Hither and Thither #33

A short one this week. I wasn’t at my desk a lot this week, due to the supreme pleasure of showing my visiting bestie around Seattle, which means my RSS reader is largely unread. a stuffed sloth in a tree on 14th Ave on Capitol Hill in SeattleI spied this dude on the way to dance class a few days ago. I hope he stays forever. I want there to be a plaque and an artist’s statement. division squiggleReading this left me aching to sit at my desk with paper, scissors, and about a million hours to spare. (Although I realize a laser cutter would be the more useful tool.) division squiggle rich kids12th Avenue, Capitol Hill. Pointed. Apt.

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Since my friend went home yesterday, I’ve been very domestic, which means lots of podcasts. I’ve had quite the backlog of Podcastle, which means two things:

  1. I do not have enough fantasy fiction in my life.
  2. I can remedy that beautifully and immediately.

So, in the past few days, I’ve enjoyed listening to:

Fine soundtracks for laundry, dishes, and cooking.

And I will leave you with just one more:delicious things from Ines Pattiserie

Having a friend in town is a great motivator to check out things you’ve managed to miss so far, and so it was with the two of us and Ines Pattiserie. I needed coffee, and she wanted a cookie, and we wound up with this raspberry cake, multiple cookies, a croissant, a small anise meringue, and an additional almond croissant bagged to be eaten later. (I ate it as part of a breakfast thali the next day with blueberries, cut pears, and fried eggs.) The proprietor is soft-spoken, intense, and very keen for you to try new things. She kept heaping extra goodies on the plate, and we ate until we had only the mildest of regrets. Also, the espresso was some of the best I’ve had in some time.

It is very beautifully and very meticulously put together. And I will wear stretchy pants next time.

Hither and Thither #32

the physical possibility of inspiring imagination

I arrived to the Greater England Area just a few hours too late to go see this. I might’ve taken a train to Liverpool just for this. I might have.

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There are a lot of ways to be at odds with how your brain sees your body and how your body actually is. This was a new one to me.

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I see this message more often lately (though maybe still not often enough), and oh, it makes my heart soar. For a YA version (though still pretty effective), see the Ruby Oliver books.

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All along, I’d been told cats speak French. Apparently not. Though I will say my own were nowhere to be seen when this stuff was erupting from my computer.

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Your regular installment of Andrew W.K. makes you cry.

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It is possible to have absurd amounts of money and also a little sense. I wish there was more of this.

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My friend!

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You don’t drool enough. No, seriously, get on that.

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If I walked into a New York subway car and saw this, I might swoon from the wonderfulness.

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I love when other people create roundups of my city. Eff that Storyville business, though.

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We are better at valuing things if we have lacked them.

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And, finally, a rad roundup about drawing the female body by women who have drawn their own bodies.

Hither and Thither #31

This rainbow-covered individual was at Fisherman's Wharf.

I wound up back in San Francisco this weekend. When my friends and I returned from a Muir Woods and wine tour, we collapsed into a mediocre restaurant that I realized only too late tacked on a 4 percent protest charge about having to provide healthcare for its employees. It was too late to ditch. Sigh.

I did get to see this person from the window, though. Seattle doesn’t really have living statues and other beyond-human busking oddities. It makes for an easier walk, but a less magical existence.

Related: wine tours are excellent for responsible people who have dreams of being winos on their vacations. High marks.

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Take a couple minutes and let Andrew W.K. make you cry. It’s worth it. Related: what happens to your social media when you die.

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My inclination is more slow travel than mad dashes these days, but these maps laying out five-hour forays into a variety of cities are a great start when considering what to see in different places. I think they’re either a little optimistic on the travel time or a little pessimistic on the attention span, but that’s ok. Hand-drawn maps!

silver gate bridge

I do love miniature versions of things. For instance: Miniature World in Victoria, Mini-Europe in Brussels (which I will see soon), and the tiny reproductions of California missions in the California Mission Museum at Cline Cellars in Sonoma (which I tipsily shambled through this weekend). So how charmed was I to find this tiny, shakeable bridge on the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge? Extremely charmed. How much more did I shake it than is becoming for someone in her early 30s? Oh, a good sight more.

But I am also a person who went to an indoor trampoline park this weekend and merrily bounced for an hour alongside people a third my age. Or younger. There’s no accounting for me.

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When I was very young, my mom presented me with dog tags embossed with her and my dad’s names and childhood addresses. I have always loved ephemera, so I adored these immediately – the texture, the sound they made clanking against each other, the idea of these elements of their lives before each other clanking together now on the same ball chain.

Then I thought about it and asked my mom where they came from. Neither of my parents were ever in the military; military makes dog tags; where did kids get dog tags?

That’s when I learned about the Cuban missile crisis and what threats became part of daily life for a weird period of my parents’ very middle Midwest childhoods.

I still liked the dog tags (see: “I have always loved ephemera”), but I appreciated that I got to wear them without the gravity that had once been attached to them.

99% Invisible (yes!) recently explored the fallout shelter economy and other weirdnesses that sprung up during this surreal part of American history.

Me? I share my mom’s opinion on this. No bunkers, no cement shelters buried in the earth. If I feel the end is coming, I’ll walk out on the street, arms outstretched, content to share the earth’s fate.

Hither and Thither #30

A beautifully decorated bike spotted near Seattle Center

Sweet ride in front of the Gates Foundation on 5th Avenue.

Cats can inspire you to do strange things. And not just via the toxoplasmosis.

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I’m jazzed someone’s thought to do this. I realized some months ago that I’ve lived in Capitol Hill long enough that some of the older layers of businesses and buildings are fading in memory. What did that storefront used to be? How many things have been on that corner in the years I’ve been walking by? I am a watcher of things, and yet still, some parts of the past fade. It’s a strange benefit of Street View that you can layer the past and present like this.

Speaking of lost city culture, KUOW just posted a great roundup of parts of Capitol Hill that haven’t shifted: the communes. As a lover of both alternative means of community and living and as a person who considers The Golden Girls to be equal parts comedy and aspiration, I love every bit of this. (For another view of San Francisco’s changing face, look at this wonderfully deep dive into the data yielded from AirBnB.)

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On conventions spoken and unspoken; on the elements of living and being that rise up unchallenged when we don’t allow outsiders to examine and respond. Continue reading

Hither and Thither #29


When I get deep, deep into a necessary or unavoidable timesuck (school, depression), I daydream of creating like at no other time of my life. The key, and the thing I’m working on in my life right this minute, is carrying that frantic “IF ONLY I COULD, I WOULD WRITE A NOVEL AND CONSTRUCT DIORAMAS AND TRAVEL THE WORLD AND MAKE MY OWN INTERNET MOVIES, OH BOY OH BOY” energy over into non-frantic life.

I thought a lot about papercraft this last go-round. My first post-school task is to make my apartment feel livable, alive, and welcoming again. After that: oh, we are MAKING SHIT.

Which is to say, I love this so much and want to try it myself soon.

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These portraits are so affectionate and so beautiful.

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My friend Amy’s fine eye for the visual, deep love of children’s books, and wide-open curiosity about the world makes all of her travel-related blogging a joy to experience, but I especially loved this roundup of children’s books from her recent travels. I hope she brought an expanding suitcase… And here are her stupendous (STUPENDOUS) drawings from life. I got jealous in the best way.

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I know where I am sending every single postcard and other piece of correspondence I might need to mail next time I’m in Paris.

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In our data-driven world, everything has a strategy. EVERYTHING.

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Making the total count of known books bound in human skin in the greater Boston area… four. FOR NOW.

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No clever thing or sincere thing or anything I could say could top the existing title of this piece.

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An incredibly candid, giving, and useful look at the long-term creative process and how you can fuck it up with the best of intentions.

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Today, Captain Awkward’s column extolled the perils of baby elephant pictures. While I can get on quite an internet tangent of cat pictures and otters and street art, this is my true risk. If there were days upon days of this kind of thing, you all might never hear from me again.

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I have thought of doing this and didn’t, and I am grateful someone did.

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As for podcasts… oh god, just go listen to 99 Percent Invisible, and I’ll catch you back here in a couple of days.

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I’ve had this draft sitting and waiting for so long now. I can’t tell you how good it felt to go back, flesh it out, and get ready to go again. Like doing a forward fold after standing on cement at a concert for two hours, like using a washcloth to scrub inside your ear, like water when you woke up hungover. Hello. Let’s do this.

