Quote of the week

Heather Havrilesky in Aeon, on the crisis usually described as “mid-life”:

Dear sweet merciful lord, deliver me from these deliriously happy parents, frolicking in paradise, publishing books, competing in triathlons, crafting jewellery, speaking to at-risk youth, painting bird houses, and raving about the new cardio ballet place that gives you an ass like a basketball. Keep me safe from these serene, positive-thinking hipster moms, with their fucking handmade recycled crafts and their mid-century modern furniture and their glowing skin and their optimism and their happy-go-lucky posts about their family’s next trip to a delightful boutique hotel in Bali.

I am not physically capable of being that effective or that effusive. I can’t knit and do yoga and smile at strangers and apply mascara every morning. These people remind me that I’ll never magically become the kind of person who shows up on time, looks fabulous, launches a multimillion-dollar business, and travels the world. When I was younger, I thought I might wake up one day and be different: more sophisticated, more ambitious, more organised. Back then, my ambivalence, my odd shoes, my bad hair seemed more like a style choice. When you’re young, being sloppy and cynical and spaced-out looks good on you.

But my flaws are no longer excusable. I need to fix everything, a voice inside keeps telling me. It’s time to be an efficient professional human, at long last, and a great mother and an adoring wife. It’s time to shower on a predictable schedule.

Which seems at odds with the advice she gives — under her old Suck.com nom de screed “Polly Esther” — at The Awl; but not quite resolving those contradictions is what middle age is all about.


  1. Francis W. Porretto »

    5 July 2013 · 4:56 am

    “Grow old along with me!
    The best is yet to be.
    The last of life, for which the first was made.”
    — Robert Louis Stevenson.

    “Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.” — Groucho Marx.

    “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” — Liz Pavek.

    “Age doesn’t matter unless you’re a cheese.” — from a Salada tea bag tag.

    “You young folks don’t know how lucky you are. Why, when I was your age…” — Me.

    And so it goes.

    Lament not. There’s still life, love, Cadbury Fruit & Nut bars, Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry, and the World Wide Web…I think. My memory’s not what it was, you know. Now what did you say your name was?

  2. Bill Peschel »

    5 July 2013 · 8:06 am

    Good grief, does she really know anyone like that, or is she listening to the rocks banging together in her head again?

  3. fillyjonk »

    5 July 2013 · 8:24 am

    It’s not necessary to know someone who is actually like that; it is enough to know someone who approaches being like that – or at least, who is marginally more put-together than you are. I can relate to her post. When I was a child, I thought that at 18 you would be issued some kind of guidebook on “how to do adulthood.” It was a great disappointment when I realized such a thing didn’t exist, and I was more or less making it up (and seemingly, making it up not as well as some people) as I went along.

  4. Melessa »

    5 July 2013 · 12:57 pm


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