Regular readers of The Vent, if they've been here long enough, have undoubtedly noticed the uptick in the mood around here: while I'm not exactly delirious with joy, I'm not suicidal either.

And I'm not saying that just for rhetorical effect, either:

Poor old George Bailey. Everything was going wrong, and what's more, it was going wrong in tedious old Bedford Falls, a place he'd never been able to escape. Would life have been better if he'd never been born? But you know the story. A number of people who also know the story take some perverse pride in reminding me of it, as though I were about to throw myself off a bridge or something. And maybe someday I will. But in no wise am I persuaded that the world would be a better place without me; in fact, I suspect it would never know I was gone. My two children, of course, would never have come into existence, but the rest of creation is largely untouched by my presence and would be mostly unmoved by my absence.

Of course, when offing oneself is actually on the table as an option, it tends to obscure anything else that might be in the general vicinity: it's a hole as black as the emotions it reveals. But just about everything I wrote in that general time period — roughly, mid-2001 to early 2003 — is suffused with that sort of self-obsessed melancholy, and while some of the writing is good, or at least readable — for some inscrutable reason, I've always believed that I do my most creative work when I'm closest to the breaking point — most of the motivations behind it are horrible and then some.

So where does the transition from Miserable Failure to Joe Average occur?

I think it kicks in right after moving into the new house, judging by this:

[L]ast weekend, I was crawling in second gear (when it wasn't first gear) through the usual gridlock on May south of Grand, traffic which is both more complicated and less comprehensible than the stuff I was used to enduring on the east side. ("Comprehensible"? Yes, really. There are at least two points along the grid where the eastbound cross street and the westbound cross street have different names, though the intersection looks perfectly normal otherwise.) About the time I crossed 50th, I realized that I hadn't complained even once during the congestion. Evidently, I concluded, this is where I'm supposed to be.

I belong, dammit. I am home.

And there may be a purely chronological, or numerological, or whatever, consideration as well. The day I closed on the house was the day after my fiftieth birthday. By all accounts — by all my accounts, anyway — my forties sucked rocks. My fifties would almost have to be an improvement.

So far, they are.

The Vent

#449
14 August 2005

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