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Nora Ephron On Aging, Her Neck, Life

For more than 30 years, Nora Ephron has kept fans laughing with her views on highs and lows of life in general, and relationships in particular.

She's just out with her latest book, "I Feel Bad About My Neck, And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman."

It's a funny and candid look at the trials and tribulations of women getting older.

Ephron talked about it on The Early Show Thursday with co-anchor Hannah Storm.

An accomplished essayist, journalist, screenwriter, playwright and director, Ephron also loves to cook! She earned an Oscar nomination for her first film, "Silkwood." In 1989, she got another Oscar nod for her screenplay of "When Harry Met Sally." Co-starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, the movie explored the possibility of a man and woman being friends without sexual tensions. Ephron also brought "Sleepless In Seattle," "You've Got Mail," "Heartburn," and the recent remake "Bewitched" to the big screen. In addition, Ephron wrote best-sellers "Heartburn," "Scribble Scribble," and "Crazy Salad."

In "I Feel Bad About My Neck," Ephron, who turned 65 earlier this year, tells her personal story of getting older in 15 essays dealing with such issues as the cost in time and money of "maintenance" for the older woman, menopause, empty nests, not being able to read pill bottles, and, eventually, dealing with mortality.

Oh, and she writes that she can't stand the way her neck looks, but her dermatologist tells her there's no quick fix for that.

"Why necks?" Storm asked. "Why did you decide to write about the neck?"

"There comes a certain point in your life where you get older," Ephron replied, "and you notice you're not looking in the mirror. You're doing your best not to look into the mirror, because you know something is gonna be staring at you that you don't like. And then, sometimes, a very dear friend sends you a picture of yourself, and says, 'Look at this great picture of you.' And you go, 'Oh, my God!' Because there it is. There's your neck. You know, our faces are lies, but our necks are the truth.

"You can do things about it, but they're pretty drastic. And, if you're not into drastic, you end up in less than drastic. You end up in our dear friend, the turtleneck."One of the worst things about a heat wave is you can't wear one. You just can't. It's too pathetic. You know, sometimes I put on a scarf, and I realize I look like Katharine Hepburn in 'On Golden Pond.'

"But there are all these things you start doing short of that. But my point is that I began noticing this, and it crossed my mind, 'You know, nobody's really writing about getting older in a way that is remotely relevant or truthful,' because all I'm ever seeing are these kind of unbelievably cheerful, bromidic things about how great it is to be older. Yeah, right. OK.

"I'm here. Consider the alternative. But, it's complicated. It's interesting. You know, thank God our elbows don't face forward, or we'd really be suicidal!"

In addressing "maintenance," of hair, for instance, Ephron writes, "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."

"It's tiresome washing your hair over and over, don't you think?" Ephron asked rhetorically. "… I try to have my hair done once or twice a week, because I think it's a more intelligent investment than psychoanalysis.
… And it takes about as much time, if you can find someone in the neighborhood, as doing it yourself. But, do you realize how much time we spend on our hair and dyeing our hair? It's practically a career. Maintenance is practically a career.

"… What I cannot get over is these things that you didn't even know you had to do, like manicures. Where did that come from?

If she could what age would Ephron go back to?

"Forty. Forty-two. That was good!"

Ephron also writes that one of her "great life regrets" is "not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was 26. If anyone young is reading this, go right this minute, put on a bikini. Don't take it off until you're 34."

To read an excerpt of "I Feel Bad About My Neck," click here.

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