www.kathekokolias.com

(click HOME to return to main page)

Home

Albany Times-Union Interview

On June 20, 2010 the Albany Times-Union published an interview of me in an article,  "It's Not Easy Being Gray",  written by Elizabeth Floyd Mair.

It appeared in the Unwind  Travel and Arts section as the "Books" page.

If you scroll down you'll find the text of the interview reproduced below the TU page that is easy and convenient to read without having to Zoom the original page.  

 I hope that you enjoy reading the interview!

TU Banner scan

 

Clean Grey Story picture RASTER WEB 

 

timesunion.com
It's not easy being gray
Kokolias offers a quick read with insights on aging
 
By ELIZABETH FLOYD MAIR, Special to the Times Union
First published: Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lansingburgh native Kathe Kokolias, 63, calls herself a "late bloomer": She began to write about 10 years ago ("if you don't count 30 years journaling," she notes on her website).

She moved back to the Capital Region in 2001 after nearly 40 years away, and soon began to participate in local women's writing groups and attend memoir-writing workshops at the Arts Center of the Capital Region. Last year, Kokolias came out with a small chapbook of personal essays, "Spandex & Black Boots"; she talked about writing and aging recently when reached by telephone at her home in Colonie.

At just 50 pages, "Spandex & Black Boots" is a quick read, but it offers many insights into what it feels like for a woman to grow older and suddenly find herself wearing a perpetual "cloak of invisibility."

In the title essay, for example, she writes, "By the time I hit my mid-forties -- skin starting to sag, extra pounds padding my hips -- I was banished to the realm of other women of my vintage, and became invisible overnight. One day I existed -- an attractive woman being acknowledged, admired -- and the next day I'd disappeared."

On the bright side, she says, invisibility has its rewards: "You can get away with a little bit more. Your makeup doesn't have to be perfect. You don't have to be dressed to the nines, because no one's going to notice anyway."

Many of the essays touch on the way the process of aging feels from the inside. In "Adolescence Revisited," she speaks of the difficulty of making new friends in a water aerobics class for seniors in a newly adopted town, and refers to herself as a "lonely little girl lingering within this grandmother's body."

Public perception notwithstanding, Kokolias says that her life actually began to get better than ever from about her 40th birthday. "Forty was a great year for me. I got my bachelor's degree, became a grandmother for the first time, and took a ride down the Grand Canyon with 13 other women."

Her reason for returning to this area, where her son and three of her grandchildren live (three are on the West Coast), was to be a hands-on grandmother, "going to softball, baseball or basketball games, picking up one of them if they need a ride, or doing whatever it is I'm requested to do."

She says she worries about her grandchildren navigating our culture's images of beauty. "They'll probably be worried, 'Am I thin enough? Am I pretty enough?' And you want to say to them, 'That's not what's important; it's are you doing good things for other people?'?"

Asked if she thought the process of aging was different for men and women, she talked first about hair color. "When I used to work in an organization, I found that from about age 45, or even from about 40, women had to keep on dyeing their hair all the time, because as men get gray they're considered distinguished, but women are just considered old."

She then paused and said, "But really I think both men and women have a tough time getting old in this country. Elders aren't venerated the way they are in some other cultures. You don't see the multi-generational households here like you do, for example, in Mexico."

She mentioned the social structure of Tahiti as described by Margaret Mead, in which "the young people go off and have fun while the older folks stay home and take care of the kids." She said that while some seniors might not take to this idea and might prefer to be left alone, she herself loves "watching the kids grow up and being a part of their lives."

She added, "I just wish all six of my grandchildren lived close by.

Kokolias recently was one of six winners of an AARP magazine six-word memoir contest. The topic was "Our siblings, ourselves." Her entry: "Rival at 10, sidekick at 60."

She is already at work on her next book project, to be printed by Troy Book Makers later this year. "What Time Do the Crocodiles Come Out?" will be a "mosaic," she says, of travel essays (about Mexico, where she spent five of her 40 years away) and personal essays, and "I've got some recipes in there, too."

 

Elizabeth Floyd Mair is a freelance writer in Guilderland.