our book club reads happy books!

Mad about “Mad Men” (and Women)

I love the TV show “Mad Men”. I’ve watched it from the very first show. It’s been about a year and a half since the last season and I was excited for the season premiere.  I was slightly annoyed that it was scheduled to air while I was on New Orleans. (I even briefly entertained the idea of staying in Sunday night while we were in the Big Easy, so I could watch it. Thank goodness our hotel didn’t have AMC – I would have missed one of the best nights of my trip!)

I had brushed up on the previous season so I remembered everything that waited to be resolved: Joanie was pregnant with Roger’s child, Don was engaged to his 25-year-old secretary, crazy Betty was acting like she wanted Don back, and the final scene of the last season: Don laying awake in bed with his new fiance with an expression I interpreted as, “What the heck did I do?

Thursday night I made a date with my husband and we finally watched. He asked what I thought and I said:  It felt funny.I don’t recognize anyone – Don isn’t acting like Don, Peggy isn’t acting like Peggy, Joan isn’ t acting like Joan. Even Sally seemed mature and subdued.

But… I am still hooked. And as on previous seasons, it is the women who intrigue and move me. The 60’s were such a transitional time for women and all the characters are struggling to find there place in this new world. The sobering thing is, women still struggle with these issues: how to be taken seriously in the workplace, balancing work and family, sexual harassment. Peggy, Joan, Betty, and Megan are all dealing with these issues, and I can’t help rooting for them all. I even find myself  liking Megan (although I don’t really want to).

 And with one sentence Stirling, Cooper, Draper, Price exposed the depth of their biases and prejudices.  To a room full of African-American job applicants: “we’re only hiring secretaries, so all you men can go.”  How many people were insulted by that sentence? The message was:being a secretary is women’s work. And if we have to have black people in the workplace, we must not allow black men to threaten our jobs. Better to let black women come in and serve us.

The two-hour premiere raised more questions than it answered. How long will the happy newlywed act last for Don & Megan? It looks like the honeymoon is already over, but Don has  shown that living a lie is second nature to him. How fast will Joanie get back to work? Next week I’m guessing. Will Roger stop blowing cigarette smoke in his baby’s face? Not likely! Where’s Betty and her boring husband? (Morticia and Lurch – loved that!) And what will happen to Peggy? Will she finally admit to herself that she’s in love with Don? with Pete? with Duck? (no way!!) That she loves her job and doesn’t need a man to be fulfilled? Will Megan do another sexy song and dance?

There are aspects of all the “mad women” I relate to, although when I think about it, it should be Sally I relate to most. She is about the same age as I was in 1966, but her life is very different from mine (although some of the outfits look remarkably similar).  I hope “Mad Men” sticks around till they at least reach 1969. I just know Sally Draper will be at Woodstock!

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And…We’re back!

It’s been too long since I’ve been blogging. Life got a little hectic there for a while, and something had to give. This time it was the blog. But what I realized was, I missed blogging, so maybe next time something else will go by the wayside instead!

So what was it keeping me so busy? Beginning to work full-time (like), packing for a trip (dislike, but accomplished) , trying to leave the house in a presentable state (dislike, and not really accomplished – it’s a bummer coming home to a house you have to clean!), trip to New Orleans (love), catching up on the season premiere of “Mad Men” (which I missed while in NOLA), and massive amounts of personal & business paperwork (which I should be doing right now, but I’m blogging instead!). Not to mention the training I’m supposed to be doing for the Broad Street Run ( I hope that run this morning burned off at least one of those beignets I ate this weekend). And of course, there were several books to be read in the course of the last few weeks!

But more about all this later. This week was book club week, and it was a good one. The book was “Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt” by Beth Hoffman. Everyone really liked the book, and while their were many funny parts, the discussion questions made us realize it was serious too. Some of the questions were pretty deep. It reminded me in many ways of “The Help” and brought back fond memories of visiting the beautiful city of Savannah.

Betsy did a beautiful job with the refreshments! She really pulled off that famous southern hospitality with delicious chicken & egg salad sandwiches, peach & raspberry cobbler, peach iced tea & lemonade. Everything was yummy! (Wait, I think I have to go for another run!).

It was also a meeting full of hustle and bustle and the promise of new beginnings. We had the excitement of the school board meeting, with Stacy dashing out in the middle of book club to speak in favor of full day kindergarten. (Yay, it passed). And the beautiful new book club baby was passed around (so sweet!). By the way, the new mom looks amazing. And it does get it easier, and sooner than you think it will. For me it was when I took my new baby in for her six-week checkup. The doctor said to me: “She’s perfect, whatever you’re doing keep doing”. After all these years, I still remember those words. What a gift they were – they eased so many doubts and gave me confidence in myself as a mother. So Lauren, I’m not a doctor, but “he’s perfect, whatever you’re doing, keep doing”. I know you’re on the right track. I also remember visiting my mom as often as possible, just to have someone else hold the baby for a while!

It wasn’t the calmest book club meeting in the world, it felt very much like the rest of my life right now. Running in many directions and a little frantic. But if I ever get that seed packet of zinnias growing (thanks, Betsy), they will be a beautiful reminder of a night spent with strong women whose names I’m glad were written in my life book.


Happy Birthday Girl Scouts!

The Girl Scouts turn 100 this week. I think the actual birthday is March 12th. I remember this date, because when I was a Girl Scout, we had a little ceremony on this date and it also happened to be my brother’s birthday.

Girl Scouts have been a part of my life for a long time. My mom signed me up for Brownies without asking me, and I was terrified. But for a shy child, Girl Scouts are great. The members of your troop have to be your friend – the Girl Scout Law ends with the phrase, “be a sister to every Girl Scout”!

