Wisdom Teeth and Other Dental Hijinks

If there’s one thing I would like to avoid in this life, it’s getting surgery. Well, unless I end up living in Beverly Hills and decide that elective rhinoplasty would boost my writing career (because duh!). I guess wisdom teeth surgery is “elective” in that I “elect” to get them out now while I am under the magical umbrella of parental insurance for two more months before I am thrust in the savage world of DIY dentistry… or until I get a job with dental coverage. Anyway, my wisdom teeth have been slowly but surely moving in. And not only that, but there is one in particular that aches with an increasing intensity every single day.

It’s weird because usually I’m complaining about my knees… but now, as I get older, I slowly experience pain in places I would never have even dreamed about!

Ah, but really, I am looking forward to getting these little monsters out.

Not all things dental are bad but when teeth come up in a conversation, more often than not, it is part of a terrifying tale. A drunk girl once came up to me during a party and started babbling at me. I had time to respond a few times in the midst of her stream-of-consciousness  remarks. Apparently, those few seconds were enough time for her to appraise my teeth situation. She suddenly interrupted the already erratic rhythm of our conversation to compliment me: “Your teeth are so pretty and straight! I can tell you’ve had braces.” I replied in the affirmative, thanked her, and thought that that would be the end of it.

But, no.

She went on to say that she, too, had braces but in her living room with her aunt doing the procedure who, she assured me, was not a dentist. It seriously sounded like some backwards medieval level stuff . I just stood there slack-jawed and eyes wide open – not sure of how to react or what to say. Luckily, the girl in question scampered away after this to find the next recipient of her dental horror story.

The teeth are located in the abdomen.

The teeth are located in the abdomen.

Her description of braces was a far cry from what I dreamed about as a kid. I remember coveting every boy and girl for their metal-enhanced mouths in elementary school. I resolved that I, too, would have a mostly synthetic mouth and rubber bands that changed according to my whims.

I was a pretty frumpy elementary school student but even I knew the style potential of braces in the midst of my frump. Braces were like permanent jewelry for your teeth! Ah, yes. My naivete would be shown years later when I actually had them.

I had those fun Invisalign braces (which, by the way, totally not invisible) for the top teeth but my bottom teeth had the traditional metal kind. Man, not that fun!

image (4)

1) Getting hit in the mouth – instant, profuse bloodshed.

2) Popcorn – why did I even try? Seriously bad decision-making.

3) Getting the wires tightened – the wires were like taut guitar strings, except they were in your mouth and instead of music, they made your entire oral cavity quake in fear and pain.

So, in conclusion, I am not looking forward to this next dental adventure. I am looking forward to what sort of fun painkillers they will give me though!*

- M

* In a non-recreational, responsible sense. Of course.

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I Did One Smart Thing Today

gloves

I put on disposable gloves before I started working on the truck.

Oh, I tried to be smart.

Oh, I tried to be someone I’m not.

Oh, I tried to keep my tools organized.

But after two hopeless hours in the driveway, it went to hell and a handbasket.

The gameplan was simple and, in fact, showed a bit of foresight on my part:   After the multitude of coast-to-coast trips with Daughter in my trusty Nissan Frontier, I figured some new spark plugs were in order.  This particular engine only requires plugs every 100,000 miles, but after the abuse it’s been through, I decided to put some in with “only” 70,000 miles showing on the clock.

That was my big project for the day.

Speaking of abuse, I hinted to Daughter earlier this week that both the nice and appropriate thing to do after borrowing one’s vehicle is to return it with a full tank of gas and gently washed.  After her latest trip in my truck to the northern parts of our fair state, Daughter saw fit to bring it back filthy and with only a quarter tank of petrol.

When I queried her on the subject, she sullenly responded it had a quarter tank when she picked it up (thus, why would she put any more gas in, after all), and she didn’t comment on the external layer of road filth, courtesy of her, as well.

Oh, wait a minute.  She did wash a vehicle this week.  The only problem was it was hers.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve been hounding her for many, many moons to clean up the Cabrio.

“It’s the most expensive thing you own.  If you don’t take care of it, it won’t last.  Keep it clean,” I earnestly advised.

Silence.  Of course.

Eventually she saw fit to hose it down, but she didn’t see fit to put all the towels and cleaning materials away afterward.

Kids.  Don’t you love ‘em?

But back to my disaster at hand.

For those of you who don’t know, changing spark plugs is usually a rather straightforward affair.  There may be one or two that are difficult to get into position to remove but, for the most part, it’s not a big deal.  However, I had done some research on my particular truck and engine, and I had discovered that in order to gain access to two of the plugs, essentially the entire top of the engine needed to be removed.

