26 March 2010

Clinique All About Eyes

Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage

A birthday gift from Amanda, along with the cutest little makeup bag you've ever seen (mine is red and lives in my purse, where it took the place of about three other smaller bags).

This is some amazing stuff. It sort of tingles when you apply it, and after about 15 minutes, those awful eye bags that I wake up with are GONE. Seriously. Thanks, Amanda!


Well, there it is. I turned 29 on Monday, and I've been expecting the gray hairs to sprout and the lower back & knee pain to start ever since. Luckily, neither of those has transpired yet (although I will admit that I found one gray hair a couple months back and basically had to be talked down from throwing myself into the canal).

That said, the big day itself wasn't nearly as traumatic as it might have been. I went to work, like I always do on Mondays, and my boss brought Sprinkles cupcakes to celebrate. I had lunch with some funny friends who always make me laugh. Dinner with more wonderful friends followed work, and then I went to sleep pretty early.

There is a wonderful legitimacy that comes with being 29, I think. I've decided that this is going to be a great year. I feel blessed and lucky to have the family and friends that I have, and despite the fact that I live so far from many of them, I think that as I get older, I appreciate them more and more. My job is dynamic and interesting, and I'm finally comfortable enough with my experience and skill set that I can relax a little bit and enjoy it. I guess that as it turns out, 29 isn't all that rough after all...

17 March 2010

The Office of Desire

by Martha Moody

Plot (another one courtesy of amazon.com): “Moody stages this sharply observed tale of office relationships gone very wrong at a small Ohio medical practice. When Dr. Will Strub marries office nurse Alicia, he becomes increasingly involved in the local fundamentalist church. That puts him somewhat at odds with his fellow doctor and business partner, Dr. Hap Markowitz, who defines himself as a non-observant, God-fearing Jew. Meanwhile, middle aged office receptionist Caroline begins her own new relationship with a 72-year-old patient named Fred, while Hap devotes his spare time to his seriously ill wife, making office manager Brice literally the odd man out. The slow descent into insanity by one of the characters leads to a tragedy that affects all involved; gay relationships, evangelical fervor, amputation and infidelity all play in. There is a point where loyalty became a sickness, where faithfulness to someone else became a way to destroy yourself, Hap observes, and each of Moody's well-drawn characters embodies that statement in his or her own way. Hap and Caroline alternate with first person narration, which lends Upstairs Downstairs–like shifts in perspective, which can be distracting. Moody keeps things moving, though, and gets the details right, whether adding up emotional balances, Prozac samples or a patient's bill.”

I had a great time reading this book, in spite of its somewhat depressing and often wistful tone. Plots that rotate around personal relationships rather than defining, dramatic events always fascinate me because they so accurately reflect real life. There’s a lot of “drama” in this book for sure: life, death, marriage, divorce, illness, legal problems, etc. But the real heart of the story is the characters themselves and their evolving relationships with one another. The author strikes a solid balance between character development and plot.

Unlike the amazon.com reviewer, I didn’t find the teeter-tottering perspectives distracting at all. I enjoyed reading the different ways Hap and Caroline perceived the same events; Hap is a doctor while Caroline is a receptionist, so there is a wonderful upstairs-downstairs dynamic (reminiscent of Gosford Park and lots of Agatha Christie, actually). Good book.

To the Power of Three

by Laura Lippman

This is the second book of Lippman’s that I’ve read, and I’m thinking it may be the last. My gripe about this one is the same as last time. The book is excellent and kept me riveted right up until the end, and then, the ending sucked. Everything was tied up in a neat, pretty little package with a bow, by a single character who all of a sudden decided that she just had to tell the truth. As mystery novels go, this is, in my opinion, the worst ending possible. And let me tell you, it NEVER happens that way in real life. The killer (or the witness, or whoever) does not get a sudden attack of conscience and run to the cops to reveal “what really happened.”

Plot: Three teenage girls, who have been best friends since 3rd grade, are the center of a high-school shooting. One of them is implicated as the shooter while the other two are the supposed victims. All three are bright, popular, and have promising futures, so no one can grasp the motive behind the shooting. The action centers on the small town’s reaction to the shooting, the investigation by the detectives, and the families’ attempts to ferret out what really happened.

Most mystery novels end with a bang. Either the literal bang of a gun, or some really exciting, shocking surprise that the reader might have been piecing together but couldn’t quite get a handle on. Lippman, though, writes compelling, moving, perfectly paced novels that end with a dull thud. In the case of this novel, it’s also a little far-reaching and implausible, too. Yuck. I’d rather read a book that’s awful from the beginning (Lord Jim, anyone?) than enjoy one so thoroughly only to be this disappointed upon finishing.