Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Guest Blog Post: The Botox Diary

Editor's Note: When this material popped up in an iMessage as a submission for a #firstworldproblem post, I immediately encouraged WFG to write a guest blog post since her whole story deserved more than a bullet point. Enjoy! 

The Botox Diary

I have been dabbling in the idea of doing something about my deep glabella muscle line (I feel cool saying that, but it’s just the medical name for the muscles between your eyes) for over a decade. And in that decade, that wrinkle has gone from a crease to a deep crevasse over which I obsessed every time I checked the mirror.

Typically, I’m the kind of girl who researches something seven ways to Sunday before I make a decision. A few years back, when the wrinkle was tiny, I typed in “Botox,” and learned things that scared me. Something about botulism (whaaat?!?), something else about being unable to change your facial expressions, and then more about it being very expensive… My inner tomboy- the “this is how God made me, like it or not” girl- was disappointed in my own vanity and I tabled the idea for years.

But I can always tell when impulsive decision-making overtakes my logic, because all research stops. Now that I’ve reached the ripe old age of “girl, you are definitely middle aged,” I was yearning to try something that would make me feel young again. And so a few months ago, while agonizing over my eyebrow area, I came to the conclusion that I was giving Botox a shot (hee hee), research be damned. I called a reputable doctor’s office and made my appointment.

Once there, an aide asked to take pictures of my face. First, regular photos and then “scrunchy face” pictures. I wondered if the “scrunchy faced” ones helped the Physician’s Assistant do her work, or if I was being sent to someone’s Snapchat. Either way, the Physician’s Assistant was helpful and explained, using big words like “muscle paralysis,” that my injection would last about 4 months. She thoughtfully headed into upsell mode by encouraging me to also have Botox injected in my upper forehead lines (because there was a good chance those would bother me once my big wrinkle smoothed out!) Luckily, I decided that I was okay with my barely noticeable forehead lines and focused only on the big-crease-of-despair.

I’m not shy. I told many friends (okay, I even told acquaintances) and encouraged them to look for my results. Who isn’t curious about the “before” and “after” of a glabellar muscle Botox injection? I felt like every friend’s guinea pig. Most people told me “I’ve always wanted to try that but I (fill in really good reason here)” so I was taking one for the team! One of my family members had more surgery than Joan Rivers and refused to admit it, and I wasn’t going to be that person.

So, after taking the plunge. Here are my conclusions about my Botox experience:
  1. Holy mother, those shots hurt! 
  2. Botox makes a crunchy sound when it goes into your skin. It’s creepy. 
  3. I was amazed at how long my shot sites hurt after the injections. The pain lasted for over two weeks.
  4. You know that feeling when you have a sticker stuck to your face or face paint that has dried on your skin? That’s what Botox feels like. Like something is installed in (or on) your skin. 
  5. I didn’t realize until my after-injection-research that Botox makes your skin shiny. Not just shiny but irregularly shiny. There are differing opinions on why this is, but it’s unpleasant. Face powder helps.
  6. I’m not frozen in expression, but I can assure you that the one-eyebrow-arch-look I use to rebuke my child has lost its oomph. 
  7. It really reduced the wrinkle a lot! I was impressed by that. 
  8. I learned that most people that I asked didn’t even notice my big glabellar wrinkle in the first place to even realize it had changed. 
  9. It was expensive. At $240, it was okay to try once, but cost prohibitive to do on an ongoing basis.
  10. I’m glad I tried it as I would have always wondered. But the next time I want to feel youthful, I’m going to stick to something a little less expensive and less long term such as painting my fingernails a crazy shade of blue!*

*HGB gave this advice to me almost twenty years ago. Gosh, she was wise beyond her teenage years. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Awesome Or Flawsome: Mad Mex's Gobblerito

Editor's Note: AJF of everybody loves you... is one of the human perks that came along with blogging. When he asked me if he could do a guest blog post on Mad Mex's seasonal Gobblerito, I was all, "Dude. I thought you'd never ask." I happen to love the Gobblerito, and had my annual one back in October and it was glorious. 

November is National Blog Posting Month (#NaBloPoMo), and bloggers everywhere challenge themselves with writing a post a day for the entire month. Unfortunately I’m waaaay too busy to even attempt to write at that production clip, and have only been able to churn out three posts of the superfluous balderdash that makes up my blog content so far this month. I’m also mad late in getting this guest post to the wonderful Heidi, so please excuse it’s nearly unseasonal focus. Now without further ado, let’s get to a hastily-written "Awesome or Flawsome?" review of Mad Mex’s Gobblerito just (barely) in time for Thanksgiving!

