Hither and Thither #23

buddhist bugYou can read this art project as an exploration of religion and belonging… or simply as someone working deftly with the joys created by surreality. You win both ways.

division squiggleI felt something profound about this from the phrase “lost earrings, collected into a chandelier” (I anthropomorphize things some, and left-behind twins of objects make me a little sad), but when they got to the part about them coming with notes about grandmothers and daughters and other lost owners of the lost objects… well. There’s truth in the ordinary, and I think it gets overlooked a lot, especially when we’re talking about ordinary things from the world of women. Continue reading

Hither and Thither #22

RemiNoel1Batman, with a different variety of pathos than is typical.

division squiggleThis is only for a few of you, but it’s so useful I wanted to get it out there even a tiny bit more. Over on Tumblr, there’s an excellent, excellently written, and very thorough list of retailer tips for selling minicomics, from production to distribution to just generally not being a pain in the ass. If you’re tempted to do it, I hope you do… while following a few best practices.

division squiggleIf you have $175 to spare (and shit, who doesn’t?), you should order yourself one of these. I’m a sucker for gorgeous, expertly done hand lettering (one of the things I like most about certain sections of West Seattle, although there’s been some superb lettering going on on the big red wall that surrounds the Capitol Hill light rail construction), so I love this. Although part of me would want it to go through the mail properly – I like the artifacts of travel. It’s the same part of me that likes scars, tattoos, and secondhand things.

division squiggleI am ever so slightly better than monolingual (I can take care of basic needs in Spanish, even if they have to be largely discussed in the present tense), but I am trying to improve. Sometimes in vain, as these things go – I am a piss-poor memorizer on my better days. Rosecrans Baldwin had a great bit about the queer vulnerability of switching languages in Paris, I Love You, but You’re Bringing Me Down, where he discusses operating from a place purely populated by needs and earnestness. When you switch languages, you shed all cleverness and subtlety, at least for a while. You start from a single level and perhaps you grow from there.

Which is why the idea of switching languages in writing is so damned daunting, especially for me. It’s my ability with English that’s paid the bills for the last ten years, for the whole of my functional adulthood. To walk away from that, even for a paragraph, is quite scary. (I’m working on it.) This New York Times article addresses that switch, that demolition and rebuilding, with just the appropriate amount of drama.

And then there’s also code switching. NPR has had an interesting (if oddly dispassionate, at times) series about it, which is always interesting. And then there’s this essay at STET by a woman who’s traveled and adapted, watching her languages be shaped by people she loved, placed she adored, those who taught her, and her own preferences. And I guess I speak more than 1.1 languages, when you take that into account. Through a trick of geography and relatives, I’m conversant in Southern Midwestern, Southern, and my own curious natural blend of what sounded like a neutral accent to me when I was 12, words I delighted in that no one else used, and my own past and present as a weird kid.

division squiggleHow much am I a sucker for a hand-drawn map? I can’t convey it without tone and gestures. So when I next go to Amsterdam (after Iceland, Japan, Berlin, Paris again, and possibly even the Nevada desert), I will want some of this business in my pocket.

division squiggleI AM SO EXCITED THIS IS PART OF OUR POP CULTURE CONVERSATION RIGHT NOW. I am even more glad that the weird switch between V.C. Andrews as person and V.C. Andrews as copyrighted label of creativity is better known now. I noticed the weird little note about her demise and revival when I was 13 or 14, but people didn’t quite believe me when I told them. VINDICATION. Also a TV movie I’m hoping to watch in the next few days, red wine and powdered donuts at hand.

division squiggleSo I am a pretty damn prolific journaler, and I have been for – woof – about 18 years now. However, I have nothing on Alison Bechdel, whose brain is revealed as being more and more interesting as the days go on – and she started strong. She put up an absolutely fucking fascinating post where she moved between January 15ths in her life, from junior high to just a couple of years ago to college to entries she excerpted in her memoirs.

This is not why I would tell you to start a journal. (And I would tell you to start one, if you’ve ever even faintly considered it. We have a tendency to let the past blur together into more of a feeling than an event, and if you’re trying to change things in your life, that tendency is unhelpful.) But it’s a wonderful side effect of following your life with its own chronicle.

division squiggleAnd, finally, a little listening for you. I first got caught by This American Life with their Testosterone episode, which was scientific, and personal, and also got uncomfortably in the business of their entire staff. I find their more frequent recent turns toward hard reporting exciting and a great use of their time, but I’m glad they’re still making new episodes that make the hairs on the back of my neck tickle with that sense of uncomfortable intimacy, a certain risk, and the appreciation that some people are willing to share so much. I felt that with last week’s episode, Good Guys. It started with a kind of situation that made me feel unnerved the way that Curb Your Enthusiasm do, and it just escalated from there. Worth it.





