Thursday, January 26, 2006

What I Had Done

Wanna know more about what my upper jaw is going through? I didn't think so. But if you're bored, you can check this out.

All I Want For Christmas....

Check Out That Gap!
(Someone said I look like the Grinch!)

I had an interesting discussion with the manager at my client today. Apparently my consulting company-employer is charging them too much and the client can only afford me through March 8th. Hmm...ok. So will I be fired and able to travel the world for six months? No, but the client wants to hire me, which makes things interesting. I guess I should have thought about that in the past since my employment as a consultant was contingent on me being open to this idea. So now I'm on the spot and my manager wants to talk numbers. I walked back to my office to get my wallet so we could go get some coffee and talk, so I had about 2 minutes to figure out my strategy. Item to focus on: vacation time :o). I don't care much about salary increases at this point (I'm comfortable enough), I just want to make sure my next surgery is covered and I get some more vacation time. I guess they give out 3-4 weeks for someone at my "level". Negotiations are going well with having to negotiate ;o) !!

J. Riley, we'll see what they come back with

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Fashion Trend-setter or Klutz?

The blue-collar-worker look has been popular in fashion for several years as far
as I know. First it was the cargo pants, then the carpenter pants (you know the
ones with the little loop near the hip to hold your hammer), then the whole
"distressed denim" look with holes in various places from all the manual labor
that the guys with blazers or the girls with high-heels do. Lately, I've seen
guys a plenty down in Chelsea wearing jeans with splattered paint all over
them, though I'm pretty sure that the lawyers wearing them didn't get that look
by painting their 2500 square foot penthouses in the Meat Packing District. This
begs the question - what's next?

I think I may know. I made the discovery on Sunday morning as I was rushing to
get downtown to Nevada Smiths to watch the Man United vs. Liverpool football
game, Liverpool scarf around my neck and hat on my head (thanks Summer) and
all. Lacking time because of Skype conference calls with Spain (World Cup
preperations) and Peru (Don't ask) early in the morning, I ate some yogurt at
home and grabbed a Jamba Juice on my way to the subway. I heard the downtown
express train coming and scrambled through the turnstiles and ran down the
stairs as fast as I could. Actually, faster than I could because I lost balance
towards the bottom of the first staircase. My body's first reaction was to
clench my fists and brace for a face-first dive onto the not-so clean ground.

And that is when set the trend for the latest chic look - tight, lightly
distressed jeans that are fashioned like those of a garbage man, complete
with a Bright Eyed & Blueberry jamba juice smoothy running down my jacket, into
my gloves, and all over the front of my pants. When I'd clenched my fists, I
punctured that $6 fruity morning beverage and it ran all over me. And, oh, what
a cool look it was.

To top the morning off, Liverpool lost in the 90th minute of a 90 minute game
:-| , which pretty much made me depressed for the rest of the day (seriously).
Thankfully, D had invited me to a NY Rangers hockey game on Sunday night, which
they subsequently won in an action packed sixty minutes....

J. Riley, remind me not to send my friends or family down to Peru to visit.....

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Battle of the Reds

Tomorrow is one of the biggest football games of the season, as many of you know. Of course I'm talking about the Manchester United vs. Liverpool game at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester. I consider myself to be a pretty serious football fan, especially Liverpool, and this is perhaps the pinnacle of the season. I have been amped about this game all week, reading up everything I can and trying to find out where I should go to watch it, since it's pay-per-view. Luckily, being in NYC, I have the problem of choosing which venue to go to to watch it, since we have a plethora of options, including one close to my house, apartment. I stopped at the local soccer fan gear shop and oogled over possibly buying a Liverpool Champion's League jersey (the one I like ooohhhh soooo muuuuch) and shot the breeze with the African working in the store about the state of affairs in the Premier League before finally deciding I didn't really need an $80 jersey to demonstrate my love of the team when a scarf would suffice. We'll see what the insurance company says about how much the surgery is going to cost me before I fork out that kind of money for a novelty item.

As I've stated before, my social life has come to a crawling halt because of the mess with my teeth. So, what better way to fit in than to spend a Sunday morning with a bunch of people with teeth like mine - the British? I think I may have found "my people" to spend time with now while my teeth improve and their teeth continue to deteriorate ;o). I even found out where the Liverpool Supporters Club (NYC Division) meet to watch games. I hope I can sleep tonight!!

