nora ephron and reading

This week, I finished Nora Ephron’s memoir I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections. Nora wrote one of my favorite films, When Harry Met Sally, and she’s always been a writer I admired from afar. Having just moved to LA to pursue writing, I’ve made it my goal to learn as much as I can from past and current writers, especially female.

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I love Hollywood memoirs and books about Hollywood stars. I’ve made no question about my love for Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, and I also recently finished Amy Schumer’s book, which I enjoyed immensely. One of my favorite books of all time is Kate Remembered, a book written about Katharine Hepburn’s later years, which is fascinating, sweet, and speaks to me for whatever reason.

I believe that I Remember Nothing was Nora Ephron’s final book before she died. (Thanks to Google, I confirmed this as fact). As I read, I felt bittersweet compassion for her. She loved her family, writing, food, and New York City more than anything. She struggled and triumphed, as a woman, as a writer, as a human being, and her best medicine was to write about it.

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The memoir included a series of essays on topics such as her career in journalism, love of salt and not caring if the chef at a restaurant felt offended by her using it, the fragility of life, realizing that her friends never liked the dessert she baked for Christmas dinner, losing friends, and the things she’d miss and wouldn’t miss in life. In hindsight, this book was her goodbye. I feel privileged to have read this book and experienced, however briefly, life through her eyes.

Sometimes I forget how important it is to read. It’s so much easier to come home at the end of a long day and flip on the tv (okay, laptop for Netflix). Reading requires imagination, effort, thinking. Reading is the easiest way to explore the world, not only to various exotic places in the world, through fiction and non-fiction, but through different minds. Perspectives, we only ever truly know our own, but we can learn so much from others. Be it if they invite you in and share it, if you observe it, or if you accept it.

My goal is to read a book a week, which feels ambitious, sadly, if I’m being honest. But if I can watch a season of a television show in a week, then I can spend a few hours reading.

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No April Fool’s Here! It’s A Review!

I’ve retired from April Fool’s Day because I know how to learn my lesson. A few year’s ago when my sister was living in Argentina, I decided it would be funny to email her that I was feeling too overwhelmed and would be dropping out of school. This would be ridiculous on many levels, but primarily because my parents never would have allowed it unless something was seriously wrong. Now, at the bottom of the post, I wrote APRIL FOOLS in huge font, and she should have been suspicious given my propensity for humor and past reputation, but she was thrown off I guess with the time change. Anyways, it happened to be a day she was traveling so I couldn’t even reach her to explain it was all a joke, she only realized when she looked down at her ticket and saw what the date was. I’m no longer allowed to prank…her at least.

As promised, I have a book review to share with you all. I took out Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker from the library and quickly became entranced by the topic. It’s a short book from the perspective of a pubescent teem girl who is battling the repercussions of growing older and the changes that come with it, along with a massive alternation in the way the world works.

It’s never explicitly explained exactly what has happened, how, and why, but time has slowed. Days grow longer, as do nights. Among the chaos, fear, and danger of this realization, species die, illnesses arise, and crops can no longer be grown naturally. Tensions rise between those who remain on “clock time” and the few, now ostracized, who prefer to live by the sun.

It’s interesting to read how people acclimate to even the most extreme changes. What once seems normal, is foreign. Things like pineapple-gasp!- are no longer. Grapes cost over 100/pound. The sun is to fierce to be outside and people work, go to school, and live their daily lives in the darkness. Personalities shift as well as some relationships crumble and others grow stronger. Despite this, many people adjust, though there are always those who don’t.

Among the changes to the earth’s rotation, life still progresses for this little girl. She still has those awkward moments puberty and being a middle schooler provide. She still has crushes on boys and complicated friendships. She comes to realize that her parents are human, susceptible to weaknesses and changes like everyone else. Loss and happiness are ever present and the daily ministrations of life still seem like the biggest things in the world, even with the larger things happening in the world that have nothing to do with her, because it’s her life and aren’t we all like this?

The perspective of the book seems old and wise, which makes sense because it’s the little girl looking back at this time of her life. Much of what she discusses is seeped in observations influenced by hindsight. Her reflections are beautiful and thoughtful. With the threat of Global Warming growing ever present and the changes in the atmosphere and weather far more severe, this topic is definitely something to consider. 

This weekend, I also finished watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The show is a Netflix original comedy created and produced by Tina Fey. The premise is about a young woman, played by Ellie Kemper who was Erin in The Office and was also in Bridesmaids, who was kidnapped as a young girl by a cult leader who tells four women that there has been an apocalypse and the bomb shelter he has them locked in is the only source protecting them. The first moments of the show reveals the “mole women” being rescued and then becoming viral sensations. On a publicity tour in New York, Kimmy Schmidt decides she wants to lead an adventurous life and chooses to stay in my New York rather than go back to Indiana. Now she is an almost thirty year old woman who has the cultural knowledge of a fifteen year old girl, who has been damaged by this heartbreaking incident, yet remains optimistic.

The show is quirky and weird. The premise alone as a comedy seems outrageous. My favorite part are the supporting characters, The sassy roommate, the jaded landlord, the wealthy and shallow boss, and so on. I also think Ellie Kemper does an excellent job, but it’s the cast of characters that make the show worthwhile. The episodes are about twenty minutes long, very weird, but full of smart jokes, and genius guest star appearances. I cannot ruin this because the shock value alone is so clever.

