Happy Birthday To Me (?)

Before I begin, I would like to make the note that I find that at times this blog can serve as a sort of therapy. It’s a place I can voice my innermost thoughts with no fear how disturbing or depressing they may be, and in that spirit I both thank and apologize. I thank you all who read this for being my ‘therapists’ and I apologize for the same. Of course, not many people actually read this, so it feels like I’m offering these secrets to the wind, which is fine too.
Now, I can start. In about 20 minutes, the clock will tick over to midnight and I will officially begin my fortieth year. Birthdays are usually a time of fun for a lot of people. I always usually looked forward to my birthday. It was a time to party with friends and just be the center of attention for once, even though I normally shun away from that sort of thing, but the reality is we all like having a fuss made over them to some degree.
This year though, I’m not sure how motivated I am to celebrate. Forty feels different somehow. It’s not about the number. I’ve always felt age is a state of mind. This year is different because I’m really taking a good long look at my life and it is scaring me. At my age, most people are ensconced in their careers. They may even be in long term relationships. I’m barely employed as it is now and I’m feeling less optimistic about my writing career. I mean, the books aren’t selling and I have no idea how to change that. This whole new social media and tech marketing thing is like another language to me and if you don’t know how to work it, you’re dead in the water. My screenwriting is going nowhere just as quickly. I just don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to make it. I know how to write. I know how to tell a story, but I don’t know how to sell one and every year that I fail, there’s a crop of younger, smarter writers who are gaining more ground. I’m not even in the game and I already feel like a dinosaur. Thrashing away to achieve recognition in a way that would have been effective twenty years ago, but now I’m too far behind and as hard as I try to figure out how to catch up, I just can’t. I’ve chosen a field where popularity and the ability to sell yourself are crucial and those are two things I’ve never been good at. Why did I think I could make a living doing it? I don’t know. I guess in the beginning I had some simplistic notion that simply writing well would be enough, but I was wrong. And now, at the ripe age of forty I come to this revelation. Don’t mistake. I knew failure in my writing was a likely outcome and I knew I’d have to find a fall back, but even there I fail. I’ve practically lost my job as it is. Right now I’m working from home and I’m sure to be unemployed again by January and there aren’t a lot of companies out there excited about hiring a 40 year old man who has spent more years out of work than employed. Even if I found a job that offered decent pay, I will still be stuck in that job into my eighties if I hope for any kind of living wage in my old age. There’s no retirement in my future. I can barely keep a positive balance in my checking account. Whatever I end up doing now, I will be doing until the day I die.
Of course, I could do any job and be happy if I had the love of a good man. Of course there’s another part of my life that seems doomed as well. I recently visited the home of someone who is in a long term relationship and he had pictures of him and his lover on the walls. There were pictures of friends and vacations and basically, life. I saw a home where two people shared a life and a love. That’s what I want. I want that secure safe place in my life where life’s storms can be weathered, but in order for me to have that, I need to find someone and from my time in the trenches, it’s looking unlikely to happen. So many guys out there just want sex, or they’re already in relationships and are just looking for play buddies. I want to find someone to build something with. I thought I had found that with my most recent ex, but that turned out to be a lie. Now I’m back at the mercy of the madness of the single world.
I’m still living in my apartment. Still driving the same car I’ve had for over 5 years. It just feels like the world is rocketing forward and I’m inching along, barely staying upright. I keep telling myself my time will come, but now I turn 40. When exactly is my time going to get here!? How much longer must I wait? When will my efforts finally count for anything? It’s not like I’m sitting here waiting for something to happen. I’m out there trying to get things done. I’m pushing back and clawing for whatever I can earn, but it all just comes to nothing. Have I been fooling myself? Have I just convinced myself that I’m special and I’m going to be a success against all conventional knowledge? I’ve never been one to beat the odds. I’m always in the majority. The only time I do seem to beat the odds is usually when something bad happens. I recall the time when a tree branch fell and hit my car as I was passing below it. Million to one shot there and cost me a new windshield and left my car horribly dented, which I have not been able to fix.
Maybe I’ve seen too many movies. I keep thinking that after all the bad stuff, something good will happen. I just have to get through the storm and the scales of fate will shift to me instead of against me, but that’s not how life works. For some people, the storm never ends. I’ve seen them waiting at bus stops and trudging along the malls and streets. People clearly beaten down into submission and just grateful that they have managed to carve out some kind of livable situation that keeps them from blowing their brains out. I’m going to be one of them. I’m going to be an old man working at a Target store and living in a one room studio in a bad part of town that I can only barely afford. I’m going to be coming home to a cat, maybe, and struggling to stretch my social security check so that I can make rent. It’s never going to end. I’m going to be one of them. I’ll also probably end up as one of those old drunks at some dive bar who come in at two in the afternoon and drink themselves stupid long into the night. Living off cocktail snacks and change I find on the floor. So desperate for human contact I’m going to foolishly hit on all the guys who come into my vicinity. They’ll smile and be polite about it, but really be disgusted by my attentions. Of course by this time my family will be gone as will most of my friends. I’ll be alone with nothing to my name. I’ll probably die of some old man thing in my sleep and not be discovered for weeks.
Quite a picture, eh? I don’t want to believe it. I try not to believe it, but the way things are going, it’s becoming more of a possibility. It just feels like nothing happens in my life. I dump all this energy and effort into it, but I get nothing back. I put myself out there and for nothing. If I could just curl up and slip into a coma for the next 40 years, I would. It feels like the world wouldn’t notice either way. It sometimes feels like success doesn’t want to be mine. As though it is my fate to lose and fail. I don’t give up because I can’t accept it, but the older I get, the less fight I feel in me. There are people half my age who have accomplished more than I will ever hope to. They’re making movies. They’re writing bestsellers. I’m almost afraid to succeed now because it’s going to be so humiliating for people to know how long it took me to accomplish anything when it came so easily to others. You can’t tell me any author younger than 25 didn’t enjoy some kind of luck.
So, year 40 is getting off to a shaky start. I spend most of my time visualizing how I want my life to be. I see me in a lovely home, with a great career. I just hate this struggling all the time. I’d also like to say one thing about bitching about your age. Something realized earlier today. It’s a no win game. People older than you will give you no sympathy and those younger than you don’t really understand yet. Just saying.
Thanks for the time on the couch. Our time is up for today.

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