My 2021 Dental Saga

If you’ve been following me on Twitter and seeing my posts, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been going to the dentist a lot lately.

Two things I swore I’d do after getting fully vaccinated was go to the dentist and get a haircut (since I could do neither of those things the past two years thanks to the pandemic). I figured I might as well try to get as much work done as I could while restrictions on going out are a little looser.

I didn’t really think about getting veneers done at first. It was suggested to me on a dental visit several years ago as an option for my two frontmost teeth on my upper arch, both of which had restorations that needed regular maintenance since they were prone to bad staining.

I opted out of the procedure back then because I was a heavy smoker, and I drank a lot of coffee. The veneers the dentist was suggesting were expensive, and I would have had to quit both smoking and coffee if I wanted them to remain stain-free. I wasn’t ready to give up both habits (and seriously, I don’t think I can ever quit coffee), so I set the idea aside.

Fast forward to recently—with more disposable income, a kicked smoking habit, and full vaccination—I figured I’d ask the dentist about veneer work. They suggested almost a full overhaul of my teeth: restorative work plus veneers for my upper and lower arches, along with extractions of my lower wisdom teeth that I apparently never got done (really not looking forward to that).

Out of all the procedures, I looked forward to the veneers because I’ve always been extremely self-conscious about the appearance of my teeth—thanks in part to early childhood dental work that traumatized me. So now, older and presumably wiser, I figured that if I can fix my teeth and dental habits now, it’d save me much frustration in the future. And pain. So much pain.

Getting veneer work isn’t as rosy as influencers would like you to believe, though.

I had to get almost full restorative work done before my teeth could be prepped for the veneer work, which meant two almost 4-hour sessions for upper and lower arch restorations.

Then the worst part was the prep work for the actual veneers, which included yet another 4 or so hours of teeth shaving (I looked like a shark at one point) and fitting temporary acrylic veneers. Those were meant to be a preview of the final veneers and protection for your teeth for at least a week before the final installation.

The week on temporary veneers was the most exhausting because I could only eat soft food for the entire duration, and because the acrylic was so thick. They had to be, to protect my teeth. I had difficulty talking and thinking about anything other than my teeth. My confidence plummeted to zero for the week that I was wearing the acrylic veneers.

The installation of the actual veneers was also painful. Even with anesthesia I still felt sensitivity once they removed the temp veneers (which felt like getting repeatedly hammered in the head) and while each piece of porcelain was fitted and cemented to what was left of my actual teeth.

By the end of it all… well, I was so chockful of anesthesia that when the dentist asked me to smile for their records, I could barely move my mouth. It was only when the anesthesia wore off completely that I could appreciate my new smile.

While I don’t regret getting veneers, I should probably provide a couple of warnings. First, if you happen to be young and have healthy teeth, this is probably not something you should think about getting until you’re much older. Veneers don’t last forever: the ones I got should last me a good 15 years with proper maintenance, so I will be well into my fifties before I need to get them replaced. Second, veneers cost a lot. Even the cheapest option is still Php 10k a tooth, which will only last you a good 5 years or so.

Obviously, I’m not a dentist, so you should still consult with one for whatever dental work you may need.

It’s been a few days since my veneers got installed, so I’m a little more used to them now. While my dental saga is not over yet (I still need to get the extractions, and I’m pretty sure I broke a back tooth that I need to get fixed soon), I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

After that, it’ll be another 6 months before I should revisit the dentist.

My dental habits have been completely overhauled by this experience. Nothing like spending countless hours at the dentist in the span of a month to shock me into submission.

On Mentoring

So much for updating on a weekly basis.

Well, to be fair, I did spend most of the last two weeks on mentoring, getting back into my yoga program, and slowly reintegrating with the real world now that I am fully vaccinated against COVID-19. I was able to go hang out with some friends, and I was able to go to the dentist for the first time in years. Hoo boy—I was never so happy going to the dentist as I was last week!

It’s been a full two weeks since my last post, though, and I did say that I was going to try to update this blog more regularly so here I am.

In the span of the last two weeks, I was able to make a total of ONE finished comic strip. I’m beginning to think that this path is not what I should be on right now. What I SEEM to be more inclined to do these days is explore ways to make my streaming setup better for our CPAG mentoring sessions and prepare for the next demo.

