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Relationships (107 posts)
A: Ladies, when it comes to dressing for a romantic evening, there is a fine line between seductive and seedy. But you'll never go wrong if you follow my guiding principle: Play up one feature, be it the lips, the décolletage, or the legs; keep everything else demure.
For a seductive look, try: tousled hair; matte red lips; an animal-print scarf; an off-the-shoulder top; short well-manicured nails; a bustier underneath a blazer; a peek of lace; a dress with a slit; a pencil skirt; tights with a small fishnet pattern; and a classic pump, two to four inches tall.
To avoid looking seedy, steer clear of: teased, sprayed untouchable hair; glossy red lips; animal-print pants; a tube top; long red talons; a bustier worn alone; a neon lace dress; a dress with a slit and plunging neckline; an ultra-miniskirt; actual fishnets; and clear platforms heels.
The relationship: does it have to be work?
6 gorgeously scented moisturizing body oils
7 decadent (retro) desserts
Stay with me here. In the 1960s, luncheoning at one of New York City's exquisite restaurants or clubs was a high-society ritual, complete with its own unspoken textbook of rules and regulations—read the entire article for a complete, compulsively readable portrait. No one ate much (everyone was on a diet) but social fixtures like Babe Paley and Gloria Guinness and Jackie O. would slip on their kidskin gloves and meet their friends and talk for hours and hours. (Just the idea of having hours and hours of leisure time gives me a vicarious shiver.) The main criteria of these lunches seem to be fancy hats for the ladies and a beautiful setting; Colacello notes that "La Grenouille was a bower of dogwood, forsythia, or cherry-blossom branches, depending on the season. Charles Masson Jr., who runs the restaurant today, told me his father had an obsession with flattering lighting, and when General Electric discontinued the lightbulb he preferred, he had Westinghouse reproduce it, despite the fact that the minimum quantity for a custom order was 25,000 bulbs. 'My father understood one thing, that if he made an environment as beautiful as possible, where women would feel beautiful, the women would come and, guess what, the men would come after them.'"
My husband and I frequently bicker about taking pictures. He—a man eight years older than me, mind you—believes that regular photographs are obsolete. In his view, all we should ever take is video—long, cinéma-vérité videos that relive it all, from the kids opening Christmas presents to the falling of a pine needle to a shaky pan of our trashed kitchen and living room.In my view, nobody wants to sit through great stretches of our non-essential family life, and, further I love the capturing of a single moment with single photograph—one that doesn't re-live it all but let's me do that job, in full color detail, in the my head.
A few weeks ago,a n ordinary guy named Mike Matas put up some of his vacation shots on Vimeo. He went to Japan with his girlfriend and took 4,000 (!) sill pictures. Then he spliced them all together into what appears to be a running video—except that it's not, the film jerks a bit in between pictures, reminding us that it's made of stills—as you can see:
Living in the moment, the how to guide.
Quiz: Who Am I Meant to Be?
"They never answer phone calls to their desks. Have you noticed that? They email in response instead. Is that a young person thing? Is it rude? It certainly seems rude, but maybe I'm being old-fashioned." I had no answer for her. It seemed rude to me too, but what did I know? I'd gotten my first email account in college. To these girls I was old-fashioned too.
It should surprise no one that good manners have largely fallen casualty to a world full of texts and screens and phone-averse interns. Lucky for us persnickety people who wonder just what good manners are anymore (is "no problem" the same as "you're welcome?" Is it uncouth to ask someone with an accent where they are from?), humorist Henry Alford has tackled the issue in his new book Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That? A Modern Guide to Manners. As he told NPR's Talk of the Nation recently, "Life is a public bathroom, and we are all perpetually inheriting the toilet seat." We share our lives with so many others, much of our lives happens in public. In Alford's estimation, bad manners are often result of ignorance and insensitivity, so when trying to navigate the etiquette of texting or emailing we just to keep in mind the common-sense considerateness that's behind good old-fashioned manners -- and the possibility that we do rude things without realizing it every day. This is a happier world view, I think, than assuming all Americans are jerks for the sake of being jerks. More likely, we're jerks accidentally.
Be sure to listen to the whole NPR piece for interesting tidbits on the origin of etiquette, what public transportation has to do with manners, and what Japan can teach us about ourselves.
