Monday, February 28, 2011

#56 Minnesota Recap Part 1

365 Blog Challenge: Post #56

I enjoyed a lovely weekend in Minnesota and returned to New York today.  Here are some highlights:

Feeding Dani (aka Toots) solid food.  Here are some carrots though she prefers sweet stuff like her Auntie Lo.

This is Dani's way of kissing we've been decided.  Really, she's teething and will latch onto anything she can get her mouth around including cheeks and noses.  It's so cute though we call them kisses.  And look at that girl's grip!  My cheek was being ripped off!

Yep. There's a bunch of Dani-spit up my nose.

Toots gets a tubby.

Randomly in town the same weekend as Jamie so she joined my family for dinner and became semi-addicted to Angry Birds.

Playing Angry Birds with Toots.  She just likes to get her fingers all over my iPad mostly.

Jamie looks like a natural!

Accidental Mickey Mouse pancake courtesy of my dad.
More highlights to come!

#55 Some thoughts on the Oscars: A list

365 Blog Challenge: Post #55

1) I loved Anne Hathaway as host.  I think she's charming, funny and beautiful.  However, I wasn't feeling it from James Franco so much.  I felt like Anne was pulling his weight.  I I think he's spreading himself too thin in his 10,000 masters programs.  A co-worker of mine said that she thinks he was just being himself and she was surprised that he was even asked to be a host considering his personality, but I say he's an actor. Ham it up!

2) Love Natalie Portman. Glad she won the Oscar. I love everything she said in her speech. She seems so down to earth.  On a side note, I hated her hair.

3) Another great speech of the night, Colin Firth.  What a charming Brit.

4) Jennifer Hudson was the most blah presenter I have ever seen.  Scott holds that she is not a good actor and the only reason that she won the Oscar a few years back is because of the "I am telling you..." solo in Dream Girls.  He says anyone who does that solo is bound to win the Oscar.  So it seems, because she's obviously not much of a performer outside of singing. AND while J. Hud looked great tonight overall and looks awesome with her weight loss, I thought her butt was going to bust through her dress. Too tight in the rear! (Can't find a good picture to show this.)

5) 14-year-old Halie Steinfeld wins my vote for my age appropriate ensemble...which isn't saying much because she was the youngest nominee this year.  But I still think she looked adorable and beautiful!

6) Thank you Penelope Cruise for not getting back to your pre-baby figure apx 4 weeks after giving birth.  She still looked gorgeous, but it's so glad to see her looking imperfect! So life-like.

7) My sister pointed out to me that Jennifer Lawrence, nominee for Winter's Bone, would look exactly like a Baywatch life guard if you only saw her from the waist up.

8) Most awkward presenter(s) award goes to Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis who seemed almost too laid back to me, like they had some kind of rapport with each other but not with the audience. (And I had no idea what JT was talking about when he said "I'm Banksy" until I saw a clip of Exit Through the Gift Shop during the documentary clips. I feel I am not alone)

9) Reese Witherspoon, 2 words- Class Act.

10) No big surprise winners of the night, am I right? At least not for the big stuff. I was hoping Jesse Eisenberg would run away with a surprise best actor win, but then we'd never hear Colin Firth's adorable speech so I suppose all is right in the world.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

#54 Unbearable Lightness

365 Blog Challenge: Post #54

Rating: 4/5 Stars
The first time I saw Portia de Rossi on Ally McBeal, I thought she was one of the most beautiful women I'd ever seen.  This made her memoir, Unbearable Lightness, all the more interesting as it gives a glimpse of the inner workings of de Rossi's formerly eating-disordered mind.  It's well known that individuals with eating disorders have an altered self-image but never have I had such an in-depth look at this phenomenon.  De Rossi, a former model, doesn't withhold anything in her book, and I was blown away at the brutality of her inner monologue.  She is forthcoming with the gruesome details of her eating disorder such as blood vessels bursting above her eyes after a purge or eating Cheetos so she can keep track of how much she has thrown up (bright orange Cheetos being a marker of mid-binge.) She also goes into detail about her obsession with exercise and her caloric limitations (at one point she was only eating 300 calories a day on a regular basis.)

Not only does de Rossi describe her life with an eating disorder in this book, she tells the story of herself as a closeted gay actor who felt she had to fit a certain mold to be successful in Hollywood.  It is a perfect example of how exterior pressure can wreak havoc on a susceptible individual and create a monster of the mind.   While Portia starved and berated herself, people such as myself were sitting at home thinking what a beautiful, talented woman she is.

The book doesn't give much detail on de Rossi's recovery, which she claims is complete.  The epilogue, which wasn't as well-written as the rest of the book, does give a brief overview of her first serious gay relationship and makes some mention of her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres.  At least this story has a happy ending.  I love Portia and Ellen as a couple.

I was sucked into this book from the start.  I read the first 200 pages in about 24 hours and would have finished earlier if I wasn't spending time with my family.  Though the book does include the occasional clumsy sentence, de Rossi has a distinct voice (It helps that I heard a podcast in which Portia reads an excerpt from her book in her own voice) and an incredible story to tell.  I am lending the book to my mom and sister who can't wait to see what I was raving about.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

#53 Once upon a time...

365 Blog Challenge: Post #53

Tonight I had dinner with my in-laws at Scott's parents' house.  Tyler, my almost three-year-old, nephew made my night.  As my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and I sat on the floor in Scott's old bedroom, Tyler sat on the bed with a guitar in his lap that is bigger than he is.  "Once upon a time," he began, "there was a girl named Cinderella..." and then filled the air with interlude music.  So maybe he's only three and doesn't know any chords or notes and can't even hold the guitar up correctly.  But it was adorable, and I felt like crying I was so happy to see Tyler in his element.   After his solo, my mother-in-law and niece, Zoe, joined him for a jam session of songs on impromptu drums (Thomas the Tank Engine book) and xylophone.  What a fun night.  Love the creativity bursting from Tyler and Zoe's cute little heads.

