It’s Official . . . I’m Old

There are a lot of yardsticks you can use to decide when you have, in fact, passed over into being old. No one wants to think they are past their physical prime, but it sneaks up on you, an irrevocable tide of aches and pains and little sources of embarrassment. It may start with a few gray hairs (or a lot of gray hairs), a worsening of the eyesight, or the dreaded middle age spread. Still, I think I have found the true test of when one leaves youth and passes into maturity and that is music.

When I was younger, I used to keep up with all the current music. I slogged through the days of hair bands and boy bands, grunge and techno, new wave and everything else that came down the pike. I was like Forrest Gump, running running running to keep up with all that was new. I may not have liked it all, but I usually knew what it was.

But, also like Forrest Gump, I reached the point where I was tired and didn’t want to run anymore. I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but at some point I turned my back on the hip, the trendy, and the current in music, looked around, and decided I was going to backtrack for a while. Whereas I used to listen to all the Top 40 stations and such, keeping track of the Billboard lists, now I mostly listen to stuff so old that I can’t even remember when it was new. A good deal of it is older than me and the sad part is that the more of it I listen to, the more I like it. I’m barely into my thirties and listening to the same music my parents used to listen to when they were my age. Elton John, Bob Seger, and, of course, the Beatles have replaced . . . well, whoever is making hits today. If I look up who won Grammys this year, I don’t even recognize half the names and far less than half the music that won. And the Grammys are chosen mostly by people older than me who have no taste in music. Oh, sweet Jesus, what have I become?

And, to make matters worse, I’ve become a big fan of classical music, particularly while I’m writing. So, not only am I listening to music from before my birth, I’m listening to music from before the birth of the United friggin’ States of America. And jazz. And Spanish guitar. Spanish guitar? What the hell is up with that? I believe that you can tell a lot about people by the music they listen to, but I am clueless as to what my musical tastes say about me. Somewhere along the way, I reached a point in my musical journey where I surveyed the landscape around me and said, “No, no thank you, I’ve gone far enough.”

Oh, well. Screw Justin Timberlake and Amy Winehouse.

Anyway, despite my recent failings as a wanna-be novelist, I’m about to take two weeks off (mostly) from writing to perform my annual labor of love–scoring applications for the Kentucky Governor’s Scholar Program. Two weeks. Almost 2000 applications. Lots of eye strain. Still, it’s the least I can do in exchange for five of the best weeks of my life. I still have two short stories out on submission and I hope to submit The Dead and the Dying to two more agents in the next couple of weeks once I get the query letters down. Maybe some other short story idea will hit me while I’m traveling over the next few days.

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About Lee Smiley

I write things. Maybe you'll read them.
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