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November 2011 (130 posts)
For as long as I can remember, I studiously answered the question, “Where are you from?” with an evasive, “Oh, near Chicago.” Or: “the Chicago area,” which sounds a bit like a medical term for something impolite. Or, even more misleadingly, just, “Chicago.” Invariably this would be the person to reply, “Oh really? Where? I know it well!” Which is when I would know I was caught, and have to admit,“Oh! Yes. Ah. Well, the suburbs actually." Inevitably, I'd end up reluctantly revealing my hometown to be a boring whitey-white suburb, known for producing “North Shore Girls” with teeny-bopper speech patterns who get SUVs as sweet 16 presents. (For the record, I drove my mother's Chevy.) Hardly a proper provenance for an aspiring writer!
So I know just how Katie J.M. Baker feels, when she writes in the New York Times Townies column that she has always been embarrassed of being from the LA “Valley Girl” suburb Encino. “’Encino is not L.A.,’ they’d snicker whenever I told someone I lived in Los Angeles..In retrospect,” she writes, “this was pathetic. I was like a balding man with a comb-over, or one of those women who wear bright prints to distract from their pear-shaped bottoms. Some things are impossible to disguise.” Oh! My! God! I, like, know!
So...what's your beauty or fashion dream? Want to walk in sky-high stilettos but only wear flats? Spent your life in the sun but wish you had a porcelain complexion? Lucky for you, O is looking for candidates in the New York City tri-state area with a beauty or fashion fantasy. Whether you have the soul of Rapunzel but have never grown your hair past your shoulders or want to embrace your inner glamourpuss but don't know how to wear makeup, we'll pair you with an expert who'll give you the look of your dreams. Tell us why you want to make a change and you could be chosen to be part of an upcoming story.
If you live farther away, we still want to know--what kind of instant-makeover would you want? Tell us below.
Make me a 10 makeovers
See three amazing hair transformations
These tree nuts, which are in season now, aren't terribly popular with Americans (our per capita consumption is less than an ounce per year, compared with a pound per person per year in Europe, and 2 pounds per person in Asia). There are many reasons to try them though: They're sweet, have very little fat and are cholesterol- and gluten-free. Roast them or try them in this filling soup. If you can't find dry-packed roasted chestnuts at your local market, try Kalustyans.com.
These mini-cabbages are another seasonal food that fall on the low end of the popularity scale. If you think you don't like them, this article explains why--and gives ways to tame their astringency and bring out there inherent (really!) sweetness.
A Meal with Your Eyes Closed
Dans le Noir, a "dining experience" with locations around the world, comes to the U.S. this month, with a new restaurant in New York. Diners eat in complete darkness, guided and served by either a visually impaired or blind staff. Just how different does food taste when you can only rely on your senses of taste, touch and smell? Try it yourself this month, by eating dinner with a blindfold on. To get the full experience, have someone else prepare the meal for you, so you're totally in the dark (pardon the pun) as to what's on your plate.
The weekend is within reach...let these little splurges make getting there more fun.
Mustache Mug, $20. Whether you're the handlebar type or prefer the version made famous by Charlie Chaplin, sipping your morning coffee has never looked more hilarious.
Balloon Animal Gelatin Mold, $10. This isn't what your grandmother used to make Jell-O—the dog shape makes this classic dessert feel fresh again.
Vintage Parisian Cat Placemat, $5. Avoid spills (and staining wood floors) by placing this sophisticated placemat underneath your fabulous feline's water bowl.
Retro Ice Bag, $13. Fill these bags with hot water or ice to soothe bumps, bruises, and migraines. Plus, they're small enough to fit into your medicine cabinet when you're feeling all better.
When I was younger, unmarried and idealistic, I had—oh dear, this is embarrassing—an idea. In the future, when I was married, I was not going to shout at my husband, which would only make him upset. Instead I was going to yell a chair. My husband would watch me chewing out this chair and be able to listen and understand the point of my view, since my fury would not be directed at him. He, of course, would do the same thing to me. He would yell at a bedside table or a lamp or a toothbrush. And I would listen.
