Mighty Life List
Sep 29 2011

Unicorn Coat Hook

Unicorn Coat Hook
Honey, will you grab my coat? The magical one?

Sep 27 2011

Mighty Summit: Visiting My Earnest Mood on You

(Photo by Maile Wilson of Epiphanie)

The first night of Mighty Summit, I ran back to my room in my Flamenco hat to look for my camera. I closed the door behind me and stood there listening to everyone’s voices. Some of them I recognized as belonging to people I love, people without whom I couldn’t have made it through the last year. Their voices mingled with those of new friends, and it was poignant in a way that has become familiar lately, a moment of total presence. I listened to everyone laughing and thought, “We did it.”

The next night I was changing into my swimsuit when I heard laughter outside again. This time a feeling overwhelmed me, and I couldn’t place it. While thirty friends waited for me to rejoin them a few feet away, I realized I was lonely.

(Photo by Maile Wilson of Epiphanie)

I’ve felt lonely often over the last few years, but in many ways that feeling has ushered me into adulthood. That night, alone in my room, I knew it was time for me to do certain things for myself, that it was ok to stop waiting for anyone to take care of me or protect me. I’ve got this.

The hard roads are difficult because we have to go them alone, but it’s easy to forget that friends can provide respite along the way, especially those who have traveled the same paths before us.

This year, the Mighty Summit was a comfort to me, a reminder of how much good company is available if you seek it out. A reminder of what it’s like to want things again.

I’m grateful for the new friends, the direction, and the concentric circles it makes when more of us are inspired to write Life Lists and put work into bettering our lives.

If you haven’t, I hope this year you’ll make a Life List for yourself. If this site has taught me one thing, it’s that there are a lot of folks out there rooting for you.

I’m in that corner too.

(Photo by Maile Wilson of Epiphanie)

I’ll see you at Camp Mighty. If not this year, then hopefully next. We have a lot of planning to do, kid. Let’s keep each other company.

Sep 20 2011

Mighty Summit 2011, That Was a Good Time

We’re still unloading the car, but some of the Mighty Summit attendees have been busy writing. Watching these posts go up is one of my favorite parts of the whole shebang. If you’re curious about how the weekend went, check in with the folks below while we take a long nap:

Victoria Smith from SF Girl By Bay:

Sarah Bryden-Brown from Blogstar:

“What I took home with me isn’t a revolutionary plan to upend my life, but it has made me feel mightier in the sense that there are women I now know who wish to make magic as much as I do and are there to help one another to do so.”

Stacey Morrison from Filling in the Blanks:

“It’s amazing what good company does. Being surrounded by a bunch of women who have done amazing things, big and small, who are making it work by the seat of their pants, who have found success and survived failure, and, most important, who all have big, mighty hearts, has reminded me that I am one of them…”

Sep 14 2011

Put it on Your List: Washoe House

I’ve always wanted to drive cross country, and I’ve started collecting a little list of places to see along the way. Here’s one for you:

If you find yourself in Petaluma, California, especially if it’s cold out, consider stopping for a drink at the Washoe House.

The place has been around since 1859, and used to be a stop on the stagecoach line. Patrons have been tacking dollar bills to the walls for decades, so the bars walls are almost ruffled. It looks like the world’s most expensive parade float turned inside out.

I can spend hours reading the notes on the bills over an Irish Coffee.

How about you? What would you add to a stranger’s road trip map?

Sep 12 2011

Violins in the Subway

When I worked in publishing, I loved my commute. I enjoyed the solitude, the chance to listen to people and observe them without having to interact. In the evening, I switched off my brain so I could navigate the subway, being pressed by strangers on all sides. And when I stepped on the escalator, I played a personal lottery, hoping I might emerge from the heat and pressure of the subway and hear a violin in the station above.

Violins in the subway have always been a private pleasure. There’s something about the contrast of being so close to people you can smell the animal on them, and then the absolute civility of a string instrument. Those juxtapositions are the best thing about living in a city. They give you incentive to be grateful.

For years, I’ve wanted to give an extravagant tip to a violin-playing busker. I added it to my Life List and started plotting. I imagined standing out of view and handing small bills to other commuters, asking them to tip the busker on their way out of the station. I thought it would be fun to use two-dollar bills, so the busker would feel appreciated, but also know something was up. Of course, I wanted to film it for the site, so all of you could see it unfold, maybe take some photos of the violinist too.

