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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
JUL
14

Disneyland Annual Pass: Yay or Nay?

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It's like this. I live pretty close to Disneyland. As in, I could drive there, like, every weekend if I wanted to. An annual pass seems like a no-brainer, as it should be for EVERYONE who lives in SoCal, but as I've asked around since being here, I've yet to find anyone who actually has one. Worse, the one person I found who used to have one said she didn't use it enough to make it worth it. For clarification purposes, depending on the level of pass you buy, you have to go between 2 and 5 times in order to actually make it a savings. And from where I'm sitting (less than an hour from the Magic Kingdom), I have a hard time believing that ANYONE could find themselves not using the pass enough to make it worth it. Still, though, it's a chunk of change, not to mention that I don't have a plus one. A solo Disney trip is fine once, twice if need be, but every time you go?? Is that depressing? Maybe. Less fun? Probably. But is it worse than not going at all? Doubtful.

There's just such a stigma around "aloneness" and I know I should be doing what I can to push back. I hate that I feel, for lack of a better term, "lame" when at dinner or a movie by myself. Partly because it sucks to be reminded that pretty much everyone else in the world apparently has a date that night, and partly because I picture all the couples and families thinking pitiful, tragic thoughts about the Alone Girl in the corner. I know no one actually thinks about you even half as much as you think they do, but my natural instinct is to avoid doing social things alone. Which means that sometimes I miss out on something I really want to do/see. And isn't that a lot more pitiful and tragic than doing something alone? Yes. Yes, it is. I think I just made up my mind about the annual pass.

JUL
06

Let Freedom Ring

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I look at it differently now. Freedom. I'm older, yes. I'm wiser, yes. But mostly, I attribute this different perspective to the fact that my brother joined the Airforce a few years ago. So now I've got some skin in the game, see. And trust me, it makes a difference. Because how many of us have ever had to give up anything for our freedom? Even one single thing. I visited Arlington National Cemetery recently with a friend whose brother died while serving as an Airforce fighter pilot. It's not that I think my brother will meet the same fate, but he could. And that's a possibility that the average family in this country doesn't have to grapple with. To be honest, it tears at my heart a little every day.

Selfishly, I wish my brother had a different occupation, but I know I will be forever grateful for his service because it has changed the way I feel about our country and the people who serve to protect it. I can't hear the national anthem now without crying, nor can I see the face of a military member without seeing my brother. And especially having so recently driven across the expanse of the entire nation in a matter of days, I've been reminded just how much we have to protect. I know I'm a few days late, but to all who serve this nation, to their families, and to the families of those brave men and women who have paid the ultimate price, I say thank you. I am so proud to be an American.

JUL
04

Eat. Sleep. Beach.

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No, make that eat, work, beach, sleep. Or actually more like eat, work, bakery, beach, sleep. Or sometimes (like this weekend) just beach, sleep.

It's truly a wonder, the weather in San Diego. And while I'm very out of practice when it comes to applying sunscreen and hence have had pretty much a constant sunburn since moving here, most of the time I'm stuck in a sort of sun stupor, where I'm so baffled by how weather can possibly be this good all the time that I start suspecting I may not actually be awake.

If I'm not, this is pretty much the best dream ever.

JUN
27

Back to the Salt Mines

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Although that's hardly a fair comparison considering this ocean view is the view from my office. Not to mention that working for a gemology institute is, for me, kind of like heaven. There are gemstones lining the walls, beautiful displays in all the hallways, you walk past people's desks and they are covered with pictures of various gemstones, all being prepped and positioned with copy, and when you overhear meetings, people are talking about things like birthstones. It's all just so ideal for a person like me.

Not to say that I'm not on some level mourning the end of my gemology school sabbatical. Taking 6 months off got me a little too used to sleeping in, to wearing nothing dressier than jeans and a t-shirt, to having my time be completely my own. Less than a week into my new gig, I'm exhausted and wearing high heels all day is giving me blisters. But I confess that despite any discomforts this transition may present, it feels awfully nice to have weekends once again become so coveted. When you're not working, weekends don't really mean much. Sort of like not having seasons. Everything is always the same, so what difference does the day make? Incidentally, I've just moved to a place that has no seasons, but that's neither here nor there. Besides, I'm not sure 75 degrees and sunny ever gets old.

