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Adventures

Invisalign Part II: 34 More Trays

Your groundhog said you’re getting 6 more weeks of winter.
Mine said I get 34 more weeks of Invisalign trays.

A few weeks ago, I saw my orthodontist after completing 53 weeks of Invisalign. He said my teeth are straight, and my bite is improved, but my upper and lower jaws are still out of alignment. The tech took another set of impressions and sent them off to have another set of trays created. They didn’t tell me how many more trays I’d have to wear to correct this problem. (I wore my Week 53 trays for a few weeks while my next set of trays were being made.)

I couldn’t manage to take a good photo that shows my rubber band, so I stopped trying.

Last week, I was back in the orthodontist chair (I always feel like I’m in junior high when I’m in there) and I asked, “How many more weeks do I have the pleasure, I mean privilege, of wearing Invisalign trays.” The tech laughed, but I was serious. I suspect many people who can’t afford it wish they had the means to afford Invisalign or braces. Even though I may complain that my teeth hurt or that wearing trays is a hassle, I never forget that it’s a privilege to do this.

The tech said, “34,” and I get to wear a rubber band on one side of my mouth. The tech had to move some of the anchors for my trays (aka “dinosaur teeth”) and she glued a metal “button” to one of my lower teeth. The rubber band attaches to an edge carved into my upper tray and the button. Every time I take my trays out, I’m supposed to replace the rubber band.

Looking at the calendar, I’ll be wearing this set of trays, changing the trays each week, until mid-October. Basically, I added another year to this adventure.

At first, I had the compulsion to try to chew on the rubber band, which isn’t actually possible, but now it’s a non-issue. Putting it on is easy, though in my first week, I managed to shoot a rubber band across the room and snap myself in the lip while trying to put it on. These are first world problems.

The rules with these of trays is the same: try to wear them at least 22 hours a day. Some day I’ll get to sip my coffee again. The only difference now is I must remember to bring my bag of rubber bands in addition to my tray case when I leave the house, and for now, I need a mirror to put on a rubber band. Note to self: Put a compact with a mirror in your backpack for when you’re traveling.

The only problem I’ve encountered with wearing a rubber band is I can’t sing properly. I can’t open my mouth wide enough to sing the notes. I don’t wear my trays when I have a voice lesson or perform, but I do when I’m singing in the car and around the house. Knowing me, I’ll test how well these rubber bands stretch. I hope it doesn’t hurt much if one snaps in my mouth.

A Year In Invisalign

I’ve worn Invisalign trays for the last 53 weeks. Every Tuesday night, I switched out my current trays for the next set, and every time it was a remarkable sensation to feel which teeth my new trays would be moving. Thankfully after the first few months, my teeth didn’t hurt that bad, but I did get my trays stuck in my mouth on more than one occasion.

There has definitely been movement in my mouth. I’m curious to see my before and after photos to see if the change is significant. My teeth were mostly straight before doing Invisalign. I did this because their alignment was off and if I didn’t do something, I’d likely break my bottom teeth on my top ones. So, as long as we prevented that issue, I’m happy.

52 Weeks of Invisalign Trays – Week 53 is in my Mouth

Two Birds, One Stone
Sleeping with Invisalign was never problematic, because I’ve been sleeping with a night guard for years – one of the lovely benefits of going to law school. (No, you don’t wear a night guard with your trays. The trays replaced the guard.) My trays help protect me from myself, well at least grinding my teeth. There were many mornings where my trays were jammed tight on my teeth from grinding and clenching them in my sleep.

So it’s a two birds, one stone situation, but a very expensive stone.

Floss Champion
I’ve become that guy who keeps a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss in the office. I regularly brush my teeth and my trays when I’m at work. One of the benefits of Invisalign, is you will instantly know if you have a bit of food between your teeth the moment you pop your trays back into your mouth after a meal.

If you’re doing Invisalign, you’re probably flossing – by necessity.

