Thursday, April 30, 2009

Door To Door - 2009

Yesterday I was outside on my front lawn. Picking up rose branches left from cutting roses for my kitchen counter. A man walked up to say hello to me. This was odd. I live in a cul-de-sac and usually people who are not my neighbors don’t walk up to me as I stand on my front lawn. The man was wearing a suit, a very white shirt, and a tie. It was a gray suit, not black, so he wasn’t a Latter Day Saint coming to tell me why I am wrong-headed in my atheism. Besides, they never come alone. The Latter Day Saints always come to me in trios.

“Hello,” he said, “I am starting a local business.” He named an investment firm, named for some long dead man, of which apparently he is opening a branch. “Sorry,” I said, “I’m very committed to my current firm. “Well, thank you,” he said, and shook my hand, and left.

Door-to-door investment counselors? It reminded me of the 1960’s, when my parents’ insurance salesman would come to our house. It felt like a moment in the Great Depression, men in suits, walking on pavements, calling on strangers. Or as though "Mad Men" had sprung to life on my sidewalk. Minus the hat. However, I commended him on his enterprise.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Childrearing. Neither High Nor Low

My parents both grew up raised by people on a salary. I hesitate to say servants. My mother had what they called a nurse, my father had nannies. The most cherished of those was a woman from Scotland whose name he still recalls with ease. He and his mother went to visit her once after she had returned to her home.

My mother raised us with the help of a neighborhood girl from across the street to get her through the late afternoons of 3 under 4, and a housekeeper who came twice a week. I raised my children without babysitters until I had to go back to work. Once my second child was born my mother took pity on me and paid for a housekeeper who came once a week.

My parents both went to boarding schools. I went to boarding school. My children went to school down the street. Maybe over the generations we hold our children more closely. Certainly we speak more openly to them.

I believe that we have all tried very hard to do the best we can. Freud took the glass snow globe of childrearing and smashed it on the ground, leaving us reeling and picking up shards with our fingers. But we have all tried very hard to do the best we can. Resources or no resources, high or not-so-high, summers in wherever. When you live your life inside your self, no matter what stuff is around you, still you can be filled with anxiety or elation for no good reason. Still your life just feels like a life.


High = Experiences

Did I pass all this down to my children? Judge for yourselves. “High”experiences I have had over the years include:
  • As a child, moving from smallish house, to custom-built house above acres of meadow, to house with 35 rooms, to house with 5 acres and horses
  • Progressive private school through 8th grade
  • Visiting my grandmother in New Jersey, the cold pool, the long lawn
  • Summers on the Cape
  • California beach house
  • Hippie private boarding high school – not generally words found in the same sentence
  • Growing up with an art collection destined for a museum
  • Year living in London
  • Museums in Amsterdam
  • Christmas in Portugal
  • Christmas in Hawaii
  • Christmas in Jamaica
  • Christmas in Mexico (and no, it never got old)
  • Ivy League university
  • Summer working in France via that same Ivy League university
  • Family jewelry
  • Working in London for Sir Cameron Mackintosh, for almost no money at all
  • New Year’s Eve in Paris during an ice storm that closed the city streets and sent the bon chic bon genre into the Metro, even though I was earning no money
  • Helping William Hurt memorize his lines for an Off-Broadway product of "Hamlet"
  • 3 months in India freelance writing on their film industry, even though I had no guarantee of getting paid
Comparable experiences my children have had:
  • Same midsized house all their lives, remodeled once and fraying again at the edges
  • Little bitty backyard
  • Same progressive private school through 8th grade
  • Visiting their grandparents in Santa Barbara and the hills above Silicon Valley
  • Summer on Martha’s Vineyard with my father
  • Christmas in Stockholm and Rome, during which my 2-year old daughter cried, “No more churches! No more museums!”
  • Summer trip to the Swedish Archipelago with my mother including a stopoff in Paris to see museums – daughter was 12 and loved the Musee d'Orsay...
  • Week in Bay Head, New Jersey, every summer
  • Summer trip hiking in Switzerland with friends
  • Summer trip to the Dordogne with friends - same ones
  • Private high school, no boarding, no hippies
  • Same Ivy League university
  • Summer internship for daughter in China
  • Summer trips for son then interested in Marine Biology to Hawaii, Costa Rica, Australia
  • No art collection, but a stepmother who takes great photos
  • No family jewelry, but I guess I could start, right?
  • And to remedy the lack of funding for non-salaried post-college jobs and travel, the purchase of New York City Upper West Side co-ops in their early 20’s, and 3-month trips to India, a lot of advice on how to write a resume….
You recreate what you can, fix what you can, and compensate where you can do neither. At least my daughter will never sit on her sofa when she is 52 and wonder how she could have managed to lose not 1 but 2 diamond stickpins over the years.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

High = Money, Final Installment

A Beach Rose commented, on one of my previous posts about money,
I do not have access to my "education fund" (not 21 yet), and I honestly could not even give you a ballpark sum. I have no idea what will be available to me when the time comes. The adults around here positively refuse to discuss numbers.
Disclosure. Disclosure and children.

What should any parent disclose? As a parent you are both uniquely yourself and wholly a priest to a ritual. Childrearing has a component of magic and incantation. The only guideline I ever heard that I respect and find to be free of political taint is: disclose to your children what they are ready to hear. How will you know? They will tell you. They will ask you a question. When they do, answer minimally. If they want more, they will ask for more. If they sense the limit of their ability to absorb the information, they will change the subject. “Mama, how are babies born?” “Honey, mommies and daddies love each other and so...”. “Mama, do you like psusparagus?”

Money is a juicy topic. Money is the embodiment of our every earthly desire, the paper icon of what we will never have, the locked space for our earliest experiences of satisfaction and denial. It’s also necessary, unless you can find a way to trade cheese for penicillin in some place where you can’t be found yourself.

High WASPs with a lot of money are embarrassed to talk about it. Embarassed most of all that they like having it. They know they shouldn’t show off, but they have a tongue-biting covetousness for their artifacts, the diamond cuff, the enameled pendant, the Civil War swords. All the High WASPs I know love to stay in beautiful hotels. To wear good shoes. To summer on the Cape or the Vineyard or in the Wine Country or on the archetypal lake, feeling the rough grass on their bare feet as they head back to the house to grill fish after a day in the sun.

