Introductory Nutrition

17 Jul

The one class I took this summer was Introduction to Nutrition. A standard requirement for every nursing school and most PA programs. The summer course was a condensed version. Instead of three months, it was over a course of five weeks. Note to self to never sign up for one of those condensed courses again.

I wasn’t sure what a Nutrition course would entail. Foods? Diets? Disorders? Why did every program require this class? THIS course was an overview of what can in and of itself be a degree program. We studied macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrate) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), the way the body processes and uses them, disorders that arise from them, the standard American diet (acronym SAD!), and food issues around the globe. We also had to track everything we ate through nutrition software and submit reports on our health and our diet.

From the first class, I was a little irked at my professor. I could tell 15 minutes in that she was a vegan and that she wanted us to be vegans and that every subject that we discussed would circle back to her main thesis: meat/dairy is BAD, EVIL, WRONG. I was angry that she seemed to be forcing an ideology on her students instead of teaching us the subject matter.

Maybe it was the condensed nature of the course, but I slowly began to drink the vegan kool-aid. Vegan diets lead to a reduction of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. I read a study that put vegan blood in a petri dish with aggressive cancer cells, and the blood KILLED the cancer cells. Blood from meat eaters (even healthy ones) only killed a tiny percentage of the cancer cells. The vegan blood killed almost all of them. Outside of the health aspects, I was affected by the environmental impact of meat production and the treatment of the animals in these facilities. I felt enormous guilt that I spend all day taking care of animals, then I spend money eating animals that were tortured their entire lives. I had also developed skin issues over the last year. A combination of acne and rosacea that only seemed to be getting worse. I saw two dermatologists who both told me the same thing. “This is caused by dairy, red meat, and alcohol.”

So I gave it a shot. I could do it. I could be vegan. But about a week in, I found myself leaving the grocery store with a bag full of hummus and veggies. Outside the store was a taco truck. I stopped and looked at the menu. Quesadillas, tacos, tortas, burritos. All full of meat and cheese. Not a vegan option in sight. About ten minutes passed as I stood there in my trance of cataloguing all the delicious things I was giving up. Cheeseburgers, wings, pizza, tuna melts, BBQ, hot dogs, chicken tacos, turkey sandwiches. grilled cheeses, brie on crackers. I felt so sad. Yeah, I was eating a lot healthier, but what’s the point of life if I can’t enjoy anything. As Dr. G told me, “We all dig our own graves.” Something is going to kill you one day, and it’s all about making choices with the risks we are willing to take.

I brooded on my diet for about a week. I tried to come to terms with what I believe, what is best for me. I came to the conclusion that I don’t believe that eating meat is morally wrong. But I do think the way we produce meat in this country is. A couple of years ago I vacationed on a cattle ranch in New Mexico , where I got to see cattle roaming free, living a happy life with plenty of fresh air, quality medical care and healthy, natural feed. They had a good life, and I felt no guilt about eating them. But unfortunately that’s not the life that the majority of livestock in this country lead. That being said, I couldn’t go vegan. I just don’t know how. There had to be some type of in-between.

So I created an allowance for myself. 5 instances of dairy/eggs per week. 3 instances of meat (including fish). Two weeks in, and I think it’s going well. I’m still eating a mostly vegan diet, but when I’m out with my friends, I can have a buffalo wing. Or I can have a small ice cream cone on a summer day. At least I know I’m reducing my intake and making sure it stays low. Since I decided to do this I’ve noticed that my skin has almost completely cleared up, I’ve stopped having stomach issues, I need less sleep at night, and I feel as though I’m forced to eat more fruits and veggies which is never a bad thing. Overall, I think it’s going swimmingly.

I’ve also noticed a lot of push back from the people around me. I’ve had some friends dramatically scold me for my new diet. They tell me that I’m not going to get enough protein (not a problem if you eat smart), or that I’m being annoying/crazy, or that it’s worthless, that my eating less meat isn’t going to make that big of a difference. I don’t understand why people get so defensive about MY eating choices. So I’ve decided to stop talking about it, to just do my own thing, eat my own way, and let that be. I earn my paycheck, as modest as it might be, and I choose to divert my money away from meat/dairy and toward more whole foods. That’s my choice. My small difference to make in the world.

