6.27.2012

FOR MY DEAR MISS NORA EPHRON


i owe so much of the good parts of my life to a writer named nora ephron.

i moved across the country the summer before my junior year of high school. a month into my first semester at my new school, i turned sixteen. i was heartsick for home and lonely. my mom baked a cake and my sisters made birthday cards out of construction paper and i blew out the candles in the dining room while my dad was away at work. it was a lovely birthday, but i missed my friends. 

that friday, two girls i'd been tentatively sitting with at lunch, the cutest girls you'd ever meet in your life, invited me out of the blue to go see a movie. when they found out it was my birthday that weekend, they bought me a gift--a leopard print purse that i carried through college until holes showed through the sides. they picked me up saturday afternoon and while riding in allyson's little white volkswagen golf it occurred to me that i was in the middle of a miracle. everything was going to be okay. i was making friends--though they strangers really--who genuinely seemed to care for me. i was going to be fine. i started to grin and relax. the skies got somehow sunnier.

the movie they took me to see was you've got mail.


i watch you've got mail any time i need a reminder that the world is a beautiful place. because it is. it is, but it isn't. and nobody knew that better than nora.


i think the thing about nora is, she was not afraid to be a woman. her strengths as a writer, her characters' strengths, all come from the fact that they are unapologetically girls. sally with the hair spray in the car in the parking lot of the diner, annie and her over-watched copy of an affair to remember, marie and her rolodex full of dateable men, kathleen and her daisies. nora's women are soft but that doesn't mean they aren't strong. why don't more people see femininity the way she did? nora's girls aren't like men and they don't care to be. why would they? frankly, it's refreshing and inspiring. i'm so sad to see that brilliant spark of feminism missing now that she's gone.


there is a scene in julie & julia, where julia and paul are walking through paris. julia pauses mid sentence to watch a woman pushing a stroller the opposite direction. you see her just briefly waver, then collect herself up, leaning a little on her husband as she sorts her pieces back together. later julia gets a letter from her sister announcing she is expecting a baby, and she kind of crumples against the kitchen counter as she reads. those scenes. i was in the middle of the worst of my struggles to get pregnant when i saw that movie the first time, and those scenes meant everything to me. somehow nora understood exactly what i was going through. that's how i know nora was the real deal.


i am a total product of the nora ephron. apart from my mother and my crazy granny goose, this woman has had the single biggest influence on shaping who i am and how i see myself as a woman. i think a little bit like maybe nora ephron was my fairy god mother. on my best of days, i like to imagine i am living in a nora ephron movie of my own. maybe even on my worst of days, too.


so, dear nora, thank you. thank your. thank you for your movies. thank you for writing strong female characters who aren't afraid to be females. thank you for recognizing the quiet power in a daisy.



H&G, sister.


nora's influence has made this blog countless of times
some of my favorites: 
and

65 comments :

  1. Oh I love this so much. Made me tear up a little. Can't we all collectively get together and do a Nora marathon? That would be the best...

    val
    www.daily-distraction.com

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  2. This is the best post I have ever read about Nora Ephron. What a tribute to her life!!

    I am such a fan of her and I don't think I could get sick of ANY of her movies. I watch them often and quote them all of the time. She writes such wonderful, real characters.

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  3. Sniff!

    The heartfelt and sweetly poignant way in which you write SLAYS ME, woman! You just convey so much between the lines and you're, well, a WRITER. Through and through. Period.

    Beautifully put, as always.

    And yes, Nora was a gem. May she rest in peace.

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  4. Ive been trying to collect my thoughts on order to do my own post, and perhaps I'll get there. But for now, this is perfect.

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  5. Nora was a fairy godmother for so many girls, myself included. This weekend, I think I'll be watching When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail and Julie & Julia with a bouquet of daisies and a box of tissues in a tan trench and pajamas.

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  6. Oh it's like you took the words right out of my heart. Time for a Nora marathon - with a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.

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  7. So sad! I love her stuff. Like you, she has always spoken to me. And I love what you wrote about how she portrayed women. So female, so strong, so unapologetic. I wish more women could see that our strength as women lies in our femininity. Great post.

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  8. :( I just came home from buying Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally. If not today, then when? I'm going to start reading her books too, they have been on the TBR list for ages and I wish I'd read them before now. It's sad to lose a powerful role model for women. It seems like she was loved by a lot.

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  9. uch a beautiful writing. as always. thank you.
    roza
    loveandthisplace.blogspot.com

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  10. I just watched You've Got Mail the other night. There is something about all those Meg Ryan movies. I'll never be able to get enough. They don't make them like that any more. And what a shame.

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  11. she really has been one of those women who set an example and made a connection for the women like us through her writing. i love your writing close to as much as i love nora ephron's. thanks, nat.

