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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.

Perspective in the Cleve


There's nothing like a trio of girls kidnapped a decade ago being found in your city to put things into perspective. Not that it really matters in what city the girls are found, it's still just as effective at making your problems seem instantly minute. And that's what I've been thinking all day. That I'm so silly to spend time whining about the stressful things in my life. Because I do this. Whine. And vent. And occasionally shake my fist at the sky for all the things that seem unfair, the people I love who deal with things they shouldn't have to, the fact that I for some reason can't just be independently wealthy, or why it has to be so hard to get people to buy a damn book already.

But none of this matters, because instead of spend the last decade trapped in someone's basement, I've been living my life. So, I think I'm good. True that my living room floor is scattered with various pieces of my manuscript right now and I'm still not sure which direction I should go in terms of certain aspects of its chronology, but seriously, how is this a legitimate problem? Pssssh. Today, more than ever, it's clear to me. And I am definitely good.



It's official. I have an iPhone. Not that you would know it since all I used it for this weekend was calling and texting, but you've got to start somewhere. Even if that place is Cluelessville. I did manage to figure out how to take a picture. And how to text this picture to someone else. And just this morning I tackled emailing the picture to myself for use in this post. How appropriate that this was the first picture I took with my can-now-take-pictures-anywhere capabilities. That's right, Cleveland. T & Co. arriving this summer. Maybe by then I'll have a handle on this iPhone.





First let me say that as a small town girl, I'm still constantly in awe about how nice it is to live in a city. Not that Cleveland is the most desirable or glamorous city in which a person could live, but five years in, I'm incredibly content. If you don't count the snow we're getting this week. Sports teams, theater, fine dining, shopping. It's totally different than the world I grew up in. Of course, there are things about small town life that I miss (like not hearing about shootings in almost every morning headline), but I continue to love taking advantage of having access to so much. And one of my favorite things about city life is that there are venues for musicians to perform in. It makes checking the upcoming concert lists pretty exciting. And I know she isn't a big name anymore (was she really ever?), but attending a Jewel concert was definitely a highlight of my weekend. The lowlight, for those keeping track at home, was the downfall of Gonzaga.

Jewel has a fascinating story, an incredibly unique voice, and, as I discovered on Saturday night, a wonderful sense of humor. She was delightful. Much of what she said really resonated with me, particularly a story she told prior to singing the hit 'Hands.' In talking about how much she struggled in her earlier years, she mentioned a point where she really had to ask herself what her actions might mean for her life down the road. She said in that moment she thought about her hands, and how what your hands are doing now can in many ways determine where you end up and the kind of life you lead. Certainly stealing (what she had considered doing in that moment) was a much different path than writing songs, and that's the thought that ultimately turned her life around.

It's a thought that would do us all some good to consider. What are we doing with our time, our lives, our hands? And what opportunities will be open in the future (or not) due to choices we are making now? Not that I can honestly say that I am always productive with my time and smart with my decisions, but this certainly makes me examine both more closely. Definitely got more than I bargained for out of Saturday's concert, and I'm the better for it. Thanks for stopping by, Jewel. I hope "I'm in Cleveland Today" gets sung again soon.


Disasters at the Pump


I was twenty the first time I pumped a tank of gas. This is not unusual for a kid who grew up in Oregon, because in that blessed state you don't pump your own gas. Pretty sure you aren't allowed to. You simply stay in your car and say "Fill it with regular" out the window to the attendant and that's all there is to it. I've met a lot of haters in my life that go on and on about how horrible and lame it would be to stay in your car on a cold day and let someone else deal with the pumping, and I never understand what's not to love about the Oregon way.

The only disadvantage, I suppose, was the day my 20-year-old self ended up alone and on the other side of the Oregon/Idaho border. Not that it's hard to pump gas. But just because you know what to do or even how to do it, that doesn't mean you'll do it well. Or even correctly. (I related this to my first kiss in Schooled.) That day at the pump I managed to do everything correctly, or so I thought, but still no gas came out. Surely after watching me try over and over for quite some time, a voice came over the intercom for all to hear. "YOU HAVE TO PUSH THE START BUTTON!" Which they could have, I don't know, mentioned somewhere.

