Share a Bed Without Losing Sleep

No matter how big your bed is, sharing that space with someone else can make it feel cramped.

Joy Osmanski lives in a one-room loft in downtown Los Angeles and shares a bed with her husband as well as their two toddlers. Depending on how everyone is sleeping, the California-king mattress can feel like it shapeshifts. “There are some nights when the bed feels enormous, where literally, I’m like, ‘Where are you?’” Ms. Osmanski said. “Other nights, I can’t even wedge myself in.”

Ms. Osmanski’s situation may be unique, but sharing a bed with at least one other person is common. A 2012 National Sleep Foundation poll conducted with 1,004 Americans aged 25 to 55 years old found that 63 percent of respondents slept with a partner. A 2014 FiveThirtyEight survey of 1,057 American adults with a partner reported that less than 20 percent of respondents slept separately a few times a week or more.

Wendy Troxel, a senior behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation, noted that although studies show that people sleep better alone, those same participants say that they preferred to sleep with a partner. “What this suggests to me is that the psychological benefits that we get from feeling close and protected and connected to our partner, particularly at night, trumps even those objective consequences of sharing a bed,” Ms. Troxel said.

The comforts of being close to a partner during sleep don’t have to come at the expense of getting a solid night’s rest. Here are some solutions for common crowded-bed complaints, from duvet tug-of-war matches to early-rising kid invasions.

Get the right bedding

If you and your partner sleep comfortably at different temperatures, try separate twin comforters (Wirecutter, the product review site owned by The New York Times, recommends these ones), a practice found in Scandinavian countries and other parts of Europe. Not only can this end blanket-stealing, but it can also allow each partner to choose a comforter with a different warmth level, weight and duvet-cover materials (perhaps flannel for the perpetually cold and airy percale for the sweatier partner).

Ms. Osmanski and her husband provide separate blankets for the kids. “Four different people, that’s four different sleeping temperatures,” she said. If you have a child who comes in and regularly steals the pillow, offer a small pillow that’s easier for small hands to move around.

If you and your partner don’t have the same preference for the mattress’s firmness level, you’ll need to find a solution that works for both of you. In Wirecutter’s mattress buying guide, Santhosh Thomas, the medical director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Spine Health, suggests finding the firmness that works best for the partner with any musculoskeletal issues. We have tips on finding that perfect firmness here. If that isn’t a concern, consider a firm mattress and adding a mattress topper, like these ones our testers liked, to soften one side of the bed.

And when you’re ready to buy a new mattress, choose a size that offers enough room for each person: A queen-size mattress gives each person 30 inches, while a king-size mattress provides a roomy 38 inches for two people. A foam or foam-hybrid mattress, like these models, can offer motion isolation, so you won’t ride the waves of your partner tossing and turning beside you. We found that foam mattresses limit motion transfer the best, but if you prefer spring mattresses, look for those with pocket coils, particularly between 12 and 15 gauge.

Create routines

Ms. Troxel said the ritual of going to bed with a partner can trigger social “zeitgebers,” or cues that influence circadian rhythms. “Partners can be very helpful to help enforce consistent sleep and wake routines,” she said. “It becomes a reminder to go to bed instead of staying up late playing video games or binging on Netflix.” Talking before bedtime, even if one person is a night owl and the other is an early bird, can help a couple feel in sync in their relationship.

For parents who fend off children early in the morning, setting visual reminders to define an acceptable wake-up time can provide a similar circadian cue. A toddler alarm clock like the OK to Wake Alarm Clock & Night-Light helps to signify when it’s O.K. to get out of bed. For a more subtle but still effective solution, installing smart, color-changing light bulbs like our favorite, the Philips Hue, or a baby monitor like the Arlo Baby, which our reviewers liked for its night light feature, in a child’s bedroom can indicate to an eager child when it’s O.K. to get out of bed and venture into a parent’s room.

See a sleep specialist

If you or your partner snores or regularly has trouble falling asleep, don’t suffer through the problem. You can block out some snoring with occasional earplug use or a white noise machine, (and we have recommendations for both here) but if one of you keeps the other up with noise, it may be helpful to see a sleep specialist to check for sleep apnea, a common but underdiagnosed health issue, or other sleep disorders.

Interruptions during sleep, whether in the form of medical issues or children climbing into bed, can make one partner feel the need to move to the couch or another room temporarily. If you and your partner choose to sleep apart long term, you won’t be alone. Although a lack of sleep may increase conflict, consider how the separation can affect your relationship.

“Prioritize sleep as a couple. Think of it as an investment in your relationship, because you really are a better partner as well as more productive and healthier and happier when you sleep better,” Ms. Troxel said. “If you have challenges with sleeping together, talk about it in a healthy and calm and honest way instead of what I often see is out of desperation, one member of the couple abandons the bed leaving the other partner to feel literally abandoned.”

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A version of this article appears at Wirecutter.com.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/18/smarter-living/wirecutter/how-to-share-bed-sleep-partner.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

How to Turn a Rejection Into an Advantage

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What if you had gotten that one job?

You know the one. The job you were banking on, hoping it would be the next big step in your career. The job you were so close to getting but that seemed to slip through your fingers.

We’ve all been there — I certainly have. It can feel disheartening, and it can shatter a person’s confidence. But what if we chose to look at these missed opportunities from a slightly different angle?

