The Intouchables

This weekend I saw The Intouchables at Paris Theater, and WOW. It is now one of my favorite movies. The Intouchables is about a wealthy French quadriplegic who takes on a man from the projects as his caretaker, forming an unlikely friendship. Although his situation is a little sad, part of the reason Philippe (the quadriplegic) hires Driss as his caretaker is because he doesn’t pity him; he treats him like an actual human being–to the point where he even hands a cell phone to Philippe, forgetting that Philippe can’t move his arms. The Intouchables is beautifully done with the juxtaposition of two men from different social classes living and working together, and I enjoy the positive outlook despite being disabled.

Philippe and Driss help each other equally. Philippe provides a job, a place to stay, an income, and ultimately, a chance for a better future for Driss, and Driss brings humor and spirit back to Philippe’s life in addition to the standard caretaker duties. They infiltrate each others lives in other ways as well.

Philippe (in an unsnobbish way), educates Driss on high-brow art and music, and Driss helps instill more confidence in Philippe. Despite their vastly different social classes, they balance each other very well and are quite the comedic duo.

What is also refreshing about The Intouchables is that Philippe’s disability doesn’t hinder him from continuing doing what he loves. He still goes to art galleries, paragliding (no joke), Driss drives him around in his fast sports car, and Driss even goes as far as setting him up on a date. Yes it is true that life would be much much much more difficult if Philippe were not wealthy, but it is nice to see him able to actually live his life rather than being an immobile, depressed vegetable.

I am not the only one who loves this film. “”In just nine weeks after its release in France on 2 November 2011 it became the second most successful French film of all time.”” (Wikipedia). And, as if I needed any other reasons to love this film, one additional reason The Intouchables is so touching is because it is based on a true story. Be prepared to laugh throughout the film and leave with a warmed heart and a smile on your face. The Intouchables is a MUST SEE film.

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London Vs. NYC

I went to London for my first time a few weeks ago, and I can't stop thinking about going back.

I absolutely loved it. Having lived in NYC for almost two years, London didn't seem all that overwhelming or intimidating. While we were there, my boyfriend and I were actually more interested in non-traditional touristy things (Read about it here and here). However, I've found myself daydreaming about returning several times, so I've decided to make an unbiased as possible comparison of NYC versus London.

First of all, this is a given for most girls, but the English accents are just so cute. Their accents make the Brits seem more aristocratic and chipper. Accents aside, the men also dress more refined. It's not like they were all

walking around in Prada suits or anything, but they seemed more put together. The majority of the men wear dress pants or slacks, and if they do wear jeans , they aren't baggy and don't have holes in them. NYC houses the majority of the same designer stores as London, but for men I noticed more custom-made suit shops. I didn't notice the women as being anymore fashionable than New Yorkers, but again, similar to the men, their casual clothing does not mean hoodies and sweatpants.

Secondly, I enjoyed the sense of royalty surrounding London….or at least by Buckingham Palace. I suppose you get a feeling of patriotism in DC near the White House, but for some reason, all of London seems more regal. Other observations include the following: the streets are cleaner in London, and this includes the trains and train platforms. BUT, the tube is much smaller than the NYC trains. There is no personal space; you're all like packed in sardines. Also, London's population is 7.8 million and NYC's is about 8.2 million, but London seems much less crowded. It could have also been due to the fact that Kevin and I didn't flock towards the touristy areas though.

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Additionally, London seems slower paced

than NYC. Kevin, who was there for a week beforehand for work, doesn't think the Brits have the same work ethic as New Yorkers. They don't work as long of hours and his observation is that they don't work quite as hard during work hours either. I'm sure it varies by industry and doesn't ring true for all Brits, but I did notice that even the pace everyone walks seems slower in London. I kind of liked it though! It can be stressful rushing through each day at a high intensity level, so I appreciate the slower pace to stop and smell the flowers so to speak.

