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JUN
27

Back to the Salt Mines

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Although that's hardly a fair comparison considering this ocean view is the view from my office. Not to mention that working for a gemology institute is, for me, kind of like heaven. There are gemstones lining the walls, beautiful displays in all the hallways, you walk past people's desks and they are covered with pictures of various gemstones, all being prepped and positioned with copy, and when you overhear meetings, people are talking about things like birthstones. It's all just so ideal for a person like me.

Not to say that I'm not on some level mourning the end of my gemology school sabbatical. Taking 6 months off got me a little too used to sleeping in, to wearing nothing dressier than jeans and a t-shirt, to having my time be completely my own. Less than a week into my new gig, I'm exhausted and wearing high heels all day is giving me blisters. But I confess that despite any discomforts this transition may present, it feels awfully nice to have weekends once again become so coveted. When you're not working, weekends don't really mean much. Sort of like not having seasons. Everything is always the same, so what difference does the day make? Incidentally, I've just moved to a place that has no seasons, but that's neither here nor there. Besides, I'm not sure 75 degrees and sunny ever gets old.

JUN
03

End of an Era

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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.

MAR
02

The Typewriter Doctor

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I've always hoped to one day own a vintage typewriter. Not because I would type my manuscripts on it or because it would have any practical purpose whatsoever, but as a writer, it's just, well, nostalgic. Plus, imagine the possibilities! I could type my to-do lists! Mail notes to friends and family not in my own uneven chicken scratch, but in a nice, neat row of measured typeface! Heck, even just looking over at my writing desk were it be topped with one of these babies would make me smile.

When I saw an old Smith Corona for sale at a thrift store over the weekend, I snatched it up for a song and immediately looked up a typewriter repair shop (reason #13948 why I love NYC...you can find anything). Of course I hoped what anyone in my situation would have hoped: that my little Smith Corona could be restored to working condition. I mean, what a steal that would have been! To have gotten it so cheap. Sadly, after spending a morning at the typewriter doctor's Gramercy office, my little machine was diagnosed as not salvageable. I mean, he could have done it. But it would have cost more than simply buying one of the already restored machines he had on the shelf. And given all the twisted mayhem inside, even if he did restore mine, it wasn't likely to perform particularly well. So I opted to buy one of the beauties on the shelf. (Happy tax return to me.)

I can only blame what I then told the typewriter doctor on my somewhat dopey state (and I can only blame my dopey state on being in the presence of so many darling typewriters), but it struck me in that moment--the customer before me having just been reunited with the machine his grandmother gave him when he was 13; "It's worth it," this customer told me when he heard the doctor tell me how much it would cost to restore the machine I brought in--that being in this line of work must be incredibly satisfying.

"This must be a really fun line of work," I told the typewriter doctor.

In my fantasy world, he would smile wistfully and tell me that it was. In reality, he raised his eyebrows a bit and stared at me while struggling to come up with words strong enough to convey just how wrong I was. I don't know. Maybe a job is always a job to the person doing it. But the way I see it, if yours somehow involves vintage typewriters, you've got a leg up over the rest of us.

FEB
02

Advice from Billy Joel

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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.

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TaliNayBooks What does society say you should change? Fascinating exhibit at @WMofC. https://t.co/NAlhWw9hHu
TaliNayBooks @vcolotta Happy Bookiversary to you!!
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