Monday, December 31, 2007

Manhattan, Meh

I'd always loved New York. All the museums, bars, and restaurants in Manhattan. Its diverse population. Even the attitude. Every time I went I fell a little more in love and dreamed about relocating there someday.

But this extended trip changed my view.

It was cold but not cold enough. Rainy but didn't snow. Crowded and lit but not festive. "Sale sale" everywhere but I didn't want to buy. It felt harsh and rushed and you could see the weathered look in people's faces.

The travel to and from was also a drag, especially the inbound flight. I thought I'd boarded Day Care Central - so many screaming, crying babies on the plane that I had to throw my coat over my head to block out it all.

Things started looking up as soon as I landed in San Francisco, however. On the drive home, the Sun was shining, no traffic on the freeway, air was cool and crisp - we're called the Golden State for a reason!

For once, I'm deeply grateful I live in San Francisco and not New York. This feels like, and IS, home.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Se7en Deadly Sins

Lust. Envy. Greed. Sloth. Wrath. Pride. And gluttony.

All names of martinis at the Fifty-Seven Fifty-Seven bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in midtown Manhattan (address: 57 E. 57th Street). True to their names, Lust is made of strawberries and champagne; Envy of green tea liquor; Greed with chocolate, and so on.

The bar scene isn't much to lust after, but still, the place feels classier than the W, and more modern than the Waldorf.

Does I, Lucifer come to mind, anyone? Ah, but I think in the book he was at the Ritz Carlton in London.

Sent from my iPhone

Fatigued

Didn't think these words would ever leave my lips - but I'm tired of New York. After ten days, the honeymoon is over, and I can't wait to head back to San Francisco.

Why? I'll elaborate tomorrow. Eyelids getting heavy....

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, December 28, 2007

Word, Play

NoLita and Greenwich Village both have some clever store names.

Rice to Riches sells nothing but different flavors of rice pudding with fancy toppings, and that, in fashion/figure-conscious Manhattan could be.... well, treading on thin ice. So what do they do? Their brilliant marketing minds have come up with catchy phrases and hung them around the store.

"Eat all you want. You're already fat anyway."

"The calories you consume here are yours to keep."

"We have an agreement with the bank. They don't make rice pudding, and we don't cash checks." ;)

Another phenonmennon worth mentioning is Pinkberry, who attracts long lines with its slightly tart plain yogurt and a ton of healthy topping selections. They have multiple locations in Manhattan - do yourself a favor, avoid the one on 32nd Street. It's unbelievably long. You'd think they're handing out free shares of Apple stock!

Pinkberry does face competition, in the form of Red Mango, who's opened up shop on Bleecker Street, and received rave reviews on Yelp. I had some from both places yesterday. Honestly, I couldn't tell the difference in taste. The girl at Red Mango was friendlier, though.

The entire Bleecker Street was a friendly place. If you took Fillmore and Haight from San Francisco and meshed them together, you'd get Bleecker Street in Manhattan. It has some reasonably price boutiques, and LOTS of Jazz bars and pizza joints, where you can get a slice for $3 (and I did). Their best Jazz bar in my opinion? Zinc Bar. Not in the mood for the blues from Terra Blues, and the atmosphere was definitely different - more tourist-sy, less intimate.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wanna Take Better Pictures?

Take a look at these free online photography lessons.

Frédéric Malle

Chatted at length with a sales person at the Frédéric Malle counter in Barnes New York. They claim to have enlisted the world's best noses to create perfumes with "no limitations". Translation? The perfumers had the liberty to pursue their "perfect" perfume, using whatever ingredients they desired.

"What do you mean? Isn't that how they normally work?"

"No," he explained. "Typically the idea of a new perfume would come from marketing. They decide who they'd like to target, the ideal demographic for the new product, the image they want to project, the appropriate spokesperson, and the price point, etc. It also cannot outshine what's already in the series - to keep an even playing field. The perfumer only becomes involved after the numbers have been crunched, and they must work within the set parameters. In a couple months, they whip up a dozen or so trials in tubes, and the company chooses which one they want to sell."

"At Frédéric Malle, however, we said the sky's the limit. The cost of ingredients is no object. Some of these took more than 600 trials and over two years to create."

I was particularly taken by the Lipstick Rose, courtsey of Ralf Schwieger, which reminded me of my mother's Chanel lipstick from when I was a kid. The whiff of the lipstick as she applied it before going out. Flashbacks. Chanel lipsticks don't smell powdery anymore, but I did save an empty tube or two from a few years ago simply because they did smell like that, the aura of old school, grown-up glamour.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ka-Ching?

Not quite. But a trickle would be nice.

Question - how would you even know if the Google Ads on your blog are making you any money at all? Go to https://www.google.com/adsense/login/en_US/.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The English

Atonement was one of the best films I've seen in 2007. Not one to be moved by another great-love-lost story, I found myself teary-eyed at the end nonetheless. Not because of the romance, but because of the guilt, and the chance and hopes denied. It's the what-ifs that we can't live with; the aspirations and anticipations we can't live without.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum sits the British TV Series the IT Crowd, wackier and edgier than its "predecessor", the Office. Word to the wise: don't watch the episodes on your iPod on a flight. They'll definitely make you laugh out loud and get you inquisitive looks - that is, if you manage to peel your eyes off of the screen long enough to notice. :)

Their food might make any diet entirely voluntary - "No, thank you, I'm full, really." - but the Brits certainly bring a healthy dose of sense of humor to the table, not to mention their command of the, well, English language (now THAT's a weird statement. Did I just write that?)

You just gotta love them!

View from Chelsea


My friend from college, L, is visiting NYC for the first time. Having grown up in Stockholm and spent the last few years in Tokyo and Vancouver, he appreciates the international flair of New York, and especially likes the Chelsea District, where we saw the movie Atonement this afternoon, and lounged around at a coffee shop.

The Chelsea Piers leading up to the Meatpacking District, however, felt deserted, and I missed the Embarcadero in San Francisco, where it's far warmer and more alive with shops, bars, restaurants, and crowds.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Je ne sais quoi....

I've said I love La Maison Du Chocolat, who originated from Paris, and also has locations in New York and Tokyo. A visit to their store is a must whenever I'm in NYC. Chatted with the sales woman as I ordered my usual - bittersweet dark hot chocolate - as she shattered my hopes with the statement that they'd never open up shop in San Fran. "Never? Why not?" "Because we enjoy the exclusivity," she said apologetically, but with subtle pride.

Hmm. Je ne sais quoi - there's something I like about it, despite the fact that it saddens me.

In parallel, perhaps there are certain things in life we should be exclusive and choosy about - what we read, watch, digest (both literally and figuratively); who we spend time with; WHAT we spend time doing; what occupies our minds. After all, our days are numbered, and each single moment counts, as we can never get it back.

On the Brink

"If I had my way, if I was lucky enough, if I could be on the brink my entire life, that great sense of expectation and excitement without the disappointment, that would be the perfect state."

- Cate Blanchett

Edge of your seat. Holding your breath. I like that.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Zinc Bar

I knew I came to the right place when the Brazilian Jazz seeped through the door as I descended down the stairs to the basement at the corner of LaGuardia Place and W. Houston Street.

Velvet curtains. Low ceiling. Dimmed lighting. A live band enthused in the corner of the tiny bar. A pianist, a vocalist, a bass guitarist, a drummer, and a saxphone player completed the set. Brazilian Bossa Jazz is rhythmic and care-free. You naturally get into the groove - it simply draws you in.

It's two-thirds full. A full bar lined with stools, and seven tiny little tables right across. If you manage to squeeze through the narrow walkway between the bar stools and the tiny tables, it'll lead you to the back room with half-empty private booths, where you can still hear the music, but can't see the live band.

This is a place to listen and be heard but not to see and be seen. It doesn't matter how you dress - no one can see the details anyway.

