Friday, September 26, 2014

My Nectar List

Recently on Facebook I had posted a link to some of my friends encouraging them to check it out.  Basically, it's the idea of a Nectar List.  Everyone has heard of a bucket list - things you want to do before you "kick the bucket", but a Nectar list is basically a list of accomplishments that you have made in your lifetime, so far.  It's about appreciating what you've been able to do and how you've already lived - even if your biggest dreams and wishes have yet to come true.  Amber has beaten me to creating a list - so it's given me the push I needed to at least start mine.  I have a feeling I'll be adding to the post as more and more things come to my mind, but for now, here's what's so far been the nectar of my life:

My Nectar List
  1. I tried out for American Idol
  2. When that didn't go so well, I got my first tattoo the next day
  3. So far, I have three tattoos and one planned (one for each surgery)
  4. That being said, my insides have been on my outside
  5. I got accepted to my first choice college the day after Christmas in 2002 (TEMPLE)
  6. I traveled to Israel for 10 days (end of 2004/beginning of 2005)
  7. While there I had my Bat Mitzvah at the age of 19 in the basement of a hotel in Jerusalem
  8. I've ridden on a camel
    riding the camel near the Bedouin camp
  9. I've stayed in a Bedouin camp, eaten with no utensils while sitting on the ground, and had their amazing tea!!
  10. I have gone on an archeology dig in Israel
    we were digging, and it was super awesome
  11. I've climbed to the top of Mount Masada and watched the sunrise
  12. I'm a lover of board games, and have quite the collection
  13. I've met half of Phantom Planet    
    @panic at the disco show, drummer and guitarist
  14. I was credited on Mandy Moore's last album as a hand clapper with my Kevin and Melissa friends
  15. I've met Mandy Moore
    kev, me, mel and mandy
  16. I used to travel all over to see my favorite local band, The Poptart Monkeys
  17. I lived in Dublin, Ireland for 6 weeks, right before my senior year of college
  18. I made out with a hot Irishman in the middle of the streets of Dublin at 4am
  19. I kissed the Blarney stone when visiting Blarney Castle
    Blarney castle is behind us
  20. I signed the Ketubah for one of my best friends
  21. That same friend and I slept in Heathrow airport overnight because our flight got cancelled
  22. I spent a weekend in London
  23. I visited Madame Tussauds in London
  24. I have shopped at Harrod's
  25. I've been to Buckingham Palace
    Those gates were jammed with people
  26. I have been in love
  27. I've had my heart broken 
  28. My sweet sixteen party was at Six Flags Great Adventure
    group at six flags
  29. I've driven by myself to Michigan (14hrs )
  30. I've also driven to North Carolina, Boston, Connecticut, Ohio and Maine (not to mention the rest of New England)
  31. I've spent multiple 4th of July's in Michigan - at Lake Michigan and seen the fireworks over the lake
  32. In college, a group of us advertising students gave a presentation to the Coca-Cola Company
  33. I love karaoke - and have even come in second in a contest ($250)
  34. I've met Chuck Palahniuk
    note the crazy girl with the wedding veil
  35. I've met Ben Foster (at Penn station)
  36. I've met Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul (at the airport!)
  37. I've met Ed Westwick (in 30 Rock)
  38. I have an extremely tiny family but love them all dearly. I consider myself lucky!
    not pictured, Lala and Uncle Joe
  39. I bought my car in 2009 by taking advantage of Cash for Clunkers
  40. I was a gymnast for years, and was capable of doing handsprings and flips
  41. That lead to becoming a cheerleader
    8th grade, cheering for basketball
  42. I know how to drive a manual vehicle
  43. I've driven a Corvette and a Porsche
  44. I've witnessed the miracle of childbirth (twice!!) when both of my godsons were born
  45. I have the best godsons a girl could ask for
    anton, me and asa
  46. I've taken nine years of Spanish - and have been trying to polish my skills
  47. I caught the bouquet at my cousin Mindy's wedding
    we were super excited!
  48. I'm still friends with the people who were there during important segments of my life
  49. I have some of the best friends in the world
  50. I have the best and most supportive family
  51. My whole life I have loved art, and recently went to one of those painting classes
    my beautiful work of art ;)
  52. I've been to lots of concerts: N'Sync, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, Panic at the Disco!, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Hunter, Mike Viola, Fountains of Wayne, Adam Ant, Maroon 5, Christina Aguilera, Taking Back Sunday and more!
  53. I saw Rent with the original Broadway cast!
  54. I've seen: Wicked, Rent, Spamalot, Damn Yankees, Annie and many other live shows!
That's my list - as of now.  I'm sure I'll keep thinking and adding to it.  But looking back at everything I've done - I can say that I'm luckier than most.  I can't wait to see what else makes it onto this list!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Reviews: Potpourri

