Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A few things.

A few things I am super pumped about doing this week:

1) Painting part of my kitchen this color:

It's "Fresno" by Benjamin Moore, and I love it. I've been super into coral for a while now and just waiting for a chance to use it and I think my horrible, no good, very bad kitchen (I say this with affection) is the perfect place. By God that kitchen will be livable by the time I leave this apartment. I may have to knock down a wall into my neighbor's apartment ala Lucille in Arrested Development, but it will be livable!

2) Buying herb plants to put outside my door on the fire escape. I may not have a garden or a porch or a real green space, but if I can grow basil outside my door, I will be very happy. I'm tentatively thinking of doing cherry tomatoes as well, but we shall see if that's too ambitious. My thumb has never been called green. 

3) Seeing The Hunger Games on Saturday to celebrate two very special Liz's birthdays (I am not one of those Liz's-it's not my birthday and I try to avoid talking about myself in the third person, or calling myself special).

I have read a couple of very promising reviews and I just have a feeling that this film will not break my heart like so many other book to movie adaptations have done. The casting feels right. What I've seen of sets and costumes feels right. I love these books, and I'm so prepared to love the movies. 

Side note: why is Josh Hutcherson SO tiny. I love him and think he'll be a great as sweet, sweet Peeta, but he is an elf, yes?

4) Losing one pound. Yes you heard me. After indulging more than a little over spring break (trip to NYC, both of my sibling's birthdays, St. Patty's day, etc), I felt the need to cleanse. And I am doing it with myfitnesspal.com. It's a great way to track calories and exercise. There was a time when a diet meant cutting out all carbs to lose 4 pounds in one week. But I am fully committed to the slow and steady, take in less calories than you burn (this website makes it even simpler, adding extra calories to your day for working out, with a selectable database of almost every food you can think of), approach to (slight) weight loss that is the ONLY THING THAT WORKS PEOPLE. So for the next few weeks, if I can average a pound a week I will be happy. Just in time for the food fest that will be my alumni weekend in Charleston in May :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

New York City!

Rob and I, sadly no Tom Hanks or Cary Grant sightings

To put it succinctly, New York City is a very fun town. I was there for the first weekend of my spring break (Friday-Monday), and had an indecently good time. We did a marathon like trip that was jam packed with lovely moments, and I would have to write a novel to give each moment its due. So I'll have to bullet point the highlights

  • Dinner on Friday at Bobby Flay's Bar Americain-delicious oysters and salmon that was served on the wooden plank on which it was cooked (luckily I did not try to eat this and still have all of my teeth)
  • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. I may have been skeptical about Nick Jonas but the boy can sing. It would have been easy to mock the preteen girl who had to close her eyes every time Jonas' character kissed someone on stage, but well 12 years ago I was her. The show was great-sort of like Mad Men but with lots more peppy singing and dancing and without all the alcoholism and crippling social tension-so really nothing like Mad Men except for some snazzy skinny ties and sexual harassment of secretaries. 
  • Tour of NBC studios. I did this before, but it was definitely worth doing again. Sure a little cheesy and NBC sells the hell out of their brand (now owned by Cabletown! Er, I mean Comcast), but you would have to be made of stone not to get excited by Brian William's desk (I love you B Dubs!) or the legendary hallways of SNL. When we were there they were rehearsing for the show, and they let us watch from behind glass above the studio. The pages (sadly not Kenneth) gave us very strict, school-marm like instructions not to wave or tap on the glass, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES or they would whisk us away from the studio immediately and off to NBC detention. God forbid we bother the famous people with our plebeian "waving." So there we all were, grinning and watching (but not WAVING) while Jonah Hill rehearsed. Then Jonah (we're on a first name basis now) looks up at all the gawking tourists, and what does that nice young man do, well he waves. Cue 30 people frozen in stricken panic. What to do!? Wave and get escorted off the premises by uber strict pages? Not wave and be impolite? Mercifully the pages laughed at us and told us if they waved at us we could wave back. Which we all did. Probably maniacally. The other highlight of the NBC tour-when we were in the lobby leaving, who should walk right past us? Why none other than Mr. Andy Samberg. He was wearing headphones and avoided eye contact. It was magical.
  • Went to an old pub-the White Horse Tavern in the West Village (and I mean old, as in 1880s old, Dylan Thomas hung out there, and apparently drunk himself to death there).

                    I may or may not have taken this picture. Regardless we met up with my best friend and her husband and our other friend Elyse (who lives in Brooklyn and works for Elle-she may or may not be the alternate universe version of myself), had delicious pub food and beers that were actually semi-afordable. Afterwards we went to a jazz club. I know nothing about jazz but when in NYC, jazz seems appropriate. The drinks there were not semi-affordable. But they were delicious, especially accompanied by some smooth, dulcet tones.

