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OCT
01

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho


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Look! It’s me at a mine!

I’m a gemologist so you’ve got to give me this one, but seriously, this was a fun day. Granted, my back and arms ached from all the lifting and hunching, and I forgot to put sunscreen on my ears, but there’s something incredibly satisfying about digging for gems when you know each bucket full of dirt and rock could be the one that unites you with a sparkly crystal that’s come straight from the earth. There’s also something incredibly satisfying about standing in the very tunnel where certain gems (in this case, morganite and kunzite) were first discovered. Again, I’m a gemologist.

Even for those who are gem-clueless, I still think this is a fun day. And it won’t take long to get the hang of what you’re looking for. Not just because gems are, well, COLORED, as opposed to the gray and brown of rock and dirt. But also because they grow in characteristic structures that make them (and their smooth, flat surfaces) pretty easy to pick out. And most mines that let you come dig will let you keep anything you find. Keep your expectations realistic…mines really only produce certain kinds of stones…and rarely anything crazy big…but to me it’s worth it for the possibility. (Plus, how often can you get away with wearing a shirt that says "Dirty Girls Rock" on the back and have it be so gemologically apropos?)

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.

JUL
31

If You End up at Costco When You Need to Buy Ink

If you end up at Costco when you need to buy ink, you may not be able to remember what cartridge your printer takes.

If you stare long enough at the aisle of options, the number 61 will feel right.

If you get the 61 home, you'll realize you've actually bought a 61XL.

If you put the 61XL in your printer, you'll learn that a 61XL is not the same as a 61.

If this strikes you as ridiculous, you might let out an expression that rivals the tri-color cartridge now sitting useless in the drawer of your writing desk.

If you go back to Costco to buy a regular 61, you'll find out that Costco apparently no longer carries the 61.

If you track down a 61 at Staples, you'll be bugged at how much more you have to pay per cartridge.

And if you know anyone whose printer can take 61XL, you can count yourself ahead of the game for already having a stocking stuffer at this point in the year.

(Clearly this is destined to be picked up as a beloved children's book, at which point I will no longer care how much money I have to spend on ink cartridges.)

 

JUL
26

On Men Who Sleep Around

The crux of my question, really, is should women be OK with dating men who sleep around, but we'll get to that. First, because it's most of what has me waxing on the topic in general, I just read a book that's equal parts funny and informative, and how many things can you say that about? Not Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, that's for sure. The book I read is called It Ended Badly, which discusses what the author dubs the worst breakups in history. Think Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Think Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. I'll save you my Goodreads spiel, suffice it to say, I recommend this book. If you like history and/or have ever been through a breakup and/or want a reason to severely dislike Norman Mailer.

I was fascinated by several of these breakups, but the one that affected me most was Edith Wharton and Morton Fullerton. Supposedly her one love (oddly, her husband was not), Wharton and Fullerton's affair was brief but passionate, until he up and left without so much as a word. This resonated with me personally as it's what a love of mine did to me once, and reading excerpts from Edith's letters to Morton (essentially "Where are you? Are you coming back? I don't understand.") were pretty brutal. But what impressed me was how she was ultimately able to recover and become somewhat empowered by the whole situation. Look, I'm not here to judge Morton Fullerton...just to say that he was probably slutty and didn't treat her the way she deserved to be treated. Here, ultimately, is Edith, in a letter to Morton--a letter that I typed on my typewriter last night and stuck on the fridge because I found it so inspiring:

"What you wish, apparently, is to take of my life the inmost & uttermost that a woman--a woman like me--can give, for an hour, now and then, when it suits you; & when the hour is over, to leave me out of your mind & out of your life as a man leaves the companion who has afforded him a transient distraction. I think I am worth more than that, or worth, perhaps I had better say, something quite different."

Damn, girl. Truth.

Yet how many women can't bring themselves to say that? That they are worth more than an hour now and then? Too many of us.

Because of a rather uncharacteristic (for me) choice of recent male company, I decided to ask around as to whether this behavior was acceptable. I come from a very conservative background, and sometimes I like to check that against, well, reality. Here's how a conversation played out over lunch:

Me: So, should this bother me?

Friend: Pssssh, no. Look, this is what men do.

Me: But...so...you don't think it's gross at all?

Friend: I think it's gross if he doesn't shower in between, but other than that, no, I don't think it's gross.

