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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
DEC
31

New

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If you must know, this wasn't actually taken at midnight. I cheated. I was there though, and I have some surpsingly close pictures of Ryan Seacrest to prove it. For the record, I am thoroughly embarrassed to have taken any pictures of him at all. Honestly, how does a person get such billing power with so little to show for it in the way of talent? Not that I'm saying that Ryan Seacrest has no talent, but what has he ever really done to show us otherwise? He can speak, he can speak into a microphone, he can speak into a microphone while keeping a show moving along at the proper pace, he can speak into a microphone while keeping a show moving along at the proper pace and simultaneously making all the girls he interviews look taller than they really are. Anyway, how did we get here? Almost a full paragraph on Ryan Seacrest?

You'll recall that I love NYE. I love Times Square. And I love that the confetti released at midnight is made up of wishes that the general public has hand-written on each little square. (See Hopes and Dreams. Or Wishing. Or even NYE Reboot.) The wish I made in 2013 that was shot into the sky a year ago didn't come true, and that's OK. It was sappy and stupid and something I knew I wouldn't get anyway, I just felt at the moment when I scrawled it on a tiny blue confetti square that it was still important for the universe to know it's what I would have wanted. This year's wish, the one released tonight, is another gamble, but it's a go big or go home kind of night.

In my book, wishes are things a person can't control herself. They need a little extra help, luck, fate, providence, miracle, whatever you want to call it. They aren't things you can bring about yourself. I love this aspect of New Years that the Times Square confetti brings, but I also love the chance New Years gives for us all to make resolutions that we can accomplish on our own. How empowering! And not because any of you are keeping track at home, but simply because I believe there is power in formally recording your goals, here are the three things I am resolving to accomplish this year:

1. Complete my gemology certification

2. Write my third book

3. Make a career switch (to something in the gemology realm)

It's going to take a lot of work, but I really think I can do it. Of course, everyone says that on January 1. It's why gyms are so crowded in January. Everyone is still on the wagon. So I'll check back in with you in a year. (And, um, also 2-3 times per week until then.) And as for my wish? I hope it enjoyed the ride down. I bet the view is pretty spectacular from up there.

DEC
28

The Pacific

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Ditto everything I said in my last post. There are days when it wins me over. Although I've yet to experience a day on the Oregon Coast that did not win me over.

DEC
24

Roots and Wings

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I love living in New York, but it's hard to beat this view out your back window. Yes, I love living in New York, but I'd be lying if I said it was stress free. Au contraire. It's noisy, it's expensive, and the woman downstairs keeps whacking her ceiling as hard as she can every time my cat runs across the room. Of course, these things seem less significant when compared to all the wonderful things about living in New York, but still, there are days it wears me down. There are days when the woman downstairs wins. 

All of this is to say that I am enjoying my extended Christmas vacation in Oregon perhaps much more than I have in other years. The contrast is so refreshing. Everything is quiet and the air smells clean and piney. There are tree-covered hills in every direction. There are high school friends raising families. There is my jeweler who asked me once again yesterday how long before I am ready to buy his store. Of course, these things seem less appealing when compared to the economic challenges and realities of living in rural, southwestern Oregon, but still, there are days when it wins me over. There are days when the city can't compare.

I know, I know. A girl can certainly have roots and wings, and I guess I should consider myself fortunate that both places are so special to me. And with that, I must return to my Christmas Eve activities. There's a pie to bake, presents to wrap, a party to attend. I can promise that before stepping into the building tonight, pie in hand, I will pause, surrounded by green on all sides, and take a deep breath in. And it will smell like rain and trees. More than that, it will smell like home.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

DEC
16

We Are So Young

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For all the time I’ve spent thinking about what to include in my routine were I a stand-up comedian (for some unspoken reason I feel compelled to be prepared for the hypothetical scenario of the mic being suddenly thrust upon me), I’ve only ever been able to come up with two jokes. The first involves the notion of more athletic coaches following baseball’s suit and dressing in the uniforms donned by their respective players. Bela Karolyi in a leotard? Come on, that’s funny.