The band members are thoroughly approachable - in fact, they talked to me during the break. Lovely performance. You know they enjoy their art, which makes you enjoy their art even more.

Interested? Check out Miho Nobuzane's (the pianist) album. They also performed Aqua De Beber, of which Sophie Milman delivers a soulful rendition. Enjoy!

Also - tip from a fellow patron - check out the speak-easy at PDT (Please Don't Tell). ;)

Walking The Grid

In New York. Walked along 3rd Ave. this afternoon, all the way from 52nd Street to 90th - then crossed over to Lexington and backtracked. No agenda, no plan, just free roaming. The almost 40 blocks are peppered with shops shops and shops, of course, but only these caught my eye:
  • Barber shops - they still call them that? It's almost endearing.
  • Two puppy stores - miniature shih tzus selling at a whopping $2,500 each. Errr....ever notice there are equally great puppies you can adopt at the shelter for $60? Grrrr.
  • Bar and Books - cute concept. Too bad they were closed. I peeked in - it's an old-fashioned bar with leather armchairs throughout and bookshelves adorned with heavy hardcovers. Must....go....back.
  • Lorenzo and Maria's Kitchen - gave me flashbacks of Paris. Fancy window display for a cute neighborhood European-style deli. They're on 3rd Ave. between 80th and 81st. Didn't buy anything there this time 'cause I wasn't hungry, but their salad, fish, and sweets all looked heavenly. Plus, they'll be open even on the 24th, so I'm definitely going back.
  • Fig and Olive - they set the bar up high, but only literally. The limited wine selection leaves much to be desired. Sipped a glass of syrah while watching an episode of the British TV series the IT Crowd (thanks Jan!) on my iPod Touch. I just love appreciate the Brits' dry sense of humor - so much better than, say, There's Something About Mary.

Gotta relax now and then get ready a jazz bar tonight. Zinc Bar, Birdland, or the Village Vanguard? Hmm....decisions, decisions.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Merry Christmas

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas....

No, really, I am. I'm going to spend it in New York. Which, to a Californian who grew up in Beijing, with an unfortunate pitstop in Texas, feels like homecoming.

This has been an eventful, wonderful year. Summer trip to Europe. Successful jaw surgery. Satisfying new job with smart, friendly colleagues. Moving in with a man that I love - no, not THAT - one of my closest friends who happens to be gay, that is.

It's not all peachy, of course. Some health woes (not related to the jaw surgery). A break up. Nothing devastating, though. Which makes me think - a break up that isn't devastating is perhaps in itself devastating. Know what I mean? After all, I want something that MATTERS - don't you?

All in all, a wonderful year. It feels good to be comfortable in my own skin, with my own choices in life - and, dare I say, MORE than just feeling comfortable - but actually thriving.... and loving every minute of it, for the good AND the bad.

Christmas is still two weeks away - but for the first time, I feel ready.... and ahead of the game. Presents purchased and wrapped. Cards mailed. You can say the holidays have been tinted by commercialization, but I rather enjoy the spirit of the season: the warm and fuzzy, the giving, the gratitude and the thoughtfulness of it all.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Brandy's Beautiful Smile

Congratulations to Brandy on her beautiful new smile! Finally braces-free! :)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

One Is No Longer the Loneliest Number

A friend of mine told me that survey says the number one fear is the fear of traveling alone - it even tops the fear of public speaking.

My ears burn and cheeks flush if I have to speak to a large audience. It makes me anxious. In fact, I'm already stressing out about having to present at our company sales training in January - and it's more than a month away!

Traveling alone, however, is something I enjoy thoroughly. But it does have its inconveniences - not being able to share the cost of hotel stays, for example, is one of them. A New York Times article today perked me up - apparently, the travel industry has taken notice and expanded their offers to attract more solo flyers. Now THAT's good news.

I should also add that the comments are much more interesting than the article itself. I'd like to meet all the solo travelers out there! :)

Added on December 6, 2007:

Thanks for your comment, Bill. :) Nairobi, Kenya is definitely the most unusual. I'm not sure I'd even brave a visit, not to mention LIVE there. But like you said, people fear the unknown and the unfamiliar.

Here's my comment on the NYT article:

"It's so nice to read through the comments here and find people who are as addicted to traveling alone as I am. Some find it intimidating, but for this group it's an absolutely freeing and elevating experience. To be on your own, navigating through a new city or country, do whatever your heart desires, and make no comproises.

I had the best experiences in Sydney, London, and Kyoto. I agree with what most of you said here, that booking independently allows you more freedom AND saves you money. We have the Internet now - just go to the travel sites and start comparison shopping. Alternatively, if you have impromptu change of plans, get help from the local tourist information center. Those guys helped me get last-minute hotel rooms in Venice, Brussels, and Amsterdam, all for very reasonable prices.

The adventure, the risk, the uncertainty, and the chance meetings are all part of the allure. It's nice to have the option of pairing up with other solo travelers.... but those elements ARE the core of traveling alone. That's what makes it addictive.

— Kristen, San Francisco, California"

Christmas Party!

Christmas party 2006 Vs. Christmas party 2007.

The photo on the left was taken in January 2007, days before my jaw surgery. The braces had worsened my bite - re-positioning my teeth so that they would meet optimally right after surgery.

If I had to do it all over again, I would, in a heartbeat. Despite the cost, the pain, and the long wait. It's absolutely worth it to get a "normal" bite.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Shopping Diet

A friend of mine told me about the "shopping diet". No, you don't lose weight as a result. You lose the clutter and save money instead. How?

The shopping diet means you refrain from buying anything that will take up space. Food is, of course, allowed.

As I scramble to load up on crap for Christmas, the shopping diet has started to sound better and better. In the past month alone I've bought:
  • A pair of earrings
  • A necklace
  • A cashmere blanket
  • A cocktail dress
  • Two DVDs
  • A goose-down puffer jacket
  • Two candles
  • A jar of lotion
  • Two lip glosses
  • A jacket

Sure, some are gifts. But the rest ARE for me. Now looking back, I'm thinking - wait a minute! Life was good BEFORE I bought these things, and it's no better AFTER. Why did I buy these? Grrrrr.

How can you go far if you don't travel light?

Got you thinking? Read about someone who did go on the shopping diet, for 365 days. Maybe I'll follow in her footsteps.

Why bad kissers don't get to second base

This CNN article overanalyzes what we already know: a bad kiss can be a deal-breaker. Forget how to "improve your kiss". Good kissers are natural born, not made! ;)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An Urban Legend

Apple's Steve Jobs tops the list as the Most Powerful Businessman.  First the iPod with not just music but also video, now the iPhone - not to mention their ever-improving desktops and laptops.  AAPL has risen 106% year-to-date, more than 2000% in 5 years.  Now there's an urban legend. 

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Perfect Sunday Music

Dan in Real Life introduced me to the music of Sondre Lerche (pronounced "Sonder Lerkay"), a Boy Wonder from Bergen, Norway. The acoustic guitar, the occasional piano, the easy rhythm, and the unpretentious vocal chords - he weaves music that makes you want to stroll down a pebble-studded European street with hands in your jeans pockets; bask in the warm sun and curl up with a good book and a big cup of cafe au lait; cruise in a convertible with the top down and sing, sing along, in the crisp autumn air, while watching the foliage turn their colors.

The style of his music - the fact that the vocal chords take the front seat, that nothing's overly dressed up - reminds me of another band, Kings of Convenience, whose songs I absolutely adore. Just looked them up and discovered to my surprise that they happen to be Norwegians from Bergen, too.

Recommended Sondre Lerche Tracks:
  • I'll be OK
  • My Hands Are Shaking

Recommended Kings of Convenience Tracks:

  • Cayman Islands
  • Live Long
  • Misread

You can sample their music at Pandora, Rhapsody, and iTunes.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

Black Friday. No, not THAT Black Friday. The annual recurring Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when everyone goes shopping and helps the stores go from red to black in their books.

