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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
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!

NOV
14

Homecoming

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I just spent a week in Cleveland. I know it's not home anymore, but it still felt an awful lot like a homecoming. Speaking of homecomings, I should probably have chosen a picture of the Cavs game I was able to go to (what ended up being their first home win with LeBron back...I was in attendance at the last home win he played as a Cavalier before leaving, so it felt only fitting to attend the first win after his return), but instead I'm subjecting you all to the parting gift my office presented me with. 

It's amazing how attached to a city one can get. I loved being back in Cleveland this week, to the point of getting teary when I drove away from the office building for the last time today. It was like moving all over again. And this always happens to me. It doesn't mean that I'm second guessing the exciting new chapter I've just begun, it's just that attachment is emotional, and it runs deep, even if you've already moved on. It doesn't mean I don't love New York, it's just that I loved Cleveland first. It doesn't mean I resist change (I just freaking cut all my hair off, yo), it's just that it's hard to leave places and people that have come to mean something to me.

So here I am. Back in my NYC apartment after having battled an epic taxi line, lugged a 50-pound suitcase up the stairs of my elevatorless building, and endured the welcome home brooming of the woman in the apartment below me who thinks my 6-pound cat makes too much noise. If I show up at her door wearing this shirt, it will not be my fault. Bitch, I'm from Cleveland.

OCT
23

Guest Writer: The Cat

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This city is going to make me fat. I know I'm only 6 pounds, but I’m still a girl. At any rate, it's gone. It's all gone. The stairs are gone. Even all the rooms are gone. But I'm a glass half full kind of cat, plus I sleep upwards of 18 hours a day, so I can do without the rooms. And the stairs. And the bay windows. And the couch. And the cable box that was always warm. I digress.

Here is what I know.

I am in a place called New York. T has wanted to come here for a long time. She romanticized the idea if you ask me, a term I only recently became familiar with, because she loves a movie called Breakfast at Tiffany's. I would love something other than kibble for breakfast, so I watch this movie eagerly. There is never any breakfast, but there is a cat, so I like it. Even though if you've read the book, Holly isn't actually able to find the cat at the end, which is a pretty crucial detail. I am a very literary cat. 

New York is noisy, like the woman downstairs who hits the broom on the ceiling whenever I run around. And the noises outside the door. People are always hurrying. And stomping. And slamming. They also watch TV, take baths, open letters, cough, get paged from someone out on the street, and walk from one side of the room to the other. And I can hear it all. So Broom Lady is just going to have to deal with me and my 6 pounds.

There is a cat across the hall. A tom cat. He's bigger than me and his owners let him walk in the hallways. Sometimes when our door is open he will come in. I don't like him being so forward, and I hiss, even though he intrigues me and I’ve never had a boyfriend (unless you count the father of that litter of kittens I bore when I was living in the streets of Cleveland…but that was hardly a relationship). The neighbor cat does have the name of a really good Counting Crows song, so maybe there is hope for him yet. I am a very musical cat.

Speaking of music, T left her guitar behind, and I miss it. It reminded me of Holly, who also sings and plays. The broom lady would have a hissy fit (an expression I believe only cats can use) but I want the guitar back. T plays the Counting Crows. If I could write a song for their band, well, it would have to be mopey, and it would go like this:

 

It's darker here when no one is home.

The food is exactly the same.

We are higher off the ground.

The box on the wall hisses but is very warm.

We sleep in the same space now.

Some of my toys are missing.

 

Oh, and no one knows this, but you can actually climb up underneath the loveseat and hide inside it. No one can get you out. 

And I haven't had a single hairball incident since the move. I am a very classy cat.

 

OCT
02

For Cleveland

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Yesterday was a big day for me. I left a city I loved. I know there are many who have put in much more time in much grander cities, but the thing about my six years on the great Cuyahoga is that Cleveland gets under your skin. Into your pores. It starts to grow roots inside you, even if your roots already exist somewhere else.