The second joke has to do with the wigs worn by noblemen in eras past. You know the ones. Long, poofy, curly. Downright feminine, and always either white or brown. You never see any depictions of graying wigs. No brown with a few stray grays. No salt and pepper. No gradients when it comes to this notion of follicle maturity. Which means that at some point then, a man simply flipped the switch. And can’t you imagine a formerly brown-wigged man showing up to work one day suddenly donning a mound of the brightest white? “Rough night?” his comrades would ask.

Because I am not a stand-up comedian—please thank whatever Deity you subscribe to for this—this second joke actually gives me pause. Because I am a writer, it sends me into a bit of a pensive and aching analysis of youth—how and when it ends, and the much more haunting question of who decides when it ends? What is the threshold for being young?

Like much of the world, I was moved by the late Marina Keegan’s final essay, printed in the university newspaper just prior to her graduation from Yale. It’s not just that her words—“We are so young. We have so much time.”—became so cruelly ironic when she was killed in a car accident five days after graduation. It’s that her message continues to turn my stomach into a pit of schoolyard angst over whether or not I can still include myself in Marina’s collective “We.”

She wasn’t talking to me, of course. I’m no longer twenty-two. Aside from age or college—something that categorizes us as young by default—how do we know if we still qualify? As long as the workers in Times Square see your small frame and hand you a booster for your theater seat? As long as the guys behind the counter at Artichoke Pizza call you “Doll” on your way out the door? As long as your eyes are clear and your muscles strong and your back straight? As long as you are not old? Does not being old equal being young?

Marina offers an interesting perspective on the matter, one much more satisfying than the ice cream cone of belief that equates youth to how young a person feels; how young he acts. Cautioning her fellow classmates against the notion that it is ever too late to “begin a beginning” or that “we must settle for continuance, for commencement,” Marina makes a connection between youth and possibility. “What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over.” Think about that. We are so young.

What makes young people so young is not only the myriad of choices still to be made, but also the ability to change course—perhaps drastically—even after those choices have been made. Using this criteria, then, I’d wager it could encompass a much larger percentage of the population if only we would stop looking at our decisions as undoable. Stop looking at our books as written, our paths as taken. It’s the reason why I’m in New York in the first place. To pursue the career I always wanted, even though it’s many years after I envisioned pursuing it. So late to the game am I that I’d be foolish not to admit that the odds of it not working out in my favor are much larger than slim. But I’m trying. Because I can. And if I’ve learned anything from Marina Keegan, it’s that I wish I would have been like her from the beginning, resolutely declaring my future occupation to all my friends: “Like, a real one,” she told them. “With my life.”

I may never stop wishing to be young. Never stop clinging to the collective ease and carefreeness with which the youth of this world can adopt. Indeed, they can’t help themselves. It is theirs. The way it once was mine. And, to some extent—We are so young—still is. Or maybe, like Tennyson’s Tithonus, I will inevitably tire of life’s longevity. Either way, I’m sure there will come a moment when my wrinkly, post-menopausal self will no longer need to be young.

I can only hope that by then I will have come up with a few more jokes. You know, just in case I need them.

DEC
11

Rockefeller Center, 6 AM

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Perhaps not as sexy as Fifth Avenue, 5 AM (a delicious title by Sam Wesson), but I did find the suggestion to do my Rockefeller Tree viewing in the early AM to be a good one. The tree is lit at 5:30 each morning, so your pictures will still have the "night time" look, but unlike the daytime hours, when the whole plaza is flooded with people, there isn't another soul around. The spot where I'm standing in this picture is blocked off during the day, and if you want a photo-op, it'll actually cost you money. So if you happen to be in New York this Christmas, do yourself a favor and set your alarm early one of these mornings. Just maybe wait until it's a morning that is not torrentially downpouring. And maybe one where you don't have to go to work after. Or have to go anywhere, really, for the rest of the day, as your coat will still be wet through at nightfall.

