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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
JUN
17

Picture This

Picture booking a trip to Cleveland for game 6 of the NBA finals and then realizing with your team down 3-0 that game 6 is likely not to happen. Picture changing your plans at the last minute and booking the last seat on a plane to Cleveland for game 4. Picture lugging the dresses and heels and suits you wore over a week-long work trip with you across the country, as the last minute-ness of the change in plans doesn't allow you to go home first.

Picture upsetting your ex's family by asking in this state of last minute-ness (ie. no hotels available) if you can crash with them for a night. Picture sobbing in an airport bathroom when you realize the door to their friendship is no longer open, even though this is probably as it always should have been.

Picture getting pulled over in Cleveland and trying to get out of a ticket when you say you're here for "the game" and have a California drivers license. Picture the Cavs shirt you're wearing saving the day. Because it does.

Picture winning.

Of course, I could tell you to picture it all falling apart in the next game anyway, but that really doesn't matter. Because if you can picture 20,000+ fans erupting in unison after each (record-breaking) three-pointer, if you can picture being unable to keep yourself from jumping to your feet every possession, if you can picture the glee in watching Steph Curry momentarily being made to look like a lost little boy, if you can picture hope and belief in their most unadulterated forms ("Cavs in se-ven!"), then you will have gotten what you came for.

So picture that.

 

MAR
19

The Signing at Loganberry Books

It's hard to beat Loganberry Books when it comes to intricate and charming details, literary nostalgia and whimsy, and let's not forget sheer size. It's a deceivingly large store, with ladders and chairs and pillows and tables. In short, it's the full bookstore package. Plus, they have a cat.

I'd done a few events there in the past, but always as part of a larger book fair featuring many authors. My first solo event, it wasn't as well-attended as I had hoped (you know, like in author dreamland where every person you invited and/or know shows up and you sell out of books) but I do have to remember that I don't live there anymore. It's not as if I can claim it as my own. Or bug my co-workers by incessantly reminding them that THIS IS THE WEEKEND of the book signing. Um, not that I did this with my California signing. How needy.

Cleveland is a special place for me because I spent so many years there, surely, but also because of the kinds of relationships I formed while I was there. And because the book I was in town to celebrate is the "love" book, of course that had me waxing pensive over how many men I met and dated there. One of the main exes I mention in the book is still in town, and, if I'm being honest, I had thought I wanted him to be there. I mean, three books? Don't I deserve that kind of support for being an ex that's just so damn prolific? But during the event I grew uneasy at the thought of navigating the conversation. "So, great book, Tali. I really enjoyed the part where you spilled the beans about the cowardly way in which I broke your heart." I mean, all's fair, (meaning he gets to break my heart and also that I get to broadcast the deets Taylor Swift style by writing about it), and truth is an absolute defense, but maybe some relationships really do work better in the past tense. It's why I'm a writer. It's why I'm single. It's why I probably need some new book tour cities in my circuit.

 

DEC
31

On Waxing Pensive at Year End

I remember in high school being asked by an English teacher to make a list of things I wanted to do before I was 30. It was an interesting exercise for a class of teenagers from a very small town, where dreaming big wasn't something that always came naturally, but I took it very seriously. I was one of those who could always be counted on to dream big.

Some things on the list I accomplished in time (publish a book), others I did not (have a baby), but I'm a firm believer that showing up late to the party is better than never showing up at all. Besides, on this New Years Eve of goal-setting and course-correction, aren't we always sort of working on becoming who we want to be, regardless of when we thought we'd get there?

The thing I remember most vividly about that high school list is the following item: "Fly over the ocean." I put this down because it was a big deal to me. Something, again, being a from a small town, that seemed epic. I also put it down because it scared me. And giving myself until I was 30 to do it felt like a nice far-away cushion. Probably the easiest on my list to actually accomplish (one need only buy a ticket), I didn't get there before I was 30. I'm embarrassed to admit I've been avoiding it. The long plane ride, the jet lag, the language barriers, the world being so messed up. It was easier to just stay home.

While 2016 was a year of many epic things--Cleveland won the NBA Championship, for crying out loud--I'll remember it most for being the year I finally got my sweet and sour off this continent and flew over the ocean. It probably doesn't mean anything to anyone else, this single stamp in my passport, these photos of cathedrals, the leftover foreign coins in my pocket. But to me it means a great deal. It means that the items on our lists are more important than our timelines for them. It means that whenever we're ready, even if it's not this year, the world is waiting for us. Whether you're ahead of schedule or years behind, the view is equally spectacular. 