Grandma Judy, Tyler and Zoe

Friday, February 25, 2011

#52 MN- Good morning, good morning!

365 Blog Challenge: Post #52

Look at the cutie I woke up to this morning!

That'll put you in a good mood!  Happy Friday from Minnesota!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

#51 Hateful Things

365 Blog Challenge: Post #51

In my creative writing class, my teacher recently had us do a writing exercise by creating a list of hateful things. We were allowed to interpret this as we like. I found all the items on my list reflected the differences in class and respect between people in NYC and people in MN. This is not to say there aren't classless, rude people in MN. They're just more difficult to find. Items on my list included littering on the subway, having ridiculously loud cell phone conversations and playing music so loud that the people standing 5 feet away from you can hear it through your headphones (As a healthcare professional, I also must remind you that you're damaging your hearing beyond repair...start investing in hearing aid companies for my generation...).

This morning, while walking to the subway to go to the airport, I found another hateful thing on the sidewalk in front of a neighboring building.


Are you serious? You can't leave four blocks of cement at peace and let them dry overnight?? The part that really gets to me is that no one cares about your name or your graffiti or your "art" except you! Leaving your mark there is incredibly disrespectful and selfish! You're disrespecting every person who lives on this street who wants their neighborhood to look presentable. Maybe these are ideas are too complicated for the Washington Heights misfits, but I'm pissed.

And I kind of sound like an old woman. But I don't care. I work my butt off to pay taxes so the city can make repairs and some jerks ruin the whole thing because they're bored. Get a frickin' life.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

#50 Palace Council

365 Blog Challenge: Post #50

Rating: 3.5/5 stars
11 days.  That's how long it took me to finish this book.  That in itself is saying something.  I generally read about a book a week, averaging apx 300 pages.  And I find that I pick up speed towards the end of a book.  This book, 510 pages, seemed to drag forever!  Do you know how many Goodreads swap books have come in that time that I want to read??

That being said, I didn't completely dislike this book, written by Yale law professor, Stephen L. Carter.   I picked this book up because Scott and my father-in-law, Steve, really enjoyed it.  Scott was raving about it, and in fact, I found the story itself quite interesting.  The book revolves around the fictional African-American writer, Edward (Eddie) Wesley.  It begins in Harlem in the 1950s, and it gives an interesting account of the wealthy black people of Harlem during that time.  It follows Wesley as the woman he loves, Aurelia, marries another man, and as he discovers the body of a dead, white lawyer, which begins a series of mysterious events that involves the disappearance of Eddie's sister, Junie.  The book is filled with twists and turns once Eddie begins to realize that the death of Phil Castle, the lawyer, and the disappearance of his sister are connected and are associated with Jewel Agony, a radical civil rights group that the FBI is tracking.  The premise is even more complex than this, but it would take me far too long to go into all of it.  The book spans over two decades and includes a bit of historical fiction as certain well known persons appear, e.g. Hoover, JFK, Nixon.

Here's my problem with the book:  While the story is smart and the setting of 1950s-1970s America is an interesting historical time, I felt the writing was a bit flat.  That isn't to say that the writing is poor, but I had a hard time connecting to it.  Certain sentences stood out to me as odd, such as:
"Eddie Wesley opened his eyes from a dream of peaceful eternal darkness to the reality of hard angry whiteness."  
Maybe I need to look past the surface of such a phrase, maybe it's a racial metaphor, but I found it awkward and stiff.  I also don't read a lot of political thrillers and the main reason this one kept my attention is because Eddie is a writer during a remarkable time in American history.

There are people I do recommend this to.  A person that comes to mind is my dad who served in the Navy in Vietnam and was in Millington, Tennessee at Naval Air Station-Memphis (15 miles from Memphis) when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.  I think he'll enjoy such a play on the times, and perhaps will not take issue with Carter's writing.  All-in-all, a decent read, though I don't see myself picking up another political thriller....ever again...

#49 Meet Arela!

365 Blog Challenge: Post #49

Scott and I started out the day yesterday on a high note when we got to have lunch with our friends Peter and Jessica and their 2.5 month old, Arela (A-rell-a is the best phonetic spelling I can come up with).  Arela is a little cutie who came into the world in December, a full month early!  She likes to be on top of things.  And you can just tell her parents are ecstatic to have her around.  Congrats Jess and Peter on your little lady!

New papa, Peter, and his little pink marshmallow, Arela

Apparently Scott and I bored Arela but that's ok.  We think she liked us anyways.

Proud new parents and their cutie!
Other events of my busy day yesterday? Allergy shot appointment which turned into sinus infection appointment.  Trying to find some clothes to wear on our cruise (did you know you have to dress up on these things?)  Apparently this task was for naught because Scott tells me that none of the dresses I picked out have any shape and they all look like potato sacks.  Dinner date with my friend, Hazel, from class and then class from 7-10.  Today is shaping up to be another busy one as I'm trying to fit in a bunch of stuff before heading to MN tomorrow.  Can't wait!

Monday, February 21, 2011

#48 On losing a patient...further reflection

365 Blog Challenge: Post #48

Alright guys, this post may be a downer, but I find it extremely important, especially to my fellow health care workers out there.  As noted in post #18, I experienced my first patient death on my watch last month and it was a traumatic one.  I found this article from to be pretty accurate for how nurses feel after traumatic deaths and the right ways to cope after such an incident.