Along with enjoying life and the company you're with, my absolute favorite part about London was having afternoon tea. Tea tastes better in London, especially when you actually have time to sip

and enjoy it. Afternoon tea for Kevin and I would stretch to two hours. In addition to the tea, we would

have a selection of pastries and warm scones. The scones there are delectable. I ate more scones in London than any other food. Afternoon tea is the most enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.

I enjoy London so much I would honestly consider moving there. The only three things preventing me from up and moving across the pond are: 1. Getting a Visa to work in London seems like it would be a complete hassle. 2. My family is in the U.S. 3. It is expensive–even more so than NYC. The exchange rate is horrible. I was only there for four days and it definitely put a dent in my wallet (even more so for Kevin who foot the hotel bill).

London and NYC are very similar, but they have different appeal. I do love living in NYC, but I enjoy fantasizing about life in London. I guess I will just have to start saving for my next trip to London. Everyone has to have something to look forward to anyway, right?

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Steve Jobs Biography

I recently read Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. I usually read fiction, and I actually don't own or use many Apple products besides my iPhone, but I decided to read it anyway. And I'm very happy I did, because I have a new found appreciation of him. There have been many articles written on Jobs throughout his illustrious career, so I see no need to go into an in-depth analysis on his life. Instead, I want to record what stood out most to me personally while reading his biography.

In an odd way, I kind of like the fact that Steve Jobs was a mercurial man. He was so brilliant in so many ways–marketing, architecture, technology, his vision of anything he was passionate about–that I think he wouldn't seem as real/human if he was also a kind, gentle leader. In fact, I think many of his flaws can be attributed to his success. As big of a prick as he often was according his employees, many of them did admit that under his leadership, they were able to accomplish things they would have deemed impossible to do or complete under such a tight deadline (aka Jobs' “”reality distortion field””).

I liked that he wasn't (entirely) driven by money (besides in the very beginning of his career when he wanted to not just sell, but make a profit off the computer he and Steve Wozniak had created against Wozniak's wishes). Once his company became successful, he could have let money drive things, but it says so much more about him that his main goal was to create products to not only change individuals' lives but the whole world. I think most people in his position would have taken a back seat and have been not as involved while the money came pouring in. I love the

fact that Jobs had his hands in every department from working with Jony Ive on the design of Apple products to working with TBWA with advertising and marketing initiatives (like my personal favorite, the

Think Different (Campaign for which Jobs even wrote most of the text).

There are many little things I appreciate or found interesting about Jobs: the fact that he was a vegan and went through weird fasting and fruit only diets; that even though he was adopted, he loved his parents and always considered them his real parents; that he often cried and knew how to play the company politics game quite well; that sometimes he'd have no filter and call people stupid shitheads, yet he also had the ability to lead people to believe that he thought they were great even if he really thought they were stupid and wanted to kick them out of the

company (like former CEO John Sculley); that he openly talked about his experiences taking LSD and almost endorsed it in a way; that he dropped out of Reed College but still dropped in on courses like yoga/meditation and calligraphy (which actually was the knowledge that influenced the Mac's fonts.)

If I could take only one thing away from the biography, it would be that it pays off to be a perfectionist and to pay attention to every little detail. I liked Jobs' minimalist approach. His dedication to Apple products lead to the creation of new technology that is appealing, friendly to consumers, and encourages/inspires creativity, yet gives an aura of sophistication. There is no other like Steve Jobs, and I think the world realizes this, and that's part of the reason his bad behavior was mostly tolerated. One might argue that yes, Jobs did take credit for a lot of things he didn't originally think of, but he was an executor and he made sure things got done right. That's part of the reason why, even though there were dozens of key players making Apple into the innovative company it is today, most people think of it only as Steve Job's company.

Even if you don't own any

Apple products or consider yourself artistic or an innovator, reading the Steve Jobs biography is inspirational, and I highly recommend giving it a shot. I think there is something everyone can take away from it.