NOV
04

Cleveland Against The World

It was almost hard to root against the Cubs.

Unless you’re me. In which case it was very easy. Because Cleveland is my heart.

And so I’ve been recovering on behalf of a city that has such a long-standing history of sports tragedy and misfortune. I’ve been recovering from blowing a 3-1 lead and losing a world championship. I’ve been thinking a lot about Golden State, about how confident they must have felt being up 3-1 against the Cavs, and how much it sucks to be on the other side of that. The side that doesn’t come back in epic, historic fashion. Can you say karma, Cleveland? I can. Dammit.

I’m not such a horrible person that I’m not happy for the Cubs. I am. I am happy for them, for the curse being broken, for their well-deserved championship after such a stellar season. So, no, I’d like to think I’m not a horrible person. I’m just a loyal one. I’m loyal to Cleveland. Heck, I spent a small (read: not at all small) fortune last week to fly to Cleveland and see one of the games. In fairness, I was mostly there to see my Cavaliers get their rings, raise their championship banner. But I was also there for the Indians. I was there because it was pretty much Cleveland’s best day ever. And if you’re at all familiar with Cleveland, the Cavs’ arena is right next door to the Indians’ ballpark. So to be standing there, right in the middle of it, a team about to raise a championship banner on one side and a team about to play game 1 of the World Series on the other, was something to savor. More than that—it’s something you know you’ll never experience again. Like, ever.

Despite the loss, I’m proud of the Indians. I’m proud of their little team that could. I’m proud of Cleveland; a city that’s had an indisputably red-letter year. And despite the cold weather that my now-wimpy California self is completely unsuited for, not to mention the huge hole in my pocketbook, I don’t regret the trip in the slightest. In a crowd of tens of thousands, I ran into the man I once loved, and I still don’t regret the trip. See what I mean about Cleveland being my heart? Some cities are just in you. You are tied to them in ways you’ll never shake. Not that you would even want to. And why should you? Until next time, Believeland, I’ll be dreaming of you.

JUN
20

For Cleveland

The thing about Cleveland is it was only mine for seven years. That’s as long as I lived there. But it’s the first city that really felt like mine; the first city that saw me moving across the country, knowing no one, and beginning to build a life for myself. It’s also the first city I ever lived in that had an NBA team. So, in a way, the Cavaliers were probably destined to be mine, too.

I was surprised during these finals how many people didn’t think that the Cavs would win. Very nearly everyone predicted a Warriors repeat. I confess being down 3-1 was a bit foreboding. I myself was in Cleveland for game 4. Oakland is a lot closer, but I flew my Californian ass to Cleveland and cheered my heart out along with 20,561 others; 20,561 others who left Quicken Loans arena probably just as discouraged as I was. But the thing is, it wasn’t over. And just before getting on a plane and winging my way back west, I said to someone, “All we have to do is win three in a row.” And I was being sincere, in that, taken one game at a time, I didn’t see how it wasn’t possible. Even probable. Them boys were on a mission. To me it seemed so obvious that they wanted it more than Golden State. They wanted it for Cleveland.

I’ve run into some who can’t root for Cleveland because of the seeming fickleness of the fans. The fact that we loved LeBron, hated him, and then loved him again. As a person who lived in Cleveland for the best of the LeBron years, the years he played for Miami, and then was still living there when he made the decision to return, I can assure you that it was certainly a fascinating fandom flip-flop. But it’s really not that hard to understand. We were hurt, indescribably so. “The Decision” was a lousy way for a star athlete to make such an announcement. But if you read the essay LeBron wrote that accompanied his decision to return to Cleveland, he addresses the folly of “The Decision,” and explains why coming home and bringing a championship to Cleveland was, he’d realized, more important. Hurt as we were, you couldn’t read that essay without feeling not only that you were witnessing growth, but also sincerity. So is it any wonder that when I heard the news—while in the dressing room of the Anthropologie store on Chagrin Blvd.—I broke into a smile that wouldn’t go away? (Let me say, for the record, that I sometimes miss the low cost of living that allowed me to even shop at Anthropologie in the first place something fierce.)

