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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
SEP
15

One Way Ticket

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I've been traveling for the past 10 days, most of it in Chicago for work. Delightful city, maybe I'll post a few pics of the sightseeing I did, although it pretty much all involves me eating. And then eating more. Followed closely by more eating. Prior to Chicago, I did sneak in another short NYC trip. By now this is no surprise, surely. I did this in July, too. Also in April. And all the other times before that. What made this trip different--what I hadn't done on any other prior NYC trip--was that I signed a lease.

And so the next few weeks on this blog will be full of my moving preparations (chaotic) and goodbyes to the great, great city of Cleveland (weepy), a city in which I will leave a surprisingly big piece of myself and my heart. More on that later. For now let me leave you with images of possibility and new adventure, city lights and subway stations. If these images also contain a microscopic living space, much less disposable income, and uncertainty about things such as future plans, again, we'll get to that later. I've got boxes to pack.

 

JUL
29

The Poster-Size Boyfriend Picture Fiasco

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Whenever I see people post pictures of themselves looking totally cute, I roll my eyes. It’s so tacky. Anyone who wants people to see them looking totally cute seems like they have something to prove. Or an ulterior self-serving motive.

It reminds me of the time a couple Christmases ago when I wanted to give my boyfriend a framed picture of me to keep on his desk at the office. Of course what started in my mind as a simple 4x6 ultimately turned into something the size of a small poster; a collage of our travels with a picture of me in the center--black and white, slight smile, wind blowing in my hair. It really didn’t occur to me that the now gargantuan thing wouldn’t be feasible to display at work until he told me it wouldn’t be feasible to display at work. I had to settle for the top of the stairs in his house. Which is the moment I realized my motive had more to do with the foot traffic the picture would get at his office, and people being reminded of this solid, witty, and at times (like the time in that photo) adorable presence in his life. The only person who ever saw the picture at the top of his stairs was me, and what good did it do to look at an adorable picture of myself?

Which brings me back to my original beef. And as for the picture on today’s post, I got nothin'. No explanation except that I've been in NYC the past several days, and to me this picture sums up how I feel about NYC, and how much a part of it I feel when I’m there. The buildings, the bakeries, the history, the hubbub. The taxis, the subways, the street signs. It just makes me happy, and so does this picture. (It also makes me look totally cute. Deal with it. Besides, it could be worse. It could be poster size and displayed on your office wall.)

JUL
26

The Thing You Should Never Forget to Pack

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Like an idiot I got on a plane to NYC yesterday with not a single book in tow. Who does that? Let me rephrase. What author does that? I mean, what would I read while eating breakfast at a tucked away cafe where someone famous probably once had breakfast? Or while sitting in Central Park listening to the serenade of the sax man? Or while on the Brooklyn-bound 4 train?

So that's why my first stop upon arrival was Barnes & Noble. I've come all the way to NYC to...buy a book? Then I had breakfast at a tucked away cafe and sat in Central Park. The sax man was playing 'Moon River', which seemed appropriate given that the book I had bought was Breakfast at Tiffany's. My huckleberry friend, indeed. As I sat listening and reading, there was an ant crawling up my back that I could not find, but then again, no moment is perfect. No packing job either.

JUL
22

Why I Miss Carrie Bradshaw

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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?

MAY
26

Full Circle

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The first story in my new book centers around the Museum of Natural History in New York City. For reasons that seem silly now, it was important that I get myself to the museum during what was my first trip to the city. Even though I realized while at the museum that it wasn't where I wanted to be (and my reason for going would soon enough no longer even apply), in the moment I viewed my being there as nothing short of crucial.

I confess I've avoided returning to the museum on subsequent trips to the city--mostly because it reminds me of a time in life that I'd rather forget--but while in New York last month, I bit the bullet and found myself staring once again at the giant blue whale that opens my second book. It felt a tad eerie, I don't know why, but I was surprised that it also felt a little bit like relief. And, inexplicably, redemption. It had been ten years since I'd last stood there. Think about that. An entire decade of life. And while one school of thought is that my singleton self is still no closer to love or to my dreams than I was then, another school of thought--the one to which I subscribe--is that I am now ten years closer.

See, my fascination with coming full circle has less to do with the deja vu-esque sensation of having been there before, but rather with the much more arresting analysis of all the things that have transpired since being in that scenario or place. When face to face with the whale last month, it became a rather liberating trifecta--part relief for being so far removed from a life path that would have never allowed me to reach any kind of potential, part gratitude over all the experiences I've had over the past decade, and part hope for the dreams yet to be realized as I step out into the world much closer to them than I was back then. So my only advice on this day of remembrance and honor is that if there's a place you've been avoiding because of the memories it generates, bring it on. You will surprise yourself, not just by your ability to handle it, but by the realization that you are a stronger and better person one year, ten years, or fifty down the road. Here's to you. Here's to getting there. And here's to getting there again.

