Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Come on Irene!

Sorry for the title. I refrained from using that phrase all weekend but now, I had to let it out!  As all those of you who don't live in a hole in the ground know, the east coast was hit with a nasty hurricane this past weekend.  New York City was a projected Irene target so the city went through drastic measures to prepare.  

Our hospital was evacuated (first time ever!) on Friday because it was in a projected flood zone, and of course, I worked.  It was a war zone! I was amazed to see nurses, social workers, case managers, doctors and nursing leadership working together so well to evacuate over 200 patients in 36 hours (this doesn't even include discharges to home!)  I was proud to work at a place with such cooperation and care for its patients.  I went to the grocery store after work on Friday for some rations and thought the apocalypse was about to hit.  Fairway (on 74th and Broadway) was packed and they were sold out of essentials such as bananas and loafs of bread!  I'm surprised I got out of there without getting into a physical altercation due to stress level.  Last, the subway system shut down at noon on Saturday (although storm wasn't supposed to hit us until the evening and actually came the next AM instead.) We were stuck in Washington Heights so we hunkered down for the storm.

Scott and I stayed indoors from Saturday AM to Sunday afternoon.  Hurricane Irene largely missed Manhattan (though parts of Brooklyn, Long Island, Staten Island, Jersey and upstate NY are suffering greatly because of it!)  We were lucky.  Scott and I got some quality indoor time to binge eat (apparently I am not good a rationing) and enjoy each others company.  Here are some pics of the weekend.

Battle station! Scrabble, Internet, ginger snaps and white grape juice.  We're set!

Me and our one flashlight.  Apparently we were set if electricity went out because our building has solar panels. We were incredibly prepared nonetheless.

I think I watched more hours of TV over the weekend than I had in years.  We were addicted and sick of Hurricane Irene news at the same time.

I lied. We went outside once on Saturday night.  Scott braved the rain but wasn't particularly impressed.

Irene brownies. Bad idea. They were mostly gone by Sunday.

Had to capture this scrabble board because I won! (I never beat Scott at anything.)  However, apparently "Ya" isn't a word so this win may be up for debate. Scott did allow the he may be to blame for his loss.

Sunday-Funday-Windday!  Hard to capture the wind on camera but it was a windy day when we finally ventured out Sunday afternoon.  The cooler air was a nice change to the freakishly humid weather we've had this summer.

We survived captivity and are still smiling. Hurray!

This is how Scott said he felt after eating so much this weekend.

Puddle and falling tree branch (twig?) behind are extent of Washington Height's damage.  We can't complain!
This was an excellent test of out ability to withstand isolating weather events in the future! Let's hope we don't have to do it again for a long time!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Summer Happenings, Part I

Hey all,
While I thought it'd been longer since I last posted, I guess 2.5 months is probably a bit too long of an absence from the blog.  I've got a stock pile of pics to share with you and probably 5-10 book reviews to do.  Oops.   I have been busy adjusting to life on my new floor which I am really enjoying.  Switching from a cardiology unit to a medicine/oncology unit was a great move for me.  I love the variety and I am really enjoying the people I work with.  It is just a better fit.  And no more night shifts is really helping my mood!

Anyways, here are some things that I would like to share that have taken place this summer...

Baby fever....
Julia had a baby shower in May...
Julia (8 months pregnant), Karen (4 months pregnant), Lauren (not pregnant!)

And had a baby boy on June 18th!

Samuel Beto Vaca is as sweet as can be!
Scott took part in Boomerang Theatre Company's Much Ado About Nothing in Central Park.
Here he is as the Sexton.  He did an awesome job!!

And worked with some funny funny people.
(Edward Carnevale, Scott Witebsky, Colby Chambers, Severin Anne Mason)

Mike and Natalie even came in to surprise Scott and see his show!  What sweet kids (soon to be married in October!).

Old friend....
My friend Brad moved to the city and we have enjoyed many New York treats
including Shake Shack and 16 Handles frozen yogurt. (Yummo).  Here we are at the Cloisters.

Short trip....
Scott and I took a road trip to the Lake George area in the Adirondacks for a little R&R. Here I am driving with my eyes closed! (Ok, camera happened to catch me with my eyes closed, I swear I'm not this risky.)

Scott wastes money...I mean spends money...on a lotto ticket.  We didn't win lotto.

One of many mini-golf places in the Lake George area that are only open one day per week. Considering we were there Sunday-Monday, this did us no good.

Our Bed and Breakfast- the Cornerstone Victorian!  This is a lovely little gem in Warrensburg, NY.  The decor was a bit too old fashioned for me but it was still a lovely place to stay, friendly hosts and amazing food!
This bed and breakfast was adorable!

Its true.

