Me Before You and A Gentleman’s Guide

Some of my favorite hobbies include reading, going to Broadway shows, and seeing movies. Therefore, I was really excited after reading a really good novel (perhaps one I may even classify as one of my new favorites) and seeing a musical on Broadway that I had never even heard of that turned out to be awesome.

The book I read was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. My favorite kind of books are the types that make me think even after I stop reading or those that make me feel something whether it’s sadness, excitement, wonder, or amusement.Me Before You did exactly that. The story is about a young, active, successful guy who had everything going for him and then after an accident became a quadriplegic and a girl, who doesn’t really know what she wants to do with her life, that is hired to keep him company/help him out. I kid you not, I sobbed at the end of the book. My heart felt heavy, I had tears and snot running down my face, but I still felt in love with the story. I don’t want to give anything away, so I highly recommend that you just go out and read it for yourself.

As for the Broadway show, I recently saw A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.Even though I had never heard of the play until I got tickets, I had a feeling it was going to be at least decent after checking out the website which is fun and quirky. Here’s a description about the play’s plot:

“”Monty Navarro has just received some really great news! He‰غھs a long-lost member of a noble family (the D’Ysquiths’) and could become the next Earl of Highhurst. There are only eight minor issues, namely the other relatives who precede him in line for the title. So Monty does what any ambitious gentleman would do: he sets out to eliminate them one by one, all while juggling his mistress (she‰غھs after more than just love) and his fiancج©e (she‰غھs his cousin, but who‰غھs keeping track?). Of course, it will all be worth it if he can slay his way into Highhurst Castle‰غ_ and be done in time for tea.””

A Gentleman’s Guide was a riot. Bryce Pinkham who plays Monty Navarro is super cute and does a great job. The actor who steels the show though is Jefferson Mays who literally plays every man in the D’Ysquith family. Mays is such a good actor and is hilarious in the show. Broadway shows can seem like they go on forever sometimes, so I really appreciate and like the ones that seem to speed along the best which is another reason I likedA Gentleman’s Guide so much.

Definitely see A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder on Broadway if you’re looking for a laugh, and if you’re looking for a tear-jerker, then pick up a copy of Me Before You. Cheers!

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Film Review: Burlesque

I saw the movie Burlesque, starring Cher and Christina Aguilera, a few weeks ago. I was mesmerized by the previews which made me desire to see the movie in theaters. Sequins, pearls, fishnet stockings, lace and feathers were the eye grabbing materials for the tantalizing stage costumes for the performers. I was enthralled by the choreographed routines of the sexy, petite dancers with tight bods, and even more by Christina Aguilera’s powerful voice.

Christina Aguilera and Cher both did great. I was actually surprised how well Christina did. The film was a perfect fit for her. She is actually not too bad of an actress (actually much better than my fav, Britney Spears, in Cross Roads. Sorry Brit Brit). And somehow she looked just as young as she did when she first started out in her singing career–as in “”Genie in a Bottle”” young. Her face looked youthful, fresh and flawless, and her naturally thin body looked at its prime.

I wasn’t expecting too much from the plot of the film, but it surprisingly wasn’t too bad either. It was one of those feel good movies that makes you want to get all dolled up and go out dancing. You can never have too much eye candy.

After watching the film, it made me a little curious about what burlesque is all about. According to wikipedia.org,

“”Early theatrical burlesque was a form of musical and theatrical parody in which a serious or romantic opera or piece of classical theatre was adapted in a broad, often risquج© style that ridiculed stage conventions…. In 20th century America the word became associated with a variety show in which striptease is the chief attraction.””

Burlesque the movie mixes some some of the traditional practices and techniques of burlesque with a fresh, modern twist. What I appreciate about the film is that it isn’t raunchy; Despite the fact that the women on stage are hardly wearing any clothes, they are still able to maintain a respectable, unattainable air about themselves. In addition, the movie seems to really embody the essence of burlesque.

