15 Nora Ephron Quotes on Life

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1. On aging

"If I'm following a young person down the street and the young person passes a mirror, I see the fabulous way he or she turns toward it and kind of smiles and checks himself/herself out and they know what they're going to see. We don't know. There's a certain moment where you're just terrified about what you're going to see. So if you are forced to look at a mirror, you squint and then gently open your eyes to see if it's safe. And if it's not, you close them and walk on."

In an interview with NPR

2. On change

“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.”

From her Commencement Address to Wellesley Class of 1996, via The Most of Nora Ephron

3. On “getting over it”

“I was just with someone complaining about his mother. He's 70 and his mother is dead. I sat there thinking, 'This is unbelievable.' He was complaining about things she did to him when he was a kid. There are also a lot of divorced people who five years later are still walking around angry when they should be grateful. They love being victims. You get to a certain point in life where if you were younger you'd say, 'Think about getting a shrink.' Then you get older and want to say, 'Pull up your socks. Get over it.'”

From an interview with The Wall Street Journal

4. On dinner parties

“You should try to relax about having people over. I have friends who are nervous hostesses, and it just contaminates the entire mood of the evening. They are always rushing from the room to check things and have a wild look in their eyes when they return from the kitchen.”

From "About Having People to Dinner," The Most of Nora Ephron

5. On the worst thing in New York City

“Bicycle messengers. They scare me. Sometimes, when I am not worrying about other forms of death, I am certain that I am going to be run over by a bicycle messenger.”

From an interview with the New York Times

6. On divorce

“When [my sister and I] were growing up, we used to love to hear the story of how our parents met and fell in love and eloped one summer when they were both camp counselors. It was so much a part of our lives, a song sung again and again, and no matter what happened, no matter how awful things became between the two of them, we always knew that our parents had once been madly in love. But in a divorce, you never tell your children that you were once madly in love with their father because it would be too confusing. And then, after a while, you can’t even remember whether you were.”

From "The Story of My Life in 3,500 Words or Less," The Most of Nora Ephron

7. On carrying a purse

“Here’s what happens with a purse. You start small. You start pledging yourself to neatness. You start vowing that This Time It Will Be Different. You start with the things you absolutely need—your wallet and a few cosmetics that you have actually put into a brand-new shiny cosmetics bag, the kind used by your friends who are competent enough to manage more than one purse at a time. But within seconds, your purse has accumulated the debris of a lifetime.”

From "I Hate My Purse," The Most of Nora Ephron

8. On parenting

“When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.”

From "What I Wish I'd Known," The Most of Nora Ephron

9. On journalism

“Now I know that there’s no such thing as the truth. That people are constantly misquoted. That news organizations are full of conspiracy (and that, in any case, ineptness is a kind of conspiracy). That emotional detachment and cynicism get you only so far. But for many years I was in love with journalism.”

From her article "Journalism: A Love Story," The Most of Nora Ephron

10. On screenwriting

“The moment you stop work on a script seems to be determined not by whether you think the draft is good but simply by whether shooting is about to begin: if it is, you get to call your script a final draft; and if it’s not, you can always write another revision. This might seem to be a hateful way to live, but the odd thing is that it’s somehow comforting; as long as you’re revising, the project isn’t dead.”

From "Revision and Life: Take It from the Top -- Again," The Most of Nora Ephron

11. On last meals

“I mean this is one of the worst things I remember clearly when my friend Judy—whom I keep writing about because it was so devastating—was dying. She had tongue cancer. And she said one day, I’m not even going to be able to have my last meal. So it seems to me, have your last meal all the time, because you have to know that the odds are very, very small that you’ll be in the mood for a Nate ‘n’ Al’s hot dog, which is my last meal.”

From an interview with Salon

12. On email

“E-mail isn’t letter-writing at all, it’s something else entirely. It was just invented, it was just born, and overnight it turns out to have a form and a set of rules and a language all its own. Not since the printing press. Not since television. It’s revolutionary. It’s life-altering. It’s shorthand. Cut to the chase. Get to the point. It saves so much time.”

From "The Six Stages of E-Mail," The Most of Nora Ephron

13. On feminism

“There’s still a glass ceiling. Don’t let the number of women in the workforce trick you—there are still lots of magazines devoted almost exclusively to making perfect casseroles and turning various things into tents. Don’t underestimate how much antagonism there is toward women and how many people wish we could turn the clock back.”

From her Commencement Address to Wellesley Class of 1996, via The Most of Nora Ephron

14. On Thanksgiving

“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.”

From an article on The Huffington Post

15. On death

“Sometimes I think that not having to worry about your hair anymore is the secret upside of death.”

From her book, From I Feel Bad About My Neck

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August 15, 2014 - 11:15am
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