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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
APR
17

On Not Working

I recently took a week off of work to stay home and do nothing. Well, I did sneak out to check out the Carlsbad Flower Fields (where I snagged the blooms pictured above). So I didn't entirely stay home. And I did go through my new manuscript 4 times to re-work some paragraphs and transitions after getting it back from my editor. So I didn't entirely do nothing. But I honestly couldn't remember a time where I'd ever done that before...took a week off work and didn't actually go anywhere.

I highly recommend it.

The thing about not working but getting paid for it is that there is literally nothing better. I mean, who wouldn't love to not have to work? But most of us have to provide for ourselves. It's one of the complaints I bring up in this new book...the frustration around people who reference working girls as "career women," as if there is any other type of woman for us to be.

And speaking of this new book, one of the last edits I made before turning it into my editor was a revision to the section where I talk about the notion of being a workaholic. I am decidedly NOT one, even though I draw satisfaction from the work I do, so I try and limit work to 8 hours a day as much as possible. In making the point that I like working, just not all the time, there's a line in the book where I had said, "I want to work, just not for more than 8 hours a day." Yet the line didn't sit quite right. Because I wish I didn't have to work. I wish I could have more weeks like the one I just had, sitting in my house editing a manuscript with an occasional outing to appreciate the beauty of nature.

"I want to work--and by that I mean I most definitely don't want to work..." is the beginning of how I ended up amending the sentence to make it more accurate. It's sitting better with me now, having admitted that I wish I didn't have to work at all. Alas, it's our lot. So we'll have to settle for quick trips to the flower fields of life whenever we can get away. My suggestion is to take those trips whenever you can get them, to carve specific time out just for this, and to not feel guilty about a few days away from the office. It will all be there when you get back, just as you left it. The flowers, on the other hand, are fleeting. So go. See them. Then come back and make any revisions you need to.

FEB
10

Modern Love

Love is such a mess. Seriously. In some ways I've struggled over the years with this realization, and in other ways I've felt relief over it. See, I used to think that love should be easy. That if it weren't, then the couple shouldn't be together. I mean, you shouldn't have to work at something as blissful as love, right? Certainly not work hard. I've had my fair share (like, one) of relationships that are what I would consider blissful, in that we seemed to always be on the same page, never fight, and not find ourselves frequently rehashing similar disagreements. I think there are definitely couples out there who function at this level, a level that is (seemingly) more effortless than the rest of us. I'm happy for these people. I'm just not one of them.

Many of my relationships have involved more challenging situations, keeping in mind that when I say challenging, I'm referring only to differences, both in personality and backgrounds. I'm a person who has never been looking for the easiest option when it comes to relationships, so these differences are not automatically what I would consider to be dealbreakers. But they take work, and I don't think there's any shame in admitting that. I wish more people would talk about it. That relationships are hard. And why shouldn't they be? Spending a shit-ton of time with the same person, one who comes at things from a completely different lens, values and prioritizes differently than you, and can't read your mind? How is that not going to take work? When a friend recently posted about her milestone wedding anniversary by saying that in addition to there being no one she has more fun with, more connection to, or more love for, there is also no one who makes her more frustrated, no one she disagrees with more, and no one else she gets so mad at, I felt like it was one of the most beautiful tributes I'd ever read. That, my friends, is love.

I think what I've found refreshing is the mutual desire to persevere through these differences, to even embrace and celebrate them. Besides, at least for me (a person who FEELS things deeply and in fact rather enjoys the sometimes dramatic travails of life if for no other reason than they trigger growth and force one to acknowledge her own aliveness), I value our ability to experience emotional extremes as so incredibly human. What other species can feel and process to such extremes and in such detail, or evaluate and then make decisions from these feelings in the same complex ways that we do? It's rather quite glorious. 

I've recently read all the Modern Love books (collections of the Modern Love essays from the New York Times), and, along with the collections of Moth stories, they were just about my favorite things I've ever read. They, the stories, are almost all unbelievably messy, exploring aspects of love from the non-traditional to the tragic to the sweet to the devastating to the, yes, I'll say it, hard. Is it always worth it? Does it always work out? But does it even have to? I'm a fan regardless, of the journeys, the struggles, the work, the rewards, the reminders that we are never so fortunate than when we have love.

FEB
15

Valentine

It’s early. The part of the relationship where he sends me flowers and I shave my legs a lot. I’m sure both of these will change as time goes on, but for now, it’s that delicious beginning I spoke so fondly of in Fooled. The part where you’re not far enough in it yet to have botched it/discovered a dealbreaker/gotten cold feet. The part where you’ve got nothing on him but unadulterated hope.

It does become harder as we get older, I think. Harder to give up the “me”-ness we get so attached to as long-term singletons. Harder still to not become pessimistic about love, even as you’re beginning a new relationship. Because odds are, it won’t work out. If you’re a long-term singleton, it literally never has. It’s not so much the trite notion of it only taking one that buoys me up, even though it does. It’s that hoping each new relationship is The One is really the only chance we have that it ever will be.

So try. Don’t worry about keeping other options open, about hedging your bets, about back-up plans. Don’t worry about the last time, about all the times, about the time yet to come when you might lose him. Don’t worry about time at all, or eggs, or about what you think you should want. Want this. Nothing else. And maybe you’ll get it.