Last night I had to fill up my tank after leaving the office, and I know I shouldn't sit in the car while I'm waiting for the tank to fill, but it's winter. And I live in Cleveland. About the time I realized it was taking longer than normal to fill was the time I made the connection that the gushing sound I heard was my tank overflowing. How does this even happen? The clicky thing is supposed to click off when the tank is full. I jumped out of the car, rushed over, and figured removing the nozzle would force it to unclick. Au contraire. It was like a fire hose, gas shooting everywhere (over my car, over me), and the only thing I could think to do was scream. Surely something somewhere in the vicinity would spark and my car and person would blow up immediately. "SOMEONE, HELP!!" I shouted, and even though the man who rushed over to help thought I didn't know that the clicky thing stays clicked until released (and consequently thought it was my own cluelessness that had caused the problem), at least he rushed over to help. The clicky thing did eventually unclick, but not before I'd paid a small fortune for the gas now flowing toward the gutter.

And this, ladies and gentleman, is why I write books. Because these things happen to me. It's also why I miss Oregon. One of the many, many reasons. Stay tuned next time for rants on sales tax and snow.


This week only...eating trumps writing.


Restaurant Week is a genius idea. For those who aren't familiar, it's a stretch of 10 days or so where most of the nice restaurants in downtown Cleveland offer special deals and menus. It's the fleetingness of it that inspires me to look forward to it every year, and of course the deals themselves. Three courses for $30. And just to put it in perspective, let's take Lola, for instance, which is arguably one of Cleveland's most well-known restaurants. Thanks to a one Mr. Michael Symon. The last time I ate at Lola, my bill alone (for just me) was $62. So Restaurant Week is a more affordable way to get into some of these upscale places.

This year I made a record number of reservations, and while this wreaked havoc on both my waistline and my bedtime, I'm sad that it's over. It's just so fun to be downtown and see more people there than usual, to look at each feature menu and pick the three-course combination of your choice, to know you're getting a deal. Especially since if you really think about it, three courses is more than you typically eat at dinner, and $30 is still way more than you typically spend. So despite its glamour, all Restaurant Week is really doing is causing you to overeat and overspend. But that doesn't bother me in the least. I'll see you downtown next year.


The Chip Kelly Weekend

Being from Oregon, I'm a huge Ducks fan. One of my first major trials of living in Ohio was, in fact, when Ohio State played Oregon in the Rose Bowl a few years ago. It felt like me verses the entire state of Ohio. Probably because it was. Oregon lost, which was a huge blow, but even worse was enduring the taunts from Ohio State fans who really do think their team is invincible. Fans who the following year when Oregon made it to the national championship game felt---having been the last team to beat Oregon---that Ohio State was still the better team. (What kind of logic is this?) Fans who are sure Ohio State would be winning the championship this year had they been bowl game eligible.

I've lived in Cleveland for almost five years, and while the Ducks are close to my heart, I've never developed much (read: any) affection for the Browns. And hearing rumors of Chip Kelly taking the head coaching job here had me stressed out the majority of the weekend. Surely Chip has created a winning culture in Oregon that could be preserved on some level, but he himself has been a big part of why they continually win, and I, selfishly, would prefer that Oregon keep on winning. Most people in Cleveland were pretty excited about the prospect of Kelly with the Browns, and the mood this morning is a bit dreary, and I've heard more than one person comment on being baffled as to why he wouldn't want to make the jump to the NFL.

I can't speak for Chip, nor am I about to, but this whole idea of lingering in a place or position where you are happy and successful gets more flack than it deserves. I see this a lot in the corporate world as well, where it's sort of assumed that you should want to take that next promotion, move onto bigger and better things, ascend the ladder as quickly as possible. But it takes all kinds, people. Not everyone aspires to hurry to the next step, not everyone aspires to a next step at all. And while I wouldn't be surprised to see Chip move to the NFL someday, I'm also not surprised to see him stay where he is known, loved, clearly at the top of his game, and where there is no sales tax or snow to worry about. Atta boy, Chip. Looking forward to next season.

(And just so you don't think I've given up on writing altogether, I wrote 1000 words this weekend. Not a lot, but it's 1000 words more than I usually get written in a busy weekend.)


Saving the Store

I was alarmed when I saw a "help save an indie bookstore!" message regarding a darling bookstore in Northeast Ohio. Alarmed because I love all indie bookstores, but my heart goes out to Cleveland-area bookstores in particular. Because I know them. And I can't bear to see them in trouble. So I clicked on the link.