I raised this question on Twitter a few weeks ago. But rather than just ruminating on rejections, I asked people: What’s a rejection you got that ended up being for the best in the long run?

That shift in perspective isn’t easy to make, but it’s worth the effort. In a Smarter Living article from last month that looked at dealing with regret, particularly around missed opportunities, Jenny Taitz wrote that “researchers have found that obsessing over regrets has a negative impact on mood and sleep, can increase impulsivity, and can be a risk factor for binge eating and misusing alcohol.”

But how do we get from obsessing over a missed opportunity to finding the silver lining?

To figure it out, I called in the experts: Mollie West Duffy and Liz Fosslien, co-authors of “No Hard Feelings,” which looks at how emotions affect our work lives.

The first step to getting over a missed opportunity and instead seeing it as an advantage, Ms. West Duffy said, is to allow yourself to feel regret.

“Sitting with that emotion and processing it is really important,” she said. “Too often we just think, ‘O.K. I’ll just bury that inside.’”

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This is a feeling Ms. West Duffy knows well. Years ago she applied to business school and didn’t get into her top choice, which forced her to re-evaluate whether she even wanted to go.

“I realized that in the process of not getting what I wanted, I had this deep self-reflection about what actually motivated me and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” she said. “Looking at the roles that I would’ve had if I had gone to business school, I don’t think I would’ve been happy in them.”

Next, identify whether you’re feeling regret because something in your current situation isn’t going particularly well. If you’ve been obsessing about not getting a job you really wanted, consider if you’re only feeling that way because you didn’t get a promotion you were hoping for, or because your co-workers have been getting under your skin lately. This can help you recognize that you might be focusing on a missed opportunity not because you truly wanted it to pan out, but because things just aren’t going very well at this moment.

Perhaps most helpful is to orient your thinking around what’s going well right now, and then work backward to figure out why, Ms. Fosslien and Ms. West Duffy said.

Try this exercise the next time you’re falling into a “what if” spiral: Write down three things that went well for you recently, and note who or what caused those things to happen. This helps you look at the positive, while causing you to reflect on the past steps that got you to your current position.

Ultimately, how we frame missed opportunities is a matter of recognizing that life is full of twists and turns, and that change — or a lack of change — doesn’t always have to be considered unequivocally good or unequivocally bad. Sometimes it has shades, and those shades can change depending on your perspective.

“We operate, especially early in our careers, under so many shoulds,” Ms. Fosslien said. “And we think we need to immediately have figured out what our passion is, and that’s just ridiculous.”

“You can’t know what your passion is if you’ve only done a limited number of things,” she said. “So not getting something you’ve always wanted is an opportunity to try out something totally different.”

Now, a question to you, dear readers: What’s an opportunity you didn’t get that turned out to benefit you in the end? Tell me on Twitter @timherrera.

Have a great week!

— Tim

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Tip of the Week

This week I’ve invited the writer Alyssa Walker to give us some advice on our to-do lists.

As a freelancing mom, I wouldn’t be able to turn hundreds of weekly to-do’s into ta-da’s without triaging them. Here’s how I do it.

Every Sunday, I mind dump all of the week’s upcoming deadlines, tasks, events and personal goals into my trusty to-do list steno pad (though there’s no shortage of productivity apps if you want to stay digital). I separate calendar events from tasks and add them to my phone calendar, and for scheduling oddities I use my calendar’s reminder feature so I get a little ding for otherwise unexpected events.

Sure, easy enough. But now it’s time to triage.

First, I filter the remaining tasks into three triage buckets:

When new stuff arises, I pop it into the appropriate bucket instead of mindlessly tackling it. As the week progresses and priorities change, I shift bucket items to continually update my priorities.

I build my daily to-do lists the night before based on whatever’s in the On Fire category so that I can wake up with a rough idea of what I need to do. Combined with my calendar, I get things done and usually end up in the right place.

Mistakes and slip-ups are inevitable, of course, but by triaging your to-do lists you’ll get a clearer sense of where you need to focus your attention.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/17/smarter-living/seeing-the-bright-side-of-missed-opportunities.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

7 Successful People Dish on Their Worst Job Interviews (and What They Learned)

In retrospect, he notes, he should have just addressed it.

“It shows honesty and willingness to discuss difficult or sensitive subjects. You also shouldn’t be embarrassed about who you are, and definitely shouldn’t let it impact you professionally.” Now Mr. Naqshbandi is Chief Marketing Officer at Frank Recruitment Group, a global niche technology recruitment agency, and he washes all nightclub stamps from his hands when he gets home.

Interviews are about finding the right match

Before founding wiseHer, a technology platform providing resources to help women thrive in their careers, Kathryn Rose had her share of interviews. One of them, in 2016, was with a sales training company. Her meeting with the principal of the firm was going well right up until the end, when he said, “if you’re looking for a job with mother’s hours, this isn’t it.”

Right away, “I told him it wasn’t going to be a good fit,” she said. “Yes I am a mom. I don’t hide it, and that’s one of the things I bring to the table. I can multitask.” The fuel from that moment led her to create her own company. “I was like, forget it, I’m going to dive in and build a tech platform,” she said.

As a teen, journalist Annemarie Dooling interned with the Discovery Channel on their house and home programs. From that experience, she applied as the intern for a local interior designer. “Her office was at her house. She interviewed me barefoot, while eating a sandwich among stacks and stacks of papers sitting on her floor,” Ms. Dooling said. “She burrowed through the stacks to find my crumpled-up resume, asked me one question about design, then looked at me, sitting on a box across the living room, and said, ‘I can’t hire you with all of those tattoos. You should think about what you’ve done to your body and how unprofessional it is.’”

