Madison Park resident Romney Humphrey has some thoughts about getting old.
“It’s tongue-in-cheek celebrating, I would say. They’re going to laugh most of the way through.”
Humphrey self-published her book of humorous essays and insights about getting old in February. “How I Learned I’m Old,” is available on Amazon now, and Humphrey hopes to get it stocked in local bookstores soon.
“Time is a funny thing,” she tells MPT. “Too little or too much is tricky.”
This is not Humphrey’s first foray into examining the aging process through a social and cultural lens.
She spent 15 years teaching elementary students in Bellingham and raising a family before she began writing and producing for a local TV station there. Ten years ago, Humphrey wrote for PBS’ “Art of Aging” series.
“I didn’t think I would get old,” she said. “I was just writing about other people getting old.”
Humphrey is a Baby Boomer, which is her target audience for “How I Learned I’m Old.”
“Baby Boomers don’t think they’re old, even though they really are old,” she said.
She graduated from Mercer Island High School, and then attended Washington State University. Humphrey transferred to the University of Washington, where she graduated with a degree in creative writing. She ended up going back to school, earning a degree in special education at Western Washington University.
Her mother told her she could either be a nurse or teacher growing up, she said. “And I believed her.”
While she was teaching, Humphrey said she became interested in acting and theater, and would go into Seattle to be in commercials, which got her interested in plays and playwriting.
Her plays have been produced Off-Off-Broadway, in California and in the Pacific Northwest.
She co-wrote “The Pack” several years ago, and it was produced in Edmonds and at a festival in Seattle. The play revolves around a group of 30-something friends obsessed with their dogs.
She’s now working on a comedic play about the “holiday manipulations and machinations” of children of divorced parents.
“How I Learned I’m Old” is Humphrey’s second book, but she’s not over the moon about the first.
“The May December Twist” is a work of fiction she crafted after hearing stories about older women and younger men being involved in long, passionate romances.
“I wouldn’t recommend it,” Humphrey said. “I learned a lot by starting a book and finishing a book.”
Older and wiser, Humphrey’s latest book is infused with a lot of humorous writing, but also serious pieces about “what wisdom really is when you get it,” she said. One essay is called “What Would Janet Do?” about a friend of Humphrey’s and her positive spirit despite four cancer diagnoses.
There are also a lot of thoughts on the Boomers.
“There’s a lot of chapters in there, like we discovered The Beatles, we fought Vietnam,” she said. “I think Baby Boomers think we really changed a generation.”
The book is divided into three sections: Mind, Body and Spirit. Humphrey worked on it with an editor from LA.
“He was the one who suggested putting it into different categories,” she said.
The Mind section focuses on emotional and intellectual acceptance that comes with age, while Body explores the “stupid, silly and embarrassing things” that happen physically.
“The Spirit is kind of the good stuff and the important stuff,” Humphrey said, like family and friends.
As the memory sometimes goes with age, Humphrey created a new dementia test that’s included in the book. It addresses the sexual liberation Boomers enjoyed in their youth.
“The new dementia test is, if you can remember all the names of the people you slept with in your 20s, you don’t have dementia,” she said. “But if you can’t remember all the names of the people you slept with in your 20s, you might.”
She plans to record an audio version for “How I Learned I’m Old,” having enjoyed reading it to her writing group and husband, Buz, a retired attorney, with whom they have two grown children and 5 1/2 grandkids.
“It’s really a book for women,” she said. “…Women are under more pressure in this culture, with emphasis on their looks; Hollywood especially.”
When the weather’s nice, Humphrey’s Madison Park neighbors might see her on the courts at Seattle Tennis Club, or maybe people watching at Starbucks.
“I’m interested in people’s stories,” she said. “Everything’s got a story. Nora Ephron said, ‘Everything is copy.’”