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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
DEC
02

Manuscript #4: Done

Every weekend I put "write" on my to-do list, which is why this weekend is significant. It's the first time in a couple of years that "write" has been replaced with "edit." Because my fourth manuscript is officially done. There's a lot of work still to do, but I cannot emphasize what a big deal it is to get the writing all down. To finish the last few paragraphs and know that you've come to the natural stopping place. That it all feels done. 

Of course, for me, when I say the manuscript is done, this doesn't mean that it's ready to hand over. I have months of editing to do, not to mention organization and chronology, since I'm the odd memoir writer who does not write in anything resembling chronological order. I just pick a piece or scene or topic and write it up, then pick another one the next time I get a chance to write. So right now it's not in the order I want it to be for you readers. 

Like I said, there's more work to do, but my goal was to have the first draft, to have all the book's innards, written by the end of the year. It feels like a Christmas present to myself that I was able to follow through. Bring on the editing. And also that beach walk.

OCT
26

Manuscript Babies

 

This picture was taken without my knowledge while at Disneyland last week with a certain little person in my life. This little person is quite different than his older brother, whom I took to Disneyland last year, and as a person with no little people of my own, the differences between the personalities of little people is not something I’m able to observe very often. That’s one reason why last week was such a surprise to me. I was expecting the week to go much differently. Neither worse nor better, it was just different. Because they are different. We spent much more time observing details than we did careening down mountains. And I have no complaints about that.

When it comes to differences, I can’t even really compare animals because I only have one (best girl I have, that’s what I tell her). So that leaves me—the childless cat-lady author—with nothing but manuscripts to compare. True that they are my babies, in a way only someone without children would say. True that they exist because of me. That they make me worry and cry and stress and don’t make me any money. That I love them all unconditionally. That they are each my favorite but for very different reasons.

I’ve been making steady progress on my new manuscript, up to 90% finished now. 90%!!! It’s that weird part of the writing process where you’re so close to being done (exciting!) but long finished with your favorite and best parts (demotivating!). See, I don’t write my manuscripts in chronological order. I don’t write from start to finish. I make a list (which constantly changes) of things I know I’ll want to include in the book, and then I pick one and write it up. Then pick another. And another. But I’m no fool. And I pick the things I want to write about most first. If that sentence sounded strange, what I mean is I first pick the things I most want to write about. The Goods. The Juice. The Triumph. The Bitch Who Lived Downstairs.

Which means I’m left now with the dregs, if you will. The stuff I keep passing over each time I select a topic to write. The stuff I haven’t chosen until now. It’s not bad. It’s just not the stuff I couldn’t wait to write down. But the end is near, and that’s pretty incredible. A new sibling to my other manuscripts, one which I’m sure to love equally and with abandon. Even if he takes cross-eyed selfies when I’m not looking.

SEP
30

Pining for Seasons

There's a framed picture on my bedroom wall of a group of people ice skating in Central Park. It's a print actually, a creative artist's depiction of a whimsical and vibrant city. The people are thin, colorful, their limbs like sticks that dangle in front of or behind them as they glide along the ice. They are bundled, wearing scarves and jackets, a cityscape of buildings towering behind them. 

I look at this picture often, as well as the two others in my room by the same artist, one of the Brooklyn Bridge and one of the Empire State building, but today it seemed to transport me back to winter in New York. I never did ice skate in Central Park while I lived there, but New York was the last place I lived where I experienced seasons. Not that there's much to complain about here in San Diego, with its nearly year-round temperatures in the seventies, but that doesn't leave much room for seasonality, so I end up manufacturing experiences to make myself FEEL the changes of the season.

Last weekend I drove to Julian, a darling little mountain town just over an hour away. They're known for their apples, most famously their apple pie (although the bread pudding pictured in this post is the town's best kept secret), and fall is often littered with various apple-themed festivals. And so I attended last weekend's Old Country Fair, filled with a charming collection of booths, food, a pumpkin patch, and hayrides. I even paid for a special ticket that let me press my own apples and drink the fresh cider, something I'd never done before. It was delicious. Despite the 90 degree weather (shouldn't it be cooler in the mountains?), I felt like I was making fall happen. And when you live in a state of permanent summer, these things are important. I doubt there will be any ice skating in my near future, or any pie baking, but I'm sure I'll continue to stare at the print on my bedroom wall, missing that sensation of wind against bundled ears and the need to zip up my jacket all way to the top. Or, you know, wear a jacket at all.