  • Went to brunch in Brooklyn. We were in Park Slope where Elyse lives, and guess what? I super heart Brooklyn. It was like a giant fan with all of the townhouses on steroids. Just these big, massive, gorgeous brownstones, with little gardens, and happy families out front with dogs and babies. There were restaurants everywhere and a lovely park, and it was all incredibly lovely. I do not understand why Brooklyn has gotten a bad rap honestly, although from what I hear Brooklyn is massive and I only saw this teeny part of it, but this teeny part was right up my alley.
  • After brunch we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge. I secretly wanted to reenact the scene from Sex and the City the movie when Steve and Miranda run toward each other and cry. I managed to resist. This was something I'd never thought to do on previous trips and I'm so glad I did it. It was a gorgeous day and it was awesome to walk over the water, see the Statue of Liberty to our right, and that big, beautiful Manhattan skyline tower in front of us.
  • Ate at Craft, Tom Collichio's restaurant. Dinner was delicious, if a little weeny (really Tom? 4 scallops does not a dinner make, maybe for a New York super model, but for a southern lady with a real appetite, you've got to at least throw in a side salad). (Other side note: I kept wanting to shout, "this is Top Chef, not Top Scallop", which you'll get if you watch Top Chef faithfully like me, but luckily I also resisted this urge). The real winner of this meal though was the dessert. Holy Moses. We got the doughnuts upon the server's request and I think I blacked out while I was eating. Doughnuts are always good. But these doughnuts (and the dipping sauces, oh the dipping sauces!) were stick your face directly in the plate good. Secretly stuff the leftovers in your purse good. Morally indecent good. Just absurd.
  • Saw Chicago, and I absolutely loved it. I was a really big fan of the movie, and after seeing the Broadway show I understand that whoever made the movie really loved the show. It was just all around great-great singing, great dancing, great on top of great (with eloquence like this are you surprised I get paid to review theater?)
  • Ate a bagel at Leo's in Lower Manhattan. It was everything you dream a NYC bagel will be, perfectly crunchy, oh so thin outside layer, and fluffy, chewy goodness on the inside. Heavenly.
  • Went to the 9/11 memorial. I knew this would be sad, but I really wanted to do it. In 2004 I went and saw Ground Zero with my class. It was a pit then, horrible, vast, vacant and so, so raw. I felt the need to go there now, now that there's a memorial, somewhere to remember in a more tangible way, a place to see and touch and pay my respects. The memorial is still surrounded on all four sides by construction (the new tower is like 3/4 done, which I had no idea had happened, it's striking and a very strange, confusing thing to contemplate, to separate the shiny, fancy building going up from what came down), but inside the space is very peaceful. There is a large open square full of trees and places to sit. And the two memorials themselves just felt right to me. I hope they feel right to the families and survivors and to the people in New York. But for me, who experienced 9/11 on a less immediate, but still very emotional and devastating level, it felt  right. You've probably seen pictures, and I can't really do it justice, but there are two massive, square, "inverted" fountains, one for each tower, in the places they once stood. They're inverted because the water doesn't go up in the air, but rather down, along all four sides in a huge waterfall that drains into a pond at the bottom. All along the sides are the names of those who were lost, engraved into the stone. It is incredibly sad there, but it's also peaceful and cathartic, to be able to stand by these two negative spaces, because really that's what they are, placeholders for what was there, reminders of what was lost and what can never be rebuilt. It felt right to be able to run my hands along all of those names, to read them, to know that those names will always be there, always be a physical presence in this world, even generations from now when no one alive has memories of that day. There's a fine line between honoring and witnessing the past and being chained by it, and I feel like this memorial manages that line beautifully. It's not an immobile statue or a hackneyed work of interpretive art. It's a straightforward expression of grief, two enormous footprints forever holding the place of the two once immovable buildings that stood there. It's very sad, but there's hope too, a gentle reminder that things can fall apart, but that something is always left. Something always remains to hold onto.

