So, how’s that accountability thing going? Let’s find out
You may remember in this blog post, I made a resolution to eat better because I was working out more. So how’d it go? I’m not going to pretend the bar was set super high – it was only three goals – but I did very well. I had my full allotment of six sodas (I had the last one around the 20th of the month), I only had my two fast food jaunts (Jack in the Box for lunch once and a fatty bagel once for breakfast), and I ate veggies every day but one. Most days I had multiple veggies, so I feel good. That’s, like, a 98% success rate or something for month one.
ABOUT THAT WORKING OUT THING
Well, this isn’t going as well, but I didn’t set a clear goal. I think a reasonable goal would be two sessions a week. That’s vague on purpose – it can be going to the gym and using the elliptical and/or weights, or doing yoga or pilates or other core work at home. I haven’t done two sessions a week in a month or two, and I probably did a total of about 5 total sessions in March. No bueno.
Remember a few months ago when a doe-eyed man with a bag full of big dreams set up a bunch of goals for the year? I haven’t had the cajones to reread that blog, but suffice to say this has been a historically bad start to the year. I mean historically. Put it this way, since 2010, I have not had a sub-900-rated round. And the one I had then was because of a severe injury. You’d have to go back to 2009 to get a legit sub-900 round. This year? Yup, already had two.
I know it’s altitude. I know it I know it I know it. But I keep going back. Why do I keep going back? Let’s do some research. Since moving west at the end of 2007, I’ve played 262 tournament rounds. 175 of them were above 4000′ in elevation (almost exactly 2/3). Here are my findings:
Average round rating below 4000′: 950.56
# of 1000-rated rounds below 4000′: 5 (~5.7%)
# of sub-930 rounds below 4000′: 17 (~20%)
Average round rating above 4000′: 965.01
# of 1000-rated rounds above 4000′: 16 (~9.1%)
# of sub-930 rounds above 4000′: 13 (~7.4%)
I used to think it had to do with playing early in the year, but I now think that’s crap. The few rounds I played in Reno (above 4000′) after a two-month layoff and dealing with bursitis in my throwing shoulder were actually quite good (I took home the 1-tag in the opener!) Then I go down to sea level and throw my first 8 rounds well below my rating (only one round so far is unofficially rated above 950). Oh well, onward and upward. Literally, upward. I need higher elevation.
THE REST OF MY LIFE
This one is murkier. The internet isn’t the forum for airing dirty laundry, so let’s say say specters from my past are making my life in the present very challenging. And they’re inevitably affecting my relationship with my boys and even the amount of time I get to spend with them. Personal choices obviously have a say in that as well (I played several tournaments in March, for instance), but there are extenuating circumstances.
The boys are doing well in general. I just had parent teacher conferences with both teachers and, while L’s reading scores have me more than a bit concerned, they’re both prospering in various areas. I can only imagine how hard it is to try to learn anything at school while dealing with two separate homes and lifestyles. Fortunately, my parents’ divorce happened when I was in college, and even THAT had its own challenges. It must be 1000x harder for kids.
However my girlfriend Danielle has been a nice pillar of support in all of this, as have a few friends I’ve opened up to. I had the chance to see Corey and Matt in their adorable place in Oakland. Got to perform with my improv troupe, The Comedy Collective (and will again this coming Friday!), and partook in some shenanigans. All in all, a mixed bag.
I anticipate doing this sort of review monthly. It’s good cheap therapy content.
What, did you seriously think you wouldn’t get a recap of this year’s King of the Lake? Like I did in 2017? And 2016? And 2014? And 2011? And 2010? And 2009? And 2008? You get the point. As I pointed out in last year’s recap, I shoot the King very well in even numbered years. Would that continue?
ROUND 1: TAHOE VISTA
I’m going to eschew my normal hole-by-hole recap because, let’s be honest, nobody reads all that crap. My back did not feel great but I was well rested and rearing to go. I start on hole 1 with a great card of people I like playing with. And the course is set up TO SCORE WELL (the hot round would come in at a 48, or -10).
Remember in my pre-tourney blog, I mentioned my putter had gone cold of late? I start off on hole 1 (a must-deuce) and throw it 25′ left. Not ideal, but it’s a tester. And I throw a terrible putt that sneaks in the right corner for a no-chains birdie. I actually really needed that, something to build on and not have a feeling of “oh no, here comes the bad putting again!” Hole 2 I clip some cabbage and leave myself 50′ short. I MAKE that big putt. Okay, hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.
I throw 3 pars and then start to click. I nearly ace hole 6, settling for a drop-in deuce. I birdie the very easy par-4 hole 7, followed by an easy birdie on 8. Hole 9 I throw what I think is a park-job, only to see I’m 20′ short on a pretty sharp uphill lie. No matter, I BANG I…. no, I miss. Just short. That’s something that happened a LOT this weekend – a shot that I really thought I made did not go in.
I birdie 10, 11 (with a sick 50+ putt), and 13. Followed with a par. I get the tough hole 15 (in fact, we had a star frame – all of us birdied – on it!) and a drop-in on 16. Hole 17, I take the cheaty-thumber route and it hits 5′ from the basket! Only I get a lousy role and have a 30+ foot putt, which I just miss low (I also thought I made that one). Par to finish.
That put me at a… would you look at that? 48! Did I forget to mention I was one of the people who threw the hot round? It certainly didn’t feel like it, especially since I missed a short putt and had a really bad break. It CERTAINLY didn’t feel like a 1021-rated round, which it currently is. Scary to know that, with those two breaks and a better 3rd throw on hole 18, I could have thrown a 1050+ rated round.
So that put me in…
FIRST PLACE?!?!?! Really? I was playing against Robert Bainbridge in my division, a 1001-rated golfer who I fully expected to run away with this thing. Okay, so I’m leading after 1 round. Okay.
ROUND 2: BIJOU
I take some more Alleve as my back is really starting to bother me. We start on hole 11 (old guys start on later holes than the young pros). I throw a great drive and have a 25′ death putt. Robert is looking at a likely bogey, so I decide to play safe and not go for it. Robert cans his par and I look like an idiot for not trying to make the putt, especially since my putter was great up until this point. Then I throw a bogey on the difficult hole 12 and miss the stupidly easy hole 13. The bogey on 12 was my first of the tournament.
Ummm, not how I’d draw up the start of round 2.
I take a drop-in par on 14 and then NEARLY ace the 420′ downhill hole 15 (it must have just hyzered in front). Birdie, par, par, par. Ending up even to par after those holes is okay, but definitely not great.
I birdie 1, par 2 and 3. Hole 4 is a new position I’ve never seen, labelled as 400+ feet. I crush my katana on a great line, but it hits a guardian – normally I need ALL of my distance to try to get over 400′, even on a downhill hole. I give an audible show of frustration. But the tree actually stops the disc well and it curls around the basket for an easy birdie. So yeah, that hole is mis-labelled (I’d estimate it at 350′, a little downhill). I have a great par save on hole 5, a near birdie on the tough six (I thought it was in, but it was just high), a good birdie on 7, and a very nearly great putt on 8 (another one I thought was in – it hit top link, off the cage, and out). I hit a long putt on 9 for birdie and finish with a par.
Zephyr is an interesting course. You can shoot well there, but there aren’t many GIMME birdies (like at Vista or the other KotL course, Bijou). You have to earn them, and you have to limit the bleeding. I had one bogey and five birdies. The -4 ended up being more than solid (unofficially 990 rated!) The problem is, Robert did what Robert does: shot a -9, giving him a 4-stroke lead going into the final round.
This is important. I’m in second, only 4 strokes off the lead in my division of 19. One guy is 3 strokes behind me, but I have a 7-stroke cushion over 4th place. I just need a good night’s sleep and there’s an off chance I could win this thing, since Bijou’s a course I can string some good holes together. At the very worst, I am looking at an unprecedented top 3 finish
I go to bed at 9:30. And basically toss and turn the entire night. I did briefly dream, meaning I did briefly sleep, but I’d estimate I got somewhere between 1-2 hours. NO! I never play well when I’m tired!
Also, I had to take a pain pill because I was so tired. Even though I felt relaxed, I didn’t sleep. Worse yet, when I woke up, my back was ON FIRE, and not in an EN FUEGO way. But hey, at least not in the literal way either.
FINAL ROUND: BIJOU
This is a monster 30-hole layout and it’s set up medium. Which still means PLENTY of birdie opportunities. I straggle in, dead tired and hoping the adrenaline of competing on top card (and a 5-hour energy drink) help me finish strong. Lots of stretching and we’re off, starting on hole 9.
Now my goal is to keep top 3, especially knowing the back issues, the lack of sleep issues, and the personal issues I’m trying very hard to ignore during the round. In the first dozen holes or so, I definitely lose strokes to Tony (who was only 3 behind me at the start) and Nate (who was 7 behind but closing). I’m about even with Robert for the round (and still 4 back for the tourney). Serge, who unfortunately had a rough round, became a non-issue early. In that span I did hit 4 birdies in a row (12, 12a, 12b, and 13) but still lost ground to Nate and Tony.
Then I proceed to play pretty okay golf. At around the halfway point, I realize Robert still has me by about 4, and I’m probably tied with Tony or close to it. But I’m hanging in there. And I willed myself to overcome my fatigue and my back. If I don’t win this, I want it to be because I was too aggressive, not because I was too careful.
The middle of the round I throw a few more birdies and am starting to gain ground on Robert, with Tony also hanging around. Nate falls back because of some bad lack. By the time we hit hole 27, I think it’s pretty close to a 3-way tie. I am the only one to birdie hole 27 (on a SICK crush that did see a little bit of luck come my way). Best yet, my putter was BACK. During the round I missed 4 or 5 putts from 40-60′, but ALL of them were barely misses, most of which I thought I made when they left my hand. I stopped missing altogether from inside the 33′ circle.
At this point, I’m playing VERY well, so I stop looking just to get top 3 (which is all but guaranteed) and try to actually win this thing, Bainbridge or no Bainbridge. He birdies hole 1, but I’m the only one to hit hole 2. Hole 3 is a star frame (all birdies). Holes 4 and 5 are both par-frames. Hole 6 I throw a very good drive but SLIGHTLY low – I hit the LAST sagebrush (1′ higher on my throw and I’m probably very close to parked – instead I have a 60′ putt). I don’t know exactly where we all stand in terms of total score, but I know it’s close. I figure I have to make the putt. WHICH I DO. Putter EN FUEGO (the good kind).
Robert and Tony also birdie (Tony’s putt was only a few inches closer than mine). Hole 7 I start out with a PARK JOB (less than 3′ from basket). But so does Tony. Robert throws it wide, he’ll have a 30′ par putt. Long story short, that’s another star frame.
So our last hole is hole 8. I know me, Robert, and Tony are all within a stroke or two, but I’m not sure exactly where. Hole 8 is a very easy hyzer hole (at least easy to put yourself in the circle and in no danger of going out-of-bounds – it’s a little trickier to park it). I SHOULD have looked at the scorecard, but I was playing so aggressively and well that I figured I needed a birdie no matter what, so I go for the tighter park-job. And I hit an early tree, leaving myself a 60′. Robert puts his drive within 25′, Tony within 15.
Okay, now I gotta look at the scorecard, see if I should run the 60′ putt (with OB behind the basket – probably not in play, but it could be if I skipped off the top of the basket). Turns out I was tied with Robert going into the hole, and 2 ahead of Tony overall. So now the whole tourney comes down to this putt. I need to make it to force a push (I assume Robert will make his 25′ putt, as he rarely missed from there).
I run it, but alas, come up just short. Robert hits his for the win. Tony hits his for 3rd place, one stroke behind me.
So, another even year, another good showing. No, not good. This was the best tournament of my life, by far. I threw 27 birdies, 38 pars, and one bogey. My drives were great, my scrambles, the few I had at any rate, were top notch, and I rarely had any trouble. My putting was well above average, although it wasn’t quite as lights-out as Robert would have you believe. It was a weapon, though, and not a liability.
I missed being KING of my division by 1 stroke. In fact, if I was still playing Open, I would have also tied for 2nd there (being only 2 strokes behind the best score of the entire tournament). Of course, that means I would have made more prize money had I played Open. D’oh!
