On my commute this week I've been listening to Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck and I have come to the conclusion that if I could change places with someone in the world, it would be Nora Ephron. Oh really, you might say, especially those of you who know me in person. What is it about her, exactly? The perkiness? The obsession with things of the surface? Or, no--her enthusiastic acceptance of hair dyeing, manicures, and plastic surgery.
And, okay, I rolled my eyes a lot during the "On Maintenance" parts. When she asks, "When did a manicure become something you Have to Do?" I answer into the cab of the truck: "Uh, when you became super-rich and famous, I'd guess."
But! We all have different grooming routines, and I'm sure what she has works for her. What I love, besides her voice, which is awesome, and about as far from my wispy Midwestern mumble as it's possible to get and still be within the English language (see how I'm exaggerating, just like Nora?)--what I love is the way she throws herself into life. She buys a cookbook--and becomes a disciple of the author. She moves into a nice apartment, and adopts the neighborhood as a religion. I buy a cookbook, make a couple recipes, note glumly that the kids hated them, and go back to my regular cooking routine. I move into a new neighborhood, complain about its prevailing house style, and try to change my habits as little as possible.
If I were Nora, when I moved last year I would have immediately signed up for the school board, attended all PTA functions, and also done things like get a haircut and a manicure in order to match the basic Elementary School Mom Type of my area (which is WAAAAY higher maintenance than my "biology grad student" style). I would have thrown catered parties and become a devotee of the fancy-pants restaurants near my house (the wine list! so imaginative! and the seared watermelon [!] is to die for!). When I bought Flatbreads & Flavors (a great cookbook that combines stories of the married authors' backpacking trips through central and eastern Asia with authentic ethnic recipes), I would have a) actually read it, instead of just skimming it hopefully at dinnertime, looking for recipes that I could make with on-hand ingredients in less than an hour; b) run out and bought earthenware tiles for the oven, so my flatbreads could have the proper baked-on-clay taste; c) perhaps tried to build a wood-fired tandoor oven in my backyard. Eventually--a true devotee like Nora would invest years in a worthy project--I would myself backpack through Pakistan, Thailand, and Mongolia, waiting for hours by the famed naan bread stand near Khyber Pass, cooking with nomadic peasant women in the desert, trying to make naan bread myself in a community oven.
What I'm saying here is that part of me wishes these are things I did. I want to be someone who throws herself into projects with the energy and abandon of a fresh convert. Why haven't I built a tandoor oven, made all 58 of the recipes in this book that I love, and planned a two-month backpacking trip to Thailand?
Well, money, for one. It would be a lot easier to throw myself into things with abandon if I were making over $250K as a freelance script writer, OBV. Also, there's the family aspect: Nora Ephron has been married three times. I see making a stable, predictable, boring life for my kids as one of my basic duties as a mom, and I'm very sensitive to projects that will disrupt this life.
But: I also possess a certain tendency toward inertia. God, building a tandoor oven would involve so much work. I'd have to actually change my habits in order to do something like that. What a pain! Especially since I can't even muster the get-up-and-go to find an unglazed earthenware tile.
This inertia is what I'd like to change about myself. You know, someday. When I get around to it.