I'm not especially good at taking full-room shots, but here is a beautiful Tempur-Pedic bed.  If I remembered what number I used, I'd tell you.

Ramshackle little chapel near Lake George.

We had dinner at George's, a steak place that ended up being way more expensive than we wanted it to be...and had an affinity for taxidermy.
But a good experience none-the-less.
More summer fun to come!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Rating: 4/5 stars
Oh Stieg, how will I ever survive without you?  Just finished the last installment of the Millennium series and am sad that Stieg had to die so young and without finishing his series.  (I believe there were supposed to be a total of 10 books).  How will I survive without Lisbeth, one of my favorite characters in modern literature?  Where will I find comfort reading about cheese sandwiches and endless pots of coffee?  Who else will fight for justice in Sweden if Mikael Blomkvist is no longer?

Despite my sadness, the third book in this series was great (I personally loved #1 and #3 and am the odd ball for not liking #2 as much as mentioned in previous review, has to do with my protectiveness over Lisbeth.)  It gets to the heart a corrupt sector of a federal police organization in Sweden and we learn how and why Lisbeth was been so mistreated.  But will she get justice after having been wronged?  What will happen with her and Mikael?  Mikael and Erica? (Erica leaves Millennium for a bigger press and gains a stalker in this novel.)  What about Lisbeth's brother (the giant Niedermann who can feel no pain.)?

Great literature doesn't always provide the answers.  In fact, the best books make us develop our own conclusions, and Larsson's untimely death forces this upon us as well.  The Millennium series introduced Americans (and the world) to Swedish literature, Swedish politics and a great suspense writer.  It has made its mark in literary history, and the world lost a special author when Larsson passed at the young age of 50.  Let's hope that the American movie series lives up to the books.  Lisbeth Salander, I will miss you.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Visit from the In-Laws!

Last weekend, Scott's parents, Judy and Steve, visited us from Mn!  As arts-lovers themselves, we always find ways to have fun and this time we saw two plays (both Tony nominated I should add.)

Scott, Me, Judy & Steve @ Mel's Burger Bar on W110th Street. (Great shakes!)

The first show we saw was War Horse, a huge hit of a play that started in London and involves some of the most amazing puppetry I've ever seen.  (See the Lincoln Center Theater link below.)  Another perk of seeing the show?  One of Scott's former classmates (and friend) from Temple University is in it. Austin Durant plays Chapman Carter and Manfred in the production and audience members will be stunned by his powerful voice and the fact that he's only 27 years old.  Needless to say, the show was incredible, and I would recommend it to anyone.  Excellent use of theatrical devices.

Lincoln Center Theater : Media Player

The second play we saw was much more light-hearted.  The Book of Mormon (a musical) was written by the creators of South Park (a show I don't especially like).  It was good to get away from their known characters on South Park and see how funny these writers really are!  The show does take quite the jab at Mormons, as it does at Catholics and Jews and...basically everyone.  But I think the message is good.  And the show is hilarious.  What surprised me the most is how catchy the songs are! This is definitely an album I will be buying. And good news: The show plans to tour so get your tickets soon because they WILL sell out.

The rest of the weekend was spent dining and shopping in SoHo. (Oh darn ;) ).  We visited a store that is a huge favorite of Judy's called Versani which features handcrafted, beautiful jewelry.  I was spoiled a bit and Steve, Judy and Scott all chipped in to buy me some one-of-a-kind wood embedded hoop earrings.  They are awesome.

Looking forward to spending more time with Judy and Steve when I visit Minnesota at the end of June!  It was nice to be able to share "our city" with them!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

American Psycho

Rating: 5/5 Stars
Scott has been bugging me to review this book online since I finished, but I've had such a crazy work schedule that I managed to develop a sinus infection and further put off my review writing.  But now that I have  a breather (....get it...breather?...nevermind), and the Nasonex/Astepro are starting to work, I shall share my thoughts on this controversial novel.

I mentioned after finishing Pillars of the Earth that I needed a lighter read, mainly physically, so I picked up American Psycho- paper back, 399 pages.  Yes, I had seen parts of the disturbing movie. Yes, I knew the book was about a deluded rich-boy serial killer, but even that didn't prepare me for what this book had in store.

The book, in a word, is genius (no, this does not mean I sympathize with serial killers or any other killer for that matter).  But Patrick Bateman's narration is incredible, whether it's describing a designer outfit (never forgetting even the slightest name-brand detail) or a dinner (which ALWAYS includes an appetitzer and an entree, no questions), you are sucked into his warped world of stature and luxury.  It takes a while for details of the killings to start to take place.  You, the reader, are being wined and dined, learning men's dress etiquette, and even reading a full chapter on Patrick's adoration of U2.  Interesting enough, you learn very little detail of Patrick's job on Wall Street except for the fact that he makes boat loads for doing close to nothing.

