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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
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.

AUG
07

Do What Scares You

If you want to know a secret, the reason I love roller coasters is because I actually hate them. Or, to put it another way, they terrify me. And yet. There's something about those final post-launch, I'm-going-to-crap-my-pants seconds that makes the whole ordeal better than if they didn't rattle me at all. For me, it's all about getting out of the comfort zone, reminding myself I'm alive, and also reveling in the satisfaction that comes from having done survived something that totally freaks me out.

This week I had my first-ever experience with a zip line. I'll confess to you now that on the flip side of the adventure--once I arrived safely at the bottom of the mountain--I realized there's a lot less to be anxious about than I had thought. It's a very easy task that produces not so much as a single stomach lurch in-flight. But I certainly didn't know that when at the top. And so I'll also confess that as I sat strapped on the line, suspended in air, waiting to be released and sail out into nothingness, I was convinced it was possibly the worst idea I'd ever had. I was picturing free-falling. I was picturing intestinal discomfort...or disaster. But there I was. Doing it. ("Why is no one screaming?" the woman next to me in line whispered after several from our group had sailed down the line without so much as a peep. "Oh, I'll be screaming for sure," I replied.)

An aunt of mine made a brave decision several months ago, one that has changed her life significantly. And when she made the decision, she called me. She said I had a lot to do with her decision, in that she's watched me make decisions all my life that involved going with the more unknown, scary option. And she said she couldn't justify letting fear keep her from making a certain choice. Think about that for a minute. Because if we take this principle (not letting fear be what keeps us from doing something) and look at it another way, what this actually means is that we should actually be making decisions because they scare us. We should be choosing what scares us. Maybe not all the time, but I'm convinced that choosing the scary option now and then takes us outside our wheelhouse long enough to be reminded that shaking things up is necessary for growth. This doesn't mean we won't feel like crapping our pants when staring down the mountainside, but it means when we've safely reached the bottom of the hill, we'll have opened ourselves up to new experiences and opportunities as well as increased the confidence we have in our own capabilities. Plus, you can't beat the view while coming down.

APR
24

The California Effect

Living in California is pretty idyllic. The weather is fantastic, and I can go to the beach literally every day. I look at the tourists renting the condos along the shoreline and think, "And I get to live here." It hardly seems fair.

The thing about California, though, is it's changed my threshold for tolerances that previously would have been no problem. Like temperature. I moved here last summer, and after several months of constantly comfy temps, I remember actually taking a picture of the temperature display in my car on the day when the temperature never left the 60s. It just seemed so cold. After all those years in Cleveland and New York, strange that temps in the 60s could seem anything but balmy. Yet, it's true. I feel cold here more often...and when I am around actual cold temps or--heaven help me--snow (like this past Christmas in the mountains of eastern Washington state or even last weekend while caught in that freak blizzard in Denver), I just can't handle it like I used to. These days, I always think it's too cold.

California has also done a number on my skin. I'm not just talking about the fact that it took me a while to get the hang of sufficient sunscreen application, but also of the random bumps and rashes that began showing up due to--according to my dermatologist--the changes in environment and humidity from what I was used to out East. Multiple medications later, my skin is improving...albeit a myriad of other skin-related side-effects of the skin medications have cropped up. Which is how I came to be the girl who wears gloves while at the beach.

My skin issues are TMI, I realize, I just think sometimes it's nice to remind everyone that living in Calfornia is not always like those commercials with all the celebrities. The ones trying to convince you that their lives are just like everyone else's, even though the point of those commercials is clearly that California living is not really reality. I confess seeing those commercials while living out East filled me with a surprisingly intense yearning to be here. And those commercials are right...living in California is pretty idyllic. Although for the sake of accuracy, they really ought to get a girl wearing gloves at the beach on one of those commercials. I'll happily volunteer.

JAN
09

Resolutions: Week 1

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This was my view as I mulled over the new year and the areas on which I wanted to focus, to improve, to accomplish, or to at least spend more time on in 2016. The beach is an incredibly inspiring place for such thoughts, and I left feeling both refreshed and energized to get started. Nevermind that on the walk back to my house a bird pooped on my head--a warm, wet glob that fell from a tree and seemed to clearly indicate that the universe was rejecting the goals I'd just set, but whatever. I'm ignoring the whole incident. Because shit happens, yo.

