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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
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.

MAR
19

The City that Never Sleeps. Ever.

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Since moving to New York, I've never slept so horribly. It really all boils down to one reason, and it's because no one else sleeps either. I'm being completely serious. I fall asleep each night (after much tossing and turning and shaking my fist at the wall) to the sound of the TV blaring from the apartment next to me. That might not sound very unusual, but when I wake up at 2:00 AM, and, let's be honest, again at 4:00 AM and maybe a few more times in between, this woman is still watching TV. The drone of TV voices and movie scores is constant. I hear the same types of noises from downstairs as well, only the woman downstairs--in addition to having it in for my cat--has some type of symphonic stereo system, and whenever there's something on the TV or radio that she thinks the whole building ought to hear (usually breaking news about terrorists), she hooks that thing up and lets it rip. I once ran into the news-blaring, cat-hating woman at the door of our building. It was midnight. I was just returning from Times Square where I had seen a show. She was just returning from doing her grocery shopping. Groceries! At midnight! What are these lives people live??

My window overlooks a garden and courtyard area, and across the courtyard is another apartment building. Most people don't close their blinds (including me), which means at night, my walls are lit up by the various flashes and colors from all the cross-courtyard big-screen TVs. There's one in particular that is truly spectacular, and I find myself looking up and over through this window throughout the day. Not so much because of its size, but because I'm amazed that I've never once seen that TV turned off. It is literally always on. Whether children's cartoons, children and adult video games, movies, or TV shows, that television is a part of every moment of that family's daily life. I certainly indulge in a little TV myself, usually reruns of The Big Bang Theory or Gilmore Girls (did I tell you about the time I ran into Alexis Bledel in Lord & Taylor??), but all the TVs around me make me grateful that it's not a huge part of my life. Grateful that there's a stack of library books on my table. Grateful that each day's to-do list includes things like gemology assignments and finishing the next chapter of my manuscript. Grateful to have hobbies and pursuits and interests outside of the tube. (That said, do you think the people across the courtyard would be open to having guests over for March Madness? Asking for a friend.)

JAN
08

Epic Battle

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It is ON. And I’m not talking about Oregon vs. Ohio State. (Although oh my GOSH, Oregon vs. Ohio State!!) No, I’m talking about Me vs. The Woman Downstairs. She is by far the worst thing about New York so far, and all because she takes personal issue with the fact that I have a cat. A cat!! Not a rock band, not a blaring late-night TV habit, not a crying child, not a live-in boyfriend whom I cannot stop (loudly) loving, not 300 lbs. of mass that accompany my every step. Let me break it down for you.

Phase 1: She began brooming her ceiling whenever my cat ran across the floor. For the record, my cat is 6 pounds. And sleeps all day.

Phase 2: When my cat didn’t get the message (shocker), the woman began yelling—hysterical, possessed yelling. From inside her apartment. Up at me. It usually sounds something like this: “BLAH BLAH @#^&* BLAH @&*#% THAT CAT $%*@# BLAH BLAH $%&*@ CAT!!”

Phase 3: When it proved that my cat could not be trained by the sounds of a deranged lunatic one floor below, this woman came to my door and presented her case, which was that my cat (who runs around for at most 30 seconds a day…and that’s on her feistiest of days) is exacerbating her many ailments. Now, look, I’m a nice person, even to lunatics at my door, so I sympathized with this woman over how horrifying it must be to have a 6-pound jungle tiger cat leaping around above her. I also explained to the woman that I had recently had additional rugs and mufflers put down (true story) and that I wasn’t sure what else I could do.

To really make you feel as if you were there (although to really get the full effect, throw on scrubs and a ratty t-shirt, no bra, and have some pasta boiling on the stove), here’s an excerpt of the conversation that went down at my door.

Woman: “DON’T YOU TELL ME THERE’S NOTHING ELSE YOU CAN DO. I’VE BEEN HERE FOR 30 YEARS AND I KNOW FOR A FACT THERE’S MORE THAT YOU COULD DO.”

Me: “Are you suggesting I keep the cat locked in the bathroom? I mean, besides the rugs, what else can I do?”

Woman: “YOU CAN GET THE F*** OUT.”        

Me: “Oh, okay. I think this conversation is over.”

Woman: “WHO TOLD YOU YOU COULD MOVE IN HERE? WHO TOLD YOU YOU COULD LIVE ABOVE ME? GET THE F***OUTTA HERE.”

By this time my landlord had heard the commotion and come out into the hall.

Landlord, to the Woman: “What are you doing?”

Woman, now in a calm voice: “I just thought a face to face conversation would be the best way to handle this.”

Me: “By telling me to get the f*** out? That’s the best way to handle this?”

Woman: “I REFUSE TO HAVE A CAT BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN MY LIFE. IT’S UNACCEPTABLE. I SURVIVED THE NAZIS AND I WILL NOT LET THIS HAPPEN.”

In case you missed it, my cat is now being compared to the evil, doom, and overall world devastation stemming from the Nazi party.

I am not making this up, nor can I believe that someone who has been in NYC for so long would think they have any right to make such a stink over hearing a 6-pound cat for 30 seconds a day. I mean, you hear positively everything in these thin-walled apartments (and I do mean everything).

Me, in my fantasy dream world where I say all the snarky things that come to my mind: “Well at least my cat doesn’t climax.”

Phase 4: This is yet to be implemented and will involve strapping on a pair of stilettos (thanks for the suggestion MWW) and walking around the apartment for an hour at a time. To be fair, I’m too nice to actually do this, not to mention, who has this kind of time?

In any case, I’m sure I haven’t heard the last of the woman downstairs. “She’s ruining my New York experience,” I complained recently, to which came the response, “Or she’s giving you a really authentic one.” Ding ding ding!

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.