Burlesque isn’t simply a stripe tease. Traditional burlesque shows, “”encompass a variety of acts such as dancing girls, chanson singers, comedians, mime artists, and striptease artistes, all satirical and with a saucy edge.”” Burlesque the movie stayed true to this by showing a comedic male mime and having a live band present on the stage.If you’re looking to hear a pretty voice and see some hot, sexy dance routines without having to think about anything too serious or deep, Burlesque is surely the right movie to entertain you.
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Book Review: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Three weeks ago I attended my first meeting in a new book club. I nixed the Chick Lit group I joined because it was…well, too trivial. In place, I joined another group I found on Meetup, Book and Girlfriends (yeah, I don’t know why every book club I join has a stupid name, but whatever). For “”Books and Girlfriends”” we read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. We met at Argos Tea (which is one of my FAV tea spots in the city by the way) and there were about eight of us total, which ended up being the perfect amount in my opinion because we all had a chance to talk and contribute to the conversation without there being any long, awkward pauses. This seemed to help me a lot. I noticed an effect after about 2 weeks of use.

After checking out a book club I decide whether or not I want to become a regular “”member”” after

1. seeing who comes to the meetings and whether I enjoy myself/being in their company/they provide stimulating conversation

and

2. I’m interested in reading the book that will be discussed

Obviously the latter is a big determining factor if I even want to go to one meeting because I usually won’t spend my time reading a book unless I find it interesting or valuable for me to read in some way.

Now, to my opinion of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It was okay. I respect the fact that Eggers is so imaginative and his style of writing is unique, but in my opinion, he seems too much of a con artist which takes away from the authenticity of his story. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is about Mr. and Mrs. Eggers both passing away, leaving their young twenty-some year old son (Dave) to take care of the youngest

pre-teen Egger son (Toph). Dave Eggers definitely plays up the fact that he is Toph’s primary caretaker and he is annoying with constantly trying to “”subtlety”” play the “”take pity on me”” card. He frequently points to all of the sacrifices he makes to raise Toph. Meanwhile, after basically saying that his older brother and sister helped minimally with raising Toph,

he doesn’t address that he potentially could have had more help from one of his relatives from Chicago…if he didn’t uproot Toph and move from Chicago to San Francisco after his parents died. I understand that things would be very difficult trying to raise a young boy when you yourself are not a stable adult, but at the same time, Dave did not do much to make his situation any easier.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is not a work of genius. Dave Eggers thinks very highly of himself. Everything from his story telling and informing the reader that certain parts of the story are made up, in addition to the red curtain on the cover of the book pointing to the fact that it’s all an act, takes away from the credibility of the story. Am I glad I read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius? Yes. Do I feel moved by it or do I feel like I will ever re-read it? No. Take from that what you will. What I do enjoy about the book is the first person narrative and feeling like you’re inside Dave’s mind through this whole life-changing experience. There are many things you can relate to and to that, certain parts of his story are memorable. Unfortunately, you never know if he is just playing with the reader and trying to shape the perception of him in a more positive, heroic-esque light or if he’s staying true to his/his family’s story.
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Book Review: Love in the Time of Cholera

Here is the short and sweet of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garca Mجءrquez.

Is Love in the Time of Cholera one of my new favorite novels? No. Is it good though? Yes, and if you‰غھre looking for a book about love

and romance but not for a cheap romance novel, this is the book for you. It‰غھs about a boy, Florentino Ariza, who falls in love with a girl, Fermina Daza. After being romantic playing the violin and sending dozens of love letters to Fermina Daza, Daza‰غھs father finds out and takes Fermina away for several months in hope that their young love will dissipate. Although the entire time Fermina is away she thinks of Ariza, when she returns as a blossomed young woman and sees him after months apart, she rejects him for his unattractiveness.

She later marries a doctor, Juvenal Urbino, and Garca Mجءrquez describes the highs and lows of their marital relationship. Meanwhile, Florentino Ariza has many sexual affairs but Fermina remains his one true love he is holding out for. After Urbino dies, Ariza seizes the opportunity to confess his love to Fermina once more. Reading about Florentinos ever lasting love for Fermina is heartbreaking yet a representation of true love.

