I’m tired and I’m glad it’s all over. The year of ’09. The end of my gall bladder. With it goes the decade of debauchery and the end of my twenties. I’m no longer an innocent kid and these no longer are innocent times. In the last decade all fantasies have crashed and shattered liked teeth in a horrible nightmare. The internet bubble, the housing market, values, cuddling, the American Dream, religion, liberty, stature, banking, American automotives, and most anything that seemed too good to be true; suddenly wasn’t.
‘Sag ‘is the best word to describe what we’ve become. An ugly lump of something that is excessive and unsightly. The new millennium started off with a y2k fear that turned quickly into a television punch line. It was the birth of the Bush administration and the death of my mother. It was the last year space was free of man, meaning a human has been in space continuously ever since. A Nero type image pops into my head as I type this ignoring the damn TV puking out TMZ. My profession was set I was going to work in radio. I was a sponge working at Chicago’s US*99 training from the best. I loved it, and I knew I would do whatever it took to be the best. Life had a plan and it seemed simple.
2001 crashed our comfort level forever as we watched the twisted steel on all the networks paint an image of destruction that will forever be vivid and horrible to anybody over the age of seven forever. I was scared, but I was now a morning show host and I had a town to comfort. I blew it, as I was too young to know my role, and understand my responsibility. I faked sadness over the airwaves while fear fell from my brow and anger pumped through my heart. My mother got struck down by a train in September of ’00, and then my country got hit by a plane in September of ’01. Mother and country crashing before me in the most symbolic of ways --it was all quite frightening. But all of us were new to terrorism and there were no right answers. However in hindsight we see an endless supply of wrong ones. Oh well. Live and Let Learn!
2002 made sure no child was left behind and I hung on for the ride. I was falling into my own on the radio, even if it wasn’t focused or understood as a man or a character to my audience or myself. I had become good at faking it and the ratings started to reflect it. The country was fairly united for the first time in a long time and despite the obvious black eye everything felt safe. Like a beaten mother resting soundly in a warm bed at Grandma’s housed. I don’t remember hearing the buckling wood or sensing the changing tide. I was on a patriotic high mixed dangerously with cocaine I used to get from a navel recruiter who had a fondness for wife swapping and drinking. Things were fun and I started to really enjoy the world around me. I met the farmers and liked them and we seeded a new friendship as odd as a hybrid as it seems. The US of A invaded Afghanistan. Time to witness how bad ass our military really is I thought. I figured a short term mission like the first Gulf War; the only war I’d really witnessed in my short life, and my only reference point, was how it was going to roll. But things seldom turn out as planned. I remember getting a death threat from a listener just as the DC sniper was terrifying the east coast. I was still frightened and alone.
2003 the fear subdued. I had a nice apartment and great ratings. The sales staff wasn’t selling anything as the station was a hard story to pitch. But I felt good and was now in full control as the stations morning show host and program director. It was my vision, and it was working. It was older country with an outlaw poetic sprit somewhere between classic rock and who gives a fuck; a musical gypsy of sorts. I became cocky and firm in my standing with the station. I was new to power and certainly didn’t understand it being a poor kid with no prior control. I was a dick, and a big one from a well produced porn studio. A real asshole full speed on nose candy and confidence.
2004 a major milestone is set as Facebook is created. As silly as it seems there is no denying its impact and power, even if not fully yet understood. John Kerry flip flops like a Jimmy Buffett song as he fails to uproot the now over grown Bush flowering in Washington. How could somebody fuck up something so simple? People got pissed and all good feelings were lost. I had a new General Manger who didn’t like my direction with the radio station. The writing was on the wall everything was about to get sloppy. September hits hard and I get fired. I really start to hate September just the sound of that word makes me nauseous. Like many of my generation with hardly a lift off my professional career, my dreams, my identity…change. We are defined by how we make a living it’s just the description of the times. Unlike previous generations we don’t get to pick our jobs and them with the promise of hard work and dedication. Once we become comfortable they cut our hours, lay us off, or bring in a plethora of new faces preventing anybody from becoming overpriced.
2005 sent me back home to Chicago and my friends and family. Things had changed. My father was now alone and didn’t’ mind company. My friends also had a more playful attitude and the ‘who gives a shit’ disease is easy to catch and they offered a lot of warm blankets on those cold Chicago nights. It seemed to me as if the young people realized that the old people won’t let go of their jobs and toys. So all we can ever be is the middle, so fuck it, get a job waiting tables and just have fun. Live on the luxury that technology freely or cheaply affords us and just enjoy the struggle. I started taking classes at Second City a dream of mine. When one dream ends we wake up shower and start again. At night when the mind is right and the REM is high a new dream begins and the magic starts all over again. I worked at a Polish radio station pushing a button once an hour for a decent wage and a plethora of new Polish jokes including one about a dead pope. None of my contemporaries really cared when the pope died as priests and small boys scared us away years ago. The polish did care, one of the last few cultures still hanging on to a dying religion. If that’s not scary enough yea North Korea got a bomb, and the reason they gave was, ‘they don’t like us and our aggression.’
