Trial Balloon

I Won't Grow Up

Posted at 5:12 AM on October 7, 2009 by Radio Heartlander (25 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Mike in Albert Lea

The last few years I've been experiencing my mid-life crisis. I turned 48 at the end of September, and I still feel young, but realize the pace at which life is passing. No, I haven't resolved this (yet) by buying a Corvette or a Harley-Davidson, my bank account unfortunately is not that mature.

My parents are healthy, but aging. My children are growing all too fast. I've questioned what it is I want to do with my life. My wife has been diagnosed with cancer and been successfully treated. My hair is thinning in back, but I have no plans for Rogaine or other miracle balding cures.

In the last 10 years, I've changed careers, been elected mayor of a mid-sized city in southern Minnesota, and joined a water ski show team. Here's a picture of us, on Labor Day 2009, performing a human pyramid in our final show of the year. That's me on the far right, with my oldest daughter standing on my shoulder and the guy next to me (Tim, who's in his early 20s).

Mike-Photo1.jpg

I don't often read Garrison Keillor's newspaper column, but it caught my attention when he wrote about his recent stroke and his realization of mortality, which I thought was interesting since he's 67, I believe. Now that's old, right?

RH listeners are an eclectic bunch, but seem to be a largely mature group that is young at heart. How do you demonstrate your refusal to 'grow up' or, gasp, 'grow old'? Daring activities? Silicone? Little blue pill?

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Edited to add! From Dale's desk, but not necessarily from Dale
A giveaway, enter TODAY!

Enter now! Or at least before 1 p.m. Wednesday October 7 for your chance to win tickets to the Over The Rhine concert at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009 at 8pm. Official Rules in fine print available.

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Comments (25)

Mike, this oughtta be a fun topic also! thanks. but i gotta say, the toughest birthdays for me were long ago. Twenty-six was the worst. i was recently divorced, working in a profession i hated, seemed like i had achieved nothing at all by that age. now it just seems that i can roll with things much better. one of my best friends is 81 - my role model for aging - she is a big reader and takes each challenge in her life as a "chapter." she moves thru the book of her life so gracefully.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | October 7, 2009 6:08 AM


Good morning...Mike, I'm not getting audio on my computer from Radio Heartland or Morning Edition...I hope someone is working on it...or, is it me?

Having a mid-life crisis without my morning music!

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | October 7, 2009 6:16 AM


Cynthia - i'm getting audio using the "MP3" option on my computer. try that or Windows media player....
frustrating!

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | October 7, 2009 6:23 AM


Cynthia, I'm getting sound from my computer without any issues. I don't think I could endure my mid-life crisis without music... or without coffee.

Well, I have given thought to getting a 1970s Jaguar sedan, and I still might do it. While it would be a really fun thing to have, I have recently taken a more practical approach to dealing with aging and health. After many years away from running, I began running again in May, which quickly became distance running. (I'm addicted to distance.) Anyway, on Saturday I'll be running my first marathon, the Whistlestop Marathon in Ashland, Wisconsin. I'm also registered for Grandma's Marathon in June!

I wish Jasper were intellogent enough to play Tom Waits' "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" from his album Bone Machine. The Ramones do a pretty awesome cover of it, too. ;-)

Posted by elinor | October 7, 2009 6:36 AM


Thanks, Barb...that worked. whew.

Now...about that growing up business: good for you, Jim!

My small attempts to stave off old age (of the mind if not the body) include buying a new riding horse at 62 (being thrown at 65 doesn't improve the body much, but nothing worse than a large bruise on my behind ensued) and taking on a 17 year old exchange student this fall after living alone for 24 years and never having had children...

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | October 7, 2009 6:37 AM


Oh, forgot to say thanks for the entertaining blog entry, which should make for some nice conversation!

Posted by elinor | October 7, 2009 6:37 AM


Getting older - talk about a kick in the head. Mike - you're a mayor and a water aerialist, and not even 50!? You've got at least 5 more good years. Just stay goofy and loyal to Radio Heartland, that's what I say. Another trick that works for me is to leave my glasses off when looking in the mirror. Blurred vision can be a blessing.
I do love how older people just say whatever they think. For example, my dad with dementia, asked a hired caregiver recently, "You mean you get paid $18 an hour to just sit around?" To which she said, "Yes, I do, Raymond." To which he said, "Well, if that isn't the --its!"

Thanks, chums, for your sibling stories Monday - good giggles. Yesterday's topic was rad. If radical translates to presumptuous, I'm all over that word.