Now of course I am older and married and clomping around the house, yelling at everything except our chairs—creating a kind of dark mommy Muzak that is understandably ignored by all of us. I need no more yelling in my life and neither does my furniture—a problem which, of all people, Conan O'Brien has solved by inventing a sofa that hugs you. You sit down on the bright red seat and the arm physically moves to embrace you, while a robot voice says, among other things, "Let's hug it out." Meanwhile, the pillows massage your derriere and back.
Right now, the sofa has been set up in the Time Warner Center in New York City as part of Conan's Coco Moca Museum which features very funny but also surprisingly well executed art that pays homage to his face, but I am thinking that the genre of furniture should join the great panoply of standard furnishings that comes in every home. Imagine the real estate agent, moving from room to room of your empty new townhouse, saying "And here is your microwave. And your light fixtures. And your bathtub....and of course, your love seat that loves you."
Take a seat on the Soul Pancake's conversation couch
At last: a song that will put you right to sleep
A: I empathize; a dark stain around your hairline sounds like a fine way to ruin the joy of fresh haircolor. You definitely can avoid these stains, says colorist Sharon Dorram, co-owner of Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger in New York City. It's simple: Before you color your hair, apply a little Vaseline or baby oil around your hairline to prevent the dye from touching your skin.
Keep in mind:If your preventive efforts don't work completely, try roux haircolor stain remover ($7.50; sallybeauty.com).
The lazy woman's guide to fabulous hair
Get the perfect ponytail in 4 easy steps
Reinvent your hairstyle without a snip
A breathtaking riff on the skyscraper. (Just imagine hiking this forest!)
Keep the Halloween spirit going with the best take on the Thriller flash mob we've ever seen.
Just for funny: 1 woman, 30 different faces.
Can a haircut really change your life?
The Life-Lifter: This amazing website is like KickStarter but for medical expenses: donate to help someone get a life-saving surgery or treatment.
Every week, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors at O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. On sale tomorrow, the memoir...
by Joan Didion
Blue Nights does what memoirs can do best: illuminate a crucial portion—and not the entirety—of a human life. In this case, prose master Joan Didion focuses on her relationship with her daughter, Quintana Roo, who she adopted in the late 1960s. Quintana grew up in the rarefied world of Malibu and movie-making. Despite the advantages—the closets full of Liberty lawn dresses, the bassinet from Saks—she struggled with the discovery of her biological parents, grappling with mental issues known collectively as "borderline personality," and using alcohol as a way to cope. Her struggle to recover from brain surgery was covered in Didion's previous book The Year of Magical Thinking, a memoir that examined the extraordinary and excruciating loss that Didion suffered when her husband died and Quintana was hospitalized for many months. Blue Nights picks up a few years later after Quintana too has died. The lens of the story is less jaw-dropping in terms of fast-moving, tidal-wave events—and that is its power.
By concentrating on her daughter's life instead of her death, Didion examines her role as her a parent: what she caught, what she missed, what she caught and misinterpreted. She is relentlessly truthful, admitting for example that at Quintana's christening, "I actually believe that somewhere between frying the chicken to serve on Sara Mankiewicz's Minton dinner plates and buying the Porthault parasol to shade the beautiful baby girl...I had covered the main 'motherhood' points." As Quintana grows up, developing some charming if disturbing eccentricities, say, diagnosing herself with cancer when she really has chicken pox or calling an mental hospital to see if she can check in, Didion is not afraid to ask, "Did we demand that she be an adult? Did we ask her to assume responsibility before she had any way of doing so?" It is a courageous thing to look at how you have behaved as a mother, to question this in retrospect. What comes through, however—not despite of, but because of Didion's brutal self-examination—is the intense and singular love she had for her daughter. Yes, this is a book about aging and about loss. Mostly, though, it about what one parent and child shared—and what all parents and children share, the intimacy of what bring you closer and what splits you apart. "I know that I can no longer reach her. I know that should I try to reach her... should I lull her to sleep against my shoulder, should I sing her the song about Daddy gone to get the rabbit skin to wrap his baby bunny in—she will fade from my touch," say Didion. "Yet there is no day in her life on which I do not see her."
Fall fresh reads.
Mysteries to honor this Halloween
Correction: When this piece was first published we incorrectly stated that The Year of Magical Thinking chronicles Didion’s experience after Quinana's death. The Year of Magical Thinking includes Quintana’s illness, and Blue Nights begins after Quintana's death.