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

-Edward Everett Hale

The Baby Vet

11 Jul

About a year ago, our clinic got a new vet. Fresh out of vet school with very limited experience, he seemed nice if a little naive, but I was optimistic and willing to give him a chance. We quietly referred to him as the baby vet.

I don’t know what happened between us or if there was something in particular that I did that upset him, but within a couple of weeks, he started treating me differently. He made a point to have me wipe his patients’ behinds after he expressed their anal glands (not my job), clean soiled cages (not my job), and even clean up vomit in his office (seriously not my job.) When I would tell him I was busy doing other things around the office, he would throw what can only be described as grown-man temper tantrums. I watched him throw bandaging materials, stomp to his office, slam the door and refuse to talk to anyone. He would brag openly to the receptionists that I was a horrible tech, a horrible person and that he was going to get me fired. Once a week, he’d take a list of things he didn’t like about me to my bosses and tell them what a waste of money I was.

I get the whole “you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea” thing, but it hurt. I work hard. I try and do the best job I can. It felt awkward to go to work everyday knowing that there existed a contingency of people that were rooting for my demise. It made me angry. Who was this kid to come into my place of work and try and get me fired? I started making a list of my own. The baby vet has a bad habit of saying racist and sexist things around the office. I’ve seen him overcharge clients that he knows are wealthy. I’ve seen him take drugs from the office and give it to friends for free. Worst of all, I’ve seen him miss key parts of an exam, misdiagnose animals and practice some sloppy medicine. I was building my case to take to my bosses to try and get HIM fired.

Then I saw the “When they go low, we go high” speech that Michelle Obama gave at the Democratic Convention. Her eloquent and noble message resonated with me, especially within the situation I found myself. I thought long and hard about it, and I tore up my “why baby vet sucks” list and decided to try a different approach.

When the baby vet first came to the clinic, he got us a good deal on a dental x-ray machine. He was supposed to be in charge of integrating it into our dental cleanings. We had never taken dental x-rays at the clinic, and everyone struggled with it, including baby vet. We couldn’t seem to get non-distorted films. So I took my downtime at work, and I started studying. I pulled out my textbooks from Penn Foster and started reading radiograph techniques. I watched youtube videos and read vet tech websites. I mastered that machine and began taking perfect dental x-rays. I remember showing Dr. S a set of x-rays I took once I really got the hang of it. Baby vet was awkwardly standing by staring at his phone, eavesdropping.

“Perfection,” Dr. S said. “I’d expect no less.”

Baby Vet’s face flushed red, and he stormed out of the room.

I was given the responsibility of training the rest of the staff on how to use the machine, and I still advise my co-workers on more difficult shots. I made a point of going to my bosses with a new list, a list of why I deserved a raise. But they didn’t even let me read it. They just gave me the money I wanted. I asked them if there was anything they wanted me to work on, any issues they had with the job I was doing. I was certain they’d bring something up, one of the complaints that I know had been made about me. But nothing. They simply told me that they are happy with the work I do and to keep it up. It was the easiest raise I’ve ever gotten.

I don’t know if baby vet still complains about me. He avoids me as much as possible which I’m fine with. He’s so young and new at his job that I’m not quite sure why he’s focused so much time on bringing others down instead of trying to improve himself. But I don’t have time to worry about that. He isn’t even on my radar.

The Summer of Chrissy

9 Jul

I’m free! I can’t believe that a year ago I was scrambling around the city trying to register for classes and balance my school and work schedules. A week ago, I finished my summer session class, and with that final grade posted, I can now start my applications for nursing school. AH! While I loved loved loved my classes, (if I had my undergrad to do over again, I’d major in Chemistry) there were a lot of sacrifices involved. I worked part-time, did a ton of pet sitting, and most of my free time was spent studying as much as possible. I spent many weekends at home memorizing polyatomic ions or the different digestive enzymes.

But that’s over. The grades I worked so hard for are in the books, and I have nothing more I can do until school starts up again in September. I’m back to working full-time at the vet clinic, but I feel like I’ve been let out of a cage. I can read books! I can write blog posts! I want to dance in Lincoln Square! Play softball in Central Park! Drink beers with friends on a rooftop bar till 4am! This is going to be the greatest summer. Every day that I have free, I want to spend wisely, explore my city, meet new people. I feel silly that I always had three days off a week before I went to school, and I never really used them.