DEC
07

Writer's Block

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I don't have it. Not really. True that I've written shamefully little since moving here (I have a day job, I have a new city to explore, I'm still working on my gemology certification, etc.), but the main reason for my low post-NYC-move word count, and I'm embarrassed to admit this, is that I'm stalling. Is that a thing? Writer's Stall?

The chapter I'm in the middle of writing right now is such a downer, see. And it's not even the one where the protagonist is abandoned by her love and left alone and devastatingly heartbroken. It's the one where the protagonist is making really stupid choices. And since you all know who the protagonist in all my books is, I find it much harder to relive things you brought upon yourself verses things that happened to you that were outside of your control. If he was going to leave, he was going to leave.

This book is also proving a bit slippery in terms of overall point and purpose. Crucial, I know. I just need some sort of Aha Moment about how these chapters and themes should be arranged and tied together. In the meantime though, I suppose I will press on. Continue writing. Ever grateful for the distance I--er, the protagonist--now has from some of these chapters.

DEC
04

He is the Gift

I've been planning this post for a few days, spurred on by the holiday cheer in the air, snapping pictures of NYC at its most festive. And in terms of Christmas prep, I've never been more on top of my game. My cards were all mailed on December 1. I finished my Christmas shopping on December 2. Last night was the Rockefeller Tree Lighting (what the what, LeAnn Rimes??). Tonight I'm going to see a production of A Christmas Carol. And at the homestead, I've got a plate of Christmas cookies I decorated myself and a big, fabric Christmas tree draped over a closet door.

So, yes, I've been planning this post for a few days, a picture of a building off of 5th Avenue with lots of lights and candy cane decorations selected to go with it, but then some friends shared this video with me today. As a Christian, it's hard to watch it without feeling chastened. And maybe a bit teary. (Er...not that this happened to me.) As a society, we forget. I forget. I get caught up. In sparkles and packages. In snow and ribbon and parties. In mashed potatoes. Although I challenge you to find me a person in this country who doesn't get caught up in the mashed potatoes, still, the point is valid.

The point being that we should be better than this. We should be more aware of and more grateful for this first gift of Christmas. I'm going to do my best to be better. As long as I can keep the mashed potatoes.

 

NOV
28

Giving

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Last year's Thanksgiving post (Grateful) remains my most trafficked to date. Like, by far. As in thousands and thousands more hits than anything else I have ever written. It baffles me a little, because the post was about heartbreak. And are people really that interested in my romantic misfortune? Probably not. But most everyone can probably relate...love and loss inevitably go hand in hand.

When I thought about Thanksgiving this year, about gratitude in general, my surroundings made it uncomfortably easy. See, New York City is a place where you feel grateful at almost every turn, because there are so many here who do not have as much as you do. More than that, they do not have even enough to keep themselves fed, warm, and safe. And while it can be uncomfortable to have a smelly a disheveled pregnant woman step onto your subway car and ask if anyone can help her get food or warmer clothes, or a man with no legs scoot himself and an empty coffee can from car to car, I promise you'll feel much more uncomfortable if you don't give them anything.

You can say what you will about choices and circumstances, about how much someone "deserves" to be given to. You can talk yourself out of giving with any manner of assumption about how these individuals may squander the money, but that's not really within our control. What is--and I do believe it's one of the highest and most important responsibilities we have as humans on this planet--is to serve and care for others. That said, if I were to give to every person who needed it, I'd be on the streets myself, but I do hope this next year we can all become more aware of our abundance and more inspired to use it to help those who are less fortunate.

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm grateful for my readers...even if they are so fascinated by me getting dumped. (There's more where that came from in my next book...)

