follow tali on ...

the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
OCT
23

Subtlety

They do though.

This was part of my display at Friday night's ArtNight Pasadena, an event I've now attended for the second straight year. Part of me wonders why I went back. Not that it isn't a GREAT event, but it's just such a big event. And all the authors get stuffed into various nooks and crannies in the castle-like (charming yet simultaneously stinky) library. Even for the few people who manage to find you in the back corner of this dimly-lit building, most of them aren't really prepared to pay for something inside a library. Not that they couldn't. But that, on principle, they believe libraries should exclusively provide free stuff.

I do kind of get it. An event inside a bookstore will sell exponentially more books.

Not that it was a total loss. I met some great authors, sold a few books, and the best moment was when a woman saw the cover of Jeweled and loudly exclaimed, "I've read that!" She proceeded to ooze to the woman who was with her about what a fascinating and well-done book it is, and you'd think this other woman would have bought a copy. Indeed, before I got into this whole book thing, I was sure all I needed was a small core group of people who read and liked my books, and that The Snowball Effect would take care of the rest. That your book sales largely stop with this core group of people who read and like your books has been one of the most surprising lessons of bookselling.

"I may be back," the woman's friend said after looking at the front and back of Jeweled, an obligatory response to her companion's glowing endorsement.

She never came back, but then again, I knew she wouldn't.

No matter.

I'll continue to do these events because, in spite of everything, I enjoy them. And because you never know who'll come by, like you, read your stuff, and start the snowball that will eventually lead to your big break. Or at least lead to someone loudly exclaiming in front of a room full of book lovers that yours is particularly fine.

SEP
23

The Photo Shoot

There is something inherently ridiculous about getting your photo taken as an adult. Honestly. Who takes themselves that seriously? And sometimes when I see people post obviously professionally-taken photos of themselves looking totally cute, I roll my eyes. Like, a lot. I mean, doesn’t it kind of remind you of that scene in While You Were Sleeping where she goes over to Peter’s apartment and there’s that picture of him framed on the counter? Framed. Of him. Displayed in his own apartment. Can you say selfish and shallow? I can.

I had some headshots taken about four years ago. For bookish purposes, I might add. The photo that’s been on my website and social media channels since that time came from this very photo shoot, as did the author picture I used in Jeweled. Given how unnatural it seems to have photos taken of myself, I had planned on using the same picture in my upcoming book as well. Waste not, am I right? But people started generally remarking about how different I now look from those photos four years ago. And while there’s no way I’m doing this every few years just because my hair is different, people did seem to have a point. So I scheduled another photo shoot. And while I certainly battled some amount of “you are as ridiculous as Peter Callahan” demons as the photographer snapped away, my confession to you is that I loved this photo shoot. I did. I loved it. I loved wearing my cute little city outfits in San Diego’s sleepy Old Town. I loved feeling momentarily beautiful. And I loved the photographer’s comment that I had the gift of no one being able to tell how old I am. I am a freaking illusion.

The shot above was my favorite of the day. I didn’t opt to use it for anything official, but if I were Peter Callahan, this is the one I would frame and put on my counter. Just saying.

AUG
24

Bob's Beach Books

This store hosts a Northwest authors fair each summer, and for years I've been trying to get in. Nevermind that I no longer live in the Northwest. Nevermind that I spend much more getting to author fairs than I make in book sales from them. That's not really the point. The point is me, feeling like an author, introducing my books to people and seeing their faces when they smile that "I want to read this" smile.

It happens less than you think it does. People wanting to read your books. Even when you think your book is one of the best (or at least most normal) options at the whole fair. People will still pass you over for the stapled books of poetry or quilting murder mysteries or cult vampire thrillers. People will ALMOST ALWAYS pass you over for these things. For anything. For anything else you can possibly imagine. Very rarely is your book actually going to be what someone wants to read when given a whole slew of varying options. On one hand, it's comforting, isn't it? That it takes all kinds? And while I used to be discouraged when only a handful of people at an author fair would choose to buy one of my books, I've learned to appreciate it when it happens, knowing this is the kind of person who would probably be a literary kindred spirit of mine. I mean, anyone who listens to my spiel about a jewelry memoir that celebrates the role it plays in our lives, loves, and families and then agrees to buy a copy is certainly the definition of kindred spirit. (Sidenote: this was the first event EVER where I sold more Jeweled than Schooled.)

