follow tali on ...

the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
FEB
15

Post V-Day Post

b2ap3_thumbnail_ESB.jpg

Ah, the day of love. I don’t know why it’s any tougher for singletons to get through than any other day of the year. We are, after all, always alone. And not having a love on this one day seems far less gutting than not having a love for, you know, the entire year. And yet. V-day always seems tougher. Especially here in the city where there are so many more people, and, by extension, couples. Today I’ve seen countless men walking through the streets with flowers in their arms. On their way to the hands of some adored companion. On the subways, it’s the same thing. Even the long line of people at the drugstore today opting for cards and cheap chocolates seemed worlds more fortunate than I—the girl buying Kleenex, cough drops, and Nyquil to battle the epic sickness that seems to overcome me every Valentine’s Day.

But as any single girl has to, at some point today must be recognized not as the day of lovers, but rather as the day of love. And I’ve certainly got plenty of that. My family is as wonderful as they come, my friends plentiful and sincere, and last night while gazing up at the Empire State Building and its glorious, festive display of red, I was reminded not just of how loved I am, but of how many people in this world mean so very much to me. Today and always.

OCT
02

For Cleveland

b2ap3_thumbnail_CLE.jpg

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.

 

 

AUG
14

The Jewelry Effect

b2ap3_thumbnail_matching-game.jpg

It doesn't have a great effect on book sales, I can tell you that. In fact, full disclosure, it's a bit discouraging how much more difficult it is to sell Jeweled than Schooled. Especially when very close to all people who I've heard from who have read both say they actually like Jeweled better. (Even the San Francisco Review liked it better. See this post:The 5-star Book Review ) But out in the world, to the general public, convincing them to read a book that looks every bit like it will be entirely about jewelry is not easy. Even trying to describe Jeweled has me fumbling over my words. You just can't sum it up as concisely (or as universally relatably) as a book about school. Let's try it, shall we?

It's my life in jewelry.

It's life from the eyes of a jewelry lover.

It's a look at the jewelry industry through the eyes of a jewelry lover.

It's a look at life, love, and family through a series of stories and reflections about jewelry and the impact it has on all of us.

It's a series of stories about jewelry and the effect it has on life, love, and family.

The life, love, and family is sort of what gets lost here when I find myself explaining to people what Jeweled is about. Remember, that's what one of my early readers called me up about as soon as he'd finished reading...that the back of the book did nothing to capture the true sentiment of the book, which is actually about life and love.

Still, I like Jeweled better. If for no other reason than it is much more unique to me and my life and passion. I mean, how often do you meet a girl who throws jewelry-themed parties where the guests are forced to play matching games involving diamond cuts? (And how often does said girl become secretly appalled when all of the guests positively *suck* at this game? I mean, what self-respecting adult woman doesn't know that April's birthstone is the diamond? Or that the skinny, football-shaped cut is called a marquise?) Next time, they should read up beforehand. I know just the book.

 

JUL
22

Why I Miss Carrie Bradshaw

b2ap3_thumbnail_carrie.jpg

Are there certain TV shows you’ll watch the reruns of no matter how many times you may have seen the episode before? I’m going to trust that no matter who you are, the answer is yes. There’s always That One Show. For me there are a handful that I’ll sit and chuckle at all these years later, but the one that most often has me sitting through seasons past is Sex and the City.

It’s a show I miss terribly. It’s not the sex. It’s not even the city. OK, maybe it’s a little bit the city, but mostly it’s Carrie Bradshaw and her literary musings about life and love…and being a singleton. Seriously, and I’m not making this up, I feel like I learned a lot from Carrie. Or maybe it’s just that so much of what she said rings true with me. And maybe I’m revealing too much about myself (or maybe it’s just that what I’m revealing is pathetic), but little Carrie snippets come to mind all the time as I go about my life. Most recently during an elevator chat with some co-workers about all the money I shell out as a single, childless person for wedding and baby gifts for other people. It’s not that I mind it, because I quite enjoy giving and celebrating the happiness of others, but as Carrie points out (remember the episode where she registers at Manolo Blahnik…for herself) life as a single girl doesn’t present any opportunities for your friends to repay the favor.