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Fourth of July

Happy belated 4th of July! What did you do to celebrate? It sucks that it landed on a Wednesday this year, but at least I had the day off, so I guess I can't complain too much. My bf and I started the festivities off with a free Norah Jones concert in Central Park after work on Tuesday. Well, the concert wasn't actually

free–people who were actually in front of the stage paid, we just happened to be behind the stage where we couldn't see Norah but we could hear her. We weren't the only ones though–there were a ton of people sprawled out on blankets drinking wine and snacking on food.

I didn't mind not actually seeing Norah Jones perform, and since we didn't pay anything, I didn't feel obligated to stay the entire time.

On Wednesday morning we slept in and I made delicious tofu scramble on English muffins with Canadian facon (fake bacon). I was quite proud of myself. With a full belly, I went back to sleep for a while longer until Kevin forced me to go to the gym. After our workout we walked around the city doing a little window shopping until we were hungry and stopped at Nanoosh for a Mediterranean lunch. After lunch we stopped at Whole Foods to pick up fruit to make a giant fruit salad, vegan cookie dough and coconut milk vanilla ice cream to make vegan ice cream sandwiches, and OJ for mimosas. By the time we got back, people were already sitting on the roof of Kevin's apartment building awaiting Macy's fireworks display to begin.

One of my oldest besties, Maddi, joined us on the 40-something floor of The Continental to watch the fireworks on the Hudson River. Although I was living in NYC last July, I was on and missed Macy's fireworks, so this year since I was around, I figured I might as well see them. After all, fireworks are better seen in person rather than on TV. The roof deck was packed an hour before the “”show”” started, but we still managed to snag a good spot along the railing. The fireworks were actually pretty fun to watch, but more importantly, I enjoyed the company I was with. My favorite firework this year was the smiley face, and Maddi's was the ones that looked like weeping willows. Check out a video Maddi took below.

To cap off the night, Kevin, Maddi and I watched two episodes of one of my new favorite shows, Workaholics, while eating fruit salad and my vegan ice cream sandwiches.

Even though it sucked having to go into work the day after, I still enjoyed my day off and overall, it was a great, laid-back 4th of July. “”Fur Sure.””

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Atlantic City

This past weekend my boyfriend and I went to Atlantic City, NJ. We both wanted to get out of the city and neither of us had been to Atlantic City before, so we figured we'd give it a shot. Annnd it might be our last trip to AC. We stayed at the Golden Nugget–or what I like to call the Golden Fugget–which I do NOT recommend for several reasons. For one, it's not on the Boardwalk, so anytime you want to go elsewhere you have to take a cab or the Jitney. Cabs are really expensive in AC–it cost us about $13 each way for a 10-15 minute cab ride to the Boardwalk. The Jitney only costs $2.25 per person but it takes a lot longer since it stops at all the casino resorts.

Secondly, there isn't much to do besides gambling, going to the pool or beach, or walking on the Boardwalk, which was fun but got boring after like, one day. I was really looking forward to walking on the Atlantic City Boardwalk which is

the longest boardwalk in the world, but unfortunately, besides walking on it, there weren't any desirable shops to go into. There is an overabundance of carnival-like food and games and cheesy touristy shops. And speaking of food, I felt bloated and disgusted by the time I left because everything is fried and fatty. This is one of the least vegetarian friendly places I've visited. Additionally, the majority of the people in AC looked overweight–which doesn't seem surprising considering people go there to sit in a dark casino drinking pop and alcohol all day and night, and the only eating options are unhealthy.

But most importantly, the worst part of our stay at the Golden Nugget was their PAPER thin walls that allow you to hear everything going on all around you. Friday night we stayed on the 18th floor and Kevin and I slept horribly after being woken up numerous times by a bachelor party returning to their room late and then kids running through the halls in the morning. After complaining, we were given a room on the 24th floor but unfortunately it wasn't any better. I wised up the second night around and wore earplugs to bed, but Kevin was woken up a few times by our neighbors and even heard the people farting and giggling about it in the room next to us. It's kind of funny writing about it now, but it was really shitty at th

e time when we were trying to have a relaxing weekend. In the morning when we went to check out, Kevincomplained about our experience tosee if they'd offer some sort of discount.We were referred to the manager who in returngave us attitude about not speaking with her sooner (although we told her we did try calling after we switched rooms and found that all the rooms have adjoining rooms and we was put on hold for 15 minutes waiting to be put through to her before hanging up) and was not

sympathetic in the least.