Happy Fall, readers!

 

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.

AUG
05

Breakfast at Tiffany's

As soon as I heard that luxury mammoth Tiffany & Co had opened a cafe in their flagship Fifth Avenue store, I was desperate to go. This is, after all, the girl who showed up early the morning that Tiffany's finally opened a store in Cleveland to have a pastry and hot chocolate in the parking lot. Breakfast at Tiffany's. Of course, actually getting a reservation at Blue Box Cafe is easier said than done. I can, in fact, think of almost nothing I've experienced in recent years that has caused me more frustration. Except my company switching from Aetna to United Healthcare. To hopefully save you some of this frustration, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Reservations must be made online, through Resy. Don't think you can do it by phone. Don't think you can show up and hope someone cancels. No one cancels. And you'll be waiting all day.

Install the Resy app. I tried just setting up an account online, like on my computer, and then when clicking a time to book, Tiffany's website would take me to Resy where I could then login to confirm the reservation. The problem is that it only takes a few seconds each morning for that day's reservations to be taken. Gone. Booked. So unless you put the actual Resy app on your phone, saving you the steps of logging in and entering your credit card number, you'll never be fast enough. So get the Resy app. It's the only way.

Reservations for a particular day open for booking 30 days before that day. So, roughly, reservations for August 1 are able to be made on July 1. You've probably noticed that this makes it near impossible to try to plan a trp around it, as you typically need more than 30 days to do that. Also keep in mind the reservations open at 9AM eastern (6AM pacific if you're as lucky as I am), and like I said, they'll be gone in seconds, so get yourself ready to work it first thing in the morning, 30 days before the day you want.

Sign up for notifications. Since you inevitably won't get a reservation, sign up to be notified if any slots open up on the day you're looking for. It will amaze you how many times this happens. That you get sent a notification that the table you want is now available. It will also amaze you that no matter how quickly you click "reserve" to snag the slot, it will already be taken by the time the screen loads. This happened at least 20 times in my quest to get a reservation, and only after all those missed opportunities did I finally snag the cancelled spot before anyone else. So keep trying. Keep those notifications on. 

Don't worry about time of day. All sections of the menu, even breakfast, are available all day. I had a 1PM reservation, but I wanted Breakfast at Tiffany's. And I got it.

Prepare to be underwhelmed by the food and overwhelmed by the charm. Let's face it. Food is not a strength of a luxury jewelry chain. I'd be concerned if it were. So you could sum up your meal by saying it's a lot of hassle and money for a mediocre croissant. But it won't really matter. Because that's not why you're there. You're there for the experience. For the swoony feeling, the charm of the robin's egg dishes (that you can, incidentally, buy just outside the cafe in the housewares department), for the cucumber sandwich tray. Besides, when it comes to charm, does it get any better than this: Waitress: "Do you want to see the dessert menu?" Tali: "I mean, I just had a waffle, but yes I do."

JUL
08

Because I Also Write Books

It's easy to forget that, especially because there are so many other things to talk about on this blog. Like LeBron. And gemstones. And the fact that I've fallen in love which is totally cutting into my writing time. (Worth it, by the way.) But I do write books. 

I'm currently 60% done with my next manuscript. This will be my fourth book, and 60% feels significant. It feels like we're getting somewhere. And I probably say this with every book (someone should really look into this), but I'm pretty sure this one is my favorite. While the other three each follow a certain theme throughout my entire life thus far, this book is about a single, brief period of my life. It's about a thing I always wanted to do. It's about me doing it, loving/hating it, and ultimately leaving it behind. It's just focused differently...in a way my first three books are not. And I'm also exploring the idea of experimenting with chronology on this one, so you have that to dread look forward to when the time comes.

