Health, Life, Money

Face Your Fears, Part Deux


About two months ago, I had mentioned in a post that it was time to get over my somewhat rational fear of dentists – or at least they work they do – and get the ball rolling with an exam and whatever else the dentist may recommend.

Today was that day. And the results of my visit were anything but favorable.

I went to a local office that has a sparkling reputation on Yelp! and is also where Anthony and my mother-in-law go for cleanings (she usually takes him so they get it done at the same time).

After filling out what seemed like an endless questionnaire regarding my personal health and dental visits, I was called into the back where I took a seat and had a series of 18 x-rays taken.

Things are definitely different now – they are digital. The last time I had them done, you still had to bite down on a small piece of plastic or cardboard whose corners felt pointy when the nurse stuck them in under your tongue. Then they had to develop them. Now you bite down on a device that transmits the image to a computer. So far, so good.

Then the dentist sat down next to me, introduced himself, went over the x-rays and pointed out everything that was wrong in my mouth (aside from the occasional profane language that slips out of it). Next, he let me know what he thought should be done first based on the severity of each condition.

Yeah. There’s that much. Fuuuuu…

It was during this consultation when I explained my fear and he told me that, of course, it wasn’t uncommon. He also told me how some of his patients were actually worse than me. (For privacy, I won’t go into details.) But the fact that I was sitting there speaking to him and preparing myself for whatever treatment he thought necessary put me way ahead of those he mentioned. I was already on the field ready to play; they hadn’t even shown up to the clubhouse.

His first recommendation was simple: bonding my two front teeth, both of which were a bit jagged at the bottom and could possibly chip at any moment. He also explained that this would be a great way to ease myself back into the patient’s chair and dental care as a whole.

And that’s where we started. I asked if I could listen to music during the procedure and he had no objections. In fact they supply their own if you need them but I’m not sure what kind of music I’d be listening to and I’m pretty picky with my headphones, so I used my own earbuds and thank goodness for Spotify Premium and my iPhone.

He told me to raise my left hand if I felt any discomfort during the procedure and amazingly, I didn’t. As he and his assistant blazed through the process of bonding my teeth, Avenged Sevenfold’s City of Evil kept my mind off of what was doing on inside my mouth. About the only thing that got to me, despite the volume level being somewhat high, was the scraping of the bonding material from the teeth. I feel myself cringing just typing about it.

(Listen to the album here)

And that was it. I had gotten this far and with only a few beads of sweat on my forehead and maybe a slightly left watery eye. And naturally, a sore jaw that is still sore. He told me that if I can survive this procedure with no anesthetic then the next one – a pretty big one – shouldn’t be an issue. He also referred me to an oral surgeon who will be handling the extraction. I’ve seen him before and he’s good, at least from what I can remember with the twilight sedation I was under.

Even so, I’m still worried about the next thing since I’ve never had it done. And after that I’ve got a laundry list of other things that needs to be checked off. Strangely, the tooth with missing parts wasn’t the worst one. Sure, it will still have to get extracted but the x-rays showed that another one that I knew was slightly chipped had worse damage to it, and that’s the next thing to be taken care of in a few weeks.

We had planned on taking a road trip to San Francisco this year but unfortunately, it looks like the summer will be have to be scheduled around all of my procedures. Additionally, the job gives us three paid Summer Days that we can take for three-day weekends if we wish. Those plus my remaining sick hours and possibly some vacation days will most likely used for days I need to have work done.

Then there’s paying for all of this. Even with insurance, it’s goodbye, Vacation Fund!

But at least I’ve taken the first step toward having better dental hygiene. It will take some time and money to get it all right but I know it will definitely be for the best.

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Business, Life, Money, Movies, Television

Baby, You’re A Star


Sunday was a nice, blustery day so we decided to get out of the house and do a little bit of shopping – mostly window-wishing – at the local outlet.