I feel that grieving is not something they can teach you in school.  I think until you have experienced a close relationship with a patient and lost him or her, you're not going to know just how bad it feels. It's not like the loss of a family member or friend, but it is still powerful.   I remember standing in my patient's room during the code and feeling like I might wretch into the trash can at any moment.  It was not a squeamish kind of nausea, but an emotional kind.  I have since seen much more peaceful ways for patients to die and can only hope to experience more of those and fewer "crashes".  Considering I eventually want to work in critical care, this might not be the case.

I think it's important, despite the fact that nursing can give you a thick skin, for nurses not to become hardened.  I don't think they should carry grief around with them because they're too proud to let their emotions show in front of their peers.  If anything, nurses should act as support for other nurses, which is sadly not always the case.  If you are a new nurse, identify those others you can trust and who support you.  If someone doesn't understand the way you're grieving,you don't need to include them in your process.  Don't hold your grief inside.  Find an outlet.  And know that it takes time to let go of those difficult feelings.  Things don't get better right away. But eventually, you'll be a better nurse because of your experience, because you let yourself be human even though sometimes you feel your job description doesn't allow you to be.

#47 Things to look forward to...

365 Blog Challenge: Post #47

After a dull, dreary and snowy winter, I can not wait for the snow (some of which just fell last night) to melt and the trees to bud and the sun to shine on us in NY.  I know winters around the country have been terrible.  If this is the new trend for winters, I think I'm gonna need a sun lamp and a bigger travel budget because this has been the worst NY winter in my 5 years here.  Between many snow storms, colder than average temperatures (no, not as cold as Mn but I've become a wuss), and lots of overcast days, I need some sun!

Luckily, Scott and I have lots to look forward to this spring!

First stop for me is Minnesota this weekend where I look forward to seeing my family (in-laws included!), reminding Dani who her favorite Auntie is, and seeing my sister-in-law's new house in Victoria, Mn.  We have gotten a skype tour but not quite as good as the real thing.  Going home is usually a good stress reliever for me.  Just being able to get places door to door by car is a treat!  I leave this Thursday and am hoping the weather allows me to get to Mn on time. Maybe not so tropical but fun nonetheless.

Next month, as mentioned before, Scott and I are going on a Caribbean cruise!  Yes, I am a little nervous about being in the middle of the ocean and not being able to see any land.  But from everything I hear, you're in your own little community on the ship so it's not so scary.  And the ship appears to be amazing!  Scott and I have challenged each other to climb the rock wall.  And we plan to go into the rain forest in Panama.

A few days after we return from the cruise, we have a couple special visitors coming- Heather (my sister-in-law) and Zoe (our 5-year-old-niece).  Scott has been trying to get those 2 out here for as long as I can remember and we can't wait to spoil our niece a little bit in a NY way.  We're going to see Mary Poppins and definitely will make a stop at Dylan's Candy Bar.

Last, as summer approaches (still seems so far away!), Scott's parents are going to come stay with us for a few days.  Speaking of being spoiled, they are always gracious enough to take us to a show or two while they're in town and this time we're seeing The Book of Mormon, a musical by the creators of South Park, as well as possibly War Horse in which one of Scott's former Temple classmates, Austin Durant, is making his Broadway debut.

So God, just get me through these next few dreary days (can't complain too much, no work!) and then we'll have some exciting stories and photos to share.  Hang in there troops. Spring is just around the corner!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

#46 Daytona 500 Live Blog

365 Blog Challenge: Post #46

Boogity boogity boogity!  Scott (is forcing me) and I are watching the Daytona 500 today.  My husband may be the only Ivy-League-educated, thespian, Jewish NASCAR fan.  And I support him.  I guess.  I do want to spend time with him so I have decided to live blog to keep myself interested. Hope you enjoy.

(Times in EST)
- Glad Martina McBride remembered all the words to the National Anthem.  Country singers know how do it right!
-  What's with the Transformer race cars with guns?  I don't approve.
-  Scott tells me they got all new cars this year, can't I tell?  No.  I can't. They look exactly the same.  He tells me they got rid of the flat panel from the front bumper and the spoilers are now better looking.  (They're the same, I swear.)

1:32: Moment of silence....not sure why...Dale Earnhardt Sr.?  This is sad.  Scott is upset with me for not holding my three fingers up in honor of the 10th anniversary of his death.  I didn't know!

1:34: Wreck #1- Kyle Busch.  Oh no! M&M car is out??  Who the heck do I cheer for now?  God knows I don't like beer.  *Update- M&M car is not out. No major damage. Phew!

1:37: Umm, the NFL has a robot animation they use during the broadcasts and NASCAR has chipmunks.  This makes no sense.

1:40:  8/200 laps complete.  How long do I have to watch this thing?

1:44: Scott informs me this is Brian Vicker's first race back after having to sit out for almost a year due to being on blood thinning medication for blood clots in his legs and lungs.  That's serious stuff!  Kind of surprised he doesn't have to continue a blood thinner the rest of his life.  Though it would be a disaster to get into a serious accident while on a blood thinner. Talk about bleeding out.  Here's an article about it.

1:54: I have decided I am cheering for Trevor Bayne who Scott says has no chance of winning.  But he's cute (they just interviewed him) and I like the gold #21 on his car.  This is how I choose my favorites.  Scott informs me he's too young for me.

2:02: Kevin Harvick has reportedly lost an engine.  I thought this meant it fell off his car but apparently it just means it stopped working.  Scott is laughing at me.

2:07: This race is a mess.  Lots of 3-4 wide driving. HUGE crash involving apx 10+ cars. (Scott calls this "the big one".)  They're all licking their wounds now.  This sport sounds like a bad idea to me.  Drive as fast as you can and try not to crash.