22 Hours a Day

Running with Invisalign
I’m training for a marathon. During my long runs, I use gels to replenish my calories and electrolytes. With Invisalign, they recommend you wear your trays 22 hours a day, and my long runs were usually longer than 2 hours. I didn’t want to run without them, but I didn’t want to have to pop them in and out either. I was afraid the gels would either stick to my trays and/or stain them.

Thankfully, neither of those things happened, even when I used cherry-flavored gel.

The Process Continues
This week, I go back to the orthodontist this week for my 53-week follow-up appointment. I feel like a junior high kid every time I go in there. Hopefully, my doctor will tell me that my teeth have moved to where they need to be, and I get to move into the maintenance phase: 6 months of wearing my trays all the time and then I get to shift to just wearing my trays at night. I look forward to the days I get to chew gum and sip coffee for hours.

Reducing the Waste I Create

I’ve watched the videos like I Tried To Make Zero Trash For 30 Days and We Tried To Make Zero Trash In Our Beauty Routines For A Week, and they inspired me to look at my habits and what I can do reduce the amount of trash and waste I create. Like many people, I recycle and I use a reusable water bottle, but I feel like I can do more, especially when it comes to the amount of plastic I use. These are some of the things I want to try to reduce my environmental impact:

Don’t Forget to Recycle by Blue Pylons from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Bamboo Toothbrush: The next time I need a new toothbrush, instead of buying a plastic one, I want to try one make of biodegradable bamboo.

Zero-Waste Deodorant: Instead of buying a deodorant in a plastic twist-bottom tube, I want to try a natural deodorant that comes in a glass jar. I also wonder if something like this would be better for my sensitive skin.

Shampoo Bar: Yes, there is shampoo that comes in a bar. I’m curious to see how well this will work. It’s going to be a while before I try it because I have short hair and it wasn’t too long ago that I bought a new bottle of shampoo.

Seedling by Kevin Doncaster from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Regular Bar Soap: There was a time when we just had bars of soap next to the skin for washing our hands. I could go back to that. I wonder if I can find a bar of soap that has exfoliating properties that I could use instead of my apricot face wash.

Asking Companies to Consider Lower-Waste Options: There are certain products that I know I won’t want to give up – like my moisturizer. I can ask them to consider offering a version that comes in glass instead of plastic. At least then they’d know there’s an interest.

Reusable Produce Bags and Food Containers: Top of my list this year is to pick up some reusable produce bags so I don’t have to keep using plastic ones every time I go to the store.

I often shop in the bulk food section of Sprouts for seeds, dried fruit, grains, and lentils. They don’t advertise this, but you can bring your own reusable containers to use after they weigh it. I want to get some jars and try this.

Since my diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, I would love to compost the parts I don’t eat. I currently don’t for a few reasons: (1) I’m afraid I’ll do it wrong and create a smelly mess that will attract rodents and bugs and (2) if I use vermicompost (aka worms), I’m afraid I’ll kill them and have a smelly mess that will attract rodents and bugs. (The fear is real – I’ve killed a cactus.) My city collects landscape waste, but not food scraps for composting. If I want to try it, it appears Arizona Worm Farm sells a ready-to-use worm bin.

I’m excited to try new products as I need them and see what works.

Undeniable Recap of 2017

2016 was bad. I felt as if that year couldn’t end soon enough.  But it’s as if 2017 started the year saying, “Hold my beer” and it went downhill from there. I had a lot of challenges this year including reconstruction at Castle Carter after my condo flooded, death of my childhood coach, being in a car accident, studying for the California bar exam, and processing my gender identity.

