on fear.

Some of the best and most universally applicable advice I’ve ever received was given to me in my first week of working as a cashier at Long John Silver’s: “Don’t be afraid of breaking anything. There is nothing you can do that can’t be fixed.”

Now, obviously, this doesn’t apply to every facet of life. For example, there is a very good reason to be afraid of jumping from a 500-foot cliff without a parachute (or even with, really) because it’s very likely that if the consequence of that jump is things being broken, those things will be very much unfixable. But the general meaning is pretty applicable in most situations. Don’t be afraid to do something just because you don’t know how, or because you’re afraid you’ll mess it up. It’s okay to not do something because you just don’t want to, but don’t let fear of unknown consequences hold you back.

I’m not advocating fearlessness, because sometimes you’re just terrified of something and can’t do it; you won’t, for example, catch me ever taking classes on beekeeping or lessons for race car driving. Nor am I advocating complete disregard for consequences; don’t go get a face tattoo the day before a job interview or spend your rent money on skydiving lessons. And sometimes there will be anxieties or phobias keeping you from doing things; I run screaming in the other direction from large group gatherings with a lot of people I don’t really know, unless alcohol is involved in very short order to calm me down. In such situations you can’t really just do it anyway (or at least jump in with both feet without slowly working up to it), and that’s not really what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about getting that pixie cut or dye job you’ve always wanted but been too afraid to get; it’s just hair, and it will grow back if it turns out to look terrible, and in the meantime hats and scarves are perfectly acceptable headgear in almost any situation. Tinker with the recipe; if it turns out horribly, you’ve learned what doesn’t work for next time and can order takeout for this one. Get a canvas out and start slapping colors on there just to see what happens; it isn’t the last existing canvas in the world, and if you paint a disaster, you can always start over. Go strike up a conversation with the cute person across the room; the worst that can happen is that they turn you down or turn out to be an asshole (or both!), in which case you don’t want to be with them anyway (trust me) and can move on.

I’m talking about being okay with screwing things up once in a while. It’s going to happen eventually, I promise, and chances are it’s not going to be the end of the world when it does. In most situations, the worst case scenario isn’t something so disastrous it can’t be fixed, or at least lived through with valuable lessons learned.

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chompers (or lack thereof).

I have not ever had good teeth. Well, maybe at a really, really young age I did, but I don’t remember not ever having issues. I started getting fillings in elementary school, and continued to get them here and there, when we could afford them. I didn’t really have bad teeth until I went to college, but they weren’t ever good.

I clearly remember my first broken tooth — I was somewhere around nineteen or twenty, sitting in my dorm parking lot with the mister and having dinner. I don’t remember what I was eating, but boy do I remember the god-awful crunch of one of my back fillings coming out and biting down on it. It actually wasn’t painful after the initial bite. The only reason I even knew it was broken was because of the texture of the tooth itself and the little bits of it I pulled out of my mouth afterwards. But it didn’t hurt, and I didn’t have any kind of insurance at all, much less dental, and lord knows I didn’t have the cash to drop on it, so I let it go. I did eventually get it pulled, not because it ever caused me any pain, but because my mother-in-law (bless her) insisted on paying for the work after she heard about it. I think I might have had my wisdom teeth removed in that same appointment as well, though to be honest I’m not sure. I know I don’t have them anymore, at any rate.

So my back teeth continued to decay throughout college, though not at an alarming rate. Again, I never felt any real pain (I just learned to chew on the side of my mouth that didn’t hurt when I got food in it), and I was stereotypically broke, so I never bothered with getting any of it fixed. By the time my teeth really became an issue, I was out of college and working at Long John Silver’s, and I still couldn’t afford to do anything about it. At the time of the mister’s enlistment three years later, I had yet to actually have any teeth fall out of my head (my gums have remained stubbornly healthy, thank goodness), but my front top teeth were over half gone, and the bottoms weren’t much better. I’d always had a gap in the very front, and now I had pretty substantial gaps almost everywhere else, too. And that was painful. I learned to live with what was basically a constant headache, and took quite a bit of naproxen and ibuprofen to try to deal with it. Just thinking about eating made me ache.

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and forums recently, and one steady theme that seems the pervade them is the issue of shame from having bad teeth. People talk about never smiling or laughing, and not talking without putting their hand up over their mouths, for years before getting their teeth fixed. I don’t think I ever had that issue. I did avoid pictures when I could, and if I couldn’t I didn’t give an open-mouth smile, but I think I figured that there was no way to hide my teeth in day-to-day interaction so I just didn’t, and I don’t ever remember really thinking about it too much. Much the same as with my gap in front, it was just the way things were and I couldn’t do anything about it, so there wasn’t any point in getting worked up over it. But then, I’ve always been pretty good at not getting worked up over what other people thought of things I can’t change about myself. If the state of my teeth really bothered someone to the point that they didn’t want to associate with me, then they were the kind of person I didn’t want to associate with, anyway.

