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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
FEB
15

The Pantaloons

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These are the pants I wore to work yesterday. For obvious reasons. I mean, have you ever seen a more red pair of pants? Certainly brighter than the richer, darker shade of maroonish that we see more often, but the pants are clearly red. Yet everyone in the office yesterday insisted they were orange. I heard it over and over. "Nice orange pants." Or, "I like those orange pants." Or worst of all, "Are you wearing those for the Browns?" As if.

Eventually someone got out some pantone books and swatches, and while clearly a blend of Strong Red and Bright Orange, the pants were ultimately determined to be Red.

Another hard day's work.

 

 

FEB
08

Inspiration at the Honda Dealership

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They didn't even have any Otis Spunkmeyer cookies this afternoon as I sat waiting for my car to be ready. Like a dork, I had packed some trail mix, so I wasn't starving without Otis, and I was also pretty engrossed in finishing the book I'd been reading. Considering I end up with such little time to read, I regret being so whiny when the nice Honda man told me it would be an hour and a half. I also regret wearing yoga pants in public for what I thought would be a much quicker errand.

I read a lot of books written about writing. Books about writing written by actual, real, profitable authors. I love hearing what they have to say. The book I finished today, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, was a particularly fine one. Her advice was so simple...so simple that most writers don't think to mention that kind of stuff in their own "writing" books. I'm talking very practical advice about the craft and practice of writing. Reading books like Bird always inspires me to redouble my efforts to write regularly. Like every day. Of course I crave the kind of life where writing was my day job, but then again, Anne is very honest about that, too. About how things really don't change much at all (and if they do, they only get worse--between the stress and the pressure and the mental breakdowns).

It's the dream, of course, but in the meantime, books like Bird make me feel like a legitimate writer. Not just because I write, but because I think like a writer. It's why I love reading these kinds of books. Because I feel I'm among friends. If you are a writer in any sense of the word, I suggest reading everything you can about the craft. And never going anywhere without a book. And trail mix. And, you'll thank me later, a pair of sweats.

 

FEB
02

Don't Want to Forget Come Daylight

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This week I found myself digging into my journal/personal history archives in preparation for a book chapter I was getting ready to write. I had planned to start writing that night after verifying a few details, but once I started reading, I just kept going. And going. Bottom line: I got no writing done this week. Because I spent all my writing time reading through my journals. I'd initially meant to look up something in the year 2004, but ended up reading almost everything I had written between the years 1998 and 2005. And when it comes to my life, I write a lot.

Much of this I hadn't read through in many, many years, and what I was amazed about as I read it this week was 1) how much detail I had included...sometimes much more than I really want to remember about certain events, and 2) how much of it I would never have remembered had I not written it down. I'm telling you, readers. So many of those pages, those events, those conversations I could not even remember happening. Or at least not in those ways, not in those sequences, not in those words. How important it is then to write down the things that happen to us. Not someday, but now. Now, people. You may attempt it some years from now, and that admittedly will be better than nothing, but it will not be as full and crisp and detailed as it would be if you wrote it down today. It's like that line from that song that I can't even name, nor its author, but it goes like this: "Every word you say I think I should write down. Don't want to forget come daylight."

I think it's appropriate to note here that I recently finished the last chapter of my third book. It's the only chapter of book three that I've written yet, and I usually prefer to write from beginning to end, but the events that inspired the last chapter happened very recently in my life, and I felt the need to get them written down while the version I could write was still at its most full and crisp. Didn't want to forget come daylight.

So write something down today. You won't regret it.

JAN
28

Marketing Campaigns I'm Certain to Fall For

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Real diamond dust? Really, Bath and Body Works? Pssshhh. Of course I still bought a bottle. Which only shows what a helpless ninny I become when the word diamond is involved.

JAN
25

The LeBron James Bottle of Bubbly

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Something people might not know about me is that I love the NBA. I was able to take in two Cavaliers games this week, and I was reminiscing with my fellow game-goers last night about how wonderful the good years were. The Winning Years. Those couple of years when Cleveland had the best record in the NBA. I’d always had at the top of my bucket list that someday I wanted to be at a game 7 when my team won the championship. It seemed back then like it might be within the realm of possibility.

In my fridge you’ll find a long-expired bottle of bubbly, and it’s the same bottle I bought in the summer of 2010, the bottle I planned to drink when Lebron announced he would be staying in Cleveland. Obviously the bottle was never opened, and for some reason I’ve kept it in my fridge…I guess as some sort of reminder that things change. And that there are horribly inappropriate and ass-like ways to make announcements.

