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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
JUL
09

The Obligatory LeBron Post

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OK, fine.

I will answer the big question. (That only one person has asked me.)

I will tell you what I think.

As a Clevelander.

And an NBA fan.

And a stubborn-ass grudge-holding never-forgetter.

Seriously, though. I can be mature. I can admit that having him back would do wonders for this city. I'd also love to start winning some ball games. And of course there's something endearingly Prodigal-sonny about the tale of a young and stupid man making a foolish decision and choosing to make amends a few years later. I'm as sentimental as they come. I could get on board with that.

But I can also admit that I was positively gutted by LeBron's exit, just like the rest of Cleveland. And I was one of the most devoted of fans. Sitting in one of the first few rows at the last home game he ever played as a Cavalier, I had no idea what we were about to lose. And in such epic fashion. And so I confess to you today that the ridiculousness of The Decision has stayed with me, and I'm not sure I want him back.

As for Cleveland getting their hopes up, that's on us, and I think we're pretty stupid if we do. Not because it's not a possibility, but because we've been duped before.

No, I'm not sure I want him back.

Still--full disclosure--I just can't shake this dream of winning.

Make of that what you will.

JUL
07

Definition: Fortuitous

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Not sure there's any other word to describe being at an author fair selling your new book about jewelry and having the author to your right be--get this--a jeweler. I'll say that again. He was a freaking jeweler! Like metals and gems and his own studio and stuff. It made the already beautiful day that much more delightful, and I kept looking around at all the other people I could have been seated next to (we did not pick our own arrangement) knowing none would have made for as enjoyable an afternoon as the one I had.

Not that Loganberry Books could have known (or are they just that good?), but I thank them. Not just for my seat placement, but also for putting on such a wonderful event on Saturday. From the cucumber sandwiches to the sunscreen, surely no group of authors could have felt more cared for. (Unless they'd given us all diamonds.)

JUL
05

Jazz and the Fireworks

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I probably should have been thinking last night about freedom and independence and bombs bursting in air, but mostly I was thinking about my childhood dog, Jazz, (named after the star jasmine flower) and how she used to run and hide in the backyard shed at the first sign of fireworks. I’ve since learned that this fear plagues many other dogs--pretty sure my aunt Leah full-on drugs her bulldog every July 4--but at the time, I thought it was unique to Jazz. I also thought it was kind of adorable. That she would feel somehow safer inside the dilapidated and actually quite frightening shed that none of us kids would be caught dead touching with a ten foot pole.

Animals have been on my mind this week, as I took Clementine to the vet the other day for her yearly appointment. She ended up having to get some blood drawn, and while I was waiting for the doctor to bring her back up front, a woman came in the front door holding a small dog. As soon as this woman shut the door behind her, she started sobbing. “What’s wrong?” another woman asked, to which the sobbing woman replied, “I have to put her down. She has cancer.” The asking woman instinctively reached her arm out and touched the sobbing woman’s shoulder and expressed condolences.

What happened next was one of the most unifyingly human moments I’ve experienced in a long time. Because every single person in that waiting room began to cry. It simply could not be helped. Part of it was this dog, her body so cancer-riddled that she was struggling to breathe. Most of it though was seeing this woman so gutted over the impending loss of her dog. Animal owners ourselves, we understood, and the very idea of having to go through such a loss is never really far from our minds. Jazz herself lost a battle with cancer, and someday, God forbid, Clementine may meet the same fate. When and however it happens, my day with the pink juice will arrive, and when it does, I hope there’s a waiting room full of people to help get me through it. I also hope that Jazz enjoyed the show last night. Wherever she is, it’s surely a much better view.

JUL
03

You Are Invited

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I promised I'd remind you again, so here it is. You are officially invited, Cleveland. 

Author Alley (as part of the fabulous Larchmere Fest)

July 5, 12-4pm (this Saturday!!)