So there are a few reviews that I never got to writing.  I created the posts for the blogs I wanted to write - but do to becoming busy - and not sitting down to do it, I never got around to them. So I figured I would just write a quick summary for the ones I've missed.

Raising Hope
Rating: 8/10 Stars
If you haven't seen this show yet, you should totally check it out. I feel like it was a dark horse, and I'm happy that there were 4 seasons, but I'm sad because there could have been more.  Burt, Virginia and MaMaw were some of the best characters on television.



Rating: 7/10 Stars
This was a pretty funny movie.  Efron played quite an obnoxious frat dude, while Rogen and Byrne played two pretty adorable (and sometimes extremely stupid) new parents.  If you want to laugh, give it a try.

The Lego Movie

 Rating: 9/10 Stars

 I was pleasantly surprised by this movie.  I had extremely low expectations when I saw the first ad. How the hell were they going to make a movie on the concept of Legos? Well, they did, and it was fantastic!!! Beware the Kragle!!

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Rating: 10/10 Stars
By far the best superhero movie I've ever seen.  I could rewatch this over and over.  The acting was superb as well as the storyline.  But if you're one of those people who likes to nitpick with details when time traveling is involved, skip this.

22 Jump Street 
Rating: 9/10 Stars
This was great! The first movie was all about making fun of itself for being a movie remake of an old TV show.  Well this was all about making fun of itself for being a sequel.  The bits during the credits were also pretty fantastic!

Book Thief
Rating: 8/10 StarsGiven as much content as this had in the book - I thought they did a great job transitioning it into a movie.  The cast was done quite perfectly in my opinion - and gave me all the same feels I had when reading the book.

Rating: 7/10 Stars
Very interesting take on the whole fairy tale.  Looking through the point of view of the villain is something most of us have thought about, but this actually did it.  I am not the biggest Jolie fan - but even she was tolerable in this one.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Rating: 9/10 Stars
Great cast. Great Jokes. Great Storyline. Fantastic soundtrack!! Enough said. Go see this!

Let's Be Cops
Rating: 8/10 StarsI didn't have the highest hopes for this movie - but I love me some Jake Johnson.  It exceeded my expectations very much.  I laughed a whole bunch, and I did figure out the ending, almost to a T. But I like when I can do that.  I'd recommend to someone who wants to laugh.

They Came Together
Rating: 6/10 StarsI'm not even sure I finished this.  They tried extremely hard to be "different" that I was annoyed by it.  I love Poehler and Rudd, but this was a dud for me. (haha, I made a rhyme).

So are there any movies you guys disagree with me about, or any that you think I should check out? I'd love to know what you're thoughts are!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hello Blog Land - It's been a while

So as you've probably noticed, I've been pretty absent from my blog. So much to tell you all - but I've been crazy busy in the best way possible. So here's some of the highlights that I've lacked sharing so far.

The most important thing I've yet to have shared is the surgery I had on July 14.

My mom flew up here from NC and we headed out to Cleveland on July 9th.  On the 10th I had a day chocked full of pre-surgery testing and meetings.  The scariest of the meetings was where I would learn about Ileostomy bags. (they are basically the same thing as a colostomy, but attached to your small intestine - which is where my Crohns lives) During this meeting, the wonderfully sweet nurse who explained things to me and my mom, I received two small tattoos (consisting of three dots) on two separate areas of my stomach.  This was to be where the bag would be inserted if I had needed them.   Now, I've gotten tattoos before, but these hurt like a bitch! Not to mention the idea of needing the bag was something I had come to grips with, but still didn't want.  (Don't worry - I never needed them.  But the tattoos are for life!)

