Thursday, 13 February 2020

I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK by Nora Ephron


This book of essays contains some profound truths about the female experience.  Here for example is an extract from an essay about maintenance, specifically as it refers to your appearance:
We begin, I’m sorry to say, with hair.  I’m sorry to say it because the amount of maintenance involving hair is genuinely overwhelming.  Sometimes I think that not having to worry about your hair anymore is the secret upside of death. 
She also has some wise words on aging, and particularly (and unfortunately) raised my consciousness about my neck:
Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth.  You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t have to if it had a neck . . . Every so often I read a book about age, and whoever’s writing it says it’s great to be old.  It’s great to be wise and sage and mellow; it’s great to be at the point where you understand just what matters in life.  I can’t stand people who say things like this. What can they be thinking?  Don’t they have necks? 
She doesn’t enjoy aging, but, in what could be a watchword for us all at every birthday, her last essay is called ‘Consider The Alternative,’ which is good advice.

I laughed a lot in reading this book, but what surprised me is how much I thought about it afterwards.  It was full of interesting ideas.  Here she is on the end of her second marriage:
Why hadn’t I realized how much of what I thought of as love was simply my own highly developed gift for making lemonade?  What failure of imagination had caused me to forget that life was full of other posibilities, including the possibility that eventually I would fall in love again?
I love that – I often, when I feel trapped, ask myself what my ‘failure of imagination’ is that I think I have to stay where I am. Self-indulgently, let me end with her celebration reading.  It’s pretty much how I feel, and it’s rare I hear someone else express it.   I say rare: in my real life, with people I actually know, I guess it’s pretty much never. 
Reading is everything.  Reading makes me feel I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person.  Reading makes me smarter.  Reading gives me something to talk about later on.  Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself.  Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. 
x

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