I could knock this out easily. Nobody in this massive office is here. Well, a few folks, sure. But nobody, REALLY. Nobody in the cubes around me. I can type away, giddily, to my heart’s content. Maybe it’s the caffeine, maybe it’s the Friday, maybe it’s the half-day broken up by a dentist appointment…it’s definitely the caffeine. Damn.
There is a White Russian in a bottle waiting for me at the end of this post. Or maybe tomorrow. It exists on this plane. It’s only a matter of me moving to meet it.
One cat is tenderly, and then aggressively, grooming the other. Warm and blocking me from stretching out.
A note that what follows is more specifically for me than perhaps other posts may be. It is entirely a post written to describe my dentist visit. I feel the need to highlight this fact this now that I am aware that some people I “know” read this tiresome screed now and again. Hard to explain how a post like today’s post truly benefits me but sometimes it’s just a matter of getting through this to get to the next good thing.
Some days you derive power from the weirdest places. Today, I went to a new dentist and the act of doing so was so significant, I can hardly begin to say. It made me brave to stay and work from home – it would have been ridiculous to drive forty minutes in for 2 hours and then back forty minutes for a forty-five minute appointment and then another hour and a half coming and going to return. Now that the dentist is not more than two minutes from my house.
I told the hygienist and receptionist I was super nervous, anxious, but my symptoms were largely gone. I plainly expressed everything I was worried about without couching it at all in terms that might ameliorate this picture of a tragically fearful woman in front of her. She narrowed her eyes for a moment in a way where you can’t quite tell if she was sympathetic or apathetic to your cause and then, after gagging away on the X-ray camera a few times, we both took a breath and I calmed down and was able to endure the apparatus and she took X-rays that actually looked like something. As opposed to the blurry, best we could do X-rays at the old office. She said in a very soothing voice that I had done great, that I was worried, but I did great.
Then the dentist came in and proceeded to be the dentist I’d always thought I’d ought to have. I think I learned more in that 20 minutes of examination and cleaning than I had in four years of regular service at the fancy, high-tech joint. And mostly what I’d learned was that the shit they’d been doing to my teeth was not, at this point, necessary. That where I’d been desperate to get in having run long on a 3 month appointment schedule, he felt perfectly comfortable putting my next appointment out in July. He didn’t see a ton of gum damage and felt that the grinding was the cause of my former discomfort. He explained about how it’s a natural method of the body to discharge stress and there are things we can do to adjust our habits so we don’t do it as much. That the jaw was a joint, but we don’t treat pain in it like we do n our knees, for example. He didn’t charge me for 3 minutes of glancing at my teeth after an incompetent tech messed about with them. And while he talked the whole time about things I was in no position to have a conversation about while he flossed my teeth, I actually learned about plaque development and how to floss and how often and all the things nobody ever bothered to tell me at the expensive office with the 900 signatures and the let’s spend 35 bucks to fluoride your mouth add-on charges I absolutely was sure I had to pay for.
I felt like he knew what he was doing. I felt empowered to learn more.
I even went so far as to ask about the wisdom tooth extraction. He was all nah, it’s not bothering you, and there’s only this bit of weirdness and yes, you need to pay attention because bacteria can get trapped there, but no…I don’t feel any rush to do that. I was positively beaming at that point. Then, they brushed me out of there with a huzzah, and here’s a toothbrush, and no, my dear, your insurance covers all of it.
So many things going on. Task upon task upon task. I used to fear and crave this sort of life. That my creative self would be broken upon its rocky shores, that my life could be pulled up out of its primordial ooze and spun into an elegant vase by the forces of just being busy. Being full of purpose and absent of time to worry and suffer and build up anxiety within. Being a vessel void of anxiety seemed always like a good way to be. Daydreaming of adult life as a girl, I always imagined silver cars up steep hills, making the hairpin turns out of a harried, glittering city, into the mountains, the highest mountain to some massive estate. Sweeping into a room that overlooked the city skyline, a glass of wine in hand, silver stilettos tossed aside to clatter on the marble floor, I would collapse onto some white chaise longue, or even some simple kitchen table and I’d watch the sun set. I would, I always imagined, feel safe and secure, fully funded, free, and yet, I always imagined myself entirely alone in those moments.