I'd never had my own city before Cleveland. I grew up somewhere, went to school somewhere, but neither of those were really my own. And think about that for a minute. A girl from small-town west coast. Far from home, didn't know a soul, no experience driving in snow. I felt like I had every reason to hate it. To want out. Not to say there weren't moments when I did (like how about every moment of this past winter), but what I wasn't expecting was this alarmingly fierce sense of loyalty that would develop in relatively short order. I mean, when you see montages of your city displayed on the jumbotron prior to sporting events and they give you goosebumps, you know it's got a hold on you.

I'll spare you the sap by simply saying that I'm pretty sure I will always feel like a Clevelander. I think when you leave a big enough piece of yourself behind, that can't be helped. Cleveland. The place where I became an author, an aunt; the place where I fell in love, then fell apart; the place where I discovered yoga, adopted my cat. It's the place that first made me feel like I was my own person; that my life was mine to make. It's a realization I now take with me to a new city, where a whole host of new opportunities, experiences, and (inevitably) mistakes await me. I'm looking unequivocally forward, but if I occasionally stop to look over my shoulder, I pray you'll indulge me. If you'd ever lived in Cleveland, you'd understand why I'll never completely let it go.

 

 

SEP
19

How to Move a Cat

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I know, I know, there are certainly more important (and time-consuming) aspects of this move, namely the gargantuan task of getting rid of 90% of my possessions, but as the only living thing I am responsible for other than myself, Clementine is very much on my mind as I plan this move. And I'd like to not only get her there, but get her there in such a way that does not cause her to be scarred for life...or crap repeatedly in her pet carrier.

So, naturally, I'm going to drug her.

I have secured the necessary pills from the vet, have an airline-approved pet carrier on the way, and got her a little collar and pet tag in case she manages to slip out the apartment door and ends up wandering the streets of Manhattan.

New York will be an interesting experience for both of us. Not only because we will both surely pine for all the square footage we have enjoyed in Cleveland, but also because we have never slept in the same room. She goes nutso at night, bringing me her toys, jumping on my feet, basically doing whatever she can to demand my attention. So I close my bedroom door every night. Something you can't do when you live in a studio apartment. Lord help us.

JUL
05

Jazz and the Fireworks

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I probably should have been thinking last night about freedom and independence and bombs bursting in air, but mostly I was thinking about my childhood dog, Jazz, (named after the star jasmine flower) and how she used to run and hide in the backyard shed at the first sign of fireworks. I’ve since learned that this fear plagues many other dogs--pretty sure my aunt Leah full-on drugs her bulldog every July 4--but at the time, I thought it was unique to Jazz. I also thought it was kind of adorable. That she would feel somehow safer inside the dilapidated and actually quite frightening shed that none of us kids would be caught dead touching with a ten foot pole.

Animals have been on my mind this week, as I took Clementine to the vet the other day for her yearly appointment. She ended up having to get some blood drawn, and while I was waiting for the doctor to bring her back up front, a woman came in the front door holding a small dog. As soon as this woman shut the door behind her, she started sobbing. “What’s wrong?” another woman asked, to which the sobbing woman replied, “I have to put her down. She has cancer.” The asking woman instinctively reached her arm out and touched the sobbing woman’s shoulder and expressed condolences.

What happened next was one of the most unifyingly human moments I’ve experienced in a long time. Because every single person in that waiting room began to cry. It simply could not be helped. Part of it was this dog, her body so cancer-riddled that she was struggling to breathe. Most of it though was seeing this woman so gutted over the impending loss of her dog. Animal owners ourselves, we understood, and the very idea of having to go through such a loss is never really far from our minds. Jazz herself lost a battle with cancer, and someday, God forbid, Clementine may meet the same fate. When and however it happens, my day with the pink juice will arrive, and when it does, I hope there’s a waiting room full of people to help get me through it. I also hope that Jazz enjoyed the show last night. Wherever she is, it’s surely a much better view.

JUN
08

Countdown to Author Alley

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Summer festivals that involve book events are just about my favorite thing as an author. It gets you out in the community, you get to spend time with other local authors, and the festival environment means there's lots of traffic. And I give a lot of kudos to bookstores who have made such events into annual staples. Loganberry Books is one of these stores. Their annual Author Alley is still a few weeks away (As part of the Larchmere Festival on July 5th), but I'm so looking forward to it. And I'm so going to remind you all about it again.

