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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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

JAN
25

The LeBron James Bottle of Bubbly

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Something people might not know about me is that I love the NBA. I was able to take in two Cavaliers games this week, and I was reminiscing with my fellow game-goers last night about how wonderful the good years were. The Winning Years. Those couple of years when Cleveland had the best record in the NBA. I’d always had at the top of my bucket list that someday I wanted to be at a game 7 when my team won the championship. It seemed back then like it might be within the realm of possibility.

In my fridge you’ll find a long-expired bottle of bubbly, and it’s the same bottle I bought in the summer of 2010, the bottle I planned to drink when Lebron announced he would be staying in Cleveland. Obviously the bottle was never opened, and for some reason I’ve kept it in my fridge…I guess as some sort of reminder that things change. And that there are horribly inappropriate and ass-like ways to make announcements.

I confess that basketball will always seem a little bit worse to me now. I’ve despised Lebron since he left, which is why I was surprised last night to be flooded with such good memories of him and all the success he brought to this city. I guess no matter how things ended up, the point is that I’ll always have those memories, and they’ll always be good. I’ll always remember what winning so many games felt like, seeing amazing on almost every play, walking through the streets after a second-half comeback win against Boston in game 1 of the first round of playoffs chanting “MVP! MVP!” with a sea of Clevelanders. I’ll always have that. Of course, there’s still the bubbly, which can always be counted on to bring me back down to reality. But not everything is worth hanging onto. And maybe that bottle is one thing I can finally toss out.

DEC
05

I Need to get on Board

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As an Ohioan, I make this confession at great risk of peril, but I've never been able to embrace the Buckeyes. And I'm not sure why this is, as I fell in love with the Cavaliers the moment I moved to Cleveland. I even root for the Cavs when they play my Portland Trailblazers (who--let's give credit where it's due--are white hot right now). So it's not that I refuse to claim Ohio as my place of residence. It's just that I feel no attachment to Ohio State.

Especially in a year like this one...where my Ducks couldn't hold themselves together and it looks like the Buckeyes might actually get themselves to the championship game. This thouroughly depresses me, but I'm wondering if it would be that bad to be a fan. To cheer. To wish them well. A coworker was trying to sway me on the matter today by saying that while he is a tried and true Buckeyes fan, he also likes the Ducks. And other than situations like the 2010 Rose Bowl, I guess there's no reason why I can't be a fan of both. (Although part of me just died a little inside when I said that.) It'll take some getting used to, but, like I said, let's give credit where it's due. And undefeated is a very sparkly word.

 

NOV
04

Flee to the Cleve

You know that episode of Friends when Chandler and Monica take Erica on a tour of NYC and Chandler comes back to their apartment all decked out in touristy garb and declares, "New York is awesome!" He explains, "I've been to these places before, but I've never really seen them, you know." Now isn't that always the way.

I had company in town last week, and it gave me the rare opportunity to actually see Cleveland. It's no New York, as I believe I've mentioned pretty much weekly since this blog's inception, but I'm quite fond of it, and there's so much I'd like to be taking better advantage of. I kept thinking how much I was enjoying myself, how much more a person is able to do and see when she doesn't have to be at work. I know, I know, without work I wouldn't be able to afford to DO anything, I'm just saying (once again) how nice it would be to be independently wealthy. Which I will be once I sell about a million more books. Glass half full, people.

Anyway, here are a few shots from my week in the city. The city where I live but rarely see.

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MAY
22

What's not to like??

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My cousin (the one from this story) texted me last night: "Another #1 pick for the cavs? Must be nice to have three of them in 9 years."

And you know what, it is. Cleveland deserves some loving, and nice is exactly how it feels to win a lottery of any kind.

Er.....except when you realize, as the Denver Post article stated, that the answer to the question of 'What's not to like?' is being in the lottery every year. Because you have to be pretty bad to even have a chance at nabbing the #1 pick. So maybe it's a lottery I wouldn't mind losing out on next year. As long as it doesn't go to Florida. Cleveland's already lost way too much to that state.

FEB
07

Out With the Old

b2ap3_thumbnail_monopoly.jpgWell, it's over. Monopoly has officially booted the Iron game piece in favor of--inexplicably--a cat. Actually, I find the entire line of choices for the proposed new game piece a bit baffling, not to mention the entire concept of consumer voting in these types of decisions. Or maybe what I'm getting at is I don't see the need for these types of decisions in the first place. What was wrong with the old pieces? Or the original M&M colors for that matter? Other than the marketing element meant to generate renewed interest in a classic product, why change at all?

I'm not averse to change, although I do think I struggle with it more than most, and a good portion of that (as I learned from this book) is probably my introversion. Another part of it is that I'm sentimental. I get attached to situations and people I like. When I quit my job to go to business school, I cried like a baby, and it wasn't because I was averse to the changes that business school would bring into my life. It's because I was sad to be leaving a job I loved and the co-workers who had become such good friends to me over the years I had worked there. And on a much smaller scale, I hate when my beloved Cleveland Cavaliers trade players in the name of some sort of overall franchise strategy. Strategy shmategy. Winning record or not, I would prefer to keep the same guys around. Because I get attached to them, dammit, and I wish it could be about playing for a city instead of playing for a championship. (You listening, LBJ?)

The interesting thing about change is that sometimes it is good. But not always. The trick for me and my stubborn, overly-sentimental self is to identify which changes are truly bad ideas (or at least unnecessary) and which ones are good ideas that I would eagerly welcome if I only knew what I was missing. Take technology. I never wanted an iPod, but once someone gave me one, I didn't know how I'd lived without it. I don't have a Smart phone, nor do I have any desire to own one, but maybe it would change my life. For the better. Or at least keep me from grocery store conundrums like buying a cinema gift card for my parents at a theater they would actually have to leave the state in order to use.

My confession to you today is that while I am old-fashioned to the core and hope to always be, there are some things that despite kicking and screaming about how uninteresting, useless, and stupid they are, customers will in actuality snap up like hotcakes once they hit the market. Translation: Sometimes you have to tell customers what they want. It's not always easy, and it doesn't always work (never forget that some changes really are bad), but even just acknowledging that changes we dread or don't want or fight are sometimes exactly what we (and the world) need is a big step. Not that this means I'm OK with the Iron getting booted. But I'll tell you who is. Clementine (pictured below) is delighted with the new game piece. I think she voted more than I did.

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