Karen Finlay smiling at book store
Karen Finlay at Alibi Bookshop. Photo by Lynn Landry.

TueNight 10: Karen Finlay

(Karen Finlay at Alibi Bookshop. Photo by Lynn Landry.)

Age: 51

Bio: Karen is the co-owner of Alibi Bookshop in Vallejo, CA. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College, spent nearly 20 years in the publishing industry (Lonely Planet, Chronicle Books), and is the co-founder of The Mid-Century Supper Club Potluck, a yearly festival of questionable foodstuffs. She lives with her husband, Jon, and their two dogs.

Beyond the Bio: I did try to bake bread. It would have been a perfect field hockey puck. I’m trying every day to be grateful, to take everything as it comes, to remain positive, and never take anything for granted.

What makes you a grown-ass lady? I’m responsible, I have adult trappings, I’m glad I’m no longer young, I like the age I am, and I’m glad I’ve gotten this far. But I still get really excited about things and am not jaded, and it helps that I still have the same friends since first grade, so we keep one another young and mindful of all of our stages in life together. I guess what makes me a grown-ass lady is that while I’d still love to go roller skating, I have the wisdom not to do it..

Here’s her TueNight 10:

1. On the nightstand: Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil and Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore (and a two-foot-tall stack of all of the other books I want to read).

2. Can’t stop/won’t stop: Taking pictures of my funny little dogs, Dino Martina and Dorothy “Dottie” Parker.

3. Jam of the minute: The whole Matilda Effect album by The Corner Laughers, and Erik Satie and the Ella Fitzgerald songbooks have been lowering my blood pressure.

4. Thing I miss: My bookstore! My friends! Thrift Shopping! Fountain drinks. Sitting in restaurants. My old pants that don’t fit now.

5. ‘80s crush: Timothy Hutton, AdRock, and sweetly fabulous new wave gay boys.

6. Current crush: My husband. Ever since we’ve been on lockdown, he hasn’t shaved or gotten a haircut and looks like a totally different person. It’s weird! Oh, and still AdRock.

7. Latest fave find: On my last jaunt to the thrift store I found some great vintage plastic bangles, a lamb cake pan, and a Cinderella Pyrex dish. But my latest stay-at-home fave find is, when you’re making mashed potatoes, combine gold and russet potatoes together, and heat the milk and butter before adding them in. (Did I mention that I miss my old pants that no longer fit?)

8. Last thing I lost: My mind. And my favorite pair of glasses. They must be around somewhere, because I haven’t been anywhere.

9. Best thing that happened recently: The best thing that’s happened is bookshop.org. Thanks to this company we can do online orders and it’s keeping the rent paid and the lights on. We are so grateful! The other best thing is hearing from our customers and friends about how much they miss the bookstore and can’t wait to see us again. It’s so good to hear, and makes us realize over and over that opening the bookstore is the best thing we’ve ever done, next to adopting our funny little dogs.

10. Looking forward to: Reopening the bookstore! Hugging my friends! Thrift shopping! Fountain drinks! Sitting in restaurants! Fitting back into my pants that don’t fit! And especially being able to go outside, taking deep breaths, and feeling safe again, and the positive changes that will come from all of this.

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