Seven things I no longer give a damn about now that I’m middle aged.

Yes, it’s been eight days. I’ve been busy. The muse has been hard to catch. You know, I got nothin’
But inspiration came from this Huffington Post article in the, um, ‘FIfty’ section (which I’m allowed to read because I’m over 50) which bears the same title as this post. 
No I have not received my AARP card. Somehow, their all-knowing computer missed me. I’ll have to wait a bit to get a discount on my Metamucil. 
Ever have that ‘irregular feeling?’
Anyway, without further adieu (and that’s how it spelled, not ADOO, the same way voila is not spelled WALLA or any other botched French), here’s my seven:

1.    Sucking in my gut – with a few exceptions (military service), I was born fat, have been fat and will stay fat until I die (probably of fat). And I just don’t give a damn anymore. I have hated buying ‘yo-yo dieting’ clothes and keeping clothes that are too large or small for me at that time ‘just in case.’ An entire industry has been built in this country to shame ourselves over our bodies to get us to buy all kinds of horrific foods and exercise club memberships. I’ve done it all and I am tired of it. Yes, I will probably die sooner. But, face it, unless you’re rich, who wants to grow all that old in America? When we value our senior citizens in the same way we value vapid celebrities, then get back to me about living a long life.

Ham on, ham on, ham on whole wheat. . .

2.       Work – after spending a lifetime of worrying about taking the next step up, I’m tired of the climb and all the sacrifices it entails. I’m in a comfortable spot now and am thankful for it. I did everything I wanted to do and it’s done. No, I’m not in a job I love, nor am I using my capabilities to their full potential. But the great health insurance and time off give me the time to enjoy life more outside of work and the peace of mind that goes with steady employment. Let’s face it – most of what we do at work is futile. In the end, is making quarterly sales goals going to make the world a better place? Is it a matter of life or death? (this discounts those in jobs that really deal with life and death like cops and surgeons). Then stop treating it like life or death. Do what you have to do to stay employed if that’s what you want. I’m tired of lifestyle gurus telling me about my deathbed regrets including a lack of job achievement and satisfaction. I believe I wasn’t put on this planet to spend my life chasing the almighty dollar (making others rich) and worrying about adjusting my resume for my gravestone. Work to me now is a means to an end, not a lifestyle and it is liberating.

3.       Admitting my mental illness. Yep, I’m bipolar2, and deal with depression and general anxiety disorder. What does that make me? Human. You can take your zero-sum no defects world and shove it. I’m far more comfortable around people who struggle with problems than I am with those who put up an unbelievable Facebook-perfect front. And working against the stigma of mental illness is as important as anything I have done in my life. This effort pushes back against the forces of darkness who would lock all us ‘defectives’ back in basements and asylums where ‘decent people’ wouldn’t have to deal with them. Fuck that. Also, having a son with autism also raised my awareness level a thousand notches. It also humanized and humbled me. We all have a right to a decent life and respect.

Wait! No! Um, let’s paint the house! Now!

4.       Being cool. I’m going to my 35th year reunion. It took 35 years for me to get beyond feeling lesser in the presence of the cool kids. The cool kids, most of them, grew up and realized that life was not one long photo opportunity. I also listen to classical music and all kinds of music I wouldn’t have been caught dead listening to in my car 30 years ago. And I don’t care.  I’m fat, I deal with mental illness, I sometimes get goofy and act out. It’s my version of normal. I can be three different people in three different days – or hours. Take me or leave me. There is no more liberating feeling than dropping the mantle of being a people pleaser and not worrying about what others will think of you. I realize that all the times my parents embarrassed me growing up was their reaction to being able to let go of this self-consciousness that thwarts authenticity. Be you as hard as it may be sometimes. Like the crew on Mystery Science Theater 3000 used to say, ‘the right people will get it.’

 5.      Death. Of course no one wants to die. But a serious preoccupation with cheating death leads to a lot of obsessive behavior and dashed expectations. Your body will get older. I am finally going gray and not having a fit about it – no Grecian formula for me. Wrinkles appear – spending thousands to fight them and all the other effects of gravity on aging will ultimately result in draining your disposable income in a losing battle. And if you’re doing it to keep your similarly obsessed friends, you need new friends. Sure, it was hard to take for a while, but nobody leaves this world alive and aging is a process everyone must face. It doesn’t mean it’s time to get measured for your casket. The other thing is if you died tomorrow, could you say you have lived enough of a life and been satisfied with it that you could accept death peacefully? I can – now. And with what I see of the future and how our society treats the aged (especially those without means), who wants to be shuffling around a nursing home being treated like a dolt? I have my bucket list and I’m going to start caring more about what I do on my time off than what I do at work. No one ever said on their death bed: ‘I wished I had spent more time at work.’ If they did, I feel very sorry for them. Wait, no I don’t. They were probably type A assholes.

  6.       Politics. I’ve been a Republican, I’ve been a Democrat. Having worked the party game for both sides and actually run for office once (school board), I’m completely over hoping for a political solution to any of our problems. The reason is simple: the human race has not evolved to the point where it can save itself through reason. And that’s OK. Well, it’s not, but what can you do? I know of so many politically oriented people who are mad as Hell – on both sides of the political spectrum – and don’t realize (1) you will never get the world you want and neither will your children and (2) you will take your anger and bitterness to your grave. Who needs it? There will always be the true believers and the ambitious and the out an out psychotic that will seek power and public office and there will always be their followers thinking – this is the guy or gal that will lead us to the great utopia. But it ain’t me babe. I’ve seen and experienced too much to have any hope. Now, I treat it all as it is meant to be treated – as entertainment. After all, in the real world, the people who control the political process don’t give a shit about you – why should you give them your time, money or even vote?

7.       Spending money on stupid shit that makes me happy. I drive a 2015 Mustang. I swing between falling in love with the car and castigating myself for buying something so impractical. I could have spent less on a sensible car with more interior room for less money. But I always wanted a car like this and (see: bucket list) when you get to be my age and have just enough money to swing the deal, something you just gotta say, why not? Now I don’t beat myself up over it (sounds silly doesn’t it). No more driving kidney killing small cars and outdated Buicks. Also: I’ve been carrying around the stuff of my life (ephemera, mostly newspapers) all of my life and now, with my basement, I have created a newseum (perfect for a former journo) where I can display all the historic newspapers I saved from my youth including a whole host of sports and news memorabilia. The basement has a built in bar, couches, a big screen and all the accouterments necessary for a personal sports bar and museum. I’m buying frames, lighted beer signs, old tube radios – all the stuff I love that I couldn’t afford to buy when I was younger and struggling. My wife is the same way. Maybe I’ll get to retire, maybe not, but I’m not going to worry about buying something I like that makes me happy anymore. I spent too many years denying myself what I wanted ‘just in case.’ As Coach George Allen once famously said “the future is now.” It’s time for some self-indulgence.

I feel indulged

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