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Houston, we have a problem.

After weeks of interviewing, negotiating salary, comparing benefits, weighing pros and cons, and finally slapping my forehead in the realization that there was NOTHING TO THINK ABOUT, I accepted the new job and gave my notice at work this week. While it seems like this act would result in a big sigh of relief, it's actually set off a chain of events that I predict can only end in my blood pressure reaching fatal levels. This is because I have this thing known as a conscience. If I didn't have a conscience, I wouldn't care that my bigwig boss is trying to make a statement by dumping unrealistic deadlines on me; I'd just pack up my things and walk out. My new company would be thrilled if I showed up early, so what's stopping me? Well, to be honest, I don't want to end up in the witness protection program when Mr. Bigwig makes it his personal goal in life to bring me down. As one of my co-worker friends put it, "he knows a lot of people, and he's scary"....which, now that I think about it, begs the question, "why the hell am I writing about this on the internet?" So I'll stop there. Suffice it to say that I'm stuck finishing out the two weeks at work, no matter how much I pre-maturely age in the process.

Here's the really crappy thing about this, though: All this damned work is cutting into my blog time! And I bet my new job will expect a whole eight hours a day out of me as well, so even though I come home after work every day with boundless! energy levels (I always do a cartwheel when I come in the front door, you know) and creativity oozing out of my pores (like when I roll the matchbox cars around with Quinn - what a genius game, how could I ever come up with this after working all day, I am amazing!), I am afraid that my posts may become less frequent for a while. I'm not sure what my new routine will be, or if my head will be so full of exciting new job training tidbits that I won't have anything left to give to the ever-needy, omnipresent internet. We'll just have to wait and see. It's a mystery!

For now, I will have to leave you with an agonizing tale of hardship and grief, a sheer epic saga of tragedy and adventure, a creative flourish, a dramatic masterpiece: When Kristen Got Her Braces.

