Monthly Archives: March 2011

TMI about my teeth

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I really want to cry right now.  I just had the worst dentist appointment of my LIFE.  I seriously feel like this is some sort of cruel joke because everything I just got told came out of NOWHERE!!!!

I have a real job with benefits (even though I hate it and am quitting in two weeks).   So yeah, I figured “I’ve got insurance, I’m’a go to the dentist to get my teeth nice and purrdy!”  It’s been exactly a year since I had my post-Peace Corps dental check and x-rays.  Everything was declared “a-ok, lookin’ good” at that time.  And I’ve NEVER had a cavity in my life.  Ever.  So I went to a new dentist in Flagstaff today just expecting a routine cleaning and to ask about a possible retainer for a teeeeeny little overlap two teeth are doing.

Oh boy, was I unprepared for what was coming.  I got x-rays done and then immediately got worried when the dentist looked at them and started telling the hygenist to take notes of all these dental mumbojumbo things.  Dr. Happyface then gleefully translated to me that I have THREE cavities.  The jig is up.  Effffffff.

But that’s just the beginning.  He proceeded to stab all my teeth with the poker thing in order to reveal that I now have sensitivity problems and I need to start brushing with Sensodyne and using flouride mouthwash.  Cha-ching.  I’m sure that stuff’s not twice the price of Crest or anything.

Oh, and the nighttime teethgrinding I’ve been known to do but never had result in any problems?  It’s definitely worn down my teeth and he “highly recommends” a nightguard.  Of course, this costs $400 and my insurance won’t pay for it.  But it will save me bazillions down the road so it’s totally worth it, he assures me.

Oh, that little overlap?  I could maybe get Invisalign but I also have some issues with my molars aligning so I should probably just get braces again.  Ahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  WTF was all that orthodontia I had as a kid worth if everything is coming to this??????

Of course that’s not the end.  The hygenist proceeds to measure my “gum pockets” and of course those are also all effed up also.  I definitely need to start using a Sonicare electric toothbrush to prevent further problems.  “How much are those?”  I ask warily, defeat in my voice.  “Oh, about $120.  But it’s totally worth it.  Most people who switch to them never go back.”  Yeah, buddy, that’s awesome.  I definitely want to cart an electric toothbrush around the world with me on all my life’s adventures.  And she proceeds to give me the same lecture and demonstration about how to floss they give you every freakin’ time that makes you feel like a two year old or like you’re wearing a “World’s Worst Flosser” t-shirt.  Except this time it’s even worse because I can almost read her thoughts as she judges that obviously all the dental debacles I am having are due to my own hygenic negligence.  I want to yell at her “I lived in Africa for a year and came back with no teeth problems whatsoever so all this junk going on now is not my fault!”

Good God, can I just get out of this place?  I was already half an hour late getting back to work.  (I *thought* I could easily fit this appointment into my lunch break, judging based on all my previous easy-peasy dental checkups.)  I was already holding back tears, voice wavering, as I stopped at the front to schedule my fillings.  I told Judgemental Hygenist I had never had fillings before, thankyouvermuch, so could she please explain what all was entailed/could I go to work after/what drugs would they give me (aka PLEASEEEEEE say you’ll give me laughing gas or knock me out or something cause I HATE PAIN!!!!!)?  No dice.  All I got the pleasure of scheduling for next Wednesday was a time to come in to get a novacaine shot in my mouth (probably two because the three cavities are spread on both sides) and then AN HOUR AND HALF of torture.  Omg.  I seriously wanted to cry.  And the kicker?  I asked if my insurance would cover all of this, seeing as it is supposedly medically neccessary , and of course I have a deductible and sliding scale and all that crap.  So what do I get to PAY for an hour and a half of torture?  $150.  Thanks for that final slap in the face, receptionist.  Thanks a billion.

Seriously guys, I’m horrified.  I do not understand at all how I went from having totally fine teeth to having this grab-bag of problems in ONLY ONE YEAR!!!  WTF???  It either makes me think that my Ohio dentist was a total slacker, or that this dentist is a golddigging torturous monster.  (Which does not seem like it should be possible since he is actually really attractive.)  So what should I do???  I’m seriously terrified to get these fillings and I CAN’T AFFORD all this other crap!  My day just went from happy to crappy.

Has anyone who’s had fillings tell me it’s not that bad????  Or is it really that bad??

And Carrie squealed and did a happy dance at work!!

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In case you can’t tell from this crappy iPhone picture, I’ll just go ahead and tell you why I am SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!