As is the case with most outlets these days, the walkways are riddled with independent vendors trying to push their wares to anybody that passes. I had heard it said that these guys are the modern-day equivalent of pop-up ads and it’s true: they just keep pestering you.

But one booth wasn’t selling tennis shoe polish, laser-etched iPhone cases or fidget spinners (and I swear if I hear my kid say that one more time, I’ll scream). And unlike most of the booths, it was unmanned when we passed it.

What they were selling was a Hollywood dream to make it big in television and movies. It was a casting agency that specialized in recruiting children and teens for studios like Nickelodeon, Disney, etc. or so they say.

And it wasn’t until we were ready to leave when we were approached by the person who was running the booth. Apparently she thought we looked like a bunch of pigeons as she walked up to us, taking particular interest in Anthony.

She first asked if we were local. I confirmed her suspicion. Then the spiel began about how she was looking for teens age whatever-to-whatever to cast for shows on the aforementioned networks. That’s when I started to grin and then dropped the mic on her.

“Nah, that’s okay. I used to do background acting and…”

At the mention of “background acting” I swear that woman left a puff of smoke behind her and disappeared faster than Usain Bolt in the 100m dash.

Why is that?

There are a few reasons for her to not take interest in me or Anthony.

First, casting agencies in general. When you’re selling Hollywood to some slack-jawed yokel that doesn’t know any better, they will of course shovel out whatever it takes to make their kid a star. And that’s the problem: legit agencies will NEVER ask for money up front, and you can bet that this one was going to ask me for my wallet in order to get Anthony a few headshots that would be stuffed into an album of hundreds of others that already got bilked and still haven’t been cast for anything. For my casting file, my headshot was taken with a digital camera at the agency. That’s all they need especially if it’s only non-union background work. Speaking parts require SAG-AFTRA union membership and that costs money, something that you pay directly to the union and not the agency. Only then will you make decent money. Until then it’s minimum wage, baby. Except may for the monetary bumps for exposure to smoke, water, or the studio using your car in the background as well. Living the Hollywood dream? Hardly.

Second, I’ve seen what kids have to go through in this industry. For adults, it’s no big deal other than hustling for more jobs during your downtime between shots and there is a lot of downtime. For kids, however, it means having their parents on location with them, going to the on-set “school” between shots, and just long days that nobody that young should be put through. There’s never guarantee of when the production will wrap and if they have another shoot the next morning or get a callback for the current one, it’s a lot of stress for parents and kids. Kids also get hungry and antsy. This is why they are so hard to work with. It’s a miserable existence and a life I would never wish on any child. Believe me, it’s nothing like what you see on the screen or social media.

I can say quite confidently that those last two paragraphs are exactly what went through the mind of this woman as she ran away from me. She knew I had an inside track about the industry and didn’t even want to mess with me.

So sorry, kid. You’re not going to be the next big thing.

But you’ll always be our star.

Photo May 07, 5 28 41 PM

Health, Life, Vacation

Face Your Fears


6425b286c9f1ca14ba538f0e8d20ff45Next week is the start of our vacation in fabulous Las Vegas. It’s something that we had planned for months and saved up for, and we have a list of things to accomplish while we are there, some free and some not.

Either way it’s happening and nothing is going to stop us from enjoying some time away from home and office, and just be a family. Our list is long. It will be [mostly] conquered. You will see pictures on Instagram.

But the one thing I’m not looking forward to when we return is something that I really should have done sooner: visit the dentist. You see, I’ve got a few teeth – well, one is a partial tooth – that need some TLC or perhaps even an extraction. The last time I put off a dentist visit was years ago when I had a tooth literally rotting away and at one point, cold air entering my mouth (when I would inhale while speaking) would produce excruciating pain. I can’t even describe it but I know I couldn’t speak much. My coworkers secretly loved it I’m sure.

While one of the teeth in question has yet to reach that point, I don’t want it to. The other tooth is chipped and will need some care as well but nothing like the other.

Now you’re probably wondering why I just don’t go right-effing-now to get it done. There really isn’t a reason why I shouldn’t – I have dental insurance and plenty of sick days at work. But the answer is simple: I am afraid.