JUN
21

Top Ten Moving Moments

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Hello from the Pacific time zone. How good does that sound? No more staying up until midnight (or after) watching sporting events. I'd driven from Michigan to Utah once (and back again) many years ago, but this cross-country venture was truly that. From New York City to San Diego. I was surprised not just by how not horrendous the drive was, but also by how much I enjoyed it. I remember thinking on the last day of the trip that I was going to miss being on the road, starting somewhere new every morning, eating somewhere new each evening, seeing such beautiful and varied scenery in such quick succession. Here are some of my favorite moments from the trip.

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10. Driving by my old house

I never appreciated how palatial my house was. A 2 bedroom!! It's simply unheard of in NYC. There were so many nights I pined for the quiet of my old street, for the lack of any noise coming from above, beside, or below me. Seeing the house again made me smile.

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9. Impromptu Stops

This was a functional trip, one on which we made very few stops, but when we did veer off the path (like this pic in Indiana where we stopped to see my aunt T and uncle S), it was nice to change it up.

8. Cleaning out my storage unit

I had all of one day to empty my midwest storage unit. There wasn't much in the way of substantial items inside, save my writing desk and guitar (both of which I am thrilled to be reunited with), but to the medical resident who swung by and bought my bedroom set, I will be forever grateful. There simply would have been no room to take it with me.

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7. Passing through Omaha

I blame this on the boy who introduced me to the Counting Crows when I was 17. He was handsome and won me over by playing Omaha on the guitar, and passing through the midpoint of the trip had me waxing nostalgic. Not necessarily for the boy (who's now married with kids, although who isn't married with kids these days?), but for the summer I was 17. For me, discovering love and Adam Duritz go hand in hand.

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6. Beach proximity

My new place is 5 blocks from the ocean. And although I don't eat fish, it's nice to know I can stop at the fish shack on the way back and be served even in my sandy bare feet.

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5. Introducing Clementine to her cousins

Traveling with a cat went smoother than I thought it would (meaning we only lost her once), and although it was by far the scariest of all our stops for poor Clementine, my sister's house found some little boys very eager to meet their feline cousin.

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4. The NYC send-off

It's my favorite building. Honestly, it is. And the trouble with going to the top is that you can't see it...because you're on it. So the Top of the Rock became my favorite place for viewing the Empire State Building, and you can bet that's where I spent my last NYC sunset.

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3. Mountain Day

Driving cross country is largely flat. And consequently easy. You set the cruise control and you are golden until you stop for the night 10 hours later. But mountain driving (Colorado mostly) is steep, it's winding, it's got a lot of pesky construction, and if you do manage to find the apparently one gas station within a 50-mile radius, you'll still have to drive 12 miles to the station after you've taken the exit. That said, my day of mountain driving was perhaps the most beautiful I've ever spent. At literally every turn you're surrounded by mountains, trees, rivers running alongside the road, sky, clouds. It was hard not to look away, and at the risk of waxing spiritual, it was good for the soul to be reminded of how much beauty there is to be had on this rolling sphere of ours.

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2. Catching a Cavs game

By now you should know how I feel about Cleveland and my beloved Cavaliers. Though the game didn't go my way, I'd always wanted to see them play in the finals, and I was lucky to be able to attend a game while passing through. To cheer alongside 20,561 others inside of Quicken Loans Arena once more was a definite trip highlight.

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1. Roadtripping with my mom

And of course none of this would have been possible without my mom. Or at least I can't imagine it being possible. Going it alone on such a trek (which I actually had believed for a time was my preferred method) now seems so foolish, and knowing now how much she helped and supported me before, during, and after the trip, I definitely couldn't have done it without her. Not to mention, I just got to spend 11 solid days with my mom, and what adult can say that? Lucky doesn't quite cut it, and after dropping her off at the airport yesterday, my passenger seat felt very empty.

JUN
10

Goodbye to all that

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I've been reading a collection of essays written by female writers who have at some point lived in (and left) New York. It's amazing how conflicted we writer folk can be about this city, and in almost every essay is what I've come to dub an inevitable waffling between how we could never leave new York and the fact that we can't leave fast enough because being here is, at most, draining and shallow, and, at worst, sort of sucky. In these essays there are three camps of people: those who love New York, those who hate New York, and those who--for better or for worse--feel an unnamed sense of belonging, pull, and attraction to being in New York. This final group are those who even after moving away end up moving back; those who even if they choose not to move back still pine for the city every day, wish they were there again, home.