There were a few things I did enjoy about Atlantic City though. On Friday Kev and I had sushi at Scarduzio's in the Show Boat which was pretty good, and we got to

check out Revel afterwards. Revel is a nice, new smoke-free casino. I really appreciate smoke-free areas. We also had a delicious Sunday brunch at Bungalow. The chocolate Godiva pancakes are to die for. Finally, I liked the pool chairs at the Golden Nugget (about the only thing I liked there) that were submerged in shallow pool water which allowed me to get my tan on while also staying cool in the pool.

Walking on the Boardwalk was also nice because it is spacious, clean, and right by the ocean. AC is pretty clean, I do give it that. BUT, what I was most shocked about is all the poverty and run-down buildings throughout AC. Besides the casinos and Boardwalk, the rest of AC seemed to be in shambles. Golden Nugget is only two miles from the Boardwalk, so we could have just walked instead of taking cabs, but the fact of the matter is, we didn't feel safe enough to walk through town. It was pretty sad actually.

To sum up our weekend in Atlantic City, I did have a good time spending quality time with my boyfriend, and I am glad I experienced AC, but I don't see myself going back any time soon. Or if I do, I will definitely not stay at the Golden Nugget. All in all, I was glad to get out of the city for the weekend, but it ended up being a surprisingly expensive weekend with the hotel, food, and transportation costs. Atlantic City is not for everybody, that's for sure.

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Weekend in San Francisco

I visited San Francisco for the second time this past weekend. I had a great time, though my trip was a lot different from my trip to SF the end of last year (you can read about it ). This time around I felt less like a tourist. I didn't go to Fisherman's Warf or to the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of going there with an agenda, I decided to just go with the flow and let my California native boyfriend take me for a ride–literally and figuratively. Kevin rented a 2012 Mustang for the weekend and was zipping around town like a little boy with a new toy.

We stayed at the Hilton San Francisco hotel in Financial District, andoverall, I was happy with the hotel. On Saturday morning we walked from our hotel to Caffe Greco for breakfast. We split a scone, almond croissant, chocolate chip waffles, fresh squeezed juice, and coffee in large saucer cups. It was delicious. We also ate outside in one of the “”parklets,”” which I thought was an interesting thing.A parklet is a small urban park, often created by replacing several under-utilizedparallel parking spots with a patio, planters, trees, benches, cafج© tables (Wikipedia). Kevin shared that the several parking spots the city of San Francisco allowed for the creation of parklets caused quite

a stir. It made me enjoy my breakfast on the parklet even more.

After breakfast, we walked around a bit and came across two awesome pieces of street art.

On Sunday we checked out the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It had some cool pieces, but it isn't nearly as good as the NYC MoMA. Here are some of my favorite pieces featured in the SF MoMA.

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The Fault in Our Stars and The Age of Miracles

I recently read two really great novels: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. Coincidentally, there were a lot similarities. They both deal with themes of life, growing up, worry, things out of ones control, but most of all death. Death is omnipresent in both novels. The main character in The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel, has problems with her lungs. She lives strapped to an oxygen tank and with the uncomfortable feeling of never having enough oxygen. The people in the support group she attends also have varying illnesses and many of them die. In Julia's case, the main character in The Age of Miracles, earth is literally falling apart and speeding up the time not just of her eminent death but the extinction of the entire population.

Another similarity is the strong presence of Hazel and Julie's families. Hazel and Julia are both only children, and their mothers are alike in the way that they often want their daughters companionship. Their parents are

seemingly close, but the girls go through a lot that they aren't able to communicate or their parents just don't understand. Additionally,

both girls begin a happy relationship with a boy, and eerily, both boyfriends die towards the end of the novels.

