Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Thirty Nine

There it is, in big, unmistakable words.  My age. Right out there for everyone to see.

The thing is, my age doesn't bother me. I wake up every morning thinking I'm still 26, and I'm still mistaken for a college student by the vast majority of people I encounter.  I have to remind myself that I'm 39 most of the time.  I have to admit however, that when a young 20 something guy approaches me with interest, I'm reminded that at this age I just don't have the energy to grow up another boyfriend.  I'm no longer going to be "Girlfriend Yoda" for the young untrained "padawan learner boyfriends" out there.

"Bring flowers you must." Uh, nope.

Age doesn't bother me unless someone else tells me that I SHOULD be stressed about it.  Like two years ago, when at the age of 37 I tried new doctor.  After I told her I wasn't interested in birth control pills because I hadn't yet found one that didn't make me an emotional wreck, she said, "Uh huh, well, there is always sterilization."

I was stunned.

When I explained that I did actually want to have children someday, she Uh-huhed again and said, "Well, you should probably starting seriously thinking about that, because sooner rather than later, nature will close that window."

I've always been told that female doctors were better, but I left her office feeling only two emotions. One, certain that I was never going to go back, and Two, I was panicked that at any moment-- perhaps on that very walk to my car, I was going to feel my ovaries and uterus seize up like a rusted V8 engine and drop with a dusty clunk onto the pavement at my feet.  "GAME OVER MISSY!!" It would wheeze with it's last breath (in Lewis Black's voice), "THAT WINDOW HAS CLOSED."

I spent the next few weeks in a Bridget Jones-esque  state of constant and awkward self examination. If I was warm, I would think, "Is it warm outside or is this a hot flash??" Seriously.  It's embarrassing to write, but it's true.  Anything out of normal that could in anyway be ascribed to the next "life change" was analyzed and nit picked by me.  I hid it, of course, from everyone around me because if I told them they might see the same symptoms and validate something that I didn't want validated.

Yes, at 37 years old, I was spending the better part of my day wondering if I was entering Menopause.
Even though  I had no symptoms.
Even though everything was normal.
Even though I knew on some level that I was fine.

Thanks crazy, hippy, lady doctor. Thanks. You suck. I hope your uterus sounds like Lewis Black too.

It was a good thing I lived alone, because I would have driven someone else utterly insane.

It wasn't long before my rational self was able to regain control, but I've thought about it a lot since.

I was still in my twenties when Bridget Jones Diary came out. I related to Bridget on many levels.  Not, I should say in the "wearing a see through top and fannying about with the press releases," kind of way, and I've never had a boss as good looking as Hugh Grant, but in other ways I sort of understood her.  When a young intern in DC, I too consumed too much alcohol and had to go to work the next day hung-over and wearing my clothes from the previous day. More than once.

I've too have dreamed of a guy as perfect as her fictional Mark Darcy, saying to me that he likes me "Just as I am."  Bonus points if he had a British Accent while pointing out my various shortcomings, including my verbal diarrhea and frequent use of the F bomb.

 I've dated oodles of inappropriate men for reasons that were as inappropriate as they were. Do two negatives make a positive?  No. I've done the research.

Come to think of it, I once dated a guy with a British accent for that reason alone. He had nothing else to recommend him. He was a bartender with a tattoo of Betty Boop on one arm, two pierced nipples, and the combined IQ of a donut and an ashtray.  Inappropriate? You betcha. We lasted three whole weeks, when I had an epiphany whilst sitting on a keg in the basement of his bar that I wanted more out of life. Way more. I left without saying goodbye.  He may have been the first that ended that way, but he certainly wasn't the last. Besides, back then at 28, I had so much time to find the right guy why waste a minute upon realizing this one, or that one, was the wrong guy?

