One of my earliest, and fondest, memories happened when I was four. My grandmother had shelves of cookbooks which were easily accessible to someone with my 37 inches in height. While the adults were talking, I’d pull a couple cookbooks, grab a few pencils and go hide in the stairwell. There, I would flip through the pages and “write” stories based on the pictures in the books. In one story, the pasta was actually food created by aliens and served to kids in school (Having not yet entered kindergarten, I had no real baseline as to what happened in school and naturally had to fill in the blank with absurd stories of my own creation.)
My favorite story was the one where Grandma and Grandpa Sweetheart (My grandma always called me “Sweetheart” and for the longest time, for no real reason, I thought that was their last name) just couldn’t make it to their granddaughter’s house in time for Christmas, due to a storm. The granddaughter was very upset. I’ll spare you the majority of the plotline but WILL tell you – spoiler alert – the grandparents showed up after all, with a tray of Christmas cookies, even!
When my grandparents passed away, my Aunt Linda inherited plenty of cookbooks with incoherent four-year-old handwriting and gibberish.
I’ve created stories and have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. Once I was old enough to realize that a male gender bias ruled our society, I decided I needed to find a woman writer to look up to. Sure, Ann M. Martin (and her team of ghost writers) pumped out Babysitter Club book after Babysitter Club book, but even as a pre-teen, I knew that her (their?) stuff wasn’t that of which aspirations are made.
Now Nora Ephron – she was someone I could look up to. Born in the 1940s, women in her generation weren’t expected to do much of anything. In an industry dominated by
dic men, she broke through, becoming one of the most successful women in Hollywood. Her movies will always be referred to as “rom-coms” or “chick flicks” and she has been accused of pandering to her audience. I never thought that was the case. I thought that she wrote smart, modern women who were always in search of a little old-school romance. She wrote about women, for women. Her words always felt uncontrived, never forced for plotline’s sake. In Ephron’s land, although it may have been delayed, everyone always got their happy ending. And isn’t that the goal in life? To be happy?
While some criticized her characters, expecting more out of these fictional role models, I focused on Ephron as a role model for myself. She was born into a family of writers. With roots in journalism, she married one of the all-time great investigative reporters, Carl Berstein. She took all of that experience and became a novelist, humorist, essayist, blogger, movie director and Oscar-nominated screenplay writer.
In her writing, she never wasted a moment, with dialogue always landing exactly where it was supposed to, with purpose and timed to perfection. Ms. Ephron could take the most mundane, every-day scene and turn it into so much more.
She was so much more.
Ms. Ephron, thank you for being a woman that a little girl, with pencils in her hand and stories in her head, could look up to. If I am ever successful in just one of the careers that you made for yourself, I will consider myself blessed. (Even if I’m the worst kind of woman – high maintenance who thinks I’m low maintenance.)
“Should old acquaintance be forgot. Does that mean we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we do happen to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot them? ” – Harry
“Maybe you’re just supposed to remember that you forgot them, or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends.” – Sally
You, Ms. Ephron, will never be forgot.
One of my favorite lines in a movie, from When Harry Met Sally:
“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”