Put this in Your Ears

I’ve been making mixes in secret. Secret mixes. This one is very literal about its theme, probably because I just gave birth and also binge-watched every episode of Six Feet Under.

Life and Death, the Mortality Mix
on Spotify
on Rdio

Here on my accounts on Spotify and Rdio, if you’d like to subscribe. I use Spotify and port over to Rdio. I don’t want to talk about Apple Music right now. Shh.

Pinterest, it’s for Pinning Stuff!

Don’t be a Dick badges, plus other stuff I pinned. This week it’s mostly clothing to help conceal post pregnancy gut, which I will have for approximately the next two years. At what point does it become regular gut? I think I get another two months. The long shadow of the elliptical machine looms over me.

Also, are these Wave Sandals the most uncomfortable footwear since wooden clogs? I want them, but I fear them. But I want them.


We were too sleepy to leave the house one day last week, so we had dinner on the roof. I have never done this before, due to stupidity? Speaking of stupidity, we also tried to go to Six Flags to celebrate the end of summer, but when we got there it was closed. Anyway, we took Hank to Chuck E. Cheese instead, where Ozzy fell asleep and Hank kept saying “This is WAY better than Six Flags!!” Bullet dodged.

How sweet is the slogan on this vintage rowing coat? It reads “Nothing without Labor” in Latin. Let’s all get it tattooed on our foreheads. Do it you guys. Pact. (By the way, Relic Vintage is the best vintage shopping in San Francisco, curated by Oran, a guy I used to see out swing dancing when I lived in Sacramento. Small world, and so forth.)


We’re going to what promises to be the world’s happiest wedding in New Hampshire next week, so you’ll see more of me @maggie on Twitter and on Instagram.

Life List

On Go Mighty, I added a new fruit to my 1,000 Fruits.

Hey. Good to know.

I recognize that the fantasy of taking an 8-year-old and an infant on an around the world trip is better than the reality, but still:
How to Find Cheap Airline Tickets
Beginners Guide to Booking a Round the World Plane Ticket

Cool stuff my friends are doing

Meg Keene of Practical Wedding made a baby!
Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day did a house tour on Cup of Jo.
Michelle Morrison announced a new Designers and Geeks talk.
Sonya Yu is having a solo exhibition of her work, Vermeer Light at Four Barrel. That’s her image above, go have a look.

Have a happy weekend!

Flashback Monday: Women’s Fashion, Part V, Releasing Your Inner Slut

In an effort to gather all my writing in one place, every Monday I post articles that originally appeared elsewhere, or work that has been gathering dust on my hard drive. This piece was originally published by the The Morning News in 2002. Thanks to Rosecrans Baldwin, for the edits.

If you look like you just got some, it’s sexy. If you’re dressed like you’re out to get some, it’s slutty. In the fifth part of this women’s fashion series, I encourage you to ignore the distinction.

Sit down, my love, I’ve a bitter truth to tell. All of us are gravity’s bitches. Barring superhuman — and perhaps surgical — efforts on your part, your body is never going to look better than it does at this moment. Fortunately, your body already looks pretty damn good.

Don’t believe me? Gain some perspective. Look back at your high-school photos. You would kill to have that ass again. Perhaps this makes you feel glum about your current ass. Well, stop it. When you’re seventy you’ll look back at today’s photos and realize how much time you’ve wasted fretting over a perfectly sexy bum.

If you don’t wear daring clothes because you worry about your cattier girlfriends snickering, I suggest you lose those particular girlfriends and replace them with a buttery pair of understanding leather pants.

Suck in your gut, yank on the pants, and call your raucous girlfriends, the ones who will whistle and holler at the new rock-star you when they pick you up for a night on the town.

Congratulations, sexy thing. You’ve discovered the first of five rules for dressing slutty without feeling slutty:

1. Be Confident
What about modesty? Humility? Saving it for the guy at home? Screw that. There’s nothing wrong with feeling pretty, sexy, fabulous. It’s especially affirming to feel that way in front of a large audience, Tina-Turner style.

