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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Aging in Place: What Do You Think?

If you read enough books, articles, blogs, and studies on this new old age, you’ll eventually run across the phrase “aging in place.”

For some, it means the ability to remain in one’s home as they age; for others, myself included, the concept has a broader meaning, encompassing not only an actual home, but also a specific community. This idea of aging in place is basically how the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines it:

"the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level." (Additionally of note, this definition doesn’t limit the “ability” to age.)

Now as I continue my travels through the boomer/beyonder years, I’ve come to be pretty darn interested in where I want to continue aging, enough so that I’m making “aging in place” the focus of my second book.

Part memoir, part guide, the book will describe my own experience and exploration of the topic, as well as make use of how my fellow agers are approaching it.

To that end, I’m forming a focus group of people willing to be interviewed about how aging in place applies to their own lives. If you’d like to be a part of this group, please email me at madmoon55@hotmail.com and I’ll send you a brief set of interview questions.

And for more information about this idea, here’s a link to an article that appeared in a 2012 issue of The Gerontologist. First, the study’s purpose:

“This study illuminates the concept of ‘aging in place’ in terms of functional, symbolic, and emotional attachments and meanings of homes, neighbourhoods, and communities. It investigates how older people understand the meaning of “aging in place,” a term widely used in aging policy and research but underexplored with older people them-selves.”

Continue reading at:


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Writing Role Model: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The 1950s Beat Generation of writers—including poets Allen Ginsburg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti—weren’t much on my reading/writing radar while growing up, though my young husband did introduce me in the late 1960s to “A Coney Island of the Mind.” A best seller, the book was published in 1958, and is among Ferlinghetti’s nearly 50 volumes of poetry written over his lifetime.

And if not the Beats in general, Ferlinghetti in particular is now definitely on my radar; at 97, he is embarking on his latest book, “To the Light House”; it “blends autobiography, fiction and surrealist riffs on mortality nature and consciousness. It’s the closest thing to a memoir that he’ll ever write,” Alexandra Alter reports in her recent New York Times article on Ferlinghetti and his 95 year-old publisher Sterling Lord.

I read the article almost a month ago, just as I was deciding to write my second book. I have no illusions about what a slog this will be, especially having been through the process in the mid-2000s. It will take over much of my life—not only writing it, but, as with the first, convincing someone other than myself to publish it.

But as I daily waver at the prospect, I consider Ferlinghetti—97 year-old Ferlinghetti—and know I have no choice but to proceed.

To read Alter’s article, click here:


Saturday, July 9, 2016

"Our Narrating Species"

I first read British writer Jenny Diski a couple of years ago, while subscribing to the London Review of Books. I’ve kept up with her since on the Guardian newspaper’s website. And so I knew that she had recently died, at age 68 from cancer.

What I didn’t know is that she’d written about that experience in her book In Gratitude.  Here’s a description of the book on the publisher’s website:


This past week, I read more about Diski’s book on the New Yorker’s website, in Andrea DenHoed’s article, “Jenny Diski’s Way of Seeing Beyond the Story.” Two things stood out for me in the piece.

First, what Diski writes in the book about why our stories are often conceived as journeys:

It’s not our fault that time works for us the way it does, or that the linear accelerates our lives. We “journey” as we read books, watch films, look back at our past, imagine the future, even mindfully try to live in the always and only present moment while thoughts of what was, and still is to come, crowd our minds. Otherwise there’s silence, and that’s an option. Though not much of one for our narrating species. Can we even get dressed without a before and after, a beginning and end? Starting with your socks instead of your knickers doesn’t alter the fact of the matter: undone to done. And then the reverse. One, two, buckle my shoe. It’s inescapable. From one state to another, how can the journey not come to mind? That’s the price of living in time. Why should I mind so much? Why should I mind so much now? Because journeys end?

Second, what Denhoed says about Diski as a writer:

But Diski approached writing as a fact of her existence, like one of her essential organs—she called it “the point” of her life. When she began the cancer memoir, it was the fact of the writing, more than what was to be written, that mattered. “I’m a writer,” she explains. “I’ve got cancer. Am I going to write about it? How am I not?” She was in the business of naming things, but also of questioning those names; of giving outlines to what is shapeless, and then pointing to the fuzziness of those outlines, to all the holes on the edges. In writing about herself, even in writing about her own death, she was also writing about writing: asking what difference it makes what you call things, or whether you put things in words. And answering that it makes all the difference, but also, in the end, not much at all.

It was both of these excerpts that made me think: Yes, Diski was compelled to document her experience with cancer as a writer, but also as a storyteller: I was here, this is what it was like for me, this is what I leave you with.

It's what members of our narrating species are wont to do.

To read Denhoed’s entire article: