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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
JAN
03

The Things You Keep

You're looking at the activity that perhaps took the largest percentage of my childhood: tying lanyards. Or, lanyard "lacing," as I so alliteratively called it on the small slips of paper with my name and phone number that I printed en masse to hand out to my friends. I also printed order forms, with blank spaces for things like the customer's name and the agreed upon price, as well as the selected colors and styles of pattern. So much about it appealed to me, in that it was something creative, something I could make with my hands, and something I could ultimately sell. A business, if you will. Complete with beads and hooks and a whole host of colored string options, it was all housed in a red, compartment-filled tin box.

I wouldn't necessarily have been able to recall how seriously I took my craft had it not been for the chance I had over Christmas to go through all the boxes of stuff I saved from my childhood. The boxes have been sitting in my parents' garage for decades, things from elementary school all the way up to through college. These are things like school papers, yearbooks, clothes, stuffed animals, collectible frogs from the years when I had a thing for collectible frogs, college textbooks, random vintage mugs picked up at thrift stores, etc. My main objective was to purge, to go through the boxes and decide what I wanted to keep vs. throw/give away, and what struck me as I sorted through everything was how delightful it was to be reminded of all these things that had once been important to me. The things I saved, the things I collected, the things I couldn't quite bring myself to part with. It's the memories they brought, of course, but also just the reminder of other phases of life. Things I had perhaps forgotten. Like how damn obsessed I was with those lanyards.

Is it sad that I ended up throwing or giving away probably 95% of everything in the boxes, including the lanyards? I think the answer you're looking for is yes. It's sad. It feels like my whole life just gone, with no way to now remember things like what my teachers said in the letters of recommendation they wrote for my scholarship applications or the songs my sister played at her violin recital or the note my co-star wrote on my program on the closing night of our high school performance of The Music Man. There's no way to remember them now, or to remind myself of them say ten, twenty, or thirty years from now when going through all the boxes again might have provided the same kind of delight. But the other side of coin, and one that cannot be ignored, is that I hadn't needed or really thought about anything in those boxes for, in most cases, decades. So what good was it doing me to have them sitting there, taking up space and collecting dust? What advantage would they serve at some future point in my life? It's this lens I used when considering each item, making it surprisingly easy to get rid of almost everything. It reminded me of moving to New York City several years ago, how I'd had to get rid of about 90% of what I owned in order to move to a tiny studio apartment. It was a similar decision process, in that only my favorite and most-used things were kept. I had to keep that filter in play or else I would get sad over parting with so much.

And so I'm focusing on the fact that the things I donated will hopefully find second, more useful lives with other people and families. I'm focusing on the memory of having gone through the boxes. After all, when I mentioned to the BF on the way back to the airport that I always pictured going through those boxes someday and them making me happy, he responded with, "And you got that. You got it today." It's sooner than I planned I guess, but he's right. I got that, and if happiness was the goal, then the whole endeavor was a complete success.

DEC
15

Launch Aftermath

Aftermath is probably the wrong word, but it's always interesting as an author to go through the first couple of months after a book launch. Of course, my circle of readers and fans is quite small, so take anything I say with a grain of reality salt, but it's nice to hear tidbits of feedback as they come in from readers. I heard from a friend on the east coast that she'd just finished Newbie and loved it. A coworker bought a copy and asked me to sign it. My sweet mother bought a bunch of copies to give as Christmas gifts. I donated a book basket at a Christmas party auction last weekend and the lady who won contacted me through my website and told me how excited she is. And this picture was taken from a recent work trip where one of our client attendees brought in her copy for me to sign.

I mention these, and revel in them so much, because my aforementioned small readership means I don't get too many of them. So I feel ridiculously tickled every time it happens, knowing each happy reader is something extraordinarily special to me. Should you ever find yourself with a copy of one of my books and enjoy it, of course I hope you'll tell someone else about it, but I also hope you'll drop me a line and tell me what parts make you smile. I guarantee it will make my day.

AUG
18

Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

While in New York City last week, I posted on social media about the world feeling heavy right now, about the Mrs. Maisel pop-up exhibit at the Paley Center for Media reminding me how refreshing it is to laugh. In response to this, I had a friend ask me if everything was OK, as if perhaps I had hinted at some sort of life meltdown or tragedy by posting such a thing. But I'd been referring to the world in general as being heavy. Headlines, almost all of them, seem too much to bear on most days. And it can't be ignored. So what are any of us to do to feel happy?

While pondering this question I thought about, well, Disneyland, but I also thought about television, about how TV shows can serve as an escape for 30 or 60 minute intervals. And yet let's consider many of today's popular shows. I'm currently in season 6 of Game of Thrones. A great show, and I'm invested, but it's so violent, and so intense. Or how about Killing Eve? Also a good show, a great one, but equally intense, and downright disturbing. And speaking of disturbing, there's Handmaid's Tale. So, see, even the shows we turn to for an escape provide situations and circumstances that are just as heavy. 

That's why The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is so treasured. It's light, it's funny, and it reminds us of a simpler time. And what I find so enjoyable is that it's not as if there aren't crappy things happening, because there are. But it's the way the show and the characters carry on, navigating uncharted waters and doing their best to go after what they want. The Paley Center's exhibit is worth a look if you find yourself in Manhattan in the next few weeks. It will make you smile, laugh, and stay in the center's auditorium watching episodes on the big screen much longer than you'd planned. Tits up, everyone. There's always something to smile about.

AUG
25

Anais Nin and a Writing Update

 

After several thousand more words, I'm officially 70% done with my new manuscript. Since my last update at 60%, I've been writing a lot about my months of gemology studies in New York City. Despite some city stresses, it was such a happy time of life. One of my favorite things I've ever done, and writing about it--everything from the little gemology lab I set up in my apartment to the worksheets on which I used to scribble out my always-imperfect assignments--has made me remember how much I loved it. It's brought me back to those places, to that time, to those hundreds of gemstones that I studied and identified. 

It reminds me of that saying. By that I mean the one on the notebook I was given as a gift. "We write to taste life twice." It's Anais Nin, and it's so accurate. When writing about something true, something that actually happened to us, or should have happened to us, or that we watched happen to someone else, we go back there. We feel a glimmer of how we felt at the time. We craft the words that best describe these glimmers for those who weren't there, for those who wouldn't have felt what we felt in those moments. I highly doubt it would have given any of you a thrill to study a new box of gemstones each day, or to get the fancy pair of diamond tweezers you wanted for Christmas, or to pass a test you've been working toward for years that requires a perfect score. But if I, in my thousands of words, can help you see these glimmers and how they look and feel to me, then we're all richer for having seen a slice of life the way someone else experienced it. So, back to the manuscript.