Perhaps you aren’t a naturally confident kind of gal. That puts you with about 95 percent of the population. Fortunately, being confident and pretending to be confident are essentially the same thing.

Most women who look ‘willing’ in their slutwear seem that way because they’re seeking approval. If you’ve ever worried that you’re dressed like a hussy, you’ve probably never even come close.

Girls who dress inappropriately do so with intent and grave insecurity. They tug at their tops, constantly hike their low-riders, and pretend not to notice that their pants have camel-toed in their crotches. You’re not one of them. The rest of our rules will help you avoid inadvertently looking like one of them.

2. Be Prepared
The peril in wearing revealing clothing is that it sometimes lives up to its name. Worrying that your left nipple is playing peek-a-boo with your date will destroy your crucial self-confidence. As we’ve discussed, worry makes you look trampy instead of vampy.

If you’re wearing a winningly low-cut tank or a blouse with a loose neckline, invest in some double-sided fashion tape to keep the garment in place. Short skirts call for boy-cut underwear in a matching shade so viewers either aren’t sure of what they’re seeing or realize there’s not so much to see. The lowest low riders need a tight belt to ensure that the waistband never affords a view of your continental divide.

In every case, the proper undergarments—stick-on bras, nude G-strings, the occasional girdle—will bolster your self-esteem. It can look like your blouse is always on the verge of falling open, as long as you know it isn’t. Illusion is our friend.

Often what makes a sexy outfit look skanky is a lack of attention to detail. When you’re getting ready to wear something trashy, groom what’s showing. You want to look artfully mussed; you don’t want to look like a heroin-addict on the prowl. Make sure you smell nice and clean, that your nails are neat, that you’ve paid some attention to your hair, and maybe dab on a little lip gloss if you don’t normally wear makeup. In the winter, self-tanner is almost never a bad idea (as a pasty Irish girl, may I recommend the Bain de Soleil line of offerings), and a little of the Body Shop’s Body Butter on your legs will give them a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition gleam.

3. Be Comfortable

You can’t be breezy if you’re limping. You know you’re going to be walking from bar to bar and dancing the night away, so don’t toddle along in ten-minute shoes. It will annoy everyone who has to wait for you to catch up. Save the spike heels for sedentary tête-à-têtes. Little kitten-heels, open-toed shoes, and sling-backs all have slut-appeal, and they’re much kinder on your delicate arches.

If you want to wear something tight, don’t just buy it a size too small. It will cut into your armpits and bunch unattractively in odd places. Buy clothes that fit. That means an item may cling to you, but you’ll still be able to sit down and breathe normally, and you won’t be continually coaxing it into place.

4. Remember Your Body Type
Accentuate the positive, darling. Maybe your bum could crush a large village, but your boobs are porn-star fabulous. Perhaps your butt drops off like a cliff, but your legs take their time getting to the floor. There are clothes out there for you — sultry clothes — and you should be wearing them more often.

Hide what you want to, reveal the choice pickings. Every girl’s got something admirable about her shape. If you’re not sure what your best points are, enlist a few brutally frank friends.

Your body type will determine what you can get away with. If you’re 5’11”, an eeny-weeny skirt is going to raise some eyebrows. If you’re 4’11”, it’s kicky. Hip-huggers can be tempting or tomboyish, depending on the view from behind. And if you’re a D-cup, you’ll look much racier in a plunging neckline than your AA friend.

Keep these things in mind when you’re choosing what you’ll wear with a sexy piece. If you’re showing a lot of cleavage, then that will help you decide what to wear on the bottom, which brings us to our next point.

5. Find a Balance
If you’re not quite ready to bare it all (or any portion thereof), the easiest and most effective way to wear arresting clothing is to pair it with something mild. If you buy a leather miniskirt that precludes sitting down, wear it with a turtleneck sweater and some tall boots. If your dress is so low-cut that you have to tape the neckline in place, the skirt can be loose around your bum and fall below your knees.