PS, Loganberry has a cat. Bonus.

MAY
22

Stupid Grass. Stupid Mower. Stupid Spring.

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I'm taking a break from new-book-just-out activities to bring you this important seasonal message: I hate cutting the grass. I know. It's so silly. Especially if you were to see the size of my yard. But cutting the grass is by far the worst part about spring. Especially since this is the first spring in 3 years that my boyfriend (now my ex) isn't around to do it for me. Not that my favorite thing about him was that he did all my yard work. It's just that my favorite thing about him was that he did all my yard work.

So picture this. A couple of weeks ago I realize I can't put it off anymore and go get the mower out of the garage. I manage to get the thing started, but it sounds pretty bad. I'm shielding my eyes as best I can with one hand in case the whole thing blows up and pushing it as far ahead of my body as possible. Halfway through the yard, it dies. I solicited help from the man who was cutting the neighbor's grass, and all I gathered from his diagnosis was there was a bunch of grass clogging the innards of the mower. Nevermind that this is sort of, um, I don't know, what a mower is designed for.

I watched a video explaining how to fix what it seems likely that the problem is, and although I did locate the appropriate bolts and levers, I was unable to fix it. Or, let's be honest, even get anything to budge at all. And this week, my grass out of control once more, I can't even get the thing to start. It instead makes a horrible, cry-of-the-banshee noise every time I attempt it.

Bottom line, I'm not sure what single girls are supposed to do...except for get some cats, buy a Snuggie, and let the grass get so long that the city sends threatening letters using words like "unsightly" and "final warning." Come to think of it, a Snuggie sounds pretty good right now.

MAY
17

Book Party Day

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Today is book party day. (If Clementine is any indication, we are clearly having a hard time containing our excitement. Actually, she has come to love the boxes of books sitting on my breakfast table so much that I haven't yet broken the news to her that they are going away.) Right on cue, the weather has taken a turn for the crappy, but that happened last time, too. Doesn't matter. It's going to be a wonderfully satisfying day irrespective of sunshine.

Amidst all the excitement, there is of course a fair amount of worry that creeps in once you realize people will actually be reading your book. And what if they don't like it? It's completely possible. Much more possible with this second book, as the subject matter is not nearly so universal. More than that, it's one that some might consider me materialistic and snobby for even being interested in. But I took comfort this week in the words of Annie Dillard:

"People love pretty much the same things best. A writer looking for subjects inquires not after what he loves best, but after what he alone loves at all. Strange seizures beset us. 'Each student of ferns,' I read, 'will have his own list of plants that for some reason or another stir his emotions.' Why do you never find anything written about that idiosyncratic thought you avert to, about your fascination with something no one else understands? Because it is up to you. There is something you find interesting, for a reason hard to explain. It is hard to explain because you never read it on any page; there you begin. You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment."

And so as the first group of readers leave the party today with their crisp, new copies, I can only hope that they--and you, dear readers, whenever it is that you get your own copy and settle down to read it--come away with a mind open to learning about someone else's fascination. This strange, sparkly seizure that indeed besets me.

JAN
20

Typesetting with Cats

b2ap3_thumbnail_clem-jeweled.jpgThis is one of my favorite parts about writing books. When it's time to actually make the decisions about what the book will look like. I had several typesetting options to look over this past weekend, and as you can see, I need a bigger dining room table. I'm always so grateful in times like these to work with people who make my life easier, people who have the know-how that I don't (like how to go about getting the rights for a picture I like from an old Tiffany & Co. catalog).

And as long as I'm giving thanks, who wouldn't be grateful for such a diligent feline companion? Clearly she knows what title page she likes. If only I could be as decisive.

JAN
07

Polar Vortex

b2ap3_thumbnail_thermostat.jpg When I heard the power go off in the middle of the night last night, I went to immediate panic mode. And not just because it meant my heated mattress pad had stopped working. But mostly because it was -10 outside, and I wasn't sure how long my drafty Cleveland house could withstand that kind of temperature and still keep me and my cat alive.