So now I'm 39, and my most recent serious relationship, now over a year gone, collapsed under the weight of it's own wrongness. He was too young, too inexperienced and too uncertain of who he was to be of long term interest, but because I was 37 and that god awful doctor felt the need to point out my fading youth to me, I stayed with him far too long. The breakup was a relief, my only regret being that I no longer had someone with which to watch American Horror Story: Asylum.  My imagination is too vivid to watch scary things alone, and I've yet to see the second half of that season.

Several years ago, I posted on Facebook that I couldn't decide if I should keep holding out for the man that would keep my interest by challenging my intellect, or if I should just settle for one that's close enough.  A male friend responded, "Call me when you're ready to settle." 

At 39, I've realized that I'll never settle, for anything. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Serious Artist

I had a meeting today with the director of a production I've been working on.  We've met several times and the process, for the most part, has been very smooth  Except for three characters.  These three characters that in reality should have been the easiest to design because they're secondary characters with no story arc.  That is to say when we reach the end of the play, their motivation has not changed during the events of the play.

After a multitude of meetings, we had the final costume rendering presentation yesterday. I showed him the costumes for everyone in the show, including these three.  I had said that this was the final meeting before we began to move forward with constructing and purchasing the clothes.  It was a simple meeting, and despite going over an hour, he determined easily that he loved the costumes.  His words, not mine, "I love it all," he said.  Yay! Success.

This morning I arrived to my office to find two emails from this director, written at 1:45 AM and 1:53 AM respectively. The emails basically said he was having second thoughts about the trio and could he please come in for yet another meeting so that I could walk him through their costumes once again and reassure him.  Now, I'm a bit disgruntled by this because it means we cannot start working on the costumes after all, but I agree.

He arrives in my office and sure enough, he's every picture the indecisive director. After going over all three costumes again and answering all his questions, again. He agrees again that he loves all the costumes.  Knowing that I'd been through this twice already, I decide to address the fact that this is the third time I've needed to meet with him to reassure him, which is slowing down the construction process. He immediately got defensive and said, "I think, you know, that if I have a feeling in my gut that something might be wrong, I should be able to come in and get reassurance from you anytime."

Realizing that I was ultimately going to get nowhere in this arguement, I agreed, but I wanted to say, "No, I do not have to reassure you about decisions you make because I'm not your mother, or your wife.   If you don't like something I've designed, just say so. I am not emotionally attached to my work. My designs aren't my babies, and my "art" isn't my life.  So if you don't like one thing, or any of it, just say so, because the whining and hesitating only irritates me, as does you showing up every forty eight hours to have your ego stroked....er, I mean your decisions reassured."

But I didn't say any of that.

When he said that the show is an ensemble piece where every character is equally important and the female title character is just one of many stories, I didn't say anything, but I wanted to say that he didn't have a freakin' clue.  This play is a major piece of modern feminist literature. A play that gives a voice --and a choice-- to a woman that in previous tellings of the same story, didn't even have a single line.

"Pick your battles," I heard my mother say.

Finally, before he left, this director said, "You know, I'm a serious artist, so I eat and sleep and live with something so much that it becomes a part of me, it's in my blood and I care about the piece so much that I want it to be perfect. I get emotional because I'm close to the project." He had also previously stated that he would be abstaining from alcohol for the duration of the creative process so he could focus completely on the project and not be distracted.  All of this was said with that kind of tone that intimates  I might not be a "serious artist."

Okay, so because I choose leave all this theater work at the office to go home and watch shows like Downton Abbey while eating a bowl of Special K, or talk on the phone, or play music-- instead of marinating in this production 24/7 while only eating Quinoa and doing yoga-- I'm not a serious artist??

"You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar," I heard my grandma say.

As an artist myself I find it ridiculous that other artists think and behave like this.  That somehow in order to be taken seriously they have to make these inane and sometimes radical choices in life as if that makes them somehow more dedicated to the "art" than someone like me, more in contact with the world than me, or more in tune with human emotion. It makes no sense, has no basis in reality. Furthermore, emailing coworkers in the middle of the night and dropping by to have your neurosis eased is unprofessional.

