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JUL
16

Tradeoffs


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I would give a writing update, only I don't have one. Like, none at all. Because I haven't been writing. It's shameful. Not to say there's nothing in the works, because I did recently get asked to contribute to a book of essays being published and had a fun (read: rather torturously self-reflective) time writing that one, and I may be part of a group of single women writers launching a blog forum in the near future, so, there are writerly things happening. But as for progress toward my next book, who has the time? The answer is, not me.

There's a reason all my writing (and reading) time has disappeared, and it's because I joined a gym at the start of the year. Yes, I've become a gym rat. And I hate it. Or maybe what I mean is that I hate that I love it. In my defense though, it's not a typical gym. No sweaty, beefy body-building types. It's actually a wellness center that partners with a local hospital and focuses on rehabilitation, but also offers stellar classes and top-notch amenities. Honestly, it's nice. And while I do at times grapple with feeling like by paying the hefty membership fee that I'm contributing to White Privilege at its finest, it's a pretty incredible facility.

So there go all my weekday evenings.

And weekend mornings.

It's not so much that I want to get my money's worth (I totally want to get my money's worth), it's more that I set a fitness resolution at the beginning of the year. My usual method when it comes to resolutions is to set a crap load of them and then hope to hit at least some of them, at least the easy ones like "Take more vacations." But when you split yourself and your intentions so widely, I find it harder to really make progress. So this year I set only two resolutions, one fitness oriented and the other finance oriented. So while my writing efforts have gone to pot, we're halfway through the year, and both my fitness and financial resolutions are still on track, and to me that is satisfying.

Tradeoffs are such a bitch.

(PS - if you're looking for an interesting read featuring an excellent essay about how women have taken back "bitch" and are now coming for "crazy," check out All the Lives I Want. From Anjelica Huston to Sylvia Plath, the author delves into societal topics, mostly related to women, that don't get talked about enough. Or really ever.)

APR
16

The Birthday Effect

It’s birthday month. I love birthday month, but it takes a toll. On my waistline. Take that with a grain of salt though, because I’m one of those fortunate (unfortunate?) waifs who seem to be just as waif-like despite my diet. You’d think it’s a blessing, which it is, but it’s doing nothing for my 2017 effort to bulk up a little in the muscle department. Every day I look at my scrawny, shapeless arms and think, “And I’m drinking nasty protein shakes for THIS???

The point of this was not to talk about my pointless gym membership. The point was to tell you that there’s an entire birthday cake in my fridge right now. And that I will begin eating said cake now that the first cake has been consumed. Both of these cakes were gifted to me by gracious, loving friends, and I try to still think of them as gracious and loving even when they force me to do things like eat a dinner of red velvet with cream cheese frosting followed by a dessert of half a candy bar and brownies. I mean, it’s bad, people. The other night I ate a S’mores cupcake for dinner. The cupcake incident, which is pictured above and which went down in my gym parking lot, was tough to pull off in my car, while reading a book, with no napkins (when I was done I opened the car door and proceeded to rub my sticky hands together until the sticky seemed spread out enough to let me turn the page without leaving any smudges). And then I grabbed my gym bag and went inside to the 6pm body pump class. You could say I’m just not understanding the concept of what’s required to be fit. I say, it’s Birthday Month.

DEC
11

Still Holding Out

I've just gone through the part of the book process that involves approving the Kindle files for the ebook. Something made more difficult given that I still do not own a Kindle. Sure, they have programs that allow you to see a "Kindle view" on your laptop, but as I flip from page to page, I can't help but wonder if this is really how things will look to those who end up reading the book on a Kindle.

I'm probably as close to getting one as I have ever been, what with this whole checking my own ebooks prior to launching thing. Not to mention a couple of coast to coast redeye flights last month where my use of the overhead light was seriously pissing off my neighbor. I know, I know, tough shiz, right? We each buy a ticket, and if your neighbor wants her light on, THEN YOU'RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT. But I'm a bleeding heart. I feel too much. Plus I don't want people wishing me ill while we're all 35,000 feet in the air. So a Kindle appeals to me more these days. As in bye-bye overhead light.