There are several reasons Love in the Time of Cholera is worth reading:

1. There are many sex scenes/entertaining affairs

2. I enjoy the way Garca Mجءrquez seamlessly flows from the narrative of one character to another in the middle of a chapter.

3. Elderly love and relationships are not common literary themes and Garca Mجءrquez describes elderly love in a beautiful way and sheds an optimistic light on old age and the inevitability of death.

4. I appreciate that Garca Mجءrquez didn't position Florentino as a completely sinless man to be pitied for spending his life waiting for Fermina. He had plenty of faults just as Dr. Urbino and Fermina. By creating more realistic characters with individual flaws, Garca Mجءrquez was able to write a more authentic love story.

This novel made me think a lot about time. One might think that Florentino Ariza wasted his life being single holding out for Fermina, but in the end, the 50 or so years of patience and persistence arguably pays off in the end. What I found to be moving was Ariza‰غھs lack of bitterness towards dedicating his life waiting and pursuing Fermina and his appreciation of the little time left they have to spend together in the last few years of their life. I recommend Love in the Time of Cholera and would love to hear others' thoughts. If you don't have time to read it there is a movie too, although, I haven't watched it so I can't say whether or not it's as good as the book.

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No Strings Attached Tied to Match.com Study Results

Iwasn't really expecting much from No Strings Attached after being disappointedwith thelasttwo romantic comedies Isaw at the theater–Knight & Day with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz and The Killers with Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl. I

figured a movie starring A-list actors would guarantee it be at least decent, but I was definitely wrong with those two. I was pleasantly surprised with No Strings Attached though. Kutcher redeemed himself in my eyes afterthe flopof The Killers. IthinkNo Strings Attachedis hilarious. It was also nice seeing Natalie Portman playing an independent, confident character after her role in Black Swan. I thinkshe and Kutcher have great on-screen chemistry.

I also loved thetheme of the movie about modern day relationships and “”friends with benefits””/casual hookups. I felt like it was a long time coming. What I found interesting is that thefriends with benefits relationship between Emma (Portman) and Adam (Kutcher) in No Strings Attached depicts many of the findingsin a recent study released by Match.com.

I had the opportunity to hear Biological Anthropologist, Dr. Helen Fisher discuss her findings obtained throughsurveys conducted on the online dating site, Match.com in a special Valentine's Day themed “”Singles in America”” segment (booked & produced by the Broadcast PR firm I work for. Cool, I know ; ) It is the largest and most comprehensive nationally-representative study of single men and women ever done to date, and it dispels long-held beliefs about singles in America. There are several findings in the study that are analogous to Adam and Emma's relationship in No Strings Attached.

Below are some of the findings:

  1. Men are quicker to fall in love, more likely to want children
  2. Women want more independence in their relationships than men do
  3. Hook-ups and one night stands can turn into partnerships: 35% have had a one-night stand that turned into a long term partnership.
  4. Fidelity is a must. 69% of singles regard fidelity as a must have; in the case of 46% of the singles, either one or both partners have been unfaithful and 78% of these broke up after the discovery.

In No Strings Attached, Adam tells Emma that he loves her first, he wants to take her out on dates, and he wants to be exclusive. Emma is very resistant to this. Before she and Adam even start their sexcapades she makes it clear to him that she's extremely busy with work, often getting home from her hospital shift very late at night and she doesn't want to deal with the drama of a relationship; she wants things to be simple by keeping it purely sexual. But as number three suggests, it's often hard to turn off your emotions during intimate moments, and Adam and Emma eventually become more attached than they'd planned.

Finally, after Emma tells Adam that they're getting too close and “”coupley”” (they had fallen asleep snuggling together with their clothes ON (haha)) she insists that he sleep with another girl. She quickly regretsthis though and rushes back to Adam to make sure he only spends the night with her, thusforeshadowing what's to become of their friends with benefits relationship.If two people can't stand the thought of the other being with someone else, they end up in a monogamous, committed relationship.

