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Amy Shearn (558 posts)
Last year, the blogatorium (okay, I just didn't feel like typing "blogosphere" one more time) hummed with talk of "FOMO." That is, Fear of Missing Out, that social-media-fueled sense that you are missing everything good, that the world is teeming with super-cool events and parties and talks and lives you'll never be a part of. Now blogger Anil Dash has weighed in with his counter-phenomenon: JOMO. That is: Joy of Missing Out.
Dash writes, "There can be, and should be, a blissful, serene enjoyment in knowing, and celebrating, that there are folks out there having the time of their life at something that you might have loved to, but are simply skipping." It's okay to learn, through whatever human-tracking-app your mobile phone is stocked with, that everyone is having the Best! Time! Ever! at the TED Talk/art opening/cocktail party/perfect summer getaway while you, after putting down your phone with a sniff, roll over to read one more page of your book before falling asleep on the couch. Particularly if you love the book. Particularly if you're tired because you were up early to run, or take the kids to the beach, or meditate. It's okay to miss out on the big things in favor of The Big Things, like time with your family, your friends, even yourself. In fact, carving out quiet time in our so-many-invitations-so-many-options world might just transform your life. Which is more than you can say for most cocktail hours.
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The Beauty of Living in the Moment
Of the many ways to cool off on a muggy day—visiting the pool, perfecting the floppy-hat-look, downing mint juleps like a character in The Great Gatsby, or my personal favorite, hiding out somewhere air-conditioned—the most creative we've ever seen has got to be watermelon carving. This is a pastime like carving a pumpkin, but with more delicious pulp-goop to scoop; like an ice-sculpting but without the need for dry ice and chainsaw.
The website of Japanese artist Takashi Itoh claims that each astounding carving takes about an hour, and that anyone can learn how to make one in about a week. Hmm. I'll just say I appreciate the modesty and optimism, respectively. Look at some of this watermelon-master's work:
I'm proud of myself when I actually cut a watermelon into slices that are somewhat uniform, but okay. Here's the extremely cute, eater-friendly hedgehog from, who else, The National Watermelon Promotion Board. (Instructions for creating your own little melon-pet are on the site.):
And then let's not forget (but how could we?) the Melounovy Festival of Watermelon Carving, which apparently produces some truly wonderful specimens, including this much-blogged, slightly threatening but still kind fun, watermouthen:
An internet search for even more images of carved watermelon is guaranteed to provide you with hours of nice, cool, air-conditioned fantasizing. Or get motivated and make one of juicy creations as a barbecue centerpiece. The only downside? You're going to give your lumpen potato salad a complex.
Mouth-Watering Watermelon Recipes
Sheryl Crow's Watermelon Margaritas
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How to Express Yourself With Food, Art, and More...
After all, that's where the interesting stories are, as Liam and Megan O'Rourke proved with their engaging take on men's gymnastics over at the Los Angeles Review of Books. Liam writes, "watching longshot Kieran Behan stumble all over his floor routine and then smile the bitter smile of defeat was heartbreaking. My favorite Olympic moment of any sport today came when Louis Smith performed his superb pommel horse routine (ended getting the best score of the day on pommel horse) and then unexpectedly burst into tears...All of these moments made me think that, despite the fact that many people think of men’s gymnastics as a stoic display of strength moves and acrobatics, the sport is actually deeply bound up in psychology and emotion."
Meghan, a former gymnast herself, responds, noting the incredible adversity Kieran Behan had fought to be there on the floor at all, including a tumor, nerve damage, a freak accident. She writes, "So no, I don’t think you’re romanticizing the pain and danger of gymnastics. The tension between masochism and spiritual triumph is absolutely central to this sport... There are very few other sports that so fully dramatize that extraordinary exercise of will, which I think we all find beautiful: it’s why we watch the Olympics, isn’t it?"
Ohhhhh. The reason why people love to watch even the most obscure, suddenly-high-stakes Olympic sports is just as the O'Rourkes put it: the fever-pitched emotion, the thrilling failures, even the injustice of the very-near-misses. It's drama, is what it is: "Modern gymnastics makes you want to hide your eyes AND pick up the binoculars." And as the O'Rourkes point out, it's heightened by the fact that you can often see the reactions of the athletes' families as they succeed or fail or injure themselves or burst into tears. It's like you see the crux of a person's life, their own life story compressed, in an instant. And that is something worth taking part in.
Dr. Oz Talks to 2008 Olympic Athletes
The Spirit of the Olympics
But Dietrich had had enough. She did what most teenagers do these days when they have anything pressing on their minds: she took to the Internet. She outed her assailants, sharing their names on her Twitter and Facebook accounts, tweeting, "There you go, lock me up. I'm not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.” By making her story public, Dietrich has also started to rally thousands to her cause, inspiring Change.org and other petitions to drop the charges against her. After all, her rapists are the guilty parties, and they made their attack on her public. By that reasoning, she's just completing what they started.
Slate has a thoughtful analysis of the story: "But here [on the Internet] Dietrich is the editor of her own story. She has the power to delete the comments she doesn’t like and promote the ones she does. Thanks to a few brave tweets, a 17-year-old rape victim is now curating an international conversation about sexual assault in America...And she’s speaking out not only about the details of her own assault, but the ways that the justice system is failing others like her."
