Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Next Saturday is my birthday. My wife gives me a hard time over just how much I obsess over my age (which is to say, only slightly less than I do my weight) But I'm actually not sweating it that much this time out. I mean, relative to the ambivalent feelings I've had towards it in the past. I'm not as worried at, say, 33 and 345 days about turning 34 as I was on my 28th birthday about turning 30. I have a good job, a great family, and I have a couple of trips planned for the year... one out of the country (travel being one of those holy grails for the aging crypster, one barely sipped from in my 20's)

That said, however, I am now "In my 30's". Not "almost 30", where it's charming to pine like a "Must See TV" character about "what to do with my life?". Not "just turned 30", where all your friends get cutesy-poo and tease you about getting older. No, I am "In My 30's"... a grown man; and as such, I'm starting to behave like the person I want to be. It occurred to me, upon waking a week or so ago, how great it would be if I awoke on my birthday in the best health of my life. What if I lost those last lingering 5 lbs? What if I looked in the mirror and could see just a little bit more definition around my stomach, not Marky Mark "YO, boyeeeee, feel the vibration!" style, but just enough that my pants fit just a little bit looser?

What that means is, no more sneaking smokes from co-workers (as I've been known to do. Occasionally). It means riding my bike to work when I can (no problem there, my cruiser is my zen). It means knocking off the sweets (check). It means jumping rope and lifting weights a little more diligently (let's go!).

And then there's coffee. The Stuff. Though a diuretic, with some healthy benefits all it's own (in addition to all the other lovely things I can about it)- coffee, in excess, absolutely ravages the metabolism and adrenal system. In a fit of righteousness last week I promised myself that I'd detox for a couple of weeks, until my birthday, giving my body an opportunity to calibrate. Oh, I knew I'd start up again, but not until I'd given my nervous system a chance to... well... not be so nervous.

I made it four days.

Coffee is my last remaining vice, the one thing that I do for myself, whether the news says it's good for me this week or not. And let's face it... there's a lot worse vices out there.

I tried drinking green tea, but I just can't get behind that. I know that the stuff is supposed to help us achieve enlightenment (TM), and is thusly crammed into a strange array of products, and packaged w/ pictures of wizened men on mountain tops prepared to answer our most profound questions.

But try as I might to visualize myself as the 21st Century post-post modern sensitive Tai Chi master, it just didn't take. Yeah, yeah, green tea has caffeine. And "the patch" has nicotine. It just ain't the same, people.

But in the end, it's not just the caffeine. The ritual of going to a different shop every morning; the music, the mish mash of people from different walks of life, the awkward attempts at innocent flirtation w/ the girls behind the counter (just, you know, to keep in practice) all stimulate my brain nearly as much as the caffeine does. If this is "addiction", so is when my grandmother takes communion.

Hmmm. Maybe that means I've got some of the old spiritual awakening coming my way after all.

But I'd rather just have my coffee.


CampbellKidzmom said...

you deserve at least one vice......drink up old man!

Anonymous said...

Just keep a collection of links to all of the GREAT studies on the benefits of coffee... and ignore the others :-)

Amber said...

Well, if you're still drinking coffee when you visit St. Louis you should come to the cafe I'm working at now, I'll make you a nice cup.

totalvo said...

I think it is ok to have one vice... I cannot drink coffee , I have to drink tea, black or green, my body just can't take it.. If I even have one cup I am up all night tossing and turning. And on the subject of getting older, I have just started an intesive mens study, like womens study, but if you mention you are studying it to a feminist you get your balls in a vice from the nazi. What I have found thus far is this, we as men as we get older we do feel more and more pressure, when we were younger we had so many things that we wanted to accomplish and be, well lets face it if you hav'nt atleast gotten into the field you want by your mid-thirties, your chances of being at the top of it by the time you are 40 are slim. So many men have to re-think their lives, figure out what accomplisments they really made and recon with the ones they did not, or risk becoming some 40 year old man chasing the 18 year old girl and looking like a fool dressing like a twenty-somthing trying to still play the role that you should have transistioned out of. You have a great healthy attitude, Since you and I met you have made so many wonderful accomplishments, your children being at the top of that and partying with manny from the stone roses somewhere in the top ten. I have had to alot of this "re-thinking" of my own life, I am 36 this year. i am working hard on my education, making sure I follow through with what I start, exercise daily, eat right, treat my wife right, and be the man that I have always wanted to be.