A few months back I signed up to be a volunteer leader for NY Cares, a volunteer organization. I've been waiting months for an opportunity to lead a children's recreational project and one finally appeared on the list. To make it even better, it's located in East Harlem, which is pretty much where I live! So it could be just a bus or a few subway stops away, perfecto. So look for future stories about that....

Yes, the email that you received from Plaxo about updating your address and phone numbers for me is legit! I am using this online service to keep track of phone numbers, addresses, birthdays, etc., so please fill it out and submit it!

Yesterday I found out that since I "work at" the large bank that pays my employer (well, I have a badge anyway!), I, and up to four guests, can get free admission to most of the famous museums in the city. So today Alan and I went to the New York Historical Society museum to see what they had going on. Most of the items they had were kind of boring, but on the first floor they had their special exhibit, which was about slavery in New York. It was very interesting and captivating despite the throngs of people crowding the isles and blocking my view of stories and historical descriptions of the time. The museum is focusing on slavery for the next year or so, so buy your plane tickets now if you want to come see it. At least the entrance fee is free....

J. Riley, You'll Never Walk Alone!

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Every four years, usually in February, something happens around the world that makes sense to some of us and doesn't make sense to others. It's amazing that science and technology has brought us the ability to fine-tune the timing of this event. Of course I'm talking about organizing lodging for the World Cup, which takes place in Germany this year, online. As the self-nominated "cruise director" (as a certain Italian refers to me as) I am working with my comrades on the other side of the pond to try to find a place to sleep for me and my international entourage who hail from three continents. There are a couple of options available to us, and most of them are costing about twice as much as a normal trip to Germany, which is already expensive thanks to exchange rates. New developments from my co-organizers may lead to some cheaper options, we'll have to wait and see. I forsee a weekend of organizing with my World Cup 2006 board of directors over Skype....

A few years ago, I had a bad experience with getting pictures framed. Some of you may recall the infamous Kills Bugs Fast framing incident at Michael's that made me gun-shy for buying frames at anywhere other than the cheapest retail stores possible (like Walmart; what was wrong with me??). However, I bought a nice canvas oil painting on the beaches of Brazil and I knew it deserved something better than a Target frame. I invested a significant amount of reais into the painting (probably $5), so I figured I'd check out one of those custom frames at one of many neighborhood picture frame shops (I didn't realize there were so many until I started looking). Of course I chose the closest one to my apartment. This is usually how I choose everything, including important things like doctors, opthamologists, dentists, and maxillofacial surgeons ;o) . In any case, I picked up my painting today and they did a beautiful job with a simple black frame. As soon as I get my camera back from the repair shop (it had a rough life in Brazil), you'll be able to see it. It's practically a wall mural in my tiny apartment....

My face is recovering nicely and the swelling is pretty much gone as far as I can tell. The hole in my jaw expander appears to have disappeared and I haven't been able to widen my jaw in two days even while toiling with it constantly at work. I get braces on tomorrow, so hopefully my orthodontist can set my jaw on the path to true width in short order - and hopefully it's not too late! Because recovering from surgery and having headaches all day isn't bad enough, I've also somehow managed to grow a nasty canker sore on my tongue that gets pissed whenever I move it, which makes talking a challenge. I guess having $10k worth of metal in my mouth isn't bad enough, my body decided it was important to make me more miserable. How is it that it takes me longer to recover from a canker sore than it does to recover from maxillofacial surgery? Bastard! Maybe the vicadin I have left over can be used to fight the pain this thing is causing ;o).

Paul and Cathy moved to Cyprus, check out the link to their new blog on the right. They've also sent me some great-sounding recipes for soup, which I've been putting to use. Tonight I made a pumpkin soup that had a gynormous amount of curry in it along with some coriander and onions. My tongue was pleased with that decision!

