It’s flu time

With the temperature suddenly 21° (with a 9° wind chill) in New York City, those who haven't succumbed yet to the flu could well be on the verge, including me. Here's some good information from the CDC, Influenza: The Disease. Of course, the most troubling bit was this, "A person can spread the flu starting one day before he or she feels sick." It might be too late for us all!

Happy December 1st

I had a nice Thanksgiving message written and then my browser crashed right before I had to head off for my vacation. So hopefully Thanksgiving went well for you and yours, and now Happy December 1st! That exclamation point is rather forced, I'm afraid to admit. Where has the year gone? And how is it winter all of the sudden and time for Christmas? Oy. That's really about all I've got to say. Oy.

Race results!

Meg running Race to DeliverI did it! Yesterday was a beautiful day for running, clean and not too hot and not too cold. I braved the crowded course, avoided collisions as I passed (and alas, was passed by) runners, and slogged up hills. Yes, hills. Sadly, my training had neglected hills and it hadn't occurred to me that there would be hills (these hills are really much more noticeable when you're running) in Central Park, but there were. So the race was a little harder than I'd anticipated and I couldn't push myself as much as I'd planned. But I made it, and I finished in under 40 minutes, which was my goal. For some reason, the race results still aren't up on the NYRR site. When they are, I'll post my official time. Ok, my net time was 37:39 and my pace 9:24/mile. Not the best, not the worst (especially with those hills!) and there's lots of room for improvement. Thanks, once again, to everyone who contributed. It was a great day, a great race, and we raised over $975,000 to provide meals to people living with AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses.

Here's a full-size photo of me [54 KB] in racing action, thanks to Jason who picked me out of the crowd by some miracle.

In less than two weeks, I'm going to run the NYRR Hot Chocolate 15K, 9.3 miles in Central Park. This time though there's no fund raising involved. This time it's just for the free hot chocolate at the end!

48 hours to go!

Less than 48 hours until the Race to Deliver in Central Park. We're at $1180 in donations, which is amazing. If you were thinking about donating and still haven't, you've still got time. $1200 is such a nice round number. 🙂 I'm going to pick up my race number this afternoon. I had my final training run this morning (a very light and slow 2 miles) and I'm ready! Now I just need two good nights of sleep and I'll be burning up the course through Central Park, by which of course I mean I hope I can survive it running ten-minute miles.

Update: Yippee! $1200! Megnut readers #1! Megnut readers #1!

Update on the update: $1260!!!

Warmed with Jamie and chicken

David Loftus for The New York TimesAmander Hesser's The Mediterranean Sun Warms Rainy London is perfect for a rainy New York day as well. Hesser chats with the Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver, while he cooks Braised Ligurian Chicken.

"What I found quite interesting with this dish, being English," Mr. Oliver said, "is that when you eat this, it's quite delicately flavored. It's perfumed with the wine and the rosemary. You get this kind of meaty kind of saltiness from the olives…[w]hen you cook olives whole like this, it's almost like an anchovy. The salt comes out of the olives, and the olive becomes more like a vegetable. And the salt from the olive flavors the chicken really wonderfully."

There's also a special "interactive feature" with Hesser and Oliver, but I haven't watched it yet.

Virtual Book Tour continues

The Virtual Book Tour stopped at Christine Selleck's Big Pink Cookie yesterday and Christine interviewed author Ethan Watters. Today the Tour returns to New York City with a stop in Brooklyn at Josh Greenberg's Epistemographer. Josh has a review of the book and then a personal reflection on what he got out of the book and his current tribeless state. I encourage you to check out the other sites participating in the VBT so that you can experience some other points of view; both of these folks enjoyed the book more than I did and have some good insights. Then, get your passports ready, tomorrow the VBT heads north to Canada for a stop at James McNally's Consolation Champs.

Fundraising and training update

Both fundraising and training continue for the Race to Deliver as the big day draws near. I ran 5 miles over the weekend, have added in some speed work, and slogged 3.5 miles this morning in the rain. Seeing that we're nearly to my goal this morning helped me feel less soggy. Let's see if we can make it to $1000 by the end of today!

I need 7 people to donate $5 today.

That's a little more than a fancy cup of coffee, and less than a trip to the movies. All for a good cause, and to motivate me to get up at 6:30 AM tomorrow morning and run a bunch of 200m sprints. If you haven't donated yet, please consider it. And for those that have thank you thank you thank you.

Update: Wowzers! That was fast. Like five minutes and we're already at $1020. I won't hound you anymore, but of course, if you still would like to contribute, I encourage you. I'm curious to see how far past $1k we can go. Woo hoo!!

Virtual Book Tour: Urban Tribes

Urban Tribes: A Generation Redefines Friendship, Family, and CommitmentWhen Kevin Smokler asked me to participate in the Virtual Book Tour for Ethan Watters' new book, Urban Tribes: A Generation Redefines Friendship, Family, and Commitment, I said yes. Always one to judge a book by its cover (or title), Urban Tribes sounded intriguing, especially when I read the blurb on the back:

The current generation of young Americans is waiting longer than ever to get married. Urban Tribes tells you why. And by the way, it's good news.