NOV
25

The Archives

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You're looking at the books currently being readied to be added to the Cartier Rare Books and Archives at the world headquarters of the Gemological Institute of America. There's my little Jeweled, sandwiched in between such titles as Color Encyclopedia of Gemstones, Silversmithing, and, my favorite, Exquisite Agates.

It's maybe a bit misleading, in that my book is not a reference book, nor is it really informational at all (aside from the tidbits you learn as I go from story to story). But when one of my former gemology instructors told me the book was being put into this collection, I was tickled. Even more so when he sent me this picture. I mean, as a gem lover and an author, what better place could there possibly be for my sparkly memoir?

As for Exquisite Agates, if that doesn't scream coffee table book, then I'm not sure what does.

 

NOV
20

I Ain't Afraid of no Ghost

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Because it's only official when you've gotten a library card. New York Public Library, here I come.

NOV
17

Love Letters

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I had the chance earlier this month to see one of Carol Burnett's last performances in Love Letters. She's a hoot, but what has stuck with me since the show is the letter writing. We've all written letters, like maybe once or twice, to a childhood friend when we moved away or to a family member going through a rough patch, but that's not really what I'm talking about. I'm talking about years. I'm talking about sharing our lives with someone through regular written correspondence.

Love Letters is easily the simplest show I've ever seen on Broadway. It follows the lives of a man and woman using nothing more than the letters they wrote to each other over the course of a lifetime. From childhood birthday parties to the complexities and heartbreak of adulthood, they cry, they laugh, they dream, they hope, they hurt each other, they love each other. It's a show that really examines the power of such correspondence...especially in this abbreviated and instant society we live in. Think about the last time you actually wrote someone a letter. Was it this year? This decade?

I've had stints of this kind of correspondence....two of my siblings have spent multiple years abroad where the only way I could communicate with them was to write letters, and it's not just that the letters themselves act as a kind of journal for my life (and theirs) during those years, it's that this kind of communication really strengthens bonds. I find that I miss it, the letters. I miss having someone to write. I miss having something more substantial than bills and ads in my mailbox. Which is what prompted tonight's purchase on my rainy walk home. Some of you (I'd say about 80) will be getting letters. Feel free to write back.

NOV
14

Homecoming

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I just spent a week in Cleveland. I know it's not home anymore, but it still felt an awful lot like a homecoming. Speaking of homecomings, I should probably have chosen a picture of the Cavs game I was able to go to (what ended up being their first home win with LeBron back...I was in attendance at the last home win he played as a Cavalier before leaving, so it felt only fitting to attend the first win after his return), but instead I'm subjecting you all to the parting gift my office presented me with. 

It's amazing how attached to a city one can get. I loved being back in Cleveland this week, to the point of getting teary when I drove away from the office building for the last time today. It was like moving all over again. And this always happens to me. It doesn't mean that I'm second guessing the exciting new chapter I've just begun, it's just that attachment is emotional, and it runs deep, even if you've already moved on. It doesn't mean I don't love New York, it's just that I loved Cleveland first. It doesn't mean I resist change (I just freaking cut all my hair off, yo), it's just that it's hard to leave places and people that have come to mean something to me.

So here I am. Back in my NYC apartment after having battled an epic taxi line, lugged a 50-pound suitcase up the stairs of my elevatorless building, and endured the welcome home brooming of the woman in the apartment below me who thinks my 6-pound cat makes too much noise. If I show up at her door wearing this shirt, it will not be my fault. Bitch, I'm from Cleveland.

NOV
09

Pixie Cut

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Because I always wanted to.

NOV
06

Olive Kitteridge

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I'm currently reading Olive Kitteridge (and no, it's not because of the new mini-series...what do you take me for?), and I must say I'm impressed with Strout's character development skills. Some of the people in the book only get a few pages, so to be able to convey enough in those pages to leave your readers not only understanding a character's background and motive but also wishing they could keep reading about said character is a skill indeed. 

