Archive for year 2012

My Invisalign Journey, Part 2

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I started tray 6 this week. It’s mostly been more of the same but I think I’ve finally found my method for tray removal that works best for me (everyone will be different depending on your teeth and attachment placement). It’s definitely gotten much better. I remember when taking a new tray out was such a pain, that I would sometimes just drink a protein shake through a straw for at least the first meal after putting a new tray in but these last two trays popped out much easier, even on the first meal after starting them. Again, I always put a new tray in after my last meal of the day to give me maximum time before having to take it out again. It’s definitely far easier after 10-12 hours than it is after 2 hours.

I still experience some soreness for a day or two but even that seems not as bad as before. Tray 6 is the first tray I’ve managed to get in and out without chipping the tray edge over my “problem tooth,” I’m guessing partially because of getting better at finding ways to get them in and out and partially because maybe that tooth has moved enough that it’s not as much a problem any more. I almost always use the “outie” tool just to pop the tray off that one problem tooth.

I think I may actually be able to see some minimal difference aesthetically at this point as well! 20% done!

My Invisalign Journey, Part 1

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I had braces as a kid. Unfortunately all that work came undone over the years partially because I never got a retainer because I had one loose baby tooth that they were waiting on and I was a big wimp and so that tooth hung in there for about a year even as the permanent tooth grew in. Eventually at a dentist visit, the dentist just easily plucked the barely hanging on tooth. So due to that, and natural shifting over the years, and wisdom teeth, etc, I came to a place where I hated my teeth and my smile.

When I first heard about Invisalign (sometime in late 90’s or maybe early 00’s) I had a consultation and was told I was not a candidate because Invisalign couldn’t handle a case like mine (apparently around that time, Invisalign was basically for people with almost perfect smiles who only needed tiny adjustments). So fast forward to 2012. I decide to go hear about my options once again because I’m really tired of hating my smile and there have been advances in technology including some new kinds of traditional braces as well.

I got some recommendations from co-workers and went to Ortho360 in the Avery Ranch area. I liked the office and the staff and was delighted to find out that Invisalign was now an option for me and because they do so much Invisalign work, they get a discount and can offer it for about the same price as traditional braces. As an actor, I felt Invisalign was my only option since I figured braces would greatly affect my castability. So I decided to take the leap and dive another $6000 into debt because it would be worth it to not detest my smile and, who knows, might even help me out in the acting world as well.

They took impressions of my teeth and 4-6 weeks later, I went back in to get my trays. You change trays every 2 weeks to slowly move your teeth around. They showed me a really cool 3D simulation and I watched my teeth morph before my eyes from their current state to where they would eventually end up. Getting them in wasn’t too bad but getting them out can be really tricky, especially at the beginning of a new tray when they are their tightest. After a few days they get much easier to get out. They definitely took some getting used to and you can’t eat or drink anything but water with them in so eating becomes a huge production. You have to go to the bathroom, wrestle your trays out, rinse them, put them in their container, then you eat, brush your teeth and the trays and put them back in. On the upside, it has completely deterred me from any snacking now. I carry a little bathroom kit with me everywhere with my case, toothbrush and tooth paste.

During my first tray, as the week wore on, popping them in and out became no problem. During the first several days, I didn’t really feel any pain with them in, but taking them out hurt a little and my teeth were sore so I had to bite gently. I have one tooth that is the furthest out of line and I did notice that my tray had chipped right along the bottom from trying to pop it in and out over that tooth. I called and asked about this and they said that wasn’t a problem. I also read a bunch of tips online and sanded/filed down a few of the edges (and where it chipped which was catching my tongue) for more comfort. People could not tell I had anything in my mouth even when they knew and looked for it. My teeth mostly just looked a little shinier than normal.

After 2 weeks, I switched to my second tray. Again, I heeded advice from the internet and changed my trays at the end of the day (after I ate dinner) because that way you sleep through the worst period when they are tightest and so by the time you first try to take them out for breakfast, you’ve had them in for around 10-12 hours already and in the beginning of a new tray, every hour counts as far as lessening the difficulty of getting them out. this second tray also chipped in the same place with the problem tooth. The rest of the two week period went pretty much like the first tray.

