From BKLYN to CDMX

IMG_6743

Just like Brooklyn!

Mexico City is sprawling and intimate. It smells of exhaust fumes and sewage and eucalyptus and cinnamon and masa and sizzling meat. It awakens to birdsong, sells itself in sing-song chants, and talks and shouts and eats and drinks and honks its horn late into the night. Oh, and the weather is perfect year-round.

I loved it.

What follow are some general impressions, beginning with this blog’s principal obsessions – food, birds and running, looking at stuff (often while birding and running) – and then offering some broader thoughts on the city. While I don’t pretend to know or understand it, I was struck by the way it manages, however improbably – built as it is on sinking ground, its population swollen to 20 million – to work. The contrasts between politics, national mythology and historical memory here and there provided plenty of food for thought. Continue reading

Advertisements

Eleven years in

90508136-2DB4-4619-AA90-24B2DA786060A year ago, right around this time, I wrote a post entitled “Ten years out.” I’d been diagnosed with breast cancer on January 15, 2008, and the idea was to do a series of posts throughout the year contrasting my cancer year a decade ago with my life now. My hope – and oh, how I cringe to think of it now! – was that these “then and now” posts would, with pluck and insight and humor and all that good stuff, offer encouragement to other women facing cancer diagnosis and treatment.

I made it through two posts before life reminded me that even when it goes on, it doesn’t always go on smoothly. My father died. I broke my arm and got depressed. I dropped the series – not consciously, but through a series of small omissions and delays and posts begun but never finished that eventually led to a big “fuck this, just forget about it.”

But I couldn’t, quite. I’ve never liked to leave things hanging: hence this post. Continue reading

2018 in birds

DSC02723 (2)

Spanish birds (photo credit: Eric Brooks)

Both my avocations, running and birding, lend themselves to obsessive tracking of numbers: weekly mileage, race times, average pace; life lists, year lists, country, state, county and patch lists. And in both cases, those numbers – while meaningful and maybe even (slightly) interesting to other aficionados – are a good way to drive away those who don’t share your passion.

Want to make someone’s eyes glaze over? Just start telling them your marathon splits, or your county year list. Continue reading

A non-running race report: the 2018 NYC marathon

4CDD397D-8A77-49DE-A768-DC61D37D4124

Runners (and their shadows) in mile 13

Here it is, at last: my report on this year’s NYC marathon from the spectators’ side of the police tape.

As you may recall, I’d mapped out a plan in advance that would take me from Park Slope to Bay Ridge (with a stop in Sunset Park) to Greenpoint to Long Island City to East Harlem to the Upper West Side. I executed my non-running race plan much better than I’ve ever executed any of my actual running race plans. You could even say I hit my “A” goal.

I also learned a lot, and am already making plans for 2019.

Here’s how it went down. Continue reading

2018 NYC Marathon spectator’s guide to Brooklyn (and Queens)

D54D88E3-880A-4237-8B20-D07B9C9241C8

I’ll be there.

It’s back, for the fourth consecutive year!

To help you have the best possible marathon-viewing experience, I’ve compiled pointers from my own past races – those I ran (2005, 2006, 2009 DNF, 2014, 2015) and those I watched (2007, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017). This summer and fall, I ran the course (in manageable segments), seeking out interesting places to stop for a bite to eat and something warm (or cold – one never knows what kind of weather the first Sunday in November will bring) to drink.

This guide, like the three before it, is unabashedly Outer Borough-centric. That’s true for several reasons. First, I’m an Outer Borough kind of gal. Second, the crowded viewing spots along First Avenue and Central Park don’t require a guide; they’re where people go by default. Third, and most important – I honestly believe that your viewing experience will be better here. You’ll be closer to the action, and also closer to the real spirit of the race, and of the city.

Plus, the eating is way better.  Continue reading

Dispatches from New Mexico

FE91073B-A61F-43C4-8E6A-DA9065184925

Time to hit the open road and find some western birds

The top line results of my birding trip: 42 new birds, bringing my 2018 total to 399 species . . . meaning that unless I saw a burrowing owl on my way to the ABQ “Sunport” (I did not), bird number 400 would be in Brooklyn.

Which was as it should be.

I’ll have more to say about New Mexico birding, but there’s more I need to say about New Mexico first. Why do I love that state so much? There are the birds, of course, but also the light – blinding at midday, painting the landscape with color and shadow morning and evening, dazzling always. There’s the painful, complicated history as New Mexico passed from one empire to another, a history that includes conquest, the Inquisition, hidden Jews, indigenous revolts, revolutions, invading Texans, shifting borders, mushroom clouds. There’s the fascinating, syncretic culture this history created. There are the chiles.

And there’s the general weirdness of the place, always a plus in my book. Continue reading