I confess that basketball will always seem a little bit worse to me now. I’ve despised Lebron since he left, which is why I was surprised last night to be flooded with such good memories of him and all the success he brought to this city. I guess no matter how things ended up, the point is that I’ll always have those memories, and they’ll always be good. I’ll always remember what winning so many games felt like, seeing amazing on almost every play, walking through the streets after a second-half comeback win against Boston in game 1 of the first round of playoffs chanting “MVP! MVP!” with a sea of Clevelanders. I’ll always have that. Of course, there’s still the bubbly, which can always be counted on to bring me back down to reality. But not everything is worth hanging onto. And maybe that bottle is one thing I can finally toss out.

JAN
20

Typesetting with Cats

b2ap3_thumbnail_clem-jeweled.jpgThis is one of my favorite parts about writing books. When it's time to actually make the decisions about what the book will look like. I had several typesetting options to look over this past weekend, and as you can see, I need a bigger dining room table. I'm always so grateful in times like these to work with people who make my life easier, people who have the know-how that I don't (like how to go about getting the rights for a picture I like from an old Tiffany & Co. catalog).

And as long as I'm giving thanks, who wouldn't be grateful for such a diligent feline companion? Clearly she knows what title page she likes. If only I could be as decisive.

JAN
14

Out with the Old: Tarzan vs. Swiss Family Robinson

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I snapped this picture a few days ago because I like vintage typewriters and someday aspire to own one. I saw it, of all places, at Disneyland, in the treehouse that for so many decades was known as the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, but which some years ago was converted into Tarzan's treehouse. I know, I know, Disney has to consider its audience and what is relevant to them, but as a person who has been going to Disneyland since I was a little girl, these changes can be somewhat disenchanting.

Take the princesses. I didn't see Cinderella or Snow White or Sleeping Beauty anywhere in the whole park. Not walking around, not signing autographs. But I did meet Merida, Elsa, and Anna, heroines who, prior to this trip, I hadn't even known who they were. But all the little girls were falling all over themselves to meet these new princesses.

This isn't bad. Ok, maybe it's a little bit bad. Mostly it just struck me on this trip that times change, that new stories replace old ones, and that Disney is, ultimately, a business. Don't misunderstand - I love Disneyland. And I love that it can be for each little girl what she needs it to be. I know this because it is still that place for me. Even if I don't know who any of the princesses are.

JAN
07

Polar Vortex

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

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

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

JAN
04

Record

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I've written over 2000 words for 4 straight days, 8500 total, and for me, that's a record. I know it might not sound like that much for those of you who write for a living, but for a girl who has a full-time day job that does not involve writing, I'm quite proud of this. Of course my cat gets annoyed when my lap is occupied by my computer, but lucky for her, this kind of writing time is the exception and not the rule. And now for my next trick, I'm hoping to break 10,000 by the end of the day.

DEC
31

NYE Reboot

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Remember this post? Hopes and Dreams Well, this is the night. The night my wish gets shot into the sky at midnight in the middle of Times Square. And so I'm thinking about wishes. About hope. And also about resolutions. About resolving. To stop. To start. To move on. To never forget. To be happy. To make a change. Whatever it is, do it. Do it this year.

Happy 2014.

DEC
28

Carols with Sharps and Flats

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You've probably never thought about it before, because your family probably doesn't have a permanent slot on the Christmas program every year at church. Not that I'm complaining. I rather look forward to the Annual Picking Up Of My Violin, an instrument I played rather seriously for more than a dozen years, but now only play at Christmas. And maybe that's the problem with the annual Christmas number...that the majority of us who play ONLY play once a year. Not that Christmas carols are necessarily hard to play, but if you ever flip through the Christmas section of a hymnal, if such a section is even normal in traditional hymnals, you'll notice they vacillate drastically from key to key. And when you play them back to back, it's near impossible to remember if the song you're currently playing is the one with the E and A and B flats or if it was the one you just played. Or if the C sharp applies to an entire song or just one line. Or if this is the song where everything is normal and the next one is the one where everything is not normal. Or if this is the one where you have to use fourth finger instead of an open string for the E on the last line. Or if your bra strap is showing from all this bow-manhandling.

Somehow the annual Christmas number always turns out better than I think it will, and I know this is a strange way for me to illustrate this point, but I like knowing that in a crazy an unpredictable world, I can always count on the annual Christmas number. And I can count on my aunts, mom, and grandma to be standing right there with me. Of course I can also count on forgetting a few sharps and flats and consequently causing at least one person in the audience to wish this silent night had been a little more silent, but the point is, the annual Christmas number is important to me. It's Christmas. It's tradition, it's family, it's rosin and bows and piano and sheet music. It's also baby Jesus (I have not forgotten my previous post on sparkle), but mostly, for those few moments, it's me and my violin.

