This too could happen to you

I spent some time over the holidays reading the journals of folks who live lives that I would live if I wasn’t living my life. Lives of girls in apartments studying art or design, who stomp through snow, hang with groups of friends on weekends in bars and bookshops while eating ramen and making zines. I was reminded by these other lives that I am now officially not that kind of person any more. I am a suburban mum, a few months shy of 31, a few years shy of buying or building a house and around a decade shy of being middle aged (although when does middle aged start exactly? 40? 45? When I was little I thought it was 30 so perhaps it moves further away with every birthday). Where I once fantasised about working for an alternative record label while designing posters, living on a clapped out houseboat and looking like Holly Golightly, I now fantasise about keeping a run of chickens, growing herbs outside my kitchen window and holding a brood of giggling kiddies while reading “Where the Wild Things Are” out loud. I now prefer the intoxicating blend of russian caravan and lapsang souchong to the heady mix of vodka and tonic, going to bed early to sleeping in late, cook books to comic books. I don’t even know where my tube of liquid eye liner is (once a trusty friend and constant companion through art school), and if I did happen upon it I am sure it would be all dry and crusty and if it isn’t I would surely have lost that honed knack of applying it just so – 60s mod not 80s gothic.
And by and by she got older. Sniff.

I will continue to strive to be a cool mum, just like Bjork

I have just finished a book which I really enjoyed. She Flew the Coop by Michael Lee West. Claire sent me a preloved, dog-eared copy of it ages ago and I finally had a chance to sit down and get into it. It’s full of gossip and recipes and intertwining lives in a small town and was very easy to read while waiting for my turn for a shower in the mornings or for the water to boil for pasta in the evenings… I will be handing it on to someone who needs a good book to read soon. So I am now on to one my mum leant me; Margaret Drabble’s The Seven Sisters I have only just started it but already I am wondering if I would enjoy it more if I were the age of the protagonist – which I guess to be late 50s or early 60s with grown children and starting a new life. Even so, I am already keen to know what’s going to happen and Margaret Drabble is a pretty compelling author. I just had a peek at the Amazon editorial review and I might have to go and read a bit more while Amelia J snoozes.

But because I can’t help myself and there is a little bit of the younger me still lurking around the joint my birthday wishlist now includes Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan. (via niem)

26 Responses to “This too could happen to you”


    I’m almost 32 and the mom of a 7 year old. The highlight of my holiday was the gift of a kitchenaid mixer. But truth be told, I spent yesterday in Newbury Comics (punk-y record store in Boston) coveting a pair of flame-orange Doc Martens and a Dickie’s bike courier bag. I truly believe that as you move on in life you take the best of your younger self along for the ride and leave the crusty liquid eyeliner behind. You can be both herbal and anarchist depending on the mood. It just makes you a more complex and interesting you.
    Oh, totally jealous of your reading time. I DO miss it when they nap. Mine has outgrown that.


    Ach, I know that feeling much too well. A few years ago, I spent my weekends (and weekday nights) meticulously planning out who I was going to hang out with, and where, and what I was going to wear… Now, weekends come, and the hubby and I are more than happy to sit around, watching the baby run into walls and squealing over Lilo and Stitch.
    There are times I miss it. I run across one of my cute novelty tees, but I feel silly wearing it with the baby bag over my shoulder, and a toddler in tow.

    Besides, makes me look like a teen mum. It’s not as if I don’t get enough comments for calling my baby ‘Feesh!’

  3. Galon@AOL.Com

    When does middle age start? If you live to be 80, then clearly you are middle aged, say, ten years before and, say, ten years after 40. If you live to be 60, then before and after 30. If you live to 100, then before and after 50. Arbitrarily assuming you will live to 88, middle age would be, say, 34 to 54–followed by what we might call “late middle age” and then “old age.”


    As someone who is under thirty (only by a couple of years), hanging out in bars, clubs and working as an animator/designer, supposedly being all cool and trendy. Having taken one look at your daughter’s photo and reading your entries, I really think you’ve got something special going for you, plus your an unique artist. Lucky, lucky you!

    I hope the sun is shining down on you in Oz today, it’s raining buckets on us in London.


