Review: Jeneration X

So I realized something sad when I started to read Jeneration X, Jen Lancaster’s 2012 “chapter” of her non-fiction series: I think I’ve outgrown it. This is equal parts sad and odd because a) I used to love her non fiction titles and b) I’m at least a decade younger than she is.  At some point between My Fair Lazy and the latest chapter in her “I’m a fancy author and now so is my friend Stacey and I have to remind you every other page”, I got bored.Also sad, it look me four weeks to get through this book, only the sixth one I’ve finished this year. I am so off pace it is sad. I think the biggest issue with this one was a lack of filter or editor. Seriously, a book shouldn’t read like a blog, and there’s a reason I don’t read her blog.That said, there were some funnies in this book as well as some things I identified with — unfortunately they were somewhat drowned out by her egotism. Midway through the book when talking about eBay she identified herself as “hypercompetitive asshole”. At least she knows her shortcomings.Note to self: read the Amazon reviews before buying. A good number of them nailed exactly what I was thinking.

Those of us born between 1965 and 1980 had none of the benefits of the generations that came before or after us. We know nothing of the kinder, simpler America from the Camelot days, nor were we born with an innate understanding of how to operate Microsoft Windows. Today, we’re a beeper generation in a smartphone world. Watching this generation operate makes me very glad that people my age understand that tools like technology and social media are a means to an end and not the end itself. My generation didn’t play soccer so we know that when the game is over not everyone gets a trophy. Yet here we are, trapped in middle management between two massive cases of generational arrested development.So that’s what those of us in Generation X have done to define ourselves. We’ve become the only adults in a world full of children. I mean, if I could finally grow up? Anyone can.

In hind sight, that’s probably where I should have quit reading. Although I may or may not be Gen X depending on who is drawing the boundaries, I’m definitely closer to Gen Y/Millennial than her broad strokes.

“I don’t do shots anymore because I hate how they make me feel in the morning. Coincidentally, this is also why I no longer eat Lucky Charms for dinner. Much as I enjoyed both acts, I haven’t the liver or the stomach of a college kid anymore.”

Attempt to open the boxes of shipped items with a tablespoon. [Hey, it was the most handy pointy thing.]

I admit – this is me, to a T. Although it was Fruit Loops and not Lucky Charms, which are gross.

Overthinking Tourism in the South

“The crowds continue to visit the dead.

They walk through the gates at Auschwitz. They take the boats to the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor. They hike through battlefields and slave auction sites.” ~ Katia Hetter

First off, Charleston and Savannah are amazing. AMAZING. I am a history nerd and I fell in love with Charleston the first afternoon that we spent walking around. More on that and pictures soon.

However, there were moments that gave me serious pause as we began to plan the trip. The following were often recommended: Charleston’s Old Slave Market, Boone Hall Plantation, Drayton Hall, Magnolia Plantation. All with a dark history. Part of me thought I was over thinking it, until my brother mentioned the same thing while at Boone Hall.

While plantation life wasn’t on the scale of The Holocaust (where I also struggled with the idea of the camps as tourist destinations), it wasn’t rosy either. I especially took issue with one of the Boone Hall guides who made light of the fact that the slaves’ grave markers were gone. It didn’t seem to be something you should laugh about.

I’m still thinking about this three days later and decided to look into slavery and dark/memorial tourism. And I admit, this is where my tourism nerd side came in.

“When memories of the actual events fade, many people still come to memorials looking for answers as to why an awful thing could happen: How could Adolf Hitler have perpetrated the Holocaust? Why did Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge murder its people? Why did Japan attack the United States at Pearl Harbor? It’s a balancing act for memorial sites: How to teach the cruel facts of tragedy to an audience that is often on vacation.” ~Katia Hetter

The Camps bothered me. Hiroshima and Nagasaki bothered me.  Pearl Harbor didn’t, for whatever reason. Nor do battlefields (or Ft. Sumter on this recent trip). But the Plantation? That bothered me.

“Thanatourism” is apparently the buzz word, but I prefer dark tourism. I think thanatourism  hides it too much. It should be uncomfortable. It should make you think. Slave tourism is also apparently known as roots tourism.

As a history person, I think memorials are key. Not as much for those who lived through it (my generation doesn’t need “Never Forget” not to forget 9/11), but for those who didn’t witness it. They’re key to education. But being excited to visit it? That’s harder, yet I was eager to visit Boone Hall. Until seeing the “Slave Street” hit me.

The Institute for Dark Tourism Research is clearly an idea whose time has come. In Europe alone, tourist meccas are dark sites. Sadly, death is part of our heritage. Slavery is a huge part of both African and American history, and the slave castles in West Africa are experiencing growth. Is this good or bad?

In truth? I don’t know. But it’s definitely food for thought. And I have some more homework to do.

To Read:

#GoTheDist Q1 in the books

while I hit my official #GoTheDist goal (2 a few days early, I did not hit my personal goal.

My personal Q1 2014 goals were:

  • 700,000 steps
  • 300 miles walked and
  • 75 miles on the bike.

Totals for March:

  • 242,500 steps
  • 100.84 miles walked
  • 17.82 miles biked

Totals for Q1 2014:

  • 593,712 steps
  • 250.93 miles walked
  • 103.81 miles biked

I could blame the 3.5 days lost, or the eleventy billion polar vortices, but it is what it is. Not dwelling on it. I did top Q1 2013 (61.88 miles walked) in a huge way so I’m calling that a win.

Official Q2 goal is 350 miles walked.  My 2013 Q2 results were:

  • 300.5 miles walked
  • 98.36 miles biked

With that, I’m setting my personal goal as:

  • 700,000 steps
  • 400 miles walked
  • 125 miles biked

I do think that’s attainable. The weather is better and I’ll have a full three months of FitBit Flex data.