Well, not really the top of the engine, but all of the intake manifold crap (that’s a technical term), along with the associated hoses, vacuum lines, and electrical connectors.

So I decided to just take the whole thing one step at a time.  I laid my tools out, and I methodically worked my way around that V-6 engine.  Before I knew it, I was two-thirds of the way through.  I just had those two inaccessible plugs left to go.

This was going well!

To make a ridiculously long story short, I spent the next two and a half hours trying to change those damn plugs.  What had begun as a pleasant afternoon’s task, was turning into a really horrific adventure.

I literally started calculating how much sunlight I had left and whether I could complete the job in time.

When all seemed lost, I figured it out.  I finally got the intake manifold off and the plugs replaced.  Ha!

Ha!  Wouldn’t you know it?  When I was putting everything back together, I dropped a socket and extension somewhere in the nether regions of the back of the engine.

And the damn things simply disappeared.

After spending the next hour exploring every nook and cranny looking for the stupid things (Stupid!  Stupid!  Stupid!), I gave up and buttoned everything back together, since it was approaching dinnertime.

What an idiot I am, of course, but when I turned the key to start the truck and check my handiwork, Lordy, it fired right up!

Perhaps not quite a Festivus miracle, but damn close.

So, I took the truck for a quick spin around the block to ensure everything was working properly, and it was, but where the hell had that socket and extension gone to?

I was resigned to the fact that it was jammed forever in the bowels of the engine compartment, never to be seen again.  I just hoped it wouldn’t lodge against something important and short out the truck, or cause a fire, or cause an explosion.

“I don’t know, Fred.  It looks like the fire started somewhere in the back of the engine compartment,” said the future fireman as he hosed down what was left of the Nissan.

In a final act of desperation before closing up shop for the night, I crawled under the truck one last time to see where the dumb socket was hiding.  I guess it really wasn’t that dumb, since I couldn’t find it.  I also guess that makes me dumber than the socket.

As I scrambled around on my back, I verified there was not a socket anywhere my blue latex-covered hands could reach.

I gave up.

I happened to turn my head a bit when I went to scoot out from under, something shiny way behind the engine on the exhaust system caught my eye.

Yep.  It was the socket.

Like the magical Kennedy assassination bullet, it had mysteriously worked its way through several trajectories and landed three feet behind anywhere it should have reasonably been resting.

Success, but conditional.

In the final analysis, it took me about two and a half hours to change the plugs, and about four hours to find the missing socket.

What an idiot I am.

But because the first decision I made today to wear disposable gloves was the best decision, I have clean hands tonight.

Yes, my left forearm is gouged and bleeding, but my hands are clean.

I am happy with that little victory but, after all, I am a very sad, sad man.

- Dad

Practical Karma

brokenstring

A couple of days ago at work, someone mentioned that the house next to their’s was almost burgled this week.  It seems a bunch of nefarious guys (four of them, actually) in a black Camry made the mistake of parking in front of my co-worker’s house, where most of the following saga was ultimately captured by his outside garage security camera.

After posting a lookout across the street, the remaining three miscreants banged on the front door of the adjacent home, apparently thinking it was empty since it was, after all, mid-afternoon.

And this is where it gets interesting.

Turns out someone was, in fact, at home.  The owner was simply upstairs and didn’t feel like answering the door.  (Hmmm.  I often feel like that.)

The bad guys then figured it was okay to carry on, and they proceeded to try to break in through the front door, whereby the owner then realized what was happening and began to scream and shout and ultimately phone the police.

The result was predictable.  Said bad men high-tailed it for their Japanese beater and fled the subdivision post-haste.  Cop Cars and Cop Helicopters were called in, to no avail, and everyone lived to fight another day.

The good news was nothing was stolen and no one was hurt for once.  The bad news was, of course, there’s a still criminal-filled, crappy Camry out there prowling our streets looking for an easier mark for their next go-round.

After hearing this story, I regaled him back with a counter-tale.  I recalled my own break-in experience when someone broke into my old pickup truck here about eight years ago and stole all the change out of the console — maybe $3.27 or so.  However, the thief (or thieves) left behind a nice stereo, a $300 custom cover, a radar detector, and various CDs covering many musical periods (some good, some bad).

I wondered if, perhaps, the interloper wasn’t an ABBA fan and took pity on me.  Then, again, perhaps he was an ABBA fan and decided not to clean me out.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, he left the ABBA’s Greatest Hits CD behind.