At the 4 week point, it was time to go back to the orthodontist and get some more trays and at this point it was time to add the “attachments.” How many attachments you might need and on which teeth varies depending on your particular plan. I needed 7. These are little bumps that are added to certain teeth by bonding tooth colored cement to the teeth so the tray can grip and move your teeth better. This does make the Invisalign not nearly as invisible but it’s still not too bad or noticeable. They do take some getting used to once again and when your trays are out they can feel rough against your cheeks. One of mine makes it virtually impossible to bite all the way down but hasn’t interfered with eating. My third tray also immediately chipped on the problem tooth as well.

It was only a couple of hours later that I decided to take them out to have lunch. I knew it would be difficult being that it was a new tray, the attachments make it harder and having only been in for a few hours. I was not prepared for how difficult. I wrestled with them for at least 10-15 minutes and really wondered if I was going to be able to get the bottom tray out at all. It was extremely frustrating and afterward, my thumbnails hurt from all the struggling with that bottom tray. I had even bought a tool called an “Outie” off of Amazon that many people had suggested for help removing trays but I found it awkward and ended up just going back to my fingers/fingernails. Others have also suggested a size B crochet hook, but I just feel more comfortable with my hands. I feel like I have more control and sensation of what I’m doing. It was very difficult to remain calm and not scream or cry in frustration trying to get these things out but eventually I did. It was so difficult however, That for dinner and breakfast the following morning, I just had a protein shake and didn’t take them out (Again, you are only supposed to have water, but I used a straw for one of them and tried to just get it down the back of my throat as much as possible, then immediately rinsed). That brings us to lunch today. They were still difficult but not nearly as much as yesterday.

At my last visit, they gave me another 5 trays, or 10 weeks worth so I hope they continue to get easier with time and experience. I still think it’s totally worth it and look forward to not hating my teeth any more, but I thought I’d document all this since I’e read many cases of people not knowing they would need attachments, and not knowing how difficult it can be to remove the trays sometimes. I should have 30 trays total but sometimes at the end, you need “refinements” depending on how everything went so that could add some more time. There will also be a retainer when it’s done. It has been a huge lifestyle change and take a lot of getting used to, but I feel good knowing my teeth are being moved around to where I want them!

More to come as the process continues.

Technology and the Human Connection

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I often think about how my life today compares with my life in the past as it pertains to the technological differences. For example, if I could go back 10 years and show myself my iPhone, it would blow my 10 years ago mind. Lately I’ve been thinking about how social media has changed my life.

I’ve had many discussions and probably written about it here before as well. While I think there are 2 sides to every issues and I can certainly see the negatives that come with it, overall I am extremely pro social media. Facebook has allowed me to stay in touch with people and foster friends and relationships that probably never would have happened otherwise. More than that, I realized that it just makes me feel “connected” to other people and the world at large so much more. We can all participate in conversations that as we have the time and will that we might not be able to otherwise. It is certainly not a substitute for real human contact, but I know most of us just don’t have the time to meet up with, or even call and catch up with all the people we would like to. I can’t sit down one Saturday afternoon and call my 20 closest friends, but we can all converse at will online and carry on conversations over the day or days as we have time.

I’ve particularly appreciated this during difficult times. It’s strange remembering that there was once a time that I didn’t have this luxury of constant connection. The only connection I had was if I called someone on a land line and then maybe arranged to see them. Apart from that, I was alone with whatever I might be going through at the time. That seems so incomprehensible to me now. Just the thought makes me feel so cut off and isolated. I fire up The internet, Facebook, whatever and I instantly feel at least a tiny bit better. At least a nano-increment more in touch with the world and people and energy of the universe.

Of course I also wonder if this constant connection also makes us not make real and in person connections as much. Do we sometimes allow it to be substitute? Would we maybe see people more or take a friendship to the next more real, in person level if we didn’t have the luxury of this constant virtual connection?

Like anything, I think it can be used for good or bad. It is a tool for you to use as you see fit and you must be vigilant to see how it’s affecting you and how you are using it.

It’s great that my life is full of so many amazing people. It’s a shame that the vast majority of those relationships are fairly shallow with only the most tenuous of connections.