All good stuff. I like writing so much. I'm grateful it's one of the many aspects of my life. Even if it almost never gets top billing. On this blog or anywhere else. Some things we do simply because we must. Because we are called. Because they are there. Because if we don't, who will ever know that these things happened to us? That we had these feelings? That we dreamed dreams and took risks and failed a lot?

Which is all to say, I'm looking forward to the next 40%.  

JAN
14

Recovery

I don't think I do surgery well. Who does, you ask? I guess people who have more surgery than I do. There were many, many, many painful and annoying things that have come along with the past ten days of recovery, but I suppose if there's one thing being stuck in bed is good for, it's making progress on your new manuscript. I'm happy to say it's probably about 25% done. Still so much further to go, but it's progress. I just need about a half dozen more surgeries.

Seriously though, one of my 2018 goals is to write more. 2017 was a record low writing year for me, a combination of a high reading goal and a new gym membership that sucked the majority of my free time. This year I've lowered my reading goal and will focus on balancing my evenings between writing and the gym.

As I've written this past week, it's been a treat to think back on memories from my time living in New York City. That seems to be where the subject of this new manuscript is settling, and from the good to the bad to the obscenity-inducing frustration, it's a place I look back on fondly enough to build a mini lego Chrysler Building while stuck in bed.

There's more where this came from if I end up needing more surgery. My cat, for one, would be thrilled.

SEP
20

Smell Like a Woman

A certain gentleman in my circle gave me Chanel No. 5 for my birthday a few months ago. For the record, I had never before owned Chanel No. 5. I had never before even smelled Chanel No. 5. It’s just out of my league; one of those perfumes I always figured I had no business wearing.

Anyway, it’s not about the perfume. That’s not what I’m stuck on. Rather the note this gentleman had written on the accompanying card. “Time to smell like a woman,” it said.

Time to smell like a woman.

It’s an age I’m not crazy about, so maybe you can read in these words a sweet and comforting message of encouragement about embracing my status as mature woman. But that’s not how I read it at the time. I, in fact, became rather internally panicked about what, exactly, I’d been smelling like up to that point. An adolescent? And what does that even smell like? Exclamation? Sunflower? The vanilla fragrance from Anthropologie I’ve been wearing for years?

The gift made me wax pensive over maturity, and over what life looks like before and after that point. This particular gentleman is the epitome of mature, in that he’s older, owns a sizable and expertly-furnished home, and fills it with art and sculptures and pictures from his world travels. Whereas the last time we were at my house (a small one-bedroom beach cottage with furnishings from IKEA), I had to scrounge through cupboards just to find a glass out of which to offer him a beverage. Do you see the difference? Do you see why his gift made me panic? Because now I’m convinced my whole life wreaks to him of adolescence. Except, isn’t this more minimalist-style life I live equally valid? Aren’t I still a legit adult woman even without the Chanel?

When I moved to Manhattan a few years ago, I downsized to probably only 10% of what I owned. I did this because I had to fit my large Midwestern home’s worth of goods into a 350 square foot studio apartment. And I’m not saying it wasn’t hard—seeing your costly possessions strewn about your yard and driveway being purchased for pennies can be depressing, as can realizing that you no longer really “own” anything even as a mature adult woman—but what I am saying is that I liked being so minimal. I liked only having what I needed. I liked the ease with which I could clean and pack. I liked knowing if I needed or wanted to up and move again, which, incidentally, I did a short time later, it would be a cinch. I liked being so transportable. I liked defying the Laws of Suburbia which state that possessions are what make us happy and determine our level of success.

Now that I’m in a (slightly) bigger home—one that actually has a bedroom—I’ve re-acquired some things, but for the most part I’m still pretty minimal. And it works for me. Now, would I be more attractive to this gentleman if I had stemware, artwork, and a bed and dresser I hadn’t assembled myself? I guarantee it. But if I’ve learned anything from his gift, it’s that being a woman doesn’t have to look—or smell—a certain way. Of course, I’ve also learned that Chanel No. 5 is divine, so let’s just call that a bonus.