I honestly can’t complain. I averaged a 1005-rating for the three rounds (I think I’ve only ever averaged a touch above 980 for an entire tournament once). My up shots were easy. My putts were reliable. And more importantly, I had fun. I had no expectations going in given my current life situation; I just wanted to have fun. Shooting lights out helps, but I did just enjoy myself.
This also bought me some more tournaments. I was considering hanging up the discs for the year, but this extra spending cash bought me some peace of mind. I’ll be back at Bijou in 3 weeks. Hopefully my back will have healed up by then.
On the same day when, two years earlier I posted my awakening blog about becoming a feminist, I took part in my second Women’s March in two years. Last year I took the boys to the one in Reno while Ash went to the HUGE one in Washington. This year, Ash marshalled in Reno while I took the boys along with Ash’s mom. It was a great time.
It started with a walk from the car to the Federal Building, just like last year. I mean, exactly like last year. Here’s photographic proof:
Our boys made their own signs (and came up with the slogan for Granny’s sign as well):
We got to the courthouse in plenty of time to see some great signs, and even bump into a few friends:
This was an understatement. And when I say we bumped into friends, I don’t mean adults. My kids bumped into not one, not two, but SIX of their friends throughout the march. I think that says something about the families that my family has become close with.
Anyway, we got to hear the initial speakers just fine despite being far enough away to not see them. Along the way, I got to see some pretty great signs.
One of the highlights of my day was spotting a young lady with a sign and asking to take a picture with her because of the content of our signs. She was happy to. 🙂
Then the march began. I tried to take a few photos of the crowd on either side of me (as I was basically in the middle of it all). Here is the view to the south, the view to the west, and the view to the north:
I felt there were fewer people than last year, mainly bacause last year we were packed so tightly nobody could move at all. Then reports came out that last year we were around 10k people, but this year estimates ranged from 10,000 to 15,000. I think the reason why was actually how well it was organized this year. People had a better understanding of where to start and where to go, and that also allowed them to spread out a bit more. The walkway was larger, giving more room to spread out.
At last we arrived at the main plaza, just past the fantastic whale (which really does look rather nice when the sun catches it just so). I took a picture, but my blog really hates vertical pictures. Anyway, while the main speakers spoke, Granny and L took a trip up the parking deck, so I grabbed this picture of them.
Later I took the littler boys up to the deck to grab my own pictures. Unfortunately by the time I did it, a fair number of people had already left, so the turnout looks much smaller than it was.
There was scarcely any counter-protesters to be seen. I saw one sign that said “Women for Trump” with, ostensibly, some women there holding it. I also saw two “All Lives Matter” signs, one of which I sadly believe was brought by a march-supporter (pink hat) who just didn’t get it. I saw no trouble or animosity throughout the entire day.
Rather what I witnessed was strength, empowerment, camaradere, and a group of mostly women who have grown weary of marching for basic human rights (I saw several signs to the tune of “I’ve been holding this sign since the 1960s”). I met a handful of people by name just because we liked each other’s signs, or they were glad I brought kids with me, or hell just because they were standing next to me.
There is a LOT to lose in 2018 and 2020, and this was a reminder that there’s a VAST contingent of people who are going to do everything in their power to not give another inch. It was very wonderful to see.
I sorta hope there isn’t a march in 2018, but if there is, we’ll be there.
OOPS: Edited because I somehow forgot to add my favorite sign, with all due respect to every other sign out there.
Trigger warning: this is really long. If really long things give you fits, move right along.
That’s right my regular viewer(s), it’s time for the Disc Golf results show. I do it every year and then assess how I did overall. In 2016 I made goals so low you could belly-crawl over them and hit an impressive 9 out of 15. So this year I resolved to step my game up by making more lofty goals. This was impressive, because as you’ll remember IN THE INITIAL POST, this was my last year in the regular “pro” division before I get to play with all the old folks (the year you turn 40 you get to play “masters”, which is a significantly easier division to hit the cash line each time).
But we’re not there yet. All the tournaments have been added as official to the PDGA website (well, almost all of them, more on that later), so it’s time to start the self-reflection/self-congratulation/self-flagellation. And awaaaaaaaay we go.
1) Gain enough PDGA points to qualify for Masters Worlds in 2018.
First off, I’m going under the assumption I will need 600 points to qualify for Masters Worlds (which will be in Kansas City and there’s a very very good chance I won’t be able to go anyway). Whatever. It turns out I did make enough points, 725 in total (not counting the one tournament which isn’t scored yet, which I’ll talk about later). Not only should that be enough, it’s 7th most in the state on NV. Should be good enough to receive (and likely ignore) one of those awesome invite letters.
2) Break the odd-year curse by cashing in at least 1/4 of my events.
And how. I played in 10 events and cashed in HALF of them, not counting the one I’ll get to later. And these were not flukes, well, most of them weren’t flukes. I earned them in a very strangely patterned fashion. More on that later as well.
3)Cash at King of the Lake
This one was both surprising and also not surprising at the same time. As I chronicled in this also-lengthy write-up after the tournament, I tend to suck at KotL in odd-numbered years. This year was no different. In fact, King was probably my worst tournament of the year. I was battling a bad back, but really, I just didn’t play well. No excuses, I just sucked. There’s always next year, an even year.
4) “Make” more than $700 in Masters
Somewhat surprisingly, I almost made $700 in pro, coming in at $575 for the year in tournament play (this doesn’t count dubs and ace pots, where I certainly would have raked in the requisite seven bills). To calculate what I would have made in Masters, I have to make several assumptions. First, I have to assume I would have played the exact same way against different competition. Second, in the “actual” tallies, there were ties and I only know how much they both received which were split pots. If I were to add myself in there, I’ll have to sort of estimate how much I would have made coming in a place ahead/behind the people whose cash I knew. Lastly, I have to assume how much the purse size would have grown with me in there. Essentially, these are wild guesses.
Anyway, how would I have done with the old farts? Welcome to my good friend, Excel Spreadsheets, Esq.
That’s right, not only would I have WON three tournaments in Masters (I’ve only ever one won pro tournament), I would have more than tripled my income. I mean, taxes-declaring stuff right there.
VERDICT: MAJOR SUCCESS
5) Play every event at the Sierra Series FINALLY.
Another answer that I can start with “not only did I…” I did finally play all seven events of the series. What’s more, due to a few regulars not playing the whole thing, I managed to “cash” in the series. Only two places actually got cash as far as I know and I came in third. But my prize there was actually something I’ve always wanted but never gotten – a metal mini-basket. It’s super sweet. I just eked out a good player around my rating who played great all year too.
We’ll be back to our programming, my fine viewers, after a word from our sponsor.
6) No DFL (dead f’n last) finishes.
I sure tried my best to fail this one. I played my first tournament at Auburn, a course I really hate and one I tend to suck at. I just barely got by without being bottom of the barrel. Then I also tried to play a blind course at sea level in east coast humidity with brand new shoes. I lost to players with 910 ratings, but I did not come in last.
7)Beat Jere Eshelman in a single PDGA round.
Although this was the year I finally managed to check some of these long-standing goals of mine off the checklist, this wasn’t one. I didn’t actually play in any events with Jere (who turned Masters this year, so I imagine I will have more opportunities in future years).
However, I did manage to beat James Proctor, the 23rd highest rated player IN THE WORLD, in a round at King of the Lake. I also bested a 992-rated Masters player and 2x World Champion Jim Oates in an entire tournament. So you know, I won’t N/A this one, I’m gonna go full-out success on it. That won’t stop me from making this goal next year, methinks.
8)Keep my lifetime streak of never DNFing (did not finish) a tournament alive.
Not much to say about this one other than I did it. No real close calls either, though I had enough blood blisters to shellac a walrus, if that was the sort of thing that blood blisters did.
9)Throw two or more 1000-rated rounds.
In a year where I alternated historic with mediocre, I managed to blaze into uncharted territory here. With only four tournaments left, I had a single 1000-rated round to my name on the year. But I managed to quadruple that number before the year was done. That’s right, somehow I churned out a record four 1000-rated rounds in 2017. I’ll get into this in greater depth in the RANDOM FACTS section at the end.
10)At least 1 round over 1010.
I have set this goal every year since around 2012, two years after my record setting 1025-rated round at Shady Oaks. Not only had I never achieved it, I rarely came close, having only thrown one round over 1004 since then. Somehow, and believe me I’m not quite sure how, I managed to do it three times this year. I threw a pair of 1021-rated rounds as well as a 1014. I’ll be talking about these more later as well.
11)No more than 3 rounds below 940.
So you know that round I keep referencing that I’ll talk about in greater detail later? Well, I built up that suspense because I thought that mystery round would single-handedly decide the fate of this goal. But it won’t. I had 5 rounds that were below 940. One of them was thrown in that east coast humidity-ridden round described above, and it would have been either the worst or second worst (a ~906 rated round), but for some reason the TD never turned the report in and, as of today, November 15, it is not an official round. So it never happened. But yeah, doesn’t matter, I still blew this one. My five crappy rounds were in five different tournaments at five different courses to boot. Oh well, can’t win ’em all.
12)Have my rating go over 965 at some point this year during an update.
For one precious ratings update spanning just over a month, my rating was 966. Man, I don’t even really want to count this one, but I guess I did accomplish my goal.
VERDICT: SUCCESS, but an uglier color
13)Hit an ace or an eagle.
Yes! Not only did I hit an ace, but I managed to do it during doubles when the ace pot was over $100! I gave my partner some of the winnings but still managed to take home an $80 payday, easily my largest for an ace. (Previously, I only had one pot-ace, and it was for a whopping $17.)
14) Play more casual golf, either alone or with the boys.
Every year I say I won’t make vague, hard-to-quantify goals, and every year I do. This is one of them. I will say I did get out with my 8 year old a few times to play doubles, something he really enjoyed. But if I were to objectively look at my year, I really didn’t practice much. Like most years, I played quite a bit in the early months, but then tailed off. While it wasn’t the stop-playing-after-King-of-the-Lake of years past, it was definitely not what I’d envisioned. Hopefully I play more next year to get my body ready for serious competition. Hopefully I don’t make this same goal next year. Stupid ambiguity.
15)No missed putts within 15?.
This one is sorta objective too, but I definitely remember missing a short putt in my very first tournament and thinking “well, there goes that goal”, so apparently I didn’t do it. I’d probably guess I missed a handful of absolutely-should-have-made putts this year. My putting experienced some incredibly high highs (three of my top four putting rounds of all time were this year). But yeah, definitely missed a few dinkers.
16ish? It’s an odd numbered year so I want to break my ridiculous streak of sucking in these years, both skill-wise and goal-wise.
This was an unofficial one, but it’s how I ended my blog, so I’m going to include it. This was one of my best years financially and included four of my best rounds to date (my 2nd highest rated round of ALL time, my third, my fourth, and my 8th). But the lows were pretty darn low. It may have seemed like I excelled all around, but it was a roller-coaster. I still have to say overall it was a success. The highs were just too high to ignore.
Well, I ended up at an impressive 12 – 4 this year, a year with low expectations. I’m pretty excited about that. It’ll be interesting to see what 2018 brings me in a new division with a whole lot on my plate off the course.
Oh, you didn’t think this was the actual end, did you?
BONUS ROUND: THE STATS!
Because it just wouldn’t be a disc golf blog without stats. As impressive as my four high rated rounds were, they were also so statistically similar that it was kinda creepy. Each of them came in the third and final round of a tournament. Each of them were preceded by two terribly mediocre rounds. Each of them catapulted me from despair into the cash. Here’s another fun Excel spreadsheet breaking it down.
I mean, that sort of erratic consistency is almost downright amazing. What’s more, that trend, of playing badly early on and excelling later on, was pretty steady the entire year.
