Long Song Of The Unyoung

Cartoon of worried people looking at an old person with walking sticks

What’s it all about?

This is the story of you, as you are now
or as you will be one day: unyoung.
It looks like the story of me
as I tackle the shock of me being old right now
and watch the spooky movie of me getting even older
sliding every day towards the ranks of the oldest old
as I windsurf over the silver wave and on to the golden tide
of the super-old and stay there barrelling on and on
until I flip and tumble off, in other words I die.
It looks like the story of me as I think
about what that means for now today this minute
and for the future. But no, I’m not the subject
and this is not a memoir. This is the story of you.

Update: the book has morphed into a podcast

Here’s the trailer of How To Be Old, not a book but a podcast.
I kept writing the poems. But they’ll turn up in a podcast, not a book. More fun for me and I hope for you.

What I said then: About the Long Song Of The Unyoung

I said at the time:

I’ve launched into a read-aloud book about ageing, ranging from childhood experiences to the labours of Hercules and my boot camp for the bonus years. I want it to speak directly to your fears and hopes and happies, if you are aware that you have joined the ranks of the unyoung, or will do so one day. And yes, it’s in loose verse so it looks funny but I promise it will be very easy to understand. Not your enigmatic, intellectual poetry but more like the words to a song: a long song, but a simple song, romping along at quite a pace.

The bits I post on my blog will not be in order, so you won’t get the story or the structure of the eventual book. But you’ll get the flavour, and each part will make sense on its own.

Text and terrible drawing by Rachel McAlpine CC BY 2.0. Share freely, please do, as long as you say I’m the writer.

35 thoughts on “Long Song Of The Unyoung

  1. This is a subject of great interest to me, and I’m looking forward to more. It was great to hear you read it–

    1. Thank you. That’s encouraging.

      1. I am in my mid-fifties, which is older than I ever imagined I’d be, or how it would feel. And today I will go see my friend who is 94

  2. More! More! This sounds fabulous. And there are certainly a lot of us Baby Boomers around who will relate.

    1. Yay Pamela, I am stoked that you are keen for more. I’m on to it but am I up to it?

      1. YES, you ARE!!!! <3

  3. Bernadette says:

    I have been a big fan of Judith Viorst’s poetry especially her collection due to aging. Can’t wait to read your verses.

    1. Oh yes, I must read her again. On second thought, better not… she’s a hard act to follow.

  4. rummuser says:

    While I shall continue to read your blog posts, I look forward to reading the book when you finally publish it. You can register me as your first customer!

    1. What a thrilling response! I couldn’t be more chuffed!

  5. Ally Bean says:

    What an interesting project you’ve started, one that I look forward to hearing. Aging can be a touchy topic, for people of all ages, in all ages, it’d seem.

  6. Thanks Ally! I have just changed the audio file from Apple’s M4a to MP3: I couldn’t even play it on an iPad!

  7. Very nice… and very intriguing. I look forward to more!

    1. Then I can’t stop now, can I?

      1. Nope… once you’ve put it out there 🙂

  8. cedar51 says:

    very nice indeed…but if you feel at any time, you don’t want to continue, made a post and we shall no doubt understand.

    last week, I was waiting for a bus and this young woman was waiting also, she got out her AT Hop card which is navy blue and then dropped it on the ground, that is when she realised she had the wrong “blue card out of her purse” – somehow I mentioned my AT Hop was gold… she looked at me astonished “YOU can’t be entitled to one of those…you look younger than my mother, and she hasn’t got one…because she isn’t old enough…”

    then another woman at the stop, got in on the action – I felt I almost had to get our my official gov’t gold card which happens to have my mugshot on it (I’ve no other current photo ID)

    1. That sounds like a nice problem to have! And thanks for the Get Out Of Jail Free card: I will remember that.

  9. Robyn Haynes says:

    I’m intrigued. Please go on with the long song.

    1. OK Robyn, I shall.

  10. As I am getting closer to hitting another significant birth date in my life, it does make me think of age. Though it won’t stop me feeling like I am much younger 🙂 Look forward to reading more Rachel. The drawings aren’t too bad at all!!

    1. I expect that feeling will continue. But I cannot agree about that drawing.

  11. Joared says:

    Oh, I like this unique approach to this whole being “unyoung” — which I definitely am!

    1. Thank you for the encouragement!

  12. Fabulous to hear your voice. Such s lovely reading voice. What you are saying is also lovely. Thank you & keep on!

    1. Thanks Kay. I have some public readings comimg up so I’m getting back into my stride.

  13. Rhona says:

    Rachel – great post. I’d love to learn from you on embedding an audio file in a post. Could you provide insights or perhaps a future post on writing for those with tired eyes?

    1. Excellent idea, Rhona. I hope to do it next week, after my talk at WordCamp. But tired eyes…?

  14. Aunt Beulah says:

    I absolutely love your idea for your next book and the tidbit you supplied for us. I can’t wait for you to finish. It will be splendid and I’ll want to share it with everyone I know. Were you the reader on the audio?

    1. That’s the best feedback an audience could dream of— thank you. And yes, that’s my very own voice 🙂

      1. Aunt Beulah says:

        And a lovely voice it is!

  15. You have a lovely way of expressing yourself. So, I must ask…What constitutes unyoung? In some ways I still feel like a teenager inside… only my body doesn’t seem to do agree. I wonder how suddenly my oldest son could be balding and have a gray beard. My 7 year old grand daughter asked me the other day if I was ever a little girl and I had to show her pictures as proof. There was a look of shock on her face when she realized that she too would age one day. And yet when I’m at get togethers in my over 55 condo, I’m one of the youngest, so age is rather relative. The 80 year olds think I’m quite young since I’m in my 60’s. And I feel young and beautiful around the 70 plus seniors. So, what is unyoung? Perhaps it just depends on who you ask.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Unyoung is just a friendlier word for old. That’s how I use it.

      1. Yes, I gathered as much. 😉The question is still, then is old? Old is perceived differently by different generations. Example, I was discussing a film with my 45 year old son. I commented that the actress, Sigourney Weaver, (who just happens to be my age) was starting to look middle-aged. My son got hysterical laughing and I asked him what was so funny? He said “Mom, I’m middle-aged, and if am middle-age then you can’t be middle-aged too. It suddenly dawned on me that he was trying to politely tell me that I was old. And I told him and I wasn’t quite ready to be labeled 0ld yet. Middle aged is what I’m sticking to for a few more years. Lol

      2. Rachel McAlpine says:

        Up to you!

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