Loganberry Books (13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights)

If you are a reader, you really ought to be there. You'll have the chance to learn about all kinds of books written by local authors, and after perusing all the options and meeting many delightful people, you can pick your favorites to buy and go home with a couple of new reads for that upcoming summer vacation. Those favorites might not be (read: will probably not be) my books, but they're someone's, and all the indie author goodness warms my heart.

So come on down. The weather's fine. 

See you on Larchmere.

JUL
01

Strange Seizures Beset Us

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A side effect of writing a book about your lifelong love of jewelry is that people will begin associating you with jewelry. Any jewelry experience they have, they will tell you about. Any purchase they make, they will show you. And more to the point, any trip to Tiffany's they take, they will snap a picture outside the store and send it to you.

For the record, I love all of this.

I love that a co-worker recently sent me a note about the Tiffany gift she purchased for her daughter's 21st birthday ("Her first blue box!"), and that another co-worker mentioned that he thought of me when passing the flagship Tiffany store while on a recent trip to NYC. I love that in the past month I've received pics of people outside various Tiffany stores, pics of new pieces of jewelry that people have bought or received, even a copy of the description of a $225K ring from the insurance agent preparing its policy because she knew I would appreciate it. I love hearing a woman tell me Jeweled has inspired her to get her wedding ring fixed finally, or sized finally, or how the book has inspired her to stop in at Carlton Jewelers. All of these things have happened, and I hope they continue to happen. 

It's weird that jewelry is my thing, but I always end up back at Annie Dillard's quote, the one about our responsibility to write about the things that fascinate us, the strange seizures that beset us. "There is something you find interesting, for a reason hard to explain. It is hard to explain because you have never read it on any page; there you begin." Sage advice, no matter how you look at it.

(PS - If you have a jewelry story you'd like to share, submit it on the "Share Your Story" or "Contact" links of this website. If I use your story on the homepage, you'll get a free copy of Jeweled!)

JUN
28

Sky View

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I've got to hand it to yoga. Or maybe I've got to hand it to Cleveland. Or Tammy Lyons. Or any of the people behind last night's Believe in CLE event at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After all, it's not every day you get a shavasana view like this. Shavasana is a relaxing, restorative pose that ends a yoga practice, and surrounded by 2000 other yogis outside the rock hall, the wind blowing off of the lake on a sunny and 75-degree evening, I couldn't bring myself to close my eyes. Which is sort of key to the pose, the closing of the eyes. But, um, did I mention the sky view? I simply could not help myself.

I've probably mostly got to hand it to my friend KJ who introduced me to yoga in the first place. I began attending solely for the workout (sidenote: it is a phenomenal workout), and scoffed at the very idea of all the other "benefits" of yoga. Emotional, mental, spiritual, etc. It's  not that I resist or don't appreciate these aspects of life. On the contrary, I very much embrace them. It's just that a yoga classroom isn't the place where I necessarily want to deal with them. I just want to sweat like hell. So that's where I've been. The girl beating the Other Stuff off with a stick.

Maybe it was inevitable, in that the longer I'm involved with yoga, the more I realize you can't really escape the Other Stuff, because it is, in fact, central to the very practice of yoga. This past week I even found myself--and the "I am only here to work out" part of me is a little embarrassed to admit this--crying in a yoga class. I didn't see it coming, and so was rather surprised to find myself almost instantly emotional when we settled into shavasana, warm tears streaming, well, basically into my ears.

It was this shavasana I was thinking about while lying under the Cleveland sky last night. Not because I was crying--I wasn't, and I doubt that will happen very often. But it's strangely comforting to know that this kind of emotion--true and completely unbidden--is possible. It's comforting to know you can be surrounded by dozens (or even thousands) of strangers and feel so connected. It's also comforting to know that you can eventually come to embrace things you initially may have been wary of. It's life, it's change, it's betterment and growth, and live from Lake Erie, folks, it's happening all the time.

 

JUN
25

And the award goes to...

