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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
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.

MAR
19

The City that Never Sleeps. Ever.

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Since moving to New York, I've never slept so horribly. It really all boils down to one reason, and it's because no one else sleeps either. I'm being completely serious. I fall asleep each night (after much tossing and turning and shaking my fist at the wall) to the sound of the TV blaring from the apartment next to me. That might not sound very unusual, but when I wake up at 2:00 AM, and, let's be honest, again at 4:00 AM and maybe a few more times in between, this woman is still watching TV. The drone of TV voices and movie scores is constant. I hear the same types of noises from downstairs as well, only the woman downstairs--in addition to having it in for my cat--has some type of symphonic stereo system, and whenever there's something on the TV or radio that she thinks the whole building ought to hear (usually breaking news about terrorists), she hooks that thing up and lets it rip. I once ran into the news-blaring, cat-hating woman at the door of our building. It was midnight. I was just returning from Times Square where I had seen a show. She was just returning from doing her grocery shopping. Groceries! At midnight! What are these lives people live??

My window overlooks a garden and courtyard area, and across the courtyard is another apartment building. Most people don't close their blinds (including me), which means at night, my walls are lit up by the various flashes and colors from all the cross-courtyard big-screen TVs. There's one in particular that is truly spectacular, and I find myself looking up and over through this window throughout the day. Not so much because of its size, but because I'm amazed that I've never once seen that TV turned off. It is literally always on. Whether children's cartoons, children and adult video games, movies, or TV shows, that television is a part of every moment of that family's daily life. I certainly indulge in a little TV myself, usually reruns of The Big Bang Theory or Gilmore Girls (did I tell you about the time I ran into Alexis Bledel in Lord & Taylor??), but all the TVs around me make me grateful that it's not a huge part of my life. Grateful that there's a stack of library books on my table. Grateful that each day's to-do list includes things like gemology assignments and finishing the next chapter of my manuscript. Grateful to have hobbies and pursuits and interests outside of the tube. (That said, do you think the people across the courtyard would be open to having guests over for March Madness? Asking for a friend.)

MAR
16

No. 1 Seed

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I love March Madness. I really do. Considering that I much prefer the NBA to college ball, it really all just comes down to the competition of it all; the fact that with a bracket, I get to have my own say. And I like winning things. Especially coming off of my Oscar season ballot (which, incidentally, didn't do so well for me this year...stupid Birdman sweeping in and winning everything), I'm partial to major events on which I can wager a guess...and potentially perform better than all my friends. (Note: I have only won a March Madness pool once, and it was quite possibly the best day of my life.)

Of course there's a more wistful reason why I love March Madness, the simple reason being that doing well requires you to bet against the odds. True that no 16 seed has ever beat a 1 seed, but there also hasn't been a single year where all four no. 1 seeds made it to the final four. So, see? It's a competition that actually requires risk-taking in order to be successful. And to me, that's a good parallel for life. Of course, you're talking to the girl that recently quit her job in order to pursue a dream, so of course you're going to get that from me. The point is, we should take more risks. The trouble with the bracket is that there are so many potential upsets that it's hard to know which ones to choose. And so we go with the safest, surest path (picking all no. 1 seeds) because we're not sure what else to do and we just want to minimize the damage.

I'll certainly be the first to admit that no one is ever sure. You can research, you can have hunches, you can have favorites, but at the end of the day, you can't know. You just have to start picking. And if you pick only the top seeds, you are guaranteed to be wrong. Guaranteed. So think about that. Not only as you fill out your bracket, but also as you approach this next season of life. Pick a few upsets. They might pay off.

MAR
12

B&B, anyone?

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This is the Center Lovell Inn. It's in Maine, and if you've seen the headlines that have been positively everywhere this week, you'll know that the current owner, who won the inn over twenty years ago in--get this--an essay contest, is offering dreamers the chance to win the same contest once again. Basically, you write an essay, and if you win, the whole inn is yours. Lock, stock, and barrel. Considering that it's worth almost $1MM and that all you have to commit to is running the inn for 1 year prior to selling it yourself (or doing whatever else you want to do with the property), it's a pretty sweet deal.

