A few reminders to myself… whenever I feel stuck

The New York Times came out with an article in recent months about the feeling of languishing. I refused to believe it because I didn’t want to simply put a label on something I fear I’ve been feeling too. I feel like I’m floating through the days and weeks. I’m sad that it’s already June 2021. I feel like time is just speeding along and I’m wasting something. I don’t know what it is.

So, I’ll try to list down some things I’ve already done (or currently working on). I hope this list helps remind me that I’m not languishing even if I feel like it. Let’s go:

  • I’m studying basic Japanese. I’m enrolled in a ten-week basic Japanese class and I’m on the third week. We have weekly assignments. We also get to practice writing, reading, and speaking with our sensei. RESULT: Learning a third language.
  • I’m exercising regularly through an online class back in the Philippines. On weeknights, I’m still consistent with my HIIT, body weights, and mobility exercises. I get to mingle and interact with people who are also working out while at home. RESULT: Staying fit.
  • I’m tax-compliant in the United States. This was a struggle to accomplish mainly because I was confused by the processes since I’ve never worked a day in my life in the United States. But it’s a massive personal achievement to get this done and dusted. RESULT: Peace of mind. And my stimulus cheques!
  • I’m investing in my dental care. I had a root canal in May and I got my crown last week. I also completed the first phase of my first dental implants – to help fill in two missing teeth at the back of my mouth. It’s shit expensive. But I have a good dentist and this is important. RESULT: Working towards a more confident smile.
  • I’m upgrading my WFH workstation. It became an accidental “thing” after I found myself shopping in Lazada in recent weeks. I’ve upgraded to a slightly larger table which I got from IKEA. I added a sit-stand tabletop which you can adjust manually. I’ve added a 2nd monitor so I now have a dual screen set-up. I’ve also purchased a hanging light for the monitor. I also have a mechanical keyboard with pretty lights. The total spent on these purchases is a one night stay at Marina Bay Sands. But it’s something I can use every working day. RESULT: Less of a backache. Aiming to improve productivity with two screens.

These are all accomplishments from recent weeks (May/June 2021).

Even with these, I’m frustrated that I haven’t been cooking for PJ in recent months. He’s doing all the cooking and I feel bad because… well… my focus is on other things. He doesn’t complain at all (he’s lovely like that). But sometimes I wish I had the patience and skills to cook. The only thing I can cook this year seems to be tuna pasta. Is this because I don’t want to cook dishes that require rice? I’d rather put together a salad, a sandwich, tacos, nachos, or a light snack. But cooking adobo isn’t something that I have the patience for right now, even if adobo is pretty simple!

Walking and jogging around the neighbourhood earlier – I needed some fresh air

I’m also experiencing cabin fever with Phase 2 Heightened Alert in the past few weeks. Or is it, Phase 3 already. With the rise of community cases since May, I feel safest at home. But staying at home all day has a mental effect. I know it’s much worse in the Philippines – but I’m not going to discredit my own experience. I’m tired of being at home all day. I wish there were 36 hours in one day. I’d like to spend it running by the beach, biking to a reservoir, or visiting a distant hawker centre.

Why is time moving so fast?

Pandesal in Singapore: Panrizal Tinapay Therapy

A friend posted an Instagram story recently and it featured a box of pandesal. My friend is also in Singapore and it caught my attention. “Where did you order that?!”

Well, hello there! Ensaymada and two boxes of pandesal and cheese bread.

A few days later I’m happily welcoming a box of pandesal and cheese bread at my doorstep. I also ordered a set of ensaymadas. It’s from Panrizal “Tinapay Therapy” which is a home-based bakery run from a house in Punggol. They bake Filipino classics like pandesal, cheese bread, ensaymada, and Spanish bread. The delivery fee from Punggol to Pasir Ris was $5 (yikes) but it was worth it. My housemates and I described it in one word: “legit”

Freshly baked pandesal from Panrizal
Cheese bread from Panrizal. Fluffy bread with a cheesy, crispy crust.
Ensaymadas – easy to pull apart for individual serving.

I was quite pleased with the purchase. It did set me back $29 if you count the delivery fee. But it’s not everyday I get to enjoy “legit” Filipino-style bread. The pandesal was soft and fluffy. I asked my housemates (who are great at cooking) if they’ve tried making pandesal at home. Housemate D says it’s difficult and it ends up like monay bread (which is dense!). The cheese bread was also “legit” – soft and fluffy inside with a crunchy outer layer. I don’t know what makes it different from the cheese bread you can buy at a local Singaporean bakery lol – is it the extra appeal of being baked by our kababayan? The ensaymada was also good. Great for breakfast. I also miss the sugary-coated ensaymadas from Cavite.

You can visit Panrizal’s Facebook page here. Orders have to be placed via Facebook.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I took a refresher course on digital journalism. It’s available from Reuters as part of something called the Facebook Journalism Project.

Normally these free courses come with some type of product sell. But in all fairness, this course has good content. The product mention from Facebook was refreshingly minimal. I remember last year, I took a free marketing course from Google Digital Garage and it had plenty of Google built into it.

What I liked about this course:

  • They have a section on verification in reporting. It covers how you can dig into photos and videos for metadata and how you can use different tools to verify your sources.
  • One part of the course talks about ensuring the safety of your sources.
  • Tips are shared about video recording tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts.
  • How journalists can safeguard their mental wellness.

Here’s my e-certificate! *wink

The course also stresses the power of this one question: “Is there anything else you would like to add?” — that question, at the end of your interview, gives the interviewee an opportunity to add thoughts and insights that you may have missed in your earlier questions.