The Day/Night Conundrum

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I am a night owl by nature. When things are normal and going well, I prefer the night. I feel more alive, energized and uninhibited. However, I’ve noticed that in times of strife, the night becomes oppressive and filled with an acute loneliness but that the sun seems to chase away the shadows both figuratively as well as literally. It’s nourishing and recharging. I find it interesting how they have such different effects depending on my mental state.

Head Down

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Many, many years ago, I remember reading some kind of online personality survey. One of the questions was about whether you walk with your head down staring at the ground or head up looking at the world around you (and maybe another option or two). I don’t remember much else but I know I have this weird ingrained feeling of not wanting to be someone who walks around, head down, staring at the ground. I don’t know why, but I want to be someone who walks with my head held high looking at the world around me.

However, every time I take notice, sure enough my head is bowed and I’m staring at the ground. Even if I correct myself, 5 seconds later I’m back to my default state. I do wonder if this says something profound about me.

Fallen (City of) Heroes

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The online super hero MMO game “City of Heroes” is shutting down. Much like many of my friends, I find myself very saddened by this despite the fact that I haven’t played in many years. This game has a very special place in life.

CoH wasn’t the first MMO I played, but it was the most impactful due to many circumstances which all aligned to make this particular game a very magical moment in my life. I had played some Earth and Beyond, Everquest, and WoW but CoH fell right in the sweet spot before my personal MMO bubble kind of burst. It was the most fun I ever had in an MMO. We had an awesome guild full of amazing friends, old and new. I had characters of every class, complete with full origin stories. We had a guildmate who died who most of us never met in person and yet we all felt the loss. When Andy, one of my best friends since 4th grade, got married, we had a LAN party for his bachelor party with many of our guildmates. Several guildmates built a computer out of spare parts so my wife at the time could keep playing when hers quit working.

When we moved to Austin, and were looking for jobs I set my sights on the company that published CoH. When my friend Andy soon came to Austin as well, I told him I’d seen an artist position open there. He was the first of us to get a job there. Then through him I heard that one of his co-workers was casting a play so Jess and I both auditioned and got cast in the first show ever at Richard Garriotts’s Curtain Theatre. Through that we became friends with several people who worked there which eventually led to me getting hired there as a QA tester (though not on CoH). Later, I helped Jess get a job as receptionist.

Eventually everyone moved on to other games, most going to EQ2 or WoW. After CoH, it was never the same for me. Everyone was split across different games and even different servers within the same game. I didn’t play enough to justify a monthly cost and just never felt that same magic again.

I eventually got the axe in one of the big layoff waves and spent the next 5 years as a freelance actor and musician. The company moved most of its operations to Seattle but Andy still works there as senior artist and Jess is now a lead content writer.

When I read the news of CoH “sunsetting,” I felt almost that same feeling as when you hear about the death of someone you once knew. Even though you may not have spoken to them in 20 years, you still feel the loss, like there’s something gone from this world. Just the lack of that presence and energy. Most people probably won’t understand this feeling and think to themselves that this was only a video game. However, for those of us that were there, together in Paragon City, we will undertand each other’s heartfelt eulogies and know that just as a bunch of atoms make a person, a bunch of 0’s and 1’s on a distant server somewhere can create a world of magic that brings people together and forms real, lasting impressions and relationships.

Turn Your Life Into a Game

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I’ve found that my love for technology and games means that I get better results when something is made to feel like a game. I like checking into places on Foursquare and getting badges and mayorships. I was more likely to do pushups and situps when I downloaded the apps for “100 Pushups” and “200 situps” that auto calculate your sets based on your initial test.

Yesterday I downloaded Fitocracy, which I really like. You basically get points for any exercise you do. For this means that instead of facing the daunting task of trying to find an hour and using it to work out, I just periodically drop and do 10 pushups, or some air aquats, or walk around the building and a little robot awards me points for it.

I found myself thinking that Fitocracy would be even more compelling if I could add things like “resisted bagels” or “walked away from the snack machine.” That’s when some co-workers told me about the app, “Epic Win.”