I was fairly certain in the moment that I was hallucinating. And so I'm a bit relieved that based on all the other feedback I got, most women do ultimately want to be with someone who's not sleeping with anyone else. Of course, the catch here is that this isn't really about what most women think about a situation or what they say they would do. It's about what you would do. It's about what you will do. When he comes around for his next hour, when it suits him, are you going to take what you can get and feel lucky that he wants you for any amount of time at all (not saying this is never the answer), or can you muster the huevos to go all Edith on him and say the thing we're all not saying, even though we should (not saying this is as easy as it sounds...just that we are most certainly worth more than that).

 

 

JUL
17

Del Mar Opening Day

Opening Day at the local horse racing track wouldn't have been an event I would have predicted enjoying all that much, but sometimes in life it's nice to be disproved.

It wasn't so much the big hat (ok, so it was mostly the big hat), but rather the horses themselves that had me completely captivated. They're so skinny and fit...not at all like the horses I'd see at summer camp as a teenager. Which is apparently where all the fat horses go. And most of the time when a horse has high odds of winning, he wins. It made it easy for me, a total rookie, to call the first race, as well as another two beyond that. These were $2 bets, so it's not like I walked away rich (or with even as much as I'd spent in bets), but still, there's something incredibly satisfying about watching a horse cross the finish line first when you've got some money on him. And it was all I could do not to go all "Come on, Dover! Move your bloomin' ass!" on everyone.

Granted, there were things I could have done without. Like the copious amounts of alcohol being consumed, the long lines to place bets, and the fact that the theme for opening day women's attire in Del Mar seemed to be "Slutty." I swear it must have said that on the website somewhere. Dress as slutty as you can. Like, seriously. (I went vintage, naturally.) But all in all, I loved the experience, and I sort of can't wait to go back. Now who would have seen that coming??

JUL
11

Typesetting with Cats (Again)

It's hard to do, I'll have you know. What with my cat running all over the pages; the pages she assumes have been set out just for her. But no matter. It doesn't make me like this part of the process any less. So yes, round one of typesetting options is in the books. And seeing my words laid out for the first time on actual bookish pages is always equal parts exciting and confusing. Like, how did this happen? How are these my words? They look so official. And also, am I ready for this? Is the world? (Are my ex-boyfriends???)

In any case, bring on round two. And it's clear what my cat's vote is.

JUL
01

The Lights are so Bright

Taylor Swift certainly got those lyrics right. And I was reminded of this while back in New York City last week on vacation. It's a city I pine for often, even in the very act of praising heaven over how much less stressful my life has been since I moved away. Less epic as well, perhaps, but that's the tradeoff, people.

In any case, I was happy to be back even for just a few days, and I found it amusing that my friends scolded me for wanting to go to my favorite spots rather than spend my limited NYC time exploring new ones. But to me it was a no-brainer. So, yes, my friend turned to me at one point and said, "I can't believe you're back in New York and of all the places we could go for dinner, you want to go to Harlem Shake," but old habits die hard. So get off my back.

Levain Bakery was in the mix as well, as was a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, and multiple Broadway shows, but that's my New York. That's the New York I love. It's the New York I've always loved. The stuff you can only find in New York. I don't see what's so shameful about that; about admitting your favorite things about a city are the very things all the tourists come to see.

One new experience I did have was marching in the Gay Pride Parade. I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did, and since I'm straight, I wondered if my marching would appear phony to others for whom it means so much more personally, but the whole thing was just a giant puddle of love and celebration and acceptance. And who--gay or straight--wouldn't be on board with that? And so marching down Fifth Avenue, thousands upon thousands of people looking on and cheering, I felt part elated over the sheer positive energy wafting up from the streets and part sad that it can't be like this every day. Because everyone deserves that kind of pride in their sexuality, that kind of acceptance from others, and that kind of confidence to be authentically themselves.

So, see, I did manage to sneak in something new. Even if I ate falafel and pizza by the slice every day.

 

JUN
20

For Cleveland

The thing about Cleveland is it was only mine for seven years. That’s as long as I lived there. But it’s the first city that really felt like mine; the first city that saw me moving across the country, knowing no one, and beginning to build a life for myself. It’s also the first city I ever lived in that had an NBA team. So, in a way, the Cavaliers were probably destined to be mine, too.

I was surprised during these finals how many people didn’t think that the Cavs would win. Very nearly everyone predicted a Warriors repeat. I confess being down 3-1 was a bit foreboding. I myself was in Cleveland for game 4. Oakland is a lot closer, but I flew my Californian ass to Cleveland and cheered my heart out along with 20,561 others; 20,561 others who left Quicken Loans arena probably just as discouraged as I was. But the thing is, it wasn’t over. And just before getting on a plane and winging my way back west, I said to someone, “All we have to do is win three in a row.” And I was being sincere, in that, taken one game at a time, I didn’t see how it wasn’t possible. Even probable. Them boys were on a mission. To me it seemed so obvious that they wanted it more than Golden State. They wanted it for Cleveland.