I have wanted this for Cleveland for all of those seven years, and the two since I left as well. I realize that’s not nearly as long as many Cleveland fans; fans who have endured decades (or a lifetime) of their teams coming up short. But it’s long enough to feel a sense of satisfaction over last night’s win that goes beyond a mere victory or title. It’s long enough to have cried when that buzzer sounded. And it’s certainly long enough to be a Cleveland fan for always. Hats off to you, Believeland. You deserve it.

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.

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.

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.

MAR
30

Moving

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Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted to move to New York. And so she sold everything she owned and found a darling studio on the Upper East Side. Everything was perfect until the girl's downstairs neighbor revealed herself to be of despicable, cat-hating character, and the girl was forced (OK, she could have stayed, but it would have been at the expense of her cat, who was not able to run around freely without getting both of them verbally harrassed by said evil neighbor) to move. And so she did.

Truth be told, having to move after only 6 months broke my heart a little. Partly because I really loved my apartment. I loved how it was furnished. Not particularly well, but it had everything I needed (down to things like pots and pans, extra sets of sheets, lamps and mirrors). I also loved how safe I felt. The Upper East Side, while an absolute pain to get to and from (this city *really* needs a crosstown train...or a subway line further east than Lex), is delightful, and I will miss it very much.

It's not that I feel unsafe here in my new apartment in West Harlem, it's just that safety is something I have to think about now, whereas before I really didn't. My first night here I don't think I slept a wink. It's much noisier, and from the hoots and hollers one hears, my writer mind is busy painting pictures of all the no-good these Harlemites are up to. And remember how I said I sold everything before moving to NY? Well, my new place isn't furnished, so I'm sitting here typing this on a writing desk in an otherwise empty apartment, and while I'm not exactly regretting having sold everything back at my garage sale in Cleveland (most of my things I didn't use and so didn't need), it's just that had I known I'd only be in the furnished UES studio for 6 months, I might not have sold quite so much.

But hindsight is 20/20, and so I'm focusing on the positive aspects of this move. 1: I got away from the evil, cat-hating neighbor who should seriously be committed. 2: It's so much easier (and faster) to get places now...chalk one up for the west side. 3: My rent is, like, SO much cheaper now. 4: I get to do lots of shopping in the near future. 5: New adventures surely await on this side of the park.

NOV
14

Homecoming

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I just spent a week in Cleveland. I know it's not home anymore, but it still felt an awful lot like a homecoming. Speaking of homecomings, I should probably have chosen a picture of the Cavs game I was able to go to (what ended up being their first home win with LeBron back...I was in attendance at the last home win he played as a Cavalier before leaving, so it felt only fitting to attend the first win after his return), but instead I'm subjecting you all to the parting gift my office presented me with. 

It's amazing how attached to a city one can get. I loved being back in Cleveland this week, to the point of getting teary when I drove away from the office building for the last time today. It was like moving all over again. And this always happens to me. It doesn't mean that I'm second guessing the exciting new chapter I've just begun, it's just that attachment is emotional, and it runs deep, even if you've already moved on. It doesn't mean I don't love New York, it's just that I loved Cleveland first. It doesn't mean I resist change (I just freaking cut all my hair off, yo), it's just that it's hard to leave places and people that have come to mean something to me.

So here I am. Back in my NYC apartment after having battled an epic taxi line, lugged a 50-pound suitcase up the stairs of my elevatorless building, and endured the welcome home brooming of the woman in the apartment below me who thinks my 6-pound cat makes too much noise. If I show up at her door wearing this shirt, it will not be my fault. Bitch, I'm from Cleveland.

NOV
01

Meeting your Favorite Poet: Be Cool

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It's like this. Billy Collins is my favorite poet. Although I'm in an eternal argument with my parents around whether his work really constitutes poetry, I find it delightful no matter the classification. 

Billy was in Brooklyn this past week, and though it was my second time seeing him, it was the first time I actually got to meet him. When you're the kind of person dorky enough to have a favorite poet, dorky enough to trek across town to meet him, dorky enough to end-of-the-world-style panic when your re-routed subway train makes you late, dorky enough to ask someone to take your picture while sitting in your auditorium seat waiting for Billy to come out, then you are probably also the kind of person who will totally dork out when actually face to face with him.