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Feeling very happy today for my wonderful and talented web designer who has won an American Web Design Award for this very website. It reminds me how lucky I am to work with the best. People who can take my pathetic ideas and turn them into something great. People who consistently go above and beyond. People who know how to, say, find the vintage Tiffany catalog picture you like and get the rights for it. I believe the professional term for this is having mad skills. Or—the even more professional—being straight up bad-ass. No doubt in my mind that there are many more awards to come in Victoria’s future.

JUN
21

The Longest Year

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A year ago today I did my first full read-through of the newly-completed Jeweled. I remember this because of a sad event that occurred in my life immediately after I finished this read-through. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

There’s a tree in my front yard, the kind of tree that blossoms every spring. The weeks when the tree is in bloom are my favorite of the whole year, and I’ll often stop and stare out the front window at the sea of fluffy pink. The tree is so tall that the blossoms also fill the windows of my bedroom upstairs. I look forward to this every spring, but with such a long and heinous winter this year, it didn’t surprise me that April came and went with no blossoms. May, too. Mother Nature was just a bit behind schedule. Polar Vortexes can do that. Coming up on July now though, it’s finally occurred to me that the beating all living things took this winter may in fact have killed my tree.

It’s a sad thing to realize the highlight of such a beautiful season won’t ever come back. That there will be no more blossoms. That some precious, beautiful ability has been unable to withstand the impact of a traumatic event. An event I had no control over that has now forever altered every future spring; left them to seemingly always be worse than they once were. It is maddening, it is unfair, and it is certainly tragic, but at the end of the day, there is still a tree in my front yard. And it has managed to grow some leaves. Vibrant, green leaves. Not as appealing as fluffy pink blossoms, but they are proof enough of life. Not just that it goes on, but that it never left. It’s just different. And maybe even—someday—better. Leaves, after all, do mean potential, and who’s to say what future springs will bring?

This is what I am telling myself one year later. I miss the blossoms, spring was definitely different without them, and should they ever reappear it would quite possibly *make* my life, but I can’t continue mourning their loss. Besides, the season has changed, and I’m putting my money on summer.

JUN
19

I want to talk about me.

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Stay with me.

Tonight I gave some brief remarks at an event geared toward journal and personal history writing. It's a topic I feel strongly about, because the things we don't write down, we forget. And as if you need any additional motivation, think of your kids. If you have a child, he only knows you from the standpoint of your parenting years. He knows nothing that happened before that unless you tell him, or unless you write it down for him to read when he is older. 

If you're like me and have no children, write about your life anyway. Writing is, at its heart, for the writer. There are all kinds of sappy quotes out there—about memories being the June roses in the Decembers of our lives, or, my favorite, how we write to taste life twice—and you can take them or leave them, but I choose to take them. I find so much value in writing about my own life, however insignificant my stories. 

To this day, my maternal grandmother* will occasionally send out excerpts from her journals, and I learn something about her every time she does this. I am moved every time she does this. I feel more connected every time she does this--not just to her, but to her parents and grandparents as well, people I never met but wouldn't exist without. Just think about that the next time you wonder if a certain memory or experience is worth writing down. Trust me, it is.

*I must have been smoking crack cocaine when I let Jeweled go to press with a reference to my maternal grandmother's funeral. My maternal grandmother is alive and well. It's my paternal grandmother whose funeral and wedding ring I meant to reference at the end of Jeweled. My (total and completely embarrassing) bad.


JUN
17

If you want me, I'll be in the bar.

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It’s funny, the music we latch onto as kids. My dad was the rock & roll fan, and I came to think of any music he liked as being pretty cool. I remember Jimi Hendrix, Billy Joel, The B-52’s, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, Genesis, and many more, but mostly I remember Joni Mitchell. You could say it’s because she’s a girl, and I liked the idea of a woman succeeding in that way, but it could also be because her music is just that good. It’s just so…different. From the way she tunes her guitar to the way her songs are so very *not* formulaic, she was for me an example of a person who did things her way and was incredibly successful at it.