But there’s no time to dwell in the past. I’ve got so many things to do. My to-do list is looking a lot more interesting these days.

Poodle Nanny Diaries

27 Mar

I find myself in a bizarre situation. I have agreed to be a live-in poodle nanny. Hear me out.

A couple of months ago, our landlords told us that they were not going to renew our lease, because they wanted to give our apartment to their daughter. At the time, I couldn’t face the news. I was drowning in anatomy and chemistry exams and figured I’d deal with finding a new place to live when our June 1st move date was up. But a couple of weeks ago, my roommates both found apartments to move into in the beginning of April and began pressuring me to do the same, so that we could all break the lease early.

I started telling my friends that I was looking when a co-worker told me about an interesting proposition from a client who we have all worked with in the last couple of years. This client owns five black poodles, the newest of which are two young poodles that don’t get along with the eldest poodle. They live in a mansion in the Upper East Side, and the client, a woman we’ll call Marie, was looking for a live-in poodle nanny. I was skeptical. It sounded crazy, but curiosity got the better of me, and I agreed to meet with her and talk about the situation.

Attached to the 5-story home is a small studio apartment, a couple of blocks from where I work, around the corner from Central Park. The deal is that I will live there rent-free, with a small stipend for food in exchange for letting the two youngest poodles sleep in the apartment at night. The caveat is that it is something like a nanny job. They expect me to be there at a certain time at night to bring the poodles into my apartment and to stay there. Marie explained to me that she still wanted me to have a life, but that I just needed to inform the house manager of when I was going to be out at night, so that they could arrange for one of their many, many assistants to watch the dogs for me. I’m still unclear on how strict it all is. How much freedom I’ll actually have.

But I was pulled in, lured by the curiosity of the situation, of this woman. I’m so intrigued to find out how they live, how they function. I thought about it for a couple of days and told them that I would give it a shot. We agreed to do a three-month trial to make sure that I like the job and that they are happy with me. It was exciting and strange at first, but now a bit of panic is starting to set in.

How beholden will I be to these people? Do they really expect me to lead some sort of Cinderella life where I have to drop whatever I’m doing at 8pm to run back to the apartment to greet some poodles? Why can’t the poodles just hang in my apartment while I’m not there? How nice is the pool on the roof? I’m trying to calm myself down by remembering how much money I’m going to save while I’m in this current stretch of post-bacc pre-med school and how if it doesn’t work out, I’ll pretty much be in the exact same position that I am now, looking for a new place to live. But I’ll have a story. And really my whole life has just been chasing stories to tell the nurses at the old folks home one day. Maybe this will be an incredible experience, and I’ll love it. Maybe I’m entangling myself with international crime lords. At this point, I honestly don’t know. And that’s where my nervousness and my anxiety is stemming from. But all new journeys start with a little bit of fear and hesitation I suppose.

A Quick Hello

27 Oct

 

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I’ve been a wee bit busy.

Just to get this out of the way, I’m not quitting this blog. I have no intentions, nor have I had any intentions to quit, but life has been WHIRLWIND as of late, and I find myself at night collapsing into a blob of exhaustion, all the events of the day and the endless to-do lists swirling in my head, and one of my last thoughts as I disappear into dreamless sleep is, “Oh dear, my poor neglected blog.”

But things are great! Things are spectacular! Things are vastly different than my life has been previously. A mere shadow of what it once was, and I can’t remember a time when I was happier. So many things have happened that I wanted to write about. I got a black eye while swimming laps this summer! There’s a new vet at work, and he’s made it his mission to get me fired (not working out well for him)! School is so much fun! I’ve become a cat sitting machine and have doubled my income while cutting my hours at the office! Holy Hell, I turned 30.

And there’s more. Much more. I have plenty of ideas for posts, and they will be coming. I bought myself an adorable planner, and I’ve kicked up my organizational game. So all I need is a couple of days to organize my thoughts and hopefully starting churning out some new posts. I think a reason I’ve neglected writing here is because now that I’m shifting away from being a vet tech, I’m not sure where I want to take this blog. To be honest, it’s never had a solid theme as much as it has had a smattering of different posts over the years. Perhaps it will continue the same. I’ve shied away from writing about my life and what I’m doing, because it feels narcissistic and revealing. But those are the posts I enjoy writing, and I’m hoping to share more of them in the future.