I foundmany correlations between the Match.com results and No Strings Attached, making the movie seem not so fictional after all. It very much relates to the relationships anddating dilemmas of today. As women are becoming more and more independent and feel less pressure to marry and have kids, they often place more focus on their careers. Match.com and No Strings Attached bothindicate that it is possible to have a successful career and a healthy relationship.

NoStrings Attached isone of the better romantic comedies I've seen in a long time.Ihighly recommend it to anyone looking for a funny, feel-good movie. It's not overly corny either which is a huge plus in my book. Finally, what I've decidedafter listening to Dr. Fisher is that online dating should no longer be considered taboo, especially in this day and age. She encourages everyone to go out on dates and, since 35% of men and women have fallen in love with someone they were not initially attracted to and71% became smitten after having great conversations or finding shared interests, to actually give people a chance by going ona second date with that someone you're on the fence about.

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NYC Black Tie Event: The Manhattan Cocktail Classic Gala

For the past two weekends I have packed a weekend bag and set off to Fire Island. My boyfriend and his friend went in on a house for 10 days in Davis Park, so I took the opportunity to spend the weekend on the beach rather than stay in the concrete jungle.

The first weekend we had the house was over 4th of July weekend, and there were about 15 of us who stayed at the house. I was able to bring one of my best girlfriends too. The house had four bedrooms with two twin beds in each room. The remaining people slept on air mattresses in the living room. I kind of felt like I was in college again with a house jam-packed with people and a weekend full of drinking with drinking games (beer pong included of course).

We had great weather on Saturday, but it was rainy all Sunday so we got bored quite fast, and we left on Monday. By the end I was happy to get back to the city and into my daily routine of things and actually feel clean after a long shower without getting all sandy again. By the time the next weekend rolled around though, I was ready for another mini-vacation from the city. This time, it was raining on Friday as we headed to Fire Island, and luckily, the weather was gorgeous while we were there. On Saturday morning my boyfriend and I set off on a 15 mile walk/jog on the beach because I really wanted to see the lighthouse by Kismet. We ended up stopping at mile seven and taking a water taxi back, but it was still a fun little adventure. Let’s just say I now know why Fire Island

is notoriously known as the gay island. There are only certain parts that seem that way, but you’ll definitely know when you are in gayville by all the naked bodies on the beach.

Fire Island was a nice little escape from the city for a few days. I wouldn’t call it paradise, but no one can complain too much about an opportunity to tan on the beach while watching the waves in the ocean. Davis Park is a nice little community too, although I would probably choose to stay on a different part of the island next year, just to try something different. The only real hassle is getting there–two trains, a taxi and a ferry. It can also be a little costly. $11 for a LIR train ticket, $6 for a taxi from the train station to the ferry, and $9 to take the ferry from Long Island to Fire Island. =$26 each way = $52 roundtrip in just transportation. Food is also expensive on the island; it’s double the price of food in NYC which is already expensive. It’s best to bring food over on the ferry with you which will definitely save you money, but it is also a hassle, so you have to weigh your options.

I am already looking forward to going back next year. Thanks for the memories Davis Park! 🙂

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Two Weekends on Fire Island

For the past two weekends I have packed a weekend bag and set off to Fire Island. My boyfriend and his friend went in on a house for 10 days in Davis Park, so I took the opportunity to spend the weekend on the beach rather than stay in the concrete jungle.

The first weekend we had the house was over 4th of July weekend, and there were about 15 of us who stayed at the house. I was able to bring one of my best girlfriends too. The house had four bedrooms with two twin beds in each room. The remaining people slept on air mattresses in the living room. I kind of felt like I was in college again with a house jam-packed with people and a weekend full of drinking with drinking games (beer pong included of course).

