Life As I Know It

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.

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.

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.

There are no failures, only experiences.

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In 2006 I was laid off from a job that I loved. Yet, surprisingly, I wasn’t really too upset. I just felt it was the opportunity to pursue what I really wanted to be doing. I got an agent, and for the next couple of years got some really lucky breaks and actually managed to make as much or more as I had been making at my job as a freelance actor, musician and general creative type along with other random bits of income. It helped that I was also married at the time so no matter what, there was always one steady paycheck.

I got divorced in 2009 and about a year later, as things were starting to get tight, a former co-worker called me out of the blue and I ended up with an awesome job working from home, making my own hours, and getting a decent, steady paycheck every two weeks. That project ended earlier this year.

Yesterday, it all finally hit me and I had a minor panic meltdown. I am effectively on empty monetarily while the bills continue to come. I realized that this was it. I had to get a job. Immediately. It’s very difficult to admit this as I have lived a dream life for the last 6 years. A very lucky, blessed life doing what I wanted to be doing in life and having a completely free lifestyle doing what I wanted when I wanted (for the most part). Having to say goodbye to that feels like a failure. Like going back in a prison. I know that it isn’t a failure. It’s a rousing success that I’ve lived such a wonderful life for 6 years. And I know that I’m still so incredibly lucky even now, in that I have some connections and possibilities with companies that I really want to work for if I have to have a “regular” job. I do still recognize my many, bountiful blessings and no that even in my darkest times, my life is probably still in the top 10% of awesome. I try to never lose sight of that.

Part of me thinks that maybe a day job is what I need because I am not driven enough on my own to make things happen. Maybe I would be making a living as a musician if I’d actually taken any kind of action to, you know, start playing solo around town or something. I am a huge dreamer and idea person but have very little follow through. I’m not nearly ambitious enough. I don’t work hard enough at making my own opportunities and really hustling. I seem to be someone who needs to work for someone else. There’s so much I could, should have to done to try and get any of my many ideas, films, and ventures off the ground, but the fact is, I haven’t.

However, I am genuinely trying to be at peace and just in alignment with the universe and know that this is my path. No matter what happens, it is my path. And it will lead wherever it is I am supposed to go. This doesn’t mean I don’t have to work and take action, but I have to believe that the dream isn’t over. Nothing is permanent, and while juggling all my desires, pursuits and needs is very difficult, life will always be what I make of it. I can choose to be happy and positive despite whatever circumstances I am in or choices I have to make, but damn that can be hard. I know that many of the “problems” on my mind right now are problems that so many would love to have! It’s almost metaphorically like “Oh no, I can’t possibly eat all the cake AND ice cream without getting sick so however will I choose?” Even in my dilemmas, I am lucky, and I know it. I already have a phone interview tomorrow. Sure I have dilemmas like “how am going to pay my bills this month when I have no money left?” but I also have dilemmas like “What if company A hires me but then company B wants to hire me later and I don’t want to be a prick and leave company A that just hired me even though maybe I really want to be with company B but then what if I go to company B and then there’s bunches of layoffs and it turns out I should have stayed with company A because they are more stable!”

I am basically kicking myself for not getting more of my freelance artistry going when I had the chance. For example, if I had tried to start teaching guitar and booking gigs a while back, maybe I would already have built enough momentum to get by now. However, if I start now, it’s not going to build quick enough to pay my bills and if I get a day job then I no longer have the time to give guitar lessons and such so I can’t build that momentum in that direction.

OK, so this has become much longer and more rambly than I intended. I’m not really sure what the point of it was. Basically that, yes, things get tough but in my heart I know how lucky I am and that while you can’t always see how this road is going to get you where you wanna go, it doesn’t mean it won’t. Think about it, you can never see the destination from the journey until you are close. If you set out to drive to another city, you can’t actually see the city for most of the journey. You just have to trust that the road will take you there.

Sherlock Themed Valentines Day Shenanigans

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A while back Paula stole my pajama bottoms. She later texted me saying she was holding them for ransom. We eventually agreed that I could have them back in exchange for “a valentine dates with original romantic content.” The game was afoot. (more…)

Crossroads

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My last “day job” ended in June of 2006 when I was layed off from a local video game company. Since then I have been a full time musician and actor. I got some lucky breaks that helped pay the bills, and for 3 years I was also married and my spouse had a steady income (though through my lucky breaks I ended up making about as much as her, just more erratically). In 2010, things were starting to get a bit tight when a former colleague called out of the blue to ask if I wanted to work on a very small video game project that she was a producer on. I said I had to be flexible to pursue my acting and music and she told me I would be working on contract from home and could make my own hours. It was like winning the job lottery, to an extent.