My jar of happy memories

Thankfully, I started a new tradition of keeping a jar next to my bed where I wrote notes about things that happened in my life that made me happy or giggle. Even on bad days, I could look over at my jar that was filling with notes and be reminded that life doesn’t suck all the time. It was a joy to go through them while I wrote this post. Here are my top 5 events/activities from 2017:

Me and my skateboard

1. I got a Skateboard at CMWorld
Content Marketing World always does an excellent job taking care of its speakers. I look forward to this conference every year and I’m proud to be part of Team Orange. When they announced that Casey Neistat would be one of the keynote speakers, I started tweeting at them that I wanted an orange skateboard as my speaker gift. (They usually get us each a wireless mouse/laser pointer.) Shortly after I checked into my hotel room, the hotel dropped off a big box for me. It was a mini orange skateboard! I love this thing, not just because it’s awesome, but because it made me feel like part of the CMWorld family. Once I finish my marathon in 2018, I’m going to take a skateboarding lesson and learn how to ride it properly.

I love this tattoo

2. “Don’t Be What They Made You” Tattoo
I saw Logan in the theater. When I heard this line, I instantly knew I wanted it tattooed on my wrist. A few months later, Hollis at Iconic Tattoo made it a reality. This is a daily reminder and inspiration for me.

3. “But I’m still your Tranpa”
Accepting that I’m non-binary made me feel like I was a baby queer all over again. I felt especially vulnerable a few months ago and sent an email to trans entertainer and advocate Buck Angel, just an open invitation for lunch the next time he’s in Phoenix. He responded and signed it “Tranpa.” I wrote back and said, age-wise, we’re more like cousins. (We’re only about 7 years apart.) He responded, “Hahaa but I’m still your Tranpa ❤️.”

This warmed my heart. It matters to talk to people who “get it.” Buck is someone I reach out to when I experience dysmorphia or feel like I live in a world that wasn’t made for me.

Still smiling after running 20 miles – and rocking some mad hair

4. Running with David
I’m training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon 2018. After getting a DNF at my last marathon attempt, I decided to hire a coach, David Roher. He lives on the east coast, so we communicate over email, text, and phone. He gives me my assignments and tracks my workouts via Strava, plus we talk about nutrition, stretching, injuries, and life in general.

David always has a word of encouragement when I need it – often to remind me that I have the ability to do any assignment he gives me and not to push myself too hard. When I finished my 20-mile training run a few weeks ago, I was pleased with my pace and by how good I felt at the end of it.

5. Ethics and Ice Cream
I had a flash of brilliance at the beginning of August to do a continuing legal education seminar looking at what Arizona lawyers were being disciplined for during the last few years to look for patterns and commonalities. I pitched the idea to do this for ASU CLE and call it “Ethics and Ice Cream.” They loved it and we scheduled the event for about a month later. I recruited fellow lawyer and comedian, Matt Storrs, and we reviewed all the Lawyer Regulation reports since 2015 and pulled off a successful event.

This event made this list, not because I created a CLE, but because I put this idea into action and made it work.

As I read all the notes in my jar, I noticed there were at least six notes that mentioned hugs or being the “little spoon.” Besides giving me a warm fuzzy trip down memory lane, these notes reminded me how important the people in my life are to me.

Rosie Dog – Go check out her Instagram

Firsts in 2017
Flying in/out of a city in one day (for Ungagged Las Vegas)
Standing ovation for singing “O Holy Night” at the Community Church of Hope Christmas Show
Love and Complements Rally
Interview on The Out House Podcast
Foods: Almond butter (meh), Vegan gourmet shreds (cheese-like, not bad), Cashew milk ice cream (best non-dairy ice cream), Almond milk yogurt (not food), Cashew yogurt (not food), Pumpkin seeds (so good), Spirulina (meh)
Events: ICON, Law Launcher, TBD Law, BlogHer

Minions make me smile

Celebrity Sightings
Tom Green
Joseph Gordon Levitt
Chris Guillebeau
Casey Neistat
Paul Risser
Minions

In Memoriam
George Seivert
Don Rickles
Andrea Esquer
Laurel Graver
Dorian Kreiling

Testing the Sweat-Proof Tee

A few weeks ago, I was watching a video on Real Men Real Style (I’m interested in having more masculine options for work clothes), and I learned about the Thompson Tee. They claim their patent technology “stops 100% of underarm sweat.” This sounded too good to be true. I sweat constantly, even when doing mundane things like eating a warm meal and walking my basset hound.

