Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Not Our Type, Dear.

It turns out I'm not to everyone's taste. Those pure of thought and deed and word wish I'd shut my dirty mouth. Many republicans, mostly those who object to being called "evil" by such an expert in political analysis, dislike me. People who thought I was writing a book about cooking aren't too fond of me either.

And then there are the Spence School parents.

The parents at the the Spence School don't hate me or anything. I'm just not really their milieu. I went to a book fair their just before Thanksgiving, and I have to say, it was the most excruciating three hours of my life. There's something about trying to explain my book about a financially and existentially struggling Queens secretary to a woman with perfectly honeyed highlights, a $3,000 sweater and a suspiciously unlined face that just gets me down. It's the blank look that passes across their eyes when you say "Queens" or "temp work" that does it. They just don't get it. They smile with that look of comprehension they've cultivated, and you can just hear them thinking, "This is a poor woman. I've heard about them."

Oh well.

I did another event for some distinctly nonplussed people at L'Ecole in Soho - the NYT Times-hosted one I mentioned before. It was me, the chef from Artisanal, and two TV chefs. Bunch of upper west side foodies in the audience, very nice people I'm sure, definitely big Food Network watchers. That was the second most excruciating hours of my life. I don't mind that everyone was there to see not me but a borscht-belt-by-way-of-Puerto-Rico Daisy Martinez hold forth. She's smart as a whip, and was funny, if you like that kind of thing. (Though she told her best story, a nicely disgusting one about monkfish, in the green room beforehand. I'm not going to tell it, because if Daisy has a grain of sense she'll publish it at some point, and I don't want to steal her fire....) And I don't mind that there's this whole society of celebrity chefs that have a whole world of gossip I know nothing about. But I just wondered why I was there. These people are food people. They're going to read my book, and they're going to figure out it's not really about food, and they're going to hate me. That's the way it happens. So I sat there in front of this big audience, feeling their animus in advance. I don't like it when people don't like me.

But, I'm learning, that's just the way the shit goes. Which is sort of a great thing to learn, actually.


Blogger Anita said...

When I started teaching, a professor/mentor told me that 25% of the people will like you no matter what and 25% of the people will hate you no matter what. It's those 50% in the middle that respond to you and what you do that counts.

That said, your book was in the Charlotte Observers' book guide at Christmas as it was in Food and Wine. Both of which presented it as a good book about cooking, but not necessarily a cook book. No?

8:14 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

But Julie, this is exactly what distinguishes you from other food writes, and makes your voice so refreshing and valuable. You're just a different flavor of ice cream from them, but both flavors are still yummy and worth having again and again. (Of course, there are always those who are loyal to one -- and only one -- flavor, but that's just so limiting, don't you think?)

8:27 AM  
Blogger trailingbuffalo said...

Awww, screw 'em if they can't take a joke, right? LOL!!! I know the people you're talking about (the mothers at that school -- or their ilk), and I give them no credence whatsoever. Have THEY ever been on Martha Stewart? Has Julia Child ever head of THEM? Nope. Have THEY written a book? No. Have THEY been reviewed in the NY Times, et al? No. Have THEY had Amanda Hesser to dinner? No. Have THEY been invited as a presenter at the Texas Book Festival? No.

Ok, you're now a successful writer, with awards to prove it, and you're the celebrity and they're not. Screw 'em.


10:11 AM  
Blogger SnatchyCake said...

Wow. I can't believe how unaccepting you are of regular people, such as mothers, who possibly just think your book is shitty? So now, instead of leaving it at just that, you throw people into groups of republicans, food network watchers, and mothers.

The money has clearly gone to your head. Like you are any better than a woman, *who is a mother* and has money?

We dislike you because you are so obviously against anyone who isn't just like you and doesn't fall down at your feet praising your book.

All you did is cash in on a great woman's legacy.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Julie Powell said...

I don't dislike anybody. Well, except Republicans. That's not even true. I like some Republicans. It's more a hate the sin love the sinner kind of thing. I just think it's been an interesting thing, how some times I get invited to things because of the food aspect, even though I'm not much of food expert. And interesting that people who read my book expecting that think it's a shitty book.

For the record, I often think it's a shitty book too. Sometimes, I'll be thinking (only for a second or two) that I might want to, you know, die, and then I realize I don't because I want to write a good book first.

The only thing I do take issue with is the claim that's made that I was trying to take advantage of Julia. If you knew how deep was my gratitude to her for teaching me how to live bravely, you wouldn't say something like that. But maybe you don't know because I didn't get that across. Which is shitty writing on my part.

Hence the better book next time, I hope.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Julie Powell said...

I also think it's interesting that people who hate me so much still continue to read my blog regularly. It's kind of touching, in an odd way....

11:18 AM  
Blogger pete said...

Hey, how do you do that thing where you accept people disliking you? I think if I could do that people would like me more.

Crap...I'm doomed.

11:52 AM  
Blogger trailingbuffalo said...

Well, Pete, after a childhood (and more than a little bit of adulthood) of agonizing whenever someone didn't like me, here's how I handled it. I asked myself, "Do I like everyone I know/meet?" Then I answered myself, "Well, no, TB, I don't."

Then I told myself that if I don't like everyone I know/meet, then how can I reasonably expect everyone I know/meet to like ME? And so I just left it at that. Win a few, lose a few. That's life.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Julie Powell said...

Actually, I'm just terrible at it. Having people dislike me gives me asthma attacks. Somehow I can kind of fake it online, though....

1:50 PM  
Blogger rabrown2 said...