A word about Bob's Beach Books, because I can definitely see why so many authors want to return to this event. It's remarkably well-run, mostly due to the efforts of the store manager, and, now that I've visited, it's exactly the kind of small-town independent bookstore that I would frequent if I lived there. Here's hoping I get in again next year. Because coastal air up north is so refreshing. And because Oregon has no shortage of kindred spirits. Even if so many of them do prefer quilting murder mysteries and cult vampire thrillers.

APR
04

Home Decor

I've been eyeing this project for some time, although I must give credit to my sister, as she's the one who pointed these watercolors out to me in the first place. At first it was suggested that maybe I could attempt them myself, though I doubt this option would have produced something that made sense being displayed on my living room wall. Maybe more like my fridge...if I had a young child to whom I could attribute their creation.

It took several stops to find somewhere with frames both as colorful and cheap as I was after (I was buying twelve of them, yo), and don't even get me started on the hours-long ordeal of trying to line them up straight and with equal spacing. My brother had cautioned I should not attempt it without measuring tape, a level, and a second person to help me, but I have none of those things. So I went for the always solid Trial and Error approach, and the project is now done. There are also about a billion tiny nail holes in my living room wall.

I realize that decorating your walls with gemstones is not normal. But I'm really not a normal girl. My affection for all things gem is the epitome of abnormal. But surely you know that by now. I freaking wrote a book about it. And quit my job to study it. And moved across the country to work in it. And now, thanks to this weekend's project, every night I will come home to it. Besides, what's so great about being normal, anyway? It sounds much less sparkly.

MAR
21

Rethinking Peridot

It probably stands to reason that if you royally slam peridot in your second book for being the hands-down ugliest birthstone, you will inevitably be seated at dinner next to the jewelry designer your company is hosting who just happens to be wearing one of the largest peridot pieces you've ever seen in real life. In that moment you'll have two choices: you can continue to be a peridot snob and eat your dinner the same way you eat your dinner every night. Or you can ask her to hand over the honking thing and eat your dinner while wearing more carat weight than you've ever even tried on.

I chose the latter.

And I would choose it again.

And that, peridot, is the closest to a love letter you'll ever get from me.

DEC
17

My Favorite Holiday Color

b2ap3_thumbnail_littlebluebox.jpg

Now, if coming home to find this blingitty bling bling gift on your front porch doesn't make up for you not winning the Ugly Sweater Contest at the holiday office party, then I'm not sure what will.

This Christmas just got a whole lot better.

PS - My sweater was hideous.

NOV
17

On Christmas Lists

b2ap3_thumbnail_gift.jpg

My sister is a great gift-giver. The best I know. She almost never asks me for ideas, she just spends the year quietly collecting things that make her think of me, things she thinks I'll like, and then I open her Christmas gifts having absolutely no idea what to expect. These kinds of gifts are my favorite to open, and they are usually spot on. Which proves what is possible when you truly know someone.

Cases in point. She bought and restored an old writing desk I adore and have schlepped across the country twice and still use. She tracked down the album of songs that a well-known hospital clown sang at Oakland Children's when I was a patient there in the late 1980s. Songs that I listened to for years afterward on a tape I eventually lost track of. Silly I guess, the songs, but being reunited with them so many years later was one of the biggest and most thoughtful surprises I've ever received. One I didn't ask for but loved.

If I ever had a child and found myself doing the family thing, I'd be tempted to implement a no-list policy. Meaning no one would be allowed to ask for specific things; rather we'd all just shop for each other based on what we knew the others would like. It means more, right? It's better, right? Of course, it's also harder. Not to mention, not everyone can do what my sister does. I think she has a knack. A gifting skill set. Whereas I always seem to say--about my own siblings and parents--"What on this green earth can I *possibly* get them?" Which seems an odd thing, being unsure what to buy for, say, the woman out of whose womb you tumbled forth. Um, maybe a pedicure? Some chocolates? I just DON'T KNOW!