SEP
04

10 Things I Wish I'd Realized Before Invisalign

10. It’s not just the trays. It’s also these sort of sharp, notch-like things that are adhered to several teeth. Unsexy, yes, but that’s not really the complaint. The complaint is that they are annoying. And getting them drilled off at the end of all this was so painful that I almost asked the technician to hold my hand. (True story. I didn’t know what else to do.)

9. You’ll feel like you talk funny with your trays in, but people won’t really notice it. So don’t even bother prefacing every meeting or presentation by apologizing for your sexy Invisalign lisp, because no one would have even noticed it. And it’s not sexy.

8. Your teeth will hurt. All the time. It’s pretty much constant, in that anytime you eat something with any kind of crunch or chew to it, you’re going to feel soreness in the deep center of your teeth. Every day. Every meal.

7. Your teeth will move. Like, all of them. Easily. And soon. Even if you can’t see it, it’s happening. On day 3 of Invisalign, my old retainer, the one I’d been wearing for upwards of 15 years, would no longer fit. As in would not even go on my teeth. At all. The upside of this is there is potential for very real progress, and in relatively short order. The downside is you may get more movement than you want. Or at least feel freaked out all the time, to the point of nightmares, about things going horribly wrong. Oh, just me? OK then.

6. You’ll be annoyed with the trays (removing them for meals, cleaning them, not being able to chew gum, etc), but you’ll get so used to them that you’ll actually prefer having them in. As in you’ll feel anxious after a meal until you can brush your teeth and get your trays back in. Ah, all is right with the world. The little guys are all buttoned up tight. Also just me? Yikes.

5. Keep your trays with you (like on your person) when you travel, in case someone steals your suitcase from the overhead bin when you land at JFK for a business trip. You won’t have underwear, clothes, or shoes, but dammit, you’ll have your next set of Invisalign trays ready to go and your orthodondist will be so proud.

4. Your teeth won’t feel smooth after the Invisalign is over. Pretty sure when they drill the notches off, it removes the smooth top layer of tooth. Is this possible? It’s certainly what it feels like. Other than my front two teeth, which remained notch-free during this process, my other teeth feel a bit gritty. I’m obsessed with running my tongue along my teeth now to feel the contrast. This is kind of sick.

3. Your teeth will need whitening after.

2. The thing you were trying to fix won’t end up fixed. Not that this is the case for everyone, but just be prepared. They aren’t braces. Especially if you choose an “Express” experience like I did, it’s not as extensive as the full process would normally be. And sure, they took molds of your mouth and ran the whole thing through a state-of-the-art computer system that mapped out a plan that was then debated by and ultimately carried out by exceptional and watchful orthodontists, but what does THAT really mean?

And the #1 thing I wish I’d realized before Invisalign:

Your teeth are already straight.

I guess if I could sum up I’d call the whole thing overkill. I was told I was a perfect candidate (already had braces, just need a small correction), but the near-perfectness of my teeth meant that there was always a risk not only that the small correction wouldn’t fully correct, but that other movement of teeth would ultimately leave me worse off. Or at least liking my former smile better. Not that I’m saying this happened or that it was all bad. My bite is better aligned, that I can tell. And my teeth overall are probably a teensy bit straighter. The fact that the thing I wanted fixed really wasn’t fully fixed does sort of bum me out, but I have to keep this all in perspective and realize that my teeth were straight before and they are straight now. This is not a crisis.

(To be clear, I would readily recommend Invisalign to anyone wanting to straighten their teeth. It’s not as intrusive or life-altering as braces, and it does move teeth very effectively.)

AUG
03

People Suck

At least the ones who steal your carry-on suitcase directly from the overhead bin. I know what you’re thinking. It was a mix-up, right? But just take a look at this butterfly-and-flower-riddled bag pictured above and tell me if it’s even possible to accidentally mistake it for your own crappy black one. The answer you’re looking for is no.

It’s true. I was robbed. Of some very precious things, I might add. But I don’t want to focus on that. It’s depressing. I’d rather focus on the rather unexpected things that happen when you fly to New York City for a work trip and end up with no possessions.