I reached out to Thompson Tee and asked to test their shirt. They sent me the shirt of my choice to put through the ringer of my life and share how it did. I selected the men’s slim fit v-neck undershirt in black, size small. The fabric is super soft and you can tell by the seams in the shirt and how the shirt fits that there is padding through the armpit. It was super comfortable to wear, but I had to see how it would hold up in sweaty situations.

Photo by Jay Chatzkel Photography
Used with permission

Test #1 – Modeling
People who aren’t involved in modeling or photography may not know that modeling makes you sweat, between the lights and having to hold awkward poses. This shoot was my first time doing male modeling. I wore a chest binder, my Thompson Tee, and a dress shirt and tie for most of the shoot. Towards the end, I did a few shots in just my Thompson tee and slacks. I was pleased that at the end of the night, there was no sweat on my dress shirt.

Test #2 – Phoenix Driving
In case you didn’t know, it gets hot in Phoenix. During the day, our cars turn into ovens under the sun. When I first get in my car on a warm day, I often blast the A/C, or risk sweating buckets. I tested my Thompson Tee while wearing it with a dress shirt, and driving around with a friend visiting from out of town. After I dropped him off, I even turned off the A/C just see how the shirt would hold up while I was baking. Even after driving on a sunny day in Phoenix in a closed car with no A/C for 10 minutes, my dress shirt was still dry, even though I was definitely not dry inside my Thompson Tee.

Photo by Leslie Easton Photography
Used with permission

Test #3 – Mid-day Love Rally
The ultimate Thompson Tee test was Improv AZ’s Love and Complements Rally – standing at an sunny intersection (without shade) while holding a happy sign for 45 minutes in at least 95-degree heat. I could feel sweat sliding down my skin inside the shirt, but on the outside, I was completely dry. I even had friends touch my armpit to verify it. (They said I didn’t smell either – and these aren’t people who would be shy about that.)

Does the Thompson Tee work for containing armpit sweat? Yes.

Is it comfortable? Very. (And their sizing chart made it easy to discern which size I wear)

Thanks Thompson Tee for sending me a shirt and letting me test it out. It has definitely become part of my wardrobe (and that’s saying something given that I’m a minimalist).

First Week in Invisalign

Part of my year of investing in myself includes resetting my smile with Invisalign. I have a deep overbite that needs to be corrected or else I’ll be at risk of pushing them even further out of alignment and breaking my teeth. I’ll be fixing my teeth over a 53-week period with new trays each week. I never had braces as a kid, just a head gear and a wireless retainer, so I’m grateful for all the helpful advice from friends who survived braces or Invisalign before me.

My Next Seven Weeks of Invisalign Trays

Dinosaur Teeth
The way Invisalign works is they glue little anchors to the outside of 12 of your teeth – 6 on top, 6 on the bottom – and the trays snap to them and your teeth when you put them in. When I take out my trays for meals, my teeth feel so weird with the anchors attached to them. I call them my dinosaur teeth. It’s bizarre having extra ridges in my mouth.

Best Diet Ever
The instructions say to wear the trays 22 hours a day, only removing them for meals and brushing. The only thing I can have when they’re in is cool water. I’m definitely going to stay hydrated with this adventure.

Although it’s getting easier to attach and remove my Invisalign trays from my teeth, each time I do it, it’s uncomfortable – and that’s putting it mildly. It hurts. Getting them out the first time was so challenging, I was afraid I was going to have to call my orthodontist for help. Each time I want to eat, I have to decide if what I want is worth going through the process of removing and reattaching my trays.

22 Hours a Day

As a habitual snacker, these trays are changing the way I eat, shifting from eating throughout the day to eating mostly meals. I’m also being more thoughtful about what I eat while my teeth are sore. One friend warned me that she was sore for the first month she wore Invisalign trays. My friends gave me lots of suggestions of soft foods that sustained them during teeth straightening.

