I first discovered blogs while I was still in the US, living in San Francisco. I was fresh out of college, slogging away in an office in The City, trying to figuring out my next move. I was little more than a glorified receptionist masquerading as an office manager for a small agency. I always looked busy but I had a lot of downtime which I killed primarily on salon.com.
One day I found a link I hadn’t noticed before called RadioUserland (I remember thinking at the time, radio on the internet, really?) that turned out to be the early beginnings of the now glorified ‘blogoshpere’.
I didn’t get the whole thing right away. A lot of them I found rather boring. Others were just confusing. I’d open a link and feel like I’d found myself in the middle of a conversation, eavesdropping, like when the wires actually did get crossed on the phone back in the days of yore. I don’t know how many weeks went by until I finally realized that the little calendar on the right hand column of most of them wasn’t there to tell me the date, but instead was an archive where I could dig out the back story.
The lightbulb slowly started to brighten.
One of the first blogs I really got was the Julie/Julia project. There I was, having a life/career crisis, sitting in San Francisco but wishing I was somewhere else, reading about a woman only a few years older who was going through a crisis of her own in New York. Her adventures working as a secretary in the other City, cooking through Mastering the Art of French Cooking by night were a great reminder that you don’t need to define yourself by your day job and that you can look beyond the work realm for inspiration.
I was hooked from start to finish and admit to certain days in the office that were punctuated with hitting refresh on her page, looking for the next update.
By the time I finished reading her blog a year later, I was living in Germany figuring things out over there.
I’ve stumbled across her on occasion since. A few years later, as I was preparing to move to China, and going through another little identity crisis as a result, I saw her book in the airport gift shop and snapped it up. Laughing my ass off was good stress therapy. A few months ago, I happened across a mention of her online and found she has another book, a Twitter account and a movie.
She’s come a long way.
Some people seem to feel pretty strongly about her: hating her, hating her writing, calling her the first sell-out. I think what she’s accomplished is pretty cool. She is the first one I know of who’s successfully gone from blog to book.
If you haven’t read anything from Julie yet, start from the beginning and work your way through. Leave the movie until end (I haven’t managed yet, but hear it’s good). The movie spreads a bit of stardust (apparently) over the real character of Julie Powell that disappointed some who read the blog after. Personally I loved her profanity, her sloppy honesty and her forthright admission to drinking heavily, cooking badly and watching TV obsessively, all of which made it into her blog and apparently were left out of the movie. I plan to see the movie, armed with the understanding that this kind of thing would naturally have some trouble making it into a Nora Ephron movie. Such is Hollywood. Julie Powell’s only criticism of the movie, by the way, was over the portrayal of her beloved cat.
The whole story is quite a fun ride and well worth it.
Some more links to browse: