Recently I've been going on a real improving-my-looks binge. It started innocently enough: getting braces for teeth that could benefit from being straighter. Although I'm not going full-on plastic surgery makeover, I'm still going through a bit of hell with some recent treatments: further orthodonic surgery and a chemical peel done to my face. The surgery was needed. I have a third set of teeth that's trying to come in between my already existing ones. Along with those buggers, my wisdom teeth had to be removed, one impacted canine trying to grow out of the middle of my lower front jaw, and three premolars. The evil third teeth were tough enough to dig out. The impacted canine was pure torture; it's been a week and the gums around the extraction site still look ugly and bruised. The wisdom teeth were challenging, of course, but they've healed up well and the last one to go out has already fully erupted, so it shouldn't pose a big problem. The premolars are coming out for purely aesthetic reasons. I have inherited the jaw passed down to me from my Japanese ancestors; I look exactly like my great-grandfather, my grandfather, and my father. However, looking at my head from the side, I didn't like it. The orthodontist who diagnosed me first thought I had TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder). She figured that, if I'm going to get braces, I might as well go all the way and improve my entire facial profile. Now, the original plan was to take out all four premolars. One of them did deserve a good pulling; it had a root canal performed on it many years ago and wasn't in the best of shape. However, I wasn't guaranteed that my impacted canine would find its way into its proper place, so the orthodontist decided to save me a lot of trauma (haha) and extract the canine, leaving the premolar there to act as a canine in its stead. This was ok with me, as it cut the total time needed for the treatment drastically. So, on top of that, I went ahead and saw the dermatologist. This guy works in Apgujeong, a rich place where all the Korean pretty people go to pose. Apparently he got famous for reconstructing the skin of a severe burn victim. I saw him and asked if he could deal with the acne scarring I inherited from high school. Chemical peels are awful. They first clean your skin, then rub it with something that smells like rubbing alcohol about 5 million times over the course of an hour. Then they put something on your face that makes it BURN like crazy; this happens for another hour but feels like eternity (the closest you can get to hellfire, I suppose.) The guy had to put some cold packs on my face to alleviate the pain. Afterwards they put some gauze on your face, plaster it liberally with Vaseline, wrap you up in skin tape (somewhat resembling Magneto's helmet for where they left my eyes, nose, and mouth alone) and tell you you can't take it off for a week. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA The cruelest trick in the world. Besides ending your social life, what the chemical peel actually does is something akin to a sunburn: it damages the layers of your skin, resulting in them literally peeling off, just like what happens when you don't wear sunblock. Because of this, your face is extremely fragile afterwards, and any unintentional poking or picking or exposure to sunlight helps to neutralize the benefits of this $500 procedure. Worst case scenario: scarring that's very, very hard to remove. So I went around looking like Darkman (or Magneto, depending on whom you prefer) for several days. This included the two days I went to visit the dentist for further surgery. The only thing worse than dental surgery is dental surgery while wearing bandages. It was very, very awkward. Oh, and the stares I got in the waiting room. They probably thought I had leprosy. Eventually I couldn't take it anymore, so I took the thing off. By then my skin had entered somewhat of a "crust" state, a sheet of dead skin hovering over a fresh layer of cells. Of course, I still had to wear the Vaseline to protect everything and keep it all moisturized. And that was how I was the day of my job interview. I prepared for it using some tips from this board and Ask Andy's. I wore my two-piece navy serge, a plain light blue shirt I got made-to-measure a couple years ago (I don't own a plain white, heh), and a conservative, patterned tie. Of course, my face looked like a dark, slimy mess. I used the cream the doctor gave me for this occasion to get rid of the shine. Of course, I wasn't prepared for an unfortunate side effect of the cream: it made the crust very, very hard, making it very difficult for me to perform any sort of facial expression without pulling my skin around. Yech. I went to the interview and mentioned to the lady that I was currently undergoing a chemical peel. Fortunately, she knew some women that had to go through the same thing, and so she was very understanding. (Only in Korea.) The others understood as well. Needless to say, I gave it my best shot, answered all their questions with aplomb, asked them a few good questions of my own, and was notified two hours later that I successfully got the position as a part-time bookkeeper. The lady wanted me to come in the next day, Friday. So, I went, myself and my slimy face. Of course, I had to postpone the visit to the orthodontist scheduled for the interview day, Thursday. So on Saturday, I got my braces adjusted. My lower teeth were still quite sensitive from the canine extraction, and was I glad the tightening didn't hurt as much as I expected it to. Of course, the orthodontist was wondering why I didn't get the rest of my offending teeth pulled yet. She mentioned, "I can pull teeth too, you know." I wasn't going to have any of it, seeing as how I could barely eat anything anyways without discomfort. The aftereffects of dental surgery coupled with the feeling of Vaseline on my face every single moment of my waking hours left me in a very, very sour mood. Time has since passed and everything is starting to heal. I can wash my face again, and the fruits of the chemical peel are really starting to show: pure, even, smooth skin. By Wednesday the treatment should be complete. Of course, after this I have to avoid direct sunlight and wear sunblock, but at least I'll be prettier for it. I'm getting the last of my dental surgeries in the middle of September, after which the orthodontist will probably put some power chains onto my teeth to start closing the gaps. This will continue for about two years. By then I should be a very clean-faced 24-year-old with a perfect smile. But damn, it ain't easy getting there.