Archive for February, 2010

I have been misled. I have been lied to.

This week, I got a certain little present that I’d been wanting for a long time. The kind of little present I had to go and pick up.

From the dentist’s office.

My year of torture. 139/365

I have pretty straight teeth overall, but turns out I have this thing called a tongue thrust. (Say that again, P asked me when I told him about it.) That means that every time I swallow, my tongue pushes out against my teeth, eventually leading to this:

Artist’s renditon

According to the wikipedia article, most people grow out of tongue thrusting (I think P just asked me to say it again from the other room) by age six. I am aged thirty, so apparently I was absent that day in class.

It’s only gotten worse, so I eventually bit the bullet and spent the tax return to get the braces.

Except, you guys, throughout this entire process, talking to my dentist, all the hygienists in her office who have them, all the people I know who have used Invisalign in the past — not one person saw fit to let me know, gently, that braces HURT.

I didn’t think much about it, honestly. I figured legions of teenagers get braces every day. Sure, it hurts them, since the nice orthodontist has to go in and tighten some screws or something.

I’m not really clear on what happens with traditional metal braces, to be honest. P had them when he was a kid for like three years and he likes to tell me horror stories of headgear and this contraption in the roof of his mouth that had to be cranked open. I just… I don’t even want to know, okay? His teeth are nice and straight now so I pretend that they started out that way. But I was going to be different! My invisible braces were going to make my mouth feel like it was filled with clouds and sunshine. That is why I paid the premium.

When the dentist went to snap the first set of trays in, I stopped her. “Is the pain anything like traditional braces?” This is, true, an awful time to ask that question, since the braces exist and were paid for.

“Oh, no,” she said. “There’s a low-grade pain, but it’s actually better than metal braces. Then you have a lot of pain all at once. Here it’s spread out a little.”

Then she snapped the clear plastic trays on my teeth.

“Oh, that’s not so bad.”

“That’s because these are the trays that are just like your teeth are now.” Then she proceeded to put these chunks of ceramic or something on my teeth which are what hold the braces in. So now I have lumpy teeth. Luckily they are hidden.

Then we got to the real thing. It was a little sore, true, but I was okay. I would soldier on. I grabbed lunch on my way home and pulled the braces out first thing. This was going to be great! I ate my food that had texture and everything was wonderful. Braces were awesome!

Then I had to put them back in. As if I’m already not obsessive-compulsive enough, I have to brush my teeth every time I take them out. So I sang the brusha brusha brusha song and I shoved those bad boys back in place.

How I howled. My teeth did not want to go back into this new place! No, they were quite happy before the new regime. Eventually I heard the reassuring click and gulped down a handful of Advil. Did you know that stuff takes an hour to kick in? I do, because I watched the clock.

Things only got worse as the day went on. As soon as I went on break in my fiction workshop, I popped the braces out so I could eat a protein bar. This time, when I put them back in, I got tears in my eyes involuntarily. My teeth were clearly plotting against me.

So pretty much every time I’m faced with food, now, I have to make a decision: is this worth taking my braces off for? This is important, because every time I have to put them back on, I go through the seven stages of grief:

Shock or disbelief: My god, how can this hurt so much? I had them off for ten minutes!
Denial: There’s no way that my gums are going to put up with this. Maybe I should take them off.
Bargaining: If I take them off now, I will just have to add another day to the back-end. That gives me an extra twenty-two hours to be free!
Guilt: I can’t believe I spent all this money to be in so much pain.
Anger: Why are straight teeth so prized, anyway. I bet there are cultures in the world where picket-fence mouth are considered incredibly beautiful!
Depression: I’m never going to eat anything that’s not pudding textured again.
Acceptance and Hope: This really isn’t so bad! It’s only for a year and the soreness is much reduced.

The only problem is that when I get to acceptance, it’s time to eat again.

Posted on February 26th, 2010 by Eliza  |  3 Comments »

Don’t let me loose in Ikea with a camera

I got a Diana camera for Christmas, but every time I take a picture with it, I have an image in my mind of someone flushing dollar coins down the toilet, so I haven’t used it very much. The dollar coins are the new ones, with one of the presidents on. When’s the last time you saw a dollar coin with Sacajawea? I wouldn’t flush one of those down the toilet. I might take a picture with my Diana camera, though.


Today P and I went to Ikea. There’s only one rule of Ikea, and that is never, ever go on a weekend. That place is panic attack city and I’m always surprised they don’t have a little nurse’s office where you can go lie down in the dark for a minute and wait for someone to call your mother. No, instead you have to spend the entire trip like a salmon swimming upstream. God help you if you want to actually look at something. If you get out of the river, you might as well just climb up on one of the beds and hope your companions see you on the next swing around.

Weekday Ikea trips might have been like twelve percent of the reason we moved to a suburb northwest of the city.


Also, because I’m awesome, I just discovered this great iPhone app called Hipstamatic, which lets you take pictures that look like they were taken with lomographic (is that even a word?) camera. Like the Diana. See where I’m going here?


Das biteyteeth.


Glow worm.

Fairy lights.

Maybe my favorite picture so far. 120/365

We make our own fun.

*Until like, five years ago I honestly thought the word segue was just short for segueway. Like, everyone shortened it! It was an acceptable substitute! So writing it now still seems weird. Don’t you judge me.

Posted on February 5th, 2010 by Eliza  |  No Comments »

Back in the saddle etc etc

School started again last week and, oddly enough, I was really ready. As I walked up Michigan Avenue to the building where the Fiction Department is located, I felt less apprehensive than I usually feel when I start new classes. Instead, I was, dare I say, actually excited, face-melting cold notwithstanding. I feel like I’m finally getting on my feet in this program.

The irony is not lost on me that it’s my second-to-last semester.

(Seriously, it’s cold. Who thought that building a city on the banks of what I’m told is a REALLY BIG lake was a good idea? I’m not from here! I don’t know how winter works!)

I’m really looking forward to doing the steeplechase again. The steeplechase is a twelve-step exercise, performed in the Advanced Fiction workshop, that aims to stretch a story in many different directions: point-of-view, form, etc. Since I write novels that generally have a first-person or close third-person point-of-view, this exercise doesn’t give me a lot of material that I can use, flat-out, in my stories, but last semester I figured out that it’s completely excellent for building novel backstory. It’s a love it or hate it kind of exercise, but I know I’m taking the steeplechase with me after I leave the Fiction Writing program.

My elective course this time around is called Small Press Publishing and, I swear, I could not be more thrilled that I decided to take it. It’s essentially an independent project course — at the end I’ll have a book, magazine, zine, or website that I created on my own. The teacher is a guy who runs a small press himself, and I’m hoping to learn a lot about the business end of small presses.

Combine this with a sekrit project that I’m working on, and I’m feeling pretty good overall about this semester. Someone remind me of this when I’m mired in despair in about ten weeks, okay? Tell me that, for once, I felt content. Maybe this time it will stick.

Posted on February 2nd, 2010 by Eliza  |  1 Comment »