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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
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.

SEP
15

One Way Ticket

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I've been traveling for the past 10 days, most of it in Chicago for work. Delightful city, maybe I'll post a few pics of the sightseeing I did, although it pretty much all involves me eating. And then eating more. Followed closely by more eating. Prior to Chicago, I did sneak in another short NYC trip. By now this is no surprise, surely. I did this in July, too. Also in April. And all the other times before that. What made this trip different--what I hadn't done on any other prior NYC trip--was that I signed a lease.

And so the next few weeks on this blog will be full of my moving preparations (chaotic) and goodbyes to the great, great city of Cleveland (weepy), a city in which I will leave a surprisingly big piece of myself and my heart. More on that later. For now let me leave you with images of possibility and new adventure, city lights and subway stations. If these images also contain a microscopic living space, much less disposable income, and uncertainty about things such as future plans, again, we'll get to that later. I've got boxes to pack.

 

AUG
10

Half of Me

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In an effort to simplify and downsize my life, I've begun going through my belongings. You know the drill. Saving this, chucking that. It's a process I haven't done to this extent in the entire six years I've lived in this house. Needless to say, I've accumulated a lot of crap. OK, it's not crap. Well, some of it is crap. But mostly it's just stuff that when push comes to shove (or when the day comes that I need to fit myself and my life into a much smaller space...), I can do without.

What has surprised me though about this summer's possession slim-down is how much I own that did not come from these six years. How much of it precedes my time in Cleveland, and by quite a bit, too. Like the Birkenstocks* I bought when I was in junior high. I didn't have a lot of cool brand-name stuff back then, and my parents would never have bought me Birkenstocks, so if I wanted them (and I did, badly), it was up to me to come up with the money. The Birkenstocks--a funky pattern of blue and pink and orange and still in great shape after costing me an at-the-time small fortune of $80 back in 1996--I am getting rid of, and while I am logical enough to let the fact that I haven't worn them in years win out, I do feel a pang of loss at the thought of giving them up. Because they remind me of a much younger me and, more importantly, the feeling I had while walking home from the bus stop that first day with them. I was wearing the Birkenstocks with a pair of black Nike socks (also new) pulled up almost to my knees. A look that, believe me, was as amazing as it sounds. And to the tune of Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm," the little song I made up as I approached my house was: "I got Birkenstocks, I got Nike socks..."

Something I will never get rid of is the picture at the top of this post, which sits framed on my bedside table even today. A teenager when it was taken, it struck me this week while sorting things into various piles of crap that I am exactly twice as old now as I was in this picture. Which makes this half my life ago. Half my life. From my seat as a well-educated adult out living life, making choices, and pursuing dreams, it's sometimes hard to believe that my life as a kid at home with my siblings was only half my life ago. How different our phases of life are. How far away they can seem, even though we can recall the most trivial details as if they were yesterday (such as my Birkenstock memory). And how much we collect along the way.

*Keep in mind that in the Pacific Northwest, Birkenstocks are considered the "it" footwear brand. At least they were in the 1990s.

JUL
11

Post Script

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Remember how I said I wasn't sure I wanted him back? Well something about seeing the James jerseys around town, the non-stop chatter and speculation, the various "come home" pleas, Michael Symon's promise of an LBJ burger. Something about all of this made me start hoping in spite of myself. Such that when I heard the news today (I was half naked in an Anthropologie dressing room, by the way, and simply *had* to refresh my phone in case the announcement had been made since my previous check a little while before), I could not stop smiling.

This city loved him so much, and it seems we still do. It seems *I* still do. And considering we (myself included) were the very ones who flocked to the Q when the Heat were in town simply so we could boo every time he had the ball--and he has the ball a lot--this is part confusing, part sickening, but mostly I think it is hopeful. To know that we--all of us, LeBron included--can get over ourselves and move on. Move forward. Move up. Move home. Goodbye, #1 lottery pick. See you never.