I love what I do, but you know what? I also love skiing, and going to movies, and drinking a really great bottle of wine, and eating a really great restaurant, reading a great book, going to a symphony, and talking about politics or literature or other art related things that I'm not directly involved in.  I find non-artistic things fascinating.  I sat on the plane today with a guy who is in restaurant management and I riddled him with questions about it.  I recently met a Veterinarian for Thoroughbred horses. He's basically a vet for race horses. Amazing!  Every time I visit my dentist I learn more about dentistry and I'm fascinated.  In each of these interactions do I attempt to show my superiority because I'm an artist? Heck no. First of all because being an artist doesn't make me superior to anyone, and also because I believe that all of the things I do that are not "art" actually makes me a better artist.  I'm an outstanding Costume Designer, but I'm also a great teacher, a good friend, and a decent skier. I also have really great teeth and a greater understanding of what I need to do to keep them that way, and perhaps most importantly, I have learned how to spot a race horse that is particularly healthy and likely to win, thus potentially making me a better gambler.  Not sure that's an improvement, but it's going to make visiting racetracks more fun!!

So if being a Serious Artist means that I have to take myself way too seriously and develop weird habits so that I can feel superior others, or constantly reach out for approval, I'll take being a non-serious artist, thanks.

Somebody pass the Special K.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Theater Card. Revoked.

I work in the Performing Arts.

Oh, you think, how sexy! How interesting! How Glamorous!

I'm told "How lucky you are to work in something you love."

That's the one that always gets me.  How lucky I am to work in a field I love. 
It always surprises me because no matter who I'm talking to when I tell them I work in the Performing Arts, I've never told them that I love it.  I know that I've never told them that because I don't tell anyone I love it.

When you're in college and you have these stars in your eyes about being onstage, you're told that if you choose to do this as a career, you must love it because you'll never get rich doing it.

"Oh, I do, I do!"  The young impressionable person cries out.  "I do love it!  I can't LIVE without this!"

 "Well, good." They say.

Then you go on in the field, studying in college and grad school and eventually landing the incredibly competitive internship at the enviable BIG NAME theatre company that doesn't pay well at all but damn it's such a good thing to have on your resume that you don't mind that you have to eat ramen, or nothing, for weeks on end and live in a dump with six other people because you're only making $500 a MONTH in Washington, DC.  You focus on the positive instead.  The great name on the resume, the amazing new things you're learning,  that living with six other people in a four bedroom walk-up is actually very boho trendy, or that, while being malnourished, you're also ragingly skinny. Even starvation has it's perks, you tell yourself. Hello size six, or four, then two!  Oh heck, you think, if I get really desperate, I can go to the bar and eat the free chips, and maybe drink some calories since there's always a guy there who's willing to buy a girl a beverage.

Of course, I'm speaking totally hypothetically here.

Back in college, they're very honest about how you won't get "rich" doing this, but what they neglect to tell you is that you probably won't actually make any money at all.  I have countless friends who have no savings or retirement of any kind.  They live paycheck to paycheck, working exhaustingly long hours.   When asked why they do it, their response, in a voice filled with fatigue and defeat,  is "I love it." 

I think some of them do, or at least did at one time, and six months ago if you asked me why I did it, I'd give you the response we performing arts people are trained to say.

I love it. I do it because I love it. 

As I aged however, I've come me to terms with many things in my life, and one of them is the reality that I've quite possibly been lying to other people, and to myself, for years.

You see, I don't love it.

Sometimes I didn't even like it very much. 

I didn't love not making money. I didn't love having to choose between a family and my career because the hours I have to work in order to pay my living expenses leave little time for another person, or god forbid children. If' I get pregnant then at some point I won't be able to work because I'll have to stop long enough to push another human out of my body.  And who has time for that when the next paycheck is all that separates me from living in a box under the I-10 freeway?

It turns out, sacrificing for art isn't my thing, and so I left the poverty based art world for greener pastures.  I don't find it less fulfilling. Sometimes I feel like a should, especially when my very artistic friends look at me sideways and say, "Don't you feel like a sellout?" 

