Wildly uneven pieces on the commonplaces of middle-aging by a Chicago Sun-Times columnist. If Markey has a distinguishing trait, it may be a kind of sunny, safe unorthodoxy. Not for her ""knee-jerk negativism"" or rueful amusement at high-school reunions, but effusive gloop about ""a veritable room full of you're-not-getting-older-you're-getting-betters."" She isn't hobbled by consistency, even so: raptures about ""ripeness without repression""--tied to Mary Tyler Moore's young-Jewish-doctor catch--are shortly followed by a lament for ""The Last of the Blue-Haired Mamas"" prompted by today's wholesale rejuvenation. On the marital front, Markey is for different interests (""I defer to him on politics and sports, and he defers to me on books and movies""), against full-disclosure of infidelities, and in accord with The Peter Pan Syndrome (as well as Kiley's follow-up, above) on women's complicity as self-appointed ""saviorettes."" Where kids are concerned, she regrets the tight scheduling that stifles initiative--plus the displacement of stamp collecting by a succession of fads. She also attests to the perennial pain of adolescent suffering, the chronic difficulty in talking about sex. But along with the unremarkable thoughts on overworked subjects, there are some brighter observations--on, for instance, relief from ""the oppressive task of baby-sitter finding""--and a few fine personal pieces, notably on the decline and death of a distant grandmother. (Would it be only an extra trip on her VISA bill, as a relative suggested, to make a leavetaking visit?) That's one place, too, that the cutesy/jazzy writing leaves off. But readers will find more sustenance, overall, even in Joan Scobey's fairly routine I'm A Stranger Here Myself (below).