As I approached the front of the line after the reading, it occurred to me that I had no idea what to say. "Nice job." Or maybe, "I love your work." I decided to tell him that it was my second time seeing him (a true fan, see), and I told him which of his poems was my favorite. It's a poem that praises the familiarity of home and routine, especially in contrast with the stress and annoyances of travel, and as a staunch homebody, I always took great comfort in it. Only when I heard him read the poem in Cleveland the first time I saw him, it became clear by his tone that he was not, in fact, siding with the homebodies. He was mocking the very idea that staying in one's own environment could be superior to exploring the world. I felt a little disillusioned, and as I told Billy this story last week, I wished he would tell me what I wanted to hear, which is that my initial way of looking at the poem had been right. But he didn't, of course. Yet even as he was confirming my gross interpretation error, I couldn't wipe the dopey look off my face, hovering at the table even as he'd moved on to sign the next person's book.

Maybe no one can expect to be cool when in the presence of a literary idol. Maybe no one can expect to correctly decipher an author's intent 100% of the time. And I can live with that. Although I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish his "To Tali" inscription had come with a more personalized post script. Something like, "From a fellow homebody." It would have been our secret, Billy.

 

OCT
29

Remembering Sandy

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I say this as if I experienced some sort of hardship, some great loss or personal struggle because of the impacts of Hurricane Sandy. Which, of course, I didn't. True, I was here. In NYC. Not yet a New Yorker myself, I was on a trip with my then-boyfriend for his birthday. And while we had to deal with inconveniences like all our events being cancelled, no way to get anywhere, and nothing to eat other than the small bag of groceries we had the sense to purchase, really the only reminder of our predicament (other than being forced to survive on Macaroni & Cheese from a box) was the damn crane a few minutes from us that they kept showing on the news.

But I do remember being scared about the unknownness of the storm. Going to bed that night amid the howl of strong wind and having no idea what the state of things would be in the morning. It's a sensation I had never experienced until living in the east. (Yes, I consider Cleveland to be east. And NYC is even *easter*.) The power of forces like hurricanes and tornadoes, the relentlessness of lightening during a lightening storm, the sheer volume of snow and depth of cold. You don't get any of that out west. It just rains.

Maybe it's the fact that you just don't have a prayer when up against a natural disaster, maybe it's that I now live in such a large city, but I find I'm much less tolerant these days (read: not at all tolerant) of movies that depict the fictional destruction of entire cities. In this day and age, doesn't that just hit a little too close to home? In any case, it's been 2 years. That's incredible. So is the rebuilding we've seen. So are the progress, expansion, and triumphs still to come. Almost nothing amazes me more than the resilience and strength of the human spirit. That is what I'm toasting to tonight.

OCT
23

Guest Writer: The Cat

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This city is going to make me fat. I know I'm only 6 pounds, but I’m still a girl. At any rate, it's gone. It's all gone. The stairs are gone. Even all the rooms are gone. But I'm a glass half full kind of cat, plus I sleep upwards of 18 hours a day, so I can do without the rooms. And the stairs. And the bay windows. And the couch. And the cable box that was always warm. I digress.

Here is what I know.

I am in a place called New York. T has wanted to come here for a long time. She romanticized the idea if you ask me, a term I only recently became familiar with, because she loves a movie called Breakfast at Tiffany's. I would love something other than kibble for breakfast, so I watch this movie eagerly. There is never any breakfast, but there is a cat, so I like it. Even though if you've read the book, Holly isn't actually able to find the cat at the end, which is a pretty crucial detail. I am a very literary cat. 

New York is noisy, like the woman downstairs who hits the broom on the ceiling whenever I run around. And the noises outside the door. People are always hurrying. And stomping. And slamming. They also watch TV, take baths, open letters, cough, get paged from someone out on the street, and walk from one side of the room to the other. And I can hear it all. So Broom Lady is just going to have to deal with me and my 6 pounds.

There is a cat across the hall. A tom cat. He's bigger than me and his owners let him walk in the hallways. Sometimes when our door is open he will come in. I don't like him being so forward, and I hiss, even though he intrigues me and I’ve never had a boyfriend (unless you count the father of that litter of kittens I bore when I was living in the streets of Cleveland…but that was hardly a relationship). The neighbor cat does have the name of a really good Counting Crows song, so maybe there is hope for him yet. I am a very musical cat.

Speaking of music, T left her guitar behind, and I miss it. It reminded me of Holly, who also sings and plays. The broom lady would have a hissy fit (an expression I believe only cats can use) but I want the guitar back. T plays the Counting Crows. If I could write a song for their band, well, it would have to be mopey, and it would go like this:

 

It's darker here when no one is home.

The food is exactly the same.

We are higher off the ground.

The box on the wall hisses but is very warm.

