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!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pillars of the Earth

Rating: 4/5 stars
By now, most of you know how I feel if it takes me more than two weeks to finish a book.  It's upsetting to me.  Scott and I have such an abundance of books to read (blame it mostly on Goodreads Swap) that I feel guilty spending so much time on one.  That being said, Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth is worth reading!  (It is in fact on my mom's top 10 which is saying something.)  While it's not a quick read, nor is it a difficult read.  What might make people put the book down is the extensive amount of details, especially architectural details as the book centers around the building of a cathedral in the medieval England.

This almost 1000 page book (which took me 2 weeks and 5 days to read) spans the years 1123-1174 and revolves, as mentioned, around the building of a cathedral at Kingsbridge Priory, home of the Kingsbridge brotherhood of monks.  In the beginning of the novel, the priory is in decay, being lead by declining and disorganized prior.  Shortly, the prior is taken over by young Prior Phillip, though not without cost.  When the failing priory's cathedral burns to the ground in an "accident", Phillip thinks all is lost.  But Tom the builder and his family save the day as Tom fulfills his dream of designing and working on a grand cathedral with his son, Alfred, and step-son, Jack.  Other characters play significant rolls as well.  What epic novel is complete without a conniving villain or two? In this case, Bishop Waleran and William Hamleigh who are powerful men of England and try everything to prevent the building of the castle and in William's case, the happiness of his former wife-to-be, Aliena (daughter of the captured Earl of Shiring).  English politics weave into the mix to make for a great historical novel and a good read.

Long story short, read this book if you are interested in the following:
1) Architecture (especially medieval)
2) Medieval History
3) Corrupt priests (as well as goodly ones).
4) Medieval love stories
Or, if you have a lot of patience and enjoy detail.

Now I have moved on to something least physically.  I'm pretty sure I broke my back from carrying this book around for almost 3 weeks!  Thanks to Aunt Elaine for the great recommendation and for lending the book.