High WASPs are also frequently afraid that their children will be taken advantage of by suitors. They worry that their children might blurt out details of the family wealth in inappropriate moments. They worry that their children will be teased.

This is true but not helpful. Because at the end of the day money is not an emotion. Money gets paid in taxes, and salaries, and mortgages. People live on money. In my opinion, parents owe their children whatever information the child is ready to hear. And they need to prepare those children to be ready to hear what they need to hear when they need to hear it. I do not know a universal prescription. Parenting takes enormous courage. It demands that we focus our attention on our own weaknesses and acknowledge them and move beyond them where we can. Yes, Beach Rose, the grown ups around you, in my opinion, should begin to use numbers when they talk to you. If you are ready.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cutting Bamboo In The Afternoon

Waged the honorable bamboo war this afternoon. Victorious. Had to lick wounds yesterday, rose bushes triumphed. Scars to show.

Not that the above is what I actually wore. The only things I own in this picture are the sunscreen, the Sigg water bottle, and the Uggs slippers. Slippers in which I do garden, I confess. I'm old. If I want sheepskin on my feet when I am doddering around with pruning shears, dagnabit that's what I am going to wear.

It's just so beautiful here in Northern California when the sun shines that who can care about the rules? And I think I will dream of buying myself a striped tote bag for my gardening tools, and seersucker shorts, and a special gardening shirt to protect me from venomous thorns. And a Japanese saw, which I will place on a stone and contemplate in its beauty.

But for now, the bamboo is thinned, the rose bush is staked, the weeds are lying dead on top of other weeds at the side of the house, and the shadows of the elm tree branches are moving on my windows. All of which leads to a sense of bemused gratitude. It's so easy to be happy here, given, of course, some privilege.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Morning at 9:15am

It’s the boy child’s birthday on Monday. He will be 19. First time he’s ever been away from home on his birthday. I, however, have twice before been traveling on business. Never neglected to celebrate of course, threw birthday parties ranging from homemade carnivals at the park, to a day at the slot car race, to a ski weekend for three. But I prefer that he be gone and I be here. I prefer maternal loneliness to maternal guilt.

Looking for something to do, I asked my daughter if the boy child needed a birthday cake. Answer?

Daughter: (8:14:49 AM) his friends are throwing him a surprise party
Daughter: (8:14:54 AM) they invited me
Mother: (8:15:00 AM) oh good

[I’m super-eloquent like that. I try not to talk too much when I have my kids on IM so they don’t notice that they are talking me. If they knew then they might have to run away…]

So I sent him various and sundry dinosaurs from the Oriental Trading Company (having already sent the Cold War unicorns) and gave him money to go to Belgium with my best friend’s daughter for a week. I have a feeling that from now on this is the mode for boy child birthdays. Needless to say I still remember the day he and the girl he's going to Belgium with were in the back seat of my car, aged 2-ish, chattering about whether they preferred pachycephalosauruses or triceratops. But such is motherhood.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

High WASP Yarmulkes

Good thing? Bad thing? Good theory, bad execution? Horrible application of one culture's comfort fashion to another's religious observance? Cheering sign of continued social convergences and the inescapable tide of human tolerance? None of the above? Sign of anything? Anything at all?

Image: Kate and Andy Spade bringing gifts to Darcy Miller's Seder

When Does It End?

I was driving to a customer meeting this morning. The sky was not so blue as usual. Jet contrails scudded across the upper sky. The lower sky verged on white. This made me want to cry. Then I passed under an iron bridge. It was so beautiful I caught my breath. You’d think I’d be done with such nonsense by this point. By this point in the process of being alive and then eventually dying.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another Point Of View From A Very Wise Person

The other day Meg, she-who-is-wise-beyond-her-years, commented on my post about family and money.
"Hum. That's funny. My High Wasp family lost all their money (which is a bit more traditional, I have to say, and you know how we feel about traditions). As a result, our lessons about money were the opposite, but of course from the same root.

Root Lessons: Never show off. Honor. Excellence. Hard work, even if you don't need the money. Integrity.

But our overriding lessons were: Always live off the interest, never touch the principal. Know exactly where all your money is. High Wasps don't invest aggressively. Diversify. Put a lot away for a rainy day. Never ever brag. Stuff doesn't matter, family matters (unless it's family stuff, then you may never sell it unless you need it to eat.)

So. I don't know. Perhaps good things come from losing money."
"Always live off the interest, never touch the principal." This seems to me to be a philosophy with greater implications than preservation of financial security. The concept of interest and principal is fairly profound. Think about it. That for everything there is an initial investment, and then there is the interest? The generated return? This could be true of relationships, true of careers, true of hobbies, true of learning. In one way of living, you make the initial investment and then gather returns. Invest up front, manage carefully subsequently. Mitigate risk. I think there is clearly virtue here. Living thriftily and carefully and honorably.

Unfortunately, some of us are not temperamentally suited. We just can't do it. Some of us make good investments and then liquidate everything and go to Africa. Some of us make good investments and sneakily dip into principal when the interest doesn't get us what we want, and are then surprised when suddenly we have nothing. Some of us one day see a huge opportunity looking at us in the face, sell off everything and invest. Some of us then succeed, in relationships, careers, hobbies, studies, beyond our wildest dreams. Some of us then lose everything.

I believe I share those root values Meg mentions, "Never show off. Honor. Excellence. Hard work, even if you don't need the money. Integrity." But if I look back at my life I would have to acknowledge that I am prone to taking risks. To sometimes having the proverbial eyes bigger than my proverbial stomach.

All of what I say is true. I still don't know if it matters.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

High WASP Weddings, The Age of Innocence

The bride in the photo above is not related to me. But she might have been. The text does come from a description of the wedding of one of my grand-somethings in the New York Times.

Then there's this, from another, earlier wedding, of another one of my grand-somethings at the turn of the century. What do you think, is the Times tongue in cheek here? The "usual fall"? The "number of which was very large"?

I like the idea that the Times was teasing gently.

Although all this is true, I know it doesn't matter. Fun to dig around anyway. Have you ever noticed when people hit 50 they suddenly become much more interested in their genealogy?

Images: Bride: Accoutrements: floral head wreaths, Michael C. Fina, The Madison Room at the Palace Hotel


Old Lady Hair

I know I said it was old lady hands that made me wince at my own mortality. But at least my hands still do what I want them to do.

