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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
MAR
06

Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree

There's a children's song that likens apricot blossoms to popping popcorn, and I have to say, it really does kind of look like that. This is my first blossom season as the owner of an apricot tree, and the whole thing is pretty charming. I now own three different types of fruit trees, and it's interesting how it makes me more aware of the seasons. Or maybe it's the passage of time. Or maybe it's that the passage of time is now more formally segmented in these seasonal cycles. Don't get me wrong, fruit trees are a bit tricky to figure out, and I'm still learning. But overall it adds a new element to the year based on where the trees and their crops are at any given time.

My lemon tree produces fruit all year round. Meaning the tree is covered with lemons in various stages of growing, from tiny green bulbs to medium-sized fruit gradually turning yellow, to fully-grown lemons that are ready to pick. There's less pressure with a lemon tree, in that you always have what you need when you need it. And when you pick one, there's another one growing right behind it. My orange tree produces throughout the year as well, but it's more in batches, where the oranges tend to grow at the same rate, meaning they're ready at the same time. And then there's the apricot tree, which works all year to produce one harvest. It's one and done, perfect for making a big batch of jam to enjoy throughout the year, but it does mean more pressure, in that if anything goes wrong, you're not going to get any fruit and will have to wait a whole year before getting another chance.

I would guess you can categorize almost everything in life as being like one of these trees. I think of writing like a lemon tree, in that there's no one single right time for it. It happens all year round, anytime, as you need it or as it finds you. There's no season for writing, per se, and I think that's what we could say about any of our hobbies. They fill the time when we have it and provide everything from escape to relief to satisfaction. For things that require more time, work, and preparation and ultimately produce a single brief but amazing result, these are like apricot trees. I'm working on one right now myself, and have been for months. It's something I've wanted to make happen for many years and involves multiple parties and schedules and quite a few logistics that need to align. I'll only get one shot at it, and although the result will be amazing and completely worth it, it's not something I'll get to experience again. I guess that's what makes apricot trees so special.

One last note about fruit trees. Their seasons remind me that while nothing is permanent (the winters of our lives turn into springs), the pattern certainly is. Meaning getting through a metaphorical winter doesn't mean there isn't another one coming behind it--one that could be even more devastating. But springs truly do follow every winter, so I'll leave you with the lyric of one of my Grandpa's favorite songs: "Deep in December, it's nice to remember, although you know the snow will follow. Deep in December, it's nice to remember the fire of September that made us mellow. Deep in December, our hearts should remember and follow."

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.)

 

MAR
01

How to Embarrass Yourself at a Work Dinner

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I spent a few days in Chicago this week, and it was bitterly cold. Not that Cleveland hasn't been this winter, but still, something about CHI town this week just felt especially bone-chilling. And there was so much static electricity on the sheets when I pulled down the covers of the hotel bed that I didn't want to get in. Like, at all. An absolute death trap. Then in the morning when I did my hair, it would not settle. The static was practically luminescent.

So, like an idiot, over a work dinner that evening I asked aloud whether there was any science to this whole notion of bitter cold yielding such ungodly static levels. Apparently there totally is. And it's probably something I should have learned about in the second grade. But, you know, whatever. Glad I could present myself as such a competent professional. Hopefully next time I return to the windy city it will be summer.

JAN
07

Polar Vortex

b2ap3_thumbnail_thermostat.jpg When I heard the power go off in the middle of the night last night, I went to immediate panic mode. And not just because it meant my heated mattress pad had stopped working. But mostly because it was -10 outside, and I wasn't sure how long my drafty Cleveland house could withstand that kind of temperature and still keep me and my cat alive.

This was the temerature in the house when I got up, brought to you courtesy of the mag flashlight my mother insisted I buy when I was setting up house in Cleveland. Also courtesy of Honeywell circa 1950.

At any rate, power and heat have been restored. The only thing I'm still without is water, as the pipes are still frozen. I showered at a friend's house, but it should be an interesting night if nature calls. I know, maybe I should have just slept somewhere else, but you separate a girl from her heated mattress pad, and you've got bigger problems.

NOV
12

Snow by Month

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I got home tonight to find that my driveway had been staked. And so it begins. Although technically it began a few weeks ago with the surprise snow that left me without power or heat for a few days (I did not handle it well) and continued today with the first Lake Effect Snow Warning of the season. I took this picture on my way out the door, and for a moment I thought everything was beautiful. Until I stepped on the driveway and realized there was ice under the snow.

As a person living far from the place I call home, I'm asked fairly often if I like living in Cleveland. The truth is that I do enjoy living here, and there's definitely something about its ghetto-ness that inspires fierce loyalty, but the downside of living here is the snow. It will always be the snow. To help myself get through the months and months of awful weather, I've devised this Chart of Optimism:

October snow = This hardly ever happens and if it does it will be like once so don't even worry about it.

November snow = Still nothing consistent on the snow front so don't even worry about it.

December snow = Multiple storms, sometimes back to back, may discourage you, but you'll be on vacation half the month anyway so don't even worry about it.

January snow = You're in the thick of it now, so take a trip to California and don't even worry about it.

February snow = Coming up against record-breaking winter snow totals, you'll wish you had pushed your California trip until now, but you didn't and it's done and you're basically out of vacation time, so there's no point in worrying about it.

March snow = Though storms continue, it's technically spring and you're almost there so don't even worry about it.

April snow = It could happen and might even drop a couple inches on your birthday, but it'll be the last you see of snow for six more months, so don't even worry about it.

I feel better already.

.

SEP
18

Holding Out

The first winter I was in Cleveland, I let the temperature in my house get down to 58 degrees before I turned on the heat. But it was September. So close to the heels of summer, I couldn't stomach the thought of turning on the heat. Five years later, I'm less tolerant of being cold when at home, but I still try to postpone the heat as long as I can. If I make it until October, I'm happy.

Yesterday morning when I was leaving for work, it was 43 degrees outside. Not exactly balmy. But I've got plenty of cushion room before I even think about turning on the heat. It's still 64 degrees inside. We'll see how long I last.