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  12. thank you for wording so eloquently what all of us are thinking... i don't think could have put into words how she has made me feel over the years.

    the character she and meg ryan created in "you've got mail" really imprinted upon my teen age psyche. UGH for whatever reason it made being me that much easier... such a no-fuss woman to admire and emulate. i still absolutely love that dress/cardi combo at the end there. how i strive for such low keyness...

    anyway, thank you again for loving her films (in particular you've got mail)... and sending nora off to heaven with such a grand "thank you".

    love,

    Jessi

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  13. This is by far the sweetest, most natural post I've ever read. The movies are beyond....I feel as though I can't not watch them. They capture true emotion. She will be missed.

    xoKylee

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  14. I wondered if you would write about her and I am so glad you did. Thank you :)

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  15. Oh how I love love love this post and Nora & femininity and these films. Thank you.

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  16. Oh Nora!

    I get chills at the end of You've Got Mail... and when Tom Hanks stops walking and just looks at her. It's too good.

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  17. Nailed it. Nora, you will be missed! I have to go buy some daisies now.

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  18. Last night when I heard that Nora died, I just knew you would write a post, and I'm so glad you did! Beautiful.

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  19. You put into words what I felt. There aren't many movies that glorify femininity without oversexualizing the female lead. And none can show all the facets of being a woman as well.

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  20. This made me want to cry! I couldn't have said it any better. My mom took me to see You've Got Mail when it first came out in theaters.
    We were on a mother-daughter trip of sorts. I have never forgotten it. And I have remained slightly obsessed with the movie ever since. I have watched it over and over again during the happy and sad times of life....and it's just been there. Like a good friend.
    Thanks for such a lovely post.

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  21. Absolutely perfect. Blog perfection. This is a beautiful tribute to a woman who I also feel, shaped me incredibly. She was a treasure and will be SO missed. Thanks for the lovely words. I feel I can start my day inspired.

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  22. Oh, gah! This is perfect. Exactly what I was feeling and you put it together so wonderfully. Nora will be so missed.

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  23. I LOVE this. Beautifully written, and I could not agree more.

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  24. I had no idea that Nora Ephron died. I feel like a friend is gone. I am gonna go home and watch You've Got Mail when I get home.

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  25. when i heard the news, you were one of the first people i thought of. you couldn't have summed up nora's legacy any better. i, too, have a love affair with ms. ephron and she will be sorely missed. we will always have her movies and her stories and her happy endings.

    i wrote a blog post dedicated to her memory as well: http://brandon-courtney.blogspot.com/2012/06/love-letter-to-nora-ephron.html

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  26. chills, chills, so many chills.

    i was so sad to hear the news. :(((

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  27. You are such a talented writer. The whole thing about how she portrays femininity in her films is so true! I never realized it till you pointed it out, that is what I love about the women in her films. They are strong but they are soft and beautiful.

    I can't stand how much I love your blog.

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  28. I thought of you the moment I heard she had passed. I wanted to text you, the same way my friends texted me when Whitney died, or when Bloomberg threatened to take Big Gulps away. It's amazing the influence things have in our lives.

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  29. I found your blog a couple weeks ago and combed through the archives, which has been like reading a very good, real book. I probably would have just continued to lurk without saying anything, but it's funny that as soon as I heard of Nora Ephron's death, I thought of this blog and wondered how you were feeling about it. Very nice tribute to a wonderful screen writer, but I expected as much.:)

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  30. This just reminded me i recorded You've got mail! Oh I cant wait to watch it, and now I always think you you! I know you love her stories!

    http://gandacummings.blogspot.com

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  31. I haven't ever commented on your blog before, but I just wanted to let you know that this post (as I'm reading it at work right now) made me tear up. MAJOR. I really appreciate it and have always felt that Nora was talking to me in her movies, telling me (and every girl out there like me) what life could be like if you trust your instincts and be true to your beautiful, feminine, strong self. Even though Sleepless is just a movie, I can't refute the fact that there is a lot of truth in the way Annie's character was written and how she handled her different situations. Nora made a poetic normalcy out of my quirks, and I will forever be grateful for that.

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  32. How sweet is this tribute to such a lovely woman? You, are a treasure as well, Natalie.

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  33. the thing about Nora is that she could make you laugh and tear up in the space of about 30 seconds. her movies are classics, her books are amazing. she was working on another movie called Lost in Austen (according to my friend the film major, who was in touch with Nora's assistant about an internship, it had something to do with Jane Austen and NYC). i am so so so sad she's gone, for many reasons, including the loss of what was surely another brilliant movie. que en paz descanses, Nora.

