A Strange Milestone

I had a realization the other day that made me stop and think: it dawned on me that I’m the same age now that my mom was when she passed away. It’s not anything I was keeping track of—I wasn’t marking off the days on a calendar or anything. I’m not even sure how I realized it or what made me think of it—it just kind of dawned on me one day. Needless to say, it was kind of a strange little punch to the gut feeling: seeing where I’m at now, and where she was then. It also led me invariably to more thoughts of my own aging—how things are going and what direction things may take.

In 1991 my mom was 41 and she had me (duh)—a goofy-but-fairly bright 17 year-old high school senior who was trying (successfully) to keep my grades up and (unsuccessfully) to get dates, and looking toward graduation and beyond. Little did I know that before the school year was up I’d be down a parent and life would get turned on its head. Now I look at myself at that same age she was then and it’s crazy to think about.

I know of one other person who lost a parent not long after I did, and while we’re still Facebook friends I haven’t actually had any correspondence with him in years. I wonder if he’s reached that magic number yet, and if it was as weird for him as it was for me. I also have some cousins who lost their mom, too (my aunt), and the oldest is getting close to that age as well, if he hasn’t already hit it. So strange to think about.

On a semi-related topic, I inadvertently wound up as the old guy at work, which has been interesting. I’m far from the oldest person there (other shifts have people that are older), but am in fact the oldest person on my shift, which is weird. I work with really young people—some of which are literally half my age—and it has advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, I feel at least slightly in tune with younger people, which I’m thankful for because I have story ideas (one in particular, for a book involving a young female protagonist) for young characters, and I don’t want to write a book about a twenty-something year old main character who uses slang expressions from the 90s or sounds like a 41 year-old dude.

On the downside, when the generation gap does rear its ugly head, it can sometimes hit hard. Someone at work asked me about a picture of my old band that was posted on Facebook, and when I told them it was from 1993 or ’94, they replied with, “I was busy being born.” Ouch. Not that I blame them—it comes with the territory. Hell, when I was in my early twenties we used to tease the 26 year-old that hung out with us, telling him how he was going to die sooner than the rest of us, stuff like that. But now, being on the other end of it, it’s surreal.

I really haven’t had much to write about lately and this is the only thing that’s been on my mind and seemed blog-worthy. In all honesty, I’m probably going to dial back to a once or twice a month posting schedule, assuming I don’t retire the blog entirely. Between the job (which I love, but now that I’m full-fledged, so to speak, requires a fair amount of overtime) and the time I need to devote to actual writing and editing (I’ve got novels to finish, people!), spending time on the blog seems like a luxury more than anything. I don’t want to stop it altogether, and I don’t think I could even if I wanted to, because it’s a good feeling knowing at least a few people out there are reading something I write (and the way rejection letters are stacking up it may be awhile before you see any fiction from me again), and writers are needy folk—my ego needs it. So I’ll keep posting as the notion strikes me, hopefully no less than twice a month. Which reminds me: I implore you, if you haven’t already, friend me on Facebook or follow the blog by email. As I post less frequently it will be easier to miss my new posts in the sea of blogs on WordPress.

So, until next time, whenever that is, take care.

Oh My God, I’m 40

“I’m 40 now…I’m half dead, basically. 40’s a weird age. You get to this point where, like, you’re not old enough for anybody to give a shit that you’re old. Nobody’s like, ‘I helped a 40 year-old guy today, and it felt really good to do something for him.’ Nobody spends their holidays delivering hot meals to 40 year-olds. And you’re not young enough for anybody to ever be proud of you, or impressed. They’re just like, ‘Yeah, do your job, asshole. Nobody cares. That’s what you’re supposed to do.'”

-Louis CK

I knew it was coming, but somehow it still snuck up on me. It sounds so weird.

I’m 40.

I’m not freaking out completely – I’m still young, 40 is the new 30, all that jazz – but it still seems a much more significant milestone than 30. People in their 30’s are still practically kids. 40 year-olds are decidedly not kids anymore. You’re supposed to have things pretty much figured out by now, and the fact that I don’t is a little disconcerting. I began reflecting, thinking back to how old 40 used to sound, and what I imagined I’d be doing once I got to be this age. Here’s what I came up with.

When I was 10, I thought by the time I was 40…I’d already be retired from my Major League Baseball career, and would have transitioned to a new phase as either a play by play announcer or color commentator. Baseball was my life at that age, and for several years after. There really wasn’t much more to life at that point, aside from school and the original Star Wars trilogy.

