Friday, 27 May 2011

Jaws Unbound

Almost two years ago I slouched along to a consultation at the orthodontist to see if I needed braces, a meeting that ended with me getting the dang things applied that same day in a blur of glue and metal.

Those 21 odd months have passed alarmingly quickly and a couple of days ago I entered The Chair once again to have them removed.

And it feels... a bit weird but not in the way you might expect.

I get used to certain things ridiculously quickly.

Within a week of having braces put on I couldn't quite remember what the interior of my mouth had felt like without them and just shrugged and got on with things.

Now they're off and I'm already forgetting what it felt like to have them on.

At the moment it feels a little bit like somebody smuggled somebody else's teeth into my mouth whilst I wasn't paying attention but that sensation is fading in some sort of advanced rate in proportion to how terrifying that concept is.

My new best friend the '24/7 for 6 months retainer' has made its introductions and wearing it is fine.
There's some discomfort when I take it off or put it back on, which I'm sure that will fade as my teeth get used to the idea that their support network is gone and start standing on their own two roots.

So it isn't my actual teeth that are feeling weird, it's... well, I think I developed some kind of Stockholm Syndrome for my braces.

Towards the end I was nervous to have them removed because I kept envisioning my teeth as having grown dependent upon them and coming loose or wobbling about, falling out or deserting me if I bit into anything firmer than a doughnut because the position they've been gently shifted to was too far for the human tooth to bear!

That fear proved to be what some may refer to as bullpucky.

But for the moment I kind of miss them.

Mostly because I'm a compulsive fiddler and I'd built up a complex little set of games which involved tapping or flicking different protrusions or attachments with the end of my tongue in odd little sequences.

Without braces on that kind of behaviour looks a bit weird.

If I'm honest with myself I'm sure it looked plenty weird when I did have braces on but at least people could work out why I was doing it.

Because I agreed to braces on structural grounds rather than cosmetic* ones I wasn't particularly thrilled or disappointed by my teeth in their new configuration as their old configuration had looked OK.

Because I didn't have to avoid any foods I couldn't bear to live without I haven't gone into a glee-spiral of reacquaintance.

Because they didn't change my self-image or make me feel self-conscious or less attractive I wasn't fussed when they were there and don't feel particularly fussed on that point now that they're gone.

All of which seems to slightly miff all the people who have been saying "I bet you're glad they're gone, hey?"

"Meh" is not the response they expect.

Luckily I'd already had my wisdom teeth out way before this adventure began so I don't even have to worry about those coming in and pushing things about and undoing all those months of good work like some of my friends did**.

I know I'm going to get used to this whole retainer malarky and quite, quite soon I will have a new set of weird tongue flicking games centred around the little wire glued to the back of my bottom teeth to keep me occupied***.

I'm not even sure what I'm trying to say here. It's more musings than anything else.

There was a thing, then there wasn't, doodily doo doodily doodily doodily do.

So, uh, I guess to give some sort of educational value or something I'll say: never forget to floss.

You might think you've brushed your teeth adequately to keep everything clean and shipshape but there are always bits of food squirrelled away in those little gaps and crevices and if left there they rot like corpses jammed into a ravine. Except unlike the putrescent vapours of ravine corpses, the tooth graveyard allows you to waft the stench of death and decay over friends and bedmates. Also it's bad for your gums. So floss your damn teeth.
I promise to stop talking about ravine corpses if you do.

Oh and my apologies to those who might have thought this post was going to be a wicked ass saga about a shark.

*The way they were sitting would have gradually caused severe wearing that would have left me stumpy and steak-less in my autumnal years.

**Imagine wearing braces for almost five years and then having nothing to show for it because your wisdom teeth rolled into town like a gang of outlaws and started shoving all the law abiding citizen teeth around and Sheriff Braces is so long gone that there's no hope of reprieve or order.

***Uh, the wire was glued to my teeth to keep them from ever trying to wander back into their old positions, not as a means to keep me occupied. That's just an unintentional benefit.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Delectable Deduction

I've been re-watching the beautifully pale and angular Bendedict Cumberbatch and the ever squeezable Martin Freeman in the excellently updated Sherlock and not only has it made me almost pathologically unable to stop scattering adjectives, adverbs and superlatives over everything I write about them, it also got me thinking.

What would Sherlock be able to discern about me?

I wouldn't present much of a challenge I expect but the moment the thought entered my head a little monologue began writing itself.

You have one fingernail shorter than the other nine, a breakage that you've filed smooth but haven't cut the others to match which indicates that you're either pragmatic enough not to care about the length of your fingernails overmuch or you're too vain to shorten them all.

The state of your hair argues against vanity for although clean and uniformly dyed, it isn't styled with any particular care, you've used no products or aids and have bound it back in much the same way you have since you left school.