Yet I still can't pull the trigger on making the purchase. And why? On one hand, it's like Lasik. I could get it, but wearing contacts really isn't that bad. Yet I remember going through the same holdout on an iPod years ago, and after getting one, I've never looked back. The difference, however, is that a world without discmans and walkmans is one I can live with. A world without physical books, however? Not so sure. Which is why I just purchased a portable mini book light for my next night flight. And why if you see anything wonky on the Kindle version of my upcoming book, you can rest assured that everything looked *great* on my laptop Kindle viewer.

NOV
13

Daylight Savings Time

For the first time I can remember, it has bested me. Daylight Savings Time. I simply cannot adjust myself. By 8:00 every night I'm sure it must be midnight (is this happening to anyone else?), and I'm lucky if I stay awake until 9:00. This means I'm up at 5:00, unable to fall back asleep. Leaving me exhausted by evening time, starting the cycle all over again.

HOW CAN I ESCAPE FROM THIS TERRIBLE HOLD????

After a week I thought I'd finally feel aligned this morning, but after an early bedtime (I was exhausted after a day at Disney, OK?), I got up early, cleaned the house, and was back in bed for some quality Sarah Vowell reading time by 8:00 AM. Keep in mind, these are pretty much full nights of sleep I'm getting. So why in the middle of Sarah's essay on Frank Sinatra I suddenly started to feel...at 8:30 AM...that I desperately needed a nap is beyond me. I thought of all the things I needed to accomplish. And there were a lot of them. Yet most pressing in my mind as I drifted off were thoughts along the lines of, "Well, I guess my body really needs this," and "I should listen to my body." The body that had ONLY BEEN AWAKE for three hours. After having gotten a full night's sleep.

Whatever. Tomorrow is a new day. And there's always the chance that I'll actually sleep until my alarm rings. Given my morning nap, it's a small chance, but I'll take it.

OCT
25

The Boys in the Boat

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If you haven't read this, you must find yourself a copy pronto. It is everything a good book should be. And it really happened.

That's all.

PS - Why didn't I ever become a rower? My arms would be so toned.

SEP
01

Game-changing Books

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We've all read them. Books that literally seem to change the game of the way books are usually written. Or what they're written about. The Hunger Games comes to mind, only because I don't know if I've ever been more unable to put a book down. On a plane (where, granted, it's easy not to put a book down), I stayed in my seat with my nose deep into my gifted hardcover copy as the rest of the passengers deplaned. Just. One. More. Chapter. Kids freaking killing kids. It was disturbing. It was sickening. It was mesmerizing.

The one I've been thinking about this week was a book I read in junior high. I've probably mentioned it on here a time or two, but this book completely rocked my world when I read it. I was a teenager and a lot of things rocked my world--Birkenstocks, The X-Files, Devon Sawa--but this book positively made me pay attention because of its difference. Its felt significant to me, even then. And when I finally got around to watching the movie this past weekend, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. Because I remember how I pictured everything, especially that last scene--how epic is that last scene, the snow, the hill, the what-is-really-happening conjectures--and of course I pictured it as nothing like the movie. Now isn't that always the way?

Yet, I digress. If any of you readers have a book that felt like a game-changer to you when you first read it, please share! If what you want to say is longer than a comment's worth, submit it on the website and I may post some of them!

 

AUG
12

Unfinished Business

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I just finished reading a book whose author passed away prior to its completion. Since her wishes had been to have it published--even partially--the book, a much-anticipated sequel, went to press as it had been at the time of her death--only halfway finished. It was tough to read, partly because the original book had been so phenomenal. Any sequel--even a completed one--would have struggled to hold a candle to such a fine work. And then there was the matter of the sequel's incompleteness, its lack of editing, etc. Fulfilling the author's wishes is the important thing, so nothing else really matters, but the whole thing did make me a little bit sad. Sad that the author wasn't able to make it the book she intended for it to be. As a sentimental, somewhat morose, and occasionally morbid writer myself, naturally this has caused me think about what I would wish upon my own partially-completed manuscript.

