Gero-punk dream: Revised & reduxed


Yes, even dreams can be brought back and revised.

And sometimes the slightest change in a dream can be the difference that matters.

A few weeks back, upon the occasion of giving a workshop on cultivating truly inter-generational relationships that simultaneously account for and forget generational differences, I took another look at the Gero-Punk Dream essay I published awhile ago, suspecting it might be a keen piece to perform at the beginning of the workshop, which I was co-facilitating with two high-school students. When I composed this two-part essay a few years back, I included two references to age and life-course stage, but this time around I decided to strip away the age references altogether. I also changed some of the gero-punk graffiti artist’s mottos (Thanks for inspiring me, Ashton Applewhite!).

Here’s the result.  I quite like it.

What do you think?


I am jogging around the city, slow and loose, fully occupying my body. I am alert and aware. I have to be–it is daytime (the angle of the sunlight suggests an early autumn afternoon). There are humans of all ages (and many dogs) doing what creatures do on a beautiful day.

So. I have an audience.

There’s a satchel slung diagonally across by back. Inside the satchel are cans of spray paint: red, black, and silver. I am tagging buildings, spans of pavement, even park benches and the sides of buses. I am leaving my mark with panache and impunity, defacing whatever surface calls out to me.


Life is short! Act now!

Aging: Every Body’s Doing It!

Aging is inevitable. Ageism ins’t.

You are an age, all ages, and no age at once. Embrace this mystery.

I am a gero-punk graffiti artist. Only I know that my spray paint is impermanent and will wash away when it rains.


I am a gero-punk graffiti artist. Only I know that my spray paint is impermanent and will wash away with it rains.

There is a person striding toward me– look at them frown and fume! – as I begin to spray


on the sidewalk in front of the playground at the park.  They ask me what I think I am doing. I respond by asking them what they think they are doing.

We look at each other, eye-to-eye, for what seems like a long time. They have really lovely eyes: We share silver hair though I have peacock-blue streaks in mine. We are about the same size and height, it seems to me, though what do I know—I always feel like I am the same size and shape, even the same age, and like I am similarly embodied, in relationship to whatever creature I happen to be observing.

Enough already. I have surfaces to deface.

I tilt my head to the right and hold up a can of silver spray paint.

They tilt their head to the left (are they mimicking me?) and hold up their splendidly ornamented walking stick.

I say: Care to come closer and take a look?

They are frozen at first. Then they shuffle side-to-side in a dance of indecision.

So I shrug my shoulders in response. I return to my work, finishing the gero-punk inscription


My peripheral vision sucks but I feel movement and energy originating from behind me, arcing wide to home in at my right side.

I keep at my project until it is complete.


I turn to look at the stranger beside me. They are sussing. And either they have intensely bad hyperopia or they are about to kick my ass.

Left hand on my hip, can of silver spray paint in my right hand,

I ask: So? What do you think?

They say: What the hell do you know?

I say: I am not sure what the hell I know. What the hell do you know?

Then I offer them the can of red spray paint.


Revised for the Multnomah County Library In-service day, 11/27/16, Age ain’t nothing but a number (?).



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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