Monday, December 26, 2011

New Me At Age Forty Three

It's December 26th as I write this. This time of year, a lot of bikers the world over (or at least in the Northern Hemisphere) take the opportunity of winter to rebuild or repaint or otherwise re-do their bikes. My bike is running great, no need for paint, either, and here in Texas we ride year round anyway. However, I'm about to start an even bigger rebuild project. On myself.

First, let me say that I'm opposed to New Year's Resolutions. Everybody makes them; hardly anybody follows through on them. The only New Year's Resolution I ever kept was about fifteen or twenty years ago when my resolution was to never make another New Year's Resolution. I'm still going strong on that one. So, this isn't one of those. However, my birthday is the 27th of December, and honestly, that means more to me than flipping the page on a calendar, anyway. I'm gonna build a new me at age forty three.

It's time for me to trim some excesses in some areas and to build up other areas of my life. I've spent a lot of my life sort of spinning my wheels, wasting time. Not terrible on a Saturday afternoon when you have no plans, but not so good when that Saturday turns into your twenties, then your thirties, then runs into your forties. There are things I keep thinking I'll do “one day”. Well, on the back side of the big 4-0, you start to realize “one day” isn't guaranteed. It's time to put up or shut up.

First up: I'm taking a break from drinking. I've been doing it more lately and it's just become a distraction from other things I want to accomplish. I've also had some instances where I didn't realize just how much I'd had until way too late. I'm 42, not 22; I don't need that. I think I need to reboot and recalibrate that internal gauge that says “Hey dude, you've had enough – back off”. Starting on my birthday, I'm going going a full year totally 100% sober. No alcohol at all. Birthday to birthday. Which, actually, since this is Leap Year, will be like a year and a day, but that's okay. I don't think it's a serious problem, because I don't have to drink. If I find that going dry for a year is a real challenge, then I'll address it as a problem, but I think a simple reboot is all I need. That, and being able to focus on other things.

Next on the list: I recently had my first physical exam since I got out of the Navy. Which was twenty years ago. The only real surprise I got was that there were no major issues. I'm out of shape, which I knew. The doctor said I should probably lose about ten to fifteen pounds, but I've put on thirty since I quit smoking a couple years ago, so that's what I'm going to shoot for. My cholesterol is high, but he said if I start exercising and watch what I eat I should be able to avoid medication. We'll see at the next check up.

I'm always saying I want to start exercising more. Well, now I have my motivation. I need to lose the weight and get the cholesterol down. Also, it would be nice if my back didn't ache 90% of the time. I'd really like to stop making old man noises every time I stand up, too.

I used to read all the damn time. There have been times I had a book I was reading on my lunch breaks at work, a book on my nightstand I'd read before bed, and maybe even a book in the living room that I'd pick up during commercials. I haven't read like that in years. Damn internet. I need to spend less time with “Facebook” and more with “book”.

Which leads to the next point to be trimmed. I'm going to be spending less time on social networking. Facebook is great for keeping in touch with people from all aspects and time periods of my life, but it's also an awful black hole of time. It just sucks me in. I don't think it's a bad thing to spend a few hours on it once in a while, but I'm not going to do it every day anymore. Sadly, this means I'll be stopping a lot of the political and theological debates that I've grown fond of. Those really suck me in, keeping me waiting for someone's rebuttal so that I can retort. I'm not saying I'll never engage in those debates again – they'll just be fewer and farther between. I think I've also been sort of harsh and offensive at times with some of those posts. I'm going to make an effort to soften that a bit. Not that my line of thinking has changed, mind you. I just don't want to alienate anyone. Well, okay – anyone I care about.

Cutting out the social networking will leave me more time for writing. It's funny. For most of my life, I've sort of thought I'd be a writer “one day”. I just always thought it would be fiction. Turns out I don't get much inspiration to write fiction, but I do get these sociopoliticoreligious ideas that beg to be posted to anyone with an internet connection. I'd like to post more often, but I get distracted by Facebook, TV, Jim Beam, etc. If you follow this blog, hopefully you'll have more to read more often now.

I'm going to work on being more conscientious at work, too. For years, I've sort of felt a “me vs them” environment and I've acted accordingly. I feel “they” don't cooperate with me, so I haven't been very cooperative with “them”. It affects my attitude, and I wind up just adding to the negative atmosphere. It's really gotten me nowhere. What I need to do is to accept the situation as something I can't change, and change what I can: my attitude and my reactions. If I can't change them, and I can't really fight them, maybe it's time to rise above them – time to be the better man. It is what it is. Deal with it. Right?

While I work on cleaning up a lot of this mental clutter, I'll take a stab at the physical clutter, too. It's not that I'm a hoarder, and I'm not dirty. I am, however, very sloppy and messy. Time for me to grow the hell up and deal with it.

I've already begun working on my fiscal fitness. My credit was really really bad. Terrible. But I've had a loan on my bike for four years, had a credit card for about six or so. My name is on the lease here. My credit's looking up. On a whim, I applied for a Sears card a few months ago. Holy crap, they approved me! I remember years and years ago, Sears was really picky about who they approved, so I figured I must have done some good credit repair. Then, a couple months ago, I got an offer for a new credit card, with 0% interest on purchases
and balance transfers for a year, after which the rate would be 14.99%. Well, hell, my bike loan was already 14.75%, and the credit card was 23% (thanks to a quick rate hike before some new law took effect in 2009). So, I'd be better off after the year was up either way. I applied, and got approved, and for what I considered an astronomical credit limit! I moved my bike loan and my old credit card balances to the new card. So, now, the bike is technically paid off, and I canceled the old card, because it also charged an annual fee. If I buckle down, I can be virtually debt free in a year's time! That'll be a new feeling for me – it's been so long, I can't even remember the last time I wasn't in debt.

Finally, I have a tendency to be depressed or angry when things don't go so much in my favor. I hide it in public, but it's there, beneath the surface. I've heard throughout my life, but I'm starting to believe it more lately, that your thoughts and words can shape your attitude and reactions. I'm going to work on being more positive, and try to guide my thoughts in a better, more productive direction.

So, there we go. Self Improvement, HandGrenades and Horseshoes style.


  1. My brother...

    At 44, I will tell you there is no lies in what you have written here.

    The drinking: I quit for 100 days just to say I did. Nothing really changed.

    The exercise: I did that, too.

    The sad fact is the human body is extremely resilient.

    About being depressed or angry:

    let me fucking know when you have that figured out!

  2. kewl, well said, here's wishing you the best of luck on these commendable goals, and keep a list of places/things/people where you can vent, it's helpful

  3. Mark: You do the exercise regularly. I haven't seriously exercised in a long time. I've grown weak and soft. I'm fat and skinny at the same time. The alcohol abstinence is like I said: avoiding a distraction and making sure it's not a problem. As for depression/anger; well, they'll always be there to some degree - they're part of the human experience. I just want to stop letting them take over at inappropriate times and places.

    Jerry: Thanks for the encouraging words.