The Simple Confusions of Being An Adult

Coolest. Birthday. Card. Ever.

If there’s one thing people generally complain about past around… ohhh… age 28 or so, it’s about getting older.  You want to be older up until you are 20ish since there are certain milestones you will hit along the way that makes things in your life potentially better.  When you are really young, being older means more freedom, getting to stay up later, etc.  When you are 15, being older means 16 and the chance to drive or hitting 17 and getting into R rated movies all by yourself.  20 looks forward to 21 and rolling into a package store like the cock of the walk so you can buy your first (legal) 6 pack of beer.

Then you go through a few years where turning a year older isn’t too big of a deal, despite the lack of super cool achievement moments that age brings along.  Roughly around 28ish, you start thinking about… GASP! … turning 30!  Oh noes!  Not much to look forward to there, right?  That’s just the beginning of the slow, inevitable decline of all your mental and physical faculties, right?

Bah.  Whatever.

If there’s one thing I’ve found is that I would take being my current 38 years and change over my 20’s almost any day of the week.  I think in your teen years, the 20’s look like a golden time of being young enough to have energy to do 1,000,001 things, but old enough to have the means to do them.

I’ve also noticed 2 things that also change with age and I don’t think I ever came to fully appreciate them until hitting my 30’s.

The first is a true concept of what being a man is all about.  I used to spend a fair chunk of time on forums related to weightlifting, strength training and so on and was utterly horrified at how some guys seemed to view being a man.  It was all about machismo, posturing, getting in the face of others and chest pounding like some kind of silverback gorilla.  It got to the point where I began spending less and less time perusing these kinds of forums because it was just so pointless and brain-numbing.

That’s being a man?  Really?  Truly?  The ideas of:  walking with quiet confidence; focusing on inner strength as the path to outer strength; saying what you mean and meaning what you say; acting with respect and integrity… these were all just lost concepts.  There was such a lack of maturity in these views that I could only shake my head and then stop going to these forums all together.

The second thing is the notion of what it means to be “two-faced”.  It’s something I notice people still doing a lot now, actually.  Here’s what I mean: Person A really doesn’t care at all for Person B, but they travel in overlapping social or work circles.  When Person B is not around, Person A doesn’t have great things to say about them, but might not really say that much about them outside of an occasional passing comment about how they don’t care for Person B.  However, when Person B is around, they may chat with them and such in a fairly civil manner.

I’ve seen a lot of people describe that behavior above as two-faced and, truth be told, I probably used to describe it that way at one time.  You know what though?  That’s just being an adult.  There are always going to be people in your life that aren’t your favorite, but that you will have to interact with on a semi-regular or regular basis.  It’s not some momentous stand for your closely-held principles to completely ignore that person entirely or give them attitude when you do deal with them.  That’s just foolishness.  A huge realization of adult life is that you’re not going to have moments of orgasmic joy and utter fun every single moment of your day.  You will have to do things you’re not crazy about and sucking it up to do those things with a decent attitude is a sign that you’re not a punk kid any more.

Now at 38 I get to stare 40 in the eye and I’m sure I will even look back at these years some day, shake my head and think “Wow… I really had no idea, did I?” about something or other.  But for now, I’m just glad I’m here with a little bit of perspective and no small amount of hope for the years to come.

On The Shelf, None Too Happy… But Possibly Maturing

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What you see above is the reason for the title of this post… because I will be up on the shelf for the next few weeks as I finally decided to do the smart/mature/wussy thing and take a little time off from lifting.  Why oh why am I doing such a thing?  Above are the results from my MRI this morning on my neck.  On the left are some of the scans from the profile for my neck and above is the cross-section view.  The two I have my fingers on are shots of the area around my C5 and C6 vertebrae.  It seems I have a delightful double-whammy of bone spurs on my C6 vertebrae (which, oddly enough are not really causing my current issue) and a slight bulge with the disc between C5 and C6 that is narrowing the nerve canal on the left-hand side.

And what does all of that get you… err… me?  Pain, tingling on my left forearm and hand and a loss of strength in my left arm.  Woo-freakin-hoo.