 

APR
15

Big Sky State

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The first (and only) time I had been to Montana was just prior to starting business school. Meant to be a team building, get-to-know-you type of event just before we began the school year, my classmates and I were shipped off in 15-passenger vans across the west, Montana-bound. We were to spend the week white water rafting, but we pulled up to camp in the middle of a downpour. The rain didn't stop all day, such that most of us ended up huddled back in the vans to keep dry. The thought of having to set up a tent--let alone sleep in it--while battling such weather was horrifying to me, such that I found myself wondering aloud: "They can't make us stay here, can they?" My classmates teased me and my lack of endurance for the next 2 years over that comment, but whatever. I had a point. I knew they were all thinking the same thing.

I returned to Montana this past weekend for only the second time in my life. I'm probably even less outdoorsy now than I was the first time around, but I feel like at least this time, I was able to experience and appreciate Montana in a truer sense. Farms, chickens, horses, rabbits, deer heads mounted on the walls of the grocery store, parents who name their children names like Remington, a Main Street composed of only second-hand stores. I confess I found Montana beautiful. And, for lack of a better word, restful. That doesn't mean I could live there. Or endure sitting out in the rain for days just because the mountains are nice to look at. But, especially coming directly after my weekend in NYC, I couldn't help but appreciate this slice of country life. (I said appreciate...not prefer.)

APR
10

Wishing

One of my favorite things to do in NYC is to go to the Times Square museum. (Hopes and Dreams.) There one can write her wishes for the year on little confetti squares; confetti squares that are shot into the air in Times Square on New Years Eve at the stroke of midnight; the very same confetti squares you see on your TV screen, slowly sailing through the air while everyone kisses and sings. It is, quite franky, irresistable to me. This making of wishes. This method of confetti deployment. I won't show you my own wish--it's far too sentimental, although albeit a step more respectable than last year's wish--but here are a sampling of others. From the practical to the off-hand to the just plain funny, I love the wall of wishes. And I can't wait to see their flight come NYE.

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APR
07

If/Then

 

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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.

 

 

 

DEC
31

NYE Reboot

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Remember this post? Hopes and Dreams Well, this is the night. The night my wish gets shot into the sky at midnight in the middle of Times Square. And so I'm thinking about wishes. About hope. And also about resolutions. About resolving. To stop. To start. To move on. To never forget. To be happy. To make a change. Whatever it is, do it. Do it this year.

Happy 2014.

NOV
28

Grateful

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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.

NOV
23

Road Trip

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I was on the road this week for work, and while I did decide to fly for the longest stretches of the trip, most of the week I was driving. In fact, I feel like that’s all I did. Drive. You have to know me and my relationship with driving to understand how truly significant this is, but after a week of driving all over 4 states I am by and large unfamiliar with, I managed to always get where I was going. Not only without incident, but without so much as a wrong turn. It was unprecedented. And considering one evening found me in the thick of NYC rush-hour traffic, my ultimate goal being Long Island (um, has anyone ever tried driving to Long Island?), actually getting there—and in the dark of night, no less—made me want to fall to the floor of the blessed Marriott that housed me that evening and weep for having arrived in one piece.

Instead I wept when I got home last night. I’m not sure why. Partly because I was exhausted. Because the NYC drive surely took years off my life. Partly because I got to meet up with my Airman brother while on the road, and I’m so incredibly proud of him. Partly because the world is such a beautiful place, and one you can only see close up when you do exactly what I had done—drive. And perhaps partly because I returned to Cleveland full of tales from the road, and the only one here to greet me was my cat.

Since there is no one on hand to listen, I’ll have to tell you, dear readers, that a detour in Maryland took me through the most beautiful patch of land I’ve seen in years. I stopped in the middle of the winding country road just to take it all in. I glanced over my shoulder with a smile as I passed Coney Island and drove across the Verrazano Bridge on the clearest and most beautiful day imaginable. People had pulled off the road and gotten out of their cars just to look out and sigh for a minute before rolling on. And when I crossed the Susquehanna yesterday, I thought about Billy Collins and his poem about fishing in July. Not because I’ve ever fished the Susquehanna, but then again, neither has Billy. In any case, I’m grateful for the trip, grateful to be home, and grateful to now put away the GPS.

