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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Nora Ephron and Me, Exhaling

I feel vindicated. Judith Shulevtiz’s article in the Sunday Review* pretty much lays out all the conflicts I have felt about choosing to put mothering as my top priority, all the while watching my “viability” as a worker erode and the lost financial rewards pile up. It’s a lot of pressure either way, trying to maintain a career while being a parent, or trying to parent without feeling like you f***d up by not having a career. Or trying to parent while cobbling together gigs and part time work - forget that lofty ideal of a career. I realize that’s a privilege when so many people just have to make ends meet. 

She says, “What if the world was set up in such a way that we could really believe - not just pretend to - that having spent a period of time concentrating on raising children at the expense of future earnings would bring us respect? And what if that could be as true for men as it is for women?”  

But I don’t wanna talk about that. I wanna talk about Nora Ephron. I picked up a tome at the Wellesley bookstore, The Most of Nora Ephron. She was a Wellesley grad. And now I want a round dining room table again. I say again because several years ago I read Nora’s piece, “About Having People to Dinner,” on not getting wazzed out over the food (my paraphrase, not her terminology), on giving people a seating plan - “they get very nervous when there isn’t one” - and on the absolutely “essential”  round dining table. So you’re not “trapped talking to the people on either side of you.” I wanted a round dining table after reading that piece then; and I want one again, after reading it again last night. 

Shall I ask the universe for it? 
Or perhaps our accountant?  She will gently remind me that we have college tuition to pay - for the next eight years - and that the FAFSA believes that our household could actually contribute $94,500 of tuition per annum. Seriously. I kid you not. So, instead of purchasing a round dining table, we might consider selling every bit of furniture we do own, and moving into a refrigerator box. Then she will tell me she’s leaving for a two week cruise. 

Why am I not an accountant? 
But I digress.
And anyway, the idea of a cruise is not so appealing. All that potential for gastrointestinal illness. 

But the round dining table? That is appealing. The husband and I argued about the feasibility of such an item in our dining room after I made him listen to me read aloud Nora’s essay on knowing all along who Deep Throat was. Perhaps it made him grumpy - we have a detente on reading aloud to one another, since, as charming as it sounds to share tidbits in turn, and indeed, whole marriages have kept romance alive by doing so and then trumpeting this strategy to readers like me, the truth is that neither of us likes to listen to the other read. We only want to read aloud:

Deep Throat and Me: Now It Can Be Told, and Not for the First Time Either
For many years, I have lived with the secret of Deep Throat’s identity. It has been hell, and I have dealt with the situation by telling pretty much anyone who asked, including total strangers, who Deep Throat was. Not for nothing is indiscretion my middle name.

Come on, that’s really funny. (It’s from 2005, around when Deep Throat came out in Vanity Fair.)
Anyway, as I said, that might be why the husband insisted that a round table would not work in our dining room because the room is rectangular. I countered with my in-depth knowledge of geometry that a circle can fit inside a rectangle. I power-beamed a diagram at him telepathically

It was a more basic diagram, but I couldn't make it work today. 

but he would have none of it. He continued with his St.Aubyn and I with my Ephron. We chuckled to ourselves in our little pods.

The table talk, so to speak, was purely an academic discussion, because what we do have, and what we will continue to have as a dining table, is a plank of plywood 8’ by 5’ atop a smaller IKEA table. This serves us well at Xmas time, when we have a sizable number of guests for a couple of days. However, it’s a bit large for the usual evening party, when we have only a couple of extra people .

Anyway, this is all  a distraction from alligators eating two year olds and the NRA allowing unstable people to massacre innocent people at a gay club and Doonuld Drumpf revoking the privileges of the press at his campaign events and insinuating that President Obama is secretly conspiring with terrorists against the US. 

This is a distraction from the Senior’s impending graduation and the planning of the party for this event, and from the inevitable end of summer, when we drop her off at college and have to return home. What shall we do then?

Immediately buy a dog?

Readers, I do not know. I do not know many things. But I am glad Nora Ephron wrote so much to amuse us, and continued to work and live and be vibrant and upbeat even when she knew she was dying.   

So I will leave you with this quotation from Nora Ephron, on blogging, which she did, by the way. 

" of the most delicious things about the profoundly parasitical world of blogs is that you don't have to have anything much to say. Or you just have to have a little tiny thing to say. You just might want to say hello. I'm here. And by the way. On the other hand. Nevertheless. Did you see this? Whatever. A blog is sort of like an exhale. What you hope is that whatever you're saying is true for about as long as you're saying it. Even if it's not much." 

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