Mighty Life List
Jan 21 2014

Sailor’s Valentines are So Meticulous. Yum.

Do you know about Sailor’s Valentines? They’re hundreds of tiny seashells glued in attractive patterns meant to woo the ladies back at home. My OCD leanings are all a-tingle. Instead of making one, I made Sailor’s Valentine board on the Pinterest! Also satisfying.

When was the last time you spent a few hours in the company of tweezers and epoxy?

Jan 21 2014

Fellow Mortals by Dennis Mahoney

Fellow Mortals is my friend Dennis Mahoney‘s first novel, and it’s one of Booklists Top Ten First Novels of 2013. Go Dennis!

A few of my favorite parts:

Eventually it struck him: she was out there, right that minute, in a coffin underground less than twenty minutes from the motel, her clothes and hair all perfectly arranged and it was possible — unthinkable but possible — to see her face and even hold her hand.

Nan and Ava bristled from the start. They’re electrically polite, vying for dominion, Nan asserting her rights within the boundaries of decorum, Ava mastering her home with limits and concessions. This morning they offered each other first use of the washing machine with so much crackling generosity that Wing tucked tail and hid beneath a table.

The oven smells warm; it makes the kitchen like a bedroom. Evaporated milk cans open with a kiss. There’s a little spot of pumpkin at the button of her cuff and a faint taste of flour when he pecks her on the neck.

“I never would have guessed,” he said. “You seem so fertile.”
“I have breeding hips.”
He laughs and says, “That isn’t what I meant.”
She puts a hand to her stomach, following a breath, picturing her body full of daffodils and fruit.

… the light looks pale — more factual than warm.”


phoebe – an American tyrant flycatcher with mainly gray-brown or blackish plumage.
iliac crest – The upper edge of the pelvic bone
scud – move fast in a straight line because or as if driven by the wind.
sough – a moaning, whistling, or rushing sound as made by the wind in the trees or the sea.
chiminea – an earthenware outdoor fireplace shaped like a light bulb, with the bulbous end housing the fire and typically supported by a wrought-iron stand.

Jan 16 2014

6 Tips for Editing Your Life List

Editing your Life List isn’t cheating, it’s growth. I know some people feel like their Life Lists are set in stone, and presumably those people are still saving for the tribal band tattoo they wanted when they were fifteen.

Every year or so, I go through my Life List and make sure it still makes sense for me. A few of the ways I approach the editing process:

1. Break goals down.
“Become conversational in seven languages” has been one of my favorite goals. So erudite! So chatty! But I’m stalled. I currently speak English and Spanish. I keep saying that “someday” I will tackle the rest. Someday what? Someday I’m going to sit down and learn five more languages in an evening? Maybe on a Tuesday in 2023?

So I changed the goal to, “Learn French.” I have, in fact, taken French classes. I have also been to France, and would like to return. Hence, I will learn more French until I can have a conversation. And once I do, we can talk about those other four languages. In French, si vous préférez.

2. Make symbolic goals more tangible.
“Buy stock on my own” was on my list, because to me it was a symbolic marker of someone who had their shit together financially. Turns out I don’t want to know how to buy stock. I do not care. I want to keep my checking account balanced, and know I’m on track for retirement. New goal? “Get my financial life in order.”

3. Consolidate.
“Get organized and own less crap” is the same as “Become a tidy person,” in my mind. But the latter is what I actually want.

I don’t want to clean out my apartment, I want to change my relationship to material things. So I kept “Become a tidy person,” and added organization and closet clearing to the sub-list.

4. Examine your motives.
I tried “Start a daily meditation practice” and it didn’t stick, but I don’t feel too worried about it. I deleted the goal because the whole point of meditating was to worry less anyway? So it worked. Everyone should try meditation.

I also had “Write 365 thank you notes” on my list, because I wanted to get back into the practice of writing them. Gratitude makes you happier, and more evolved, and increases muscle tone. Read the studies.

Anyway, I didn’t feel excited about it. Turns out I just like to think of friends finding real mail in their mailboxes. So I changed my goal to “Send 365 pieces of real mail.” And now I’m all set up for success. Stamps!

5. Speak for yourself.
Hank was really into robots for about three weeks, and we decided to make a robot zine together. I added it to my list, because awesome. Then when I sat us down to do it? He was into it for 10 minutes. So instead of forcing him to draw robots as some sort punitive exercise for being an indecisive six year old, I removed it from my list. Zen parenting, om.

6. Own up.
One of the questions I ask myself is, “Do I want to do this, or do I want to say I’ve done it?” Often it’s the latter. Case in point? Multi-day biking trip. Would I do it? Sure. If someone showed up at my door and said, “I have arranged an all-expenses-paid biking trip, Maggie Mason! Here is your bike. I have packed your bags and your food and lodging await.”

Rad. I shall pull on some spandex forthwith!

But. Assuming that doesn’t happen, do I want to go on a biking trip enough to plan it myself — or spend a year pitching it to potential backers? Do I want to spend a lot of money on an adequate bicycle, recruit friends, arrange for lodging and food, set aside vacation time, find child care?

No. I will never do that. Delete.

Have you edited your list recently, or did you have it tattooed on your person? If so, pics please. And if you don’t have a Life List yet, you should make one on Go Mighty, which is our community site. Come hang out.

Jan 15 2014

Go Mighty: Life List Inspiration

- Every time I try to do this, I pass out.

- Could you go a year without buying new clothes? Kellee Bryan did it, Amy Rood is currently pining for cute shoes. I need to cut my closet by at least half, but don’t have the nerve yet.

- Eleven down, eighty nine to go. Man. I love Jenny Stockton.

Jan 13 2014

Girl, You Be Killin Em: Golden Globes, 2014

Last night, some ladies got dressed up and then looked real cute as a result. Let’s discuss:

Lupita N’yong
Lena Dunham
Taylor Swift
Amy Adams
Cate Blanchett’s Back

Jan 10 2014

How to Make a Rubber Egg

Hank’s Rubber Egg Experiment over on Go Mighty

Is it awesome or is it gross? Why can’t it be both? Must we put everything in boxes?

Jan 6 2014

Homemade Super Mario Birthday Party

Last year Hank asked for a Super Mario Brothers party. I assumed there would be branded crap everywhere, so I went to Target the day before… and nothing. So I went to two more party stores, neither of which had a single Super Mario party supply. The hell, Capitalism? So, this is what I pulled together on a wing and a prayer.

I’m proudest of the power-star balloons above, which I made by adding strips of electrical tape to make the signature eyes. It took about a minute per balloon, and I felt like a genius you guys.

These gift bags were 30 cents each, and then I stuck on the little faux fur mustaches, which are just the ones you buy in packets for wearing on your face. I wrote on the Let’s Go! Mostly because I didn’t feel like struggling with my printer for four hours to make pro-looking labels.

Here’s what was in them:

These are chocolate coins. I filled the bags, folded them over, and wrote the labels.

I cut the mustaches out so they still had sticker backings on them, and then used double sided sticky tape to affix them to these tags.

The one branded thing I was able to find that was under $10 a pop. They’re fruit snacks. If I had it to do over, I’d also add a tiny branded toy of some sort, but there was no time for me to special order them. Be ye forewarned.

These cupcakes were crazy easy. I bought those candies you use to melt down and pour into molded trays. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can get them at Michaels or most any craft store or specialty food shop.) Then I just iced the cupcakes and stuck them on for a toadstool effect. You cannot screw this up.

And there you go. This year he wants a Minecraft party. So I’ll be hanging out on Pinterest for the next month or so.