Or perhaps he was just unexpectedly interrupted during the deed and bailed as quickly as possible.

Who knows?

Whatever the reason, I felt fortunate because my truck hadn’t been completely trashed and the stolen goods haul could have been much worse.

Never at a loss to turn pseudo-tragedy into a teaching moment with the kids, my story to them was that “someone clearly needed the change in the truck more than I did” and that “things always work out in the end,” even though the episode sucked wasn’t pleasant.

It’s all about Karma, after all.

That may not seem like a big deal, but what my kids don’t know about me is why I like to keep a bunch of change in my cars.

Because it makes me feel rich.

Why?  I feel like I’ve spent so many years of my life returning bottles for deposits at the grocery store to obtain that $2 or $3 extra every couple of weeks, that having a pile of coins at my disposal these days feels absolutely regal in comparison.

Silly, but true.

So the theft of my truck stash wasn’t as trivial as it might have seemed, because it was a blow to my deep-seated need to hoard pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.

Brushing it off was kind of a big deal in some ways then, but I figured Karma was at work and I would emerge the better for the experience.

Fast forward ten years, and different but related subject.

I haven’t paid for a haircut in a very long time.  My Lovely Spouse shaves my head styles what’s left of my hair on a semi-regular basis.  It is this same Loving Spouse who has draped me with potions, talismans, and all manner of herbs, stones, and minerals to better my general health and alter my specific curmudgeonly disposition.

So earlier this week as she was finishing up the latest home barbershop episode, My Better Half accidentally cut through my string necklace upon which is hung a couple of Stonehenge-like objects that Give Me Peace and Provide Me Balance during the course of my Daily Trip (dot com) with other Muggles.

She cut through my Good Luck Charm!

Not only was the necklace severed, when it dropped to the floor one of the attached precious stones shattered on the floor.

I was aghast.

What was going to happen next?

More termites in the house?  Major sprinkler system flood?  Daughter finds a job/career?   (Wait. That’s a good thing.)  Wildfires?  New Ice Age? Sickness in the Home?

I mean the possibilities are endless.

“Oh, no,” I shrieked.

Well, I didn’t shriek, but I was shocked.  “What’s going to happen now?” I wondered aloud.

Her response?

“You didn’t need it anymore.  It’s Karma.”

And, of course, as is true most of the time around here, she was right.

So she quickly tied a new knot and re-hung was what left of the talisman around my neck.

I suppose my choice was to bitch and moan about what was lost, or recover quickly and realize everything works out in the end anyway.

The proof was in the “sports pudding” in the ensuing days, because that’s typically how I measure myself — sad but true.

Anyway, I had one of my best shooting days in recent memory on the basketball court not a day later, and I almost broke 80 on the golf course today, as well.

Oh, right.  I should add that my family is relatively happy and relatively healthy, to boot.

So all’s well that ends well.

Yep.  I believe in Karma, but I still like keeping lots of change in my vehicles, too.

Namaste.

- Dad

I am the Pompeii of Emotions

I got off a particular medicine and now I’m like a tiny kitten who knows nothing and will probably be crushed by the world as Atlas slowly takes the burden off his shoulders and thrusts it onto mine (my tiny kitten shoulders, mind you). That’s how I’ve been feeling lately.

It’s very inconvenient being on the verge of extreme emotions and I’m hoping that in time, it will even out and I will be back to being myself. Because right now, it’s like a volcano inside. Now I understand how the people of Pompeii feel. Too soon??? I feel like jokes about Pompeii will always be too soon. Sorry to the people of Pompeii. I bet you guys know how to make a mean s’more… oh… too soon, too soon.

So, I’m basically an especially temperamental three-year-old who expresses her emotions through tears, tantrums, and racing thoughts. I’m sorry to all who are around me, I swear it’s not me! I mean, it IS me but it’s not me. You know? It’s those voices. And those tricksy hobbits. We don’t like tricksy hobbits, do we? No, they steal the precious. 

That Lord of the Rings reference went on longer than I had planned for. Sorry.

Anyway, I thought that I would give everybody what they have been asking for*: pictures to explain my feelings and thoughts in any typical thirty-second period.

- Daughter

* I made this up. Nobody asked. Except those tricksy hobitses.

Tutor Fail or, I Can’t Teach Yo’ Kids Nothing

I applied for a tutor position several weeks ago and man, did I FAIL. I claimed I was an expert at AP English and of course, I had to prove my excellency in some way so they sent me a little quiz. If I scored a 9/10, yay, I iz a tutor! If I scored lower – back to the drawing board, sonny.

