Mighty Life List
Jan 30 2012

Taste 1,000 Fruits, No. 97: Mountain Rose Apple

Can’t you almost smell that color?

When I first saw a Mountain Rose Apple, my breath caught. It reminded me of a professor who said that one of the Impressionist painters — I think it was Matisse — brought an apple as a gift when he visited friends. And that’s exactly what these apples are, tokens of affection. The best way to bring something simple and sweet to someone you love.

Taste 1,000 fruits is part of my ongoing Life List project. If you’d like to make a Life List of your own, start with these 10 tips or this exercise.

Jan 29 2012

Bed, by Tao Lin

I didn’t finish the last third of Bed by Tao Lin, because it was bringing me down. But as you’ll see below, there were some lovely moments in the first bit, so don’t let my lack of initiative dissuade you.

The best parts of (the first two-thirds of) Bed, by Tao Lin:

Jesus loves you, he thought. But Jesus isn’t in love with you.

“If I gained thirty pounds,” Kristy said in bed, “would you still be with me?”
For love to work, Garret believed, you had to lie all the time, or you had to never lie at all. “I don’t know,” he said. You had to pick one and then let the other person know which you had picked. You had to be consistent, and sometimes a little stupid. “I can’t tell the future,” Garret said. “Obviously. Can you?”

Lucid as a tiny, soap washed moon.

Paul sees Mattie as she is going down the escalator and he is going up. They seem to look each other in the face. Mattie has an abstract expression, and Paul thinks of screaming her name, but then thinks that would be a bit ridiculous. Later, he thinks of just saying her name, at a normal volume. Of course, he thinks.

She grins a little. She reaches for the sugar, changes her mind, moves her hand to her water, changes her mind, brings her hand to her head, scratches behind her ear.

It was probably best not to think about your life, though — ever — Greg knew, but to just assume that it was there, and happening, to trust that it was out there, doing whatever it was that a life would do.

Greg stumbled for a bit, almost fell over. He had forgotten how to walk. Life was precarious like this.

Greg was one of those kids who, to avoid being seen eating alone, never sat in the cafeteria; was always carrying his lunch around, like someone lost or eccentric, looking for a safe place. He invariably ate in spots weird and badly-lit, spots ruthless with indignity — a dewy nook; an abstract, long-forgotten bench; an inexplicable room adjacent the bathroom, with prison bars instead of a door.

Sean looked at her teeth, the private collection of them, packed tightly inside of her small, elegant head, like a secret behind the face, a white and shocking hobby.

Vocab list:

Dugong — a large marine mammal which, together with the manatees, is one of four living species of the order Sirenia:

enjambment — the running on of the thought from one line, couplet, or stanza to the next without a syntactical break.

eschatologically — The branch of theology that is concerned with the end of the world or of humankind.

miasmic — A noxious atmosphere or influence.

pappy — soft and bland

Jan 25 2012

It Gets Better: California College of the Arts

Hi team, my friend Clay Walsh is in this video from the California College of the Arts — it’s part of the It Gets Better Project, which is about helping prevent suicide among gay teens.

I don’t recall being taught anything in particular about homosexuality growing up, but my family comes from a conservative Christian background, and I do remember being uncomfortable the first time I saw two men kissing in college. That reaction was me being afraid of the unknown, and I realized pretty quickly that my discomfort was mostly a product of confusion.

So, two things:

1. If you like me, one of the things I’d like you to know about me is that I don’t think there’s anything weird about being gay, or bi, or trans.

2. If you’re a straight or gay person who’s uncomfortable with the idea of homosexuality, please scroll through these videos until you find a thumbnail of someone who looks average to you — maybe someone who looks like you or your best friend — and press play.

That’s it. Maybe I’m preaching to the choir here, but what the heck. We’re pretty sheltered in San Francisco*, and it’s easy for me to forget that gay kids elsewhere are hurting. Hi, guys. We see you hurting. Everything will be ok.

(* Update: Didn’t mean to be confusing here. What I mean is that people in San Francisco tend to think similarly when it comes to social issues. As someone says in the video, if you’re a homophobe here, you’re the one who needs to be in the closet. In my experience, people recoil and actively call someone out if they use words like “fag,” and will not date you or otherwise engage with you socially. When I say we’re sheltered, I mean it can be shocking to travel to places where homophobic tendencies are tolerated or even prevalent, and so it becomes easy to forget how bad it can be elsewhere. Does that make more sense?)

Jan 23 2012

ALT Design Summit 2012

(This image and those below are from the ALT Summit 2012 Photostream.)

Oof. ALT Summit was so good. A bunch of artistic, fun women talking about making stuff, while their sequins flash in the light.

This was my third year speaking, and I moderated a panel about growing your site readership with Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day, Nicole Balch of Making it Lovely, and Kelly Beall of Design Crush.