No, I don't feel like a sellout.  I feel like I traded one type of life for another one, and I'm happier for it.  If I had to leave the performing arts industry forever, I would miss it, but I'd still be happy, especially if I traded it for the real love of my life, whomever or whatever that is.

Just don't tell anyone I said that. They'll take my theater card away.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Let It Be

My brother died thirty one years ago today.

Thirty one years.  It was a lifetime ago, and it was yesterday.

When he died, it blew our family apart.  He wasn't sick so we didn't see it coming, we couldn't prepare for the inevitable.  He literally went to school one day and never came home; we woke up a family of five, and went to bed a family of four.

Grief from loss, I've learned, is lifetime thing. It's not so much that you "get over it" or "put it behind you," but rather that you learn to live with it. Thirty years later I will still absentmindedly pull five plates from the cabinet while setting the table at my parents house.  Scooby Doo still brings a sense of sadness when I see it, because that's what was on television in the immediate  aftermath of the accident, when our lives were full of chaos and confusion.  Writing September 20 on a check or seeing the date on the calendar still gives me pause and I cannot cross a street without obsessively looking both ways multiple times.  I am glad that milk chocolate brown sedans are no longer seen on the road because for years when I was growing up I'd see big brown sedans in parking lots and wonder if that was the car that killed my brother. A child's mind connects with death in unusual ways.

My brother left everything behind too, like people do when they die.  He still had dirty laundry, so two days after the funeral, my mother went to do the laundry and had to wash clothes that would never be worn again.  In her grief, she not only washed them, but dried them, folded them, and put them away in his dresser.  They sat in that old oak dresser for fifteen years, until one day she abruptly decided to clean it out.  I helped her without being asked, and she cried over each little item as she transferred it from dresser to paper sack.  A few things she kept to put into storage, telling me I'd have to toss them out when she was gone. Things like the blue and red striped shirt my brother had written his name on in big, crooked kid letters across the front, and the backpack he was carrying the day of the accident.

You cannot realize how much stuff a six year old has, even if you have a six year old.  You cannot grasp the amount of stuff a little person can accumulate in such a short amount of time until you're left with every last bit of it to find and put away.  Little hands leave things in strange places, and we found toys of his tucked into corners and crevices for years after he'd left us.  Each discovery would bring the loss home again, as the realization that the person who had last touched the item was no longer around.  We still have many of his toys, and my mother often says that if she has a grandson, they will be given to him.

My mother loves The Beatles, and my child hood was filled with music.  When my brother was killed, my mother listened to Let It Be over and over again, and it was played at his funeral.  As the years have gone by, I've learned that we are not unique in our tragedy.  Since his death, I've met so many people who have suffered the loss of a sibling, spouse, or other individual who died long before it was their time, and the most compelling thing I've learned is this: We can choose to be defined by the most horrific tragedy to befall us, or like The Beatles so eloquently put it, we can choose to let it be.  I realize now why my mother listened to that song so much, she was choosing to let it be, even when the horror was still so fresh it turned her stomach and brought tears to her eyes.

 My father recently put this photo up on my Facebook page.  I remember this trip, it was sometime in 1981, about a year before the accident that irrevocably changed our lives.  I remember how much I loved that dress and how much my mother fought with me about how I shouldn't wear socks with sandals, a battle she clearly let me win. What caught my attention the most about the image though is it's strangely prophetic layout.  My youngest brother and I stand in on the bright side of the image, looking out at the camera, both holding cotton candy.  Far to the left, with a tree separating him from us and standing in shadow, is my lost little brother.  He is still and rather than looking out from the image, he's in profile, watching us.  If I didn't tell you he was there, you'd probably never see him, yet there he stands. Clearly he was part of our family, but is now separated forever from us. 