I’m reading Sheila Weller’s biography of Joni Mitchell right now. She also weaves in the biographies of Carly Simon and Carole King (so it’s not exactly a quick read), but I’m reading it for Joni. It’s part fascinating to be hearing about the stories (and people) behind her music, part enlightening to be learning so much about the music industry in the 1960s and 1970s, but I confess it’s also part tragic. “The life of an artist,” Dad said when I recently told him that the actual circumstances of Joni’s life were bringing me down a little. Not that her life wasn’t glamorous—California, New York City, money, men, world travel—but it was also kind of heart-wrenching. The going from man to man, the insecurity, the giving up of her baby because she felt she had no other choice. It’s not at all what I pictured when listening to her music in my youth. Knowing what I know now, I think I’d have wanted a river to skate away on, too.

Not sure what my point here is, I guess I’m just grateful that my life is as uncomplicated as it is. But more than that, I’m grateful that people like Joni did what they did for the music.

(And for all the talk in Weller’s book about what are the best Joni lines ever penned, to me there is a clear winner and it is this: I could drink a case of you and still be on my feet.)

JUN
15

For Dad

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My dad is a man of relatively few words, and being raised in a home with multiple siblings, it wasn't always easy (or common) to get time with just him. I never felt slighted, no person with my childhood could, but the memories I have of Me & Dad time are special. As is any connection that just he and I shared, for that matter. Like the story in Jeweled about the jewelry gifts he gave me...it was something he did on his own, just for me.

I'm writing my third book right now, and last week I was writing about a big decision I faced more than a decade ago. Teetering on making what I thought was the right choice but for all the wrong reasons, my dad offered (in a manner of two succinct sentences) some counsel that not only changed my decision but also my outlook on all future decisions on the same topic. It was pretty profound to ponder this week on how different my life would be right now had he not spoken up. In fact, when I think back on, say, the top 5 most important things anyone has ever said to me, I'm pretty sure they all come from my dad. For being a man of few words, he sure has a knack for making them count.

On this day and always, I am a lucky daughter.

 

JUN
13

The Buster Bars

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They are a downright force, these Buster Bars. Anything from Dairy Queen, really. We're talking about the only fast food option I had as a kid, and the one for which I (still) feel the most amount of affection and loyalty. My neighbors and I used to throw together all manner of fundraising activities as kids, all in the name of getting ourselves to the DQ.

Back to the Buster Bars. Being mostly a Blizzard girl in my adult life, I had forgotten about them. Fast forward to last week, when one of our vendors showed up at the office with a box of Buster Bars. Oh my gosh, it was the best day ever. Surely no object on this earth could have more quickly taken me back to age 10, sitting at a folding table in my neighbors' driveway selling froot loop bars and lemon squares, counting my change until I had enough for a DQ run.

Having been reminded of the deliciousness that is a Buster Bar, I stopped at DQ on my way home. I bought a whole box, just for me, and explained to the DQ counter worker that someone had brought them into the office and it had been the best day of my life. It was an exaggeration obviously, but she laughed in a nervous, pitying kind of way; a way that suggested she figured I must be a pretty unfortunate person if my life had peaked because of free ice cream. It was the same sort of expression that Warwick Davis wore when my sister and I, positively beside ourselves, approached after spotting him at Disneyland during a family trip and confessed in near hysterics that Willow was our favorite movie. Epic to our teenaged selves (have you seen Val Kilmer circa 1988??), I've always suspected Warwick thought we were a little tragic for our cinema preferences.

In any case, it's Friday night, and I'm celebrating with a Buster Bar. Or six.

 

JUN
10

Thank You For Writing

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I got home this evening from a very taxing day at work to find a thank-you note in my mailbox. You all know how I feel about thank-you notes. (See On Thank-you Notes if you've forgotten.) A dying art, surely, but one I feel is so, so necessary. It's just the principle of the thing. And it makes us decent.

Of course, no one is unfamiliar with the concept. You send someone a thank-you note when they have either given you something or done something for you. Which is why today's mail was a bit confusing. The woman who sent it--from my hometown in Oregon--included the following note in the card:

"I loved your first book. Always enjoy reading it. Have just read bits of your new one - just want to say thank you so much. I know I'll enjoy."