Round 1 average rating: 952.5, about .86 strokes below my rating per round
Round 2 average: 953.8, about .74 strokes below my rating per round
Round 3 average: 988, about 2.25 strokes above my rating per round
Howzabout individual courses? I said earlier I hated Auburn, and that’s true. Not only do I not enjoy the course, I have the numbers to back it up. 6 tournament rounds there, only one round above 951 (and even then it was only 5 points above my rating). All six rounds average about 22 points below my rating, between 2 and 3 strokes below average PER ROUND. If I ever tell you I’m signing up to play a tournament there, I give you permission to slap me.
And let’s be fair, I don’t just hate courses because I suck at them. I love Sierra College even though I suck at it. I have 12 tournament rounds there, only four of which are above my rating (for a TOTAL above rating score of 22 points). Contrast that with the 8 rounds below my rating (230 points below my rating) and you have an average of 17.3 points below my rating, nearly 2 strokes.
On the other end of the spectrum, how about Turtle Rock, home of one of my 1021 rated rounds? I have 17 rounds there, which does dilute the numbers a bit, but only six are below my rating. I average just over a full stroke above my rating each round there.
I’d include Zephyr Cove, but my scores are all over the map. My 23 rounds run the gamut from a 901 rated round to a 1021. Hell, this year alone I vacillated 105 points at Zephyr.
Well, it’s been almost a year since my surgery and more than 2.5 years since I had my braces on, but the end is in sight. I mean, technically, the end is already here, but I’m still going to be working on whitening my choppers. The original plan was to do it professionally, but I have no money, so toothpaste it is.
But the point is: I’M DONE! And my face has truly undergone a pretty wild transformation. Admittedly, the orthodontics shows more immediate results than the surgery (since I didn’t opt to have the cosmetic chin-extension done, the jaw surgery itself was more practical than aesthetic). So let’s start with the inner workings.
So as you can see, my face has been mushed about quite a bit because of this. You can see what the orthodontics alone has done to my teeth in picture 3 (taken two months before the surgery), and the change from pictures 1 to 3 seems more drastic, but it’s pretty amazing what the surgery did to the inner part of my jaw. It also added plenty of metal to my face. I’M SO METAL IT HURTS! (Seriously, it did hurt.)
Truthfully, I expected the difference in my profile to be more stark than it was, but again, I chose not to have a chin implant put in. So I still don’t really have much of a chin, but that doesn’t bother me too much. The 2nd picture in this before-and-after was following the removal of 8 teeth. The third was the day before my surgery, the fourth was two weeks after the surgery. I’ve come a long way.
This is my resting face, or what some might call my resting pissed face. I generally look pretty angry when I just let my teeth come to their natural position. Maybe it’s because I usually wasn’t in the best of moods when taking these pictures. I dunno. I think the most startling thing about these pictures is that my jaw definitely widened out after the surgery (compare my jaw width in pic 5 to pic 2 – it’s pretty noticeable).
Here’s a glimpse into the teeth themselves, albeit one that I wish I could shrink a bit to get a better look. I’m going to ignore the coloration, which I’m still unhappy about (perhaps decades of Mountain Dew wasn’t a good idea after all!) but the change in teeth is pretty wild. And lest you think that, for the first two pictures, I was opening my mouth, I wasn’t. This was a closed-teeth smile. That’s what it used to look like. Jeebus.
So how do I feel after the whole ordeal? Well, my jaw still doesn’t open too far (I’ve only just barely cleared the lowest threshold for “normal” opening). It is beginning to hurt a little bit in general on the right side too. That’s disheartening because if it gets worse, I’m likely to have to have my disc removed in my jaw somewhere down the line (MORE SURGERY! JOY!) The right side IS finally popping a little bit – not massive pops but more than just crushing-movement in my mouth, they’re legitimate pops. Maybe that means the condyle is moving closer to where it needs to be. Who knows?
I can eat a burger, and that was the lowest my bar was set. I breathe much better, don’t snore at all, and haven’t really even been sick since the procedure. Not sure if that’s related, but having a wider opening certainly makes it easier when my air passages ARE congested.
Would I do it again? I have heard many people say that they’d gladly do the whole procedure again. (I’ve even read of people who have). No way in hell. It was miserable and my recovery has been atypical and unpleasant. I WILL thank myself for going through it (and I will thank my surgeon) when I’m fifty and not needing oxygen at nights, but still, I did it once and that’s all I really want.
(Time to cue the intro from… well, I’ll just do it…)
If any of you bothered to watch that, you’d be as amused as me that the newspaper headlines are overdubbed in German.
I’m not going to go into great details, I already did that in THIS POST HERE. I will, however, share the pictures that accompanied my once-in-a-lifetime trip. (Full disclosure: I hope this isn’t once in a lifetime, but it’s certainly not gonna happen again next year, even if they make the series again. I’m broke as our electoral system.)
All in all, this was a day to remember. Major thanks again to Jaymar and to Ashley who made this happen! We didn’t win it all (came within one run) but it was an epic game and one of the all-time great World Series.
The Indians did steal one thing from the Cubs. We’re now the team who gets to say “There’s always next year.”
It’s that time of year again, my favorite tourney of the year, King of the Lake. You may remember the story from last year (but chances are you don’t because not many people read my disc golf posts all the way thru). Actually, you definitely won’t remember because it appears I didn’t actually blog about it last year. So in 2015, I played my tuchus off for two rounds, shooting a 74 (-7, rated 1004) at Bijou followed up by a shooting a 53 at Zephyr (-1, rated 969). After day 1, I found myself in 9th after the first day out of 36 pros. Then it came apart at the seams in spectacular fashion (something I don’t know much about), throwing a 63 at Sierra College (generously rated 901), then redeeming slightly at Truckee (960-rated 4 down), before collapsing again the final day at Vista (928 rated 61).
This year, I had lower expectations. The field was much deeper, having 55 pros, but I have had my own issues to deal with. My back has been hurting so much that I’m going in for injections (and possibly ablation – the burning of my nerve endings) in my back in the next week or so. Also, I’ve been spending all my free time completely redoing our house. Needless to say, I’m not really in my prime competition shape right now. So I was playing just to have some fun. So how’d it go?
ROUND 1 – Zephyr Cove – The TD Skot “thanked” me for my help with scores by putting me in a card with 3 of the five top rated players at the tourney. What’s more, the CCDG guys were there to film, and guess which card they picked? I later found out it won’t be a whole video with commentary (a good thing as you’ll soon find out), but it will be a highlights video only.
I start out on hole 2 with some jitters, and it shows. I saw my first drive off, throw a very bad up shot, and miss my putt. That’s a bogey to start (a hole I bogeyed last year as well). Then on a tough stretch of holes I have 3 drop in pars, which is nice, but then another bogey (terrible up shot). Then something pretty amazing happened. Two amazing things. My drives (which, after the first hole, had been great) basically finished out the entire round among the best off-the-tee shots I’ve had in years. I was CLUTCH off the tee. And, on the flip side, my putting was the WORST tournament putting I’ve had in years. I missed 9 putts within 45′, 6 of which were inside the 33′ circle, and 2 of those were within 15′. These aren’t exaggeration – I missed that many shots. It’s on video after all. If I had just made the 6 in the circle, I would have tied the hot round. THE HOT ROUND. Instead, I had great drive after great drive leave me with pars. I even ended my round by missing a 15′ par putt (after a great save on my only other bad drive of the round).
I did manage to squeeze out some birdies, putting me at 52 (-2, tentatively rated 979, which is right on target for last year’s scores too). More surprisingly, that 52, with my 9 missed putts, still somehow put me in the thick of it. I was 4 strokes off 2nd, 3 strokes off 3rd. I couldn’t believe it.
Assuming that the CCDG video comes out, I’ll eventually link it, and my hope is that, with it being a highlights video only, you’ll see a lot of me off the tee, and maybe a few putts in there. But man, I was one aspect of my game away from shooting the best round of my life, wonky back and all.
ROUND 2 – BIJOU – Last year I started here, but this year it was our second round. Nearly all the holes were set up the same, so I knew what the 1000-rated target was, though I gotta admit that my back was starting to give me problems, and I was just trying to save face with my putter.
I start out missing the first (easy) hole, then putting my next drive within 20′ (another easy hole). AND I MISS THE PUTT. I give a shout, immediately apologize to my group, take out my headphones, and tell myself “I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE!” Over the next several (difficult) holes, I par, and finally hit a birdie with a 20′ putt on hole 11 (we started on 7). A few holes later, the hardest on the course, I take a four (bad drive, but two good attempts). So after the first third of the course, my score is even. Ugh. Then something clicked. My katana was just gold for me the entire rest of the round (hitting just about every gap I threw it in).
My putting was better, but it wasn’t even necessary – I was putting my drives within 10-15 feet of the basket. I ended up birdieing 8 of the last 18 holes and, with the one other bogey I took near the end on the other hardest hole on the course, I ended up at -7, same as last year, currently rated at a 1000 even (which unfortunately will probably go down a point or two when the scores become official). I beat everyone on my card (by 3 or more strokes) and I managed to pull myself up to 12th (out of 55 this year). Did I manage to beat Jere Eshelman, which was been one of my goals for years now? Of course not. He also threw a 74, meaning I’ve tied him a few times, but still haven’t beaten him. Hurrrgh.
So where does this leave me? Well, almost exactly where I was last year. My back hurts about as much as last year (I ended up not playing disc golf for about 4 months last year after KotL). But this year I feel like I’m playing on house money. I didn’t plan to be competitive for many reasons, and I am. Tomorrow, I plan on going out and just trying to execute my shots, not think about my poor putting from today, not think about my implosion last year, almost certainly not putting headphones in (they seem to be a massive distraction for me).
I start tomorrow at Truckee, which was the course I’d played second last year. It’s a course I usually shoot well (despite not really caring for the course). He’s hoping my back cooperates. And I actually get some sleep! This tournament insomnia that I’ve gotten the last few years has GOT. TO. GO.
As many astute followers may have noticed, I’ve been pretty absent from my blog lately. And Facebook. And Twitter. And, for the most part, downstairs. I’ve been absent from downstairs frequently too. I’m going to try my best to recapture the events of the last 60 days. So let this be my general apology to all my friends and family who have been trying to get my attention but I’ve been seemingly ignoring. The names and dates have been altered, most likely because my memory isn’t what it used to be.
May 3 – We close on our old house and would be renting it for about a week while we cleaned the carpets and moved all our stuff out. During the transition, we would be fortunately staying at my in-laws.
May 6 – We close on our new house. As part of the agreement, we will not move in until July 1. We know this up front, and while the wait sucks, at least we’ll get rent from them until that day.
May 13 – We officially move out of our old house. All of our belongings (that hadn’t already been packed away into our storage unit) are jammed into the in-laws garage. So starts our 8 week sabbatical.
May 10 – Four days after our loan closes, I am let go from my job. This was the day before the moving truck was supposed to come. Well, that gave me time to finish packing, at least. I do get a severance, but the timing really kinda blows.
May 16 – I begin my jaw physical therapy. I start out with an opening of around 20cm (the goal is around 36cm). After day one, I am in much pain.
May 21 – Remember that I’m a professional athlete? With my back sucking for the past few years and with the fact that I didn’t cash AT ALL last year, I tend to forget. I played a last-minute tourney in Dayton (NV, not OH), and while I played below-average, I managed to cash. Yay.
Rest of May – I continue to do almost daily jaw because, guess what, my PT is basically not going to be available for the whole of summer. So I have to cram in all my education into 10 days.
June 2 – I officially get the remainder of my “work” belongings back. That chapter of my life (nearly 10 years) is done. They sign me up for outplacement services for 3 months, which will hopefully get me back on track.
Early June – I don’t do a whole lot. Like at all. I look for work unsuccessfully (though there were little dablings of potential that went nowhere).
~June 4 – We find out that the current renters of our new home will be out June 22 (instead of July 1). Good news! So far, the home-transition process has been pretty painless (FORESHADOWING!)
June 16 – Tired of waiting around, we go to Sacramento for a long Father’s Day weekend. It is a relaxing trip.
June 21 – We set our final walkthrough for June 22.
June 22 – The wife (of the renters) is frantic and asks us if we can do the walkthrough June 23. I’m concerned because that’s technically our first day of true ownership, so if there were a problem, there really isn’t any way to hold the old owners accountable, which is the sole purpose of a walkthrough.