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  34. Although I am very sentimental I wish I appreciated things and people the way you do. It's so.... what's the word...ahh can't think of a word so let's say sweet. I really enjoy your blog posts and about a few weeks ago I had the most ultimate desire to watch You've Got Mail. I am very very pregnant with twins right now so I don't get out too much but I've sent my husband out to check if that movie was on sale anywhere. I should have just ordered it on amazon but I didn't. Thankfully the library had it and I watched it on Saturday. I miss cable tv for that reason- being able to catch it on tv out of the blue. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE Sleepless in Seattle and adore that my husband (and his father and sisters) love that movie as well. Our 2.5 year old son is named Jonah. And now I truly catch myself when thinking of uttering the words "shut up".
    When I heard the sad news about Nora Ephron I was wondering if/when you would write something about it. It was a lovely read!!!

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  35. what a beautiful tribute! i'm a huge fan of Nora Ephron and as a writer, she has always been my idol. i was deeply saddened by the news of her passing as i know her talent can never be replicated. but how lucky we are to have the works that she has put out for us to enjoy and cherish forever.

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  36. Thank you for writing this post! You've hit the nail on the head. I was a women's rights lobbyist at the united nations for a long time and it just about killed me to meet all these confused women who thought they were supposed to be like men. I too love Nora. You've got mail was my mom's fave and I have to watch it at least five times a year. :)

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  37. As soon as I saw that Nora Ephron died, I thought, "oh my gosh, Natalie Holbrook will be so sad!!". Seriously. This is truly a wonderful and beautiful tribute to a great woman.

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  38. Oh. This made me cry just a little. God speed and many daisies, Nora, wherever ye may be.

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  39. I'm a new reader to your blog and this post is absolutely beautiful! So sad to lose such a great talent!

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  40. This whole post was fantastic... but hands down the best part was H&G. :)

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  41. I did notice that part in Julie and Julia....in Paris with the stroller and I wondered if anyone else noticed or if it was just me and my silly uterus. But actually. I think a lot of “silly” uteruses saw that moment and the pain in her eyes. What a beautiful post.

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  42. Loved this so much. Thank you.

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  43. You are so right! That scene in Julie and Julia was so powerful. Like Necia (above) I could feel her pain surge through my body, I like thousands of women know the feeling of longing for a baby, that I will never meet.

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  45. Thank you for writing this tribute. I have been reading so many articles and blogs about Nora's passing and this is my favorite. Yet another reason to love your blog. I love Nora too. Thank you.

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  46. Nat, I know you don't know me, but I read your blog pretty often now and as soon as I heard about Nora's death, YOU were the first person that came to my mind.

    I'm a little bit older than you, and When Harry Met Sally was my You've Got Mail. Nora had such special talent. Her passing is a tremendous loss.

    And what a lovely tribute from you. Beautiful.

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  47. “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
    ― Nora Ephron

    I, too, thought of you immediately when I heard the news. You, too, are reaching many of us with you words, just like Nora. Be well:)

    Chandra
    nowthislife.blogspot.com

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  48. Oh dear. You made me shed a tear. A post Kathleen Kelly would be proud of.

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  49. There seems to be a theme among your readers in that so many of us thought of you when we heard the news. You're making an impact :)
    I thought you might like this article
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/jun/27/nora-ephron-how-miss-her

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  50. This was so refreshing to read. Also, it's lovely finally hearing the story of how you and "You've Got Mail" began :)

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  51. I'm the same way, I feel like Nora's movies and I were M.F.E.O.

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  52. Oh, you have such a way with words!

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  53. I love this post and can so relate. Beautiful words, Nat!

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  54. What a beautiful post! I enjoyed her films, too. She certainly is a legend. Did you hear her quote, "if anyone young is reading this, put on a bikini and don't take it off until you are 34." :)

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  55. I'm deeply sadden by Nora's death, but I'm also disturbed you'd take it as an opportunity to make a dig at feminism. Feminists aren't all masculine harpies - there are many feminine feminists out there. Just like how all mormons aren't polyagmists.

    signed,
    a feminist mormon

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  56. This was beautiful Natalie -- I knew I was going to like your blog when I first read about your affinity with Anne of Green Gables and your love for Kathleen Kelly.

    The bookshop in 'You've Got Mail' is my mental inspiration behind my own children's book blog, I wrote about it once. That movie. All her movies. Such a lovely voice. As is yours!

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  57. you make me want to give these movies a second chance... lol

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  58. I absolutely love reading everything you write! Thanks for the great post

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  59. As I type this I am watching sleepless on Seattle. I just adore this movie. Even my husband likes it. You've got mail will be watched next.

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  60. Thank you for this post, it was really lovely. Have you read Lena Dunham's piece on Nora Ephron? I think you'd like it:http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/06/lena-dunham-remembers-nora-ephron.html

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  61. I have not cried over the death of a celebrity in a long time, but I cried over Nora. Then I watched all of her movies.

    www.accidentallybeautiful.com

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  62. This was so beautifully said! I feel for When Harry Met Sally just like you do for You've Got Mail (and really all Nora Ephron movies). She will be greatly missed.

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