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Signs I Am Getting Older

I've never been one much for consequences. I've lived most my life with a catch-as-catch-can, seat-of-the-pants, improvisational philosophy; unexpected and constant change and a crippling fear of responsibility have led to a lifetime of skillfully avoiding the consequences of my actions.

My motto is "We'll just figure it out when we get there." I've been able to do that over the last 25 years or so because I've never been caught doing anything that has had a lifelong impact: no kids, no convictions, no diseases.

I feel like I've skated through life, underachieving and fucking everything up because I was smarter than everyone else and getting out of all my messes relatively unscathed because, well, I was smarter than everyone else. (Pretty clear how I'd get caught in a circle of shit sandwiches, right?)

I've made some really dumb decisions over time, and yet, somehow managed to build a pretty good life for myself. Sometimes I am not sure how I've come to be as happy and successful as I feel. I don't understand how the past-tense, teenage Drew that decided to leave home early and drop out of high school and bail on his friends all those years ago deserves to feel as happily married, financially secure and professionally rewarded as I do now.

I've managed to skirt my way around the big fuck-up stuff without a scratch but there is a more sinister set of consequences creeping up on me that I know I cannot and will not avoid: age and physical deterioration.

I don't mean the extra weight or the creaking joints or the "things were better then" bullshit that I am going through. That I understand: junk food, a sedentary life and unrealistic nostalgia will do that to you.

I am getting older and I can tell in other, more subtle ways. I really don't mind aging; I am proud of my gray hair, and I like feeling battle-hardened and experienced when things get tough.

I am talking about the subtle changes and shifts in attitude and lifestyle that make me look down the path of time I've trod and realize that it ain't 1989 any fucking more.

Here, then, are the signs that I am growing up and getting older:

1. Mr. Mojo Risin'.

As I get older, Jim Morrison seems more and more like a pompous, pretentious, drunken, wasted-talent douchebag. I was obsessed with the Doors in the '80s; I had a Jim Morrison "Lizard King" t-shirt that I wore so much that not one, but several friends conspired to throw away while I was passed out so they wouldn't have to smell it anymore.

As a teenager, I thought the sun was created in Morrison's belly button; he was so deep and spiritual and did you know that he wrote poetry and had a shamanic trip in the desert and his lyrics were, like, so right on into what I was into and he totally took me to another plane.

But while watching a PBS documentary on the Doors the other day, I realized that I saw Morrison as a shallow, preening, drunken sod; instead of being supremely talented he just seemed like a massive waste of talent. My first thought was, how could the other guys in the band have worked with him? All of the things that I was so enamored with as a kid - the spirituality, the intellect, the wild abandon - seemed so empty, shallow and reckless.

2. Heart Attack Man.

I used to pride myself on how much damage I could do to my body and still walk away. Stay up for three days to see if we would hallucinate - check. Drop a sheet of acid with R over the course of a month - check. Carve an ex-girlfriend's name into my arm with a razor blade to prove how much she meant to me - check.

I had this strange, victim mentality that enjoyed creating situations in which I suffered; I made myself invincible by proving that I was the only person who could truly hurt me. I took that postulation very seriously for a while.

But a person can only take so much punishment, self-imposed or not. I began to understand that the truly badass either killed themselves or others pretty quick. So I knocked that shit off about five years ago and started treating myself a little better.

Now, the most unhealthy, dangerous thing that I do is eat junk food late at night. Eating a cheeseburger and fries after 10 p.m. counts as living dangerously. ] I'll be complaining and moaning about it for days: "I feel sluggish." "My belly hurts." "I don't know why I am so fat."

3. Call Now.

I caught myself really enjoying a PBS pledge drive show hawking Stevie Ray Vaughan DVDs the other day. (I really like PBS but I always have, so no change there.) I am trying to make a connection to the fact that I had a ticket to his last show at Alpine Valley but couldn't go because I was in rehab and how strange it was to watch him on PBS in my pajamas and a bag of corn chips, but everything I've tried is falling flat so I'll just leave it at that.

4. Extra Virgin.

As I get older, my "emergencies" are of an entirely different scale than they were in my youth. There was a time when I had a constant crisis in my life; homelessness, romantic break-ups, various addictions. I jumped from one frying pan to another, usually with eyes wide open.I suppose that dealing with all those emergencies made me feel like my life had some sort of purpose; I wasn't making any positive steps ahead but at least I was busy.