After the incredibly taxing day - my mom and I headed back to the hotel and watched a movie. It was actually a Jake Gyllenhaal movie - ENEMY.  While we watched we couldn't believe how horrible it was.  We kept watching because we had faith that it would turn out better than it had been, but nope.  I've never been so disappointed with something he was in.  Granted - it is one of those movies where once you know the ending, if you watch it again you may appreciate it more.  So maybe I'll give it another shot one day - but not anytime soon. 

We ended up leaving the next morning to spend the weekend in Detroit with my Aunt Virginia and cousins, Morgan and Mindy.  This is when I finally got to meet Mindy's extremely adorable baby, Nickolas Alexander. Seriously though, cutest baby ever!!

Me and Nickolas

Nickolas and Mama

Nickolas and Aunt Morgan

tell me this isn't the cutest baby ever!

It was a pretty relaxing weekend hanging out with my family who I don't get to see that often.  It definitely calmed my nerves for my impending surgery.

This is the same weekend that I decided to treat myself to my first massage ever. And let me tell you - it was my best idea ever! That night, we had my "last meal" since I couldn't eat the day before surgery, and wouldn't be able to eat a normal meal for a while.  We got lobster, and I had two!! If that was my last meal, I was completely happy with it.

The next day my mom and I had to head out to pick up Lala from the Airport and check in to the hotel on the CC campus. But before we left, my mom, aunt Virginia and myself each used wishing paper and made wishes.  It was a nice way to cap off the end of the trip.

The following day was my surgery. I don't remember much of the day at all (or the next for that matter) which is good, because abdominal surgery is the worst!!

Basically - surgery went as smoothly as possible.  They removed all of the remaining Crohns and checked every single inch of my small intestines for any abnormalities.  Basically - a fresh start. I had a great team of doctors nurses and family with me, to push me to recover.  I was walking two days after surgery, and eating as soon as I could.  I was discharged after 6 days :) *last time was ten so woohoo!!

The ride home, is again - not something I remember too well- but I did get home and back to my bed sooner than I had anticipated - and without a stoma bag!!!

A few days after returning home, I ended up back in the hospital with an Ilius. Basically - my insides didn't like being poked, prodded and sliced open so they went a took a nap on me.  After another five days in the hospital waiting for them to wake back up, I was headed home again - and as of now - no ER or hospital visits since then!!

I'm doing pretty well.  Life seems to be coming together for me finally.  I'm hoping to start discussing returning to work with my doctor early next month.  I've got a pretty special someone in my life now. And after five years without fruits or veggies - I've started to introduce them to my diet.

There have been a few bad days here and there - but for the most part, I feel better.  This is what I've been waiting for, for five years now.  There's that part of my brain that keeps me grounded because you never know when it is going to come back or when the bad days will start to outnumber the good - but just the fact that I have good days makes me happy enough for now. :)  I'm trying to live it up as best I can before I start back with work (WORK!! so exciting!!) and I'm also trying not to over do it. It's been quite the battle, but I think I can reward myself with a little fun here and there :)

Thank you to everyone who has supported me, listened to me, or made me smile when I thought I couldn't.  I'm extremely excited with what the future holds for me, and I can't wait to share it with you all :)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Movie Review: Pompeii

Originally - I had no intention of watching the movie Pompeii...but the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I was.

Released: February 21, 2014
Watched: May 2014
My Rating: 7/10 stars

Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Kiefer Sutherland

Paul W.S. Anderson

I wasn't really sure what to expect from this movie before I watched it.  I guess I was expecting an okay-ish action story. But I feel like since I was not expecting much, that my expectations were greatly exceeded.

Helloooooo Jon Snow!!