For the uninitiated, the Gobblerito is basically a tortilla stuffed with all the components of Thanksgiving dinner… minus your drunk uncle’s ramblings about Obama’s immigration policies. Corn, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and of course, turkey, make up the burrito innards. It comes smothered in gravy with a side of cranberry sauce. If you don’t think that it sounds like anything remotely related to Mexican food, well, you’d be right. But it’s not supposed to be Mexican. The Gobblerito is a purely American construct just like jean jackets and fantasy football. 

Thus, the Gobberito is officially awesome.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Afternoon Commute

If you are a Grey's Anatomy fan, you may have noticed that this season's soundtrack is comprised of cover songs. For me, that's fantastic because I might be the biggest fan of cover songs in the history of the world. I believe that the true test of a song's worth is if it can be covered by another artist and/or in an other genre, and still be as riveting, if not more riveting than in its original form. Not many songs can achieve this merit in my book; Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" are two that do. Just listen to Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" or Indigo Girls' "All Along the Watchtower" if you don't believe me.

With that in mind, here are a few of my most favorite cover songs that have appeared recently on Grey's Anatomy for your afternoon commute today. Have a lovely weekend and enjoy!

Song: "As Long As You Love Me" (Backstreet Boys)
Artist: Sleeping at Last

Song: "Waterfalls" (TLC)
Artist: Jenny O

Song: "Believe" (Cher)
Artist: Correatown

Song: "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" (The Pretenders)
Artist: Sleeping at Last

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Big Break

We've all joked about getting our big break: that moment when we are plucked from our obscurity and thrust into super stardom. We play with the idea of being someone's discovery. So of course when I told some people that I was going to be in a commercial for UPMC, the jokes about this being my big break were inevitable. What many people don't know is that I'd been in one commercial before; click here if you want to play "I Spy" and find me (and SAA and EAM).

After I did that commercial a few years ago, I joined the Nancy Mosser Casting mailing list for extras and roles in film productions (commercials, TV, and movies). My reasoning for this? Honestly? Being in a commercial was fun and interesting; it was a change of pace and a chance at being a part of something different than my every day life.

This of course isn't meant to disrespect folks who work in the business professionally. But clearly I know my limitations. I mean... what average Southwestern Pennsylvania female ever because a star in her thirties? Especially a 5'4" teacher who cannot sing, has hip problems walking issues, whose best dance moves involve tap shoes, and whose claim to fame is writing this blog? Exactly.

Nevertheless, sometimes I respond to the casting emails if my schedule coincides with the dates; I send my picture, my information, and I wait to hear if I am selected. And last week I finally got a call for a commercial! You can imagine my excitement.

On Sunday I spent the day at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC; I played the role of a nurse, and my tasks were to do the most basic of nurse "things"* in the background of the scenes. I won't spoil the premise of the commercial, but I have to admit, it's good. And yes, that is an unbiased assessment because I cannot even go to UPMC anymore with my Highmark insurance.

I arrived at 6:30 a.m.; I got checked in, did paperwork, and then went to wardrobe to get fitted. I was chosen to wear a brand new set of bright purple scrubs, which were really comfortable and actually stylish.** Also, more than one person told me that I looked nice in that shade of purple, which caught me off guard because I don't own any bright purple clothing whatsoever. Anyway, I was just thrilled to wear something that wasn't "real clothes" on a Sunday, and I was thrilled to "play dress-up," as those opportunities are few and far between as I get older.

The morning was mostly waiting and nibbling on breakfast treats from the craft services table.  Oh, and trying not to get anything on my scrubs. But YES. I finally got to eat from a craft services table. Anyone who wants me to wait my turn while reading a good book and eating bacon can hire me today! For literally any [legal] line of work.

My first task was to push an older gentleman in a wheelchair continuously around the lobby of Magee while they filmed a time-lapse scene. This was for thirty minutes, during which the man and I got to know each other. If would have been awkward otherwise, right? It turns out that he's been an extra in everything from Batman to The Sopranos, so his stories were entertaining and the thirty minutes passed quickly. Also, you can imagine how relieved I was that they let me wear my Fitbit.

Then we had a lunch break, which was ideal because despite how much bacon I ate in the morning, I was really hungry and thirsty. At the point, I realized that I was part of a wonderfully enjoyable first world problem.

After lunch, we did another thirty minute time-lapse that recreated the earlier scene but with more interaction between extras. I cannot wait to see how it turns out, even though I suspect that I'll look like a bright purple blur if the scene makes the final cut.

My next scene involved a really intense "conversation" with a doctor in one of the hospital's corridors. What we were really talking about was his career as a writer at the Post-Gazette and how journalism has changed over the years, especially since he retired. Since I teach a journalism course at WHHS, it was interesting to get his insight on a few aspects.