I won't bore you with the details (some undoubtedly very pathetic) of my New Year's resolutions, but I will say that in many areas, week 1 was a complete success. I want to volunteer more and I signed up with two local San Diego charities that will hopefully give me the opportunity to do so. I want to be more social so I've lined up some events that will get me out of the house and meeting people more often. (Clarification: There's nothing wrong with being an introvert, but I'd like to make more of an effort to go to events that typically have me rationalizing that I'd much rather go home and write and spend time with my cat. Which is pretty much what I say about every social event.) I want to cook more and made potato soup from scratch like four times this week. (San Diego is in the dearth of winter right now with temps sometimes no higher than the fifties. Look what California has done to me???) I could continue in this vein, because there is more, but hopefully you get the point. Which is that I am doing things. Which is so much more powerful than trying to do things or saying you will do things or postponing things until a more convenient time.

That time is now, for all of us. So I leave you with the challenge of action as you delve more fully into the new year. Do the thing. Do all of the things. Just maybe wear a hat if any of those things involve walking on the beach.

DEC
04

The Tree Lighting

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I had visions of Rockefeller Center dancing in my head when I heard about a tree lighting in the beach town just north of mine. Now, to be clear, I assure you I did realize there would be a difference. Like, a big one. Even as I arrived a mere twenty minutes before show time and got a spot pretty much right in front of the tree, I was excited. Even as I first took in the little tree (much smaller than I was anticipating, even for a tiny oceanside town), I was not dismayed. Because once the switch was flipped, the tree in its entirety would be transformed, set aglow by a healthy coating of spectral colors. I mean, isn’t that why we go to tree lightings? To experience that moment of contrast? To appreciate the difference?

I hate to call the holidays a distraction, because they are certainly more meaningful to me than that, but sometimes it feels as if their sole purpose is to temporarily buoy us up. From life. From reality. From depression and loneliness. From evil and despair. From your college football team not being in the playoff running this year. One of the pre-lighting speakers, some city official or other, basically asked us to—just for this moment—be happy. Just for this moment, be grateful and feel blessed. Just for this moment, celebrate. Southern California in general has been a bit gloomy and on edge this week, such that I guarantee I wasn’t the only one amongst the tree-lighting crowd who swiveled her head in between the high school show choir’s numbers, wondering if some crazy was lurking in the corner, locked and loaded. (I wish I could say I was just being dramatic, but I think for many Americans, the idea of public safety has been permanently shifted to the morbidly paranoid.)

The actual flipping of the switch (the lighting of the tree) was achingly underwhelming. Even having prepped myself for such a scaled-down version, I think I needed it to be more. More than just a faint star and one string of regular lights that you’d see on a regular house in a regular part of town. Maybe it’s that I’m struggling to feel like it’s Christmas at all, what with the temperatures being so warm and the fact that I was at the moment of lighting standing in between a palm tree and a bird of paradise plant. Maybe it’s that the holiday ornaments I bought to make a garland for my living room walls only made enough to go around three-quarters….of one wall. Or maybe it’s that I don't feel as buoyed up by the season this year. But I’ll keep trying. Because I know that for the most part, people are good. I know for the most part, I am safe. For the most part, the blessings in our lives are easy to spot and comforting to cling to. And most of all, I know that it’s Christmas. (Despite the fact that I’m going to spend the day tomorrow at the beach in 80 degree weather.)

OCT
14

Happy Fall! (Er...summer?)

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Things I miss about fall: changing leaves, cool temperatures, sweaters, light jackets, the smell of campfire, rainy days, and baking sweet things. I also miss all the Ohio State crap in everybody's yard. But don't tell anyone.

It's truly odd to be in this land of eternal sunshine. Because it doesn't feel like fall. It doesn't feel any different than it felt all summer. It's actually even hotter. And how odd to be sweating it out at the beach in mid-October. I keep finding myself checking the 10-day forecast in New York City, where I lived last fall, and Cleveland, where I lived the six falls before that. Temperatures in the sixties, fifties even on some days. It sounds so glorious!! I know I'll be singing a different tune come winter...something tells me I won't mind sitting at the beach in winter...but there's something about fall that a girl just wants to experience.