I wasn’t worried about this quiz at all. I had AP English on LOCK four years ago – what was stopping me from being an AP English genius now that I’ve gone through four years of college? I must be about the same intellectual level as Shakespeare by now! 

Well, I scored a 6/10.

Hello Darkness, my old friend.

I think I scored so low because I went through a miniature panic attack with each question. And also because I have trouble focusing in general. I’m horrible finishing books, for example, and finishing – well, anything. I also get caught up in long tangential discussions… but I digress.

As soon as I saw a long passage in front I me during the tutor quiz, a small voice starting screaming obscenities (like “gosh darnit” or “oh poo,” Mom) because man, it was a Friday night! What was I doing answering questions about Shakespeare? Do I really want to help some angsty teen get into Harvard? No, I don’t. If I couldn’t get into Harvard, nobody else should get in. It’s only fair.

But I kept at it. Sort of. I tried. Really, I tried.

And I failed. I got a D.

And, that’s not even the worst part, guys. When I didn’t pass this stupid quiz to be a tutor, I immediately e-mailed the lady who invited me to take the quiz and begged her to let me try again. Literally. Begged.

smart i swaerNo response.

Apparently, capital-letter-ridden e-mails and desperation are not qualities they are looking for in tutors at this time.

That’s fine. I’m going to go not finish that book I’ve been meaning to finish but can’t because I have trouble both starting and finishing things. Such is my life.

- Daughter

“Pumpkin Face” or “Things You Never Want Your Dentist To Say”

crown

Just when I thought I was free and clear, I managed to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.

No sooner had I finished singing the praises of my Dentist, he exacted his revenge, completely proving that no good deed goes unpunished.

And Daughter’s worst fears were confirmed — it absolutely sucks having someone excavate your pearly whites (or grays, in my case).

Perhaps a little background is in order.

For someone who has been walking this Earth for a few years north of 50, I am probably somewhat anomalous in that I have no cavities and no real problems with my teeth.  I chalk it up to decades of my excellent attention to oral hygiene, but all my personal dental professionals over the years attribute my good fortune to fluoridated water growing up and excellent genes.

The truth is probably somewhere in between, but that is not to say I have not had a few close calls over the years, mainly from sports.  As a result, my two front teeth have sustained impact fractures (cracks, you know) and a chip or two along the way.

Well, My Favorite Dentist has been on my butt back for the past five years about fixing them, and my standard response has been, “Are they about to crumble, like, today or tomorrow?  If not, I would just like to ride it out for a while more.”

His response, “You feel that?  I shouldn’t be able to do that on your teeth with this instrument.  They are getting worse every time you visit.”

My response, “Then don’t do that with your instrument, Doc.  And are dentists real doctors?”

So this repartee has been a regular feature of our time together, until disaster struck this week (Tuesday, to be exact), and I finally did enough damage from eating a peach, no less, that I felt obligated to make an emergency entrance through the Gates of Dental Hell.

Me:  “I guess it’s at this point you can say ‘I told you so.'”

Dentist:  “Nope.  I only say that after you’ve left the office.”

Me:  “What are the options now?”

Dentist:  “It’s time to pull out the Big Guns.”

Me:  “You mean my teeth, or something else?”

Dentist:  “Both.”

Me:  “Is this going to hurt?”

Dentist:  “Yes.  Yes, it will.”

Me (with weary resignation):  “Let’s do it.”  Of course, the irony of that statement was only obvious to me, as they were the last words of Gary Gilmore.

What ensued I would characterize as Low Drama, interspersed with these gems from My Number One Tooth Guy:

1)  “Are you more comfortable lying down?  Want me to keep the television on?  Frasier is pretty funny, after all.”

2)  “This gauze gives me more room to work.  It’s a little uncomfortable, but at least it tastes like cotton.”

3)  “We’re going to numb you up now, or else you won’t want to talk to me later.”

4)  “Okay, you feel that?  Nurse, did you understand what he just said?  No?  I think we’re good, then.”

5)  “Here we go!  You feel that?  Whoa!  Let me get you some tissues.”

6)  “Yep.  I don’t care who you are or how strong you are, it’s okay to cry.  Let me get you some tissues.”

7)  “You feel that?”

8)  “Try not to swallow.  There are chunks off teeth all over the place right now.”

9)  “It’s okay to swear at me.  They all do.  You’ll feel better if you do.”