June 23 – After half a day of not hearing anything, finally our realtor gets a text message of a picture of the old owners pointing to where the key was left. No walkthrough or anything. Just “here’s the key”. Turns out they’d skipped town at least a day before.
In jaw related news, I have a one-off session with my jaw PT. When I had ended my blitzkrieg sessions with her, I could open up to 25 cm. But I hadn’t really done ANY exercises in the interim, partially because I was busy, and partially out of sheer laziness. So I expected the worst. Turns out I am now at 27 cm. I think my natural range of motion is coming back, just MUCH MUCH slower than normal.
June 24 – Based on the first few hours in the house the day before, we ratchet up the duct cleaning we’d scheduled to be a total overhaul of the carpets. Full cleaning, duct cleaning, scotch guarding, the whole works. $1200 of cat exorcism. Turns out the prior owners told a while lie when they said they had 2 cats. And technically they did at the time we bought the house. They neglected to mention the other two the had that had passed away recently. Additionally, we hire a janitor that Ash knows to even more fully disinfect the house. Hopefully this will fix the allergy issues.
June 25 – The movers arrive with all our stuff. It is set up immediately. FINALLY, we are in our new house. I sleep wonderfully in the silence of our new neighborhood, to be awoken by lots of sunlight. Our new bedroom is plenty bright (a mostly good thing!)
June 26 – More unpacking, including getting most of the rest of our stuff from the in-law’s house. I spent much of the day getting the new house in order. Ash’s allergies are really acting up. She warns that we shouldn’t unpack everything just in case.
June 27 – After a wrestling match with the boys on the carpets, Ash has trouble breathing and eating. She wakes up with eyes so puffy they’re half shut. And with that, we spend our last night in the new house.
June 28 – I begin packing up everything in the house to move it back to the garage which is, fortunately, a 3 car garage. Ash and I spend much of the day at 4 different places looking at flooring. It’s a very complex situation, so I’ll simplify by saying we ultimately decide on Home Depot for laminate (almost 800′, should take 3+ weeks to arrive and install) and RC Willey for carpeting (over 1000′, should be installed by July 8 – meaning that’s our new move in date).
June 29 – The house is totally empty again except for a mostly packed garage. I also make numerous trips to the storage unit, as that needs to be empty by July 4 or we’d have to pay another month. We tape up all the tiled areas (bathrooms, kitchens) to prevent dander infestation, and I get a night’s sleep in the in-laws to prepare for demo day.
June 30 – With two excellent helpers (brother in law JJ and family friend Kaylis), we yank out all the carpets and pads and remove just about all the staples. We sweep all rooms. In all, it was around 1800 square feet of carpeting. All without air conditioning (since we sealed off the rooms, if we put on the AC it would rip up all our tape jobs). It was a ten hour workday.
July 1 – I shop vac the entire floor. Then I untape the tarps, turn on the vents (so it can kick up a little extra dander), and I shop vac the entire floor again. I begin laying Kilz down on the flooring – it’s a paint primer, but it has a great reputation for sealing in odors and dander. I vacuum each room for extra residue and finish Kilzing two rooms. It was a 14 hour workday.
July 2 – I escape for some disc golf (which I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do – all the painting has resulted in quite a bit of back pain) and it turns out to be just what the doctor ordered. After all, I have to practice as I have the BIGGEST tourney I’m playing all year next week. Then more Kilz.
July 3 – We get the quote from Home Depot – more than we thought. Go figure. More Kilz, then a kids’ party. Then I don’t feel like moving for a year.
July 4 – We finalize our laminate order – there is no timeframe, but he imagines it will be around two weeks after they get the product (which he anticipates in a week). We finally unload the last of the storage unit into our now jam-packed garage. And more Kilz. It’s cut short by a call from RC Willey that they don’t have enough of the carpet we want to cover the measurements. This will delay the install (go figure). We rush down and finally agree to a new carpet. And she then finds out they don’t CURRENTLY have enough of that new type either, but they should by July 15-16 timeframe (about 75 days after we closed on the house, and almost a month after we were initially supposed to move in). I happen to see another carpet that we both like and it will work. The install date is July 12. It’s still 8 days away.
In all this time, I’ve been trying to get my face to work properly, spend time with my kids, try to get my back working (which has been failing, though I finally got a follow-up appointment with my neurosurgeon to discuss the possibility of facet joint injections), prepare for a major disc golf tournament, and, oh yeah, try to enjoy summer. And find a job. And figure out how to pay for the $8k in flooring we’ve purchased.
And wait. I’ve done a whole lot of that. 8 more days. I need a vacation. And a job. That will let me take a vacation.
In looking over my older blogs, I stumbled on something I don’t ever recall writing – Derek’s Top 113 Songs. It was ambitious and, quite frankly, probably pointless since I was getting 2 or 3 hits on my blog per day around then. I guess I just loved making lists.
As I shook my head about the actual undertaking, it made me realize a few things: 1) That was TEN YEARS AGO. Man, that’s humbling. 2) My musical tastes have changed – not drastically – but they’ve moved away from some things. 3) I still really like making lists.
So I decided to once again try this experiment. I wanted to whittle it down to less than 113, so first I looked at my iTunes ratings. I had just over 900 “5-star” songs, so that wasn’t the way to go. Culling through that list, I was able to pare it down to about 140 songs (using the “look quick and mark it if I really like it” method). Doing that method one more time, I was able to get it down to a workable list of 50.
I was pretty startled to see that, of my top twenty songs in 2006, only 6 would even make it in the final 50 today. And of my current top 10, I probably hadn’t heard 6 of the songs in 2006. Which is, of course, part of the problem with ever coming up with a list of favorite songs. If I use the criteria “songs I never get sick of”, a tune I’ve only liked for 3 years has a huge advantage over something I’ve known since I was in middle school. However, imperfect as it may be, here is the list, with links to the top 25:
50. Metronomic Underground – Stereolab – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Apparently monotony does not bother me.
49. The Gate – The Bobs – 2006 Ranking: N/A – I’m a sucker for beautiful songs about cult suicide.
48. Exhibit 13 – Blue Man Group – 2006 Ranking: N/A – The perfect zone-out instrumental.
47. Timeless Winter – Into Eternity – 2006 Ranking: N/A – The metal-ist song on the list by far.
46. Mother – Pink Floyd – 2006 Place: 51+ – Preferably the version from the movie, but the album version is good too.
45. You Remind Me – David Matheson – 2006 Ranking: N/A – You’re going to find lots of slower, sweet songs on here.
44. I’ll Fly Away – Erik Darling/Kossoy Sisters – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Traditional song, the best version is this one from O Brother (but inexplicably not on the soundtrack!)
43. Ride On – AC/DC – 2006 Ranking: N/A – The bluesiest song they ever recorded.
42. Use Your Brain – The Dirty Dozen Brass Brand – 2006 Ranking: N/A – The highest-rated instrumental on my top 50.
41. Nightswimming – R.E.M. – 2006 Ranking: 9 – Despite the ranking plummet, still a gorgeous song.
40. Dr. Wanna Do – Caro Emerald – 2006 Ranking: N/A – I dare you not to tap your toe to this jazzy tune.
39. What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Truly a timeless classic.
38. I’m Downright Amazed at What I Can Destroy With Just a Hammer – Atom and His Package – 2006 Ranking: 5 – Incredibly fun, it dropped only due to oversaturation.
37. Your New Boy – You Were Spiraling – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Fun song by a local NJ artist.
36. Stay Alive – Tripod – 2006 Ranking: N/A – How is there only 1 Tripod song in my top 50? That’s a shame.
35. Everyday Lover – Saucy Monkey – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Easily the best song from a CD that I got for free.
34. Lucas With the Lid Off – Lucas – 2006 Ranking: 35 – Up one place, and this song has earned it.
33. Arkansas – John Linnell – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Not Linnell’s best song ever, but probably the one I find myself humming the most.
32. Free Your Head – Bucho! – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Slow jazzy ditty from a local Sacramento band.
31. Heretic Pride – The Mountain Goats – 2006 Ranking: N/A – A song of pride and revolution. Get used to seeing The Mountain Goats on this list.
30. Black Betty – Spiderbait – 2006 Ranking: N/A – An excellent cover of a great original, there are only three better covers on this list.
29. One True God – Austin Lounge Lizards – 2006 Ranking: N/A – A song lambasting religion? And I heard them play it in a church? Priceless.
28. What About Me – Lake Street Dive – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Another band that should have far more entries on this list. If only 50 was a slightly bigger number.
27. Word Crimes – Weird Al Yankovic – 2006 Ranking: N/A – A very clever parody of a very crappy song.
26. She’s Actual Size – They Might Be Giants – 2006 Ranking: 7 – One of the sad victims of my musical maturation is TMBG, but this is still the best of the oldies.
19. Schism – Tool – 2006 Ranking: 21 – If you look up “jaunty ditty” in the dictionary, you will definitely not see this song.
18. My Daddy Taught Me Good (The Backin’ Up Song)– The Gregory Brothers feat. Diana – 2006 Ranking: N/A – There’s no way a viral novelty mashup of a crazy interview should be in my top 20, but I’m trying to be honest with myself here: this song brings me extreme joy.
12. Momma Don’t Allow – Austin Lounge Lizards – 2006 Ranking: 51st+ – At less than a minute, and only utilizing 3 sentence (two of which are the same), I challenge anyone to write a funnier song under these criteria.
11. Gulf War Song – Moxy Fruvous – 2006 Ranking: 3 – Nothing about this song isn’t amazing. Dropped slightly only because I’ve put it on 1000 mix CDs and tapes.
9. No Children – The Mountain Goats – 2006 Ranking: 2 – If ever there was a Mountain Goat “hit”, it’s this song. And it’s incredible. But there are still two songs by Darnielle alone that beat it.
8. Cat’s in the Cradle – Ugly Kid Joe – 2006 Ranking: N/A – I wasn’t a dad in 2006, hence this not even cracking the top 113. With all due respect to the Chapin original (which is awesome), I prefer this heavier version.
6. Insanity – Oingo Boingo – 2006 Ranking: 1 – Another case of overplay having hurt this one, it’s still an aural wonder to behold. So. Many. Instruments. Note, the video is for a lamer, pared-down version of the song. The full version can be heard here.
4. The Future – The Limousines – 2006 Ranking: N/A – For a band by whom I only own one song, they wrote a fantastic one and filmed a powerful and disturbing accompanying video (that’s got an F bomb so watch at work with caution).
Woke Up New – The Mountain Goats – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Beaten by himself, of course. This is a song I’ve always liked, ever since I saw the video before the album came out. It’s grown on me immensely, and while I consider it possibly the saddest song ever written, its combination of emotion and imagery, set to a very memorable melody, put it on top.
There you have it. 50 songs, only 11 of which appeared in my top 50 a decade ago. Now’s the time when I would say “did I leave anything out”, but it’s my list, not yours. I invite everyone to write their own blog about their lists. It’s harder than it seems.
I’ll get back to my blogging about my surgery recovery probably tomorrow, for those here for that. Also, I will give a disclaimer that, like my post coming out about being an atheist, this one’s gonna be long.
For years on the internet, there’s been the trope of the “nice guy”, and I even came upon this wonderful definition of Nice Guy Syndrome on Urban Dictionary:
Clearly, this was good fodder to make fun of other guys, you know, those guys who clearly are Nice Guys (capital letter), totally and in all ways unlike me. And like all great revisionist history, it lives on the very mantra that ‘if you repeat it enough, it must be true.’
I have, by my own admission, always been nice to women. Always. I’ve prided myself on writing strong female characters (back in my playwriting days). I was “a catch” in the dating pool. I stood up against sexism when I could. But never was *I* a Nice Guy.
And, like all great revisionist history, it lives on the very mantra that ‘if you repeat it enough, it must be true.’
Recently, I’ve been doing a strange thing and delving into my past – not into my memory banks, but into actual evidence of my past. Specifically I had watched an awful lot of my old stand-up routines that I had laying around, and I started rereading blogs from 2006-2007, the era just before meeting Ashley. And I was pretty startled by what I saw.