We had great weather on Saturday, but it was rainy all Sunday so we got bored quite fast, and we left on Monday. By the end I was happy to get back to the city and into my daily routine of things and actually feel clean after a long shower without getting all sandy again. By the time the next weekend rolled around though, I was ready for another mini-vacation from the city. This time, it was raining on Friday as we headed to Fire Island, and luckily, the weather was gorgeous while we were there. On Saturday morning my boyfriend and I set off on a 15 mile walk/jog on the beach because I really wanted to see the lighthouse by Kismet. We ended up stopping at mile seven and taking a water taxi back, but it was still a fun little adventure. Let’s just say I now know why Fire Island

is notoriously known as the gay island. There are only certain parts that seem that way, but you’ll definitely know when you are in gayville by all the naked bodies on the beach.

Fire Island was a nice little escape from the city for a few days. I wouldn’t call it paradise, but no one can complain too much about an opportunity to tan on the beach while watching the waves in the ocean. Davis Park is a nice little community too, although I would probably choose to stay on a different part of the island next year, just to try something different. The only real hassle is getting there–two trains, a taxi and a ferry. It can also be a little costly. $11 for a LIR train ticket, $6 for a taxi from the train station to the ferry, and $9 to take the ferry from Long Island to Fire Island. =$26 each way = $52 roundtrip in just transportation. Food is also expensive on the island; it’s double the price of food in NYC which is already expensive. It’s best to bring food over on the ferry with you which will definitely save you money, but it is also a hassle, so you have to weigh your options.

I am already looking forward to going back next year. Thanks for the memories Davis Park! 🙂

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What’s My Age Again?

23. I am 23 years old, soon to be 24 come April. Just by saying my age, I'm sure you already have preconceptions about where I am in my life. Some may be true, but some may be way off. This excellent product will last longer in the fridge, but doesn’t require refrigeration so can easily be taken traveling.

I'm a “”mature”” 23-year-old I've been told. I went to a good college, got a job shortly after graduating, and independently moved to the big city. I'm over the party scene and I much prefer a margarita while catching up with a friend and waking up well before noon on weekends as opposed to taking shots, staying out until 3am, and sleeping half the weekend away.

Does that make me mature? Perhaps. But that still doesn't change the number attached to my identity. My age doesn't bother me so much as how others respond to it. Even though I may be more on the same page as a woman in her late 20's/early 30's, someone who is older doesn't want to consider a 23-year-old at the same place in life. Therefore, I find myself at an interesting stage in my life in which I have trouble relating to people my own age, yet older girls don't want to accept me into their circle of friends.

What I also think is interesting about age is how it is used in recognition as well as being used as a defense. Career-wise, one may be considered bright, talented and ambitious as a young professional starting a career and working hard to perform well. “”She's doing so well for her age”” might be said. On the other hand, one's age is often the go-to excuse whenever a mistake occurs. “”She's young. She still has a lot to learn.”” We manipulate age to fit our own conceptions about how one that age should be.

What also baffles me is when someone older than myself makes a big deal out of 6, 4, even a 2-year age difference.

Fact: My boyfriend is si

x years older than me. Was I drawn to him because he looks 29? No, his age wasn't a factor so much as his level of maturity. What frustrates me is how many people judge our relationship based on our age difference. What most people don't realize, or they say they agree but still judge, is that guys and girls mature at different times, and a man 6+ years older might be perfectly compatible with a younger woman.

I shared my frustration with age with someone recently and she was quick to say, “”l prefer older men too. Six years is nothing.”” (My age complex has clearly left me feeling I need to defend why I'm dating an older guy, which is ridiculous in itself.) But then, in our next conversation topic when I started relaying a story about another friend who is our age she looked at me puzzled and clarified, “”Well, I'm 25.”” Really? You're going to pacify me that a six year gap between my bf and I is not big but then quickly point out that we're two years apart in age. That is the exact thing I'd like to confront with people. Why do we have so many double standards, rules and expectations when it comes to age?

Age is a number. After the laid out structure of high school, we all go through life at our own pace and on our own paths we carve out for ourselves. I might have the same work experience as a 27-year-old who simply started college and started working later. Is it right to automatically assume that that person is more wise and mature because they've been on this earth longer? Age doesn't get you a job, set your priorities straight, give you work ethics, or help you find a partner. It's all about experiences and speed of growth.

