It's been quiet around here while I take this old grrrl Sassafrass into the world of video. It has been ten years since I edited video, and back then it was a documentary I did for my thesis that took forever inside an editing bay at Elmhurst College with a benevolent colleague who took care of the technology while I directed with a mouthful of sandwich and Diet Coke. Months and months after we laid down the first minute, and years after I shot the first interviews, my documentary became the first non-text thesis to be entered into the library at Oregon State University. I was elated. Well, first I sobbed like a lady fresh out of Labor & Delivery, and then I smiled like I'd won an Oscar.
Thankfully, this thing called technology has changed over the course of the decade I spent not-editing my son's birth, first steps, kindergarten graduation, hilarious spontaneous songs and Tae Kwon Do belt ceremonies. Now I can produce videos myself -- maybe not perfectly but pretty well -- and I can shoot, edit and make it pretty in the privacy of my home. Where no one can hear me crying.
The truth is, there is no crying. And I'd like it to stay that way. For now, it's just tastes of that elation from back in the doc days.
As I reconfigure my storytelling to a new(ish) screen, I feel even more grateful for the women out there who have inspired me and pushed me and clapped for me forward. I've pushed pause while I am working to review them: Sarah James' easy wit, Erin Loechner's gorgeous sequences (and sequins!), Lindsay Ferrier's entertaining dares.
Swimming in this space is also part of the reason I feel profoundly impacted by Nora Ephron's death. A day later, I feel weepy that she is no longer on this planet.
I love that Nora Ephron wrote funny and smart at the same time. I love that she wrote real women, women who could be simultaneously endearing and infruriating. I love that she created scenes inside films that viewers could feel intensely: Cher and Meryl Streep entwined on the porch on a hot, sad summer night in "Silkwood", the deli scene and wagon wheel scene and tender vignettes of couples' stories in "When Harry Met Sally", the final fireworks in the autobiographical "Heartburn", the giddy delight as Julia Child hovers over a simmering pot with tasting spoon in hand in "Julie & Julia."
I love that she said things that will stay locked in my head, like these, all from her '96 Wellesley commencement address:
"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim."
"One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is, don't take it personally, but listen hard to what's going on and, please, I beg you, take it personally. Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: get back, get back to where you once belonged. When Elizabeth Dole pretends that she isn't serious about her career, that is an attack on you. The acquittal of O.J. Simpson is an attack on you. Any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you -- whether or not you believe in abortion. The fact that Clarence Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court today is an attack on you."
"Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women. Thank you. Good luck. The first act of your life is over. Welcome to the best years of your lives."
I loved that, in her list of things she would not miss when she died, "panels on Women in Film" was one. And that those things she'd miss included "the view out the window" and "pie" and "the Christmas tree."
I'm not saying we're cosmically connected, Nora Ephron and me, just because she died as I was trying to carefully clip out a sigh from my newest video or even because she spoke to me from her side of the screen and the page and the podium. But I do feel thankful she put down so many words and moments and scenes. I will be looking to them as I put on my own director's cap for my own small, imperfect projects where I make myself the hero of my own 3-minute segment. And life.
Do read this wonderful post Lisa Belkin, "Nora Ephron: What she changed for women."