Sunday, February 15, 2015


Photo by Nico Aguilera.
This week I found a Baltimore Sun article about the increased presence of novels focused on late life. The article introduced me to a new term,

Vollendungsroman, which was coined in 1992 by literary critic Constance Rook as a companion to the term Bildungsroman.

Bildungsroman refers to stories where the protagonist is coming of age, growing, developing or "building" towards adulthood.

One of the most classic examples is Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

A Vollendungsroman, by contrast, is a novel of winding down or completion. It focuses on the challenges presented in late life, chiefly to "discover the tension between affirmation and regret." (Rook qtd. in footnote 49 of Rita Caviagoli's Women of a Certain Age, on p. 203)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Disco Kiss Memory

Photo by Rosie Rogers
I was 15 and fearing that in a few months I would turn Sweet 16 and never been kissed.

There were a handful of boys that I crushed on. However, I was bookish, argumentative and socially awkward.  I spent a lot of time as a wall flower.

[This post is part of a Blog Hop hosted by Midlife Boulevard.]

From 14 on, I would attend dances and watch other girls my age flirt effortlessly--or so it seemed to me.  I was a teen during the 1970s when disco dominated the airwaves.

If I wasn't moony enough already, the following disco songs were playing on the radio during the months that prom was in full swing in late Spring 1977:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pew Data on Technology Use

Photo by Lyza.
It's a stereotype that older adults don't know how to use technology. While this may have been true decades ago, every year it becomes less true.

For example, my grandmother Dorene, born in 1906 thought that my IBM 256K computer was a television when she saw it in 1984.

However, my father, born in 1938, wrote his own code during the 1980s in order to customize his client lists for work.

Now in his late 70s, my father doesn't use social media, but he knows more about hardware and software than I do even though I have been using a personal computer nearly daily at home, at school and at work since 1981.

So how much do older adults use technology such as the internet, cell phones and tablets?

The Pew Research Center's Internet Project Survey of older adults' (65+) shows that older adults are increasing their use, but they still lag a bit behind other adults. The survey was conducted July through September of 2013.

Here are some key statistics from that report:

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Born in 1962

Photo by Elvert Barnes.
I'm always interested to hear how people my own age are doing.

Logically, I know that people are so diverse from one another that I'm not going to observe meaningful patterns or draw valid parallels.

Nevertheless, keeping an eye on my age mates gives me some gauge of how I'm moving through time.

Consequently, I've decided to make a list of people born in 1962.

Wikipedia does have such a list, but it includes thousands of people from several countries and notable for a variety of achievements.  Admittedly, I don't recognize the vast majority of these notable people.  Trying to read every entry on that list proved overwhelming.

I thought that a list of 60 or so people my age would be adequate.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Magic Forest: An Elder Tale

Photo by csphotography.
My first career as an English teacher draws me to cultural objects--films, plays, paintings, novels, stories--that depict older adults and midlife / late-life issues.

As a way of sharing what I'm observing, I discuss a different elder tale each month.  For February 2015, I'm sharing "The Magic Forest," which focuses on the tensions among a mature woman, her naive son and her devious daughter-in-law.

What I'm calling an "elder tale" is a fairy tale that features an older adult as the protagonist of a make-believe story that addresses very real issues.

Sources for the Tale

A shorter version of this tale appears in a 1985 academic article by Allan B. Chinen identified on p. 106 here as "The Old Mother-in-Law."

It's also called "The Magic Forest," and it comes from Croatia.  I first found it in Allan B. Chinen's 1989 collection of elder tales called In the Ever After: Fairy Tales and the Second Half of Life.  

"The Magic Forest" also in Dan Keding's 2008 Elder Tales: Stories of Wisdom and Courage from Around the World  on pp. 73-78.  A pdf of Keding's book is available here.

What follows is my paraphrase.