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Relationships (107 posts)
Every week, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors at O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. On sale this Saturday:
by Robert Olen Butler
The quiet heartbreak that anchors the novel: The day Michael and Kelly Hayes are supposed to finalize their divorce, they separately mourn—and long—for their shared past.
Where you'll travel: From the French quarter in New Orleans to a hoop-skirted historical ball on a Mississippi plantation.
What not to expect: The usual patient, slow unfolding of a story about marriage. This little novel is a page-turner—right up to the last page.
The sentence that had us at hotel: "They look at each other steadily for a long while and then somewhere about her eyes she shows the tiniest moon-ascension increment of a threshold smile, but it too holds and persists without pushing on and he does not have to deal with it, does not have to smile as well or be forced not to smile in return, it is a simple thing with no demands on him and his chest and arms and shoulders go quiet, his mind goes quiet, he knows he can be good with this woman and she can be good with him."
Our complete review of A Small Hotel
The Irresistibles: 45 lyrical, luscious reads
20 unputdownable love stories
Daughter's perspective: I'm all grown up—down to the age spot on my forehead—and still, I act like a child around my mother.
Mom's perspective: She's all grown up—and still, she doesn't understand what I tried to do as a parent and (gulp) a person.
How can the two of you get around all the murk and misunderstandings of the past and start a new relationship? This week, one woman gives it a shot with her own personal to-change list called: 12 Things I'm Too Stubborn To Tell My Mother.
We fight better. Or at least that's what Marriage Ref Tom Papa told Gayle on her show this morning.
What do you think? Is there really a right way to fight and do women do it better? Let us know in the comments, and if you're wondering, here are the 15 ways women are tougher, luckier and smarter than men.
Is there love after love? After a painful breakup, it can feel like you'll never want to see a certain someone again. You might even want to, say, dump all his (or her) overpriced, pretentious, toasted-gold-and-ego flavored coffee into the cat litter box, stir it up, and the scoop it all back into the coffee bag--so that he (or she) will have a delightful early morning drink the first morning in his (or her) new, much larger (!) apartment.
Which is why the world works in more mysterious, wiser ways.
Some stories need no introduction. This 2:25-minute-long trip to dreamland (filmed entirely on a Nokia phone) had us at the double brrrring....an alarm going off simultaneously in Paris and New York. You might suspect the ending, but as with any good to romance, that's part of the delicious squeal that utters from your lips during the few final seconds.Watch--and sigh.
Tales of real-life romance.
Men, I now believe, love a lot of things as much sex. They love doughnuts as much as sex. They love a solid night of sleep under a heavy down duvet. They love an hour in the bathroom with a newspaper with nobody banging on the door. They love when people buy them clothes one size bigger than they are emotionally ready to deal with, cut off the tags, and pretend the L's are M's.
Now the British Telegraph tells me that, "Acts of affection like hugs ... were more important to men than women." Research by sociologists at the Kinsey Institute, the paper reported, confirmed that "men who said kissing and cuddling were a regular part of their relationship were on average three times happier than those who did not."
Even better, the 1,000 couples interviewed were aged 40 to 70 and had been in a relationship for an average of 25 years.
I find it uplifting that cuddling wins big in long-term loves. I can't give my husband a solid night of sleep or an hour in the bathroom with nobody banging on the door. (We are a family of four! With one toilet!) I can give him the doughnuts, but then I will have to buy a closet's worth of XL clothing, cut off the tags and pretend they are also M's. The hugging, however, I can handle—one arm, other arm, squeeze.
Where were you at 22? Crashing in Mom and Dad's basement, hiding from an ego-piercing job market? Slinging lattes at the local espresso shop--an activity complicated by various piercings and projectile hair "experiments?" Racing off to work as an administrative assistant, hoping that somebody would notice your stellar labeling skills in the file cabinet and promote you to "MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THIS MULTINATIONAL CORPORATION?" (Okay, that one was me...and by the way, neither the job title, nor the accompanying gold sticker I so feverishly imagined, panned out.)
This weekend on NPR, I heard this story about Katie Davis and felt compelled to go hug my own kids--over and over--until they made me stop. Davis, at age 22, gave up her own dreams of being a nurse in order to remain in Africa, where she had been volunteering, and raise 13 orphaned or otherwise needy girls. Her plan is to one day adopt them.
