Going Places, in Spite of Taxidermy

four barrels smiling pig nooooo

“Hey y’all!”

Go to Four Barrel.

Ask for the affogato. It’s not on the menu, but they’ll probably have it. Pay closer attention than I did when the wizard behind the counter is making it. I don’t know what she did, but something about it made it one of the finest affogatos I’ve ever had. The texture, the ice cream, the just-right slight bitterness of the espresso, even the feeling of the cup against the saucer… yes.

And as you leave, look back at the taxidermy. Look back and up, look at the pig heads, and think… why.

I will be glad when this fad passes. I’m looking at you, Smith, Linda’s, and Assembly Hall. Especially the latter, where there’s this moose head that sits at eye level next to you, mouth open as if he’s just waiting, just waiting, for his chance to interject. Shudder.

Post-script: despite all this sincere icky-poo-pooing, I must tell you that I spent a couple parts of a fine afternoon at Loved to Death, which I found fascinating. I bought two postcards and a fossilized ammonite. For some reason, the context is ok, because they know this shit is fucked and are profiting off just that. Go figure.

Let’s Talk about This Hotel Art

In Reykjavik, I stayed at the Icelandair Reykjavik Hotel Natura. It is not conveniently located*, but it did the job, and they always had skyr in the hotel lobby fridge.**

On their site, they go on at length about art in the hotel and the room’s unique themes. The hotel art mostly succeeded in making me do double-takes as I walked through the lobby, thinking that some kind of pale angular tourist was staring at me.

My room was sky-themed. This didn’t really extend beyond the sign on the door. Instead, this was the lone piece of art in the room, hanging over the beds.

An Erro painting in room 322 at the Icelandair Reykjavik Hotel NaturaThe first night I was there, I saw an exhibit of the artist’s paintings. Tragically, this was not part of the collection.

Let’s take a closer look.

An Erro painting in room 322 at the Icelandair Reykjavik Hotel NaturaWell. Get it, girl.

This painting was directly over where I slept. Let’s check that out.

Two twin beds, like all good celibate types sleep inI didn’t deliberately book the celibacy special, and yet. It’s like they knew I was a socially awkward person traveling alone! Good service is when a hotel is able to predict your needs before you can. So… thanks.

One last thing:

Tommy fucking Wiseau“LISA, YOU’RE TEARING ME APART!”



*”Not conveniently located” is what happens when you frantically book a package to Iceland when you’re still mired in post-Paris travel hangover. Eh, it was a 25-minute walk to downtown, and I like walking. Whatevs.

**Skyr is fairly close to Greek yogurt. The R is said in a way close to French – in the back of the mouth, beautiful and nearly impossible for me to say.

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.

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.

[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.

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.

Mysteries of the 43

While bussing back from the U District a few nights ago, I discovered this bit of weirdness.

penny on a bus seatSo.


Someone gets on the bus, has a penny, heats it up with a… torch, and then presses it into the plastic of the bus seat to leave this shockingly clear impression.

While on various buses, I’ve had my lungs corrupted by some truly evil decay coming from someone’s feet. I’ve seen a woman kicked off a Bellevue-bound bus for yelling clearly but insanely about how god should DAMN the United States.* I had a 50-some-year-old Texan offer to impregnate me – in a way so jovial it almost wasn’t incredibly horrible. I had a Vietnam vet on his way to the reservation to buy cigarettes inform me that “the queers” were going to try to recruit me.** I’ve made friends and been asked out and knit and read and done all manner of things.

But someone with a portable and apparently covert heat source that could accomplish something like that… this is new.

Alright, King County Metro. There is a new bar to reach for bus weirdness. Good luck.

*She was off at the next stop. Do not dick around with suburban buses – they will not put up with your shenanigans.

**He was right. A disproportionate number of my friends do indeed identify as being part of the gays. Whoops!

Update: did you ever superglue coins to things? You know, to be a jerk? I did, but only on wood floors.

A friend did too, but on a greater variety of surfaces than I did, it seems. And she postulates that this is the remnants of someone doing exactly that wonderful, hilarious dick move on the bus.

How much more sense does that make than my hypothesis? Oh, all the sense. All of it.