2:16: We're trying to decide why Jeff Gordon (who is now out for a bit due to "the big one") was wearing a Breathe-Right while racing.  Does he snore while he drives?

2:40: Scott tells me this is the boring part of the race and it's ok to take a nap.  (I see his eyes drooping as we speak.) Best husband ever!

4:00: Ahhh, what a refreshing nap.  And we're back and cars are still crashing.  Matt Kenseth just crashed hard against the new "Styrofoam" wall.  So much safer they say.  Right.  At least he wasn't hurt.  63 laps to go!

4:09: Bayne is #2!!  Scott says he still has no shot.  Pessimist. Did I mention he's a rookie? (And he just turned 20...ick...yes...too young).

4:12: Best part about crashes? Watching the cars tear up the paint in the center of the track.  Easily amused right here.

4:21: Scott's calling it right now that if Dale Earnhardt Jr wins on the 10th anniversary of his dad's death, he's gonna think NASCAR is fixed. (Dale is the current leader).  We shall see.

4:25: I HATE how sexified Danica Patrick is in the commercials.  Finally a girl in a boy's sport and she has to ruin all the respect I have for her by subjecting herself to that crap.

4:41: Thank God my husband doesn't bet money on this race.  I swear to God every time some crashes I hear down the couch, "Arg! That was my guy!"  I have no idea how he has so many people winning this race but apparently they've all crashed.  PS Record number of caution flags this race.

4:56: Do you know how great it would be to have car mechanics who could fix our cars as fast as the pit row guys?  Life would be so much easier.  Why don't we have this?

5:04: Ok, maybe after all my kvetching I get a little bit excited by the end of the race...heart speeds up, butterflies in the stomach...12 laps to go!

5:10: Announcer calls Trevor Bayne a good pusher!  Three wide at the front of the pack!  CRASH!!!!  Hahahah Scott says his dark horse crashed (Regan Smith).  Whatever. How many dark horses does this guy have?  (Love you hunny.)

5:21: What's going on? This is chaos.  All sorts of crashes on the restart.  Dale Earnhardt Jr crashed so I guess he won't be winning.  Now Scott has decided he likes Jr. because of his skeleton racing gloves.

5:27: Trevor Bayne is in first during the caution but he's running out of gas!!  Suspense!

5:30: AHHHHHHHHH! BAYNE WINS!!! BAYNE WINS!! First win for the owners in 10 years!  Youngest driver ever to win Daytona!  I sure know how to pick a winner!

  - "I don't even know where to go." 20-year-old Daytona winner Trevor Bayne trying to find Victory Circle.

The Gold 21 for the win! Never say never!  (Ahem...see 1:54 and 4:09 above...)

Friday, February 18, 2011

#45 Author Connection*: Alison Espach

365 Blog Challenge: Post #45

* Author Connection was formerly known as Authors that I Know and Love...but I felt that was a bit too intimate for the level at which I know these authors, hence it has been changed to Author Connection.

Alright, I'll confess.  I have been taking a creative writing class through Gotham Writers' Workshop for the last month and it's been awesome.  Such a good way to open up some of that creativity that has been blocked off by too much scientific knowledge.  I didn't necessarily want to share this with all my blog readers because I don't want too many expectations to come out of this class!  But in order to brag about my next author connection, you must know that information.

The teacher of my Creative Writing 101 class (Yes, that's really what it's called) is Alison Espach.  She's a young (only 26!), funny, MFA grad from Washington University in St. Louis and during our 6 week class, her first novel has come out!  The book, The Adults: A Novel, is about a teenage girl coming of age in an affluent suburban neighborhood.  I haven't read the book, but I have read this excerpt from The Nervous Breakdown, and I can only describe the writing as hilariously honest, more honest than I think many people can be with themselves.  The book has gotten excellent reviews from important places:

Publisher's Weekly calls it a "charming, coming-of-age debut".

The Wall Street Journal reviewer claims it's an "outstanding coming-of-age of the funniest books I've read in a long time.  Ms. Espach's coup is to chart Emily's growth through her maturing sense of humor."

People magazine say it's a "smart first novel".

Smart and funny?  My favorite stuff. I promise to write a full review after I've read the book, though my to-read list is quite daunting right now.  Check out the excerpt above as well as Alison's self-interview on The Nervous Breakdown here.  And then you can be jealous of me because she was kind enough to sign my copy. :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

#44 Injured Reserve Update

365 Blog Challenge: Post #44

Today I finally went to the doctor about my damn knee (which actually feels better though not normal after 2 weeks of no strenuous exercise.)  She confirmed my thoughts, that it's just a strain.  But she has assigned me to physical therapy (for 6 weeks!).  I am no stranger to PT.  When I injured my ankle a couple years ago, I spent months in PT due to my stupid loose joints and the need to very conservatively restrengthen my ankle.  (My podiatrist informs me that loose joints are genetic and indeed, I have a cousin who I have been told also has the loose joint problem).

Rascal Model 600F
I worry about my excessive PT at such a young age and am fairly certain that I will be immobile by my 50s.  Scott's cousin, Jon, reassures me that that's what Rascals are for.  Look out for me in a few years in my hot red ride!  Until then, PT it is.

#43 Goodreads Addict!

365 Blog Challenge: Post #43

I am obsessed with books.  I love the feel of books, the smell of books, the look of books, the idea of books.  It is no surprised that I am also obsessed with  Goodreads is a website devoted to books.  It is essentially a social network for book lovers.  It allows you to list the books you've read, are currently reading or want to read.  You can rate and review the books you've read so that your friends can see.  You can become friends with the authors of the books you like (e.g. Scott is online buddies with D.R. Haney, author of Banned for Life and Subversia because of Goodreads.)

