Matthew Warner

Mid Life

The other day, I sent a handwritten letter to a friend. I wrote it in cursive, in big, bold strokes. I was proud of it, in a way, because I felt I was being personal. I knew a graphologist would be able to divine the inner workings of my personality from its lines and loops. Maybe even the friend would save it and one day donate it to the future Matthew Warner Museum (you know, that mythical place in the future all writers fantasize about, except they replace the words before “Museum” with their own names). But then I remembered cursive is a dying art.

Oh, yeah. Right.

That’s actually news to me. I add it to the list of Things That Make Me Feel Prematurely Old. My odometer rolls the big 4-0 in a couple months. My nose hairs are going gray. Charlize Theron and that lunatic on this week’s Piers Morgan show are younger than me. For that matter, Piers Morgan ain’t much older than me, either. Barack Obama was about five years younger than me when he became a state senator.

I wake up in the middle of the night to pee. I need to see a chiropractor three or four times a year. I worry about colon polyps. I think about aging parents. I drive conservatively. I save for retirement.

My youngest son isn’t a helpless baby anymore.

I’m not sure what this all means. I’m not supposed to be this old.

This week, I cut my hair down to a half inch. Mortified my hair dresser. First time in my life I’ve strayed from the Elvis thickness of the 1970s. Not because I had to, due to some premature balding, but because I was curious. She said it makes me look younger. My wife was polite. My mother was horrified. As for me, well, I just think it makes my head a little cold.

A little old.

So here I am. A fully grown man, I guess. I’m not sure what that means. I’m writing a novel right now — a novelization of the remake of the famous Plan 9 From Outer Space. It’s going really well. I’m applying all those skills I’ve so painfully honed for the past 20 years. And while I’ll never have the attitude that I have nothing to learn about writing, I am more aware this time than ever before that I don’t have anyone showing me what to do. I’m not in school anymore. I’m just fucking doing it, flying solo. Writing a novel is always an act of faith in oneself, ultimately, and that’s a bit scary.

Kind of like living.