  • On a (much, and awkwardly segued) lighter note we finished our trip with a walk through the always beautiful Central Park and two hot dogs (with onions and mustard) from Gray's Papaya on the West Side. Ah perfection.
Once upon a time I dreamed of living in New York. That dream has shifted now as I've grown older and have different priorities, but all I can say is thank God NYC is only a 6 hour drive away. Because in all of its chaotic, noisy, crowded, wonderful ways, it's a tremendous city. And I can't wait to go back.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

New Apartment! (Part 2)

So I should be working on the many school assignments I have due this week, but 1) it's 10:30pm and my brain stops working precisely at 8 every evening 2) it might snow tomorrow morning, so there goes any leftover, residual concentration I might have left, it is taking all of my willpower not to press my face up against the glass and stare for the next 8 hours and 3) between my best friend coming to stay tomorrow and our planned wine night with some of my other favorite ladies, NYC (squeeee!) this weekend with the boyfriend, spring break next week, my siblings birthday week next week (they're not twins, just have birthdays four days apart, which has always been exciting for me since my wee days because it means two big family birthday dinners!, and which this year means my favorite person on the planet, my sweet little niece, will be here), well between all of that I just cannot for the life of me do anything productive.

So instead I thought I'd finish my post on my new apartment. I left off with the living room, which means I have precisely one and 3/4 rooms left (the 3/4 being the combo of my eeny, weeny kitchen and eeny, weeny bathroom).

So first the bedroom.

Wall paint=metallic silver from Benjamin Moore. This was the first room I've ever painted and I think it's  so serene, exactly what I wanted for the place I would sleep. Rugs are from Target. Normally I hate to cover up so much of the wood floors but the floors in this room are so beat up from numerous paint jobs (not mine!, except for maybe a few drops here and there). And I thought the rugs were also very clean and serene. This is my favorite bedding ever, from West Elm. Painting above the bed is from Ubud, Bali.

Just had to take this to show off my ginormous, wonderful window that looks out onto Monument. My mom is currently making me curtains (out of the cutest yellow print fabric I picked out at u-Fab) so I will repost when those are up.

Ignore the horrible handwriting on the chalkboard.

This cute ottoman was also reupholstered by my Mom (wow, writing these posts I am realizing that without the industrious nature of my mother my apartment would be a lot more barren). I got it ages ago from an estate sale and it used to be covered in leopard print (I went through a hot pink and animal print phase when I was 14; it was not good). I think this is a vast improvement. 

Lamp from Whispers of Time consignment. Coaster from the Charleston Historical Society (it's the Angel Oak if you look closely). Sand dollars from Isle of Palms beach walks.

My itty bitty bathroom. I tease but I actually strangely love this bathroom. I think it's the all white tile on the walls and floor plus all that light that comes in through the window. It's just very bright and clean.

Got this at an antique store in Georgia and had been using it as a side table, until I realized it was a perfect storage piece for a bathroom.

As you can see here.

Okay so I may not love this sink. Notice the separate hot and cold faucets. That's fun. But I do love my shower curtain-from Target.

This is the hallway leading into my teeny, tiny kitchen. Notice the teeny, tiny oven. At least I can be thankful for the presence of a gas range. But really this kitchen is kind of hopeless. I have spent so much time trying to figure out how to improve it, because it is the one part of the apartment that really has no character and only a lot of ugliness. The tile is bad. It's insane asylum white from floor to celiing. And so, so little. But I've hung a lot of pictures, put up a giant mirror to trick the eye into thinking it's bigger, and have plans to paint a little. So we shall see.

It does at least have, say it with me!, lots of natural light. Thank goodness for that, even if it means sometimes I awkwardly find myself face to face with my neighbors who share the same fire escape. 

This is a little detail, but my jars make me happy every morning when I get coffee. The "sugar" (aka Truvia, but don't tell anyone) is from Anthropologie. The "spoons" jar I made myself for my best friend's bridal shower, and the coffee is just a big, ol' mason jar. Also this coffee pot has been with me for 7 yeras. I'm not sure to be proud or horrified by that fact.

Also had to point out this life saving pot rack from iKea. This did not come with the apartment but was installed by my very industrious boyfriend when I moved in. Without it, I have no idea where my pots and pans would go. Probably on the fire escape.

So that's it folks. Not too fancy. Not too big.

But it's home :)

Friday, March 2, 2012

New apartment! (Part I)

So I thought I needed a decidedly more upbeat post after last night's sad face downer. I've been meaning to post pictures of my new apartment for the last two months but I kept waiting until I was "finished." Well I realized I am my mother's daughter and thus will never be "finished" with anywhere I live. There will always be a project to do, a wall to paint, curtains to be put up, etc. So I will update with any changes, but for now-meet my quirky, lovely, imperfect little apartment. She's a rather stately old lady, been around since circa 1918 (I dorkily love to envision the people who might have lived here in the 30s, 50s, 60s, etc.). But I've tried to soften her sharper corners, play up her best qualities, and make her my own.