Two of my favorite parts of Goodreads are the opportunities to win and swap books.  First, the giveaways:
Goodreads adds new giveaways for members everyday. (Being a member is free of course.)  Some are books that have been out for a while, and others are called "First Reads", books that are being published but not yet on the shelves.   This was the case with my most recent win, The Metropolis Case.  I received an uncorrected proof which I kinda like because it makes me feel like a book insider.

Over the last week, Scott and I have become ADDICTED to Goodreads swap.  Essentially, you list the books you own that you no longer want on the site and people request them.   Your only job is to ship them (which costs you nothing unless you want to buy an envelope).  You also can request books that are already listed on swap or you can add a book to your wishlist and the site will let you know when it becomes available.  You simply pay for shipping (which is generally between $3 and $4).  I am also a big fan of going to the library to checkout books because really, who has the room in NY for all the books we want? And who wants to spend all that money?  However, I think swap is almost more amazing than the library.  First of all, you don't have a time limit with the books.  Once you receive the book, it's yours to keep. Also, I love that in the spirit of knowledge and reading, people are sharing their books around the country!  I recently shipped books to Las Vegas, Nevada and New Smyrna Beach, Florida.  Scott just received a book from Baltimore, Maryland.  Book lovers around the country are sharing their love of books with others.  It's a beautiful thing.  Last, those books that you don't feel inclined to keep won't clutter up your precious shelf space.

Yes, I am a nerd but at least Goodreads has provided a great outlet for by book nerdiness.  I suggest you check it out, and friend me while you're at it!

Monday, February 14, 2011

#42 Happy Valentines Day!

365 Blog Challenge: Post #42

Happy Valentines Day all! I know, I know.  This isn't always the happiest of holidays for people.  But quite frankly, as a married lady and someone who has been with someone for the last eight Valentines Days, I don't know why we need a special day to tell the people we love that we love them.  Scott has informed me that St. Valentines Day is actually a celebration of a saint who married soldiers to their loves when it had been outlawed in ancient Roman times by the Emperor Claudius due to low numbers of men in the military.  Apparently Claudius thought that men who married and had families were harder to sway to go to war.  For his actions, St. Valentine was made a martyr by beheading on this day, February 14th.  (Feel free to correct me if I got any of this story wrong.)  So that's not super romantic.

Moral of the story: tell the ones you love that you love them daily, or as often as possible.  You don't need a separate day to do so!  But since we have been given one, I will use this opportunity to tell my friends and family (you know who you are) that I love you!  Happy V Day to all!
Flowers from my Valentine
In staying with the gory theme of Valentines day, I used an Amazon gift card sent to me by my sweet parents to buy True Blood Season 2 (vampires, blood, etc).  I just finished the first season which I received on DVD for Christmas and I love this show. And Anna Paquin is my celebrity doppelganger even though she's blonde and much skinnier than I am.  I also received some lovely flowers from my husband as well as a pre-order of Adele's new CD, 21.  We've only listened to one song from the CD which is due out on the 22nd.  But it was BEAUTIFUL.  What an amazing singer, songwriter, performer.  Check it out below.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

#41 Blog advice...

365 Blog Challenge: Post #41

Dear Readers,

Since I began this challenge in January, I have been thinking a lot about the content of this page and it's title.  I love the blog title New York Happenings.  It is meaningful because it is something that I began when I first came to the city (beginning in newsletter form) and the blog has changed and developed as I have changed and developed while living here.  However, I don't know if the title is still relevant to the content.  The content being anything I think is remotely interesting including books, family/friends, sports, popular culture, New York, Minnesota, etc.

There are a few options here.
1) Change the title of my blog which may be confusing to my current readers as they may need to learn a new address
2) Change the description of my blog which is currently "New York Adventures of a Midwestern Girl" to make it more relevant to the content
3) Not change anything and just deal with the fact that my content and my blog title aren't a perfect match.

I'd like some suggestions from readers so please email me or comment to let me know what you think.  Thanks all.  Keep on keepin' on.


#40 So THAT'S why the trains sucked yesterday...

365 Blog Challenge: Post #40

Yesterday, while enjoying my new desk chair, Scott texted me from work to report that the trains were running terribly.  This isn't exactly news on a weekend in NYC.  The MTA often does track work over the weekend and trains run wonky because of it, skipping entire sections of Manhattan while the MTA uses our tax dollars.  However, Scott, who left for work around 11:45am, was onto something yesterday.  Apparently, a Brooklyn man went on a killing spree through three boroughs over the last two days killing 4 people and injuring many more.  His escapades ended on the subway, the #3 train, where he stabbed a man in the head and neck (the man lived, phew).  This was just after the suspect had gotten off the #1 train which is the line Scott and I take from our northwestern apartment to the main areas of the city.  Kinda freaky.  Even freakier, he got off at 34th street which is my stop for work.  However, he apparently avoided the platform and stairs and walked directly across the tracks to the #3 train.  (What about the 3rd rail??)

Does this make me feel unsafe on the subway?  Not really.  There are crazy psychos everywhere.  Let's just hope there are no more using MTA anytime soon.  For more details on this story, see the CNN article and the NYTimes article by clicking the links.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

#39 Why I love my husband

365 Blog Challenge: Post #39

Scott helping our wonderful
niece Zoe to learn to ride her
big girl bike!
Obviously there are numerous reasons why I love my hub.  I mean, just look at what a sweetie he is (see left).  But beyond that, he got me an awesome Valentine's Day gift this year, a new desk chair! It's what I asked for but he happened to get a perfect one for me and I may just not get off of it all day, it is so comfortable and will be so helpful in blog production (as well as other creative endevours)!  Maybe eventually I can get rid of this sh*tty $50 desk from Bed, Bath and Beyond and get a pretty one.  But this chair is a great start. Thanks hunny! I love you!

