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Amy Shearn (558 posts)
Remember when you knew who the baddies were and just how to deal with them? Life lessons from a 5-year-old and his legos.
So that's how you say "Givenchy." A guide to the 28 most frequently mispronounced fashion and beauty words.
From lazy Sundays to get-up-and-go days: Energizing (and delicious) breakfast recipes for every kind of morning.
Just think, secret scribblers: The newest winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature never quit his day job.
The Life Lifter: This woman saved her husband from a life-threatening bear attack. Guess who's getting flowers every day from now on?
Every impressionable young woman who's ever hefted on a backpack and secured a Eurail pass in her sweaty travel belt (am I showing my age here? Do they still issue actual paper tickets that they actually stamp?) has encountered dozens of classic Grand Tour narratives. And while reading about the adventures of Lord Byron and Ernest Hemingway is great fun in its way, it's nice to know there will soon be a new female addition to the traveler's canon, when Harper Collins releases a collection of unpublished letters and photos documenting the year-long, round-the-world adventure of Agatha Christie. Yes, that Agatha Christie.
According to the Guardian, Christie traveled to Hawaii, Canada, America, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa in 1922. She particularly enjoyed learning to surf in Honolulu, of which she wrote: "Oh, it was heaven! Nothing like it. Nothing like that rushing through the water at what seemed to you a speed of about two hundred miles an hour; all the way in from the far distant raft, until you arrived, gently slowing down, on the beach, and foundered among the soft flowing waves." (You must see the photo of Christie surfing!) Miss Marple this is not.
The article also casually mentions that Christie left behind her 2-year-old daughter in order to embark on this adventure, which I admit is the detail that sticks with me after reading. She did...what? Huh? Here is the mystery I will be reading this book to solve.
Publisher David Brawn told the Guardian that the travelogue would show a "new side" to the famous, best-selling crime author, as well as providing some insight into her writing inspirations.So intrepid travelers everywhere will have another exciting Grand Tour tome to stuff in their ergonomic backpacks. I'm kidding! To download onto their lightweight e-Readers, of course.
Read more about finding your way in the world:
Can't-miss travel advice from the experts.
How to be a travel genius.
I still keep a journal, and I don't think I want anyone to read it. And yet I gasped when I read the first line of Dominique Browning's thought-provoking piece in the New York Times: "I just burned 40 years’ worth of diaries."
An admitted snoop, Browning writes, "I didn’t want anyone else reading my diaries, ever," and, "Diaries are irresistible." She makes it sound so simple. She doesn't want her grown sons to read her private papers. So she destroys the papers. Easy. Done.
Why do we keep writing these things, if we really, really, really don't want anyone to read them? Browning astutely describes the act of keeping a diary as a form of "self-soothing." And I think there's another, sneaky motive hiding there. When most of us think of someone reading our diaries in the future, we don't really think of our children; we think of some blurry person of posterity, some spectral version of ourselves, our legions of imaginary unborn fans. In a way, maybe I was writing my childhood diary for the same reason I was keeping it locked—the invented idea that someone, somewhere wanted to read it.
More on journaling:
Another writer considers burning her diaries
A peek into Oprah's journals
Susan Sontag's hidden diaries
Brianna Amat is one of those girls that makes the phrase "girl power" more than just a corny saying on ill-advised t-shirts. The Michigan 18-year-old is the first girl to play on Pinckney Community High School's varsity football team. According to the New York Times, Brianna was asked to try out to be a kicker because of her impressive showing on the girl's soccer team. She told the Times that her male teammates always treated her like one of the guys.
Then, on Friday, Amat was asked to return to the field during halftime. Her fellow students had voted her homecoming queen. She accepted the tiara wearing, not a fancy dress like the rest of the homecoming court, but her team uniform.
Amat seems humbled by all the media attention her story has attracted. She told the Times, “For the longest time, I was the shyest kid ever, and now everybody knows my name."
Could we love her a little more? And can we please all make our daughters look at the photo that accompanies the story? The sparkly tiara ! The rough-and-tumble uniform, complete with padding! This is one girl who's all queen, no princess.
More on encouraging girls to be themselves:
Talking to teenagers about their choices.
Whatever happened to "Girl Power"?
If your grandmother were an underground street artist, this is what she would do.
Get a complete hair makeover by the weekend, without a single snip.
Shrapnel, Bunsen, and Leotard: When people become nouns.
Making women with breast cancer feel beautiful.
The Life Lifter: How a four-year-old boy called 911 and saved his mother's life.
I used to work in Times Square, and I could always gauge how my day would go by my reaction to the swarms of tourists. Many mornings I stalked through the crowds like an ambulatory frown. Other mornings I'd emerge from the subway grinning, happy to help a lost tour group from Sheboygan, feeling as if just walking near a spunky pair of elderly travelers holding an upside map could make me see the city, the day, the world, with fresh eyes. Can you guess which days turned out better?