I’ve run into some who can’t root for Cleveland because of the seeming fickleness of the fans. The fact that we loved LeBron, hated him, and then loved him again. As a person who lived in Cleveland for the best of the LeBron years, the years he played for Miami, and then was still living there when he made the decision to return, I can assure you that it was certainly a fascinating fandom flip-flop. But it’s really not that hard to understand. We were hurt, indescribably so. “The Decision” was a lousy way for a star athlete to make such an announcement. But if you read the essay LeBron wrote that accompanied his decision to return to Cleveland, he addresses the folly of “The Decision,” and explains why coming home and bringing a championship to Cleveland was, he’d realized, more important. Hurt as we were, you couldn’t read that essay without feeling not only that you were witnessing growth, but also sincerity. So is it any wonder that when I heard the news—while in the dressing room of the Anthropologie store on Chagrin Blvd.—I broke into a smile that wouldn’t go away? (Let me say, for the record, that I sometimes miss the low cost of living that allowed me to even shop at Anthropologie in the first place something fierce.)

I have wanted this for Cleveland for all of those seven years, and the two since I left as well. I realize that’s not nearly as long as many Cleveland fans; fans who have endured decades (or a lifetime) of their teams coming up short. But it’s long enough to feel a sense of satisfaction over last night’s win that goes beyond a mere victory or title. It’s long enough to have cried when that buzzer sounded. And it’s certainly long enough to be a Cleveland fan for always. Hats off to you, Believeland. You deserve it.

JUN
16

Viva Las Vegas

I'm not exactly sure how it is that I've managed to get to this point in my life without ever having been to Las Vegas. Except that I do know. In that I've simply never chosen to go there. My impression of the city has never been favorable, I'm not a gambler (except that company Christmas party that one year that I totally rocked even though the money was fake and no one believed it was any indication of how I would fare in an actual casino....pppssshhh). After so many years of assuming Vegas was a bit slutty, now having been there--for a work trip earlier this month--I can report that Vegas is, in fact, a bit slutty. At the risk of incriminating our society at large (not that it's any secret), this obviously resonates with people. This idea of boozy, scantily-clad evenings spent frittering away money in smoke-saturated hotel bottoms. Sign me up. Except don't. Because that sounds terrible.

I was in town for the JCK show (THE jewelry trade show), and it goes without saying that the place (the convention center...not Vegas, hells no) was a lot like how I imagine heaven. In that there were diamonds, gems, and jewelry pretty much everywhere. Diamonds. Freaking. Everywhere. I even got to try some on (it pays to know people), and when the makers of this Garrard tiara (they design the tiaras for the British Royal Family...in case you didn't hear me, I said the BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY) asked if I wanted to try on this Princess Di replica, I very nearly wet myself. Between that and the limousine that transported me to my next event immediately after, I haven't felt so fancy in all my life. So I suppose if you spend several days in a diamond-filled convention center, your nights in an upscale luxury resort, and get to expense all your meals and cap everything off with a day sitting poolside, maybe Vegas isn't so bad. I may even look forward to next year. But only because of the tiara.

MAY
29

May Days

And there goes May. Seriously, I'm not sure where the month went. Although I suppose that's not entirely true. Because I can tell you exactly what I've been doing. Mostly I've been putting in a ton of hours at work in preparation for JCK Las Vegas (if you're there, stop by and see me at the GIA booth!), but I've also managed to squeeze in some California fun as well. There was Dapper Day at Disneyland, which I mentioned here, and I also took my first trips to both Huntington Beach and Long Beach. On one hand, it's like, I freaking live at the beach, so it's not like Huntington provided anything I don't already have in my every day life...except maybe the lifeguard who liked doing push-ups (see above picture).

The highlight of my beach tour was actually the Queen Mary in Long Beach. If you think Saturday-night dinner and dancing is charming on its own, try doing it on an old, historic ship that feels all Titanicky inside, complete with super teeny tiny bathrooms. I'll definitely be going back. And I'll definitely be peeing beforehand. I also took in a Billy Joel concert at Petco Park, and he is, quite frankly, the best. May also saw me celebrating the one year anniversary of passing my big gemology test, so that's triggered a whole host of satisfying and happy memories. Made even happier when I look around me and see that the impacts upon my life for having changed my career trajectory are both far-reaching and permanent.

