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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
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.

SEP
13

In Defense of Podcasts...and Marriage

I was in Oregon over the weekend to celebrate my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. Which might not seem like much—they were a regular small-town couple who raised regular small-town children and had regular small-town problems (including cars that almost never worked)—except think about that for a minute. Think about people you know who have been married for 60 years. Do you know any? My grandparents are both now in their eighties, and lots of people don’t even live that long. And of the ones who do, a large contingent don’t stay married, or at least to the same person. It really is remarkable. Of course, reaching any kind of marriage milestone (even, like, one year) seems miraculous to the eternal singleton that is me. Indeed, I’m convinced that every single committed, loving relationship is nothing short of a miracle. But 60 years? That’s a whole different level.

Book clubs have (surprisingly) never been my thing. I don’t enjoy reading books that I mostly wouldn’t have chosen to read myself. And so I certainly don’t then enjoy discussing books that I mostly wouldn’t have chosen to read myself. But a friend of mine recently recruited me for a Podcast club, and it’s pretty much the best thing ever. For starters, it’s less of a time commitment, and podcasts can be listened to while accomplishing any number of tasks. And another great thing about podcasts is they so often leave you smack dab in the middle of some kind of philosophical or moral debate. Animal hunting, the treatment of rape victims and perpetrators, the appropriateness of hope in the parents of autistic children, the vast differences in the frames of reference of American children and their much less fortunate foreign parents, the inescapable depression of the 2016 political situation, etc. I mean, these are hot issues. They are issues that will most definitely make you think—no, emote—at a level that most books do not. And what I find so fascinating is that most podcasts have the ability to make me waffle from one side to the other as the various points and perspectives are discussed. And any medium that can cause so many facets of your own conscience to come to the surface within such a short amount of time is clearly onto something.

To bring this back to 60 years of marriage, one of the podcasts I listened to this week centered on this idea of reruns; or, in the case of the married couples interviewed for the podcast, the issue of stories you hear your spouse tell over and over again, to the point of driving you absolutely crazy. I’d never really thought about this dilemma before. Again, as a singleton, I always have a new audience (a different date, a different squeeze, a different boyfriend), and I’ve never really run into this issue. But think of how this could come into play for people like my darling grandparents. “Honey, I’ve literally heard that story a hundred times.” It’s rather amusing to think about, especially after listening to the podcast, in which the annoyed spouses (the ones sick of the other person’s stories) were surprisingly unable to successfully tell the stories themselves, even after supposedly having heard them ad nauseam. On the other end of the spectrum, some of these people had gotten so used to their spouse’s stories that they believed they themselves had actually been there when they, in fact, had not. That one’s almost equally amusing—and not all that unlike my own discovery some years ago that my favorite childhood memory apparently never happened. I’d imagined it so often, every detail easy to recollect, that I had convinced myself (and if I’m being honest still sort of believe) it was real.

In any case, I guess one of the hallmarks of a red-letter marriage is that even after 60 years, you still enjoy hearing him/her tell the same stories. And you can’t wait to create more, together. Happy anniversary, Grandma and Grandpa. I’m pretty sure you two are going to make it.

 

SEP
05

Cat Lady

How do you know if you are one? If it's loving cats, then I'm definitely a cat lady. If it's owning a cat, again, guilty. I've always preferred to think of it as that fine line between loving/owning cats and letting your house be overrun by them, or forgetting the difference between cats and humans by not acknowledging that there are some boundaries that need to be kept. Cats should eat cat food, for instance. And out of cat bowls. On the floor.

For me, I've always felt like my own cat ladyness hinges on owning multiple cats. So I have drawn the line at one. One cat. But that doesn't mean I'm not tempted when I get a call from a friend whose cat has had 8 kittens. It doesn't mean the little orange tabbies don't remind me so much of my childhood cat that I want to drive off with them both. It doesn't mean I'm not joyously happy in the above picture. It doesn't mean I don't think my friend has a point when reminding me that my current cat won't live forever. But my house is small, our routine is set, and I'd really prefer that my cat be an only child.

Wait. Did I say child? I definitely didn't mean that.

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.

AUG
07

Do What Scares You

If you want to know a secret, the reason I love roller coasters is because I actually hate them. Or, to put it another way, they terrify me. And yet. There's something about those final post-launch, I'm-going-to-crap-my-pants seconds that makes the whole ordeal better than if they didn't rattle me at all. For me, it's all about getting out of the comfort zone, reminding myself I'm alive, and also reveling in the satisfaction that comes from having done survived something that totally freaks me out.

This week I had my first-ever experience with a zip line. I'll confess to you now that on the flip side of the adventure--once I arrived safely at the bottom of the mountain--I realized there's a lot less to be anxious about than I had thought. It's a very easy task that produces not so much as a single stomach lurch in-flight. But I certainly didn't know that when at the top. And so I'll also confess that as I sat strapped on the line, suspended in air, waiting to be released and sail out into nothingness, I was convinced it was possibly the worst idea I'd ever had. I was picturing free-falling. I was picturing intestinal discomfort...or disaster. But there I was. Doing it. ("Why is no one screaming?" the woman next to me in line whispered after several from our group had sailed down the line without so much as a peep. "Oh, I'll be screaming for sure," I replied.)

An aunt of mine made a brave decision several months ago, one that has changed her life significantly. And when she made the decision, she called me. She said I had a lot to do with her decision, in that she's watched me make decisions all my life that involved going with the more unknown, scary option. And she said she couldn't justify letting fear keep her from making a certain choice. Think about that for a minute. Because if we take this principle (not letting fear be what keeps us from doing something) and look at it another way, what this actually means is that we should actually be making decisions because they scare us. We should be choosing what scares us. Maybe not all the time, but I'm convinced that choosing the scary option now and then takes us outside our wheelhouse long enough to be reminded that shaking things up is necessary for growth. This doesn't mean we won't feel like crapping our pants when staring down the mountainside, but it means when we've safely reached the bottom of the hill, we'll have opened ourselves up to new experiences and opportunities as well as increased the confidence we have in our own capabilities. Plus, you can't beat the view while coming down.

latest tweets

TaliNayBooks I think that's how you know it's a good book.
TaliNayBooks So engrossed in the end of #tinybeautifulthings that I didn't realize someone was stealing my carry-on from the plane. @CherylStrayed