Friday, August 17, 2012


"It's not personal", we were told when a few good friends were laid off this week at work.  It will be personal to me Monday morning when I walk by one friend's empty cubicle.  I will miss his kind and funny ways.  It occurred to me that life is strangely divided between the time before the film You've Got Mail was made and the time after.  It's not surprising that 9/11 was just a few short years later.  It's a Mason Dixon line  - a great divide where we crossed over from hope and gentleness to something else.
You've Got Mail is the most perfect of movies. What's not to love about Meg Ryan's Kathleen Kelly - her sweet naivete, her adorable wardrobe, and great west side apartment?  It has Tom Hanks as the flawed Joe Fox, rich heir to a big bad bookstore chain.  The most violent scene in the film is when  Kathleen absentmindedly holds up to Joe's head the carving knife she's using after discovering he is the person threatening the demise of her charming children's bookshop, The Shop Around the Corner. The nostalgic music includes hits by Roy Orbison, Harry Nilsson, and Stevie Wonder. We see the very best of New York City which is as much a cast member as Jean Stapleton, the ever faithful Birdie, bookeeper for Kathleen's shop. And even though the film is about the new marvel of email, there isn't a single cell phone moment, nobody texts or tweets during dinner, there's no swearing, no meaningless sex.  Just intelligent banter, books, a few conundrums and then, a comforting and tender ending.  It entertains and makes me feel good, makes me laugh outloud, makes me think.  Since You've Got Mail, there have been few films that have left me feeling that way.  And that's why the intervening years are on this side of the great divide, where life seems harder, edgier, and impersonal. I liked Kathleen's response to Joe's admonishment not to take it personal that his company devoured alive her independent bookshop, "Just what does that mean exactly?", Kathleen demands. "Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal".  I could not agree more.


  1. The movie is also a great reminder about the importance of shopping local. The bookstore didn't really devour the local book shop - the customers just stopped caring about their local shops.

  2. Love this, is personal, as everything else is! Thanks for this reminder!
    Love, Kay

  3. I liked that movie as well. Some years back there were several rounds of layoffs where I work. During the last one, you had to go into work on a certain day, report to a certain office, and there you found out if you still had a job or not. It felt pretty darn personal to me.