It’s my old lady hair that I need to speak to. Very, very strictly. When I was young I had blonde hair that hung down my back in a torrent. I wore my hair long and straight for way longer than the cultural norm. But at some point blonde turned into light brown. And then, at some additional inevitable point, a broad stripe of gray showed up and said hello. Hello, yes, you are mortal.

At the moment when the broad stripe of gray appeared, I was at a startup where my colleagues and my employees had an average age of um, well, 28 isn’t an exaggeration. I was 43. And with hair past my shoulders striped gray I felt old. And I had too much work to do to be walking around feeling old. So one day I went to a hair salon frequented by women with serious face lifts and had someone cut my hair short and dye it back to blonde.

Immediately thereafter I was made vice-president. Hmm.

Recently after 10 years of short hair it dawned on me that I might want to grow it long again. That this might be my last chance at woman hair. Old lady hair is more like the fluff on a dandelion. It won’t hang down your back. It won’t twist like silk around your fingers. It won’t shine in the sunlight. It won’t do many of those sweet girlie things that hair can do.

I grew my hair back down to my shoulders. Hello hair. No longer a torrent, as creeping old lady hair syndrome has reduced the former torrent to a stream. Good enough however to do a little shining, a little flinging, a little bouncing as I walk. Unfortunately, now that my hair is long again, I find myself too often pulling it back in a ponytail. Which clearly won’t do in the workplace, where I am always trying for elusive executive stature.

I am now in preliminary mourning for my hair. I am preparing myself to chop it off again. Return to the time-honored executive woman hair of Carly and Meg and Ann. Some day in the far, far distant future, when I officially decide that I am in fact an old lady, I will grow my hair for the last time and let it go gray and wear it up in a tortoiseshell comb and pretend I am my father’s mother. Wear pearls. Black silk. An antique brooch, which of course for my grandmother was quite modern. I hope these tricks will compensate for the blonde hair that used to lie next to me on my pillow with a life of its own. If not I plan to pretend that I don’t notice.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

High WASP = Money

Was I High WASP with my children about money? In how much I had? In my attitude towards it? In what I tried to teach them? My first reaction is to say no, simply because I haven’t had the quantities that I grew up with. But I think that’s wrong. I had money. Enough money to buy a house in the San Francisco Bay Area on low salaries and no savings. Enough money to stay home with my children until my little guy was 18 months, and even then only work part-time until he turned 7. Enough money to send two children to private schools on still lowish salaries and no savings. Enough money to take my family to Sweden and stay on a private island in the Swedish Archipelago where one night we took a motorboat to another island and ate grilled fish sitting at wooden benches while a string trio played a mix of Norwegian folk songs and the soundtrack from The Godfather. (Of course my Swedish stepfather and my mother’s perspicacity in marrying him helped with that moment…) Most of all enough money to give my kids glimpses of privilege without having parents doing the type of work that would have afforded that privilege. Even though I don’t have a private art collection that has been gifted to a museum after my death. (Another true fact).

My own attitude towards money has been absolutely classic. High WASPs really really really didn’t use to talk about money. It was worse than pornography, though carrying the same illicit frisson. To this day I remember a conversation with my father, so much unsaid, where he was trying to give me some kind of financial overview before I went off to college. We were living in the house with 35 rooms at the time, where the attic alone was the size of a barn. My parents had for some reason decided to have an award-winning architect build them a garden shed in the yard. Yes, I said garden shed. Dad and I were walking by the shed. It was the special kind of shed that has two stories. And windows. I found myself blurting out, “Dad, so are we millionaires?” He just looked at the ground and made a noise, some kind of noise of affirmation. I was 17 years old and I hadn’t known.

My inheritance, once it arrived, went to live in lalaland. The land where money you don’t make lives. The land governed by your cousins, and banks with strange names that merge with other banks with strange names, and account statements that follow you all your life. That land sends you a checkbook. When you need money you write a check. At some point, actually frequently, you will write checks that would bounce if you were normal. But since you have money in lalaland, someone calls you and says, “How about if we sell XYZ?” Since you didn’t earn that money, and in fact know nothing about investments or banking or stock markets or bonds, you always say “OK.” Eventually they stop asking you, and lalaland becomes lala and fala and falalalala.

Did I impart this attitude to my children? I do not know. I don’t think so. It is true that in many ways, I have replicated how I was brought up. I didn’t make my kids take jobs in high school. Or work at home to earn their allowances. Because my High WASP family values education above all, to my way of thinking their jobs were to do well in school. I indulged them repeatedly. We stayed at fancy hotels when I took them on college tours. Can you say the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago? OMG. Just LOVE LOVE LOVE the panel by the bed to adjust the room controls, and all that honey-colored silk, and the little dressing room outside the bathroom…. But I digress. Bad High WASP. We are being serious here and not hanging our tongues out about the props of money. I bought my daughter a cashmere coat at Bergdorf’s when she started Princeton. Which in fairly short order was stolen from an eating club. After having had beer poured all over it the year before. I sent my son to Australia for a month with his best friend for his high school graduation.

But. In more ways I took a different approach. Most glaringly, my house does not have 35 rooms. We’re pushing it to say 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, kitchen+living room, den. Oh yeah, and a hallway. And I have always told my kids they would have to work. I started saying to them early, when we were out to dinner and enjoying a restaurant with candles and tablecloths and large ravioli, “Now aren’t you glad Mom has a job?” I have made very clear to them that they can go to college unencumbered only because their grandfather in his infinite wisdom funded trust accounts to pay for it. And when they entered college, I began the process of talking to them about how they would support themselves upon graduation. Certainly no inheritance showed up in my daughter’s bank account last fall.

I have tried to teach them how to find a financial path they want to take. Not that I know from direct experience. No one ever talked to me about a career. As in, I don’t think the word was ever said. Not once. I want my children to understand in a way I never did the importance of choosing a way of earning money that you can live with. Whether that means doing what you most love and letting the money come if it will, or whether it means building a lucrative career and doing what you love as a hobby, no matter. But some degree of thought has to be put into the question. Because careers grab you by the scruff of your neck and shake you until you are dead and you might as well die for something you love and/or believe in.

