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How Old Are You Now? And Now? And...
"You're older than you've ever been, and now you're even older...and now you're even older...and now you're even older..." - "Older," They Might Be Giants
Welcome to Oldster Magazine, a newsletter about what it means to age, at any stage of life. Right now this is more of an idea than an actual magazine, but in the coming weeks and months, I plan to make it a reality.
Who am I?
Sari Botton is the author of the memoir in essays, And You May Find Yourself...Confessions of a Late-Blooming Gen-X Weirdo. She is a contributing editor and columnist at Catapult, and the former Essays Editor for Longreads. She edited the bestselling anthologies Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving NewYork and Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for New York. She teaches creative nonfiction at Catapult, Bay Path University and Kingston Writers' Studio. She publishes Oldster Magazine, and Memoir Monday.
Like the “Fine Lines” series I launched and edited at Longreads, this newsletter will feature perspectives on getting older from writers of all genders and age groups.
The writing will touch on every aspect of growing up and getting older: culture, states of mind, physical and mental health, relationships, sex, spirituality, style, money, career, fashion, beauty, food, recreation, and death.
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Why focus on age and aging? Because we live in an age-obsessed culture, but also one in which each generation seems to define “adulthood” differently than the one before it. Particular attitudes and milestones are no longer necessarily associated with reaching certain birthdays. It’s as if somewhere along the way, the Baby Boomers burned the guidebook for what you’re supposed to achieve when, and the generations to follow have been making up their own rules.
This is also a personal obsession of mine — ever more so as I get older. I’ve always had a strange relationship to time and aging, and wonder constantly what each period of my life is supposed to mean. Perhaps it’s because I seem to be living off-script, without children (or grandchildren) helping me mark the passage of time. I often wonder, How old am I supposed to act? How old am I supposed to feel? Because at any given time, how I act and feel never quite match the numbers.
How old am I? The first number that often comes to mind is often 15, except when it’s 11, gray hair, arthritic joints, hot flashes and occasional lapses in memory notwithstanding. A questionnaire on BiologicalAge.com suggests that health-wise, I am 37, but a survey on AgeTest.com tells me I am 29. According to the information on my birth certificate, however, I was born in October of 1965, making me, at this writing, chronologically speaking, 55.
I find age and aging to be confusing and mystifying, and therefore fascinating. And as I get older, I only have more questions. Like, why do we give birthday cards that make jokes about getting older? Why are so many people ashamed of their age? Why aren’t I?
I want to know how other people — Gen X women like me, but also people of all genders and different backgrounds, at different points in their lives — are processing getting older. Because it’s happening to all of us, all the time.
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