Now, you'd think from this note that I gave her a copy of my second book. Not only did I not give her a copy, but I also can't even put a face to this woman's name. I'm not sure I've even met her. Or if I have, it's been many years. But she sent a thank-you note to thank me for writing books. For giving her something to read that she enjoys so much. She wrote the note in loopy cursive, sealed and put my name on the envelope, then gave it to my mother who filled in my address and sent it on its way. The whole thing has an endearing amount of small-town charm regardless, but eclipsing this is the fact that upon returning home from a day when I managed to solve exactly zero problems at work, my spirits couldn't have been more lifted.

Unless there'd been, like, $1 Million in the mailbox. I guess there's always tomorrow.

JUN
08

Countdown to Author Alley

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Summer festivals that involve book events are just about my favorite thing as an author. It gets you out in the community, you get to spend time with other local authors, and the festival environment means there's lots of traffic. And I give a lot of kudos to bookstores who have made such events into annual staples. Loganberry Books is one of these stores. Their annual Author Alley is still a few weeks away (As part of the Larchmere Festival on July 5th), but I'm so looking forward to it. And I'm so going to remind you all about it again.

PS, Loganberry has a cat. Bonus.

JUN
03

On Love

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The feedback from early readers is that most of them like Jeweled better than Schooled. I confess this is very surprising to me, as I figured the universality of school would ultimately leave readers more satisfied than a book about jewelry…which, admittedly, is something most people don’t know about, care about, or wish to read about.

I heard from someone over the weekend who told me he liked the new book ten times better than Schooled (praise, indeed!), but his one complaint was the back cover copy, which he felt didn’t really capture the spirit of the book. (Let me just say right now that deciding on the back cover copy is much harder than actually writing the book.) What this reader was saying is that while the back cover copy focuses on the gems and the jewelry, the book is really held together by the stories I tell about love and marriage and family.

A bit of an A-ha moment, as I hadn’t really thought about this book as being held together by love (although I do say in the book that the connection to love is one of my favorite things about jewelry). As I’ve thought about this over the days since my conversation with this reader, I suppose this might be why people are more pulled to this book than I predicted they would be. Here I thought I wrote a book about jewelry, when the overarching theme ended up being one that’s exponentially more universal.

MAY
26

Full Circle

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The first story in my new book centers around the Museum of Natural History in New York City. For reasons that seem silly now, it was important that I get myself to the museum during what was my first trip to the city. Even though I realized while at the museum that it wasn't where I wanted to be (and my reason for going would soon enough no longer even apply), in the moment I viewed my being there as nothing short of crucial.

I confess I've avoided returning to the museum on subsequent trips to the city--mostly because it reminds me of a time in life that I'd rather forget--but while in New York last month, I bit the bullet and found myself staring once again at the giant blue whale that opens my second book. It felt a tad eerie, I don't know why, but I was surprised that it also felt a little bit like relief. And, inexplicably, redemption. It had been ten years since I'd last stood there. Think about that. An entire decade of life. And while one school of thought is that my singleton self is still no closer to love or to my dreams than I was then, another school of thought--the one to which I subscribe--is that I am now ten years closer.

See, my fascination with coming full circle has less to do with the deja vu-esque sensation of having been there before, but rather with the much more arresting analysis of all the things that have transpired since being in that scenario or place. When face to face with the whale last month, it became a rather liberating trifecta--part relief for being so far removed from a life path that would have never allowed me to reach any kind of potential, part gratitude over all the experiences I've had over the past decade, and part hope for the dreams yet to be realized as I step out into the world much closer to them than I was back then. So my only advice on this day of remembrance and honor is that if there's a place you've been avoiding because of the memories it generates, bring it on. You will surprise yourself, not just by your ability to handle it, but by the realization that you are a stronger and better person one year, ten years, or fifty down the road. Here's to you. Here's to getting there. And here's to getting there again.