Ms. Dooling walked out, knowing she didn’t want to work with someone like that. In dating, this is often called “dodging a bullet.”

And as with dating, no matter what you might think, interviewing isn’t about avoiding rejection. It’s not (entirely) even about impressing the person behind the desk, who, by the way, is a human just like you, and may be just as nervous as you are. The interview is your chance to find out if this is the right fit for you. So trust yourself — if it goes badly, that might be the best thing that’s ever happened.

What goes wrong is as important as what goes right

At 25, Ms. Rose had an interview with a cable TV company in Rhode Island. She drove over from her home in Connecticut, locked her car and went in for the meeting.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/17/smarter-living/7-successful-people-dish-on-their-worst-job-interviews-and-what-they-learned.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

The Right Way to Ask, ‘Can I Pick Your Brain?’

It’s a request that experienced people of any industry have gotten at some point: “Can I buy you coffee and pick your brain?” While well-intentioned, execution is everything, and sometimes these unsolicited requests for a casual, informational interviews can come off as entitled and presumptuous. And for the receiver, it can be difficult or even unrealistic for a busy professional to coordinate bespoke consultation appointments for everyone who asks.

“Any request that requires someone to block off time on their calendar — for a call, for a coffee, to stop to chat with your team — can be, for someone who is running a packed professional schedule, a massive ask,” said Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University and author of “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.”

If you’re thinking of asking a superstar in your field out for coffee so you can learn what makes them tick — and how you can apply that knowledge to your own career path — here’s how to do it right.

Know your intentions

Dorie Clark, adjunct professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the author of “Entrepreneurial You,” said asking to pick someone’s brain has become overused to the point of thoughtlessness. Done wrong it almost certainly sends the wrong message, she said, and these requests can seem as if you’re following a generic script.

She suggests changing the language from, “Can I pick your brain?” to the more friendly, “I would like your advice.” People respond more positively to that phrasing because it conveys intention; that you’re approaching a certain person for very particular reasons.

“It’s not about checking a box. It’s about meeting someone and connecting to really build a relationship,” Ms. Clark said.

As you craft your message, immediately highlight any commonalities and unique bonds you have. Mentioning you both attended the same college is good. Mentioning you both interned at the same radio station is better.

Next, articulate why this person is distinctly qualified to give you the knowledge you seek. Make a clear, compelling case for why you’re initiating contact. Be vulnerable, and get to the heart of why you’re reaching out.

Mind your manners

Adam Grant wants to help the people who contact him. However, the organizational psychologist, Wharton professor and author of “Give and Take” receives dozens of brain-picking requests every week. It’s just not feasible to speed mentor everyone who drops him a line. (By the way, Dr. Grant has gone on the record saying these networking requests are dubious at best.)

Don’t make any appeals about how the meeting will benefit the professional you’re reaching out to, said Dr. Grant, who contributes to The Times. He also bristles when people are demanding in any way: “Instead of expressing some sense of entitlement to my time face-to-face, say, ‘Hey, would you be open to either a phone call or an email dialogue?’ Give me the option to choose how I want to communicate.”

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Dr. Grant recalled how a group of students all wanted to ask for his advice. They came together as a group and invited him to a short Q. and A. session over Google Hangouts. Instead of fielding 20 or more individual emails, Dr. Grant carved out time to address all the students’ questions at once.

“That to me, is the best example of how to use somebody’s time well,” he said.

Adjust your expectations

People who receive a high volume of these types of networking requests usually have a screening process in place. Expect light homework, deferrals, referrals or delays in response to a cold email asking to pick their brain.

For Ms. Clark, homework assignments are useful for evaluating a seeker’s fortitude. If a person is willing to jump through a few hoops, she reasons, they are more likely to be the kind of person who could benefit from a conversation with her.

Sometimes the homework she gives is as simple as clarifying what the seeker is actually looking for.

“Oftentimes you’ll hear, ‘Hi, can I pick your brain? And can we talk about careers for 30 minutes?’” Ms. Clark said. “It’s often helpful to just ask, ‘O.K., by careers, what do you mean exactly?’ That forces them to focus their questions.”

Other times, she’ll pass along relevant articles and invite the person to chat if they have any follow-up questions. This helps ensure that the following conversation isn’t superficial.

As far as referrals go, Dr. Grant appreciates when people give him an out by saying something like, “If you’re too busy, is there somebody else you could recommend?” He can still be helpful even if he doesn’t have the time to meet up or take a call.

Ace the meeting

Jolie Kerr, advice columnist and host of the Ask a Clean Person podcast, suggests you treat the meetup as if it were a job interview. Showing up with a prepared list of targeted, thoughtful questions is “a really good way to not waste someone’s time and make sure you get everything that you need,” she said.

Ms. Clark suggests brushing up on a person’s output before you meet.

“If they have given speeches that are online, they have written books, you should, as a gesture of respect to that person, have familiarized yourself with that content prior to speaking with them,” she said.

It’s also crucial to be aware of how long the meeting runs. Thirty to 60 minutes should be appropriate, give or take. Wear a watch if possible so you don’t have to check your phone for the time. Ms. Clark suggests alerting the expert if the meeting is in danger of running over the agreed upon time limit as a courtesy.