Basically it’s just a To-Do List app but it allows you to turn anything into a fantasy quest. Choose an avatar and then make quests, assign them points and a stat type. For example, I just made quest for “eat a healthy breakfast” which repeats Sunday through Friday is worth 50 point and affects my “Spirit” stat. If I wanted to, I could make a one-shot quest (or recurring quest) on the fly for “drink water instead of Diet Mountain Dew” and watch my character level up and get loot as I accomplish this quest.

These types of things may not work on your mindset, but for they somehow motivate me and make chores into something potentially fun.

Manifesting my Own Destiny

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I have long been a believer in the power of the mind and have been greatly intrigued by the Laws of Attraction and the writings of Eckhart Tolle (the closest thing to “religion” that I’ve ever identified with). For some time now I’ve been having a lot of trouble finding peace and happiness within myself. I feel anxious and tumultuous, frustrated and tense. After living some microcosm of my dream life for the last 6 years, the money ran out and I went back to an office job. Now I still try to recognize my bountiful blessings and what an amazing life I do have in the grand scheme of things. It’s a good office job, with a good company and probably more flexibility than most but it is still 40 hours a week and something that I’m doing for a paycheck and not because it’s my love and passion.

Lately I have made a step in the right direction though. A step toward creating and attracting the life I want. Several times a day I take a walk around the building. I take in the wind and the sun on my skin and I look at the world through different eyes. Through the eyes of the person I want to be, living the life I want to live. In other words, I actually look around me through the eyes of someone who is making a living as an actor, musician, creative artist who is not working an office job. I actually feel it. I put myself in that mind space and pretend so hard that I believe it. I look at the halls of my building as if they are the halls of some studio where I am filming or doing some voiceover work. And it helps.

I’ve started doing this more and more letting this permeate my life while driving, walking, sitting, existing. Any time I feel that discontent, I transport myself into the Heath Allyn of an alternate world or a future timeline who is doing exactly what he wants to do. I’m like Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap. I see through those eyes in hopes of manifesting the life that I want. I don’t just wish or hope, I genuinely feel the joy and gratefulness of being where I want to be.

I am thankful for this job and that it came along and has allowed me to pay my bills but I also must believe that somehow, it is a step in the journey I must take to where I want to be.

Texas Day Trip

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My girlfriend told me she was kidnapping me for two days for a secret trip. So today she navigated as we drove a very scenic drive to Bandera, Medina, Vanderpool and Leakey.

We found some geocaches along the way (an excellent way to have fun, explore and find new places), rescued a butterfly from the Medina river (fished it out, dried and unstuck its wings until it flew away), saw lots of awesome scenery, ate at a cafe in Leakey, and ended up renting an awesome cabin at the Frio Pecan Farm from the lady working at the Leakey Mercantile store. It was a nice night of relaxing, singing and finishing off that awesome chocolate meringue pie from the cafe.

Plus we had much fun at the expense of the name Leakey all day. Like the fact that the school here is the Leakey Eagles. And that there was a Leakey Beverage Barn. And while driving, we passed a sign that said “road prone to flooding next 12 miles” and I said “well of course, the next town is Leakey.”

We also laughed like juveniles at the fact that omg the way there were two political signs that often appeared next to one another for “Butts” and “Payne.” or sometimes “Payne” and “Butts.”

Tomorrow it’s onward to Utopia and possibly Concan, then back through Bandera and home. It’s the first trip we have taken together purely for fun that was just the two of us and not for a band gig or family trip. And as Paula said to me in regards to our travel compatibility, “I haven’t wanted to kill you once!”

A Fleeting Moment of Serenity

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I was walking to the store today when I suddenly felt so far away from my dreams, like they were so far out of reach. On the way home I took a moment and just truly felt the sun on my face, the breeze blowing across my skin and remembered that same feeling throughout my life, as a child, a teenager, walking to a friend’s house in my home town. For a moment I found the happiness in that moment, not worrying about the future. It’s something I’m working on but that is very difficult for me. I have a mind that is always racing at light speed and exists in a thousand different places at any given moment. Quieting that beast is not something I’ve been very successful at yet. It’s all part of my ongoing journey, I suppose.

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BLAH!