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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
NOV
12

When You Want Shortbread

When I went to Scotland a few years ago, I had this little shortbread shop on my list of places to go while in Edinburgh. It's certainly not what I would call a tourist destination, and in a city full of museums and castles (and Arthur's Seat, for crying out loud), it may seem strange that this was such a must-see. It would seem less strange if you knew how much I love shortbread--I just have to sort of ignore the fact that it's pretty much straight butter--but still, one might say an odd choice. I did those other things too, the museums and castles and even Arthur's Seat, but perhaps my favorite moment of the entire trip, at least the one I kept trying to re-create as I continued exploring the handful of Scottish cities I'd chosen to visit, was when I opened the door to Pinnies & Poppy Seeds Artisan Shortbread Shop and stepped inside. To this day, and for the rest of my life, I will never have smelled anything so delicious. 

I was late to the game when it comes to international travel, something I didn't start doing until later than most, but that I was able to do consistently in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. My goal was to keep the trend going and take one big, foreign trip every year, a plan that was of course foiled by this blasted pandemic. While I want to make clear that the most tragic aspect of COVID-19 is the lives that have been lost and the grief and suffering endured by those who have felt those losses most dearly, for those of us fortunate enough to only be dealing with the side effects of quarantine and lock-down, one of the saddest things I've witnessed is a general abandonment of our various shortbreads. We all have those things and places that speak to us, that compel us to try, to visit, to see, to achieve. It's not just that the pandemic can make a person feel like these things are no longer attainable, it's that they are in many cases actually no longer attainable. Worse, it can make a person feel foolish for even thinking such a pursuit was realistic in the first place. I have listened to the tears of friends and family who worry their windows have closed, and, in some cases, don't have it in them to try again. To the world I say, is there to be no more shortbread???

My own opinion on the matter is that shortbread is not over. It may be changed or different. It will certainly be delayed. But it is not gone. On good days, you can even convince me that my quest to visit the shortbread store would have been no less noble had I arrived to find the door locked, the store closed. On bad days, such a thought breaks my little angel cake heart, but let's focus on the good days. Let's remember that things will get better and that if we had the courage and gumption to pursue a thing once, surely we can summon the courage and gumption to pursue it again. Or even again after that. And for those whose windows truly have closed with this pandemic, do not for one second think yourself foolish for trying. Trying already sets you apart from those who assumed it impossible from the start. The effort is success already, see?

This is not to say that I'm immune to the pandemic blues, because they damn near paralyze me sometimes. I found myself looking up the Pinnies & Poppy Seeds website today just to cheer myself up, only to find that they have had to close their store. A reminder if ever there was one of all the dashed dreams, ruined fortunes, and overall melancholy that has seemingly enveloped the world. I'm glad I have the memory, is something I suppose I could tell myself. The memory not just of that initial inhale inside the door, but also of selecting the flavors I wanted to buy, of watching my selections be placed in a small box and tied with string, of schlepping the box around a beautiful new country, and of curling up in a different hotel room each night with a cup of steaming tea and a piece of shortbread. Yes, I'm glad I have the memories, but if you want to know a secret, without the shortbread store, I'm fairly certain the trip would have been just as amazing. I know that's hard to believe when all you want is shortbread, but in times like these, let's do our best to re-imagine what shortbread can be. 

 

MAY
15

Reopening: Beaches Edition

It's an interesting thing living at the beach when all the beaches are closed. Though for the best, it's part eerie and part sad to look out over the coastline and see not a single person on the beach or in the water. Of course, the headline here in California has been that the beaches have begun to reopen. Well, they opened, then closed after opening day saw crowds blatantly ignoring social distancing precautions, and now have reopened again. 

In my own corner of the coast, I confess it's nice to see people back on the beach, and so far the crowds have been light. You can't sit or gather or "hang out," you've pretty much got to keep it moving (ie. surfing, walking, and running), which I'm sure is contributing to the low turnouts thus far. We'll see how things change as summer arrives, but it's nice to have the beach back as a possibility, if only as an alternate route for my daily walk.

Other ways I pass the time include attempting copy-cat recipes for Disneyland treats (the withdrawal struggle is real, folks) and plugging away on my new manuscript, which is now more than 40% done. It's certainly not ALL bad, staying at home, but I'm definitely looking forward to more things reopening. Particularly my waxing salon (that struggle is especially real). I'd love to look out over a crowded beach and instead of worry over the potential spread of a virus simply think to myself that it's just summer. 

