|Race Length||Finishing Time||Average Pace||Overall Place||Gender Place (All Women)||Age Group Place (F20-24)|
|10k (~6.2 miles)||45:25||7:18/mile||124/3478||15/1815||2/?|
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Finishing time: 45:25
I can't really determine any comparison data yet (how I did in relation to other runners) because Nike doesn't seem to have that capability on their website, but guess I'll keep checking back to see if they make any updates/improvements. The 10th female NYC race finisher (the race happened in cities worldwide) finished in 43-something, so I don't feel TOO badly about my time. I just don't think I like these shorter distances!
On another note, Nike did some interesting things regarding this race that I think shows the difference between a NYRR-sponsored race and a race sponsored by a specific company. The shirts that were distributed, for instance, were very good quality--made by Nike, obviously--but it turned out that the shirt acted as the race bib; therefore, every single person running the race looked identical. On one hand, this did spark a slight feeling of camaraderie, as it felt more like a giant team running together in a race rather than individuals trying to beat one another. On the other hand, a race is filled with all sorts of unique individuals, and the uniqueness (I feel) is always well portrayed by everyone's varying choices of running attire. This uniqueness was lost, however, since we were all wearing the same shirt.
Another point of interest is how often they had water posts: every mile! It seemed overkill to me, but then again, I'm the girl who ran the first 12 miles of her marathon without stopping at any water stations, so maybe I tend to operate with less hydration than most.
I think the post-race tents were well put together, particularly because Nike was going to provide live results right there--something every runner desires to see as quickly as possible after the race. However, I don't think they were well prepared to accommodate the full 5,000 participants. There was only one food station handing out bottled water, Vitamin Water, pretzels, and granola bars, and as it was arranged as a tent rather than a "gauntlet," there was major congestion as well as a lack of accessible supplies for all of the runners.
All in all, I don't think I much like running the 10k distance. Half marathons are more my style; I find them more enjoyable, at any rate. Still, 5k and 10k races are probably good for my pace training, so I'll try to treat them as that and nothing more. It gets tough, though, when I see runners zooming by me...!
Friday, October 23, 2009
- 1-2 turnips
- 1 large onion
- 1 large carrot
- salt and pepper
- cayenne pepper
- vegetable stock (~1/4 cup)
Cut turnip into finger-sized pieces. Steam for ~3 min.
Cut onion into rings. Caramelize in pan with salt/sugar/pepper to taste.
Make sauce: veggie stock, cornstarch (to thicken), honey, allspice, cayenne pepper, salt
Heat sauce on stove over low heat. Using a peeler, shave in carrot and boil sauce until thickened. Add turnip and onion and heat until warm.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The first half of this novel was written superbly. The tension between the 1940s story of ten-year-old Sarah, a Jewish French girl rounded up by the French police with her family in a little-spoken-of Nazi initiative and the 20th century story of Julia's investigation into the roundup (called Vel' d'Hiv') was well-balanced, with each increasing gradually in fervor to keep the reader properly intrigued with both as they each progressed in parallel. However, once the two stories finally coincided--Julia discovered her husband's family's link to the Vel' d'Hiv' in Sarah's story--it seemed that the book had reached its pinnacle. Julia's continued obsession with Sarah and finding her--and later her predecessor--dominated the remainder of the book, offering no suspense for the reader, who knew she would eventually find answers to her questions and was forced to wallow along with her in her misery over her failing marriage and the saddness she repeatedly professed feeling over her topic of research. At the end, Rosnay attempts to give the reader a sense of rebirth and reconcilliation, but the novel was so drawn out from midway on, it's just a relief to finally be finished--which is never a good way for a reader to feel.
Ultimately, the truest and most compelling character was Julia's daughter Zoe, who played an important but not dominating role throughout the novel as a sort of FOIL or mirror for the modern-day Sarah.
Rosnay proved herself to be a feeling, emotional, compelling writer. Hopefully with her next work, she'll have better editorial guidance to help her hone her material.