Good things are coming, I promise.

Comerica Park, Detroit

16 Aug

In my 30th year of life, I’m attempting to do 29 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

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Although I’m wildly excited about returning to school in a mere three weeks, it has forced me to make some lifestyle adjustments. I’ve had to cut my spending down by a lot in order to compensate for cutting my work hours and pay for tuition, textbooks, etc. So instead of traveling to far away and exotic places, I’ve been trying to take mini-vacations, like the one I took in June with my sister to Detroit.

I settled on Detroit by looking at the Seattle Mariner’s schedule and seeing where they were playing within flying distance of New York. After seeing Anthony Bourdain’s piece on Detroit in his “Parts Unknown” series, I wanted to experience the city for myself. A lot of people gave me baffled looks when I told them that was where I was spending my vacation, but I’m lucky enough to have a sister who I knew would be game to explore the area.

The biggest draw, not surprisingly, is how cheap everything was. The city has shrunk a considerable amount, and it’s true that there are huge abandoned buildings everywhere you go, but this has also driven a lot of rents and prices down which has started to attract young artists and entrepreneurs. We were never at a loss to find delicious food, trendy bars and random art installations.

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The Hiedelberg Project

But let’s not forget the real reason I flew to Michigan. Baseball. A couple of days before I flew to Detroit, I checked on Stubhub for tickets and was blown away to find seats directly behind home plate for only $40. For reference for those not familiar with major league baseball ticket prices. Similar tickets at Yankee stadium are roughly $700. But that’s just the nature of supply and demand. They were easily the best seats I’ve ever had.

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Around the third inning, a group of middle-aged guys stumbled to the seats next to me. A bunch of Midwesterners who get together to watch their beloved Tigers. In true Midwest style, they were super kind to me, asked all about the Mariners and told me a bunch of anecdotes about a variety of hometown baseball players and about the field itself. Everyone I met in the stadium was kind and welcoming, despite the fact that I was wearing the opposing team’s jersey.

Comerica Park has been open since 2000 and is still beautiful and well kept. The Tigers have an interesting advantage in having a real, concrete mascot. When I started thinking about it, most other teams have abstract names that don’t inspire a solid image. Mariners, Red Sox, Athletics, Yankees, Royals. A tiger is a readily identifiable thing, and so the stadium is dripping with them.

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It’s also bursting with Detroit pride. The Mariners lost the game I attended, but I wasn’t too broken up about it. The fans were so nice to me, and I admire any baseball fan that loves and supports their team that much. Detroit is definitely a struggling city, but the people that live there consider it their home, not a ghost town. And the pride they take in their team and their city made it a great place to visit.

Book Roundup #9

8 Aug

“Half of a Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Adichie seems to get more famous by the day. First for her amazing novel “Americanah” , then because Beyonce quoted one of her speeches on feminism in her song “Flawless.” The woman is a feminist leader, an icon, but above all, she’s an incredible writer. This is one of her earlier books, set during Nigeria’s civil war in the 1960’s. Her characters are vivid and complex, and every word is strung with beauty.

“This was love: a string of coincidences that gathered significance and became miracles.”

“Slouching Towards Bethlehem” by Joan Didion Another book about the 1960’s. This is a collection of Joan Didion’s essays from that time. Didion spent the 60’s living in California and writing about the hippie movement in San Francisco and about the younger generation. It’s interesting to think that these are the people that are now the older generation and to read a lot of the criticisms about them are similar criticisms about my generation. Lazy and too idealistic. Too caught up in a movement to think about the greater realities of the world. Spoiled American children. How quickly some seem to forget history and their own experiences.

“Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee-A Look Inside North Korea” by Jang Jin-sung Another memoir of a survivor from North Korea. I can’t get enough of the hermit kingdom. Jang Jin-sung was a high official in the North Korean government under Kim Jong-Il, writing propaganda poems. He was commissioned to write an epic poem and asked to return to his hometown to do some research. When he arrived, he saw how his family and neighbors were starving and suffering. Upon returning to Pyongyang, he lends a ultra-classified book to a friend. His friend loses the book on the subway, and the two decide they have to escape North Korea or else they will be sentenced to life in prison for sharing the book. This memoir differs from the other ones I’ve read in that it takes place mostly in China as Jang Jin-sung and his friend hide from the authorities and depend on other North Korean defectors to help them. Obviously, they make it out and escape to South Korea. But it seems that it was mostly luck, and it’s sad to think about how many don’t have that same luck.