I suppose you could say I belong to this third group of people, although I'm not really sure why. It's not like New York was ever mine. Certain of the essayists make quite clear, in fact, how annoyed they are with these so-called baby New Yorkers who move to the city with big dreams and after a few months of living with a bunch of roommates in a small flat in the East Village start going around claiming the city as their own. But when I say I belong to this third group, it's because my attraction to New York is something I cannot help. It's wired into me. I know this because living here has been hard. I've found many aspects of it much more challenging than I had ever anticipated, yet the thought of leaving tomorrow has me weepy.

To me, New York City equals possibility. On a grand scale, certainly, and the fact that I've been able to complete and fulfill a dream while here certainly boosts the life-making fantasy I've got going in my mind when I think of Manhattan. But I'm talking about possibility on a small scale, too. Because no other city is like this. No other city offers so much in the way of daily activities, eateries, or attractions. Any day could take you in any number of directions and result in any number of outcomes, favorites, and new friends. As an introvert, it's not even as if I was taking full advantage of this, but the point is that it's there for you when you want it. And there is comfort in that. Not to suggest that I'm sad about beginning a new chapter on the other side of the country (translation: I am totally sad), but I know every night will find me wondering what everyone in New York is up to, feeling the way you feel in dreams when you've been left behind, beating off with a stick this annoying sense that a bunch of fun is being had without you. Having now lived in New York, I know it will absolutely be true. To quote the essay that opens the book, "California has taught me this: you can take the girl out of New York, but all that accomplishes is taking the girl out of New York." I guess we'll just have to see.

JUN
03

End of an Era

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People have asked me what it feels like now that I'm a gemologist. And while it's hard to say that "the same" and "amazing" can both be valid answers, they sort of are. It's like you feel after your birthday...no older, but you'd like to think you are changed somehow nonetheless. And of course every day there is still the recollection of last week's exam, how hard it was, learning I passed, the satisfaction and amazement still fresh.

I can sum up post-gemology life in two succinct bullets:

1. I've resumed the writing of my third book. Feels good to be back in the saddle. I still have no idea really how this one will turn out, especially since it'll be my most personal book yet, so there are some jitters. But as always, I'm looking forward to how it comes together.

2. I've accepted a job. It's in the gemology field, so experiment Quit My Corporate America Job to Become a Gemologist and Switch Careers in the end has been a complete success.

Of course, going back to work can be summed up in two equally succinct bullets:

1. My time will no longer be my own. (ie. no more sleeping in, whiling away the afternoons reading in the park, doing really whatever I want all day long) And the end of such a satisfying sabbatical would make even the most stout-hearted cry like a baby.

2. I am leaving New York. Speaking of crying like a baby. I always assumed if a gemology job came my way it would be here. But it's actually on the other side of the country, which gives me only a few final days to get as much city time in as I possibly can.

So I'm going to stop writing and go outside.

MAY
27

Gemologist

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It is a bit sad that as we grow older, there seem to be fewer dreams to chase. Maybe not so much because we in actuality have fewer dreams, but because it just gets so easy to justify not chasing them. It's too hard. It's too late. Our lives are already too set. People depend on us. Our lifestyles might suffer. We fear failure. Our lives took other paths. Other things are more important.

It's been almost 4 years since I decided to pursue becoming a gemologist, a childhood dream of mine, and I battled many of these justifications over the years that preceded my decision, and certainly many times over these 4 years they have continued to surface to some extent...particularly when it came down to giving up a successful, lucrative career in order to sufficiently focus on finishing. I have worked harder at this than possibly anything else. And even though my finishing mattered less than other educational pursuits and goals usually do (this one started as a hobby, for crying out loud, and neither my job nor livelihood depended on it), it's come to mean more to me than any of the others. Because this one was for me. This one was for my childhood-and-teenaged self who always said I would. This one was for passion.

