- 23 april 2002 -
I'm starting to think it might be swell if I kept a journal.
I'm blaming the onset of Spring for my absence. It's a season riddled with all kinds of spores and pollen and hormones and whatnot, and clearly some of the whatnot got lodged in me somewheres and caused constriction of my writing tubes, and that coupled with my forty-fiveness has accounted for what you see here and what you haven't seen here since late March.
Turning forty-five hit me hard. I don't know why. Perhaps it's the simple knowledge that death is closer, but then I've always been more conscious of it than I suppose most folks are. Maybe it's the various prescription medicines -- not their chemical effects upon my body, but just the effect of looking up at the bookshelf here in my office and seeing all those little brown pill bottles lined up next to the PDR, a copy of Zorba The Greek which I borrowed from a friend in high school and have not yet read (and the friend is dead), and a book entitled How We Die by Sherwin Nuland.
Sounds like it's time for a subscription to Highlights Magazine. "Gallant faces life with a cheery outlook. Goofus grumbles about his prostate and brags about his Vespa."
As a plain old birthday, it was good. I received many nice e-mails, and was particularly surprised by a gift from Jill who, in a delightful blend of generosity and apology, sent me a big basket crammed full of cookies and brownies suspended from a Happy Birthday balloon after failing to fork over the overload of baked goods she promised to any takers with a mailing address. Amy gave me a wonderful homemade card featuring The Lakers and Pokemon, and Viv once again displayed overwhelming wonderfulness with kind words in a card of her own.
I'm beginning to believe that, for me, there is no such thing as a mid-life crisis; it's rather more like another adolescence, a sweeter one, and certainly a calmer one. The interior stuff is good. The marriage has never been better, the kid is growing nicely and learning like a sponge these days, the backyard and all its domestic meaning is boffo. But outwardly there are signs of a typical mid-life crisis; I engage in activities now that require protective gear, women seem ever more beautiful, and I have talks about cholesterol and male plumbing with professionals. And a Vespa, Steve? A Vespa?
Perhaps I'm feeling older because my television watching has shrunk to something close to zero. I used to be a friggin' television comedy writer, fer cryin' out loud, and now I hardly ever look at the thing. Maybe it's the lack of cathode ray zone-out that has allowed a flood of personal choices to flow in, and exercising control over a constant rhythm of small decisions about working and what to read and structuring time around actually fruitful enterprises has a way not only of clarifying priorities but of highlighting the proximity and inevitability of death as well.
I don't know, but for now I'm done speculating.
My absence here has also been due to a whirlwind of financial maneuverings. Viv, for whom a spreadsheet is like a six-shooter, a stone tablet, and a cozy blue blankey all rolled into one, has finagled a way to improve various life insurance strategies, sock more cash away, and kick up the funding in the 401k, all while allowing me to pursue a project which, on the surface, seems like the furthest thing from necessity and utility and Good Protestant Thinking. But she can sense the jungle cat in me, the animal who needs the raw meat of new adventure to stay alive and sane and happy. So I am greenlighted for something I would've thought myself antipathetic towards a few short years ago. But age has changed me. I'm hungrier for life's essence. I'm gnawing deeper, getting to the marrow. My tongue has acquired a taste for more daring.
Details about that in a few weeks. But fear not. I'm back to journaling now with more frequency.
My sincerest and deepest sympathies go out to Bob, The Sole Proprietor, at the loss of Mr. Wuss, a cat who had fame beyond most of his species. The loss of pets, and cats and dogs in particular, is my Achilles' Heel. While they can be mischievous and brutal, pets often represent for us the essence of innocence and most certainly give us the balm of companionship. When they go, it tears me apart.
I'll be attending the Festival of Books again at UCLA this weekend. When bookish people teem it's an amazing sight. Imagine tastelessly dressed owls forced to flock. The whole atmosphere is kind of twitchy, with everyone, including myself, thinking way too much. Book signings with mediocre authors and long lines, and book signings with excellent authors and no lines and yearning and boasting and mountains and molehills and books and books and books. At the end of the day all my joints hurt and I'm thirsty and oh god the freeway.
And I can't wait till next year.
"What's Happening Brother" -- Marvin Gaye -- WHAT'S GOING ON
"Your job today tells me nothing of your future -- your use of your leisure today tells me just what your tomorrow will be."
- Robert H. Jackson