With wit, charm, heart and grace, she shows by example how senior denizens like her can live active, fully engaged lives without fear of technology, modified mores or the disruptions of changing times. There's no better compliment I can pay Anna than to say that I'd like to live my senior years the way she's living hers now.
Yes, Anna is a sixty-something retiree who has fully embraced blogging and the Internet. Her blog is a font of wise, graceful, humorous writing about relationships, family, motherhood, the thrill of learning new things, growing old yet feeling okay about it, surviving life by refusing to be a stuck-up. One of her readers said Annamanila's writing reminded her of author Anne Tyler (The Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons, etc.)
Well, Annamanila will soon have something else in common with Anne Tyler. Her blog entries have now been put together into book form, called In Another Dress. From the invitation that brightened up my inbox this morning:
“In Another Dress,” a compilation of stories and essays celebrating growing old and going into retirement from [the blog] ode2old.blogspot.com, published by Extempo Publications Enterprise, will be launched on Friday, November 27 at the University of the Philippines Institute for Small-Scale Industries, Diliman, Quezon City.
The author, a 66-year old retiree who used to be a UP researcher, writer and editor who now goes by the pen and blog name Annamanila, reveals in story after story how she went into blogging as a hedge against retirement jitters and that, sure enough, it turned out to be something she could do with a passion well into antiquity “as long as rheumy eyes can still squint and arthritic fingers touch type.”
In her pieces, she reminisces about lost youth, pays tribute to people important to her, philosophizes about her losses, makes mountains of small mounds of achievement, laughs at her spotty record as mom-wife-friend-worker, and broods over left-over dreams and aspirations.
Annamanila says she began writing her ode-to-old stories hoping to discover the secret to being old and happy but admits she has not found this after two and half years trying. Nevertheless, she has learned “without doubt that if I loved myself, I shouldn’t care how old I get.”
“In Another Dress,” whose title is a take-off from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Age, much like youth, is opportunity, though in another dress,” is divided into four sets of stories: (1) To Keep the Heart Unwrinkled; (2) Simpering, Whimpering, Blundering Youth; (3) My Spotty Mom Record and Other Middling Stories; and (4) Tales of Women in Love and in Trouble (as told to Annamanila).
The launch will be graced by UP Regent Nelia Teodoro Gonzalez and Small Enterprises Research and Development Foundation President Paterno V. Viloria. Friends of Annamanila, like Maria Adela Arroyo Santiano and Noemi Lardizabal Dado, both writers, will also talk about their impressions of the book.
Disclosure: Anna invited me to be one of the readers during the launch. I wouldn't be in town on that date, however, and so had to pass with much regret. One thing is sure--some of my friends will get a copy of the book this Christmas. Good reads always make great gifts.