follow tali on ...

DEC
31

On Waxing Pensive at Year End


Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/content/19/10849819/html/plugins/content/loadformmaker/loadformmaker.php on line 20

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. 

DEC
31

The Best Nine

b2ap3_thumbnail_bestnine.jpg

I spent a good chunk of time at the airport this morning sifting through all my 2015 photos looking for the 9 that I considered the best...the 9 that made me the happiest and also were the most representative of my year. I'd seen all the #2015bestnine stuff floating around, and not until I actually asked someone about it did I find out that people were not, as I had thought, using Pic Stitch to create homemade versions of their own self-dubbed favorite 2015 pics; that these best nine were actually auto-generated by a website and based on the 9 Instagram photos that were the most "liked" by your followers. Somewhat less charming, but still, I suppose it's a pretty good collection.

2015 was an incredible year for me. One that saw me read a record number of books, finish my own third manuscript, become a gemologist, transition my career, and move across the country. I basically crushed it. To the point where I'm struggling a bit as I sit here making goals and resolutions for 2016. It's not that I worry that no year will ever top it, it's more that so much on my life to-do list got accomplished. Particularly on the gemology front. Becoming a gemologist and then moving my career in that direction was something I aspired to for so many years, and now that it's happened, now that I've done it, I simply don't have another similarly-sized dream to replace the empty space this has left in my dream bucket.

It's a good problem to have, surely. And isn't that the whole point of dreams and goals? To achieve them? I believe that. I do. But as a person who thrives on having that next big, dreamy thing to be working toward, I am, quite frankly, feeling a little lackluster about the upcoming year. Given that I may be staying put for a while in this lovely sweet spot that my 2015 dreamy actions have put me in, I'll need to spend some time figuring out what comes next for me. Big things, small things, things I haven't even thought of yet. My hope for you, my dear friends, family, and readers, is that you are able to do the same, and that you revel in the process. Happy New Year, indeed.

JUL
04

Eat. Sleep. Beach.

b2ap3_thumbnail_beach.jpg

No, make that eat, work, beach, sleep. Or actually more like eat, work, bakery, beach, sleep. Or sometimes (like this weekend) just beach, sleep.

It's truly a wonder, the weather in San Diego. And while I'm very out of practice when it comes to applying sunscreen and hence have had pretty much a constant sunburn since moving here, most of the time I'm stuck in a sort of sun stupor, where I'm so baffled by how weather can possibly be this good all the time that I start suspecting I may not actually be awake.

If I'm not, this is pretty much the best dream ever.

JUN
03

End of an Era

b2ap3_thumbnail_staten.jpg

People have asked me what it feels like now that I'm a gemologist. And while it's hard to say that "the same" and "amazing" can both be valid answers, they sort of are. It's like you feel after your birthday...no older, but you'd like to think you are changed somehow nonetheless. And of course every day there is still the recollection of last week's exam, how hard it was, learning I passed, the satisfaction and amazement still fresh.

I can sum up post-gemology life in two succinct bullets:

1. I've resumed the writing of my third book. Feels good to be back in the saddle. I still have no idea really how this one will turn out, especially since it'll be my most personal book yet, so there are some jitters. But as always, I'm looking forward to how it comes together.

2. I've accepted a job. It's in the gemology field, so experiment Quit My Corporate America Job to Become a Gemologist and Switch Careers in the end has been a complete success.

Of course, going back to work can be summed up in two equally succinct bullets:

1. My time will no longer be my own. (ie. no more sleeping in, whiling away the afternoons reading in the park, doing really whatever I want all day long) And the end of such a satisfying sabbatical would make even the most stout-hearted cry like a baby.

2. I am leaving New York. Speaking of crying like a baby. I always assumed if a gemology job came my way it would be here. But it's actually on the other side of the country, which gives me only a few final days to get as much city time in as I possibly can.

So I'm going to stop writing and go outside.

MAY
27

Gemologist

b2ap3_thumbnail_gia1.jpg

It is a bit sad that as we grow older, there seem to be fewer dreams to chase. Maybe not so much because we in actuality have fewer dreams, but because it just gets so easy to justify not chasing them. It's too hard. It's too late. Our lives are already too set. People depend on us. Our lifestyles might suffer. We fear failure. Our lives took other paths. Other things are more important.

It's been almost 4 years since I decided to pursue becoming a gemologist, a childhood dream of mine, and I battled many of these justifications over the years that preceded my decision, and certainly many times over these 4 years they have continued to surface to some extent...particularly when it came down to giving up a successful, lucrative career in order to sufficiently focus on finishing. I have worked harder at this than possibly anything else. And even though my finishing mattered less than other educational pursuits and goals usually do (this one started as a hobby, for crying out loud, and neither my job nor livelihood depended on it), it's come to mean more to me than any of the others. Because this one was for me. This one was for my childhood-and-teenaged self who always said I would. This one was for passion.