“I really like brunettes. As in REALLY like them. I noticed this when I combed through my MySpace, and changed my top 12 people to girl friends I thought had hot pics. They were ALL brunettes, and one redhead just got knocked off the list. Blondes, prove me wrong!” – 9/24/06
“I’ve found that if you tell people you collect something, people will buy it for you. I have bought exactly zero of my monkeys, and only one of my spatulas. And now that I write a fake wine column, I have been getting wine as a gift more frequently. This is interesting. I would like to publicly announce that I am starting a big-boobed, fun, undiscriminating woman collection. So there ya go.” 1/2/07
“They’re insidious, they’re perfidious, outside cute but inside hideous. Inconsistent, often distant, persistently sense-resistant.” – lyrics to my song “Women Are Insane” (written 2005)
“I’m still single. And I don’t know why, I try pick-up lines. I mean, I try the standard ones. I’ll say, ‘Did it hurt?’ And she’ll ask, ‘Did what hurt?’ And I’ll say ‘THIS’ (mimes hitting her)” – joke from my stand-up
And most abhorrently, this blog post about my Halloween costume in 2006.
A costume which, I should add, received not one word of condemnation from anyone at the time, male or female.
I could, if this was a blog post defending myself, get into the whole “is it okay for comedians to cross taboo lines for the sake of a joke” argument. I could argue that I was just appealing to the lowest common denominator (at least in terms of my stand-up) and trying to appeal to others who could relate, regardless of whether I truly believed these things or not. But this is (hopefully) not one of those blogs.
I remember distinctly getting into a conversation in around 2010 with a brilliant friend of Ashley’s and mine, Susie, after playing for her “Women are Insane”. She wasn’t appalled, but made no bones that she thought the song, while featuring clever wordplay, was a) not funny and b) she didn’t care for it. I argued HARD and reiterated how I don’t “actually believe these things”, but I was just doing it for the sake of a funny song.
Looking back over my body of work, however, I was pretty bitter towards women. That’s an understatement. I was angry at women. I was, without any qualifying language, a Nice Guy. Sure, I wasn’t a Nice Guy who, when I didn’t receive a response from a woman I messaged on OkCupid, would message her back calling her a slut or a bitch. I never did that. But that made me no less a Nice Guy, as much as I managed to convince myself otherwise.
Really, as I look back on it today, it was all deflection. In high school, and certainly more so in college, you only had to look as far as howIdressed to see that I wanted to deflect the reasons why I was “always single”. Sure I never actually approached a girl I fancied and even instigated the most basic of conversation with her. Sure I would avoid going into situations where I might meet females with like interests as me, and would instead go to a loud bar, drink quietly, and leave disappointed. Sure I would drink at social events (at least after 2000), thus presenting possibly the worst image of me that I could to anyone knew who might be there. But it wasn’t those things (and others) that kept me single, it was CLEARLY that women couldn’t handle a man who chose to dress in a unique way! That MUST be it! Man, I remember defending myself over and over again in college that I dressed that way because “it’s comfortable” and “it shows off my individuality” and all sorts of other horseshit lines.
No, it was so that, in my Nice Guy brain, girls had a REASON to reject me out of hand, so I never had to feel the sharp sting of rejection naturally.
I would heavily lace my stand-up sets with jokes about being single, about it must having to do with my “European teeth” and my “Middle-Earth complexion”. Self-deprecation was simply another deflective tool that allowed me to put the onus of my singledom back on women (it’s THEIR fault they couldn’t look past my physical shortcomings, NOT MINE!)
There’s been 3 different moments of change that have molded me to where I am today – which I want to stress is probably still not as far along as I need to be. I call myself a ‘feminist’ but I’m probably at best only an aide to the cause.
#1. The realization that sexism isn’t always overt.
This began at my old company. I had landed one of my best friends, an extremely qualified and capable woman, a job with my company within two weeks of me working there. She was clearly given tasks of importance, and paid commensurately (probably even more than me, though there were other factors at play). So most MRAs (the so-called “Men’s Rights Activists”) would probably say that she was all good and there were no problems based ONLY on those two facts.
That’s when I started seeing the everyday sexism and misogyny at play. On emails that related to policy and things that all the longtime employees should have had a say in (she and I were both considered upper middle management, I suppose), it was addressed only to men, myself included. She would be left out, even if it was something that applied to her department(s) more so than mine. I started replying to them and CCing her “You forgot to add [co-worker’s name]”, trying to bring it to their attention that maybe it was an oversight. Once is an oversight; repeatedly is deliberate sexual exclusion.
It wasn’t just policy emails. She would often make very sensible, cost-cutting, or time-saving suggestions to the company that would be either ignored or outright rejected. Then, with only a little time having passed, I would suggest the same thing – unaltered – and it would be, at worst, listened to, and at best, adopted. Again, this happened with regularity.
She would be interrupted mid-sentence at times when she was making a point, and people would often tell her that she needs to “speak up and be heard” more. Dress codes seemed to apply more to her than to me. I was given infinitely more flexibility with times it was okay to work from home; when she worked from home it was often met with sarcastic side-of-the-mouth comments or begrudging acceptance.
Any one of these things on their own can be dismissed as someone having a bad day or an oversensitive imagination, but when you start to add them up, it paints a very clear picture. This was eye-opening for me. I had been pretty adamant that I was never sexist, but that was, looking back, using one very particular and not-at-all complete definition of the term sexism. Sure I never hit a woman, or demanded I get paid more than someone comparable, or told her to “get in the kitchen and make me some waffles” or – wait, no I did the latter, because “it was funny, right?” The point is, sexism isn’t just in-your-face sexual harassment/rape, or outright telling a woman she shouldn’t make as much money because women can’t do the things men can do. It’s not like you need to be an 80’s movie bad guy to be sexist – it can be and is far more subtle than that.
2. Meeting Ash.
She’s always had a strong and closely-held belief system, but I think we’d both admit that when we first started dating, she probably would not have defined herself as a feminist, at least not to the extent she is now. However, as she has grown as a person and made choices that have impacted both our lives, it’s given me the opportunity to grow with her.
For years, I would tell her that I preferred her hair long, because that’s what I always liked. And she acquiesced despite the fact that she would probably shave it off completely if it were socially acceptable at her place of work. But there came a time when she realized “this is MY body that I keep for myself.” It’s not that she actively wanted to do something I disliked, but I see/touch her hair far less than she does.
So she cut it short a few times. At first, I had to “grow to like it”. Then later she decided she would stop shaving her legs. Again, I had my preferences, and as much as I probably imagined I was fully supportive at the time and said nothing, I’m sure I made under my breath criticisms. Because I was still growing.
Then she stopped shaving her armpits. And that’s when it finally occurred to me – it’s her body. I can have any preference I want, and I can even voice my preferences (when prompted), but that’s where it ends. She is in NO way obligated to live her life by anyone’s standards, preferences, or beliefs but her own, as long as those choices don’t negatively impact others. By this time (a few years ago), I no longer found myself having to “come to accept” these decisions, I fully supported her making any choices with her body.
We both started gaining weight, and at first I started saying “we should really go to the gym” which sadly turned into “you should do sit-ups”, said, of course, in the MOST supportive tone I could muster. And for most of the time, specifically with her, she was happy with her body, extra pounds and all. And that realization again hit me. If she’s happy, still healthy, still athletic, then more power to her. Only recently has she started to become unhappy with parts of her body, and only at those times do I offer ACTUAL constructive things (“why don’t we set specific days where we can do yoga?” or “okay, Thursdays and Sundays will be your days to go to the gym, I’ll watch the boys”). In my revisionist history, I always did that. In actuality, it’s been far more recent than I’d like to admit.
Further, in knowing her, it’s given me access to various groups and online communities that I never would have thought to join before, namely a couple different feminist FB groups and the like. It’s given me firsthand looks at thread after thread after thread of women sharing personal stories that back up what I’d been discovering – that despite all the talk of “equality” that men seem to tout, we’re not even close to where we need to be.
3. “Not every man sexually harasses. Every woman has been sexually harassed by a man.”
This is the big one. I wish I could remember where I first heard this, but I first heard it probably around when the first catcalling video became a viral sensation. Around this time also appeared the “Not all men!” counterargument, which is the “All lives matter” equivalent to gender inequality. It’s also, going back to the beginning, the Nice Guy argument. ‘Since *I* don’t do those things, they must not be happening.’ This oddly sounds like the Snowball-in-Congress argument for why Climate Change isn’t real. I’m straying.
Men (MRAs in particular) want to dismiss women’s claims of harassment, misogyny, even rape, as anecdotal evidence. And when statistics and scientific research are introduced that back up that research, men will go out of their way to grasp at straws to counter these, often times with their own ‘research’ that fails to actually use citations to any studies and/or without any scientific basis. It becomes more important to them to attempt to disprove what is being said rather than listen to the overall message and emotions being relayed.
And that’s the heart of the matter, isn’t it? Women aren’t being heard. When a man responds to “women want to be treated equally as men in all facets of life” and he responds with “does that mean it’s okay if I hit them?” they’re not listening for one minute to what’s being said. They are merely deflecting the entire conversation with a strawman argument instead of actually hearing that the woman is expressing how they have been mistreated in some fashion. And that particular example I gave is pretty overt, but there are much more subtle ones as well.
I recently was engaged in a long conversation on Facebook based on a post my wife put on my wall. It was about a cool garage-door screen door insert that can come down when the main door is up, allowing a kind of lanai-garage deal. It was a cool idea. Two of the first three comments were unsolicited messages by friends of mine – both men – who said why it wouldn’t work, either in general or for Ashley specifically. The next comment was by a woman calling out these guys for mansplaining all over the thread because Ash is a woman.
A year ago or more, I would have bristled at the tone that the women eventually took on in this conversation, because it was clear to EVERYONE involved that the two men were not deliberately telling Ashley what she could and couldn’t do BECAUSE she was a woman. Nobody accused them of that. But the men still could not understand why the women seemed to take issue with this.
As the conversation progressed, the men clearly became more dismissive of the women’s complaints, claiming that they were hypersensitive. And let me be clear, I don’t consider EITHER of these men to be misogynists, per se. Again, at least not in the most overt definitions. So I eventually chimed in, hoping to play the outside-observer and be a man’s voice to help relate the issue to the other men. The following are what what I typed and one friend’s response.
It got more heated and, ultimately, it appears both men unsubscribed to the conversation because they felt attacked. I mentioned before that in the past I’d seen my wife in conversations with friends of mine (and others) where I felt she and other women were overly harsh to men who were, by all tokens, pretty good guys. I’d not ONCE seen them take this aggressive tactic to MRAs who actually deserve it, but they were very vehement to the on-the-fencers. That used to bother me, but it no longer does, and here’s why:
There is an amazing video I saw recently (dealing with race) about the difference between non-racists and anti-racists. I think that applies very directly to sexism. My two male friends are certainly non-sexists – they’re both married to strong women and treat them as equals as far as I have seen. But that isn’t to say these men are anti-sexists. In dismissing the women’s opinions and feelings as being hypersensitive and taking it personally, they became non-misogynists. It’s the very reason that Black Lives Matter hasn’t targeted Trump or Cruz in their demonstrations, instead going after Bernie Sanders, someone who aligned with their beliefs probably better than anyone. It made me mad at first, until I saw that he immediately took what they said to heart – he LISTENED – and immediately reacted appropriately. The Civil Rights movement of the 60s saw no traction when they went toe-to-toe with those that villified them most; they saw drastic improvement when they went after the impartial white majority, even the sympathetic white majority (who weren’t actively doing anything to further the cause). THAT’S why my “good guy” friends – the ones who probably agreed on a basic level with much of what true feminists have to say – were targeted as harshly as they were. True change doesn’t seem to happen when you sit around quietly hoping it will.
Because my two friends left the above conversation early, I wasn’t able to type my response, which would have been:
“Yes, [person], you DO need to consider their gender when you choose your words, and not because you need to treat them a hand-holdey way due to their gender. There needs to be an acknowledgment that, as women, they’ve spent their entire lives being shown near-constant oppression, both in the blatant manner of which you’re washing your hands, and in far more subtle manners like what you’ve demonstrated in this conversation so far (initially giving unsolicited opinions about how their desires won’t work or are wrong for them, and later dismissing their opinions about this).