 

 

JUL
09

The Obligatory LeBron Post

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OK, fine.

I will answer the big question. (That only one person has asked me.)

I will tell you what I think.

As a Clevelander.

And an NBA fan.

And a stubborn-ass grudge-holding never-forgetter.

Seriously, though. I can be mature. I can admit that having him back would do wonders for this city. I'd also love to start winning some ball games. And of course there's something endearingly Prodigal-sonny about the tale of a young and stupid man making a foolish decision and choosing to make amends a few years later. I'm as sentimental as they come. I could get on board with that.

But I can also admit that I was positively gutted by LeBron's exit, just like the rest of Cleveland. And I was one of the most devoted of fans. Sitting in one of the first few rows at the last home game he ever played as a Cavalier, I had no idea what we were about to lose. And in such epic fashion. And so I confess to you today that the ridiculousness of The Decision has stayed with me, and I'm not sure I want him back.

As for Cleveland getting their hopes up, that's on us, and I think we're pretty stupid if we do. Not because it's not a possibility, but because we've been duped before.

No, I'm not sure I want him back.

Still--full disclosure--I just can't shake this dream of winning.

Make of that what you will.

JUL
03

You Are Invited

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I promised I'd remind you again, so here it is. You are officially invited, Cleveland. 

Author Alley (as part of the fabulous Larchmere Fest)

July 5, 12-4pm (this Saturday!!)

Loganberry Books (13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights)

If you are a reader, you really ought to be there. You'll have the chance to learn about all kinds of books written by local authors, and after perusing all the options and meeting many delightful people, you can pick your favorites to buy and go home with a couple of new reads for that upcoming summer vacation. Those favorites might not be (read: will probably not be) my books, but they're someone's, and all the indie author goodness warms my heart.

So come on down. The weather's fine. 

See you on Larchmere.

JUN
28

Sky View

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I've got to hand it to yoga. Or maybe I've got to hand it to Cleveland. Or Tammy Lyons. Or any of the people behind last night's Believe in CLE event at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After all, it's not every day you get a shavasana view like this. Shavasana is a relaxing, restorative pose that ends a yoga practice, and surrounded by 2000 other yogis outside the rock hall, the wind blowing off of the lake on a sunny and 75-degree evening, I couldn't bring myself to close my eyes. Which is sort of key to the pose, the closing of the eyes. But, um, did I mention the sky view? I simply could not help myself.

I've probably mostly got to hand it to my friend KJ who introduced me to yoga in the first place. I began attending solely for the workout (sidenote: it is a phenomenal workout), and scoffed at the very idea of all the other "benefits" of yoga. Emotional, mental, spiritual, etc. It's  not that I resist or don't appreciate these aspects of life. On the contrary, I very much embrace them. It's just that a yoga classroom isn't the place where I necessarily want to deal with them. I just want to sweat like hell. So that's where I've been. The girl beating the Other Stuff off with a stick.

Maybe it was inevitable, in that the longer I'm involved with yoga, the more I realize you can't really escape the Other Stuff, because it is, in fact, central to the very practice of yoga. This past week I even found myself--and the "I am only here to work out" part of me is a little embarrassed to admit this--crying in a yoga class. I didn't see it coming, and so was rather surprised to find myself almost instantly emotional when we settled into shavasana, warm tears streaming, well, basically into my ears.

It was this shavasana I was thinking about while lying under the Cleveland sky last night. Not because I was crying--I wasn't, and I doubt that will happen very often. But it's strangely comforting to know that this kind of emotion--true and completely unbidden--is possible. It's comforting to know you can be surrounded by dozens (or even thousands) of strangers and feel so connected. It's also comforting to know that you can eventually come to embrace things you initially may have been wary of. It's life, it's change, it's betterment and growth, and live from Lake Erie, folks, it's happening all the time.

