Fourteen times I've posted a Vent on my birthday or very near it, and usually it's of the Quo vadis? variety: where am I going? And it occurs to me that this affords me an opportunity not open to many Web scribes: the chance to chart my progress, if progress it be, over a quarter of my life. Let's see what comes up:
Vent #30, 1996:
Of course, the hand that feeds me is also the hand that slaps me around, especially given the stresses that pervade today's permanent-5-percent-unemployment job market; I don't feel anyone should apologize for occasionally slapping back. Does this constitute disloyalty? I don't know. I do know, though, that loyalty goes both ways, and if you won't stand beside me, I probably don't want to be seen with you.
Vent #78, 1997:
One of the distinguishing characteristics of our species, not to say one of the more annoying ones, is our awareness of our own mortality. That awareness occasionally drives us to do startling things, like climb mountains or make abrupt career changes or, least inspiring of the lot, assemble Web sites. The notion that it's all downhill from this point is seldom spoken, but it's never all that far from consciousness.
Vent #126, 1998:
Most of us are not destined to do Great Things, and many whose ambitions exceed their capabilities manage to wind up looking exceptionally foolish in the process. This is not the way I'd like to be remembered, assuming I will be remembered at all. While I don't have a problem with thwarted destiny, I have a built-in resistance to looking foolish, which perhaps explains the restricted nature of my social interactions.
Vent #175, 1999:
So this guy says to the doctor, "I'm 45 years old. I don't drink, I don't smoke, and I don't fool around with women. Is there any reason I shouldn't live another 45 years?" And the doctor says, "No reason you shouldn't, but why would you want to?"
Vent #222, 2000:
I'm too old to pull up stakes and start all over again doing something that won't necessarily be any improvement. I also know that vague dissatisfaction with one's lot is something that doesn't remain vague for long, and my tendency to complain, usually loudly and bitterly, is not likely to enhance my prospects.
Vent #270, 2001:
I continue to believe that the most sensible way to avoid criticism is to avoid doing things that deserve criticism. If you're the sort who can read through this and think, "Why, you insufferable so-and-so, if you were working for me I'd fire your ass in a minute," there's at least a measurable chance that someone is already writing about you.
Vent #318, 2002:
Six years ago, I was tossing off vague generalities and trying to pass them off as serious thought. Last year, I was rooting out deep-seated fears and trying to pass them off as serious thought. Except in the purely analytical sense, this does not strike me as an improvement.
Vent #366, 2003:
For roughly twenty years, I've been more or less content to go with the flow, to let the chips fall, to pile up the clichés. Something I'm not sure what has set up a diversion. Something has changed. And perhaps that's my task for the next five years: to figure out exactly what that something may be.
Vent #415, 2004:
I have perhaps fewer anxieties than I used to, but the minor irritations seem as inescapable and as annoying as Ashlee Simpson. On the other hand, when I revisit this page some time in 2009 or thereabouts, I really hope to be able to say "Who the hell was she?"
Vent #462, 2005:
While I'm not sick or anything, I still have plenty of risk factors ready to sneak their way into the proceedings; I continue to have way too much debt, though it's gradually decreasing; and Empty Bed Syndrome still rears its ugly head from time to time. But you know (and if you read this section five or six years ago, believe me, you know), things could be one heck of a lot worse.
Vent #510, 2006:
Six years ago, when I turned forty-seven, I wrote up something called "Taking inventory", and it was utterly depressing. Then again, at the time, I was utterly depressed, perhaps the worst I'd been since 1988, when putting myself out of my misery presented itself as an available option, and I wound up doing a couple of months in the Home for the Bewildered, which I tend to dismiss in casual conversation as "a stint in detox" despite the fact that there was no actual tox involved.
Vent #559, 2007:
By some standards, not necessarily mine, I have accomplished much in this lifetime, and there's nothing wrong with a quarter-hour (whatever the exact timeframe) in the spotlight except for the minor detail that I don't much like the spotlight. For one thing, it's hot. For another, it's unforgiving: the shadows are few, and hiding within them is difficult.
Vent #606, 2008:
[T]hings haven't changed much in the last year: I still have a bad temper, no love life, and too much of a spare tire. I expect these conditions to continue indefinitely, however long that is.
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