[Insert Microhousing Joke Here]

Prime real estate a stone’s throw from the enviable Pine/Broadway intersection. Vibrant locals always nearby in this covetable neighborhood that’s just teeming with culture. Distinctive accommodations provide views of passersby. Convenient to multiple bus lines. Bonus: if you’re hungry, just eat your house.


microhousing capitol hillSeen on Monday morning. Tossed and broken in the SCCC courtyard by 5:30 pm the same day.

Hither and Thither #21

Tunnels32San Francisco’s answer to the Catacombs. I think I’m one of those people who’s content to look through the pictures… although I might feel differently if I knew someone who knew what they were doing.

division squiggleYes.

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640x444xempire5.jpg.pagespeed.ic.7Fo0dzjRpWMessy Nessy Chic looks at a fair gob of beautiful old movie theaters kept running by Kickstarter. It’s alarming sometimes that so much of democracy is now run through where we put our dollars, but at least there are more options for making that vote go further. Also worth a look: Kickstarter’s highlights of 2013. Continue reading

Standing Stones, with Waffles

1 waffle house signI went to Destin with a resolution to take a day trip somewhere with my family. It didn’t work out, but that’s ok – I’ll see Apalachicola or wherever else another time. Instead of running ourselves ragged trying to DO THINGS, we played Apples to Apples, went and saw The Hobbit, and went for dinner after. It’s the kind of thing I don’t get to do with them very often, so it made me as happy as anything could have.6 waffle house long view

In the nineteen or so collected months that I lived in Destin (2.5 summers between semesters; one last chunk of time as I saved money to come here), I burnt myself out on the Waffle House, especially once I started boycotting Walmart. If you don’t drink*, there’s not much else to do after 10 pm. So, rather than become even more familiar with the tile pattern of the living room floor and the early-2000s of HBO, I went to the Waffle House. In high school in Illinois, it was that or Denny’s. What I’m saying is that we go way back.

3 waffle house ceiling I have never seen the construction of a Waffle House. I imagine them sliding whole off the back of a truck, pictures, jukebox, staff, and thin napkins already in place. Or they may spring up fully formed from a spore, like a mushroom. All I know is that they were designed at one point, perfectly made, and that there has not yet been a perceived need to revisit that design.

4 waffle house noticesI’m inclined to agree. I think there’s a goodly amount of redesigning for the sake of appearing new that goes on right now. But why mess with perfection?

2 waffle house menuIt goes like this: two scrambled eggs, raisin toast, extra jelly, scattered and capped hashbrowns, and a chocolate milk. Salad with chicken for the rest of the family. It has been like this for YEARS.

(Our waitress, friendly but incredibly new, forgot the chicken on one of the salads and brought it over separately on a plate, once we were all done eating. The rest of my family, omnivorous in a way I’m not, partook of the pile of chicken bits like some kind of poultry communion.)

5 waffle house tablescapeIn the absence of meaning, we accept routine.

Destin is made of sand. I couldn’t dig roots deep there, for that and a hundred other indisputable reasons. We moved there when I was eighteen, though we’d gone there on vacation a couple of times when I was growing up. But most of older Destin is gone.

So this is where I revisit the past.

This, and their jukebox.

waffle jukebox 1 waffle jukebox 2 waffle jukebox 3It’s gone digital now, but the important stuff is still there.

I haven’t heard any of these songs. I don’t need to. And YouTube didn’t help; looking up Waffle House on there brings up only Jim Gaffigan and a shocking number of “EPIC FIGHT IN WAFFLE HOUSE” videos.

I’m glad we don’t have them up in Seattle. I wouldn’t go there, same as I don’t go to the IHOP. It’s unnecessary. But I like these oases, and I’m pulled to them in the same way I’m pulled toward truck stops and other shrines to convenience, denuded of any pretense, their grace found in function.

It is always about 60 degrees inside, and the windows are almost always opaque with what I will charitably maintain is fog. And inside, it is always, always the same.

*I didn’t really at the time, even when I was of age, and I still don’t drink anywhere that I don’t feel at least 90 percent safe and comfortable, feelings I do not associate with this town.

Hither and Thither #20

2013-10-06-adamI  had a time where I did something like this myself – in humbler pen and ink, to be sure. But I drew myself with flaming swords, summoning lightning, standing in power poses on cliffs. My life lacked a lot of that feeling around that time, so I created it in sketches. I have yet to clutch a flaming sword – which may be for the best – but I feel like I do a lot more metaphorical standing on cliffs these days, wind whipping around me as I brace myself for action, so I call the exercise a success.

That’s part of why I found these murals such a delight. Have you ever read about the imagery in portraits from centuries ago? They were all thickly layered with visual shorthand that told you so much about the subject. The way they wished to be portrayed, their professions, their social standing – all of it was conveyed via colors and props and poses. The curious result of there being such limited media to convey large amounts of information.

So I think this guy’s paintings are an excellent step in the right direction. We need more modern myths – specifically not of the harmful religious kind, that is.

division squiggleThere is nothing new under the sun. Continue reading