In short, what I would wish is this: That no one see it. Ever. (Except the sumbitch who broke my heart, who should be forced to read my account of said heartbreak over and over again.)

All kidding aside, I do think about the whole death/manuscript relationship fairly frequently. The thought horrifies me. Not the death part. The unfinished manuscript part. The great thing about getting your memoirs published, see, is that you have the chance to pick the stories you want and then polish them until they sparkle. No one has to know that the way you originally wrote it in your journal was something along the lines of, "He said this and I said that and then we did this stuff and afterward went to this place where that neat thing happened." As of now, my manuscript unfinished and unedited, there are several things that my post-death computer discoverer will have to wade through. Like entire sections I already know are going to be cut. They aren't very strong and the manuscript's too long anyway. So should the worst happen, my apologies in advance. Both to whoever it is that discovers my partial manuscript, and to my faithful readers, who unfortunately won't be given a partially completed book to wean themselves off of me. I'm afraid you'll have to go cold turkey.

Although you could always hunt down my ex for the heartbreak chapter.

 

JUL
04

Eat. Sleep. Beach.

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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.

MAY
20

Slow Living

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I took this picture while sitting in Washington Square Park eating fresh bread and cheese (From Amy's and Murray's, respectively) and washing it all down with a beverage from Papaya Dog. If you've read the book pictured above, New Slow City, this will all seem apropos. And not a bad way to spend an afternoon, am I right? Nice work if you can get it. Which is what I've been wresting over since reading the book. Not really slow living in general, because when it comes to the concepts (savoring meals instead of wolfing down fast food, taking in the buildings and birds and other sights you pass instead of hurrying along with your face buried in your smart phone, seeking out urban sanctuaries to temporarily escape from city chaos), I'm completely on board. I mean, aren't you? Think of your own life and tell me it wouldn't be bettered by such changes of pace. But a major aspect of the book deals with this whole notion of taking back your time, and I'm a bit skepitcal about how realistic it is to do that.

Of course, having recently quit my job, I'm the absolute poster child for taking back your time. Because I did. I took it back. All of it. So when I recently read New Slow City, I did so with a chorus of "Amen, brother!" dancing around in my head, because seriously, why's we gotta be working so much, America? And while I quit my job for a specific reason (to do something I've always wanted to do [become a gemologist] in a city in which I've always wanted to live [NYC]), I'm definitely capitalizing on all the benefits (to heart, mind, and soul) of living a slower life. If it is within your power to do the same, you should.

But this fancy-free phase of my life is of course only temporary, and I think it's actually going to make it a bit harder to go back to a 9-5 after this. (I feel Plato's Allegory of the Cave coming on...) Not to mention, most of us are slaved to a 9 to 5 *period*, in that there is no financially feasible way for us to escape or even scale back. "Um, boss, how about I start working part time from now on?" "How about you give me more vacation time?" "How about I work from home?" Most of us simply can't pull these kinds of strings, to which I'll say two things. First, if you've never asked these questions, they are worth a try. Who knows? They might work. Of course if they do, I don't want to hear about it because I hate you. And second, if you're like most people and can't actually put in less time at the office, then do a quick inventory of your life as a whole (where you spend your time, to what extent you disconnect when you finally DO have time away, what gems in your own city you've been too busy to take advantage of...) and figure out what slow(er) living means for you. I promise it will make a big difference; that you will be less stressed and your life more full of the things that truly matter. Like fresh bread and cheese, a bood book, and a patch of sunshine. We can all make time for that.

APR
30

Coast to Coast

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When you live in New York, a trip to California is, well, far. Especially when you'll only be there for 32 hours. Not that I mind. Plane rides give me lots of uninterrupted reading time, not to mention the chance to wax poetic about the beauty to be seen between coastlines. And I'm not just talking about the plane's-eye view of mountains, lakes, and perfectly divided crop squares, but also the variance in the destinations themselves. The night before the trip, I took a sailboat (I think the actual term was "tall ship," but whatever, it had sails) out to the Statue of Liberty at sunset and then sailed along the skyline as it darkened and the buildings began to sparkle, and the next night I was driving along the palm tree lined California coast. I guess what I'm saying is that experiencing a laidback beach town and the busiest, most populated city in America within such a short timeframe sure makes you grateful that we can experience so many different kinds of beautiful within this country of ours. That one of these kinds of beautiful comes with an In-N-Out Burger, well, that's just a bonus.