Oddly, the one person I don't find myself wanting to know more about (or connecting with at all, really) is Olive. You could say she was dealt a bad hand, but you could also say she's just not a very nice person. I was however drawn to the passage where she looks at a childhood photo of her husband. She imagines telling his kid self what will become of him. "You will marry a beast and love her. You will have a son and love him. You will be endlessly kind to townspeople as they come to you for medicine, tall in your white lab coat. You will end your days blind and mute in a wheelchair. That will be your life."

It's an overly simplistic summation, surely, but the reduction is still true. In that it is composed of true statements. And what struck me as I read this passage yesterday is that for all of us, the same sort of summation can be made someday. It's not the short length of the summation or its oversimplification that has me so pensive, rather the setness of the paths we ultimately take in life. It may seem like there are decisions to be made (and there are), but at the end of the day, there is only one way things are going to shake out for each of us; one series of decisions that will lead us to one end state. That will be our lives. Yours. And mine, too. 

NOV
01

Meeting your Favorite Poet: Be Cool

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It's like this. Billy Collins is my favorite poet. Although I'm in an eternal argument with my parents around whether his work really constitutes poetry, I find it delightful no matter the classification. 

Billy was in Brooklyn this past week, and though it was my second time seeing him, it was the first time I actually got to meet him. When you're the kind of person dorky enough to have a favorite poet, dorky enough to trek across town to meet him, dorky enough to end-of-the-world-style panic when your re-routed subway train makes you late, dorky enough to ask someone to take your picture while sitting in your auditorium seat waiting for Billy to come out, then you are probably also the kind of person who will totally dork out when actually face to face with him.

As I approached the front of the line after the reading, it occurred to me that I had no idea what to say. "Nice job." Or maybe, "I love your work." I decided to tell him that it was my second time seeing him (a true fan, see), and I told him which of his poems was my favorite. It's a poem that praises the familiarity of home and routine, especially in contrast with the stress and annoyances of travel, and as a staunch homebody, I always took great comfort in it. Only when I heard him read the poem in Cleveland the first time I saw him, it became clear by his tone that he was not, in fact, siding with the homebodies. He was mocking the very idea that staying in one's own environment could be superior to exploring the world. I felt a little disillusioned, and as I told Billy this story last week, I wished he would tell me what I wanted to hear, which is that my initial way of looking at the poem had been right. But he didn't, of course. Yet even as he was confirming my gross interpretation error, I couldn't wipe the dopey look off my face, hovering at the table even as he'd moved on to sign the next person's book.

Maybe no one can expect to be cool when in the presence of a literary idol. Maybe no one can expect to correctly decipher an author's intent 100% of the time. And I can live with that. Although I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish his "To Tali" inscription had come with a more personalized post script. Something like, "From a fellow homebody." It would have been our secret, Billy.

 

OCT
29

Remembering Sandy

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I say this as if I experienced some sort of hardship, some great loss or personal struggle because of the impacts of Hurricane Sandy. Which, of course, I didn't. True, I was here. In NYC. Not yet a New Yorker myself, I was on a trip with my then-boyfriend for his birthday. And while we had to deal with inconveniences like all our events being cancelled, no way to get anywhere, and nothing to eat other than the small bag of groceries we had the sense to purchase, really the only reminder of our predicament (other than being forced to survive on Macaroni & Cheese from a box) was the damn crane a few minutes from us that they kept showing on the news.

But I do remember being scared about the unknownness of the storm. Going to bed that night amid the howl of strong wind and having no idea what the state of things would be in the morning. It's a sensation I had never experienced until living in the east. (Yes, I consider Cleveland to be east. And NYC is even *easter*.) The power of forces like hurricanes and tornadoes, the relentlessness of lightening during a lightening storm, the sheer volume of snow and depth of cold. You don't get any of that out west. It just rains.