At my lowest point, I got kicked out of a long-time girlfriend's house so she could move her new boyfriend in; since I was an unemployed high-school dropout, I had to ask my homeboy if I could sleep on his couch. I laid on that couch, wide-awake on a hot July night, convinced that life was just always going to be a series of insurmountable problems. I knew - I absolutely knew - that I was never going to be able to live a calm, settled life.

Two nights ago, I ran out of olive oil while making a pesto sauce; it was the biggest personal crisis I've had since 2005. Guess all that conviction I had in 1996 didn't amount to a damned thing after all.

5. In God We Trust.

I was really, really fucking mad at God for a long time. I never questioned whether he existed because it was obvious I was being smote. I believed that God hated me and was going out of His way to spite me by making me learn shit over and over and over again until I got it right. He made me an addict, didn't give me the family that I wanted and always took away the girl.

At the risk of sounding like a damned dirty hippie, I took in the local park today and talked to God for awhile about all the great shit I got: a lovely wife, mad typing skills, homeboys like Beachwood Steve and some fly Stones t-shirts. I believe now that God was being good to me all those years, saving my ass over and over and over again, and giving me repeated chances to make something of myself.

6. That's Mr. Scott.

Office politics bore me to tears now, mostly because I work alone from home. There was a time that I loved nothing more than a good, strategic whisper campaign to get ahead in the office. I wasted years of a great opportunity at a good job complaining about how bad the company was being run and how incompetent everyone was.

About two years ago, I was listening to myself bad mouth something or someone and really listened to what an asshole I was being. I don't think I want to be that guy anymore. I am just too old and tired to spend the kind of energy it requires to tear down everything around me now. Plus, it's a small world and an even smaller industry and if I'm an asshole, my next set of co-workers will know it before they meet me.

7. 401fuck.

Until about five years ago, my biggest financial concern was simply paying the rent. It wasn't until I paid my professional dues - internships, entry-level jobs, ass-kissing - that I earned enough money to stop worrying about the rent. And when I got married, the income doubled (until recently that is) and the expenses never really grew.

I was able to start relaxing about money a little until I realized: I haven't a fucking cent for retirement. Oh shit, what am I going to do now? I can't go back to sleeping on couches and hitting Grandma up for free meals when I am 65.

Suddenly, not having any money was a future concern, not a present one. The problem is, I've been broke for so long, I can't speak financial language; I don't even know what questions to ask. Fuck.

8. Back to the Future.

A few minutes ago, I heard myself bitching about not having any money for retirement and an odd thought struck me: I am now more worried about my future than my past.

That might seem counter-intuitive to the aging process, but I was always so concerned with the things I didn't have as a kid or the people who had done me wrong over the years that I never thought about what life could be or should be; it was all hate and resentment towards what had already passed.

Getting married and building a life with someone else has definitely helped focus me on a world of possibility instead of a world of bitterness.

9. Bosom Buddies.

I've somehow morphed from a lecherous, seedy punk to a cantankerous curmudgeon muttering about kids and their cell phones and no manners and don't even know who the vice president is, damn kids.

I look at the young, cute coeds around town and rather than go all pornographic creepy, I start pissing and moaning about the quality of their educations. Instead of looking at cleavage, I am pissing and moaning about their lack of civics knowledge and inability to use grammar. I am not scheming for a date anymore; I am too terrified about the future of our country for that now (plus, the whole married thing).

10. Master of Puppets.

My favorite records are getting better by comparison to the stuff coming out now. I'm about to punch myself in the face if I don't stop starting every other sentence with the phrase, "When music used to kick ass . . . ". I've become such a pretentious prick about the purity of music that it's not becoming fun anymore.


Comments welcome.


Other Lists By Drew Adamek:
* Today's Syllabus
* Shit My Dad Says
* Work Weirdos
* Things I Miss About Chicago
* 20 Albums I Wish I Had Never Bought
* Their Chicago
* Cities I've Slept In
* My Favorite 1980s Chicago Radio Memories
* Why Milwaukee Rules
* Why I'm Glad I Don't Live In D.C. Anymore
* The Beer Goggle Recordings
* A List Of Reader Comments To Drew's Lists
* Life's Little Victories
* The Worst Jobs I've Ever Had
* Jobs For The Zombie Apocalypse
* Lemme Get A Bite Of That
* Lists I'll Never Write
* Things I Miss About My Imprisoned Best Friend
* Things I Miss About Being Single
* Things I Love About Being Married
* Why Chuck D Should Have Been Our First Black President
* Picture This
* My Suggestions For Ways To Further Desecrate Wrigley Field

* Fan Note: Me & Metallica


Posted on June 4, 2010

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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