If you’re interested to take the course, it’s available here. I think it takes less than two hours to complete. It obviously isn’t in-depth (Uhm, hello! I studied journalism for four years!). But it does cover useful tips and it is quite succinct at presenting them. I’m unsure until when the course will be available.

Making Personal Progress in 2021: Getting dental implants

I’m starting a new series on my blog about the things I’m doing to “keep moving” during this pandemic. I don’t believe in being stuck. That’s an error in mindset. I believe in leveraging the moment. Progress can still be made if you set out to it.

In this first post, I’ll share my experience earlier getting my first-ever dental implants.

Deciding to get dental implants only made sense while looking at an x-ray of my teeth. I went in for an urgent root canal recently and an x-ray was taken. I know I have two missing teeth towards the back of my mouth. These aren’t obvious even if I smile. But they’re there. Like a perpetual “note to self” that I badly want deleted. A reminder… hey George, you really can’t afford to fill in those missing teeth, issit? Come on, you can do better.

Being indecisive at first

In my nine years living in this pricey city, paying for dental care was sadly less of a priority. It’s HARD not to compare dental prices here with that in the Philippines. Most treatments can be a fraction of the price. Plus, there’s Filipino hospitality I’m biased to. A type of care you expect when you’re back home.

But after revisiting my dentist at Raffles Place… I made the decision. More years of neglect might lead to complications which cost more. If I have a clear shot at it now with a dentist I trust, it should be win-win.

Deciding to get dental implants was not easy. I’m conservative with expenses during this pandemic. But I didn’t want to wait any longer. I wanted to treat this as an investment in myself.

When I was sent the quotation, I couldn’t help but compare it to how many blue iMacs or PlayStation 5s I could buy with that price. But that wasn’t being fair to myself. iMacs are iMacs, these are my damn teeth. Investing in your teeth is never a waste. It can be costly, but that could be due to years of said neglect. And yes, of course it’s costly. You’re paying professionals to fix your smile and your bite. If your teeth look like shit, ewan ko na lang.

Days ahead of my appointment I was starting to feel anxious. Would the procedure hurt – because this involves drilling and installing something foreign into my body? Is this the right thing to do, should I be considering other options?

After an urgent root canal recently… I decided to proceed with two dental implants.

I arrived at the dentist 15 minutes ahead of schedule so I could collect my thoughts in the lobby. After doing SafeEntry and filling out a consent form, I was led to the surgery room (instead of the normal room). The usual: gargle mouthwash for one minute, wear the blue bib, wait for the dentist to enter.

The procedure

My dentist entered the room and answered all of my questions before proceeding to inject local anaesthesia on two sides of my mouth. I requested for Vaseline on my lips since they tend to get dry when I’m nervous. My dentist was assisted by two other staff. One worked on water suction and the other was a friendly assist I could hear in the background.

Dental implants, from my understanding, are done in two parts. Installing the implant (screw) into the gums and letting that heal first. Then the second part, after a few months, is installing the actual teeth. Here’s a quick video of it:

Here are my observations:

  • It was painless. Once the anaesthesia took effect, the sensation was more on feeling some pressure in the gums. AND, controlling the flow of water in your mouth which was being sprayed and suctioned. That was it. My dentist was asking me how I was doing while he operated. Like in my root canal experience, if there’s pain… you just mention it and he’ll stop immediately and adjust. There was no pain during this procedure. The only discomfort was the anaesthesia being injected by a needle.
  • It was quick. The entire procedure for each tooth implant probably took only 10-15 minutes (maybe less!). I remember a sense of child-like wonder and relief as the dentist moved from right side to left side. I was thinking “wait, the right side is done already?”.

When I open my mouth wide, I can see metal jutting out on both sides, but quite hidden since these two teeth are towards the back of my mouth. I understand that these two implants are to integrate into the surrounding tissue. Everything must heal before the aesthetic / actual tooth is installed. I’m due back after a week for a 15-minute review.

I wasn’t expecting I’ll be wearing some of the garb.

After the procedure, I was prescribed antibiotics, a stronger type of painkillers, two square of gauze, and this pink mouthwash similar from my recent root canal episode. The staff at this dentist have always been friendly. It almost feels like the reception at a hotel. The experience is calm. I guess I’m getting what I’m paying for… because all of these expenses are from my own pockets. Not from a company or MediSave which many Singaporeans may enjoy. Every dollar spent on these teeth comes from my savings.

Soreness afterwards?

My gums (the affected areas) started to feel tender and sore as the anaesthesia wore off. After eating Sushiro sushi (take away), I took the antibiotic as prescribed and I decided to take the painkiller anyway… since it’s the first night after the surgery. There’s a slight bit of soreness but that’s all. The painkillers must be doing the rest.

On a mental relaxation note, I watched about six episodes of Descendants of the Sun on Netflix. I think it’s good to distract yourself with entertainment as part of post-surgery!

Will forever associate K-dramas with my dental implant journey

As for food intake after getting dental implants, I managed to enjoy my housemate’s pasta with shrimp as well as some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the “Netflix and Chill” flavour which is “pretzel, peanut butter, and salted caramel” combined I think. It’s freaking divine. I am able to eat soft foods well. I’ll be eating soft food for the next 2-3 days just to help hasten the healing.

Oh, and it isn’t as dramatic as I thought it’d be: bedridden, ice packs, small towels in case of blood, a spit bucket… LOL none of these things so far

Making personal progress in 2021

I’m proud I’ve recently taken steps for a fuller and more radiant smile. (Uhm, Colgate commercial?) I mean, they’re dental implants. Costly dental implants… something I’m not used to paying for from the get go. But I think they’re a necessary investment to avoid future complications with missing teeth. Even if they’re only two slots that people don’t even see. There’s something remarkable about being able to fill in the blanks.

I’ll write about this again once I have updates in a few months.