Friday, June 29, 2012

Nora Ephron Quotes

“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.”
Nora Ephron, When Harry Met Sally

How great is that? 

A Tale of Two Helens and One Nora.

As I near my birthday, I realize another year has gone by and I become wistful..

I start realizing my own mortality and how the years have escaped me. And, the road ahead seems shorter than it used to look when I was 30. Where's my legacy, my notable career achievements, my great novel, or at least a considerable following for my blog. (While I love having 8 followers of my blog.. it's just 8. I've seen really lame blogs have hundreds of followers.. what am I doing wrong, aside from not posting enough?). I was supposed to have the svelte figure, Michelle Obama arms, and the ability to run a half marathon (it seems everyone is doing that on Facebook. I didn't even know some of these people owned sneakers let alone could hold their own in a race!) So, recently I've been wallowing in my despair and allowing these dreams to fall like deflated balloons. It feels like the road ahead is a lot shorter than the road behind me. Yeah even if you live to 100, but you're not really doing too much at that point. Physically your body craps out and you can't do anything but worry about your hip and not falling down.

Then Nora Ephron died this week. They've been playing her interviews and she was speaking on NPR:
"You do get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, understand that the days are getting shorter, and you can't put things off thinking you'll get to them someday," she says. "If you really want to do them, you better do them. There are simply too many people getting sick, and sooner or later you will. So I'm very much a believer in knowing what it is that you love doing so you can do a great deal of it."

For Ephron, there was a moment that helped bring that realization vividly home. She was with friends, playing a round of "What would your last meal be?" (Her pick, by the way: a Nate & Al's hot dog.)

"But (my friend) Judy was dying of throat cancer, and she said, 'I can't even have my last meal.' And that's what you have to know is, if you're serious about it, have it now," Ephron says. "Have it tonight, have it all the time, so that when you're lying on your deathbed you're not thinking, 'Oh I should have had more Nate & Al's hot dogs.'"

 NPR calls these "driveway moments." This is when you sit in the car and can't get out because you're engrossed with the radio story. So you sit in the driveway until the story is completed. I had my "parking lot moment" with Ephron. Yes, I need to do it now. There's no more waiting until tomorrow or next week or next month. I need to move the clutter in my life and do the things I love. (Hence, the blog post at midnight)

My second epiphany came during my art class on Wednesdays. I've been taking art class since Sept (shoot, I haven't even blogged about it and it's been life changing for me! I owe a blog about that one!). So, Jenn is my instructor and she said 2 ladies from her senior citizens class would attend the evening class this summer. So, I've met two lovely ladies named Helen. I remembered them from Jenn's story about the two Helen's painting each others work because it was signed "Helen". These two ladies are full of stories, opinions and light-hearted banter.

Helen #1 is early 70's, thick, light brown hair cut short and a ready smile. She's elegant and has a face full of soft wrinkles, but a strong body. Since the art class uses on of the dance studios, Helen went to the ballet barre and showed us the 5 positions and included a plie. Then she swung her leg over the barre! Helen #2 teased her by calling her a 'show off'.  Helen keeps extremely busy - she's active as a Township Supervisor, a number of quilting and arts group, has her swimming club and will be leaving for Okinowa to see her granddaughter have a baby in few weeks. She offered to buy her grandson a ticket provided he join her, and they plan to stay in hostels and eat local food.She's also going to be riding in a car for the July 4th parade representing the township.

In those soft lines on her face, I see so much enthusiasm for life. Aging gracefully doesn't mean you don't have lines on your face. It means you accept the life you're leading and continue looking for new adventures.

Helen #2 is probably the same age and is a larger African American woman. She's a retired nurse and her husband died and he was in police force, I believe. She's got white hair cropped short and an animated facial expressions. Her arms and bosom are big and you know those are the best kind for hugging grandbabies! (yes, I've seen pictures and the little girl has her nose). Physically, she has trouble moving but she's busy with her senior groups and cooking for potlucks. (Helen #1 said she was bringing a 5 cheese lasagna and then confessed it was Stauffers'. Hey, you don't have to do it ALL!.)

 She's a perfectionist in her art and gets frustrated so easily. She showed us her album of artwork she's done and I was stunned. Painting after painting was done beautifully. There must have been over 10 paintings in her album, and I'm sure there have been more that weren't in there. My one acrylic 10x8 takes me 4 classes to finish. These are large canvas paintings that must take hours. I thought "wow, she had time to work on these and make them so perfect." That's when I saw how many years ahead I had, and saw that Helen was taking advantage of what years she did have.

All my panic about running out of time faded. The Helens reminded me there is a lot that can be done in the time that remains. But I need to do it and not dwell on it. And like Nora reminded me, you need to enjoy every day because life is so short.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches

Take elements of popular fiction - a child discovering magical powers after parents had died before sharing the knowledge, the star-crossed love between a vampire and a warm blood, the historical talismans reveal secrets buried in ancient books and organizations. Now, add precise writing skills, vibrant detailing of historical events and the dispelling of myths and enhancing legends. This combination would lead to Deborah Harkness’s “A Discovery of Witches.”

I randomly found this book at the library, reminding me that I haven't read a good witch story in awhile. First of all, I do like vampire fiction, but I'm old school. I like Bram Stoker and Anne Rice (after LeStat, how could anyone even entertain moody teenagers like Edward Cullen?). There was a time where I read a lot of vampire stories and I had to hunt for those books. Now you trip over a vampire show every time you change the channels and elementary kids are reading them. I've been turned off. 

That being said, I've just loved this book and totally enthralled by Matthew Clairmont. The main character Diana Bishop is an academic historian who has denied her genetic magical powers and by accident, draws attention to herself and enters the world of vampires, witches and daemons and their hunt for secrets she holds. Matthew Clairmont who befriends her. He's tall, dark haired, extremely intelligent, has a French accent, wealthy and connected.. but, he's a vampire. Yeah. At first, they have this strange relationship of awkward intimacy. After all, how does one go out to dinner when one of them doesn't really eat and just needs to hunt for blood later?

However, their relationship is absolutely intense and sexy, yet there's been no consummation. In a world obsessed with "50 Shades of Gray", it's true talent to deliver this story and express the soulful impact of their love without getting 'in your face'.

There's another sense of maturity in the writing with the relationships and growth of the characters. Diana fights back; she's an American witch of course. She's smart and not afraid of confrontation. When she does show frailty, Matthew is there to support her. But, he acknowledges her emotions and the characters develop so well together. Family members have realistic reactions and "human" conversations, even though they're not. 

While JK Rowling developed a whole world and vocabulary, Harkness relies on science and history to provide the language and reasoning. And, of course, she has fun with certain aspects of magic with the multiple types of powers that conveniently reveal themselves.

As I'm reading descriptions of Oxford University, I could visualize the rooms to the finest details. I kept thinking, this would make a great movie. After checking online, I see that this is a trilogy and movie rights have been bought.  In the meantime, Hollywood and Deborah Harkness - please pick Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC's Sherlock Holmes). He's freakishly good looking, can be intense and no nonsense in scenes, but just as sensitive and alluring. Yes, he's British and not French, but that helps with the vampire pallor and teeth, doesn't it? I imagine Diane Lane in this role, but the character is mid-30s. Not sure who else would work for an attractive academic.

For me, the timing has worked out perfectly. The 2nd book in this trilogy is due next month and the author will be making a book tour! I'll pitch her idea about Benedict in person.