UPDATE - 1 JANUARY 2018: About three days ago, the Adult Community Center website published an interview with me by retired journalist Cliff Newell. It's much more readable than my version below and you can find it here.
With the exception of a few short filler jobs in between “real employment,” I've always worked in some kind of media:
• Produced my husband's radio program in Houston, Texas, Minneapolis, Minnesota and New York City where it was the number one talk show in town – The Alex Bennett Show. We divorced in 1971, and I moved on.
• Worked as in network television producer and/or writer for more than 25 years: The Dick Cavett Show, many local New York City morning shows similar to Kathy and Regis, The Barbara Walters Specials, 20/20, Lifetime TV shows, a couple of PBS specials including the 100th anniversary of Carnegie Hall in 1991 and some CBS-TV Productions documentaries.
• Became the managing editor of the first CBS News website, cbsnews.com, in 1996. That was, as we used to say, a gas – for three years I got to help invent the commercial internet, small as my part was.
• I followed up with similar positions at several other websites until, when a bunch of us were laid off in 2004. As my younger colleagues found new jobs within a few weeks, I could get only two interviews in an entire year. It became obvious that 20-something managers would not hire a woman in her 60s.
It was a forced retirement making it necessary to sell my Manhattan apartment and move elsewhere. I was angry about that (as anyone should be) and it helped fuel this blog.
PRELUDE TO TIME GOES BY
But Time Goes By really started during my first year at cbsnews.com. One day, as I glanced around our room of 30 or so employees looking for one of the writers I needed to speak with, it struck me hard: My god, I am the oldest person in this room and not by a few years, by decades.
At home that evening, I took a long, hard look in the mirror – I was 55 then. Somehow I had reached the middle of my sixth decade – looking like it, too - without ever having spent a moment thinking about getting old and what that would be like.
From then on I spent the greater part of my time away from the workplace researching what it is like to grow old. I wanted to know what I was in for and it wasn't a pretty picture.
Whether popular books, magazines and newspapers, scholarly and academic research, psychology and medical texts, movies, TV shows, advertising and comedy too, the conclusions were universal: old age was all about the three Ds – disease, decline and decay leading to a fourth, death.
(There are many more negative, age-related Ds, but these will do.)
HOW TIME GOES BY BEGAN
After seven or eight years of research, my apartment was filled with dozens of books, thousands of articles, binders, boxes and notebooks of stuff. I had learned a lot and was looking for a way to organize all that information.
Blogging was a brand new idea then, in 2003 or so, but it seemed the perfect platform for my purpose.
In those days, the media didn't pay much attention to ageing or to old people (that changed when the oldest boomers turned 65 in 2006) so I didn't expect to have any readers to speak of, and that wasn't the point in the beginning.
So I was shocked a few months later when I saw that several hundred people had subscribed. And they were leaving comments too. Without much effort on my part, the number of regular readers continued to grow, as it still does, until there are now thousands who read TGB via the blog page, the email newsletter, Facebook and Twitter.
I'm still astonished – and pleased - that so many want to read about what it's like to grow old.
What else happened is that while I wasn't looking, I had become an elder advocate encouraging, supporting and promoting a group of people that many in our culture ignore and dismiss based only on the number of years they have lived.
A further surprise is that I'm still at it. I spent a working lifetime as a generalist and loved it. One day I was reporting on cancer, the next on a movie star, a rock group, politics, fashion, etc. I had a wide range of knowledge most of which was only an inch deep, and I liked it that way.
Nothing in my background would make you (or me!) think I would stick with something for 24 years but that's how long it's been when you count the initial research period while I was still employed together with the 16 years Time Goes By has been publishing.
In June 2017, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and underwent, that same month, the extensive Whipple surgery. Survival rates beyond one year are rare but here I am in November 2019, still upright and moving forward. In that time, the focus of this blog has changed somewhat. There is still plenty of new writing about "what it's really like to get old" but new emphasis, too, on the progression and treatment of my cancer (one of the diseases of age) and an additional diagnosis in 2019 of COPD.
Since 2010, I have lived in Lake Oswego, Oregon, but I miss what I consider my real home, New York City, every day.