And those damn flats.

 

DEC
20

Sparkle

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I was asked to be the speaker last night at a Christmas-themed event, and I confess it was nice to get down to the heart of the matter. You know, Christ. Bethlehem. The manger. I would never want to seem insensitve or to offend those who don't share my beliefs, but it does feel weird to constantly hold back the Merry Christamases I always want to shout out at this time of year. So it was nice to be able to get it off my chest last night in front of a gathering of people who had asked me to do just that.

The Christmas season sparkles, there's no other way to say it. And I'm a person who loves sparkle. In studying diamonds, I've learned a lot about what actually creates sparkle, and between the angles and proportions needed to maximize sparkle in a diamond, I find it fascinating. When evaluating sparkle in a diamond, one of the main things you look for is fire. Actual flashes of color. In a truly excellent diamond, you'll see all the spectral colors when you rock and roll the diamond. The more color, the more fire. And hence, the more sparkle. As a lover of all things sparkly, sometimes I get caught up in the sparkly aspects of Christmas--the lights and decorations and food and parties--but I'm grateful for reflection, conviction, and, ultimately, the reason behind this holiday in the first place. It is, after all, the best gift I'll ever receive, and I'd take that over sparkles any day.

Well, most days.

Merry Christmas.

 

DEC
17

For-e-ver. And e-ver.

'Tis the season. This makes me smile every Christmas. Enjoy.

 

DEC
14

Art is In

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I've always wanted to be an artist. I know, I know, writers are perhaps considered a kind of artist, but that's not the same thing. I've always wished I could draw. Or that I had the ability to create something with my hands. Anything. I have so many friends and family members who sew, who draw, who have an eye for crafts and creating things that are darling and unique and that make me feel horribly untalented. To each his own, so I guess my point is that I'm grateful for people who are talented in these areas and who use those talents to brighten the lives of others.

This random art tagent is brought to you by the fact that I got the artwork back this week for my second book. Something about seeing it and getting a sense for how it will influence the overall look of the book is exciting...because this is happening. And soon. Yay for artists. In the truest sense of the word.

DEC
08

For the Love of Words

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Admittedly, I think Toms are kind of ugly. But I fell in love with the sparly silver pair and decided I had to have them. (It's hard to resist anything that sparkles, as my readers will find out this spring when book #2 comes out.) But then I saw these...the pair covered with words and their definitions. If ever there were a perfect pair of shoes for an author, these are them. Except in reality, the perfect pair of shoes for an author would be much cheaper. Anyway, the word-loving part of me won out, so the sparkles will have to wait. For now.

Oh, and do you like how as soon as I decide I can finally get behind Ohio State, they lose? Not sure if that's ironic or if I'm just very, very bad luck, but this morning I find myself feeling a bit down about it. Make of that what you will.

 

DEC
05

I Need to get on Board

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As an Ohioan, I make this confession at great risk of peril, but I've never been able to embrace the Buckeyes. And I'm not sure why this is, as I fell in love with the Cavaliers the moment I moved to Cleveland. I even root for the Cavs when they play my Portland Trailblazers (who--let's give credit where it's due--are white hot right now). So it's not that I refuse to claim Ohio as my place of residence. It's just that I feel no attachment to Ohio State.

Especially in a year like this one...where my Ducks couldn't hold themselves together and it looks like the Buckeyes might actually get themselves to the championship game. This thouroughly depresses me, but I'm wondering if it would be that bad to be a fan. To cheer. To wish them well. A coworker was trying to sway me on the matter today by saying that while he is a tried and true Buckeyes fan, he also likes the Ducks. And other than situations like the 2010 Rose Bowl, I guess there's no reason why I can't be a fan of both. (Although part of me just died a little inside when I said that.) It'll take some getting used to, but, like I said, let's give credit where it's due. And undefeated is a very sparkly word.

 

NOV
28

Grateful

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In thinking today about what I’m grateful for, my mind went back to the moment a few months ago when I snapped this picture. The man I loved had just decided to break up with me instead of propose, and I was completely undone. Questioning everything from my actions to my attributes, in that moment all I knew was that it hadn’t been enough. That I hadn’t been enough. Which is why seeing these words scrawled on the side of the Brooklyn Bridge as I walked across stopped me in my tracks.

I won’t say these months have been easy ones. As horribly not-put-together as this makes me sound, I still miss him. Us. But if I’m grateful for anything today, it is the resilience of the human spirit. I’m grateful for support, even if it comes from far away. Grateful for the chance to take new paths, even if they aren’t the ones I would have chosen. Grateful that the things we have will always trump those we do not. Grateful to feel so blessed, today and always.

