Sunday, October 4, 2009


“Performance anxiety and a drying-cleaning bill; those were the only things keeping me from stark raving lunacy.” Julie Powell, Julie and Julia

I can completely relate to the above quote by Julia Powell. At times, all of us feel the ability to descend into madness, but a sober rationality keeps us from going there. I’ve always comforted myself with the thought that if I know that engaging in a behavior would be crazy, I cannot possibly be crazy. When I’m particularly down, I picture myself snatching drinking glasses out of the kitchen cabinet and hurling them against a wall. The more depressed I am, the more often I fantasize about doing it. I think I imagine the act because I’ve seen frustrated family-members toss various easily breakable kitchen objects on several occasions during my childhood. I had (and lived vicariously through) a character in my manuscript chuck wine bottles, smashing them against her bedroom door. When under stress, we’d all like to resort to an adult tantrum once in a while.

Two days ago, I began reading, Julie and Julia (I like to read the book before I see the movie and I like to see movies once they’re on DVD). One-hundred-and-eleven pages in, I’ve found myself relating to Julie Powell more than I thought I would. I’m about ten years older than she was when embarking on her blog – but also with a big birthday looming before me, we both got married at age twenty-four to our high school sweethearts (technically, I was friends with mine in high school and began dating him a year later), and we both have felt utterly stuck.

Of course there are big differences. Julie is a better writer than me. I’m sure she’s a better cook, since she’s made every dish from Julia Child’s, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She’s without children and living in Manhattan, while I have two children and live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And she began her blog at a smart time – before everyone had one. Most importantly, after being stuck in her situation, she found a clever way out.

I’ve got six months to go before I hit a pivotal birthday. When I was nearing thirty, I had recently had a child, just obtained a Master’s degree, and was about to get my teaching certification. In other words, I had accomplished a couple of things and was about to accomplish something else. Nearly ten years later, I feel like I’ve spent most of the decade in idle. My husband’s post-doctoral position took years past when he thought it would, so we spent years financially stuck, while he felt physically stuck in his job. Last year, my husband got a new job and he’s no longer stuck. He’s much happier, and is now anxiously awaiting me to get my career going so we can afford a larger house. Four people in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom condo cannot endure much longer.

I’m hoping that like Julie Powell, I’m at some crossroads. Perhaps an opportunity (or two) awaits me just ahead. I’m hoping that persistence is key; I’ll keep sending out resumes, making connections, writing, submitting manuscripts, and blogging. By the way, last week I began to post some blog entries on, under “Theresa”. So far, I have two posts; the first is identical to my first entry on this blog, but the second was written just for the site (and is currently featured on the homepage), which is for educators and parents. I’m also hoping that the more I put myself out there, the greater the rewards. Because sometimes, the stress of being stuck and putting myself out there is a little scary and a lot maddening.

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