The Fault in Our Stars and The Age of Miracles are both fantastic novels. It's a weird coincidence that there are so many similarities between the two novels, and I happened to read them back-to-back. The Fault in Our Stars is a little more light-hearted than The Age of Miracles. Hazel's relationship with her boyfriend Augustus is very fun and playful. Hazel continues to live life as normal as possible, and the things she chooses to do brings her happiness. The Age of Miracles on the other hand is much more intense. Fear and uncertainty is present throughout the entire novel, which leaves the reader feeling uneasy and anxious. Meanwhile, while earth is rapidly deteriorating and everyone is trying to adjust to the changes, Julia is also going through puberty. The poor girl goes through a lot. Puberty is already an awkward time, but it's even more uncomfortable when trying to cope with monumental changes in the world around you.

I don't want to give too much away, so while you're lounging around at the pool or beach this summer, I highly recommend reading both The Fault in Our Stars

and The Age of Miracles. Unlike the order I read them in though, I suggest reading The Age of Miracles before The Fault in Our Stars simply so you end on a slighter lighter note.

After you read them, share your thoughts below. Do you agree that they are interesting novels to pair together?

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Kajitsu in the East Village

After living in Hell's Kitchen for two years, I made the leap and moved to East Village. Even though moving was a MAJOR pain in the a**, I'm excited to be checking out a new area of Manhattan. My office is in Midtown West, my former apartment was in Hell's Kitchen, and my boyfriend's apartment is in Herald Square, so I spent the majority of my time in midtown. Even though it will take me longer to get to work, I'm looking forward to exploring a new area.

To celebrate (barely) surviving the move to my new hood, my boyfriend took me out to a nice vegan dinner at Kajitsu. Areally nicevegan dinner. Michelin star rated in fact. And it was very fitting for the occasion too, becauseKajitsu means “”fine day”” or “”day of celebration”” in Japanese.

“”Kajitsu

serves shojin cuisine, an ancient Japanese cuisine developed in Zen Buddhist monasteries. Following the Buddhist principle of not taking life, Shojin cuisine does not use meat or fish. Meals are prepared from fresh, in season vegetables, legumes, wild herbs, seeds and grains, chosen at the moment in the season that best reflects their flavor. AtKajitsu we make our delicious and wholesome dishes from high quality ingredients prepared with traditional Japanese culinary techniques.””They serve a four-course meal, “”kaze

“” and an eight-course meal, “”hana”” at Kajitsu. Kevin and I both had the hana because we were really hungry and wanted to try as many different things as possible.

Not only was the food unique and delicious, the earthware it was served on was also fitting. Even the wooden table we sat at had soft, smooth

grooves, going along with the earth tone theme. As their website states, “”In traditional Japanese cuisine the dishware is an integral part of the meal. The dishes used atKajitsu were specially selected for this space, and include pieces created by master Japanese potters over 200 years ago as well as works by modern ceramic artists.”” I agree that the choice in dishware added to the experience. The simplicity of the dishware and decor compliments the presentation of the food.

I had a great experience at Kajitsu. Kevin and I were able to walk in without a wait on a Wednesday night, but reservations are usually recommended. We left feeling really full, but it was a healthy full feeling. Since the food isn't fried and fatty, even if you stuff yourself, you won't have that bloated feeling. Our meal was expensive, but it is quality food.

Yes, I'm paying more to live in

an even tinier apartment, but with all the amazing bars and restaurants nearby I think I'm going to like living in the East Village. 🙂

To read the New York Times review of Kajitsu go here.