Now, 2 years later, that project is coming to an end and I find myself thinking I may need another “day job”, at least for a while. So for the first time in almost 6 years I applied for a job. On the upside, it’s with Bioware, makers of “Star Wars: The Old Republic” which I find tremendously exciting. I’ve wanted to play it but my lack of time, and my now ancient dinosaur of a desktop computer have prevented me. So if I got the job then maybe I could actually play it in addition to working on it! However, there is a part of me that is a bit wary as well. I’ve grown quite accustomed to my totally free form lifestyle and the thought of another rigid office job is daunting. It could greatly affect my availability for my artistic pursuits, obviously. But it is a job that excites me and that I would enjoy.

When I told my friend, Brian, that I was applying, he asked me “does this mean the dream is over?”

Well, we shall see what happens. It’s only a contract job to start, anyway, so we’ll see if I get an interview and then if I get the job. I like to think that whatever happens, it”s just the beginning of a new dream, or a new chapter in the dream. Part of me feels like I’m giving in to fear. “Ah! I must have a steady paycheck!”, and that I should just soldier forward on my chosen path with faith that everything will work out as it always does. But another part of me feels that if all the stars align and I get this job then it is where I am supposed to go right now. The fact that they had several jobs in my field open was a surprise to begin with.

I’ve felt kind of stagnant anyway. Maybe I need a change. Something to shake things up. Life is always an adventure.

The Path to Enlightenment, or “I Knew I Should Have Taken a Left at Albuquerque”

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Spirituality and more specifically, religion, is a topic I tend to stay very far away from. It tends to be very personal and, moreso, it tends to be very divisive and inflammatory. However, today I feel the need to explore these dangerous waters with you. “You” being no one really since I’m pretty sure my only readers are Google’s web scouring index-bots.

I am a very spiritual person. I, however, am not at all religious. I am not a part of any organized religion, nor do I care to be. That’s an even more inflammatory topic that I won’t go into as it’s not really relevant here. I have always had a very personal spiritual relationship with the universe at large. I think a lot of religions all have good things to teach and offer and so I’ve sort of made my own little spiritual casserole with a bit of this and a dash of that.

Eckhart Tolle was a name that had crossed my attention several times in the great zeitgeist. I’d seen him on friends’ lists of favorite books and seen references here and there and it always seemed to be from sources that made me think I should investigate. People with similar outlooks to my own. Recently, one of my closest friends who I feel more spiritually in sync with than anyone I’ve ever met, highly recommended Tolle’s works and lent me her copy of “A New Earth” along with Einstein’s “Ideas and Opinions”. Both are great in totally different ways. The Einstein is wonderful but very crunchy on the brain, in a great way. I have to digest it in tiny bites. The Tolle has been nothing short of life changing for me.

Now, my head is always filled to bursting with a million different things and my mind is always racing at light speed around the universe. It made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs. Suck it, Han Solo. Recently, I have been going through a very difficult period. Full of anxiety, angst, pain and just a general maelstrom of tumultuous turmoil. I’ve felt like a barely functioning human being in a lot of ways. There is epic, gargantuan, really heavy stuff (to me any way) that’s crushing me and making me feel like I’m in a catatonic state just because I have to direct all available energy to fighting the storm, struggling to find the path through to the other side where it’s calm and serene. Truly caught between Scylla and Charybdis, where option A sucks and so does option B. Now don’t get me wrong, I am equally filled with love, beauty and gratitude but the funny thing is, even of your life is 95% absolutely amazing, that 5% can somehow seem like it taints and overwhelms the other 95%. Which is why this book could not have come along at a better time.

I swear to you this book is psychic. Every time I sit down and read it (and I mean every time), the next chapter addresses something that’s going on in my mind that day. I feel almost like I could think “Hmm, I’m so torn as to what to have for breakfast” and then I’d sit down to read and the first line would be “Chapter 12: Bananas and Peanut Butter”. When I’m reading this book, a still, calm peace comes over me and everything just makes sense. Unfortunately I have not yet mastered holding on to this serenity long term and as soon as I stop reading, like a slippery eel, the effects start to fade until I’m fighting the good fight again but I am getting better. Much better. Like going to the gym, I can feel my mental muscles strengthening. I can feel myself changing. I know I’m in the middle of a huge metamorphosis right now and that I am closer than ever to being who I want to be (though that is a journey that will continue for the rest of my life).

Luckily I had already come a long way down my path before reading this book so I was well ahead of the game but I find that I’m learning the finer tools to battle my personal monsters. I am becoming a stronger, better, more conscious person with every day of my life. If you find yourself lost, adrift, stagnant or just in need of something, I highly recommend this book but go with your own gut. It might not be for you. Your spiritual journey is not the same as mine. Your battles will not be the same as mine. I am still chock full o’ insecurities, doubts and fears but I know I’ve made progress.

