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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
DEC
31

The Letter

Every New Year’s Eve I write a letter to myself. I type it, actually, on the vintage typewriter I bought with my tax return while living in New York City. I do this partly because the typewriter was expensive and I’m still trying to get my money’s worth. And partly I suppose because I love the look of typewritten letters. I want ink on a page. The clap of letters being lined up together. The ding of running out of space on your current line. To me it is charming, and somehow more meaningful than simply pushing print.

The letter I write to myself each year is usually one of advice and encouragement. There are things I want myself to focus on, to do better at in the coming year. There are things I want myself to let go of; to give myself a break on. The letter I wrote a year ago today may be one of my favorites so far, despite the majority addressing a certain personal goal I had for 2017 that I did not achieve, the result of which was a much more difficult year. On the eve of 2018, then, I encouraged myself to own it, accept it, and to do better in the new year.

Which I did.

And I have my letter to thank for that, as it sat on my nightstand table and reminded me on a daily basis of what I deserved. I'd had Scotland on the brain when I wrote it, having returned from a vacation there a couple of months before. I had climbed to the top of Arthur’s Seat, in a windstorm, and taken in the one of the most beautiful views I will ever see in this world. And so I leave you with my favorite line from last year’s letter, a sentiment that I have perhaps only in 2018 come to truly understand.

“You saw the greens and blues of a world too beautiful to be spent alongside those not battling the wind just to stand next to you.”

Here’s to a new year, a new letter, and a new chance to do/get/be what we need most.

DEC
31

What's in a Year?

What is a year, really? There’s that iconic Rent song, of course, that boils it all down to love—probably a more accurate measure than we realize. But if you really take a look at a year, what is it?

Is it measured by the things we do? Six jewelry trade shows, one sunrise hot air balloon ride, two book parties, one eclipse viewed in complete totality, four holidays with family, one stolen suitcase, three days at Disney with a nephew, one international vacation, forty mini gingerbread loaves baked, one dear friend’s funeral, one NBA finals game attended, two resolutions kept…

Or is it better measured by the things we don’t do? Twelve more eggs lost, the man I should have let go sooner, or maybe the one I didn’t keep but should have, the zoo membership not renewed, work projects not completed, books I didn’t read, chapters I didn’t write. Do these things carry more weight when taking inventory of our five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes?

Sometimes it’s easy at the end of a year to feel more haunted than happy; more regret than resolve. And you should know me well enough by now to know that this is usually the camp I sit in. It’s not that there’s anything irresistibly romantic about melancholy (read: it is the very definition of irresistibly romantic), it’s that there is value, at least to me, in pining for what might have been. What we do not accomplish. What we fail to achieve. To me, it gives us the opportunity to evaluate how badly we want it. And failing either makes us double our efforts to get or achieve this thing, or it allows us to let go of what turns out to be less important than we first thought.

I only set two resolutions in 2017, and I hit them both. I’m very proud of that, however minor they are in the grand scheme of my life. In addition to resolutions, however, I always write a letter to myself in preparation for each new year. It’s part encouragement, part tough love, and in general serves as a road map for the kind of person I want to be in the upcoming year. The letter that sat taped to by bedside table each day of 2017 was written last Christmas Eve while sitting inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. There was a pretty significant personal change I wanted to make this year; a rather toxic situation I counseled myself to get out of. I remember tears spilling down my cheeks as I rested my head against the cold cement of a cathedral column while composing the letter. Yet early on in 2017, I had already failed in my effort. And I won’t say it didn’t affect me greatly to wake up each morning and see my letter, knowing I hadn’t taken my own advice. But failing at this has brought about the doubling of effort I spoke of a moment earlier.

Something else that helps me in the wake of regret or falling short is to expand my perspective beyond a single year. It’s less about what’s in a year. It more like, what’s in a life? I was able to spend a few days in my hometown over Christmas, something I rarely do, and it was incredibly grounding to be amongst people who have known me since I was a child. Our lives are about everything we do, see. And the foundation we set is large; it is always present, regardless of how any individual year shakes out. We’re more than the sum of our years, so keep that in mind as you resolve, refocus, and reprioritize for the next five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.

Happy New Year!

JUL
16

Tradeoffs

I would give a writing update, only I don't have one. Like, none at all. Because I haven't been writing. It's shameful. Not to say there's nothing in the works, because I did recently get asked to contribute to a book of essays being published and had a fun (read: rather torturously self-reflective) time writing that one, and I may be part of a group of single women writers launching a blog forum in the near future, so, there are writerly things happening. But as for progress toward my next book, who has the time? The answer is, not me.

There's a reason all my writing (and reading) time has disappeared, and it's because I joined a gym at the start of the year. Yes, I've become a gym rat. And I hate it. Or maybe what I mean is that I hate that I love it. In my defense though, it's not a typical gym. No sweaty, beefy body-building types. It's actually a wellness center that partners with a local hospital and focuses on rehabilitation, but also offers stellar classes and top-notch amenities. Honestly, it's nice. And while I do at times grapple with feeling like by paying the hefty membership fee that I'm contributing to White Privilege at its finest, it's a pretty incredible facility.

So there go all my weekday evenings.

And weekend mornings.

It's not so much that I want to get my money's worth (I totally want to get my money's worth), it's more that I set a fitness resolution at the beginning of the year. My usual method when it comes to resolutions is to set a crap load of them and then hope to hit at least some of them, at least the easy ones like "Take more vacations." But when you split yourself and your intentions so widely, I find it harder to really make progress. So this year I set only two resolutions, one fitness oriented and the other finance oriented. So while my writing efforts have gone to pot, we're halfway through the year, and both my fitness and financial resolutions are still on track, and to me that is satisfying.

Tradeoffs are such a bitch.

(PS - if you're looking for an interesting read featuring an excellent essay about how women have taken back "bitch" and are now coming for "crazy," check out All the Lives I Want. From Anjelica Huston to Sylvia Plath, the author delves into societal topics, mostly related to women, that don't get talked about enough. Or really ever.)