10)  “Okay, right now I want you to close your eyes.  Close ‘em!  Don’t open them.  You don’t want to open them.”

11)  “You do not want to see what you look like right now.  Trust me on this one.”

12)  “Try not to swallow.  Didn’t I already say that?  Stop it!”

13)  “Taking this mold is the most important part of the entire procedure.  Don’t move, and stop crying.”

14)  “You can rinse over there and most of that nasty plasticky taste will go away, but don’t move yet!”

15)  “Do you prefer to stay lying down?  I think there’s another episode of Frasier coming up.”

16)  “Almost finished now.  Good God, I feel like I’m in the movie Hostel.  I like it!  Ha!”

17)  “Just one more imprint here, and we’re all done.  Bite down harder, damn it!”

18)  “At this point, most patients are not really appreciative of my vampire jokes, so I won’t bore you with them.”

19)  “That stain should wash right out.”

20)  “Okay.  See you again in about two weeks for the permanent crowns.  You’ll be in a better frame of mind then.  Trust me.”

I guess the only thing that kept the nausea at bay the entire time was the knowledge that Daughter has impacted wisdom teeth, and she’ll be in exactly the same position (horizontal) as me, soon enough.

So, I offer this little bit of advice for her:  Keep your eyes closed, make sure they max you out on the numbing meds, and, for God’s Sake, Cry Like You Mean It!  You won’t feel any better, but I will.

- Dad

Good Trips

wallet

“Geez, this guy has more grocery store club cards than credit cards. That’s pathetic.”

I can’t make this stuff up.  Really. 

Just a few weeks ago, I experienced a relatively harrowing adventure when I lost my blackberry at the local junkyard.  It, once again, recalibrated my faith in the innate goodness of most Muggles — even Salvage Yard Folk.  Chalk it up to karma or whatever you’d like, I’ve certainly been the beneficiary of some good turns lately, which leads me to the following story.

A colleague of mine at work retired a little over a month ago, and I was unable to attend his farewell luncheon because I was still at home playing hooky recuperating from a small surgical procedure.  I sent him an email expressing my regrets, and promised to take him out for a meal myself when I was back at work and he available. 

Yesterday was the day we were able to get together.  He dropped by the office, and we drove in Daughter’s Cabrio over to the local Corner Market Deli.  Since it was a Friday, the place was packed and, after ordering our food, we grabbed a table outside on the back patio. 

What ensued was a pleasant meal together during which we commiserated about getting old, feeling crappy, not being millionaires, and dealing with rust in classic cars. 

It wasn’t all complaining, you see. 

Since I am still employed (for now), we had to wrap things up after about an hour so I could return to the Salt Mine and the latest Crisis of the Day.  My friend thanked me and had the good fortune to be able to climb back in his car and continue with his retirement. 

I spent the balance of the afternoon on the phone, peeling other Muggles off the overhead when they became upset over minor project transgressions, and answering emails. 

Not soon enough, it was time for me to go home and, since I was the last one in the office (again), I locked everything up and descended to the parking lot.  But before driving off, I checked in my gym bag to verify my wallet was there.

Nope. 

Then, in quick succession, I checked my jacket, desk, Daughter’s car, the restroom, the entire office.

Nothing. 

This was not good.  I started to have that sinking feeling that, this time finally, I had really done it and lost my wallet forever.  Though I was more disgusted with myself than upset, I began to go through the mental checklist of the credit cards I immediately needed to cancel and the forms of ID I would have to apply for anew.  It was certainly going to be a hassle, but worse things were possible. 

Lots worse. 

Whether that was Zen-me thinking or just a function of being worn out at the end of a very long year and a half at work, I didn’t panic.  I may have used some choice words, but then I began to realize that none of the credit card banks had called my cell (which I hadn’t lost — yet) to query me about suspicious activity.

Maybe there was hope, but I would not allow myself to believe.

But before driving home, I figured it would be prudent to call the place where we ate lunch just on the off-chance that some good Samaritan had found my wallet and turned it in. 

Instead of describing what happened next, I’ll just say I have a brother-in-law who, despite his best efforts to the contrary, always seems to come out all right, no matter what the situation.  On my wife’s side of the family, they say “his bum lands in the butter.”

Well, yesterday, my bum was covered in butter, as my lovely Spouse reminded me.  She also recounted that I have either misplaced or actually lost my wallet on numerous occasions throughout the years, and it always manages to reappear, as if by magic.  She claims I have a Guardian Angel watching over me, and I don’t necessarily disagree anymore.  Maybe it has something to do with all the talismans she’s packed in my pockets, as well.  I just don’t know.