So anyway, with the mister’s enlistment came health insurance, which was a huge, amazing, wonderful thing, and also a little bit of dental insurance. The dental I now have covers plenty if all you need is preventative care and the occasional filling or two, but the yearly maximum is just a drop in the bucket of the costs associated with what I needed done. So I started chipping away at it, a little every year, but there was no way it could keep up with the rate of decay. Last year, I spent the entire maximum on one crown. By then the teeth I’d had fixed the year before had started to noticeably decay again already.

In the past year I’ve just stopped looking at my teeth in the mirror, because it seemed like every time I looked at them I found a new cavity, or noticed a current one was substantially larger. I can’t describe how disheartening that is. Not to mention that all the pain that went away after the initial year’s work was starting to come back. I finally got so frustrated and so upset about the whole thing that I decided to say, “Screw it.” (Well, my language was a little more blue than that, but you get the point.) It is time to get this done and over with. The insurance rolls over in May, so I’ll get everything that needs to be done, done this month and next and be done with it. Done, done, done. Our method of financing is not ideal, and we’ll have to live poor for a little while, but I honestly feel like dental work, to the extent that I need it, is justifiable debt.

So I went in for a cleaning and exam last week, and as it turns out every single one of my remaining top teeth (there are ten of them) would need to be crowned, in addition to six crowns and lots of fillings on the bottom. And the top crowns, at least, would be bandaids that would probably work fine for a few years before what was left of the teeth underneath them began to decay again. Also, for all of that, we would be talking around $24,000 in dental work, which we couldn’t even get a credit line for at this point. That’s the cost of a new car. We could literally buy a place to live back home (not a good one, but still) for that amount. And all that for work that will most likely fail in a few years, that we would have to sink even more thousands of dollars into, until we end up just having to extract anyway.

So we decided to skip all of that mess and meet in the middle, kind of. On the 17th I’m going in to have each and every one of my top teeth, and four on the bottom, surgically extracted, and then two crowns and several fillings in my remaining bottom teeth. (Under sedation. Obviously.) I’ll let my gums heal for 5-6 weeks before going in and, at the age of 29, being fitted for a full top denture and partial bottom.

And, y’know, I can’t even say I’m upset about it. I’m a little upset about not having any teeth on top for over a month, but that was my choice and I feel like I’ll heal better (and with less pain) if I don’t try to shove a big hunk of plastic in on top of the mess that will be my gums immediately afterwards. The mister has promised that he’ll still love me in the meantime, even if I will sound like I’m drunk and will refuse to leave the house except for dental appointments. But as far as the dentures themselves? I’m actually kind of excited to not be in pain anymore, and to not have this constant anxiety over my teeth. We might be dead before we get all of our debt paid off, but I am seriously at a point where I much prefer the debt to the dental problems.

When Daddy got his first full set of dentures, he immediately chased me around the house trying to bite me on the ass with them. Later that night, I came to the dinner table and found them on my plate.

I promise not to do that to anyone. Probably.

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in which i exhibit symptoms of multiple personalities.

I am envious of people who have lifelong dreams and ambitions. One of my earliest childhood memories is playing with another little girl at recess in elementary school. At her behest, we were pretending to be anthropologists; we decided that an anthill was a heretofore undiscovered civilization that we were studying. She went on to study real-life past civilizations (though to my knowledge, she has yet to discover any new ones) and has spent a lot of time sorting through potsherds south of Mexico.

I wanted to pretend to be horses. I did not, unfortunately, grow up to be a horse. Or a wolf, which was another playground favorite of mine.

There has never been any point in my life at which I had a concrete, sustained idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I was very young, for a while I wanted to be a veterinarian, and then I realized how terrible science was. I wanted to be a teacher for a little while after that, but I think I just kind of lost interest. For a little bit in high school I wanted to be a journalist until I actually joined the high school newspaper and realized how awful reporting actually was. Then I wanted to be a teacher for a little while again (I got a little more specific this time and settled on English as a subject, at least), and I think I might have lost interest again, I’m not really sure. I entered college as a declared English major, and then — I am totally serious — looked through the course catalog and realized how many papers I was going to have to write and decided that there was no way in hell I was putting myself through that. I thought for a couple of days about what else I was good at and landed on art, despite not ever having taken a single art class. I feel like it’s pretty obvious how thoroughly I thought that one out, considering that I decided a concentration in studio art would be a good idea.