This is where the pissed off feminism comes in, I have nothing against womens rights ( my mother is a woman who has worked her self to the bone since she was 14 years old) it sucks for women in general, but for men, those of our generation, much of our own ID is tied into the notion of how to be a good man through the lens of feminism. I remember as a kid when in Jr.High they had a day called TAKE YOUR DAUGHTERS TO WORK DAY.. it was always talk about how girls could do anything that they wanted, so much more encouragement for the girls,while the boys were encouraged to play sports, not fight, "well shit we know you are good and math and science you moron's with dangling things between your legs have been dominating the world for eons, lets really encouage the girls to upend that" so many of the myths of what it means to be a man where shoved down my thoart, things like " every man is a potential rapist" " all men are violent" " all men lack an understanding of the oppresion that women face"

I guess I want to find this out the next few months, what is a man ? what does it mean to be man ? I know this for certain now that I am 36, it is not a 4 letter word.

caffeinator_x said...

Amber-congrats! I was gonna ask whether that came through. Do they have a website? You know, one of the original ideas for this blog was to have a 'Coffeecrush of the Week', but - fearful I'll come across like a perv - I've always been too chick'nshit to ask the baristas at the places I go if I can display pics of them on on the job along w/ a short profile... you game?

Peter - yeah, being a guy w/ life- long body image issues (something generally assoc. w/ women), I know how you feel sometimes. And unfortunately, it seems like the only options are either to watch football, or join a drum circle.

On a side note... I don't know how your grandfather is doing, but you should ask him for the truth about the elevator "pacifier button".

If what I've heard is true, we really are living in the matrix.

Amber said...

I want to know about this pacifier button now. What on earth are you talking about?
Yeah, I started the cafe on Monday. I'm certainly game, in fact some of the baristas that actually kept inticing me to go back are much more worthy of a picture. Sadly, I'm not sure that I wouldn't coming off seeming like a pervert taking pictures of them making my oh-so-perfect cup of joe. I'll have someone take mine for you.
The website is
but they are still working on the website, nothing really there yet...
My boyfriend will be 36 in May, I tease him about being old, but he seems to take a certain pleasure in knowing that I'm 28 and am going through much more of a "growing up" identity crisis, is there some wisdom that truly comes with age? I'm still waiting.
Totalvo - I think it's great that you're researching the Man thing, I've always been turned off by this pre-packaged-liberated-woman-who-just-wants-to be-a-man thing. I hope you end up being able to enlighten us. I read an articl a few months ago about a boy in highschool that was suing his school for discriminating against boys, for the exact reasons you listed.

caffeinator_x said...

Peter's grandfather was a career elevator repair man. I read in a book last night that those "close door" buttons in elevators are just a pressure valve for people who are to impatient to wait for the door to close on it's own, but the button doesn't actually do anything; it's like a real time-space red herring to make people feel that they have more control of the world.

There's a link to my email on my profile... would you mind sending me one for you, I'm gonna come up w/ some ?'s to ask you for your "feature"

Amber said...

hey, I sent you an email, it may show up as coming from Artmagick, but it has my email in it. If you don't get it let me know.

locomocos said...

what is it about being 28 that makes you stress out about being 30 in 2 years? what is it about that age that makes you think, "Shit, i gotta figure this crap out by 30, or i'm gonna suck for LIFE!"

NPR does a series of interviews called Take Two: Life Changes all about people changing their careers late in life, and when i listen to them, i don't feel like i'm at the end of the line. i don't feel like i 'have to have it all figured out' by ANY age. i just gotta do what makes me happy. i just gotta do what i gotta do.
and trust me, i have TONS of vices...

locomocos said...

i wanna try those kit kats, cause how could they make kit kats taste bad?

they'd probably taste even better with that vodka....

ahh...i just named two of my vices!