We sleep in the same space now.

Some of my toys are missing.

 

Oh, and no one knows this, but you can actually climb up underneath the loveseat and hide inside it. No one can get you out. 

And I haven't had a single hairball incident since the move. I am a very classy cat.

 

OCT
08

The Apartment

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Let's talk about the apartment. Which won't take long. Because this is New York. Where else can you pay such an obscene amount of money for such a small space? Lest you remind me that I signed up for this, rest assured I'm not complaining. Quite the contrary. I love being so contained. There's so much less to keep track of. To worry about. To lose. To clean.

Not to say there aren't adjustments to be made. Namely, the noises. Again, I'm not complaining, because strangely, being so aware of my neighbors is almost comforting. I spent many a night in my spacious (meaning way more space than one person needs) Cleveland house feeling spooked due to my utter aloneness. Of course, the downside is it means that silence is, well, rare. And, hence, treasured. I try and write a few words in those moments, and with my deskside window overlooking a garden two floors below, it's enough to make up for the fact that I will be awakened at 2 AM by my neighbor's TV and that when the man across the hall draws a bath, I will hear every splash. (Bathroom sounds carry in particular, and hopefully everyone on the third floor has already forgotten that I got carried away last night myself and started singing West Side Story.)

I'll get the hang of it. Hopefully before I get to On the Town.

 

 

OCT
02

For Cleveland

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Yesterday was a big day for me. I left a city I loved. I know there are many who have put in much more time in much grander cities, but the thing about my six years on the great Cuyahoga is that Cleveland gets under your skin. Into your pores. It starts to grow roots inside you, even if your roots already exist somewhere else.

I'd never had my own city before Cleveland. I grew up somewhere, went to school somewhere, but neither of those were really my own. And think about that for a minute. A girl from small-town west coast. Far from home, didn't know a soul, no experience driving in snow. I felt like I had every reason to hate it. To want out. Not to say there weren't moments when I did (like how about every moment of this past winter), but what I wasn't expecting was this alarmingly fierce sense of loyalty that would develop in relatively short order. I mean, when you see montages of your city displayed on the jumbotron prior to sporting events and they give you goosebumps, you know it's got a hold on you.

I'll spare you the sap by simply saying that I'm pretty sure I will always feel like a Clevelander. I think when you leave a big enough piece of yourself behind, that can't be helped. Cleveland. The place where I became an author, an aunt; the place where I fell in love, then fell apart; the place where I discovered yoga, adopted my cat. It's the place that first made me feel like I was my own person; that my life was mine to make. It's a realization I now take with me to a new city, where a whole host of new opportunities, experiences, and (inevitably) mistakes await me. I'm looking unequivocally forward, but if I occasionally stop to look over my shoulder, I pray you'll indulge me. If you'd ever lived in Cleveland, you'd understand why I'll never completely let it go.

 

 

SEP
19

How to Move a Cat

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I know, I know, there are certainly more important (and time-consuming) aspects of this move, namely the gargantuan task of getting rid of 90% of my possessions, but as the only living thing I am responsible for other than myself, Clementine is very much on my mind as I plan this move. And I'd like to not only get her there, but get her there in such a way that does not cause her to be scarred for life...or crap repeatedly in her pet carrier.

So, naturally, I'm going to drug her.

I have secured the necessary pills from the vet, have an airline-approved pet carrier on the way, and got her a little collar and pet tag in case she manages to slip out the apartment door and ends up wandering the streets of Manhattan.

New York will be an interesting experience for both of us. Not only because we will both surely pine for all the square footage we have enjoyed in Cleveland, but also because we have never slept in the same room. She goes nutso at night, bringing me her toys, jumping on my feet, basically doing whatever she can to demand my attention. So I close my bedroom door every night. Something you can't do when you live in a studio apartment. Lord help us.

SEP
15

One Way Ticket

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I've been traveling for the past 10 days, most of it in Chicago for work. Delightful city, maybe I'll post a few pics of the sightseeing I did, although it pretty much all involves me eating. And then eating more. Followed closely by more eating. Prior to Chicago, I did sneak in another short NYC trip. By now this is no surprise, surely. I did this in July, too. Also in April. And all the other times before that. What made this trip different--what I hadn't done on any other prior NYC trip--was that I signed a lease.