NOV
20

I Ain't Afraid of no Ghost

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Because it's only official when you've gotten a library card. New York Public Library, here I come.

NOV
06

Olive Kitteridge

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I'm currently reading Olive Kitteridge (and no, it's not because of the new mini-series...what do you take me for?), and I must say I'm impressed with Strout's character development skills. Some of the people in the book only get a few pages, so to be able to convey enough in those pages to leave your readers not only understanding a character's background and motive but also wishing they could keep reading about said character is a skill indeed. 

Oddly, the one person I don't find myself wanting to know more about (or connecting with at all, really) is Olive. You could say she was dealt a bad hand, but you could also say she's just not a very nice person. I was however drawn to the passage where she looks at a childhood photo of her husband. She imagines telling his kid self what will become of him. "You will marry a beast and love her. You will have a son and love him. You will be endlessly kind to townspeople as they come to you for medicine, tall in your white lab coat. You will end your days blind and mute in a wheelchair. That will be your life."

It's an overly simplistic summation, surely, but the reduction is still true. In that it is composed of true statements. And what struck me as I read this passage yesterday is that for all of us, the same sort of summation can be made someday. It's not the short length of the summation or its oversimplification that has me so pensive, rather the setness of the paths we ultimately take in life. It may seem like there are decisions to be made (and there are), but at the end of the day, there is only one way things are going to shake out for each of us; one series of decisions that will lead us to one end state. That will be our lives. Yours. And mine, too. 

JUL
26

The Thing You Should Never Forget to Pack

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Like an idiot I got on a plane to NYC yesterday with not a single book in tow. Who does that? Let me rephrase. What author does that? I mean, what would I read while eating breakfast at a tucked away cafe where someone famous probably once had breakfast? Or while sitting in Central Park listening to the serenade of the sax man? Or while on the Brooklyn-bound 4 train?

So that's why my first stop upon arrival was Barnes & Noble. I've come all the way to NYC to...buy a book? Then I had breakfast at a tucked away cafe and sat in Central Park. The sax man was playing 'Moon River', which seemed appropriate given that the book I had bought was Breakfast at Tiffany's. My huckleberry friend, indeed. As I sat listening and reading, there was an ant crawling up my back that I could not find, but then again, no moment is perfect. No packing job either.

JUL
15

The Contest

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It's that time of year again, folks. And I can't believe it's this far into the summer without me mentioning the annual Nay Family Summer reading contest (see: Summer Side Job).

Of course, for all the stacks of to-read books I always have on hand, I'm a bit embarassed to admit I'm only on my second book of the summer, and we're already over halfway through. Pretty sure my 5-year-old nephew is going to beat me on nothing but Horton Hears a Who.

Maybe I'll rally. Maybe I'll come down with mono and spend the entire month of August in bed. One can only hope.

 

 

MAR
05

Oh, That I Were a Short Sleeper

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I heard this feature on a morning news show last week about short sleepers. People who don't seem to need as much sleep as everyone else. Now, this always sounded like a bunch of crock to me. Because don't we all at some point or another (some of us do still) try and convince ourselves that we fall into this very category? Surely WE can get by on less. Surely WE will not be affected. Well apparently some of us actually aren't affected. For the record, I am not one of those people, as both me and my case of ZZZ-quil can tell you, but apparently this is a legit thing, and one that can be passed down the genetic line.

As the show introduced us to a few of these short sleepers, I was impressed. Impressed that there are people in this world who can actually function on one hour of sleep per night. Did you hear what I said??? One hour. To prove they were still in tip-top shape, the show ran them through a series of reflex tests, which they passed with flying colors. Something none of the "regular" people could do when asked to try short sleeping temporarily.