She began to suspect something was a little "off" when the orthodonist's technician asked her for the second time if she was excited about this day. Mustering up the friendliest answer she could, she replied, "Uh, no! No, I'm not excited about today. In fact, I've been wondering how I can possibly get out of it - any ideas??" The cheery technician didn't even flinch. "She must be used to this type of response," the suspicious patient thought to herself. A few minutes later, as she lay in the reclining death chair looking at ceiling tiles while the cheery technician explained the "indirect bonding method" of putting sharp metal objects on an exposed patient's teeth, she thought to herself that maybe this wouldn't be such a big deal. "Obviously these people have a system, they like to explain things, and that's encouraging. Wait a minute WHAT IS THAT THING WHAT IS THAT HUGE PLASTIC THING TWICE THE SIZE OF MY MOUTH OH MY GOD IS SHE PUTTING THAT IN MY MOUTH WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!!!" She realized the cheery technician was still talking to her: "This is called a cheek retractor! See? And I'm just going to put this into your mouth to hold your cheeks away from your teeth, mmkay?" Once her cheeks were as unnaturally far away from her teeth as possible without the use of a knife, the patient thought the hard part was over. Then, she saw another plastic instrument coming towards her face and she started talking in all caps in her mind again. The cheery technician said, "and so this is to hold your tongue back, so I have to push it back as far as it will go, and also? It suctions? So that your mouth will stay dry.. okay? It'll be kind of loud! Mmmmhmmm, heheh." After the patient fought back the initial gag reflex and convinced her brain that her throat was not fully blocked by her dry, scratchy tongue, she thought, "Now. Now the worst is over. The dryness and the gagging and the huge plastic hands pulling my face inside out has to be the very worst part, and hey! I'm used to that now. Mind over matter." The cheery technician was acting happy as she non-chalantly told the patient she was "just going to polish your teeth first." "WHAT? POLISH MY TEETH, LET'S GET THE GOD-FORSAKEN BRACES ON ALREADY!" She was thinking this, but you see, the contraptions of torture and death kept her from being able to speak. After the polishing, the trays of wax containing her braces were put on, and a futuristic light instrument (kind of like a laser gun, let's call it a laser gun) was used to "activate the glue." She thought since these people were really into technology and futuristic phraseology, that the laser gun would work instantly, perhaps even transporting her forward in time and allowing her to skip all this pesky pain and torture, hell, maybe it would even fast-forward 12 months to the day she was having the metal taken OFF of her teeth! But alas, the special little laser gun didn't work quickly, and actually took repeated applications before the braces stuck to her teeth. Then the wax trays had to be pulled out, and the cheery technician had nothing futuristic to use for this part, so she used a good old-fashioned dentist hook to get the wax trays pulled away from the brackets. But the brackets had just been futuristically melded for all eternity to the patient's stupid mouth, and those wax trays were attached. The cheery technician said, "I bet you're as dry as the desert by now, huh? Gosh, these wax trays just aren't wanting to come out...they kind of like you!" as she puuuullllleeeddd and puuullllleeed on the patient's jaw, making the patient wonder if her teeth were going to come shattering out in fountains of blood, all over the futuristic laser guns and indirect bonding instruments, bloody teeth with braces forever attached to them all over this lovely state-of-the-art office. After the wax trays were out and the patient's jaw was astonishingly only slightly fractured, the cheery technician said, "now we can turn off the suction and take out the cheek retractors - your braces are on and they WILL FEEL WEIRD, but go ahead and go rinse." The patient wasn't ready to look in the mirror and accept her new face, especially since her mouth felt like it was full of forks, can openers, and a pocket knife. But at the sink there was a big mirror and OH MY GOD IT'S AS BAD AS I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE! GET THEM OFF! SOMEONE WAKE ME FROM THIS NIGHTMARE! STOP THE MADNESS! I'M HIDEOUS! LOOK AWAY! She choked back her tears of humiliation and sulked back to the chair thinking, "let's get this over with so I can go home and figure out how to avoid society for a year." Then the orthodontist came to talk: "You did great! These look perfect! Are you excited?" The patient held back her anger and just shook her head in a controlled, slow fashion, with a look that said, "kill me now." The orthodonist chuckled and said, "you'll hate me for a couple of weeks, but I promise you'll get used to them. Now let's take a look - open wide... okay, bite down. Okay, open wide, okay bite down." The patient saw some looks pass between the orthodontist and the cheery technician. She wondered, "why all the biting and opening?" Then the orthodonist explained that her bite was screwed up enough that her top teeth were scraping her bottom braces, which OF COURSE meant that something had to be done to ensure proper progress. The patient wondered what that something was, but she was still pretty happy to have the torture devices out of her mouth, so she assumed nothing too dreadful was coming her way. "Hon, we need to put a little glue on your back teeth to create a different bite, so your braces have room to move your teeth." That didn't sound so bad to the patient, and as the glue was applied, she was starting to calm down about the braces and the ugliness. Once the glue dried, the orthodontist and the cheery technician had the patient bite down again, but the patient discovered TO HER HORROR that she couldn't bite down at all. When she closed her mouth fully, she could still speak completely articulate sentences! Her brain started screaming again: "What have they done to me?! I can't even bite down! I thought I looked like a freak before but now I can't even fully close my mouth I'LL LOOK LIKE SUCH AN IDIOT AT MY NEW JOB, THEY'LL PROBABLY FIRE ME AND THEN I'LL NEVER GET ANOTHER JOB BECAUSE OF MY FREAK MOUTH! I'M A TOTAL PARIAH!" After the cheery technician gave the patient her goody bag of water pics and t-shirts advertising the orthodontist's office, the patient pulled herself together and went back to work. Her co-workers didn't laugh directly at her and were courteous enough to ridicule her only behind her back, saving her the outright embarrassment of it all. She felt some discomfort from the sharp forks stabbing the inside of her stretched out cheeks and her gums, but she was beginning to accept her situation. Then she went to lunch with her husband, and ordered a harmless bowl of rice and beans - soft, mushy food that wouldn't require too much in the way of chewing. And then she discovered it. The worst part hadn't been the laser gun, or the indirect bonding, or the visions of bloody bracket-covered teeth, or the cheek retractor torture chamber. The worst part, the very worst part of this entire experience, the thing that would haunt her from now until she got her real mouth back in a year, was trying to chew the most basic soft, mushy food, the easiest food to start with, the food that will determine how well eating will go for the next few weeks, WHILE HER BACK TEETH ARE FILLED UP WITH A HARDENED, SMOOTH, TOFFEE-LIKE SUBSTANCE. She is an animal, shoveling a bite in, throwing her head back and knocking it around in a futile attempt to break her food into digestible pieces. She is in hell. Pure, utter, indescribable, humiliating HELL.

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