They were a design blogger dream team, and I was so pleased with how it turned out. In particular, the audience asked great questions. (High fives, smart audience.)

Other highlights included the Dinner En Blanc, where everyone wore white and then we ate ribs.

All of us discussed how we were a little perplexed about what to wear. How do you find a white outfit in the dead of winter?

But the cumulative effect was like having one of those half-awake dreams where you try to stay asleep because everything is so warm and calm.

Looking good, ladies.

I learned all kinds of business and bloggy stuff over the weekend, but there were two more universal moments that stuck with me.

During her keynote Gretchen said, “If you cram your life with the things you love, there’s no time for the things you don’t love. They have to fall away.”

And during Heather’s panel on community, she said of her brother, “His laugh makes me laugh.”

Most concise description of love on record.

Many thanks to Gabby, Sarah, and Kate for taking such good care of us. See you all next year.

Jan 19 2012

Mix: This Particular Sadness

This Particular Sadness is a melancholy mix for hopeful people. You can see the light at the end, but you’re still in the damn tunnel. At least the radio’s working.

If you have a song that has helped you through a particular challenge, please leave it in comments. Of particular note: Frank Ocean is one of my new favorite artists, so be sure to hit that. Typhoon is an amazing band out of Portland, they’re on heavy rotation too. Please watch the video for Big Jet Plane above. Touching.

This Particular Sadness on Spotify
This Particular Sadness on Rdio

Links to individual songs:
Swim Good from Frank Ocean
Holocene from Bon Iver
No Nostalgia from AgesandAges
Big Jet Plane from Angus and Julia Stone
Sadness is a Blessing from Lykke Li
Famous Blue Raincoat from Leonard Cohen
Someone Else’s Life from Joshua Radin
Yes I’m Cold from Chris Bathgate
The Sickness Unto Death from Typhoon
Oviedo from Blind Pilot
Civilian from Wye Oak

Past Mixes:
Simple Present Mix
Yep, Yep. The 2012 Victory Mix
Dancing Alone in Your Underwear Mix

Jan 17 2012

CES is Killing Sexy

“Wanna hook up? Noooope.” is a screencap from the Wired magazine Instagram stream. (Via Ink361)

Last year was my first year attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and after a few days in a crush of wall-to-wall men, women did start to seem endangered; the sight of someone wearing lipstick was almost luxurious. At first I wondered why everyone was staring at me when I walked around the show floor. Three days later I was so starved to see a sister, I would stop in the middle of an aisle to gape, slackjawed at any woman passing.

So I understand why people hire booth babes — female models who demo products — and I get why they’re effective. I just don’t get why the people who dress them seem to hate pretty girls so much.

(Photos from Coed Magazine.)

The Playtex Cross Your Heart Bra is super supportive. And tube socks to wear on her arms in case she gets cold. That’s thoughtful.

Let’s set aside that hiring booth babes makes it clear women aren’t peers at CES. Also how the media keeps interviewing the models to represent a female perspective on technology, while conveniently forgetting that they don’t actually work in, or often have any interest in, technology. Or that the whole thing isn’t laughably 1962. (I mean, have you been to Vegas? CES doesn’t touch the frowny-faced emoji that goes down for women there.) So, accepting these facts as a given, let’s talk about the depressing shit they’re making these women wear.

They said string bikini, fine. They said eight hours in platform heels, she brought foot numbing cream. They asked for someone with double Ds, so she arrives… and they ordered an XS bikini that provides less coverage than her actual underwear. You knew about her boobs, Creeper. She’s wearing her bra.

Given the opportunity to dress a woman in a way that says, “I’m smokin’, but approachable! Come talk to me about technology!” What kind of mouth breather says, “Put this on:”

This company’s target customers are bikers who like to salsa dance at toga parties.

An angry person who hates flirtation and the nerdy people who yearn for it, that’s who.

Here’s what. If you want to pay models to pretend-demo your products, fine. Models totally love getting paid, and women don’t need to buy your product. But the least you can do is provide clothing that genuinely appeals to the target audience — nerds.

Something that says, “My hotness does not preclude the possibility that I’m smart” instead of “I grew up without a father, and am being paid to make eye contact with you.”

Not this:

This outfit is actually adhesive. It hurts to take it off, but so much more to put it on.


Oh. Did my top fall off my shoulder? I didn’t realize, thanks. Are you into video games? (Victoria’s Secret)

Not this:

Pleather makes you sweat, so they cut vents in the sides.


I’m usually a math tutor, but I decided to change things up for the weekend. (American Apparel)

I mean, as long as you’re irritating half the population, you might as well move some product.

Jan 13 2012

Children’s Book Tattoos

The Giving Tree

Very Hungry Caterpillar

Ramona the Pest

The Little Prince

Where the Wild Things Are
by Ainslie Heilich at Vintage Karma in Stroudsburg Pennsylvania