You say that you’d speak the same way to a man, and I believe you 100%, but if you go to that man’s FB page and look at his feed, you might see one or two sentences in the imperative tense (do this, don’t do that). On a woman’s page, you’ll see men all over it giving orders, and many of them in a pejorative fashion. While that is something you should consider as a personality trait you might want to work on in general – in your words, being “a condescending jerk” to both genders – you should definitely give extra thought when acting towards/speaking to women.”
It extends further. In a recent IRL conversation with one of my most progressive
friends, he seemed shocked about Gamergate – not that it exists or the severity with which it exists, but that something like that COULD even exist. I don’t even necessarily fault him for it – he (like me) is the beneficiary of great [white] male privilege. If you don’t actively look for these things, it’s easy to assume they just aren’t there. When me, a cis white guy friend of mine, and our wives all chimed in with specific examples illustrating the abomination that is Gamergate, he was aghast but to his credit he just listened (after a few initial dismissals and meager Devil’s-advocate explanations).
I’ve seen it firsthand: I’ve seen an anonymous stranger (responding to a not-particularly incendiary comment made by Ash) hope that her children drown. I’ve seen threats made online to stalk/hurt/rape/skullfuck/kill women more than I should have (which is zero – zero is the number of times I should ever have seen something like that). I’ve yet to read one comment of a woman threatening to do any of these to a man. And even if someone wants to show me an isolated piece of anecdotal evidence of a woman threatening a man in such a fashion, or a man threatening another man in such a fashion, it wouldn’t matter – it doesn’t negate the abundance and severity of the the threats women receive on a daily basis.
In doing some soul-searching, I answered my own question that I posed in that 2007 OkCupid journal entry where I asked, “Are women not responding to my messages because they are on high alert – there are plenty of crazies on the internet – or am I just goofy-looking?”
The answer is that they don’t owe me a damn thing if they don’t want to. I put my lure out there and didn’t get any hits. Boo for me. We weren’t compatible, or I wasn’t interesting enough, or my message got lost in the mire of messages from other Nice Guys who were calling their targets useless cunts for ignoring their self-aggrandizing message. It doesn’t matter. The women didn’t respond. And that’s fine.
It’s taken me probably 15 years or more to stop blaming women and start looking internally at what I was doing, how I was behaving, and how I *actually* treated and thought of women, not just how I framed that I did. I could perhaps contend that I was never a sexist/misogynist, but I was, at best, a non-sexist/misogynist. I certainly fed on and spewed out the same lame stereotypes that have been hampering women’s grown for yearsdecades basically ever. I’ve only recently become an anti-sexist/misogynist. I would like to think I’m a feminist, but really, that title is earned after not just a few months/years of recognizing one’s past failures.
I don’t actively have friends who are outright sexist/misogynist, but jeebus knows I know very few men who are actively anti-sexist/misogynist. And really, that’s what this is all about – that’s why my feminist friends pounce on the non-sexists instead of the MRAs. And that’s why I (and others), as cis white men who experience just about every privilege out there, need to start being more than voyeurs and start becoming actively engaged. It’s more than not being a Nice Guy. It’s more than “don’t harass women, don’t catcall women, don’t rape women”. Those are important, but they only address the obvious parts of sexism.
LISTEN to women. You may have 100 reasons why their complaint is, in your mind, invalid. But just listen to what they’re saying, to the emotion behind the circumstance. Save your negation for when you’re specifically asked for your opinion. In a workplace environment, the best ideas come from ALL sources, not just the people in positions of power.
Get rid of tired stereotypes that you’re using just for laughs. If you’re a professional comedian who makes a living that way, let’s have that discussion. But if you’re going to defer to “women are insane” or “a woman’s place is in the kitchen”, or “barefoot and pregnant” in the sake of humor, rest assured that the jokes aren’t funny and that you’re doing an entire gender no service by perpetuating antiquated tropes.
Call out bullshit. This goes for both genders. I’ve seen some inexplicable slandering of women and their experiences by other women. And by call out bullshit, I don’t mean “trust every woman implicitly no matter what she says/alleges strictly because she’s a woman”, but when you see a woman make a point and she is countered with total strawmen arguments and diversionary tactics, call. it. out. I don’t care if those men setting up the strawman arguments are close friends of yours – silence keeps the status quo, and the status quo is NOT equality.
Do your research. Make sure your articles about any topic (gender pay inequality, sexual assault, Gamergate) offer links to actual studies and surveys. That way, when the counterargument meme gets sent to you, and it is clearly from a Republican think-tank that has no actual links to back up its points (or, as in this graph, no actual Y axis), you are able to accurately refute your research. Don’t think this is just a right wing slag – I’ve seen more than my fare share of Dems linking articles that are baseless in fact. And if you do choose to argue a feminist about woman’s issues, do enough research to know that your points are not from an admitted MRA source, but from independent sources.
I hadn’t meant this to be a rallying cry – it was supposed to just be about my journey from someone who thought he was a feminist to someone who’s now much closer to actually being one. I wish it didn’t take me this long to get where I am today, but I encourage anyone else who describes themselves as feminists but asks why he should be allowed to hit women “if all things are equal” to stop using the word ‘feminist’ to describe yourself. You’re lying to us, and you’re lying to yourself. In the words of that video I linked earlier:
We need to stop being “non-” and start being “anti-”.
Last night, every time I had a solid enough batch of sleep, I slept heard and dreamt. The dream reached a natural conclusion, and then I woke up. This happened at least three times. The third time I was awoken by a phone call – it was my surgeon’s office saying they wanted to see me today and not tomorrow! Awesome! (I don’t remember the dreams, sorry to get your hopes up, but you can probably assume they’re about disc golf, that seems to be a common theme.)
Everything appears to be looking good. He took the stitches out and put some glue there for a week “just in case”. I’m allowed full shower privileges (though I shouldn’t be scrubbing vigorously yet). He then cut the rigid bands and asked how far I can open.
Imagine being a penguin. Was that fun? Okay, it wasn’t a good metaphor, so I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Imagine being a baby bird. Your parents show you ONE TIME how to fly out of a nest and then they step back and say “go for it”. Would you be timid? Well, in my mind’s eye, I opened my mouth as large as I could, talked for a while, ate a bagel, and flossed my teeth somehow through my braces. But I was holding the mirror, so I saw how much I was actually opening it – I didn’t even get a finger-width. I think it was fear and I could have probably gone further, but my left jaw was a little sore so I didn’t want to press it. Alas it wasn’t enough for him to brush everywhere, only the outsides and the tops/bottoms of my teeth. But man, it was all it was cracked up to be.
I’m moving from 4 bands (two on each side) to just two (one band that stretches over 5 teeth on each side. In fact, I had a moment of panic a short while ago, thinking I’d snapped the bands because, during a small cough, I realized I could open my mouth. THAT MUST BE WRONG, I told myself. And Ashley. And Teetee. And everyone who read my frantic typings on this computer. Turns out the new bands are either more flexible or just less numerous than the old ones, and I’ll be able to open my mouth even while wearing them. However, I was told NOT to do that for some time. It’s not like my mouth will miss out on the couple of weeks of non-use; it won’t atrophy. It’ll be fine to start after 6 weeks (after all bands come off).
Also, I got clearance to do two other things. a) depending on breathing, I’m going to try sleeping in the regular bed reclined normally. Worst comes to worst, I can’t sleep and I move back to the chair. But it’ll be a step toward normalcy. b) Once a day (dinnertime) I get to take off the bands, eat as much mush as I can shovel into the tiny gap (with a baby spoon likely) – even keep the bands off for up to an hour if I want, brush, rinse – then put the bands back on. It’ll be like a little tiny DeNiro awakening every single day.
Here is the X-ray taken today. First thing you’ll probably notice is all the hardware (3 screws on each bottom jaw, 4 plates [with two wires] on the top). Then you’ll notice the two dark gray areas on the bottom jaw (by the last teeth on the bottom), and the fact that one of them is larger than the other. In addition to moving my jaw out a whole lot of millimeters, they also moved it over a bit to make it more symmetrical. And you know what they say: symmetry is paramount to attraction. So I just want to put this out there, ladies and gentlemen. I am happily married to a wonderful woman who is my caretaker at the moment and I don’t want to change that. However, if you can cook and/or clean, I’m sure we can make an arrangement. Ash may draft up the documents herself.
My skin still hates me with a fiery passion, but it does stuff like this under normal circumstances. And I’m still hungry most of the time, although I think I set records today on calories (maybe ~1200 by the end of the day?) and steps taken (over 700).
PAIN: 2 (when I manage to release the tension in my jaw and just let it exist, otherwise 3)
INCONVENIENCE: 7 (probably will be here until I can eat regularly with a spoon or a straw)
I met with my surgeon twice yesterday, and he seemed to be vacillating between having me stay in the hospital another day and having me go home. I was VERY ambulatory, had no vitals issues, was at 95% oxygen WITHOUT being hooked up to the machine, and could feel a surprising amount of my face. The only problem was breathing which, as you know, is a pretty good deal. He had only authorized me to take Flonase and Afrin one squirt every 12 hours.
I’m going to make a private admission here. I have TINY nasal passages. So tiny, in fact, that my anesthesiologist overestimated them and that caused issues that slowed the start of the surgery by 30-45 minutes. So when I’m just sick with a cold, I use Afrin like it’s chapstick in Reno. So I asked since that’s my only deal, and he was letting me now use Afrin and saline spray as needed, could I go home? He signed off.
No sooner was I packing up that my SECOND roommate game in. With his wife and ENORMOUS mutant poodle dog. Apparently, they still had to do Xrays on him or something like that. Also, the crazy lady down the hall had at this point been shrieking out for 30 minutes (which also hadn’t been happening when I requested to go home). Looks like my paranoia paid off.
I expected last night to be very rough. By midnight, I had maybe only slept for an hour and was fearing another night of insomnia. Fortunately I took my pain meds and those things are better than NyQuil. I managed to get a good 3 or 4 hours of sleep after that, and then woke up for a few hours, then napped for a few more hours. So yay!
Right now eating is worst part. It’s not “bad” per se, it’s just no longer fun. Putting everything into my body by slurping it through a syringe in the corner of my mouth is more like labor. Eating is a full-time job, and I doubt that I’ve even got 200 calories into me yet (it’s almost 1).
I’m very glad we bought this super cozy recliner. Even with that, I expected to have trouble because I’d kind of have to “make myself” fully recline, and I thought that would make me sore. So far, that’s not been an issue.
I’m glad we didn’t throw away those baby burp cloths. Comin’ in handy right about now.
I do have a fear about breathing. Afrin loses its potency and duration the more I use it. Theoretically, I’m not even at my peak day of swelling (that should be sometime in the next 24 hours). So I’m trying to be sparing with it, but before I go down to nap, it will be necessary.
I’m someone surprised by my tendency to want ice on my face and cold foods vs hot food/hot packs (especially with it being winter). I was actually hot a few times and the only time I was cold was after my shower last night.
Gonna try my first prune juice… ever. The sound of the drink alone always dissuaded me from trying it, but I gotta get my whole body working if you catch my drift.
It was a poop reference. Ash just made me an Ensure with 2 parts drink and 1 part prune juice, along with my Walgreens brand liquid vitamins in it. Surprisingly drinkable. Though the ensure does seem to foam up after blending.
Ash says I’ve been exceptionally lucid. Not a compliment I have earned much in my life, especially by those who have read my writings.
Thank to everyone who has commented on my blogs, sent me texts, left me voicemails (remember those?), commented on Twitter and Facebook. It means a whole lot. Thank you to the mystery person who sent the soup/applesauce kit. I’m a little away from that, but you bet I’m diving in as soon as I can get a baby spoon in there.And Ash thanks everyone for not sending flowers, as she’s allergic to everything.
