Nora Ephron, the Quarter-Life Crisis, and Becoming a Boss Bitch

This month I reached my quarter life crisis, (or at least I will be if I manage to live to the ripe old age of 100). I’ve been told that 25 is an interesting year. It means that I’m officially in my mid-20s or late 20s, depending on who you talk too. My friends who are in their 30s can call me a real adult now. So #adulting.

I’m also losing my cushy first full-time journalism job in 3 months.

Hello, 25!

As all the joys and pressure of adulthood come hurling my way, the questions of marriage and motherhood are bound to come up in conversation. Being someone’s wife and mother doesn’t interest me as much as building a dynasty at work. My creative endeavors will be my unruly, witty, and precocious child. As for a husband, perhaps one day I’ll take the plunge with my partner in crime.

I’m a writer of headlines, a journalist, a part-time poet, a budding entrepreneur, and novice filmmaker. Even writing down those titles feels illegitimate.

Dabbling in so many things, I’ve realized I wanted to be the next great Nora Ephron. Sure, what does a black kid from the Bronx have in common with a upper-class white woman from the Upper East Side?

o-NORA-EPHRON-QUOTES-facebookBefore discovering her essays and books, I fell in love with her films. Such fond memories of flopping down on the couch and falling in love with “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You Got Mail.” Tom Hanks was everything I wanted in a man: sensitive and brooding. Meg Ryan was everything I wanted to be as a woman: perfect hair and the will to fight for what she wanted. These two films opened my eyes to the ideal of love and romance. Nora Ephron was the first person to teach me that you can be both sensitive and strong.

As a child and teen, I learned to play an instrument, took art classes, became an avid reader, wrote really cliché poetry, and made short films. For an introvert, multiple platforms of art were a way to express myself. My voiced deserved to be heard—no matter the vehicle.

My introduction to journalism was late in high school. The idea of telling someone else’s story fascinated me, especially since so many stories never get told. I took a journalism and a creative writing class. From there, two of my passions came together. When it was time to apply for college, my parents wouldn’t have been be too ecstatic if I had decided to study poetry and prose. Journalism felt like a safer bet. Over the course of the week that it took me to write this piece, I have realized that journalism is just as shaky of a profession as poet.

Picking journalism over creative writing or even film as a major isn’t something I’ll ever regret. One of my favorite professors in undergrad used to say that journalism was a form of creative writing. Nora Ephron’s work is the embodiment of honest and truthful creative writing.

Ephron started off as reporter at The New York Post during the 1960s. Eventually, she would move on to write for magazines like Esquire, focusing on short essays. One of her most famous essays, “A Few Words About Breasts,” was about her experiences going through puberty and her personal relationship with her chests.

“Necking I could deal with. Intercourse I could deal with. But it had never crossed by mind that a man was going to touch my breasts, that breasts had something to do with all that, petting, my God, they never mentioned petting in my little sex manual about the fertilization of the ovum. I became dizzy. For I knew instantly – as naive as I had been only a moment before-that only part of what she was saying was true: the touching, rubbing, kissing part, not the growing part. And I knew that no one would ever want to marry me. I had no breasts. I would never have breasts.”

Here was a woman writing freely for a big-name magazine about sex and sexuality from a woman’s point of view. Without her writing we wouldn’t have female driven magazines like Bitch Media, Jezebel, or even Bitchtopia. One of my favorite collections of her essays is “Crazy Salad and Scribble Scribble: Some Things About Women and Notes on Media”. It was a sharp look at what it meant to be a woman in the media during the 1960s. She would go on to write and direct films that would become the blueprint for romantic comedies. Next, she added ‘author’ to her impressive resume, writing several best-selling novels, including her debut Heartburn, which chronicles the aftermath of a failed marriage. Up until her death, Ephron continued to write and direct.

Journalist, filmmaker, director, playwright, author, and all around badass, Nora Ephron wore many hats and wore them well. As I’m floundering around in my mid-20s trying to make something of myself, especially now that I know I’ll be unemployed in a few short months, I try to look on the positive side. This think-piece started off basically as a love letter to Nora Ephron and also a realization that my work is my identity. Now that I’m in the midst of uncertainty, I know more than ever that I want to continue working on all my many projects. These include, continuing the good work at my current job, blossoming within my writing collective, churning out more and timely pieces for Bitchtopia, and making my consulting business official. That’s only a quarter of what I want to get done in my lifetime. There’s still a web series, a documentary series, a book, and a film somewhere inside me waiting to burst out. It would be easier to wallow in my own self-doubt, prop myself up on my coach and in front of Netflix’s all day hoping that my dream job will come waltzing through the door. Yet the challenge to do more and to be better drives me to get up every morning even during times of unpredictability.

“Above all be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron

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