Maybe it's the fact that you just don't have a prayer when up against a natural disaster, maybe it's that I now live in such a large city, but I find I'm much less tolerant these days (read: not at all tolerant) of movies that depict the fictional destruction of entire cities. In this day and age, doesn't that just hit a little too close to home? In any case, it's been 2 years. That's incredible. So is the rebuilding we've seen. So are the progress, expansion, and triumphs still to come. Almost nothing amazes me more than the resilience and strength of the human spirit. That is what I'm toasting to tonight.

OCT
26

Coney Island

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4 subway swipes (6 train and D train, 2 ways): $10

Nathan's Cheesy Fries: $5.71

Luna Park Wristband: $20

1 ticket for the Cyclone: $9

Ice cream cone: $4.35

First time on the Boardwalk: Priceless

 

OCT
23

Guest Writer: The Cat

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This city is going to make me fat. I know I'm only 6 pounds, but I’m still a girl. At any rate, it's gone. It's all gone. The stairs are gone. Even all the rooms are gone. But I'm a glass half full kind of cat, plus I sleep upwards of 18 hours a day, so I can do without the rooms. And the stairs. And the bay windows. And the couch. And the cable box that was always warm. I digress.

Here is what I know.

I am in a place called New York. T has wanted to come here for a long time. She romanticized the idea if you ask me, a term I only recently became familiar with, because she loves a movie called Breakfast at Tiffany's. I would love something other than kibble for breakfast, so I watch this movie eagerly. There is never any breakfast, but there is a cat, so I like it. Even though if you've read the book, Holly isn't actually able to find the cat at the end, which is a pretty crucial detail. I am a very literary cat. 

New York is noisy, like the woman downstairs who hits the broom on the ceiling whenever I run around. And the noises outside the door. People are always hurrying. And stomping. And slamming. They also watch TV, take baths, open letters, cough, get paged from someone out on the street, and walk from one side of the room to the other. And I can hear it all. So Broom Lady is just going to have to deal with me and my 6 pounds.

There is a cat across the hall. A tom cat. He's bigger than me and his owners let him walk in the hallways. Sometimes when our door is open he will come in. I don't like him being so forward, and I hiss, even though he intrigues me and I’ve never had a boyfriend (unless you count the father of that litter of kittens I bore when I was living in the streets of Cleveland…but that was hardly a relationship). The neighbor cat does have the name of a really good Counting Crows song, so maybe there is hope for him yet. I am a very musical cat.

Speaking of music, T left her guitar behind, and I miss it. It reminded me of Holly, who also sings and plays. The broom lady would have a hissy fit (an expression I believe only cats can use) but I want the guitar back. T plays the Counting Crows. If I could write a song for their band, well, it would have to be mopey, and it would go like this:

 

It's darker here when no one is home.

The food is exactly the same.

We are higher off the ground.

The box on the wall hisses but is very warm.

We sleep in the same space now.

Some of my toys are missing.

 

Oh, and no one knows this, but you can actually climb up underneath the loveseat and hide inside it. No one can get you out. 

And I haven't had a single hairball incident since the move. I am a very classy cat.

 

OCT
15

How to do Laundry in New York City

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Step 1: Locate closest laundromat.

Step 2: Schlep clothes (and detergent) down all flights of stairs in your elevatorless building, down the block, and across the street to said laundromat.

Step 3: Once your heart has stopped palpitating from such exertion (true story), locate the Access Card machine and get out your credit card.

Step 4: When you realize the machine is cash only, leave your clothes where they are (them things be *heavy*) and return to your apartment, go up all flights of stairs in your elevatorless building, retrieve cash from your wallet (or the ziploc baggie in your purse), go down the stairs again, and head back to the laundromat.

Step 5: Insert the first of two $5 bills into the machine.

Step 5: When you realize that the $10 required to get an Access Card must, in fact, be a $10 bill itself, leave your clothes behind and repeat step 4, only move on to step 6 after leaving your apartment building.

Step 6: Go to the small market around the corner from the laundromat and buy a pack of gum to break the $20 you just took from your wallet/baggie.