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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book offers a wonderful glimpse of the genuine "family dynamic" between a childless aunt and her mentally ill sister's teenage son and adolescent daughter. The characters are quirky but so well fleshed-out that you as the reader cannot help feeling as much compassion for them as if they were real people.
Hattie lacks life direction and does a brilliant, unsentimental job of relaying her self-doubts to the reader. Logan struggles with his mother Min's sickness and his responsibility for his younger sister Thebes in his very fifteen-year-old way, and Thebes is such a lovably bizarre girl that one cannot help but laugh out loud at many of her antics.
Toews treats all of these characters with consistency despite their quirks and their development throughout the novel, a commendable feat for an author writing any story, never mind a story concerning a spontaneous road trip to find a mentally ill woman's estranged husband.
Readers in all walks of life are likely to appreciate different aspects of this book, but all equally so, and none less than I did. I hope to read more equally ipressive works by Toews, regardless of what the NY Times has to say. (Although I will admit the one point in the book that did irk me a bit was Hattie's complete disregard for money--and the lack of consequences for all the characters' frivilous spending. In the real world, people have to worry about money. But I blame Toews' editor; he/she should have caught that.
Monday, October 19, 2009
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I love the fact that this novel progressed from the good to the bad. For a story about alcoholism and abuse (more abuse than alcoholism), I find this progression logical and effective, yet rarely followed.
Also effective was Doyle's first-person narration from the POV of the abused wife. It was fascinating to read from inside Paula's head rather than as a 3rd party observer watching her life. There is a sense of frustration looking at a situation of abuse--real or fictional--but the frustration is experienced very differently when seen from inside the abusive relationship than from outside looking into it.
For as short as it was, I found Doyle's novel to be unnecessarily repetitive in several places. Obviously the repetition served a purpose many times, but there were some instances where I just felt "ok you've already been over this three times, I do not need to hear it again." As a reader, I would just skim-skip those parts, looking for the next piece of relevant action. E.g. I promise! I promise! I promise! I never really did figure out who was saying that. Was it Charlo promising not to do it again? I don't think so. Was it Paula promising not to do whatever it was that had provoked Charlo to hit her? Most likely, but that wasn't very clear, and therefore not very effective, either, especially because it was always followed by different content. "Don't hit my mammy!" would sometimes be sprinkled in the "I promise!' tirade, and afterwards Paula may talk about being afraid of Charlo, or she may talk about loving him and needing him and being unable to live without him. I usually skipped those entire sections, my eyes and mind hungering for the next piece of new information. These were things I already knew from what I had read and "witnessed" throughout the book, and although I understand that I was supposed to be inside Paula's mind, I simply did not need to hear them again.
All in all, a powerful book. I don't know how much Charlo's murder of the young woman added to the novel other than an additional unanswerable question for Paula to worry over in her mind, but perhaps a second reading would bring some of these issues into clearer perspective. It's a short enough, quick enough read, that I just might.
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My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The best of the bunch so far, if the wordiest and most easily edited-down. The characters are starting to show glimmers of person-ness, in spite of Harry's incessant griping and grousing, and I'm almost starting to care what happens to them. It's a pity it took ~5000 pages to get me to this point, but if in another 2000 pages Rowling leaves me with the yearning for more story (which of course doesn't exist), I may have to concede that the long literary journey was worthwhile.
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Sunday, October 18, 2009
Hello! Sorry for not having posted in ages. For the last two weeks, I have been dog-sitting at an apartment that—believe it or not—does not have Internet. (Shocking, I know, especially in this day and age, and even more so because the tenants lived on the Upper East Side!) It has been quite the adventure, of which several incidents are worth recounting.