The ink on your right index finger marks you as someone who works with words, your workplace operating under some terribly archaic practices, but the instinctive tilt of your hands suggests a certain proficiency with touch typing. This either bodes well for them updating their procedures or for your chances of getting work elsewhere when they go under for falling behind the times.

Your slacks are hemmed by the expedient method of turning and securing them with safety pins. As your height is unlikely to be changing at this late juncture and the pants have been hemmed in this fashion long enough to develop a pronounced crease, this is another indicator of your tendency towards inertia.

The collar of your blouse is presentable but not pressed, you've never taken it upon yourself to learn how to iron. This is less laziness and more a point of pride. You don't hide the slight rumple of the fabric but you haven't left the garment long enough for it to become pronounced. A strange rebellion to enjoy as much as you do.

The narrowing of your eyes speaks strongly to how annoying you're finding me right now but the quirk at the corner of your mouth says that you're still going to offer me a cup of tea. I don't suppose I could press you for a biscuit as well?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

A Little Space Of My Own

Oh well if I was ever looking for conclusive evidence that I'm losing my mind I now have it.

I mean, I never had that firm a grasp on my mind in the first place but it is definitely slipping away faster than I anticipated.

I left something out of my perfect house planning.

Something essential.

Something I didn't even remember until I read this article.

A secret room!

What the hell is wrong with you, brain?

How can we live without a secret room?

I very much doubt I'll ever be affluent enough to build a house big enough to contain a secret passage but a hidden room I think I could squeeze into the budget.

I like the elegance of this swinging bookcase.

First reason, the lovely curved double doors are a design feature I like all by themselves.

Second reason, it's a bookcase, which is not only a traditional method of hiding passages and bolt holes but also wonderfully functional.

I think I would have always been drawn to the idea of secret rooms and passages no matter what, especially considering the amount of books* I've read that have featured them, but I had a push in that direction when I was young.

My godfather owned a house that contained one.

I've been jealous of people for a lot of things.

Owning a sweet-ass Voltron figure that actually broke down into the individual lions which contained each of the pilots.

Being able to do backflips on the playground without worrying about messing it up and landing on their head.

Having a bike whose pedals could be pedalled backwards because the brakes were in the handles.

But I have never been as jealous of any of those people as I was of my godfather's son who lived in the secret room.

You entered it through a nondescript looking hallway cupboard which - when you opened it - contained not linens, Christmas decorations or winter wear but a set of quite steep stairs which you climbed in darkness.

At the top of the staircase you pressed up on a trap door which lifted to let you into a narrow but comfortable room which had a small unobtrusive balcony overlooking the very high-ceilinged lounge room.

It was amazing.

I'd never seen a secret room in person before and the idea that you could live in one, that you could have your books and clothes and stereo in one and be able to look out on the rest of the household when your presence or existence may not have been immediately evident or noticed at all...

So. Jealous.

They moved out of the house some years ago and as I was about 10 at the time I didn't have the finances to buy it or the influence to cajole my parents into moving cities and buying it so that I could live in the hidden room but I've never really forgotten about it.

Great swathes of time have gone past without me thinking about it but whenever it has popped up in my brain again I've felt that same wonder, excitement and satisfaction.

So it's going on the list.

Secret room.

Candlestick sconces and fireplaces optional**.

*I only reluctantly gave up on my plans to become Mary out of The Secret Garden when I realised that in order for that to happen my parents would have to die.

**The only option is which colours and of which materials they'll be constructed.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Sick Sick Sick

I can't think of a better way to start this so I'll just say: I got sick over the Christmas holidays.

It started off just before Christmas with me thinking I'd pulled a muscle in my forearm or given myself tendinitis ten-pin bowling with too heavy a bowling ball the night before and then a couple of days later the other arm started doing the same thing.

After a few days they both started aching and throbbing, they felt hot all the time and didn't like to be left in one place for long when I was trying to sleep.

Then my hands puffed up.

I spent two weeks with cold packs more or less permanently strapped to my arms which had to be rested on a banana pillow on my lap because holding my arms up made me too tired and hurt too much.

I didn't have enough strength in my hands to open a loosely tightened screw-top water bottle let alone type or do anything else.

All I could do was lay about the place watching TV and worrying.
I couldn't even read because holding a book up or even open for longer than five minutes hurt too much.

Then my guts decided to join in and ache and play up for a bit. So not only could I not sit up for too long, I couldn't lie in one position for long either.

My appetite went AWOL, I lost at least 6 kg* in 2 weeks. They weren't kilos I needed, losing them didn't push me into an unhealthy weight range, but it was disconcerting seeing them all wander off at the same time when the most energetic thing I was doing was pressing 'Play All' and gnawing on my lip.