   "There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart."
---Mahatma Ghandi
It has been said time heals all wounds.  I do not agree.  The wounds remain.  In time, the mind protecting it's sanity covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it's never gone." 
- Rose Kennedy
- See more at: http://www.psychic-readings-guide.com/quotes-about-grief.html#sthash.h69Cgl83.dpuf
"It has been said time heals all wounds.  I do not agree.  The wounds remain.  In time, the mind protecting it's sanity covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it's never gone." 
- Rose Kennedy
- See more at: http://www.psychic-readings-guide.com/quotes-about-grief.html#sthash.h69Cgl83.dpuf

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

...And The One Armed Juggler Broke His Arm.

I was home in Michigan this week, and decided  I would spend the day with my mom.  Now, spending a day with my mother is always a bit of an adventure, but today was extra special.

My mother is a talent agent. Now, before you get all excited and want to send her your headshots, you should know she's a talent agent for "Free On Grounds Entertainment."  What is free on grounds entertainment you ask? Well, it's the puppet show, or the juggler, or the ventriloquist, or some other kind of variety show act that performs at your local fair.  The acts are paid to be there, but the fair attendee doesn't have to buy a ticket to see them.  Like most agents, my mother lives with a bluetooth surgically implanted in her ear, and the phone is always ringing.

We started the day meeting with Attorney B  about my grandparents estate, which is kind of a mess right now for a lot of reasons, but the meeting went as well as could be expected.  We were having lunch at this little dive bar restaurant that I love in my hometown, and out of the blue Mom got an email from a partner at the law offce, one that was she was clearly supposed to see.  The partner, believing he was only writing to  attorney B made some pretty derogatory comments about everyone involved in the case, including my mother.  Undaunted, my mother fired off an email to her attorney that basically called the partner out.  The partner ten responded with a rather slightly apologetic and carefully worded email about he was just frustrated and they need to work together. Needless to say, it appears that in order to be a partner at a law firm, one does not, in fact, need to know how to use (or perhaps how NOT to use) the "Reply All" button in an email program. In classic Barber fashion, mom has never allowed the guy to live it down.

Next, as we shopped for groceries, a phone call from one of her fair clients came in to discuss an entertainer's behavior at a recent show. Problems included the entertainers wife yelling profanity at the fair manager.  Mom apologized and then called the entertainer's manager (who was also his wife) to discuss the situation, only to discover that his real "wife" wasn't at the fair at all.   Mom ended up telling woman that it looked like her husband was cheating on her.  It went as well as could be expected, and the other customers in the checkout lane with us had a good laugh too.

And in the final act of the day, a juggler my mother booked in another show called to tell her that, after a day of work, he couldn't finish the contract because he broke his scapula and couldn't perform.  When I asked if he could do the show with one arm and a partner, which is not unheard of in the industry, my mother looked at me incredulously and said, "Tracy, he only has one good arm, and that's the one that broke.  He's a one armed juggler."

Monday, July 29, 2013

How to Not Get A Date

I'm a single, financially independent, career oriented, thirty something woman and despite residing in what I like to think of as a more mature age bracket, I still find myself approached in all manner of locations by men, young and older, who are hoping to score a date with me. Some are pretty terrific about it, and their nervous, awkward, or subtle and nuanced approach is usually rewarded.

Then there are others, like those below, who say such out of the world odd ball things that to not write them down somewhere would be a travesty..... as would dating any of them very seriously.

In Grocery Store (Long haired granola guy who clearly knows avocados)
"Hey, you look like you might know about picking out an avocado, and I don't, so wanna help me squeeze some?" 

In a gym (bodybuilder):
"You ever date a bodybuilder? My last girlfriend dumped me because I got into bodybuilding. I used to be all scrawny but now I'm not and I need a girl who's okay with that."

In line at coffee shop (Weird Hipster guy who didn't think I knew The Princess Bride):
"Man, your eyes are so blue. They're like the sea after a storm."

In a sports bar (guy in camo Oakland Raiders ballcap):
"I bet you look great when you're holding a gun. I should take you shooting sometime."
In San Francisco at a nightclub (guy who also appeared to have no body hair):
"You must be a Republican, I don't see any body hair." 