J. Riley, I haven't resumed my gym activities yet. But when I do, there will be no stopping me!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Back On Track

Today I've returned to work after a nearly one week hiatus. It was pretty nice
spending copious amounts of time at home with no responsibilities except making
sure that all the shows I wanted to watch were Tivo'd and ensuring that no
Liverpool or other soccer news was released for more than 15 minutes before I'd
read it. Luckily I didn't have to worry

I have to admit that I'm getting a little tired of buying all of this liquid
food and sustaining myself soley on this. In an effort to make it all better
(and to realize significant cost savings), last night I did some grocery
shopping after looking up a few recipes for some tasty new soups to cook at
home. Last week I made a hearty lentil-vegetable soup (thanks Brie and
Graham!), but I really should have eaten some steak instead, seeing as how I
don't have that option at the moment :). So last night I made a sweet-potato
minestrone soup that turned out pretty good, especially when it was pureed for
my dining satisfaction. Alan and Andrea came over to enjoy some of it as well
since my large pot was overflowing with broth and vegetables (including celery,
garlic, onion, sweet potato, carrots, green beans, and tomatoes). I'm looking
forward to leftovers this week for lunch!

A few people have commented that I look better with my face swollen. Or maybe
it's not so much swollen anymore, but rather a bit meatier since my upper jaw
is wider now. Vas even said that now I look like a young boy rather than the
old man that I am ;o) . I have no comment, all I notice are the yellow bags
under my eyes!

Besides the liquid diet (note: I have progressed to overcooked pasta that is
small enough to swallow without chewing), the most annoying part is turning the
key on this arch expander appliance up in the roof of my mouth. I have to tie
this thing up to my left hand so it doesn't fall down my throat if I drop it
and then squeeze more sore jaw joints open so I can fit my right hand inside my
mouth and feel around for the hole the size of a pinhead in this damn thing.
Last night it took me about 20 minutes to find the stupid hole and then this
morning, after I'd woken up early to get to work early, I spent at least that
amount of time laying on my back poking around and couldn't find it for the
life of me. I was frustrated so I decided to give up on this turn and put the
key in my backpack in case I got bored at work and felt like sticking my hand
in my mouth in front of my coworkers. Well, I had a few free minutes so I went
for it and within a minute I had the thing cranked. Oh well, Thursday will be
the last turn of the thing, which I'm very much looking forward to....

J. Riley, my right-hand jaw joint is still very sore :-/

Friday, January 13, 2006

Recovering Body Part #1, Meet Recovering Body Part #2

The surgeon warned us yesterday that the third day would be the worst day yet for swelling, but I was feeling pretty good last night, so I didn't think about it at all. I even stopped taking vicadin, switching to Ibuprofen instead. I woke up this morning and could tell immediately that everything wasn't the same as last night. The pockets of skin underneath my eyelids are intensely swollen, so much that my lower eyelids have virtually disappeared and it looks like I have two black eyes, except that they are not black and blue, just swollen. The surgeon said that the additional swelling today would go away as fast as it came, but I'll believe that when I see it.

Naturally, this is affecting - what else - my problematic eyelids. The lower-right eyelid, the one that was first infected and that has never really gotten much better, is nice and cherry-red. I've been without problems for a whole month and a half, and I'm sure that this will cause some problems. I guess that's more trips to the opthamologist to schedule....

J. Riley, sigh.


Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'm Alive!

So I made it through the surgery okay today. I was never really worried about it, even while going through the physical and talking to the anesthesiologist. When I finally got into the operating room, everything happened so fast. There were about four residents in there, everyone was doing something to me - wrapping my head, sticking me with IVs (I had two, but the second one was put in after I passed out), putting this blow-up thing around my legs, etc. The anesthesiologist said that he was starting the first stuff, which would be "like I just drank a martini" and he put an oxygen mask on me. A few minutes went by, and then I woke up in the recovery room a few hours later.

I was convulsing becuase I was shivering so hard, so the nurses who were there wrapped me up with a heating blanket while I settled down. Some point after that, Summer came in and I think I scared her away pretty quick because my mouth was all bloody following the surgery. I just remember being really thirsty and my mouth and lips felt super dry. The nurse there was really nice and I must have been feeling the effects of the drugs when I sat there contemplating a career change and becoming a nurse :). I dunno, I never really considered it, but the idea is definitely interesting. I don't know how I do with blood and stuff though, never really thought about it.

