Gero-Punk Trickstering-and-Treating

little ghost

Happy Halloween!

What was your favorite Halloween costume when you were growing up? A pirate? A forest fairy? A Disney character? A bumble bee? A vampire? A ghost? A ballerina? An historical character? A lady bug? A railroad engineer? A gangster? (There was a wee ol’ school gangster who just came to my door to trick-or-treat. He looked so very fine in gray pin stripe suit and fedora!)

If you are dressing up tonight to celebrate Halloween, as what or whom are you dressing up?  If you wish you were dressing up in costume tonight, as what or whom do you wish you were dressing up?


This is the first Halloween I’ve spent without my daughter Isobel. She’s far away in upstate New York attending college.  She just texted me to let me know that she and her friends are heading out to an evening of parties. She said she’ll text me when she’s safely back to her dorm.

Isobel is going out into this Halloween night as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader  Ginsburg. I think she’ll be just fine.


Hey, those of  you who live in and around Portland, Oregon and have been yearning for an in-person gero-punk gathering, please join me on Thursday, December 4th, 2014 from 6-9 p.m. in the Hemlock Room (how’s that for a provocative name!) on the Marylhurst University campus. I’ll be holding the first of what I hope to be many Gero-Punk Salons.  What is a “Gero-Punk Salon”? Well, you’ll just have to show up and see what happens, won’t you?


Yesterday in my Embodiment in Later Life course I tried out something new.  I gave each student an envelope. I asked them to write their name on the envelope. Then I asked them to take out a sheet of paper. Then I asked them to write a love letter to themselves, a letter of gratitude or appreciate for their very own precious self.  I gave them about ten minutes to do so. I wrote one to myself as well. After we wrote our love letters and sealed them in the envelopes, I collected all of the letters. I’ll be returning them on the last day of class.


Today is the last day of October. How about you write a love letter to yourself and seal it in an envelope! Tuck the envelope away somewhere and then leave yourself a little note on your calendar three months from now, on December 31st (which just happens to be New Year’s Eve), reminding yourself of where you hid the envelope. Then open the envelope and read your love letter to yourself.

I can’t wait to hear about your experience! A great start to a new year, don’t you think?

About Jenny Sasser, Ph.D.

I am a freelance educational gerontologist, writer, community activist and facilitator. 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 twenty (or more!) 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 inter-generational friendships and cross-generational collaborative inquiry. I am co-author, with Dr. Harry R. Moody of Aging: Concepts and Controversies (now in its 10th edition!) and first author, also with Moody, of the recently published Gerontology: The Basics, as well as author/co-author of several book chapters, articles and essays. I am on the Portland Community College Gerontology Program faculty.
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2 Responses to Gero-Punk Trickstering-and-Treating

  1. Erica Wells says:

    I went trick or treating last night with, among others, the Statue of Liberty, Animal (from the Muppets), Papa Smurf, Harry Potter, and a Dementor (yikes). Keeping with the H.P. theme, I was dressed as the witch, Tonks, (she can change the color of her hair, so that’s what I did). There was a half moon shining in the sky and the streets were filled with lots of kids, most of them younger than the ones in my motley group. I stopped to say Happy Halloween to all the little trick-or-treaters, and I tried to keep the emotion out of my voice as I chatted with their parents. Spooky, I wanted to say, how quickly your little Disney princess (with a white fur cape!!) wants to instead dress like a zombie. Or your tiny ninja is ready to head off, on his own, with his pals. I kept those thoughts to myself, and was content to be the token adult among the 10+ year olds. Little do they know, that regardless of our age, we all can act like kids on Halloween.

  2. Colleen says:

    When my supervisor asked me if I planned to dress up on Halloween I joked that I would wear my son’s costume…..the Grim Reaper. This announcement was met with a stunned silence, then guffaws and finally a serious assurance that this would be in very bad taste indeed. I work in a place, you see, where death tiptoes down the hallways, peeks into apartments and occasionally dances a lively two step with someone holding fast to a vibrant life. Death makes singles out of doubles. Frees some. Terrifies some. Forces most to test beliefs held for a lifetime. We ignore death until he approaches, gently cups a face in his hands and gazes squarely into someone’s eyes.

    That evening, walking in a crisp Halloween dusk with the Grim Reaper and his friends, Elsa and Olaf, Steve the Mindcraft guy, Mary Poppins and Batman, the 50’s bobby soxer and all the others, I celebrated with my young friends the night in which the boundaries between this world and the next grow insubstantial. We need the practice.

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