There are values, which may be related to money, which I have hoped to pass on. Excellence and a degree of honor. Excellence, a degree of honor, and some avoidance of ostentation unless we are only with ourselves and no one will be offended. Or we are inviting people in and sharing. How well we realize those values, who knows? We are all humans and humans are subject to a multitude of flaws. But my mother and my father both believed in integrity, doing the best job you can, and good manners. At least they said they did. And so do I. At least I say I do. But values are a question for another day.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Does It Pass Down To The Children? The WASP Part.

I’ve been asked did I pass my High WASP core down to my children. Complex question. I have been wondering that myself, since this blog has made me think about High WASPs in a way I never did before. Much of what I say in these posts I am only now understanding. I open my mouth and things I think or felt or things my parents said to me just emerge. And then I say to myself, who knew? I have been working so hard for so long, having children, going back to work, working, working some more, that I haven’t spend much time in this kind of introspection. Task-based introspection, as in, dear god what am I going to do about this problem or that problem, well yes. Lots of that. But not so much of the deep meaning of life and self kind of introspection. Not in some time.

But back to the question. The only way I know to answer complex questions is to break them down into their component parts. Did I bring my children up to be High WASPs? We have to look at the WASP part, the High part, and then both together.

By me. Who else would do something this silly? But it had to be navy....old habits die hard.

My children are terribly important to me and I need to think carefully. Let me start with the WASP part. Did I bring my children up to feel like WASPs at all? White Anglo Saxon Protestants?

Society teaches them they are white. Still. Some day maybe that will change for the better. As for the Anglo Saxon Protestant part? The WASPs have dispersed. We are marrying other people. My kids are half Irish-Catholic and I’m an atheist, and we live in California where being a Californian frequently trumps other cultural and ethnic claims. My middle sister’s husband and daughter are Jewish. My youngest sister’s husband is Chilean-California, as in he grew up in Santa Barbara but his parents grew up in Chile. America has an African-American president. To my way of thinking there is no point at all in holding on to the White or the Anglo-Saxon. And Protestant is a matter of choice and faith. Which although I am an atheist I do not condemn in others.

I will get to the rest. Tomorrow. And the next day. You know, “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day”. And all that stuff.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday at Dad's

It's Sunday. Temperatures are predicted to reach 90 degrees. The siblings, those of us in Northern California, are going to Dad's house for lunch. Where we will sit on the deck and eat something probably involving a lot of vegetables and perhaps some grilled chicken. We will drink Perrier most likely although someone might have white wine even so early in the day. And the sky will be blue and we will look out over the black bottomed swimming pool and there will be very little noise other than some birds in the trees. We will be privileged. And with any luck, grateful.

I used to think all this was normal. That my circumstances weren't unusual. I am not sure how I managed to keep that belief for so long. There are implications. What to do when comfort food means grilled asparagus with fresh herbs on a deck overlooking the long hillside? What does that mean for a family? For many years I thought we all loved each other because we were intelligent, examined people. Then I suspected that we might all love each other in part because it's easy to do so in such abundant circumstances. Families are complex. I love mine very much. Best not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday Morning at 10:06am

My daughter has been in a dance group at Princeton for several years. This semester, given the demands of her senior thesis, she decided not to perform. But she did choreograph one dance. And the music? A synthesizer piece composed by none other than her little brother. (*maternal pride and a good deal of sentiment*).

My kids like each other and it makes me happy.

Mind you, this is the same daughter who (aged 5-ish), sat on her brother's (aged 2-ish) chest as he lay on the rug, and refused to let him get up. He, in classic pre-schooler frustration, bit her. At which point, she grabbed him by his shoulders and began to lift the top half of his body up and down, slamming it onto the floor, all the while saying, and I quote, "Damn you, f*** you, damn you, f*** you!"

They teach that stuff in kindergarten. Really. They do.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

High WASP Wedding - Country Club

Frequently High WASPs get married at country clubs. The photos here are in part from the Menlo Circus Club, a long-established club in my neighborhood. When we were little, we asked my Dad if we could join. He said no, they didn't allow Jews or blacks (that's what we said then as opposed to African-Americans) to join. So neither would we. We were allowed to have a summer membership at the Wianno Yacht Club however. I don't know if that was due to more liberal policies or parental desire for a peaceful summer on the Cape.

The Circus Club has changed now. Like America, it's more democratic. So here's to country club weddings, the glasses of iced tea on the terrace, the gin and tonics circulating on silver trays at 5pm promptly, string quartet for the ceremony and big band for the reception. The crack of polo mallets can be heard from time to time as the bride dances in her short dress. And her skirt swings out.

This is for MM who could be getting married at a country club but isn't.


Fierce at 50. When You Are 20. Or 30.

Once you hit 50 there’s only so much you have to work with in the fierce department. Those with inordinate style can just push forward as is. You know the ones. They own the perfect necklace from Uganda. Or the perfect Lily Pulitzer shift dress that shows off their tennis-toned arms. Style comes in all political guises. The rest of us have to hope our 20-30 year old selves didn’t, rolling around in their young ignorance, trash our 50-year old selves. So here are a few words your 50-year old self would like to tell you.

1. Don’t diet any more. Please, please, please find a way to eat that can be sustained for years and year and years. 50-60 years. Because your metabolism will slow down. And what you eat now will make you put on weight later. You don’t want to be too heavy because your joints will hurt and your doctor will yell at you. So find a way to eat well. This will include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and chocolate. It will include very little fast food. Just do it. Don’t try to lose weight. Just find a way to eat well.

2. Appreciate your skin and your flesh and your hair because they will change. Put lovely-smelling unguents on them and hope for all that is promised. Spend only as much money as you are comfortable with.

3. Move around often. Don’t start running marathons unless you like them. They may wreck your knees anyway. Fidget. Take the stairs. Tap your feet. Walk to the market. 30 minutes a day of brisk walking ought to keep your body from disintegrating any faster than it will of its own accord.

4. Wear sunscreen. Not just at the beach. Or by the pool. Or in the desert. All the time. If you drive a car, especially wear it on the left side of your face. On your left hand. When I look in the mirror I see liplines and spots on the left side that I don’t have on the right side. Car damage. Wear sunscreen on your neck too. Amazingly, your neck isn’t as invisible to everyone else as it is to you.

5. Wear lots of tight pants and teeter around in high heels. Do it now. Go to bars full of people and dance where everyone can see you. Later in life you either will think it’s a really stupid idea and not worth the discomfort and so will have missed your chance, or you will regret not doing it and you will have to try it and you will wander around looking like you don’t know you are 50. You don’t want to wander around looking like you haven’t figured out your age. If you want to look like you like being 50, and think it’s fierce, all the better. But clueless is rarely a good look.

6. Follow fads. Dress as far on the edge as you are comfortable. By the time you are 50 if you dress on the edge people will automatically assume you are either an art gallery owner or a homeless person. By the time you are 50 you will be tiring of scanning your closet. You will be tiring of scanning fashion sites and looking to reinvent yourself. Unless of course you do it for a living. Otherwise you will want to have found a style that you like and you will want to stick to it. So experiment now. Even with perfume.

7. Travel. See the world. Do whatever it takes to realize that there is no one way to do anything. That the question of absolute moral right is a tough one for which many have died unnecessarily. Open your mouth a lot. This will mean you eat many foods, kiss a lot of men, take deep breaths and say what you want to say. And it will means that by 50 you will be spared the closed lip look of a woman who doesn’t like what she sees. Avoid pursed lips.

You don’t want to show up at 50 with regrets. And I find I regret what I didn’t do far more than what I did. After all, there’s almost always a path out of a wrong step, or if not, a way to heal in the days that follow. Whereas you lose the moment where you do not do it forever. In that way moments have of getting lost.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Knife of Covetousness

I would not want to return to the days of my grandparents. But unfortunately, I am not a simple soul content with the good earth. Even with a push mower. I covet things. I covet thing so much some times it makes my fingernails hurt. I get a longing in my gut. For things.

For High WASPs the passion of values is around aesthetics. Moral values are understated. Understood. The done thing. No need to discuss. It is the code and goes without saying. But taste? Taste? The determination of what is “good-looking”? What is “tacky”? In poor taste? For that we might shed blood.

When I see something beautiful I feel it like a knife in my teeth, steel against my tongue. For example. If I had to go back to the time of my grandparents this is what I would put on my 17th century refectory table. Linens or no linens. Everything else completely unornamented. Tall ivory candles. Oooooh. My precious.... (with a nod to Tolkien). The thingness of it is just so thingish. All that translucency. All those angles. All those fissures. Wait. Get me my lawn mower.

The Peak of Chic


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Family's Houses

My several grandparents lived in several places. In a 12-room apartment on Park Avenue in a building that’s oddly famous for having had an actual book written about it. Who knows why? In what I can only call an estate in New Jersey, which has since been converted into a country club, a golf course, a housing development, and other modern conveniences. Perhaps a 7-11. I am not quite sure. In a large elegant comfortable house in Massachusetts which is, I believe, still there.

My parents also lived in several houses. Among them, during their marriage, a conventional ranch house on the San Francisco Bay Area Peninsula, a conventional house in the hills of the same Peninsula, another house down on the expensive flatlands that had 35 rooms, and back up into the hills to a house with 5 acres. And horses. 3 horses. Technically 2 horses and a pony. The change in housing, from conventional to semi-outrageous, came when my father’s mother, his last surviving parent, died. He then inherited the remainder of the tail end of the family fortune, once large enough to warrant mention in the New York Times. And no, we are not Astors or Whitneys or Rockefellers. But I suppose my grandparents hung out with them. They maybe came to our weddings. Knew each other on Wall Street. It’s possible.

Me I live in a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house with a den. Granted it’s in Northern California so is valued at what would be an exorbitant amount in the rest of the country, but really, it’s a conventional house. I can see my neighbors’ kitchen from my kitchen window. Hear the other neighbors’ kids getting reprimanded in their swimming pool. Hear the yelling of the dads watching their sons play baseball in the nearby park. Why baseball always causes so much yelling I do not know.

I have been asked do I wish I could return to the days of my grandparents.

Today I mowed my lawn. Although my job has been partly found, the income is not enough to hire a gardener and the time involved is not so much that I can’t mow my own lawn. It’s hard work. It’s a little lawn, but I only have a push mower. And my lawn makes a hill. Granted, a little hill. But I’m not 30 any more. Do I wish I still lived as my grandparents did? My father’s mother, in a house with grounds so large it’s now a golf course? So well-to-do (for some reasons High WASPs think the word wealthy is vulgar) that they had an actual swimming pool, way back then?

No. I don’t. I’m not being particularly virtuous, either. Today I mowed my lawn in my son’s khakis and sweatshirt. My neighbor from across the street asked me did I need an electric lawn mower. No, I said, I count this as exercise. It was a beautiful day, windy, cool, blue skies. The dandelions were very yellow and I pulled them out of the ground with my weed tool.

I wouldn’t mind more land. I wouldn’t mind more privacy. More sky I can call my own. But I wouldn’t trade my right to wear what I want to wear on my own lawn. I wouldn’t trade my right to wear sneakers, as a woman, to have hair trailing from my hair elastic and blowing in the wind. I wouldn’t trade my time nursing and raising my own children. Learning to cook. And I wouldn’t change the world in which I know as friends people from cultures my grandparents most likely didn’t have any emotional or logistical way to understand. Even though they tried, living with tribes in Africa, how close they got to the societal possibilities of today I am hesitant to guess at.

I don’t want to trade in what I have now. I wish I could have all of it. I wish I could buy the art (oh for a Christo painting of the Running Fences), travel to the hotels, consider my options, in the same way they did. But I also know, again with no virtue on my part, that options bring anxiety. That lack of necessity causes doubt. I wouldn’t mind more land. But I like to mow my lawn.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cozies Redeemed. Barely.

I have trouble with cozies, crocheted and knitted covers for things that have no need of warmth. I saw this here. I felt my blood pressure rise. Have they no mercy? I am haunted by visions of my future as an increasingly angry old woman, muttering bitterly to herself amidst peeling paint on the front porch, cursing all signs of knitting needles and crochet hooks.

Luckily for mankind the possibility of redemption is always with us. Even cozies can be saved by humor and art, our great redeeming capabilities. Along with kindness and forgiveness. (Oh yeah, and lactation.) Things can always get better. So it came to pass. First she saw these,

And said this, "So the title is apt 'An Ode To Cher' or should this be 'An ode To Chers Bewbage'???" Aha. Cozied earrings look like Cher's boobs. There is hope yet.

