For reasons I probably don't need to mention, I go into Serious Introspection Mood around this time of year. In an effort to see where I've been, I've pulled up Vents from this date or close to it over the six years this section has been in existence, and excerpted things which might be pertinent.

Vent #30, 1996:

[L]oyalty goes both ways, and if you won't stand beside me, I probably don't want to be seen with you.

Vent #78, 1997:

Popular psychology insists that men of A Certain Age are driven to go forth and seek out, in Tom T. Hall's words, "faster horses, younger women, older whiskey, and more money." I can't see myself doing any of these things, but then I can't be sure if my life is half over, or two-thirds, or ninety-five percent. Somewhere out there is a bullet or a bacterium or a Buick with my name on it, and its scheduling is unclear, to say the least.

Vent #126, 1998:

It goes against my grain to think of this as a milestone — millstone, I think, comes closer to the mark — but the halfway point of any decade seems to have a resonance of its own, whether I want it to or not. When I was twenty-five, I was newly married and not adjusting all that well to it. When I was thirty-five, I was newly divorced and not adjusting all that well to it. Now, at forty-five, where the hell am I?

Vent #175, 1999:

Being both somewhat analytical and somewhat of a smartass, I would assume that if I were having a mid-life crisis at this point, it would indicate that I must be at the midpoint of my existence — as many years to come as I have already seen. It would probably not occur to me, were I dropping dead at 54, that it couldn't really have been a mid-life crisis, since I wasn't twenty-seven at the time. And I can remember times when fifty-four seemed very, very old to me.

Vent #222, 2000:

There's some doubt in my mind whether my expectations are too high or too low, and some further doubt as to whether it makes any difference either way....

It seems to me these days that if I did actually find myself in a position to love someone until the day I die, I would most likely be giving that someone an incentive to wish for my speedy death. At least we'd have that much in common, I suppose.

Vent #274, 2001:

I seem utterly to lack a sense of entitlement. My birthright, so far as I know, is to draw a finite number of breaths, and that's the end of it; anything else that happens during the interim is a matter of chance. I need hardly point out that this sort of stance gets in the way of planning....

[I]n the Real World, I tend to fixate upon those who are completely unavailable, which has the dubious benefit