So I came home and slept for a few hours after drinking some yogurt smoothies and popping painkillers. The Vicadin isn't really making me loopy, but it seems to make me tired, which is fine with me. My face looks like a chipmonk and I don't even recognize me in the mirror!

J. Riley, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Peace Out

I look forward to getting this thing over with, but it is also kind of adventurous for me. What is life like eating food like a normal person? I find myself staring at people eating all the time now, wondering what it must feel like to take a bite of a sandwich and have it actually be cut at that point and being able to chew. My palette may be refined (or was before this arch expander was put in ;o), but my teeth definitely needed some work and tomorrow is a big step in that direction...

Justinho, dreaming of sleeping with my mouth closed and the simple things like losing my lisp and eating a slice of pizza!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Different Strokes

Saturday afternoon I began the second phase of masochistic actions to my jaws by
getting an arch expander installed by my orthondontist. I had had one of these
gizmos when I was a kid, but this one looks a little different and will be used
after the surgeon cracks my face open on Wednesday. I remember this thing not
being very comfortable to wear, but I was not expecting it to be THIS bad!

Other than the fact that it hurt like a mother when he put the thing inside up
upper jaw and secured the bands around my teeth, the thing is just plain
uncomfortable. It fits somewhat like a retainer on my pallete (however that's
spelled) with a little keyhold in the middle that I crank twice a day after
surgery, which will expand my arch. The fact that I have something new covering
my pallete means that 1.) my mouth is constantly drooling (that's hot), 2.) I
can't taste food anymore, 3.) the food that I can taste means that it's stuck
between this arch expander and my pallete and isn't coming out without a fight
(I guess it's good that I can't taste food, I'll just stay home every night and
eat plain rice and save my money), and 4.) I have a *major* speech impediment.
Those of you who thought I had a minor speech impediment before (well, I guess
that's just me and my ortho, since he's the only one that has validated what
I've thought all along) will definitely agree that I can hardly be understood
anymore. It was so bad that when I went to Paul and Cathy's going away party, a
friend of their's who I see a few times a year whispered to them and asked if I
was okay and if I'd had a stroke or something. How awesome is that :-| ....

Despite my personal oral drama, D threw a great going away party for Paul and
Cathy on Saturday night. I felt bad because she had so much food there and I
couldn't help eat the schmorgasbourg of finger foods that she had brought. I
did, however, manage to spill a nearly full cup of Bacardi Lemone and Coke all
over her filing cabinet when my hand got shocked from static electrity when I
was sitting it down to work on her iPod setup on her new computer. Yes, I have
technical support obligations around the clock!

Sunday I pretty much ran some errands and did a ton of laundry after waking up
late. I did some minor cleanup and some IT maintenance on my new PowerMac and
then headed up to the Bronx to help Melissa put together some Ikea pieces she
had bought. I've never actually assembled Ikea stuff before (I think I'm the
only person in my age group who can say that), but it was kinda fun working
with screwdrivers and hammers again. I don't do much of that stuff anymore...

J. Riley, 48-hours until blast-off....

Friday, January 06, 2006


Wow, I haven't seen this screen in a while! A couple small things, like the fact that it's been holiday season and I travelled to the West Coast for Christmas (not a good excuse), I had a friend in town for a week at New Year's time (not a good excuse), I no longer have access to at work (relatively not a good excuse), and I've just been really unmotivated at night lately (lack of yoga? Lack of gym? Not sure why). In any case, I'm back for now and need to update the masses on recent events.

First, while it's pre-occupying my mind, I went and saw my mouth surgeon today to talk about the surgery. Not only did I find out that I might possibly have to have three surgeries, but I also learned that my insurance only covers 70% of the first surgery after I pay my deductible ($500). I mean, that's certainly better than nothing, but for some crazy reason I had it in my mind that it was 100% covered. I knew I shoulda called to ask exactly how much they were covering. With the first surgery costing around $12K...well, do the math. Yea, I'm poor. I'm not as worried about this one though. I'm more worried about the surgery(ies) down the road, the major ones that require me to stay in a hospital overnight vs. this couple-of-hours-until-I-wake-up-and-start-popping-Vicadin minor surgery. Oh boy, this is gonna put a dent in my lifestyle....