I BOOKED OUR FLIGHT TO COLOMBIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For those of you who haven’t heard about La Aventura Project, click the link over in the sidebar to the right to learn about why me, my boyfriend, and my friend Mel are taking off on a one-year backpacking adventure through all of South America. 

Those of you following the project know we’ve been planning this forever but weren’t planning to buy our flight tickets  until May or June.  Well, today I got to work (where I get paid to surf the internet) and found a deal that seemed too good to be true (*knockonwood*)!  After some frantic texting between myself and Melissa I just threw caution to the wind and booked it.

We have our flight, y’all!!!!!!!  (I’m not really southern, but that’s meant to be heard in a Waiting for Guffman accent.) 

I’m going to surprise Zach with the printed-out confirmation tonight.  He knows nothing of this.  So shh…don’t tell him before I do!

“Because 99 is not 100…”

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“One single can is of great importance…” says Valter, one of the many beautifully raw characters in Lucy Walker’s documentary Waste Land, “Because 99 is not 100 and that single one will make a difference.”  The film follows Vik Muniz, a famous modern artist, trying to “give back” by creating artwork with and for the garbage pickers of Jardim Gramacho, the largest landfill in the world.  Against a backdrop of extreme poverty and literal, stinking garbage in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, Vik befriends those who make their living by retrieving recyclable materials from the dump.  He goes on to create stunning photographic portraits of these “pickers”  composed entirely of discarded recylables.  By involving them in an artistic project Vik enables his subjects to see themselves and their job with elevated insight. 

Above all, the film is about reslilience.  Its beauty is in its characters, who take pride in their occupation, their community, and themselves, despite the hard lot they’ve been dealt in life.  Walker also teaches a complicated lesson on the power of art–what it can be, mean, and accomplish.  Waste Land has a multi-faceted appeal, functioning as a kind of collision between Exit Through the Gift Shop and Invisible Children.  It is the most elegant and heartfelt documentary I’ve seen in a long time, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to cry some happy tears while reaffirming their belief in human kindness.

Cracks Kill

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What a clever title, eh?????  You know it’s awesome.

Everyone knows that you can really drive 5 mph over the speed limit and never get a ticket, right?  Maybe even 10 mph over on the highway?  I don’t think I’m alone in this practice.  Well, I grew up in Ohio where the highway speed limit is 65mph, meaning I would drive 70-75mph.  Out west here though, the speed limit is actually 75mph!  That means Carrie gets to speed her way home at 85mph with no worries, baby!!!  Go go speed racer!!!

Well, an unfortunate consequence of this extremely high speed limit is that when rocks hit your windshield at 85mph, they do a lot more damage then they do at 75mph.  Or so I have come to believe, thanks to TWO little cracks I got in my windshield after only 5 months of having my current car.  Of course my cheapo Safe Auto insurance doesn’t cover glass repair, and I am BROKE, ugh!  Normally, I wouldn’t really care that much about the cracks.  But I am trying to be more responsible and on top of things lately, so I said to myself “Self, you know you should really just get those two cracks fixed NOW before they get worse.  Be a good responsible adult even though you don’t care about two tiny chips in your windshield.”  So I scheduled a repair with Safelite Auto Glass.  $145 was the estimate.  Again, ugh.

The Safelite guy came to my work to fix my windshield right where I was parked.  Convenient, right?  I was feeling all proud of myself for making this happen, when the repairman guy comes back inside and knocks on my office door and says “Umm…I just put the suction on the first one to fix it and it started spreading right away, so I can’t do it.  Sorry.  Here’s my manager’s business card; you should call him to see about getting a discount on a new windshield.”

AHHH!!!!!!  As soon as he left I turned to my co-worker Matt and asked, “Am I right in thinking he just told me that he broke my windshield more???????”  Matt goes, “Yep, I’m pretty sure that’s what he said.”  And sure enough, one of my cracks had spread from both sides, although it was still much smaller than a dollar bill.  I proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon freaking out about having to get a new windshield and how I could NOT afford that.  I even looked at switching to new insurance but that would cost even more.  In general, I was NOT feeling validated in my attempt to act like a responsible, on-top-of-things adult.  I was also feeling hatred for the fact that I must even have a car and fantasizing about moving to NYC sooner rather than later and going all-public-transportation.