As far was what to talk about once you’re in the same room, Mr. Newport recommends asking questions that invite deeper insight into a person’s background.

“If you want to learn from someone who has accomplished something that you want to replicate, don’t ask for their advice, ask instead for their story,” he said. “Try to isolate what it was they did that made the difference.”

Experts agree you should offer to pay for drinks or a meal. Take notes if appropriate, put your phone down (or stash it out of sight) and focus on the discussion at hand.

Stick the landing

At the conclusion of the meeting, thank the person for taking the time to get together.

“Sending them an email the next day just saying, ‘I really appreciate your time’ goes a really long way,” Ms. Kerr said. “I’m shocked at how often people don’t say ‘thank you’ for things like that.”

If the expert asks you to keep them updated with your progress, do it! Continue the dialogue. If he or she suggests a book, podcast or movie, update them on how the content helped you expand your understanding of a given subject. Take any relevant advice offered and let the expert know how implementing the advice panned out.

Being humble, appreciative and accommodating will make it more likely that the expert will keep making time to meet with others in your position. And when you reach heights in your career and find yourself in the position of being an authority, you’ll be better prepared to assist the next generation.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/17/smarter-living/the-right-way-to-ask-can-i-pick-your-brain.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Talking to Children About Terminal Illness

“The question they ask is, are you going to die?” she said. “You yourself don’t know the answer.” With the new papers, she said, comes a charge to doctors and other health care professionals to help parents frame the answer to that difficult question, and not to delegate it to others. “There’s no easy way but I think it’s really important we do it and important that professionals navigate those really difficult waters, and hold our hand through the journey.”

The guidelines take into account the ways that children’s understanding of death and dying changes as they grow, and give advice for how to shape these conversations. With very young children, Dr. Stein said, discussion early on might emphasize the seriousness of the condition and the importance of treatment, but not necessarily the issue of death, unless they ask.

Children around 5 to 7 often feel very responsible when bad things happen, Dr. Stein said. One 7-year-old boy whose mother died became convinced that it was his fault because she had missed a clinic visit one day when he had a bad tantrum. “He felt he had caused his mother’s death, because she hadn’t gone to the clinic and gotten the information she needed,” Dr. Stein said.

When the children are the patients, they also worry that these conversations will be too painful for their parents, said Dr. Emily Harrop, a consultant in pediatric palliative care at Oxford who is a co-author on the articles. “I have seen in practice children becoming quite anxious and distressed, feeling a protectiveness of their parents, not wanting to open the conversation, perhaps not even feeling they have permission to die.”

She recalled caring for a 4-year-old girl with a brain tumor whose mother believed that her daughter did not know she was going to die. When the mother was out of the room, the child asked the doctor, “How will I get through the ceiling when I go up to heaven?”

In her experience, Dr. Harrop said, “Children who’ve had good information sharing are much calmer, less anxious.” That requires having the conversations well and carefully, and keeping them free of jargon. “I would always start the conversation by having the child say to me what they understand, so I understand how they have received information,” she said.

Dr. Kelly described her own medical team as “exemplary” in how they broke the news to her, but at the moment of diagnosis their focus was entirely on her, while she was more anguished about her children. “It would help tremendously if these conversations start with health care providers,” she said.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/18/well/family/talking-to-children-about-terminal-illness.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Max Mara’s Creative Director on His Punk Past and Nancy Pelosi’s Coat

“I never thought I was anyone that Max Mara would be interested in,” says Ian Griffiths, the Italian house’s creative director, who has been with the company for 32 years. The thoroughly English, Derbyshire-bred ex-punk rocker won a student competition to work there in 1987 and has remained ever since. Over the course of his tenure as head designer, the 57-year-old has quietly and consistently created subtle, enduring classics: the perfect crisp white shirt, the reliably flattering cigarette trouser and the famously cozy Teddy Bear coat.

Even before he was a fashion student at Manchester Polytechnic in the 1980s, Griffiths was inspired by his hero David Bowie and experimented wildly with his own image, creating avant-garde outfits that he’d wear to the legendary music venue (and New Order haunt) in town, the Haçienda. “That side of me is still part of my psyche, even though I don’t look like that now,” says Griffiths, who has moved on to a uniform of bespoke Savile Row suits. He began his career at Max Mara, based in Reggio Emilia, as a junior designer under the French stylist Anne-Marie Beretta, who helped define the look of working women in the ’80s with her iconic double-breasted 101801 camel coat; she remains one of his greatest influences. Beretta created clothes that “gave women the chance to break into the corridors of power,” says Griffiths, who lives in Milan and London. “I still design for that woman, but as she would be today.”

“This is me at the Collezione Maramotti, the private contemporary art collection created by Max Mara founder Achille Maramotti. When I started, this building was the company’s headquarters, and Achille would hang his new acquisitions in the public spaces. I think his intention was to broaden his employees’ minds. I saw this Richmond Burton painting (‘Thought Plane Assembly 1,’ 1990-91) every day for years, and it’s part of my life.”

Left: “I collect all sorts of things, including bespoke suits. But now my husband, Mark, has banned me from buying any more stuff, so I have to focus on small things that I can easily sneak into the house, like pocket squares. Every morning, I post a new combination of suit and pocket square on Instagram. This is a cashmere suit with a vintage silk square I found at a shop on Camden Passage in London, near our house in Islington.”

