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Of Braces and Home Improvement

an orthodontic journal

June to July 2002
z Monday, June 2

We took the kids to Disneyland for a few days and lived to tell the tale. Have you ever gone to a theme park with small kids for more than one day? It's EXHAUSTING!! But we got to do just about everything, and most of the time, it was fun.

Here's a little detail about Disneyland I never would have noticed (or cared about) before. There are no mirrors above the sinks in ANY of the bathrooms. Oh, there are mirrors, alright -- far away from the sinks! Good thing I had my portable little folding mirror. Yes, I had to pick yucky stuff out of my teeth plenty of times during those three days. And each time, I had to do it holding a little mirror in front of my face. I suppose they built the bathrooms that way because mirrors in front of sinks always get noticeably dirty, and tile doesn't. Well, that doesn't help us wearers of braces, does it?  

Hey Walt Disney, "Mirror mirror with no sink underneath, How do you expect me to clean my teeth?"

I'd love to write more, but I'm pooped. Tomorrow, the fence guys and the painter are coming to start their respective jobs.


Tuesday, June 3

The new fences look great! One was leaning, and has been repaired. Another has been enlarged vertically so we have more privacy on one side of the house. In this area, our neighbor could look directly into our living room -- not anymore! As soon as I can get a landscaper to put down more bark chips, we can place the new hammock out there.

The fence company also fixed a gate that has been a thorn in my side for years. The gate is wooden, and during rainy season, it swells slightly and is impossible to get open. No more of that nonsense! It's amazing how simple things can make life so much more pleasant.

The painter began prepping the house by washing it with some sort of chemical solution. He covered each of the new windows with plastic, which I really appreciated. Tomorrow he comes back to prime the gutters.

I want to get started on the guest bathroom, but I think I'll need to wait a week or two. School is ending next week, and things will get busy. I'll probably start painting the bathroom when the kids begin camp.

Regarding my teeth, I keep getting these irritations on my lower gums from the brackets. I'm not exactly sure what causes them; it seems random. But when it happens, I gob a bunch of wax on the offending bracket for several days until the gum heals, and sometimes use Anbesol. It's a real pain in the butt.

Dr. Vogt agreed to write some information about headgear and rubber bands. I hope to post this information to the website soon.

I mentioned that we went to Disneyland last week. We drove there, and came up with a great way to keep the kids occupied on the boring journey. Hubby has a laptop computer with a DVD player. We bought a power converter so the computer could run off the cigarette lighter current, a splitter for the headphone jack, and a couple of headphone wire extenders. Total price of equipment: $80 (from Radio Shack). We mounted the laptop computer on a plastic file box inside our minivan, secured it all with bungee cords, and hooked everything up. Then we rented some DVDs the kids liked. It worked like a charm! They could watch movies with their headphones on and be entertained, and Hubby and I could talk or just enjoy the relative silence. The kids barely fought or complained about being bored. So there's an idea for any fellow parents. If you have a laptop computer with a DVD player, go for it!

z Sunday, June 9

Here's something to remember: birthday cakes with vivid-colored frosting will temporarily stain ceramic braces, not to mention, your tongue. Today I had blue teeth, lips, and tongue for a while. I should have taken a picture!

I have several gashes on my lower gums from my brackets. I don't know why. This wasn't a big problem for the past 6 months, and suddenly it's annoying as hell. Half my lower brackets have wax on them. One gash is so deep that the bracket gets stuck in it if I'm not careful. OWWWWWW! I really hate using the wax, but it's the only solution. I hate picking it off before each brushing, and then needing to re-apply it afterwards. How does it feel if I don't use the wax? Well, it's akin to having a small rock in your shoe, or a speck of sand in your eye: Damn annoying!!! Downright painful when I try to eat. I suppose my teeth must be moving forward a bit or something, and rubbing on the gums. Otherwise, why would this be a problem all of a sudden?

The painter primed the new gutters and fixed a bunch of bad stucco cracks. This coming week, he'll probably do more prep and then begin painting. Later this coming week, the landscape company will come and put down either bark or gravel on the side of the house. Each material has its advantages: bark looks nicer, but gravel is easier to clean tree debris from. (We have a Maple tree on that side of the house).