When I was 20, I thought by the time I was 40…I would be making a living somehow in the music industry. I never had true “rock star” dreams, like selling out arenas or getting platinum records…the truth is I never really wanted any of that. I’ve always been drawn to art that’s a little off center, so to speak, so I never expected to get rich from music. But at that time music was basically everything to me: working in music stores (both selling CD’s and selling instruments), constantly playing in bands (a death metal band morphing into a punk band morphing into a hardcore band with some dabbling in rockabilly and swing),  briefly giving guitar lessons…everything revolved around music, and I was sure it would be how I made my living.

When I was 30, I thought by the time I was 40…My new “real” job would provide my new bride and I with everything we needed to get by and still allow me to go about pursuing my art. There was nothing stopping that from happening except for me getting in my own way. By this point I had gotten back in to writing again, having already written my first novella as well as still writing music. But something happened. Looking back, I guess it was complacence; it felt nice to relax and enjoy having a house and a wife and a dog, and just take a little break from creating for a while. That lasted longer than I would have guessed – until just a couple of years ago, when my artistic side began to bubble up again until it was eating away at me.

And now that I’m 40…I feel a slight need to make up for lost time. I spent enough time dicking around; it’s time to get some stuff done. Maybe that feeling is just the start of the fabled Mid-life crisis. Before long maybe I’ll be shopping for a sports car and going skydiving.

I don’t have many regrets for the way things have turned out this far, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy to just sit back and let any more time pass me by. For all the passion I’ve always had toward creating, I don’t have much to show for it aside from a couple decent-sounding demo tapes, some wild tales from some pretty cool gigs and some roughly written stories only a few people have read. So now I’m trying to make my mark – write my books and get them published, be it the traditional route or self-published. Like with my music, making money at it would be great, but that’s kind of beside the point. The point is putting something you created out into the world and knowing someone, somewhere enjoyed it.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I got up before work so I could practice what I just preached and write a little. But first, I might be on Google for just a few minutes…how much does skydiving cost, anyway?

skydive

Years Gone By – Getting Older Feels Weird

OK, right off the bat: I’m not an old person. Not even close. But I see the signs of age beginning to show, and it feels…weird.

Part of me looks forward to getting older. Once you reach a certain age, it seems like you’re practically given a free pass, and you can do or say just about anything you want. That’s pretty cool.

Still, there’s also a reluctance to aging. Like you’re past your prime somehow. Physically, it’s an inevitable truth. My wife pointed out that I made a host of involuntary grunts getting up from my chair the other night. That’s right, I wasn’t doing anything particularly strenuous, I was simply getting into a standing position.

Now that it’s been brought to my attention, I notice I do it almost all the time. I really have no idea how long I’ve been doing it. It doesn’t bother me that much, it’s just one of those things.

What really makes me feel old are the random things that just hit me out of nowhere. Pop culture references, and recalling things from my past. I was talking to someone at work about seeing Metallica in concert. He asked me when it was, and I had to think for a minute.

“19…88? Maybe?” I asked/answered.

“Wow,” he replied.

“Wow what?”

“In 1988 I was three.”

“Shut the hell up.”

I started thinking, and realized I was right. It was 1988. 25 years ago. How can that be? It seems like it was a few years ago, but 25?

During my music-loving, concert-going peak (from 1986-2000), I devoured music. I was constantly finding new bands I liked, going to shows to see both local and national acts. I would hear older guys complain that the music my friends and I liked was nothing compared to the classic rock of the sixties and seventies. I thought that was so closed-minded.

I’ll never be like that, I thought.

Guess what? I’m almost like that. I know there are all kinds of new acts out there that are fantastic, and I try to seek it out (I really like what I’ve heard from Jake Bugg, if anyone’s interested), but it’s so easy to just call upon my vast iTunes library and have a plethora songs I already know I like. Then I watch the Grammys and I hear the nominees for a category and just stare blankly at my wife – who are these people?

Then there’s all the actors and actresses who you see age before your eyes. Seeing someone getting older means you are, too. It’s just something we have to accept – except Kevin Bacon…is he really turning 55 this summer?

bacon

All I know is, getting older is a part of life. Some of us aren’t ready for it when it comes, but I am. I think some of my best years are still ahead of me. I’ll turn gray (grayer, I should say), I’ll groan when I get out of bed or pick something up off the floor, but by and large, I’m looking forward to what is still out there for me. And whether I like his work or not, Kevin Bacon can just stick it. Stupid unaging space alien.