2006 felt like everything was getting back to normal whatever the hell normal was and is. Second City was nearing its completion and I was uncertain of my future yet never worried about it. I could become a great comedic mind, I could return to the radio, or I could try to find a new world and a new profession. It was all very exciting thinking back on it. I watched Saddam Hussein hang on youtube a very strange yet patriotic sight. I guess most patriotism is strange when you think of it from the eyes of humanity. It’s also when I discovered weird and strange free sex on craigslist. It was all becoming very interesting and gross and dangerous.
2007 was when the fun really started to end. Things felt like they were about to get rough and this time we all knew that it was real. I decided I needed to work in a trade other then radio in order to get health insurance, more hours, more money, and a new skill set just in case the shit would hit the fan just as we all knew it would. I started selling beds and enjoyed the work very much for the most part. It wasn’t radio but I didn’t expect it to be. I was on my last year training at Second City now in the Conservatory thinking I might have a shot at comedy and making money. If not I had my safety net firmly in place with job selling beds. I was fairly content and started smoking pot (I had quit everything when I returned to Chicago) to keep things interesting. When Foot and Mouth disease struck the UK terrified up tight white liberals flocked straight to Whole Foods and over priced groceries. Politically the rest of the world was as voltaic as our gas prices, but the United States was in a State of hold. We all were. Waiting for the fall perhaps, but we all knew CHANGE was on the horizon and we HOPED for the best. At the end of ’07 I started with the Comedy group I still perform with today.
2008 started as just another year. It was an election year and that’s what the story was. The comedy group was coming together and finding itself. The bedding job was slow and most of the time my co-workers and myself debated the elections. I wanted McCain but the world wanted Obama. The stores were very, very, very slow so we had a lot of time to talk. The markets crashed. The sales plummeted. People panicked. 2008 ended with Obama winning the office of President and me losing my job. Thankfully Obama had a soft spot for the laid off which I was now…E pluribus unum (our country’s motto: One of Many).
2009 a wild and wonderful and weird year. The unemployment started to roll in and I had nowhere to work except my own mind and my own madness. I had no responsibility and no shame as the only jobs available to me I was vastly over qualified for and they paid less then what the government was giving me in unemployment wages. So if I settled for less I would hurt myself and that’s un-American. So I went to the beach. I drank a lot. I watched a lot of news, smoked a lot of dope, read a lot of books, cried a lot of tears, and wondered a lot of thoughts. Nights when I was sane were the bad ones and the uninteresting ones the nights when I found insanity were full of color and perfection. Everything started coming into perspective just as I hit thirty. Then I almost died while losing my gall bladder yet survived to discover many of my tastes had changed, and life was more wonderful even as I began to value you it less. Then I figured it was time to get back to work so I became a grave yard salesman.
I still don’t feel right as I’m broken and confused a failure of a man floundering aimlessly --and to me the fucking scary part is I look around and I’m not alone. My friends, my neighbors, my enemies, and my family all stuck on the same sinking fucking ship. Is that all it is? Did we simply board the wrong vessel? What’s my big picture? What’s the worlds? Fuck if I know! Besides I’m too busy trying to figure out how to increase my sales numbers at work to even think about it. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s a horrible thing all I know is I’m happy this decade is behind us. I’m even going to watch tonight to make sure no floaters escaped the flush.
I have to say entering 2010 I don’t feel scared. Concerned and confused, yes. But fear is no longer driving it. I think we’ll be ok I just hope now is the time we the young stand up and fight for something. Something tangible, not hope, but something real. Our piece of the pie, and our responsibility to bake a new one once the current one is gone. I feel like we’ve kind of let it slide and shrugged our shoulders with an Avril Lavigne manufactured attitude for the last decade while our parents ran the show and if we don’t act now we’ll lose out to those computers whizzes behind us. I feel like we do now indeed have a sense of urgency and understanding that now is the time; and the work has to be done. Smoke breaks over boys, but fuck it we let them ban smoking anyway so who the hell really cares. Bring on those wild teen years I’m ready to rebel.
I don’t know where this is going to go I just know ten years from now I will look back at this gibberish and laugh at my youthful ignorance of it all.
P.S. FUCK OFF 2009 and take your shitty decade with you. Happy New Year Fellow Travelers.