I fear dentist offices. Everything about them. The sound, the smell, the feeling. I will go to the doctor and have every exam possible done to me without hesitation. I will give blood without a second thought. But the dentist? I have to be forced.

In fact when I had to get that rotting tooth extracted, I paid the extra $300 to be put to sleep during the procedure. It was money well spent considering I didn’t have to expose myself to all that freaks me out. I remember counting to three and then waking up, asking the dentist if they had done anything at all. It was nice.

But the fear is still there, and with good reason.

Today, there are several kinds of people who work strictly on teeth. The dentist is for check-ups and cleanings. Your oral surgeon specializes in pulling teeth. Orthodontists straighten them out.

And when I was growing up, orthodontia was starting to take off. I mean, every freaking kid had braces and yours truly was no exception, in addition to wearing neck gear and a permanent retainer on my bottom teeth (later removed by Ann’s boss, an orthodontist).

Before I could have my braces put into place, I had to go to the dentist to get four teeth extracted. Yes, four. Two top, two bottom. And they were not in any condition to be extracted, meaning they had pretty much taken up residence and had no fear of ever being removed.

That all changed.

Remember, this was the time before oral surgeons and other kinds of specialists so my dentist was the one who had to do it. And when I think of that day, it’s pretty traumatic. There was blood all over gloved hands. Grinding and crunching sounds. Tools banded around the teeth to be extracted. Feeling the pressure of the teeth being pulled from my jaw (and I don’t handle physical pressure well). The dentist sitting what seemed to be literally on top of my while be tried with all his might to remove these four teeth. And of course, seeing the tooth in all its glory being held by a pair of pliers and seemingly six inches long. It all seemed cartoonish, but gone horribly awry.

I’ll be honest about this. That experience traumatized me for life. If not for this, I would have no problems happily skipping myself to a dentist for any kind of routine work. But as it stands now, that experience really messed me up and I won’t go until I’m at a point where things can’t wait any longer.

It’s stupid. It’s most likely not good for me. But then again, neither is drinking soda but I’ve already stopped doing that. (Seriously, stop drinking that garbage. It’s got no nutritional value and is a shit-storm of chemicals in a can. STOP. IT. NOW.)

So I’ve decided that upon our return from vacation, I need to face my fears and get this shit taken care of before it gets to the point my last extraction reached. I’m not sure how many people I will have to see or what, but I know that sucking it up and being a man about it is the only thing I can do.

Here’s hoping that nothing happens while on vacation or at the very least, I win $300 on the slots to pay for the twilight anesthesia.

Because I’m gonna need it.

Family, Fatherhood, Life

Dem Bones, or Das Boot


Ann and I decided early on in our parenthood journey that we would be supportive of Anthony with everything he did. Whatever he wanted to try, we would let him have at least one stab at it and be behind him all the way.

And so we did: tae kwon do, t-ball, violin, trumpet, and even the drums which I use more than him even though I suck. He gave all of these a chance but never really went anywhere with any of them but does indeed spent a lot of time at my drawing table producing abstracts that I can’t even being to comprehend. He’s got an artist’s mind for sure. I have no idea where he got it.

We’ve even so gone far as to not brand him with any one religion and only act as a moral compass along the way. If he decides later in his life that one has the answers for him then that’s great. Adults can’t make sense of that stuff most of the time so why confuse a child?

There was, however, one exception to all of this: playing football, and this goes back to long before we were parents. The sport seems to lend itself to inflicting serious injury onto the other players and for kids, I think it’s over the top and way too much for them. They have enough trouble trying to understand and execute plays and I couldn’t stand to see him or any other kid get flat-blasted on the field and not get up.

Then there’s the whole sports parents thing. I guarantee I would have been in my fair share arguments. Football was definitely out.

We never played it as kids but did toss the old pigskin around during those long, warm summer evenings while listening to the AM transistor radio. None of us would he harmed by that. But as for some of the other things we did as kids, well, that’s up for debate.