I’m learning patience and to tame the control freak within me that wants to mold the universe into what I want it to be. I’m learning to let go and let the current take me to my destination. These things, however, all go against my nature so it’s not going to be an easy journey. The world doesn’t work like I want it to. People don’t work like I want them to. Relationships are not what I want them to be. I’m someone who needs to be fed. Not a lot but at least a morsel. Often. So many times I don’t understand why something happens or why someone acts the way they do and those voices kick in and try to read all kinds of negative things into it (one of the downsides to having a very vivid and active imagination) but more and more I’m able to recognize the static in life and tune in to the real signal.

Don’t be afraid to tell people that they are beautiful and that you love them. And if you are reading this, you are beautiful and I love you. Even you, Google Web-bots.

Renewing An Old Love

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Is there anything like that warm feeling cascading across your body? I’d forgotten how much I loved you. I remember how much time we used to spend together and how I looked forward to your every caress. I’m so glad to have rekindled our love.

Yes, I have rediscovered my love. Of a nice hot shower. The water pressure has never been what I’d call “great” in this condo but in the beginning it was certainly adequate. We don’t have individual hot water heaters but instead, a central boiler system for the whole complex. I always liked this as I am a fan of long luxurious showers and I have never run out of hot water here. Then came the infamous “renovation” or “the beginning of the dark times” as the mystical sages call it. And by mystical sages, I mean me. They replaced the old boiler and all the plumbing to every building and suddenly the hot water pressure ranged from a pathetic stream that, if you were lucky, you could kind of use your hands to sadly splash over yourself until you were something that desert nomads might call “wet”, to something I imagine to be “old man with enlarged prostate trying to urinate on you”, or almost non-existent. Like Al Swearengen from “Deadwood” when he has those kidney stones.

Luckily I try to go to yoga 5 times a week and shower there. However there would always, of course, be those occasions where I HAD to shower at home. Maybe I was all sweaty from a gig or or had to shower and shave before a film project or had been making sweet, sweet love down by the fire (O.K., only two of these apply…I’ll let you decide which two). I seriously dreaded any time I had to try and shower at home. The condo management kept suggesting things to check internally but I knew it wasn’t internal. Firstly, everyone was apparently having these problems. Secondly, it was every water source in the condo. Showers, faucets, washing machine intake, etc. Thirdly, it only began after they replaced the boiler and this tells my keen problem solving mind that those these two things are most likely related. (SCIENCE!)

So fast forward a long time. I have no idea how long. Maybe a year. We’ll call it the “Hydropathetic Era”. They bring in a company and pay them lots of money to “descale” the old pipes here which apparently have lots of mineral buildup. The first company sucks and doesn’t have strong enough chemicals to deal with the super minerals here, apparently. Several tenants end up with flooded units. The management fires this company and brings in another highly recommended company who apparently can handle our super tough minerals. The kind of minerals that bully other minerals, take their lunch money and make them pay “protection” fees to Johnny “The Rock” Diamante.(SCIENCE!)

They descale one section. It helps a little but they discover that when the boiler was replaced, management was told by the city they had to have some “backflow valve” on the boiler. Now I know that sounds like some vaguely dirty euphemism, but trust me, it’s not. Well maybe it is now, but it wasn’t in this context. The new descaling company checks into this and finds that was not true. Turns out we didn’t need these valves. Oh and it just so happens that these valves SUCK YOUR WATER PRESSURE LIKE A SUCCUBUS SITTING ON YOUR CHEST FEEDING ON YOUR LIFE FORCE!

Valves are removed and, BAM! WATER PRESSURE IS BACK! So as I’ve been saying since the beginning, it was a problem directly related to replacing the boiler. Ah, but our mystery isn’t over yet. Now I notice a nice increase in water pressure but my shower and the washing machine still seem kind of sucktastic. I decide to remove my shower head and investigate. I find that it’s almost totally clogged with buildup. I had bought a new shower head made for low water pressure so I put that on and find that I have AMAZING PRESSURE! IT’S A REAL SHOWER! It’s like, spraying! With a measurable amount of force! A good amount, in fact! I jumped around my room like Doctor Who after solving a universe saving conundrum. I then pulled my washer out and disconnected the hot water hose to find the same thing. I cleaned the little filter screen of all the buildup and restored full flow to my washer!

I had forgotten how much I used to love showers. They weren’t just for hygiene. I loved to just take my time enjoying the hot water. I took hellaciously long showers. I didn’t realize how Pavlovianly conditioned I’d become to dread showers until now. Now each time I turn on the shower and witness that glorious, forceful spray of hydrogen twins having a three way with that oxygen, I smile and laugh giddily. Today, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I showered just because I could. Because I wanted to. Because I was bored. You’d think someone had installed some wonderful futuristic device in my house with how happy my shower makes me. I have to recondition and re-acclimate myself to life with a working shower at home. Never take your shower for granted, people. Hell, I may have a second shower before this day is done. Maybe I’ll do my best Charlton Heston getting sprayed with that fire hose in “Planet of the Apes” and scream “IT’S A MADHOUSE! A MAAAAAAAAADHOUSE!” That ought to confuse the downstairs neighbor.

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