Before I recount these incidents, however, I must mention (perhaps for the second time, as I probably wrote about this when I cat-sat at D___’s apartment) that one learns quite a bit about a person—or in this case a couple—by staying in his/her apartment. And even more surprisingly, what a person doesn’t own is almost as revealing as what they do own. For instance, because I work with and know one of the men, T___, for whom I dog-sat, it didn’t shock me to find his (and his partner’s) apartment to be tastefully furnished in a very “antique” and artful sort of way. It wasn’t tremendously shocking to me that they owned a giant CD collection of show tunes and classical orchestral music, and I was wholly unsurprised that their closets were filled with what I would consider “dress clothes.” (Sweaters were the least “dressy” apparel available, with button-down shirts and suit jackets being the most predominant tops in their wardrobe.)
What did surprise me was the absence of a) hand towels (even in the kitchen; I ended up using a bath towel to dry dishes until I finally borrowed a dish towel from a colleague at work), b) hand soap (I had to open the only bar I could find, which was one of those free ones from a hotel, hidden in an urn on top of the toilet along with matches and other random odds and ends), and c) excess food. (Even I, when leaving a place for several weeks, leave behind things like a random onion, dried pasta, and baking ingredients like flour, brown sugar, etc. Either they managed to eat all of this up before they left, or they really keep none of this on hand!) I’m not entirely sure what this “says,” per se, about these gentlemen, but it was curious to find these items lacking.
Now, for the list of noteworthy incidents that occurred during my stay:
- First off, I have to explain that this dog—his name is Caesar—is not only well trained (he knows the commands sit and shake, and he poops twice a day like clockwork) and well mannered (he rarely barks, he doesn’t jump up on newcomers, and he completely ignores most other dogs when passing them on the street), he’s smart. Stores on the Upper East Side (UES) apparently give out treats to their local canine residents, and Caesar knows exactly where these places are. Being a newcomer to the UES, I obviously had no idea that any store handed out treats, never mind a wine & liquor store or a women’s clothing boutique. Caesar knew, though, and very literally dragged me to each and every one of these venues multiple times.
Prior last week, I had never been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In fact, the only NYC art museum I had been to was the MoMA, which I visited last year in order to see the Van Gough exhibit with my cousin K___. However, before he left, T___ provided me with not one but three invitations to exclusive art exhibitions, one at the Whitney and two at the Met. I unfortunately couldn’t attend the one at the Whitney (it was for the Georgia O’Keefe exhibit, which I would still like to see), but I did attend both of the events at the Met. The first was a sort of meet-and-greet for the exhibit American Stories. They opened the entire exhibition for guests’ perusal and then set up the balcony around the great hall (which is also the main entrance to the museum) as a lounge area, complete with open bar and appetizers. This was what I would call an “old money” event; everyone in attendance (excepting me, my guest M___, and maybe one other couple I saw wearing jeans and cowboy boots) was probably only slightly younger than my grandparents. Truly, the quantity of white hair was stunning.
The second event was a curator-guided tour of photographer Robert Frank’s exhibition The Americans. For me, this was a much more worthwhile affair, because although the appetizers were considerably less appealing (fried little balls of weird breaded meat and pretzel twists served at The Americans, as opposed to delicious crispy toasts, olives, pickles, and spreads, plus cocktail peanut mix to go with drinks at American Stories), the curator imparted ten times more knowledge than I ever could have gained from reading the little plaques on the walls beside Frank’s photos, and his animation and enthusiasm made me much more interested in the exhibit than I otherwise would have been. Quite honestly, even after he imparted all of his knowledge about the photography and his awe of Frank, I still wasn’t that impressed by the photos. I feel that if I were to go out on the street and take 90% of the photos he took and try to submit them somewhere important, I’d be chucked out on my behind, followed by derisive laughter and a slammed door. If I was lucky, I’d get a bit of constructive criticism about how I shouldn’t have made this image nearly so gray (all the images were in black and white) or should have brought that subject into focus (several of the pictures, in my opinion, either brought too many of the items in the picture into focus or else left the whole thing too blurry). However, I’m certainly no photography expert, and this work is revered as great stuff, so I’m glad I got to see it, in any case.
