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Five Things Nobody Told Me About the Aging Process

Decades worth of stand up comedians have taught me a few things about getting older. You get fat. Your hair migrates from the top of your head to your back to your ass. That grunting noise you make when you stand up. I’m only 32 – hardly on my way to the grave yet – but already I feel like there are things happening to me as part of the aging process that no one warned me about.

5) You become reverse Wolverine

Wolverine from X-Men’s signature power is for superficial wounds to heal completely in a matter of seconds (also, retractable claws for some reason). It’s a well known fact that a person’s ability to heal from injuries is greatest in youth, and that process slows down as you age. But as I’ve gotten older, I’m shocked at how many petty injuries just seem to take FOREVER to heal – and here’s the kicker – some don’t seem to heal at all.

A couple months ago I hurt my shoulder doing bench presses the wrong way. I pull muscles at the gym all the time; I figured I’d lay off the heavy lifting for a couple weeks and everything would be fine and dandy. Next time I got on the bench, the pain was still there. And it’s still there today, and I’ve had to completely abandon certain exercises because of it. I haven’t been to a doctor but I wouldn’t be surprised if surgery is needed to fix it.

When exactly did my body’s healing process turn off “heal all injuries” mode? And how come little scrapes on my arms that scab over take several weeks to totally heal instead of the couple of days I remember?

4) Night time is sleepy time only

This one isn’t necessarily biological, and it’s also sort of a no-brainer, but I’m mentioning it because it’s something I didn’t expect to happen to me this early. My ability to stay awake into the wee hours of the morning and sleep in till the afternoon is pretty much completely shot.

It’s all work’s fault. As most people gain more work experience they tend to wind up in jobs that have consistent, predictable daytime schedules instead of the erratic, later shifts of retail and food service jobs. After a few years of working a 9-5 (which is, in reality, more often an 8-5 or 7-4 kind of thing), your body adapts to that sleeping schedule and the two weekend days aren’t enough to alter it. So no matter what you do to compensate, your body’s internal wiring is doing everything in its power to make your eyelids start to get heavy around 9 or 10pm, and you can bet you’re gonna be waking up roughly around when your alarm clock is normally set, even if you managed to stay up late into the night.

This does not bode well for partying. Alcohol acts like an industrial sedative to me as it is; when I have to contend with a sleep clock that’s been honed to my work schedule for the last 10 years, I’m fighting an uphill battle.

3) Your skin gets weird

It’s bullshit that you have to spend so many of your most vulnerable, insecure years battling with crappy skin. But once you pass adolescence, and the acne thing is mostly under control (although never entirely), it should be smooth sailing right?

Wrong! You get to experience all new skin adventures! Have freckly skin? Get ready to develop new, larger skin spots out of nowhere. Oily skin? Hope you’re stocked up on lotion because it’ll fluctuate between oily and painfully dry as the seasons change! And why are there now purple rings around my eyes?

And there’s more. Skin cancer. Random dry spots. Random red spots. Cysts that spring up out of nowhere and never go away. It’s like your skin is rejecting your body. At this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if I start to look like Immortan Joe at the beginning of Mad Max Fury Road.

2) Your face changes

I always thought it was funny in movies when a character was portrayed as a child and as a young adult, they’d use two actors who shared almost no resemblance, and we all accepted it because we assume our looks change drastically from youth to adulthood. But look at Jake Lloyd, who played 10 year old Anakin Skywalker in Episode 1, today. He looks… pretty much like a big version of that kid, not like Hayden Christiansen. Yet, if an adult character is to age another 15 or 20 years, the approach is usually to use the same actor and add a couple of gray streaks in the hair and a wrinkle or two.

But the reality is, the way your real face changes in adulthood is nearly as drastic as how it changes in youth (excepting the Tom Cruises of the world). I liked my face at 20. I went through life confident that the face cameras and other people saw was the same as the one I saw in the mirror. Today, that’s not as true. When I look in the mirror I see the face I’m used to, but for some reason when I see photographs, I notice all the changes. The jawline seen from the front is no longer angular, but a smooth arc from ear to chin to ear. The eye sockets are sunken. The forehead protrudes. My face overall is just longer than I remember.