The culmination of a gemology education is a grueling six-hour exam, one you must get 100% on in order to pass. It's an exam I have dreaded from the first day of my first class, an exam which as recently as last week has had me in tears over the impossibility of ever being good enough to pass. So it wasn't exactly confidence I felt as I walked to campus yesterday morning for my first attempt. Yet if I told you there was something about the song that came on my iPod when I turned onto Jewelry Way, something about the first few stones going so smoothly, something about the look in my eye from the reflection in the campus bathroom mirror as I washed the RI liquid off my hands after I'd handed in the test that told me I had it, would you know what I mean? My instructor handed back my perfect test, and I walked back to my apartment having fulfilled a lifelong dream. Like I said, these kinds of experiences (ie. chasing and fulfilling dreams) don't come around every day, so I'm going to revel. I'm going to revel long and hard, and then I'm going to find myself a new dream. I'm telling you right now though, this one'll be hard to beat.

MAY
24

From Readers: Jewel Transformation

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Reader Roxayn submitted a jewelry story, and I loved it so much that I wanted to share it. I always love hearing from readers, so if you have a jewelry story of your own, send it in!! Remember that you get a free book if yours gets selected for the blog.

I remember as a young, almost teenager wearing rings, bracelets, necklaces adorned with turquoise.  I loved it.  And then I didn't.  I hid them away in a corner of a jewelry box embarrassed by my passion for turquoise.  I switched to all things sparkling and gold. Fast forward a few decades through dozens of glittering earrings, jeweled necklaces, and bangled bracelets.  Imagine my distress when I realized my cute, darling daughter's birthstone was not glittery or faceted as her name, Jewel, would suggest.  My Jewel had a birthstone of turquoise.  It didn't sparkle like her princess tiaras or her glitter splashed tutus.  Flat, lumpy turquoise seemed to be such a misfit among the other jeweled celebrations of birth—and totally inadequate to celebrate my Jewel.  I said as little as possible about birthstones.

I love to make jewelry.  I found a necklace I really wanted to make—and Jewel, now a tween, asked if she could make one too.  We went on a shopping excursion to find just the right beads.  As we gazed at the variety of sparkling, dazzling beads, I wondered how she would choose which pink ones to use.  "Momma, don't you just love these?"  As I turned to see her selection, shock hit.  You can guess what she chose—turquoise beads.  "Yes," I said, trying to hide my surprise.  "They will look so pretty, and did you know that turquoise is my birthstone?" she asked. I did know. And as we chatted and laughed all through the creative process, I came to know—through her eyes—just how beautiful turquoise can be.  She loved it because it was her birthstone, and for me, it became beautiful in her hands.

MAY
20

Slow Living

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I took this picture while sitting in Washington Square Park eating fresh bread and cheese (From Amy's and Murray's, respectively) and washing it all down with a beverage from Papaya Dog. If you've read the book pictured above, New Slow City, this will all seem apropos. And not a bad way to spend an afternoon, am I right? Nice work if you can get it. Which is what I've been wresting over since reading the book. Not really slow living in general, because when it comes to the concepts (savoring meals instead of wolfing down fast food, taking in the buildings and birds and other sights you pass instead of hurrying along with your face buried in your smart phone, seeking out urban sanctuaries to temporarily escape from city chaos), I'm completely on board. I mean, aren't you? Think of your own life and tell me it wouldn't be bettered by such changes of pace. But a major aspect of the book deals with this whole notion of taking back your time, and I'm a bit skepitcal about how realistic it is to do that.

Of course, having recently quit my job, I'm the absolute poster child for taking back your time. Because I did. I took it back. All of it. So when I recently read New Slow City, I did so with a chorus of "Amen, brother!" dancing around in my head, because seriously, why's we gotta be working so much, America? And while I quit my job for a specific reason (to do something I've always wanted to do [become a gemologist] in a city in which I've always wanted to live [NYC]), I'm definitely capitalizing on all the benefits (to heart, mind, and soul) of living a slower life. If it is within your power to do the same, you should.

But this fancy-free phase of my life is of course only temporary, and I think it's actually going to make it a bit harder to go back to a 9-5 after this. (I feel Plato's Allegory of the Cave coming on...) Not to mention, most of us are slaved to a 9 to 5 *period*, in that there is no financially feasible way for us to escape or even scale back. "Um, boss, how about I start working part time from now on?" "How about you give me more vacation time?" "How about I work from home?" Most of us simply can't pull these kinds of strings, to which I'll say two things. First, if you've never asked these questions, they are worth a try. Who knows? They might work. Of course if they do, I don't want to hear about it because I hate you. And second, if you're like most people and can't actually put in less time at the office, then do a quick inventory of your life as a whole (where you spend your time, to what extent you disconnect when you finally DO have time away, what gems in your own city you've been too busy to take advantage of...) and figure out what slow(er) living means for you. I promise it will make a big difference; that you will be less stressed and your life more full of the things that truly matter. Like fresh bread and cheese, a bood book, and a patch of sunshine. We can all make time for that.