Hubby just couldn't wait to try out the hammock, so he put it together. He said it's like valium on strings. I think he likes it :-) I tried it, too. Wow, with the new fence and more privacy, it's like having a little park on the side of my house. Once again, we shake our heads and ask ourselves, "Why did it take us so long to do this?!" I feel like we had our heads stuck in the sand for all these years. But to be fair, when you have a growing family, home improvement isn't a high priority (unless your place REALLY BADLY needs work). Our house was in great move-in condition when we bought it. It just took us a while...ok, a long figure out what we'd want to do with it.

I can't believe that we're considering this, know how these home improvement projects can begin to snowball...we're thinking of ripping up much of the carpet and re-doing the hardwood floors underneath. I'm having the flooring company that did the kitchen give us an estimate. This surprises even me. Whether we re-carpet, or re-do the hardwood, it will be very expensive. But the carpet looks like total crap (when I steam clean it, it just looks like clean crap). Something has to be done about it. It is probably at least 15 years old. I've realized that when I walk into a house with hardwood floors, I always, deep down, think how great they look. 

Honestly, it's something I never thought we would do. When you live in a carpeted house for so many years, it's difficult to see the house any other way. But lately, with all the other great changes, I can begin to see the real potential. The weird thing is, Hubby agrees with me! The floor has been a very low priority for him, but I think he is also starting to see more potential in the house. Why did it take us so long to figure this stuff out? Maybe watching so much HGTV has penetrated our brains...

z Monday, June 17

Before I you realize that tomorrow is Paul McCartney's 60th birthday?!

Will we still hear him, 
Praise him or jeer him, 
When he's 64? 

Spending his birthday on a honeymoon with a wife half his they say in England....LUCKY BLOKE!

What a hectic couple of weeks this has been! Those of you with kids know how crazy the last week of school can be. There are end-of-year parties, special class projects, and even field trips. Throw in a few birthday parties and Father's Day, and it's enough to make your head spin.

This week, the dust is finally settling, and my older daughter has a slight cold, and my back hurts (my own fault for not exercising regularly, shame on me -- really, it's very bad that I've been lazy about keeping my muscles toned after all the pain I was in last year from a car accident -- my physical therapist would kill me!) This week, I had planned to do stuff with the kids: museums, movies, play dates, etc. But with one kid under the weather, the other one on the verge, and me being super careful with my back, it doesn't leave much room for fun. Next week they start day camp. Hopefully, before then, we'll be able to get out and do something fun.

I have a dental adjustment coming up on Thursday, and I expect that Dr. Vogt will put a heavier arch wire on my lower teeth. At that point, I plan to have another photo taken to post to the site. As I've been saying, all those bottom teeth have straightened considerably, and hopefully it will be as apparent to you as it is to me.

Most of those gum irritations have gone away, except for the very front of the bottom. I have kept wax on those teeth for the past few weeks. As soon as I take off the wax (it only takes about a day), the irritation comes back and it really hurts to eat anything! I suppose the stupid wax is a small price to pay. I suppose I should be grateful that it exists; it would be damn uncomfortable without it. But, I hate using the wax!

Lately I have moved away from those plastic floss threaders and have preferred the Glide Threaders. This is essentially floss with a very stiff waxed end. Now that I'm accustomed to flossing my braces, I find that using the Glide Threader is easier than threading a plastic needle.

On the home improvement front, things continue to move along. On Saturday, the landscape company cleaned up the side yard where the hammock is. They leveled the area and put down large pebbles/gravel. I would have preferred bark chips, but gravel really is more practical in that area. So Hubby got his Father's Day wish: to use the spa and then veg out in the hammock! 

The local stores are deeply discounting their lawn and garden stuff, and I got a bunch of really nice resin stepping stones for $5.50 each. I even treated myself to a resin "garden fairy." Hubby rolled his eyes. I'm not the sort of person who goes for the likes of Hummels, but I really wanted this little statue. Hell, it was only $6.00 on sale at Target!