Since I’m supposed to wear my trays 22 hours a day, I also have to change the way I drink coffee. I used to sip my coffee all morning, from walking my dog before sunrise until lunchtime. Now that I have to minimize the amount of time I have my trays out of my mouth, I down my two cups of coffee first thing in the morning.

No Relief
Unlike the relief of taking off my bra at the end of a long day, there’s no break from Invisalign. My teeth hurt when I pop my trays in and out and they’re sore throughout the day. I’m told the pain will decrease, but I suspect I’m going to be sore for a few days every week when I switch change to the next set of trays each week and my teeth readjust to their new position. I’ll try not to be too grumpy.

Did I mention wearing Invisalign trays is giving me touch of a lisp? I’ve always said I have an inner gay man, now I have a stereotypical voice to match. I have to be extra thoughtful about enunciating my words. They say this is temporary too.

Looking at my teeth with and without Invisalign – realigning my teeth with be worth it, and will hopefully only take 53 weeks to finish the process. Besides fixing my teeth, I think my new smile will elongate my face and give me a better chin.

Fear is Not an Excuse

The year just started, and I already have a plate filled with big projects – an online course, another book, and taking the California Bar Exam this summer. The primary guiding rule for all of my projects is “Fear is not an excuse for not making progress.”

Photo by Bob Johnson

Truth be told, the prospect of creating this online course, “Lights, Camera, Lawsuit – The Legal Side of Professional Photography,” scares the bejezus out of me. I’ve never done anything like this before. Creating the materials will be a lot of work, and will include doing my first voiceover. Each of the 22 lessons will be a slide deck with a voiceover presentation. There will be lots of opportunities to screw things up.

Despite my apprehension, I really don’t have much to worry about. I’m going to use Jason Zook’s platform, Teachery, and borrow a format that he used in a course I purchased from him. If I get stuck when it comes to the nuts and bolts of creating the course, I know he’ll be there to help. And I already have people who have expressed interest in buying the course once it’s available.

My goal is to have the course materials completed, edited, and tested by a handful of photographers before releasing it to the public by the end of March. There is much to be done between now and then, and being afraid of making mistakes or launching a dud are not excuses. In the words of the great late Carrie Fisher:

Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.

Let’s hope so. Right now, my plan is to keep moving forward, without letting fear about how others will perceive the final product paralyze me. Thanks to the Wall of Pain (aka my wall-size color-coded to-do list), it’s easy to break down this project into manageable chunks. I don’t have to worry about the final product – just whatever’s next on the to-do list.

I’m so grateful I don’t have to work on this project alone. I have an amazing group of photographer-friends who provide feedback when needed, an incredible mastermind group with skills I can call upon to help create and market this course, and a loving community of friends who support my crazy endeavors.

If you have daunting projects on your horizon, I hope you’re keeping the fear monsters at bay.

Christmas Part 2: Phoestivus

One of the best things about the holiday season in Phoenix is going to Phoestivus! I try to take Rosie the basset hound to it every year. Phoestivus is part farmers market/food trucks, part craft festival, and it has the standard Festivus activities (Feats of Strengths, Airing of Grievances, and the Festivus Pole).

Rosie made friends at the Ruff Life booth

I love taking Rosie to Phoestivus. It’s so much fun to watch her take in all the scents and sounds (she can’t see much with her glaucoma) and watch everyone love on her. There are usually a few vendors with the products specifically for dogs, and this year was no exception. She was enchanted by Ruff Life – a company that sells preservative-free smoked animal chews like bones, pig ears, and chicken feet. She was so tempted to jump up on the table and help herself. Thankfully, I bought her a smoked fish to have on the spot and got a pig ear and a chicken foot for later. (By the way, this is an awesome local company that will deliver their products to your door if you live in Maricopa County.)

Over at Peace Dog’s booth, I got her a bag of human-grade sausage cookies. They are shaped like little bones, the perfect size or using a treat to lure Miss Rosie in the direction I want her to move. (Bassets are stubborn.) She also sold buttons and I found one I had to buy and stick on my backpack.

