Lost Mates in Reykjavik

single glove speed datingLaugavegur, the busiest shopping street of Reykjavik, is full-full-full of public art. Driveways lined with murals, walls splashed with painted patterns, mosaics and painted shop walls and clever knitting and just WOW. Like I said a couple days ago: 891 pictures. Only like a hundred of those are the Northern Lights, and then another couple hundred are of mountains and geysers and Thingvellir and things like that. But a majority of them? Art of Reykjavik, which really should be a sister city to Seattle.

So the delight above was captured about halfway down Laugavegur. I took this picture my first day there, after I took a magical late-morning nap that erased any would-be jet lag. I ate a lot of so-so veggie sandwiches there*, and I was on my way to my first one, which I would eat in a coffee shop atop a gift shop that overlooked the city’s busiest square. I was hungry and still a little sleepy and wondering if I was going to get into this whole traveling by yourself thing, which I’d done almost none of before this trip.

Then I saw this adorable thing, which clearly evolved over time – maybe a single glove on that fence, and then a couple, and then a few, and then that sign, and then even more. And I realized… this was going to work out just fine.

A couple days later, I saw the rural version of this.

single glove looking for loveThis is what happens when you try to find love in less populated places. This is at the edge of the parking lot in front of Sólheimajökull glacier. Your odds are just better when you go to the denser spots, good sir glove.

Or, you know, you could get the internet involved.

*But no hakarl, dammit, due to a badly timed sour belly.

Hither and Thither #25

reykjavik wasabi houseI’m slowly making my way through all 891 (!) pictures I took in Reykjavik. Here’s an early favorite. Overall, I found the city so much more Seattlely than I expected. One way was the color palette – the houses were often the muted blues, greens, and greys you get in neighborhoods here. But then there was this one, the wasabi house. That is where I would live.

Well, one of the many places. I’ll show you more later.

division squiggleI think I’m going to New York in April (whee!). Thus, I shall be clipping and saving this.

division squiggleDid yesterday feel like a bit of a letdown for you? Did you find yourself turning corners and looking into the sky, waiting to see something bigger, brighter, more… apocalyptic? There are reasons for that.

division squiggleHere is a magical phrase: “the universal shapes of stories, by Kurt Vonnegut.”

Excuse me, I seem to have swooned. One moment.




division squiggleThe dream of the 90s is… aches and pains, physical adaptations to our degrading bodies, time traveling through sets of friends, and being far from the active core of people who make the world run.

division squiggleIt’s easy to spin your wheels. It’s a lot harder to actually DO something. Be Less Crazy explores getting ready to get ready, this strange circling state between intending and doing – and how long it can actually be.

division squiggleAnd I’ll leave you with a little exploring. From Messy Nessy Chic, London’s secret underground veg farm and some achingly beautiful hotel luggage labels of decades past. (This last one allllllmost sent me into an eBay k-hole, but I resisted.) And from Untapped Cities, another exploration of a secret club (because New York is lousy with them). In this installment, we explore the Grolier Club, a swank off-limits space dedicated to the book arts.

Culture Lunch and the Joys of Deliberate Interruption

I read a study recently that sea mammals are a natural study aid, aiding the mind in both retention and comprehension,* so I will be liberally seeding this entry with pictures of otters to make my point clearer to you, fair reader.



There are a million, billion blog entries and screeds (and at least one zine) that advocate mixing up your life to be more aware and more effective, whatever that might mean to you. This is good advice, but without elaboration, it becomes so broad and so big that it can lose any connection to a normal person’s life. For instance, I liked this list of creative rituals to adopt yourself, but most of us (and I largely mean Americans here) don’t have the money or time to do a quarterly retreat or the flexibility during the day to nap.

I’m a fan of the small disruption. I like it because starting with something small means you’re more likely to succeed at creating a new habit, and I like that because small changes add up to larger changes. For most of us, this is the best and most effective way to point our lives in a new direction.**

Oh, you!

Oh, you!

With that in mind, I have adopted the ritual of the Culture Lunch.

In January, I managed to do it twice; I’m aiming to bump it up to weekly. At Christmas, I asked my family for memberships to the Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Aquarium. My family came through, and now I can go to both as much as I care to for a year. It is the BEST PRESENT.

Usually, 30-odd minutes is far from enough time to take in all the art/otters/jellyfish/OTTERS, but if you do it multiple times over a lot of months, you end up getting a pretty substantial meal in small bites. It’s easy to get into ruts, to spend your lunch in some tiny lunchroom or – god forbid – in front of a computer at your desk. But it’s harder to do that if your lunchtime regularly involves fur seals, cars speared with rods of light, and fish being thrown.

OTTER! This dude was somersaulting and scrubbing his tail as he did. OTTER BATH.