And so the next few weeks on this blog will be full of my moving preparations (chaotic) and goodbyes to the great, great city of Cleveland (weepy), a city in which I will leave a surprisingly big piece of myself and my heart. More on that later. For now let me leave you with images of possibility and new adventure, city lights and subway stations. If these images also contain a microscopic living space, much less disposable income, and uncertainty about things such as future plans, again, we'll get to that later. I've got boxes to pack.

 

AUG
10

Half of Me

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In an effort to simplify and downsize my life, I've begun going through my belongings. You know the drill. Saving this, chucking that. It's a process I haven't done to this extent in the entire six years I've lived in this house. Needless to say, I've accumulated a lot of crap. OK, it's not crap. Well, some of it is crap. But mostly it's just stuff that when push comes to shove (or when the day comes that I need to fit myself and my life into a much smaller space...), I can do without.

What has surprised me though about this summer's possession slim-down is how much I own that did not come from these six years. How much of it precedes my time in Cleveland, and by quite a bit, too. Like the Birkenstocks* I bought when I was in junior high. I didn't have a lot of cool brand-name stuff back then, and my parents would never have bought me Birkenstocks, so if I wanted them (and I did, badly), it was up to me to come up with the money. The Birkenstocks--a funky pattern of blue and pink and orange and still in great shape after costing me an at-the-time small fortune of $80 back in 1996--I am getting rid of, and while I am logical enough to let the fact that I haven't worn them in years win out, I do feel a pang of loss at the thought of giving them up. Because they remind me of a much younger me and, more importantly, the feeling I had while walking home from the bus stop that first day with them. I was wearing the Birkenstocks with a pair of black Nike socks (also new) pulled up almost to my knees. A look that, believe me, was as amazing as it sounds. And to the tune of Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm," the little song I made up as I approached my house was: "I got Birkenstocks, I got Nike socks..."

Something I will never get rid of is the picture at the top of this post, which sits framed on my bedside table even today. A teenager when it was taken, it struck me this week while sorting things into various piles of crap that I am exactly twice as old now as I was in this picture. Which makes this half my life ago. Half my life. From my seat as a well-educated adult out living life, making choices, and pursuing dreams, it's sometimes hard to believe that my life as a kid at home with my siblings was only half my life ago. How different our phases of life are. How far away they can seem, even though we can recall the most trivial details as if they were yesterday (such as my Birkenstock memory). And how much we collect along the way.

*Keep in mind that in the Pacific Northwest, Birkenstocks are considered the "it" footwear brand. At least they were in the 1990s.

JUL
11

Post Script

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Remember how I said I wasn't sure I wanted him back? Well something about seeing the James jerseys around town, the non-stop chatter and speculation, the various "come home" pleas, Michael Symon's promise of an LBJ burger. Something about all of this made me start hoping in spite of myself. Such that when I heard the news today (I was half naked in an Anthropologie dressing room, by the way, and simply *had* to refresh my phone in case the announcement had been made since my previous check a little while before), I could not stop smiling.

This city loved him so much, and it seems we still do. It seems *I* still do. And considering we (myself included) were the very ones who flocked to the Q when the Heat were in town simply so we could boo every time he had the ball--and he has the ball a lot--this is part confusing, part sickening, but mostly I think it is hopeful. To know that we--all of us, LeBron included--can get over ourselves and move on. Move forward. Move up. Move home. Goodbye, #1 lottery pick. See you never.

 

 

JUL
09

The Obligatory LeBron Post

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OK, fine.

I will answer the big question. (That only one person has asked me.)

I will tell you what I think.

As a Clevelander.

And an NBA fan.

And a stubborn-ass grudge-holding never-forgetter.

Seriously, though. I can be mature. I can admit that having him back would do wonders for this city. I'd also love to start winning some ball games. And of course there's something endearingly Prodigal-sonny about the tale of a young and stupid man making a foolish decision and choosing to make amends a few years later. I'm as sentimental as they come. I could get on board with that.

But I can also admit that I was positively gutted by LeBron's exit, just like the rest of Cleveland. And I was one of the most devoted of fans. Sitting in one of the first few rows at the last home game he ever played as a Cavalier, I had no idea what we were about to lose. And in such epic fashion. And so I confess to you today that the ridiculousness of The Decision has stayed with me, and I'm not sure I want him back.

As for Cleveland getting their hopes up, that's on us, and I think we're pretty stupid if we do. Not because it's not a possibility, but because we've been duped before.

No, I'm not sure I want him back.

Still--full disclosure--I just can't shake this dream of winning.

Make of that what you will.

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