Faaannncy.  (And mahogany.)

Where all the magic happens.  Actually not true.  Most of the time I blog from bed.  But from now on, this is where all the magic will happen cause I have this amazingly comfortable chair!

#38 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

365 Blog Challenge: Post #38

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

As some of you book lovers may know, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot was plastered all over the top books of 2010 lists: Publisher's Weekly,, Barnes and Noble.  It's a New York Times Bestseller.  Long story short, it's been very hyped.  

To be honest, this book did not live up to my expectations.  This non-fiction book tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a black woman who died in the 1950s of cervical cancer.  Prior to her death,  Henrietta's cells were taken from her cervix and given to Dr. George Gey, the head of tissue culture research at Johns Hopkins (where Henrietta was treated in the public ward for her cancer.)  Gey, who had been trying to grow an immortal cell line for future cell research, hit his lucky break when he received Henrietta's cells (deemed HeLa cells) which not only didn't die, they multiplied at a surprisingly fast rate.  Her cells sparked a medical revolution of cell research and aided scientific advances including the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization.  They took part in AIDs research and of course advances in the understanding of cancer cells and their reaction to multiple chemotherapeutic drugs.  Her cells were shot to the moon and carried in an atom bomb.   The problem, or one of the many problems: Henrietta nor her family were ever asked for the cells.  They were taken by doctors in an era where informed consent did not exist.

The parts of this book that succeeded, I believe, were the parts about Henrietta's life growing up in Clover, Virginia before moving to Baltimore, as well as the story of the family members who were left behind (who by the way didn't even know Henrietta's cells had made such a contribution until they were approached to donate blood to identify genetic markings on HeLa cells compared to other cells hers had contaminated.)  They received no monetary compensation for the cells, and it took many years for Henrietta to be recognized for her contribution to science.  Henrietta's family is poor and her sons and daughter had very little education which sparked a lot of anxiety and confusion among them when they were finally approached by scientists and journalists about the cells.  The best part of the book tells of Skloot's time spent with Henrietta's daughter, Deborah, who seemed deeply effected by the loss of her mother and the presence of her cells without her knowledge.  Deborah is quite the character and I think Skloot paints her beautifully, imperfectly, and compassionately.

The part of this book that failed for me, and made it difficult to want to pick it up time and again, is the information about cell biology, research politics and medical ethics. Snore.  Even though I consider myself a fairly moral person, and I have an obvious interest in medicine,  medical ethics makes me cringe.  I got a headache just reading about the ethical questions left behind by HeLa cells and cell patents and ownership (if you're like me in that fact, skip the entire afterword of this book).  So maybe it's those personal reasons that I didn't love this book, though my friend Mary, another avid reader (of more non-fiction than I), also thought this book did not live up to it's hype.

Skloot's writing is strong, though not beautiful.  However, she did something for the Lacks family, specifically Deborah, that many people had failed to do.  She was honest with them about her work and she followed through with her promises.  Something you learn in nursing is how important it is to develop a patient's trust and give them reason through your actions to trust you.  It's no wonder Deborah and her brothers were so scared and distrustful of so many people who were out for their own personal gain.  Skloot did the family an honor by telling this story with compassion, even if there were parts that bored me to tears.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

#37 Updates on the Challenge

365 Blog Challenge: Post #37

Alright, so this challenge of mine has been going on for almost a month and a half now and let's face it, it's hard to blog every day.  The biggest challenge is coming up with something to write about each day that will be interesting and captivating to the audience.  Another important detail, my life isn't THAT interesting.  I attempt to make it interesting by adding a little humor to my blogs, but it's definitely tough.  Also, I don't know that people are all that interested in hearing what I have to say every day.  To be honest, I've had a couple "unsubscribers" to the emails of my blog that are sent out.

But you know what?  I just don't care.  I am doing this challenge for me (and for you, but mostly for me.)  I am trying to make myself be creative every day, and considering I am only about 4 posts behind, I have been pretty successful.  Of course I want to entertain the reader and I am so grateful to my 8 followers (7+me)! But really, that's an added bonus to this challenge.  The real challenge is forcing myself to think beyond my inner thoughts and express things creatively in writing, pictures, videos, whatever.

So, without further ado, I will continue on this 365 blog challenge and I hope you continue along with me, whether it be daily, weekly, monthly, whatever.  I appreciate your readership and I am enjoying what this challenge is doing for my creativity.  Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

#36 Flash Fiction #1: Inspired by Phillip Glass

365 Blog Challenge: Post #365

Regarding Obsession

Her tears rolled down her face in streaks like rain on a windowpane as she held John's photo in her fingers, grasping with a ruminating tightness.  He had been gone only three months, and she was embodied with his spirit so that she thought his thoughts and spoke his phrases.  She moved with his body, selecting food at the grocery store with his hands and stepping into her bedroom each night with his bare feet.

She thought of making love to him, his warm embrace heating her skin like steam.  And as she touched his cheek, freshly shaved because she liked it so, she trembled in passion.

Breaking her train of thought, her grown son entered the room abruptly.
"Ma?  Ma are you crying?"  He asked.  She glanced up, puddles of tears rippling in her eyes.  Her son glanced at the picture in her hand.  "But Ma," he said.  "You never even met the guy."

