Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thank You Nora Ephron

 Chinese Phoenix rising from the ashes - Courtesy Google Images

It was back in the 1980s and I needed a location change after the deaths of my mom and of a three-year love affair.  I moved rather hastily to a picturesque little town, Ashland, Oregon, to make a fresh start. The town’s name seemed to imply a good place where fallen phoenixes could arise from their burnt-out selves. Ashland was home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and many other "off Bard's way" theatrical productions. It had a nearby ski mountain, a local lake, a lush park, vineyards and colorful Victorian houses -- with all this charm I decided to plop myself there for a spell and enrolled in the local college.  My niece, Gretchen (a psychologist), always said that before one of her patients considers suicide, she suggests they simply try moving to a new place and making a fresh stab at life instead of a bloody stab at one’s heart. I always thought this was sound advice and felt that I was making headway (or heart way).

My friend Pauline lived on a little farmstead or what some call horse property in the nearby town of Talent. One night, in my behalf, she rented the movie, Heartburn, based on a story by writer and humorist Nora Ephron; it was great medicine.  I laughed, I cried, I related, and I no longer felt alone and foolish in my misery. A human can heal amongst the people who have shared the same travails. Misery does indeed love company (and being in the company of Meryl Streep seemed bearable). Nora did more for my broken heart with that story than months of analysis. She made me see the ridiculous humor in the most horrific human shortcomings and offered up a dose of hope. Like the itsy bitsy spider – after being assaulted by the rain she gets up and climbs the water spout again.

Years later Nora Ephron cracked me up again with the story and movie, When Harry Met Sally. Here is a classic film about befriending and being honest with the opposite sex, quite a challenge. And many more years later my granddaughter and I watched the movie, Julie and Julia. We loved the two stories that were intertwined and set around the love of food (and a food icon); we could not wait to get into the kitchen and cook something afterward. And how could we forget her powerful story of Karen Silkwood that was brought to life in the movie Silkwood by Meryl Streep and Cher.

Nora Ephron was so many things: humorist, journalist, writer, screenwriter, playwright, producer, director, award-winner, mother, wife, sister, cook, and to me a woman’s woman. She had a way of being honest about the humanness in all of us and making us laugh aloud at our problems and silly selves, all while whipping up a bowl of Pasta Carbonara. This is something to applaud. Last evening, I found out that Nora had died, and I was so saddened at the loss of this amazing funny woman who could shed laughter and light on so many humans and their foibles. What an enormous loss. In tribute to Ms. Ephron, let’s devour one of her books and delight in watching one of her movies. God be with you Nora and thank you for your gifts!

Imaginary Friends
Crazy Salad
The Boston Photographs
Scribble Scribble
Wallflower at the Orgy
I Remember Nothing: And other Reflections
I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman

Silkwood (writer)      
Heartburn (writer, novel)     
When Harry Met Sally... (writer, associate producer)     
Cookie (writer, executive producer) 
My Blue Heaven (writer, executive producer)
This Is My Life (director, writer)
Sleepless in Seattle (director, writer)
Mixed Nuts (director, writer)
Michael (director, writer, producer)
Strike! / The Hairy Bird / All I Wanna Do (executive producer) 
You've Got Mail (director, writer, producer)
Hanging Up (writer, producer)
Lucky Numbers (director, producer)
Bewitched (director, writer, producer)
Julie & Julia (director, writer, producer)


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