Hither and Thither #28

Pew pew kitty

I’m thinking of starting a Flickr set of just cat graffiti. I see more and more of it, as if the internet sprung a leak.

Ah, yes, the Deviation Obligatoire Flickr. I’m hoping to dump a couple dozen pictures in there over the next couple of days. I’m finally making my way through Iceland! Yes, this week includes a return to Reykjavik, nostalgia (sort of) over my old commute to the Eastside, and my last thoughts about San Francisco (for now). When this goes live, I may be up to my elbows in clamming. I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for almost a decade and yet stuff like this still seems exotic to me. Clamming! Clam guns! Sure, northwesterners, bring it.

division squiggleA fascinating (and, of course, beautifully presented) little roundup of how one couple creates while on the road.

division squiggleI’ll be in New York at the end of April, and I hope to make it to number one on this list because… this is why New York exists. Its density allows all these unlikely things to become real and then to be supported.

division squiggleI’m not one for home improvement projects, but the painted wood in piles, the original molding, the tattered wallpaper from the chateau’s former grandeur… goddamn. I spent like ten minutes looking at this at work, wide-eyed and wondering at the world.

division squiggleAnd I’ll leave you with some worthwhile things to listen to. 99% Invisible is, of course, always worth your time, but their wonderful little look at stupid lawyer ads, laws that govern them, and the intent behind them is pretty fascinating. (Shout out to Brown & Crouppen! They’re here to help! Or so I heard like every afternoon of my entire childhood.)

Similarly, The Bugle is also always worth a listen. It makes me sad that this isn’t on the must-listen list of every smart person I know, because I’ve adored this one for years. This week’s is especially good because it walks that poignant line between mockery and some genuine sadness about how stupid people can be. The best, most lingering kind of comedy.

Hither and Thither #27

i heart you

The steadily growing archive of my life, over on Flickr.

division squiggleI am a sucker for things like this. It makes me think of this, which I love and should own at some point. I love the story hidden in the pretend representation of the day to day. One of the reasons I love Welcome to Night Vale too.

division squiggleAre we sure we’re not the post-apocalyptic society we keep dreaming of in books and movies? Because this suggests the grand times have passed.

division squiggleI am always a fan of Captain Awkward (to the point that they’re on the very short list of blogs and podcasts I’ve given money to*). While I adore her long, thoughtful responses, I also love these questions plucked from their search terms. Poor lambs can’t even write an email, but they get good answers anyway.

division squiggleOf course it starts with an R. OF COURSE IT DOES.

division squiggleHoneycrisp cells are twice the size of those of other apples, which accounts for their unique, pleasing texture. And now I feel justified – I think – in dropping twice the cash on these things at Trader Joe’s than I do an an also-lovely Fuji.

P.S. “Eat Like a Man”? What the great galloping fuck does that even mean? Just stop it, Esquire. And earth. All of you, now.

division squiggleIn San Francisco, I emerged from a lovely speakeasy-style bar with a penchant for blending unlikely boozes together (whiskey and gin? other combinations I can’t remember? sure, let’s do it) and had a fierce need for 1 am food. Little did I know that, from my position near Union Square, I was near like a dozen different options for late-as-fuck food, including Indian, diner fare, and other things that form a pleasant haze in my memory. I do love Seattle, though not entirely faithfully; even so, one of the things I’ve always lamented is our relative lack of 24-hour food. Sure, Capitol Hill has Lost Lake now, but we still lag behind.

However, we do have a few things. Here they are. Clip and save.

division squiggleSooooo, between the end of the quarter and darting down to San Francisco for the weekend, I’ve missed a couple link roundups. What this means, though, is a delicious pile of excellent listening I can confidently recommend to you.

Man, 99% Invisible is weekly now, and it’s just the tits. Here are things you may not have realized you were curious about: tunnels under the Berlin Wall, an island named after Busta Rhymes, and a shape you’ve seen a million times and have possibly never thought much about.

A friend recommended A Way with Words to me some time ago; I have, as you have probably gathered, a very full roster of podcasts, so I’m only just getting into it. But from the first moments of this episode, when they talked about the most beautiful word in Icelandic, to when they answered a call with, “You’ve got a way with words,” oh, they had me. They had me good.