This isn’t a body dysmorphia thing. I don’t think I’m the Elephant Man or anything. But I used to think that once I was fully grown the general structure of my face was pretty much set, and all that would change was the skin and hair on top. Imagine the surprise!

1) Time becomes your enemy

This is the one I really wish somebody had warned me about. Perhaps someone did, and I didn’t listen, or forgot. But for every year you age, your own perception of time speeds up. This is likely a combination of being more busy in general the older you get (time tends to fly when you’re busy), having fewer novel experiences, and simply getting used to the length of hours, days, and years. Knowing the reason it happens doesn’t make it any less terrifying.

The thing that usually reminds me of this eternal terror is when I start considering how long ago the pop cultural landmarks I remember happened. I saw The Dark Knight in theaters 8 years ago. It’s been 13 years since The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King swept the Oscars, which I watched live. Green Day’s American Idiot, an album I remember driving myself to the store to purchase at midnight, like it happened 5 or 6 years ago, was actually 12 years ago now. On that note, it’s been longer from that album to today than it was from Dookie, which came out when I was in 6th grade, to American Idiot. Horror.

And that’s not even taking into account personal events. Vacations, relationships, jobs, successes, tragedies… things that feel as if they couldn’t be more than a handful of years ago, turn out to be much farther in the past than you realized. I’ve literally gone through old photos on my computer and assumed that the date stamp was somehow wrong, because how could that be?

And the thing is, you still remember when a year felt like a long period of time. So when another Christmas or Halloween rolls around, and you feel like you just got done with the previous one, you think back to a time when the wait for the holidays felt interminable1, and it was that much sweeter and more satisfying when they got there. I don’t need to tell anybody how much I love Halloween, but in the past couple of years it’s started to feel startling when signs of it start appearing. To me, it feels like I just shoved the boxes into the attic, and now I’m pulling them back down.

I could go on, but this is already depressing enough, and everyone older than me that’s reading this is probably getting angry by now. To bring it back to a positive note, time may feel like your enemy as you get older, but you don’t have to give in to that enemy. It’s a battle you fight every moment that you’re conscious. The way to win that battle is not to race towards the end of your life, as we’re all tempted to do. We’re always focused on getting to the next thing. The next end of your work shift, the next weekend, the next vacation, the next party, the next promotion. We fixate so much on racing to the next carrot dangling in front of us that before we know it, we’re officially elderly. And you’ll look back on age 32 and it will feel less like 40 years ago and more like 10.

Appreciate the mere significance of being alive, being conscious, and being generally comfortable and safe, if you’re fortunate enough for that to be your reality. Every hour you spend resenting your station is an hour you’ll really wish you had back some day. professional essay writing services uk

The Five Worst Christmas Songs

Toby Keith Christmas

I know… this seems like yet another excessively negative article, but sincerely, I love Christmas music! I was going to actually first write a Top Five Christmas Songs list, but it would be too hard to limit it to only 5 – and, I wouldn’t have anything terribly interesting to say about them.

But most people out there have some level of a love-hate relationship with Christmas music. It’s a guilty pleasure, one that has so many ways of being off-putting, and invokes a lot of conflicting emotions. I find that despite its excessively saccharine, commercial nature, I’m all about Christmas music during the month of December (and ONLY the month of December). The problem is there are only so many mainstream songs about Christmas, and terrestrial radio only puts a relatively small number of those on constant rotation. And some of them are just terrible… 

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5 Simple Truths About Non-Confrontational People

I am a non-confrontational person. And that confession, I believe, is more shaming in today’s society than confessing alcoholism or certain drug addictions. People are quick to make the connection between “non-confrontational” and “spineless”, “cowardly”, and “lacking leadership skills”. I’ve struggled with feeling non-confrontational by nature for years – since my early teens I’d say. It’s weird to feel shame about an aspect of your personality but have no desire to reverse it.

So I have some things to get off my chest. Non-confrontational people get a terrible rap, but maybe I can clear a few things up here. 

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5 More Fashion Trends That Will Look Ridiculous in 5 Years

As I’ve written before, the fashion world produces a lot more trends worthy of ridicule than it does cultural staples. It may be our most fickle industry. The fashion cycle runs on clothing styles that seem cutting edge one day, then completely laughable within about 5 years. But every so often, a fashion trend manages to take root that is so instantly, universally recognized for its ugliness that even the most fashion-forward among us refuse to participate. 