In the commissary at a studio in LA:
"You're not an actress are you? You don't look like one." 

At an event in Beverly Hills (he was a cosmetic dentist, and it was actually our third date):
"I think you're really intelligent and I absolutely want to keep dating you, but I can tell you're really insecure, and I can help you with that." 

At another fundraising event in LA (he was a real estate agent):
"I want to take you to dinner and then drive you around and show you all my high end listings."

And my personal favorite, and most recent one: 

In a coffee shop in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan:
"I once caught a fish as big as you."

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dear Wisconsin....

Today, I met a person from Wisconsin. When I asked where in Wisconsin they were from, they used their hand as a map to point out a location.

Me: (Confused) I thought you were from Wisconsin?

Them:  I am, from here. (Points to spot on hand).

Me: That's Michigan.

Them:  It's Wisconsin too.

Me:  [Stunned silence]

Baffled, I told the story to my dad, who said that lately Wisconsonians (Wisconsinites?) have starting using the "hand map" trick to describe their state too.

Wisconsin looks like this:

Now, you Wisconsinolas (Wisconsineers?)--- I can see where, if you squint really hard and blur your vision, or get up after a night of hard drinking, that you can maybe see a mitten in there.


Or maybe it's Quasimodos mitten.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that one could get away with calling it a mitten, IF Wisconsin wasn't immediately adjacent to a state that LOOKS JUST LIKE A MITTEN without the need of squinting or alcohol to blur your vision in order to convince yourself.

However, Michigan looks like this:

Now, the Upper Peninsula is all weird shaped, but that's okay because all the people up there are kinda weird too so it fits, but the Lower Peninsula is pretty obviously shaped like a mitten, without the need of alcohol, or squinting.

So I think that you should probably leave the hand map thing to Michiganders (Michigonians?) otherwise you risk looking like Michigan wannabes.

Still, I don't want to take everything away from you so I made the image of Wisconsin yellow, because you're known for cheese.

You're welcome.

The Trolls Under the Bridge Who Live in the Mitten.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

An Open Letter to My Dentist

I don’t have my dentist’s email address and right now that’s a good thing.  If I did, he would be getting the following from me. 

Dear Dr. A,

I am writing to you today, less than a week after my root canal was started, because I want to ask you about something that is going on with my tooth.  However, before I launch into the problem, I feel that I should give you a bit of background on the situation.
First of all, in what I am about to write there will be several instances where I will describe something I have done, and your mind will want to ask why on earth such actions were taken by me.  I only ask you to keep an open mind and remember that you have known me a long time so none of this should really be surprising.   

Anyway, until yesterday the tooth in question felt great.  I had even forgotten that it had been worked on. No pain, it was perfection.  In retrospect, I should have left well enough alone, or at least had the sense to let sleeping dogs lie.  I think there are probably a lot of metaphors describing what I should have done, but none of those came to mind until after the situation had developed.

I’m in Maryland on vacation right now, so I have a lot of time on my hands.  I decided to look on the internet and read about root canals and such since I don’t know much about them and I’m having one.....and actually I just wanted to have a whole bunch of really specific questions lined up for my next appointment because learning the breadth and depth of another person's (i. e. your) knowledge on a subject is kind of a pastime for me.  But I digress.

So while looking root canals and other things up on the internet, and drinking a lot of red wine, I discovered that allegedly you can tell if a tooth is infected simply by tapping lightly on the side of it with your fingernail.  This seemed a bit suspicious to me, but luckily I happened to have several perfectly good teeth in my head and one that I KNEW was not doing so well. 

I think you see where this is going. 

Later, as I laid in bed last night, feeling tipsy from the wine, I remembered my internet search and I started tapping on my teeth. Sure enough, when I got to the one that you've been working with, I thought it responded a bit different.  So I tapped a bit harder on all my teeth, and when I reached tooth X, I could definitely feel the difference. It HURT when  tapped on it.  Hmm, this internet theory is sound! The hurt tooth is painful when you strike it.  I drifted off to sleep certain of my new, all be it somewhat useless discovery.

