Saturday, April 24, 2010

Turning 40

subtitled "Does this blog make my butt look fat?"

I think I just turned 40. My birthday was last Summer, but I think it's finally hitting me, less like an brick and more like a wave. Anybody who knows me knows I'm interested in music, fitness, and motorcycles. Anybody who REALLY knows me knows I wish I would go see (and play) more live music but never do it, I'm not half as fit as I'd like to be, and I ride mostly to get around now instead of to go fast and far. These sorts of realizations finally piled up on me this month in a new way, the sort of way that occurs once every few years in the middle of Spring cleaning or packing for a move.
This is so embarrassing.

It all started with my butt. A couple years ago, I injured a leg and was off my feet a while, and I lost a lot of muscle mass in my legs and generally lost a lot of weight. Some people gain weight when they're not well. I lost 17 pounds, 11% of my body weight, in one week. So, all my shirts and pants got baggy. I pulled out my "skinny clothes" and shifted the whole closet to the left. After a year of lifting weights, all those clothes are tight and my old "fat clothes" just hang funny. My pants barely reach my shoes, and I'm not suddenly inches taller. Nothing else looks quite like a 40-yr-old man with brand new muscles and white tube socks showing beneath his jeans. "This is all my butt's fault", I told myself.
Stupid butt.

Now I have to go shopping, and I hate shopping for clothes. Bad enough I have to fit my fat butt and short legs, but now I've got this nagging reluctance about the urban hippie thing I've been doing these last few years. I go everywhere on a motorcycle, so I wear riding jeans most every day with an armored jacket. The jacket's pretty harsh on collared shirts and the like, so I haven't worn anything ironed in two years. It's mostly thermals or T's from software companies and toy companies and rock bands. Now my favorite shirts and half my jeans all ride up and stretch 'cause of my fat butt, and I don't have the will to go replace them. It's an odd hesitancy, like a hidden desire to dress... "nice". I think that's the word, anyway.

There are all these cool movies and TV shows with Jet Li and Jason Statham and Adrian Paul and the like where they all have a closet full of the same black outfit and a light sweater. I wish. I've wished I had the guts to do that for 5 years now; my wife, too. It'd be GREAT to trade in two closets, two bureaus, and Lord only knows how many rubbermaid things under the bed for 5 pairs of pants and 10 shirts that all wash together and fit right. I've only known one person who actually wore all black almost every day, and his stuff was a little more military/hunting than urban action star. It still had quite a "look" to it. I wish. I love my powder blue Slinky t-shirt.

The other thing that happened to me was this closet. Oh have mercy, this closet. I'm ashamed to admit that I rent a mini-storage. I started through this closet, making a checklist of stuff to take to storage. Stuff I haven't looked at since the last time I loaded it into a moving truck. The crystal from my wedding. A computer full of computer games that I haven't played in... I don't know, years. They're just sentimental. (The Quake mods might be more sentimental to me than the wedding crystal, but don't tell my wife I said that.) How many toolboxes does a man with no workshop actually NEED?

There's this concept of cleaning house, not just the dwelling but the life. I feel I'm in need of a housecleaning. I'm not pathological, but seeing TV listings for "Hoarding: Buried Alive" on cable does make my skin crawl a little. There's an axiom that anything I didn't wear in the last year, I'm not going to wear again. How much do I care whether I'm at the show in a York Peppermint Patty t-shirt or in something that fits like a glove and doesn't fill up my closet? Do I really need anything in storage that I haven't handled in a year, 3 years? ... 10 years? Does anyone out there want a PC/Windows CD-ROM for Mortal Kombat? The game, not the movie... Before you snicker at me, count how many walls of your place are lined with books and CDs.

I promise to keep this part brief, but this is part of the reason I started using kettlebells and bodyweight exercises. The equipment is minimal and portable, and I only need about 3 45min sessions a week to make continued, long-term gains in strength and fitness. There's this great tag line in the community, "Don't use machines, become one". I love that. I can fit my entire "gym" in a dufflebag, if you can find me a dufflebag that can carry 3 cannonballs without ripping. I could STORE it in a dufflebag. There, I said that. Anyway, it feels like progress, one teensy-little step.

My life needs an enema. One phone with a gym timer, mp3 player, email program and basic camera: check. Effective fitness program with a yoga mat and an iron lump in my free time: check. Closet with so much cardboard the enclosure technically counts as "recyclable": needs work. 16 feet of closet rods with 3 feet of active clothes: needs work. 8 paragraph blog post about streamlining my life... well, just fan-tastic. Thank you very much for snickering.