NOV
04

Flee to the Cleve

You know that episode of Friends when Chandler and Monica take Erica on a tour of NYC and Chandler comes back to their apartment all decked out in touristy garb and declares, "New York is awesome!" He explains, "I've been to these places before, but I've never really seen them, you know." Now isn't that always the way.

I had company in town last week, and it gave me the rare opportunity to actually see Cleveland. It's no New York, as I believe I've mentioned pretty much weekly since this blog's inception, but I'm quite fond of it, and there's so much I'd like to be taking better advantage of. I kept thinking how much I was enjoying myself, how much more a person is able to do and see when she doesn't have to be at work. I know, I know, without work I wouldn't be able to afford to DO anything, I'm just saying (once again) how nice it would be to be independently wealthy. Which I will be once I sell about a million more books. Glass half full, people.

Anyway, here are a few shots from my week in the city. The city where I live but rarely see.

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SEP
15

Hopes and Dreams

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I snapped this pic over the weekend because wishes greatly exacerbate my sentimentality. There's just something about wishes. They're personal, oftentimes they're private, and they represent what we hope for most in our lives. In the professional world, "Hope is not a strategy" has been beaten into my head, and probably for good reason. Hope gets nothing done, it doesn't bring results. But wishes are a different animal, and many times the things we wish/hope for are things we don't have the ability to bring about in any way; things on which we cannot necessarily affect change. And in these instances, hope is perhaps the only strategy we've got.

When in NYC a couple of months ago, I went to the Times Square museum. From the replica of the New Year's Eve ball to the relics and costumes from various Broadway shows, it's a colorful place. But the most striking thing in there (honestly it looks like the beginnings of a parade float) is the Hopes and Dreams wall. It's little squares of confetti paper stuck to the wall, each bearing a handwritten wish from someone who's come through. The best part about these confetti squares is they are what gets shot into the air on New Year's Eve when the clock strikes twelve. All that confetti you see sailing through the air on TV? It's people's wishes, and something about that made me clutch a hand to my heart and steady myself just to absorb the impact to my sentimentality scale.

Of course I wrote down a wish, something I will never get, something not even hope can bring me, but I'm one of those dewey-eyed dopes who believes it's important--even if you know you'll never get what you want--for the universe to know how you'd like things to go if it were up to you. Silly, I know. Pointless, I know. But still. When my wish sails through the sky at the moment the new year begins, I hope it settles near the feet of someone who reads it and hopes that I got my wish.

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JUL
29

Ode to the Salt Mines

I hate you, salt mines.

Yes, it's day one back at work after a nice, long vacation, and while what I really need is a slap in the face (I'm grateful to have a job and all the benefits it provides me), it's always a bit depressing to return to real life. And Cleveland is always a bit depressing after NYC in particular. (Isn't ANY city?)

But, no matter, my real life is pretty fun too, at least that's what I tell myself. Sure, there are expectations of me, I have to cook my own food, and I end up at home most nights instead of out seeing a show or eating cheesecake at Carnegie Deli at midnight (or frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity). Sure, my editor has told me that manuscript #2 needs some work. Sure, I miss home and family and there are things about my life I wish I could change, but I'm fresh off a trip to the city, and for the moment I can't be anything but grateful. Hard to ask for more than a view like this.

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JUL
23

Specs and the City

If you're leaving on a ten day vacation and have an early morning flight and so throw on your glasses, you might want to make sure you have packed your contacts. Because if you don't, you might have to spend the first few hours of your vacation trying to convince an optician to sell you some contacts even though the brand your doctor faxed over on the prescription is not one they carry. This vacation city optician may refuse to so much as sell you a trial pair of lenses, so you might end up having to buy two full boxes of lenses that are not your brand and do not even match the curvature of your eyes. The ridiculousness of not being able to buy lenses even though a valid prescription has been faxed over might cause you to yell or cry, or both, or maybe it's just the vacation hours slipping by wasted that will wither you. Just remember as you walk out of the optician's office with two boxes of off-brand lenses (and a 4-pack of lense cases because they wouldn't just give you one like they give EVERY SINGLE PATIENT) that any price is worth not having to experience ten straight days in glasses. Even if they're cute.

JUL
10

Rain Across the Border

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After being stuck in NYC for Hurricane Sandy, I'm a bit sensitive to storms when I travel. So when it started torrentially downpouring in Toronto on Monday while I was in town for work (we're talking record-breaking rainfall for them), I got a little panicky when the rain didn't stop. And when the subways flooded. And when the cab ride to dinner took an hour because all the stop lights were out. And when the restaurant ended up being closed because they had no power. It's one of the only times while on business travel that I ended up with a pocket of time to read the book I had packed, simply because it was too nasty to go outside and explore. Can you say silver lining? I can.

