I’ve grown facial hair for a long time. I’ve had big civil war style muttonchops, giant goatees, mustaches of various successes, hipster hawks and soul patches. No matter what though the beard always reappears. For some time I’d wondered how long I could grow a beard without any trimming in a single year. Then in November of 2011 a situation came up and the only way I knew how to respond to it was to shave my head and beard. Sort of an Old Testament putting on of sackcloth and ashes response. After that passed over I found myself with the unique opportunity to give myself a beard for my birthday…a BEARDTHDAY if you will. So on December 9th 2011 I made sure I was clean shaven when I went to bed so that I’d have my first birthday present when I woke up. It was time to see just what I could grow unhindered. Over the course of the year I made sure to stop each Friday wherever I was to snap a shot. It was pretty cool to look back at each Friday and see just where I’d visited over the course of a year. Chicago, Colorado, Kentucky, Utah, Kansas, Washington, the Oregon Trail, helping friends move, out on my property, at work in our data centers, driving in my car, out at the movies, visiting my parents or just at home in my apartment. It was an especially rewarding experience because during month four I entered and won my very first beard contest here in Springfield. Later I found out that the best and most unexpected purchase of the year ended up being a pair of five dollar sunglasses. They instantly transformed me into a seriously cooler looking dude as soon as I’d put them on. I could have picked up an instrument and stepped out on stage with ZZ-Top and no one would have been the wiser. My beard’s starting to grow in a few white sprigs too which I really dig. I’m not sure I’ll be able to look back and pick out a more transformative year…and not just for my face. What a year; it was not good, but it was good to have been.