APR
25

The Argument for Kindle

Honestly, I never wanted one. I've never had any interest in giving up the reading of actual books. Holding them in my hands and turning the pages and hefting them with me on planes and keeping them stacked on my bedside table. I also never wanted to give up the library, and having reason to go there and select my next book. I've really never even considered getting a Kindle.

Had I not been gifted one for my recent birthday, I would have continued to stick to my guns on this, but the fact that the libraries are closed has put me in a bit of a reading pickle. In that my only option really is to use the Kindle. So I'm now in this, if a bit begrudgingly, and felt the need to just sum up how a non-Kindle user (a real book preferer) feels after having begun using a Kindle.

In short, I don't hate it. And I sort of hate that I don't hate it.

Benefits include: having immediate access to pretty much any book, how small and light and easy to transport it is, that you don't have to shine a light on it at night in order to see what you're reading.

Things I find annoying include: being limited to only seeing a couple of paragraphs at a time, having to pay money to read books as opposed to getting them for free at the library.

I still feel like my preferred method of reading is to have an actual book in my hand, and maybe I'll always feel that way. But that said, I am surprised by how much I do enjoy using the Kindle, and once libraries open back up, I can see myself still sometimes forgoing the books on my nightstand and instead choosing to swipe open the Kindle. But only sometimes.

APR
14

Quarantine Cats

This post communicates so much. That I've devolved into a near constant wearing of sweats and padding around the house in my socks. That my cat continues to live her best life. That I'm reading much more than usual. That I am indeed a gem. And that my single 10-pound weight means that I am obviously very strong.

What it doesn't so much communicate but what is absolutely true is that I am now more than 20% done with my new manuscript. My new book!! It continues to be a fun project to work on...since there are literally no other options. I may finish this one in record time. 

MAR
30

Quarantine Silver Linings

In a world where working from home has become the new norm, headlines are grim, and fear and anxiety reign supreme, it can be difficult to stay positive. And when we do manage to shift our mindset, feeling positive can feel, well, a bit inappropriate knowing there are so many out there who are suffering. But striving to stay positive has to be a part of our daily routine, and I for one have started to really focus on the small, happy things that are coming from this otherwise awful situation.

The writer in me is grateful for the extra writing time I'm getting. I've started working on my next book, my FIFTH (yikes!!), and I'm really enjoying the process. I know I'm totally biased, but I really think writing is one of the best creative outlets, and given how much extra time everyone is getting at home, if you're a person at all inclined to write, to wax prolific on any number of topics or plots, then open those blank Word documents and start typing!

The employee in me is grateful to still be working, and that, at least for now, my job is one that I can do from home. I know many are not so fortunate, and even though it's a tad boring and my house is super tiny, having the ability to work here is a huge blessing and I feel that every day.

The reader in me is grateful that Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is the book I got stuck with before all the libraries closed. I had been waiting for my turn for months, and it is one of the best books I've read in years.

The partner in me is grateful to have a significant other who is so technologically savvy, and who has set me up with a functioning work station and is so quick to help with anything I can't figure out. He's even gifted me a Kindle as an early birthday present so I can continue to have reading material. (More on the Kindle in another post. I have thoughts.)

The pet parent in me is grateful that my cat is so damn happy to have me home.

The daughter/aunt/sister in me is grateful that my family has been so much more connected. We've been using FaceTime and Google Duo, and even though we're ALWAYS apart, we've really not been leveraging these options until now. On Friday night alone, we talked with each of my siblings, and over the weekend I got to participate in some virtual game time with my nephews and watch my new baby niece shake her little fists. It delights me to see all the family time everyone is getting.

The consumer in me is grateful for Amazon workers who still deliver packages, to store clerks restocking the shelves, restaurateurs still cooking food for takeout, and producers still releasing binge-worthy content.

Most of all, the human in me is grateful for the doctors and nurses who are working tirelessly to help and treat those who are battling this virus. I'm not sure I'll be able to say at the end of this that neither me nor anyone I love got sick, and that's a terrifying thought, for all of us, but let's do what we can to foster positivity and be grateful for every little thing.