I’m not willing to divulge any of the stupid, stupid things we did as kids but let me tell you that it was by some miracle that none of us ever got seriously hurt or maimed. The most painful injury I had as a kid was a sprained pinky finger that I got while catching a kickball at school during a play at home plate. I never hurt myself playing any sports with the guys on the block.

And despite all of that, I’ve made it to the ripe ol’ age of 48 without breaking a single bone, even after my scooter accident. I’m a tough old bird.

So what does my childhood devil-may-care attitude and Knievel-esque propensity for adventure have to do with my son?

First, I haven’t told him half of the things I did when I was his age or younger. He doesn’t need any inspiration for stupid things to do and post on YouTube. In fact, it’s safe to say that me and my friends were the original version of Jackass but without cameras rolling. We were that bad.

Second, he recently started expressing an interest in football. We watched the Super Bowl and for not being a football fan, Ann was amazed at just how much I knew about the game. (The rules are pretty basic; I just get bored sitting for hours on end seeing guys yelling into headsets and watching six-second plays unfold.)

He told me that they were playing flag football at school recently and that he really enjoyed playing. That’s fine because hey, rip the flag off the dude and the play stops. No contact, no injuries.

Then one day after playing at school, he came limping up to me and told me he hurt himself playing football – tackle football, something they weren’t supposed to be doing. So we RICEd it – rest, ice, compression and elevation – for a few days in the hopes it would get better.

A week later and it was still the same so we had to take him to the doctor. The diagnosis was a sprained ankle but they took x-rays anyhow to be sure. They gave us the same RICE recommendation, scheduled a follow-up visit and prescribed some crutches.

Later that day, Ann gets a call: they found something on the x-ray.

Yep. His ankle was fractured. And $300 later, the kid is now sporting a huge boot that he has to wear all the time except to bed for the next 4-6 weeks, a time that includes our vacation in Las Vegas.

The good thing is that he doesn’t have a cast and he can move along pretty well, even better than I expected.

Hopefully this experience was a wake-up call for him.

Then again, if he’s anything like I was as a kid, it probably wasn’t.

Life, Shopping

Things I Learned Today: March 24, 2017


In an effort to keep this here blog of mine going I’ve decided to try something a little different.

They say that we learn something new every day, and today I found that to be exceptionally true. In fact, I started compiling a list in my head while on my drive to work and only found myself adding more things to it, so that didn’t really go as planned.

I’m not very good at mental note-taking so I tried my best to remember what it was I had thought of and haphazardly typed it into Word while on my break at the office. And now I present today’s list.

Things I Learned Today for March 24, 2017

1. People still use CDs in their cars. Shocking, I know. But I was reminded of this when I drove past a guy who had a Case Logic visor CD organizer that was filled with purchased CDs and burned-at-home CD-Rs. It all seemed rather ‘90s since my last two cars have had USB ports and my music has either been on a thumb drive or smartphone ever since. I’m not a big terrestrial radio fan and am a proud Spotify Premium subscriber so my music collection had been downloaded from there and is all on my iPhone. Also, Ann’s car doesn’t even have a CD slot – all music is played via Bluetooth or USB port.

2. The local daily newspaper now costs $1. There was a time when I had to scrape together four quarters to buy the Sunday paper in order to get all of the retail ads and coupons. The daily cost a fourth of that. But as with everything, technology has just about killed this format. Coupons and ads can now be seen online and with Amazon, you don’t really need ads anymore because chances are they have what you need for less and will ship it to you for free. Then why did I even bother buy a newspaper today? The Long Beach Grand Prix is approaching and there was a voucher for a free Friday ticket in today’s edition. That’s the day that the office sort of takes a rather long lunch since the event is literally across the street from us. So spending the $1 was well worth it. Any other day? Not so much.

