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Amy Shearn (558 posts)
Dog treats, lavender sharpies, and police crime-scene tape. This celebrity travels prepared for anything.
The unaswerable question: Why do flip-flops wash up on the shore of Kenya? But what snappy things have they been turned into? That we know...
Leave a note in a library book! Be the crazy balloon lady at the park! How to brighten your day -- and a stranger's -- with small acts of kindness.
The Life-Lifter: Man tweets "sh*t, I need a kidney." And, via Twitter, he gets one.
As every young woman with literary ambitions and a moody bent well knows, Sylvia Plath was best known for novel The Bell Jar and her poetry, full of shivery, dark lines like, “Dying is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well.” But she was also a visual artist, taken to sketching while traveling and illustrating her own letters, diaries, and poems. A new exhibit in London will display her drawings (some of which can be viewed here at the Guardian). As Plath once said, "I have a visual imagination. For instance, my inspiration is painting and not music when I go to some other art form. I see these things very clearly.”
The drawings are very much
sketchbook pieces, unselfconscious, not overly polished—inky little notes. It
doesn’t seem like Plath was trying to make The Great Work of Art in the way she
was certainly trying to make Great Literature. Which is exactly what's so great about them.
I hesitate to use the word “hobby,” which has to it a condescending air, smacking of macramé. Perhaps we should dub them On-the-Side-Diversions (which sounds like what Don Draper would call a secretary, but you get my gist). They are the things you do for fun, without any pressure of a deadline, without any serious thought of the end result. I love the idea that even an accomplished and brilliant poet like Plath had something on the side that she did simply because she wanted to.
The letterpress invitation came with a strange pang of jealousy—Rachel was my first friend to be getting married. I was happy for her, and a little surprised—we were all so young still!—and taken with the romance of it. A month or so later, a sheepish email followed. They had amicably decided not to go through with it after all. They just weren’t ready to be married. Eep! I didn’t know the fiancé, didn’t know what to say. Maybe this was sad news, or maybe secretly great news? Maybe it meant I got a refund on the Crate and Barrel salad bowl?
Happy events we know how to celebrate. Weddings, new babies, Bar Mitzvahs. Got it. There’s a whole infrastructure in place: what to wear, what to say, what favors to dispense. But when it comes to the bummer times, it’s easy to feel a little lost. Recently people have begun throwing Divorce Parties, so why not a Nearly Beloved Day?
Jen Girdish writes for Good about how she celebrated her cancelled wedding day, jumping off the train of a bad relationship. She found that after all the wedding planning and emotional drama, her friends and family “weren’t exhausted. They wanted to party.” It was then that Girdish considered “the idea that my social obligations to my cancelled engagement were not over. Was I expected to do something on the day I was supposed to get married?” Her friends had suggestions: close-call games like Dodgeball or limbo; a party with a wedding dress on a crucifix. (Read the essay for the sweet way they celebrated that day, and Girdish’s real life happily-ever-after.) In the end, she was relieved she’d escaped the failing relationship before going through with the wedding—Kim Kardashian, are you listening? —and happy to be celebrating her new life.
As for my friend Rachel, a few years ago I attended her wedding. It was a lovely affair in a forest, one of those parties were everyone seems happy, sure of a good thing happening. The groom was the same man she’d almost married years earlier. The time was finally right.
Does your voice really sound how you think it does? The story of a friendship that led to an unlikely discovery.
The most important thing you can do for your well-being may actually be...nothing. Learn how to free your free time.
"Experiences like this one will always make me sympathetic to the teenager-sized hole in your heart, wanting to be free." Confessions of a band-nerd-wannabe.
The Life-Lifter: This blind dog has her own seeing-eye dog! (And they're both up for adoption.)
Dorothy Howell Rodham, the mother of Hillary Rodham Clinton, died early Tuesday, at age 92. According to the Daily Beast, Rodham had been living with her daughter since 2006, just before Clinton launched her campaign for the presidency. Whatever you think of Clinton, can you imagine how proud her mother must have felt in those days, and how worried for her child? Rodham moved to Little Rock to be near Hillary when her marriage was in trouble; when the Clintons were in the White House Dorothy spent time there too, helping to raise Chelsea and support Hillary. (Read the original article on the Daily Beast for a heart-wrenching description of the difficult childhood Dorothy Howell Rodham overcame).