There’s a rather clarifying sensation that settles in once you stop crying over your loss, and that is the ability to deduce what it is that you actually NEED while on this trip. And I can tell you the answer to that question is underwear. It’s really the ONLY answer, which is why instead of spend your first evening catching up with a friend at a favorite Harlem eatery (yes, I said favorite Harlem eatery), you'll schlepp it from the hotel to the nearest Victoria’s Secret. Learning this, that underwear is really the bedrock of existence, will feel somewhat revelatory.

The CMO of your company, and probably the fanciest lady you know, might invite you to her hotel room when you and your lack of luggage arrive. Her Manolos will be lined up in a row, and she’ll tell you to pick a pair to wear the following day at the tradeshow you’re working. (Remember, you have no shoes.) It’ll be the first time you’ve ever worn Manolos, and you’ll enjoy learning—even for one day—what that feels like. For the record, it feels like pain, but that won’t matter. And you won’t even begrudge her when she asks for them back the next day due to her outfit being perfectly tailored to Those Shoes. You might learn you’re pretty happy just being a regular person.

While trying on the clothes of a co-worker and complaining about them all feeling tight, she’ll point out that you’ve been hiding your cute little body in clothes that are too big. You’ll feel real slutty in leopard print tops and vampy red skirts that hug your curves and restrict both your breath and your step, but remember, short of spending a bunch of money on new clothes that you really can’t afford and that you can’t transport home anyway because you no longer have a suitcase, you don’t have a choice. And so you get to experience the week while wearing the clothes of this other person. You won’t feel like yourself, and how odd that is, to exist as not you, but at the end of it all, you’ll find yourself wanting to go out and buy a tight skirt.

A friend will subway it from 145th Street, in the rain, and bring dresses wrapped in plastic for you to try on for the gala you need to attend. People will tell you at said gala that they’d have had no idea the dress wasn’t yours. And the willingness of people to help, to step up, to comfort, and to tell you how nice you look in your slutty red skirt or baffling gaucho pants will remind you that not everyone is a thief. Not everyone does horrible things just because they can. Not everyone sucks. It won’t bring back your precious things, but in the grand scheme of things, I’d say that’s a win.

JUL
01

The Lights are so Bright

Taylor Swift certainly got those lyrics right. And I was reminded of this while back in New York City last week on vacation. It's a city I pine for often, even in the very act of praising heaven over how much less stressful my life has been since I moved away. Less epic as well, perhaps, but that's the tradeoff, people.

In any case, I was happy to be back even for just a few days, and I found it amusing that my friends scolded me for wanting to go to my favorite spots rather than spend my limited NYC time exploring new ones. But to me it was a no-brainer. So, yes, my friend turned to me at one point and said, "I can't believe you're back in New York and of all the places we could go for dinner, you want to go to Harlem Shake," but old habits die hard. So get off my back.

Levain Bakery was in the mix as well, as was a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, and multiple Broadway shows, but that's my New York. That's the New York I love. It's the New York I've always loved. The stuff you can only find in New York. I don't see what's so shameful about that; about admitting your favorite things about a city are the very things all the tourists come to see.

One new experience I did have was marching in the Gay Pride Parade. I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did, and since I'm straight, I wondered if my marching would appear phony to others for whom it means so much more personally, but the whole thing was just a giant puddle of love and celebration and acceptance. And who--gay or straight--wouldn't be on board with that? And so marching down Fifth Avenue, thousands upon thousands of people looking on and cheering, I felt part elated over the sheer positive energy wafting up from the streets and part sad that it can't be like this every day. Because everyone deserves that kind of pride in their sexuality, that kind of acceptance from others, and that kind of confidence to be authentically themselves.

So, see, I did manage to sneak in something new. Even if I ate falafel and pizza by the slice every day.

 

APR
24

The California Effect

Living in California is pretty idyllic. The weather is fantastic, and I can go to the beach literally every day. I look at the tourists renting the condos along the shoreline and think, "And I get to live here." It hardly seems fair.