3. Water refill stations still exist. Whether they are against the wall of the local Walgreens or fancy stand-alone jobs that look like a windmill, they are still around and people still use them. I found this out while researching them since we are in the market to have water delivered to us. I am still not drinking [diet] soda regularly, although there have been a few occasions while dining out when I did get one as a treat. Water is still my mainstay and I have an app to remind me to reach my daily goal of 100 oz., so I figured that having it delivered might be cheaper than buying a case of bottled water at the store. At $1.50 for five gallons from said refill stations, it probably will be. And while I don’t buy soda anymore, I have found a tasty substitute should I crave something bubbly. Highly recommended if you can find it in your area.

4. Domino’s pasta bowls are carb overload. This one may seem a bit obvious but I learned the hard way. Ann ordered three of them last night for dinner and being as hungry as I was when I got home from work, I devoured mine in no time. The bad part: I wasn’t running a marathon today. If I had been, the combination of pasta and pizza crust would have been an excellent source of fuel to burn off. Instead, they sat in my stomach all day and magically turned into sugar as they tend to do if you don’t use them. It was total carb overload, and I felt it all day long. Pretty stupid move.

5. Vans never go out of style. Last week we took Anthony birthday shopping at the local outlets. He loves Vans and has a pretty decent collection of them. In fact, his love ignited mine and I started to build my own collection which includes a pair inspired by The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine (that I will never wear). I wore Off The Walls all the time as a kid – when we could afford them – so wearing them again on a regular basis is fun, and it doesn’t hurt that I can wear them to the office. I have an assortment of colors to choose from but I made a purchase at the outlets last weekend that I won’t soon regret.

Photo Mar 24, 9 15 00 PM

Depending on your monitor calibration, the brightness of your smartphone screen or any other number of factors, these Old Skool style Vans are bright pink with the signature Vans stipe running the sides in cyan. For $20 and 50% off a second pair, I couldn’t pass them up. They are a hit, inside the office and out. I actually had a guy stop me while I was on my bike ride to tell me how much he liked them and today while returning from a Starbucks run with a coworker, someone else walked past and complimented me on my choice of footwear – only I was wearing these instead.

IMG_5229

These are all purple with gold eyes. I also have pairs in dark green and blue, and I dig them all. All this admiration just goes to show that Vans are timeless and at least in their birthplace of southern California, they are more of a lifestyle than anything.

What will I learn tomorrow? Who knows. But I hope you enjoyed the list of things I learned today.

Life

The Naked Truth 


The good thing about this iPhone 7 Plus is that it’s ridiculously huge, which makes blogging much easier than using one of those puny phones. Or, in this case, not having to get my lazy rear out of my La-Z-Boy lounge chair and sit at the computer desk.

Anyway, there were some strange things afoot around the office today and believe me when I say I’ve seen some strange things going on around there.

Like the guy in the rat costume picketing outside Starbucks, or the couple lighting up something that wasn’t a cigarette or vape. No, nothing like that, but definitely weird.

I sit next to a window on the second floor of our building and as I do on occasion (in order to give my eyes a break), I’ll look away from the monitor and out that window. Most of the time I just see the usual pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk which is no big deal. But sometimes, something will catch my eye when I didn’t intend to take a little break and I can’t help but stare.

Today was that day.

As I sat there plugging away at a project, I happened to notice what appeared to be a woman walking down the sidewalk — totally nude. But nah, maybe she was wearing flesh-colored leggings and a top that made her appear like she was naked. It happens. Right, ladies? 

By the time I gave a second glance, she was to a point where I really couldn’t see much anymore because the signage and a tree outside the adjacent building were obscuring her. But I seemed sure of what I saw.

I told a coworker about to look out the window and see if she could confirm my suspicion. But again, the naked lady was gone. But as I was telling her about what I had seen, local city guides were on their radios walking in the same direction of the lady.

Then a few police officers on bikes were behind them. Then a few more. We had to go check this out now.