Here I am, grown-uppish, striving for something better for myself than an unhealthy future or capitulating to the belief that I can’t have anything just because that person driving those switchbacks to that hideaway mansion feels so far away from my hopes and dreams as they are today. I’m actually counting the old calories. I’m actually drinking water and not eating late into the evening. I’m actually doing the things I’m asking of myself. Weird. Who knows what this means? Who knows what 365 days of this will bring? But it would be something. It would be something.
So I am trying on the third day to continue. Not perfect. Teeth still irritated as hell and they’re begging for help and the best I can mentally say to them is that there is an appointment and it’s 12 days away and unless there’s blood or things falling outta my head, that’s what it is. I wish they’d call and let me know, I’d love to not have this impede my fun this weekend and next, but I can only do what I can do. I am just human. Sorry, gums. Sorry, I lived a life of dental fear and immoral and indecent dental behaviors, but I can’t undo it now except by being brave and calling…which I did.
So J. So that talk that seems ongoing and strained and strange. I mean, suddenly, there’s a slew of compliments…good ones, meaningful ones that only come from someone who’s actually paid genuine attention to you. But I’ve haven’t been able to say the parts of this that are the hard parts. The…thank you, but you need to know that if we don’t move on from the nebulous nature of this…that the pull to figure out how to be with someone here, someone local, is going to just get stronger. It’s going to just be harder to bear and I don’t want us to suffer through that, suffer worse if it comes as a surprise to either of us when we don’t want to suffer anymore. Not being able to properly call a thing a thing is its own sort of pain.
When I say “Oh, I don’t know” what I mean is, I know exactly, but it would hurt you so I won’t say it. That’s a deeply disappointing thought.
No disappointment. We’re on target. We’re on track.
You kind of knew it would be a great day when you go downstairs and your car has a yellow sticker on it notifying that you have expired plates and if you don’t move it in two days, it’ll be towed. My tags are enroute, though have not currently arrived, and the sticker left big gooey marks and remaining paper on the window. I am hoping that my printout that tells the authorities I am not outside the law will be readable by punkass parking attendants who apparently have no idea that I’ve parked here for years and years and years and it isn’t even fifteen days after the expiry. Fffff. If it gets towed, that’s some…I don’t even want…
(Although, this morning I attempted and discovered that another skirt fit – oddly, imperfectly with hemlines not precisely sitting where the designer intended, but the skirt was able to zip and provide body coverage…so maybe these things balance out?)
Then, a bit of focused work for once. Ate some well-tracked chili because I was too hungry to just not eat anything for lunch the way I thought perhaps I might be able to. Imagine – a body that requires feeding. Handled a few things on my checklist and then worried my way to the Dentist where despite being early, everything was hectic for them and grumpy. The receptionist was lovely in the face of it, but I was trying to determine if I even had enough money for them to do me the favor of telling me to brush my teeth more (and better, and for real, because like, it’s serious) and feeling jumpy because I was not in any of my new comfort zones…and I was at the goddamned dentist when in comes this dude in a hoodie and I can see from my seated position that he has a gun.
I mean, I don’t know this guy from Adam, my appointment should have started ten minutes ago and I’m wondering if I’m supposed to be shouting something to protect the nice receptionist and her obviously less nice colleague. I actually, uh, stood up and considered asking for a bathroom when they cleared up whatever issue the guy had (it was nothing to do with dental work) and sent him on his merry way. Then, I got to go back and deal with the overbooked hygienist who could clearly not give two shits about my day or anxieties and basically tells me that my four month delayed appointment means that my mouth is full of evil spirits. The actual dentist comes in for two seconds, pokes around a bit, yep, evil spirits, take some Listerine and mean it.
