin bottle. And everyone needs to eat. Again. And Teddy has a dirty diaper. Nora Ephron, are you reading this??


gwen said...

You know, this made me think that the condition you're describing is just life, because I feel exactly the same way in reverse. I wonder if I am wasting those infamous child-bearing years working and going to school and doing trivial things that I could have years and years to do after my 30s, and I wonder what it would be like to have a child but can't really fathom it -- it totally brings up that feeling of being on another planet. My accomplishments (I am unsuccessfully resisting the urge to put "accomplishments" in sarcasm quotes) don't feel particularly inspiring. In fact, the only one that feels tangible sometimes is writing a novel, which is the one you're doing too.

Anyway, thanks for writing this. It's nice to know that that feeling is just kind of out there no matter what your situation is. And I am going to see "Julie and Julia" tomorrow -- it's weird that you knew her. Nora, if you're reading this, I would pay full price to watch "Mommytown: The Movie" in the theater multiple times... :)

Anonymous said...

I loved your post Elizabeth not only because it was well-written (I think my favorite sentence is the one about your kids closet being the wardrobe!) but because I've felt and still feel sometimes the same way: worried that I haven't accomplished anything in a day except laundry, dishes dishes dishes, and taking the dog on a walk and that I could be writing and having my book made into a movie, etc. But the truth for me is that I'm so much more full of joy now with a husband and child than I was when I was single and had lots of time to write and travel and study. I'm not saying that you have to be married and have kids to be happy. I'm just saying that it's made me very happy. I guess I'd like to find a way to write and have a family. It's so hard to do! But I am with you in solidarity. It is possible. And as another writer friend always reminds me, Toni Morrison didn't publish her first book until she was in her 40s! There's always time for us 30-somethings.


Phillips Family said...

I am "Amening" your post all the way from Texas. I often feel like you do...that my days were starting to feel like a very bad version of Bill Murray's Groundhog Day (as if the original was not horrible enough). Somedays I feel constantly busy, but do not feel like I have anything to show for such business. I finally decided to find a niche for myself and am doing some writing on the side. It isn't much, but I feel like I have at least done something for myself.
It isn't glamorous (right now I am writing on one computer while my son plays Deigo games on the other), but it is something.

How cool that you know the real Julie! Does she still blog?

Elizabeth said...

I love all these comments so much. I have probably read them all a dozen times.

Gwen, I find it so interesting that you feel the same way. You are's do not have the market cornered when it comes to feeling career/accomplishment angst. It's good for me to be reminded of that. I would also pay multiple times to see "Gwen & Gwen" or whatever the title of your blog-to-book-to-movie project will be.

Christiana, you hit the nail on the head! Being married and having kids have brought me immeasurable joy. "Joy" is such a good word for what it has brought me because joy is so much deeper than happiness. Joy can see you through even when you're not necessarily "happy" standing at the sink full of dirty dishes. Joy trumps all that laundry and kid detritus. And, I love hearing about writers who haven't published until their 40's and up! 40 is still very young in writer years.

Phillips family, it's so true about being so busy and having nothing but clean laundry to show for it. And that clean laundry will be dirty by the end of tomorrow anyway. (sigh) That is so cool that you are writing. What are you writing? Are you at liberty to discuss? I keep meaning to get serious about trying to do some freelance stuff, but as soon as I start to look into it, someone has spilled milk on someone or needs help toileting, etc. I am always so impressed by your ability to blog no matter how busy life gets. I would love to hear how you accomplish so much in a day!

Thanks for the awesome comments, guys!


Duana C. Welch said...

"I'm wondering if it's like the lion, the witch and the wardrobe in my kids' rooms, and there is a whole other fairy tale land on the other side of their closets filled with half-man/half-deer type creatures who are secretly stashing too-small shoes and old onseies in there when no one is looking." OMG--Right on target. Not the central point, I know, but Right On Target!

