Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I Feel Bad about My Neck and About Nora Ephron's Death

I actually do not feel bad about my neck--not yet.  But because of Nora Ephron's book by that title, I expect that I will some day.  I've been warned.  I also remember her appearance on Oprah to promote the book.  She talked about how few people have gray hair anymore, and so we all look younger than we are.  I hadn't ever thought about that before, but it's true.

Last summer I found my first silvery hair.  I saw it as a curiousity.  This summer, I'm seeing an invasion.  I'm blondish, so it's not so noticeable to others.  I'm budgeting for a future of hair highlights, though.  I've been warned.

I do feel bad about Ephron's death.  I also felt a shock--I didn't realize she was 71.  I felt the sadness that I feel when someone in their 40's dies.  But Ephron has had a full, rich life.

This story on the NPR website gives some background, along with this great quote:  "'I think it's like a lot of things about getting older — you have absolutely no imagination that this is actually going to happen to you,' she told NPR's Neal Conan several years ago. 'You think for quite a while you're going to be the only person who doesn't need reading glasses, or the only person who doesn't go through menopause ... and in the end, the only person who isn't going to die. And then you suddenly are faced with whichever of those things it is, and you can't believe how unimaginative you have been about what it actually consists of.'"

Yes, for years, I had felt a bit of glee about the fact that I didn't need reading glasses.  I thought that maybe I'd avoid that fate, even though I know that every pair of eyes needs reading glasses by age 50.  The only people who don't need reading glasses are the ones who don't read.

It's been shocking to me how quickly my eyes have needed reading glasses.  One month I could read perfectly; one month later, I'm blurry-eyed at every reading opportunity that's not a screen.


I had forgotten that Nora Ephron wrote serious movies in addition to romantic comedies and light essays.  I spent my college years terrifying myself by watching nuclear war movies:  Testament, The Day After, and Threads, the terrifying triumvarate.  But perhaps I should have watched Silkwood a few more times.  I've probably been in more danger from local nuclear plants than governments with nuclear weapons.

And if I watched it again, I'd likely pay attention to the dangers posed by big corporations.  That's the threat that's feeling most predatory to me these days.

Most of us will probably remember her as the writer of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle.  You may remember the post that I wrote in February of 2011 after watching When Harry Met Sally, along with other movies.  I concluded this way:  "I'm happy to report that When Harry Met Sally still holds up all these years. Witty dialogue, crisp plotting, beautiful settings, perfectly done minor characters, truly funny bits. It was a great way to end my disappointing movie streak."

The ever-wonderful Linda Holmes has written a beautiful essay about Nora Ephron's romantic comedies, and she spends some time on what Nora Ephron taught her as a writer:  "Nora Ephron would be part of any box of influences I might try to pull together that explained how I started writing, how I learned what kinds of jokes I like, and how I learned what kinds of love stories I respond to. I suspect I still accidentally try to talk like I'm in a Nora Ephron romantic comedy; I wouldn't know it, because I'd just think of it as trying to make great conversation."

And let us not forget about Nora Ephron the director.  She paved a way when very few women were directing movies. 

I feel bad about all the creative folks we've lost this year.  Very bad.  But also very thankful to have had them and their work to nourish us.

1 comment:

Beth said...

This is a wonderful post. I think I first read a Nora Ephron story in -- could it have been Esquire? -- when I was 12 or so, and she's been a fixture of my adulthood, always making me laugh or look with a wry and rueful eye at some aspect of life. I feel like I'm facing my own aging with far less acceptance and grace than I'd hoped, and maybe that will be her lasting gift to me -- that its OK to feel indignant so long as you remember to laugh too. Get the reading glasses, Kristin!