To conclude the day, my final scene involved being in the background within a locker room and prepping for my nursing workday at my locker. I managed to put on my name badge and sneakers about twenty times, and had a blast in the process. Who knew that monotony could be such fun?

After thirteen hours, I was released. Admittedly I was exhausted, but it was a good kind of tired.

Overall, it was one of the best days that I've had in quite awhile. Not only was it the aforementioned change of pace for me, but also I was separated from the rest of the world for almost an entire day and thrust into two worlds of which I am relatively unfamiliar: healthcare and television. Talking to all of the leads, extras, staff, and crew was great because everyone had a unique backstory. For instance, some of the extras are aspiring actors, some are retirees, and some have full time jobs and work as extras whenever they can. Likewise, some of the crew work for production companies and some work freelance.

If given the opportunity, I will definitely do this again. And while this particular commercial wasn't my big break by a long shot, it still was a big break for me on a personal level.

*It must be noted that while I would love to work in scrubs, that has to be the easiest part of the job. There's no way that I could handle the night shift, nor could I ever deal with someone's "fluids." Oh, and death. I couldn't deal with that either. And, as some of my most favorite people are nurses, I do not have anything but the utmost respect for and awe at what they do every day.
**Since I was Dr. Meredith Grey for Halloween just a few weeks ago, I am all too eager to sport the "medical professional chic" look.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The First World Problems of HGB & MAB cont.

There have been thirty-eight posts of this nature; not surprisingly I continue to accumulate many contributions from family and friends in addition to the ones that MAB and me experience on our own. It all begs the question: Is life in the first world getting to be too hard for us? Well, yes. Yes it is. In particular, today's collection of problems is rather extensive with the best saved for last.

As always, you should know that anything posted on facebook and Twitter is totally fair game. It's just too easy for me to pluck your first world problems from there and drop them here on The Steel Trap. I have screen shots for days. Note: Just because these are written in first person point of view, doesn't mean that they are MAB's or mine. Or does it? You decide.

  • Why can't my Fitbit have a spot in the rankings for the steps that I would have accumulated if I wasn't busy/sick/preoccupied? 
  • I just had to call and order pizza and I have the sinking feeling that I didn't do it right. 
  • I had to friend request my own father on facebook. I am so lame. 
  • I just realized that I don't own Hocus Pocus. What is my life? 
  • I never know what to wear to these barn weddings anymore. 
  • The faculty lounge at work doesn't have a sink; nor does it a microwave that is tall enough to fit my Tervis.  
  • I cannot drive a car without a backup camera. 
  • Getting Star Wars tickets was more difficult and more stressful than registering for a runDisney race. 
  • Dear Facebook: If I knew the people that you thought I did, I would not need your presumptuous suggestions. 
  • My ex's wife keeps looking at my LinkedIn profile. 
  • I am starting to have wedding nightmares. Will someone be allergic to lettuce? How much is too much booze? What if the baby French carrots are served cold? 
  • The construction situation in Pittsburgh is turning me into a violent person. 
  • The GRE is the worst. All it measures is if you can sit still and stare at a screen for 3.5 hours like cubicle dwellers. And no, I don't remember how to do poorly worded seventh grade pre-algebra. And I have to pay $195 for this crap? 
  • Really? I asked for an everything bagel with vegetable cream cheese and you gave me plain cream cheese. 
  • So two Mormons came to my door on Halloween and I thought that they were trick or treating. 
  • I hate this Florida weather right now. You look silly in shorts but sweat in jeans. 
  • I made my salad last night for my lunch today. But then I forgot to add dressing this morning so I have to eat a dry salad. 
  • Now that Twitter has changed a "favorite star" to a "like heart," every time I like a tweet my wife thinks that I am having an affair.  
  • My boyfriend got an iPhone AND a Bitmoji. You can imagine. 
  • Someone opened a family sized bag of Doritos and left them in the office kitchen. I am going to lose my mind. 
  • Facebook is nothing but memes anymore. 
  • God forbid that you go to the symphony on a Steelers Sunday. #traffic 
  • My Listerine Strips got wet in the package and became one big strip. Now I have bad breath because it would never dissolve on my tongue. It's practically plastic at this point! 
  • I need two Christmas trees. Two. 
  • The Monroeville Mall Macy's only got in four pieces of the new Fiestaware color Sage. How am I supposed to supplement my collection properly with three miniatures pitchers and a bowl? 
  • I ended up on a list of the best snapchat accounts to follow in Pittsburgh except that when my friend emailed me to let me know, I thought it was spam so I had to screenshot the message and text it to her for verification before I clicked on the link, Oh, and I rarely use snapchat so this recognition is a total enigma.