But you know something?  2 things occur to me:

  1. In the grand scheme of things, this is not the end of the world and totally pales in comparison to the kinds of health battles I’ve seen several people close to me have to endure.  I think of those fighting leukemia and getting stem cell transplants and going through seemingly endless liver surgeries.  Me?  My neck has some pain and with steroids, physical therapy, rest and a dose of smarts, I will be just fine.
  2. On the smarts notion… I am a little surprised I am exercising them.  Seriously.  I tend to get irrationally stubborn, at times, with pushing myself through situations where I really shouldn’t.  Somehow, I didn’t do that this time and I’m shutting down my lifting for all of this week and all of next.  I hate it, but I’m doing it.

Maybe this will mean more consistent blogging for a chunk of time… and wouldn’t you, oh favored reader of mine, be just so lucky for that?  Umm.. right?  Maybe?  Ok, take a few to think it over.  The blog will still be here when you get back.  Don’t forget me… I love you.  Umm.. too desperate?  That was too desperate, right?  Damn it…


The Soothing Balm of Nostaliga

Yesterday (and today too, quite frankly) was a completely beautiful day here in the Nutmeg State with bright sunshine, a little blustery and it looks like it is only going to get nicer.  These are the days that, when I was younger, I would look forward taking a trip to one of my favorite places in the world: The Eagle’s Nest.  The Eagle’s Nest was a small little store nestled in Old Avon Village that could only fit about 5 or 6 people inside at any given time and they sold coins and sports cards.  A quick run through Google seems to suggest it still exists in some form or another in Avon, but I know it’s not in the same little building it once occupied as they’ve completely redone that quaint shopping area.

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Ahh, but those Saturdays!  I would take whatever amount of allowance money I had cobbled together and head over with my brother, Jason, and some of our friends.  Those were the days of the rock hard chewing gum that was dusted with enough powdered sugar to inevitably make you choke when you tried chewing more than 2 pieces at one time… which, of course, we always did.  Dumb crap like that is half the fun of being a kid.

Sometime during college is when I really got away from baseball cards and all of that kind of stuff.  I ended up selling several pretty valuable cards (Jordan rookie card from Fleer, anyone?) because I wanted to have a little extra pocket money and I sort of thought of myself as mostly being beyond all that stuff from when I was a kid.  I did, however, keep a lot of the baseball cards I had bought over time.

Yesterday I decided to go to the local hobby store and snap up some baseball cards for myself.  I’m not sure if was a desire to recapture a bit of that feeling of days gone by that will never return again, but off I went anyway.

The first thing I noticed about the entire process is how much different it is in a few key ways.  First, I think a lot of card shops end up catering more to things like the various battle card games out there (like Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, etc.).  In fact, the place I went yesterday (Omni Cards & Comics) mostly had people interested in getting together for some kind of gaming tournament whereas I just needed my baseball fix.

A second difference (and something that began when I was still collecting) was how much more expensive all of this has become.  The box you see in the photo is the 2010 set from Bowman (owned by Topps, the most venerable of all card companies) was $85 for a box of 24 packs of 10 cards.  The crazy thing is the larger box goes for $159.  Why so expensive?  Because a lot of work has been put into creating a more exclusive market for cards.  There are special inserts that show up in maybe 1 in every 1,000 packs and card with actual autographs and even cards that have a swatch of a game worn jersey in them.

All of this is designed to make the cards purposefully a lot more valuable.  I guess this is kind of cool in one sense, but it’s really something that’s meant to make all fo this more investment focused and less on just having the cards to have them, trade them, collect them and so on.

In the end… did my experiment work?  Did I recapture a few moments of youth passed?  Actually, I think I did in some way… but in many ways, I think I just rediscovered something I always liked anyway.  It became less about wishing I was back in a different time in my life and just enjoying the fact that even after all these years, I still like my baseball cards.  Feels good to revel in that nerdom all over again.

The lesson in all of this is that joy can be a fairly simple thing and should never be something that you let pass you by because that which brings the joy is “for kids” or doesn’t fit with some externally driven notion of what is OK to do or enjoy.  So, you like role-playing games?  Do it.  Enjoy the nerdery of a sci-fi convention?  Soak it up, young Jedi.  Maybe enjoy collecting a card or two?  Game on.  Don’t let the outside distractions of what other people tell you is OK take away from that which you enjoy, especially if it’s the kind of thing that someone will say, “Isn’t that just for kids?”

Because you know what?  Kids are good at finding joy.  Maybe we should be paying attention to that a little more often.


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