Just yesterday I sent off my Christmas list to my two brothers and my parents, and it reminded me that 1) lists make it SO EASY to shop for people, and 2) on the receiving end, you know you'll be getting things from that list; things you definitely know you like/want/need/have been coveting. It's sort of like the proposal conundrum I talk about in Jeweled. How a girl probably appreciates the Leap of Faith more than the Slam Dunk, but then again, she does want to like the ring she gets. Insert something about tradeoffs here, and I don't have the answer. But I am curious, dear reader, do you prefer giving and working off of lists, or are you won over by the idea of the heartfelt crapshoot? Please answer. These things keep me up at night.

 

 

My sister is a great gift-giver. She almost never asks me for ideas, she just spends the year quietly

collecting things that make her think of me, things she thinks I’ll like, and then I open her Christmas gifts

having absolutely no idea what to expect. These kinds of gifts are my favorite to open, and they are

usually spot on. In terms of how much I like them. Which proves what is possible when you truly know

someone.

Cases in point. She bought and restored an old writing desk I adore and have schlepped across the

country twice and still use. She tracked down the album of songs that a well-known hospital clown sang

at Oakland Children’s when I was a patient there in the late 1980s. Songs that I listened to for years

afterward on a tape I eventually lost track of. Silly I guess, the songs, but being reunited with them so

many years later was one of the biggest and most thoughtful surprises I’ve ever received. One I didn’t

ask for but loved.

 

If I ever had a child and found myself doing the family thing, I’d be tempted to implement a no-list

policy. Meaning no one would be allowed to ask for specific things; rather we’d all just shop for each

other based on what we knew the others would like. It means more, right? It’s better, right? Of course,

it’s also harder. Not to mention, not everyone can do what my sister does. I think she has a knack. A

gifting skill set. Whereas I always seem to say—about my own siblings and parents—what on this green

earth can I possibly get them? Which seems an odd thing, being unsure what to buy for the woman out

of whose womb you tumbled forth. Maybe a pedicure? Some chocolates?

Just yesterday I sent off my Christmas list to my two brothers and my parents, and it reminded me that

1) lists make it SO EASY to shop for people, and 2) on the receiving end, you know you’ll be getting

things from that list; things you definitely know you’ll like/need/want/have been coveting. It’s sort of

like the proposal conundrum I talk about in Jeweled. How a girl probably appreciates the Leap of Faith

more than the Slam Dunk, but then again, she does want to like what she gets. Insert something about

tradeoffs here, and I don’t have the answer. But I am curious, dear reader, do you prefer giving and

working off of lists, or are you won over by the idea of a heartfelt crapshoot? Please answer. These

things keep me up at night.
OCT
17

ArtNight Pasadena

b2ap3_thumbnail_pasadena.jpg

For those waiting on the results of my candy experiment, having a big bowl of chocolate at my table did draw in a record number of visitors. Indeed many other authors at last weekend's Pasadena ArtNight commented to me on how popular my candy was. Not that it really sold me any more books. People just wanted some candy. Jerks.

It was a great event though, the ArtNight. And hats off to Pasadena for arranging such a complete and hassle-free experience. I found myself wishing I could ride the free shuttles around town to the different buildings housing various artists and musicians for the evening. What a great way for a city to see and experience a wide mix of genres and talents. And such a great reminder, for those of us at the library, of just how many people out there write books. Of course, it's also a reminder of how there really is something out there for everyone...and about a billion things not for everyone, which is why indie book selling is and always will be so challenging. There's a relatively (read: extremely) small number of people out there who are interested in reading your books. As opposed to all the other books they could be reading/buying. But I suppose that's what makes the world go round. And keeps the traffic at a book fair moving. As for that traffic, however, there might have been more of it had the library's $1 books room not been right next to the author area. Made our prices a tough sell...even with candy.