I stumbled through college with my head blithely stuck in the sand, optimistic that I would find something to do with myself after I graduated, until that last semester of senior year hit (with the capstone class focusing on being a gallery artist), when I realized that being a gallery artist sounded like absolute misery, and so did going to graduate school, and those are pretty much your options with a studio art degree.

After working a few months in fast food, I decided I was going to give going back to school a try to get my teaching certificate. That did not work out because I do not multi-task very well; my grades were very poor and we needed rent more badly than I needed classes at the time. A couple of years later I tried again, this time shooting for English (I don’t learn very quickly), and then the mister enlisted and the house burned down and we moved to California and the final stake got driven into the heart of me even trying anymore.

Don’t get me wrong: ninety-nine percent of the time I love being a homemaker, and I count my lucky stars that I’m able to do that instead of shilling fried food. And the other one percent of the time it isn’t even than I’m unsatisfied with the life I live now; it’s that somewhere inside me still resides that ambitious teenager who applied to Harvard (and even got an interview), who was determined to “make something” of herself, even if she didn’t know what. Adult Laura usually comes back pretty quickly and reminds her of how happy she is now and that success is subjective, but won’t admit to Teenage Laura that she’s actually secretly relieved that she had an excuse not to attend her high school reunion.

Or that at the cusp of thirty, she’s still pretty sure she wants to be a horse.

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a toast (sort of).

I cannot imagine what it must be like to grow up in a world surrounded by people telling you that, because of who you are, you aren’t allowed to have what they have. Because you don’t fit their definition of normal, because they think that you are weird, because you’re a perfectly lovely person, and maybe they even love you, but they have decided that the person you are at your very core isn’t good enough to deserve the same rights and privileges that they never even thought twice about having.

I can’t imagine growing up in a world where people snicker behind your back or look at you sideways because you went into the ladies’ room instead of the men’s, where people call you a pervert (but never to your face), where by being so audacious as to simply walk down the street you draw the ire and disgust of people who profess to love everyone.

I can’t imagine what that is like because I look like a woman; because I dress feminine (usually) and wear make-up (occasionally); because the person I fell in love with happens to have male genitalia. It doesn’t matter that I would have fallen in love with him and decided to spend the rest of my life with him even if he’d happened to have been a woman; what matters to society is that I fit into what they perceive as a “normal,” straight female, so no one ever thinks twice about my life choices.

I did not grow up in that world, but my sister did. I grew up watching her struggle to figure out who she was and how she fit into the world at large. I watched her grow into an amazing, strong woman; I watched her make mistakes and I watched her get unfair retribution for those mistakes simply because her very existence made people uncomfortable. I watched her pick herself back up, dust herself off, give those who judge her a giant middle finger and keep on living her life as she knew she was meant to live it.

Because I watched her do all of these things, as I grew up I found in myself the strength and the courage to be the person I am, and to hell with whether people like it. I discovered I had a voice to tell people who the person is that they think they know, and if it turned out they didn’t like that person so much then I found I had the strength to cut them out of my life.

In my sister I have had someone who has always supported me no matter what, to whom I could talk about absolutely anything in the world and know that she would not judge me. I’ve had someone who is ready to go to bat for me at the drop of a hat and who has gotten fighting, spitting, red-in-the-face, punch-holes-in-the-wall mad when people hurt me. She is a person who loves deeply and fiercely, which is an admirable trait to have hung on to after all those years of people hurting her and not thinking twice about it, sometimes not even knowing that they did. She will drop everything for someone whom she truly loves, and would give them the last penny she had if she knew it would make them happy.

Because of what I’ve seen her go through, it makes me doubly happy that society’s tides seem to be turning; that in over half the country it is finally legal for her to have the same happiness that has been afforded to those who fall in love with the opposite gender. It still isn’t legal in our home state, but it is in some of the neighboring ones, and today in one of those neighboring states she is going to stand with the woman she loves and achieve something that she’s been told her entire life she couldn’t have and didn’t deserve.

And if you can (figuratively speaking) stand up and look me in the eye and tell me that my sister, who is one of the most amazing people I’ve had the privilege to know, doesn’t deserve that happiness because the person she loves is a woman, you can quite frankly go fornicate with yourself, remove yourself from any association of mine, and go find a creative hole in which to shove a tree limb.

To my sister: I love you and your lady both, woman. Congratulations :).

