symptoms of being 35

On Tuesday I went in search of older books to use in my various stitchy projects. Since I opened the store, I’ve been thinking about other ideas and about branching out from the one math text I’ve been using. (Plus other ideas with that book — which I’m still thinking through.) Though I did find quite a few that would do well, I didn’t really come across anything that called out to me. Greek plays, history books, and some really very dry essays and poetry. 

But I tried again today. And came across a thin little one called Symptoms of Being 35*. I had never heard of the author, Ring W. Lardner, but a co-worker of mine is a bit of a fan. I might have to try and get my hands on some of his other works. 


Now, I know this guy is supposed to look like he’s scared of the phone, but it sort of looks like he’s dancing to me. 



*You can see the whole thing for free here:



Bridget has gotten into her “story tapes”. Brendan had some cassette/books from when he was a kid, but only a few with both the storybook and tape that match up. The other day on eBay, he came across an auction of some tapes and books some of which we had the book and not the tape and vice versa, plus some new ones that we didn’t have yet — like Mary Poppins.

They came today. And in a really awesome yellow suitcase case to boot. Now she’s got the matching tape for It’s a Small World and Alice in Wonderland. In addition to the aforementioned Mary Poppins, the other new set was Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby.

According to the Wikipedia article:

“The phrase is considered by most Americans to be an ethnic slur. However, since most Americans have never heard the phrase and have no knowledge of its origins, it is ludicrous to make this assertion.”


I guess if Wikipedia says it’s not racist, it must be true? It just doesn’t quite sit well with me for whatever reason. I feel like we should give it a listen to hear how bad it sounds. And then get rid of it. Maybe sell it and then donate the money.



And… I listened to it. The story itself is not so bad: Rabbit escapes from Fox and Bear. But the tape, oh the tape.  Since the story is from Song of the South, the tape sounds pretty much like the SNL skit.

not so different

This week, I’ve been reading The Group. I decided to take a look at it based on the fact that Betty Draper was reading it in an episode of Mad Men last season. When I saw what people had to say about it on goodreads I decided to give it a try.

There were two chapters in particular (that I’ve read so far) that really struck me. First, there’s a part where one of the girls (unmarried, even) goes to get a diaphragm. God, that made me pretty thankful for the choices I have. Not that I’ve ever really been faced with anything hard, but honestly, how much has changed? I mean, there is still the school of thought that using birth control will cause a person, er woman, to be promiscuous. This book takes place in the 30s and well,  we’re 80 years (jeepers!) past then and still, the amount of time spent worrying over the virtues of young women is still a hot topic. It’s not so different. Change some wording here and there, and the ideas are all the same. I was so proud of this girl, marching herself to the “birth-control bureau” and using her real name (!) all so she could sleep with a man who admitted he was never going to marry her. And then. Then because she can’t take it home with her (because she doesn’t want her roommate to see) and he isn’t home, she sits and waits for six hours on a park bench until she gives up, leaves the bag under a bench and walks away, hoping no one sees her. And never talks to the boy again. (or at least not that I’ve read yet.)

The other chapter, I read last night before going to bed. Another of the girls has a baby and her husband, a pediatrician, urges her to breastfeed! There’s a whole discussion about how it’s something that poor women do (because they can’t afford formula) and God, it made me so sad — the description of this poor baby crying because he was hungry, but it hadn’t been four hours yet, so she wasn’t “allowed” to feed him (and she only partly wanted to, she really was buying into the schedule part) and the nurses weren’t “allowed” to pick him up so he didn’t learn that crying would get him attention (because everyone knows three-day-old babies are master manipulators) and feeding on-demand caused colic (again, common knowledge). And then the nurses. They wanted her to supplement. And even though they weighed the baby pre- and post-feeding and he was gaining weight… some babies just need more and maybe her milk wasn’t enough. It struck me as modern as any mommy blogger talking about doubts about breast feeding or someone telling them to supplement because their milk wasn’t in yet (heck, there was just an episode of The Office that touched on the same thing practically). Not to mention no-cry sleep solutions versus Ferber. Attachment parenting versus whatever. And on and on…

Again, I’ll say it: 80 years since this story takes place. Granted, it was written in the 60s and that seems to color things, but the author is the same age as the women in the story, so I’m inclined to believe she knows what she’s talking about. 

Of course, as I was reading this, thinking to myself: Just feed the baby already. Please let her feed that baby, Johnny woke up at his usual time. Normally, if I put him back down, he’ll fuss for less than five minutes and go to sleep. But I couldn’t bear it. He got extra snuggles and rocked until he was fully asleep.


In my genealogical research, I’ve found that I am 7th cousin, 4 times removed (that is hardly related at all) of Emily Dickenson. Just gives me an excuse to pull out my book, and try and recall some favorites.


Long Years apart — can make no
Breach a second cannot fill —
The absence of the Witch does not
Invalidate the spell —

The embers of a Thousand Years
Uncovered by the Hand
That fondled them when they were Fire
Will stir and understand —



Best Witchcraft is Geometry
To the magician’s mind —
His ordinary acts are feats
To thinking of mankind.


At least, these were some I had marked back in college. Who knows what would catch my eye these days. 


Brendan joined the party on January 2, 2004. He's cool now.

Jessica has never been cool. She is OK with that.

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