I'm not in the mood to brave the malls today. But I am participating in the national sport of shopping - on eBay. Except, this time the table's turned - I'm SELLING on eBay. "Editing" my closet, so to speak. A J. Crew sweater, a J. Crew jacket, a pair of J. Crew tall leather boots, a wool coat, a pair of brand new Oscar de la Renta leather pumps, tough-gal hiking boots worn only once, and a pair of 14K gold stud earrings that I received as a gift a million years ago which never even left the box.

Interested? Browse through them and make a bid. Happy hunting!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Focus Forward

As my orthodontics and jaw surgery have come to a successful end, I've decided to expand the focus on this blog to talk about.... life in general. Observations, exasperations, and perhaps even exclamations. It's all trial and error.... and so I brace myself. :)

  • Facebook - If you don't have an account there yet, get one! It's not just for students anymore.
  • Lust, Caution - Caution: total movie bust. Perhaps the hype spoiled it for me. But this was one of the worst Ang Lee movies I've ever watched, despite rave reviews.
  • Beowulf - No 300.... but wow the computer-generated graphics were amazing. The details were vivid: skin texture, fine hair, snow, ripples, trees. You gotta see it to believe it!
  • Christmas in New York - The tree at Rockefeller Center! Broadway! The Met! Nothing beats a white Christmas. :)
  • Presents - I plan to do 80% of my Christmas shopping online. You? Take the survey in the upper left corner of this page!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A different Angle


All smiles. :) Now vs. 2004.
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Braces Make A Guest Appearance At A Wedding

Manhattan would've been a great backdrop for any wedding. Alas, the wedding I attended yesterday was held in Jersey.

But it WAS in a country club. Jewish and lavish. I'm sure it's not PC to say so, but country clubs still feel very Old Boys' Club. Whiskey and cigars were readily available - so here you see me posing as one of the boys, complete with the suit jacket! (A dress simply didn't cut it if you were outside for a smoke.) Cigar's not my thing, really - I'd have preferred a fake chocolate "cigar" instead. Tant pis. ;)

I was re-applying lip stick in front of the mirror at the ladies' when two little old ladies hurried in. One said - "Oh I have to check my braces and make sure nothing's stuck on there" - and proceeded to the sink next to mine. She's probably in her 60s, with gray hair, in a dress that reminded me of both Queen Elizabeth and Sophia (from Golden Girls - why do I know such things?) at the same time. To my amazement, she opened her lips - and there they were! Braces! She quickly checked them, removed a toothbrush from her purse, and began brushing vigorously. "It's so much work! I have to do this every time I eat." She looked over at me with the outburst.

"I just had my braces removed about two months ago," the memories flashed back vividly, "it was a lot of work indeed!" I agreed.

We chatted a little longer about the wonders of braces and parted our ways. Half way through the reception someone patted me on the back. I turned around and saw a friendly face. It was the petite old lady with the braces. "Keep that smile on!" She flashed a bright smile of her own and disappeared into the crowd.
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Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Shout Out to Laura!

Hi there Laura, thanks for your comment on "The Elephant Woman". I'm delighted to "meet" a fellow Dr. Li patient. It sounds like you've just started out - oh my, spacers, what fun memory! :) I remember how I felt - a LONG, dark tunnel ahead, and no light at the end whatsoever. Yes it did feel like it would take "decades". However, now that everything's said and DONE, I can assure you that it'll be over before you know it. It'll be become part of the routine, your attention will shift to life in general, and before you know it, you'll have had your surgery and subsequent recovery and voila, a whole new you, then ON to the next new adventure. Buckle up and enjoy the ride - because indeed it'll be a short one. Even if it doesn't feel that way right now.

Again, nice to "meet" you, and please feel free to reach out along the way. Have fun!

Everybody - I've added a link to Laura's blog on the left, in the "Surf's Up" section. Read it at http://bracedup.blogspot.com/.

Monday, October 08, 2007

West (Coast) Meets East (Coast)

Spent the weekend in New York. Saw my cousin (-->) and brother. Ate hotdogs in the street. Shopped at Bloomingdale's. Watched Wicked. Dined at Perilla. Stayed at the Empire Hotel on 63rd. Strolled in Central Park. Sipped hot chocolate at La Maison Du Chocolat.

Sounds nice, and it was. Except, it was too damn hot and humid. Crowds everywhere. People walking. People jay-walking. Gawking tourists. Sweat. For the first time, it was a little too much.

Do I love New York? Yes. But do I love it enough to live there? I don't know.

If you find yourself there, however, do check out La Maison Du Chocolat. Their creamy pastries, rich hot chocolate, and pretty much everything else in the store - more than compensate for their very French attitude. I'm hooked. I absolutely have to go there every time I'm in New York. They only have locations in Paris (3, I think), Tokyo, and NYC. You can buy online, but shipping is insanely expensive.
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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Jolie Vs. Kidman

I'm using the photos of these two ladies to illustrate a point.

Look at Kidman's upper teeth, then look at Jolie's. See any difference?

Ms. Kidman's upper teeth are more "tipped in", while Ms. Jolie's seem more expanded and wider.

Where am I going with this? Well - the short version? I've asked my ortho to tip in my upper front teeth, and she's doing that with the upper retainer, which I picked up today.

The long version? I'm missing an incisor on the bottom. It simply never came out. This means, simply put, that my upper teeth have a wider circumference over all, and my ortho and OS have had to compensate for the missing bottom incisor (7 mm). As a result, there's a slightly bigger space between my upper and lower front teeth (the upper "OVER" bottom part) than "ideal". It bothers me a little bit, because it feels as though my bite isn't as tight as it should/could be. When I asked my ortho about it two weeks ago, she said she could "tip in" the upper teeth with the retainer if I wanted to. After some consideration, I discussed it with her during my retainer appointment this morning. She said it wouldn't alter my jaw or facial structure, and that it's purely a matter of preference. So we agreed to proceed.

She shaved off a total of 2 mm from my upper teeth (horizontally), then bent the retainer in all the right places and made it sit lower across my upper teeth than usual (to tip them in). We'll see!

I don't like the retainer too much - who does? It slurs my speech, and makes me gag a little. But, it just takes some getting used to....

I'm very, very happy with the results of my surgery and orthodontics work overall - and THANKS for all your comments and encouragements, folks. This is merely fine tuning. Too bad it won't make me look like either of the ladies you see here (sigh), but it WILL minimize the gap and create a tighter bite. :)

Time for bed - and I gotta pop the retainer back in. Oy!

Monday, September 17, 2007

No Hardware!

This is it! The day I've been waiting for.

My ortho debraced me today, right on schedule.

Wires cut. Brackets removed. Glue scratched off. Scrub scrub scrub. Buff buff buff. Holding my breath. Big sigh of relief - NO stains on the teeth. Phew! No need to rush to Brite Smile anytime soon. Thank goodness!

Ribs and corn on the cob for dinner, washed down with the congratulatory bottle of Martinelli's Sparkling Apple-Cranberry, compliments of my orthodontist. Isn't she nice?

It's far from over, though. For starters, I gotta wear a removable metal retainer across my upper teeth for eight months, 24/7. The bottom retainer has been built in.

I also will ask my ortho to tip in my upper teeth a little bit. Right now there's simply too much space where my upper overlaps my lower. My ortho said it's because they had to compensate for my missing tooth on the bottom (it just never came out in the first place), but they can adjust it with the retainer if I prefer closer contact.

My upper and lower gums both feel numb. But other than that, everything feels the way it should. :) Posted by Picasa

OK I'm a complainer....

I'm sitting in a chair at my ortho's office with mixed feelings. The assistant is coming back soon to make a mold of my upper for the retainer, which I'll come back for in two weeks.