I was reminded of this when I first saw the below video, which has been all over the Internet for the past few days. In it a little boy and his sister are watching "The Empire Strikes Back" for the first time. When they get to that famous, so-familiar-it's-hard-to-imagine-it-ever-seeming-new "Luke, I am your father" scene, the boy flips out. The look on his face is absolutely amazing. It's a throwback to the world before leaked spoiler alerts; a reminder that this was once a surprising Star Wars revelation, yes, but also a reminder of the sheer wonder that exists in the world. I can't remember the last time I was this surprised by anything!
In everyday life it's easy to start feeling jaded and bored. Which is precisely why we need tourists, children, and other ambassadors of awe, to help us remember how the familiar—whether it's the city we live in, a classic movie, or just a gorgeous sunny day—has magic in it.
Reconnect with that sense of wonder:
5 ways to experience awe every day.
Embracing your inner child.
In her fascinating, revealing piece on IKEA, New Yorker writer Lauren Collins studies the origins of the ubiquitous Swedish furniture store, parses the culture at IKEA headquarters, and reveals why you can't ever seem to get out of an IKEA store without filling your cart (yeah, they do that on purpose). She also points out how IKEA has changed the culture of home decor: "Choosing a piece of furniture was once a serious decision, because of the expectation that it was permanent.," Collins writes. "IKEA has made interiors ephemeral." As Collins suggests, a person's IKEA purchases reveal her stage of life. First you're buying disposable furniture for a dorm room or apartment share...then it's the slightly sturdier, upmarket couches and beds for your first romantic cohabitation...eventually you're stocking up on cribs and changing tables. Sunrise, Sunset, SNRTIG.
So what does your IKEA furniture say about you? And am I the only one who feels a certain dread upon making yet another trip? I swore I wouldn't buy another LACK table...but...it's just so cheap...and... But when is it time to move on? As Collins writes, "IKEA can also be Swedish for feeling like you're never going to grow up." I know lately I've been feeling that mature nesting urge. I want a new couch, and I have a confession to make: I want it put together by a stranger, and I don't want to have to argue with that stranger about stick-figure-and-hieroglyphic instructions. For heaven's sakes, I'm married with two children. Isn't it time for a piece of grownup furniture?
Make your home work better for you:
10 steps to a more streamlined home office
Organizing tips from an expert
Clearing your mental clutter
The shameful truth of me and candy corn is that I cannot eat it fast enough, and the whole time I kind of hate myself. I will eat until my molars audibly beg me to stop. What does it even taste like? I don't know. I just know that I will plow through an entire bag and within an hour my tongue feels like it has a chemical burn.
The line at CVS had of course not budged, allowing me a moment to look at the bag of plasticky candies in my hand and then down at my daughter in her stroller. I thought of last Halloween, when she had her first ever piece of candy. It was a Hershey's Kiss, given to her by a sympathetic neighbor in an attempt to distract her from her abject terror at the preponderance of masks around town. My daughter stared at the silvery treat for a good half an hour before we told her (why? she was perfectly happy with it as a toy!) about what happened when you took off the wrapper. She unpeeled the paper, tentatively licked it, and then her eyes bugged out with joy. The next few days she spent begging for "piece tandy? Piece tandy?"
As much as I claim to love candy corn, I don't think I've ever enjoyed eating anything as much as my child enjoyed that little morsel of chocolate. And it made me think. What kind of person do I really want to be? The one who devours handfuls of something that, realistically, I know is crap? Or someone who carefully selects a hunk of chocolate, or a favorite poem, or a piece of beautiful music, and then just truly, slowly, soulfully enjoys it? Even if it takes slightly more mental energy to slow down and choose, say, writing a letter over watching hours of reality television?
It's a lesson I'm trying to live every day-- not to rush through the cheap semi-pleasures, but rather to be patient enough to experience each moment, to examine it and then truly enjoy it. Piece tandy, indeed.
More on enjoying the little things:
Little ways to be mindful every day.
Quiet the mental chatter.
“Just because you’re hurt doesn’t mean you’re broken.” Scuba diving provides unprecedented healing for veterans suffering paralysis and PTSD.
It is a strange side effect of today’s constant streams of texts, tweets, and G-chats that we are now survived by our daily conversations. It’s a phenomena Rebecca Armendariz understands all too well: as she wrote about in Good, she often searches her own Gmail account to reread her chats with Clark, her former boyfriend.
This young couple hadn’t even been together a year when Clark was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma and given a bleak prognosis of 4-14 months to live. About a year later, he was dead at 33. As Armendariz writes, “My Gmail is a priceless hoard of us making plans, telling inside jokes... This is a history of our relationship that we didn’t intend to write, one that runs parallel to the one authored by his uncontainable illness.” (If you're not already misty, the last line of the essay is a total heart-breaker. )
It’s not the eloquence of the exchanges that makes them so poignant. These are not exactly the love letters between John Keats and Fanny Price. Actually, what's so moving about these exchanges is precisely this, that they aren’t love letters. The chats reveal two young people arguing, making up, teasing, flirting, bantering about the mundane, calling each other pet names, dealing with Clark’s illness, and above all, living. Seeing the words through the filter of loss serves as a reminder treasure these tossed-off exchanges, the casual back-and-forth that creates the fabric of each day. After all, these are the archives of our lives here on Earth.
More about dealing with loss:
How to handle losing a mate
Searching for meaning in the mysteries of death
Heal your grief