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  • Bryan W. Alaspa

When You Feel Old

I had an interesting experience that just got me thinking recently. I decided to reach out to my alma matter, Webster University, and offer the film students there access to my writing. In particular, my short stories. I have always wanted to see an adaptation of one of my stories and I think a few of my short stories would make excellent student films and be cheap to make.

Anyway - to accomplish this I reached out to Webster's campus newspaper, The Journal. The editor liked the idea and assigned the story to a reporter and then I had a lovely hour long conversation with this very nice student reporter about my writing, what I learned at Webster and how I utilize those skills in my career and how to freelance. I also discussed my short stories as film thing.

During the course of the conversation, this young cub reporter indicated she had read my bio on Amazon and I mention on that page that my first writing was done on a electric typewriter my mom had. I wrote a horrifically bad three-page, one-long-paragraph, short story that took days to write. But, hey, I was in third grade. It was a total power trip and I loved it and that launched me down this crazy path.

The reporter for The Journal had no idea what an electric typewriter was.

I was thunderstruck when I described the writing of the story and the question she followed up with was - tell me more about this electric typewriter. What is that?

Yeah - instant age. It was also very hard to do. I had no idea what to say. I mean, how do you describe an electric typewriter. It's like a manual typewriter - but you plug it in.

I remember sitting there and the hum that the typewriter made when it was turned on. I remember the smell of the ink and the corrective tape when a mistake was made. I remember that smell of electronics heating up and the vibrations the machine made on the dining room table. It was a thing of magic. When I finally got my own electric typewriter as a gift (in high school) it was the height of cool and technology. Sure, there were computers, but they were in computer labs and really, really expensive.

Things have come a long way and fast.

It got me thinking of the other things that were the height of technology and that most kids currently in college probably never saw. Things like a home Pong game console, which my family had and burned images into the TV screen. We had the original Atari game system and then Colecovision, too.

I remember when my mom brought home a computer floppy disk from work and it was huge! The first home computers used magnetic cassette tapes to save data!

We were one of the first families to have a VCR and it was as big as an end table, loaded on the top, had actual dials, was no remotely digital and was a Beta tape recorder. It only recorded two hours of TV and for things like the Academy Awards, my mom would stay up for the entire ceremony and have to change out tapes many times to get it all. I remember the first stores where you could rent video tapes (the movies were hundreds of dollars to buy!) and one wall would be VHS and one would be Beta.

When I went off to college, I thought I was hot stuff because I had a word processor that folded up to the size of an awkward suitcase and that was "portable." The first computer I owned required plastic floppy disks. When I graduated from college, we were still about two years away from the internet.

My first cell phone was a Christmas gift and was a bulky Motorola flip-phone with a battery that lasted two hours and it was a small fortune per minute to make a phone call.

I feel old, but feeling old is not necessarily bad. I love that we have come as far as we have, despite the problems that growth spurt has caused. We carry the entire internet and the largest collection of knowledge humanity has ever seen - in our pockets. That's cool, folks.

I guess the lesson here? Stop for a moment and look around. Time moves fast. The world moves fast. That young cub reporter, she will soon find herself in her mid-40s and talking (perhaps to her own child) who will be off in college and have all of the latest technology and that child will ask her: "What was this smartphone thing that you had?" Or perhaps: "What were laptops?"

Life moves fast. It really does and, in the end, leaves us all behind. So, enjoy it while you can. Be kind, because kindness lives on long after we do. Help each other.


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