A friend sent me this video recently with the message, "beautiful." I watched it without sound and, yes, the footage is lovely: lush images of voluptuous waves, surreal water formations, a breathtaking flock of birds, and a tiny wet-suited figure surfing some enormous, curling waves. Watching this video is like taking a 6-minute meditation break. Relaxing, unless you're the surfer's mother. It was only when I rewatched the short film with the sound on that I realized what it's really about.
"I never set out to become anything in particular, only to live creatively," mutters the narrator. He describes his love for "wave riding," despite the terrible injuries, biting cold, and various dangers. And then he begins to talk about his place in the world, as a person who loves to ride waves and to document them in photographs. It's what he's drawn to, he explains. He's okay with "scraping a living," as long as it's a "living worth scraping," and movingly, he describes his gratitude to be doing what he's doing, in particular to be able to have "a tale or two for the nephews." It seems to me a meaningful legacy if ever there was one. There are so many measures of success, so many ways we judge our lives: money, fame, the highest wave we've surfed (er, metaphorically, for most of us). In the end, isn't it good enough to have some stories to tell the nephews?
How to Live Your Best Life
Clearly, there was some easy key to life satisfaction. If it hadn't turned out to be some career goal being met, most likely happiness would turn out to be related to having the right real estate. This woman has since acquired a house and she reports that eternal bliss has not been achieved. "Ach, the basement is flooding!" she said the last time I saw her. What about the theory that here lay happiness? She claimed not to remember the conversation.
I'm now aware enough to know that it's too flip to say happiness lies in accomplishments or housing or the most chic raincoat that would make every outfit look perfectly pulled together...but...there must be some key to feeling sanguine, right? Here is the question filmmaker Roko Belic set out to discover in his soon-to-be-released documentary, The Happy Movie. Belic writes for The Huffington Post about his experiences making the film, and some of the intriguing things he learned about happiness. One of the happiest people he came across in his filming was a poor rickshaw puller in an Indian slum. Said the rickshaw puller, "When I return home and see my son waiting for me, and when he calls out to me 'Baba!' I am full of joy."
Belic reveals that "one of the leading researchers of happiness in the world, Ed Diener, at the University of Illinois" told him "that a person's values are among the best predictors of their happiness. People who value money, power, fame and good looks are less likely to be happy than people who value compassion, cooperation and a willingness to make the world a better place...People who express their love—who rejoice in the health and happiness of others— are more likely to feel loved and happy themselves."
People who express their love. Not the people who have the most, or even who are themselves the most loved. I feel both that we know this...and that we need to remind ourselves of it every day. Love someone today. It's easy. It feels good. And it's free.
Visit The Happy Movie site for more on the upcoming Happy Day, and for information on how you can see the sure-to-be-uplifting documentary.
Let the Love In
A Pie Graph of Happiness
5 Things Happy People Do
All of which would horrify a true home economist, a housewife (as stay-at-home moms were called back when we were allowed to ignore our kids all day) like Bettina, of the 1917 cookbook A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband.
This cookbook, which is not nearly as titillating as its sensationalist title suggests (unless you have some really creative uses for vinegar sauce and weak coffee) is the subject of Sadie Stein's great essay "Ways and Means" for The Paris Review. A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband, as Stein writes, is filled with vignettes of the fictional Bettina and Bob's married life, complete with recipes perfect for the thrifty wartime bride with a hankering for pimentos. Bettina has great passion for "the word 'economical,' her energy-efficient fireless cooker (a slow cooker of sorts), and the budget notebook that is her preferred topic of dinner-table conversation." She lectures her husband on the price of steak, the joys of buying in bulk.
The book is a hoot as far as retro recipes go. All that white sauce! But, as Stein points out, "the emphasis on modern methods, labor-saving devices, and the science of housekeeping—not to mention that suffragette brunch!—is clearly intended to inspire the young bride not just with confidence but with a sense of the importance of her role." You must read her whole essay, in which Stein discusses her project of cooking every recipe in the book —the results are hilarious. But what strikes me most is how Stein writes, "like any young bride of 1917, I wanted to enter into Bettina’s perfectly ordered existence." She calls the book "a bastion of make-believe order in a scary world."