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Six Flags New Jersey

I love roller coasters. I have a pretty strong stomach, I like speed (when I'm strapped in), and I'm not afraid of heights, so theme parks are right up my alley. What I don't like though are crowds and long waits. Luckily, I can tolerate crowds when I'm not standing around impatiently. When my boyfriend and I went to Six Flags in Jackson, New Jersey this past weekend, we made sure to get a Flashpass. Last time I went to Six Flags about two years ago, we also got a Flashpass, but this time around we bought the Platinum one. It was kind of expensive, but definitely worth it. Not only did we hardly have to wait in any line for longer than 15-20 minutes, we were also able to ride twice in a row. We were able to ride on all the best roller coasters in no time. We got to the park right when it opened at 10:30am and were done by 3pm. Plus, our feet weren't aching from standing around for hours.

My favorite ride by far at Six Flags is Kingda Ka. Kingda Ka is the tallest coaster in the world and the fastest in North America. It shoots you 45 stories high at 128 mph. It's definitely a rush. My second favorite ride was Nitro. We rode that one four times actually. Kevin

really liked the Superman ride because he likes how it feels like you're flying (oh brother), but the way you're strapped in the ride was really uncomfortable for

me, so I had a hard time enjoying it. I did like how you ride on your back for a few quick seconds. It was a cool feeling. Finally, although Bizarro isn't the best ride, I think it should get an honorable mention for the overall storytelling experience. This was the only roller coaster with music and sound effects right in your ear, shooting fire, mist, etc. The only ride I really disliked was the Green Lantern. It shakes you around and if you lean forward, your ears are beat up and if you lean back, your temples hit the ride harness and it feels like your brain is jig

Luck was also on our side weather-wise on Sunday. It was overcast so it wasn't too hot that we were sweating, yet we were still comfortable wearing shorts without being cold. I actually think the fact that it wasn't very sunny worked in our favor because I think the park would have been more crowded had it been sunnier.

Going

back a bit–Kevin and I planned our weekend around Six Flags. We had a low-key night on Friday and woke up semi-early to pick up a rental car. We stayed at the Westin in Princeton, NJ Saturday night. It only took us about 90 minutes to get there. The Westin was a decent hotel. There were four wedding parties there that weekend, so it was definitely a full house, but it wasn't too loud or anything.

What I mainly liked about the hotel location is that it's located in a little plaza. So basically, once we got to the hotel we didn't have to take the car out again. We had lunch at a cute sandwich shop across from the hotel and we were even able to get in for a massage at the salon spa. It was really nice to get out of the city for the weekend yet still be able to do what we wanted to do. On Sunday morning we had a quick breakfast in the hotel before heading to Six Flags. I'm glad we stayed overnight at the hotel because it was really easy highway driving to get to the Park.

Six Flags was a blast, and I'm really glad I got to get out of the city and do something I don't get to do that often. I don't care how old I am, I will always love riding roller coasters. 🙂 Advice to those who like going to the amusement park but don't like waiting in long ride lines: the Flashpass is definitely a good investment.

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The Levo Leaguer

This summer has come and gone in the blink of an eye. And I've spent most of it in my windowless office. To my surprise, the workload this summer has not been light; in fact, it's been busier than ever. I've been putting in my time at work and learning quite a bit in the past few months, but unfortunately, I haven't had time to do much

else outside of work. The little time I have had to myself I've chosen to use for more career development. So while I haven't posted anything on my own blog

for a few weeks, I have written posts published on The Levo League. I'm an official Levo Leaguer now! The Levo League is an online career community for women in business to connect with and support one another in their careers. The site features posts on all aspects of career building including but not limited to juggling a personal/work life balance, perfecting your resume, interview tips, work appropriate outfits, etc.

In the past few weeks, four of my articles have been posted on The Levo League. You can read

them below:

Even though I've had a very busy summer, it has been a good kind of busy. It has been an important summer centered around preparation for the next step in my career, and I'm looking forward to what the fall may bring. Additionally, I think communities

like The Levo League are beneficial to be involved with in order to better navigate through the workplace. Whatever industry you are in, I definitely recommend getting involved in a relevant organization to not only gain contacts but also for personal enrichment.

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