Guys, I totally recommend being an old white man if you can find a way to do it. Because I have been walking around looking like this since October and no one has said shit to me about it the whole entire time:
I tend to grow a full beard between October and March or April every year, right? It’s cold outside, Goddammit, and I’m already losing enough heat through my bald-ass head. This year for some reason I decided to throw any caution about, like, basic grooming completely to the wind and just let that bastard grow out however it wanted to. I kept my upper lip somewhat trimmed because otherwise it gets in my mouth when I’m trying to eat, but other than that? You do you, beard. I’m not getting in the way.
(And, okay, I hadn’t showered or really done much of anything when I took that. I usually don’t look that bad. But still.)
(This is utterly male privilege, by the way. I know nothing about grooming at all, despite having had some sort of beard for all but maybe two weeks since I went to college. I just let the shit completely go. And no one said boo the entire time. Let a woman go two days without brushing her hair and try to show up at work, I dare you.)
There is also the variant I call the Full Pappy. This is the Full Pappy:
To achieve the proper Full Pappy, you take your bushy-ass unkempt-ass beard and brush it against the grain for a couple of minutes until it looks even more ridiculous. Now, I never went out of the house looking like this, but still.
Anyway. It’s mid-March and the beard is starting to get annoying when I’m trying to sleep (that’s a thing!) so it was time for it to go. So now, because, again: white dude, I look like this:
I was in the bathroom killing off my cheeks and trying to figure out how in the fuck I wanted to shape this raggedy monster and it suddenly occured to me that I really like the feeling of the extended length on my chin, as I am an inverterate, unapologetic beard-stroker, and so I just stopped shearing the sides of the damn thing at a 45 degree angle and left all the length. So now I maybe look a little younger and a touch more in control of my face but I also look like I should be wearing a jean vest covered in patches and carrying some sort of flag.
I dunno. We’ll give it a couple of days and see if I decide to trim it back to something civilized or if it’s gonna be halfway to my nipples by summertime.
If we were having coffee, it’s pretty likely that my inner misanthrope (who is not always as “inner” as he should be, let’s be honest here) would be on full display. This has been a flatulent, flabby nothing of a week for me, and I’ve either been lazy as hell after an extremely busy Thanksgiving week and Black Friday weekend or showing symptoms of clinical depression or very possibly both. There’s been a panic attack or two, and oh, I managed to get turned down for like seven different jobs this week. One job turned me down twice! One of the two “nope, not you” emails specifically referenced that they were looking for candidates who more closely fit the job requirements.
The job: mortgage closing agent. The requirements: no experience, associate’s degree. I am deep into a trap here, kids; I am not (on paper) qualified to do anything other than teach, despite being a versatile motherfucker with a ton of different skills who would be perfectly cromulent at a wide variety of different jobs. So most jobs that are roughly equivalent to my current level of responsibility and pay require years of experience doing shit that I know how to do and I am capable of doing but do not have because I’ve been teaching instead. For other jobs, they look at my resume and see someone who is clearly pushing forty if not there already and highly educated to boot (I have two Master’s degrees) and refuse to even talk to me because they assume, hell, I don’t know what they assume, but I’m unclear on the reason why someone would think I couldn’t do a job that asks for no experience and an associate’s degree. The pay was even good! What the hell?
So, yeah. I’m at the point where I really need someone I know to go “hire this guy.” The problem is everyone I know in town is a teacher, and I love y’all but teaching jobs is not what I need right now. I did have one guy recommend me to his boss, and I applied for an open job, and he emailed me about salary requirements, but upon seeing what he was offering and realizing that there was absolutely no way I was going to make it through an interview where I’d need to pretend to be enthusiastic about training people to use insurance software we sort of both mutually declined to interview.
Which is probably desperately stupid on my part, because broke. But that really was a job that I would be likely to flee at the earliest opportunity.
And I haven’t figured out how I get through the part of the job-search process where they contact my current employer and he says “Oh, that guy? We forgot he existed, he hasn’t been at work since September.” And, believe me, I had a couple reminders this week about why.
I might change the conversation to beards after a while. I’m growing my winter beard in at the moment, and it entertains me how every time I shave a beard off the next one grows in different. This one– also something that won’t help me during a job interview, I suspect– is coming in Full Hobo, and my current look is not one that’s going to make “no, he’s not diagnosable with depression at all” be a thing people say about me.