Also MAJOR thanks to Ash. She’s been a trooper, helping me without question, even when we both thought that it meant another sleepless night last night. Fortunately, we both got some Zs. Also thanks to Ash’s folks, who have had the boys since Sunday night and will have them at least one more night. Onward and upward.
This is usually the part of the surgery blog when people take pictures of all the things they’ve bought to prepare for the recovery. I’m not going to do that. Do people really want to see six-packs of Ensure, burb cloths, and comfy chair and sweatshirt? Probably not. And if they do, that’s what Pinterest is for: pictures of strange objects in strange arrays.
By this time tomorrow, my surgery will be over, assuming no major complications. Six hours is the expectation, though it could realistically take somewhere between 5-7 hours. I have to get the hospital at 5:30 for a 7:30 surgery.
Blogmaster Dave (oh I WISH I had a copy of the “sweaty raver kid” picture of Dave) is looking into why the comments appear to be disabled. I would like to go on record as saying the comments were not working with me not having intervened at all! That being said, I did try to intervene yesterday, and I apologize in advance to Dave for having to clean up my tech messes.
I’m less worried about the surgery and recovery itself and more worried about getting sick with a massive cold or stomach bug the day of/after my surgery. Given the fact that practically everyone I know has thrown up at least once in the last week, it’s not the most unfounded of fears.
The kids will be off to Granny and Papa’s tonight and will be staying with them on-and-off for most of the week. Big ups to them for the massive help.
We still need to hit the store for some last minute supplies (prune juice, liquid vitamins, nasal spray), but otherwise we should be good. I’ll be at the hospital for 2 days, so anything that we miss, Ash can grab while I nap.
I will be sleeping like crap for the next week to two weeks. The hope is that I’ll nap, as I probably won’t sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time at night. It’ll be like having a newborn again! Same amount of drool, same amount of sleep, only slightly less poop. That’s what the prune juice is for. And you’re welcome for me putting that thought into your heads.
I’ve asked Ash to take a photo every day of my recovery. I’m not sure yet if I’ll post them here. Some of them ain’t gonna be pretty.
A couple of you have heeded my advice and already volunteered specific days for helping out! You guys rule!
I’ve been trying to spend as much time with the family this weekend as possible, all while avoiding contact with ANYONE whatsoever (suddenly a germophobe?!) I think I’ve hit good middle ground.
That being said, poor L is just WAY too empathetic and sweet for a 6 year old. I guess it’s not too surprising, given his natural high anxiety, but he’s definitely having some trouble with my surgery. I’ve tried to stress that everything will be okay, but with Ash and I so stressed about it ourselves, he can pick up on those kinds of things. He and D have already left for their grandparents, which is probably a good thing as we’re in last-minute preparation mode and this gives them a chance to just be kids and do kid stuff instead of worrying about their ole’ dad.
I have to take a shower before we leave tomorrow. At 4 am. When it’s supposed to be 9 degrees out and snowing. Joy.
Two days ago, the prospect of my surgery was akin to that of a vacation that is very very far away; no need to worry about planning just yet, I’ve got all the time in the world.
Then yesterday happened.
It started with me pre-registering at the hospital, which included getting relieving confirmation of many of the facets of my surgery (that I will be staying in the hospital two days as originally told, that I will be knocked out for all of it, that it’s a six hour procedure). Those were good things. I also got my blood tested and just about everything came out in the middle. According to Ash, everything came out EXACTLY in the middle, which I find statistically improbably. I’m so average it doesn’t even seem possible!
Then we met with the surgeon, and that’s when things started to take shape. We spent about 90 minutes in his office learning, asking, listening, viewing, and so forth. One of the major things that’s changed in orthognathic surgery in the past few years is the use of computers to take the guesswork out of it. Years ago (not really all that many) it was mainly “look in the mouth, take Xrays, guess how far things needed to move.” Now, with my CT Scans and X-rays being processed by computers smarter than the average bear, he can know within a hundreth of a mm how far to move stuff. (He pointed out that the most the human eye can really work with is 1/2 mms, but it’s nice to know that science is far more exacting than human reflexes).
WHAT THE PROCEDURE WILL ACTUALLY ENTAIL
I’m going to show a few different pictures. I got more in my possession than I’m putting on my blog (including shots which show EXACTLY where the nerves are that he’s going to go out of his way NOT to sever), but I’m going to stick with just a few. Oh, and if the severing of a major nerve got you a little squeamish, I should point out that this is probably not a blog you want to read any further on, and I recommend you go back and look at this lovely Dirty Dozen list made by Jay and I.
This is what my mug looks like currently. You’ll see that I still have an open bite, and you’ll also see (looking at either of the outside shots) that of all my teeth, really only my back ones touch. This is the major problem, and the thing I’m trying to get fixed. What you CAN’T see is my posterior airway. Most people’s posterior airways are 10-12mms. Mine is currently 4. So yeah, that’s apparently bad, as air is supposedly good for you. So more than my teeth not touching, being able to breathe is the real reason I’m doing this. Anyway, the braces have done wonders in getting my teeth to even look like this, but I’ve got a LONG way to go.
After sedating me, putting in a catheter (which freaks me out FAR more than the actual surgery), nose tubes, throat tubes, and just about everything else, they’re going to begin by working on the top jaw. What they’re going to do is… well, I’ll let the picture show you.
They begin by a palette expansion. When you just listen to the term and don’t think about things, that sounds almost pleasant. Like, if I were an artist, I’d probably want a palette expansion because it would free up my creativity. Here, though, it means they take a chisel (yes, he used the word chisel) and basically fracture the top of my mouth into two separate parts. If I’m not mistaken, they end up putting some metal in there to hold it there. Also, while they’re separating it vertically, they’re also pulling it out a little (which seems odd as I have an overbite as it is). As you can see on the left, after they’ve expanded the palette, they put in this splint (off-white) that will ultimately be the indicator as to where the lower jaw is supposed to go to meet it (red). Dr. M explained that even after I’m done, not all of my teeth will touch, and that means I’ll have longer ortho still to go (he estimated 6-9 more months, but I’m still thinking a year).
Finally, after having done that, the real fun begins. I know what you’re thinking: “but isn’t getting your face smashed by a chisel the real fun part?” I know, you’re all jealous. Then they work on the lower jaw.
See in the this picture the teal looking part, and how in the 2nd picture that part seemed to be fully connected to the chin part? Yeah, that doesn’t happen anymore. He will basically cleave the jaw in half width-wise, kinda like cutting apart one thick piece of bread into two. Then they move the chin part forward, and they will later attach it back to the jaw part with 3 screws (on each side). Here’s the really eye-opening part about this. He explained that the most you could/should ever move this jaw forward is 9mm. A typical procedure moves it anywhere from 5-6mm.
Do yourself a favor and get a ruler or something and look at how much 5-6mm is. When you’re talking about a face, it’s pretty significant.
Now here’s the kicker. He’s going to be moving mine forward 9mm. But that’s not all! With having moved the top forward a bit, they will have to rotate the jaw forward and upward to meet the angle of the top jaw. Between the sliding out and the rotation up, I will probably be moving my low jaw close to 12mm when all is said and done. That’s nothing to shake a stick at, because… WHY ARE YOU SHAKING STICKS AT MY MANGLED FACE?
As you can see by that final image, my teeth will more or less line up with each other, and I’ll eventually be able to chew food using all of my teeth, and not just my molars/wisdoms as I’ve done my whole life. (Note: I haven’t had wisdom teeth since February, and, come to think of it, I’m also missing some molars too). Next is a photo as to what my top will look like when I’m done. Note the large gaps that weren’t there before. I’m assuming those will be filled with highly-concentrated morphine, or so I’m hoping.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTERWARDS
Dr. M didn’t tell me a whole lot I didn’t already know, but that’s due mainly to me having researched this pretty extensively over the last 18 months. As I’ve linked here before, this handy timeline gives a pretty good idea of what a general person can expect from this procedure. I’m not going to expound too much on that. I’ll go over the specifics my surgeon’s told me about.
– I’ll be in the hospital for 2 days. This is good for a # of things. It will give Ash a chance to get my medicines, pick up last-minute stuff, and learn more while at the hospital in how to care for me. Also, as my throat/mouth/nose will all be filled with blood and other unpleasantries, they’ll have nice suction machines that will expel much of that without me having to worry about it. (I WILL have to worry about it when I get home, and from what I’ve read, it’s not happyfuntimes.)
– Any chance of nausea from the meds will almost certainly take place within the first day or so, so having people prepared to deal with that (and cut my bands if need be) is one less thing for me to stress out about.
– For the first week, the bands they have in place will be extremely rigid. I shouldn’t even TRY to talk/open my mouth. I’ve been teaching signs to the boys, I’ll have a whiteboard, and I also have the aforementioned Steven Hawking technology. But not only will I be on a syringe diet, I won’t be doing much of anything else for some time. This includes brushing my teeth. My first real brush won’t happen for a week. Just like I’m uncharacteristically hyperfocused on the catheter rather than the surgery, Ash is looking forward to my breath less than just about anything else (my one-day morning breath can be pretty killer).
– At one week, I get those bands off for a bit, get to open my mouth about 1 finger’s height, brush with a baby toothbrush, then get new bands on. The new bands will get replaced daily (during which time I can baby-toothbrush-brush and eat puree with a baby spoon), but the rest of the time it’s syringe and liquid diet. He wasn’t the first person to suggest that I’ll soon be asking Ashley to blend tons of atrocious sound drinks (lasagna puree? Yes please!)
– At six weeks or so, I’ll get the bands off, and from there the world of not only liquids begins! I also should get the splint out around then. Life in general will just be better. I’ll be able to talk more clearly (hopefully totally clearly), and I’ll be able to blow my nose by then. Before that, any blowing risks rupturing things in your sinus cavity, so yeah, there will be no blowing of the ole’ honker before then.
– Swelling starts around day three, lasts anywhere from 10 days to a month. Numbness will initially be basically everywhere below my eyes, and will slowly start to come back patchwork over the following months. Numbness can last anywhere from 3-9 months, but there’s a possibility parts of my face may stay numb forever. Ought to make shaving fun!
Dr. M did much to ease our minds with the consult. He assured me that, even though I’m his very last patient (he unofficially retired a couple of months ago, and just did his second-to-last patient yesterday), he’s not trying to beat out the clock. “I won’t be rushing off to make a tee-time. I don’t even like golf.” If he’s able to do the procedure in 5 hours, wonderful, but if it’s as long as he thinks (6 hrs) or even if he hits some complications tying and untying binding wires (7+ hours) he’s there for the long haul. Also, he is staying onboard with me specifically for all my follow-up appointments. He’s done this for 29 years, and the few people I have spoken to who had this same procedure, and with him as surgeon, had nothing but glowing things to say about him. That being said, something like this carries risks.
Death. Not because of this procedure itself, but because of the nature of surgery, basically. A non-factor.
Excessive bleeding. He was the surgeon who extracted my 8 teeth in Feb, and noticed nothing unusual then, but still, it’s something that could happen. You never really know how good a bleeder someone is until you’re in there, hackin’ away. Also of note, 3 weeks ago I was supposed to donate one unit of my own blood to myself to use in an emergency. This didn’t happen because I was ill (they wouldn’t have taken my blood even if I went in). He doesn’t imagine it will be a problem, and will go to a blood bank if he needs to. It’s at times like this that I really wish I knew which blood type I was.
Numbness as described above.
Incompleteness and relapse. No matter how perfect the surgery goes, it’s unlikely that I’ll have a 12mm windpipe after this. I may only go up to 6 or 7 (though hopefully higher). That’s not a fault, it’s just how people’s bodies differ with the procedure. Also, no matter how good he does, and no matter how good I am about maintenance going forward, it’s still likely I’ll relapse some. My teeth and jaws will want to naturally go back to the way things were for 37 years. If I take good care of everything, that should be at a minimum.