Speaking of which - I had no idea the upper retainer will be sitting in FRONT of my upper teeth, which means it'll be VISIBLE. And I'll have to wear it 24/7 for eight MONTHS. Aaarrggh!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The "Mug" Shot


My friend Isabelle (she's the one that told me about the jaw surgery in the first place) calls these "mug shots". They're my "before" photos taken on November 22, 2005, when I first went in for consultation.

The braces didn't come on until February 14, 2006 - and they're coming off tomorrow! More updates then. :)
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Friday, September 14, 2007

Fun Survey

Which do you find more stressful - an ortho appointment, or a dentist appointment? Take the fun survey in the upper left corner of my blog (look to the left, at the top of the column). :)

Personally, I like my ortho better. She always tells me it's looking good, improving, and I'll be just fine.

All the dentists I've had always tell me to brush brush brush, floss floss floss, and stay off sweets (as if!). Besides, that buzzzzzzzz of their torture devices - it petrifies me to no end.

My $0.02. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Braces Removed

As my de-bracing date approaches, I was curious how that'd feel like - so I did a Google search on "braces removed".  Guess what turned up?  How to remove braces - in PhotoShop.  LOL.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Aching Arches

I hate these rubber bands that zigzag across my whole mouth. Thank God they don't cause any severe headaches or reduce me to the state of near-tears like they did a couple weeks ago, when they first snapped on, but they're still a royal pain in the..... teeth?

I can't yawn. I can't sneeze. I can't lick my lips. And, I obviously can't talk, except through clenched teeth.

And there's this dull pain throughout both arches. Urgh.

Counting down, counting down.

I just didn't expect the end to be so difficult.

Monday, September 10, 2007

7, 6, 5....

One week till debracing!!

My ortho agreed that my molars require more rubber band magic to help eliminate the gap. She told me to wear the elastics every night until my next appointment, a week from today - then she will remove the braces.

I chowed down dinner from Whole Foods' salad bar and snapped the rubber bands back on. No late night snack for me! Sigh.

I can't believe I'm almost done! :)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I said I'd do it, didn't I?

I was serious when I said I'd start taking flying lessons. Signed up for my first lesson, and here I am, in a 4-seater Cessna, flying out of a hangar next to Oakland International Airport. My instructor let me do some turns, get a feel of the rudders, and find the right trim to stay level. It was exhilarating. Mark - my ex(roommate) and soon-to-be future roommate - took this photo from the backseat after we landed, and I'd just removed my headset (hair flying everywhere!).

There's so much to learn - aerodynamics, flight maps, all the lingo you hear on the radio - and I just can't wait to chip away at it, and eventually get my private pilot license.

The thrill comes, I think, from doing something I know I want to do, and expanding my comfort zone.

That's when I truly feel alive.
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Closing the Gap

Have an appointment with my ortho tomorrow to see if the elastics have done their magic, and that my bite is "perfect". If everything goes according to plan, then she'll remove the braces in a week, on Sept. 17th.

But I fear the elastics haven't done a perfect job. There still seems to be a slight gap between the top and bottom molars on the right side. They touch, but only barely, and when I bite down, I don't feel a solid contact surface there as I do on the left side.

She just might have to prolong the treatment until this is fixed. Grrrr. So close (to being done), yet so far away!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll find out in about 24 hours.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Just Do It!

I'm turning 31 in just a couple days. In a moment of self-reflection/soul-searching, I found the running to-do list I wrote on the back of a journal. Some items have been checked off, while the others stare back at me as a loud tick-tock echoes in my head.

Here's the legend:

Grey - Mission Accomplished
Green - New on the List
Underlined - To Do This Year


  1. Visit NYC (well, yes, I have, many many times)

  2. Learn to speak French somewhat fluently

  3. Get a JD (we're talking three years of my life here!)

  4. Adopt a puppy

  5. Own a house that has a swimming pool

  6. Live in New York

  7. Visit Europe (three times now, all over the map)

  8. Own a piano

  9. Watercolor paint something I like (Yep, done)

  10. Weigh 130 lbs

  11. Live in California (check)

  12. Visit Paris (check, check, check. 3 times)

  13. Visit Italy (Loved Venice!)

  14. Earn a college degree (Isn't that a given these days?)

  15. Marry a good man

  16. Get a diamond ring (I've bought my own diamond rings, thank you very much)

  17. Fly 1st class (if flying in a private jet counts, then consider it done)

  18. Make a scholarship donation to my university

  19. Become a US citizen

  20. Read the Bible once, from cover to cover

  21. Take bartender classes

  22. Take drum lessons

  23. Take flying lessons

  24. Visit Norway
Hmm. The drum and bartender lessons can wait. Shaving off 10 lbs to be 130? Nah. I feel comfortable as is. Marrying a good man? The timing isn't entirely up to me. The puppy would have to wait until I get a house with a swimming pool and buy a piano to plant in the living room. Getting a JD and moving to New York - the timing isn't right. I know, I've been saying that for at least three years now. But do I really want to spend three years in law school when it's extremely difficult to eventually make partner?

First things first. This year, starting immediately, I gotta learn to speak French, read the Bible, and take flying lessons. Chop chop!

By the way, 43things.com can help you keep track of your to-do list AND find others with the same interest. I find that inspiring!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Winery Memberships?

Completely off topic.

Does anyone have a winery membership? Do you recommend it? I'm also thinking about joining a wine club online. Thumbs up? Down?

I'm not a wine connoisseur - yet. But I do enjoy reds, and I'd love to learn and expand my small collection. Any tips would be much appreciated! :)

It's all swell


At 2 and 7 months post op. Notice how the chipmunk cheeks have deflated. Before and after photos are fun, because you really get to see the difference!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

7 Months!!

The elastics finally stopped hurting about three days ago. Thanks Mylene, Bill, Graham, and Brandy, for your encouragements.

I can't believe it's September already. New Year feels like only yesterday. Where did the time go? Seep through my fingers again?

Seven months post op - I'm ready to get the braces off and move on. Part of my lower lip and right chin still feel numb, but the feelings have been returning gradually. The photo on the left was taken on the morning of my braces "installation", in February 2006. The photo on the right was how I looked today.

Now that I've been through this, I tend to notice abnormal jaw alignments a lot more than before. Saw this girl at a Napa wine tasting today, who has the exact same problem I did: long face, protruding lower jaw (not quite an underbite yet), pointy chin. We chatted for a few minutes, small talk. Looking at her reminded me of my old self, and how I was always horrified by my own profile and avoided the issue. I was just dying, DYING to tell her about the jaw surgery! But even I wasn't that bold. After all, this is quite personal, and wine tasting isn't exactly the right forum for jaw surgery advocacy. :)

But for all of you out there who're considering the option, if it's medically necessary, and your insurance covers a reasonable percentage, then why not? My $0.02.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Their Itinerary is Your Menu

New York has so much to offer - it makes it hard to decide where to go, what to see and what to eat on a short stay.  Now perhaps these New York food tours would make it a little easier. 
 
I really love New York.  One of my friends is about to move there for a new job next month.  I want to go, too!
 
The timing is right.  The braces are almost done and I don't need to be chained to my ortho and oral surgeon.
 
The timing is wrong.  I just started a new job two weeks ago.
 
I am, however, going to New York for a weekend in October.  My second trip there this year, and maybe the sixth visit overall.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

OUCH

I want to cry.  The rubber bands hurt SO badly.
 
Took two extra strength Tylenols before hopping on the red eye to Boston last night, which is saying a lot, as I have a very high tolerance for pain.  But it wasn't enough.  It hurt so badly I couldn't drift to sleep and I wanted to rip my mouth off.  Well, that wouldn't be a good idea, so I ripped the rubber bands off instead.  My ortho had told me it'd feel a little sore.  But this was not a "little sore".  It was FULL-ON PAIN.
 
I don't know how I'm gonna survive the next six days.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Snap!

Crazy rubber bands? You can say THAT again!