Speaking of lifestyle, here are a few of the major events from the past month:
  1. Just two days after returning from Brazil, D had her birthday and decided she wanted to do dinner at....Churrascaria Plataforma, a Brazilian BBQ restaurant! Talk about crazy coincidence. I found that the meat was better there than at the place we went in Brazil (as it should be for 3x the price!), but the salad bar was much smaller and not nearly as good as down in Fortaleza. For example, the hearts-of-palm were rather mushy rather than solid like they are down in the Southern Hemisphere
  2. Cathy and I got invited up to the Bronx to eat at our friend Melissa's place. We have a bit of a dinner circle going on, and she was up for our visit. She has a real nice apartment about a half hour from my apartment via the subway that she paid about $110K to purchase. Two bedroom, full bath, lots of space, view of the city in the distance. Wow, that was enough to make me consider doing something similar - until my meeting with the surgeon today. In any case, she made us chili and rice that was awesome - lots of cilantro and flavor. She did her Mexican roots proud with that meal!
  3. At some point last month, I did dinner with Cathy, D, and Cathy's friend Tracy at a fun Italian small-plate restaurant called 'noteca. They had a huge wine collection and amazing, out of the world cheeses to choose from. We also indulged in some Italian tapas that were fantastic. Good stuff, but you better get there early if you want a spot at the corner of Hip and Style St. down in the LES!
  4. Since Sean signed up for it as well, I decided to try out again for a month with similar results as the first time I signed up - no winks, no emails, no responses whatsoever with it. I am such a social ditz that it took me three major re-writes before my female friends gave me the thumbs up on my profile. Even some of my foreign friends who signed up as a joke got more winks than I did! And Sean has gotten emails from girls in Russia and Liberia who are looking for greencard-material men in the US :)
  5. Cathy, thanks to spending 4+ hours on the phone, got us reservations for one of the hottest places in the city - Nobu. Breathtaking sushi meal that was simply indescribable. I'm gonna take my parents there when they come - if I have any money left :o)
  6. Christmas! Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year because, no matter who shows up, it's a very peaceful time at our house. Everyone just gets along so well it seems, and this year was no exception even with ~547 people staying at our house. I spent four quality days in town with my family and cherished it all. We had a huge Christmas Eve crab feed (my dad got up to Palo Alto at 6:15am on Saturday to buy crab at Fish Market's half price only to find out they sold out already since they only got 1/10th of their order from their supplier), tons of food on Sunday (lamb, a steel-cut oatmeal breakfast, and tons of other stuff), tons more food on Monday (Christmas day #2 at Grandma Georgia's with my dad's half of the family), and then a Mongolian BBQ for my sister's birthday on Tuesday before I flew home.
  7. I got an older PowerMac from my brother that is tons of fun to play with. I've already dropped too much cash into making it compatible and will drop some more to get it up to snuff. Anyone wanna buy my Dell PC??
  8. My college roommate Ryan came out for a week the day I got home from California for New Year's Eve and to check out the city. He ran me ragged over town as we spent some time in pretty much every neighborhood. I finally tried out a hole-in-the-wall French place called Zucco: Le French Diner, which prides itself on serving French food that you would find at a French trucker's stop in a teeny, tiny restaurant that fits about 15 people . Zucco, the owner, was quite a character. He smoked about a whole pack of cigarettes outside while we ate and looked all grisly with his black beard and baseball hat and the cut-off leather gloves on his hands. But he had some great food! For New Year's, we went downtown and did a pub crawl around to some places that weren't charging entrance. Poor Paul was sick so he couldn't join us. But we found some new places that were fun and I did some dancing, swinging and twirling the girls :o).
So, that brings me roughly up to today. I just made some lentil soup - enough to feed me for a month - and brought Paul and Cathy over for a meal. They are leaving to live in Cyprus for an internal project at Cathy's company - all expenses paid of course - on Thursday, so there's going to be a big party for them tomorrow night at D's house. Should be fun!

Justinho, yes I did get Vicadin prescriptions for next Wednesday's adventure :o)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Wait For It...

I realize that I have a backblog of blogs. I have visitors in town at the
moment, so it might be a few days before I get to it. Surgery is one week from
tomorrow, so I should have some time to write while I'm recovering from that.
Vicadin- or Codine-inspired blogs, now that sounds interesting...