Bun hats and birthdays

I’ve never been much for trends, which isn’t to say I don’t follow them. Because I do, religiously (kale and quinoa. all day errday). It’s just that I’ve always been really bad at them, more often than not miscalculating what the next ‘big thing’ would be (welcome to my knitting blog). Well, no longer. I’ve decided to get ahead of the curve and become a trendsetter. And as everyone knows, the defining characteristic of a trendsetter (other than ombre and succulents) is thinking outside the box.

Or in my case, thinking outside the… bun.

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Manbuns are on the rise (here as well as in china), quickly becoming the next hottest updo for men (updude). But while everyone is eager to hop on the bundwagon, I’m already looking ahead to the next trend the manbun will trigger. After 50% of our population begins sporting buns (a reasonable estimate), what accessories will they have for their buns? How will they keep them perfectly coiffed throughout the day? What will protect their buns from rain or snow or rogue scissors?IMG_5031I present to you: the bun hat! Essentially, a cod piece for hipsters. Because why would you want a hat that covers all your hair when you could have one that only covers the last 6 inches?IMG_5001It’s like a bonnet and a yarmulke had a love child who was infinitely trendier than both of its parents.

Wearing the first ever bun hat is my be-manbunned friend, Sam. Now, I know I have mentioned before how my class is made up of a diverse set of people, some with fascinating backgrounds prior to starting medical school (the armed forces, deloitte, minnesota, etc.), but Sam is truly unique. I mean, who would expect a male model to just quit his job and become a doctor?

IMG_4702If you thought you recognized Sam, it may be because you saw his work in the October issue of Outside magazine back in 2013. Impressive, right? Sam was gracious enough to lend his modeling expertise to the photoshoot we had, and he even gave me some pointers as the photographer (‘use the rule of thirds’).IMG_5028Convinced that the bun hat is going to be the next big thing? Perfect! Download the free pattern here! Your friends and their naked manbuns will thank you.IMG_5023Now, as my 947 (a number i check daily) Facebook friends are aware of, I recently turned 25, and it’s been a pretty confusing time. I go back and forth between loving my fortified status as an adult (last week i played craps and it was the literally the best feeling i’ve ever felt in my entire life) and panicking over my newly developed quarter-life crisis. And while I was never the kind of person to make New Year’s resolutions or 10-year plans, I started to think about the kinds of things I wanted to accomplish with the rest of my 20’s and what skills I wanted to refine.

Writing. I decided it was writing and that I want to be a writer. And I know I already write here, but I mean like real writing (personally, any forum that contains ‘fart’ and ‘yoga’ in the same parenthetical has definite room for improvement). So for the past week, I’ve been putting aside time each day to write. About anything. It was rough at first, with a lot of typing and backspacing and long stretches of time when I was just staring at a blank page. But then I imagined that I just received a voicemail from Ira Glass saying, ‘Daniel, I heard about you from my niece who loves to knit. First of all, love the blog. Hilarious. Can’t get enough of it. Also, I need a piece by next week. I asked David Sedaris, but he said I should ask you. Can you write me something?’

And this is what I wrote:


I don’t like birthdays, but not for the reasons you might think. I don’t mind the unrelenting reminder of time passed, the steady crawl towards death and the loss of memories and all material things. Nor am I alone, without friends to flood my Facebook wall with congratulatory notifications. I have no devastating character flaw that surfaces each year to remind me that, while my age and body may change, I remain the same selfish, hypocritical self that I’ve always been. I also did not kill a hooker on my last birthday in a drunken rage and haphazardly dispose of the body, the guilt of which drains the very life from me and torments me as I wait for the cops to knock down my front door.

I don’t like birthdays because I’m me, and people are people.

Birthdays are complicated, which might explain why, while my friends’ celebrations included everything from sushi making to rock climbing, I was content with having the same birthday party 6 years in a row. From the ages of 8 to 13, every July 10th, me and a close set of friends and family would meet at Presidio Bowl to enjoy a couple hours of bowling fun. Bowling. Life’s most inoffensive activity. Bowling followed by ice cream cake (life’s most indecisive dessert). By the time I started middle school, it became a sort of mindless tradition in my family, like spring-cleaning or piano lessons. My parents would call the bowling alley, I would invite my friends, and then we would all go bowling and eat ice cream cake afterwards. It was simple and expected, which, as it so happened, was the birthday present I wanted most of all.

I was an anxious kid growing up. I thought. A lot. I scrutinized everything, discerning subtext and implications, playing and replaying old conversations in my head. Was it weird when I said that? What did she mean by that? To me, every opportunity to speak was an opportunity to say so much more, and I wanted—needed—to figure out exactly what everyone was saying, including myself. As you can imagine, this led to more than a few social phobias as well as an unhealthy need for predictability. But fortunately, like most other kids I knew, I grew up. I figured out how not to read too much into things and to trust that people said what they meant and meant what they said. And years later, I was able look back at that unseasoned, immature teenaged me as just an embarrassing memory, a version of myself that, thankfully, I was no longer.

But then I turned 25.

For fear of losing the few friends I have, I first must say that I had a very happy 25th birthday (almost as good as my 4th bowling and ice cream cake party). I was surrounded by laughter and good conversation, and it was over far too soon. But in the events leading up to it, my birthday had cracks, moments where misalignments of social expectations—what, if anything, one should bring to a potluck, how obligatory attendance is, etc.—had been exposed. And this time, there wasn’t a sense of routine, an overriding ritualism, to cover them up. In other words, this wasn’t my 7th bowling and ice cream cake birthday party. By the end of the night, I found myself not so much frustrated as overwhelmingly unsure, and I began to think. A lot. Was I the host or recipient of this celebration? Were these people with me friends throwing a party or guests intent on enjoying it? What do I do now?

When I was in the 7th grade, I came to the conclusion that we were all just square pegs and round holes. That everyone’s actions could never truly capture their intentions. Something was inevitably lost at the synapse, from mind to mouth, no matter how hard we tried. Human communication, according to my young, adolescent mind, was messy and inherently flawed, prone to misinterpretations, social gaffes, and, ultimately, hurt feelings, so we should all just wait around for telepathy to become a thing.

7th grade was a long time ago, of course, but there are times when I rediscover that same paralyzing uncertainty and feel like I haven’t changed at all, like I’m that same scared little kid again, hiding behind 6 identical birthdays just to avoid the slightest chance of rejection. But I have changed. And while it may be true that communication is innately flawed, I have realized that it is not irredeemable. It is a fixable machine. We try, we fail, and we learn. We make friends and hurt them and spend forever making it right again. We are at once fragile and indestructible, masters of apologies and products of forgiveness. And perhaps it is this very trial-and-error nature of human relationships that makes them so unique and invaluable, and things like a happy 25th birthday nothing short of a miracle.


***Craps comes from the French word, ‘crapaud,’ meaning ‘toad,’ which refers to how players used to crouch when playing on the floor or sidewalk.

 

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