Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Tooth Fairy part 3

I live reasonably close to the hospital where I had my dentist appointment, and I had plenty of time, so I went home rather than sit in the waiting room and stare at the wall for at least an hour – or more.

You don’t have to stare at walls in waiting rooms around here. There are TVs everywhere. Every waiting room, train station, bus station, government office has a TV to placate the masses. Given the choice, I’d rather go home.

Almost exactly one hour after I left the hospital, I was back. I knew that one hour meant more than an hour, but I like to be punctual. Had I thought it would actually be an hour, I would have arrived earlier.

About 15 minutes later, I was sitting in the dentist’s office.

Calling it an office is a bit generous. It was a cubicle with all the usual dental equipment sitting around a dentist chair. The room had at least 20 cubicles. Privacy wasn’t much of a consideration for whoever designed the place. You could hear everything that was going on in the nearby cubicles. While I sat in my chair with a little paper bib on my chest, I listened to the person in the cubicle next door being tortured. I could very clearly hear that distinctive drill sound that is the same in every country, and I could hear how much the patient was not having an enjoyable afternoon. I think this reason, above all others, is why there should be individual rooms.

These are not welcome sounds when you have not been to a dentist in 4 years. Since this was my first visit to a Hong Kong dentist, it was even worse. I was not expecting any drilling, but replacing a crown almost has to involve sharp machinery in your mouth.

I don’t know how long I sat in that chair, but it seemed to take longer than any of the other waiting times. Most likely because I was focused on the pain and suffering of the people around me.

Monday, November 24, 2014

24th Birthday

Some of my friends were going to throw a surprise party for my birthday, but Lily gave away the surprise. That worked out pretty well, I think. Instead of filling the apartment with people – some of whom I probably would not have known – we just had a few people over for a nice dinner. It was like an early Thanksgiving with friends, which is the way I like it.

Saturday night, after both Ryan & I were home from work, I got to see my real present. It was on Skype, so it was more pixelated and smaller than I remember, but it’s the thought that counts.

Ryan will be in town for the actual Thanksgiving, so we’ll go out to dinner with Lily & Kevin. We haven’t picked out a restaurant yet, but it’s not like there’s a mad rush to book all the best pies around here. I gave up on trying to have a real Thanksgiving a long time ago. Now we just find a nice place to eat.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Tooth Fairy 2

I went to my first dentist in Hong Kong. I’ve been here for almost 4 years, so obviously I need to see the dentist more often. I heard too many bad stories about the way Chinese dentists do things. Some of them turned out to be true.

My appointment was for 2:50, so I showed up at 2:35. I filled out the form – in Chinese – and showed them my insurance card. I was a little proud of myself for filling out the form in Chinese. After I turned it in, they told me that there was also an English version. There’s no reason there wouldn’t be. Hospitals in Hong Kong have English all over the place. I’ve never seen a Hong Kong doctor who didn’t speak English.

They checked my temperature and blood pressure, for some reason. I can understand the blood pressure if you’re going in for some kind of dental surgery, but I was only there to let the dentist poke around and figure out what to do. It was essentially a check up when you know there’s something wrong. Blood pressure is irrelevant.

After sitting in the waiting room for a good 3 minutes, I went in and they took a full series of x-rays. The problem is only one tooth, but they went ahead and scanned them all. If nothing else, now there are dental records in Hong Kong if my unidentifiable corpse ever shows up somewhere.

I was about to tell myself that Hong Kong dentist offices are more efficient. I had spent very little time waiting and everything was moving along quickly. Taking the x-rays took less than 5 minutes.

Then I sat in the waiting room for an hour. When I asked how much longer it would be, I was told about an hour. So I went home.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Birthday Surprise

Lily told me that everyone was planning a surprise party for my birthday Saturday. It’s not that Lily’s no good at keeping secrets. It’s that we tend to tell each other everything, so it’s hard for her to keep a secret from me.

I don’t want a big party anyway. Saturdays are a good day for a party – to people who don’t work on Saturdays – but we just had a party on Halloween. I don’t think we should throw a party at every opportunity just because we finally have an apartment that’s big enough. It’s one thing to go to parties at every opportunity, but when they’re in your house, you have to clean up.

The perfect birthday to me would be going out to a nice dinner and not having to go to work. Having that dinner at a nice cafĂ© in Paris would be even better, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen in the next few days.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Tooth Fairy

When I was a child, I always had good teeth. All except one. Every other tooth behaved and did as it was told. It was one errant troublemaker who was responsible for all my dental pain. The only cavity I have ever had in my entire life was filled and life carried on.

Several years later, that filling fell out and the tooth cracked. I probably should have gone to a dentist right away, but I was busy. Dental appointments have never been at the top of my list of priorities.

Unless there’s no other choice.

I was eating some steamed rice and I bit into something harder than you should ever get with steamed rice. It turned out to be part of my tooth. The rest of the tooth was intact, but there was a segment that decided not to stick around anymore. This was a back molar, and the missing part was facing in, so I was ok cosmetically. I was never in danger of looking like a hillbilly, but I figured I should probably go to a dentist anyway.