This was the temerature in the house when I got up, brought to you courtesy of the mag flashlight my mother insisted I buy when I was setting up house in Cleveland. Also courtesy of Honeywell circa 1950.

At any rate, power and heat have been restored. The only thing I'm still without is water, as the pipes are still frozen. I showered at a friend's house, but it should be an interesting night if nature calls. I know, maybe I should have just slept somewhere else, but you separate a girl from her heated mattress pad, and you've got bigger problems.

JAN
04

Record

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I've written over 2000 words for 4 straight days, 8500 total, and for me, that's a record. I know it might not sound like that much for those of you who write for a living, but for a girl who has a full-time day job that does not involve writing, I'm quite proud of this. Of course my cat gets annoyed when my lap is occupied by my computer, but lucky for her, this kind of writing time is the exception and not the rule. And now for my next trick, I'm hoping to break 10,000 by the end of the day.

SEP
09

Instagrammy

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I set up an account over the weekend. Maybe I was jealous of all the instagrammy goodness going on out there...all my friends' square-shaped pics that flood my newsfeed. So here I am, a new account holder. Ready to take pictures of...I have absolutely no idea what. Especially after my recent epiphany about chronicling. I guess we'll just see what I can come up with. Hopefully more than just the funny things my cat does. (Although for the record, she's thrilled about potentially being featured. She's still glowing from the recent Monopoly game piece addition.)

MAY
29

Hit

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I hit my weekend stretch goal. All the edits are entered, and a new clean draft printed. Everything was overseen by Clementine, who, despite walking over the keyboard repeatedly and sitting herself directly on the piles of papers I most needed access to, considers herself central to these operations. At any rate, a successful weekend.

FEB
07

Out With the Old

b2ap3_thumbnail_monopoly.jpgWell, it's over. Monopoly has officially booted the Iron game piece in favor of--inexplicably--a cat. Actually, I find the entire line of choices for the proposed new game piece a bit baffling, not to mention the entire concept of consumer voting in these types of decisions. Or maybe what I'm getting at is I don't see the need for these types of decisions in the first place. What was wrong with the old pieces? Or the original M&M colors for that matter? Other than the marketing element meant to generate renewed interest in a classic product, why change at all?

I'm not averse to change, although I do think I struggle with it more than most, and a good portion of that (as I learned from this book) is probably my introversion. Another part of it is that I'm sentimental. I get attached to situations and people I like. When I quit my job to go to business school, I cried like a baby, and it wasn't because I was averse to the changes that business school would bring into my life. It's because I was sad to be leaving a job I loved and the co-workers who had become such good friends to me over the years I had worked there. And on a much smaller scale, I hate when my beloved Cleveland Cavaliers trade players in the name of some sort of overall franchise strategy. Strategy shmategy. Winning record or not, I would prefer to keep the same guys around. Because I get attached to them, dammit, and I wish it could be about playing for a city instead of playing for a championship. (You listening, LBJ?)

The interesting thing about change is that sometimes it is good. But not always. The trick for me and my stubborn, overly-sentimental self is to identify which changes are truly bad ideas (or at least unnecessary) and which ones are good ideas that I would eagerly welcome if I only knew what I was missing. Take technology. I never wanted an iPod, but once someone gave me one, I didn't know how I'd lived without it. I don't have a Smart phone, nor do I have any desire to own one, but maybe it would change my life. For the better. Or at least keep me from grocery store conundrums like buying a cinema gift card for my parents at a theater they would actually have to leave the state in order to use.

My confession to you today is that while I am old-fashioned to the core and hope to always be, there are some things that despite kicking and screaming about how uninteresting, useless, and stupid they are, customers will in actuality snap up like hotcakes once they hit the market. Translation: Sometimes you have to tell customers what they want. It's not always easy, and it doesn't always work (never forget that some changes really are bad), but even just acknowledging that changes we dread or don't want or fight are sometimes exactly what we (and the world) need is a big step. Not that this means I'm OK with the Iron getting booted. But I'll tell you who is. Clementine (pictured below) is delighted with the new game piece. I think she voted more than I did.

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