And so this is all to say that if this past weekend found me getting sucked into the SATC marathon on E! (it did), don’t be alarmed. If I come back and watch the DVRed final two episodes again before the week is out (I will), don’t even worry about it. If doing either of these things makes me cry even one time (it does), promise you won’t think me any less of a competent professional. Deal?

JUN
21

The Longest Year

b2ap3_thumbnail_treesansblossoms.jpg

A year ago today I did my first full read-through of the newly-completed Jeweled. I remember this because of a sad event that occurred in my life immediately after I finished this read-through. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

There’s a tree in my front yard, the kind of tree that blossoms every spring. The weeks when the tree is in bloom are my favorite of the whole year, and I’ll often stop and stare out the front window at the sea of fluffy pink. The tree is so tall that the blossoms also fill the windows of my bedroom upstairs. I look forward to this every spring, but with such a long and heinous winter this year, it didn’t surprise me that April came and went with no blossoms. May, too. Mother Nature was just a bit behind schedule. Polar Vortexes can do that. Coming up on July now though, it’s finally occurred to me that the beating all living things took this winter may in fact have killed my tree.

It’s a sad thing to realize the highlight of such a beautiful season won’t ever come back. That there will be no more blossoms. That some precious, beautiful ability has been unable to withstand the impact of a traumatic event. An event I had no control over that has now forever altered every future spring; left them to seemingly always be worse than they once were. It is maddening, it is unfair, and it is certainly tragic, but at the end of the day, there is still a tree in my front yard. And it has managed to grow some leaves. Vibrant, green leaves. Not as appealing as fluffy pink blossoms, but they are proof enough of life. Not just that it goes on, but that it never left. It’s just different. And maybe even—someday—better. Leaves, after all, do mean potential, and who’s to say what future springs will bring?

This is what I am telling myself one year later. I miss the blossoms, spring was definitely different without them, and should they ever reappear it would quite possibly *make* my life, but I can’t continue mourning their loss. Besides, the season has changed, and I’m putting my money on summer.

JUN
15

For Dad

b2ap3_thumbnail_dad.jpg

My dad is a man of relatively few words, and being raised in a home with multiple siblings, it wasn't always easy (or common) to get time with just him. I never felt slighted, no person with my childhood could, but the memories I have of Me & Dad time are special. As is any connection that just he and I shared, for that matter. Like the story in Jeweled about the jewelry gifts he gave me...it was something he did on his own, just for me.

I'm writing my third book right now, and last week I was writing about a big decision I faced more than a decade ago. Teetering on making what I thought was the right choice but for all the wrong reasons, my dad offered (in a manner of two succinct sentences) some counsel that not only changed my decision but also my outlook on all future decisions on the same topic. It was pretty profound to ponder this week on how different my life would be right now had he not spoken up. In fact, when I think back on, say, the top 5 most important things anyone has ever said to me, I'm pretty sure they all come from my dad. For being a man of few words, he sure has a knack for making them count.

On this day and always, I am a lucky daughter.

 

JUN
03

On Love

b2ap3_thumbnail_brownpenny.jpg

The feedback from early readers is that most of them like Jeweled better than Schooled. I confess this is very surprising to me, as I figured the universality of school would ultimately leave readers more satisfied than a book about jewelry…which, admittedly, is something most people don’t know about, care about, or wish to read about.

I heard from someone over the weekend who told me he liked the new book ten times better than Schooled (praise, indeed!), but his one complaint was the back cover copy, which he felt didn’t really capture the spirit of the book. (Let me just say right now that deciding on the back cover copy is much harder than actually writing the book.) What this reader was saying is that while the back cover copy focuses on the gems and the jewelry, the book is really held together by the stories I tell about love and marriage and family.

A bit of an A-ha moment, as I hadn’t really thought about this book as being held together by love (although I do say in the book that the connection to love is one of my favorite things about jewelry). As I’ve thought about this over the days since my conversation with this reader, I suppose this might be why people are more pulled to this book than I predicted they would be. Here I thought I wrote a book about jewelry, when the overarching theme ended up being one that’s exponentially more universal.