I’m sad that I’ve already finished the season, but it left off at a satisfying point. I’m still intrigued and want to know what happens next and I think that is a mark of any quality show. Thus far, the jokes are funny. The characters endearing, and the writing clever. For me, it’s not quite at the level of Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, or The Mindy Project, but it certainly has the makings and the potential to get there. But honestly, it’s not like Tina Fey can do bring anyways. Watch!

Breakfast was a little weird this morning. After the gym, I ate a hard-boiled egg, but we were having a bagel morning at work and so I figured one in like three years would not do harm. I chose a sesame one with a smear of cream cheese and it was quite good. No time for pictures though.

Lunch was a simple salad with some grilled salmon on top. Since I had a carb-heavy breakfast and ice cream cake to celebrate a birthday, I felt satisfied by just the salad until I got home from work and ate a pear. Thankfully, I still seem fine to eat them. Last week my eyes were red, raw, and sensitive, but I started to take an allergy pill before night and it cleared right up. I might even be brave and try an apple, but only when I’m home and Benadryl is accessible.

  

Dinner was simple and tasty. Grilled chicken paired with leftover brown rice, roasted brussel sprouts, and a dollop of leftover cauliflower gratin. Delicious! The trick to these sprouts are salt, pepper, and a mixture of olive oil and maple syrup.

 

 My workout this morning began with a body strength workout. I performed four sets of ten moves with step ups, squats, lunges, kickbacks, burpees, push ups, mountain climbers, mermaid raises, hip lifts, ankle grabs, v ups, and Russian twists. I did a few planks before jumping into the pool for my cardio. I switched things up just a little by doing three sets of sprints. Very tiring, but very refreshing. I’m just loving the effects of hemming on my body when mixed with running and strength training. I also went for a brisk walk when I got home from work because at 40*, it felt spectacularly warm!

Two Books, One Theme, A Hundred Thoughts and What-Ifs

This week, I’ve read two books, a memoir about hiking and a novel about happenstance. Wild by Cheryl Strayed is one of those books that leaves you feeling inspired and in awe of the human condition. I love hiking, surrounded by trees and water, the peace of silence, and the feeling that your body and mind are truly connected. At the end of the day, I also very much like going home, eating a hot meal, using the facilities, and sleeping in my warm bed in my warm house. Camping can be fun for a couple of days, but I’m not sure I would love doing what Strayed did for that long.

Wild is a memoir Strayed wrote about her travels on the Pacific Crest Trail. Though she set out alone, she met people on the way, learned a lot about herself and her strength, and walked a whole lot. In theory, it sounds romantic. When it comes down to it, if I needed to or felt inspired to, my body could handle the physical requirements of such a journey, but emotionally, I’m not certain I would be up for it. To be fair, Strayed went through a lot of emotional obstacles that led her towards the trip, but I am certain there are people who hike for long periods of time because they like to. I am not one of those people, but I do like reading about them.

Unlike the book I mentioned that I stopped reading, I felt connected to the protagonist and her story. It was as much about her personal life and emotions as it was her hiking adventures and there was a nice balance. In memoirs, there’s never the true anxiety of wondering what will happen next because you know the protagonist is well enough in the end to have written the story (in most cases). Yes, there’s still the anticipation of things that you don’t know, but it’s not quite the same as in novels. However, memoirs portray a range of different perspectives and life experiences that can only be shared through media. At times, I felt as though I was on the trail, my legs burning, feet torn up, lugging a huge backpack that contained all of my life’s possessions. When Strayed expressed relief, I felt relieved. When she was scared, I was trembling with her. That is a mark of an excellent memoir, an author who shows not just what happened, but how he/she felt in those moments.

I was sad when the book came to an end and I also had a hankering to go hiking. No worries because Reese Witherspoon hopped onto this book before it even came out and has already filmed the movie version.

When I started The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, I was excited because I’ve had it on hold from the library since August. I was immediately pulled into the story and anxious about first, what the secret was, then how all of the stories and characters would interact. I cannot give this away, but I will say that the novel is satisfying in that it feels frustrating as hell. I liked the book in the way that I didn’t necessarily love what happened, but it left an impact.

I believe I mentioned a book I once threw across the room because I hated how it ended. This was a different circumstance and not only because I was not about to throw my electronic reader. In that book, it ended without an actual ending, but a copout. In The Husband’s Secret there are great tie-ins and an interesting plot throughout and I loved learning how they all connected. It was very hard to put this book down and I can see why I had to wait so long for it. I finished the book very quickly and felt satisfied with the ending, which again, is not easy for me!

One theme in the book that stands out to me is how the author lingers over the what-ifs in the world. She defines these possibilities, which leaves a larger impact on the way things actually play out. Though it’s important to live in the present in real life, it can sometimes be fun to imagine how things may have played out if you made a different choice, whether it’s big events or small occurrences. In real life, you’ll never know, but Moriarty uses this technique in an intriguing way which only adds to the story.

When reading, I often reflected after wondering what I would do in some of these awful situations the characters have to endure and there is no easy answer. I suppose that what the story and Moriarty wants to convey is that when faced with something, you just do it, which is prevalent in Strayed’s story as well. There’s no anticipating how you might react to something, just as there is no knowing what might happen next. Sometimes, you just have to trust yourself and your instincts to go with the flow. That’s a scary concept.

Though these books were very different, in themes and styles, they both show how important reading is. It makes you think, learn, and view things in a different light.