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5 Good Things Douchebags Have Unfairly Monopolized

Before jumping into this article, I recommend reading my disclaimer/companion piece on the word “douchebag”.

Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling we get when people or things we hate make associations with people or things we like. You would feel slightly different flavors of cognitive dissonance if, say, a politician you can’t stand openly supported a platform you were passionate about; or conversely, if a politician you are aligned with came out in support of something you strongly oppose.

The prevalence of douchebags in society has introduced new problems related to cognitive dissonance. We all like to rally behind a staunch anti-douchebag agenda (or at least pretend to), but one of the primary features of a douchebag is their herd mentality. As such, it’s fairly inevitable that some things we non-douchebags enjoy would be embraced by the douchebag community.

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5 Types of Undesired Etiquette

Etiquette, it can be argued, is the cornerstone of culture. The existence of rules, however arbitrary they may be at times, that govern how individuals in a larger culture interact with one another is the purest form of social lubricant.

Of course, for this concept to remain relevant, the rules need to evolve over time. New guidelines must replace old ones that have fallen out of favor (for example, people no longer react with monocle-dropping shock when somebody uses the big spoon for their soup). We all understand this on some level, if only subconsciously, and yet certain rules of politeness simply refuse to die when their time is up – no matter how badly we all want them to deep inside.

Jeeves

Come quickly! A salad fork has been desecrated!

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Five Moving Punk Songs

Punk rock isn’t really known to be a genre of music that trades in “moving” songs. But a big part of what I love about the genre is the tendency to subvert expectations. The single biggest aspect that draws me to any type of music (or any form of art for that matter) is honesty, or at the very least, perceived honesty. I feel like there’s a lot of honesty in punk music, and it’s that honesty that makes the songs on this list what they are.

If there’s one major thing all these songs have in common, it’s that they were all written by bands that weren’t known for (and maybe still aren’t known for) writing songs you’d describe as “moving”. It’s not that they lacked honesty or passion, far from it, but they were all bands that traded more in traditional, raw punk rock sounds. By recording these songs they subverted my expectations in a meaningful way, and I think that nearly any listener can hear these songs and feel what the band was trying to get across. Indeed, “feeling” is what makes these songs stand out so much.

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5 Semi-Current Fashion Trends That Will Look Ridiculous in 5 Years

The interesting thing about fashion is how many people seem to think that it evolves. It’s a common and deadly misconception that fashion trends are improvements upon what has occurred in the past, when in fact it’s more like filling out a Bingo card that allows repeats. Fashion only changes, and the more it strays from “basic” the more ridiculous it looks in hindsight. But we are a bored species so this is unlikely to change until they finally invent metallic silver jumpsuits, which, as we all know, is the Omega of fashion.

Generally, we’re all in the monkey house with this stuff. We cannot easily discern during the fact how horrible our fashion trends are. But it’s a skill that can be developed if you’re excessively cynical. I’m not great at it, but I’m better than I used to be. I remember looking at myself in giant baggy JNCO jeans with long wallet chain and World Industries skateboarding shirt and thinking “Yeah, I’ll most likely dress like this for the rest of my life.”

We’re near the start of the decade known as “the tens” (I guess), and it’s an interesting transitional period. Several of the fashions from the previous decade known as “the oughts” (I don’t know anyone who calls it that) are still in use but very clearly on their way out. That’s why I estimate these will only take a maximum of 5 years to become completely ridiculous to our eyes. You might look at many of these and say “they always looked ridiculous to me”. If so, how very clever you are.

Side note: How Meta is it that this very article will seem comically dated in five years?

T-Shirts with lots of crazy shit on them

Most popular in douchebag circles and peddled by Affliction (among many other brands), T-shirts of the 2000’s became a miniature arms race to see who could cram the most nonsensical, vaguely-masculine imagery onto a single garment. Common objects included skulls, crosses, eagle wings, entire eagles, fearsome animals, old English lettering, and generic mottos including the words “truth”, “live”, and “honor”. My theory is that shirts developed this design philosophy in order to blend in with the collection of douchey sleeve tattoos found on the dudes wearing these shirts. They only got more ridiculous as time went on, adding rhinestones, additional stitching, and metallic foil fabric. It even infected other garments and started appearing on button-up shirts and even the ass pockets of jeans.