- To bring the dog back into the picture, two more incidents involved him. The first also involved another animal: a bird. One of my instructions, left by T___, was to keep the door to their little downstairs balcony open while I was away so Caesar could go outside if he wanted. I happen to like the apartment to be on the cooler side, so while the weather was still in the 50s and 60s, I left that balcony open the entire time, even while I was home. One night (or actually it was about two o’clock in the morning) I woke up to some scuffling on the floor. Leaning my head over the side of the bed, I muttered, “Caesar, what are you doing?” Suddenly, I saw (and heard) a gray blur—which Caesar was bearing down upon—flutter up before dropping back onto the floor.
I wear glasses, so I still had no idea what was going on, but from the sound and blurry appearance, it looked like Caesar was chasing a bird. “Is that a bird?” I murmured sleepily, not willing to believe it as I groped around for my glasses. Finally, with my vision intact, I swung myself out of bed and, crooning to Caesar (“good boy, okay, let go, all right, back up now, good boy”), I got a look at what he had been attacking. Sure enough, it was a little bird, now lying dead and bleeding upon the floor.
There’s not much more to say except that I cleaned it up and did my best to get all of the feathers swept outside (that bird lost a lot of feathers in the skirmish!), but I am still wondering: how in the world did a bird get into the apartment without my noticing? My experience with birds trapped indoors is that they fly around and crash into things trying to get back out. This bird, instead, flew close enough to the ground to be attacked by a dog. One might guess that perhaps it was injured and crawled into the apartment, but the bedroom is on the second floor, in which case it would have had to hop up the steps to get to where I was sleeping in order for Caesar to wrestle it to oblivion right beside the bed. Also, he could have dragged it up the stairs, but I highly doubt that such a small bird would have survived this dog’s massive maw clamping down around it and hauling it all the way from the first to the second floor, especially enough to make a fly-away attempt that I, a blind-without-glasses human, would recognize upon awaking in a sleepy stupor.
The mystery remains.
- The other event doesn’t so much involve Caesar as it involves the fact that I was afraid it involved Caesar. What happened was this: one afternoon, I arrived home from walking Caesar in the park. My friend R___ was visiting, and we sat down in the living room to discuss where to eat lunch. Caesar, having scarfed down his three scoops of post-walk food in two minutes flat, wanted to play fetch, and we were tossing him a ball as we chatted and used my laptop to steal local unsecured internet and find a good local sushi restaurant. I ordinarily sit in the armchair when I am in the living room, but since I needed to use my laptop, I was sitting in the high-backed chair next to the wall outlet, which happens to face the armchair. As I looked up at R___, who was sitting in the armchair, I suddenly noticed an odd white cottony lump by his right knee. Focusing my attention there, I gasped. There was a huge hole chewed into the seat cushion of the armchair!
For the rest of the stay, I was terrified Caesar had done chewed apart the cushion while I was out, and I monitored the chair daily. No additional stuffing seemed to be coming out of the chair, so if he had chewed that hole, he seemed to be content. Had I done something wrong one day to make him discontented enough to chew this chair? Would his owners be mad when they got back? R___ suggested flipping the cushion, but I could never do that; they’d obviously find out at some point, and then I’d look guilty and untrustworthy: if Caesar had chewed it while I was there, they’d know I had somehow mistreated their dog, and if the chair had already been like that, they’d know that if something had actually gone wrong while they were away, I’d have tried to cover it up.
Ultimately, it turns out that the chair had been chewed before I ever arrived, possibly before they ever even owned Caesar. I was a little embarrassed to have been so worried, but my sense of relief more than made up for it. And at least I told them; I can check that guilt complex off my list.
- Last but not least is the most traumatic event of my stay: falling down a spiral staircase. The apartment is built vertically, with the living room, kitchen, and bathroom on the first floor, and a spiral staircase leading up loft-style to a bedroom and second bathroom on the second floor. (There is actually a loft-style third floor storage space with a very low ceiling, too, but I didn’t go up there.) As, I presume, with all spiral staircases, these steps were very steep and windy, and every time I ascended or descended them, I would think to myself, “Go slow. Be careful. These are really dangerous.” It wasn’t as though I could do much else anyway—it’s nearly impossible to run up or down a spiral staircase—but I always had a sense of foreboding on those stairs; it just felt inevitable that I would fall on them. And, of course I did.