Monday, February 7, 2011

#35 Kitchen Creations #1

Blog Challenge: Post #35

Oh my God, did I mention I cooked?  This is a rare occurrence, but I happened to have energy for the first time yesterday in like three weeks so I made Tandoori-Spiced Chicken per the marinading recipe from this month's Cooking Light magazine.
First time I used our oven's broiler.
Alex will be proud. I didn't even
have to call him to ask him how.

Thankfully, my best customer (my hub) loved the chicken today which I served with brown rice and Craisins (the Craisins he didn't dig but I did.)  I really wanted to get some cucumber action going too but forgot to pick one up.  Next time...and apparently there is going to be a next time because Scott informs me this is right up there with his sister's breaded chicken recipe (sour cream and bread crumbs).  What can I say?  I'm practically a master chef. (Or a really amateur one whose husband thinks she's good.  I'll take that.)  Bon appetite!
The finished product, with condensation from the microwave and everything.
Top Chef- here I come!

#34 Super Bowl party for 2!

365 Blog Challenge: Post #34

Well, I'm not sure what did it, it may actually have been my super adorable niece being a good luck charm, but the underdog Pack beat the Steelers in Super Bowl 45 tonight (yeah, roman numerals, blah blah blah.)  And I hate to say it, but I cheered for them the whole night (even beyond just Clay Matthews).  They are a great team and deserved to win.  I always love to see perseverance pay off (that goes for the team and for MVP Aaron Rodgers.)  Before I get to pics of Scott and my two person super bowl party, can I just make 2 comments about the musical numbers of the show?

1) Christina, you killed it, including the lyrics.  (I was proud of myself for noticing even though Scott didn't.)  Oh well, she got through it and at least she can sing!
2) Black-Eyed Peas- loved the half-time show, but maybe you need a new sound editor because it sounded like sh*t.  Is it just me or was Will-I-Am's mic super loud and everyone else's not loud enough, plus you couldn't hear the instruments?  Too much vocals.  Again, at least they can sing so it wasn't too painful.  But a good visual show none-the-less.

I made Tandoori-Spiced Chicken, but Scott informed me that we have to eat pizza during the Super Bowl so we put it away for tomorrow.  Love Famiglia pizza.

Scott's reaction upon seeing that I pulled out the beer helmet from last year.
What a cutie.

I prefer caffeine-free DC in my "beer" helmet.


This is what Scott and I deemed "the tunnel of doom" because 4 consecutive players had to go down it after being injured in the second quarter.  You go down that might not come back...

Now that is actually beer, and Scott would like me to inform you that he did not finish those beer bottles in case any of you were concerned he had a drinking problem. *Eye roll*

MVP Aaron Rodgers, and who is that behind him?? None other than CLAY MATTHEWS- Rock Star and Super Bowl Champ!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

#33 On this week's injured reserve list: My Right Knee

365 Blog Challenge: Post #33

Story of my life:  I'm lazy.  I don't work out.  I eat too much chocolate.  I gain weight.  Wake up call.  I decide to lose weight. Start to eat better. Begin a workout regimen.  Get into a good grove. Lose weight. Get injured.

Lauren's injured R knee,
star player of her workout team.
My life story has just made another revolution.  I have lost 12 pounds since the beginning of November cutting back on portion sizes and just trying to eat better over all.  I've been a dedicated ellipticaler as well as participant of Jillian Michael's 30-Day-Shred DVD (she kicks my ass!)  So finally, last week, in a moment of weakness, I didn't complete my elliptical cool-down after a 30-minute workout and I jumped right onto the treadmill for a 10-minute walk.  (It could also technically be from the very difficult squats Jillian makes me do with my 4lb weights...maybe I'm doing them incorrectly though she stresses, "No injuries please.")  Later that night at work, I noticed a pulling sensation on the anterior-medial aspect of my right knee (front and on the inside), and since then, I haven't been able to shake the pain which has now traveled just above my knee cap and to my thigh which is apparently compensating.

I've had to place my star player on the injured reserve list at least for this week to see if it improves, if not, I'm off to MRI city (or so thinks one of the nurses I work with who is also an NP).  Just in time for the super bowl too.  Good thing I'm just watching from my couch.  Most likely, it's just a strain, so let's hope it wants to heal fast!  Here's to a week of RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and ibuprofen.  Cheers.

Friday, February 4, 2011

#32 The Metropolis Case

Rating: 4.5/5
365 Blog Challenge: Post #32

I recently won The Metropolis Case on a Goodreads Giveaway (another reason I love!), and as usual, was a little skeptical.  Goodreads has book giveaways that range from renown authors like Louis Erdrich to self-published vampire romance novels that look, well, terrible.  You never quite know what you're going to get, but sign up for the ones that sound good anyways.  It's free after all.  In regards to The Metropolis Case, I was pleasantly surprised.

This book is gorgeous, inside and out.  And I can't think of a book whose cover better reflects its contents, poetically and aesthetically, than this one.  This is Matthew Gallaway's debut novel, and it's a story of 4 people, intertwined by a love for music, opera specifically.  It came as a shock to me when reading Gallaway's bio that he was never a singer based on the way he so beautifully describes opera in sound and experience.

The book revolves around Lucien, a young singer in 19th century France; Anna, a rising opera star in 1960s America; Maria, born with "four lungs", a young singer, though an outcast, in 1970s Pittsburgh; and Martin, an HIV+ lawyer in 9/11 era New York who is transformed by watching the towers fall from his office on that fateful September day.  In the beginning of the novel, it's hard to determine how these characters are related, other than a recurring theme of the Wagner opera, Tristan and Isolde.  But Gallaway does weave these stories together in elegant fits and starts until the entire connection is revealed in the last pages of the novel.