The real story of Pompeii is pretty fascinating.  I got lost in the wiki pages after I watched the movie. I highly recommend looking into the history of it all.  And who knew it happened so long ago...79 A.D.  I thought it was later than that.

This movie was basically Titanic - but with a volcano instead of an iceburg.  We all know how it ends - but it's still fun to watch.  It was a good action movie - had a pretty great big bad (Keifer) and a love story that made you root for them (Kit and Emily).

If you're looking for a fun, action-packed movie, this one will certainly fulfill your wishes.

Also - Jon Snow...erm...Kit Harrington proves his worth as a leading man.  He impressed me with his role - and his abs.  Oy!

Has anyone else seen it? What did you think?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

TV Review: Orange is the New Black - Season 2

So if you're not watching Orange is the New Black, you are missing out.  The first season took the internet by storm last year.

Based on the real life adventures of Piper Kerman. Piper wrote about her time in prison in her book (which the series is based off of) Orange is the New Black.

Netflix has really done well with their choice of shows to feature through their platform.  While most of them are still on my "to watch" list, OITNB is most certainly a strong show for them.

Instead of going through the season - which was amazing! I've decided that I want to go over each character - maybe discuss what I like and dislike about them, and what they have brought to the show.  If you haven't finished the second season - I'd recommend not reading any further, consider this your SPOILER ALERT!

The series started out, completely centered on Chapman. This season, I feel like her character has grown and changed.  When the season started (she was in the shoe!) she seemed to have gone a tiny bit crazy. [the last season ended, with her beating the ever loving sh*t out of Pennsatucky] She proceeds to be taken to Chicago to speak on behalf of the prosecution for the drug lord she originally trafficked for.  Alex was there - and told her she had to lie.  So she did, then found out Alex dicked her over and told the truth, thereby setting herself free, and having left Piper still in jail, and having had committed perjury. This pretty much sets up the rest of the season for Piper.  She sort of realized that she had to look out for herself.  She's become hardened while in prison.  She's blunt and angry.  I felt that where her character ended up at the end of the season (little bit of revenge - or was it protection? - against Alex) was good for her.  She's accepted her fate, and she's realized she has changed and has to figure out what to do. 

I feel bad for Piper when it comes to Larry though.  Even though they split up, because she cheated on him, in jail, with Alex, he should not have rebounded with her best friend.  Wrong wrong wrong. At least in my mind, but I have trust issues ;)

I'm excited to see what next season brings for Pipes - especially since Alex will be back...

I don't have much to say about Alex.  She was barely in the season - and that's okay with me.  Don't get me wrong, I love Laura Prepon, but Alex is a self centered bitch.  She really just says and does what she needs to to get what she wants. I'm glad she's going back to prison, I just hope it is worse for her the second time around. 

I used to love Larry. But now he's with Polly (Pipers best friend).  I think they have both made bad choices, and I no longer feel badly for him. 

The Wiki page that I've been pulling from isn't completely flushed out yet, so the list of the rest of the characters can be found here.

Joe Kaputo:
I didn't like him last season, but by the end of this season - I'm rooting for him.  I hope he finds happiness and is able to take his new position and do great things with it.  He's a dreamer - and I didn't realize this until near the end of season two. 

Natalie "Fig" Figuera:
Good riddance.  I despised everything about her.

Sam Healy:
He's grown on me this season, and I think he honestly means well. Unfortunately for him, I could take him or leave him. His home life is sad, but I'm glad he has started to "do what's right" when it comes to the prison. 

George "Pornstasche" Mendez:
He needs to see a therapist or something.  He's a raging lunatic. Not to mention - makes me very uncomfortable.  Glad to see him go - though it's not fair he's taking the wrap for Bennett. 

John Bennett:
I used to like him. Not so much now.  The way Daya put it, he needs to stop being a pussy. 

Galina "Red" Reznikov:
I love Red.  I love how strong she is, and how much her "family" means to her.  I think that her having such a strong enemy this season really helped develop her character more.  I'm excited to see how she recovers from the splocking.  It'll be interesting to see her "family's" dynamic when she returns. 

Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren:
She's crazy. But in a way that you feel badly for her.  The last shot of her from this season was gut wrenching. She really felt like Vee was her "mother" and was devastated when she realized that she left.  Crazy Eyes is very misunderstood and has been her whole life.  I enjoyed getting to see into her past.

Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson:
Love her. She struggled this season, but ended stronger than she has been.

Nicky Nichols:
Gotta love her.  Her demeanor is that of a dudes. She really brings that sort of "guys guy" vibe to the cast.

Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett:
Even a fresh new set of teeth didn't help to make her tolerable.

Poussey Washington:
Loved getting to know her character a bit more.  Though I'm still not sure what landed her in prison. Her friendship with Taystee was put on trial this season, but they made it through.

Lorna Morello:
Two words: She's f*cking crazy.

Sophia Burset:
I feel like even though she (used to be a he) has one of the more complicated stories - she brings most of the sanity to the show. I'd love for her character to have more prominence next season.

Dayanara "Daya" Diaz:
She's become to whiney.  She got knocked up by a prison guard - what does she expect will happen.  The house with the white picket fence? I feel badly for her guard - though not too badly. They both made stupid choices. At first I was really into their story line - but now - not so much.

Brooke So-So:
Her last name is how I feel about her.

Yvonne "Vee" Parker:
I knew she was a bad egg the second she showed up.  I didn't know she was going to go straight up crazy though.  She got too power hungry.  Her last shot of the season was perfect.

Rosa Cisneros:
Not only did she escape from prison - but she ran Vee over. Best exit ever!! RIP you fierce old lady!

So much happened in this short 13-episode second season.  My brain is tired from trying to remember most of it.  But the finale was pretty spectacular.

Here's to waiting for another year for more.

Did I not touch on something you felt was important?  Do you disagree with my thoughts on any of the characters?  Do tell!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

To Cleveland...and Beyond....

So I thought I'd do a quick update post regarding what's going on with me medically - for those who care - or are just interested in this stuff in general. Also - this is a more boring post - no pictures...but given the subject manner - you're welcome!

A couple of weeks ago - my mom flew out here to the Philadelphia area - and we drove out to Cleveland.  Our mission: schedule a surgery.

We drove out on a Sunday - it took about 7ish hours.  We checked into the hotel - and pretty much crashed.

Monday - we met with the GI doctor.  My first impression was not great.  That being said - I could have done a better job of being prepared - with records and whatnot.  At first, this doctor was pretty sure she could fix me without having to see a surgeon.  My mom and I pretty much said - both of my GI doctors (the one in Philly and the one in Asheville), who are both highly regarded, both agreed that I am immune to medicinal therapies and needed surgery.  Unfortantely you can't just schedule and appointment at the Cleveland Clinic with a surgeon - you have to go through a doctor first. That being said - the doctor wanted to send me for some blood work and an MR Enterography.

We left that day - I had given the blood they wanted and left with an appointment for Tuesday for the MRE, as well as an appointment that Thursday with a surgeon.  But not just any surgeon - MY surgeon.  The wonderful woman who performed and exploratory surgery back in 2010 which led to my diagnosis of Crohn's disease.

Tuesday - I went in for the MRE while my mother saved me $350 on an antibiotic I needed to take for C-Diff.  I'm not going to give you a link, or tell you what it is, but it's no good, and I tested positive for it.

Wednesday was our day off.  We spent it lounging around the hotel room and then had an adventure in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  It was pretty awesome there, not quite as large and encompassing as I had imagined, but the price of admission was well worth it. (Plus I got to use my original Temple ID from about 11 years ago!)

Thursday - the day of truth.  As we left the hotel room, my mom mentioned how nervous she was.  I wasn't nervous - until she said that!!!!  We drove over to the clinic - and waited patiently to see my surgeon.