 

OCT
06

#UCCstrong

b2ap3_thumbnail_UCC.jpg

I woke up last Thursday morning to the sight of a woman at the top of my driveway putting a bag of dog poop in my trash can. And so I stewed on this for hours, feeling pissed and a little violated. What is wrong with people?

It took hearing the Roseburg news to shake me from my ridiculousness, because in the grand scheme of things, who cares about dog poop? In the grand scheme of things, who cares about anything other than the health and safety of the good people of this planet? What’s worse—or at least what hit me hardest about this most recent mass shooting—is that it happened right near my own hometown. Mere miles from both the home where I grew up and the beloved jewelry store I talk about in Jeweled. The UCC campus itself is where I attended countless dance recitals and community musicals, competed in high school choir competitions, and took yearly school exams.

And so I’ve been sad for my community, even though I no longer live there. I’ve been angered at the vulnerable situation these no-gun zones put people in (think the school in Sandy Hook, the movie theater in Aurora, UCC, etc). I’ve been inspired by the faith and hope of those who have been most affected by this tragedy. And I’ve been completely unconcerned about dog poop in my trash can ever since.

OCT
02

October is for Opal

b2ap3_thumbnail_opals.jpg

So, remember when I was living in New York City and studying gemology? Yeah, me too. One of my favorite phases of life. Ever. I miss the city a lot and the gemstones even more. Studying them, identifying them, subjecting my Instagram followers to pictures of them. Of course, the great thing about now working for a gemology institute is that my building is not in want of gemstone displays. They are, quite frankly, everywhere. And not just the laboratory area either (where, for example, just this week I was able to meet one of the gemologists who graded the Hope Diamond), but lining pretty much every hallway, too.

Most of the pieces I've seen now, through my various explorations of the building, but every now and then I come across one that has somehow snuck past me. Like this opal stunner that literally stopped me cold. I mean, just freaking look at it! And I'm not even an opal girl. Trust me, as a gemologist, I have my favorites--diamond because it's the BEST, star corundum for the asterism, rhodochrosite because it's so unique, turquoise and aquamarine for their beautiful blues--but opals have never moved me. Until this necklace, that is. Maybe it just takes 148 carats to get me there, but either way, this was a happy way to officially ring in the month that boasts opal as its birthstone. Happy October, everyone!

SEP
23

Choose my Table

b2ap3_thumbnail_beehive4c.JPG

I'm getting ready for an author fair next week. I love author fairs. Book events of any kind, really. It's nice to be reminded you're an author, especially when just a lowly one like me. Because sometimes I forget. Sometimes I feel discouraged and wonder why I do it. But an author event can bring me back to myself...my writerly self.

The question at any author fair is, of course, how to get people to buy your books. Selling books is hard. People can't just look at a book like they can jewelry or artwork and know they will like it. And people aren't as free with their money as they used to be. An author fair attendee peruses everything and oftentimes buys only one book. One book. So how do you make sure yours is the book they buy? Just make sure yours is the most interesting book. Right? Possibly out of your control, but even if it weren't, before a person can even think your book is interesting, you've got to get them to approach your table. And there are *a lot* of tables at an author fair. Most of the time all lined up in a row or arranged in some other closely-spaced configuration.

I don't know what the magic formula is--something tells me it probably involves a low-cut top, a celebrity guest, and an expensive giveaway--but I may try out a few new things at next week's fair. (Much to my sister's disappointment, I will not, as she suggested, be hiring friends to hang around my table and act very interested, thus creating the illusion of mass intrigue and popularity. But that's really only because I can't afford it. And also because I don't have many friends yet...new in town, remember?) In any case, if you find yourself in Pasadena next weekend, I hope you'll choose my table. There will be candy. Which, come to think of it, is probably almost as good as a low-cut top.

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.

MAY
24

From Readers: Jewel Transformation

b2ap3_thumbnail_turquoise_20150524-154327_1.jpg

Reader Roxayn submitted a jewelry story, and I loved it so much that I wanted to share it. I always love hearing from readers, so if you have a jewelry story of your own, send it in!! Remember that you get a free book if yours gets selected for the blog.

