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Jamie White-Farnham Posts

Adult Braces

Last year, I got adult braces, which are distinct from kids’ braces in several ways. They were the tooth-colored kind, made of ceramic, so you could not call me metal mouth, just brace face. No one did, which is the first way they differ. I was 14 the first time I had braces. They did their job, but the effects had a statute of limitations.

Getting braces a second time became a priority when midlife seized me. About to turn 40, I had a classic crisis during which I asked the important questions: Who am I? Am I living my best life? And: ugh, can I get my teeth fixed?

I could, actually. My two girls had gone through orthodontic treatments one after the other, and because I was such a good customer, the orthodontist gave me a deal: the price of one person’s braces in addition to two other people’s. Paying for braces three times is another way adult braces differ from kids’.

At first, I was surprised at the pain. Tylenol couldn’t touch the deep soreness the braces caused. Advil, Aleve, margaritas, nothing helped. The pain caused me to hold my mouth half open and make weird hand-shields while talking at work. I apologized to people repeatedly during this period, asking for my grossness to be excused.

The Name and the Person

Growing up, I disliked my name. It’s a 1970’s-era “J name” — like Jennifer, Jessica, Julie, and Jason. It was partly inspired by the Scream Queen, Jamie Lee Curtis, who starred in Halloween in 1978, the year I was born.

Since Jamie is often a boy’s name, I got Boys’ Life magazine ads and Boy Scout fliers in the mail. On the first day of 7th grade, my homeroom teacher met me with an “oh!,” and said he was surprised I was a girl. These things greatly offended younger me.

My mother chose a cute, trendy name for a critical, contrarian child. I could only see the contradictions in Jamie the name: an androgynous name for a feminine girl; a plain name that has four or more different spellings; a common name that people misread as Janice and mishear as Janie.

My middle name was no better in my opinion. It is my mother’s maiden name, a last name. I would have liked a “real” middle name like Jamie Lynn or Jamie Lee, like Ms. Curtis.

Small Problems

Jamie White FarnhamRemember when the Sex and the City ladies accompanied Carrie on her non-honeymoon? In one scene, Charlotte (the cute one) swallows water while showering and suffers some not-so-cute Montezuma’s Revenge in her loungewear. Later, while consoling Carrie, Charlotte admits to feeling guilty about her relatively carefree life. She has no real problems, while Carrie was left at the altar and their other friend faced cancer. Even Charlotte’s divorce was not so painful since she fell in love with her divorce lawyer.

Carrie forgives her friend the guilt. She offers some perspective when she reminds Charlotte of a problem she did face: “Sweetie, you shit your pants.”

This point stuck with me because I am a Charlotte. Not in the cute sense, but in the small problem sense. I have a lot of small problems. While I am not here to compare them with illness or death or divorce or anything significant, I do want to tell you about them. Consider a year in the life of a Charlotte:

It’s Winter Break, and the kids are playing in the snow. When I bring a forgotten mitten outside, I pull the front door hard behind me by habit. We’re locked out. The extra keys are inside. We can’t get in through the garage, the side door, or the basement. It takes an hour or so for a network of friends to get a key to us. The kids make a snowman while I huddle on the porch in my T-shirt and PJ pants.

Coffee Communication

Jamie White Farnham

Like many people, I didn’t start to drink coffee until college. Back then, as a newbie, I offset its bitter flavor with too much cream and sugar. I was also an “Equal” person for a while. But, having grown to love the taste of coffee, my cup today holds strongly brewed coffee with only a teaspoon of sugar and a splash of cream, half-and-half, soymilk, that powder stuff, whatever’s on hand. I’m not fussy. In the absence of any of that, I’ll drink a cup black now and then.

This is partly to say that I am not really a coffee snob, although I do engage in some haute coffee culture. For instance, I make my coffee each morning in a press. I enjoy a cup of Ethiopian cold-pressed coffee from specialty shops like Duluth Coffee Co. On the other hand, I sighed with delight over several cups of Folgers made in a drip machine on last year’s cabin-camping trip with my daughters’ Girl Scout troop.

On the other, other hand — and this only makes sense if you’re in the know about haute coffee culture — I have yet to try a cup of coffee with butter in it. Hipsters swear by it. I might go there; we’ll see.