There’s a reason our generation is restless and so different from the ones that preceded ours. I really believe it has something to do with growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, which produced a striking number of cultural transformers: Folks like Bowie and Jagger, like Grace Jones and Patti Smith.
Or, in the case of 55-year-old writer and comedian Annabelle Gurwitch, the Ramones, whom she saw play in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the late 1970s and who blew her mind.
“Even as a teenager I knew the music was really about something else, it was challenging social norms,” she says. “I’m really trying to challenge ideas, and one of the ways I’m doing that is by embracing this age.”
Because of the career she’s fashioned on TV and in film, and as an NPR commentator, her platform is a more public one than most have. She’s addressed aging on the stage as a comedian and in her books: I See You Made an Effort (2014) and Wherever You Go, There They Are (2017). Gurwitch’s message is quite simple: Things change. We’re all getting older (her rheumatologist referred to her recent arthritic diagnosis as “old lady hands”), but what are we going to do about it?
Things have changed, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still throwing down the gauntlet and having a better life than I’ve ever had.
“If I did get a tattoo, I would get it right under my C-section and it would read ‘Under New Management,’” she says. “Things have changed — everywhere — but that doesn’t mean I’m not still throwing down the gauntlet and having a better life than I’ve ever had. I have a chance at this point of my life to fail even bigger than I’ve failed.”
She refers to it as “aging with a vengeance.” It involves her working harder and in a more focused way. She mentors younger writing students, for example. And she maintains her thirst for new music and listening to the same bands her son listens to — which drives him crazy.
“But I got him an internship at a PR company that represents the bands he likes,” she says. “So, yay, Mom.”
And as someone with a gift for words and their expression, she’s very particular about one she won’t use. “The idea of retirement is so completely anathema to me,” she says. “With my work, what I’m always hoping to do is be useful to society and to contribute and reflect the personal into a greater cultural zeitgeist. And I don’t see an end for that.”