But before we did, something else caught my eye: a guy walking down that same sidewalk carrying a cross with an American flag draped around the top half of it. I told my coworker to look out the window and this time I had a witness — she saw it, too. I wasn’t totally mad.

So we decided to see what was going on and my eyes were not deceiving me.


I was right. The woman was indeed naked and the police attempted to cover her with a towel. But as you can see by the strategically placed emoji, it didn’t cover everything. While in custody, she struggled with and yelled at the officers meaning she probably wasn’t doing too well mentally or was under the influence of something.

That was that. A naked woman and a guy carrying a cross. Definitely strange.

We went back to our desks and about an hour later, something else caught my eye.

It was a guy on some kind of three-wheeled vehicle that looked like it was being propelled by an electric motor. He was flying down the street and positioned on top of the contraption, legs resting on the frame and wide open. It looked like it was made from really flimsy pipes and kind of reminded me of this:


Now just throw three wheels on this thing, lay it on its side, sit on top and there you go.

I’m going to try not looking out my window too much tomorrow. I might see something even more odd, if that’s possible.

Life, weather

It’s Only A Little Rain


Friday as seen from my deskThe family ventured out this morning as we normally do each Saturday and for the most part our Saturdays are uneventful.

But today? Hmm.

Our first stop was PetSmart where we had to pick up some bags of vittles for the cats and one smelly dog. Not a whole lot going on there. We also made a few random stops at the same shopping center and again, nothing of note.

Then we made the mistake of going to Michaels. Ann’s a crafty one and needed some yarn to make us all warm and fuzzy hats to wear on our next snow trip – yes, snow! The weather has been rather wet lately (see photo above) and it’s been dumping feet of fresh snow in the local mountains.

We walked into the place after almost being run over GTA V-style in the parking lot by several impatient drivers. It seemed people were running around as if their hair was on fire and they were in need of finding a place to soak their head.

The line of people checking out was way beyond the capacity of the holding area. I mean, really. This is Michaels. The lines aren’t this long even during Christmas or if they are having a big sale. It was ridiculous so we walked back to the car, dodging even more bad drivers along the way.

Our next stop was Kmart where we ended up finding more than we thought we would: Christmas merchandise was 90% off so we stocked up on rolls of wrapping paper and cards. We then made our way to the cashier.

The lines here were just about the same as they were at Michaels. What the hell was going on?

We eventually got through that mess after listening to the person in front of us haggle the prices of everything she had – and ended up leaving half of it. Some people.

On the way home we passed by Ralphs or, as I used to call it when I worked there, The Place Where Dreams Go to Die. Guess what? The parking lot was at near capacity.

It took us a moment to figure out exactly why everyplace was so freaking busy today.

hurricane

Remember that I had said it’s been a little rainy here lately. It really has been, so much so that it’s made a huge dent on our drought conditions and turned the local mountains nearly pure white. Absolutely beautiful. And on the day I took the picture shown at the beginning of this post, I sat at my desk and watched a barricade being blown into the street by strong winds and saw palm branches fall from on high. They could knock someone out cold if they hit them.

We’ve been hit by a series of storms with today giving us a break, and that’s exactly why the stores were busy.

See, most Californians don’t handle the rain very well. We get spoiled by our 72-degree average temperature so when things start to dip below that or – Jeebus forbid – a storm is approaching, most of them lose their freaking minds.

And the storm approaching tonight/tomorrow morning is supposed to be one that will last all day Sunday and into Monday. Again, rain. Not snow, not a hurricane, not a tornado. Just rain.

But our weathermen with goofy names like Dallas Raines and Johnny Mountain have made the next one sound like it’s gonna wipe us off the map, and the wiping is scheduled to commence at 2:15 am according to local reports.

That’s the exact reason why people were our in force and acting so nuts today: because it’s going to rain tomorrow. The masses were stocking up on corn nog and wadded beef in preparation for the onslaught of wet stuff falling from the sky, then will be hunkering down in their homes to wait out the storm for the next few days.

It’s no wonder the rest of the country makes fun of us.