You know when people say, “I turned 40 a little while back, and it got me thinking…”? and how you just want to smash ’em one in the face?
Well, I turned 40 a little while back, and it’s been f–king with my mind.
I don’t think my only problem is the artificial midlife milestone hanging millstone around my neck, though. And I don’t suppose — much as I admit to being overfond of myself and much as I am wont to declaim while in my cups in a way that would lead you to think that my problems are unique in this world — that I’m alone in this.
I think your mind is probably twisting in the wind, too, dear reader, and there’s cool piss dripping from your boots, too, and that rope is creaking above you too in the coming dark. I hope not, but I guess so. It’s one of the few things we all share; we share the knowledge that we’ll die, and we all fabricate elaborate strategies to face it, that or we turn our faces away from it. We dangle on the gibbets we build out of the decisions we make, until the sun sets on us.
You know the drill: cowboy, steel horse I ride, all that shit.
I used to say to people, people who often regretted asking me whatever innocuous question it might have been that launched me into my rant about death and taxes and the ineluctability of extropy or whatever rocks that evening’s torrent had been bouncing over, I used to say that the biggest guiding principles by which I had lived my life thus far were two-fold. I’d say it just that way, too: “…they’re two-fold…” Maybe I’d throw in a ‘hellshitdamn’ or two for spice. People must have really hated me, sometimes.
Anyway, this hand was that in some geriatric future I’d rather regret something I had done than something I hadn’t, and that other hand was that I always wanted to have as many choices before me as possible, because once the game becomes a rail-shooter, it just isn’t much goddamn fun anymore. Knocking those two rocks together with my two strong hands struck off the sparks that lit the fire in my belly every morning, huzzah!
And both hands, of course, were just heaped with prettyword bullshit. The first was a way to justify living always like a 22-year-old on a tear, and the second was a way to justify the ‘external locus of self-control as a result of childhood bereavement’ I’d self-diagnosed myself with back in university, and sumo’d out of the ring only to watch the f–ker waddle back again, pulling up its diaper and grimacing intently.
I love those old declarations of mine, I do. They still sing to me, sirens luring me limbs akimbo onto the rocks of rye, cocaine, hookers and tropical isles. I deftly navigated those shoals when I was young and clear of eye, but I’m not so sure I’d make it through safe this time. No, I’ve tied myself to the mast, have I, and it’s the first mate who steers the ship these days. She’s immune, you see. And she mostly steadfastly ignores my shouted commands, my entreaties and panting demands to be set free when the siren songs call me again. In this way, she keeps me alive, and I know that my struggles against my bonds are carefully gauged to be almost but not quite violent enough to free myself from them.
And so it goes, as the cliffs seem to rise around us, as we sail onward, me bearded and wildeyed calling for mead and wenches, bound to the mast, her drawn and sympathetic to my madness, but unshaken.
The death of some my convenient lies about myself has not in itself been enough to f–k me up. Barely enough to write about, to be honest, much as I lie about the awe with which I regard my magnificence. There’s got to be more. But I guess I’ll figure that out later. For now, it’s good to be stringing words together again.
I hit post, now, dear lost readers in their thousands, not sure if this is resurrection or coda, but hoping a few diehard outliers of the wonderchicken army are still out there, and when their newsfeed ticks over from that limp and dusty (0) over to an erectile (1), that they’ll put the word out: ‘Wonderchicken returns, brethren and sistren! He returns! Dance dervish, and spill the blood of politicians in tribute and walleyed joy!’.
But having turned my back on the webs and the logs, on the adsense whores and their corporate pimps, having peed in the pool and pooped on the flag, having committed the unpardonable sin of dissing the digerati, I’m probably on the ignore list again.
Ah well.
Update : special reopening offer! Here’s a poultrycast™ of this post, in user-friendly shrinkwrapped mp3 format. One per customer; available for a limited time only. Act now!

Thoughts That, If Not Deep, Are At Least Wide, Uncrappy

Join the conversation! 40 Comments

  1. I knew you couldn’t tear yourself away from us. It’s a crying shame, but we weak addicts love company. Welcome back, you poor ancient bastard. Welcome back.

  2. Yay!
    I too turned 40 this year, but being fucked up enough already, I steadfastly ignored it. I look forward to 42, believing as I do that things’ll sort themselves just nicely by then. And I don’t want to know any different.
    Now, go, write some more before it gets too hard to do.

  3. Wonderchicken returns!

    The Rutgerus Johannes Martinus van Nistelrooij of blogging is back!

  4. I turned 42 a little while back, and it got me thinking. Andrew, don’t count on 42 meaning that things will sort themselves just nicely. I saw some research a few years ago that said that 42 is the age at which we reach our maximum discontent, the age at which we feel most strongly our failure to become astronauts or firefighters or whatever. 42 is rock bottom.
    The good news is that it’s uphill from there. Now *45*, things will sort themselves just nicely by then.
    Welcome back, Wonderchicken!

  5. Some of us have been waiting patentially in the shadows. Welcome back.
    You are late. Some of us have been forty for a while.

