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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
SEP
20

Smell Like a Woman

A certain gentleman in my circle gave me Chanel No. 5 for my birthday a few months ago. For the record, I had never before owned Chanel No. 5. I had never before even smelled Chanel No. 5. It’s just out of my league; one of those perfumes I always figured I had no business wearing.

Anyway, it’s not about the perfume. That’s not what I’m stuck on. Rather the note this gentleman had written on the accompanying card. “Time to smell like a woman,” it said.

Time to smell like a woman.

It’s an age I’m not crazy about, so maybe you can read in these words a sweet and comforting message of encouragement about embracing my status as mature woman. But that’s not how I read it at the time. I, in fact, became rather internally panicked about what, exactly, I’d been smelling like up to that point. An adolescent? And what does that even smell like? Exclamation? Sunflower? The vanilla fragrance from Anthropologie I’ve been wearing for years?

The gift made me wax pensive over maturity, and over what life looks like before and after that point. This particular gentleman is the epitome of mature, in that he’s older, owns a sizable and expertly-furnished home, and fills it with art and sculptures and pictures from his world travels. Whereas the last time we were at my house (a small one-bedroom beach cottage with furnishings from IKEA), I had to scrounge through cupboards just to find a glass out of which to offer him a beverage. Do you see the difference? Do you see why his gift made me panic? Because now I’m convinced my whole life wreaks to him of adolescence. Except, isn’t this more minimalist-style life I live equally valid? Aren’t I still a legit adult woman even without the Chanel?

When I moved to Manhattan a few years ago, I downsized to probably only 10% of what I owned. I did this because I had to fit my large Midwestern home’s worth of goods into a 350 square foot studio apartment. And I’m not saying it wasn’t hard—seeing your costly possessions strewn about your yard and driveway being purchased for pennies can be depressing, as can realizing that you no longer really “own” anything even as a mature adult woman—but what I am saying is that I liked being so minimal. I liked only having what I needed. I liked the ease with which I could clean and pack. I liked knowing if I needed or wanted to up and move again, which, incidentally, I did a short time later, it would be a cinch. I liked being so transportable. I liked defying the Laws of Suburbia which state that possessions are what make us happy and determine our level of success.

Now that I’m in a (slightly) bigger home—one that actually has a bedroom—I’ve re-acquired some things, but for the most part I’m still pretty minimal. And it works for me. Now, would I be more attractive to this gentleman if I had stemware, artwork, and a bed and dresser I hadn’t assembled myself? I guarantee it. But if I’ve learned anything from his gift, it’s that being a woman doesn’t have to look—or smell—a certain way. Of course, I’ve also learned that Chanel No. 5 is divine, so let’s just call that a bonus.

SEP
04

10 Things I Wish I'd Realized Before Invisalign

10. It’s not just the trays. It’s also these sort of sharp, notch-like things that are adhered to several teeth. Unsexy, yes, but that’s not really the complaint. The complaint is that they are annoying. And getting them drilled off at the end of all this was so painful that I almost asked the technician to hold my hand. (True story. I didn’t know what else to do.)

9. You’ll feel like you talk funny with your trays in, but people won’t really notice it. So don’t even bother prefacing every meeting or presentation by apologizing for your sexy Invisalign lisp, because no one would have even noticed it. And it’s not sexy.

8. Your teeth will hurt. All the time. It’s pretty much constant, in that anytime you eat something with any kind of crunch or chew to it, you’re going to feel soreness in the deep center of your teeth. Every day. Every meal.

7. Your teeth will move. Like, all of them. Easily. And soon. Even if you can’t see it, it’s happening. On day 3 of Invisalign, my old retainer, the one I’d been wearing for upwards of 15 years, would no longer fit. As in would not even go on my teeth. At all. The upside of this is there is potential for very real progress, and in relatively short order. The downside is you may get more movement than you want. Or at least feel freaked out all the time, to the point of nightmares, about things going horribly wrong. Oh, just me? OK then.