NOV
26

Cheryl Strayed in the Cleve

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In all the craziness of last week’s travels, I wasn’t able to mention that Cheryl Strayed was in town. Author of Wild, which I quite enjoyed. Sometimes it’s puzzling to think of an author speaking, because what exactly do they speak about? Their book? Everyone in attendance has read it. Their life? Everyone in attendance knows all about it because we’ve read the book.

Well Cheryl Strayed gave what I can only describe as the perfect remarks. She went into some background and additional detail on both her life and the book, and I could have listened for hours. Her thoughts on writing, particularly on writing memoirs, I found helpful and true, and it’s comforting to know she struggles with some of the same writerly things I do. Like balancing honesty with the part of you that doesn’t want to hurt people’s feelings. Loved hearing about the person who had issue with how they were portrayed in Wild. Loved hearing how she responded, how it made her feel. Loved being in a theater full of people there to support her. Truly, it is the dream.

NOV
23

Road Trip

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I was on the road this week for work, and while I did decide to fly for the longest stretches of the trip, most of the week I was driving. In fact, I feel like that’s all I did. Drive. You have to know me and my relationship with driving to understand how truly significant this is, but after a week of driving all over 4 states I am by and large unfamiliar with, I managed to always get where I was going. Not only without incident, but without so much as a wrong turn. It was unprecedented. And considering one evening found me in the thick of NYC rush-hour traffic, my ultimate goal being Long Island (um, has anyone ever tried driving to Long Island?), actually getting there—and in the dark of night, no less—made me want to fall to the floor of the blessed Marriott that housed me that evening and weep for having arrived in one piece.

Instead I wept when I got home last night. I’m not sure why. Partly because I was exhausted. Because the NYC drive surely took years off my life. Partly because I got to meet up with my Airman brother while on the road, and I’m so incredibly proud of him. Partly because the world is such a beautiful place, and one you can only see close up when you do exactly what I had done—drive. And perhaps partly because I returned to Cleveland full of tales from the road, and the only one here to greet me was my cat.

Since there is no one on hand to listen, I’ll have to tell you, dear readers, that a detour in Maryland took me through the most beautiful patch of land I’ve seen in years. I stopped in the middle of the winding country road just to take it all in. I glanced over my shoulder with a smile as I passed Coney Island and drove across the Verrazano Bridge on the clearest and most beautiful day imaginable. People had pulled off the road and gotten out of their cars just to look out and sigh for a minute before rolling on. And when I crossed the Susquehanna yesterday, I thought about Billy Collins and his poem about fishing in July. Not because I’ve ever fished the Susquehanna, but then again, neither has Billy. In any case, I’m grateful for the trip, grateful to be home, and grateful to now put away the GPS.

NOV
17

Thankful

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My life flashed before my eyes yesterday in hot yoga. Which reminds me--a few words about hot yoga: So. Hot. Granted my barefoot, tank-top-clad self thinks it feels breathtakingly cozy upon first walking in. But within about two minutes I feel grossly overheated. And about halfway through the workout I swear my heart starts palpitating, my body preparing for an imminent end. Having made it out alive yesterday, I felt a renewed appreciation for life, for sweat, for what the body can do while working out in 100 degrees of hotness. Which, incidentally, I should turn into a scandalous trilogy.

In the spirit of gratitude for not keeling over in the middle of downward dog, or maybe it was all these month of November gratitude musings I've seen on facebook, I started thinking of things I was grateful for, and in a moment that had me convinced I was hallucinating, the first thing I thought of was country music. It's like that forest scene on The Proposal where Sandra is asked to chant from the heart, and Ryan Reynolds says, "Balls? That's what came to your heart?" Look, I don't make the rules. And while not a hard core fan of the stuff, what came to my mind was country music. In particular, the Mary Chapin Carpenter album I just found at a used book sale.

See, I was introduced to country music at age 9 by my neighbors who watched CMT. And while I have been a spotty follower of the genre in the majority of the years since, any country song circa about 1992 is near and dear to my heart. Pam Tillis, remember her? How about Suzy Bogguss? Lorrie Morgan? I thought Something in Red was about the most dramatic and mature song I had ever heard. And don't even get me started on Trisha Yearwood's Walkaway Joe. Whoa.

I still like country music, although don't consider it as clutch as it used to be. And I sure wish our little T. Swizzle would re-countrify herself. Still, it's the morning station I listen to every day while getting ready for work, and it's what I most often play on the radio. Maybe it all reminds me of my childhood, of sneaking next door, or hoping my favorite video would be the next one on. For that childhood, and those neighbors, I am grateful. On this day and always. To quote Mary Chapin Carpenter, I feel lucky.

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