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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.

The City that Never Sleeps. Ever.


Since moving to New York, I've never slept so horribly. It really all boils down to one reason, and it's because no one else sleeps either. I'm being completely serious. I fall asleep each night (after much tossing and turning and shaking my fist at the wall) to the sound of the TV blaring from the apartment next to me. That might not sound very unusual, but when I wake up at 2:00 AM, and, let's be honest, again at 4:00 AM and maybe a few more times in between, this woman is still watching TV. The drone of TV voices and movie scores is constant. I hear the same types of noises from downstairs as well, only the woman downstairs--in addition to having it in for my cat--has some type of symphonic stereo system, and whenever there's something on the TV or radio that she thinks the whole building ought to hear (usually breaking news about terrorists), she hooks that thing up and lets it rip. I once ran into the news-blaring, cat-hating woman at the door of our building. It was midnight. I was just returning from Times Square where I had seen a show. She was just returning from doing her grocery shopping. Groceries! At midnight! What are these lives people live??

My window overlooks a garden and courtyard area, and across the courtyard is another apartment building. Most people don't close their blinds (including me), which means at night, my walls are lit up by the various flashes and colors from all the cross-courtyard big-screen TVs. There's one in particular that is truly spectacular, and I find myself looking up and over through this window throughout the day. Not so much because of its size, but because I'm amazed that I've never once seen that TV turned off. It is literally always on. Whether children's cartoons, children and adult video games, movies, or TV shows, that television is a part of every moment of that family's daily life. I certainly indulge in a little TV myself, usually reruns of The Big Bang Theory or Gilmore Girls (did I tell you about the time I ran into Alexis Bledel in Lord & Taylor??), but all the TVs around me make me grateful that it's not a huge part of my life. Grateful that there's a stack of library books on my table. Grateful that each day's to-do list includes things like gemology assignments and finishing the next chapter of my manuscript. Grateful to have hobbies and pursuits and interests outside of the tube. (That said, do you think the people across the courtyard would be open to having guests over for March Madness? Asking for a friend.)


No. 1 Seed


I love March Madness. I really do. Considering that I much prefer the NBA to college ball, it really all just comes down to the competition of it all; the fact that with a bracket, I get to have my own say. And I like winning things. Especially coming off of my Oscar season ballot (which, incidentally, didn't do so well for me this year...stupid Birdman sweeping in and winning everything), I'm partial to major events on which I can wager a guess...and potentially perform better than all my friends. (Note: I have only won a March Madness pool once, and it was quite possibly the best day of my life.)

Of course there's a more wistful reason why I love March Madness, the simple reason being that doing well requires you to bet against the odds. True that no 16 seed has ever beat a 1 seed, but there also hasn't been a single year where all four no. 1 seeds made it to the final four. So, see? It's a competition that actually requires risk-taking in order to be successful. And to me, that's a good parallel for life. Of course, you're talking to the girl that recently quit her job in order to pursue a dream, so of course you're going to get that from me. The point is, we should take more risks. The trouble with the bracket is that there are so many potential upsets that it's hard to know which ones to choose. And so we go with the safest, surest path (picking all no. 1 seeds) because we're not sure what else to do and we just want to minimize the damage.

I'll certainly be the first to admit that no one is ever sure. You can research, you can have hunches, you can have favorites, but at the end of the day, you can't know. You just have to start picking. And if you pick only the top seeds, you are guaranteed to be wrong. Guaranteed. So think about that. Not only as you fill out your bracket, but also as you approach this next season of life. Pick a few upsets. They might pay off.


Why I Will Get No Writing Done This Weekend


Early yesterday afternoon I sent a depressed message to one of my fellow basketball-loving cousins in Oregon.

"0 for 1. I picked Valpo to upset. I suck at this."

He offered some comforting words that I proceeded to shoot down in equally pessimistic style, and then in the 5:00 hour he sent me this:

"The Valpo loss would be frustrating. What's the word for a Marquette loss though? Might want to go find your happy place."

I have Marquette in the final four, and at the time he sent me the message, I was in total freak out mode. I couldn't even watch. I was out getting take-out, and he proceeded to send me updates.

"1 min dav up 3 with ball."

*biting nails while in lobby waiting for food*

"mar up with 1 sec left...dav ball."

*pacing, phone 2 inches from face waiting for the next update. Others waiting for food notice I am distractedly wrapped up in something. And possibly crazy.*

"Marq wins by 1....breathe easy."

The "YES!!!" I erupted with at this announcement was very closely synched with the moment when they called my name at the order-up window, and surely no one has ever seemed more excited to be presented with a take-out meal. People were staring, so I offered a simple, "Marquette wins!!" No one seemed to care or think I was less crazy, but to these people, I say this: You are missing out.

Of course, then New Mexico went down. So cousin, you can expect another depressing message from me today. 'Tis the season.




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.