Luckily, I refused to believe Mr. Safelite Windshield Breaker-Man and decided to call some other places.  I called the first place that came up when I googled “Flagstaff Auto Glass” and it was a little independently-owned shop.  The guy there seemed quite happy at the opportunity to steal a customer from Safelite and assured me that he could fix my windshield without having to replace it.  I was skeptical but holding onto a tiny grain of optimism so I took my car there the next morning.  He looked at my windshield, scoffed “They couldn’t fix that?” and told me he’d have it done in an hour.  I asked for a quote, just hoping it would be no more than the $145 Safelite had been planning to charge me, and get this????  “Fifty bucks,” said this amazing new-best-friend of mine.

Add to that the 15% coupon they had on their website, and I paid about $43 for the job.  You can still see a tiny bit of one of the cracks but as long as neither is in danger of spreading I am fine with that.  So, I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes Plan A fails for a reason.  Mr. Safelite Windshield Breaker-Man did cause me some frustration but in the end I paid only 1/3 of what I had originally intended to.  And I got a reminder that the biggest, most well-known company is not always the best or the cheapest.  Shop around, people.

Dumpster Diving

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A few nights ago we made some delicious and spicy veggie curry with rice with our 2 Canadian couchsurfers.  They arrived at the same time we got home from work and immediately asked if we had ever heard of “dumpster diving.”  I said “Yeah, of course,” and they replied that they had just raided a grocery store dumpster, so did we “want to make a feast?”

OF COURSE!

They had TONS of stuff, all in totally fine condition and safe, clean packaging, that they had picked up from the dumpster behind one of Flagstaff’s smaller grocery stores.  Broccoli, potatoes, squash, onions, celery, canteloupe, strawberries, and even bagels and and unopened package of DONUT HOLES (demonstrating their Canadian taste buds, hahaha). 

We had a great time cooking and getting to know each other, and we picked their brains about dumpster diving since they were clearly experienced and I have always kind of wanted to try it but never felt gutsy enough.

Apparently they never pay for groceries while on the road and two of their best finds were several bottles of wine and a whole crate of unopened boxes of chocolates!!  (WHAAAA????  Who would throw those out!!!)  Here are their tips for successful dumpster diving:

1. Smaller grocery stores are better because they are less secure and care less.

2. Don’t worry about getting caught- most security guards are on your side andwill just “go inspect the other side of the building” while you’re doing your thing.

3. You do have to get in the dumpster and dig around but it’s not that dirty because everything’s still usually in packaging.

I think they convinced me to try it.  I know many people will probably be grossed out to hear me say that, but I think what’s gross is that we live in a country where SO MUCH EDIBLE FOOD is thrown out to rot every single day.  There are starving Peace Corps Volunteers in Africa, people!!!! (Hahaha, we PCVs always said this in Tanzania, but I hope you know I’m just being clever and not making light of world hunger.)

I’ll let you know how it goes.  Would you ever try dumpster diving?  And here’s the kicker:  Considering both health and ethics, which is better: buying organic or dumpster diving for not-necessarily-organic food?

Thirty by 30 Brain-freeze

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For the past week I’ve been working on a list of 30 goals to accomplish before I turn 30.  I’m going to make another tab at the top of this page and post it there.  The list includes things to learn, places to go, milestones to experience, etc.  I’ve got 29 really solid ideas on the list but I CANNOT think of a #30!  This is weird because usually my brain flutters all over the place wanting to do too many things.  I just want this list to be composed of really awesome and well thought-out things that I can reasonably do.  I know there has to be one more awesome thing I really must accomplish in the next six years.  Any ideas for me?

Hello! Mambo! Hola!

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My name’s Carrie, and I guess I’ve been kind of a serial monogamist with blogs.  In high school I first started writing on mindsay, I think.  What happened to that?  Haven’t heard of it in years so I’m guessing not much.  Then my emo spirit started craving company so I switched to xanga since that seemed to be where all my fellow emo high-schoolers were typing out their woes.  When that blog fizzled and died I took a hiatus.  My next blog experiment was an account of my summer in Kenya (2007) and was written on blogger.  I stayed on blogger and finally began writing more regularly at www.journeylost.blogspot.com after graduating from college and joining the Peace Corps.  It was mostly a Peace Corps blog but I stayed there for a year after returning and tried to make myself write regularly.  Until recently, when a web-savy friend finally convinced me of the super-sexy ways of wordpress.  I started looking around here and was easily convinced.  I like that it’s more customizable, cleaner-looking, and spunkier.  Who knows, maybe I am still serially monogamous with my blogging platforms and will end up switching again in another two years.  But for now, I like it here and I hope to stay.  See, I’ve had my high school blogs, my travel blogs (here and here) and my Peace Corps blog.  I kind of want this to be more cozy, comfy, all-encompassing, my LIFE blog.  So here’s to giving it a go.  Cheers.