 

JAN
25

The LeBron James Bottle of Bubbly

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Something people might not know about me is that I love the NBA. I was able to take in two Cavaliers games this week, and I was reminiscing with my fellow game-goers last night about how wonderful the good years were. The Winning Years. Those couple of years when Cleveland had the best record in the NBA. I’d always had at the top of my bucket list that someday I wanted to be at a game 7 when my team won the championship. It seemed back then like it might be within the realm of possibility.

In my fridge you’ll find a long-expired bottle of bubbly, and it’s the same bottle I bought in the summer of 2010, the bottle I planned to drink when Lebron announced he would be staying in Cleveland. Obviously the bottle was never opened, and for some reason I’ve kept it in my fridge…I guess as some sort of reminder that things change. And that there are horribly inappropriate and ass-like ways to make announcements.

I confess that basketball will always seem a little bit worse to me now. I’ve despised Lebron since he left, which is why I was surprised last night to be flooded with such good memories of him and all the success he brought to this city. I guess no matter how things ended up, the point is that I’ll always have those memories, and they’ll always be good. I’ll always remember what winning so many games felt like, seeing amazing on almost every play, walking through the streets after a second-half comeback win against Boston in game 1 of the first round of playoffs chanting “MVP! MVP!” with a sea of Clevelanders. I’ll always have that. Of course, there’s still the bubbly, which can always be counted on to bring me back down to reality. But not everything is worth hanging onto. And maybe that bottle is one thing I can finally toss out.

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.

DEC
05

I Need to get on Board

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As an Ohioan, I make this confession at great risk of peril, but I've never been able to embrace the Buckeyes. And I'm not sure why this is, as I fell in love with the Cavaliers the moment I moved to Cleveland. I even root for the Cavs when they play my Portland Trailblazers (who--let's give credit where it's due--are white hot right now). So it's not that I refuse to claim Ohio as my place of residence. It's just that I feel no attachment to Ohio State.

Especially in a year like this one...where my Ducks couldn't hold themselves together and it looks like the Buckeyes might actually get themselves to the championship game. This thouroughly depresses me, but I'm wondering if it would be that bad to be a fan. To cheer. To wish them well. A coworker was trying to sway me on the matter today by saying that while he is a tried and true Buckeyes fan, he also likes the Ducks. And other than situations like the 2010 Rose Bowl, I guess there's no reason why I can't be a fan of both. (Although part of me just died a little inside when I said that.) It'll take some getting used to, but, like I said, let's give credit where it's due. And undefeated is a very sparkly word.

 

NOV
12

Snow by Month

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I got home tonight to find that my driveway had been staked. And so it begins. Although technically it began a few weeks ago with the surprise snow that left me without power or heat for a few days (I did not handle it well) and continued today with the first Lake Effect Snow Warning of the season. I took this picture on my way out the door, and for a moment I thought everything was beautiful. Until I stepped on the driveway and realized there was ice under the snow.

As a person living far from the place I call home, I'm asked fairly often if I like living in Cleveland. The truth is that I do enjoy living here, and there's definitely something about its ghetto-ness that inspires fierce loyalty, but the downside of living here is the snow. It will always be the snow. To help myself get through the months and months of awful weather, I've devised this Chart of Optimism:

October snow = This hardly ever happens and if it does it will be like once so don't even worry about it.

November snow = Still nothing consistent on the snow front so don't even worry about it.

December snow = Multiple storms, sometimes back to back, may discourage you, but you'll be on vacation half the month anyway so don't even worry about it.

January snow = You're in the thick of it now, so take a trip to California and don't even worry about it.

February snow = Coming up against record-breaking winter snow totals, you'll wish you had pushed your California trip until now, but you didn't and it's done and you're basically out of vacation time, so there's no point in worrying about it.

March snow = Though storms continue, it's technically spring and you're almost there so don't even worry about it.

April snow = It could happen and might even drop a couple inches on your birthday, but it'll be the last you see of snow for six more months, so don't even worry about it.