The culmination of a gemology education is a grueling six-hour exam, one you must get 100% on in order to pass. It's an exam I have dreaded from the first day of my first class, an exam which as recently as last week has had me in tears over the impossibility of ever being good enough to pass. So it wasn't exactly confidence I felt as I walked to campus yesterday morning for my first attempt. Yet if I told you there was something about the song that came on my iPod when I turned onto Jewelry Way, something about the first few stones going so smoothly, something about the look in my eye from the reflection in the campus bathroom mirror as I washed the RI liquid off my hands after I'd handed in the test that told me I had it, would you know what I mean? My instructor handed back my perfect test, and I walked back to my apartment having fulfilled a lifelong dream. Like I said, these kinds of experiences (ie. chasing and fulfilling dreams) don't come around every day, so I'm going to revel. I'm going to revel long and hard, and then I'm going to find myself a new dream. I'm telling you right now though, this one'll be hard to beat.

MAR
12

B&B, anyone?

b2ap3_thumbnail_iIztcenter-lovell-inn.jpg

This is the Center Lovell Inn. It's in Maine, and if you've seen the headlines that have been positively everywhere this week, you'll know that the current owner, who won the inn over twenty years ago in--get this--an essay contest, is offering dreamers the chance to win the same contest once again. Basically, you write an essay, and if you win, the whole inn is yours. Lock, stock, and barrel. Considering that it's worth almost $1MM and that all you have to commit to is running the inn for 1 year prior to selling it yourself (or doing whatever else you want to do with the property), it's a pretty sweet deal.

I know what you're thinking...because this isn't exactly like winning a vacation, now is it? The winner would be tasked with running the B&B, the tallest of tall orders. Especially considering that most of us--very close to all of us--have absolutely no business running a country inn. And yet, why is it that I think every single person capable of composing sentences should enter this contest? It's just so...romantic. So unbelievable. And for the person who wins, so life changing. So adventurous. So hands-down, bat-shit crazy. Two hundred words is not many; it's fewer than what you see here in this very blog post. And how endearing that the next owner of the inn will be the person who can be as inspiring and persuasive as they are succinct. So get out your paper and pens, everyone. There's an inn to win.

DEC
31

New

b2ap3_thumbnail_NYE.jpg 

If you must know, this wasn't actually taken at midnight. I cheated. I was there though, and I have some surpsingly close pictures of Ryan Seacrest to prove it. For the record, I am thoroughly embarrassed to have taken any pictures of him at all. Honestly, how does a person get such billing power with so little to show for it in the way of talent? Not that I'm saying that Ryan Seacrest has no talent, but what has he ever really done to show us otherwise? He can speak, he can speak into a microphone, he can speak into a microphone while keeping a show moving along at the proper pace, he can speak into a microphone while keeping a show moving along at the proper pace and simultaneously making all the girls he interviews look taller than they really are. Anyway, how did we get here? Almost a full paragraph on Ryan Seacrest?

You'll recall that I love NYE. I love Times Square. And I love that the confetti released at midnight is made up of wishes that the general public has hand-written on each little square. (See Hopes and Dreams. Or Wishing. Or even NYE Reboot.) The wish I made in 2013 that was shot into the sky a year ago didn't come true, and that's OK. It was sappy and stupid and something I knew I wouldn't get anyway, I just felt at the moment when I scrawled it on a tiny blue confetti square that it was still important for the universe to know it's what I would have wanted. This year's wish, the one released tonight, is another gamble, but it's a go big or go home kind of night.

In my book, wishes are things a person can't control herself. They need a little extra help, luck, fate, providence, miracle, whatever you want to call it. They aren't things you can bring about yourself. I love this aspect of New Years that the Times Square confetti brings, but I also love the chance New Years gives for us all to make resolutions that we can accomplish on our own. How empowering! And not because any of you are keeping track at home, but simply because I believe there is power in formally recording your goals, here are the three things I am resolving to accomplish this year:

1. Complete my gemology certification

2. Write my third book

3. Make a career switch (to something in the gemology realm)

It's going to take a lot of work, but I really think I can do it. Of course, everyone says that on January 1. It's why gyms are so crowded in January. Everyone is still on the wagon. So I'll check back in with you in a year. (And, um, also 2-3 times per week until then.) And as for my wish? I hope it enjoyed the ride down. I bet the view is pretty spectacular from up there.