My facial structure will change, but probably not massively. I *could* opt for a chin implant if I really did want a chin. I was going to link a picture of me in profile, but I realized I never posted one on my blog b/c I dislike my profile so much. That being said, I’m not doing this for cosmetic reasons, so I’ll take whatever change I get and move on. I *may* end up bleaching my teeth when the braces come off. We’ll see. Okay fine, here’s my profile:
And I’ll also post a picture of how my mouth looked right after the extractions (before the braces worked their magic)
As I’ve said a few times, I’ve packed on quite a few pounds this year (mostly bad weight, unfortunately) because I will have some weight loss. Dr. M pegged me at 10 pounds, but I’ve read anywhere from 10-50 pounds. The 50 was for a linebacker, but I’m anticipating being in the 20-25 pound range. I’ll also not have much energy until around week 4 (when I hope to be going back to work).
That’s enough for now. I’ll post more as it gets closer, and hope to blog every day, at least for the first few weeks.
p.s. Just felt a pretty significant earthquake while editing this. Apparently within the last 30 minutes we’ve had 4 hit, and this (what was the fifth) was the first one I’ve felt, and the most shaking I’ve ever felt. Probably over a 4.0.
I’m going to start every paragraph except this one with the term Eleanor Roosevelt’s hamster.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s hamster I’m sure had his share of startling deadlines in his life – having to eat so he didn’t die, having to sleep so he was alert the next day to avoid FDR’s wheels, having to learn the tax code so he could keep up with the financial musings of the nation. But none were as impressive as mine. I have just had it CONFIRMED that December 21 is my surgery date. This is pretty remarkable for a number of reasons. 1) My surgeon is *technically* already retired. He mentioned he probably would have pawned off my case to the other surgeon in the office, only his financial lady, who is a BOSS, made him promise to do mine so we didn’t have to endure another 8 months of insurance headaches. So he has two minor TMJ surgeries this week, and then he wraps up his career with ME. 2) If I get sick, we have to postpone. So I’m very tempted to live in a bubble. Daily vitamins, healthy shakes, exercise… here I come… again? 3) It’s a good thing we have Santa’s email address, because methinks we’ll arrange for him to come to just our house early this year. 4) It’s the shortest day of the year. That means it’ll hurt for the littlest amount of time. That’s how days work, right?
Eleanor Roosevelt’s hamster, Claude III, lived a life that was a little on the short spectrum for a dwarf hamster – 12 months. That’s probably long my full recovery will take. The brunt of the recovery will be in 2 stages – the first week, which by all tokens is the week you just have to get past to get on with your life. Then 3 months is the accepted “recovery period” for the surgery. But what that means is hopefully by 90 days I’ll be able to live a normal self-sufficient lifestyle. I won’t be back to where I am NOW (eating things like steak) for a year or so. So me and Claude III have something in common. And other things not in common, such as me being alive still. A pretty good timeline for recovery can be found here: http://doublejawsurgery.com/recovery-timeline
Eleanor Roosevelt’s hamster! I just realized something! There are only 6 weekends between now and the surgery, and one of them is going to be Christmasish. Next weekend I’ll be playing in a local disc golf tournament and one is Thanksgiving weekend. So really, I kinda only have 3 weekends to do what I want. There’s alot, both surgery-related and non. I want to start taste-testing and practicing a variety of smoothies and things like a waterpik flosser and a neti-pot… things I’ve never used before but will likely depend on post-facebreaking. I will have to shop for some supplies I’ll need and want to talk myself OUT of buying an Xbox One or PS4 (as I still have 3 games for the 360 that I haven’t finished). I’ll gladly take donations, though. But also, socially, I’ll want to see some people, as I imagine I won’t be doing TOO much social for about a month after the surgery.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s hamster, who I imagined looked like this, , had gotten a little chubby, another thing we regretfully have in common. But more than now, this is how I WILL look after the surgery. I’m still on the fence if I will post pictures, because they will be kinda alarming. I’ll decide that as it comes. I do have a few responsibilities left to do. The first week of December, I’ll have to donate some of my own blood “just in case”. Dr. M. says he hasn’t used a patient’s own blood in years (he can’t remember the last time), but it’s a substantial amount – enough that it will take the body 3 weeks to replenish. Then the week after that, I have my FINAL meeting with him, where we go through what to expect, the surgery, side effects, sign releases. Coolest of all, right now my info is getting processed in CO and they will have a total 3D computer model that they’ll show me EXACTLY what they’re doing to MY mouth specifically (not the generic ‘here’s what to expect – it will be MY head, MY jaw, where specifically the incision will be and the hardware will go). So that’s neat. Then the week after that I go back to the hospital to do bloodwork and other tests to make sure I’m a go. Then it’s showtime.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s hamster had many friends and family: Becky, lil’ Bumbles, Shoehorn, T-Dogg, Cheepy, Lugnut, Halvorson Uppencamp, Brogue, Esmerelbow, Buckeye, Peep, Ogless, the other Peep, and Hannah. I’ll have my friends too – hopefully I’ll be able to get a few east coasters out to help out, and maybe even a member of my fam. But I’ll have Ash’s family here for me for the duration, which will be invaluable. The surgery alone is 6 hours which Ash will likely have to stay at the hospital the whole time. It’s gonna be a pretty long week, then a long two weeks, then a long month, then a long year… you get the picture.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s hamster lived by one credo: live life like today is the first day of the march towards double orthognathic jaw surgery. Claude III was a pretty frickin’ weird hamster. T minus 45 days!
I finally got my first rough timeline of what I can expect over the next year. Yes year. I originally was told that I’d be having surgery within a year of get my braces on, which was in May. And we may still be a year off. Here’s what’s what:
My teeth are very close to being straight in terms of crookedness. And the before/after changes are pretty impressive:
The problem now lies with the fact that my teeth still flair outward, especially on the top. See in this recent Xray:
This is due largely to still being overcrowded. So the doctor presented me with the most likely scenario:
– I will need to get 8 teeth removed, my 4 wisdoms and 4 bicuspids. This will allow enough room for the braces to pull the teeth around (filling in the gaps) AND tilting the teeth downward so they are perpendicular. I can schedule this whenever I want, but for a couple of reasons I think it would be early to mid March. Once extracted, there’s a problem with extra gaps in my teeth, so the braces would have to stay on longer than expected to fill in the gaps and make sure everything is ready for surgery.
– This would put me on track to be surgery-ready around October. BUT, since my recovery is 3 weeks (and I’d imagine I’d need at least one person by my side for the first 1 week definitely and likely the 2nd week as well), Ash would prefer to not miss work and money. So the ortho would be fine for me to wait to have the surgery until winter break (Christmas week or so). That would put my recovery during the entire break, but it would mean less time off work. Plus, that’s usually a dead time for my job, so probably a good time to go.
An incidental benefit of this is that the extra time with braces on my teeth while waiting for winter break would allow for more “fine tuning”, meaning after the surgery is done and I’m recovered, I’d have to have braces on for less time then.
There’s also a less likely, but still plausible scenario. In looking at my X-rays and pictures, the ortho was certain that 8 teeth would have to go. But in looking at my teeth in person, he thinks they look better than expected. He will present all info and new molds to the surgeon. It is POSSIBLE the surgeon may determine that with extracting only the 4 wisdoms and performing a palette expansion, he may not have to get rid of the bicuspids at all. This would mean less time needed for the braces to align the teeth (since they’d no longer have to fill in gaps) and I’d still be in the running for a July (summer break) surgery.
This would be preferable to me mainly because winter is sick season, and since I will be having my jaws wired shut for a little while, the less chance of getting a cold or a stomach bug or anything else that would really require me to be able to open my mouth (sneezing, vomit, etc…) the better. This is obviously preferable, especially given our family’s track record with illness. (Landen is home sick as we speak.)
In short, I won’t know which path is being chosen until I walk into the surgeon’s room to get teeth extracted. I’m going to schedule that in the next few days. I’m anticipating the worst, and that’s also the likeliest, but who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky.
I tend to make very crystal-clear new years resolutions. None of this “be more ____” crap because that’s too subjective. Was I more (adjective)? Hard to tell. I would resolve to do very specific yes/no things so I’d know definitively if I reached the goals. One year I resolved to ask a girl out. I did on December 29 of that year. Woohoo!
But now that I’m 36 and my body is somewhere between the relative age of 35 and 90, I am doing what I never thought I’d have to do – join the 75% of people who resolve to work out and eat better. There’s a few reasons for this:
1) I’m painfully out of shape. While I’m not fat necessarily, I don’t have muscle tone that I used to have, I have some fluff, and worst of all my cardio, core strength, and flexibility are downright pitiful. It’s just age catching up to me, but playing a single disc golf tournament (3 rounds) feels like I need a week’s vacation afterward.
2) I’ve developed some very bad eating habits after a few years of very good eating habits.
3) Because of my job and the amount of time I dedicate to other things, I simply am not nearly as active as I’d like to be. I played a total of about 8 disc golf rounds after Worlds (which wrapped up in mid August). That’s about 2 a month. Pathetic.
4) My inflexibility and core weakness are directly leading to more back pain than I’d like.
5) I’ll be having my surgery where I anticipate being wholly inactive for a week or two, and severely limited for weeks/months after that. My body will atrophy a little during this I’m sure (as the most athletic thing I’ll be doing is playing RPGs on the Xbox). I want to have a better core going into the recovery than I do now.
However, I also know that I tend to set my sights unrealistically high with any of my predictions. Just look at my “modest” disc golf goals, hardly any of which I hit. So I’m doing two tiers of goals. The first one is the bare-bones goals; the ones I full expect to hit even with my recent trend of starting long-term goals strong and then fading out. The second tier is what I’m going to be starting out my year trying to accomplish and going for as long as I can. In an ideal world, I will also complete this tier of resolutions, but it’s much more ambitious. For example, it’ll be saying that I work out 3x a week and eating 3 salads a week. That may not sound like much, but right now I have trouble doing dishes 3x a week. So clearly there will be some work ahead of me.
There’s also an unwritten caveat that the surgery will basically make me unable to complete many of these during my recuperation period. I’m not going to stress if I’m not working out my abs weekly when I’m not supposed to be getting out of bed. I’m not going to force myself to try eating salads when I shouldn’t be eating anything that I can’t put into a syringe. So there will be definite grey area as to when some of these activities can be resumed.
Yes, I’m going to make a nerdy spreadsheet to keep myself on track, motivated, and in constant fear of shame (from myself, and sometimes my kids when I can’t wrestle with them for more than 10 minutes without body parts hurting).
– Working out once a week. This can be any P90X workout (though I will likely be sticking with core, yoga, and abs), or if I end up trying the DDP Yoga, one of those. I won’t substitute a “really difficult disc golf round” as exercise, but if I do some other legitimate workout not listed about, I’ll count it at my discretion. Also, P90X is pretty brutal – I will almost certainly be doing a “modified” version of any of these workouts, at least at the beginning. That is okay.
– 1 bit of cardio a week. This can be something like a long walk, a bike ride, a round of DG, a good swim, legitimate baseball/outdoor play with running with the boys.
– 1 leg stretch a week. This is if I don’t do yoga.
– Eat 1 salad a week.
– Drink no more than 1 soda a week. (If I keep it under 52 a year, I’ll count it even if I do drink more than one in any given week.)
– Eat fast food no more than 1x a month. This is basically just Jack in the Box and Qdoba, the only real fast food I eat. I probably went 3 years without fast food, but lately I’ve been eating it quite often.
– Eat less than 1 mint chocolate chip ice cream a month. This should be easy, but I have had times where I’ve gone overboard with ice cream.
– Work out 3x a week – one core, one yoga, one abs. That’s ideal, though if I do 3x any genuine workout, I’ll count it.
– 2 cardios a week. These can be more time-consuming, so 2 is what I’m striving for. One DAY of DG will only count as one, even if I play two rounds.I won’t count general rumble-tumble with the boys unless it is sustained for a while.
– 3 leg stretches a week (yoga will count for this)
– 3 salads eaten a week. Excessive veggies will count in lieu of actual leafy greens, as will very healthy smoothies.
– No soda in 2015.
– No fast food in 2015.
– 2 ice creams allowed in 2014. I need something, don’t I? 😀
I’m even going to be over-optimistic and label the first tab as “2015”, indicating that I will want to continue doing this through 2016 and beyond. (I may edit this in the next 2 days if I think of more stuff to add.)