Right: “I have a board next to my desk with images of my muses — mostly pioneering women, some men — and have always been fascinated by Marilyn Monroe. I imagine that she would have been a punk if she had lived at the right time. I have somehow conflated her with Siouxsie Sioux and invented an imaginary muse, Siouxsie Monroe.”

Left: “Claudio Parmiggiani’s ‘Natura Morta con Testa Nera’ (1974), at the Collezione Maramotti, for me embodies the relevance of classical mythology in contemporary life. I particularly love Pat Barker’s, Madeline Miller’s and Margaret Atwood’s feminist retellings of classic stories and myths. One day, when I’m no longer a fashion designer, I would like to write the story of the sea goddess Amphitrite.”

Right: “The Neues Museum in Berlin, restored by David Chipperfield in 2009, is my favorite building at the moment. I studied architecture for a year at university, and that instinct has really stayed with me. When I’m designing a coat, I think like an architect would.”

“At the Max Mara archive, we preserve everything. The building is a former stocking factory that now contains around 300,000 garments dating back to the brand’s founding in 1951, as well as over 8,000 historical reference garments, arranged across three floors (the total area is close to an acre). Everything I’ve ever done is in there, including a black kimono-sleeved skirt suit — the look that first got me in the door.”

Left: “‘Bella figura’ is an Italian expression that means looking and acting your best. It applies to every aspect of Italian culture — art, fashion, cars and, of course, food. My favorite restaurant in the world is Da Giacomo in Milan. I come here with my team and my husband to celebrate after every show, and I always have the antipasto crudo di mare.”

Right: “Here I am in Manchester in 1981. The photo was taken by a friend — we’d just dressed to go to a club called Legend. We would spend all afternoon getting ready. I’d make myself an outfit from a pair of old curtains in 45 minutes, but my makeup would take three hours.”

Left and center: “These are hollyhocks and verbena (left) and poppies (center) from the garden at our Suffolk cottage, where we try to spend two weekends each month. This is the first time I’ve had a garden, and it’s an enormous source of pleasure for me. The area — once home to Anglo-Saxon kings — is quite romantic and also has marshes, woods and heathland. You can walk for seven miles to the sea through a completely natural landscape.”

Right: “Our cottage is not sophisticated — it’s ramshackle — and I love to fill it with things that could be considered slightly kitsch, like these English Toby jugs, which I only collect in shades of camel, ecru and black. Even when I’m buying kitschy jugs, I’m buying them in Max Mara colors!”

Left: “At last count, there were 70 chairs in our London home. A pair of Eileen Gray’s Transat chairs are next on my list of acquisitions — when I can get my husband’s spending embargo lifted.”

Right: “This is my mum and dad’s wedding in Lancaster in 1958. She usually made her own clothes, but in this case, she bought her wedding dress from a dressmaker in Southport, near Liverpool, where she met my dad. The dress says everything about her sense of individuality and style. She didn’t choose something white and frothy like everyone else — it was a copy of a more unconventional Balenciaga design. She was my first muse and still is even now, at 82.”

Left: “This is the Glamis coat, which debuted in 2012, the year before the Teddy. We reissued it after this photo of Nancy Pelosi wearing a red version went viral last December. The world is a bit scary right now, and I think we all need something to snuggle.”

Right: “I had the great honor of being tutored by the designer Ossie Clark at Manchester Polytechnic, and this is an ink study of a Schiaparelli design from the 1930s that I made for a project at the time. In those days, we didn’t have smartphones or even photocopiers, so when you did research, you’d have to draw the thing that interested you, and in drawing it, you’d realize what it was.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/14/t-magazine/ian-griffiths-max-mara.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Did Dietary Changes Bring Us ‘F’ Words? Study Tackles Complexities of Language’s Origins

“What came first?” he asked. “The changes in the speech, or the changes in the brain?”

Ray Jackendoff, a linguist at Tufts University who was not involved in the study, said the group’s finding that the ease of saying some sounds may vary with diet “is interesting but not earthshaking.” That different cultures may have uttered certain sounds more often than others “doesn’t say much about the deep history of language.”

Other cultural and social factors, like adopting sounds from neighbors, also may have contributed to changes in language, the study’s authors said. For example, when hunter-gatherer groups and agrarian groups mixed, so did their sounds.

And others point out that labiodental sounds have even been found among hunter-gatherers with edge-to-edge bites, like some Yanomami people of South America, who live mostly as isolated hunter-gatherers, fishers and horticulturists.

Other linguists also point out that the study rests on untested assumptions, like just how much these small bite changes might influence sounds, the types of errors they could produce, the age at which hunter-gathers’ teeth wear down, and the notion that agriculture is a useful proxy for diet. The role of cognitive factors, including neural control of speech organs, also goes unaddressed.

The authors respond that they are not minimizing the roles played by culture, society or cognition in the development of language. But they say that physical differences between people deserve as much attention in the study of human language development as they do in research into the communication systems of animals.

Some linguists worry that if not handled with extreme care, subsequent studies of the physical or biological differences of language could invigorate ethnocentric beliefs that have plagued linguistics in the past, especially if research is publicly interpreted as making value judgments of different groups’ languages.