We were both happy to stumble upon a peanut butter vendor: Peanut Butter Americano. They gave us both samples on popsicle sticks. It was so good – so fresh, so simple – definitely healthier than what I usually buy at the grocery store. I had to keep Rosie from plunging her face into the box of discarded sample sticks. I walked away with a jar of their white chocolate peanut butter. It’s the perfect thing to put on a pre-race bagel.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be Phoestivus if we didn’t get our picture taken with Hipster Claus.

Hipster Claus!

This is my kind of holiday fun – connecting with the community, seeing friends, and getting the pirate dog out to experience something new.

In case you missed it – Christmas Part 1: Singing in Patrick’s Concert

Christmas Part 1: Patrick’s Concert

I had so much fun being in Rev. Patrick’s Christmas Concert at the Community Church of Hope last week. At the end of the show, I got one of the best compliments I’ve ever received in my singing career: “You looked so happy up there.”

Even though I don’t really celebrate Christmas, I love Christmas music. I can listen to it all year. The only person who loves it more than me is Patrick. When he asked me to be in his concert, I immediately said, “I’m in!”

Then I asked, “What am I singing?”

I’m a classically trained soprano so I figured he might want a classic Christmas ballad. He asked me to sing “Night Before Christmas” but then he also said he wanted me to sing “Welcome Christmas” from The Grinch and a new song – “Santa’s Solar Sleigh.”

Only Patrick can get away with asking me to sing such a ridiculous song. I practiced it so much I couldn’t walk my dog without running lyrics in my head.

Then Patrick said he wanted me to be dressed as Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch for the first half. I responded with “Do I get a petticoat with that?”

Singing in Patrick’s Concert 2016

Yes. Yes I did – a pink one.
(For the second half, I got to be a human and wear a simple sapphire blue velvet shift.)

The concert was so much fun. Unlike other shows I’ve done for Patrick, he had the vocalists on the stage the whole time. His piano was at center stage and the other vocalist, Joey, and I were off to the side on stools. I felt like we were the two old guys from The Muppets (without the jokes, just the occasional sideways glance at each other). When we weren’t singing, we had the best view in the house. From my vantage point, I could see Patrick’s eyes over his music, his foot on the pedal, and I could see inside the piano which is basically a reflection of his fingers. I was mesmerized when George played Ave Maria on his violin – his fingers and bow weaving a tapestry of sound. And it was all Christmas music so I knew every word, every note. I did everything but mouth the words – it was a fully body experience.

And then there was the sing-along. Patrick never rehearses this part with us in advance. They’re songs we all know so he plays and we sing with audience. I threw in the harmony whenever I felt like it. After the concert, a friend said even when everyone was singing, she could hear my voice over the crowd. (I’m not sure she knew that Joey and my microphones were on for the sing-along.)

I had as much fun experiencing others performing as I did singing in this show, and I can’t help but sway when I’m wearing a fluffy petticoat. I’m glad Patrick’s already put me on notice that he wants me in next year’s show.

My other favorite holiday tradition – Christmas Part 2: Phoestivus!

Does Biotin Work? | 6 Weeks Later

Me and my Hair - October 1, 2016

Me and my Hair – October 1, 2016

A neighbor suggested I try biotin to get my hair to grow back in faster. I shaved my head (number zero clipper) over Memorial Day weekend and while the rest of my hair is growing back fine, my bangs are taking forever. It took them nearly three months to grown an inch!

My hair is weird.

Yesterday, grabbed my tape measure to check on my progress. In the 6 weeks I’ve been taking this bioin, my bangs have grown just under half an inch. So far, it doesn’t seem to be making a difference.

For comparison, my neighbor claimed her hair grew three inches in a month when she tried it. I think she may have been exaggerating.

While I don’t think it’s making a difference, I’ll finish the bottle (120 pills – 1 pill per day). Perhaps the effect takes 2-3 months to kick in. If it’s snake oil, meh, no big deal. It’s a $10 experiment.