“Hour of the Bees” by Lindsay Eager My librarian sister also studied Children’s Literature while earning her Master’s in Library Science. She has always been a fan of young adult and children’s literature and passes her favorites onto me. I wouldn’t say this is one of her favorites, but we were on vacation together and she lent this to me to read on the plane home. Most readers have the habit of thinking of young adult and children’s literature as dull and puerile. But there is a lot of good, introspective work being produced, and I’m glad my sister can open my eyes to that on a regular basis. This book was about a young girl in New Mexico whose family spends a summer on a ranch with her ailing grandfather. She learns about her past, about her family, and about the value of home. It was a quick read but entertaining nonetheless.

“Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman” by Stefan Zweig I became fascinated with Marie Antoinette a couple of years ago when I was visiting Versailles with a friend, and we both realized that we didn’t actually know the details of her life besides the sensational. “Let them eat cake.” She was beheaded. She wore huge wigs. But what else was there? This is a great biography of her, because (as it suggests in the title), she was an average person. She had nothing inherently special about her, good or bad. She was born into wealth and royalty and was married off for political reasons. She was spoiled as some wealthy people are and had no sympathy for the poor, because it was a part of society she never saw and never understood. This book paints her as a person who was caught up in history, in the changing fortunes of empires, and came to represent what was wrong in a greater political system. It was a great read that delved into the history of the French revolution which never ceases to be interesting.

Moving Day

26 Jul

The last month and a half has been a whirlwind. I’ve been doing everything I can to just catch my breath and stay afloat. But now that things are calming down, and I’m feeling settled, something has felt missing. And, it was only a couple of days ago that I thought about my poor, neglected blog. So excuse me while I stretch my typing fingers out and try and remember how to do this again.

 

To make a long story short, perhaps to be discussed in another post, I thought I was moving to Vermont for a while, then I decided to stay. It made me happy and sad, and it’s complicated. But through it all, I kept in contact with my landlord to make sure it was okay that I stayed through the summer (my lease was up in June) and when I decided to stay, that I could resign a 12-month lease. Through it all, I was told this was fine.

Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend, when I get a text from my landlord that says that they are actually going to give the apartment to a family member, so my roommates and I need to be out by the end of June. I was essentially being evicted. I was covering for co-workers for the following 13 days straight, no days off, and I had also just received a jury duty summons in the mail.

Of course I’ve been through tougher things, but it felt like nothing was going right. How was I going to find a new place in time, in my price range, not to far out from the city, not in a horrible neighborhood? That night I drank Tequila and cried on the phone to my mom. Finding a new place and moving in the space of a couple of weeks felt impossible.

Fast forward to now. I’m sitting in my adorable apartment, in a cute house with a rose garden out front. I’m in a vibrant neighborhood that makes me grin ear to ear when I get off the train and walk home. My new roommates are friendly and keep the apartment clean and homey. All in all, I’m in a much better place. My old apartment (albeit my enormous) was always dirty due to my negligent roommates, my neighborhood was a Chinatown without a quality grocery store or bar around, my landlords were rude and inept at fixing things in the apartment. But I was settled. It was where I had lived for years, and I was happy enough. Not really happy, but happy enough.

But I didn’t know how wonderful things COULD be, and even though things felt overwhelming and frustrating during the weeks of apartment hunting nonstop, all the annoyance and pain brought me to a much better place. It made me think about other times that has happened in my life. When I got my reception job at the Veterinary office five years ago, I lamented to my then-boyfriend that it was a dead-end job, unworthy of my ambitions. But I didn’t realize it would lead me to a career I have loved and to another one I’m truly excited about. Almost two years ago, I sat at a bar with a friend of mine, crying about a recent break-up, certain I’d never meet anyone ever again, and I’d never find happiness. The bartender that was working that night became a friend of mine and over time has become something even more than that. And he’s the one that, with genuine excitement, helped me pack up my old apartment and move into my beautiful new one, keeping me calm through the process and sharing beers with me afterwards.

