A Change of Seasons

Honestly, I think I said a while back I’d work on a blog. But as it turns out, like a lot of things I tend to say or do, it seemed like a good idea at the time and it eventually never happens. In fact, I wrote an entry I wanted to post just after the mid-point of the year, but I eventually canned it because it sounded too much like the worst monologue I’ve ever written, which takes some doing. I actually saw Tom’s newest blog and thought “ah bollocks, I might as well!”

 

So, here we are again humanoids. All of your favourite or least favourite sections will be here (namely my music and sport rundowns). As usual, this will be the first e-mail people get from MySpace since my last entry. Talk about a sinking ship…sheesh.

 

Anyway, last time we spoke, I summed up my 2008. Well, my 2009 has been “alrite like”. The biggest news has been my jaw operation. There now follows a longer story than I usually tell…

When I was younger, I spoke with a very strong lisp. I suffered a lot of bullying for this, mainly because I “spoke funny”. I hit around 8-9 years old, and I had speech therapy which seemed to have got rid of it for a little while, but at times, it was still quite faint. It only really stood out with words with “s” and “th” sounds. I sounded like Sylvester the Cat. It wasn’t until I was 14 and a visit to an orthodontist that I found out the cause. My bottom jaw sat further behind my top jaw than a regular human being. Usually, the gap is 3-4mm. With me…13mm. The decision was made to get braces (which didn’t happen until 2006) and then eventually operate, moving my bottom jaw into a better position. If I didn’t do this, there was a chance of getting arthritis in my jaw when I was older.
I got a brace on my top set of teeth in December 2006 to help move them further back and into position, and braces on my bottom jaw in March 2007. I was anticipating having my operation much earlier, but for one reason or another, it was pushed back and back (I was originally due to have it last summer).
However, I got a call at the beginning of March with a date of my operation. This was not the first time I’ve had an operation. Back when I was around 6 years old, for reasons I’m not totally sure of to this day, I had 8 baby teeth taken out. As part of this, I was featured on Channel 4’s Dispatches program. I have the video tape and eventually I’ll put it on DVD (if my parents haven’t already). Anyway, cutting a long story short, the operation was a success. Whilst not being a picture of health, I know, I made a rapid recovery. Usually, the recovery time involved three nights in hospital and a couple of weeks on antibiotics and painkillers. My recovery period was one night in hospital and a week on antibiotics.
My operation involved surgeons cutting open my jaw, putting in metal plates and then pushing it forward. I still have a bit of numbness just below my bottom lip, but that’s my only scar, all of the awkward stuff was done inside the mouth. The worst part was the immediate aftermath, I was on antibiotics for a week or so and was spitting out blood for a few days due to the swelling inside my mouth. After that, I wore elastics around my braces. This was to get my brain to know where the new position to open and close my mouth is. If I didn’t wear them, it’s likely my jaw would slip back into its old position and the whole thing would be pointless. In mid-July, my braces were finally gone after what felt like an eternity. I’m currently wearing retainers to keep my teeth in place. I only take them out to clean them or to eat. But after the process I’ve been through, it’s worth it.

 

Another chapter of my life closed in June as well, as I finished my two-year college course, gaining an overall distinction grade – the highest I could achieve. This is, in terms of UCAS points, the same as getting 3 As at A-Level. Missing time after my operation (3 weeks, then we had 3 weeks off for Easter) did not make things easy, going through two memory sticks in two months (the first one physically broke, the second died on me two days before the final deadline for working) made it even bloody harder, but I’m thrilled I’ve got distinctions for the second straight year. After my parents constantly badgering me and saying that it never seems like I do work, I hope that they will finally see that I have worked very hard (especially in the last few weeks) to get the grades I feel I ultimately deserve. Especially compared to the fact that my younger sister got into university before me (which was a massive kick in the teeth, I’ll be honest), I feel like I’m a let down to my parents. I know that I fucked up my A-Levels to get to where I am and I had to genuinely think long and hard about my life and where I was going to go, but I think I’m stronger because of it. Having the time in college to step back and see where I went wrong and seeing that other people were in the same boat and we rowed it along together made me feel a lot better. Speaking to people about University, it does not appear to be the be all and end all that it was made out to be in Sixth Form or through other people I have spoken to. I guess I’ll only find out when I head to Cardiff University to start a course in Computer Science.
I think I need to throw some much appreciated kudos at my college classmates, from both years. Whilst at first I was quite harsh on them (after all, I was 18/19 and they were still kids), we’ve grown closer, mainly because of my love of beer and a burger in the Ernest Willows, football (football, football, football as the guys say) and…I dunno what else. One fairly recent moment I won’t forget is when James R said something about Aqua and “oh, no-one remembers them”. I then said “Complete the following lyric…ooh eeh ooh ahah” to which half of the class replied instantly “ting tang wallawallabingbang”. Need I say more? There have been some good times there that I think people will only appreciate as we disperse into different parts of the country in the near future. It’s odd to be experiencing the same feeling I had when I left after Sixth Form, but the difference is my positively compared to 2007 and leaving Brynteg. I considered for a while returning to Brynteg to finally close that book so to speak, as I felt the manner in which I left was not how I’d like to be remembered. But, the more I spoke to people about it, the more I realised that the damage had already really been done, and going back would perhaps not be the best thing to do. What would going back prove? That I still hold my time there with fondness (for most of it, yes I do)? In the end, I decided against it. For once, I felt as though I didn’t need to look back and instead look at where I was going.
I took a lot of ribbing at first for going back to school, then going to college, but honestly, seeing where I am now, I don’t regret it for one second and I’d probably do it all again.