I remember as a young, almost teenager wearing rings, bracelets, necklaces adorned with turquoise.  I loved it.  And then I didn't.  I hid them away in a corner of a jewelry box embarrassed by my passion for turquoise.  I switched to all things sparkling and gold. Fast forward a few decades through dozens of glittering earrings, jeweled necklaces, and bangled bracelets.  Imagine my distress when I realized my cute, darling daughter's birthstone was not glittery or faceted as her name, Jewel, would suggest.  My Jewel had a birthstone of turquoise.  It didn't sparkle like her princess tiaras or her glitter splashed tutus.  Flat, lumpy turquoise seemed to be such a misfit among the other jeweled celebrations of birth—and totally inadequate to celebrate my Jewel.  I said as little as possible about birthstones.

I love to make jewelry.  I found a necklace I really wanted to make—and Jewel, now a tween, asked if she could make one too.  We went on a shopping excursion to find just the right beads.  As we gazed at the variety of sparkling, dazzling beads, I wondered how she would choose which pink ones to use.  "Momma, don't you just love these?"  As I turned to see her selection, shock hit.  You can guess what she chose—turquoise beads.  "Yes," I said, trying to hide my surprise.  "They will look so pretty, and did you know that turquoise is my birthstone?" she asked. I did know. And as we chatted and laughed all through the creative process, I came to know—through her eyes—just how beautiful turquoise can be.  She loved it because it was her birthstone, and for me, it became beautiful in her hands.

MAY
24

From Readers: Jewel Transformation

b2ap3_thumbnail_turquoise.jpg

Reader Roxayn submitted a jewelry story, and I loved it so much that I wanted to share it. I always love hearing from readers, so if you have a jewelry story of your own, send it in!! Remember that you get a free book if yours gets selected for the blog.

I remember as a young, almost teenager wearing rings, bracelets, necklaces adorned with turquoise.  I loved it.  And then I didn't.  I hid them away in a corner of a jewelry box embarrassed by my passion for turquoise.  I switched to all things sparkling and gold. Fast forward a few decades through dozens of glittering earrings, jeweled necklaces, and bangled bracelets.  Imagine my distress when I realized my cute, darling daughter's birthstone was not glittery or faceted as her name, Jewel, would suggest.  My Jewel had a birthstone of turquoise.  It didn't sparkle like her princess tiaras or her glitter splashed tutus.  Flat, lumpy turquoise seemed to be such a misfit among the other jeweled celebrations of birth—and totally inadequate to celebrate my Jewel.  I said as little as possible about birthstones.

I love to make jewelry.  I found a necklace I really wanted to make—and Jewel, now a tween, asked if she could make one too.  We went on a shopping excursion to find just the right beads.  As we gazed at the variety of sparkling, dazzling beads, I wondered how she would choose which pink ones to use.  "Momma, don't you just love these?"  As I turned to see her selection, shock hit.  You can guess what she chose—turquoise beads.  "Yes," I said, trying to hide my surprise.  "They will look so pretty, and did you know that turquoise is my birthstone?" she asked. I did know. And as we chatted and laughed all through the creative process, I came to know—through her eyes—just how beautiful turquoise can be.  She loved it because it was her birthstone, and for me, it became beautiful in her hands.

 

JAN
26

My Morning with DOROT

b2ap3_thumbnail_dorot.jpg

I should probably be doing more to prepare for this blizzard than listen to the 80’s Hits radio station and fold laundry. But clean underwear should be near the top of anyone’s snowed-in list. And I stand by that.

Since I will inevitably lose power in this storm, I thought I’d first say a few words about the opportunity I had this weekend to serve with the DOROT organization. A Jewish organization (the word means ‘generations’ in Hebrew), they work to serve the elderly, particularly by connecting them to younger volunteers, many of whom form lasting relationships with the elders they serve.

Yesterday DOROT delivered winter care packages to hundreds of elderly (many of them shut-ins, unable to leave their apartments) throughout NYC. The packages contained not just food, but warm hats, gloves, and other things needed in winter. (Just in time for the storm!) Of course serving others is its own reward, whether or not the experience is a particularly positive one, but I feel doubly fortunate that the woman I was assigned to visit was such a gem.