It actually looks a lot cleaner than it is in that photo. I’d get the camera closer but then WordPress would probably shut the blog down for obscenity and this is really my only lifeline at the moment. I can’t pull off that mid-twenties pretty guy 5 o’clock shadow look, so my only hope is to let it grow until it’s long enough to not look shabby, and we are in Utter Shabby at the moment.
After all that fun shit if you were still bothering to sit near me I might start discussing stories. I had this weird half-hallucinatory falling asleep process last night– not drug-induced, I promise; this was created by comfy— and I came up with like a dozen new stories to write, several of which I still remember and have dutifully dumped into my Loose Ideas folder in Wunderlist. Other than the #FridayFictioneers piece I got no fiction of any kind written last week, and I’ve legitimately got more on my plate than I can handle at the moment, so it was kind of weird that my brain spent a couple hours tossing “This! And this! And THIS!” at me. Maybe, brain, when I’m sitting in front of a computer websurfing forhours and pretending to write, you let me work on one of those several stories?
Crazy. I know.
No one’s ever having coffee with me again, are they?
Also: I love you guys, but do me a favor and refrain from trying to cheer me up/offering messages of support in comments. My brain is weird. Venting about this shit on my blog is how I deal with it, and heartfelt “It’s going to get better, we promise!” types of messages, for some reason, frequently somehow actually make the depression and anxiety worse, for reasons that are not at all clear to me. Make fun of me. Yell at me for being whiny. Believe it or not, the way my brain works, that’ll actually be BETTER.
Oh, and if you happen to be in northern Indiana and need an employee, maybe tell me that too.
The last time I bought cartridges, I labeled the little plastic things they come in. I bought a 12-pack of cartridges on July 23rd of last year. It cost me roughly $40 at Meijer; I note that I can get them for about $35 from Amazon if I wish.
I just yesterday loaded the last cartridge into my razor. It will last at least three or four weeks.
I shave my head every three or four days and my face at least five or six days a week. I will admit that I have a vandyke all the time and had a full beard for part of last year, but again: I shave my head. Nothing chews up a cartridge razor like shaving your head, guys. If I was just shaving my face every day the cartridges would have lasted longer.
This means that that $40 got me well over a year of comfortable shaves. That’s about nine cents a day, depending on how long this last cartridge lasts.
I don’t want to hear any more about my goddamn five-blade razors, thank you very much.
TL;DR version: I’m back, baby, and I’m so sorry; I don’t know why I ever quit you. I must been crazy when we broke up.
As of today– as of five minutes ago, in fact– I give up. I am going back to the Gillette Fusion, because goddammit it’s the best razor in the universe and I don’t care what anyone else anywhere has to say about it any more.
Let’s talk shaving. Despite the author picture floating around that has me with a smarmy-ass half-grin on my face and a full beard, I have sported a vandyke for probably 97% of my life since first deciding it was okay to see what facial hair looked like early in college. I’ve shaved my beard completely off twice; both were terrible mistakes and I will never do it again. I’ve grown a full beard twice and that I probably will do again at some point, but I will never again be without hair on my chin barring some sort of chemotherapy. And for the last… oh, thirteen years? I have at least irregularly shaved my head as well. I’ve been trying to be consistent about it for the last two or three years and do it every couple of days.
Here is the problem, and the only problem, with the Gillette Fusion: the blades are expensive as hell. A four-pack can run $12 to $16 depending on where you get them. Now, a blade lasts three or four weeks if you take care of it, so that’ll last you a bit, but that’s still a good hit for shaving. A few months ago I got tricked into trying the Dorco Pace six-blade razor, lured mostly by astonishingly low prices for the cartridges on Amazon.
You see that picture up there? It’s a terrible lie, and the person who put it together should feel bad about themselves, especially since they angled their picture perfectly to prove their own point wrong. See how you can see through the spaces between the blades? And see how there’s only the one little strip in the middle where there’s plastic behind the blades and not open air? That makes the razor exceptionally easy to clean, because the little hair bits have somewhere to go. It is that, in fact, and not the sharpness or quantity of blades, that makes the Gillette Fusion such a good razor. I can go days without shaving my head and be done quickly with the Fusion precisely because it’s so easy to clean. This isn’t my opinion; that picture is objectively wrong and the person who made it has never used a Fusion.
The Dorco Pace razors? I wasn’t able to find as immediately useful a picture, but take a look at this one, which shows you the back of the razor. Look at all the plastic. That huge white chunk in the middle– and the fact that the cartridge attaches to the handle in the middle and not on the sides like the Fusion does– means that the Pace is ridiculously hard to keep clean. Those little gaps on the side aren’t enough to get the hair out, and the middle of the razor becomes, yes, clogged and useless incredibly quickly, meaning that you a) get a shitty shave and b) go through cartridges really, really fast. I went through ten Pace cartridges in less time than a four-pack for the Fusion; so much for saving money.