The thing about California, though, is it's changed my threshold for tolerances that previously would have been no problem. Like temperature. I moved here last summer, and after several months of constantly comfy temps, I remember actually taking a picture of the temperature display in my car on the day when the temperature never left the 60s. It just seemed so cold. After all those years in Cleveland and New York, strange that temps in the 60s could seem anything but balmy. Yet, it's true. I feel cold here more often...and when I am around actual cold temps or--heaven help me--snow (like this past Christmas in the mountains of eastern Washington state or even last weekend while caught in that freak blizzard in Denver), I just can't handle it like I used to. These days, I always think it's too cold.

California has also done a number on my skin. I'm not just talking about the fact that it took me a while to get the hang of sufficient sunscreen application, but also of the random bumps and rashes that began showing up due to--according to my dermatologist--the changes in environment and humidity from what I was used to out East. Multiple medications later, my skin is improving...albeit a myriad of other skin-related side-effects of the skin medications have cropped up. Which is how I came to be the girl who wears gloves while at the beach.

My skin issues are TMI, I realize, I just think sometimes it's nice to remind everyone that living in Calfornia is not always like those commercials with all the celebrities. The ones trying to convince you that their lives are just like everyone else's, even though the point of those commercials is clearly that California living is not really reality. I confess seeing those commercials while living out East filled me with a surprisingly intense yearning to be here. And those commercials are right...living in California is pretty idyllic. Although for the sake of accuracy, they really ought to get a girl wearing gloves at the beach on one of those commercials. I'll happily volunteer.

MAR
25

The Editor

I'm preparing to do my final read-through of this darn manuscript before handing it over to my editor next week. It really is a bummer that even as your manuscript gets tighter and better as the read-throughs continue, you start to genuinely dislike it. The repetition. The many revisions and re-revisions. The fact that you can recite so much of it for memory that you fear your eyes may simply be glossing over entire pages without really paying attention. By this point I am, as per usual, convinced no one will ever want to read this thing. Probably a good sign that it's time to hand it off to someone else.

When my editor reminded me today that it's been five years since she edited my first book, it seemed a bit hard to fathom. Five years. It's not a huge amount of time, but it is nonetheless significant. The first little chunk in roundable figures. Five years. In so many ways, I feel like I'm in a much better place now. I've cut the tie with Corporate America. I finally left a city I had outgrown. I've become a gemologist. I pursued a dream and it worked out. I got to live in my beloved Manhattan. I tried a pixie cut. I've written three books.

Of course, in a few ways, things are worse, too. I lost a love, a future I very much wanted. I've perhaps lost some amount of faith as well. Not just in the world and the goodness at its core, but also in a belief system that becomes ever harder to embrace in its entirety. And I've obviously lost some youth, creeping ever closer to the point at which I can no longer consider myself young at all. None of these losses are insignificant.

But overall I have to be happy with where things have shaken out over the five years since I picked up one of those Guide to Literary Agents books and began looking for a kindred spirit--or, at the very least, someone who thought I had talent. Given where I sit at this moment (at my writing desk, looking out at the palm trees in my front yard and enjoying the cool ocean-laced breeze coming in through the window), I have to conclude I made a good choice.

FEB
25

Final(ish) Touches

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A friend recently commented that I blog much less now that I’m a working girl again. This is true. So is the fact that I am way behind on getting my new manuscript to my editor, and much for the same reason. I do pine for my days in New York City, most of them employer-free once I quit my job to focus on gemology, nothing really on my to-do list other than a freelance writing gig and a magnificent city to discover. Those were the days.

It’s now been three months since announcing here (And....Done.) that I had finished the new manuscript, so I should probably tell you that what’s happened is I felt like there was something missing. I wanted to add in a more universal component to weave throughout the stories from my own life that fill the book, and so I sent out the survey I mentioned here (Survey Says), and then wrote 8,000 more words to incorporate some of the survey themes and data into the manuscript.

It’s not perfect, and I still have some work to do before I hand it off, but I like it better now. And I like that it’s something new I’m experimenting with. Don’t get me wrong…I’m still filled with that sickening sense of panic that always fills me before the release of a book (“No one will like this.”), but that will probably be there every time. All I can do is take my time, try to get it right on my end, and enjoy every bit of the process.