My ortho cut down the wires (hard to see, but now they only cover the front teeth, not the entire archs) today, and zig-zag'd "crazy rubber bands" up and down my entire mouth to tighten up the bite. I have to wear this for a whole week. Then remove the rubber bands and roam free for another week. Then go see her again to make sure there are no relapses. Then she will - drum roll, please - remove the braces!

This snapped me all the way back to the weeks immediately following surgery. My jaws are, in essence, wired shut again. AARRRGGGHHHH! The difference? This time I can remove the rubber bands when I eat. AND, yes, I can eat. Woohoo!

The timing couldn't BE any better. In a few hours I'm jetting over to Boston on a redeye (the price I pay for keeping my ortho appointment and saving two weeks) for training. Which means, my colleagues won't see me like this but for one day on Friday. Yep, I'm THAT vain. :) Plus, it's near impossible to "talk" through clenched teeth.

I wonder how anyone managed to understand me over the phone this afternoon. Bless their hearts!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Discolored Teeth?

I'm getting the braces off in about a month's time. Hooray!

But now I have a new concern. What if, after the brackets come off, it turns out they've left white spots on my teeth, while the areas around the brackets are stained? Am I making any sense? I'm just worried that my teeth would look discolored to the point where you can see where the brackets have been. Has anyone encountered this problem?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Red-Eye, Metal-Mouth

I need to go to Boston (I live in San Francisco) for business training week after next. The class starts on Tuesday at 9 am and spans across three days.

I won't land until 6:30 am on Tuesday and will drop off my luggage at the hotel (hopefully they'll let me freshen up), and head straight to the class. Yes - I'm taking a redeye.

Why wouldn't I fly out on Monday, the day before?

Good question.

It's because I don't want to reschedule/postpone my orthodontist appointment on Monday and wait two extra weeks. I have an ortho appointment at noon on Monday, August 27th. They tell me if I reschedule that one they won't be able to squeeze me in again until September 10th. No, no, no, no, no.

Suffer redeye for one night, or endure braces for two extra weeks? Now THAT's a no-brainer (at least for me)!

IF, if if if, everything works out as planned, I should be "debanded" on September 17th. Woohoo!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Six Months!


The photo on the left was from my company Christmas party in January, about two weeks before my surgery. The one on the right was in Madrid, taken on August 2nd, six months after the surgery. Funny how I never thought there was a problem with my upper jaw, too.

Photos from Europe

I've posted some pictures from Brussels, Amsterdam, Madrid, Tafalla, and London on my photo blog.

Sensational


They pass out tabloids like these for free in the streets of London.
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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

De ja Vu

Unbelievable. My outbound flight from PHL was delayed not one, not two, but EIGHT hours on my way to Belgium two weeks ago. We were supposed to take off at 8 PM, but never did until 4 in the morning!

Now it's two hours after our original departure time out of D.C., and back to San Francisco. And what happens? Nothing. We've been simply sitting here, in the plane, waiting.

Finally, another two-hour delay before the takeoff. What's going on with US Airways and United?

On a separate note, JetBlue had a very minor delay on one of my trips a few months ago. They promptly emailed me a $25 voucher within days. What a pleasant surprise!

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One V or Another

I'm due to report to my new job at 8 Friday morning, for sales training (I'm in marketing myself).

Until then, I have about 24 hours to relax, unpack, and get over the jetlag.

This has been a wonderful trip, my first solo journey to Europe. People typically react in two ways when they hear that I travel alone - 1. Wow you're brave, or 2. Wouldn't you rather travel with friends?

I'm not brave. I don't consider traveling alone "brave". Well, it depends on where you're going. South America? Yes. Western Europe? No.

The second comment contains the hidden implication of "don't you have any friends?". Not many, but sure, I do. And I enjoy traveling with them as much as flying solo. In fact, this trip, my first journey to Europe on my own (though I met up with friends in Spain for the wedding), was a better experience than my last two trips there with friends.

Why? No waiting around for each other. No need to negotiate and compromise on agendas. No flared tempers because of stress. I was completely selfish and did exactly what I wanted, WHEN I wanted. Some planning, and a lot of doing it on a whim. It was really liberating and fun.

My next trip, however, I'd do something completely different. Vietnam (where the $ would be considered a strong currency), OR Vienna, and with a friend or two. :)
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American Accent

We are onboard. The Captain made an announcement. His familiar American accent meant one thing to me: home. Funny how much you appreciate that after two weeks of foreign language. :)
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Voila!

Two weeks, four countries, and five cities later, the travel bug is out of my system. Dare I say, that I'm in fact ready to go home? The Land of the Free.... waters and bathrooms. :)

The officer at the airline check in asked me how come I'm traveling so light - all I have is a North Face backpack stuffed to the nines and a small messenger bag. Well, I said, I've been to Europe before and had a suitcase but really didn't need it. So this time I've learned. And trust me, the backpack is not "light". It is heavy. But of course, I kept that one last bit to myself. There's no humor in joking with an officer that hasn't quite mastered the Engish language.

I'm waiting to board my flight out of Brussels, now armed with two boxes of truffles and a box of dark chocolates. But the best purchase? A fridge magnet showing two beer mugs that says - "Two beer or not to beer? Shakesbeer.". :)

I'm homebound! :D

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Re: Tea, English Tea


On a 2nd thought, if I skipped the tea, I'd probably have fit into some of the clothes, and solved at least one of the two problems. :P
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Tea, English Tea

It's 4 PM in London, and I'm having tea, complete with the finger sandwiches and sweets, on Regent street, their equivalent of Market street in San Francisco, or Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

I'm not impressed by either the shopping or the tea.
The shopping... Well, maybe I should've gone to Harrod's, but I didn't want to rush, and Regent street was closer. None of the clothes I tried on fit me. At 5'7" (170 cm) and 140 lbs, I usually wear size medium, or 8 on top, and 6, or sometimes a 4 on the bottom. But here in Europe, what they label as US size 8 are so tight they make me look like a wrapped-up mummy. Three possible explanations: 1. I've put on weight during my vacation (but the clothes I rought with me still fit the same), 2. The European sizes aren't true, or 3. We have been very liberal/forgiving with sizes here in the States. In any case, it's depressing not being able to buy cute clothes because I can't fit into them!

Now, the tea. Honestly, high-end hotels in San Francisco, New York, and Canada all make MUCH better tea and sandwiches than this Caffe Concerto in London. But then again, you get what you pay for.... This just goes to show location doesn't matter, in this case. As a side note, the tour guide on the sightseeing bus said the Ritz serves tea for a whopping £36 per person (as opposed to the £9 I'm paying here), you need to dress up for it, AND book six weeks in advance. Maybe when I'm filthy rich. :)

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Monday, August 06, 2007

London!

It's raining hard in Paris. I've hopped on the train to London instead, waiting for the departure. I've visited Paris twice already, but never London yet, so this shall be exciting!

The 30-something businessman sitting down opposite me in first class seems in a foul mood. Well, I suppose I'd be too, if I were traveling for business on a Monday morning, not to mention the bad weather. Nonetheless, I smiled and said "Bonjour", to which he muttered a reluctant "morning". A few minutes later he accidentally dropped a piece of paper on my foot, looked embarrassed and said a hasty "sorry". "no worries," I replied. That got him to do a quick double-take. Hahaha! Did he think I was French? : )


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Sunday, August 05, 2007

On the way to Paris!

Long story short, I was finally able to get out of Tafalla by the way of Hendaye. On the overnight train to Paris right now, lying in bed and furiously typing on my BlackBerry.

Feeling ambitious at the moment. Tomorrow I might head to London. : )
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The Grass Isn't Always Greener....