MAY
11

The Lanyard

b2ap3_thumbnail_ducks.jpg

This poem has special meaning to me. Not just because of all the lanyards I tied in my childhood, but also because it of course makes me think of my mom. Oh, and it's also hilarious. So Happy Mother's Day to all the women out there. (Shot above brought to you circa 1985.)

APR
07

If/Then

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_nycview.jpg

Today is my birthday. I'd say that my age is starting to approach a point where birthdays bring up more dread than excitement, but that isn't really how I feel. Because these thirty-something years are worth celebrating. They are everything. They are me. And I like myself much more now than I ever did when I was younger. It's like I once heard a woman say when discussing the appearance of wrinkles on her face...she said they represented the life she had lived, so why would she be bothered by them?

This particular birthday does find me more pensive than usual, if for no other reason than since my last birthday, I've had my first experience with true heartbreak. And holidays in general make it very easy to compare our lives to previous years. Last year, my boyfriend gave me the sweetest and most perfect birthday gift. Last year, I was pretty convinced we would get married. Last year, I was the happiest I had ever been in my life. This year, I am alone. This year, I miss him. This year, what the f**k?

I'm in NYC today, which by now you should know how much I love this city. I went to see Idina Menzel's new show yesterday, and the whole thing centers around decisions and the impacts those decisions--even small ones--have on our lives. What if I'd never moved to Cleveland? What it I hadn't taken that job? What if I'd left that party ten minutes earlier and never met that man or answered that phone call or sent that text. Or whatever. As the show ultimately says, we only get one life, so we have to let the rest of the "other me's" go, but the theme that most resonated with me as I sat listening yesterday was the idea that when disaster strikes our decisions, does that mean we would have chosen differently? In other words, if you knew something would fall apart and leave you irreversibly devastated, would you have made a different decision? I'm in Camp No, as I believe anyone who's smart should be, though admittedly it's hard to stick to your guns on that when heartbreak has you constantly aware of everything you've lost.

Ultimately the show encourages us to love while we can. Whenever, wherever, however, and I do believe that's a solid message. Especially in a world where when it comes to love, we tend to give up way too soon. We tend to shy away from things that seem hard or complicated. It's not just that it seems easier to walk away, it's that it is easier to walk away. And if easy and less complicated trump the satisfaction and contentment of being with someone who truly makes you better, then by all means, walk away. But first, go see this show. It might change your mind.

 

 

 

NOV
28

Grateful

b2ap3_thumbnail_bridge.jpg

In thinking today about what I’m grateful for, my mind went back to the moment a few months ago when I snapped this picture. The man I loved had just decided to break up with me instead of propose, and I was completely undone. Questioning everything from my actions to my attributes, in that moment all I knew was that it hadn’t been enough. That I hadn’t been enough. Which is why seeing these words scrawled on the side of the Brooklyn Bridge as I walked across stopped me in my tracks.

I won’t say these months have been easy ones. As horribly not-put-together as this makes me sound, I still miss him. Us. But if I’m grateful for anything today, it is the resilience of the human spirit. I’m grateful for support, even if it comes from far away. Grateful for the chance to take new paths, even if they aren’t the ones I would have chosen. Grateful that the things we have will always trump those we do not. Grateful to feel so blessed, today and always.

MAY
05

Brown Penny

b2ap3_thumbnail_brownpenny.jpg

In a college English class years ago, we had to at one point recite a poem from memory. I picked Yeats' Brown Penny, partly because I think it's my favorite poem, and partly (mostly) because it was the shortest one I could find that still met the length requirement of the assignment.

I've been thinking about Brown Penny lately. It's a poem about love that manages to come across as delightfully sweet and hopeful without dripping with cliche or dragging on. It's a poem that I cannot think of without letting out a contended sigh. It's a poem I keep on my fridge to this day. And if you've ever seen Must Love Dogs, it's the poem that Christopher Plummer recites at his birthday party. Find that clip, watch it right now, and I'm pretty sure you'll hear yourself sigh.