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how did i get here?
it has stopped making sense
by mike julianelle

A friend of mine recently remarked that a picture of me striking the Heisman pose – with my baby standing in for the football – is strikingly similar to something one of the characters does in the soon-to-be released piece of garbage Life As You Know It.

My immediate reaction was to scold my friend for seeing a movie co-starring Josh Duhamel ("Vegas"; on the arm of a frying pan) and Katherine Heigl ("Roswell"; the DVD bargain bin at Wal-Mart). Then I considered the ramifications of his comment, and I didn't like what I found.

The movie – as far as I can tell from the trailers – is an absurd piece of romantic comedy bullshit in which a pair of carefree twenty-somethings who “hate” each other (in the way that the guy who pulls your pigtails hates you) inexplicably inherit a child. Apparently – and I’m extrapolating here – when their mutual friends die, the will stipulates that the two seemingly incompatible (but only seemingly, get it?) pair must not only raise the newly-orphaned child together, but must live together as well. In their new mansion! (Also inherited.) My uneducated guess is that the intense experience of raising a child forces these one-time enemies to band – and subsequently bond – together, learning things about each other – and themselves! – in the process and leading them to eventually - against all odds! - fall in love.

(Judging by the parenting skills of their kid's chosen guardians, the dead couple were clearly a lot more interested in matchmaking than they were in their child growing up healthy and safe. Nothing says well-adjusted like being raised by two people who hate each other's guts! But I digress.)

After such a ridiculous premise, what I’m about to say might seem a bit strange, but here goes: I can relate to those people.

Obviously, I can’t relate to the mansion part or the dead friends part or the “hating” the person I'm raising a child with part. But I can relate to suddenly having parenthood thrust upon me, suddenly having real responsibilities, suddenly not having anymore fun, etc.

Nowadays, it seems that every time I watch a movie or read a book, I feel myself relating to them. In the past, it never used to be an issue for me to enjoy a piece of fiction on its own, without tying it somehow to my life, to my experiences. It helps that most of the things I currently spend my time on are aimed at adults and a bit more grounded in reality; it's not like there was all that much to relate to in the Xanth series or Vampire Chronicles. But now it seems that every show or movie or book that makes reference to married life or having kids or paying the bills or running errands is speaking directly to me. All of a sudden, I get all those sophisticated jokes I'd been missing out on in "Everybody Loves Raymond."

It’s creepy. And depressing. I'm entering the demographic where companies stop selling things to me!

The sad fact is, I can suddenly relate to being an adult, which doesn't make much sense, considering that just yesterday I got into an online "screaming" match with a friend of mine, over fantasy football trades. Did I mention he's an adult too? And a lawyer!

I mean, come on: I took a picture of myself holding my newborn child like a football! I'm an adult? I have DVR'd Jersey Shore on more than one occasion; my brother and I frequently critique the looks of beautiful women we'll never see in person and who may or may not be above 18; I tweet fairly regularly. I'm an adult?

I once wrote a column about how the normal age-based landmarks no longer apply; how they've shifted. More interesting is the way that age-based landmarks were never actually age-based, or even landmarks, at all. They're just things that happen. The word adult only really means something when you're a kid and then it merely serves as an invisible barrier between what you can do and what you can't, yet. There is no "I'm An Adult" finish line to cross.

Life is not a series of checkpoints; life is just a long, slow process during which everyone puts one foot in front of the other and suddenly finds themselves atop a mountain, looking down, wondering how they got there and why they still feel like they did when they were 15. No one has a road map; every one of us is stumbling around, looking for guideposts.

Back when I was a kid, I thought guideposts were bullshit. I thought I'd never need them or, better yet, that I'd make my own. And then one day I watched a trailer for a shitty, banal romantic comedy about becoming an adult and saw my life staring back at me. A shitty, banal version of my life that doesn't hold a candle to the real thing, but a version of it just the same. And I realized I was right - guideposts are bullshit. And benchmarking my happiness against a movie that will be forgotten in two weeks is beyond absurd.

What do you know? That almost sounded like wisdom.

I guess maybe I am an adult after all. Fuck.


Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".

more about mike julianelle


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topic: humor
published: 10.23.09

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topic: humor
published: 4.6.09


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