I skip the reruns of This American Life about half the time now, as I’ve listened to enough of it at this point that I’ve likely heard it before. However, though I have heard episode 206 before, I listened again. It’s such a hilarious, weird distillation of this very particular kind of microsociety and how very much rests on all of those averaged-21-years-old shoulders. Episode 520 is one of their scattershot collections of stories hung on a loose theme. I was in from the first story, when you get to hear a Calgary resident discover that a distinct point of local pride is shared by at least 100 other towns and cities. The last story has led to a surprising number of conversations about toast in my life this week.

*Others: This American Life, Snopes, the Escape Artists podcasts, Shakesville.

Hither and Thither #26

In the ’60s, Models Floated Through Paris in BubblesBeautiful, otherworldly, and just a couple of steps from a really interesting metaphor: In the ’60s, Models Floated Through Paris in Bubbles.

division squiggleI might vote for a politician that ran on a Pike-No-S-Place-Market platform. It could be called the pedant party, and I would be their queen. Seattlish would back us to our heady victory.

division squiggleI know lots of people who know just what they’d do if they suddenly inherited millions of dollars. I was reminded last night that my answer to this question is kind of unsatisfactory in the way of normal conversation. My go-to answers are that I would send my best friend to medical school, and I would buy my mom a bed and breakfast (or pay off her current mortgage; her choice). “Yeah, but what would you do for yourself?” my friend pressed. I paused and said, “Well, travel, of course. But I’d still want to make life work out here, even with that, same as I’m doing right now.”

Here’s the answer that’s much more fun to hear. If I suddenly became the owner of frankly ludicrous amounts of money, I would buy shit like this abandoned German theme park. I would turn it into a retreat for Instagram addicts, and I would keep it just as it is, a preserve for a weird blink of time.

division squiggleHere’s a word that I am delighted to have learned recently: psychogeography. It’s a much more elegant word for what I’ve always described as navigating by landmarks (due to a complete lack of any natural sense of the cardinal directions unless there’s at least one fairly large body of water nearby). So yes, I have found my way around for my entire life via psychogeography. I am one of those.

A grand thing about the internet is that these personal ways of seeing and navigating the world start to cohere across people. Enter… the UTBAPH, short for Used to Be a Pizza Hut.

Man, how I love 99% Invisible. Them and their exploration of former Pizza Huts, Pittsburgh-specific ways of giving directions, and the curious beauty of psychogeography.

division squiggleHouse on the Ave

I’m fascinated lately with places that look like other places – brief blocks or alleys here that look like they could be in Europe, for instance. Or this San Francisco-y house, perfectly and delicately lit within the magic hour, looming quietly over the Ave.

division squiggleOne of those things that, to me, neatly demonstrates how stupid sexist shit affects all genders. Man caves, dude. MAN CAVES. God, I hate it.

My dad moved into my grandma’s house after she died in late 2012. She and my grandpa built it in 1969; they added onto it a couple of times, but largely, the layout and the decor was untouched, leaving plain some questionable choices (such as having only a single window into the main living area of the house). My dad began to look at how he might begin to tailor the place to his own life, which I thought was great. I encouraged him and made my own small suggestions, hoping they’d spark his imagination.

“And I’m thinking of turning the downstairs garage into an office, maybe,” he said. “Some sliding doors in place of the garage door, you know?”

“I think that sounds like a really nice use of the space,” I told him.

“It could be my… man cave,” he said, a surprising amount of glee spreading across his face.

In the way that one does sometimes, particularly with family, I took a breath and measured my words. “Dad,” I said, “you live by yourself. Who are you escaping from?”

The glee faltered, and I felt a fleeting stab of guilt for being, once again, the family’s Debbie Downer.

But there is no man cave in the Standard Deviation Ancestral Home today, and we are all better for it.

division squiggleAnd finally, some listening for you. This week, NPR taught me that the slow cooker (praise be unto it) was created so that Jews could have a hot meal on the sabbath. Later, they made a story out of an idea I’ve had but never articulated: that yes, people can be good and skilled and work hard and make connections, but most art’s popularity is determined by timing and circumstances. Think of how many alternate realities you could extrapolate just from pop culture alone! It’s brilliant and marvelously unsettling.

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.

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.