 

MAY
22

Stupid Grass. Stupid Mower. Stupid Spring.

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I'm taking a break from new-book-just-out activities to bring you this important seasonal message: I hate cutting the grass. I know. It's so silly. Especially if you were to see the size of my yard. But cutting the grass is by far the worst part about spring. Especially since this is the first spring in 3 years that my boyfriend (now my ex) isn't around to do it for me. Not that my favorite thing about him was that he did all my yard work. It's just that my favorite thing about him was that he did all my yard work.

So picture this. A couple of weeks ago I realize I can't put it off anymore and go get the mower out of the garage. I manage to get the thing started, but it sounds pretty bad. I'm shielding my eyes as best I can with one hand in case the whole thing blows up and pushing it as far ahead of my body as possible. Halfway through the yard, it dies. I solicited help from the man who was cutting the neighbor's grass, and all I gathered from his diagnosis was there was a bunch of grass clogging the innards of the mower. Nevermind that this is sort of, um, I don't know, what a mower is designed for.

I watched a video explaining how to fix what it seems likely that the problem is, and although I did locate the appropriate bolts and levers, I was unable to fix it. Or, let's be honest, even get anything to budge at all. And this week, my grass out of control once more, I can't even get the thing to start. It instead makes a horrible, cry-of-the-banshee noise every time I attempt it.

Bottom line, I'm not sure what single girls are supposed to do...except for get some cats, buy a Snuggie, and let the grass get so long that the city sends threatening letters using words like "unsightly" and "final warning." Come to think of it, a Snuggie sounds pretty good right now.

MAY
20

It's My Party, and I'll Wear Two Carats if I Want To

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Surely, this was the real song title they were searching for in 1963.

Well, the book is out (Kindle to follow shortly). And given the subject matter, a jewelry store was a perfect place to have the release party; a party that ended up being such a wonderful combination of people all gathered to support me. Which is exactly how I felt...supported. It's hard not to feel silly at a party thrown entirely for yourself, but on the other hand, it does feel nice to take a moment and acknowledge accomplishment, regardless of how insignificant (and unprofitable) it will end up being.

And of course, now that the first wave of readers are reading the new book, it's been exciting to hear the initial feedback. This book really is so different than the first. And so, so sparkly.

MAY
17

Book Party Day

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Today is book party day. (If Clementine is any indication, we are clearly having a hard time containing our excitement. Actually, she has come to love the boxes of books sitting on my breakfast table so much that I haven't yet broken the news to her that they are going away.) Right on cue, the weather has taken a turn for the crappy, but that happened last time, too. Doesn't matter. It's going to be a wonderfully satisfying day irrespective of sunshine.

Amidst all the excitement, there is of course a fair amount of worry that creeps in once you realize people will actually be reading your book. And what if they don't like it? It's completely possible. Much more possible with this second book, as the subject matter is not nearly so universal. More than that, it's one that some might consider me materialistic and snobby for even being interested in. But I took comfort this week in the words of Annie Dillard:

"People love pretty much the same things best. A writer looking for subjects inquires not after what he loves best, but after what he alone loves at all. Strange seizures beset us. 'Each student of ferns,' I read, 'will have his own list of plants that for some reason or another stir his emotions.' Why do you never find anything written about that idiosyncratic thought you avert to, about your fascination with something no one else understands? Because it is up to you. There is something you find interesting, for a reason hard to explain. It is hard to explain because you never read it on any page; there you begin. You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment."

And so as the first group of readers leave the party today with their crisp, new copies, I can only hope that they--and you, dear readers, whenever it is that you get your own copy and settle down to read it--come away with a mind open to learning about someone else's fascination. This strange, sparkly seizure that indeed besets me.

MAY
11

The Lanyard

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This poem has special meaning to me. Not just because of all the lanyards I tied in my childhood, but also because it of course makes me think of my mom. Oh, and it's also hilarious. So Happy Mother's Day to all the women out there. (Shot above brought to you circa 1985.)