Watching these seemingly super humans, I was also kind of jealous. "I feel like I'm actually living my life," one of them said. And while I don't feel like sleep keeps me from living my life, the added life and accomplishment of short sleepers is not lost on me. I mean, think of how much more you would get done. It pains me to even think about it, and I've been forced to blame the above completely out of hand stack of to-read books on the fact that I'm not a short sleeper. It's the only way I would ever get through them, I'm convinced.

OCT
03

I know what you read last summer

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Pretty sure I've mentioned before my obsession with People magazine, and one of my favorite things they do are those "books you should read for [insert whatever season it is]" features. It isn't so much reading the reviews of the books, but I love the picture that accompanies the whole thing...it will have all the books stacked. For some reason I just love looking at all those book spines in a row; love getting a glimpse about what the actual books themselves look like.

So here is my version, except instead of "books you should read for summer," mine is really a "books I did read this summer" stack. I've talked about all of them except the last 3, so let me just briefly say that The History of Love was creative and endearing and definitely worth reading (if not somewhat confusing to keep track of all the different story lines), Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me was absolutely hilarious and I liked it way more than Tina Fey's, and The Fault in Our Stars was a good effort on what turns out to be very intense subject matter, but I just can't get into YA anymore.

My total for the family summer reading competition was 2024 pages, (earning me $20.24). I beat my sister but not my Mom, but I don't know if anyone's ever beaten Mom. In any case, there were some good reads in that pile. And now it's fall, which means I'll have to see what People magazine says I should be reading. Those book spines are calling my name.

SEP
28

I finally did it.

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I joined.

SEP
24

Emerald City

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This was taken on top of the Space Needle and is obviously a horrible picture. Can you say city bangs? I can. Why am I even sharing this picture? I am disgusting.

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I feel much better about my appearance in this picture, but you would have no idea I'm in Seattle. Unless you're familiar with Chihuly and his glass and garden exhibit. Which I wasn't. Until going to the Chihuly glass and garden exhibit. In any case, I've been enjoying Seattle and loving the chilly weather and the homeless people and the utter greenness to behold.

Since trips mean planes and planes mean reading on planes, I'll have a few books to report on soon, and I also got the first round layout options back for the interior of book 2, so looking them over will be on top of my to-do list when I get back to the Cleve. So will getting my bangs trimmed.

SEP
05

Stranger than Fiction...and Funnier, too

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, one who I grew up with back in Oregon, and she was telling me about the book she's writing. It's about her life, and as she was telling me about some of the events that will be included in the book, I was shocked. Truth is stranger than fiction, everybody knows that--or at least everyone should--and I actually found myself at one point asking her, "He really did that??" when she told me about one of the scenes from the book. I honestly couldn't believe it, to which she quipped that it would not be possible to make this stuff up.

That's why I love real life. It's why I love reading about real life. And I know I say it all the time, but I just love memoirs for that reason. It's so satisfying knowing that what you're reading about really happened. And I think the potential for grand emotions is heightened. Real life has the potential to be more heartbreaking, more inspiring, more joyful, more hilarious, and certainly more unexpected than anything we can make up. That's probably why I'm sixty pages into a new novel right now (I know! I know! What am I doing reading fiction?) and can't seem to get into it but was in stitches when my friend read me the opening pages of her hilarious memoir. Life is just funnier. Now, back to this novel. Groan. (Watch, it will turn around any second and become the best thing I've ever read and I'll be eating crow for days. Which, incidentally, would also be pretty funny.)

SEP
03

Weekend Totals

4,400 words. That was my total written over the long weekend. Not too shabby. Although it definitely cut into my pages read total (this is the final month of the family contest), which was like 20. Of course that didn't stop me from picking up two new titles while at B&N this weekend. (You know, for all this reading I'm doing.) If I can read the book I just started as well as the two I just bought before the month is out, I'll deem September a literary success. And if I win the family contest, I'll deem this the best summer ever.

latest tweets

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