“The risk here is a bias to focus on positive benefits or what is gained by individuals in agrarian societies, rather than also considering whatever benefits individuals in hunter-gatherer societies might have,” said Adam Albright, a linguist at M.I.T.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/14/science/language-origins-agriculture.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

A Dating Show Made for the Age of Apps

Watching the Netflix show “Dating Around” is like sitting next to a Tinder date at a bar: The possibility that something outrageous, sexy or at least interesting will happen holds your attention long after it has become clear that the people you’re spying on are just as boring as you are. The series is part of a naturalistic downshift in reality TV; it features neither overt competition nor narrative arc. It simply follows a person going on five blind dates over the course of a week, and then choosing one person to go out with again. The five dates must know they’re being judged against one another, but the show avoids acknowledging this, and the dater’s deliberations are never shown. To the extent that anyone on the show is looking for love, they’re doing so casually, nonaggressively, realistically. They’re merely game — not playing one.

First dates are inherently dramatic, even when they’re dull. The atmospheric nerves — choosing an outfit, worrying you’ve said something dumb — easily create enough tension to carry a 30-minute television show. What’s most revealing about “Dating Around,” though, is the way it’s structured. The lead dater wears the same outfit and eats five different meals at the same restaurant. This allows the five dates to be edited into one four-dimensional hyperdate. Rather than showing each date in succession, episodes are organized into three segments — drinks, followed by dinner, then “after hours,” during which daters may respectfully part ways or head onward to a bar — with all the dates interwoven so they all appear to have happened in a single evening. It’s as if Ashley has body-swapped with Kate on her bathroom break, over and over and over again. All dating shows are contrived, but the contrivances on “Dating Around” are not preposterous, designed to shock or entertain — in fact, they’re depressingly familiar.

A minute-long sequence in the first episode epitomizes the show’s attitude toward romance. After dinner at a Thai restaurant in Brooklyn, Luke, a motorcycle-riding real estate agent, asks Victoria, the clear front-runner among his five options, if she wants to get out of there. The scene cuts to B-roll footage of the New York City streets, and then emerging from the restaurant are our couple — Luke and now Betty, a divorced 30-year-old wearing a very short dress. Betty points at the sky as though it’s a dish she just whipped up with whatever she had in the fridge. “Look at that,” she says. Luke stops and complies. “Oh, wow,” he says, the opposite of awe-struck, his pose a lazy Vanna White, forearm raised to present to her what she’s already presented to him. “Full moon. Yeah.” He moves back to where she’s standing so they may look up at it together. “That’s beautiful,” he says. “So beautiful,” she agrees.

Cut to a shot of the moon, looking like the moon. Now we hear Luke’s voice, slightly more upbeat — “This is a nice night!” — as a squeakier woman’s voice asks, “Do you see the full moon?” This voice belongs to Tiffany, a third option. They’re standing in front of the same Thai restaurant. Soon they’re making out — her initiative — and as they walk away from the restaurant holding hands, Luke expresses gratitude for the full moon. Cut back to Luke and Betty, who is calling for a “sexy dance” on the same stretch of sidewalk where he was just — or would soon be? — necking with another girl.

The trick of the editing is not to highlight differences among the daters but to suggest that on some level they’re interchangeable. No script is necessary because they rarely deviate from how things are supposed to go. Tepid small talk about drink selection — “What is this?” “Like, a margarita” — moves on to “Where are you from?” followed by a pause for menu consideration, then onto job talk and canned flattery like “How are you single?” The blind dates eventually converge on what feel like serious topics, though the same ones come up almost every night of the week: past relationships, kids, priorities. “I just want love,” Betty says. “Connection, chemistry, love.” A minute later, Tiffany explains the importance of the “three C’s”: “compatibility, chemistry and connection.”

The vocabulary — abstract nouns that fail to conjure the grand concepts they’re supposed to — recalls nothing so much as dating-app marketing, while the show’s carousel-like form reproduces the experience of using Tinder and the rest. Not only do the daters skew toward the kinds of people you commonly see on the apps — youngish, professional, fluent with an iPhone — but they’re also eager to filter their options with getting-to-know-you questionnaire material, the sort of information that you want to find out at some point but that wouldn’t necessarily come up were you to meet by chance, say, at a friend’s party.

The impulse to control or strategize romance isn’t new — red flags and deal-breakers, and the analysis they inspire, abound in 1990s romantic comedies, and courtship rituals predate humanity entirely. What seems uniquely contemporary about “Dating Around” is the rote, bored way people enact these norms, as if they have no choice — or rather because they have so much of it. Regard the moon: It’s in a lot of poems. Its repeat cameo here is a way to signify romance, even where no romance was present; whether its appearance was noticed naturally by the daters or pointed out by the producers, it functions as a symbol of a symbol, inspiring the young not-lovers to go through the motions.

The importance of compatibility reinforces the sense that love can be found through a formula or a checklist; the idea is as seductive as anyone on this show. When, during an “after hours” conversation, one contestant uses the word “swipe” to refer to dating itself, without having to explain the word’s provenance, she reveals that dating has become so process-oriented that it’s practically indistinguishable from the mechanisms that were meant to streamline it. Though dating apps may improve many aspects of modern romance — by making people safer and more accessible — their guardrails also seem to limit the possibilities for it. The stakeslessness of “Dating Around” might be a refreshing lack of pressure, but it might also reflect the disturbing effects of the same phenomenon in real life.