I talked with her for about an hour (socialization is another thing these elders are in need of), and in addition to her beautiful Abyssinian cat (the cat lady bond runs deep), her noteworthy career in film (she was “very fond” of Peter Falk, and Shirley MacLaine “did not suffer fools”), when she learned of my gemology studies, she had me fetch her jewelry box, and, drawer by drawer, she showed me her treasures and told the stories behind each one. None were particularly remarkable or valuable pieces, but the stories were incredible, and this amazing woman thanked me for giving her the chance to remember things she hadn’t thought of in years. (Sidenote: Yet another testament to the significance of jewelry and what it can represent to us.)

As a society, there’s so much we can do for each other. I know time is precious and not one of us has nearly enough of it. But if any of you in the NY area are looking for an opportunity to serve, I strongly recommend this organization. You don’t have to be Jewish (“Well you’re obviously not Jewish,” the woman I visited pointed out rather comically when my blond-haired, blue-eyed self showed up at her door), and I promise you you’ll not only enjoy yourself and want in on the next planned delivery day as well, but you'll also wish you had gotten involved sooner.

JAN
19

Book Group

b2ap3_thumbnail_book-club-4.jpg

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a book group discussion. I don’t belong to any book groups, and never really have (other than this one time, but I only went once, when that month’s book was something I had already read, but the host’s house smelled like fish and it was hard to hear over the yappy dog being kept in a bedroom), but a book group over on the west coast invited me to participate in the discussion of their January book, which just so happened to be one that I wrote.

It’s a weird thing, listening in when a group of readers are discussing your book. It’s even weirder when they’ve got you up on the big screen TV while you’re talking. But technology is pretty cool when you think about it. And it got me thinking about how nice it would be if, after finishing a book I’d enjoyed, I could have a conversation with the author, ask her any questions, tell her I particularly liked this aspect or that.

And that’s what these ladies did. They asked questions about jewelry, questions about writing Jeweled and if it was harder or easier than writing Schooled. They asked if I visited my jeweler when I was home for Christmas, asked about conflict diamonds, giggled about my musings on old-lady veins, shared how powerful the opening scene was with the whale. They even answered a few questions for me which might help me shape the structure of my next book, which I’ve recently begun to rethink.

How grateful I am for readers, for books, for kind words, for camaraderie. I’m also grateful for the times that make me feel like a real author. I will not say that they happen a lot, but when they do, it's enough to keep me going.

DEC
24

Roots and Wings

b2ap3_thumbnail_backyard.jpg

I love living in New York, but it's hard to beat this view out your back window. Yes, I love living in New York, but I'd be lying if I said it was stress free. Au contraire. It's noisy, it's expensive, and the woman downstairs keeps whacking her ceiling as hard as she can every time my cat runs across the room. Of course, these things seem less significant when compared to all the wonderful things about living in New York, but still, there are days it wears me down. There are days when the woman downstairs wins. 

All of this is to say that I am enjoying my extended Christmas vacation in Oregon perhaps much more than I have in other years. The contrast is so refreshing. Everything is quiet and the air smells clean and piney. There are tree-covered hills in every direction. There are high school friends raising families. There is my jeweler who asked me once again yesterday how long before I am ready to buy his store. Of course, these things seem less appealing when compared to the economic challenges and realities of living in rural, southwestern Oregon, but still, there are days when it wins me over. There are days when the city can't compare.

I know, I know. A girl can certainly have roots and wings, and I guess I should consider myself fortunate that both places are so special to me. And with that, I must return to my Christmas Eve activities. There's a pie to bake, presents to wrap, a party to attend. I can promise that before stepping into the building tonight, pie in hand, I will pause, surrounded by green on all sides, and take a deep breath in. And it will smell like rain and trees. More than that, it will smell like home.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

NOV
25

The Archives

b2ap3_thumbnail_gia.jpg

You're looking at the books currently being readied to be added to the Cartier Rare Books and Archives at the world headquarters of the Gemological Institute of America. There's my little Jeweled, sandwiched in between such titles as Color Encyclopedia of Gemstones, Silversmithing, and, my favorite, Exquisite Agates.