MAY
12

The Call for Customer Service

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I consider myself a reasonable person. I don't lose my temper at the retail counter. I pay a higher price when something is rung up incorrectly (except the NYC toilet paper incident a few months back, which was so humiliating to me that I will likely never speak up again). I've never sent a meal back, even when something was incorrect. I don't chew out the postal workers over how few counters they have open at one time. True that I don't like confrontation, but mostly these things just aren't that big of a deal. While I may have to eat a salad with onion or miss the train I was hoping to catch or pay a little more for cat food, life goes on.

There is one area, however, that gets the better of me almost every time there is a problem, and that's air travel. Granted, for as often as I travel, I've had what I would consider disasters only a handful of times, but this past weekend I experienced a doozy when a particular airline, we'll call them Shrontier, changed my departure time by a whopping 6 hours and didn't communicate it to me, causing me to miss my flight. What shocked me even more than Shrontier's lack of communication was their lack of willingness to own up to their mistake, their lack of willingness do to anything to help me. And most shocking of all, they expected me to buy a replacement ticket! I fine scheme that is, and even as I've tried to report the incident after the fact, Shrontier's stance remains, "It wasn't our fault." Some system on their end shows it was communicated by email (not sufficient, if you ask me) even though there is no such email in my inbox, trash, or junk mail.

I'm just wondering what happened to customer service. What happened to taking care of your customers, to the Nordstrom-like attitude that accommodates customer complaints and makes things right at even the vaguest hint of dissatisfaction? Especially since in this case, there was nothing vague about it. Shrontier was blatantly at fault, and it's disappointing that airlines don't try harder to cultivate loyal customers. So this is me, openly shaming Shrontier. For losing me as a customer, and for failing to do the right thing.

MAY
05

Photo Op

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Food Tours of NY is my favorite NYC-based food tour company. And not just because they have my picture on their website. I know, I know, it doesn't even look like me. In fact, when I took this Greenwich Village tour for the second time last month and mentioned to the tour guide that my picture was on the website, she replied, "You don't look familiar." "I'm the one in the kelly green coat eating a cannoli," I replied. Still nothing.

The only reason I'd brought it up is because a photographer accompanied our tour group last month and took no less than one billion pictures of us at the various stops and tastings. This surely means that I was caught on camera in any number of unflattering mid-bite poses, including one particularly awkward moment at Joe's Pizza where I tried (unsuccessfully) for several seconds to get all the cheese hanging off my slice into a single bite. Of course, the reason for the photographer's presence in the first place is so the Greenwich Village tour website can be "redone," which does make me a little sad, because I like being a part of it. Even with greasy cheese all over my mouth I know I would still be a part of it, but a much less flattering part. #savethecannolipic

 

APR
30

Coast to Coast

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When you live in New York, a trip to California is, well, far. Especially when you'll only be there for 32 hours. Not that I mind. Plane rides give me lots of uninterrupted reading time, not to mention the chance to wax poetic about the beauty to be seen between coastlines. And I'm not just talking about the plane's-eye view of mountains, lakes, and perfectly divided crop squares, but also the variance in the destinations themselves. The night before the trip, I took a sailboat (I think the actual term was "tall ship," but whatever, it had sails) out to the Statue of Liberty at sunset and then sailed along the skyline as it darkened and the buildings began to sparkle, and the next night I was driving along the palm tree lined California coast. I guess what I'm saying is that experiencing a laidback beach town and the busiest, most populated city in America within such a short timeframe sure makes you grateful that we can experience so many different kinds of beautiful within this country of ours. That one of these kinds of beautiful comes with an In-N-Out Burger, well, that's just a bonus.