Patrick glazes over his nasty little habit (about which he does not appear to feel the least bit remorseful) until maybe halfway through the book when you finally see what a monster Patrick really is.  There are gruesome details that the average human could not even imagine until Bret Easton Ellis puts them on the page.  (Kind of makes you wonder where he came up with all of these ideas.)  There are more and more stomach churning scenes (prostitutes, dates, coworkers, etc are killed) and about 3/4 of the way through the book I started thinking enough!  Too much!  This is just blatant, over-the-top, in-your-face violence towards innocent(?) individuals, and I've read it once and I get it.  He's psycho.  But you keep reading, and you're glad you do because you further watch Patrick unravel until you're unsure the line between reality and imagination, real life and fantasy.

Patrick is one of the most amazing narrators in the history of American fiction.  Part of you likes him, even though he is so obviously a huge asshole to others.  You can almost see the faintest shimmer of goodness in him, especially in regards to his relationship with his secretary, Jean.  And then you're reminded that he tortures small animals for fun, eats human body parts (after having sex with them), and has a more grotesque imagination than I ever believed possible.

This book is not for the faint of heart.  But to search the depths of such a mentally deranged narrator's mind and to be entertained, even to laugh out loud at many passages, leaves you feeling guilty and intrigued at the same mind.  Plus, I can never turn down a book about luxury New York life in the '80s.  Steer clear of the Bolivian Marching Powder, but if you have the guts, pick up this book.  It will blow you away (if you make it through...).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 4th, 1973

On May 4th, 1973, my parents tied the knot and I'd like to take this opportunity to wish them a Happy Anniversary!!  By the way, 38 years?? You guys are old! (wink wink.)  Love you!

Alex & Karen 


Warning: Long Rambling Post

Many of you will notice that there is not a blog count on the top of this post, nor was there one on my latest book review. That's right friends. No more counting. No more racking my brain to post something everyday when my life just isn't quite that interesting. This is all part of the Lauren Needs to Put Less Pressure on Herself movement. That being said, a good thing that the 365 Blog Challenge did do is jumpstart my blogging again, which is good enough for me!

I also have other news, this news in the job front. Many of you know that I will be switching as of June 6th to an Oncology/Geriatric unit on the day shift (THANK GOD). But I thought I'd share some reasoning behind it. When Scott and I returned from our cruise, I was so relaxed and in such a good place. Going back to work, particularly three-in-row on a very heavy unit (meaning our unit at this time had very sick patients) was a nightmare. I hated being there at night. I felt like a couple patients (re:leeches?) were sucking out my soul. I knew I needed a change.

I started thinking about where I saw myself in nursing in the future, what type of environment would make me happy. I knew early on that I couldn't be a bedside nurse my entire life, but I'm not ready to go back for my masters because I don't know that I want to be an NP or CNS either. I obviously have interests other than nursing that I'd like to pursue, that seem to balance me. At the same time, I haven't given up completely on getting something out of nursing and having it sustain me for many years.

Then something happened. Scott got an abnormal lab result back from the immunologist for which we were sent to a hematologist/oncologist for a follow-up. We feared that if this result was accurate, Scott may have a form of leukemia and that thought scared the hell out of me. Here we are, newly married, very happy together, and to have my life partner taken away so early would be my worst nightmare. We visited the cancer center affiliated with my hospital, the labs were repeated and it turned out the first lab was just a fluke due to an impending infection and Scott got a clean bill of health. We were so relieved, and I started thinking, maybe this all just happened to lead me into oncology. I remember visiting my dad's outpatient chemo center a few years back and thinking at the time it may be a little mundane, but now I think outpatient chemo is a goal for me. It is challenging, you're dealing with dangerous chemicals that could result in a variety of reactions and treating patients with a variety of cancer types. I also think that while I'm not thick skinned, I do have an inner strength that may be perfectly suited to deal with the realities of cancer and to help people cope with their disease.

I'm not kidding myself. There is a possibility that oncology won't be the right fit. That's part of the reason I am on the oncology overflow/geriatric unit. The nurse recruiter and I decided if it's too emotionally intense, at least I won't be stuck on a unit where that's all there is all day every day. So he sent me to meet with the nurse manager of this onc/geri unit, and turns out she was excited to meet me because we both went to Columbia for our nursing degrees.

Did I mention that after meeting with the nurse recruiter, I got pooped on by a bird? I am taking it as some sort of sign. A days position just happened to be available on the unit so my prayers were answered! Another great part? I'll be working with my friend Jill and another Columbia grad, Stefanie on my shift. Things are looking up. Just 15 night shifts left to go (including 5 in the next 6 days, shoot me). Here's to the home stretch!