Gero-Punk Appeal: Call for Collaboration

Hey, friends! Time for a test of the Gero-Punk Emergency Broadcast System!

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Have I got your attention?

To remind you: The Gero-Punk Project is not only a space for capturing stories about my adventures traveling through the life-course, but a space for collecting stories about your adventures as well. Equal to being an essayer, I’m a convener. But I’m a lonely convener without friends to play with! And, as I’ve said before, I think better with others. So: I’m putting out the call – it has been almost a year since my last formal invitation for contributions to the Project. Won’t you do a bit of essaying of your own (and let me publish it in this awesome time/space/place)?

Perhaps you need to know a bit more about what you might write about. Okay, fair enough.

Recent essays have explored how we are changed through the experience of our loved ones returning to the stars.  Helen wrote about her father’s death. Penny Layne wrote about losing multiple grandparents in a short period of time. Larry shared with us the loss of his life partner. And my old-and-no-longer-living-on-this-planet friend Fred shows up a lot in my own writing. 

As well, some of us have shared stories about the pain of loss in love. I’m talking about real-time loss, anticipated and not, as relationships change, even blow up or, perhaps, become something new and quite (unexpectedly) lovely. Check out Jen O.’s essay in which she contemplates Eros in long-term (and new) relationships.

Oh! And some of us have written about relationships with other creatures – our beloved companion animals with whom we travel through the life-course but at vastly different rates of speed. Lorie and Simeon both wrote about the strange fact that if you share your life with a non-human animal, you realize at some point that for but a short moment in time you are the same age and then, quite suddenly, your animal friend is older than you are and you realize you won’t experience old age together. 

Several of us have written about how hard transitions can be whenever they happen in our own and our close others’ travels through the life course. Colleen, Erica and I have all explored what it feels like to be mid-life women, negotiating various responsibilities and roles (not to mention our changing bodies) and how we’ll only know we’ve experienced mid-life after-the-fact. (It is relative, yes? Possibly I already had my mid-life in my thirties, or perhaps I’m in my mid-life now, or maybe I will live to be 120, so I’m a decade or two away from even commencing mid-life.) In case you missed it, I recently proclaimed that I hate midlife and how my smarty-pants professional Gerontological knowledge falls short in helping me make it through my own aging journey. 

Also on the theme of growing pains, Amber wrote about helping her young son negotiate his nighttime fears around mortality and the almost spontaneous emergence of new maturity she witnessed in him once he felt heard by her and thus safe. I’ve written about navigating interconnected developmental challenges as my daughter begins her last year living with me and my mommy faces bravely her later life.

In case you were wondering, my mommy is not only a character in many of my essays, but she has spoken for herself, sharing her experience of being a student in the women’s issues in aging course I taught this past spring, and soon she’ll be writing about her decision  to move into subsidized housing for older adults.

Teddy, the youngest contributor to the Gero-Punk Project, offered us perhaps the greatest example of the power of self-reflection, generosity and acceptance (of one’s own complicated feelings as well as of others’ choices for their lives) when he wrote about how his mind changed toward his father’s much younger second wife once he let himself actually get to know her. 

And Velda and Gaea, our wise old crones, shared stories of the past and aspirations for the future with honesty and humor, embodying in their writing different styles of active elderhood. 

Britta, Jo Anne, and Erica have promised me forthcoming essays. And Noraleigh says maybe her partner will cook up something about his adventures.

What will you cook up?

If you are inspired to contribute something — no matter how provisional and drafty —  to the Gero-Punk Project please contact me at jsasser@marylhurst.edu.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Shine on, friends.

 

About Jenny Sasser, Ph.D.

I am a freelance educational gerontologist, writer, community activist and facilitator. As of 12/21/15, I am former Chair of the Department of Human Sciences and Director of Gerontology at Marylhurst University. I joined the faculty as an adjunct member of the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program in 1997 and since that time, I've been involved in designing many on-campus and web-based courses and programs for adult learners, including in Gerontology. As an undergraduate I attended Willamette University, graduating Cum Laude in Psychology and Music; my interdisciplinary graduate studies at University of Oregon and Oregon State University focused on the Human Sciences, with specialization areas in adult development and aging, women’s studies, and critical social theory and alternative research methodologies. My dissertation became part of a book published in 1996 and co-authored with Dr. Janet Lee--Blood Stories: Menarche and the Politics of the Female Body in Contemporary US Society. Over the past fifteen years I have been involved in inquiry in the areas of creativity in later life; older women's embodiment; sexuality and aging; critical Gerontological theory; transformational adult learning practices; and cross-generational collaborative inquiry. I am co-author, with Dr. Harry R. Moody of Aging: Concepts and Controversies (8th edition). I live in Portland, Oregon with my dog Happy. My daughter Isobel is a Sophomore at Bard College in New York state. I have been on the planet 49 years.
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