As a thirty-something unmarried American, I was looking forward to hearing the good news! But as I read, I found myself questioning the author's assertions rather than agreeing. Watters' thesis is that young Americans are spending the increasingly longer time between college and marriage in tight knit groups of friends he calls urban tribes. These tribes act as surrogate families and give one the space and encouragement to find oneself, encouraging all sorts of things, from the home brewing of beer to the undertaking of massive art projects. In theory, it sounded great, and seemed to "prove" that many folks aren't the slackers they're assumed to be.

Alas, the people I read about didn't sound like many people I knew. Frankly, many of them sounded annoying, and I found myself wanting to say things like, "Oh grow up!" and "Don't listen to everything your friends tell you!" It all sounded, well, so high-schoolish. And the word that kept coming to mind for me was not tribe but clique. For example, in Chapter 8, "Love Versus The Tribe," Watters quotes messages he received from people who wrote to describe their tribes:

"This tribe has made me realize that I can be happy living my life my way," wrote Kari, twenty-six, from Pittsburgh. "My tribe will not let me waste time on a loser." In very similar language, Rebecca, also twenty-six, from Dallas wrote, "The group has helped my romantic life because it has strengthened my self-esteem. I will not settle for anything less than true love and passion with complete respect. If it hadn't been for the tribe I may have married the wrong person for the wrong reasons." (p 184)

Certainly there's something to be said for having friends who help you grow up and figure out who you are. And I agree with Watters' premise that for our generation this happens during our twenties, and with lots of help from our friends. But reading the above passage made me wonder if tribe members are forsaking their individual identities for that of the tribe's, and if that weren't perhaps detrimental to the process of finding one's self. In Watters' tribe world, one's tribe is one's family until romance strikes, at which point (like Watters himself) you move from your tribe into marriage. Writing about his own transition, Watters says,

I was in the process of changing my definition of "us" from meaning "the group" to meaning "Rebecca and Me." (p 202)

This transition is understandable and necessary, but there seemed to be little examination of the "I" without the context of the group, which I found disappointing. At many points in Urban Tribes, Watters appears tantalizingly close to examining some really interesting concepts, e.g. how do young Americans balance their needs as individuals within the dynamic of their larger group, or groups? What about people who don't follow his nice clean pattern of tribe to marriage?

Nearly everyone I know is coupled up, many live with partners, but very few are married. This doesn't fit with Watters thesis that we're creating tribes (in fact I couldn't find a single person who considered him or herself part of a tribe), but certainly is evidence that our generation is playing by different rules. What effect is that having on us? I know many women, myself included, who are finding the nebulous world of living-together-but-not-married difficult and confusing. The fuzzy roles and expectations are stressful, but there was no examination of this, by my reckoning, rampant phenomenon.

Watters also talks of our waiting to marry as part of our search for our "soul mates" but doesn't examine the inherent risks associated with, or even feasibility of, such perfectionism. After all, the tribe demonstrates that one's social needs can be met by a variety of different people. Why must those needs all be met by one person once one marries?

It's not fair to blame Watters for not writing the book I wanted — and expected — to read, but I can't help but be disappointed with the book he's written. Certainly there are interesting things going on with our generation, but I'm not convinced Urban Tribes has fully uncovered what they are.

For some futher thoughts, Peter Merholz wrote a review back in September. I totally relate to his frustration with that lack of actual data Watters uses to support his assertions, but since Peter already covered it, I won't write about it here again.

Remembering Betsy

Last night I got together with a wonderful old friend I hadn't seen in nearly ten years. During our discussion, she mentioned a woman with whom we had both attended summer camp had died. It's always such odd news to hear of the death of someone you haven't thought about or seen in many many years. Suddenly and unexpectedly, you miss them.

Today as I was running, my thoughts turned to Betsy and my memories of her: shockingly long bright red hair, her nose ring (which really seemed like something odd and amazing when I was a twelve-year-old girl), and her incredible mountaineering and canoeing skills. I strained to keep running against a brutally cold and strong wind along the Hudson River, but I never thought of stopping, or just turning to go back home, because I had a goal and I wouldn't give up. With my thoughts on Betsy, I realized that's not how I used to be.

In 1984, I had been away at summer camp for nearly four weeks, and it was Saturday morning of parents' weekend. I was at the canoeing department, working on my landings, and anxiously awaiting my parents' arrival. My tandem landings (where you paddle your canoe at an angle towards the dock, then at the last minute, turn it so you end up "parked" along side) were all that I needed to complete my Boatswain, the first rank given by the canoeing department to recognize a camper's canoeing skills. I had been working on it every day since camp began.

Continue reading “Remembering Betsy”