It's maybe a bit misleading, in that my book is not a reference book, nor is it really informational at all (aside from the tidbits you learn as I go from story to story). But when one of my former gemology instructors told me the book was being put into this collection, I was tickled. Even more so when he sent me this picture. I mean, as a gem lover and an author, what better place could there possibly be for my sparkly memoir?

As for Exquisite Agates, if that doesn't scream coffee table book, then I'm not sure what does.

 

AUG
26

Like Father, Like Son. Like Brother.

b2ap3_thumbnail_eames.jpg

There’s a part in Jeweled where I mention my brother’s wedding. How at the time, he being so much younger than me, there was a part of me that was sad about him passing me up in terms of major life milestones. It’s just not something I had ever pictured happening, him getting married first. Of course, now he’s been married for almost 6 years. (Me, still single.) And this past week he became a father. Talk about major life milestones.

It’s not sadness I feel this time at having once again been passed up, but it does make me think. And not just about my dwindling egg count. No, I’ve been thinking a lot about my brother. And every time I’ve heard him say “my son” this week, it’s like I hallucinate back to a much earlier time in our lives. Quite frankly, I don’t know where the time has gone. I don’t know how it is that back then has become so long ago; so far-removed. It’s not that I want it back, not exactly, because I think it’s kind of nice as we’ve all settled into adulthood, become Real People. But for my brother, his new arrival does mean a permanent pivoting. Toward the future and his new family. It’s wonderful and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And yet. I think I’ll miss those over-the-shoulder glances he used to throw my way, toward the homebird nest and our idyllic childhood. Something tells me he won’t be looking back quite as often now.

(And as long as I’m reminiscing about years gone by, let me say, and I can’t stress enough how crucial this is, that I also don’t know how the corners of my eyes have gotten so wrinkly lately. Should I be doing something about this?)

AUG
22

Ambidextrous

b2ap3_thumbnail_gemsheet.jpg

I am a left-handed person. Not one of my primary identifiers, surely, and really not something that comes up often in conversation. The only time I feel particularly reminded of my handedness is when I'm using one of those desks with the little built-in tables, which were all made for right-handed people. Or cutting something with scissors, which were also all apparently made for right-handed people. Or when I'm, say, in a gem identification class and the instructor asks the lefties to identify themselves so she can switch our microscopes to the other side of our work stations.

Admittedly, this made me nervous. See, the way it works in gemology is you're supposed to hold the tweezers (which hold the stone) in your non-dominant hand as you examine the stone under the microscope so that your dominant hand can be taking notes on the stone as you observe it. Except how many of you would feel comfortable, steady, and not-at-all concerned about holding things like diamonds in somewhat percarious positions with your non-dominant hand? I'm no fool.

But after a week of doing just that, I'm kind of--gasp--used to it. I realized last night over dinner, reading Truman Capote's iconic novella over a plate of enchiladas, that my fork was in my right hand. I finished my meal the way a person who has just learned to walk might savor the wonderment of an appendage once seemingly useless now having been transformed into something not only useful, but strong.

Which is a fitting metaphor for how I feel leaving the gemology classroom today. I've learned more than I thought possible in a week's time. I've gone from being intimidated to being what feels awfully close to confident in my ability to one day master the art (science?) of identifying gemstones. Many more stones to go, but I'm looking forward to it. My left hand is already jealous.

 

latest tweets

TaliNayBooks Well, I guess now I don't have to be the only #SoCal girl rooting for the #indians in the #WorldSeries. #SilverLining #dodgerterritory
TaliNayBooks Because what's better than 3 days of art, food, ideas and music? Besides maybe stretchy pants. #LifeIsBeautifulFest https://t.co/6aviUYGA4Y
TaliNayBooks I'm sure they'll reach out for the "Authors You've Never Heard Of" edition. #authors #style #joandidion https://t.co/gQE9hPO7r3