It’s hard to remember it in the moment, but sometimes the frustrating or difficult parts of life are making room or preparing us for something better. Maybe I’m lucky or blessed, and I try to keep in mind that in a lot of ways, I am. But I also think things do happen for a reason, and to quote one of my favorite poems “The Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann, “…whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should be.” I don’t subscribe to any religion, but I do have faith in the fact that good things can happen, good things are on the horizon, and in the end, it’s all just trivial nonsense. I look back at the stress and tears over having to move in a short amount of time, and it feels like nothing in the greater scheme of my life or even my year or even this summer. Some way somehow, it is all going to be a-ok.

 

Book Roundup #8

13 Jun

The last month has been ROUGH, friends. A lot of difficulties and frustrations seemed to be coming out of every nook and cranny of my life. And I definitely had my share of meltdowns and crying jags. But through it all, friends, family, and co-workers all rallied to my side, offering comfort, support, and help. And knowing I have that, made all the troubles in the world seem much smaller.

It’s also been a rough go of reading the last couple of weeks. A couple of amazing books that I rushed through, and a couple that I couldn’t even finish.

FOUR BOOKS I DIDN’T FINISH

I hate not finishing a book. It’s quitting at its worst. But when I’m stuck in a book that I’m not enjoying, I end up thinking of the millions of amazing books that exist in the world. It’s a tragedy that I can’t possibly find time to read them all in my lifetime, so why waste time on something I’m not enjoying. Sometimes it’s necessary to cut the losses and move on. Otherwise reading becomes a chore instead of the pure pleasure that it can be. So these are the books I abandoned.

  1. “The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer” by Sydney Padua– For starters, this was a graphic novel, which I don’t tend to enjoy anyways. But it was about the 19th century friendship between Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, and how they came up with some of the earliest concepts of a computing machine. It sounded interesting enough. But the structure was odd, and I couldn’t fully tell what was true and what was fantasy, although most of it was fantasy. A lot of the narrative was grounded in footnotes which were lengthy and often about mathematical theories. I was in over my head.
  2. “Awakenings” by Oliver Sacks- I was excited to read my first Oliver Sacks book. He was a neurologist who also wrote a lot of books that have great reviews. This one was about patients of his that suffered from a paralyzing form of Parkinson’s. In the 1970’s, Sacks and his team put the patients on a new drug, L-Dopa, that pulled them out of their paralyzation. Some of the patients had amazing results, others struggled with bizarre side effects. I’ve seen the Robert DeNiro/Robin Williams movie they made from this book and loved it. But the book was dry and just had patient histories and outcomes. Also the book was loaded with footnotes, drunk with them. I’ve learned I can’t stand footnotes. They ruin the flow of reading. Too distracting.
  3. “This Old Man: All in Pieces” by Roger Angell- Dr. G lent me this book to read. Mr. Angell is a client of ours, and Dr. G was given a copy of this book, signed and dedicated. Roger Angell is famous for writing pieces about baseball (particularly about the Mets) for the New Yorker. Dr. G and I share a profound love for baseball, so he assumed I’d enjoy the book. It was hard to get through because so many of the pieces were about people he worked with at the New Yorker, whom I had never heard of. There wasn’t even a whole lot about baseball. At one point, Dr. G asked me how I was enjoying the book. I was honest about my struggles, and he confessed to me that he never finished it for the same reasons. If Dr. G doesn’t deem a book worth finishing, I’m sure as hell not going to spend any more time reading it.
  4. “News Whore: The Prequel” by Mandy Stadtmiller– I like Stadtmiller as a writer. I’ve mainly read her pieces on XOJane where she works as an editor-at-large. She writes about love and relationships in a neo-Carrie-Bradshaw way. This book is a collection of her essays about her twenties. The problem was that they weren’t really essays as much as they were one page snippets of her life, interspersed with selfies and random pictures of her apartment that had nothing to do with anything. It felt like reading a boring person’s diary. I didn’t feel like there was a narrative or anything to be gained, so I gave up. She can do better. I know she can.