I've spent several hours wandering around Home Depot and several lighting stores. I finally picked out a couple of new outdoor fixtures and towel bars for the bathrooms. And I found the third faucet. Did I mention that we decided to replace the faucets in our three bathrooms?  We have always hated the existing faucets. Once again, I ask myself, "why did it take us so long to figure that out?!" At first I thought we'd install the faucets ourselves, but the instructions are quite daunting. And us, being the anti-Bob Villa and spouse -- well, we have absolutely no confidence in our plumbing skills. So our plumber will be installing them for a total of about $350. I know...we're home improvement wimps...I openly admit it!! My talent is limited to simple painting.

We're getting a few estimates for the floors. I have a feeling that re-finishing the hardwood will prove too costly. I'm also trying to get a door expert to come out and tell me what to do about the pocket doors in the kitchen.

The painter has continued to prime the house (not every single day -- he works a few days per week, but that's ok). I think that this week he will actually begin painting.

Speaking of paint, I went to the paint store last week and finally got a few quarts of the colors that the color consultant recommended. All of them look great, except for the kitchen! We had both thought that a sage green would look good. But when I put it on the wall, my first reaction was "Uuugggh!" The lower wall (paneling) will be green, and the upper wall will be an off-white. Well anyway, the color has grown on me a bit, but frankly I don't think I could live with it. So back to the drawing board. I called her, but she hasn't gotten back to me yet. She may be on vacation; I know she has young kids, and school just ended, so I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt. 

I've gotten quite a few emails, and some comments on the forum, about this site being helpful. I am honestly SO GLAD, because that's why I created it! I think we adults are the overlooked minority. In many ways, we probably need more "hand holding" than kids or teenagers. We have so many questions, and I think being in braces/elastics/headgear makes us go through that "awkward stage" of life a second time. Lord knows, we'd rather forget what that was like. Not to mention, we're paying for this ourselves. Even married people, who have "nothing to lose" by the process, are anxious about what their peers will think. 

I get so mad when I read about spouses/significant others who aren't supportive. This process is no walk in the park; it's expensive, cumbersome, sometimes painful, often stupid-looking, and sometimes downright embarrassing. You need that important person in your life to be on your side! It's difficult NOT to be self-conscious and anxious about dental appliances, as trivial as it may seem. 

So.....What color will the kitchen walls be painted? Will we decide to do hardwood floors, new carpet, or nothing? Will my back stop hurting soon? (Music swells up) Tune in next time on....As The Tooth Turns.

z Thursday, June 20

Today is six months since I began treatment, and the news isn't so good. 

I went in for my usual monthly adjustment. Dr. Vogt looked in my mouth. "Hmmm," he said in a concerned voice. After about two minutes of examining and "Hmmmms" I finally asked what was wrong. Seems that the gums under my bottom two front teeth aren't as pink as they normally should be. They are, in Dr. Vogt's words, "blanched" and in danger of receding. "I think we've pushed the limit of what we can do without extractions," he said. Damn! I was hoping it wouldn't come to this. But he's right, the gum tissue is more white than pink, and it definitely looks different from the picture that was taken before treatment began.

In a nutshell, I have two options: 1)Get those four bicuspids extracted, or 2)Have some skin grafted from the roof of my mouth to the problem gum line (OUCH!!!). Neither option is pretty.

Dr. Vogt wants me to get another x-ray to see how the top teeth have moved. From that, he will be able to make a final evaluation for further treatment. I have a feeling that extractions will be in order. Frankly, I've been surprised all these months that I seemed NOT to need the extractions. All the other orthodontists I've seen over the years have recommended it. I appreciate that Dr. Vogt tried to straighten my teeth without taking any out. But the simple truth is, that my teeth are very crowded, so those two front ones apparently can't bear the strain of movement without more leeway (or something like that).

I'm getting the x-rays done early next week, and will see Dr. Vogt later in the week. In the mean time, he took the wire off the two bottom front teeth (to take the pressure off of them). So my braces look a bit weird on the bottom -- there is a wire on the left, and a wire on the right, and no wire in the middle!