I know what you're thinking...because this isn't exactly like winning a vacation, now is it? The winner would be tasked with running the B&B, the tallest of tall orders. Especially considering that most of us--very close to all of us--have absolutely no business running a country inn. And yet, why is it that I think every single person capable of composing sentences should enter this contest? It's just so...romantic. So unbelievable. And for the person who wins, so life changing. So adventurous. So hands-down, bat-shit crazy. Two hundred words is not many; it's fewer than what you see here in this very blog post. And how endearing that the next owner of the inn will be the person who can be as inspiring and persuasive as they are succinct. So get out your paper and pens, everyone. There's an inn to win.

MAR
06

My TV Debut

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Being unemployed in New York City is an interesting thing. You'll recall that I am unemployed by choice, having quit my corporate job in order to get my gemology certification in preparation to transition my career to something in the gemology realm. But back to the point, which is that I am unemployed. And as such, I have some time on my hands.

Of course a portion of this time is spent exploring the city, eating cronuts and strolling through parks and whiling away afternoons at museums and libraries. I love this portion. Almost as much as the portion that is spent studying gems every day. Add to all this the fact that I get to sleep in every day, and I'm pretty much living a fantasy life right now. Of course what I'm not telling you is there's a little tiny baby portion that's spent beating off with a stick such thoughts as "why on earth did you quit your job" and "this is never going to work" and "Tali, you be crazy," but admittedly, this portion is pretty negligible.

What I really wanted to write about today is that having more flexibility with my time has allowed me to devote a portion of it to volunteering. I've begun volunteering with DOROT, an organization that serves the elderly population of NYC. And on the opposite end of the age spectrum, I've also been volunteering at the Kravis Children's Hospital. They have a TV show they broadcast to all the kids' rooms, and I volunteer as host of the show. Now, I know what you're thinking. I mean, how hard can it be to host a kids show? You just smile and wave and say funny things, right? The answer, in fact, is yes. That's literally all the host has to do, and yet by the time the camera had stopped rolling the other night, I was sweating. (Although can I blame that on the lights? I'm going to blame that on the lights.) I legitimately surprised myself by how bad I was at being host. And if you think I'm exaggerating my badness, I can report that the camera woman really only kept the camera on me for about 60 seconds, which was really a shame, because I was wearing a shirt with dinosaurs on it. For the kids.

The thing is, I don't really know how to get better at being a TV host. I don't know why it's so much more difficult to entertain kids on camera than it is in person. Mostly, I don't know if my continuing to volunteer is really going to help the hospital's efforts of brightening the days of sick children, but I'm determined to keep going back. I'll just need to get some new shirts first. And maybe a clown nose. I mean, that's funny in any language, am I right? (Don't answer that.)

 

MAR
02

The Typewriter Doctor

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I've always hoped to one day own a vintage typewriter. Not because I would type my manuscripts on it or because it would have any practical purpose whatsoever, but as a writer, it's just, well, nostalgic. Plus, imagine the possibilities! I could type my to-do lists! Mail notes to friends and family not in my own uneven chicken scratch, but in a nice, neat row of measured typeface! Heck, even just looking over at my writing desk were it be topped with one of these babies would make me smile.

When I saw an old Smith Corona for sale at a thrift store over the weekend, I snatched it up for a song and immediately looked up a typewriter repair shop (reason #13948 why I love NYC...you can find anything). Of course I hoped what anyone in my situation would have hoped: that my little Smith Corona could be restored to working condition. I mean, what a steal that would have been! To have gotten it so cheap. Sadly, after spending a morning at the typewriter doctor's Gramercy office, my little machine was diagnosed as not salvageable. I mean, he could have done it. But it would have cost more than simply buying one of the already restored machines he had on the shelf. And given all the twisted mayhem inside, even if he did restore mine, it wasn't likely to perform particularly well. So I opted to buy one of the beauties on the shelf. (Happy tax return to me.)

I can only blame what I then told the typewriter doctor on my somewhat dopey state (and I can only blame my dopey state on being in the presence of so many darling typewriters), but it struck me in that moment--the customer before me having just been reunited with the machine his grandmother gave him when he was 13; "It's worth it," this customer told me when he heard the doctor tell me how much it would cost to restore the machine I brought in--that being in this line of work must be incredibly satisfying.

"This must be a really fun line of work," I told the typewriter doctor.

In my fantasy world, he would smile wistfully and tell me that it was. In reality, he raised his eyebrows a bit and stared at me while struggling to come up with words strong enough to convey just how wrong I was. I don't know. Maybe a job is always a job to the person doing it. But the way I see it, if yours somehow involves vintage typewriters, you've got a leg up over the rest of us.