APR
24

The Fashion Show

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I consider myself a decent writer. On most days, anyway. Sometimes. Occasionally. Ok, fine. I once wrote something that was pretty good. And while the photographer friend who asked me this past week to help her take notes on an upcoming couture bridal line that she'd been invited to shoot probably just needed a warm body who could tell the difference between tulle and chiffon (note to self: I can't), I went into it feeling like being a writer would really lend itself well to such a task. These notes were going to sound good

After having read my notes, however, I can confirm that not only do they not sound good, they don't even sound like different dresses. Seriously, the descriptions sound so similar ("lace overlay, plunge v neck, open back, rhinestones, beads, pearls," etc.) that the photographer will likely struggle to match my descriptions with their respective pictures...which was pretty much my only job. If anyone has ever been out of their element, it was me at this shoot. When the photographer turned and asked if I would note the "blush tulle" on a particular dress, I know I made a face. A confused face. Because the tulle (which on the very next dress was referred to by the designer as chiffon...wait, what??) looked like the exact same ivory shade as everything else.

At any rate, despite my certainty that I was 0% helpful, the line was beautiful, and it made me resolve that if I ever marry to somehow incorporate tulle into my dress. Or was that chiffon?

APR
21

Sighting

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I think life can really be divided into two phases: before seeing George Clooney in real life and after seeing George Clooney in real life. I've just entered the latter phase. Do I look different?

APR
16

The Bucket List

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I've been plugging away at the NYC version of my bucket list. My birthday was probably the greatest progress I've made yet--Pippin Vintage Jewelry (which I've since been back to), the elusive Central Park Carousel, etc.--and since I last updated this blog, I've gone to my first Knicks game and seen the Rockettes.

But of course, the NYC version of the bucket list is different from the overall Life version of the bucket list, and also since I last updated my blog, I took a little road trip and got to cross something off that I've always wanted to do (or see, I should say). And that is the cherry blossom festival in DC. True that they're just blossoms, and it's not as if one doesn't know what to expect when reading and hearing about the event ("blossoms everywhere" "a sea of blossoms" "blossoms all the way around [whatever that small body of water is called that is right there]"), but still, being there and seeing them was pretty breathtaking. Aside from the crowds (we hit it right at the peak weekend), it was a glorious weekend. And even though you know they will be, it still makes you shake your head in awe about there being so many blossoms. So many blossoms all in bloom at the same time. Indeed, there were large stretches of grass shaded completely by nothing but blossoms.

I'll shut up about the blossoms, but if you have a chance to see this one at some point in your life, you should. It smells divine, and it reminds you that the world truly is a beautiful place. At least DC is. On the second weekend in April.

APR
07

The Birthday List

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I made a list this year. Not of what I wanted, but what I wanted to do on my birthday. It's the first time I've lived in such a big city for my birthday, and also the first time I've been unemployed, so it was really the first birthday I've had where I felt not only like the whole day was really mine, but also like the sky was indeed the limit. Want to go get a cronut? Do it. Finally ride the carousel at Central Park that you always seem to get lost before finding? (It's a big park, OK?) Go for it. Want to try on a 2-carat necklace at Tiffany's, visit the 91st Street Garden, spend some time among the vendors at Chelsea Market, and peruse the cases at Pippin Vintage Jewelry? Knock yourself out. Want to walk the High Line, spend some time at the big 5th Avenue library, and then meet the girls for dessert at Serendipity? Go right ahead. And on top of all this, would you also like to spend some portion of the day reading and still another portion writing? Then by all means, do. And so I did. Indeed I've been getting comments all day from friends and family encouraging me to "live it up" and "take time for me," which is exactly what I did today.

Today's birthday comes on the heels of an outing I took yesterday to the Green-Wood Cemetery, which, naturally, has me thinking about life and death. About the fact that we only have a finite number of days. I realize we have to provide for ourselves, we have to have responsibility, we have to do stuff we don't want to do. But how worth celebrating then are the days where we can truly do whatever we want. Exactly what we want. And only what we want. When you find yourself experiencing such a day (or such a season in my case), treasure it, document it, and maybe make yourself a list so you don't leave anything out. Preferably typed on a vintage typewriter.

APR
02

Let's Talk About Writing

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I'm ashamed of how seldom I actually talk about writing on this blog. Further, I am ashamed about how little writing I've done since moving to NY period. You could say it's because I've been spending so much time studying gemology (true) and exploring the city (true), which is why I'm happy to report that since moving to my new apartment, I've gotten back into a bit of a writing groove. You could say it's because I'm ahead of schedule on my gemology studies (true) and that since Levain Bakery is now 5 minutes away from me, I really should probably never leave my apartment (true).

