Introducing Radical Endurance

I am currently working on a memoir titled “Radical Endurance: A Pandemic Memoir from the Edge of Old Age.” Here is a short synopsis:

It came out of nowhere. One fragrant May morning two months before my seventy-fifth birthday, as I was mindlessly sipping my coffee, I experienced a shattering leap of consciousness, literally hurtling from older to old in the blink of a suddenly widened eye. Beginning on that precipice, “Radical Endurance” traces my first year of old age, including the shock of abrupt hopelessness, being perceived as elderly, and feeling vanquished into invisibility by ageism. I share my dread, loneliness, and chronic grief as I, along with the rest of the human community, endure the inaugural pandemic year of 2020, and I bare my heartbreak as I come to terms with a past that is longer than I am now capable of recalling. Quickly, I see that old age means no more second chances, so I also recount my inept attempts at speculation, bargaining, and rationalization as I confront a future whose duration and compensations can no longer be assumed.

An old woman can live a lifetime in a memoir spanning a year, and in “Radical Endurance,” I run the gamut from losing my hair to botching suicide, and from defending my gynecological rights to singing with Joan Baez. I expose my mishaps and metamorphoses as a program director at the University of Minnesota (including my stint as a self-taught aging expert), as well as my bullish determination to carve out a writing life for myself before time has a chance to steal my remaining words. In spite of righteous intentions and green vegetables, I mourn out loud my possible loss of self as I confront the growing risk of Alzheimer’s disease, that cruelest form of death in life. Having tried my best to face the doom I fear most, I then try to counter my angst by asking Isaac Bashevis Singer to help me imagine the possibility of perfect contentment in whatever might come after this life. Will I join everyone I have ever loved in an infinitely expanding archive of spirits? Will I dance?

I hope you’ll enjoy reading a few short excerpts from “Radical Endurance” over the coming months.