    It all hit me when someone not much younger than myself called me “ma’am”. Ick…
    I am 38, married and have 2 daughters, 4 and 6. I remember living in an apartment, selling my artwork, studying violin, and desining fashions in Boston. Now I live in a house with kids and a hubby and cooking and doing loads of laundry. The big excitement is finding a new brand of toilet paper… LOL


    Oh Claire I am so glad you liked the book! It was some time ago when I sent it- I think 1999!!!I was living a different life then in Melbourne (Now residing in Edinburgh and live working in Glasgow) I had just discovered your site and was messing about with my own (though now I never have the time to update).
    There is something so comfy about that book its hard to describe.
    I still love your updates best wishes for the new year.


    claire, i’m a girl living in an apartment working at a magazine and let me tell you – i like going to bed early, reading cook books, and would consider owning chickens.i’d like to live your life!


    small world. That mamamusings link goes to a teacher in the dept. where my husband is getting his master’s degree.
    I read somewhere recently that chickens were going to be the trendy pets of the next decade. Apparently, they make fancy cages for those who want to keep them indoors in an apartment and such. They said chickens were soothing to watch and they also gave eggs — therefore they were a good pet. I wish I hadn’t lost the link. maybe I can find it again. It was mostly a feature on a girl living in manhattan with chickens on her balcony.


    Well, your dreams sound gorgeous to me. As we get older, we meet new challenges and our perspectives change accordingly. I’m only 22, but I already look forward to maturing and pursuing new and better things. Sure, I enjoy my life as it is now, but I look at change as being a vital and fulfilling part of life. How boring would it be if we went out and partied all night, every night, anyway? 😉


    as Big-P’s middleaged brother, all I can say is that it comes quickly!!!


    If you like Michael Lee West, you HAVE to read her book CONSUMING PASSIONS. It’s all about cooking and crazy relatives and growing up in the South. It was absolutely wonderful.
    And I am a girl living in an apartment with a new husband – and instead of going to rounds of parties and clubs and whatnot like my friends – I cook and am thinking about knitting and I try to write and awfully love to read.


    It’s funny, you know…all this time I’ve been waiting to turn into exactly the type of girl you’re talking about (making zines, going to bars, and so on) since I was a teenager, and it still hasn’t happened. Now, as I creep ever-closer to 30, I am finally starting to accept the kind of person I really am: a homebody, a nurturer, a born motherer, and more bohemian than I would ever have admitted in college. I’m my mother.
    Hmmmm. Claire, this is a very thought-provoking post. I am suddenly thinking about all sorts of things I tend to push aside and save for later…


    Claire, honey, you are so blessed. I am a 30 year-old, attractive, smart single gal. I just bought a house to ease the tax woes. And I haven’t been on a date since June this year. And the last one before that was in December. I look forward to spending time with someone who adores me, has some of the same likes and dislikes, and who respects me. Do you think single girls want to stay single? Oh on the contrary, we want what you have, security. Let’s face it, the quote from the Bible about not living until you have experienced love has been beaten into my head at every single wedding I have attended! Just count your lucky stars that you never dated a crack head, had a date “forget” his wallet or one that slept with your best friend behind your back. Oh the woes of being single!!


    claire you gorgeous thing – although you describe your life as if it was ordinary I for one find my life enriched by your site, it is as pleasurable as the first sip of a steaming latte, and your words as well crafted as a favourite novel, entertaining, thought provoking and smile inducing…..thankyou.

  15. spam@bots.suck

    I sometimes think that we chase our past youth because with time we forget the bad things about that age, while the good things remain in our memories. We think that if we could go back to being like we were at x age everything would somehow be better.
    In reality, everyone changes as they become older, and our tastes change as well. Our perspective and experience in life makes different things important. Plus, as we move past the teenage phase, the pressure to conform is less and we become free to pursue ourselves as individuals.

    Just my thoughts anyway :). Your life sounds lovely Claire.. so cosy and safe and happy.. and your journal is always a pleasure to read because of this, it’s always so positive! Thanks very much again for writing it :).


    As a just-turned-40 myself, I have to go with the “it’s always ten years away” school of thought. 🙂 I don’t feel “middle-aged” in the way I thought of it when I was younger. But I don’t suppose that really means much.
    I enjoyed this post…and the rest of your site. And I’m delighted that you liked mine enough to mention it on your sidebar. It’s certainly sent a lot of traffic in my direction today!

    And now, to bed…it’s late here in Rochester.


    It’s certainly funny how dreams and priorities change as we age. Even from just a year or two ago, I’m amazed at the differences in my own wishes.


    I turned 32 yesterday and have been having many of the same feelings– missing my former self but also happy with my current, more settled and comfy life.
    At work (I’m a veterinarian), they had a cake for me. Someone who used to work in our clinic when she was in high school (before I arrived on the scene) dropped by and found us in the middle of birthday hullabaloo; when she found out how “old” I was, she said, “Oh, you look great!”

    I guess that’s when you know someone else thinks you’re middleaged, even if you still feel like you’ll never be a grownup!


    I know how you feel, Claire. I seem to be more into plants than punk rock, and I much rather go to bed early than sleep the entire day away.
    I don’t have any kids and I’m 30. eep. All I can say that I think I’m changing my interests because I’m reinventing myself on a regular basis…

    and that’s not a bad thing for any of us to do. 😉

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