I’ve also been on a huge green drink kick and I’m doing the #SimpleGreenSmoothie challenge. THis is the year I will hit goal.


Invisalign is the new Weight Watchers?

Over the weekend I was kicking myself for missing my Weight Watchers anniversary, but then on the way home today I realized that I got my Invisalign very close to my WWversary. Now what on earth do braces have to do with WW (which I haven’t followed since Dec ’10 anyway)?

I’m down 4 lbs this week because Invisalign has *touch wood* kept me from snacking. It’s also my inherent laziness paying off. The m&m or whatever isn’t worth going to the bathroom, taking aligners out, eating whatever, going back to the bathroom, brushing my teeth and putting them back in.

Some wise friends said this isn’t going to last, but I’ll take it while it does. Maybe I’ll re-break a few bad habits while I’m at it?

Unrelated unexpected side effects: I’ve made my lunch for all of this week and made it last week too. I had no soda today. That was accidental I’m cutting back (hate Sprite, hate straws) but didn’t expect to go a day without.

But I still don’t like the taste of plain water.

photo 1

Invisalign, one week in. Aligners on.

Invisalign, one week in. Aligners on.

Henderson Place

Henderson Place Historic District sign on E. 86th St.

Henderson Place Historic District sign on E. 86th St.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve walked past these buildings on E. 87th or East End and wondered what relic they were… and then I spotted the sign above. I finally had a name to research. And what better time to do so then on the brink of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the New York City landmarks law.

Although not the oldest in the neighborhood (Gracie Mansion was built in 1799), they’re certainly the most picturesque.

Built in Queen Anne style in 1881-2, twenty four of the original thirty two houses remain. They were landmarked in 1969. The houses are named after John C. Henderson and were designed by Lamb & Rich. Sometimes called “dollhouse architecture“, they were built for people of “modest means” although they soon became home to some of Manhattan’s upper class families. Their history, like the architecture, is fascinating.

I’ve apparently added more small historic blocks to my NYC bucket list.

neighborhoods: mini cities in their own right

as I was taking advantage of today’s brief flirtation with spring, and sitting, reading on one of the many Finley Walk benches, I plotted several errands I needed to run. One of them was on 96th St. and it felt so far away-even though it was only 10 blocks from where I sat. I wasn’t even sure if the store was still there, which got me thinking.

I only moved from E. 95th 4.5 years ago, but it feels like much longer. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve walked through the neighborhood since then, and the last time was a hot day last summer***. Even though I’m only 12 blocks south (and was only 10 blocks south for the 1st three years), it feels like a world away. I have almost everything I need within blocks of 86th. It also explains why my then-new neighborhood of E. 85th felt so new to me when I moved.

It’s like many small cities within even the island of Manhattan.

Today was gorgeous enough that I could have had 10K steps, but sometimes reading in the sun is more important than 10K steps.

***This applies to the avenues east of 5th. I’ve of course been to Museum Mile many times since.

Review: This Ain’t No Holiday Inn


Chelsea Hotel

Hotel Chelsea, February 28, 2014


Yesterday, I was in Chelsea for lunch and I found myself thinking of the Chelsea and decided to find it. When I did, and posted the photo (and the one above), I remembered this unfinished review and blog post from earlier this year. Time to remove the “un”.

“In 2001, he died of everything he had ever done.” ~James Lough

While the author wrote this of one of the personalities he met while researching the Chelsea’s colorful history, the same could be said of the Chelsea Hotel itself.

“If any place will make you believe in ghosts, it’s the Chelsea.” ~Gabriella Bass

James Lough’s This Ain’t No Holiday Inn: Down and Out at the Chelsea Hotel 1980-1995 is an interesting look at the history of the hotel within that era of New York City history. Reading it now was an interesting parallel to the New-York Historical Society’s AIDS exhibit this summer as there was significant overlap in time, characters and storyline.

Continue reading

#GoTheDist: Feb 2014

I knew February was going to be down due to three+ days of lost tracking, but it actually wasn’t as bad as I feared.

February 2014:

  • 69.miles walked (165,667 steps),
  • 16.69 miles biked.

Great, no. Good? Yes. For the record:

February 2013

  • 20.52 miles walked
  • 54.15 miles biked

Definitely walking more than I did, still need to get better about going to the gym. Yeah, I’m a broken record on that front. I still wonder whether a gym closer to home would improve things. I don’t know that I’m going to hit my Q1 goals, but I’m going to give it a hard go. That starts with getting off the couch today. Ahh, me-kends. I am on track, however, to hit my “official” Q1 goal of 200 miles walked. Through Feb 28 I had 150.09 miles, or 75.05%. Yay!

Overall, I am loving the Fitbit. I love the real time data and not having to plug into my phone. I also find it to be more accurate. I don’t love that it doesn’t automatically import my Map My Fitness ride data, but it’s not hard to do it manually.

Officially Team @FitBit

my Jawbone apparently celebrated my two millionth step a little too hard last Friday, because now it’s dead. Utterly and totally toast.

So I went out and got what I wanted back in May: the Fitbit Flex.

I will have lost 3.5 days of data (midday Monday – Thurs PM), but no real idea on how it will affect my #GoTheDist data in terms of strides, etc. Will keep an eye on it and revise Q2 if needed.

Review: Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can’t or Won’t Show You by Harriet Baskas

Hidden museum treasures. I am such a nerd. Nerd. NERD. NERD.

and I love it and wouldn’t change it for the world.

Anyway, book #3 of this year: Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can’t or Won’t Show You by Harriet Baskas: