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July 2012 (97 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.
Why it's Okay To Put Yourself First
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
More Food Art We Love
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
I'm all for cheap happiness. I'll take it in whatever form it comes: gummy hamburgers, drugstore vanilla candles, 50 cent handfuls of food for the geese at the local zoo. Free happiness however is even better and harder to find. Except when it comes to animal photographs. The world is awash in fuzzy-wuzzy, big-eyed, potbellied, snuggly-duggly snapshots of kittens and pigs these days and...I'm in favor of it. My favorite part about this whole fad is that, unlike in some many other cases, animal photographers don't have to be original. Nobody needs a a cutting-edge shot of a mommy dog and her puppies or an avant-garde depiction of a two dolphins kissing. Fireworks, boob jobs, a raw-meat dress adds nothing to baby monkey dreaming on a pillow. And yet...this does not mean that a total lack of originality can't result in surprise, as I found on this slideshow of The World's Happiest Animals on Inspire First. He looked so human to me, this mysterious yet content creature, who as I later found out had never worked in his life and spends 15 to 18 hours a day sleeping Because, after all, he's also one of The World's Wisest Animals too—a sloth.
17 Ways to love your life this summer
What really makes people happy
I'm a sucker for a niche obsession. Mine have included: dog hair brushes, chicken marinades, tasteful bean bags, not-too-thick but not-too-thin milkshakes, and French songs for small children. I plunge myself into these interests with great attention and vigor—only to collapse later, having acquired some understanding of the subject, but not enough to make a life work's out of it.
Which is why I found Evan Leeson's photographs so inspirational. There he was on photography blogger with 19 dazzling photos of......wet grass. An obscure love, sure, but who doesn't love wet grass? It's the sweet, quiet younger brother of the ever popular, relentlessly successful "freshly mowed." Further, Leeson didn't just take evocative pictures of it, ones that bring back those barefoot runs through the neighborhood, post-thunderstorm, he also managed to take the pictures so that one drop of water on a blade captures larger surrounding landscapes, including barns, flowers, and an entire law. In short, he shows us how the great big world might look like, from the grass's perspective. Now that's an understand that veers into empathy, folks—the first sign that a niche obsession has turned into a niche work of art.
4 Reasons You're Not Writing the Book You're Meant to Write
The Unexpected Art of the Latte
Killer Goldfish Inspires Mass Creativity
Each week, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors of O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. This Monday, we're busy poring over:
Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor
By Hali Felt
At age 28, geologist Marie Tharpe began work at Columbia University as an assistant (read: glorified secretary). By the end of her tenure there in 1982, she and her colleague Bruce Heezen had mapped the ocean floor using sonar readings and, in the process, identified "the world-girdling rift valley" that laid the foundation for proving the theory of plate tectonics. Part race-to-the-finish tale of 20th-century scientific discovery and part unconventional romance of Tharpe and Heezen, Soundings makes the overlooked story of a scientist and her work crackle with energy, as well as tackles some frustrating questions. Heezen was given credit for his discoveries, while Tharpe was often completely ignored due to her gender. The author, Hali Felt, seems to take some solace in believing that Tharpe found satisfaction in the work and may (heavy, heavy emphasis on that "may") not have needed the recognition of others. Regardless, it's a real tragedy that Tharpe died before reading this literary tribute. Felt is a playful, wildly thoughtful writer, who can extrapolate meanings about our view of the past from outdated scientific terms like "uniformitarianism" and "catastrophism," and she addresses "the ins and outs of alarm clocks, washrags and frying eggs; light tables, ink pens and smooth sheets of white paper; erasers, fathoms and final drafts; lunch and more work and breathing and cooking dinner and waiting until the last minute before darkness to turn on the electric lights" that illuminate the text with the kind of evocative details that make the story of a real life so real.
9 mysteries every thinking woman should read
Watch Oprah and Cheryl Strayed on "Super Soul Sunday"
What? You didn't know that today is National Cheesecake Day? In honor of this underrated, under-publicized holiday, we've come up with a few fresh way to celebrate:
The spinach alternative: Boston or Bibb lettuce
Soft and silky, butterhead lettuce leaves have a tender texture similar to baby spinach. And if you’re a fan of the former’s mild, rather sweet flavor, you’ll love find a comparable taste in the the—yes—buttery leaves of of Boston or Bibb. With their light green, loosely clustered cupped leaves, every bite yields a dose of Vitamins A and K, as well as potassium, and work equally well in salads or as cups for holding tuna or chicken salad. Just handle it lightly and eat it quickly (the shelf life typically is shorter than spinach’s: about 3-5 days).
How to use it: Don’t add too much or these greens will literally fall flat. Use a light dressing (such as 3 parts red wine vinegar to 2 parts oil, plus dried mustard, salt, sugar and poppy seeds to taste) and mix with a few brightly flavored ingredients like sliced strawberries, candied walnuts, and feta or goat cheese to punch up but not overpower the delicate greens.