So, what could have been a disaster turned out not to be, and the manager of the deli had no idea who turned in my wallet — whomever turned the good deed will remain anonymous. 

In the end, I guess what goes around does, eventually, come around.  And I feel fortunate today.

By the way, I will test this theory tomorrow, since I spend my morning refereeing soccer. 

Along with the Gatorade, I plan on throwing into my cooler a stick of butter, just in case.

- Dad

I Almost Burned Down a Hotel

Being the unprepared person I am, I brought my own food along on my three-day trip out to central Pennsylvania because of my various food allergies. (Food allergies are so hot right now – I’m right on trend. #fashionforward)

I was so happy to have my bagel with me at breakfast one morning that my joy washed away any sort of rational thinking, exacerbating my already-lackluster awareness that comes with being awake before noon.

In case you forgot, I am not a morning person. I stumble around blindly in the light of day until finally I realize that this is no nightmare, I am truly awake in the real world. Because of this, my decision-making skills in the a.m. are not exactly on par with, say, my afternoon and evening decision-making skills.

The fire in question was caused by a conveyor-belt toaster which had a very small opening between the conveyor belt platform and the heating implement. I’ve already learned once that I should not be trusted to cook things. I haven’t learned anything, apparently because what follows is the height of culinary idiocy. I can almost hear Gordon Ramsey banishing me from the kitchen on one of his reality t.v. shows.

I thought that my bagel –  a hulking Godzilla among tiny, weak breakfast foods – would fit into the toaster perfectly. In a fit of naive optimism I thought things would work out for me. Surely this bagel will fit! I will just cut it up into multiple pieces and push the bagel down so as to fit it according to the confines of the space!!!

My dreams of toasty, bagel-y perfection would be destroyed, however. Or rather, set aflame and turned to ash and dust.

By smashing the bagel into the conveyor belt, I did indeed make the bagel smaller. Unfortunately, I was also ensuring that huge pieces of sticky bagel bread clung to the wiring of the conveyor. I had also cut the bagel up in an effort to ameliorate the toasting process, quite unaware that those very pieces would congeal into a mass of horror at the back of the toaster. This mass completely jammed the conveyor belt and stopped it from moving. At this point, the crumbs on the wiring caught fire.

I nervously attempted put the fire out while simultaneously attempting to remove the congealed bagel from the back of the toaster. Another guest, slightly bemused at my horror and unease at this growing inferno, blew out the flames. SUCCESS!

But no, there would be no success on this day.

The fires came back with a vengeance. At this point, I call over my aunt who smartly turns off the heat. But, the flames continued. Eventually, I flagged down a woman who worked at the hotel who put it out without much fuss. She tells me it happens all the time and that she “doesn’t want me to feel bad”.

I looked around, the smell of acrid smoke completely enveloping the downstairs main lobby, and stared back at her and said with a straight face, “Oh, I don’t feel bad.”

And I didn’t feel ‘bad’. That is not the correct word for the feelings I felt. “Shame”, “embarrassment”, and “horror” are more apt.

I misjudged a toaster, what else am I misjudging? Whose crumbs have I crushed onto toaster wiring? What friends have I set aflame in a rush of ill-judgment? We will never know.

- Daughter

How to Recover from Embarrassment

First of all, recovery from embarrassment is impossible. You will live with the shadow of shame following you through every triumph and every defeat. In fact, embarrassment and shame will be your only companions as you slowly walk toward your death.

But, never fear! There are ways to cope.

I shall start by digging through the dumpster of my memories to scrounge up one of the most embarrassing things I have ever done, lest the fresh embarrassment from this past weekend not be enough self-inflicted torture. What happened this past weekend? That will forever remain a mystery. (‘Forever’ = until enough time passes so that the story becomes funny instead of just cringe-inducing.)

Happily, I have an embarrassing story that has been aging like a fine wine. It has been stewing for years in my memory and now, we can all chow down on this hearty… stew… of hilarious wonders. It is embarrassing but I no longer feel a desperate urge to spontaneously combust when I tell it. I’ll set the scene for you: I was a young child, but 18 years of this world. I could parrot back monologues from Hamlet, sure, but real life skills were lacking. Public transportation was totally inaccessible to me intellectually, truly an enigma. An enigma that almost took my arm off.

I was on my way home and had to take the train to the airport. I wrote down the train schedule four times. I got to the train hours earlier than I needed to. I got to the right platform, HURRAH!!! I silently congratulated myself. I was almost a real person.