So no, I'm not happy about the latest development, but it is what it is. Next week I'll know what my orthodontic future holds.

z Friday, June 28

Well, it's bye-bye bicuspids. In fact, I had them removed today. Here I sit, with four big gaps in my mouth.

Yes, that was fast, wasn't it? I saw Dr. Vogt the day after the x-rays were taken. My teeth had actually moved 4 millimeters in 6 months. Based on a comparison of the old and new x-ray image, he thought that my lip profile would be essentially the same as "pre-braces" after treatment if the 4 teeth were extracted. He thought that extraction would be a better bet than gum surgery.

I wanted to get the whole scenario over with ASAP, and I was able to see the oral surgeon at the end of the week -- today, that is. Hubby arranged to work from home to help take care of me, which was very sweet of him. 

The extractions took place under local anesthetic. I could have been "put under," but I don't like to do that unless it's absolutely necessary. FYI, getting bicuspids extracted is NOT the same as wisdom teeth; it's very easy. So, 6 or 8 Novocain needles later (I lost count), my mouth was completely numb. The oral surgeon had a really great technique. Usually, when I get Novocain for a filling, the needle hurts and burns like hell. This guy did it very well, with minimal discomfort (although, my fingers were sure gripping the armrests pretty hard anyway)! Needles in your mouth are never pleasant, but it was over quickly. As needles go, these weren't too bad.

After giving the Novocain a few minutes to do its magic, he and an assistant got to work. One thing I can tell you -- fillings take longer, and are more involved, than these extractions were! He took a pair of dental pliers to each tooth and said, "OK, when I push down on the tooth, you push up (or vice-versa)." 1-2-3, the tooth popped right out. I was totally amazed. One after another, like popping apart Lego pieces. Only one top bicuspid made a slight crunching sound. The rest was totally silent. Incredulously, I asked, "Are they all out?" Yes indeed, they were, all four of them. So I sat there, my mouth packed with gauze, my stomach doing flip-flops from relief. The whole thing took about 20 minutes.

Hubby drove me home, and suddenly I was overcome with emotion. I tried to say, "You know, sometimes it's hard to be brave," but my mouth was packed with gauze and I just wound up sounding like a sincere, but mentally challenged woman! Hubby got me laughing by asking me say all sort of phrases that were impossible. After a few minutes, all the tension melted away and I took a big deep breath. When we got home, I took a nap.

The oral surgeon gave me some generic Vicodin, and so far I've taken one. I feel a little woozy, but I'm not in pain at all, which totally amazes me. So, the thing I've been dreading all these years is done. 

Before you sit there, possibly thinking that I am a very brave individual, let me put this all into perspective for you. If you're a Mom, you know where I coming from: after childbirth, practically NOTHING medical is a big deal anymore. Childbirth has been, by far, the most terrifying thing I have been through, and I have been through it twice (both normal births, thankfully). Have you ever read the book, "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit"? It's about a guy who is a paratrooper in the war, and then becomes an advertising executive. This guy is terrified to jump out of airplanes, but he has to do it. Once he is out of the military, he finds the cut-throat advertising world difficult, but no matter the situation, he always rationalizes, "It could never be worse than jumping out of an airplane." 

So the next time you need dental extractions (or even just braces), remember: at least you're not giving birth or jumping out of an airplane.

I spent my "free" time this week working on the upstairs bathroom, and it's 99 percent done! It is really an incredible transformation. The bathroom has a decent and nice vinyl flooring and a very nice white tile sink. But the walls around the toilet are sheets of something like Formica (yuck) in white with silver sparkle flecks (double yuck). The Formica stuff goes from the floor up the wall about one-third of the way. So, I used this as a natural break. I painted the upper wall off-white, and the lower wall (and Formica areas) a taupe color. Then, I put a border between the two areas. I'll be darned, it worked so well and looks so great! I was sure to put a double coat of primer on the Formica, and so far, I think it will be ok. No more cheesy sparkle walls!

The plumber came earlier in the week and put in those new faucets, and they look very good, too. The only thing that remains is the light fixture over the sink. Hubby and I will put it up this weekend (I really couldn't handle that by myself).