Traveling in Europe makes me miss the little things I take for granted in the States:

1. We get water free of charge at restaurants.
2. Our airport bathrooms are free. You don't need to pay €1 to use them.
3. No language barrier. DOH!
4. No one stares at Asians on either coasts (although it would be a different story in, say, Kansas). Here in the tiny town of Taffalla, Spain, I suspect I'm the first Asian many of the locals have ever seen, judging from the gawks.
5. Air conditioners - and yes, we USE them. : )

On the flip side, Europe boasts many enviable traits:
1. Many Europeans speak multiple languages. So far, based on my experience (disclaimer: sample size of ONE), Belgians speak the most English, then the Dutch, the Italians, and the Germans. The French are actually not as snooty as their reputation suggests - and yes, they understand you almost perfectly. Spain seems to be the most helpless, even in Madrid, which I found surprising. Let's just say I would hesitate to venture back here again without learning some serious Spanish first.
2. Generally speaking, their public transit systems are really convenient. Amsterdam tops the list in that department. Love their trams!
3. Their trains! Enough said. Japanese bullet trains are still the best, though, bar none.
4. Their life style promotes walking.
5. Businesses stay open late.

Everything said and done, I'm partial to San Francisco, New York, and Sydney.... And now perhaps adding Amsterdam to the list. Brussels and Frankfurt fall into the BORING bucket. Venice has the most vibrant colors, hands down. Rome? Charming, sure, but also polluted and dirty. Berlin - clean, minimalist, and efficient. Madrid? Nah, not expecting a repeat visit anytime soon. And forget Taffalla, I just don't find small towns appealing. I'm glad I came here for my frienda' wedding.... But I'm also eager to see it in my rearview mirror - hint, hint.

That leaves....Paris. The only European city I've visited multiple times. How could anyone resist the Louvre? Or the outdoor cafes? Or the soft sounds of French? I know, not original reasons at all, but they are good reasons nonetheless. : )

Now I need to go buy a train ticket to Paris, leaving tomorrow night. Fingers crossed it's not sold out! I really couldn't sustain another night in Taffalla.... Wish me luck!

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Uh oh....

I swallowed a tiny rubberband.

My ortho asked me to wear a single rubberband that stretches from the backside of a top molar to the outside of a bottom one so that it would move out a little.

After a few days I'd completely forgotten about it - until just now, after a few hungry bites into a breakfast churro, when I realized the rubberband was gone.

Uh oh. I'm gonna die from rubber indigestion. How glamorous. : P
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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bloggers Unite!

"Chinderella" and I met at Plaza Mayor in Madrid for drinks this afternoon, which then extended into shopping and dinner. It was absolutely cool to meet a fellow blogger and jaw surgery patient in person! And, half way across the world, considering that she lives in London, and I live in San Francisco! Photos later, IF I have the permission to reveal her identity. :)

Update on August 9th: "Chinderella" posted this on her blog, complete with a photo! Yes, we had a great time talking about everything from surgery to insurance coverage to drinks to shopping. She is a hell of a cool lady - elegant, easy-going, and very cosmopolitan. Bravo, M!

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I'm "sleeping" my dream!

I'm on an overnight train from Paris to Madrid, in a 4-bed sleeping compartment. The lights are off and I can hear the even breathing of my fellow messengers in the perfect darkness - well, except for the glow of my BlackBerry.

Speaking of which, the French businessman sitting next to me on the earlier train from Brussels to Paris also had a BlackBerry Pearl, that looked exactly like mine. We had a good laugh about it. : )

Been reading Cold Moon, another murder mystery by the same author, Jeff Deaver, who wrote the Bone Collector. Gruesome, but a thoroughly smart and entertaining book. It involves the same two characters from the movie, so as I read I can't help but picture Danziel Washington and Angelina Jolie. It's like watching a sequal! : D

Curling up in bed with a mystery novel in a sleeping compartment onboard an overnight international train to Spain. I feel so grateful that at the moment, life is so good.

And I know I'll always remember this fondly. : )

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Kids!

Overheard in the streets of Amsterdam(father to boy): "no, it's just Euro, not Euro dollars.". : D
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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

And the award goes to....

Most Annoying Question:
"Are you Japanese?" Repeated five times daily it stops being funny. I NEVER get Chinese, and certainly not American. >: )

Most Worthwhile Tourist Spot (on this trip, so far):
Molen van Sloten, a windmill just outside of Amsterdam. It's definitely unique! Plus, it gets you away from the tourist mob, and gives you a taste of the peaceful suburbs.

Most Surprising Fact:
Vincent Van Gogh only painted for a total of 10 years, from age 27 until he shot himself - though he was certainly prolific, producing more than 900 paintings and thousands of drawings during that time.

Funniest Moment:
Spotting reruns of 3rd Rock from the Sun on TV at the lobby of my hotel in Amsterdam.
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iPot

iPot. Says a t-shirt. Can you tell I'm in Amsterdam?

This vacation came to a bumpy start as I checked myself into an emergency room at a hospital in Brussels. No I wasn't bleeding, thank God, but I did have a condition that called for antibiotics. The doctor and the nurses were all gracious and helpful. Two hours (I went shopping while waiting for the lab results), €80, and one dose later, I felt better immediately, and could finally embrace the very much anticipated trip.

No idea how Brussels could call itself the Heart of Europe. Sure, it was NICE, with the Grand Place, the museums, the mussels, and the chocolate (what a pity I had to skip the beer due to the antibiotics). But after two full round trips on the red sightseeing bus in two days (of course I hopped off at all the interesting places), it quickly became apparent that I was running out of reasons to stay.

So off I went to the train station to map out my next stop. Should I visit the town of Brusche (sp.?), or Amsterdam? The guy behind the counter did that very European thing of curved-down lips plus a shrug at the mention of Brusche, but Amsterdam got a big smile and a twinkle in the eye. OK.... I could take a hint. Off I go, to the Netherlands.

Boy was he right!

First of all, the canals. They remind me of Venice, but wider and cleaner. Then there's the bikes. Locals haul everything on their bikes - groceries, flowers, even little kids. I saw this cutest maybe 2-year-old boy sitting in front of his mother on a bike, just zooming by, his soft blonde locks dancing in the wind, and his young eyes filled with wonder.

The Dam Square, Van Gogh Museum, and the Nine Streets with the little boutiques. Shopping has become so.... global. Every metrololis has a Zara, H & M, and Apple. McDonalds has always been ever-present, but now add to that list Ben & Jerry's, and Haaggendaz (rolling my eyes).

Tourist shopping makes me sick. For starters, I simply don't need more STUFF. Remember George Carlin's monologue about how when we go on trips we realize we only need a small portion of the stuff we own? Exactly. I only brought a North Face backpack for the 2-week trip. We want a lot more than we ever need. And we need a lot less than we actually own - for most of us living in non-third-world countries anyway.

To save myself from future trips to Good Will, I'm limiting my shopping to small souvenuirs like fridge magnets (I collect one from each city I visit). What I don't limit myself on is how much I eat, and what - with all this walking, it will for sure burn off.

Yesterday I wandered into a random coffee shop on a main street for some hot chocolate. The chalk menu read: "coffee, orange juice.... 5 joints, mixed, 10 joints, mixed, 5 joints, pure, 10 joints, pure". Huh? I did a double....take. A double take, not a double joint! What were YOU thinking? ; )

That's Amsterdam for ya.... Full of surprises. More later, and I'll post some photos when I get home (MMS messages cost extra, emails don't). For now I'm sitting down to desert, if you get the drift. ; )

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Update on August 7th: That's me on the train to Amsterdam in the photo. The backpack is all I had for two weeks. The sweatshirt says "Australia" (got it in Sydney last year), but never mind that. :)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mix and Match

After an eight-hour delay at PHL (not to mention the 13-hour total flight time), I finally checked into my hotel in Brussels by 10 PM.

I so don't feel ready for this vacation. Been popping Tylenol because of a backache. Then my Canon camera decided to give me an error message and refused to take pictures before coming to its senses. Oh yeah AND I had to spend 20 minutes talking to my brokerage firm over the phone to clear up confusions regarding a wire transfer.

