Tag Archives: Growing a Beard

The Long-Awaited Beard Update

While going through my normal Tuesday afternoon routine of looking at pictures of myself, I realized that it has been almost exactly one year since I began growing the beard. In fact, loyal followers of this blog know that regular updates on the progress of my unsightly (n. displeasing to the eye) beard were once a staple of the Journal. As I have grown more self-important, I shifted the focus to subjects that would make me sound like I knew something about international development, when, in fact, I do not. But, like the prodigal son, I will return to the low-brow self-criticism that was a hallmark of this blog one year ago.

Unfortunately, not much has changed.  Below is a picture taken last December on a trip down the Mekong River in Vietnam.  I’ve highlighted the problems I faced then:

As you can see from the picture above, I could have a rockin’ beard were it not for the bald spot right in the middle of my chin.  I suppose that, by that logic, bald people assume that they could have a rockin’ mane were it not for the fact that their scalp contains a circular area upon which no hair grows.  Sometimes life gives you lemons, so you make lemonade, except that lemonade has salmonella and you become sick.  This is what happened when I grew my beard.  I went to my father’s office yesterday to use the fax machine.  His office manager, who I hadn’t seen in a few years, pointed to my face and said “What’s that?”  “A beard,” I said.  “It’s a bit misshapen, I know.”  “Well, you know, it takes some time to grow.  How long have you had it for?” she asked.  “A year.”  Awkward silence.  Onto the next subject.

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Beard Difficulties

In my previous life, I worked at a job that made growing a beard difficult.  Every time I’d let it grow on vacation, I’d get close to an acceptable length, but still below the threshold of respectability.   Naturally, when I learned I’d be working with Negros Women for Tomorrow and Kiva here in the Philippines, I looked at it as a great opportunity to reinvent myself as a man with a beard.  On the street every day, people walk around with beards knowing that they are part of an exclusive fraternity, having chosen to distinguish themselves from the rest of the clean-shaven world.  On this trip, I would not pass up the opportunity.

The process began on November 18th, two days before I left work.  I had two weeks before work began in the Philippines, a narrow window for a full bloom.  The above photo was taken on December 20th, showing a month of unchecked growth.  In the first two weeks, I already had a nice base, extending from my sideburns, down my cheek, and underneath my chin.  Halfway down my face, the pattern forms a right angle, before dropping precipitously past my mustache and down to the area below my chin. Continue reading