____Featured Essay

Stay cool: 10 rules to follow with all your heartstrings

 So the main problem with getting older is that a lot of people tend to get way less cool. We all know about it and fear that it can “happen” to us. In contrast to these types though, we also all know a handful of people who defy the odds and actually get cooler as they age. These are some of the things they do, which you can do, too, if that’s something you’re into.

PAY ATTENTION TO NEW MUSIC – This does not mean scroll the pages of Pitchfork looking for albums rated 7.0 or above, it simply means pay attention. If you love a band that’s broken up, keep track of its members, because some of them probably have new bands that could be good, too. Listen to recommendations from people you trust about new music and actually play it in your car or while you work to see what’s what. Chances are there’s something out there for you. If you get into something you’ll have to see them live and that’s just the bottom line. Doing this will ensure your freshness and the quality of your dancing (hopefully).

HAVE PARTIES (AND NOT JUST FOR DINNER) – Even if you have “responsibilities” and such, it’s always good to find time to get your friends together and host them in a night of chill party times or even get kind of out of hand. This might be necessary. The fact is, if you think you’re too tired or too “adult” for this sort of thing then you should definitely start making Facebook invitations to this event right now, before it’s too late, and you slip away into the deadzone. At said event, play records and don’t serve any white wine. Make sure you have whiskey on hand. You might even want to have some element of surprise (but I won’t tell you what that should be).

BE REALLY NICE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE YOUNG AND OR DUMB – The worst thing is being crotchety, because you think people who are younger than you are do nothing, hipster fucks who don’t know shit. Some are, some are not. There’s kind of something to learn from everyone, and just because you’re in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or older doesn’t mean that people in their teens and 20’s have nothing to share with you. This goes for your possible offspring too. Listen to their words and recommendations. Give everyone a fair shake.

TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF YOUR STYLE – You know how you like to dress and you know what looks good on you so do it and go full force. This involves keeping the classic wardrobe going but also taking a look at trends and seeing if you like any of them. If you can predict trends, even better. This doesn’t have to be a big deal but does need some attention. Be honest with yourself if you need an overhaul. But always be you with whatever you do. 

EAT OUT/EAT WEIRD/EAT OFTEN – Take gastronomical chances. Just do it. Do it in your home city, when you travel, or even in your actual home (cooking wise). Try new things constantly. Tasting new things is vital to staying awesome. Try new restaurants and go hard at them. Get things that might be outside of your comfy burger zone and see what happens. Chances are that delight will occur and you’ll be talking about it for days after. Eating a fantastic meal can be the re-set button you need to get back into discovery mode, which is really what it’s all about. 

BE UNLIMITED – Unlimited is when you have a weekend or a stretch of time that you literally have no plans and you can get in the car and drive for a long time and see where you end up or you can do nothing whatsoever all day and then go out to dinner at 11PM, get drinks at 12:30AM and end up at some weird house party by 2AM. The fact is you will not know what will happen. Parents, get a sitter. Maybe overnight. This is the sort of thing that makes for great stories and memories, even if you do this totally by yourself. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing during this time because being unlimited can get kind of out of hand.

TRAVEL ONCE A YEAR TO SOMEWHERE NEAR OR FAR (DOESN’T REALLY MATTER WHERE) – Do it alone or with friends or with family but try to go somewhere cool that interests you and really absorb it all and bring back unique things for your friends and cohorts. Don’t answer your phone or email. If you’re not just straight up relaxing/decompressing then you should explore wherever you are by local transportation or by foot or bicycle. Even if you have the cheddar to do everything first class always, there’s a time and a place for it. Sometimes you need to get your hands dirty and see what a new place is all about. Try to hit up a cool local spot and hang with people and possibly even make new friends and whatnot.

FIND TIME TO READ BOOKS/WATCH AWESOME FILMS – Don’t be ashamed if you haven’t read ALL the classics. There’s so much more time to get them inside, but if you don’t do it (especially because you’re feeling like too old or embarrassed) then whatever. The same goes for movies. If there’s something you feel you should have seen but haven’t, don’t get in a tizz, just watch it on Netflix.

MEET YOUR CREATIVE GOALS – Even if you’re someone who creates for a living it’s awesome to find time to create just for you. Make a long-term goal of something you want to do (if you don’t have one already) and find time to do it. This can be anything from literally writing a novel to getting a garden going or cooking an epic meal. Even if you think it’s a waste of time, fulfilling your creative goals makes your work and all the other things you are obliged to do seem way less oppressive. Also, you know, anything can happen but sometimes you have to focus on the process to get there. 

BE OUT OF CONTROL (SOMETIMES) – Even if you’re used to carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders with job, kids, family and other serious things, remember that you can’t really control everything and need to kind of chill out (but like really chill out). It’s been said that worrying and being anxious and clenching your butt cheeks together over every single thing in your life can be bad for your health. It is my personal belief that it will definitely give you wrinkles and make you look older and tired. Literally say, “whatever” whenever you can. Unclench.


Abbe Ertel Magid is a delicate mouse of a soul who hails from Los Angeles by way of Chicago and is a glutton for comfort in this all too uncomfortable world. You can see more of her work at ertelofthenight.com.

Photo credit: Flickr user Michelle Brea, used under cc license