And, of course, I must mention that another May timesuck (although one I absolutely love) has been finalizing this blasted manuscript. I know I mentioned that I handed it over to my editor in April, and at this point I can't remember if I reported back on her verdict, which was that the book works. It's well-done, moving, and in place. Her words, not mine. And I am so relieved. It still won't be everyone's thing (but then, what book is?), but getting the green light from the editor is always a red-letter experience. I've just finished a final read-through after her copyedit changes have been incorporated, and this means--and I can't believe I'm saying this--that it's time to hand it over. Like, for good. Bring on the typesetting. Can't wait to see this one in print.

MAY
07

Top Ten Lessons from Dapper Day

Most Disney buffs know about Dapper Day, but this was my first time participating. The tradition is, in a word, charming. But then again, could there be any other way to describe thousands of people showing up to the park in circa 1950s Sunday best? Methinks no. A few tips for those looking to join in next time.

10. Arrive early. Like, really early. I arrived before 8:00 AM and they were already re-routing people from the parking garage to the Katella lot.

9. Bring a second pair of shoes. True that as soon as you change into your flats you'll feel about a billion times less cute, but your feet will thank you come about 2pm.

8. Rent a locker. For the shoes, yes, but also for your regular bag or purse. It's nice to be able to walk around the park on Dapper Day carrying nothing but the tiny vintage purse you bought just for the occasion. And the locker rental is super easy, and pretty cheap, too. You'll find them halfway down Main Street on the right side.

7. Bring a compact. So you can reapply lipstick after each churros, ice cream cone, and bread bowl.

6. Don't spend all day at Disneyland. I say this because there are actually more people dressed up in California Adventure than at Disneyland. And being all dolled up feels a lot more fun when you're en masse.

5. Look for ye olde photo ops. Disney doesn't actually sponsor Dapper Day, but they certainly support it. If you keep a lookout, you'll notice they've got multiple throwback photo ops ready (like old car models), complete with Disney photographers standing by. Seriously cute.

4. A hat is a must, but maybe take it off during Space Mountain. My courtesy picture shows me firmly holding my sky-blue pillbox on my head. I'd kept one arm there the whole ride. I should have just taken it off, but those damn pins had been so annoying to get in place.

3. Ease up on the rides. What I mean is this is a day that's all about the experience. The mood is different, lighter. And to me, the most satisfying thing wasn't maximizing ride time (usually I try to go on as many as I can), but rather soaking in the classic goodness. Admiring other people's outfits, listening to the band play, imagining what the park had been like 60 years ago when everyone dressed like this every day.

2. Pace yourself when putting together your outfit. You may find a vintage dress for $13 and think this is really no thing, but then the tailor might charge you $55 to take it in because of the detailed paneling. And the hat and gloves you find at the antique store might run you another $40, a purse $14, and a petticoat another $36. Hypothetically. In short, be prepared to wear the outfit every time you go to Dapper Day.

1. Bring a date. You'll want someone to take your picture, but mostly you'll want a man on your arm looking equally dapper.

Here's to November. I'll see you all there!

 

 

APR
24

The California Effect

Living in California is pretty idyllic. The weather is fantastic, and I can go to the beach literally every day. I look at the tourists renting the condos along the shoreline and think, "And I get to live here." It hardly seems fair.

The thing about California, though, is it's changed my threshold for tolerances that previously would have been no problem. Like temperature. I moved here last summer, and after several months of constantly comfy temps, I remember actually taking a picture of the temperature display in my car on the day when the temperature never left the 60s. It just seemed so cold. After all those years in Cleveland and New York, strange that temps in the 60s could seem anything but balmy. Yet, it's true. I feel cold here more often...and when I am around actual cold temps or--heaven help me--snow (like this past Christmas in the mountains of eastern Washington state or even last weekend while caught in that freak blizzard in Denver), I just can't handle it like I used to. These days, I always think it's too cold.

California has also done a number on my skin. I'm not just talking about the fact that it took me a while to get the hang of sufficient sunscreen application, but also of the random bumps and rashes that began showing up due to--according to my dermatologist--the changes in environment and humidity from what I was used to out East. Multiple medications later, my skin is improving...albeit a myriad of other skin-related side-effects of the skin medications have cropped up. Which is how I came to be the girl who wears gloves while at the beach.

My skin issues are TMI, I realize, I just think sometimes it's nice to remind everyone that living in Calfornia is not always like those commercials with all the celebrities. The ones trying to convince you that their lives are just like everyone else's, even though the point of those commercials is clearly that California living is not really reality. I confess seeing those commercials while living out East filled me with a surprisingly intense yearning to be here. And those commercials are right...living in California is pretty idyllic. Although for the sake of accuracy, they really ought to get a girl wearing gloves at the beach on one of those commercials. I'll happily volunteer.