In actuality, the "save the bookstore" effort at The Learned Owl Book Shop isn't really about saving the store. It's about helping one of the employees raise enough money for the loan required to buy the place. The owner is selling the business, see, and this would-be buyer, Kate, is seeking donations through a Kickstarter-like program. Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed that the cause wasn't really one of saving the store. Because I have a harder time stomaching the pushing of a personal fund-raising cause amongst my friends and contacts. But let me say this: I've met Kate. She's just about the most delightful person I've worked with at any of the Cleveland-area bookstores, and the signing I did at the Learned Owl a few months ago was so enjoyable, and largely due to Kate and her hospitality. So if preserving the store exactly as it is today means helping Kate reach her goal, then maybe it's about saving the store after all. Plus, I'm a sucker for dreams. And going after them. Wishing the best to Kate.


This Is Not My Book


I knew before I went into this whole thing that my choice of title was not exactly original. Ooodles of Schooled books exist, but it never really deterred me, as I knew from the get go that as a title, it perfectly encapsulated what I wanted to say. So honestly, title duplicity has never given me the slightest amount of heartburn. Until a Cleveland-area teacher decided to publish a scandalously raunchy book by the same title, that is. It's been the talk of Cleveland for the past couple of days, and I can't count the number of people who have come up to me (partly horrified, partly sympathetic, and always in soft, whispered, what-if-she-doesn't-know-yet tones) to ask whether I've heard, how I'm doing, and if I wouldn't rather "not be associated with that title anymore." As if I should what? Re-publish under a new title?

In truth, I suppose I'm sort of annoyed. What business does anyone have writing this crap, especially a teacher? (The book is supposedly about a teacher having sex with her students. It is also supposedly fiction.) I could further ask what business does anyone have reading this crap, but that's another story, and besides, I've already made the decision that while sex-filled books sell like hotcakes, I'd like to think I have more integrity than that. Both as a writer and as a reader. So back to me being annoyed, because now there's scandal associated with a Cleveland-area writer whose book is called Schooled. Oh well. Look on the bright side, Tali. Maybe I'll see a spike in sales from people thinking mine is the trashy one.


Home Fires

I've just returned from a trip home to Oregon. It's the first time I've been back since Schooled came out, and it was a bit of a hero's welcome. Although keep in mind I'm from one of the smallest towns on earth, and most people there don't even read, let alone know that I published a book. So when I say hero's welcome, make of it what you will.

I do have to admit that being home was a little more satisfying now that the book is out. Not that I don't love home every time I go, but writing the book gave me so much time to reflect on all my experiences there, so I've in a sense become more reflective than usual. So when I passed The Ditch last week, I smiled. Ok, well, first I shuddered. Then I smiled. I drove past the Dairy Queen, noticed that there's a new freeway exit being constructed, and even got together with one of my high school friends. (Sabrina if you've read the book.) I guess my point is that the book keeps all my memories about my hometown a lot closer to the surface. And as I sat at my parents' kitchen table eating whole wheat bread, I thought about how fortunate I was (and am) to have the life I do.

I got back to Cleveland just in time for the Larchmere Festival, which includes an "Author's Alley" which was exactly that: an alley lined with local authors who are selling their books. And it's an interesting thing trying to sell a book in this type of setting. Because when you buy jewelry or art from a festival, you know exactly what you're getting. If you like it and and it's what you want, then you buy it. But when perusing tables of books (all being sold at full price), you want to be more careful. Because even if you like a book's description, it's sort of a gamble. We are, after all, virtual unknowns. And most people don't want to deal with that kind of which-of-these-books-should-I-buy pressure on the spot like that. Or maybe it was the 100 degree heat. Either way, most people went around taking the advertising materials from each author and then headed home to, I assume, more carefully analyze the selection and then order the one they want online while sitting in an air-conditioned house. And I can't blame them one bit.

Being in the company of so many local authors was encouraging. Not because I've been reminded that we will eventually recoup our investments and become profitable writers. Quite the contrary. Because if there's anything that no-name writers agree on, it's that you don't write for money. Because you don't make any. So I guess the encouraging part was meeting other people who are as crazy as I am when it comes to writing. I mean, only an idiot would actually go through the trouble of publishing a book when the odds of making money at it are slim to none. (Read: None.) But there's something endearing about people who press on anyway; about people who write because they can't not write. So the next time you come across a summer festival featuring books by local authors, buy one. Hell, go crazy and buy two. Even if it's 100 degrees outside. I promise it will make the author's day.