My first meal in Brussels ended up being Japanese. Japanese, in the heart of Europe! Why oh why? Well, I'm exhausted. Room service stopped serving. And the Japanese restaurant is literally right next door, AND the ONLY restaurant on this block. So there I was, slurping a steaming hotel bowl of soba, and thinking to myself I could have been right at home in San Francisco, if it weren't because of the smaller portion and the much steeper price (€9 for what I could easily get for $7 at home).

Adding to the "global" experience? They were playing the song My Girl in the background. : ) it reminded me of the time I spent in Sydney last year.... How I had stumbled across an Irish pub where a live band played Hotel California and California Girls. Our music rocks.


Belgian Hotel: €59

Japanese Dinner: €12

American Music (while you're far from home?): Priceless

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Gum Contouring

Good gum contouring before and after photos.

Dr. Li had asked if I was considering gum contouring. His take is that it's completely optional, even though I have "small teeth" (now THERE's concept to chew on).

I'll wait (till after the braces come off) and see.

What's $24 worth to ya?

What's $24 to you?
 
  • Two movie tickets?
  • A pedicure?
  • Two drinks at an average bar?
  •  
    But for $24 a month, you can sponsor a child in need in countries like Sierra Leone, Zambia, and Mexico.  80% of your donation goes to the child.  What are you waiting for?  Sponsor a child through Christian Children's Fund today!
     
    Yes, I'm in marketing, and I totally fell for CCF's TV commercial last night (another reason why I don't typically watch TV).  But, this is for a good cause, I hope.  And for once, I want to be NOT jaded or cynical - and help spread the word.

    Wednesday, July 04, 2007

    Happy 4th!



    Happy 4th of July, everyone!

    Sunday, July 01, 2007

    Five Months!



    Five months post-op today! Before and after photos compared to about a year ago. There's still some numbness in my right chin, and lower right lip, but not much. Maybe 5%?

    Mary had asked me in one of her comments if people treat me differently (after the change in my appearance). Good question! I had to think about it for a while. Hmm....No I can't say that people treat me differently, other than that perhaps strangers seem to approach me more often, with random small talks, at ice cream parlors, grocery stores, et cetera. The biggest change took place within my own mind. I feel less self-conscious and more self-confident. I no longer feel the need to conceal my profile and put my best face forward, so to speak. It feels so great to look normal, to know that my teeth and jaws fall exactly where they should (no more edge-on-edge bite!). Sure, the whole ordeal cost a lot of money. But the confidence it brings me is priceless.

    Thursday, June 28, 2007

    See Stock Run

    On the eve of iPhone's debut, the BlackBerry steals the show. Research in Motion (RIMM), makers of the BlackBerry, announced a 73% rise in profit during their earnings call after hours today. The stock went up 17% during after hours trading, at $194 per share. Thank God they also announced a 3 for 1 stock split.

    RIMM is too expensive for me right now. J. Crew (JCG) is something I would get next - God knows I spend enough of my paycheck at their stores!

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    United Health Care

    My employer is switching our coverage from Aetna to United Health Care. Has anyone had experiences with UHC?

    $10 Flight

    If you ever wanted to visit Columbus, Ohio - here's your big chance to do it cheap. And I mean CHEAP. $10 each way - courtsey of Skybus. Yep, that's right. In fact, their website says:

    "10 seats for $10 each – on every flight! That’s right, each and every Skybus flight has a minimum of ten seats available for just ten dollars. It’s for real – but these seats go quickly, so be sure to book early and book often!"

    Too bad I still don't want to visit Columbus any time soon.

    Home Exchange

    I sipped a glass of Cabernet at the bar while waiting for my ex-colleague to join me for dinner at Rex Cafe tonight. The couple sitting next to me asked for entree recommendations - so we struck up a conversation. It turned out they were from Australia (the guy) and New Zealand (the girl, she wore braces, too!), but live in Hong Kong. They are in San Francisco on vacation, and they got free lodging via Home Exchange! Just like what Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet did in the movie, the Holiday. In fact, HomeExchange.com did indeed sponsor the movie. Now, how cool is THAT!! The couple they are exchanging homes with owns three properties in the States, in San Francisco (Pacific Heights), Napa Valley, and New York City (must be a nice life!). We had a nice chat - I told them how much I loved VB (Victoria Bitter, an Australian beer) when I spent a week in Sydney last summer. They told me how many similarities they found between San Fran and Sydney, and that he travels to Beijing for business all the time, and that they plan to visit China next year during the Olympics. All in all, a very cool, collected couple.

    So guess who paid the annual fee of $99.95 and became the newest member of HomeExchange.com as soon as she got home tonight? :)

    I'm flying to Belgium at the end of July, then taking the train to Spain. It'd be great to stay in a local residence, rather than in a hotel, for obvious reasons:
    • Hotels are expensive.
    • Staying in a hotel screams "I'm a tourist!". Staying in a local residence spells C-O-O-L.

    I hope someone on that site wants to visit San Francisco!

    Sunday, June 17, 2007

    Less than 100 days to go....

    My ortho said she expects to debrace me by mid-September. In other words, I've got less than 100 days to go!

    I'm dreaming about things to sink my teeth into once they're free of metal braces. Babyback ribs! Sticky sesame candy bars! Caramel! Corn on the cobb! Now I feel like a death row inmate planning his last meal - but the opposite. :)

    Speaking of death row, did you ever see that Kevin Spacey movie titled The Life of David Gale? A clever, but wildly disturbing story. Hold the popcorn.

    Old Photo


    Came across an old photo (the one on the left) taken last summer. The photo on the right was taken about a month ago - in other words, about four months after the surgery. I think these two photos are about a year apart. Erin - see how I had a pointy/long chin very similar to yours? I'm no expert.... but I imagine your face will look rounder and more balanced post surgery, just like mine. Good luck! :)

    Thursday, May 31, 2007

    Four-Month Mark!



    Wow, it's been four months already, since my jaw surgery on January 31st. I don't think about it much anymore....the swelling's probably all gone - if it hasn't then at least I haven't noticed. The numbness in my chin still lingers, but only about 10%.

    The BEST part? Had an appointment with the ortho today to adjust my braces. She had originally estimated to de-brace me by February of 2008. This afternoon she told me it would happen a lot sooner - around mid-September! I am completely thrilled. :)

    The photo on the top left shows my profile before braces. The one on the right is my profile as of today. For more before and after photos, click on the links in the left-hand column.

    Tuesday, May 29, 2007

    Top 10 Most Expensive Cities in the World

    The top 10 most expensive cities in the world this year, according to the Economist, using New York as 100:
    1. Oslo, 134
    2. Paris, 130
    3. Copenhagen, 126
    4. London, 125
    5. Tokyo, 124
    6. Osaka, 118
    7. Reykjavic, 118
    8. Zurich, 118
    9. Frankfurt, 116
    10. Helsinki, 116

    New York came in at #28, Chicago #36, Los Angeles #39, and San Francisco #41.

    Friday, May 18, 2007

    The Rain in Spain

    ....Falls mainly on the plain. Or does it?

    I'll find out soon enough! Just booked my flight to Brussels in July. Then taking the train to Spain! Woohoo! Thanks Chris, for inviting me to your wedding!

    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    3rd Rock from the Sun

    I wish I'd remembered to add 3rd Rock from the Sun to my Netflix queue while healing at home post-op. On a 2nd thought, no I don't. The show is just hilarious, and laughing would've hurt too much. Doug would know. He made me laugh so hard once, about two weeks after the surgery, that I literally had to pinch my lips together to keep the muscles from pulling and hurting too much. Nice mental image, huh? ;)

    It feels great to be able to laugh again. :)

    Friday, May 11, 2007

    Visual Reality

    Watched Dreamgirls the other night. Effie White is denied the chance to super stardom because she's overweight. Overweight doesn't sell records. Beauty does - in the form of Deena Jones.