That's not all said the Ginzo knives salesman. The real saviours are here. Wrapping, cozying, shrouding, all have had their apogee. You may already be nodding your head, yes, yes. Uhuh. Christo. Jeanne-Claude. The Reichstag. Yeah. That.

Which turned into this.

Not a crochet hook in sight. Nothing twee, nothing fey. Maybe an approximation of cozying history.

Happy Easter. Happy Passover. Here's to forgiveness, kindness, redemption. And I guess to Cher's boobs, if anyone's in the mood.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday Morning at 11:10am

It's Easter tomorrow. As an atheist, my relationship to Easter is governed by the memories I have of my young children, baskets in hand. And my memories, as is true for many of us, are governed in no small measure by my photographs. An iconic set of photographs, taken by my stepmother*, shows my children sitting on a step outside a playhouse, dressed in Easter clothes. My son is not quite 2. My daughter is going on 5. My son looks very serious, fully occupied by the enormity of the moment. My daughter is alternatively laughing, poking her brother, and fidgeting. My daughter, who when she was 8 burst out crying in the car on the way to school. When I asked her, "What are you crying about?"she said, "Mama, it's almost Easter. And when we hunt for eggs, I might get jellybeans. And I hate jellybeans...."

They are ready to look for Easter eggs. They wore clothes like this.

Now I look at the almost 19 year old boy, and the 21 year old young woman, and I wonder, how did those little creatures disappear so thoroughly into these grown people? Where did they go? I hope that maybe, if I am so lucky to have grandchildren, I might see traces of them again. But I won't ask. That would be greedy.

*She sells her stuff to galleries for lots of money. I lucked out in the documenting the lives of my babies arena.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Food Continued

For my generation there is no longer any such thing as High WASP food per se. The dispersion of the original New England, New York, and Philadelphia crews across the nation put an end to any thought of a unique culinary set. You will find us eating caviar that thinks it's ice cream at the French Laundry, salads with roast chicken at our corporate cafeteria, congealed pizza brought in by admins for an all-day meeting at our law firms, take out poached salmon from Whole Foods in front of the entire DVD set of the Sopranos, carnitas from the taqueria in the Latin American neighborhood in the next town, offal at a fancy Italian restaurant in San Francisco, no matter. We don't use any Campbell's Soups in our recipes. We cook from scratch altogether. We are probably more likely than average to eat carefully, to watch our weight, to try to stay healthy. But that's a side effect of privilege. Once you realize you are unlikely to die of hunger, or cold, you start worrying about dying of overindulgence. And you bring that High WASP code of conduct to bear on eating. Nothing too-too.

I can make no cultural claims to what you eat. Enjoy. Dig in. Just make sure you have a napkin nearby. Because place settings are another thing altogether. China? Glassware? Silverware? Tablecloths? And let's not even get started on candlesticks...

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

High WASPs And Food, Continued

In the my mother's generation, servants became widely impossible except for the super-rich. And High WASPs were no longer exclusively super-rich, nor were the super-rich exclusively High WASP. What did the young women graduating from Smith and Vassar and Radcliffe and Wellesley in the 1950's do about food? They knew it was their job. They had read the books. Being High WASPs, they had a deep belief in doing a good job.

And so the modern obsession with cooking began. Now I am not going all Al Gore and saying the High WASP invented the cookbook. (Although I understand in fact he had good reason to say he invented the Internet?) But High WASP women really needed cookbooks, since they had no mother, no grandmother, to show them how to make food. No food of the homeland. No cooking culture. And since they were apt to lose touch with their family's cooks when they moved to their husband's houses. And since, in the 1950's, their husbands certainly weren't cooking. And since, in the 1950's, probably small children who usually require feeding would be arriving in the unprecedented numbers of the Baby Boom. Which Boom of course produced me, so I'm a fan.

But these women didn't want to cook just anything. They certainly didn't want to cook like the middle class, however the middle class might have cooked. Since High WASPs had no home cooking they wanted to cook the recipes of other homes, other people. Actually, other peoples. They wanted cultural authenticity to stand in for childhood recipes, which belonged in fact to the family cook. (This is my theory of course, developed without an iota of research or data to back it up.) My mother bought her first wok in 1970 from Taylor and Ng, a San Francisco company and Chinese-American cookbooks shouldered their way onto our pantry shelves next to Julia Childs' (a High WASP if I ever saw one) Mastering the Art of French Cooking. My memories of Mom's cooking involve a lot of stir-fried broccoli. Cooked with sherry. Xiao xiang wine hadn't yet made its way to suburban Northern California. But if it had been there she would have bought it.

For my mother, her comfort foods had been Spam, Libby's Corned Beef Hash, and Underwood Deviled Chicken, all the foods she ate when the cook had a night off, her parents were out, and she, her brother, and sister, ate with the nanny. I don't think comfort food was allowed in my father's house. I am not sure he even knew where the kitchen was in the houses and Park Avenue apartment he grew up in. But for my generation, comfort food was the food our mothers learned to cook from other worlds. Ironically, of course, but who knew it then, just before the women's liberation movement began to tell them to get out of the kitchen.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

High WASPs And Food

In the olden days High WASPs had servants. My mother's family's cook was named Willie Mae. She was from the South. As a result, at my grandmother's house we ate fried chicken. Huge plates of fried chicken. Huge plates of fried chicken under the chandelier. And when we wanted more, we hoped we would be allowed to squirm our lower halves under the dark shiny wood table to search with our feet for the buzzer under the carpeting. And ring for Willie Mae. Food in those days seems to have been more about a display of the resources at your command. But you had to eat what the servants knew how to cook.

Once servants became impractible for any High WASPs who left Wall Street for a gentlemanly life of leisure, food became a true problem for some. My great-Aunt Priscilla and great-Uncle Bill (he was actually named Stanford but WASPs have a thing for nicknames. That whole Muffy and Biff thing is a smokescreen to hide what the nicknames really are...) lived near me when I went to college. I would visit them on weekends. They would feed me.

