Monday, July 02, 2007

An email from Nora Ephron

Internet, I've got nothing for you today. Why? Because I spent most of the weekend cleaning out my study, that's why.

My study, which was a vast dumping ground for all of the paper a girl tends to accumulate when she's chairing not one, but two fundraisers, is almost kind of clean. The budgets, solicitation letters, mission statements, agendas, menus, invitations, proofs, reports, and general bullshit had been stacked up in piles all over the place. But now it's down to a dull roar in there. You can actually see the rug. And even my desktop! And I found a lot of bills I should have paid, and (in a fiscal attempt at equal time for opposing parties) a lot of checks I should have deposited.

But that's it. Apart from some of my usual maunderings at Mamarazzi, and surprisingly enough, at my shopping blog, I haven't had much to tell you.

So I will let Nora Ephron do the talking, in an op-ed column from the New York Times.

And don't give me any of the usual shit where you object to me squandering someone else's intellectual property. I know all about intellectual property. Intellectual property has been paying the mortgage for years. And if I take the car in for its 30,000 mile check up and find out that I need to spend $900 on repairs, I just whip out my Bank of Intellectual Property card and pay for it. So shut up. In my opinion, Nora Ephron (who??) and that useless birdcage liner The New York Times should be both pleased and proud that I'm violating their copyrights.

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Op-Ed Contributor

The Six Stages of E-Mail

Article Tools Sponsored By

Published: July 1, 2007

Stage One: Infatuation

I just got e-mail! I can’t believe it! It’s so great! Here’s my handle. Write me! Who said letter writing was dead? Were they ever wrong! I’m writing letters like crazy for the first time in years. I come home and ignore all my loved ones and go straight to the computer to make contact with total strangers. And how great is AOL? It’s so easy. It’s so friendly. It’s a community. Wheeeee! I’ve got mail!

Stage Two: Clarification

O.K., I’m starting to understand — 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.

And it saves so much time. It takes five seconds to accomplish in an e-mail message something that takes five minutes on the telephone. The phone requires you to converse, to say things like hello and goodbye, to pretend to some semblance of interest in the person on the other end of the line. Worst of all, the phone occasionally forces you to make actual plans with the people you talk to — to suggest lunch or dinner — even if you have no desire whatsoever to see them. No danger of that with e-mail.

E-mail is a whole new way of being friends with people: intimate but not, chatty but not, communicative but not; in short, friends but not. What a breakthrough. How did we ever live without it? I have more to say on this subject, but I have to answer an Instant Message from someone I almost know.

Stage Three: Confusion

I have done nothing to deserve any of this:

Viagra!!!!! Best Web source for Vioxx. Spend a week in Cancún. Have a rich beautiful lawn. Astrid would like to be added as one of your friends. XXXXXXXVideos. Add three inches to the length of your penis. The Democratic National Committee needs you. Virus Alert. FW: This will make you laugh. FW: This is funny. FW: This is hilarious. FW: Grapes and raisins toxic for dogs. FW: Gabriel García Márquez’s Final Farewell. FW: Kurt Vonnegut’s Commencement Address. FW: The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. AOL Member: We value your opinion. A message from Hillary Clinton. Find low mortgage payments, Nora. Nora, it’s your time to shine. Need to fight off bills, Nora? Yvette would like to be added as one of your friends. You have failed to establish a full connection to AOL.

Stage Four: Disenchantment

Help! I’m drowning. I have 112 unanswered e-mail messages. I’m a writer — imagine how many unanswered messages I would have if I had a real job. Imagine how much writing I could do if I didn’t have to answer all this e-mail. My eyes are dim. I have a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome. I have a galloping case of attention deficit disorder because every time I start to write something, the e-mail icon starts bobbing up and down and I’m compelled to check whether anything good or interesting has arrived. It hasn’t. Still, it might, any second now. And yes it’s true — I can do in a few seconds with e-mail what would take much longer on the phone, but most of my messages are from people who don’t have my phone number and would never call me in the first place. In the brief time it took me to write this paragraph, three more messages arrived. Now I have 115 unanswered messages. Strike that: 116.

Stage Five: Accommodation

Yes. No. No :). No :(. Can’t. No way. Maybe. Doubtful. Sorry. So Sorry. Thanks. No thanks. Not my thing. You must be kidding. Out of town. O.O.T. Try me in a month. Try me in the fall. Try me in a year. can now be reached at

Stage Six: Death

Call me.

Nora Ephron, the author, most recently, of “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman,” is a contributing columnist for The Times.

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Are you still there? Because I'm back. OK, so this is what is making me feel incredibly witty, in that smug, post-modern way: in order to blog this, I emailed this article to myself.


  1. Since you give credit to the original source, and don't (as some people do) pretend authorship of the intellectual property, I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't have a problem with your sharing someone else's work.

    Particularly this one, which is amusing and identifiable-with.

  2. Since the Times actually encourages you to email this and many other pieces, I don't see an issue with it ending up on your blog. I'm sure Nora and her neck would be thrilled to have the Buxom blessing on her little essay.

    Intellectual property: my house! Just brimming over with books and fascinating conversation (at least my dogs think so) and the afore-mentioned birdcage liner. Actually, I watch a lot of tv and don't really read all those books, so I take it back.


Gentle Readers:

For the time being, I've turned off comment moderation. Please don't spam; it's not nice.

xxx, Poppy.