Despite what tech companies would have us believe, people cannot be optimized for one another; an overwhelming abundance of options discourages the leaps of faith that can transform the terrible uncertainty of dating into something great. Nothing is especially wrong with this arrangement, but is anything right? The second episode, featuring a divorced 36-year-old woman, ends with a shot of her walking in SoHo, arms laden with shopping bags, fine with it all, catching the eyes of strangers who pass: She hasn’t called any of her dates back, but maybe one of the next five will work out. Like keeping up with a decent TV show, it’s at least something to do.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/14/magazine/a-dating-show-made-for-the-age-of-apps.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Until Honeymoon We Do Part

Irene O’Brien and Mel Maclaine had the time of their lives on their honeymoon.

But during their 2016 trip, the Dublin-based couple didn’t share the same bed, they didn’t eat a meal together nor did they officially consummate their marriage during their honeymoon. That’s because Ms. O’Brien, 37, a stylist and writer, and Mr. Maclaine, 40, a golf and corporate photographer, took separate honeymoons, otherwise known as solomoons or unimoons. After their wedding, Ms. O’Brien celebrated in Canada, while Mr. Maclaine and his friends flew to France.

“Neither of us wanted to be where the other one was,” Ms. O’Brien said. “We each came back to Dublin full of stories, buzzing of our trips and truly delighted to see each other again to share the memories: It was the perfect imperfect honeymoon.”

Whether newlyweds are unwilling to compromise on a vacation, or because work is taking a precedence over romance, it appears some honeymooners are forging their own path post-wedding. Separately.

“Frankly, the idea of separate honeymoons may signal the continued evolution of marriage,” said Jessica Carbino, an online dating expert based in Los Angeles who is also a sociologist for the dating app Bumble. “Given the recognition that for most couples today, marriage and partnership is considered all-consuming, with the partner needing to fulfill every role — physical, spiritual, emotional and sexual — perhaps separate vacations is a recognition among some couples that all expectations cannot be met by a single person.”

Ms. O’Brien said that she and her husband briefly contemplated honeymooning together, but Mr. Maclaine wanted to spend his time watching Northern Ireland play soccer in the European Championship. Ms. O’Brien had never attended a Northern Ireland game, and realized that she wouldn’t be the ultimate companion for him on this trip. So off to France he went for his honeymoon. And for her honeymoon, Ms. O’Brien visited a friend in Toronto. The two of them did some sightseeing, including at Niagara Falls.

“I had been dying to go over and visit her in her new life for ages, but with the wedding approaching, the months had flown by and there had been no opportunity,” Ms. O’Brien said. The honeymoon gave her that opportunity.

But is it a chance that should be seized?

Helen Fisher, a senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, which conducts research on relationships, said she thinks that taking separate honeymoons — for any reason — is a big mistake.

When couples take vacations together, she said, they can trigger all three brain systems: romantic love (which stimulates your dopamine system), feelings of deep attachment (orgasm boosts your oxytocin levels which are linked with attachment) and sex drive.

Even if you have been living with your partner for a decade, a wedding is one of the biggest transitions in your life.

“Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I think it should be marked,” Ms. Fisher said. “You are at a new stage in your life when you marry, and you are missing out on triggering the three most valuable brain systems for a lasting relationship.”

Sometimes, however, work gets in the way.

After their wedding in December 2011, William Powers, 48, and his wife, Melissa Crane Powers, a 41-year-old international development consultant, took separate honeymoons that they tacked onto post-wedding work trips. He went to Paris and she to the Dominican Republic.

Mr. Powers, an author and senior fellow with the World Policy Institute, walked past the Eiffel Tower sans his new bride, and when he phoned her, feeling romantic, she was busy in a meeting.

“It’s a very individualistic, modern practice of efficiency over everything else,” Mr. Powers said. “I think that it’s tied with workaholism and being on the work-and-spend treadmill when you can’t even coordinate one of the most important times of your life together.”

Mr. Powers came to this realization post-honeymoon, and decided to slow down his life, penning the book “New Slow City” (New World Library, 2014). The couple moved from New York City to Bolivia, where they currently live.

Work also interrupted Ann Abel’s South East Asia 2008 honeymoon, which ended up being half-traditional-honeymoon, half unimoon.

Ms. Abel, who lives in Lisbon now but was based in New York, had just been laid off from her job at a travel magazine, so she had plenty of free time for a honeymoon. But her ex-husband’s vacation time was limited. So she spent half of her honeymoon with him, and half without.

“We had been together for eight years before getting married, so we didn’t need to be in bed all day,” said Ms. Abel, who is now a freelance travel writer.

Some couples prefer this unimoon-honeymoon combo.

Pawel Frackiewicz, 33, an environmental engineer from Hamburg, Germany, got married in April 2017, and then took a yearlong honeymoon with his husband, Carlos Gonzalez Vega, who works in aviation. But their honeymoon included a three-month break from each other in the middle.

“We did it because we like to travel alone, we thought we would be fed up with each other after three months together in India, which by the way, was not the case, and I wanted to do volunteer work and Carlos didn’t want to spend so much time in one place.”

While many may be quick to judge those who decide to take unimoons, it might not necessarily be a bad thing, said Lisa Marie Bobby, a psychologist and the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching in Denver.

One indication of a healthy relationship is individualization: a strong sense of self, self-confidence and the knowledge of your needs and values. It’s also the comfort in being in a close relationship with someone who is different than you, Ms. Bobby said.

