Notes & Stories: How Did I Get to Be This Old?

There’s an ad on the back of the United grocery bags right now, with the face of a frowning, confused, wrinkled woman wondering “How did I get to be this old?”

Age Song Marin looks like a terrific organization, but please make this ad go away.

Well, I don’t know, lady, but I’ve been wondering the same thing.

There were a couple of significant anniversaries this week—it was thirty years ago that the Berlin Wall came down, fifty years ago that the first episode of Sesame Street aired. I remember when the wall fell, and I grew up with Sesame Street. It’s not history to me, it’s just my regular life.

And then at school this week there was a kid who didn’t know how to call their mom from the office. The kid asked for help, so I explained how to dial 9 first, and wrote down the number they needed to call, being very careful to keep my printing legible. Then they asked, “But where’s the button to turn it on?”

This kid had never used a corded phone! Not surprising in this world of cell phones and VoIP, but it sure didn’t occur to me that that’s what they needed help with. No buttons, kiddo—all you have to do if you want to use the school phone is to pick up the handset.

So now, instead of just wondering how did I get to be this old?, I’m also wondering about Superman. Where the heck does he go to change his clothes these days? Because surely he’s not still using a phone booth.


I’m teaching a kids’ cooking class in December. It’s a gift-making class, where we’ll be rolling chocolate truffles and packaging them up in decorated gift boxes. We’re getting out hammers and nails to make shaker jars, and filling them with spiced sugar to sprinkle on buttered toast or on cookies. Details here.

The first section of this week’s links are rather serious. (Scroll down for more fun.) Here are a few articles that you might find interesting, if you didn’t already run across them this week:

Moderate Republicans Can Save America in The Atlantic. (Although I prefer their alternative clickbait-y title: “How America Ends”.)

California’s Wildfire Policy Totally Backfired. Native Communities Know How to Fix It in Mother Jones.

A Liberal Uneasy in the World of #MeToo Feminism from the New York Times. (Great comments on inter-generational feminism, which may partially explain my feeling of being old this week.)

Frankly, though, this weekend I need to laugh way more than I need to think. So the rest of this list is entertaining:

One of the best parts of Sesame Street, of course, is its music. NYT has a great article about how the show uses puppets and music to teach kids, and how celebrities have joined the magical confluence.

Also: Joe Rasposo was a genius. I still hum “Everybody Sleeps” on a regular basis. Here’s a clip of the original version from my childhood; it was later updated to get rid of the straight, presumably-married parents and to add more people of color.

It’s not quite there yet, but Good Night Moon is almost 75 years old. Here’s a satisfying study in the LA Review of Books. (If that didn’t make you smile, here’s a list of the 50 best one-star Amazon reviews of the same book.)

I liked that Good Night Moon article because I appreciate literary criticism applied to children’s books—I was an English major and I’m a parent, after all. On the other hand, LitCrit is also pretty fun to make fun of, and this spoof analysis of Caps for Sale in McSweeney’s is pretty hilarious.

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