How appealing! Because this world, it is scary and complicated and messy, in ways that no one can protect her family from, no matter how hard she tries. And personally, I rarely savor a sense of the importance of my role as a "young bride." My resting state is more general befuddlement. So while Bettina's menus and mathematics give me palpitations, I do very much like the idea that I could take control over my home life and better manage household expenses, that the food I prepare for my family could impose a sense of calm, instill some order. Would Bettina allow a toddler to mash $3 worth of Dr. Prager's fishies into a cup of pink milk? I doubt it! If only I, like Bettina, could plan my menu a week at a time, intelligently using leftovers in an organized manner, cheerily reminding my family of how efficiently our little industry could operate. And you know, maybe with the right recipes and a better attitude, I can.
Food That Calms and Comforts
Menu Plans for Cleansing
New Chicken Recipes for Family Dinners
ArLynn Presser was having severe, debilitating panic attacks several times a week and finally stopped leaving her house. Then she decided to reclaim her life by facing her fears. Luckily for us, her filmmaker son came along to document her journey. Watch this ABC News clip to see how Presser went from being panicky and scared to joyfully slicing open a champagne bottle with a saber and learning to box and sing opera. Presser acknowledges that this was a crazy thing to do. And while she can't cure her agoraphobia and still suffers social anxiety, she says this experience has helped her to gain control over condition. Let's hear it for Facebook!—and for a woman brave enough to reimagine her life.
Read More:How to Cope with Party Anxiety
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I thought of Munro's story when reading John Simon's moving L.A. times piece entitled "My Turn: Loved Formed in Alzheimer's Crucible." The essay is a sweet tribute to the woman Simons fell in love with late in life, only to lose her to the fog of Alzheimer's. He recalls the fun they shared— "We had the time of our lives dancing with each other." Then Simons realizes that his lady love Dorothy is beginning to show signs of Alzheimer's, that maybe even some the zaniness he was intrigued by could have been early symptoms. He told me via email that he wrote this essay "to show that not all Alzheimer's experiences are horror stories. Dorothy never turned into a monster in spite of her constant wandering and other behavior problems. She always was loving and kind, and she always seemed to recognize me. Caregiving was a big job, but I never felt overwhelmed by it. The happiest period of my life when I had this real live woman to care for."
And now that she is in an assisted living facility, Simons writes that he is the one who is suffering. "She seems content in her dream world of dementia, while every day I am reminded of how much I have lost now that she has left my side." Isn't that always one of love's challenges, when due to some circumstance we start to live in different worlds from our lovers?
Read the whole piece here, and don't miss Simon's wonderful bio line!
Life Lessons from Senior Citizens
The 3 Things No One Tells You About Aging
On the last day of last year, researcher Brene Brown tweeted, "What is vulnerability? It sounds like courage and feels like truth."
I've been reading Brown's tweet over and over, wanting to soak in all its meanings. (You know, typical reaction to a tweet!) What does it take to be happy? A perfect life? My friend had a perfect life—great job, sweet husband, a plan for children—but she was never happier than when she became terrifyingly vulnerable. According to Brown, who researches vulnerability, this strange, under-appreciated characteristic seems to link people who have, as she puts it, "a strong sense of worthiness and love and belonging, vs the people who really struggle for it."
Brown's tweet seems an important message to carry into the new year, particularly when coupled with Brown's great talk from TEDxHouston, in which she reveals the importance of vulnerability and talks about how she reluctantly pinpointed that the happiest, fullest, most contented people she'd interviewed all embraced vulnerability.
"Courage," Brown said in the TEDx talk, "the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language -- it's from the Latin word cor, meaning heart -- and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect... And the last was they had connection, and -- this was the hard part -- as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection." Brown goes on to say, "The other thing that they had in common was this: They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful."
If vulnerability is the courage to seek the truth of a person or a situation or oneself, is what allows us to know ourselves, to fully connect with others, then maybe what we could all use in the new year is a healthy dose of (frightening, unsettling, risky) vulnerability.
Be sure to listen to (or read the transcript of) Brown's entire talk from TEDxHouston.
How to Really Connect
Living Without Fear