I was in a panic and had been seeing the doctor ever since the symptoms had kicked up from 'slightly annoying' to 'what the hell is going on here!?'.

I had some blood tests done, I had some ultrasounds and a few other scans.

For the most part everything came back normal but a couple of things that should have been up were down and a couple that should have been down were up.

Just when things were at their worst and I was starting to make plans for how I was going to have to move back home with my parents, wondering how my cats would cope with our other cats and what sort of work a person with a functioning brain but crapped out arms could manage, things started to slowly calm down.

As far as we've been able to work out I caught a virus, probably courtesy of one of the many millions of mosquitoes that have come out to play after all the flooding in the last few months, which sent my system into a major freak-out.

Fortunately a combination of the lifespan of the virus and my being a reasonably healthy young-ish person stopped it before it went past the point of no return.
I apparently came within a gnat's wing of developing a permanent inflammatory condition.

I've been back at work since the start of February and every week since then I've felt a bit better. Just being able to be at work and do things like cook and drive for myself have been a huge mood lifter all by themselves.

Most of my blood test scores are back to normal and I have been eating and living like a saint to keep the recovery marching on.

I've had to give up both caffeine and alcohol for the rest of this year to give myself the best chance at a full recovery and avoid the possibility of any kind of relapse.
Depending on how far one of the last scores recovers, I may end up having to ration or forgo alcohol and caffeine permanently.

Nevertheless at this point what I am feeling is incredibly, incredibly lucky.

I have never been that sick before and hope never to be that sick ever again.

I am beyond grateful that I feel as close to normal as I do now and if it takes giving up stimulants to maintain it, I won't even blink.

It's easy to dismiss the phrase 'at least you have your health' when you're healthy and there's something going wrong in your life, or just not going as right as you'd like, but I am never going to take that sentiment for granted again.

Anyway, now that I'm done being serious and disconcertingly earnest the two things I started this post wanting to say are as follows:

When I was physically unable to write I still came up with ideas for my posts and now I'm both mentally and physically able to do so I'm going to start filling in the place-saver drafts I claw typed at the time.
So over the next few weeks I'll be filling in the gaping void that currently lies between December and the present day.
Some of you had already noticed my amazing time defying efforts in this area and oh how I wish your assumptions were true and I could pull a Back to the Future because I would tell Past Me what I'm about to tell Current You.

Wear mosquito repellent all the time.
Just all the damn time.
If you're going outside I want you to spritz yourself with repellent and then I want you to spritz yourself again just to be sure.
All over.
I don't care what the season is - mosquito repellent.
It's worth it, believe me.

OK, maybe I wasn't quite done being disconcertingly earnest.

PS. As hard as it may be to believe this isn't supposed to be a 'downer' post, me and my working arms are in a great mood :-)

*That's about 13 lbs for the imperialists.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Don't Mind If I Do

Looking at myself in the bathroom mirror as I wash my hands, I can't at first work out what is bothering me about this outfit and then it hits me.

This hoodie makes me look like a Jedi.

It is at least three sizes too big and is of a manly cut for manly shoulders so it drapes like a cowl and draws closed like robes.

And I have no idea where it came from.

I mean, I know where I got it from but before that the trail gets a little muddy.

I'm not making any sense, let me try again.

The universe gives me jackets.

It does.

On no less than three and no more than five occasions, friends or colleagues have approached me holding out a jacket and said "You left this behind."

I didn't, it isn't mine.

I tell them this and they shrug and say something to the effect of "Whatever, it's been sitting here for over a month, you want it?"

And what the hell, sure, why not, free jacket.

They're invariably at least a size too big but always incredibly warm and cosy and no-one has ever, ever come looking for them again.

I've checked periodically for months afterward if anyone has come looking for their jacket until I am gripped firmly by the shoulders by an exasperated acquaintance who requests very, very politely that I please, for the love of God, stop asking. Just. Keep. The. Damn. Jacket.

Seeing as this is a very odd thing to happen to somebody more than once and definitely a strange thing to happen almost a half dozen times I've decided to go the egocentric route and take this as a sign that the universe wants me to be warm.

This means one of two things.

Option 1: I am inherently important.

Option 2: The universe is in cahoots with my mother who never thinks that I dress warmly enough.

Seeing as the universe hasn't started randomly handing me babies* or sending me baby magazines like it did to Lucy Knisley (see 6pm), it is obviously Option 1.

So if you feel obligated to pay me tribute I wouldn't be averse to that.

I expect it to arrive in the form of jackets.

*Mum never used to be like that but in the last five years she's gotten very 'Oh look at the babies!'
It's... disconcerting...