  6. I’ve never hit that un-subscribe button despite the long absence. It just wouldn’t be right.

  7. Hey, I’m just here for the buffalo wings. I heard they was serving hot buffalo wings.

    (meet me ’round the back, Shell…)

  9. Either your trackback doohickey is fubar, or mine is. Either way, welcome back!

  10. Welcome back Chris.

  11. Life makes sense again…
    Good to read/hear yer voice, bro!

  12. Welcome back. And welcome to the old-timers’ club. Your walker awaits.

  13. Hell, I’m past 50 and waiting. Catch up already. And welcome back! Damn we missed you.

  14. Oh, someone’s plowed this field before:
    …But at my back I always hear
    Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;
    And yonder all before us lie
    Deserts of vast eternity.
    Thy beauty shall no more be found,
    Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
    My echoing song; then worms shall try
    That long preserv’d virginity,
    And your quaint honour turn to dust,
    And into ashes all my lust.
    The grave’s a fine and private place,
    But none I think do there embrace…
    (the rest here, including the author)

  15. Hey, I checked the log and it said: “Your ping was denied by MT Blacklist. Bummer.”
    Why’d you blacklist me, Stavros? Why? WHYYYY!
    *shakes Shatnerian fist at cold, uncaring sky*

  16. I went to the mountains to stay with friends overnight and just got back — to 75 spam email messages and “ (1)” in my NetNewsWire list of daily reads. “Woo hoo,” I thought to myself, “the Wonderchicken’s back.”
    Just like Keith Fox, I never thought for an instant about hitting that un-subscribe button… it’s so good to see you back and firing on all eight cylinders.

  17. Why’d you blacklist me, Stavros? Why? WHYYYY!
    This I do not know, Senn. Damn technology. I’ve modified the blocked message it gives to tell you what text string it didn’t like, though, for the future.

  18. ..and thanks, y’all, for the welcome back. My cockles are warmed.
    Bet you didn’t even know chickens had cockles!

  19. If Wonderchickens can have cockles, buffalos can have wings.

  20. huzzah! the wonderchicken returneth.


    Atrios is right, Murder by Death does indeed make sweet, sweet music. I realized today that I’m in the music heaven I always wished for. I use YMU to listen to at least four new artists a day (that’s when I’m listening to albums instead of individual s…

  22. I don’t want to know about your cockles!
    Tried the trackback again; log now says: “It didn’t like this, in particular : "_TEXT_".” Spousal unit managed a trackback just fine, so it appears to be just me. Maybe it’s because I have resisted MT upgrades for several versions now.
    Bloody computers.

  23. I apologize for the following question but I simply must ask…who are you? I happened onto this site and love the way you write. I’ll probably be back. To enhance my experience, it would be great to know what everyone else seems to already know. If its a bother, I understand. If its not, cool.

  24. He is wonderchicken, Margaret. That is all. Hear him cluck.
    So, yeah, wot Elaine said — glad to see you back, o fowl one.

  25. The other day I passed the sign saying “39 — next exit,” so I stomped on the accelerator. Way I figure, if I can barrel through the midlife bullshit at top speed, if i have enough big mojo, I might just make that Knievel jump across the chasm.
    Send us tales from the other side, man. I’m right behind ya.
    (and congrats and happy belated)

  26. Great to have you back! I don’t do RSS feeds, so I had to find out by reading wood s lot, but I’m glad I did. And don’t worry, if you’re anything like me you’ll find the milestones a lot easier to take from here on out. Hell, I just had to think for a moment to remember if I was 53 or 54 (it’s the latter, I’m pretty sure). It’s not about rail-shooting, it’s about figuring out who you are and who you’re not. If you basically like yourself, you’re in good shape. And what’s not to like about a wonderchicken?
    Confidential to Margaret: Read the archives. You’ll figure it out.

  27. Man, I remember turning 40. Seems just like yesterday, but it was 4 years ago. Shit, turning 30 seems just like yesterday. My solution to the whole middle-aged nonsense is that I refuse to grow up. No compromise, no surrender – I plan to stay 25 until the day they carry me away in a body bag, still kicking and screaming.
    Welcome back, dude – the world is not the same without your rants. I am not sure if this is because they sound just like I would like to think if I could string words together with your skill, or just because it entertains me to read skillful writing about everyday things. I suspect it may be both.
    Note to margaret: don’t read the archives here unless you have a solid week or so to be entertained and provoked

  28. I’m glad you like my stuff, Margaret (and that goes all the rest of you reprobates, too, of course). Answering the question ‘who are you?’, though, is well beyond my meagre skills, at least at the moment.
    In the (paraphrased) words of Gag Halfrunt: “I’m just this guy, you know?”

  29. The reason time seems to pass more swiftly the older you get is because it does.
    It’s analogous to size – the way you measure things by how big or small you are compared.
    Years are how time you are.
    The bigger you are the smaller they are.
    So ninety sees them flash by like days to a kid.
    It doesn’t stop.
    “Work, For The Night Is Coming!”

  30. Got a mug of Irish coffee for you, stavros. Welcome back.

  31. Nice one starvos! the Net isn’t so boring anymore. Yay!!!

  32. Margaret, only one way to discover who Chris is: read the Full Monty. I don’t know how much is available now, for he’s had larger-than-life hiatuses, but us old-time readers have most of his posts in a special place somewhere between heart and soul [that is, those who have the equipment, I may not qualify :-)]

  33. Back on the Bottle

    On request: “Wonderchicken returns, brethren and sistren! He returns! Dance dervish, and spill the blood of politicians in tribute and walleyed joy!” Seriously, it’s good to have him back, and my sidebar has been appropriately update…

  34. Cosmic forces must be at work. After a very long hiatus from reading anything on the internet except my email, I happened to check some of my old links and lo and behold, stavros decides to write just as I decide to read. There is no one else whose writing makes me feel like I’m rolling along on a katamari of infinite dimensions, with brief moments of flight through greens and browns and sometimes shooting headfirst through soft water and beer.

  35. well, isn’t it just like 2002 around the web again these days, all these old faces climbing out from behind the rocks 🙂
    welcome back, i missed your writing.

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