I can't do much about the sunny temps here in Cali, the lack of need for my jackets and sweaters, but baking? I can do something about that. And so last night I used my oven for the first time in the 4 months I've lived here and baked something sweet. It was an 85-degree day and it made my house so hot that I may never bake anything again, but for a moment, it was fall. Real fall.

JUL
19

I Want to be Famous

 

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I've come to terms with the fact that it will never be mine, fame and copious amounts of money, and really, that's OK with me. I rather enjoy paying my bills each month, saving where I can, fighting with the bank--let's call them Schmells Schmargo--to get them to overturn $90 worth of fees I should have never been hit with (in the end they refunded only $50.50, and it still felt like a small victory). On one hand, that I care so much about bank fees makes me feel a little bit desperate, but on the other hand, we're talking about 90 freaking dollars, not to mention the principle of the thing (I'm talking to you, Schmells Schmargo), and despite all the indignities that come with being a regular person (think coupons, sales, packing lunch, buying off-brand, fighting with Schmells Schmargo), I find the struggle quite invigorating. It's living. But every now and then, I just want to be famous. I want to breathe easy about retirement, to have living in the most expensive city in the country (NYC) followed by the second (hello, California) not even phase me, to buy my parents a beautiful house, to be so cute and popular that my picture shows up in the weekly People magazine. Heck, I'd even settle for occasionally just being recognized while out in public.

Just prior to leaving New York, I spent the day with a celebrity. He's not an A-lister, but he's very well known, and I found it thrilling just to be in the presence of someone who was stopped everywhere we went (at the botanical gardens, at dinner, at Target) for autographs and pictures. I felt famous simply by association. Even as I could tell he was years weary of these being-stopped-in-the-street moments, all I could think was how much better my life would be if such things happened to me. If the manager sent out free dessert simply because I was dining in his restaurant. If the people at the table next to me asked for a photo. If I had a bajillion Twitter followers. Or even 250.

My celebrity friend is a singer, and a very good one, too, but since he hasn't been focusing on recording for some years now, he hasn't exactly been "working." On our day about town, I was just finishing up my gemology sabbatical and getting ready to start my new job, and I was a little sad (translation: completely depressed) about having to say goodbye to the delightful world of Not Having a Day Job. I said as much to my Famous Friend when he began to complain about having nothing to do. Now, see, isn't that interesting? He was complaining about having nothing to do.

Me: "Having just experienced a phase of life where I had no job and no responsibilities, it was pretty much the best thing ever."

FF: "Yeah, but you were still working toward being a gemologist. You had a goal."

Maybe it's just a classic case of the grass always being greener. It's just that celebrity grass always seems like it's the greenest. Not to say that my Famous Friend envies my life (I wouldn't wish Schmells Schmargo fights on anybody), but does he envy parts of it? Parts of a regular person life? I think he does, and that makes me feel good inside. I'm still never going to be famous, but I'll settle for knowing that there are aspects of my life--even the mundane, lowly ones--that are enviable even to those who appear to have it all. I'll settle for my day about town with my famous friend, both of us singing in his car at the top of our lungs. I'll settle for that drive, the NYC skyline before us, and the way he said "Tali, sing girl!" when I hit the high note.

JUL
14

Disneyland Annual Pass: Yay or Nay?

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It's like this. I live pretty close to Disneyland. As in, I could drive there, like, every weekend if I wanted to. An annual pass seems like a no-brainer, as it should be for EVERYONE who lives in SoCal, but as I've asked around since being here, I've yet to find anyone who actually has one. Worse, the one person I found who used to have one said she didn't use it enough to make it worth it. For clarification purposes, depending on the level of pass you buy, you have to go between 2 and 5 times in order to actually make it a savings. And from where I'm sitting (less than an hour from the Magic Kingdom), I have a hard time believing that ANYONE could find themselves not using the pass enough to make it worth it. Still, though, it's a chunk of change, not to mention that I don't have a plus one. A solo Disney trip is fine once, twice if need be, but every time you go?? Is that depressing? Maybe. Less fun? Probably. But is it worse than not going at all? Doubtful.

There's just such a stigma around "aloneness" and I know I should be doing what I can to push back. I hate that I feel, for lack of a better term, "lame" when at dinner or a movie by myself. Partly because it sucks to be reminded that pretty much everyone else in the world apparently has a date that night, and partly because I picture all the couples and families thinking pitiful, tragic thoughts about the Alone Girl in the corner. I know no one actually thinks about you even half as much as you think they do, but my natural instinct is to avoid doing social things alone. Which means that sometimes I miss out on something I really want to do/see. And isn't that a lot more pitiful and tragic than doing something alone? Yes. Yes, it is. I think I just made up my mind about the annual pass.