FOUR BOOKS I FINISHED AND LOVED

  1. “The Stand” by Stephen King- My Stephen King obsession continues as I read one of  his most famous books, “The Stand.” It’s a giant, epic novel about a super-virus (Captain Trips) that wipes out more than 99% of the human population. The scant survivors band together in two tribes, one good, one evil, and they try to rebuild society while worrying about the looming other tribe. It’s long, but engrossing. Like most other Stephen King novels, below the entertaining reading experience, there are deeper themes of religion and destiny. Do we choose our fate? Or are we preordained to be good or bad?
  2. “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith- I was reading this book on my lunch break, and one of my co-workers commented that it was a book that everyone was reading on the subway “like 10 years ago.” Only in New York could reading a book be “so last season.” But there’s a reason everyone was reading it. It’s beautiful and hilarious, and that doesn’t diminish in 10 years. Her writing is fluid and quirky as we follow characters through the streets of London. It also touches on the idea of immigration, and how immigrants lives are affected by the melding of their past with their present.
  3. “How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter” by Sherwin Nuland- In one of the first scenes of the show, “The Knick,” Dr. Thackery gives a speech about medical advances in surgery in the early 1900’s. “We humans can get in a few good licks in battle before we surrender,” he said. And the truth in medicine is that we can fight battles but never win the war. Our bodies are not designed to last forever, and this is a blessing and a curse. This seemingly morbid book breaks down the ways in which our bodies are most likely to die: heart disease, cancer, trauma, including others. The human body is an incredible piece of engineering, and the death of the machine is just as interesting. The book was hardly morbid though, it was introspective.
  4. “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life” by Barbara Kingsolver- Kingsolver is known as a novelist, but this book follows a year in which her family moved to a farm in Virginia and pledged to only eat food they could grow themselves or find locally. Most of the book is a treatise on the food industry in America, which is always a terrifying topic. Our meat is gross. Our fruits and veggies are gross. Our breads are probably killing us. Although I try to buy organic and almost never eat at fast food chains, I didn’t realize how much farther I still have to go. I’m absolutely guilty of not knowing when certain fruits or vegetables are in season. And I have no idea about how far the foods at my grocery store have had to travel to get to me. If anything, this book made me more committed to trying to buy foods from farmer’s markets and avoid processed foods even more than I already do.

30 Before 30: Go to a Live Taping

24 May

In my 30th year of life, I’m attempting to do 29 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

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I’ve been wanting to do this for years! But it’s not as easy to score tickets to these shows as one might think. The tickets themselves are free and are often snatched up by tourists. Over the years, I’ve tried to get tickets to the Tonight Show, to the Daily Show, to the Colbert Report, and of course, to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. All to no avail. It seemed such a fruitless endeavor that I kind of gave up.

As far as television goes, other than the occasional Netflix binge (currently obsessed with “Jane the Virgin”), the only shows I watch on a weekly basis are “Walking Dead” and “Last Week Tonight.” But I recently added a third show to my weekly, lazy tv time: “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”

I was interested by the first late night show hosted by a woman. (Really? It took till 2016 for that to happen?) But I already had my hands full with number-one-love-of-my-life-John-Oliver. I wasn’t looking for any more political satire in my life. Go women and all, but do we really need another one of these shows?

Yes, yes we do. While she tackles major issues like the presidential election and the Syrian refugee crisis, she doesn’t shy away from dedicating major chunks of her show to women’s issues. Abortion laws, fraudulent pregnancy centers, unprocessed rape kits. She makes my feminist heart pitter-patter.

So I added my name to a list of hopefuls for tickets to the show, not expecting to ever get a call. But a couple weeks later, on a Monday morning, I got a phone call from someone who works for the show. They had a bunch of cancellations and had tickets available. I dragged my friend Lauren with me, and we went to the live-taping.

It was quite unglamorous, although I didn’t expect it to be much. We sat in a holding room with about a hundred other people, until we were ushered into the studio. After 30 minutes or so, Samantha Bee came out to greet everyone and answer a couple of questions. She also introduced some personal friends she had in the audience including her father and her gynecologist. Of course she would invite her gynecologist. Of course she would.

Once the show got underway, it was a bit odd, to be cued on when to clap, and to watch most of the pre-recorded show off a screen. But I was starstruck to be in the same room as that tiny, feminist bastion of hope in her signature blazer and high heels. In between taping and setting up for the next segment, a DJ played “Bad Girls” by MIA, as Samantha Bee danced around while assistants fixed her hair. What. A. Boss.