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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
MAR
05

Oh, That I Were a Short Sleeper

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I heard this feature on a morning news show last week about short sleepers. People who don't seem to need as much sleep as everyone else. Now, this always sounded like a bunch of crock to me. Because don't we all at some point or another (some of us do still) try and convince ourselves that we fall into this very category? Surely WE can get by on less. Surely WE will not be affected. Well apparently some of us actually aren't affected. For the record, I am not one of those people, as both me and my case of ZZZ-quil can tell you, but apparently this is a legit thing, and one that can be passed down the genetic line.

As the show introduced us to a few of these short sleepers, I was impressed. Impressed that there are people in this world who can actually function on one hour of sleep per night. Did you hear what I said??? One hour. To prove they were still in tip-top shape, the show ran them through a series of reflex tests, which they passed with flying colors. Something none of the "regular" people could do when asked to try short sleeping temporarily.

Watching these seemingly super humans, I was also kind of jealous. "I feel like I'm actually living my life," one of them said. And while I don't feel like sleep keeps me from living my life, the added life and accomplishment of short sleepers is not lost on me. I mean, think of how much more you would get done. It pains me to even think about it, and I've been forced to blame the above completely out of hand stack of to-read books on the fact that I'm not a short sleeper. It's the only way I would ever get through them, I'm convinced.

MAR
01

How to Embarrass Yourself at a Work Dinner

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I spent a few days in Chicago this week, and it was bitterly cold. Not that Cleveland hasn't been this winter, but still, something about CHI town this week just felt especially bone-chilling. And there was so much static electricity on the sheets when I pulled down the covers of the hotel bed that I didn't want to get in. Like, at all. An absolute death trap. Then in the morning when I did my hair, it would not settle. The static was practically luminescent.

So, like an idiot, over a work dinner that evening I asked aloud whether there was any science to this whole notion of bitter cold yielding such ungodly static levels. Apparently there totally is. And it's probably something I should have learned about in the second grade. But, you know, whatever. Glad I could present myself as such a competent professional. Hopefully next time I return to the windy city it will be summer.

FEB
23

How to read someone else's manuscript

b2ap3_thumbnail_detective.jpgThe answer is that I have no idea, but I had the chance this month to be a beta reader of someone else's manuscript. I'd never done this before, and it's kind of exciting. Hot off the press. Not even out yet. Being one of the first few pairs of eyes to ever read something. On the other hand, it's a little bit daunting, too. Because manuscripts (and this was a particularly long one) are like kids to their creators. So to end up with several pages of notes and suggestions for someone else's manuscript can make a beta reader feel like she's being kind of bitchy. Oh well. Feedback is a gift, right?

It's a wonder then that I don't ask for more of it with my own manuscripts. This author has a whole group of beta readers, whereas my books go to press with me and my editor as the only ones who have ever read them. For me it gets too complicated to get a bunch of hands in the pot, even if they are the hands of my most trusted friends and family members. I start feeling torn and indecisive if said friends and family members disagree on certain elements, so the best I can do to stay sane is to just move forward with the book the way I like it best. Of couse, when you write non-fiction, it's probably easier to get away with this. I don't have complicated plot twists and character development to worry about, as did the author of the manuscript I just beta-read.

At any rate, I was flattered to have been asked, and am always impressed by people with the discipline and talent to create entire books. They make the world--and my life--much more entertaining.

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.