I told Bryan about my plan a couple years ago, and he surprised me with a stack of crisp two-dollar bills from the bank. I started thinking more seriously about logistics. I’d need some friends — someone to film, someone to pass out bills while I took photos. We’d need to head out at rush hour so there were sufficient passersby to help us tip, and to provide cover. It might take a few days, because we’d have to ride the subway around in search of a violinist, and violinists are a little elusive in San Francisco. Maybe it would take a week.

You can see where I’m going. In my head I was taking a simple pleasure, a moment distinguished by its serendipity, and turning it into a three-person, week-long slog. The plan was pretty in theory, but it was built to surprise and delight everyone but me.

This past year I’ve had to put my Life List on hold, but a few weeks ago I happened to be on the subway by myself for the first time in a long while. I stepped onto the escalator, and listened with my heart in my mouth.

There he was.

So I wrote him a check.

And I dropped it in his violin case before I headed upstairs.

The Mighty Summit and Camp Mighty are coming up, both events we’ve built around the concept of Life Lists. It finally feels like the right time to get back in the game. So here goes.

Give $100 to a violin playing busker? Check.

Sep 10 2011

Sutro Tower Model

A 1/1000 scale model of Sutro Tower, a San Francisco landmark mostly noted by locals. Metropolitan Craft, $30
(via Mark Allen)

Sep 8 2011

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

(Some of) The best parts of Freedom by Jonathan Franzen:

“Merrie, who was ten years older than Patty and looked every year of it, had formerly been active with the SDS in Madison and was now very active in the craze for Beaujolais nouveau.”

“She was a grave and silent little person with the disconcerting habit of holding your gaze unblinkingly, as if you had nothing in common.”

“… there was something congenitally undefended about Patty’s heart — she never ceased to be shocked by the sister’s lack of sisterliness.”

“The more time she spent with him, the more she was coming to feel that even though she wasn’t nice — or maybe because she wasn’t nice; because she was morbidly competitive and attracted to unhealthy things — she was, in fact, a fairly interesting person. And Walter, by insisting so fervently on her interestingness, was definitely making progress toward making himself interesting to her in turn.”

“‘He wasn’t nice to me,’ she said through tears. ‘And you’re the opposite of that. And I so, so, so need the opposite of that right now. Can you please be nice?’
‘I can be nice,’ he said, stroking her head.”

“…she was fully aware, from second to second to second, that it wasn’t a drug or a dream but just life happening to her, a life with only a present and no past…”

“Walter himself had great compassion for people attempting to be funny, and laughed loudly to reward them for their effort, and yet he instantly knew he wanted to be friends with the tall, unsmiling person.”

“She had all day every day to figure out some decent and satisfying way to live, and yet all she ever seemed to get for all her choices and all her freedom was more miserable.”

“… he loved Patty in some wholly other way, some larger and more abstract but nevertheless essential way that was about a lifetime of responsibility; about being a good person.”

“Taking a cab to the city center, she was pierced unexpectedly by regret for… not walking the streets as an independent adult woman, not cultivating an independent life, not being a sensible and curious tourist instead of a love-chasing madwoman.”

“Walter was frightened by the long-term toxicity they were crating with their fights. he could feel it pooling in ther marriage like the coal-sludge ponds in Appalachian valleys.”

“The pedestrians in every neighborhood all seemed to have taken the same dowdiness pills. As if individual style were a volatile substance that evaporated in the vacuity of D.D.’s sidewalks and infernally wide squares.”

“These were the first seconds in which he’d ever experienced anything like coldness from her; and they were dreadful. What he’d never understood about men in his position, in all the books he’d read and movies he’d seen about them, was clearer to him now: you couldn’t keep expecting wholehearted love without, at some point, requiting it. There was no credit to be earned for simply being good.”


sui generis – unique or particular, constituting a class alone

cicatrix – new tissue that forms over a wound and later contracts into a scar.

uric – of, concerning, or derived from urine

passerine – of, belonging, or pertaining to the order Passeriformes, comprising more than half of all birds and typically having the feet adapted for perching.

necromancy – a method of divination through alleged communication with the dead; black art.

fetor – strong, offensive smell