Web Exclusives: Raising Kate
a PAW web exclusive column by Kate
Swearengen '04 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
December 17, 2003:
Readers read and respond to Raising Kate
"Raising Kate" is now in its fourth year; during the
past three-and-a-half I've received quite a few e-mails about the
column, some of which are excerpted below. At one time I thought
this column would be an avenue to a great career, and that I would
be deluged with e-mails from prospective employees who would offer
extravagantly paying jobs and invitations to lunch at the Princeton
Club. That hasn't been the case, but I'm not complaining. For one
thing, this writing thing has been good for beer money. For another,
I like getting mail. It's always a pleasure to hear from you, whether
or not you like what I've written and whether or not you have a
job to offer me.
"Kate:Ê Hello, I was reading your article on the Internet
about fracturing your wrist in Cairo and the subsequent hospital
visit. I am desperately seeking info on medical care in that part
of world and have no idea where to start. My husband may be stationed
in Ismailia. I am trying to get pregnant and would most likely deliver
a premature baby. From what little info I can find on the Internet
it appears the hospital you were treated at is as close to Westernized
care as possible. Do you have any thoughts or information? I appreciate
any insight or recommendations you may have."Ê
I understand your anxiety. When I go to McCosh I always hope for
Westernized care, too. Sometimes they surprise me. My recommendations:
Don't get sick in Egypt. Or pregnant. That said, the hospital I
went to there wasn't bad. Really, it was far from Westernized care
only in the sense that X-rays cost $10.
"I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed reading
your collection of stories about your adventures in Egypt. If you
haven't already, find yourself a camel to ride. It's almost like
riding a bike, except you have no control, humps hurt worse than
bike seats, and you can't dismount without paying, but it's worth
the experience. Have a great time in Egypt."
I seriously considered buying a camel, a lovely she-beast with
furry forelocks and a proud, droopy mouth. The only problem was
finding somewhere for it to graze Poe Field is being eaten
up by new buildings faster than a Cottage girl on a Stephens Fitness
Center stairmaster. A future dromedary acquisition is unlikely unless
the Springdale Golf Club agrees to let my camel live in one of the
"I'm a theatre teacher from Odessa, Tex. I was reading some
of the columns you have written on the archives page. It's a long
story on how I came across them, as I am not linked to Princeton
in any way, shape, or form (poor white trash Okies don't tend to
go to Ivy League Schools), but I will say that I found them by accident.
(I am, by the way, a proud graduate of Unkle Earl's school of Art
and Refrigeration Repair take that!) I was just wanting to
let you know that I enjoyed your writing very much and I obviously
have no life. My favorite column of yours was the one about how
your mom was always bothering you about Prince Hamzah. So, tell
me, have you gotten to meet him yet? Is your mom thrilled? I was
My mother hasn't gotten to meet Prince Hamzah yet, although this
is his fault and not mine. Incidentally, several months after I
wrote about the heir to the Jordanian throne and speculated on his
experiences at the Sandhurst Military Academy, I received the following
bit of correspondence. Whether it is really from Prince Hamzah himself
is, of course, a matter of conjecture.
"I was reading your article 'Late Summer Thoughts about Princeton.'
You know what, the bugle calls [at the military academy] were not
that bad, thank God it only lasted a year though. Sorry to have
disappointed your mom."
Prince Hamzah, if that's really who it was, declined my subsequent
request to be introduced to Prince Harry.
"Not so quick note.....I was browsing and somehow came to
your Princeton column.....too funny.....My son Nate will be attending
Princeton class of 2024, he just doesn't know it yet. Keep up the
comedy. There's far too much depressing stuff in this day and age."
Agreed. The next letter, for example.
"Dear Ms. Swearengen, I don't understand why you feel the
need to smear a student group which you evidently know nothing about
in the pages of PAW. It is shoddy journalism and intellectual Mau-mauing
of the worst kind...You and your friends on the far left might do
well to consider that attacking and slandering people simply because
you disagree with them is an act of true totalitarianism. Your column
is a disgrace."
This letter was in response to an article I wrote about the then-impending
war in Iraq and the reactions of Princeton students. Alas, I did
not have the opportunity to smear the Princeton Brownshirts "in
the pages of PAW" "Raising Kate" only appears
online. As for the column being a disgrace, I will point out that
it's a lucrative one.
"Dear Ms. Swearengen, I take grave offense at your July seventh
installment of 'Raising Kate' in which you erroneously assert that
Princeton suffers from: 'Height Flight'... (the mysterious phenomenon
that makes male students taller than 5'10" choose Columbia
or Yale over Princeton).' As a member of the 6'+ cohort, and as
a member of the Princeton male undergraduate body, I find your research
shoddy, your methodology flawed, your reasoning spurious, and your
syntax bereft of rigour. I am sorry, we are not all gentle giants.
Alas, how many nights must be spent crying myself to sleep, cursing
the genes that caused me to grow to this terrifying stature?"
Point taken. There are some tall male undergraduates at Princeton.
But they're all dating girls shorter than me.
"Kate...I couldn't help but laugh, and reminisce, when I
read your article regarding the activities of Princeton students
during the summer months. You are absolutely right; summer should
be the domain of sweltering summer afternoons doing menial labor
without the academic mental acrobatics, of playing baseball under
an infinite blue sky, of slowly padding down the beach with an attention
span extending not far beyond the waves breaking at your feet. I
admit, though, that I fell victim to the same drive to flog myself
during the summer months. When I was an undergraduate, I followed
the last day of classes with a 2-day hiatus, diving directly back
into routine following the "break." I spent summers working
in chemical plants and quality engineering labs, learning much but
realizing that the classic summertime was lost. Those days of blissful
wanderlust are gone, evidence of childhood days slipping back into
This letter is beautiful and wise and a warning to any future
Princeton parent hankering to couple the words "summer"
You can reach Kate at email@example.com