This is going to sound silly, but this article was the first
time I ever thought of the Secretary of State as being someone’s little girl,
of how hard and weird it must be to be the parent of a politician, whose life
becomes so brutally public. Isn’t it amazing, what mothers go through, and help
For as long as I can remember, I studiously answered the question, “Where are you from?” with an evasive, “Oh, near Chicago.” Or: “the Chicago area,” which sounds a bit like a medical term for something impolite. Or, even more misleadingly, just, “Chicago.” Invariably this would be the person to reply, “Oh really? Where? I know it well!” Which is when I would know I was caught, and have to admit,“Oh! Yes. Ah. Well, the suburbs actually." Inevitably, I'd end up reluctantly revealing my hometown to be a boring whitey-white suburb, known for producing “North Shore Girls” with teeny-bopper speech patterns who get SUVs as sweet 16 presents. (For the record, I drove my mother's Chevy.) Hardly a proper provenance for an aspiring writer!
So I know just how Katie J.M. Baker feels, when she writes in the New York Times Townies column that she has always been embarrassed of being from the LA “Valley Girl” suburb Encino. “’Encino is not L.A.,’ they’d snicker whenever I told someone I lived in Los Angeles..In retrospect,” she writes, “this was pathetic. I was like a balding man with a comb-over, or one of those women who wear bright prints to distract from their pear-shaped bottoms. Some things are impossible to disguise.” Oh! My! God! I, like, know!
A breathtaking riff on the skyscraper. (Just imagine hiking this forest!)
Keep the Halloween spirit going with the best take on the Thriller flash mob we've ever seen.
Just for funny: 1 woman, 30 different faces.
Can a haircut really change your life?
The Life-Lifter: This amazing website is like KickStarter but for medical expenses: donate to help someone get a life-saving surgery or treatment.
Every Monday, we're rounding up the things, small and big, that make us stop and think. Today, we're inspired by..
“We all—in the end—die in medias res. In the middle of a story...Steve’s final words were: OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW. “
"It didn't matter who she had once been or what she had once believed. Here was a wife and mother prepared to do anything for her family.'
“For all the people out there that have that hate in their heart, they need to let it go because people are going to be who there are.”
“[The show] definitely showed me personally that there’s so much more to be gained from sharing.”
"That's what Halloween is: an entire 'Wow, I'm so glad I had kids' day.'"
It was every writer’s dream, followed immediately by every writer's nightmare. The phone call: You’ve been nominated for the National Book Award! I imagine my response would be the same as Lauren Myracle’s: “You’re f***ing kidding me!” The best-selling YA author told Vanity Fair that when she watched the live stream of the announcement of the nominees her “heart was so happy.”
Then a few days later, she was told that there had been a mistake. A clerical error. The intended
nominee was not actually her book Shine, but another novel titled Chime.
(As an aside, how on earth does this happen? Does the National Book Foundation
communicate via tin can?) She said she “felt gutted. I felt embarrassed, and
ashamed that I had the gall to believe that this book was worthy.”
In the end, Myracle stepped down herself rather than forcing
the National Book Foundation to revoke the nomination. It was an undoubtedly
classy move, and letting go of
anger and hurt with such an open spirit sets a good example
for the kids reading Myracle’s work (and the rest of us). As she put it, “I guess I would have to say, just like any bad breakup or any
awful thing you go through, if I could go back and have it not happen, I would
have it not happen. But some really good things have come of it.”
Actually, she's the one who made sure that some good came of the whole debacle. Since her book is about a violent hate crime against a gay youth, Myracle asked the National Book Foundation to make a donation to the Matthew Shepard Foundation. She described this as "the one unsullied good thing that’s come out of this for me. And that’s more tangible good than a shiny gold sticker any day.” Doesn’t that give you chills? I’m trying really hard here not to make a terrible “myracle” pun, but this lady’s generosity of spirit seems like a bit of a...okay, fine, miracle.