This rule also goes for your toilette. If you’re wearing a transparent T-shirt over a bra-top and you’re not sure if you can own the look, choose dewy, natural makeup instead of the dried-blood lipstick. You can also class things up by going for a more conservative hairstyle. A clingy dress with a tidy chignon can look classy and daring, while the same dress with teased-up hair-band bangs is questionable.

If you’re too modest to show much skin, choose pieces that are sexy without being revealing. Leather pants in a trouser-cut, suede tops, knee-high boots. Or you can opt to reveal less traditionally erogenous zones by wearing low-cut backs, necklines that expose your collarbone, or shirts that have cutouts in unexpected places.

If you’re really timid, test the waters with touchable fabrics like cashmere and angora, or decorative cloth that simply catches the eye with beading, sequins, or texture.

The more you wear something, the more comfortable you’ll be. So break in your new painted-on jeans by strutting around the apartment for a few days before you venture out in public.

Ready, Set, Slut
It’s difficult to seem fun and impossible to seem dangerous in a pair of Gap khakis. No one ever felt like purring in a polo shirt.

You’re not some milquetoast, wallflower, soccer-mom wannabe, you’re a kitty-cat, you’re a doll, you’re Marilyn Monroe. Dressing sexier will not only change people’s perceptions of you, it will alter your idea of yourself.

Tug on those leather pants, and turn up some Aretha. You’ll see what I mean.

Flashback Monday: Our Town

In an effort to gather all my writing in one place, I’ve been posting articles that originally appeared elsewhere, or work that has been gathering dust on my hard drive. This piece was originally published in 2002 by The Morning News. Thanks to Rosecrans Baldwin, for the edits.

A village that dies overnight, a town where the ground is on fire, real-life Atlantises. This is a small collection of stories about normal towns where strange things happen.

It’s the premise of nearly every solid horror novel, an ordinary place where something unexpected happens. The unusual event often begins as something small—a trickle of water, a puff of carbon dioxide, or a match flame that takes on destructive proportions over time.

As an editor I spend a great deal of time thinking about little things and their consequences, so I’m particularly fascinated by towns where a single event has led to abandonment or decimation. Though these places feel dispossessed, they also have an inherent sense of expectation to them. A few of the most interesting:

Centralia, Pennsylvania

In 1981, Todd Dombowski was twelve. He was playing near a tree in his grandmother’s backyard when smoke coiled up from the dirt. As he watched it, the ground beneath him suddenly gave way. Todd grabbed at the tree’s roots, caught hold, and was left dangling above a smoking, 80-foot-deep hole until someone heard his cries for help and came to rescue him.

By this time, anthracite mines under the town had been burning for nearly 20 years. Anthracite is an extremely hard coal that is difficult to ignite, but—once lit—is nearly impossible to extinguish. Centralia authorities discovered this in 1962 when a fire at the local dump managed to ignite one of the coal seams. The fire department pumped thousands of gallons of water into the mines, to no avail. Experts from the U.S. Bureau of Mines estimated that the least expensive solution would cost at least $20 million, an astronomical amount at the time, and so the mines were left to smolder.

By the time grandma’s garden tried to swallow young Todd, the fire had already claimed one cracking, bubbling highway, and townspeople had begun to notice that their basements were unusually warm. Within days of the backyard collapse, cave-ins in Centralia became commonplace.

The federal government evacuated the town, demolishing homes as residents fled, clearing away the rubble. They left a tangle of empty streets punctuated with driveways leading to empty spaces where houses once stood. The fire hydrants and traffic signs remain intact, as does the local church and a handful of scattered businesses.