NOV
30

I Recall Central Park in Fall

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It's almost too late in the season to still be considered fall, but I found myself in New York City over the Thanksgiving weekend and boy howdy, it sure felt like it. Fall. 65 degrees and sunny. People out in droves biking and running, all wearing shorts and tanks. I hadn't been back to NYC since moving away over the summer, so I would have reveled in the New-Yorkyness regardless, but the weather was truly spectacular. I had a long list of things I wanted to accomplish in a short time, but somehow everything else fell off the list once I stepped into Central Park. Now, isn't that always the way? Some places never really leave you.

 

NOV
07

The Typewriter

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I'd always wanted a vintage typewriter. I probably mentioned with glee when I finally acquired one last spring while living in New York City...the land where they have everything, including not only a plethora of vintage typewriters, but also people who can repair them and restore them and teach you how to use them and order you a new ribbon for your circa 1960s model. (The Typewriter Doctor)

Of course, the Typewriter Doctor will also charge you a fortune, but it's worth it. Right? To be able to plunk out darling, nostalgic notes for people. Or even for yourself. To write letters. To craft the most charming grocery and weekend to-do lists you ever thought possible. (You try typing 'Pay Target Bill' on a vintage typewriter and see if it doesn't make you feel downright excited to pay it.) But excited as I was on that sunny day when I schlepped the not exactly lightweight machine from 23rd Street to the subway and then from the 77th and Lex stop all the way over to 1st Avenue, I haven't used it. I blame the fact that I was in the thick of gemology studies. Then I was preparing to move across the country. Then I was actually moving across the country. Then I was getting settled on the other side of the country, starting a new job and figuring out how to properly apply sunscreen.

I feel I owe my typewriter a commitment to use him more, I'm just not sure it's a commitment I can confidently make. Not that you should interpret any of this to mean that Tali has suddenly become all down on vintage typewriters, because I haven't. I think every author should have one. For what though, I'm really not sure.

NOV
01

Lessons from a Pixie Cut

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This week marks one year since getting a pixie cut. I can't say enough about how much I've enjoyed it. That doesn't mean I always think it looks good. That doesn't mean all men like it. (The exception being really old men, who, without fail, smile, wink, and wave at you because you remind them of Julie Andrews or Audrey Hepburn.) But I always feel pretty bad-ass. A tweenager came up to me a few weeks ago and said, "I like your hair. You look like Tris from Divergent." So clearly I've accomplished everything I could have ever hoped to in life.

Seriously though, here's some advice to anyone who's considering a pixie.

The season doesn't matter. I cut mine in November. In New York City. Winter was upon us, and my stylist urged me to consider waiting until spring. But by then I may have chickened out. Besides, was the frigid NYC winter we were about to experience going to be measurably warmer with longer hair? Well, maybe. Ok, probably. But still. You would be cold regardless, so just chop it when you have the courage to chop it.

You won't look like a boy. I walked straight from the stylist to Sephora on E. 86th Street and had them give me a makeover. I bought everything they used on me, and in the beginning I was sure that unless I dolled myself up, complete with a headband or sparkly hair accessory, I would look like a boy. This is a stupid fear. Because hair doesn't have a monopoly on femininity. Take a look at notable pixies in the celebrity world. Emma Watson, Kaley Cuoco, Michelle Williams, and, most recently, Kate Mara, whose pixie is downright stunning and looks so much better than the longer hair she had previously. Are these women any less feminine? Or sexy? I would argue they are more so. So stop fretting. You still look like a girl.

Style with purpose. Every day my hair looks different. Depending on the product and the way I tousle it, I get something different. True, there are days I don't love the way it turns out. There are days I miss having hair. But as I think about growing it out, something inside me feels ickily ordinary. When I think back to a lifetime spent just pulling my hair back, piling it on top of my head, doing nothing with it, it makes me love the pixie even more. Think about it. It's a style. A style you have on purpose. A sexy and bold style you have on purpose that exudes confidence and makes others wish they had the huevos (and the cheekbones) to pull it off.

So do it. Get a pixie cut. Make November the month. Winter be damned. (Plus you can dress like Peter Pan for Halloween. Just saying.)

 

OCT
14

Happy Fall! (Er...summer?)