Then, a train came and the conductor yelled something but I didn’t hear or try to listen in my excitement. I jumped on the train, only to have the door immediately shut on my arm, from which I could not extricate myself. My body was inside the car but my arm, still clutching my suitcase, was hopelessly flailing on the other side of the door. At this point, I panic. I do a crazy dance trying to will myself to become something – anything – else besides the flesh and bone trapped between the train doors.

Now, this particular performance would not be so spectacular if it weren’t for the fact that the platform was overflowing with people whose attention I held captive with my antics. The conductor eventually figured out what was going on and opened the doors at which point he told me loudly, “I SAID THIS WAS THE LAST STOP, NO PASSENGERS!”

I hurried off, my imaginary tail between my legs. The crowd of witnesses just stared in shock at the stupidity that had occurred before them. I actually overheard another passenger say, “I would feel bad… but she’s just sooo stupid.” Ah, that stung. Thank you, kind stranger!! You are truly a god among men. 

Yes, I almost died because I was so anxiety-ridden I became deaf. I almost lost my arm, guys. TO A TRAIN.

———

Here are my tips for dealing with embarrassment:

1) Become a Hermit: Who needs people? All they do is make you feel embarrassed and ashamed. Unacceptable.

2) Cry: A real cry. A hurricane of tears that no emergency response team can even fathom cleaning up.

3) Fetal Position: Attempt the fetal position and stay like that for three days, preferably in a closet à la Harry Potter.

4) Just Stop: Don’t do the embarrassing thing ever again.

———

Feel free to share your embarrassing stories in the comments to make me feel better about myself!

- Daughter

A Boyfriend Named Insomnia

Insomnia, my old paramour, has come for an extended stay. He’s a bit of a jerk as he tends to keep me up until daybreak. I have told him over and over again that I need my beauty sleep, to which he responds, “No amount of sleep will help you with that, honey.”

Not me.

Not me.

What is really unfortunate about not sleeping is that the world does not care. The day continues whether you are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed or bleary-eyed and scraggly-tailed. I’m writing this now at 2am in the morning, laughing maniacally as I calculate for the millionth time how much sleep – or rather, how little – I will get. My mind is bouncing around like a newborn joey but my body is tired… because it just gave birth to a joey. Those interspecies births are killer.

These are the thoughts I tend to ruminate on when Insomnia tries to make our relationship work again by showering me with wakefulness:

MORTALITY

THE MEANING OF LIFE

LOVE

HEART-BREAK

FAMILY

CATS

WHAT TOMORROW’S BREAKFAST WILL CONSIST OF

Except for cats and food, my thoughts tend toward the melancholy when I find myself in Insomnia’s uncomfortable, restless embrace strangle-hold. It’s not enough that I can’t sleep, I must also grapple with unanswerable ontological questions that are deeply unsettling and thus, not conducive to sleep.

Luckily, I have coping mechanisms! One is to read and do homework because being productive is generally a GoodLifeChoice ™.  Another way I cope is meticulously painting my nails with the likenesses of the first ten U.S. presidents. I also generally get up at some point and eat my feelings in the form of a gallon tub of hummus and some hippie flax seed crackers. If I really can’t sleep, I will cry. Usually while rolling around and sobbing, “I DID MY BEST…I DID MY BEST.” It sounds very theatrical. And it is.

"This would be ever so restful if I weren't deathly allergic to pollen and grass."

“This would be ever so restful if I weren’t deathly allergic to pollen and grass.”

There is nothing quite like the hysteria of a mental breakdown from Insomnia. But maybe when I finally fall asleep and wake up in the morning, I will find the emotional strength to break up with him. He was never good enough for me anyway and always brutally murdered those sheep I am so fond of counting. That jerk.

- Daughter

Panic and Freak Out Mode

I feel like this baby snow leopard shoved into a bowl, weighed in a clinical cold environment with no hope of understanding the goings-on of life.

I feel like this baby snow leopard shoved into a bowl, weighed in a clinical and cold environment with no hope of understanding the goings-on of life.

I am beginning to feel a tightening in my chest and it’s not the drugs since I don’t do them currently. I’m also fairly certain it’s not heart burn because I don’t remember eating bacon or grease-laced food stuffs. I did watch Paula Deen’s cooking show so it could be heart burn through osmosis (the episode was called “Butter My Butt and Call Me a Biscuit”). But there’s just no way Paula could be the cause of this strange sensation…

It’s anxiety. Welcome back, my old friend.