It’s becoming clearer to me that I’m more interested in teaching other people about drawing and making art than making comics myself—which for the most part is supposed to be for self-expression—but I’ve been doing a lot more of that just by writing here and being on social media more often. I guess when it comes to writing my thoughts down into comic form, well, it seems rather redundant now.

So, given that making comics doesn’t seem to interest me as much, perhaps the best thing for me to do right now is to really lean into this whole ‘mentoring’ business.

It feels a little bit weird, calling myself a mentor. I recall a conversation with a friend sometime back that I had trouble with the word ‘mentor’ because I feel like it’s a title that people attach to you, and not you onto yourself. For me, a mentor is not just someone who helps you become more skillful but really cares about your life and your goals. So, a mentor is not just a teacher, but also a friend.

But how do I become that for almost two hundred people (and more, when CPAG decides to open more scholarship slots)?

I’m still in the process of figuring that out. While I’m likely not going to remember every single one of our scholars, I can try my best to give them the best support they can get. I also acknowledge that I’m just one person and that I am not solely responsible for their growth. They must still do the work, and I’m here to help where and when I can.

I suppose my journey is taking me onto the path of becoming an art educator. While I may not have formal training in education, everything on this path seems to align better with my values and interests. It’s going to be a lot of learning for me as well, and that’s something I love to do.

Maybe a Weekly Update?

I suppose I should try to write a blog post for today just to try and develop the habit of posting something—anything—on this site on a weekly basis.

I wish I could say I’ve made significant progress on my comics, but honestly I haven’t gotten past trying to redraw my avatar in a way that better represents me. I suppose it’s still progress. I am still in “creative recovery mode,” after all, and I have to keep reminding myself to cut me some damn slack.

The past week has kind of sent me into a rollercoaster of moods, thanks to my period—which I hate to admit kind of makes me vulnerable to feelings of rage.

I dislike the thought of my emotions being controlled by perfectly normal bodily functions, but I can’t help it when my insides feel like they’re staging a revolution and my head feels like it’s constantly about to explode. It is quite unpleasant, and on the worst days, all it makes me want to do is lie in bed and cry about nothing.

There were several other factors affecting my mood, of course, but for the most part I think I would’ve handled them with more finesse had I not been bleeding—quite literally—on the inside.

On the upside, I’m making some progress on the mentorship thing. I have a lot of thoughts about it that I still need to sort and organize. I guess I’m learning that just collecting, organizing, and replying to every single piece of work from 80+ people is… a damn challenge to manage and balance with my personal projects. I’m still figuring out a better system for this, and better ways I can help a big guild of artists of varying styles and proficiencies. Since I don’t really have any formal training in education, I’m learning this as I go. That’s kind of how I survived the past couple of decades so I suppose that’s not such a bad thing. (CPAG scholars, if you’re reading this, please be patient with me.)

Anyway, I’m still trying to navigate what it means to be independent. I have a few plans but I’m trying to be flexible, so I don’t want to make them public for now but the big goals remain the same: restart this comic, try to help other artists, and maybe make more friends along the way.

I’m going on an adventure!

Bilbo Baggins running out of the shire

Well, six months since I posted about how I got into NFTs, I finally got the resources and the courage to finally leave my job in game development and become an independent artist.

I can’t say that this new adventure doesn’t fill me with both excitement and dread. I have been trying to make a living off of art for as long as I can remember, even before I graduated from college.

Before I started selling art as NFTs, I was resigned to my fate that I would always be working on other people’s projects first, personal projects second. Game development being the way it is, I never really had enough mindspace and energy to work on more complex personal projects, like keeping this blog/website updated regularly.

So… now that I have what seems like all the time in the world: now what?

Well-meaning friends have been asking me what my plans are, and the best answer I can give is that I’m still figuring that out. One of the things that I’ve learned from the past couple of years is that over-planning in a rapidly changing world (moreso due to the pandemic, but also in terms of the crypto space) will only lead to frustration. So the goal is to be a bit more flexible and just go with the flow for a bit.

That being said, one of the more immediate things I’ve been focusing on is helping out and mentoring with the CryptoPop Art Guild (CPAG): an art x Axie Infinity scholarship sponsoring underprivileged Filipino artists. I believe that this is the best way that I can give back a bit–in ways that I can– to a community that has made the dream of creative freedom come true for me.

I don’t really know where all this is going to go, or what life would be like a month/six months/six years from now, but I know that it’s going to be an adventure. In the meantime, I have a whole bunch of social media accounts and webpages I probably need to update.