I, being me, am petrified at my mouth failings and have already held my cool together as long and as far as I can, swear on anybody’s grave I can think of that I will brush my teeth for hours and floss for years and bathe in Listerine, drink it with my new all-vegan, acid-free diet of calcium tablets and blow. Whatever it takes to have them not decide they need to suddenly extract the wisdom tooth or add another charge for the privilege of breathing at me.
So. That done, I went and walked a quick mile around my parents house. I would have done more, but I had to pee to the point of pain and was no longer seeing the positive benefits of alone time if alone time meant time to think.
Because when I get that quiet time lately, I think things like, “Hmm, do I have any opinion on Valentine’s Day?” And my immediate reply is: “My opinion is fuck you.”
Mostly, I’ve been grumpy about the short-term financial stuff that I really can’t talk to anyone about either because they don’t need to know because they’ll wig out at me and tell me their opinion of what I absolutely have to do right now without any background detail. All solutions I don’t need and am not willing to do. Or they already know and they can’t do anything about it and it’ll just be upsetting and frustrating to be told it can’t be helped yet again. And they’ll be worried and sad themselves about it, like a fresh scab picked at too soon. So I’ll see that energy and I will try and cosset and calm them down about it and again…don’t want to do that at all.
So. Yeah. I don’t have what I need right now. I want to get things…like food…and I’m contemplating getting them and I keep realizing I can’t and how painful and exhausting this would be for someone to have to live with every single day instead of the few more days this month I have to do it.
And maybe this will keep me from running to eat something inappropriate to deal with life right now. Instead, rice, chicken, some kind of magically present vegetable and a bit of hope that the milk hasn’t gone off.
You just let your fingers do the walking.
I told myself last night as I struggled to calm myself for sleep that it would be just twenty-four hours later and I’d know the outcome, I’d know if death found me in my chair, if my teeth had rotted through and had to be extracted, if the pain was such that I had some sort of panic attack that would hang on me for years afterwards.
But my periodontic procedure was not to be so dramatic. Instead, it went how I hoped it would go. Apparently, the teeth were bad all over. Not the teeth, I guess, but the gums and they were 3’s and 4’s and 5’s and as nervous as I was in hearing that some were bleeding and bad news, the hygienist – who saw my Mumford bag and talked to me about their videos and shows was kind and considerate in explaining to what she was going to do and was kind and considerate in doing it. So I had watched a little video as preface because when someone says they’re going to plane your teeth – that doesn’t sound right – but she put some numbing gel on the gums, and then used a little pressurized water drill (is it a drill? I’m afraid I wouldn’t begin to know anything technical about this) to just start blasting shit off my teeth. There was, I guess, a lot to blast. I had been so nervous about this bit, but with the numbing, berry-flavored gel, it felt like nothing at all really but some pressure and I didn’t gag or choke or wig out or have my gag reflexes kick in as she poked about. Next there was some sort of scraper and she went at my teeth and flecked and scraped and scratched and got rid of whatever it was she saw there that needed to be removed, sprayed some medicine that tasted of Listerine, polished my teeth up and then lasered them. The laser was another aspect that I was sure was about a thousand times worse than it actually was. How the hell are they going to stick a laser in me? I naively thought all sorts of mad scientist tools would be involved. I was, really, in so many ways naive. In the background, a little boy was getting his teeth cleaned, and struggling with the suction and crying and I felt stupidly proud that I had managed to get myself there. For so long, I thought, I’d just never go and everything would always be fine. I was just one of those people who naturally didn’t need to go. But my body said, hold up and made my gums throb and ache so much that it frightened me and for one minute, I listened and that minute was going to make my life much better.
So, I do feel proud. Despite it being simple and despite all the other problems and issues left without attention. I took care of this one thing.