• Wayfinding Week 62: I want everything to be beautiful

    What is this Wayfinding? It's a series of experiments with Martha Beck's "technologies of magic," as described in her book "Finding Your Way in a Wild New World." They are Wordlessness, Oneness, Imagination, and Forming. We do the experiment together!

    Everything (left) is beautiful San Francisco's General Store, in the Outer Sunset. While you're there, stop for toast at Trouble Coffee, right next door. Just... do.


    It's been a bitter March in New Blighty. And although I keep trying to move away from exclusively cheese-based forms of happiness, I really want to head back out to the balcony for l'apero. Perhaps April? June is seeming more likely, and being in San Francisco where I am temporarily livin' la vida bicostal, spending lots of time outside and not paying for it with loss of skin, well... it will be hard to go back.

    And while I am sure the glamour of working in California will wear off, it hasn't yet. Working is what makes me feel bicoastal.

    Coincidences (possible signs of Forming)

    Embarrassing confession: Since before we met, I have Imagined a friendship with the freaksome Sarah Bamford Seidelmann. I have, oh, this is embarrassing, dear Heaven!, imagined us as the Mason-Dixon knitters of Coachlandia. I've imagined being Ann to her Kay.

    And while I have been thinking about how I can spend more time frolicking with Sarah, she apparently has been thinking the same thing. 

    So, because she is in the Far North and I am in New Blighty, we have started doing a fortnightly podcast.(Sarah's idea!) It's called Born to Freak, which Sarah and I obviously are, and if you are too (could be, could be!), please do join us.

    Last week we talked about sabbaticals and puttering - the macro and micro of seeming idleness. It was... oh, I don't want to say it was productive, or anything horrible like that, but it was juicy! We shall continue next week talking about food, feasting, sacredness and celebration. We may discuss cheese-based happiness as well.

    Updates on past experiments

    I want everything to be beautiful! Is that so wrong, I ask in my Harvey Fierstein voice? This is what I asked SuperG the other day when the line at Blue Bottle Coffee tested his patience. I'm not a Starbucks hater - I've been too many places where the presence of Starbucks made me practcally weep with gratitude - but I don't want to go there if I can get my coffee at a place where everything, from the chunky shape of the olive-oil shortbread to the unbleached coffee filter they wrap it in, to the little blue bottle printed on their brown paper cup, is oh! BEAUTIFUL. Yes, let's have beauty in everything, please!

    I have seen many beautiful things in San Francisco this trip:

    The sakura blooming in Pacific Heights, and an enormous gleaming black-tiled Japanese-style roof with a huge black end-cap tile on the peak.

    A bluebird. A ravishing bluebird. Outrageous iridescent blue paired with a luscious muted red and taupe. Oh! A very reliable omen of happiness.

    I saw Girl with a Pearl Earring. I saw it! I also saw a few people wiping away tears. It is an affecting painting.

    A set of monumental candles in the shape of busts of Louis XIV-era women. Or maybe Louis XV; we didn't cover monumental wax busts in art history. In fabulous colors like black and pink and robin's egg blue.

    A pair of monumental redwoods at the bottom of the Lyons Stairway, which has views of the bay and the Palace of Fine Arts.

    The Bay Lights, which look like sunlight shimmering on the water, or sometimes like shifting strands of fog, as the lights play horizontally over the bridge. On each vertical cable, lights play up and down, like raindrops on a rain chain. Beautiful!

    The parrots of Telegraph Hill, which I'd never seen before somehow. And I heard a hummingbird sing! Spectacular.

    Maria Bamford gives me courage

    Also, continuing with the experiment of enjoying the world's pageant of riches for a change, I went to see Maria Bamford the night before flying out to San Francisco. (Sarah's sister, by the way.) It was a wonder. Maria Bamford gives me courage.

    She talked about people who tell her, Oh, I would so love to do stand-up, but I couldn't go through the whole waiting-four-hours-wanting-to-vomit-until-I-go-on-open-mic thing. Maria said, "That is the whole thing. That's it. Listen, I didn't want to do this tonight."

    That was a shot in the arm I will never forget. (I should mention as well she is very funny. There were many laughs. Many!)

    Earlier, Sarah had texted Maria to say I'd be in the audience. Sarah then told me that Maria would be looking for me after the show, and that I should simply yell "I am Max Daniels" again and again until Maria found me.

    Couldn't do it. I'm pretty sure no one would be able to do this, on account of how starting in kindergarten you're pelted with tremendous social conditioning against shouting "I am Max Daniels" while in a crowded theatre.

    Right? Impossible.

    Your turn, darling

    If you're doing a similar wayfinding experiment and want to report results, or reading Martha's book and want to talk about it, or you were just born to freak and can't hold it in no more, leave a comment below.

    You might also enjoy

    Not entirely edible nourishment
    Wayfinding Week 56: Living the (bicoastal) dream
    Old Ladies Who Were Born to Freak: Sarah Bamford Seidelmann

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