Why am I anxious? I’m leaving for school and the impending departure is beginning to take a toll on my nerves, guys. Well, more like full-on panic-mode has been engaged. There are 93439578940274389573243 things I must accomplish and exactly -4 hours to accomplish them. The pent-up stress is starting to manifest itself in a myriad of ways:

1) Starbucks. I’ve always been a sucker for wasting my money this place, but in times of duress, I immediately go here to get my foamy fix of sweet nothings. I get something fancy to make myself feel less poor (I’m ironic like that). Buying coffee from Starbucks also fulfills my New Year’s resolution to contribute to sprawling corporations. Two birds, one expensive fu stone.

2) Social life death. “I’m really, really tired. I think I’m going to leave and go to bed.” I have said this at least ten times in the past week. It’s very sad. I’m sorry, friends! I have to be home to pace around and panic, it’s very time-consuming.

3) Obsessive nail-painting. Because it helps me relax, okay??!!!! Breath in, paint, breathe out, paint. *nail polish goes onto skin* SONOFA [bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep].

4) No patience with customers. Today, a customer returned some biscotti that I specifically helped her find. I went through a lot of trouble to get it for her. If my memory serves me correctly, I left my post to get her stupid cookies in the middle of a huge Christmas line that wrapped its way around the store, an overfed, swollen snake of capitalism (?), and then rummaged through a section to give her four different options. I almost cried a little bit when she laughed and said she was returning them. I really wanted to dump out the biscotti, crumble them up, and then throw it at her and say, “It’s a new service we’re offering, cookie confetti!!!” But I didn’t. I just stared at her soulless, beady eyes and allowed myself to emit a grumbly noise of displeasure. This doesn’t seem like I lost my patience, but in terms of customer service, I committed a grave sin. I’m not even sorry.

5) List-making. It makes me feel good inside.

How lists make me feel: like a baby polar bear.

How lists make me feel: like a baby polar bear.

6) Packing habits. Usually, packing is a series of justifications and rationalizations with the end result being frustration and deciding to pack my entire closet regardless of necessity. A typical inner monologue goes like this:

Do I really need three swimsuits? It’s going to be 20-30 degrees for the first two months in Pennsylvania and only warm enough for swimming maybe the last three weeks. But wait, if I bring three, that’s means there’s enough to wear one a week, meaning I wouldn’t even have to do laundry! Three it is. 

This time around, my packing is a manifestation of my psychological stress. It has brought out very scary, uncontrollable OCD-like tics. I put one item in the suitcase, I take three out. I re-arrange a sock, decide it is aesthetically displeasing, and re-position it until I get it into a  perfect location. I get into the suitcase, go into the fetal position, and rock back and forth while crying to myself quietly. Seriously, there is something about packing right now that makes me sad.

Sad kitty is sad.

Sad kitty is sad. 

Time to go drink my feelings away. At the bar Starbucks.

- Daughter

Warp Speed Wipers

While I was learning the real-life definition of “hydroplaning” on my way to work this morning, I started to feel self-conscious (in addition to feeling like I was going to die). I just knew people were judging my windshield wiper speed. I should really focus on the road, it’s raining and people are dumb… Was that guy who just passed me staring at my wipers and laughing? What the heck? Let me speed up to him and see how fast his wipers are going. Oh, they’re going slow. Stupid, self-righteous slow-wiper-speed people. Ugh, they’re the worst. I’m going to speed up and cut him off now. 

Careful, those horses might hydroplane.

Careful, those horses might hydroplane.

The problem is that my wipers have three settings: off, Warp Speed, and waiting-for-something-you-really-want-to-arrive-in-the-mail (slow). I settled on the slow speed for a little bit but was immediately blinded by incoming rain. Not being in the mood to be in a fatal car crash, I activated Warp Speed. Some sort of force field was created as a result. The rain drops didn’t even have a chance to hit my windshield, they were jiu jitsued off by my wipers.

It was raining a moderate amount and water was being kicked up by cars in front of me so the fast wiper speed was definitely justified (I’M NOT DEFENSIVE) but I still felt self-conscious. I started to feel like maybe I wasn’t good enough – and maybe I wouldn’t ever be good enough – for slow wiper speeds. I looked around at all the smug slow-wiper drivers and then I had an epiphany. The “eeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” of the wipers took on the quality of a Buddhist chant and I was able to center myself. I realized that I would always be that person who uses the Warp Speed setting when there is merely mist from a fog. I will always be that person. And that’s okay. That’s okay. That’s okay. 

- Daughter

 

 

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