Step 7: Go back to the laundromat and get an Access Card with your newly-in-hand $10 bill.

Step 8: Determine which machines are the washers. This will take approximately 30 minutes.

Step 9: Put clothes in washer, detergent in compartments on top, start the cycle, and get the stop watch going on your phone so you know when to come back.

Step 10: Return to your elevatorless apartment building and go up all those stairs.

Step 11: Go down the stairs, leave the building, and go back to the laundromat.

Step 12: Put your wet clothes into one of those metal cart things sitting in one corner of the room and wheel them over to what you think is probably a dryer only because it isn't a washer and your deduction skills are usually pretty on point.

Step 13: Put clothes in dryer, insert Access Card, select cycle, and hit start.

Step 14: Study the numbers flashing at you in order to figure out how long the drying will take so you can once again start the stopwatch on your phone.

Step 15: Conclude that H1:06 must mean an hour and six minutes, and set the stopwatch accordingly.

Step 16: Repeat steps 10 and 11.

Step 17: Open the dryer to fetch your clothes, but close it again when it registers that your clothes are still soaking wet.

Step 18: Insert Access Card and push buttons until H1:06 is once again on the screen.

Step 19: Realize that H1:06 only dries your clothes for 6 minutes, and continue entering Access Card until the 6 has increased to something more thermically realistic.

Step 20: Knowing you will now only make your evening reservation if you leave your clothes drying and then unattended for a couple of hours, leave your clothes drying and unattended for a couple of hours.

Step 21: Tell your friend over dessert at Serendipity about Step 20, and when she says things like, "You can't do that," and "Your clothes won't be there when you get back," begin to internally panic.

Step 22: Make bets with yourself on the walk back to the laundromat about whether your clothes will be there. Scold yourself repeatedly for being so naive, I suggest something like, "Stupid, stupid, stupid!!", and begin to think about where you can go that night to buy new sheets, towels, and underwear.

Step 23: Arrive at laundromat and see your clothes sitting in the dryer.

Step 24: Load them back into the hamper you hid behind the leftmost row of washers.

Step 25: Repeat Step 10, this time with all the clothes.

 

So, really, pretty easy then.

 

OCT
13

Storytelling: NYC Edition

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They are the most human part of us. Stories. They are why I write, they are what I like to write, they are the only part of an otherwise boring lecture or presentation or sunday school lesson that will make an impact on me in any way. I'm sure if you think about the lectures, presentations, and sunday school lessons that have made up your own life, you'll agree that stories trump all.

There is a storytelling organization here in NYC that I am just becoming acquainted with. I attended one of their events a few days ago (at a beautifully charming venue, the stairwell of which is pictured here), one featuring stories from World War II. Most of the storytellers were in their late 90s and lived through it, the war, and between stories of escaping Belgium and traveling on foot through France (it took a year), setting off explosives and being shot in action, flying planes to help train new soldiers, racial discrimination even after arriving home from serving our nation, these men and women were positively captivating. Not because they were expert storytellers, but because life often needs little fanfare or finesse in order to shine through.

Harry Truman's grandson told the final story of the evening. Not a veteran himself, but he's often asked to speak on his family's behalf whenever the anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings approaches. He told of a tender experience meeting a Japanese woman whose grandfather was killed in the bombings. This led to more involvement, more introductions, and Mr. Truman Daniel ultimately ended up attending a memorial ceremony in Japan a couple of years ago. What struck me about his story was the lack of hate or animosity between countries. Rather, there was love. Kindness. Comfort. Strength. And how fitting that what the families of the Japanese victims want most of all is that their stories be told. So that we never forget. So that we never do this to each other again.

I was entertained, uplifted, and most of all, I was moved. You could get that way from a theatrical production, maybe a play or a movie. You could get that way from a well-done novel, too. The difference is that this stuff really happened. It has a sense of meaning beyond anything people could dream up. It's real life, in a story.