JUN
21

Top Ten Moving Moments

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Hello from the Pacific time zone. How good does that sound? No more staying up until midnight (or after) watching sporting events. I'd driven from Michigan to Utah once (and back again) many years ago, but this cross-country venture was truly that. From New York City to San Diego. I was surprised not just by how not horrendous the drive was, but also by how much I enjoyed it. I remember thinking on the last day of the trip that I was going to miss being on the road, starting somewhere new every morning, eating somewhere new each evening, seeing such beautiful and varied scenery in such quick succession. Here are some of my favorite moments from the trip.

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10. Driving by my old house

I never appreciated how palatial my house was. A 2 bedroom!! It's simply unheard of in NYC. There were so many nights I pined for the quiet of my old street, for the lack of any noise coming from above, beside, or below me. Seeing the house again made me smile.

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9. Impromptu Stops

This was a functional trip, one on which we made very few stops, but when we did veer off the path (like this pic in Indiana where we stopped to see my aunt T and uncle S), it was nice to change it up.

8. Cleaning out my storage unit

I had all of one day to empty my midwest storage unit. There wasn't much in the way of substantial items inside, save my writing desk and guitar (both of which I am thrilled to be reunited with), but to the medical resident who swung by and bought my bedroom set, I will be forever grateful. There simply would have been no room to take it with me.

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7. Passing through Omaha

I blame this on the boy who introduced me to the Counting Crows when I was 17. He was handsome and won me over by playing Omaha on the guitar, and passing through the midpoint of the trip had me waxing nostalgic. Not necessarily for the boy (who's now married with kids, although who isn't married with kids these days?), but for the summer I was 17. For me, discovering love and Adam Duritz go hand in hand.

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6. Beach proximity

My new place is 5 blocks from the ocean. And although I don't eat fish, it's nice to know I can stop at the fish shack on the way back and be served even in my sandy bare feet.

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5. Introducing Clementine to her cousins

Traveling with a cat went smoother than I thought it would (meaning we only lost her once), and although it was by far the scariest of all our stops for poor Clementine, my sister's house found some little boys very eager to meet their feline cousin.

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4. The NYC send-off

It's my favorite building. Honestly, it is. And the trouble with going to the top is that you can't see it...because you're on it. So the Top of the Rock became my favorite place for viewing the Empire State Building, and you can bet that's where I spent my last NYC sunset.

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3. Mountain Day

Driving cross country is largely flat. And consequently easy. You set the cruise control and you are golden until you stop for the night 10 hours later. But mountain driving (Colorado mostly) is steep, it's winding, it's got a lot of pesky construction, and if you do manage to find the apparently one gas station within a 50-mile radius, you'll still have to drive 12 miles to the station after you've taken the exit. That said, my day of mountain driving was perhaps the most beautiful I've ever spent. At literally every turn you're surrounded by mountains, trees, rivers running alongside the road, sky, clouds. It was hard not to look away, and at the risk of waxing spiritual, it was good for the soul to be reminded of how much beauty there is to be had on this rolling sphere of ours.

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2. Catching a Cavs game

By now you should know how I feel about Cleveland and my beloved Cavaliers. Though the game didn't go my way, I'd always wanted to see them play in the finals, and I was lucky to be able to attend a game while passing through. To cheer alongside 20,561 others inside of Quicken Loans Arena once more was a definite trip highlight.

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1. Roadtripping with my mom

And of course none of this would have been possible without my mom. Or at least I can't imagine it being possible. Going it alone on such a trek (which I actually had believed for a time was my preferred method) now seems so foolish, and knowing now how much she helped and supported me before, during, and after the trip, I definitely couldn't have done it without her. Not to mention, I just got to spend 11 solid days with my mom, and what adult can say that? Lucky doesn't quite cut it, and after dropping her off at the airport yesterday, my passenger seat felt very empty.