The dentist was nice enough to give me a root canal. That’s always a fun day. What was left of the tooth was completely killed and they put on a shiny silver crown. A week later I had a permanent crown that looked surprisingly like my real teeth. This tooth is far enough in the back that very few people will ever get to see it, but the dentist still made an effort to make it look natural. I went from having an obvious filling to looking as if my teeth had always been as good as they should have been.

Several years later, I was eating some fried rice and I bit into something harder than you should ever get with steamed rice. I was just as surprised to find my crown as I had been to find a chunk of tooth all those years ago.

The big difference is that now I’m in Hong Kong. The system is a little different here. I’ve heard stories about dentists who don’t believe in novocaine. I’m not entirely sure what they have to do to replace a crown, but I know that I don’t especially want to feel it.

I’ll be going in next week to get it fixed. I should probably go sooner, but I have other things to do, and it seems like a purely cosmetic situation to me. I don’t know if not having the crown is causing any damage, but I don’t feel anything, and since it’s in the back of my mouth, no one can see anything. It would be hard to do my job if I was missing a front tooth, but no one ever sees my molars.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Coming Soon

My latest book is finished, at least as far as I’m concerned. It still has to be published, printed and posted on all the websites, but my work is done. The rest is out of my hands. It seems to take about 6 weeks before they’re available, so it should be ready in time for Christmas. It’s not a Christmas book at all, but that’s just the way it worked out.

In my opinion, this is the best thing I’ve ever written. It’s more subtle than anything I’ve ever done and I put in a lot of little bits that people should get a kick out of when they notice them. A lot of people have mentioned some of the little bits about the last one to me.

The funny thing about the publishing world is that my opinion doesn’t matter at all. I just wrote the thing. It’s sales that count. According to sales, the book that I think is my worst is actually my best. It’s too soon to say if what I think is my best will be considered my worst. We’ll have to wait and see.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween 2014

Hong Kong Halloween parties have become a bit of a tradition for us. Our first Halloween party was in the tiny apartment of one of Lily’s friends. Ryan & I didn’t know most of the people there. There were so many people in that crowded apartment that even Lily & Kevin didn’t know most of the people there.

Ryan had a lazy zombie costume. Kevin was a pirate – not quite as lazy as Ryan’s costume, but not all that original either. The originality prize went to Lily, who dressed as Lady Gaga. She wore a garbage bag that she decorated and a bad wig. It was the kind of thing the real Lady Gaga might actually wear. I was a devil – not as good as Lily’s, but not nearly as bad as Ryan’s. The most popular costume of the night was Harry Potter. This was a few months after the last movie came out, so Harry & Hermione were more popular than ever.

The highlight of the party for some of us was when Lily took off her garbage bag. It was already pretty hot with all of those people in that small apartment, and the garbage bag was steaming her to the point where she started dripping from the seams. She took it off and spent the rest of the party in that wig and her underwear. She still looked like Lady Gaga though.

Our second Hong Kong Halloween was at a larger apartment with fewer people. That and the fact that I knew more of the people there made it much better. Ryan was in Fuzhou by this point and said that no one did anything for Halloween.

Kevin wore a zombie costume, but it was better than Ryan’s zombie from the year before. The best costume, as usual, was Lily’s. She wore a wedding dress with a pillow down the front. The look on Kevin’s face when he saw her as a pregnant bride was priceless. My costume was pretty lazy. I just wore a traditional Chinese dress, which isn’t anything special around here. At least I wasn’t one of the million pirates.

Our third Hong Kong Halloween party was at the house of one of Lily’s friends. This was a different friend from the first Halloween and a bigger house. It was still too small for the amount of people that showed up.

Lily & I dressed as Minnesota Twins. The last game of the World Series was on October 30th, so it seemed like a good costume idea. The Twins weren’t in the Series, but no one at the party noticed. Kevin had the worst costume of the night. He came straight from work, so he wore his business uniform. As always, there were more than a few pirates and zombies.

This year was the best Hong Kong Halloween ever. Lily, Kevin and I moved into our new apartment in April, so this was the first year that we could actually host a Halloween party. Our apartment is bigger than the places where all the previous parties were held, and we have an enormous balcony – which is ideal for parties on warm October nights.

Ryan came to Hong Kong for a few days, so he was there. It’s always nice when he’s around for Halloween, especially when his costume isn’t lazy. This year, he went as a doctor. He had the scrubs, surgical mask and stethoscope. Since it was Halloween, he also had a large splatter of fake blood on the front of his scrubs. His costume went with mine since I was an Ebola patient with some of his fake blood.

Someone told me that my costume was in poor taste, but that made me wonder when Halloween was supposed to be about good taste. I pointed out to her that there are always pirates at every Halloween party. When she asked how that was in poor taste, I reminded her that pirates were murderers, rapists and thieves. They didn’t sing songs and win over the girls. They butchered people and destroyed lives. They were terrorists without the religious fanaticism.

Kevin dressed as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. That was a pretty funny costume, even though most of the people at the party had no idea who he was supposed to be. He wore a lot of padding in his oversized suit and had a Rob Ford mask with white powder around the nostrils. Since no one knew who he was anyway, he took off the mask early into the party.

Lily was Wonder Woman, which was not such an original costume in and of itself, but she had a protest sign around her neck that read “where’s my movie?” on one side and “4 Thors and no Wonder Woman?” on the other.