Posted by Donna | October 7, 2009 6:52 AM


It wasn't a deliberate attempt to stave off old age, but it's working pretty well. I retired from teaching middle school students three years ago at 57. They were pretty good at keeping me young, but within a year of "retirement" my husband and I took the TEFL course at Hamline and moved to Prague, Czech Republic where we are starting our third year teaching English to adults in their businesses. Most of our fellow teachers are early 20s folks who arrived here with packs on their backs seeking adventure. We came seeking adventure too, and so far it's working. We just have a few more years under belts than they do.

Posted by Michele | October 7, 2009 7:10 AM


Greetings! We started karate mainly for the kids, but it looked like fun so I started -- and now I'm addicted!

In high school and college I was in sports and dance. Then I married a couch potato and became one, along with a sedentary job.

I started karate at 49. I'm now 52 and a Brown belt -- and this is shaping up to be my answer to a mid-life crisis. I go at karate hard and intense, trying to prove I can still do what I did then -- albeit with bad knees. After a bad injury from sparring this summer, my brother-in-law politely said I should reconsider doing contact sports at my age. BAH! I'm loving it and getting in great shape.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | October 7, 2009 7:27 AM


I am slightly younger than our guest blogger today (but not by too much) - and not a mayor of anything or a skier of any sort. I do, however, have a 5-year-old. Keeping up with her requires a certain amount of stamina (so I try to get in some almost daily exercise) - but it's most fun to just get in touch with my inner five-year-old and play dolls and dress up, draw with sidewalk chalk, splash in puddles, and follow where her imagination leads. I never quite finished being a young kid, I think - and don't plan to. It's too much fun (even if I can't do the monkey bars anymore - slides are still good).

Posted by Anna | October 7, 2009 7:38 AM


Love the photo, Mike! I'm getting inspired by those of you doing very PHYSICAL things (and taking on exchange students, teaching abroad, or goat farming!). I try to do more walking, folk dancing and t'ai chi, but I do find a tendency to be more sedentary than I should.

I am staying open to new adventures (especially travelling), and looking for my next "career". Meanwhile I volunteer at an alternative high school, belong to a book group with all ages of women, and enjoy this blog.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | October 7, 2009 7:44 AM


I turned 50 in May and something clicked at 50. There is a lot of crap I won't take anymore. I am speaking up for myself more than I used to. I became aware that most likely, I have less years ahead of me than I have behind me. That's a bit daunting, but it helps when I think that I don't have to spend any of that time in adolescence. Middle age is way more comfortable than adolescence.

And there it is.

I am very sad that my RH stream isn't working today. I get the underwriter announcement and then nothing. I am resorting to Pandora, I am afraid. I set up a Mercedes Sosa station on Sunday after I heard of her passing. If you don't know about Pandora...forget I said anything...we don't need anything but RH, 24/7 (unless it's not there...)

Posted by Darcy | October 7, 2009 8:00 AM


Good morning,

I just got into work so am catching up. I couldn't get the stream to work with the normal 'listen' way, but is working for me through Media Player.

I'm enjoying reading the conversation, and thanks to Dale for the opportunity to contribute in his absence.

Posted by Mike in Albert Lea | October 7, 2009 8:05 AM


I think old age is catching up with me. I wrote a comment and then didn't post it, so I guess it is gone.

I think I need some fun thing like Mike's water skiing, to keep me young. Gardening keeps me some what active and my wife and I do some walking. I am a little too serious and the light hearted approach of many of the people who comment on this blog helps me keep my sense of humor.

To Joanne with regard to your comment yesterday about your son serving in the Marines in Afghanistan. Along with Barbara, I hope your son returns home safely.

Posted by Jim | October 7, 2009 8:14 AM


Hey Everyone,
Don't forget to enter your name, if you already haven't, to the Over the Rhine ticket giveaway for their concert this Saturday night at the Cedar. (Completely selfish reasons, really: I like to hear the applause when they mention from the stage that show is "sponsored by Radio Heartland"!)

Posted by Mike Pengra | October 7, 2009 8:24 AM


Just got word (8:35am) that there are currently some audio problems with the Radio Heartland stream. Patience...the cover-alled guys are here...

Posted by Mike Pengra | October 7, 2009 8:39 AM


I think Barb has the answer for those who are having trouble with the audio stream, use the windows Media Player option on the box for connecting to the live stream. I haven't had any problems today and I am using the Windows Media Player

Posted by Jim | October 7, 2009 8:53 AM


Helllllllllllo Heartlanders! To echo Mike, we are working on the streams. Hang tight.

Now to a more personal answer...

Mike, your blog question struck close to home. I don't mind growing up and I'm still doing it . While I'm not thrilled at the thought of growing old, we have a rule at our house: We don't talk about it that way. There's no complaining about aches & pains, we try to laugh 'em off. We're trying to be more fit and enjoy our time. We laugh more and (try, but often fail to) worry less. And my one key mindset now is ...