Elizabeth, I identify with your experience. We all need passion,not just money. We all crave recognition and achievement, and it's tough to find that in a pile of laundry. And Family is wonderful, but our children are not ourselves. Nor were they meant to be.

I have a child who has had insulin-dependent diabetes nearly all of her life. My life came screeching to a halt. Now, at 40, it is mostly back (and she is well and happy). It took me four decades to find my passion *and* a way to pursue took Julia Child longer than that. Thank God, Life is often Long Enough for us to find ourselves. I wish you the very, very best.


Domestic Witch said...

I feel a twing of jealousy everytime I see the preview too :P

mdm said...

Got to confess: I'm way behind in my blog reading (and in just about everything else in my life except procrastination). Got to admit, too, that I'm biased. Totally objective, of course, but biased.


You've got one young child who tells a woman at a swimming pool, "I like your coverup" and another even younger one, when told he's doing a good job picking blackberries, "I'm at the top of my game" and a still younger one who is bound to announce at any minute, "I can change my own diaper if you prefer."

Trade those for anything anyone ever heard or said "at the office".

I dare you.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I just have to make sure that I tell you that all those feelings you have about Julie DO NOT make you a bad person -- they make you HUMAN! I read this thinking "I swear I just had a similar conversation with someone about this topic the other day" and then I remembered it was with you and Laurie at dinner. All those things you describe feeling about working and wanting a condensed version of your life to really see the progress, I want too but I am standing on the other side of the fence and I cannot write it so beautifully (evidenced by this crazy run-on sentence)! I know I tell you everytime I see you that I think you are an amazing person and mother, but it is the truth. I see bad parenting all the time and if I were your boss and handing out yearly evals I could honestly say you would get a 3.9 out of 4.0 on the scale. I had to deduct .1 for your lack of confidence. :)
And I totally believe your blog would make a fabulous book and movie!
Lot of love,

trey hailey said...

nicely done little sister. My people will be in touch with your people. Let's do lunch. Ciao!

Robin said...

Just so you know, I think "Mommytown: The Movie" would totally rock. You have a fabulous way of putting your thoughts into words. I'm in awe. My husband (a writing snob) says you are today's Erma Bombeck. Now I know you might not value his opinion like I do, but I'm telling you, that is a HUGE compliment. So keep writing...however you want to do it. But obviously keep Teddy in clean diapers, too. :)


Grace said...

I think it is so cool you know the real julie. I think that should make you famous too.

MaryAnne said...

I enjoyed this post and all the comments you got! I go through phases of feeling this way and phases of feeling completely content at home. For now, I'm happy at home so I'll enjoy that phase while it lasts. I left the kids with my mom this morning and ran errands all by myself, and I have to say that it felt very refreshing to be seen merely as a woman running errands and not a woman struggling to keep three young children happy while running errands. Now, if only my mother weren't flying back across the Atlantic tomorrow afternoon...

Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

((((hugs)))) I think almost all of us can relate to this, and it can be so hard to get out of that funk. It is a hard job, so go easy on yourself!

Mommy Town the book/movie.... I would totally pay to read/see that. It would be totally awesome!

Would it help you to know that I'm thinking of offering a free online sewing workshop, if there is enough interest. I would love to have you join us!!

A Special Gift for Baby

Jennifer said...

Elizabeth, I haven't even been able to comment on this for a while because I relate to it too profoundly right now. I feel like I have lost so much ground in my personal development, that I forgot what I used to like and how I used to make decisions. Now I'm trying to reintegrate my old individual self into the family and it's like we have a visitor who won't leave. Everyone is having to adjust. I guess I would recommend to mothers with younger children than mine, not to let themselves get so separated from their uniqueness; keep on juggling the individual talent with the mothering. That way you won't have to try to relocate that old you when the children are older and less needy. And my husband and children seem delighted with the visitor I've resuscitated, even though she's caused a bit of a disturbance in the old routines.

Keep up your important work. It's vital to many of us, including yourself and B. and your children.