I feel better already.

.

NOV
04

Flee to the Cleve

You know that episode of Friends when Chandler and Monica take Erica on a tour of NYC and Chandler comes back to their apartment all decked out in touristy garb and declares, "New York is awesome!" He explains, "I've been to these places before, but I've never really seen them, you know." Now isn't that always the way.

I had company in town last week, and it gave me the rare opportunity to actually see Cleveland. It's no New York, as I believe I've mentioned pretty much weekly since this blog's inception, but I'm quite fond of it, and there's so much I'd like to be taking better advantage of. I kept thinking how much I was enjoying myself, how much more a person is able to do and see when she doesn't have to be at work. I know, I know, without work I wouldn't be able to afford to DO anything, I'm just saying (once again) how nice it would be to be independently wealthy. Which I will be once I sell about a million more books. Glass half full, people.

Anyway, here are a few shots from my week in the city. The city where I live but rarely see.

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OCT
06

Mayfield Library

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This is just to say that I so enjoyed participating in the Mayfield Library's author fair yesterday. I was so impressed by the turnout...most people who stopped by my booth mentioned they had a hard time finding parking. I'm also impressed by how many local authors there are in the area. I've done numerous events and met several of them, but never have I seen so many under one roof. It's nice to be among people who are all going through variations of the same process...and in most cases the same struggle of anonymity in a business where it's tough to be completely unknown.

I was also grateful for the friends and colleagues who braved the rainy afternoon (and the crowded parking lot) to stop by and see me, buy a book, or get their copy signed. It always means so much to feel supported.

And I have a soft spot for selling books to people I don't know when in these fair/event circumstances...it's always flattering when they pick my book to buy, because I know it has nothing to do with them knowing me already. It's like when the flight attendant or pilot announces over the intercom upon landing that they realize people have a choice of airlines, and that they're consequently grateful for our business. I feel that way about people who buy my book. Happy, and so, so appreciative.

SEP
18

Holding Out

The first winter I was in Cleveland, I let the temperature in my house get down to 58 degrees before I turned on the heat. But it was September. So close to the heels of summer, I couldn't stomach the thought of turning on the heat. Five years later, I'm less tolerant of being cold when at home, but I still try to postpone the heat as long as I can. If I make it until October, I'm happy.

Yesterday morning when I was leaving for work, it was 43 degrees outside. Not exactly balmy. But I've got plenty of cushion room before I even think about turning on the heat. It's still 64 degrees inside. We'll see how long I last.

JUL
29

Ode to the Salt Mines

I hate you, salt mines.

Yes, it's day one back at work after a nice, long vacation, and while what I really need is a slap in the face (I'm grateful to have a job and all the benefits it provides me), it's always a bit depressing to return to real life. And Cleveland is always a bit depressing after NYC in particular. (Isn't ANY city?)

But, no matter, my real life is pretty fun too, at least that's what I tell myself. Sure, there are expectations of me, I have to cook my own food, and I end up at home most nights instead of out seeing a show or eating cheesecake at Carnegie Deli at midnight (or frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity). Sure, my editor has told me that manuscript #2 needs some work. Sure, I miss home and family and there are things about my life I wish I could change, but I'm fresh off a trip to the city, and for the moment I can't be anything but grateful. Hard to ask for more than a view like this.

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JUL
07

The Pines

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Or whatever they are. (Firs?) I don't really know trees, but I grew up positively surrounded by them. It's always funny to hear people talk about how "green" Cleveland is, because are these people insane? They don't know green.

I've just returned from spending the holiday week in small town Americana with family, something I do as often as I can. Shelling peas picked fresh from my grandparents' garden, attending a flag raising ceremony at the local church, the parade down Main Street, the piddly festival in the park, the community orchestra performing Stars and Stripes Forever, the late-night fireworks down by the water.