Since the CC is a teaching hospital - you usually have to deal with more than one round of doctors. The first doctor that came in (after the nurses did their BP, Temp etc...) and started asking me what I was there for.  I gave him a brief history. At that point - he mentions that he doesn't think that surgery is an option with me since so much of my small intestine was removed in the last surgery.  He then tells us that three feet were taken out - this SHOCKED my mom and I.  I was pretty sure that they had only taken about a foot - but this guy says that I only have 250cm left, and you need 100cm to live. Short gut syndrome started popping up with big flashing signs in my head - then I realized that surgery was not an option.  I was internally freaking out!! Then of course I started crying out of worry and frustration.  (Little did I know my mom was doing the same thing!).

After he does his first little interview, Dr. Costedio (my surgeon) comes in.  Basically she said she wants to do surgery, I have plenty of bowel left, and she can't make any promises - but she can try to remove all of the currently active Crohn's and basically "open" me up on the insides. HUGE sigh of relief.  We of course talked about possible complications (I.E. colostomy bag, it's the new fashion you know!) about my continued use of pain meds. And the after care plans. Also, in order to prepare for surgery - I have to not be on some of my meds anymore - basically the meds I take for the Crohn's  - Remicade and Prednisone.  These make your tissues weaker - so I need to be off of them in order for the surgery to be less complicated (see colostomy bag).  They also informed me that the hospital stay is at least 5-7 days - but my last one after surgery was 10 so I'm mentally preparing myself (and getting movies on the iPad) for a longer stay.

We left that day with a plan - and a surgery date!  Pre-Op July 10th. Surgery July 14th. Mission accomplished.

Of course I'm nervous about surgery - because you never know.  But I'm excited that I may be better afterwards.  The doc even said I can try introducing fruits and vegetables 4-6 weeks after surgery!!! Caesar salad - here I come!!!

No matter what the outcome of the surgery - I'm going to get my life back.  If this doesn't "fix" me, I'm going to have to figure out how to live my life and be a human again.  If that means figuring out how to live every single day in pain - then I'll figure it out. But the fact that there is hope of remission (at least for now) is something I haven't had in a long long time. 

I can't thank my family and friends enough for the support over the past five years.  This road has sucked, and frustrated me beyond belief - but you have all understood and never made me feel bad or guilty for bailing on stuff because I'm sick, or needing help.  So Thank You!!

On another side blog note - I've started like 8 other posts about movies and books and just haven't actually had a chance to sit down and finish them.  I'm going to try to get a bunch done before surgery - but after I'm back home - I'm going to be fairly sedentary for a few weeks - I'm sure I'll be able to move from the bed to the desk (I can handle 18 inches - which is not what she said). ;)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Movie Review: Divergent

As I have mentioned - I knew I was going to have to go see the film version of the Divergent trilogy. One afternoon, after many phone calls to doctors, and hospitals, and basically everyone and their mom who wants money from me...I decided to treat myself to a matinee of Divergent.

Released: March 21st, 2014
Watched: April 16th, 2014
My Rating: 8/10 stars

Shailene WoodleyTheo JamesZoƫ Kravitz and Kate Winslet

Neil Burger

Firstly, I'd like to comment on the cast.  I thought that the choices made for each role were done brilliantly.  I didn't need to know who they were - I could already tell just by looking.  This doesn't always happen in a film adaptation of a book (remember Dudley from Harry Potter - that still makes me angry!!)

I thought that the adaptation of this book into a movie was done very well.  I am one who can admit that they can't possibly fit every single thing from a book into a movie.  The parts that they grazed over - were (in my opinion) grazable. Also - because I read all three books in succession - I can't be sure if the ending fit the ending of the first book - but it definitely ended perfectly set up for the second.

From a plot standpoint - this was a well rounded movie.  The action sequences were intense (and not vomit inducing!!) and the SFx were nicely done.  I don't feel as if you needed to read it to be able to completely understand the movie.  Nor, do I think you have to read it to see the movie.

Shailene handled her role as Tris with confidence (and timidness) that the character deserved.  And Theo James.  Hello, Good Sir!  Not only is he beautiful, but he sold the character of Four (Tobias) and his chemistry with Woodley was palpable.

I will have no problem going to see the next installment - especially if it means getting to continue the series AND seeing Theo James without a shirt on again.

Has anyone else seen the movie? What did you think?