 

When I initially wrote this entry back in June, I lamented two major sporting issues: Ronaldo’s mega transfer to Real Madrid, and the potential split in Formula One. Now that time has passed, I can now pass verdict on my current sporting 2009. Bloody horrific. Especially when you compare it to the magnificent 2008 I enjoyed.
I did not expect Green Bay to do particularly well in the absence of Brett Favre, so finishing with a 6-10 record and above the hopeless 0-16 Detroit Lions was OK. To see Favre leave was a kick in the teeth as he was an icon for the people of Green Bay and for the team. Many fans thought a year away from the team might have been some symmetry for him; after all, he started his career with the Atlanta Falcons. But, for him to join the Minnesota Vikings, one of Green Bay’s biggest rivals, is particularly disheartening. His reaction should he play in a Vikings uniform will be something to behold I should expect.
Wales’s failure in the Six Nations comes down to a number of reasons which I’m sure I could recall at the time. Not now. I didn’t like the way people said “Ah, it’s alright, at least we beat England”. This is practically the same team that won the Grand Slam, so we really should have beaten every one. I am worried that Gatland may go down to New Zealand and try his luck in place of the Great Redeemer. He has every right to, it’s his home country after all, and that would leave Wales in another coaching dilemma in-between a World Cup.
Man United had a mixed 2009. Carling Cup victory was a good start, winning the Premier League was great, but the defeat in the Champions League final was very disappointing. Particularly because the better team won. The Ronaldo and Tevez affairs over shadowed the summer. Ronaldo going didn’t surprise me so much because it was the worst kept secret in football. Tevez’s departure was disheartening and to see him in the blue shirt of Citeh kills me, seeing as I liked him so much as a United player. The Owen transfer remains to be seen if it works well – if you had told a 10 year old me that one day, Michael Owen would wear a Manchester United jersey, I probably would have said “Yeah, only if you play Championship Manager”. Rooney and Berbatov do seem to be linking up rather well at the moment, which does look good. Still think it will be Liverpool-Chelsea-Arsenal-United in the league though.
The Red Wings and Magic, the other two NA Sports teams I follow (admittedly, one more than the other), reached their respective finals before falling at the final hurdle. The Red Wings lost game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals to Pittsburgh on home ice, which was stupendous (Red Wings were the first team in more than 30 years I recall to lose Game 7 at home). The Magic were not fancied to get to the NBA Finals, but ran into a dominant Kobe Bryant, and ended up being the eventual kryptonite to Superman. The Red Wings have made some moods to fill in their roster, but, I see this as finally being that “year-in-transition” I’ve been on about for a while. The team is aging and not everyone is Chris Chelios and will play until they are almost 50. The Magic have also signed experience in Vince Carter, a player who I am actually familiar with. I’ll probably have to watch the NBA a bit more to understand how he will fit into the team (or at least buy NBA Live I expect).
Rubens Barrichello won the European Grand Prix today and it sets up a grandstand finish for the F1 season. Brawn dominating at the beginning came as a surprise to many who did not expect the team to even be in the competition. The potential return of Michael Schumacher had many people pondering about the potential for match ups with the other world champions in the field, Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton, but it was not to be. And Luca Badoer ended up showing why he only drove for Forti or Minardi by being bleeding useless. I have high hopes that my two guys (Rubens and Lewis) can at least give Jenson Button some kind of competition, but with the points system the way it is, Button is going backwards but is still leading. The 12-8-6 etc. points system would work better in my opinion – it’s a lot better than the medals, which will probably kill the sport once and for all.

 

For such a big music fan, I’ve only actually been to one gig this year, and that was Priest Feast featuring three of my favourite bands – Judas Priest, Megadeth and Testament. It was great to see them on home soil, particularly Megadeth, seeing as it had been almost 17 years since the band last appeared in Wales to my knowledge (1992 at the Newport Centre, if I’m wrong, tell me!). All three acts were on great form, Priest were fantastic headliners, but seeing Megadeth for the third time was a highlight as I probably pissed off everyone around me by singing every line of every damn song. As far as 2009 in music goes, I’ve begun to expand my taste again, with the American singer-songwriters in the vain of Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty being particular favourites as I explore their back catalogues going “Shit, he sung this?!”. In terms of new material released this year, my favourites so far are Dream Theater’s new album, which is probably their best album in about ten years. The awesome super group Chickenfoot and their first release have been delightful, great old school rock and roll. Steel Panther are also getting some serious plays because they pull the strings of metal fans so well – they are a superb parody of what non-metal fans perceive the genre to be full of, but yet the heavy metal audience appreciates them and gets the joke. It’s quite odd. My biggest disappointment has to be Queensryche’s American Soldier, which I didn’t particularly like. The subject matter was solid, but the band’s output generally since 1994 (Mindcrime II excepted) hasn’t been particularly exciting and rather tiresome. Big releases to come include Megadeth (of course), Porcupine Tree, Alice in Chains, Living Colour and Paramore amongst others although they are the five I’m most interested to hear at the moment.

 

My summer has been okay. We had a road trip to Tenby that was a lot of fun (if only because I burnt to a crisp). We’ve had a few games of football. We’ve drunk a lot of alcohol. Yet I still feel something is missing. The only thing left really if my pseudo-21st birthday/end of summer bash later this week that I’m looking forward to, only because I haven’t had people over for a few drinks in what seems like forever. Partly because the last time I had people over, the dogs were only pups. Now they are anything but. I suppose that’s all I’ve got left to look forward to before Uni starts and I have to start getting up early once more.

 

If you are on Twitter and fancy reading my ramblings about everything, follow me over at http://twitter.com/rhyse, I usually talk about football or Formula One if I’m honest, but occasionally I try and put up an accurate social commentary, albeit unsuccessfully.

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Rhys

Let me introduce myself. I'm a social disease.