I took a trip to KMart and a bed and bath store, and got some nice towels and matching accessories. I put up a new window treatment and some new towel bars. Viola! The only thing that is still yucky in the room is the stall shower, which could really use replacement. It works fine, it just looks really dated inside. Can you guess? White fiberglass with silver sparkles! But the glass is completely opaque, and since you don't see the inside of the shower unless you ARE inside of it, we decided to leave it alone. Ripping it out would be costly and complicated, and we just didn't want to spend the money, since that shower is only used occasionally by guests.

I think I'll take a break from painting next week, but I would like to get started on the TV room next. This is a little tricky, because we have a heavy upright piano, a sofa, a TV media unit, and a large oak wall unit in that room. All will need to be moved. And since I think I've learned my lesson about moving things (my recent backache), it may take longer to get things accomplished because I'll be relying on Hubby and some friends to move these heavy objects. 

Or, I might paint the downstairs bathroom first. That would certainly be easier. I'm not replacing any fixtures in that room.

Well, that's the latest and greatest. 

I see Dr. Vogt and the oral surgeon next week, and the braces will be put back on. I'm looking forward to closing those gaps and continuing treatment!

z Saturday, June 29

Ironically, my mouth is fine, but my back is KILLING ME! I had stopped taking my prescription anti-inflammatory meds for the extractions (because they thin out your blood and can prevent it from clotting). My back had actually stopped hurting completely last week. I thought everything would be fine, but last night it started killing me. Today, I can't sit, stand, or even lay down without pain. Doing the back exercises and stretches makes it feel worse. In fact, I'm on my knees at the computer writing this so I don't have to sit down. Hopefully, my meds will kick back in soon and I'll be out of pain again. I have an appointment with my orthopedist later in the week, thankfully. What the hell did I do to myself to get into such pain?!

Anyway, regarding the swelling, minimal bleeding. The only pain I feel is at the points where they gave me the Novocain needles yesterday, so my jaw hurts a bit from that. It's totally weird to look in my mouth and see 4 spaces where teeth used to be. 

Yesterday I needed to eat only soft foods, but today I can eat normal stuff if I want. I think I'll still stick to a soft diet for another day, just to be safe. Chewing feels weird when food gets into the holes where the teeth used to be.

Everyone tells me that the gaps close up rather quickly when the braces are put on, so I expect that the "holes" won't be there too long. Truthfully, I'd be feeling pretty good today if it weren't for my back.

On that note, I want to apologize if the website doesn't get updated until later next week. I need to put up a new July Braces Poll, a new Humor page, and some photos, but I can't really do any of that until my back gets better. So if the site seems a bit stale for the next few days, you'll know why. Sorry about that.

z Tuesday, July 2

I got my braces put back on today, and I have one thing to say: "OWWWWWWW!!!!"

I'd failed to mention that before the extractions on Friday, I saw Dr. Vogt. He took off the top and bottom arch wires, and removed the brackets from the 4 teeth that were to be extracted. Removing the brackets just took a minute. Somehow he just clipped them off. That was different than I'd expected (I thought perhaps he needed some sort of solvent to break the chemical bond). So, I've spent the past few days recovering from the extractions without any arch wires in my mouth. Except for the brackets glued to them, my teeth were "free." 

I knew that it would probably hurt a lot when the arch wires went back on. It's almost like getting the braces again for the first time, but believe me, it's worse, because my teeth are being pulled by CHAIN ELASTICS! Orthodontics is somewhat Medieval, dontcha think?

Chain elastics look just like those little rubber bands (ligating modules) that hold your arch wire to your braces. They fit in the same place as the ligating modules (on the center of the brackets), but the elastics are chained together, forming a continuous band. I suppose they help pull the teeth together. Well OUCH, *$#!!&* and other explicative!

I will have Hubby take a photo of my mouth with the chains on and post it in the next day or two, so you'll know what I'm talking about.

I got the arch wires put on this morning, and now it's post-dinner. I made spaghetti and meatballs. Would you believe that eating the spaghetti hurt? I tell ya, the next week or two are going to be a laugh riot. I suppose I'll just have to stick to all soft food for a while. So much for a July 4th BBQ. Maybe I'll put my hotdogs and burgers in a blender and suck them through a straw!

