Forty-something birthdays are like…

I have told people I’m 43 already today, and then quickly realized I’m 42. Actually from here on out I am just saying I’m 45 for the next three years. Age is an arbitrary number anyway. There is very little difference between how I felt age-wise last year & how I feel age-wise this year. It is all the same. I tend to only keep track of the “milestone” years anyway: 20,25,30,35,40,etc…

Of course there is a big difference between how I felt 10 years ago & how I feel now. Slight shifts and seismic ones as well. When I feel tired, it is age, when I don’t have tons of energy, it is age, when something is forgotten, it is that ageing (soon2bfeeble) brain. You know that new trend in trying to build brain strength with word games and other teasers. Well they just make me feel older & more stupid. The frivolity of youth has always been that we think we know more than we really do. I think the realization in our mature years is that we really don’t know shit. That is when we can either act out our youthful regrets or move into an enlightened state of being that is just called curmudgeonly.

Having been born old, and constantly referred to as a 30 year old in a 7 year old body – which was surprisingly small & frail; giving the illusion of youth right up until now, and always wiser than my years, it is hard to face this time of life with 23 year olds hitting me up on social networking sites & telling me how smoking hot I am. It feels creepy. I want my gray hair, which my friends get & dye over, but which I have to work very hard to achieve (usually involving loads of bleach). I want wrinkles and the dignity of age where I don’t have to worry about it. However being a friend of Peter Pan & Tinkerbell, and travelling in circles where youth is worshiped and coveted makes one feel rather dismal. Like on a treadmill you can’t seem to get off of.

Now mind you I don’t want a pot-belly and the ravages of time, no I want to age gracefully. Something this culture seems to inhibit. In fact we must keep buying potions and goose-grease to slather our skin to keep it nubile & fresh. We must get on FaceBook & MySpace and act like adolescents, or risk fading into some arcane techno-hell which we may never recover. I mean the mentions on the nightly news & our kids using it, means we have to stay on top of it or risk becoming unhooked from the machine, and basically worthless in the eyes of the culture at large, detritus on the floor of life. Give me an iPod, a smart phone, and any other gadget that will keep me in the loop & hip.

So I stay on top of the latest trends and hang out with 20 year olds so I can know where this world is heading. Constantly making references to my age in the process, like some old geezer. Reminding them I have t-shirts that are older than they are. I have even (gasp) dated them, something I’m not apt to do anytime soon. Not that it wasn’t fun, it was, even though the age thing made very little difference in any area, except one.

The most important – where am I headed? Where is this headed? Something the usual 20-something can’t deal with. It usually gets complicated around that point in some degree or another. I kept hoping I’d meet a 20-something version of me, world-weary & jaded in ways that didn’t make any sense. With all the ambition one could hope for or all the nihilism only I could handle. Then the alternative this year was getting involved with someone age appropriate who was having a mid-life crisis. So you have someone who should have been on par who was devolving into a teenager before my eyes. That is a lesson I learned all too late. Yet it is hazard now – when everything gears you towards constantly reinventing yourself and becoming increasingly younger. Now I know there is a world of dowdy middle age acting people out there, I just don’t hang out with them. I’m not looking to start anytime soon. I have plenty of friends starting their families, buying their homes, and living respectable lives. It is not something I aspire to.

In an insular city that has a very low marriage rate, and with the dissatisfaction with growing older at an all time high, plastic surgery at alarming growth rates, twenty-somethings using wrinkle cream, and discontent with who you are prerequisite for being human. I mean the rise of the metrosexual & male vanity complexes being de rigueur, and old baseball players using steroids to look like swollen vigorous young men so they can beat records, I ask what is the world coming to?

More of the same, obviously. So that I want to grow older, look it, and be treated with some authority, something looking youthful rarely affords you – no it doesn’t feel nice to be treated like a twink your whole life! Contrary to prevailing wisdom in the sub-cultures I can sometimes dwell. No I want to get older, but how to do that when I don’t have three kids? (no offense to those who do) How do I live that life, the one of the outlaw, the renegade, rebel who wants to age, but necessarily want to acquire all the things that signify that to the world at large?

Do I teach? Do I take on a gaggle of art faglets & school them in the ways that the lost generation (of AIDS) would have if they had not been ignored and subsequently died by Reagonomics & the compassionate conservatives. So I’ll open a school – through my writing, the only place that reminds me how bone-weary I am, and where my opinion is divergent from the brain-fart generation of bloggers who really scare me with their over-flatulent-self-indulgent style. The older “cutting-edge” writers aren’t even embracing this (sorry for the use of a catch-phrase) flattening of the publishing world. It seems that behind the curtain the wizard is indeed a little man, who knows very little. I know this is a false impression, that their website doesn’t need to be a PR piece, it can be real, it can reach their audience in a new way. They can participate, and enjoy it! (from first-hand experience)

So I write, I plot a novel, self-publish some things to catch the eye of some literary agent, I show them they get a built in PR machine of my own making, and that I can indeed be “the next…” something. All in the deceptively youthful looking package. I’m enthused that my idol Burroughs didn’t start writing, and making history with his style, until his 40s. After killing his wife, no less. So I have a much smaller obstacle to overcome in that regard.

I get this novel which has all the makings of a best seller (if the public can stand the explicitness of uncomfortable scenarios) and know that I want to sell it someday to the highest bidder & option the screenplay for lots of money. That isn’t why I’ll write it though, I’ll write it because I know of nothing else to do. It is the source of my greatest joy, my only comfort, and a hell of a good way to spend my time. Will it be earth-shattering or just a farcical romp through my very twisted brain? Only time will tell.

So wish me luck, and patience (something I’m notoriously short on) and if you know anyone who wants to join a great writer’s workshop – send them my way!

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