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Things I miss about fall: changing leaves, cool temperatures, sweaters, light jackets, the smell of campfire, rainy days, and baking sweet things. I also miss all the Ohio State crap in everybody's yard. But don't tell anyone.

It's truly odd to be in this land of eternal sunshine. Because it doesn't feel like fall. It doesn't feel any different than it felt all summer. It's actually even hotter. And how odd to be sweating it out at the beach in mid-October. I keep finding myself checking the 10-day forecast in New York City, where I lived last fall, and Cleveland, where I lived the six falls before that. Temperatures in the sixties, fifties even on some days. It sounds so glorious!! I know I'll be singing a different tune come winter...something tells me I won't mind sitting at the beach in winter...but there's something about fall that a girl just wants to experience.

I can't do much about the sunny temps here in Cali, the lack of need for my jackets and sweaters, but baking? I can do something about that. And so last night I used my oven for the first time in the 4 months I've lived here and baked something sweet. It was an 85-degree day and it made my house so hot that I may never bake anything again, but for a moment, it was fall. Real fall.

OCT
02

October is for Opal

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So, remember when I was living in New York City and studying gemology? Yeah, me too. One of my favorite phases of life. Ever. I miss the city a lot and the gemstones even more. Studying them, identifying them, subjecting my Instagram followers to pictures of them. Of course, the great thing about now working for a gemology institute is that my building is not in want of gemstone displays. They are, quite frankly, everywhere. And not just the laboratory area either (where, for example, just this week I was able to meet one of the gemologists who graded the Hope Diamond), but lining pretty much every hallway, too.

Most of the pieces I've seen now, through my various explorations of the building, but every now and then I come across one that has somehow snuck past me. Like this opal stunner that literally stopped me cold. I mean, just freaking look at it! And I'm not even an opal girl. Trust me, as a gemologist, I have my favorites--diamond because it's the BEST, star corundum for the asterism, rhodochrosite because it's so unique, turquoise and aquamarine for their beautiful blues--but opals have never moved me. Until this necklace, that is. Maybe it just takes 148 carats to get me there, but either way, this was a happy way to officially ring in the month that boasts opal as its birthstone. Happy October, everyone!

SEP
12

Good/Bad

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It's gotten to the point where I don't watch the news anymore. I can't. I won't. It depresses me, frightens me, maddens me. The downside is that I rarely know what's going on in the world, but sometimes this seems like the better alternative.

September 11 was a terrifying day. It may not have seemed completely real to me from the safety of my college dorm room on the other side of the country--bodies falling, burning, this was the stuff of fiction, of movies. I still find myself trying to block out the overwhelming disturbia that sets in every time I'm reminded of the events of that day; that people purposely brought those towers down. Earlier this summer I attended a small short-film festival, and it took until about halfway through the longest of the films to realize that it--following the stories of a flight attendant on a plane, a businessman in an office, and a firefighter in the city--was about 9/11. The sickening disturbia set in like it always does, such that the film's final scenes--the flight attendant crying and whispering to air traffic control about their low altitude, the firefighter's concerned glance to the sky overhead, and the businessman's look of both shock and solemnity as he looked out the office window to see a plane headed straight for him--have not let me go.

I'm not actually recommending avoiding watching the news. It's a wimpy and irresponsible thing to do. We have to be in the world. Since I've been thinking about The Giver (Game-changing Books), remember that the Elders' stance was that it was better to shield people from the pains and sorrows of the world, even if it meant the people could experience and feel nothing...even the good, wonderful, and lovely. Or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a movie about a process that allows people to erase their memories, particularly of other people. I love watching our protagonist, who's had a bad breakup, fight to reverse the process once he's realized that if it means losing all memory of the person he once loved, it's not worth ridding himself of the heart-wrenchingly painful parts of their relationship.

The fact is, there is good all around us. It might be harder to see, it's certainly not publicized as often or to the same extent, but it is there. And even though each day something in the world can be counted on to bring me down, something else equally reliable is the rate at which something--some kindness, some action, some thing of beauty--inspires me. May those moments carry us through. And may we never forget.