With no servants, Priscilla had to cook. She had no knowledge and no interest in gaining any. We would eat in the kitchen. A kitchen furnished originally for servants, so no granite, no stainless steel, no glass-faced cabinets with acres of copper pots and saucepans from obscure forgeries in Italy. None of the accoutrements of kitchens now inhabited by men and women with MBAs and JDs. Linoleum. Metal-legged tables. Priscilla would make frozen peas. Frozen peas were a great invention for this transitional phase of High WASP life. And gray hamburgers. And we would eat our meal as though it were normal for those who lived on hundreds of acres that have now become a multi-dwelling housing development to eat in the kitchen without ceremony.

After dinner we would sit in the library, which was near to the living room, which was near to the dining room we never entered, and have a drink from cut crystal as we sat on the sofas covered in cushions needlepointed in dog pictures. There was never any mention of the incongruity. To this day I do not know whether this was another example of impunity, or whether they were secretly embarassed and keeping a stiff upper lip, or whether, in fact, they just didn't mind.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Very Solicitous Robots

Robots keep calling me on the phone. They are such nice young robots. Worried about my financial well-being. In this economy, as they point out, I might need some help. In this economy, they believe, I might need to refinance my house. In this economy, they politely explain, I should call them absolutely right away immediately.

I would thank the robots. Tell them not to worry. That I'm doing OK. But were I to pick up the phone I would be sending my voice, filled with my feelings of fondness, down a long tunnel of bits and bytes and wires and cables and switches and I do not think the robots would actually ever hear me.

So I don't pick up the phone, despite their good intentions. Sorry all you nice robots. If I have been wrong about your sentience, please accept my apologies.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Laid Off Laid On

Looks as though my misplaced job has found a little piece of itself. Part time. For now.
  • Time to muster up the discipline not to ask questions before others are done talking
  • Time to muster up the testosterone to reply in short, muscular, phrases
  • Most of all, time to blow dry my hair. I just hate holding my arm up in the air for that many minutes in a row.

But that's what they pay me for. And that's what I spent 30 years learning how to do. Except I still don't have the hang of the blow drying thing.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fierce at 50 #1

I'm just not ready to pack it up and go to Dowdyland. That's the net. Which has led to such crimes as wearing my son's surfer sweatshirt. He doesn't even surf. After a stern talking to from the good women over at Corporette, I am now musing over how to dress in an unsurrendered but still suitable manner. And by suitable, I mean suitable to my goals. Not to any whispered tut-tut-tuts about what I or anyone else "should" or shouldn't do. It's simple. I have the goal to put death off as long as I can. And as a corollary, since at the end of the day I cannot put it off forever, I would like to forget that reality as much as humanly possible . Second, but perhaps more achievable, I should find a job. Therefore, I need to dress in a way that sends signals of intent, competence, intelligence. Even a little creativity won't hurt. Not too much though, creativity is scary to most corporate cultures.


Fierce at Fifty #1

Let me deconstruct. Jeans I believe have long since made the leap into the universal dictionary of fashion. At 50 I need to avoid a too-low cut, as that makes me look as though I haven't noticed that I am 50, indicating that I am either very unintelligent or disturbed. Holes are a problem. But these boyfriend jeans are fine. And comfortable too, something I prize more and more as I age. The earrings and necklace, as I have said, High WASPs don't think of jewelery as an accessory. It's more like family. Corporette found me the jacket, and it's cheap and washable. Critical for something I might wear to the market. Since I am prone to brushing up against strawberries, and other things that leave mysterious stains. The bag - good, simple, no visible logo. I can't help that it's expensive. That is the way of the world. The shoes, now there even at 50 you can get a little fierce. A little mischievous. These I found via nitrolicious. That's also how I know they are fierce. And finally, makeup. At 50, my lips are fading in my face, almost as though the fog has me already. And my favorite book, How Not To Look Old (well no actually that's Disgrace by Coetzee, but my favorite in the area of beauty) says wear pink lipstick over 40. Who am I to question?

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday Morning at 10:03am

I almost wish my kids were down the hall, sleeping. That I had bought some ham and tortillas and potatoes and salsa and eggs to make the boy a breakfast burrito. That I had bought the girl some melon, a banana, and maybe some kind of bakery pastry. That I could make her a cup of tea. But they are on the other side of the county. And that is how it's supposed to be.

Friday, April 3, 2009


As I have said, I don’t read blogs to find anything out in particular. I read for the experience of new things. I look for patterns. For the experience of a pattern emerging. My Google Reader tells me that the pattern I now maps the phases of life. Young Women, Brides, Midlife. There could be many other ways to categorize and organize and analyze what’s in my Reader but this is what I’ve chosen.

I have to say that I don’t find patterns to be peaceful. I have been besieged by them all my life. Clear patterns, emerging patterns, unseen patterns. I can’t look at anything or think about anything without assuming that I should be able to read its meaning. I can’t resist the effort to make even a hint of pattern clear.

That said, there is nothing I find more comforting than the concept of random. Grains of rice, fallen leaves and petals, lawn grass, stars in the High Sierra, all random. Not patterned. Better even than a nice minerally Sauvignon Blanc.

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High WASP Wedding - Cape Cod

Because there's only so much analysis that's worth doing.
Images from upper left: areohome, via Mighty Haus, Inspirations & Creations, Bride's Guide,, Snippet & Ink, Weddings Fresh, Project Wedding, (eek don't know on the cute bridesmaid), Brides

High WASPs love Cape Cod. My mother's family had a house in Wianno on the beach. I went there as a kid and played wiffleball with my father. My mother played softball with the Kennedy's in Hyannisport when she was young. She said Teddy cheated. But she is still a lifelong Democrat.


What Am I Reading? Politics and Work Stuff. Oh Yes. Weddings.

The last few categories in my Reader are Politics, The Web, and Weddings. You can see, by peering, that there are very few Politics or Web blogs. I was reading Tales From The Recently Laid-Off, since I was, I think, but then the author got a job. Hmmm. I was reading Wonkette, but I couldn't stand the yelling. I find most political discussions on the web to be like lying as a small child listening to my parents fighting downstairs. And I didn't like that the first time around.

The Web category? Well, that's my work. My current, or recently misplaced work. In my life I have worked as an office manager for a British theatrical producer, in funding for Off-Broadway theater, for a former McKinsey consultant in a firm that was half strategy consulting and half Primal Scream workshops, as a freelance writer traveling in India, as a newly-minted MBA in corporate strategy (can you tell I decided to get a grownup job around then?), as a salesperson of liquid nitrogen, oxygen, and argon, and then as a self-employed consultant. But for the past 12 years I have been in high-tech, working mostly as a product manager, manager of product managers, or VP of Product Management. I ought to stay current. But truth be told, to put myself in work mode I have to crank up the testosterone levels beyond acceptable levels for someone trying to reacquaint myself with the sofa. I read the Cranky Product Manager and make crabby comments on the posts. I read Mashable so I can feel that some day I might actually go back to work.