In any case, for my handful of fans out there who may be interested, I'm probably about 70% done with the writing for my next book. Still feels like a long way to go, but there is an end in sight. Now, before I convince myself that I need to walk down the street and get a cookie for being 70% done, I'm going to begin the next chapter. (Let's say cookie at 75%. That seems fair.)

MAR
30

Moving

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Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted to move to New York. And so she sold everything she owned and found a darling studio on the Upper East Side. Everything was perfect until the girl's downstairs neighbor revealed herself to be of despicable, cat-hating character, and the girl was forced (OK, she could have stayed, but it would have been at the expense of her cat, who was not able to run around freely without getting both of them verbally harrassed by said evil neighbor) to move. And so she did.

Truth be told, having to move after only 6 months broke my heart a little. Partly because I really loved my apartment. I loved how it was furnished. Not particularly well, but it had everything I needed (down to things like pots and pans, extra sets of sheets, lamps and mirrors). I also loved how safe I felt. The Upper East Side, while an absolute pain to get to and from (this city *really* needs a crosstown train...or a subway line further east than Lex), is delightful, and I will miss it very much.

It's not that I feel unsafe here in my new apartment in West Harlem, it's just that safety is something I have to think about now, whereas before I really didn't. My first night here I don't think I slept a wink. It's much noisier, and from the hoots and hollers one hears, my writer mind is busy painting pictures of all the no-good these Harlemites are up to. And remember how I said I sold everything before moving to NY? Well, my new place isn't furnished, so I'm sitting here typing this on a writing desk in an otherwise empty apartment, and while I'm not exactly regretting having sold everything back at my garage sale in Cleveland (most of my things I didn't use and so didn't need), it's just that had I known I'd only be in the furnished UES studio for 6 months, I might not have sold quite so much.

But hindsight is 20/20, and so I'm focusing on the positive aspects of this move. 1: I got away from the evil, cat-hating neighbor who should seriously be committed. 2: It's so much easier (and faster) to get places now...chalk one up for the west side. 3: My rent is, like, SO much cheaper now. 4: I get to do lots of shopping in the near future. 5: New adventures surely await on this side of the park.

MAR
24

Time Travel

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I recently read Amy Poehler's memoir, and while I was pretty disappointed by it, one thing she said that has stuck with me is the idea of time travel. Amy says she believes in it, as there are people, places, and things throughout our lives that can instantly transport us to another time. It's just the sort of ethereal, sentimental notion that I tend to gravitate toward, and as if to prove her point, this weekend at the MET it happened to me. I was transported.

There's a painting that hung in the living room of my childhood home for years. A mother at the piano with her two daughters, one holding a violin and the other looking on. My own mother played the piano, me and my older sister both played the violin (although she for much longer than I because she enjoyed it far more), and so the painting always seemed to fit perfectly in our home. I was never really sure what happened to the painting (when I asked Mom this weekend what had ever happened to it, she said it was ruined by one of my brothers, which figures), and in fact hadn't even thought about the painting in many, many years, but as I turned a corner and saw it hanging in the center of an alcove at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was hit with a pang of what can only be described as deja vu. (I'd seen this before.) Mixed with surprise. (Who knew this painting was actually, like, famous?) And extreme happiness. (I almost teared up, because it still reminded me of us, and of my very happy, musical childhood.)

I mean, yeah, it's embarrassing that I had never been to the MET, even after all my vacations to NYC and now having lived here for almost six months. And sure, I feel pretty sheepish about never having known of the painting's popularity or the identity of its artist (it's a Renoir). Nor did I have any concept of where to even find the art I was looking for while at the museum. "Do you have any Van Gogh?" I finally asked the lady at the information desk, anxious to see something I might recognize amidst the sea of sculpture and canvas. She directed me to where I found Rodin, Monet, Picasso, and several others that I recognized, although the highlight was, of course, the Renoir. Such an instant connection (by an object) to a time and place now so far removed from my current life and location has me a believer in Poehler's concept of time travel. There's not much else in her book I believe in, so I was grateful to come away with at least one nugget of wisdom.