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day #wayoverdue

So I’m something like three weeks late on this update, which really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone (I mean, honestly). Sorry. I have continued the 21 Day Fix workouts and eating plan, though. At the end of three weeks I’d lost ten pounds and three and a half inches off my waist. I did take a couple of days off the workouts after the first three week cycle due to my body, as a friend put it, “getting back to normal factory settings after [my] custom modifications,” and that is as much detail as I’m going into about that; suffice it to say that I spent two days curled up in my recliner hating the world. After that (and a cheat day which involved way more carbs than I care to remember) I jumped into round two. I’m on day 12 of that now, and am currently down 15 pounds and a little over four inches off my waist.

So — the workouts + eating plan are a win. They’ve definitely been effective, and as much as I still hate getting up off my slowly shrinking derriere to flop around like a beached salmon on my living room floor and pretend that my moves look anything at all like Ms. Bikini Model’s, I’ve managed to make myself do it and am thus far pretty ecstatic with the results.

I did not reorder the Shakeology after I finished off the month’s supply sent to me with the challenge pack, mostly because I only get four carbs a day and losing one of them to make the shake drinkable just wasn’t worth it. When it comes down to a tortilla in a breakfast burrito or eight ounces of almond milk in a shake, the tortilla will win every time. Plus, y’know, $130 a month.  I could get a cavity filled for every month I ordered it. The only difference I really noticed was that it did actually help a lot with curbing my munchies later in the day, but after the first week or so those weren’t too noticeable anymore anyway.

I’m still not posting my real before and afters yet, but for the time being:

Untitled

I know, different angles, different shirts, candid vs. selfie, etc., etc., but you get the idea. I should also note that this is actually a difference of about 20 pounds, because I’d lost about five pounds on my own before ordering the program.

This pretty much wraps up this series of posts. I’ll likely update periodically on my weight loss, but this will probably be the last post dedicated solely to it until I hit my ultimate goal, at which point I’ll probably be blabbing about it on every platform I can get my hands on. In the meantime, we’re back to your regularly scheduled sporadic posts about whatever happens to cross my mind.

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ack.

Guys, Hensleyitis is having a stroke. I don’t know what the hell I did. Bear with me.

Edit: Jesus jumping jehosephat christ. At least it’s readable now. I hope. I just wanted to freshen things up a little, geez. I am not a fan of this particular theme, but I’m kind of afraid to mess with anything.

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day 14 and my giant mutant calves.

Doing good! I’m eight pounds down and two inches off my waist, which I figure is not bad for two weeks in. I’ve graduated from my two pound light weights up to five pounds, though I’m hanging on to the eight pounders as my heavy weights for now since I’m not really able to use them as much as I’m supposed to be doing without my arms screaming for mercy. There’s honestly not a whole lot to say about the workouts, since it’s just repeating the same seven from week one, albeit a little more efficiently.

Diet is going well, slipped up a little this week on my salt consumption, though. I’ve got to get that stuff out of the house. It calls to me like a siren who loves me and wants nothing more than for me to retain water weight and have high blood pressure, as if that’s so terribly much to ask. So today it’s all getting washed down the drain. Really. I swear.

So for the most part, I’m building muscle, and I’m happy with most of it. I’m seeing little changes where my fat is changing shape to conform to the muscle beneath it. The only thing that is not cool about this is the elephantitis (that almost-typo was fun) which has inflicted itself upon my poor calves.

Seriously. I’ve always had pretty good muscle in my calves, as a result of being significantly overweight for practically my entire life. They had to either adapt or die. But these workouts that I’ve been doing, they work every muscle, including my calves, which very much do not need to be any larger. I mean, I’m sure they’ll slim down some as I lose more weight, but seriously, guys, this is not like my baby bicep or my baby ab situation where there’s a substantial layer of fat on top. I honestly don’t know if they’re going to get any smaller, and I’m a little concerned about exactly how big they’re going to get.

In case you don’t believe me, here is the closest thing you’ll get to a before picture, at least until I hit my total goal and don’t look anything like the before picture anymore:

20140921_115910 (270x500) 20140921_120116 (267x500)

Look at that. That is not natural. That is never going to fit into sexy knee-high boots. I mean, I have no illusions that I will someday be this tiny, svelte little thing (my wrists are seven inches around, y’all, there was never any hope in the known universe of my being svelte), but I would at least like to have normal proportions that don’t include hulk calves.

The mister, for the record, called them “impressive.” My calf muscles are bigger around than his head, and they’re “impressive.” I guess I’ll take what I can get.

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