This is what you see as soon as you walk in-and the grand tour-living room, bedroom in the back, kitchen to the right. I decided to rent this place based on what I saw when I walked in (and what I ignored-the gross furniture and mess that the previous owners lived in)-wood floors, lots of light, molding, good bones-all of those things you simply can't fake.

My design philosophy rule #1-if it's upholstered or a bed-go new, anything else, especially accents and accessories-go consignment, borrowed, old, and antique. Rule #2-neutral anchors in a room (couch, chair), surrounded by lots and lots of color. Couch and pillows from World Market. Chair from Overstock.com. Blanket brought home from my trip to India. Trunk/coffee table from an estate sale. Rug from West Elm. Ottoman made by Mom.

Favorite part of the apartment is my giant windows that let in so much light and look out onto Monument Avenue. And I love that this apartment has giant window sills where I can keep all of my giant nursing text books. Carved wood elephant bookend from West End Antiques Mall. Coasters a housewarming gift from from Miss Christine Cadigan.

Old fan from estate sale. For the ottoman I picked out a heavy fabric from u-fab in the Fan and then my wonderful mother used the fabric to reupholster a set of old, black leather ottomans my parents had in their basement.

And it turned out like so :)

TV was a bday present from my parents. Book case from my parent's basement.

The "dining room/office" half of my living room. Design philosophy rule #3-pictures, pictures, and more pictures. Surround yourself with images of everything you love.

I bought this "table" from ikea to use as a desk-when I realized I had no room for a desk and that this blerg/furd/lourd desk was massive, I decided it was perfect as a kitchen table. Chairs from my parent's basement (sensing a theme?). Rug from iKea. Chuck Close portrait of Philip Glass from Spoleto Festival in Charleston.

The day I moved in I realized that there was one kitchen cabinet. One teeny, tiny kitchen cabinet. No kitchen closet or pantry. Just one, itty bitty, cabinet. Obviously this was a problem if I wanted to use plates and silverware. But I found a great solution in this antique pie safe from (say it with me!) my parent's basement.

Table from Whispers of Time Consignment on Lakeside. Pewter mirror from Pass It On Consignment on Lakeside.

Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion-my bedroom and kitchen/closet.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


This evening I got home, put my wine bottle in the freezer (it was a Big Joe wine glass kind of night), lit candles, put on the most soothing music on my iPod, turned off the lights, got in the shower, and just stood there.

I just finished week 8 of the spring semester. And I'm tired. Bone deep tired. Tired on every level. And it's not just the level of work or stress or fear of failing, because I've been there before (although never quite on this level of intensity and time commitment). It's not just the physicality of my days at the hospital or the anxiety that comes from trying to manage writing and school at the same time (not to mention being a real person too, if possible in rare moments).

My heart is tired.

I think anyone who goes through nursing school experiences all of these wild emotional ups and downs as we try to acclimate to and normalize things that are in no way normal. But I've realized something about myself specifically-the qualities that make me a writer, the ability to notice tiny little details, to pick up on people's emotions and unspoken feelings, to sense way more than I often want to sense about a person, those qualities are going to help make me a good nurse. They're also going to consistently wreck me.

Everyone notices details. But writers obsess about them. They clog in our brains and replay in intense color and vibrance. And the details you encounter as a nursing student, in a hospital with people who are sick and/or dying, the details I've noticed the last few weeks, are just hard.

These are the things I keep going back to: a mother's notebook, full of all the details of her son's long sickness, medication names and printed out journal articles; the way a sister quietly and softly rubbed her unconscious sibling's arm, just wiling him to know she was there; pictures of grandchildren at dance recitals; shoes brought from home; wives who can in detail list their husbands medical history in exact, almost scientific detail; the nervous chatter of a woman about to receive her first chemotherapy treatment, this armor of sarcasm and nonchalance that broke apart every few minutes when she asked things like when she would start to lose her hair.

And this is nothing. No one has died on me. I've never seen a sick child. I haven't even begun to get to the hard stuff.

It's hard for everyone. I'm going to make it even harder on myself, because I can't just look at a person from a distance. I see these people I interact with in every tiny detail, in every story told, in the TV judge shows they watch, in the way they take their coffee, "with creamer and two of the blue packs."

I believe it's going to make me a better nurse, because I will look at the whole person, which is the fundamental core of what nursing is as a profession. I also believe it will, consistently, break my heart. It will consistently create moments like this evening, when I started to tear up during an episode of Parenthood (as I do every time I watch that darn, wonderful show) and end up shaking with sobs on my couch-all of those details lodged firmly in my throat, refusing to let go. The challenge is finding a way to live with it without becoming hard, without losing those details and turning my patients into diagnoses instead of human beings.

And until then there's always wine.
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