JUN
10

Goodbye to all that

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I've been reading a collection of essays written by female writers who have at some point lived in (and left) New York. It's amazing how conflicted we writer folk can be about this city, and in almost every essay is what I've come to dub an inevitable waffling between how we could never leave new York and the fact that we can't leave fast enough because being here is, at most, draining and shallow, and, at worst, sort of sucky. In these essays there are three camps of people: those who love New York, those who hate New York, and those who--for better or for worse--feel an unnamed sense of belonging, pull, and attraction to being in New York. This final group are those who even after moving away end up moving back; those who even if they choose not to move back still pine for the city every day, wish they were there again, home.

I suppose you could say I belong to this third group of people, although I'm not really sure why. It's not like New York was ever mine. Certain of the essayists make quite clear, in fact, how annoyed they are with these so-called baby New Yorkers who move to the city with big dreams and after a few months of living with a bunch of roommates in a small flat in the East Village start going around claiming the city as their own. But when I say I belong to this third group, it's because my attraction to New York is something I cannot help. It's wired into me. I know this because living here has been hard. I've found many aspects of it much more challenging than I had ever anticipated, yet the thought of leaving tomorrow has me weepy.

To me, New York City equals possibility. On a grand scale, certainly, and the fact that I've been able to complete and fulfill a dream while here certainly boosts the life-making fantasy I've got going in my mind when I think of Manhattan. But I'm talking about possibility on a small scale, too. Because no other city is like this. No other city offers so much in the way of daily activities, eateries, or attractions. Any day could take you in any number of directions and result in any number of outcomes, favorites, and new friends. As an introvert, it's not even as if I was taking full advantage of this, but the point is that it's there for you when you want it. And there is comfort in that. Not to suggest that I'm sad about beginning a new chapter on the other side of the country (translation: I am totally sad), but I know every night will find me wondering what everyone in New York is up to, feeling the way you feel in dreams when you've been left behind, beating off with a stick this annoying sense that a bunch of fun is being had without you. Having now lived in New York, I know it will absolutely be true. To quote the essay that opens the book, "California has taught me this: you can take the girl out of New York, but all that accomplishes is taking the girl out of New York." I guess we'll just have to see.

APR
30

Coast to Coast

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When you live in New York, a trip to California is, well, far. Especially when you'll only be there for 32 hours. Not that I mind. Plane rides give me lots of uninterrupted reading time, not to mention the chance to wax poetic about the beauty to be seen between coastlines. And I'm not just talking about the plane's-eye view of mountains, lakes, and perfectly divided crop squares, but also the variance in the destinations themselves. The night before the trip, I took a sailboat (I think the actual term was "tall ship," but whatever, it had sails) out to the Statue of Liberty at sunset and then sailed along the skyline as it darkened and the buildings began to sparkle, and the next night I was driving along the palm tree lined California coast. I guess what I'm saying is that experiencing a laidback beach town and the busiest, most populated city in America within such a short timeframe sure makes you grateful that we can experience so many different kinds of beautiful within this country of ours. That one of these kinds of beautiful comes with an In-N-Out Burger, well, that's just a bonus.

MAR
31

California vs. Florida

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Just wanted to say that I spent last week in Florida, and believe it or not (frankly I don't think it's all that unusual although people seem to be aghast when they find out), it was the first time in my life I had ever been to Florida.

I'm an adult. Who lives in the east(ish). Is this normal? Don't answer that.

Bottom line? I can explain. I'm from the west coast, see, so whenever I think warm and sunny and Disney, I think California. I go to California. I dream about California. And why wouldn't I? I was born there and it has my heart in a way no other place does. This western loyalty runs so deep that even though it's much closer, the very idea of swapping Florida in for a California trip seems simply sinful. I've spent my whole life turning my nose up at Florida. It's interesting, isn't it? The things we hold onto. The things we resist.

I'm fully prepared to admit that I found Florida quite lovely. More than that, I wished I were there for play instead of work. And most of all, I decided I'd like to go back sometime and have a real vacation.

Whether or not in the moment of booking I'll be able to actually select Florida over California remains to be seen, but I got on the plane with a strong feeling that I'd be back again...on my terms. (My terms being a bikini and a good book...although, to be fair, if I were choosing terms I would also choose a tan and a more sizable bust. But you can't have everything.)

latest tweets

TaliNayBooks I think that's how you know it's a good book.
TaliNayBooks So engrossed in the end of #tinybeautifulthings that I didn't realize someone was stealing my carry-on from the plane. @CherylStrayed