To XL



self-portrait of the artist entering middle age, 
circa 10 p.m. EST, October 14th, 2010

I turned 40 yesterday — legally at midnight; technically at around 7 p.m. And it happened "yesterday" only in the sense that I've been trying to get this published since the header date but you will probably be are definitely reading this some time after that.

Yes, folks, I'm still having trouble connecting to the Interwebs with any longevity or reliability. For that reason among others, I haven't posted here in a month; due to the substandard WiFi, my own lack of energy, and the fact that dealing with the former makes the latter all the more aggravating (or vice versa) even when there's something fully written ready to be entered, proofread, and gussied up with graphics online, I've been trying to live by the wisdom of Reinhold Niebuhr's "Serenity Prayer":

God grant me the serenity 

to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

Familiar largely due to its use at meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous even if, like me, you've never actually attended one, it's a tremendously simple and profound mantra that's come to mind often during particularly difficult times since I developed a life-altering chronic illness 12 years ago. I referenced that illness and some of its fallout during this blog's first Slog (State of the Blog) 9 months ago; this was almost a bookend to that dispatch making the obvious hiatus in posts official and announcing grand plans to follow — after all, like I said way back in my Welcome post, that seems to be one of the blogosphere's raisons d'être — but since the ETA of future blogs and the new version of this one is still unknown I don't want to say much about those plans yet. More on that subject shortly, but first some further thoughts on the anticlimactic four-oh...


I've never bought into 40 as being the hump of any kind of hill, especially given the vibrancy of my mother and the longevity of my maternal grandparents. But that doesn't mean I'm happy with where I find myself at 40, especially with so little to show for my life since 30. Sure, I'd almost certainly be lamenting the books unwritten, the places untraveled, the things undone no matter how the past decade had played out, by virtue of human nature, but thanks to my general incapacity those frustrations are compounded, very real, and in some cases very specific — there are particular books, places, and things that would have been produced, visited, and accomplished, with failed attempts crumpled up in the cosmic, etheric trash bin as proof.

What really makes me feel old is my parents being 65, my surviving grandparents averaging 95, and my sister having three kids. What makes me feel old is my cousins ranging from their upper 30s to upper 40s, then realizing that I'm the middle one. What makes me feel old is the fact that I was in college 20 years ago, and that the next-generation cousin born my senior year just started college herself. What makes me feel old is Madonna and Prince being in their 50s, Billy Joel and Peter Frampton being more-or-less bald, and half the freakin' Beatles having left this mortal coil. What makes me feel old is most of my friends my age being married with children while those who are younger never having known lives without computers and cable TV.

What makes me feel old, if you see the distinction, isn't me being "40" but me having been around for 40 years and seen all the change that those years have brought.

As elder generations informed me when I was younger, you don't get any older in your mind; you get older in your face, in your bones, and in the realization that things around you are getting older, changing, dying. I've lost one set of grandparents and, far too early, an aunt and uncle whose passing before the birth of most of their own beautiful, vibrant grandchildren is proof that life, while holding the potential for extreme joy, is not fair — except in the sense that essentially anything can happen to anyone anytime regardless of how kind or hollow their soul.

Despite my diminished energy and concentration, pain, fatigue, and concomitant desires to just give into those would-be frailties, I do try to, well, do. I get out to attend family dinners, catch a movie, gather to watch a ballgame, or plain-old hang with friends; I just don't get to do any of that with the frequency, predictability, or consistency one normally expects — which, come to think of it, makes my life a lot like my WiFi connection. I'm back writing and participating in some online communities (by the time you read this, hopefully including Facebook, at long last) after several years without a computer; the underbelly of that rainbow is that, despite even the muted optimism of the posts referenced above, no period of productivity born of effort or good fortune lasts long enough and they all tease me with inevitably dashed expectations for continued success. And of course, as the birthday snapshot I took with my laptop camera shows, I'm still damned handsome if increasingly white of beard, prominent of widow's peak, and plump of infamously hereditary neck flesh.

The satisfaction that comes from blogging, especially absent other avenues of publication, is together with my stubbornness the impetus for what, fingers crossed, will be a return to regular posts at least for a little while — despite the fact that Blogger has now eliminated the option of continuing to use its older composition window and the new one still acts supremely buggy, to the point where I can only get the old Normal font size or trust that line breaks won't be unpredictably wonky by copying the HTML of older posts, pasting them into new ones, and then writing over the old text.

I've settled on both a WiFi device for the laptop and a new hosting service, though, whose monthly fees will hopefully be paid for by me finally starting to sell some stuff online. And posts will dry up again sooner rather than later, since time and effort spent here is taken directly from prepping the other blogs and projects associated with them; I have enough reviews held over from the summer or perfect for the Halloween season that I'm exercising a variation on Niebuhr's counsel and letting myself back off those other projects to concentrate on as big a last hurrah as possible for Blam's Blog in its current form. When it relocates to its new home on another service, it shouldn't be all that different, although it will probably be at once less busy than it's been at its heights of activity and more consistent in its publication — or, y'know, it won't; as Livingston & Evans wisely wrote:

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera


7 comments:

El Qué said...

It wouldn't have been anticlimactic if I were still in town. -_^ Wocka wocka!

The new pic is indeed damned handsome, Blamsome, but I want to assure everyone, the womenfolk especially, that your eyes are not strangely non-horizontally set like Shannen Doherty's despite them lookin' a mite weird in that photo.

I wish you lots of happy blogging in your sunset years, Mr. Geezer Man.

Arben said...

Yeah, I'm with LK, Blam: The eyes look weird.
And I wish you lots of happy sunsets in your blogging years.

VW: backrasm — Oh, I'm gonna get in trouble for this one. Why do I always get skeevy word verifications?

Joan Crawford said...

Happy Birthday Blam! Apparently dimples are like wine and only improve with age ;)
So...are you going to tell us where to go when this blog is done? Not there, Blam. I mean where we can continue to stalk you.


...or hollow their soul.
Aw, I always appreciate a shout-out.

Stefan Blitz said...

Happy and Healthy, old friend.

I met West and Ward this past weekend.

Now that's old.

poppaphil said...

Happy birthday, Brian. I enjoy reading your blog.

AchingHope said...

Happy Birthday! :D

VW: blect- the feeling of watching the world around you grow old- also, the taste of a moldy tuna fish sandwich

Teebore said...

Hooray! Blam is back!

Happy (belated) Birthday!

As I will be turning (don't shoot me) 30 next year, your musings on age strike close to home for me as I approach a similar (albeit lesser) benchmark. For whatever reasons, those roads less traveled and paths not taken seem more poignant at these "ending in zero" years...

Looking forward to what you have in store for us!