I woke up this morning in serious pain. My little injured tooth apparently didn’t take well to the inquisitive and repeated strikes it received last night.  I rushed to the internet, and after some research, I am now hoping that it’s the periodontal ligament that’s inflamed and not the tooth, but I really can’t tell because I’m not actually a dentist, and the real dentist website doesn't say anything about what to do after drunkenly beating up sick teeth in the middle of the night.   

I now realize that I probably shouldn’t have gone around rapping on all my teeth without your go ahead, so all I can say is, “my bad,” and can you please advise what I might be able to do to make the throbbing pain go away? 

Thanks most sincerely from your too smart for her own good patient, 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Four Stages of Grief and a Dentist

 I’m obsessed with my teeth.

I was one of those lucky kids who never had braces because I never needed them, and so while my classmates struggled with metal clad grins in high school I got all the compliments about my pretty teeth.  I became very vain about that feature, thoughI was as neurotic as every other teenager about everything else.

I didn’t get my first cavity until I was in my late twenties, and when my dentist, whom I'll call Dr  A. gave me the news I asked for a second opinion like a dentist might be wrong about a cavity or that a cavity needed the same medical considerations and treatment as cancer.   

It took my mother the better part of a six hour drive to convince me that Dr. A was not, in fact,  some kind of dental hack who enjoyed giving unsuspecting twenty-somethings devastating news about their teeth, and that really, honey, the news of a cavity was not in fact devastating.  Cause for concern, but not devastating.  

So a couple months ago, a different dentist told me that I had a filling that had come loose and the cavity beneath it was so bad and my teeth so small, that I’d probably need a root canal and a crown.  That’s was a lot to take in, and it was not  Dr. A, whom my mother and my Google stalking had convinced me wasn't actually a hack, telling me this but this other supposed  dentist. 

Who was this guy?

When I questioned that dentist about what came next, he did what any good stand-in dentist would do. He told me, “ Dr A will have that conversation with you.”

On the car ride home from that appointment, my poor mother got the first few runs on how I envisioned THAT conversation with Dr  A. was going to happen.  

Looking back, I was clearly in denial. 

I realize now that in the following months I went through all the stages of grief over the news of the impending mercy killing of my little pre molar.

Next, I got angry.

Angry at the tooth for being so horribly weak that it got sick.
At myself for not only eating pure organic non sugary foods from very moment of birth.
At my entire ancestry for giving me the good genes for pretty teeth but lousy genes when it came to strong teeth.    

Later I moved into depression.

I would attempt to look at the tooth and its sorry little silhouette as I brushed my teeth, trying to memorize how it looked, knowing that someday soon it would be gone and I would only have these precious memories to remind me of the thirty something years we’d spent together. I can be annoyingly sentimental, especially if I allow it to happen, and in this situation I just wrapped myself in it like a big depressing blanket. 

It was with heavy heart that I began the journey to the dentist that I knew very well might be the last for the little guy I’d known for so long.

It turns out Dr. A  is a pretty persuasive guy, who basically never gave me much of a chance to argue or convince him that all of his dental training was simply no match for my sheer force of will.  
He bluntly and simply told me that the other dentists hypothesis regarding my tooth was correct, and that there was a 70% chance that my little molar was doomed.  

(insert sinking feeling here) 

Still, I held on to that remaining 30 percent chance for my tooth's survival in the same way that Jim Carrey’s character believed that “one in a million” was actually  “a chance” in Dumb and Dumber

I sat in that chair and prayed to the Baby Dentist Jesus--because I couldn't for the life of me remember which Saint was the Patron Saint of Dentists--- that  I would just need a regular old filling.

Alas, it was not to be and  I had very little time to move into the acceptance phase of grief, because in a matter of seconds, I was informed that not only did the “toothenasia” as I had termed it, need to happen, but that it was actually starting immediately.