I was coming down one morning, with the dog following me—if you think it’s difficult to go up or down spiral stairs to begin with, try it with a dog right behind you—and right on the forth step, boom! That was it. I wasn’t rushing; I wasn’t carrying a load of items; I wasn’t even drunk. I was just coming down the stairs at 6:10 a.m. to get ready to walk Caesar, and there I went, down the stairs. Thank the lord for railings, because my one leg went between two of the rails while my other folded under me as I slid down on my back. After sitting there a moment in that childlike “do I cry now?” sort of shock, I disentangled myself, picked up a few of the items I had been carrying that had landed on the steps, and hobbled down the remaining stairs. I picked up my remaining belongings and continued with my routine, determined that crying would be completely useless and that I wasn’t really that hurt, until I went to put on my shoes. Lifting up my right pant leg, I saw why my ankle was hurting so much: there was a huge gash up the side of it, and blood was dripping onto my sock. At that point, I did a little bit of gasping and moaning to appease my sense of injury, after which I hobbled around to the bathrooms and inspected the vanities.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any Band Aids, so I folded up a paper towel and tucked it into my sock. Then, I laced up my sneakers, stuck another paper towel in my pocket, and headed out the door with Caesar. After all, whether I’m bleeding or not, a dog has to poop.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was exactly what a memoir about a white girl growing up with a father who is convinced he is black should be. And if I need to describe what that is, you obviously need to read this book!
Growing up as a white girl in a 60-40 black/white school, I recognized and appreciated the forthrightness of the way Wolff presented language and culture in this book. I also recognized the identity struggles Mishna faced growing up being white amidst a black community but then having to unlearn her black tendencies and nuances to fit in with her white classmates when she transferred to a private school. What is she? What does she want to be? And does it matter?
This was a cringing, laugh-out-loud, smile-and-grimace-at-the-truth kind of book, and more like it need to be written. Its only shortcoming, ironically enough, is its presentation. If I were to walk through a bookstore, I never would have chosen this book based on its cover. It's a pop-y, bubble gum looking cover that actually comes off as rather abrasive and does not invite me to open it at all. If I were somehow drawn to open it, I then would have encountered photos that imply the chronology of a biography--another turnoff to a creative nonfiction memoir lover like myself. Yet this book was the furthest thing from a silly lark or a stuffy biography that there could be.
I highly recommend it to anyone who has experienced living in a mixed racial setting and all of the tensions and humors that go along with it.
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Saturday, October 3, 2009
However, after a little sleuthing, I found that these books were taken from a “best-loved books” list voted upon by BBC readers in April 2003. This makes entries like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and His Dark Materials more understandable (and, in my opinion, justifiable, in terms of the former). Yet, even if this were a “proper” Best Books list, I would have been glad to find so many newer books on it and not so much stuffy old “required reading material” that the mysterious They seem to qualify as classic literature.
Below I have indicated the books I have read by striking them in bold. I have made a few ***starred*** comments here and there after books I was unable/unwilling to finish as well as movies I have seen. I have also underlined those books that would have made it onto my “best-loved” list.
Note: The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of these 100 books listed here. How sad, considering that already 4 on the list are J.K. Rowlings books!
1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens ***Does it count if I started it?***
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck***Also started this one....***
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson***Yeah, only if Muppets Treasure Island counts***
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett***But how is A Little Princess not on here?!***
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King***Started this one too***
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky***And The Brothers Karamazov. And The Idiot. And Notes From Underground. And more.***
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett***On my list I believe***
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl **Really, almost anything by Dahl deserves “best-loved” status. I wish Fantastic Mr. Fox had made the list.***
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo***Saw it...***
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez***On my list***
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie***No, but I started the Satanic Verses and plowed my way through about 2/3***