So, enough about age. You don't ask me mine, and I won't ask you yours.

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The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work and Brave New World

I recently read The Pleasures & Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton for International Arts Movement Readers Guild followed by rereading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (which I decided to reread after finishing Amusing Ourselves to Death). Coincidentally, both books serve as an interesting parallel to my current thoughts about life and work. Also, despite having been written almost a century apart and one being a philisophical non-fiction novel while the other is fiction, they surprisingly have many similarities, especially dealing with the issue of work and pleasure.

In both books, members of society are defined by their profession. The “”lower class”” is looked down upon simply because they make less money or their job is not as glamorous. There is no effort made in actually getting to know an individual of the lower class without subconsciously writing them off as less intelligent.

The majority of the population in Brave New World live in a world in which ignorance is bliss; they strive for a life of pleasure, so they do not worry themselves with troubling thoughts. Although there is still a social hierarchy, the people have been cultivated to be satisfied with their own ranking. Huxley alludes that this is not natural though, when he has The Director confess to Bernard & Helmholtz that he envies them for being outlawed to the islands where they can act

out their individualism. In The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work the author takes the reader on a preview through several different professions. He states that one job can simply be a way to pass time and keep us “”out of trouble,”” yet society defines us by our profession, so we must care and put in effort.

The Pleasures & Sorrows of Work and Brave New World both led me to think about my current state of happiness with my career, friends, job–life in general. John in Brave New World concludes that happiness isn’t everything, and he chooses life outside of a stable society in order to be free to live how he likes which includes enduring pain and suffering to repent and make him into a stronger individual. In living a life in which we often withstand anguish and monotmy it may make it so that when we do feel happy, that happiness is fully appreciated with a sense of relief and wonder. In other words, pain and doubt leading to happiness makes the path there seem so much sweeter; it becomes a way to learn. The combination of good and bad feelings balance and ultimately lead to an overall feeling of contentment. Do you agree that we are beings that need to suffer in order to learn and through knowledge we become content?

What I’ve come to realize is that while I do know that I will be judged by my profession so I must always be striving for improvement, what will truly make a fulfilled life is by thoroughly enjoying my time outside of work. I’m starting to view every weekend as a mini vacation, and after work on weekdays, I try to make as many plans and be as active as possible. I spend enough time at work, and I deserve to have a life outside of it as well. By maintaining that balance, I do feel that it is possible to boost ones happiness in the workplace.

Brave New World is on the mandatory reading list in grade school, so most of us have already read it, but I suggest reading it again if your mind is a little fuzzy on what it’s about. The Pleasures & Sorrows of work is non-fiction, so it may speak to a different audience, but it’s a fairly quick read and I found it beneficial to have an insider’s peek into the professions of others.

You can also check out my review of The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work on the International Arts Movement page here.

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My First Podcast Interview on MyNY

So, interesting story–Patrick James Lynch tweeted at me after stumbling upon one of my new blogpost tweets detailing my adventures in NYC. After checking out Patrick’s site to make sure he was legit, I agreed to do a podcast interview with him.

Podcasts are a different kind of beast I’m not that familiar with, but I was interested in seeing how it is done. Plus, MyNY is really cool because Patrick interviews people living in New York–whether or not they are natives or transplants like myself–working in different professions. He does not discriminate. He has interviewed New Yorkers ranging from a wide va

riety hobbies and professions including law enforcement, body building, textile/metal/fabric design, actors, musicians, etc. all with their own unique story which adds to the authenticity of the MyNY podcasts.

In this interview, Patrick and I discussed the first time I visited the city, my move, efforts to adapt to city life and make new friends, and…zombies. Yup, zombies.

You can listen to the whole interview here or check out the sample interview below:

By the way, all of my Michiganders out there, do you have an accent like mine? I obviously don’t notice it myself, but apparently I stick out like a sore thumb to all of my new

East Coast colleagues and friends. Anyway, don’t judge me for saying “”um”” way too many times and the fact that I still sound like a 12-year-old girl. 😉
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