OTTER! This dude was somersaulting and scrubbing its tail as it did. OTTER BATH.

Now, I  hear your rebuttal, and your rebuttal is a solid one. “My dear SD,” I hear you saying. “I don’t work in downtown Seattle, or downtown anywhere. I work in an office park from hell, or a shitty little village, or my living room. I can’t walk to artistic institutions OR a waterfront.”

Yes, I’m lucky, but there are things you can do too, I promise. The key is introducing regular change so that your idea of normal shifts.

Napping otter SUCKLING ITS TAIL.

Napping river otter SUCKLING ITS TAIL.

Just get up and go on a little burst of exploring. Try it once a week. That can mean walking to get a sandwich using a route you usually don’t take or just leaving your desk and using a tablet or a laptop to watch a half-hour of a rad foreign movie from the 50s or something (or Man vs. Wild, or whatever’s out of the ordinary for you). Dine with a friend, a new restaurant, a brown-bag lunch at a park you don’t hang out in. The point is to introduce difference on a regular basis.

Because not all of us can take a week to unplug every three months. But most of us can ditch life for 30-60 minutes once a week and have a little wander. It feeds your heart and your imagination, but it also has the wonderful of leaving you hungrier. And that’s where the larger, more insidious change creeps in.

But we’ll talk about that soon enough.



*I did no such thing. But I would happily participate in such a study and skew the results.

**Of course, you can also do the cut and run, the abrupt switch, the wholesale slaying of your old habit/life/position. I’ve done it, and it worked out well enough. But it’s not realistic or attainable for most people, I don’t think, and the nuclear option is something best kept in the pocket for most people.

Valentine’s Day in Two Pictures

Both from Pine, alongside the ballfield.

First, we have this lovely little bit of spontaneous art, created and displayed for us all to enjoy.

heartBaw. That’s lovely.

Further down the sidewalk, we have this masterpiece of forensic fodder.

tableauAt the top: that would be a deserted pair of women’s undies. Below: an empty bottle of Jack.

May whatever deities listen continue to bless Seattle. It is a magnificent, generous place full of wonder.

Maybe you celebrated Valentine’s Day with, as Dan Savage put it at his event at the Neptune that night, cynical jokes, box wine, and defiant masturbation. Or maybe you bought bullshit at CVS, or maybe you did something else entirely. My Valentine’s Day was unexpectedly lovely, and that was even before I went out to see this. With, I should mention, my splendid neighbor, who provided me with these pictures from his post-V-Day walk the next day. But whatever you did, I hope it was good. May your overly expensive dinners be tasty, may your masturbation be as defiant as you want it to be, and may you get what you want roughly when you want it.

Thither Interlude #1

I could have made myself crazy, cramming internet into my brain and pooping out the best bits into a post within a span of about three days.

I could’ve faked like nothing is going on, allowing WordPress scheduling to seamlessly bring you the usual Sunday post, made of my own tears, adrenaline, and sleep deprivation, knit into a fine cloth.

But you know what?

I am in Iceland right now, and when you read this, I may have finally, finally seen the Northern Lights.

I have wanted to see the Northern Lights for more than half my life.

I will be back to you soon, with a million pictures, with brilliant links to all sorts of internet weirdness, and with a sense of awe that’s even greater than what I carry through ordinary days.

In the meantime, I will leave you with this, Lindy West’s astonished explanation of bikini barista shacks, aimed at shocked outsiders.


Hither and Thither #24

pipeAs I write this, a helicopter is still hovering over Capitol Hill to capture the magic. I added a few pictures to the Deviation Obligatoire Flickr that I took tonight. I considered doing a separate post about it, but it’ll be covered amply by the rest of the world. I will just tell you that I saw these things:

  • Two flung beer cans
  • At least ten bottles of champagne, shaken and sprayed
  • One small Christmas tree, brandished overhead like an undecipherable symbol
  • One small Christmas tree, four hands with lighters at its base as the bearers tried unsuccessfully to light it on fire
  • One small Christmas tree, confiscated by four cops
  • Bottle rockets shot from a traffic cone
  • Bottle rocket sparks, sprayed on nearby onlookers
  • Professional-grade fireworks, launched from the very densest center of the crowd

The band emerged after I went home. Alas.

Now, let’s get to the rest of the internet.

division squiggleI love this essay so fucking much. Her 20s were not quite like my 20s were – there is something about me that seems to tell strange men DO NOT BOTHER THE LADY (something which surprises people who know me), so I’m mostly spared certain things. But the beauty of coming into your own… Ah, I love Molly Crabapple. I love that someone with such a finely tuned blend of fine art and cartooning is also such a sharp, unsparing writer. Continue reading