I recently took the plunge and ordered a safety razor; you may recall a few posts about it. Short version; this post is already 600 words long: I can’t make it work, and as of today I give up. Using a safety razor just has too damn many steps for me, a fact that I was aware of when I ordered it and decided to ignore in favor of a new experience. It is also flatly impossible for me to shave my head with one of those things; it may be that additional experience would make that process easier but as of right now I’m unwilling to invest the effort.
Then I tried the new Fusion Proglide, with the little ball on it? That was interesting. The Proglide appears to be a better handle but I’m having trouble getting the shaving results I want with it– I think because the cartridges they sell with it are shorter (i.e., the blades are packed closer together) and therefore get clogged quicker (there’s that cleaning thing again) and don’t work as well, at least for me, on shaving my head. The awesome thing about Gillette razors is that all of their blades work with all of their handles. I like the ball aspect; I’m going to buy some Fusion cartridges today and see how they work out with the Proglide handle. Hopefully that will provide better functionality than the straight Fusion solution I had several months ago before I decided to be an idiot and start experimenting with shit that already worked.
The boy is taking a nap and I’ve unofficially determined that Creating Fiction is Not Happening Today. I just, and by “just” I mean five minutes ago, told my wife that I was going to go lie down in the bedroom for a while. We’ve got a date night tonight– we’re going to have dinner and then go see Godzilla, which is awesome, because a) Godzilla and b) it’ll give me two hours in which I probably won’t be obsessively monitoring book sales on Amazon like an asshole.
Anyway, yeah. Five minutes. Where am I? Here, in the office, typing nonsense on a screen instead of reading and catching a catnap like a sensible person. It may be time to abandon the novel I’m reading; anytime it takes me a week to get fifty pages into something it may be a sign that I’m not interested. But I have friends who love the series, so… yeah.
I have developed a fascination over the last few days with safety razors. This is not entirely a new phenomenon; it’s happened before, and I’ve managed to fight it off each time, but I don’t recall it striking me with the intensity that it has this time. I can’t allow myself to become someone who shaves with a non-cartridge razor. I am too clumsy to be waving sharp things around my face and I also have evolved my morning routine for maximum efficiency and speed, and taking fifteen minutes to carefully lather and shave and then clean everything up (without slicing my face to ribbons, because have I mentioned you can slice your face to ribbons with these things if you fuck up with them?) just doesn’t sound like something I’m really capable of doing. Plus? Expensive. It turns out that this has become an impressively complicated niche market, and the tools that the big boys say are necessary for a genuine safety razor shave run pricey at first. Of course, once you get set up you’re spending $.10 on razors for the rest of your life, so you catch up quick on the ridiculous price of cartridge razors, but then you cut your throat open and die when someone drops something heavy near you and startles you while you’re shaving.
(Also, my god, the complexity: what kind of razor? How long should the handle be? Did you know that razors are rated by “aggressiveness”? Soap or cream, and don’t you dare use shaving cream out of a can like a philistine. There are three thousand kinds of blades, some of which are considered far too sharp to be used by newbies. Should your brush be made of boar hair or badger? (Yes, boar and badger are the choices.) If badger, which of the four separate grades of badger hair would you like/can you afford? You know that your choice of boar or badger should probably correlate with the shaving soap/shaving cream dilemma, right? Aftershave? How much glycerine should be in your aftershave? Will you be buying a stand for your razor and your brush, or just leaving them on the countertop like a loser so that your son can grab them and circumcise himself? And are you prepared for just how ridiculously expensive stands can be? Would you like a referral to Pinterest, where they show you how to make one from a wire coat hanger? Yours won’t look like that, though.)
Here’s how I shave: in the shower, with water. The thought of shaving my face with a blade is scary enough; how the shit am I gonna handle shaving my scalp? With magic, apparently, or just by continuing to buy cartridges until I’m good enough to try the double-edge on my head. Ever cut your scalp while shaving, by the way? It bleeds like a motherfucker.
Oh, and I’ve determined to a fair degree of certainty that there are no stores anywhere anymore where I can actually buy any of this shit, so if I’m getting anything, I have to order it from Amazon sight unseen– which, man, is just my favorite thing– and then sit through a week of buyer’s remorse while I wait for everything to show up.