MAY
09

The Greenest Grass

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Not sure why I always feel such a pull to be in New York City, but I do. I feel this pull pretty much every day when I think about the time I've spent there and the possibilities that undoubtedly exist. There's probably some rose-coloredness going on here, as living in NYC would be hard in some ways, I'm sure, not to mention it would drain my savings. But the pull is still there.

My good friend L lives in the city (she's the one I mentioned in this post who bought a one-way ticket), and every time I talk to her, I hang on every word. She's walking to Times Square, she's just coming up from the subway, she's smelling a street vendor's cart, she's afraid for her life in a sketchy block, she's shadowing a performance of Phantom of the Opera. Even the picture she sent me (now that I have a phone that can receive them) of a flamboyant character jump-roping in the middle of street filled me with a longing to be there. I could see the street in the background, the green awnings of various businesses.

I've had some very real examples in my life lately that completely disprove the "grass is always greener" theory, but why am I convinced that NYC grass is the greenest? Why can't I shake this pull? What I can do is book another trip, so that's exactly what I've done. I haven't been since the week of Hurricane Sandy (talk about a bizarre week to have been in NYC), and I've been feeling the need to get back. Never underestimate the power of the pull.

NOV
06

Progress

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When I think of New York, I think of it as a very bookish city. From the Barnes & Noble on Fifth (yes, I looked myself up on their computer) to the little indies like this one I photographed in the West Village, people there love to read. Or it could be that there are just so many people period that there are, by default, more readers. I'm not sure which. Just like I'm not sure if more people smoke in NYC than average, or if there are just more people. Hence more smokers. In any case, I made it back from the city and am happy to report that I wrote more than 3,000 words while cooped up in the apartment. This may not sound like a lot to those of you whose professions involve writing, but as mine does not, I have precious little time to devote to writing. To hobbies in general, of which I have many. Not to mention an existing book to sell. So 3,000 words is more than I've written in months, and it felt good.

I got a call from a colleague at my company late yesterday who works in another state, and his sole purpose for calling was to tell me that he just read my book and loved it. It makes my day when this happens. Because it's not like I've been able to shout from the rooftops that I've written a book. At least not at work. So it's fun to hear from people as they find out and come to me to ask where they can get the book or to tell me how much they enjoyed it. Yesterday's caller complimented my writing style, my wit, my edge (someone thinks I have edge!!), and then asked if there would be another book. Which brings me back to my 3,000 words. For those keeping track at home, I'm about halfway done with the next book. And while I've been halfway done for months, it was nice to get back down to it last week and make some progress. So about ten vacation-turned-hurricanes from now I should be done. Is it too early to start a paper chain? Don't answer that.

OCT
30

Stuck in NYC

There are worse places to be, surely, although it's somewhat torturous to be in a city as fabulous as this one and have there be absolutely nothing to do. And I really do mean nothing. Everything is closed, all transportation at a standstill. I walked down Fifth Avenue today, and it was so bizarre to see all the stores closed. Especially since I had remarked to my aunt J when I saw that my trip was coinciding with this storm, "At least Tiffany is open rain or shine." Au contraire.

I'm in town for a week-long class, although not surprisingly, my class has been cancelled. I did get a few days of NYC fun in before Sandy hit, but now that the city is all but shut down, my options are somewhat limited (read: there are none). But true to writer-form, I've been reflecting on how grateful I am. Not only because a tree didn't fall on my rented apartment last night, but also because I now have a few days to get some writing done. What's more, I'm grateful that I have hobbies; grateful to have things I enjoy doing that can occupy my time and satisfy my need to create, to learn, and to pursue my goals.

Another thing that becomes apparent to me when I'm in NYC (or when I'm on any kind of trip, really) is how much my writer-mind is different from most people's. I tend to focus on details and find myself wanting to know more about things that don't really matter. Am I overly curious? I guess I just wonder about things, about people, and I'm always thinking of how something could be written up and used as a metaphor for life, as a killer story, or simply as a fond memory of something I once experienced. Case in point: While lying in bed last night looking out at the storm, it wasn't the wind that had me captivated. Rather it was the windows of the towering apartment buildings across the street. There were trees blocking my view, but as wind blew the branches around I would get glimpses of the few windows that were lit up, and I found myself wondering who lived there and how they came to be living in New York. Probably not a normal thought process during a hurricane, but if a description of a high-rise window shows up in one of my books someday, you'll know where I got it.