SEP
15

One Way Ticket

b2ap3_thumbnail_NYC-book.jpg

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.

 

DEC
31

NYE Reboot

b2ap3_thumbnail_DSC00248.JPG

Remember this post? Hopes and Dreams Well, this is the night. The night my wish gets shot into the sky at midnight in the middle of Times Square. And so I'm thinking about wishes. About hope. And also about resolutions. About resolving. To stop. To start. To move on. To never forget. To be happy. To make a change. Whatever it is, do it. Do it this year.

Happy 2014.

SEP
15

Hopes and Dreams

b2ap3_thumbnail_wish.jpg

I snapped this pic over the weekend because wishes greatly exacerbate my sentimentality. There's just something about wishes. They're personal, oftentimes they're private, and they represent what we hope for most in our lives. In the professional world, "Hope is not a strategy" has been beaten into my head, and probably for good reason. Hope gets nothing done, it doesn't bring results. But wishes are a different animal, and many times the things we wish/hope for are things we don't have the ability to bring about in any way; things on which we cannot necessarily affect change. And in these instances, hope is perhaps the only strategy we've got.

When in NYC a couple of months ago, I went to the Times Square museum. From the replica of the New Year's Eve ball to the relics and costumes from various Broadway shows, it's a colorful place. But the most striking thing in there (honestly it looks like the beginnings of a parade float) is the Hopes and Dreams wall. It's little squares of confetti paper stuck to the wall, each bearing a handwritten wish from someone who's come through. The best part about these confetti squares is they are what gets shot into the air on New Year's Eve when the clock strikes twelve. All that confetti you see sailing through the air on TV? It's people's wishes, and something about that made me clutch a hand to my heart and steady myself just to absorb the impact to my sentimentality scale.

Of course I wrote down a wish, something I will never get, something not even hope can bring me, but I'm one of those dewey-eyed dopes who believes it's important--even if you know you'll never get what you want--for the universe to know how you'd like things to go if it were up to you. Silly, I know. Pointless, I know. But still. When my wish sails through the sky at the moment the new year begins, I hope it settles near the feet of someone who reads it and hopes that I got my wish.

b2ap3_thumbnail_111.JPG

FEB
02

Advice from Billy Joel

b2ap3_thumbnail_Rock-N-Roll-Hall-of-Fame-HBO.jpg

One of my favorite things in Cleveland is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It appeals to the writer in me, feeds my celebrity obsession, and reminds me of the music my dad listened to when I was growing up. The first time I went, I was struck by a quote on the wall. Written in larger than life font and attributed to none other than the incomparable Billy Joel (who I dub the best male voice of all time, by the way), the quote reads as follows: "If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time."

It's a powerfully inspiring quote. And I've been thinking about it in light of a few friends of mine who have recently decided to go out on a limb in the name of what they love. A co-worker recently quit in order to start his own business. A former college roommate has an opportunity to turn her transient lifestyle and love of all things foreign into a paying gig that she's perfect for. And a good friend with a budding theater career recently bought a one-way ticket to NYC with no job lined up and pennies in her pocket.

These people have a few things in common. They all took risks, they get by on little to no (or at least less) money, and they are all probably much happier than I am. Which brings me back to Billy. Because while his quote fills me with moxie and empowerment to go after what I really want, it's also not very realistic. I mean, come on, Billy. We can't all be rock stars.

It seems unfair to say that I'm jealous of these people, because I could certainly choose to take a similar path if I was unhappy in my job or willing to do without things like, say, so many trips home to see my family, but I'm not. Most people aren't. So if you're like me and are not necessarily doing what you would choose to do out of anything in the world, don't beat yourself up about it, because there are many paths in life and many reasons we choose the ones we take. But if at any point in your life you are lucky enough to be in club Billy, realize that you  have achieved something most of us never even come close to. You give the rest of us hope, inspiration, and belief in the power of effort in a world where too many people lack the courage and gumption to even try. With pennies in your pocket, you are richer than us all.

latest tweets

TaliNayBooks What does society say you should change? Fascinating exhibit at @WMofC. https://t.co/NAlhWw9hHu
TaliNayBooks @vcolotta Happy Bookiversary to you!!
TaliNayBooks A Prairie Home Companion in #SanDiego was pure delight. And I'm not just talking about the Carmen Sandiego rendition. @christhile
TaliNayBooks Proud to be the kind of Savvy Auntie who flies in for This. @SavvyAuntie #otherhood https://t.co/NMlHBhtv8Y
TaliNayBooks Tell me I'm not the only one who's only now discovering this book. #rebecca #octoberbooks #spookyreads https://t.co/vB4eYG9UAL