Marshall & Julie: Day 14

10 08 2010

Sorry I’ve been a little delinquent in posting this – I know you’ve all been biting your nails in anticipation!

This may be the last big post in “The Marshall & Julie Project,” but it’s certainly not the end.  Whenever I feel the time is right, I’m going to publish a post reflecting on what the project has meant for me.  Don’t hold your breath for that post; I’ll know when the time is right to revisit and reflect.

But for the time being, enjoy the post.

Day 14: “Simplicity Itself” / “Creation Itself”

As I sit down and write this, “Marshall and the Movies” has officially turned a year old.  I most definitely did not foresee this day coming when I banged out my post “The Beginning” in the wee hours of the morning.  I don’t even know if I saw past a few days and weeks, in fact.  But I’m certainly glad I’ve come to this day.

I can smell the sweet aroma of almonds and chocolate from the Reine de Saba, a cake from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, just a few feet away from me in my kitchen.  I figured that since I’ve spent so much time acknowledging Julie Powell’s influence on me, it’s time I paid my respects to Child since she is indirectly responsible for starting this thing.  So a few weeks ago, I checked out the legendary cookbook from the Houston Public Library and skimmed through for a recipe in the dessert section that would be easy enough for someone with no cooking experience to make.  I settled on the chocolate-almond cake, Reine de Saba, even before I read that it was Julie’s last dish in the Project.

It was a bit of an experience trying to cook it.  I enlisted the help of my mom, the family’s expert baker.  I did a good portion of the work but let her step in and help when it was necessary.  I read ahead and saw that three eggs needed to be separated, and I thought I would impress by showing that I could do that.  I started tapping the egg softly against the bowl to make it break, but that wasn’t working.  I gave it a nice bang, and then half the egg spilled out on the counter.  I swore I heard a little laugh from my mom, who at the time was busy mixing the butter and sugar.  I learned how to fold and beat today, and I sure did enjoy cooking – although I won’t enjoy unloading all the dishes it took to make the cake in the morning.

I decorated the cake icing with almonds, first forming a ring around the cake and then making an M in the center.  It is my anniversary, so I can do things like that, OK!?  So now, I’m one five hundred twenty-fourth of the way to mastering the art of French cooking a la Julie Powell.  Start the countdown – 364 days, 523 recipes.

Just kidding.  But that cake was awfully tasty.

Julie remarks on the amazing social changes that have taken place over a year.  For example, when she started the Project, none of her friends really wanted to eat at her house.  Fast forward a year and no one thinks twice about coming over for dinner.  I’ve found that people seem to be much more open to going to movies with me over the past year.  Now that the cat’s out of the bag and my obsession is totally open, I sense that people almost want to share in that with me.  And I love having a whole set of moviegoing companions.

I guess no story is really complete without maggots.  The gross larvae appear in the last chapter and elicit a shriek from Julie, who manages to find them underneath the dish rack.  After seeing Tim Burton’s “The Corpse Bride,” where a maggot lives inside the eye of a dead woman voiced by who else but Helena Bonham Carter, those little guys give me the creeps.  So in the same situation, I’d almost definitely freak out too.  Just to set the record straight.

And then Julie has a sort of breakdown when she encounters frustration with a recipe, claiming that if she can’t get this one right after 364 days, then the entire Project was just a waste of her time.  Although I don’t have any sort of concrete benchmarks for success and failure, I certainly know the feeling of worrying over the purpose of blogging.  If I had gone a year and could barely muster up a comment or couldn’t understand some sophisticated movies, I might go bonkers too.  If I didn’t love movies more after a year of blogging, I’d consider the time a waste.

Julie manages to bone a duck on the penultimate day of the Project, something she had been dreading since day 1.  But to dampen her spirits, she gets a call from a reporter who had interviewed Julia Child.  Julie had her on a giant pedestal, and from this pedestal, the aged chef apparently wanted to smite her disciple.  This, of course, induces a crying fit, which is completely understandable.  I wouldn’t be able to stay dry-eyed after finding out that my hero dismissed a year’s worth of hard work as irreverent.

I don’t know how Julie Powell will react to “The Marshall & Julie Project,” that is assuming she’ll ever read it.  Considering that she isn’t even forty, she can’t use a mid-life crisis as an excuse not to like it.  Nor can she (or would she) use old age in her defense, simply because she’s obsessed with staying youthful like every other woman in America.

But I can tell you this – I’ll do my best to get this project before Julie’s eyes.  The day the last post runs, I’m going to post the link to my project on her first post.  I considered leaving a comment on the day I opened up “Julie & Julia.”  I started out writing, “Dear Julie, Your work is simply magnificent.  I love” – but I got that far and then went back to the drawing board.  “Dear Julie, I absolutely love what you have done with blogging.”

After that, I realized it was simply too soon to leave a comment.  Not until I fully immersed myself in her 300-page volume of blogging literature could I comment with all the meaning it merited.  So today, I’m going to write, “Dear Julie, Thanks for getting me started on this wild adventure through the blogosphere.  I hope you know what a profound influence you have had on my life.”

After a nice dinner of duck, her friend Gwen says, “If Julia isn’t happy with this, then there’s just no pleasing [her],” to put that last part nicely.  I certainly hope that Julie can only smile when she reads this.  I have tried to be respectful and reverent of her yet never reticent of my opinions just to please her.   And if she happens not to be amused by my little project, then I’ll work especially hard to publish this series as a book and vilify her in the epilogue.

The last official day of blogging, Julie took off work.  Did I take off … um, volunteering at Vacation Bible School?  No, those kids need me to get from snack to crafts!  I take my unpaid job very seriously.

She considers contemplating the significance of her year; however, she can’t focus enough to do any of that.  Between running around between volunteering, cooking, and working on college applications, I can’t exactly clear my mind to do it either.  There truly is no rest for the weary – a lesson I know all too well from junior year.

For her final taste of Julia Child, she had Reine de Saba just as I did.  Now the two of us have a culinary connection, which is nice to finally have after all those cinematic connections I drew.  And the entire project ends exactly as it started – Julie Powell cooking for she and her husband in simplicity.

Much like Julie, I too am ringing in the one-year mark of my blog by doing exactly what I did on day 1: seeing a movie.  It’s “Dinner for Schmucks,” another beautiful free screening that has come my way thanks to skillful web hunting.  That’s part of the beauty of not having a concrete project.  While I don’t have the satisfaction of visible accomplishment, I don’t have to deal with any sort of withdrawals.  I just get to keep watching movie after movie, be they from recipe or from scratch.  I’m not closing a book, just starting a new chapter.  I flip the page with a first-time moviegoing companion tonight, so it definitely feels new.

To close, I just keep coming back to the biblical story of creation.  Once He had created everything in the universe, from the heavens to the humans, he took a step back, smiled, said it was good, and rested. I don’t claim to be God, but I do feel that I have created something good hear.  With this cake, I intend to do exactly as He did after the creating was done. I get to look back on one fabulous year of growing in my knowledge and love of movies with nothing but smiles. Now it’s time to rest … and breathe.

But wait … I’m a blogger, I can’t rest?  Faster, more reviews, more factoids!



One response

12 08 2010

Dang! I just came back from volunteering at VBS.

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