I have great memories of meetings, crafts, camping, and trips. I wish I could say I loved selling cookies too, but I never did. I enjoyed eating them though, and to this day I am a sucker for a little girl peddling Girl Scout cookies. I have to be careful though – I think I hold the land speed record for polishing off a box of Thin Mints!

My amazing Mom also managed to combine being a mother of nine with being a Girl Scout leader and cookie mom for a couple years! I never followed in her footsteps as a leader, but I did put in my time as a cookie mom for several years.

In 2005 I found myself in Savannah, GA accompanying my daughter on a trip she was taking for a job interview. While she was at her interview, I knew exactly what I wanted to do – tour the Juliet Gordon Lowe house. I found myself surprisingly moved to be at this mecca of the Girl Scout world. I remember my Girl Scout handbook describing the Birthplace, and how every Girl Scout should try to visit it someday. And here I was!

My daughter ended up with the job in Savannah. My former Scout could not resist the lure of the Juliet Gordon Lowe Birthplace either, and a call with an offer to volunteer ended up with a gig leading tours through the Lowe house on an occasional weekend. The people she knows who still work there report there are big doings there this month!

In honor of Scouting’s 100th Birthday, I’ve found the perfect book to read: “Girlchild” by Tupelo Hassman. I brought it home last week when I read this description of it:

“Rory Hendrix is the least likely of Girl Scouts. She hasn’t got a troop or even a badge to call her own. But she’s checked the Handbook out from the elementary school library so many times that her name fills all the lines on the card, and she pores over its surreal advice (Disposal of Outgrown Uniforms; The Right Use of Your Body; Finding Your Way When Lost) for tips to get off the Calle: that is, Calle de los Flores, the Reno trailer park where she lives with her mother, Jo, the sweet-faced, hard-luck bartender at the Truck Stop.”

This combination of reading and Girl Scouts sounds like a winner to me. I must admit, I was a big reader of the Girl Scout handbook too. I don’t really remember why! (Although, I’ve been known to read anything – when getting ready to paint baseboards, my husband yelled at me for reading the newspapers I was taping to the floor.) It sounds like it might not be the happiest of novels, but with the influence of the Girl Scouts, I’m hopeful that there will be a happy ending!!

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“She Got Up off the Couch”

I find myself on the eve of what feels like a momentous day. For the first time in over 30 years I will be working at a full-time job outside of the home.  At a time in life when many people are contemplating retiring. And yes, it’s a good thing! I am excited, proud, and yes, a little nervous.

Throughout my marriage, I have been a work from home kind of gal. I raised my children and I did the paperwork for my husband’s business. I always knew I was lucky to have the luxury of being home with my kids as they were growing up, but the thing that really surprised me was that I was not really a “homebody”. I often missed being out in the world.

When my youngest child started high school, I felt I was at a crossroads. I contemplated  getting a job. It had been so long, I thought no one would hire me. I was afraid I liked the idea of a job better than I would like an actual job  I actually said to myself, “I will only get a job if I can work in a library.”  Sometimes the voices in your head say something incredible and life changing – be sure to listen!

Surprisingly quickly, I found a job as the part-time circulation clerk at the library that was three minutes from my house. Eight years later, I am the full-time library manager of a library. Anyone that knows me, knows this is my dream job.

Years ago, I read a memoir by Haven Kimmel called “A Girl Named Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland Indiana”. It was a mostly sweet memoir of  Kimmel’s childhood. But the character who fascinated me was her mother, who supervised her household from the couch, where she ate snacks and read paperback novels. When Kimmel released her next memoir entitled “She Got up off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland Indiana”, I knew immediately who it was about, and that I had to read it. It did not disappoint.  Do we find what we need in books, or do the books we need find us?  I have faced some tough decisions over the past years, and looking back, I find that most of the time, the toughest part of a decision is saying “yes” – getting up off the couch.

I was a child who often was admonished for having “my nose stuck in a book”. I think my parents were afraid that I was cutting myself off from the world, and they weren’t entirely wrong. But a person’s path in life is not always the expected one and I like to think all those books taught me to be open to new experiences and opportunities. I still often have my nose stuck in a book, but I’m off the couch much more these days. And today I feel that books do not close me off from the world – they have opened the world up to me in  ways I never dreamed of.


Read Across America Day!

In honor of Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’  Birthday, my own very poor imitation:

One wish, two wish

red book, blue book,

Read one book, then read some more.

Some are sad, and some are glad

And some are very, very bad.

Some are thin and some are fat –

I like to read a book like that.

Oh me, oh my!

Oh me, oh my!

What a lot of books go by.

We see them come

We see them go

Some are fast

And some are slow.

Not one of them without a cover,

I don’t care –

I’ll read another.

by The Pat in the Hat (who feels entitled to write bad poetry on this date because she shares her birthday with the great Dr. Seuss!)


Imaginary Boyfriends

I couldn’t let the day go by without paying tribute to my very first imaginary boyfriend – Davy Jones! So sad to hear about his death, but just hearing a Monkees tune makes me happy. Whenever I hear “Daydream Believer”  it transports me back to a much simpler time. A time when my biggest problem was convincing my best friend that their was no way in the world that Mickey Dolenz was the cutest Monkee!

In the spirit of imaginary boyfriends, I offer two reading recommendations: “I Think I Love You” by Alison Pearson about, what else, a David Cassidy obsession. And then of course, there’s  “Bridget Jones’ Diary” by Helen Fielding. Bridget starts out with a crush on Mr. Darcy as played by Colin Firth in the BBC version of  “Pride and Prejudice”, and ends up with a Mr. Darcy of her own.  If only life were like this!