6. You’ll be annoyed with the trays (removing them for meals, cleaning them, not being able to chew gum, etc), but you’ll get so used to them that you’ll actually prefer having them in. As in you’ll feel anxious after a meal until you can brush your teeth and get your trays back in. Ah, all is right with the world. The little guys are all buttoned up tight. Also just me? Yikes.

5. Keep your trays with you (like on your person) when you travel, in case someone steals your suitcase from the overhead bin when you land at JFK for a business trip. You won’t have underwear, clothes, or shoes, but dammit, you’ll have your next set of Invisalign trays ready to go and your orthodondist will be so proud.

4. Your teeth won’t feel smooth after the Invisalign is over. Pretty sure when they drill the notches off, it removes the smooth top layer of tooth. Is this possible? It’s certainly what it feels like. Other than my front two teeth, which remained notch-free during this process, my other teeth feel a bit gritty. I’m obsessed with running my tongue along my teeth now to feel the contrast. This is kind of sick.

3. Your teeth will need whitening after.

2. The thing you were trying to fix won’t end up fixed. Not that this is the case for everyone, but just be prepared. They aren’t braces. Especially if you choose an “Express” experience like I did, it’s not as extensive as the full process would normally be. And sure, they took molds of your mouth and ran the whole thing through a state-of-the-art computer system that mapped out a plan that was then debated by and ultimately carried out by exceptional and watchful orthodontists, but what does THAT really mean?

And the #1 thing I wish I’d realized before Invisalign:

Your teeth are already straight.

I guess if I could sum up I’d call the whole thing overkill. I was told I was a perfect candidate (already had braces, just need a small correction), but the near-perfectness of my teeth meant that there was always a risk not only that the small correction wouldn’t fully correct, but that other movement of teeth would ultimately leave me worse off. Or at least liking my former smile better. Not that I’m saying this happened or that it was all bad. My bite is better aligned, that I can tell. And my teeth overall are probably a teensy bit straighter. The fact that the thing I wanted fixed really wasn’t fully fixed does sort of bum me out, but I have to keep this all in perspective and realize that my teeth were straight before and they are straight now. This is not a crisis.

(To be clear, I would readily recommend Invisalign to anyone wanting to straighten their teeth. It’s not as intrusive or life-altering as braces, and it does move teeth very effectively.)

AUG
03

People Suck

At least the ones who steal your carry-on suitcase directly from the overhead bin. I know what you’re thinking. It was a mix-up, right? But just take a look at this butterfly-and-flower-riddled bag pictured above and tell me if it’s even possible to accidentally mistake it for your own crappy black one. The answer you’re looking for is no.

It’s true. I was robbed. Of some very precious things, I might add. But I don’t want to focus on that. It’s depressing. I’d rather focus on the rather unexpected things that happen when you fly to New York City for a work trip and end up with no possessions.

There’s a rather clarifying sensation that settles in once you stop crying over your loss, and that is the ability to deduce what it is that you actually NEED while on this trip. And I can tell you the answer to that question is underwear. It’s really the ONLY answer, which is why instead of spend your first evening catching up with a friend at a favorite Harlem eatery (yes, I said favorite Harlem eatery), you'll schlepp it from the hotel to the nearest Victoria’s Secret. Learning this, that underwear is really the bedrock of existence, will feel somewhat revelatory.

The CMO of your company, and probably the fanciest lady you know, might invite you to her hotel room when you and your lack of luggage arrive. Her Manolos will be lined up in a row, and she’ll tell you to pick a pair to wear the following day at the tradeshow you’re working. (Remember, you have no shoes.) It’ll be the first time you’ve ever worn Manolos, and you’ll enjoy learning—even for one day—what that feels like. For the record, it feels like pain, but that won’t matter. And you won’t even begrudge her when she asks for them back the next day due to her outfit being perfectly tailored to Those Shoes. You might learn you’re pretty happy just being a regular person.