What gets to me most is Oregon itself. The greenness. The peace and beauty that is country living out there. The quiet. The deer. The lack of paved roads. And while I've always looked forward to returning to Cleveland--my life, my love, my career, my cat--this was the first time in years that I wanted to beat my departure off with a stick. I was misty to drive away from the homestead, misty to say goodbye to my parents at the airport, and usually not one to even look out the window while on a flight, I couldn't look away as the plane took off. I ached to stay. I kept my eyes on the trees as long as I could see them, until the green expanse of Western Oregon had given way to the brownness that is everything else.

Not sure why this occasionally overcomes me. I guess the excitement and adventure that is having your own corner of the world sometimes pales in comparison to the loneliness that can come from being completely on your own and far away from those who care about you. I know, I know, I need to put on my big girl pants and be braver. But I ask you, if this was the view from YOUR homestead, would you ever want to leave it?

JUN
21

It's Over

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Remember that scene on Searching for Bobby Fischer where the parents have been banned from the chess tournament and are getting their updates on the championship match from the little boy who keeps running into the room with the latest play?

"Queen takes pawn."

"Josh is in trouble. He's down another pawn."

"Knight takes rook."

"Petey just hung his rook!"

And then the final announcement, the boy not running this time, rather walking slowly and with his head hung low: "It's over."

I've felt like this boy as I've written to my brother (who currently can only get letters and is pretty much cutoff from all media outlets) and given him an update after each of the games in the NBA finals. We both wanted the Spurs to win (as I hope the majority of the world did), so it was fun to report such tidbits as, "Spurs win game 1!" and "Spurs win game 5! They lead 3-2!" And considering that Fischer was a favorite family movie growing up, I have no doubt that he'll know exactly what happened when he reads my post script on today's letter. "It's over."

JUN
17

Seeing the World Through Both my Eyes

I love this commercial so much. And not just because of the piano music. To me, it's about life. Capturing it, sharing it. When you think about all the things we see in our lives, it's simply impossible to preserve all these memories without documenting them somehow. Isn't it?

The other school of thought on this topic can be summed up by John Mayer's Three by Five, a song I've always taken to heart. Because when our focus is on snapshooting our way through life (an event, a vacation, a sunset, whatever), we, in my opinion, get less out of the experience as we are having it.

While at an Indians game this weekend, it was the bottom of the 9th and a win was headed our way. Wanting to capture the winning run and the crowd's response, I readied my phone and managed (after a few dud plays) to hit record at just the right time. Success! Although it occurred to me as the crowd went victory-wild that I had failed to actually watch that final play. I'd been so focused on my little phone and making sure it was positioned correctly that I had to actually ask what exactly had happened, how the run had been scored. In my effort to preserve the moment, I had missed it completely. And I'll never get that moment back. Sure, I have a grainy, unfocused few seconds of footage shot from the upper deck, but I would gladly exchange that for the experience of having actually watched the runner slide into home plate and erupted into cheers with my fellow Clevelanders. Maybe today I finally overcame trying to fit the world inside a picture frame. Take it away, Mr. Mayer.

MAY
30

When Things Break

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That would be my air conditioner. I can't even say anything else. Or even type it. It's too hot in here. At this rate, my manuscript will combust at any moment. It's downright unsafe to have this much paper sitting around an old charming Cleveland home in the summer. Wait, it's not even summer yet? This is terrible news.

 

MAY
22

What's not to like??

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My cousin (the one from this story) texted me last night: "Another #1 pick for the cavs? Must be nice to have three of them in 9 years."

And you know what, it is. Cleveland deserves some loving, and nice is exactly how it feels to win a lottery of any kind.

Er.....except when you realize, as the Denver Post article stated, that the answer to the question of 'What's not to like?' is being in the lottery every year. Because you have to be pretty bad to even have a chance at nabbing the #1 pick. So maybe it's a lottery I wouldn't mind losing out on next year. As long as it doesn't go to Florida. Cleveland's already lost way too much to that state.