"I think that's definitely something that I was made for," said Davis. "God just designed me that way because he already knew that this is what the plan was for my life--even though I didn't."
Her first child was an HIV positive 9-year-old who was injured when a mud hut collapsed. She asked if she could live with Davis--and Davis, then age 19, said yes. Thus began her new life, as a mother and full-time resident of Uganda where she and the girls live, complete with an oversized minivan.
In her spare time, Davis also runs a nonprofit called Amazima Ministries, a job supports the family of 14. There she oversees educating 400 other children, setting up community health programs and feeding more than a thousand children five days a week.
My first task tomorrow is to promote her to "MOST WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING" and send her a gold-star sticker--and a donation--that officially affirms the title.
Note: This article has been changed as of July 12, 2011.
Reason No. 659 Why to Love Perfect Strangers: Listening to Mom and Changing the World of a Young Girl
The New York Times today reported on a story that makes you want to go up and down the sidewalks, shaking people's hands saying "Thank you. Thank you very much for being human." (One day, I am going to try this and see how it turns out.) Because no matter what we think about ourselves, there are people out there who change the entire futures of others.
Mariah Stackhouse, the only African-American qualifier in this week's U.S. Women's Open, started out her career as a middle-class youngster in Atlanta—which meant that she couldn't practice on the kind of expert, varied terrain that she needed to experience in order to improve. Enter 72-year-old Ralph Boston. Boston was a three-time Olympian in the long jump back in the '60s—when country club membership required not just money but also white skin.
"When I met Mariah, there was a lady running through my mind—my mother, Eulalia," says Boston. "She'd always tell me, 'Whenever you can open a door, you do it.' So basically I had to help Mariah, because people helped me."
So he enrolled Stackhouse as his "granddaughter" at the Canongate chain of private courses. From there, Stackhouse made a name for herself, earning her own club membership and entrance into Stanford University.
Which just goes to show you: Your mom may still nag you about wearing slippers in the winter. Your mom may fill up your voice mail, worried about buying Christmas pageant tickets in the merry month of April. But when it comes to the big stuff—changing the world, giving not just when it's convenient but when it costs you—moms are the world champions.
This week, Leigh Newman opens up about the war going on in her refrigerator. On one side: her husband and the healthy, affordable ball of mozzarella. On the other side: her, the kids and a bag of processed, overpriced yet inexplicably delectable cheese sticks, which "may or may not be made of actual cheese (depending on the brand), and this last point is moot because they do not taste like cheese. They taste like dairy Styrofoam."
What, you might ask, does all this have to do with making new friends? (And by friends we do not mean the ladies in your book group or the mothers of your children's friends or your neighbors or co-workers of your spouse. We mean grown-up, intelligent, just-for-you women who might just chat with you "about books and art and really mature things like slow cookers.")
Find out where the intersection of cheap snacks and new intimates lies (including a perplexing confession of adultery)
This morning, Cary Tennis, the Salon advice columnist, shared a moving letter from a man who is losing his mother to leukemia at age 87.
"I owe my mother a lot, " the writer says. "Besides the fact that she took care of us as a single mother, she also had to help me through an accident I had when I was 10 years old, which involved a number of surgeries; she made sure we were housed and fed, and she pushed us to get educations. ... My problem is that I have such a hard time visiting her. All she wants is someone to sit with her, but that is hard for me. I take my son with me sometimes, and it is wonderful to see her face light up. She doesn't say much, but we just sit for a while and then leave. I wish I could go there and spend more time, but it is really hard to do that. It literally drains me of all of my energy. I'm not complaining about her. She makes no demands. I'm not the dying person. I feel I should want to go see her as much as possible now."
While Tennis responds in a loving, thoughtful manner to the writer's confusions, what struck us most was the mother—and the idea that to sit and be with somebody sick is enough. So often we visitors worry about flowers (is pollen allowed?); we worry about bringing balloons or tabloid magazines; we worry about whether to sit on the bed (too close?) or sit on the chair (too far); we worry we're talking about silly, selfish things (our broken dishwasher, our jerky ex) when these sick people are struggling for their lives. However, instead of doing all this worrying, which may just lead you not to show up in the hospital room at all, or to panic and act in the least way you'd like to act, you can just sit and be there. Being there is enough.
Read more: Ways to help an ailing friend or parent