Regarding the gaps where the extracted teeth used to be, Dr. Vogt said that generally they fill in at a rate of about one millimeter per month. So, in about 6 months the gaps should be gone. The front teeth will move slightly back, and the back teeth will move slightly forward.

While all this movement is taking place, the arch wire will be displaced at the corners of my mouth. So, from time to time, it will poke me, and I will make an emergency trip to Dr. Vogt to get it clipped down. Oh joy of joys...

Regarding my back, it still hurts. In fact, I've been at my knees using the computer instead of sitting in a chair. The prescription anti-inflammatory has kicked back in, so I feel good enough to drive and shop (not carry anything heavy). But I'm limiting my sitting when I can. In case you're wondering, yes, all the updates I've done to the site these past few days have been done while on my knees. I see the orthopedist tomorrow. 

What amazes me is that my teeth still hurt so much, despite all this medication I'm on. It's pretty powerful stuff. I hate to think what it would feel like without it!

I just hope it stops hurting soon! One thing for sure, I can't change my mind and have the braces taken off, with these gaps in my mouth. If I wasn't committed before, I sure am now.

z Monday, July 8

Well, my teeth have stopped hurting, for the most part. I have a little trouble with crunchy foods like cookies, but I can eat them if I break them into small pieces, first. Phew! I thought for sure that I'd be in pain for a much longer time. I'm relieved that it was only about a week. 

For whatever reason, the end brackets on the top right are irritating my gums, and that really hurts. I need to keep wax gobbed on them 24/7, or it's incredibly uncomfortable, and I can barely speak.

I'm trying not to be upset about the teeth I had extracted. I know that if I had the choice again, I would have made the same decision. Still, it's hard to look in my mouth and see these gaps. They are so big, it seems almost impossible that they will close up. I worry about my bite -- that it will be ok. I feel like this has been a huge leap of faith in my orthodontist. Once the teeth are gone, they can't be put back! I have to trust him, and what others have told me, about having the teeth pulled, and that it will be ok. Truthfully, I try not to think about it too much. Because if I do, it really makes me feel a little sick. I kinda mourn for my pulled teeth. Yeah, maybe it's a little silly, but they have been part of me for most of 40 years. I feel like I've "betrayed them." OK, slap me; I know I'm just being weird about this. But I bet others have felt the same way. Poor little teeth....

My back is getting better slowly. I saw the orthopedist, and he said I have "facet syndrome," which is a clinical way of saying that I tend to sprain my back a lot. He prescribed more of that anti-inflammatory and 4 weeks of physical therapy. I start the therapy this week. Anyway, the doctor agreed that I probably hurt my back this time when I was lifting something heavy. So, no more moving furniture for me. At least I can sit in a chair now instead of kneeling.

The painting on exterior of the house is almost finished. It really looks great! Now, if I can ever figure out what color to paint the kitchen...


Saturday, July 13

The teeth don't hurt at all anymore. I'm back to where I was before the extractions, and I'm quite relieved. I can bite into a burger and eat chips, if I want to. The thing is, chewing is a bit more difficult. I'm not exactly sure why. I suppose those four missing teeth, and the gaping holes they left, are technically interfering with my ability to chew. Not much. Just enough to be a pain in the butt.

Personally, I can't stand people who chew with their mouths open. I have to remember to take small bites of food; otherwise, I need to open my mouth slightly when I chew. And all the time, I'm thinking, "Eeew, gross, don't do that!" Well, I take solace in knowing it's only temporary.

The bottom teeth have un-aligned themselves, but I expected that to happen. The two front ones are not tied into the arch wire. Dr. Vogt did this to take the pressure off of them so the gums could recover. Remember, the reason I had those four teeth extracted was because my gums were beginning to get stressed (lack of room to move). I expect that on my next adjustment visit, he will tie the two teeth back in, and the bottom row will re-align itself.