    We all love beautiful things. And beautiful people. Do good-looking people get better treatment? Sure they do. When I went to a flower shop with a girlfriend a few years ago - she got half a dozen roses from the shop owner for no reason, and I got....nothing. Men buy drinks for pretty girls at bars. Us mere mortals? We gotta buy our own.

    But sometimes good looks can backfire. Look what happened to Ms. Segolene Royal in the French election. She received only 48% from the women voters. I'm not saying she lost because of her astonishingly good looks. But her beauty perhaps cost her a few votes. A San Francisco radio station took calls earlier this week to see if/how a political candidate's appearance impacts the way people vote. The confessions were mixed. Some callers admitted that they simply didn't trust too-good-looking politicians, suspecting that they had it easier because of their looks. Others said - "Sure, if they're equally smart and competent, I'd vote for the hotter one 'cause I have to watch them on TV for the next few years!"

    Men are not immune to this type of scrutiny. A recent New York Times article revealed that "a 5-foot-8 man was just as successful in getting dates as a 6-footer if he made more money — precisely $146,000 a year more. For a 5-foot-2 man, the number was $277,000". Ouch.

    Fair? No. Reality? Yes.

    Boing, Boing....Bouncing Back

    Thanks so much for the support, folks! She's entitled to her opinions - and I'm entitled to a switch. Switching to a new dentist, that is. ;) I was never that impressed to begin with.... and this just provided that last bit of motivation I needed to look around.

    I feel extremely grateful that everything has gone according to plan so far - the braces (so far, to date), and the surgery. Couldn't have asked for better!

    Mary - Thanks for sharing my blog with your colleague. He can read more about Dr. Li at http://www.drkaseyli.com/. Best of luck!

    Ruby, Graham - Thanks for the encouragement. I signed up for a membership at Helium yesterday. It's a site where you can write about any subject they specify, rate each other's articles, and somehow get paid (haven't figured out how that part works yet). So far I've only written two articles, but plan to do more soon. :)

    What would I do without y'all (my Texas roots seeping through)? Thanks again, to each of you, for your kindness and support. You've made this journey so much easier.... and even FUN. :)

    Tuesday, May 08, 2007

    Dent in My Day

    My dentist isn't involved in this whole jaw surgery ordeal, even though her office also does braces. A friend of mine had recommended her ortho and oral surgeon to me, so that's who I went with. When I told my dentist about my plans to undergo jaw surgery, about a year and half ago, she said - "Oh I noticed your bite is off, but I didn't want to say anything 'cause it'd require surgery. The only surgeon I know that's really good lives in Texas. I don't know any oral surgeons here so I can't recommend anyone to my patients." She took some "before" pictures of my face - front view, profile, and smile - so that she could compare and see the difference when I'm done. If the results were good, she said, she'd recommend Dr. Li to her other patients who might need similar surgery.

    Fastforward 18 months. I had my dental exam this afternoon. Saw my dentist for the first time since the surgery. I congratulated her on her new baby girl, flashed a smile, and said - "So, are you gonna recommend Dr. Li?"

    "Oh....", she paused, "honestly, I think you'd have better results if you went to that surgeon in Texas. He would've made it perfect. Right now you still show some gum when you smile big." (See a photo here)

    "Oh, that. Dr. Li had told me that he couldn't make the gum disappear completely when I smile. If he had shortened my upper jaw even further, it'd widen my nose too much. Plus, when your lips are relaxed, the bottom of your upper front teeth is suppposed to peek out just a little. If he had cut out more gumline, my front teeth would've completely disappeared behind the upper lip and I'd end up looking like an old lady. It's all about striking the right facial balance, right?"

    "Still, the surgeon in Texas would have made it just perfect. Dr. Walford, I think, is his name. He doesn't do anything by the book and he's brilliant. He would've rotated both of your jaws and made them perfect."

    "But Dr. Li did operate on both of my jaws. Besides, I don't mind showing a little gum when I smile big. What IS perfection anyway? It's different from person to person."

    "How much did you pay for your operation? Dr. Walford in Texas charges $70,000."

    "My surgeon quoted $33,600."

    "Ah. Dr. Walford would've made it perfect. He's really famous and well-known, and he's expensive."

    "Well," I sought ways to fight back without being rude, "I'm not gonna fly to Texas, and I'm not paying anyone $70,000 for this. By the way, Dr. Li is world-renowned, too. He's top-notch."

    She started to say something else, but quick, I beat her to it: "Hey, you don't have to recommend him and you don't have to like the results," I kept a smile on my face, even though, yes, of course I was annoyed. "After all, I'm the one that has to live with it, and I really like it." Then I turned and winked at her assistant, who looked completely mortified.

    I'd like to think I have an open mind and can take different opinions. But, I suspect it's insensitive of her to say that I should've gone to some surgeon in Texas when all has been said and done. Obviously there's nothing I can do now, even if the Texan were better than Dr. Li - which I highly doubt.

    Bottom line: I'm happy with the results. I can chew properly now and cut noodles with my front teeth. Plus, in my opinion, my face looks more proportionate. Who cares what she thinks, right?

    But it still made a dent in my day.

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    Before and After: 3 Months!

    Three-month mark!! It's been three months since my jaw surgery. Click on the photos above to enlarge them. The photo on the left was dated September 2005, pre-braces. The photo on the right was taken yesterday, at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, B.C., Canada (which is, by the way, a beautiful place with lots of flowers. I snapped a photo of a random cute kid walking by).

    They say time flies. But honestly, it feels longer than three months! Almost a distant memory. When a colleague asked me the other day how my jaws were feeling, it took me a split second to realize what he meant. :) My diet has gone back to almost normal, as well - still can't do the tougher meats or apples or carrots yet, but all in due time. My chin still feels numb on the right side...and my lower right lip, too. But each week the feelings return a little, so that's good!

    Monday, April 30, 2007

    Before and After: Umbrella


    December 2005 in Victoria, B.C., vs. April 2007 in New York. Click on the photos above to enlarge them.

    Tuesday, April 24, 2007

    Who says everything looks good in black and white? ;)



    Above: X-ray on November 22nd, 2005. Pre-op.
    Below: X-ray on April 5th, 2007. Post-op. See the metal plates and screws? :D

    Got A Date... Kinda

    At my last ortho appointment their records showed my estimiated "de-brace" date as August 2008. August 2008!! That's obviously wrong, and the dental assistant agreed, since I'm weeks away from my final wires. I couldn't get a straight answer before I left their office because my ortho was way too busy to talk to me or her assistant (who does most of the work on my braces). See why I'm not impressed? In any case, I called them yesterday to clarify the date.

    Long story short - the worst case scenario is February 2008. My ortho said on average it takes nine months of additional braces work after the jaw surgery. So that puts me at early November. Sometime between November and February. That's when they'll come off! :)

    I'm extremely glad the surgery went well and there are no complications. Now I just want the roots to move and straighten out. Tick tock teeth! :P

    Sunday, April 22, 2007

    Not So Hidden Gems

    Since the group of us orthognathic surgery patients has been relatively quiet on our blogs, I've wandered around online to find other gems.
    • Flight 001 - All the travel essentials and accessories one can dream of.
    • Fool.com - Want smart investment advice? Bookmark this site. Don't let the name fool ya.
    • Closet Therapy - Oh boy. Is this the mother of all shopping blogs or what? I marvel at the amount of time she spends to keep it up to date.
    • Pandora.com - Type in the songs you enjoy, and Pandora will find similar songs for you and stream them for free. Pretty sweet, huh?
    • Fat Wallet - Don't know about you, but my wallet's never fat. Sigh. I've never personally used this site, but apparently it saves you $$.

    Got any cool sites to share? ;)

    Saturday, April 21, 2007

    Jennifer Ouellette Grosgrain Ribbon Headbands

    Hey Ju, thanks for the comment on the headband. It's Jennifer Ouellette. You can get them from Barneys New York, or online at Viv&Ingrid. Aren't they adorable? Just the perfect spring accessory. :P