The real stars of this novel, however, are the prose.  As written in the NYT's review (so conveniently included with my copy), there is "never a lazy sentence".  I can't imagine the energy it took to write such gorgeous descriptions, and yet, the book flew by.  A quick read.  My favorite passages were those used to describe music, production or one's response to music, such as this description of Maria, now an up-and-coming opera singer, making her debut in a Bayreuth production of T&I with the renowned singer, Leo Metropolis.

"She spent a few seconds analyzing his voice, the way it seemed to weave through the house, around the columns, and under and over the wooden back seats....They shared the love potion, which poured down her throat like hot poison, and then became an open wound of desire that grew more infected with each passing second.  When the act ended, the was ripped from Leo's arms, it was an apocalypse: writhing she had to be passed to her dressing room like a bucket of water by a line of production assistants and there propped onto a couch and spoon-fed sips of tea to keep her throat moist."

An amazing first novel.  Highly recommended.

#31 Hibernation

365 Blog Challenge: Post #31

Whether it's the weather, the difficult week I had at work a couple weeks ago, or this horrible, dreary winter we've having here on the East Coast, I have essentially gone into hibernation since Tuesday.  I worked Monday night, got an allergy shot Tuesday morning and got to sleep around 11am.  Minus a couple Skype dates, a psychiatrist appointment and a quick dinner with Scott at our favorite cheap Chinese place (Gingers, 37th and 7th), I have been sleeping ever since.  And no, I don't feel sick.  I don't have swollen glands or a fever.  I just feel like I open my eyes and immediately feel the need to close them again.  The super B complex vitamin my mom suggested is not helping.  So, moral of the story is I have to get off my butt tomorrow to run some errands or Scott and I will be eating cardboard boxes all weekend, but I hope to lighten up my blog posts after that.  I'm hoping I got all the exhaustion out of me the last 3 days.  Tomorrow, I will try to be sunnier...or at least more awake.  Good night y'all.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

#30 Proof that Lauren needs a vacation...

365 Blog Challenge: Post #30

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, please allow me to exhibit some evidence that Lauren, your blog writer, needs a vacation from work, or at least to get off the night shift.  As a reminder, I bring this topic up after a particularly difficult couple of weeks include three sad patient deaths and way more snow than NYC is equipped to sanely handle.

Exhibit A: Caterpillar Eyebrows- Due to recent stress, exhaustion and lack of waking hours during the day, Lauren has neglected to have her eyebrows waxed and they are way past due.  They are so past due that she gets self-conscious while standing too close to her coworkers for fear they will see the stray hairs and judge her.

Exhibit B: Dark under eye circles- Despite having been off for 2 days straight, Lauren still has dark circles under her eyes and really would like to get into a regular circadian rhythm so she doesn't look like a drug addict.

Exhibit C: Pepperoni Chin- These zits which Lauren continues to get at the ripe old age of 27 exhibit the stress Lauren has been under lately.  Either someone needs to create a fool-proof zit zapping cream (with immediate results) or Lauren needs a vacation.

Ladies and gentlemen, as Lauren's representation, I just ask that you make your decision today with your conscience, and give this girl the vacation she needs.

* Thank you for putting up with my exhausted wackiness today.  Only 3 more weeks until I get a few days off to visit Minne! Dani oughta brighten me up!

#29 Belated SAG Fashion Commentary

365 Blog Challenge: Post #29

Exciting news you guys.  I got a famous, professional fashion editor to make some commentary on the SAG fashions from Sunday night!  Oh wait....whats that?  She's not available?  Oh.  Well.  I guess you guys will have to deal with my inexpert opinions instead :). Photos from

Some goodies:

Natalie Portman- So much good in this picture.  What a beautiful, adorable way to display your baby bump!  However, the hair?  I wasn't feeling it.  It didn't go with the style of dress.  But I forgive you, Natalie, because the dress choice was that good.  Now go get your Oscar!  Photo by: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Mila Kunis- Oscar snubee.  This was my favorite dress of the night.  The moment I saw it I loved it, and I loved it even more when I found out it was designed by the late Alexander McQueen...not that I know much about him, just that I like a lot of his stuff and his story was so sad.  Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage

Tina Fey: Thank you. Tina, for wearing something other than your usual black/navy and wearing it so well!  One of the few stand-outs of the night. (Did anyone else feel the styles at this award show were fairly lackluster?)  Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Jane Krakowski: Another pregnant lady who knows how to dress!  Looking awesome in this silver Badgley Mischka.  My question is how on earth does a pregnant woman wear those shoes?? Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage

 The "I'm not so sure" category:

Hilary Swank: It's not that I don't love Hilary Swank's Versace dress, especially the color  It's that I think she looks more like J. Lo than Hilary Swank.  Hilary Swank is sleek, and sophisticated (at her best), but not diva-esque.  I think it's the hair.  Not digging it. Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic    
Hailee Steinfeld: The first time I saw this dress, I thought it was hideous.  But the more I look at it, the more I like it, especially for this young True Grit star (14 years old I believe).  Apparently, it originally was a shorter dress but Hailee vouched for the long version, the bottom of which I think makes the dress.  (Scott however thinks this dress looks like a pinata.)  Photo by: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
The Ewwwww:

Nicole Kidman: Is it just me, or has Nicole Kidman's style progressively gotten more matronly?  She has a beautiful, lengthy, ivory body.  Show it off lady!  Stop covering up with this lace baloney.  And what's with the necklace (which I originally thought was part of the dress)? Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Kim Kardashian: I am constantly blown away by what a pretty face Kim Kardashian has, but I feel this dress does nothing for her.  In fact, I think the metallic boob looks especially saggy, and while I appreciate that Kim is curvy, I think this makes her look bigger than she really is.  Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage
I'll try to be a little more prompt with my fabulous fashion insights after the Oscars!