Thursday, October 25, 2018

My Life as a Hang Nail

By Cheryl Oreglia

I have spent a great deal of time focused on yet another shift - as in occupational - my sixth I believe - only to discover this holistic inner longing - to become a writer - gritty - exposed (except for the fig leaf) - which I believed to be absurdly unique for someone my age - ends up being as common as a hang nail, just as annoying, and completely devoid of value. Shit. 

I have a thing for Nora Ephron. I wonder if anyone else struggles with the same affliction? 

I walk around dropping Ephron quotes like bread crumbs, as if meaningless idioms can be tracked, and followed. Most of the time I get blank stares? "Who?" Then I shout, "Everything is copy," which I think is hysterical. Apparently I'm the only one? I start spewing bullet points from Ephron's resume. "When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail!" Nothing? Most people need to refresh their drink at this point, which suits me just find, I wasn't enjoying your company either. 

I have come to grips with the fact I'll never be Nora Ephron. I'm not Jewish, I don't write screenplays, nor am I fearless, acute, or funny but we do share the same birthday. It's our thing. I'm not sure if life happened to Nora or Nora happens to life because she struggles at being Nora too. Don't we all. 

I mean the struggle to be our authentic selves, not Nora.

She wrote, "after I went into therapy, a process that made it possible for me to tell total strangers at cocktail parties that breasts were the hang-up of my life, I was often told that I was insane to have been bothered by my condition (small breasts syndrom)." Her large breasted girlfriends assured her their lives were much more miserable than hers, to which she responded, "I think you are full of shit." Who doesn't love her?

Nora's dirty laundry is epic and she hangs it out for everyone to see. In her best selling novel Heartburn she recounts with fictional characters her devastating divorce from Carl Bernstein. It's sharp, painful, and funny all at once. Your emotions get confused, fighting to emerge at the same time, as in wincing with a smile, or laughing so hard your hernia kicks in, but you really just want to cry. She does this with words.
What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. Nora Ephron
In chapter thirteen of her novel Heartburn, "If I had to do it over again, I would have made a different kind of pie. The pie I threw at Mark made a terrific mess, but a blueberry pie would have been even better, since it would have permanently ruined his new blazer, the one he bought with Thelma." She throws a pie at her husband and we all cheer. 

She helps us not only imagine what a blueberry pie would look like on a new jacket, but how satisfaction is an impermanent condition, as our emotions tend to be. The pie, the mess, her husbands surprise, and yet absolutely nothing changed. Her husband was still having an affair with her best friend while she was expecting their second child. It's pitiful but you don't pity her. Why? She owned the story. 
When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you; but when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it's your laugh. So you become the hero rather than the victim of the joke. Nora Ephron
This is what I like best about Nora. When asked why she's compelled to turn everything into a story she said, "because if I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me. Because if I tell the story, it doesn't hurt as much. Because if I tell the story, I can get on with it." She does lament the hardest thing about writing is writing. 

Nora Ephron passed away in 2012 and I've been trying to channel her ever since. She's busy, I get it, but once in a while she throws me a bone, and I come up with this spectacular thought so beyond my scoop, that all I can do is bow down and thank her! 
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. 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. Nora Ephron
Nora wrote, "I spent my first 45 years never thinking about my nails. Occasionally, I filed them with the one lone wretched emery board I owned, put a little polish on them, and went out into the world." My life as a hang nail is going pretty well especially when you consider I could be snipped at any moment. I've been hanging on, annoying the best of you for years, maybe it's time for a manicure?
I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world's greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance. Nora Ephron

When I'm not writing for Across the Board, I'm Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, we'll watch When Harry Met Sally

  • “We have a game we play when we’re waiting for tables in restaurants, where you have to write the five things that describe yourself on a piece of paper. When I was [in my twenties], I would have put: ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single. Ten years later not one of those five things turned up on my list. I was: journalist, feminist, New Yorker, divorced, funny. Today not one of those five things turns up in my list: writer, director, mother, sister, happy.” Nora Ephron 
  • “And so, Thanksgiving. Its the most amazing holiday. Just think about it — it's a miracle that once a year so many millions of Americans sit down to exactly the same meal as one another, exactly the same meal they grew up eating, and exactly the same meal they ate a year earlier. The turkey. The sweet potatoes. The stuffing. The pumpkin pie. Is there anything else we all can agree so vehemently about? I don't think so." Nora Ephron
  • I'll have what she's having. Nora Ephron

Do you have an author obsession? Share a few thoughts in the comments! 


Carrie Beckort said...

Great post, Cheryl! I once had a medium tell me that, along with my sister who passed many years ago, I had several literary greats who were guiding and watching over me. I'm still not sure how much I believe in that, but it sounds good to me and I'll take all the help I can get!

Cheryl Oreglia said...

I imagine you do have many literary greats accompanying you and your work Carrie! True or not it gives me pause and motivation to consider different styles of writing that just might compliment my own. Here's to our comrades on the other side, may they continue to conspire, and haunt our thoughts. Thanks for commenting Carrie.

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