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Rachel Bertsche (4 posts)
"You can find just about anything on my paintings," says Mae Chevrette. "Old maps, lengths of tape measure, vintage sheet music. I moved last year to an industrial part of Boston, so lately I've incorporated tack nails onto the edges of my work." These found objects typically encircle an arresting quote, such as Emerson's "Live in the sunshine, swim the sea / Drink the wild air" or Tennessee Williams's "Make voyages! Attempt them! There is nothing else."
Chevrette starts with a printout of one of thousands of photos from her travels, which she adheres to a canvas. Then she embeds ephemera and applies broad strokes of paint. "I keep layering until the piece matches what's in my head," she says. Finally, she adds the quote. "These are words that have been helpful in my life," she says. "I don't want to forget them."
Chevrette was 18 when she embarked on a cross-country drive from her hometown of Seattle to Massachusetts for college. To calm her nerves, Chevrette jotted a note to herself: "It is in all of us to defy expectations, to go into the world and to be brave...." The words became the centerpiece of To Be Brave, now Chevrette's most popular print. Subsequent trips have also informed paintings: The real coffee stain on The Road is a shout-out to the small-town diners she visited in Wyoming and South Dakota, and American West features snapshots of the power lines above Route 66. "I want to get across a feeling of wanderlust," says Chevrette. "I want to convey the sense that our lives are filled with possibility." (Prints start at $20; maechevrette.com.)
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In 2010, when Eddy Lu and Daishin Sugano moved from Los Angeles to Chicago to open a cream puff shop ("They're the next cupcakes!" they say), the pair realized they'd overlooked one aspect of relocation: making new friends. They tried chatting with people in bars, but "guys thought we were hitting on them," Lu says. "It was awkward." Then they realized their best connections had formed over food. "Eating together is the classic way to socialize," says Lu.
A few months later, the pair launched grubwithus.com, where users browse dozens of upcoming gatherings at local restaurants and then book their seats at a table of strangers also looking to connect. The food is usually served family-style over multiple courses, which helps people settle in and get talking. "Grubbers" must adhere to a few rules, however: Be on time, don't check cell phones, and avoid politics-and-religion talk.
Now in dozens of cities—and available for anyone, in any city, who wants to use the site to set up a dinner—Grubwithus meals have produced friendships, job offers, and a few romances. But Sugano says he and Lu are their own best success story: "We arrived with no social network, and now we have 25 real friends in Chicago." And all because they remembered that before Facebook, there was food. "People say this is a forward-thinking service," Sugano says. "But making time to eat together is old-school. We're just going back to basics.
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What would it take to change your life for the better? It may be less than you think—we've got mini-makeovers to help you upgrade everything from your workout to your weekend. #30: 3 smart ideas for expanding your social circle.
You moved, you switched jobs, you lost your best pal to a new romance. Now what? Rachel Bertsche, author of MWF Seeking BFF, on how to solidify a new friendship:
Don't play hard to get.
You might need to make the first move, and the second, and the third. People are busy in their routines. If you wait for reciprocity, you could be waiting forever.
Skip the dissertation-length explanation of why you've got time to burn. A simple "I'd love to get together sometime; are you available for lunch or coffee this week?" should do the trick.
"Friending" is not befriending.
It's easy to get caught up in a virtual friendship, but monitoring her Facebook is not a real relationship. If she posts, "like" it—then meet IRL (in real life).