And then weddings. I love weddings. But I have already talked weddings. So for the next few days I will just change my blogroll to include every wedding blog I read and nothing else. There might be a few gems in there. As always, A Practical Wedding. And try DJ and the Remix. Or maybe 100 Layer Cake.

And there you have it. My Reader. On Friday, April 3rd, 2009.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Juicy. No Couture. (Homage to Mouse on the formatting)

I am 52. It doesn't seem possible some days. But when I look in the mirror closely (which of course at this point has to be a magnifying mirror but one can wax nostalgic even so), I see my blood coming to the surface. All over my body I see my veins coming to the surface. My face, my feet, my hands. This is what happens in Northern California where I live when you plant swamp trees like liquidambars in our semi-arid climate. The roots rise to the surface looking for water that they cannot find below, breaking through lawn after lawn.

In many ways. I would not go back to being 20. Or even 30. 40, yes, well maybe before anything started to ache. But I would sometimes wish for some of the juiciness of the young.

Being my age, and being a mother, and probably for other reasons not clear to me (maybe it happens to all of us stepping down the path to old age), I want to tell young women what I didn't know. You are juicy. Believe me, I know what it's like to scour your body for imperfections. I've had all those conversations, with myself, with my friends. And I can tell you with full certainty that when you are 52 you will look back with affection on your 20 and 30-year old selves and you will, no matter what your relationship was or is to physical beauty, you will remember you were juicy and you will just shake your head. And maybe sigh.

Even Persephone knew the god of the underworld craved the crack of a pomegranate seed between his darkened teeth.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What Am I Reading? Young Women

I read the blogs of a lot of young women. Sure, some identify as preppies, some are clearly artists and creative people, others are lawyers, others are brides who have finished the getting married activities. But at my age it's most important that they are young. In their 20's, or early 30's. For the most part they don't have children yet. And in my life children were the defining act, so given limited imagination and an underdeveloped sense of the political that that's how I categorize others. Are they in the age where the question of children or no children hasn't yet been answered? Are they in the age where they are still wondering what to do next, where each act doesn't happen inside a life with definitions in place?

The blogs that stand out right now, for me? And let me be clear, I am making no statements on overall excellence. Just for me. And I read all in my Reader window, every day.
  • east side bride - love the semi-permanent scowl and the groom fashion

  • even*cleveland - her charming whimsical Polyvore outfits, to go map-making for example

  • first milk - design, but personal

  • Good Mouse, Bad Mouse - it's her photo you see in the window there along with her cool post labels. With posts called "Yearn" and "Stare", what more is there to say? And she's going to South Africa...

  • Landlocked Mermaid - I like the Italian American family details

  • Monograms and Manicures - the uber-preppy but so on-the-go, so enthusiastic, so purposeful she transcends the category

  • Peonies and Polaroids - simply lovely writing and photographs from Scotland with a sly sense of humor

  • Puttin' on the G.R.I.T.S. - A Southern preppy girl with a great story of a boyfriend named Country, the possible end of that relationship, and now making Christian about to be born-again noises

  • what possessed me - super-smart city girl, irreverent, one of the funniest posts ever here

  • communicatrix - marketing and advertising without using business jargon

  • carboniferous - a grad student who still wants to buy dresses
Why these girls, for so they seem to me? Juicy stories. Juicy stories and good pictures and evocative writing. Details of lives I have not and will not live. And some maternal instinct. I wish good outcomes for all these girls. Who would not, I imagine, want me to call them girls at this point. But I mean girls in the fierce 12-year old sense, in the sense of this Dar Williams song. Which despite my usual extreme horror of sentimentality (unless it's about my children of course in which case I can cry at a piece of crumpled paper on a carpeted floor), made me cry the first 18 times I listened to it. So, collectively, I suppose I could say if I weren't a High WASP, you go. Girls.

The Whiteness of Rice

keeke's photostream
Some of us have such thin skins that we are ambushed by the mundane. How does one survive until midlife if the whiteness of rice can strike you as a miracle?


What Do I Read? Funny, Midlife, Moms

Continuing the hunt for blogroll optimization, here is the next section of my Reader, decipherable if you squint. I think.

Funny (I have a "Funny" category but it doesn't fit in the screen shot)
Many blogs are funny but this category is for what might be called concept blogs, i.e. I don’t care who writes them, I like the concept, and they are good for a laugh or something. I read F*** You Penguin (from my college-aged son), Indexed, and the Tiny Art Director, the hysterical sayings of a little girl to her illustrator father, which makes me laugh until milk comes out my nose.


Midlife is a tough one for me. I am, after all, if I am lucky and live to be 104, in midlife. But I find a lot of “midlife” blogs approach life or experience life differently than I do. I don’t knit. Or crochet. I like my garden and the names of birds in them to be a little mysterious. I don’t want life coaching. I want to laugh and I want to feel compassion and I want to be surprised. Twenty Four At Heart lives in Orange County, had a bad automobile accident that has her in physical therapy for years, and is so brazen that as High WASP I couldn't use her post from today in my screen shot but will read her stuff happily... Penelope Trunk I have followed since 2000 when she wrote a column and I was in a She is brilliant and writes about work in a way that doesn’t make me throw up. I Need A Martini Mom writes about cute things kindergarteners say, while Midlife Musings, um, muses. If you know of a midlife blog on traveling through the sub-Sahara, that might be about right. For me.


OK now wait. Some if not all of those women in Midlife are mothers. What’s with the second category? The Moms category is for women still in the eye of the maternal storm. Where what they care about most is their kids. Where they are still interested in whether kids sleep and what they eat and what to do about thumb-sucking and nursing and candy. I am past that time and to read these words makes me ache both remembering how hard it was and in sorrow that it’s over. So I read Pioneer Woman. I think of her more as Dickens than a mom. I read nienie because it reminds me that life is sweet. Maybe there are other mothers out there I should know too.

Again, any and all suggestions for widening my perspective are welcomed

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