While trying on the clothes of a co-worker and complaining about them all feeling tight, she’ll point out that you’ve been hiding your cute little body in clothes that are too big. You’ll feel real slutty in leopard print tops and vampy red skirts that hug your curves and restrict both your breath and your step, but remember, short of spending a bunch of money on new clothes that you really can’t afford and that you can’t transport home anyway because you no longer have a suitcase, you don’t have a choice. And so you get to experience the week while wearing the clothes of this other person. You won’t feel like yourself, and how odd that is, to exist as not you, but at the end of it all, you’ll find yourself wanting to go out and buy a tight skirt.

A friend will subway it from 145th Street, in the rain, and bring dresses wrapped in plastic for you to try on for the gala you need to attend. People will tell you at said gala that they’d have had no idea the dress wasn’t yours. And the willingness of people to help, to step up, to comfort, and to tell you how nice you look in your slutty red skirt or baffling gaucho pants will remind you that not everyone is a thief. Not everyone does horrible things just because they can. Not everyone sucks. It won’t bring back your precious things, but in the grand scheme of things, I’d say that’s a win.

JUL
16

Tradeoffs

I would give a writing update, only I don't have one. Like, none at all. Because I haven't been writing. It's shameful. Not to say there's nothing in the works, because I did recently get asked to contribute to a book of essays being published and had a fun (read: rather torturously self-reflective) time writing that one, and I may be part of a group of single women writers launching a blog forum in the near future, so, there are writerly things happening. But as for progress toward my next book, who has the time? The answer is, not me.

There's a reason all my writing (and reading) time has disappeared, and it's because I joined a gym at the start of the year. Yes, I've become a gym rat. And I hate it. Or maybe what I mean is that I hate that I love it. In my defense though, it's not a typical gym. No sweaty, beefy body-building types. It's actually a wellness center that partners with a local hospital and focuses on rehabilitation, but also offers stellar classes and top-notch amenities. Honestly, it's nice. And while I do at times grapple with feeling like by paying the hefty membership fee that I'm contributing to White Privilege at its finest, it's a pretty incredible facility.

So there go all my weekday evenings.

And weekend mornings.

It's not so much that I want to get my money's worth (I totally want to get my money's worth), it's more that I set a fitness resolution at the beginning of the year. My usual method when it comes to resolutions is to set a crap load of them and then hope to hit at least some of them, at least the easy ones like "Take more vacations." But when you split yourself and your intentions so widely, I find it harder to really make progress. So this year I set only two resolutions, one fitness oriented and the other finance oriented. So while my writing efforts have gone to pot, we're halfway through the year, and both my fitness and financial resolutions are still on track, and to me that is satisfying.

Tradeoffs are such a bitch.

(PS - if you're looking for an interesting read featuring an excellent essay about how women have taken back "bitch" and are now coming for "crazy," check out All the Lives I Want. From Anjelica Huston to Sylvia Plath, the author delves into societal topics, mostly related to women, that don't get talked about enough. Or really ever.)

JUL
02

San D after 2

After celebrating my two year mark, here’s what I’ve come up with:

 

Cons

Buying a home (and really accumulating savings in general) is a pipe dream (-25)

Sunburns (-5)

Mysterious yeast-based skin condition (hypothetically) (-20)

Traffic (-50)

No plastic bags at grocery stores (-3)

Lots of black widow spiders (-10)

Drought (-7)

Lots of Golden State Warriors fans (-12)

Total: -132

 

Pros

No snow (+30)

The ocean (+25)

Disneyland proximity (+20)

Family proximity (+35)

Sunshine (+40)

Sparkly job (+18)

Ideal temperature range (+50)

Sports/Oscars not on late at night (+5)

Total: 223

 

Some might say I have screwy priorities. I say, I think I’m doing alright.

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