Bah, people are people, always have been and always will. I happen to lean more to the republican side I guess, but I prefer to make my own decisions on an issue rather than let some group in a room somewhere looking at poll information to help them decide what people who pick one box or the other on a registration form should think make my decisions for me. (if that sentence doesn't kill my non existent thoughts of writing a book then nothing will!) I don't consider myself particularly evil, but I definately know who she's talking about. I'm sure there are a number of people who carry the democratic lable that could be considered evil as well. Evil has no concept of party lines.

I thought the blog was fantastic, and the book is like getting a chance to watch a movie again while also being able to see all the crazy gossip fodder that goes on behind the camera at the same time.

The language? If you don't like it then you don't have to talk that way and can paraphrase in your head while you read or something! I happen to think "reality" tv shows (who's "writers" are currently trying to get more money (funny, there are no writers in my reality)) are rather ridiculous so I don't watch them. Problem solved.

Is it a cook book, not really, although it can give the cooking inclined some ideas. Is it a book about cooking?, partially, but it's also about a year in someone's life where they figured something out about themselves on who knows haw many levels, and were gracious enough to bring strangers along for the ride, and drag their friends into the journey with them for our amusement! (well not specifically for our amusement but that was the end result, hey I'm not the writer here, I already established that!) Is it a really good book? Well it is to me, and I'm the one who decides what I like so that works out well.

One could seriously debate the idea that the mothers she referred to (who I'm guessing she neglected to mention were only there because their 4 nannies had the night off) are "regular" people. I also doubt the lady who made the comment is the type of woman Julie was referring to, because I seriously doubt blog reading is a part of their life any more than opening a can of tuna and mixing it with mayo to make a sandwich is (ever see "Arthur"?).

Alright, this is more than I've typed in a long time so I'll hang up and leave everyone alone now!

Thanks for the book Julie!

3:55 PM  
Blogger pinky said...

When I started teaching I found out that students get to do anonymous critiques of us, and some were just blisteringly hateful. I mean, paint peeling off the walls level of just detesting me, my hair, anything I have ever said, done, or thought, my mother for having me, you name it. I felt really, really bad. I couldnt get over it. I laid awake thinking about it. Then I found out we get them 3 times a year. After about the 3rd round, I just sort of got over it. One student said I should be more "maternal" with my (graduate, medical) students. And I thought, well, thank your lucky stars I'm not your mother honey, because you would be so GROUNDED. And then one day I got to read the evals of my mentor and idol, the very Dumbledore of my school and field. AND PEOPLE WERE SAYING THE SAME SHIT ABOUT HIM. Who would say that about Dumbledore? I know it is really, really hard to take, but everyone who puts herself out there gets some enmity back. It is the sad and unfortunate way of the world. But if certain assholes hate you, it is likely you are doing something right. If EVERYONE hates you, you may be doing something wrong. (If 65% of the country thinks you are doing a bad job, you should resign, George.) You, Julie, keep writing it and lots of us will keep loving it.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Dangerartist said...

Hi Julie, I recently read your book and discovered your fabulous blog after the fact. I really enjoyed the book - I actually listened to it. My first time with an audio book. Seemed weird at the start but it was really fun listening as I worked in my studio. It is really a New York story - at least a common one of the last 10 years or so. Your book and ideas seem to get people all up in your shit and their own. It's cool. As an artist, I have always felt that varied responses to my work mean I'm doing something right. Getting people to think and question and argue and agree. Love it! You are doing what good artists (and teachers) do.

6:31 AM  
Blogger Steve S said...

You can tell more about a person by the people who hate you than the ones that love you.

Sounds like you are doing OK

5:11 AM  
Blogger rabrown2 said...

Hear Hear Steve! I like that.

10:11 AM  
Blogger MrLittlePants said...

Julie, I work with those "food people", and I can tell you that you're a hit at the FCI. We all love your book and admire your project. Fret not! There's nothing to being a food person other than enjoying cooking and eating. I've noticed that a lot of alleged food people in New York can't boil water.

3:19 PM  
Blogger MrLittlePants said...

Snatchycake, you are the biggest loser I've ever seen on the internet. Don't be jealous of Julie just because you haven't done anything with your snatchy life!

6:46 PM  
Blogger swarnesy said...

Hi Julia - speaking of L'Ecole, our little book club met there last week, and the book of the month was - you guessed it - Julie & Julia. Despite piss poor service (if it weren't for Mustafa delivering more cheesesticks to those who's orders were "lost," we would have walked), we had a wonderful time. The book was a great conversation starter - a fantastic way to end the book club "year." If you get any bookclub inquiries, I'd be happy to forward my discussion guide - not to mention send a pic of the evening if you'd like! Proof that 9 lovely NYC ladies spent an evening out talking about YOUR book! If that's not fame, I don't know what is. Happy Holidays!

8:02 AM  
Blogger R said...

Notice how snatchycakes profile is not listed. Hmmmm. Shitty people leave shitty messages and then hide behind them.
Your book, to me, was about a girl finding herself. About leaving home (as a fellow Texan and 7th gen at that...I KNOW that obstacle)and wondering...okay...I got out of that rut...now what?! Finding you were not living up to your potential, and if you were going to kill time here on earth..might as well do something interesting. That is what I took from it. It has inspired me in ways that would bore you to imagine, and changed my life. My New Years Res is to do something similar. (Not cooking, but experimenting with things outside my realm)
You Rock. Your Book Rocks. I gave it as Christmas presents to all my friends. I'm pimping you like a two dollar whore.
Keep on sister!

11:58 PM  
Blogger Nanny Louise said...

Julie, I know how you felt that day at Spence. I have been working as a nanny for a family at one of the top private schools in Manhattan and I have to go to pick up the kids every day. It sucks being the only one, well me anfd the other nannies, who dont talk about the Hamptons, private plnes or trips to weird sounding islands. so instead of talking I shut up and I started listening. Thats what my soon to be released book is about.
check out my blog if you get a chance.

5:09 PM  
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