Thursday, June 28, 2012

Heroine In Heaven

Nora Ephron has left the building.

And while I never knew the woman who would turn out to be the essayist, Oscar nominated screen writer and movie director of a generation, I knew her well. Or should I say she knew us well, the "us" being women everywhere. Norma had a unique gift. She could see it then she could write about it.

She could write the hell out of anything and she caught the attention of people in her profession early in her career at The Post. When she fell into Hollywood, quite by mistake, Ephron's prose was so real and funny that it was hard not to see her genius. She turned her divorce from Watergate journalist, Carl Bernstein into literary and Hollywood gold with her novel "Heartburn", which was turned into a screen play and she never looked back. Not bad when you have Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson playing out your life story. Her many screen writing credits brought her the opportunity to direct and in 1993, she landed her first hit with "Sleepless In Seattle".

She continued to succeed as woman in the exclusive boys club in Hollywood and her credits are impressive. "When Harry Met Sally", "You've Got Mail" and "Julie & Julia" to name a few. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the mind of Nora's genius. Today, as I read the articles and obits on this legendary lady, one specific essay stands out. Interesting that it was not written for Hollywood or for publication. It was written as a Commencement Address to the 1996 graduates of Wellesley College, her  alma mater. She talked about how upon her entrance to Wellesley, in the fall of 1958, there had been an article in the Harvard Crimson stereo typing women's colleges. Wellesley, it said, was a school for tunicata-(a fish who spend the beginnings of life swimming around exploring the ocean and the second part of life lying on the ocean floor breeding). Nora went on to recall how 25 years later, everyone of her classmates still remembered the definition of the tunicata.

Long story short, the world of Wellesley in those days so long ago, taught Nora and her classmates that they were in college attendance to marry success not achieve success. It would seem that Nora made a career out of proving them wrong. Be your own heroine.

And those words certainly resonate with me.

In closing her Commencement Address Nora said this, and I will remember this always and make it a mantra:

"Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope that you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women."

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