It's incredibly upsetting to think that these things happen, but how resourceful of this wronged teenager to turn the story around, and in a situation that was always about taking control away from her, to take it back.
How to Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse
Brave Women Who Risk Their Lives For Poetry
In the case of Sean Keown, a Vermont man who shipped off a message in a bottle some 35 years ago, the recipient of his letter ended up being, well, himself. A teenager found his ancient bottle with its hidden note intact, and, being a teenager, googled the name and located Keown. He then put the note in an envelope and mailed it to Keown, who then called him to say "he'd been waiting 35 years for someone to find it." Keown also told his local news station that he'd promised a reward to the bottle's finder: "I was thinking maybe a candy bar or a soda, at the time I was in elementary school. Yeah, it's going to be a cash reward now."
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Now, I'm no hydrologist (it's a thing; I looked it up), so to me rivers basically count as lakes. They are connected, right? The key component of this species of beach-going experience is the inclusion of some degree of shade. True, the lake shore and the river swimming hole may count a mass of dead fish and the occasional plague of mosquitoes among of their charms, but they also offer a bounty of sea glass, grassy sands, fairy-rafts of driftwood, the respite of shade. This is summer swimming on the human scale: best of all is a lake you can see the other side of (no offense, Great Lakes), ringed by a lush fringe of pine trees. It's a diorama of an experience, a swimmy microcosm. Even better if the waters are tepid and still. Summery, Americana-infused, relaxing perfection. I suppose it's clear by now which side of the beach debate I spread my towel on.
My husband, on the other hand, stakes his beach umbrella firmly on the side of the ocean. He loves the epic horizon, the eyeball-busting sunlight, the drama of the ocean in all its crashy, splashy glory: knee-scrape-searing salt water, seashells, the glistening carcasses of jellyfish. The thing about the ocean is that you can't gaze out into those vast waters without contemplating eternity. The ocean is spectacular. A lake is pleasant. The ocean will carry off your children and burp up a whale. A lake maybe swallows your toe into some sludge. The more I think about it, the more our watery preferences seem to say about us.
So which beach are you? Here's a quick diagnostic question: when you think "summertime" do you picture a picnic basket or a clam shack? A canoe or a surfboard? Here's another way to truly know your summer vacation inner self: take a dip in this refreshing Flickr pool, Water...Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, Creeks, and see which images make your heart flutter. Bonus: you don't have to take any of your vacation days to do it.
The Luxury of Sand in Your Sheets
Why Does Beach Food Taste So Delicious?
When she noticed her resident's talent for cooking, Carson decided to open Boujhetto's, which employs and benefits others in need. As she told her local news station, at first she was just looking to make enough money to stay open, but the restaurant has been so successful, they are now expanding their hours and menu offerings. According to Carson, "we are here to help" anyone who comes in and might need a fresh start. And perhaps best of all, according to the official website, "Rahab's Hideaway can now hire who they help." Sounds pretty, well, delicious.
Learn More About OWN's Soul Food Family
Besides, we don't actually need to do anything drastic like travel overseas or lose wi-fi just for a moment of stillness, as this interactive map proves. Created by the Guggenheim Museum, this Still Spotting map allows users to upload their own peaceful places in that known mecca of tranquility, um, New York City. It's a useful tool for residents and tourists alike, compiling not only the expected parks and beaches but also quiet building lobbies, underpopulated coffee shops, and hidden green nooks. And it's a useful reminder, too -- no matter where you live, no matter how hustling-and-bustling your existence, you don't need a field full of sunflowers to experience a pause, a breath, a piece of peace. Where's your still spot? It might be under the bleachers at a Little League game. Just remember -- it's somewhere nearby, maybe somewhere completely unexpected, and it will be there waiting for you when you need it.
10 Minutes to Tranquility
7 Gifts from the Universe that Everyone Gets
It makes me wonder -- how many of the people I walk by every day might have some splendid achievement in their past, some great triumph jostling around in their hearts? And, once you've won a gold medal in, say, kayaking, what does that do to your life? Are you forever filled with the glow of achievement, peeking at your gold medal in moments of doubt? My guess is that when you've got that Olympic spirit you go through the rest of your life trying, working, yearning, going for the gold. Which is something we could all do, whether we're amateur divers, intermediate fencers, or hopelessly unathletic spectators.
The Music Olympic Athletes Make
Highlights from the 2010 Winter Olympics
Chair #1: Dining Room Chair - 1940's - Red Velvet Seat - Nice - $25
When I went to pick up this chair, the gentleman selling it brought it out to my car and helpfully wedged it in amongst the car seats. As an afterthought, I asked what the story was with the chair. He told me it had been his grandparents from when they were first married, in the 1940's, in St Louis. But my grandparents lived in St Louis at the same time! For some reason this shared history felt like magic. "My grandmother was in the League of Women Voters!" I told him. "Hm," he said, "I don't know what mine was into. Probably a Yiddish Theater Troupe or something." The chair-seller explained that he had recently inherited tons of gorgeous furniture from his grandparents' home that was now filling his tiny apartment, and that he counted among his roommates an enormous china hutch, a creepy dress-maker's form, chairs and chairs and chairs. I felt this sounded very poetic. He felt crowded. So it goes, with someone else's life story.