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NOV
07

The Typewriter

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I'd always wanted a vintage typewriter. I probably mentioned with glee when I finally acquired one last spring while living in New York City...the land where they have everything, including not only a plethora of vintage typewriters, but also people who can repair them and restore them and teach you how to use them and order you a new ribbon for your circa 1960s model. (The Typewriter Doctor)

Of course, the Typewriter Doctor will also charge you a fortune, but it's worth it. Right? To be able to plunk out darling, nostalgic notes for people. Or even for yourself. To write letters. To craft the most charming grocery and weekend to-do lists you ever thought possible. (You try typing 'Pay Target Bill' on a vintage typewriter and see if it doesn't make you feel downright excited to pay it.) But excited as I was on that sunny day when I schlepped the not exactly lightweight machine from 23rd Street to the subway and then from the 77th and Lex stop all the way over to 1st Avenue, I haven't used it. I blame the fact that I was in the thick of gemology studies. Then I was preparing to move across the country. Then I was actually moving across the country. Then I was getting settled on the other side of the country, starting a new job and figuring out how to properly apply sunscreen.

I feel I owe my typewriter a commitment to use him more, I'm just not sure it's a commitment I can confidently make. Not that you should interpret any of this to mean that Tali has suddenly become all down on vintage typewriters, because I haven't. I think every author should have one. For what though, I'm really not sure.

JUN
10

Thank You For Writing

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I got home this evening from a very taxing day at work to find a thank-you note in my mailbox. You all know how I feel about thank-you notes. (See On Thank-you Notes if you've forgotten.) A dying art, surely, but one I feel is so, so necessary. It's just the principle of the thing. And it makes us decent.

Of course, no one is unfamiliar with the concept. You send someone a thank-you note when they have either given you something or done something for you. Which is why today's mail was a bit confusing. The woman who sent it--from my hometown in Oregon--included the following note in the card:

"I loved your first book. Always enjoy reading it. Have just read bits of your new one - just want to say thank you so much. I know I'll enjoy."

Now, you'd think from this note that I gave her a copy of my second book. Not only did I not give her a copy, but I also can't even put a face to this woman's name. I'm not sure I've even met her. Or if I have, it's been many years. But she sent a thank-you note to thank me for writing books. For giving her something to read that she enjoys so much. She wrote the note in loopy cursive, sealed and put my name on the envelope, then gave it to my mother who filled in my address and sent it on its way. The whole thing has an endearing amount of small-town charm regardless, but eclipsing this is the fact that upon returning home from a day when I managed to solve exactly zero problems at work, my spirits couldn't have been more lifted.

Unless there'd been, like, $1 Million in the mailbox. I guess there's always tomorrow.

JAN
03

On Thank-you Notes

I suppose this is in some way related to my Christmas card post from last month, but once Christmas is over, you're usually left with a decent amount of people who need thanking. In our house growing up, my mom catalogued everyone's gifts as they opened them, such that by the end of the morning, she had constructed a matrix-style chart we could reference that showed a summary of everything we received along with who gave it to us. She'd then task us with writing thank you notes, and I'd be lying if I said my teenage self actually enjoyed doing this. To be fair, I sort of hated it. But it was what we did, and I have to say all these years later that I'm very grateful to have had a mother who raised us on thank you notes. I remember sitting through a business school lecture on this very topic (the professor and her remarkable class about the little things that can set you apart in the professional world are mentioned in Schooled) and thinking fondly of my mother. So ahead of her time.

So as I'm preparing to mail out a bunch of thank you notes this week, I guess it's reminding me just how strongly I now feel about them, and how surprised I often am that more people don't send them. It's not that a giver regrets giving if he is not thanked, but it's a gesture that shows not only that the receiver cared enough about the gift to send a note, but also that she's the sort of person who takes the time to do such things; the sort of person who makes that effort. It's a gesture of caring and gratitude, and I see the value both personally and professionally. Or maybe I'm just old school. It's entirely possible. Regardless, if you haven't yet (or haven't ever) mailed thank you notes, I'd encourage you to add it to your repertoire. It will make someone's day. Probably yours.

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