Jun 18, 2017

My Bookshop and Ice Cream Tour of the Pacific Northwest

Lighthouse by the Pacific
Hello, friends. Once again I went silent on here for much longer than I had intended. 2017 has been eventful to say the least, in ways I didn’t always have the right words for. I didn’t stop writing over the past few months; not exactly. But as I said last time, most of what I wrote took the form of long, meandering letters to friends, as I tried to make sense of myself and the world around me in dialogue with others. Part of what I’ve always loved about blogging is that it’s essentially an extension of that process — I’m starting to feel ready to carry on doing it in a more public fashion again. We’ll see how that goes, I guess.

I’ve recently returned from what amounted to an ice cream and bookshop tour of the West Coast of the United States, all the way from Seattle to LA. This trip did a lot to restore my sense of hope, a process no doubt greatly aided by hearing the UK election results come in as I drove down California from Santa Cruz to LA. Things are still in a pretty dire state — I have no illusions about that. But just a few days ago, on the anniversary of Jo Cox’s assassination, I was thinking that this is the most political hope I’ve had all year. Nothing is inevitable. I needed to be reminded of that, both when it comes to my life and to the world at large.

Anyway, I’m hoping to tell you more about my trip in the coming weeks, particularly about all the excellent bookshops I visited (Powell’s is real, it turns out, and even better than I was led to believe). Travel posts have always been among my favourites to put together, and I thought that might be a nice way to ease myself back into regular blogging. Also, I’ve missed you all. When I was in Seattle I had the chance to met my old blogging friends Kristen, Robin and Lena; I only wish I hadn’t missed Amy and all the other West Coast friends I didn’t have the chance to get in touch with. I’ll do my very best to make sure there is a next time.

Other trip highlights include getting my first glimpse of the open Pacific during a perfectly timed but entirely accidental musical moment; Earl Grey ice cream at Bi-Rite; Land’s End in San Francisco, the highlight of a perfect sunset tour; hiking on Mount Rainer National Park; getting to see sea lions; buying a copy of Rita Williams-Garcia’s One Crazy Summer for a friend; finally getting to try Ethiopian food; wandering around the Castro the year I came out as a queer woman to most people in my life, surrounded by friends I feel seen by; having a picnic by the sea on my last full day; apple fritter donuts from Blue Star; all the road trip singalongs; City Lights; and of course all the books I got:

In case you can’t read the titles, they are:

  • Very Far Away From Anywhere Else by Ursula Le Guin (because I couldn’t leave Portland without a Le Guin book)
  • The Girls of Peculiar by Catherine Pierce (because my friend Ronni sent me this tweet)
  • The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit
  • My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter by Aja Monet (my City Lights acquisition; the Angela Davis blurb sealed the deal)
  • The Moon Is Always Female by Marge Piercy (because of course)
  • Crush by Richard Siken
  • The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde (finally!)
  • Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and its Metaphors by Susan Sontag (likewise; these two have been hard to find)
  • Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
  • Everfair by Nisi Shawl (signed!)
  • Princess, Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill (also signed!)

    Everfair and Crush were presents from the lovely Lena; the Cashore trilogy was long overdue (I don’t like the UK covers, so I really wanted to get the US editions); and most of the rest came from Powell’s – I was doing so well until I got there.

    More soon, I hope! How have you all been doing?


    1. We seemed to have lost our sense of humanity and it's very disturbing, isn't it?

      Your trip sounds fabulous - I'm jealous.

    2. Nice to know you were in my country and my city!

    3. SO glad to see a post here :-D I miss you, and welcome back, and I 100% approve of all ice cream tours.

    4. What a fabulous trip! I just got back from Spain and will write about it soon. We did feel apologetic for the first time, as Americans abroad.
      The Richard Siken book is one that Walker gave me for Christmas not last year but the one before. It was interesting, but I didn't find it particularly easy to excerpt any one poem.

    5. So much beautiful. My heart, it's so happy for you. So many adventures. So many true friends. So much love. *huge huge hugs*

    6. I have almost always lived near the Pacific Ocean, from a short drive away to literally across the street -- Hawaii, Los Angeles, Monterey, and now here in Seattle. It's my favorite place no matter what part of it I'm near. It heals and brings joy and I'm glad you experienced some of that on this trip! It helps to get good news, meet good friends, and have ice cream along the way too. :)

    7. HEY HEY HEY I've been to that lighthouse!! It's actually where my current Twitter pic was taken, on my visit in December. <3

      Also, it's so lovely to hear from you here--I think of you a lot but often am not as good about reaching out.

    8. You have been to my prior homes, that is so lovely- I grew up just outside of Seattle, and lived in San Fran for five years while in art school. Such beautiful, wild places, the Pacific Northwest coast. Oh and I'm so jealous of the visit to Powell's. I really want to go there someday myself too. Can't wait to hear about those new reads you've got!

    9. Ice cream, friends and beautiful places - certainly a good way to feel better about the world! I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip.


    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.