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When I heard that Nora Ephron had died, I felt it in the pit of my stomach. I had to call a friend. She felt it, too. However, it took me a long time to get around to writing about Nora Ephron. As her friend Meryl Streep put it, ""How do you talk about a friend who said everything you wished you could say, everything you wanted to say in the world, but better?"
Then Helen Gurley Brown died a few months later and a male friend remarked hat she had been a game-changer for women. This time my stomach turned, She wasn't a gamechanger. The pill was the game-changer and HGB built a vulgar empire based on sexual freedom, whatever that is.
So what was it about Nora Ephron? Well, she was the real deal. She was a fully realized woman of the second half of the twentieth century who helped us laugh at our insecurities.
For me, it's wasn't necessarily her movies; it was the books. She wrote books about a certain kind of everywoman to be sure: smart, funny and obsessed with her grooming. You can almost picture her groaning at the impossible images in Vogue and then getting up to examine herself in a magnifying mirror. Whenever she wrote a new book, I knew I'd have an evening's great read and be telling friends all about it.
I think she was a universal Jewish soul sister. (I'm lucky enough to have my own, dear Marsha). Every South Side Irish girl needs a New York Jewish friend to prevent her from wearing things like flowered prints.
In her last book, I Remember Nothing, she left two lists at the back: one called Things I'll Miss and one called Things I Won't Miss. She undoubtedly knew how serious her illness was.
Under Things I'll Miss she listed fireworks, laughs, the view out the window, and reading in bed.
Under Things I Won't Miss she listed e-mail, technology in general, washing her hair, polls that show that 32 percent of the American people believe in creationism, and Fox.
There's no reason to wait until the end to to get started on your own lists. Here's my rough draft:
Things I'll Miss
- My hilarious children
- My grandchildren's faces
- Looking at babies
- My daughter's raspberry pie
- Washington Island, WI
- Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert
- Yo Yo Ma
Things I won't miss
- Getting out of bed to get ready for bed
- Technology advances, if they change anything I use
- Washing and drying and doing whatever with my hair
- Sensitive skin
- Dead flowers
- Small print
- Public radio/TV fundraising