I admit with great shame that in the early days I flirted with T-shirts of this style. Not because of all the crazy shit printed on them (which I hated), but because these shirts were commonly made of ultra-thin fabric and fitted (which I loved). I still have a long-sleeved black Affliction thermal hanging in my closet which I would never wear in public, despite the fact that it is very comfortable. I keep it as a reminder of my shameful past, the way Mark Wahlberg most likely hangs on to a single pair of white briefs.

Giant bug-eyed sunglasses

Nobody cares what Paris Hilton is doing anymore, which to her means she may as well be dead. And with her, these giant sunglasses should die as well.

Here’s the first rule of pre-determining whether a fashion statement is bound to look ridiculous in the next decade: If you take a thing and make it excessively big or excessively small, it will look ridiculous someday. Which leads me to….

Skinny jeans

In the 90’s it was all about making our jeans excessively big. For men, it was the entire jean, with back pockets large enough to store a laptop (a 90’s laptop no less). For women, it was just the bottom part, called “flared”. At the turn of the century men’s jeans briefly transitioned to “boot cut” (“flared” by another name, which itself was “bell-bottom” by another name), before finally going full skinny. Striking a blow for gender equality (I guess), men and women alike are now wearing skin-tight jeans that taper all the way down and form a weird arch in the crotchal region. Here’s another rule just for pants: If the fit of the pant makes the pockets totally impractical, it’s going to look ridiculous soon. You shouldn’t need needle-nose pliers to retrieve coins from your pocket.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and risk future embarrassment to declare what I believe to be the only “timeless” set of variables for (men’s) jeans: Mid-to-low rise on the hip, straight leg, fitted (but not tight) in the thigh and just long enough to break slightly at the ankle. No bedazzling or ostentatious stitching anywhere. No faux distressing or destroyed look.

Boat shoes and mocassins

I hate this trend. No, I Hate this trend. Capitalized Hate. It’s the most current of the fads on this list and one of the rare cases where I can look at it the moment it hits and say “that is retarded”.*

What shocks me the most is how suddenly the boat shoe or mocassin became the default shoe for men. No one seems to understand how insane this is. One day I could walk into an H&M or Urban Outfitters store (both the domain of hipsters, I admit) and pick from a variety of shoe styles, and the next I got to choose between one ugly suede shoe and another ugly suede shoe. Here’s another oddly specific fashion rule I just invented: If you can’t distinguish a shoe from a slipper, it looks ridiculous.

This is to say nothing of fur-lined boots worn with Summer clothing and Crocs worn by non-nurses, both of which were out faster than they were in.

* Another instance of this happening was when pre-wrinkled shirts started appearing in stores for three months in 2002.

Deep V-neck T-shirts

These possibly emerged as a Hipster response to the T-Shirt With Lots of Crazy Shit on it trend. The deep V-neck is commonly one or two solid fluorescent colors (or basic stripes) and has a V-shaped neckline that extends low enough to see the entire bony sternum and hairless chest. Naturally, this only works on skinny dudes. These shirts are usually small enough for your girlfriend to wear but if she actually did she’d be showing an inordinate amount of cleavage.

Bonus trend: Suit jackets worn over T-shirt and jeans

I’m marking this as a “bonus trend” because even though I’ve always thought it looked stupid, it seems to have surprising longevity. Men’s Health magazine has been telling me to “steal this look” for what seems like ages. Underscoring the fact that I know nothing about fashion, I could never tell the difference between a nice blazer and a suit jacket. So when I see a black or navy blue blazer worn over a T-shirt and jeans to me it looks like one of those moves akin to wearing casual sneakers with a suit and tie – comically dressing down fancy clothes. Of course, Men’s Health has also been recommending I do just that, so I guess I really don’t know what I’m talking about. paperopus.com

Top five movies

Like any self-respecting nerd, I have a compulsive need to organize the things I like into lists. To kickstart what I hope to be a long series of Top Whatever lists, here are my top five movies as they stand today.

Note: The number five was chosen because this is actually a very hard list to make. To include every movie I consider a “favorite” would require at least 50. If I allowed myself the luxury of ten, I would be introducing certain films that, if included, would compel me to recognize several others. By limiting myself to five, I’m ensuring that the films on this list are the absolute most important to my life.

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