A few residents decided to stay put, despite the increasingly nauseating levels of carbon dioxide in the air, and the smoke that has permanently settled just above the ground. No doubt the residents have learned to forget about the white-hot inferno blazing just below them. Perhaps they hope the fire will eventually burn itself out.

Unfortunately, 24 million tons of anthracite is a whole lot of coal. Enough, according to mine fire authorities, to burn for a thousand years.

Lake Nyos, Cameroon

Almost every living thing near Lake Nyos died in a single night—1,700 villagers, thousands of cattle, and most of the wildlife and insects. News of the disaster traveled quickly, and scientists from all over the world rushed to Cameroon to learn what they could about these mysterious deaths.

The bodies were almost peaceful. Their flesh was untraumatized, and many villagers seemed to have died in their sleep. Locals believed the disaster was the work of a mythological spirit woman who was said to live in lakes and rivers. This idea, it turns out, wasn’t too far off.

Lake Nyos is a crater lake settled in the saucer of an active volcano. The volcano had been steadily releasing carbon dioxide into the bottom of the lake for years. On August 21, 1986, the lake rolled over.

Scientists were unsure of how this happened at first, but surmised that the recent and rapid accumulation of rainwater could be the culprit. If so, the rainwater was likely pushed to one side of the lake by strong winds. Because this water was colder than the lake water—and therefore denser—the mass of rainwater sank into one side of the lake, causing dissolved gases to ‘undissolve’ (or ‘exsolve’) and rise to the surface violently.

Those nearby heard a deep growl as the gas cloud rushed into valleys below, crushing vegetation in its path. The wave of carbon dioxide was 165 feet thick and reached speeds of 45 miles per hour.

In addition to the 1,700 killed, 845 residents were hospitalized. Those who lived through it said they felt faint and fevered before passing out. They awoke to find that most of their family members and neighbors had perished.

Drowned Towns

Countless North American towns have been submerged to make way for dams and the reservoirs they create. Four communities in Massachusetts—Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott—were consumed by the Swift River to improve the Eastern Massachusetts water supply. Houses were razed and the cemeteries of white inhabitants relocated. Factories were likewise demolished, and trees cleared.

In fact, almost anywhere you find a reservoir, the footprints of sunken towns are likely impressed beneath. Sopris, Colorado, was drowned when the Trinidad Dam and Reservoir were built, and the state’s McPhee Reservoir covers the town of McPhee. St. Thomas, Nevada; Heroult, Kennett, Baird, and Copper City in California—all are underwater now, as are several towns beneath the Neversink and Roundout Reservoirs in New York.

In the U.K., the Ladybower Dam flooded the villages of Derwent and Ashopton. The dam was completed in 1945 amidst protests, but many buildings remained standing. Graveyards were relocated, but Derwent Hall (built in 1672) is now waterlogged, as are several farms that had been around for generations. For a long while, the spire of a local church pierced the water’s surface whenever the reservoir was low. Unfortunately, the church was later demolished for safety reasons. The Dam is now a thriving tourist attraction.

Momversation: Co-Parenting, Santa, Holidays, Memories

I’m no longer embedding these suckers because they started auto-launching and it makes me homicidal. (Also, I’m worried those of you at work will be chastened for reading the Internet when you should be sweating for the man.) So I’ll put screencaps here now, and if you want to watch you can click over. Deal? Deal!

I’m behind on updating these, so you have options:


Holiday Greetings from Momversation in which I get all Merry on you. Also, did anyone else notice that Giyen’s daughter is a jaw-dropping knockout? Yeah. Go check that out.


Santa Claus: What do you say to your kids? in which I advocate lying to the children. Take that, children.


Memories of Momversation where we revisit the handcuffs incident. Did I ever tell you that we once recorded a MILF episode that never aired due to raciness? Truth. And yet here I am again with the handcuffs and wig. Though they did edit out the pole dance.


Co-Parent: Did you pick the right mate? in which I reiterate my dictums for choosing a spouse. It’s all about the Benjamins. Am I right ladies?