Mighty Life List
Oct 1 2014

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Hey look, it’s a contemporary author who has me waiting for her next novel. That doesn’t happen often.

I recently read Maggie’s Astonish Me, and while we wait for her next book, I thought I’d post my favorite parts of her first book, Seating Arrangements:

How had she, Biddy, managed to raise someone so exposed and defenseless, a charred moth, a turtle without a shell, exactly the kind of woman she most feared to be?

“Hey, I’m not a member of this Great Gastby reenactment society you all have going on. I just think it’s possible to trick yourself into feeling better by pretending you feel better.”

While Winn believed that worthwhile young men must be carefree, he also believed that worthwhile grown men must bear up under the burden of respectability. He puzzled over when exactly the music should be stopped and the drunks sent home and the crepe paper swept from the floors to make room for cribs and Labradors. Is it now? he wondered as he set down his drink and turned from a conversation with a beautiful girl to vomit into the swimming pool of his friend Tyson Baker. When he heard some months later that Tyson Baker had died during a game of pond hockey, dropping through the ice like a lead weight, he thought, Is it now?

Underneath her wedding dress Biddy wore a white garter belt and stockings that he found unbearably sexy but did not tell her so, not wanting to embarrass her by making a fuss and also incorrectly assuming she had a whole trousseau of lingerie that she would, without prompting, trot out over their first year. Silence over stockings — the first regret of his marriage.

She was so entirely the kind of person he should be married to that he loved her, in part, out of gratitude for her very appropriateness.

Spending so much time with the Van Meters was like returning to a cherished childhood home and discovering that either her memory had been wrong or time had taken its toll, and the place was not magical or special at all but ordinary, flawed — a revelation doubly offensive because it made a certain swath of past happiness seem cheap, the product of ignorance.

Dominique peeled the label from her beer while Dicky Jr. talked, her head angled toward him to suggest she was listening.

Vocabulary:

Aubusson rug – floor covering, usually of considerable size, handwoven at the villages of Aubusson and Felletin, in the département of Creuse in central France. Workshops were established in 1743 to manufacture pile carpets primarily for the nobility, to whom the Savonnerie court production was not available. Aubusson carpets were, however, also made for the royal residences.

gliss – In music, a glissando is a glide from one pitch to another. It is an Italianized musical term derived from the French glisser, to glide. In some contexts it is distinguished from the continuous portamento. Some colloquial equivalents are slide, sweep, bend, or ‘smear’.

Sep 29 2014

Glitter Skull Decoration for Halloween

I wanted to make something creepy and festive for our front door this Halloween, and found these papier-maché masks at Paper Source for $4. So many possibilities!

If you’d like to make one like the above you’ll need:

Paper Skull Mask
Glitter in various shades
Glitter Glue
Modge Podge Glue
Paint Brush
Craft Wire or pipe cleaners
Tissue Paper cut into squares about the size of your palm
Bit of Ribbon
Glue gun

First choose the glitter you’ll use to coat your mask and mix it with Modge Podge at about a 1:1 ratio. You’ll need less than you think, and Modge Podge is the secret to using glitter without finding it on all future generations of children born to your family.

Paint the mask with a base layer of glitter. Once it’s dry, you can go back for touch ups. In person, the pink looks less Dawn of the Dead.

Your work environment should be pristine.

While you’re waiting for the first coat of glitter to dry, you can make the tissue paper flowers. I used the technique outlined in more detail here. Just stack five or six squares of tissue paper, accordion fold them like a fan, and secure the center with wire or pipe cleaner.

Then fluff the layers. The glitter dries pretty fast, so by now you should be ready to decorate.

I used a mixture of glue-with-glitter, glitter glue pens, and beads I had left over from a caviar manicure set. The latter looked kind of cool (you can see around the eyes), but they were a huge pain.

If I had it to do over, I’d go all pre-mixed glitter glue pens, which is what I used for the green dots over the eyes and temples. It goes on 3-D, but dries flat, and is super easy to direct. I did my decoration freehand, but here are a bunch of skull designs you can use for ideas.

If you’d like to hang it up, use the glue gun to glue a little loop of ribbon to the back at the top.

Now just hot glue your flowers on the crown and voila! Darth Maul meets Day of the Dead. Jedi! I have been waiting for you.

Sep 26 2014

Friday! Links


If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, advance to 5:20 for Emma Stone’s version of “All I do is Win” by by DJ Khaled.

Now that, is a great idea.

Fascinating article about having a stroke at 33, via kottke.

Good idea for a DIY calendar journal, would be cool for a gratitude journal.

I think I’m going to try this instead of reupholstering a stained chair.

Department stores should have a section of clothing dedicated to clothes that make dancing more fun, like this fringe dress and this tassel necklace. I want to spin in that dress until I’m ill.

ASPIRATIONAL from Matthew Frost on Vimeo.

A short video on selfie culture via DesignSponge

Sep 26 2014

Give Him the Word that I’m Not a Rover

I woke to “Mr. Sandman” running through my head, but it was the Permanent Waves version from Family Ties, where Skippy butts in on the lyrics.

Mr. Sandman
YEEEESSS?!
Bring me a dream

That episode, Band on the Run, aired in 1987. It’s the one where Alex tries to manage Jennifer’s all-girl band. Christina Applegate rocked keyboard, Rain Phoenix on guitar, and I remember thinking Tina Yothers was such a good singer, you guys.

My favorite comment on this video was posted two months ago by morriganwest:

“Yeah…. Not a fan. Wanted to be, tried to be, and no. She should go back to acting she just doesn’t have it.”

Timely and incisive, Morrigan. Thank you for your input.

Sidenote, this is what the cools looked like in the late ’80s.

Jewel-tone satin, I can almost feel you fluttering in the breeze.

Sep 24 2014

Reporting for a Divided Nation

I came across this quote recently in The Week. It’s from From Why I Decided War Reporting Was No Longer Worth the Risk by Tom A. Peter for The New Republic.

I’ve often wondered about the risks that reporters, myself included, take in order to cover war. In the wake of [American Journalist James Foley's] death, these questions weigh on me more heavily than ever… Covering wars for a polarized nation has destroyed the civic mission I once found in journalism. Why risk it all to get the facts for people who increasingly seem only to seek out the information they want and brand the stories and facts that don’t conform to their opinions as biased or inaccurate?

I have a lot of respect for most professional journalists, but I can’t deny that I’d probably feel the same way if I were Peter.

Sep 23 2014

Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

The best parts of Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott:

Little by little I think I’m letting go of believing that I’m in charge, that I’m God’s assistant football coach. It’s so incredibly hard to let go of one’s passion for control. It seems like if you stop managing and controlling, everything will spin off into total pandemonium and it will be all your fault.

…there is always something to fix or do. It is so fucking excruciating just to be. Just to be still.

I have listened so attentively to the most boring, narcissistic men so that they would like me or need me. I’d sit there with my head cocked sweetly like the puppy on the RCA logo… It was like those men held me hostage. I’d think about chewing my arm off to get out of the trap so I could rush home and hang myself, but at the same time I’d need them to think well of me.

Orville, who raised an infant son fifteen years ago, says he remembers clearly how insane things get with an infant around. He said even with a mate, it’s like having a clock radio in your room that goes off erratically every few hours, always tuned to heavy metal.

On her infant son:

He’s so pretty that it’s sort of nuts. I’m sure he will be as gay as an Easter bonnet. My friend Larry gave him a naked Ken doll that Sam took a shine to one evening when my reading group met at Larry’s, and it’s totally Fire Island around here now. Sam licks and chews the naked Ken doll at every opportunity. I called Larry and said, “You’re trying to recruit my son,” and he said, “Look at it this way — in twenty years you won’t be losing a son, you’ll be gaining a son.”

No one ever tells you about the tedium. (A friend of mine says it’s because of the age difference.)

He has this beautiful hand gesture where, when he’s nursing, he reaches back with his free hand to touch and lightly pat the crown of his head, and it looks exactly like he’s checking to see if his bald spot is exposed.

Sep 22 2014

Engagement Rings Under $1,000

I don’t subscribe to the notion that the ideal engagement ring is an inflated version of everyone else’s ring. In fact, my favorite rings are those that reveal something about the wearer. These have a lot of personality, and a reasonable price point.


Garnet Solitaire by Studio 1980, $475


R011 by n+a, $220-$440


Large Spinel Cocktail Ring from Arnold Jewelers, $325


Opal Pip Ring by Claire Kinder, $185


Vintage Bohemian Cluster Garnet and Green Tourmaline from MS Jewelers, $745


Deco Bow Ring by Erica Weiner, $975


R017 rubies by n+a, $370


1930s Art Deco Ring Diamond Blue Sapphire from Rosie Lena, $825


Round Diamond Ring & Pave Diamond V ring by Artemer, $1350
I cheated a bit on this last one, but the price is for your engagement ring and band so sue me.