APR
11

Fleeting

There’s something about experiences that have expiration dates. Things only available for limited windows of time. Call them fickle. Call them not to be counted on. Like the location of your favorite food truck. But that’s what ultimately propels you to take advantage. Because if you don’t, you may lose your chance. And don’t worry. This isn’t going to be a post about my egg supply or my musings over the pros and cons of a childless life. I’ve surely subjected you to enough of that already.

This post is dedicated entirely to the Carlsbad Flower Fields, a shockingly beautiful scene to behold, and only in bloom for a few weeks every year. The bloom occurs over my birthday, meaning I was lucky enough to take a few pics last week in honor of the day, all the while contemplating the arrival of another year’s worth of sage insights, opinions, and perspectives (most notably that Donald Trump is incredibly stupid, that spray sunscreen works better at the beach than the lotion kind does, and that the X-Files theme song still fills my heart with glee even after a 15-year hiatus).

With insights like those, clearly I’m only getting better with time. So, I’m sure, are the flowers. Looking forward to their return next year. Fox Mulder’s, too.

APR
04

Home Decor

I've been eyeing this project for some time, although I must give credit to my sister, as she's the one who pointed these watercolors out to me in the first place. At first it was suggested that maybe I could attempt them myself, though I doubt this option would have produced something that made sense being displayed on my living room wall. Maybe more like my fridge...if I had a young child to whom I could attribute their creation.

It took several stops to find somewhere with frames both as colorful and cheap as I was after (I was buying twelve of them, yo), and don't even get me started on the hours-long ordeal of trying to line them up straight and with equal spacing. My brother had cautioned I should not attempt it without measuring tape, a level, and a second person to help me, but I have none of those things. So I went for the always solid Trial and Error approach, and the project is now done. There are also about a billion tiny nail holes in my living room wall.

I realize that decorating your walls with gemstones is not normal. But I'm really not a normal girl. My affection for all things gem is the epitome of abnormal. But surely you know that by now. I freaking wrote a book about it. And quit my job to study it. And moved across the country to work in it. And now, thanks to this weekend's project, every night I will come home to it. Besides, what's so great about being normal, anyway? It sounds much less sparkly.

APR
02

Celebrating the Handoff

I gave my new manuscript to the editor this morning. She might hate it. She might tell me it doesn't work. In which case I'll be pretty discouraged. But that's always the risk you take when you put a piece of yourself down on paper. Particularly when that self is so very ordinary.

But no matter. Because whichever way this goes, tonight I'm celebrating that I've written a new book. It's such an accomplishment. And while as a woman--and a relatively worry-warty one at that--I've become an expert at feeling like I'm not enough, like I'm disappointing others, like I'm not living up to my potential, and like everyone in the office finds me kind of annoying (even though I threw the most amazing chili cookoff last month), tonight I am nothing but proud.

 

MAR
25

The Editor

I'm preparing to do my final read-through of this darn manuscript before handing it over to my editor next week. It really is a bummer that even as your manuscript gets tighter and better as the read-throughs continue, you start to genuinely dislike it. The repetition. The many revisions and re-revisions. The fact that you can recite so much of it for memory that you fear your eyes may simply be glossing over entire pages without really paying attention. By this point I am, as per usual, convinced no one will ever want to read this thing. Probably a good sign that it's time to hand it off to someone else.

When my editor reminded me today that it's been five years since she edited my first book, it seemed a bit hard to fathom. Five years. It's not a huge amount of time, but it is nonetheless significant. The first little chunk in roundable figures. Five years. In so many ways, I feel like I'm in a much better place now. I've cut the tie with Corporate America. I finally left a city I had outgrown. I've become a gemologist. I pursued a dream and it worked out. I got to live in my beloved Manhattan. I tried a pixie cut. I've written three books.

Of course, in a few ways, things are worse, too. I lost a love, a future I very much wanted. I've perhaps lost some amount of faith as well. Not just in the world and the goodness at its core, but also in a belief system that becomes ever harder to embrace in its entirety. And I've obviously lost some youth, creeping ever closer to the point at which I can no longer consider myself young at all. None of these losses are insignificant.

But overall I have to be happy with where things have shaken out over the five years since I picked up one of those Guide to Literary Agents books and began looking for a kindred spirit--or, at the very least, someone who thought I had talent. Given where I sit at this moment (at my writing desk, looking out at the palm trees in my front yard and enjoying the cool ocean-laced breeze coming in through the window), I have to conclude I made a good choice.

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