One pain-in-the-butt inconvenience lately is gum soreness. First my gums are rubbing against the brackets here, then there, then another place. One area heals, then another one gets irritated. I've gone through a lot of wax lately, and I really hate it. One reader emailed and suggested Listerine. She said that if I swish with Listerine a few times per day (and hold it in my mouth for as long as possible), it will help the irritations heal. I'm going to try it. Thanks for the suggestion! Actually, I've gotten a few suggestions about things lately, and I'm thinking of adding a page to the site with those sort of "helpful hints." 

Here's some cool news: this site has been mentioned in a couple of newspapers recently. Of course, the articles start off talking about Tom Cruise and his braces, then go into detail about how other adults are getting braces now, too. So far, this site has been mentioned in the Toronto Star and The State of Columbia, South Carolina. Which got me thinking. I wonder if 'ol Tom himself would be willing to talk with me about his experiences in braces? Or, would he not want to emphasize it? Either way, I'm going to contact his agency and see if I can get an interview. Wouldn't that be something? I'm not going to hold my breath. But what the hell, I'll give it a shot.

I've taken a small break from all the home improvement stuff to let my back heal. Instead of painting, I've been shopping for accessories and stuff. I wanted a new side chair for the guest bedroom and didn't want to pay much money for it. I found a great one at a thrift shop. I love thrift shops. They are like treasure hunts. I copiously donate to them when I'm in a mood to purge unneeded possessions.

I watched a lot of movies this week, because my husband was on a business trip. Watching movies kept me from compulsively wanting to paint. It was nice to watch a movie, and at the same time, do my back exercises and get some aerobics in on the exercise bike. Have you ever suddenly realized that you like the acting style of a certain film star (or the work for a certain writer or director), and that you haven't seem much of his/her work? Then you get curious, and rent a bunch of their movies. So this week was the John Cusack film festival at my house. I've done that over the years; rented a bunch of movies starring Tom Hanks or films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, for example. The folks at Blockbuster must think I'm obsessive. A few months ago, I rented the entire Godfather series because I realized I'd never really seen it (I usually don't go for violent films). When you watch several films at a time, you get good feel for the artist's work. Then, when a new film is released, you can judge it better. 

A while back, I realized that I'd seen the "2001 Space Odyssey" movies, but had never read the books. ("2001" freaked me out as a child and I never really understood it). So I read the books, and then saw the movies again. That was lots of fun.

That said, if you have never seen the film, "Being John Malkovich," then rent it. It is one of the most bizarre movies I've ever seen. 

Anyway, my back is getting better. I'm off the pain meds completely and getting stronger. This time, I promise myself not to backslide. I used to exercise religiously, because my kids' preschool was at a community center with a gym adjacent. Now that the "gym" is at my house, it takes a bit more motivation to forget the damned breakfast dishes and dirty laundry and get my butt in gear on the bike or Nordic Trak. At least I haven't gained any weight from being too sedentary. I have a mid-life philosophy: use it or lose it. If you want to look good and feel good, then take care of yourself. Two years ago, when I was in a wheelchair for 6 weeks because of foot surgery, my calf muscle began to degenerate from lack of use. It totally freaked me out. I doesn't take much for the body (or the mind, for that matter) to drift and settle. 

That said, I'm still trying to find time to play my guitar. I haven't touched it in a long time (lately, because sitting or standing with it would hurt my back, damn it). But this week will be the week. I have a new song brewing inside; I can feel it. So maybe taking a break was good and will renew my creative process. For one thing, it will hurt: the calluses on my fingers need to be built up again!


Saturday, July 20

It has been a rather uneventful week, and I don't really have much to write about.

My teeth have been fine; the usual inconveniences. Although I've had the arch wires in for several weeks, the gaps don't seem any smaller. I suppose the movement is in small increments. Still, it would be motivating if SOMETHING visible was happening.

I got in touch with Tom Cruise's publicist. Unfortunately, Tom is on vacation and will then go to Asia to shoot his next film. So he isn't available for interviews until the end of the year. Darn! Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I'll try again in November or December. I have to wonder, though, if I was from the New York Times, would I have gotten the same answer? I suppose I'll never know..


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