If I'm considering doing something that is actually pretty reasonable but has a fright moment like rock climbing or cliff jumping or whatever, as soon as I feel that adrenaline rush and oh-no-this-is-nuts sensation I resolve to do it. Keeps me from feeling dusty, because guess what... I'm not. I just might need to remember that sometimes.

Besides, our 40s are the new 30s, right? Right? That means next decade I can grow up some more. Plenty o' time.

Posted by Julia Schrenkler, MPR | October 7, 2009 9:10 AM


When it comes to aging, I think of some of the things that Joseph Campbell used to say and write about. He used to say that your body is like a car. As we get older, there's rust, the windshield cracks, a fender falls off, etc. and that really bothers some people. For others, it's just part of the process of having a car and they don't mind as long as it keeps running. Another reference I've heard along the same lines is, "Are you the light or the light bulb?"

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | October 7, 2009 9:16 AM


When the coming winter leaves I will become 70 - a once unimaginable thing despite a family tree of nonagenerians. But as grotesque as the number looks, living it is surprisingly comfortable.

Neither my 100-year old house nor I will ever be mistaken for new but we're both still upright and functional.

When I was 20 I could hit tee shots that landed out of sight. With eyesight no longer 20/20, my tee shots still land out of sight.

I also have decades of books that I don't have to hurry through looking for the "key parts" that might be on a test. I read with a wider understanding, more attentive to the nuances of the authors. But I also read a bit more skeptically -especially histories and memoirs.

Over all the years, I've met admirable people, some of whom I still know and love, Any disagreeable sorts who crossed my path no longer matter. Along the way, of course, I've lost family and friends but their memories remain clear and always present.

All of you are probably younger than I so I send you whatever encouragement I can to live the coming years with confidence and enthusiasm.


Posted by Bill Unumb | October 7, 2009 9:22 AM


Great stuff Bill.

I still live by this motto, which I may have posted before:

You don't quit playing cuz you grow old.
You grow old cuz you quit playing.

That could mean golf, music, or just life in general. Yes?

And Julia, I thought the 50s were the new 30s? That's my opinion and I'm stickin to it.

Posted by Mike Pengra | October 7, 2009 9:29 AM


Mike - If 50s are the new 30s, that means I'm still in my "new" 20s. I like it!

Posted by Anna | October 7, 2009 9:44 AM


ah, back to my late entries, darn it!

good topic, mike!

i, too, had one of those "turning 50" moments in February---and my thought was, hey! i can do whatever i want now!!

so within a few months i had quit my job, left minnesota, moved to beautiful utah, and am doing free-lance work part-time and whatever else i feel like! hiking, sightseeing, afternoon naps, singing in a choir...

it's been my habit on each birthday for years now to do or see something i've never done/seen before--e.g., one birthday, i saw redwoods in CA for the first time....

play and novelty help keep me young, and doing things i used to be fearful of,--love seeing more of our beautiful country--i can get easily to four or five national parks from my new home, so am doing that on the weekends...spending more time with animals, which i love...

i'm happy to be grown up but not letting my mindset get old or provincial or closed....

Posted by Kay H in Utah | October 7, 2009 9:46 AM


great topic. 54 is a realitry check. it feels like 18 in her but my legs don't bend the way they used to.
i got the fountain of youth plugged in a couple of years ago with my 8 and 10 year old daughters. i am coach piano mentor spelling coach. my dad always said kids are like pancakes, the first two are just for practice. these girls are 4 and 5 for me so i have wisdom of the ages to pass on to them and yo ca be certain that they and their mother appreciate the sage like comments and observations. i will be 65 when the youngest graduates high school, but i will be 65 that year regardless so her graduation will be an added highlight. concerts and theater make me feel young but when i look around at the louden wainwright III cooncerts they are full of other oldsters like me feeling young and not knowing enough to stay home and hunker down.
great group of bloggers here on rh. thanks for the comradarie and sharing in the first hours of the day. its a nice group of vibes to carry through the day. you are an up group.
hey great topic of the day hoser..
i am late today but thought id plug this in anyhow

Posted by tim | October 7, 2009 11:07 AM


Hey, I like late posts, as I usually check in again later in the day. Tim, are you by any chance the Tim in the photo next to Mike?

Bill, it's good to have your voice today, and Julia. And I'm getting so that I miss you regulars when you miss a day.

I thought of one other thing that helps keep me feeling young: Husband is 5 years older than I am...heh heh. Darcy -- your "lot of crap I won't take anymore". And Anna, you're right -- playing with dolls helps too.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | October 7, 2009 12:33 PM


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