“While taking separate honeymoons may seem extreme, highly individuated couples may view their independence and separate experiences as a strength of their relationship,” Ms. Bobby said. “Having your own life is, after all, a wonderful way to be an interesting, vibrant and genuinely satisfied person. All of which are qualities that will sustain a long-term relationship.”

With or without the traditional honeymoon.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/13/fashion/weddings/until-honeymoon-we-do-part.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

First Stop: Second Avenue – The New York Times

Last fall, Carmina Albaladejo Ochogavia came to New York to work in her family’s growing business, Carmina Shoemaker. She represents the sixth generation of cobblers in the family, which is from Majorca, Spain. The business was named for her grandmother, and so was she.

After graduating from Kingston University London last spring, Ms. Albaladejo, an only child, worked at the company’s factory and headquarters on Majorca. Then, with her father, she headed to New York for a week of apartment hunting before starting work at the family’s new store, just north of Grand Central Terminal. Their mission was to find her a home — preferably a spacious one-bedroom where visiting relatives could stay — for $2,400 a month or less.

They found a few listings and visited some crowded open houses. One agent suggested that Ms. Albaladejo hunt downtown, figuring her social life would be there. But the inventory was disappointing.

“In the East Village and West Village, maybe the streets were cute, but the apartments were super-small,” said Ms. Albaladejo, 22. “I thought that in such a city there would be a lot of supply. And there was, actually, but they weren’t right.”

One agent she contacted was Zain Chamoun, a licensed salesman at Citi Habitats. “He sent me a huge message asking what I was looking for and how he could help me,” she said. “I was coming here alone. I wanted to feel I was in the right place.”

Mr. Chamoun told her she would find better values elsewhere in Manhattan. “Everyone wants to live downtown,” he said. “Those apartments are smaller, and they demand top dollar.”

He lined up places ready for immediate occupancy. The first was in a 1930 midrise rental building in Murray Hill. Two large one-bedrooms were available, one on the top floor for $2,695 and another, on a lower floor, for $2,595. Each had a little foyer, a small but windowed bathroom and a kitchen in a nook off the living room.

Mr. Chamoun thought the building would be a good match. “But for Carmina to feel comfortable, she needed to see for herself what the market had to offer,” he said. Besides, Ms. Albaladejo wanted a backup plan.

As she learned the Manhattan grid, she also realized that Midtown East was better for her than downtown because she preferred to be within walking distance of the store. “During the week I work a lot,” she said. “I want to come home and rest instead of going out on weekdays.”

In another Murray Hill building, built in 1963, she learned what a large and sunny alcove studio was like.

“There was no clear definition of space,” Mr. Chamoun said. “She wanted a bedroom and a living room — two separate spaces.” This one was $2,825. By now, her budget had climbed into the high $2,000s.

In a 1963 building on East 36th Street, Ms. Albaladejo learned what a large and sunny alcove studio was like. “There was no clear definition of space,” said Zain Chamoun, her broker. “She wanted a bedroom and a living room — two separate spaces.”CreditKatherine Marks for The New York Times

“It was a pretty building, more modern,” she said. “But I didn’t feel I would have my privacy when I had visitors.”

They took a detour to the 10-building Manhattan East complex on East 66th Street, but Ms. Albaladejo wasn’t keen on the area. “I needed something more lively,” she said. “The neighborhood was too calm.”

It was also a 25-minute walk to work, and now that she knew she liked Murray Hill, it felt unnecessarily far.

The clear choice was the first Murray Hill building, which she had liked from the start. Now, a few days later, the higher-floor unit was rented, but she was happy to go with the lower floor, where the bedroom looked up Second Avenue and the living room looked west toward the Empire State Building.

Mr. Chamoun warned Ms. Albaladejo that because she was a foreigner with no credit history in the United States, any landlord would likely require a great deal of rent in advance.

“Carmina wanted to present a bank statement from Spain,” Mr. Chamoun said. “I had to explain that landlords in New York will not even look at bank statements from Spain.” A large upfront outlay “was pretty much the only way these apartments would be willing to consider her,” he said.

Ms. Albaladejo visited the 10-building Manhattan East complex on East 66th Street, but wasn’t keen on the area. “I needed something more lively,” she said.CreditKatherine Marks for The New York Times

The family offered a year’s rent, but the building preferred six months of rent and six months of security deposit. They rushed to assemble her application.

“I wasn’t aware of the amount of paperwork, because I thought if I had the money, that was it,” Ms. Albaladejo said. “But no — it was problem after problem. I needed a bank account, but to open a bank account I needed something else.”

Finally, she was able to sign a lease. The broker’s fee was 15 percent of the annual rent, or almost $4,700.

A day before her father returned to Spain, the two went to Ikea to buy furniture, including a sleeper sofa for her to use overnight when guests take the bedroom.

She especially likes having a doorman. “The fact that someone wishes me a good day whenever I go out the door — that makes my day,” Ms. Albaladejo said. “The apartment is not the newest place ever, but it is well maintained. Everything is clean.”

She is learning to navigate the Midtown crowds and adjusting to the sirens that wail down Second Avenue. At first they woke her up, but no longer. “It gives me a feeling of life around me, and something happening, even though I am in an apartment living alone,” she said.

From her living room, she gazes at the Empire State Building, with its crown of ever-changing colored lights.

“The view is what got me,” she said. “I follow it on Instagram. Even if I had the worst day ever, sitting on my sofa, it makes me feel at home.”

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[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/14/realestate/first-stop-second-avenue.html?partner=rss&emc=rss