And you know what, you really can’t cry with all those dental accessories in your mouth, or  wipe your tear-filled eyes with the safety glasses, the light, the assistant, the dentist and all their arms and hands and movement between your own hands and your eyes.   

Also, I knew my face would be numb and distorted already, and if I were to cry, I'd have tear smeared eye makeup. The image of my own  post dentist appointment face all saggy and streaked was too pathetic for my taste. 

I made the snap decision not to, but I really, really wanted to cry.   

Plus, Dr A. was physically moving forward with the work on my tooth, and had also already moved on to more positive things in our largely one way conversation, so my mind ultimately went elsewhere.  He's pretty much the best one way conversationalist I've ever met.  As he worked and talked, I wondered if they taught that in Dentist school or it's something he had to pick up over the years when sitting in another room with a person who can't talk because his hands are their mouth.  

Then I started  thinking about how his job in many ways is as weird as mine. I have to stand in small rooms and dress naked people I don't know, some with questionable hygiene practices.  Dr A has to sit in small rooms and put his hands in the mouths of people he doesn't know, some who probably also don't have the best hygiene practices.  Taken out of context, both professions have a serious potential ick factor, but I think he would usually win ---unless I get one who isn't wearing underwear. 

Anyway, Dr A. finished and put a temporary filling in so he could continue at another appointment, and my little tooth lives to fight a bit longer.  In many ways it’s not it’s old self, but least we get to spend a bit more time together. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Baby Barred Owls are Terrifying

No Really.  They are.

If you look them up on Google, they look like this:

Oh My, you say, he's soooo cute!

You look at this little guy and you want to cuddle him. He's adorable.

I mean, look at him! He's basically a cartoon owl.

He could sing or sew a dress with a Disney princess.

So, it's hard to believe that this little guy can unleash a sound that mimics a pig being slaughtered, but they absolutely do.

The sound pierces the night like a dagger, and if you happen to be slumbering peacefully near an open window in Michigan in the spring like I was one night, it will wake you with the kind of jolt that sends your soul out of your body and whitens your hair.


You can hear it here, use your back button to return to this page:

There I was suddenly lying wide awake, saucer-eyed, as my half asleep human brain struggled to comprehend the source of that horrific sound.  I didn't want to move or look out the window lest I discover a monster of cinematic proportion staring back at me through the flimsy screen of the opening that had previously been a source of a calm evening breeze. You're not sure you heard it, but then you hear it again, and again.

I quietly prayed it would stop and pulled my covers up to my eyes. When it finally ceased, I drifted into a troubled rest and was grateful when the dawn came.

I grew up in the forest where my parents still live and  I'm not afraid of it. I know the ground so well, that I can walk around the property in the dark.  However, after being awakened by that sound and hearing it repeatedly for twenty minutes, it took me weeks to go outside alone after dark.

My soul was certain the screaming banshees would take it the minute I opened the door.

It was almost as bad as the time I watched The Blair Witch Project and sat in the car for over an hour when I returned home, but that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

An Open Letter to THAT GUY

Dear "That Guy",

I appreciate that you approached me for conversation in Hemingway's in LA this past weekend.
At first you seemed nice enough, so I decided to engage in conversation with you, since I had nothing else to do while I waited for my friend in the restroom.

Also, thanks for the compliment that I'm "almost there in the looks category," and for the following advice to help me officially get there:
1. Get a tan
2. Get my teeth "fixed"
3. Hit the gym
4. Pick out clothes that are more colorful
5. Wear more make-up
6. "Maybe" get my nose "fixed"
7. Develop more self confidence, which I'll get if I do all the above.

That's a lot of stuff to do, but I'll sure work on it.  In return, I suggest the following for you:

1. Go to college.
2. Stop telling people that you're a lawyer when further conversation reveals that you only hope to  "go to Law School someday"
3.  Don't wear a polyester suit and tell me it costs $3000... Like I can't tell the difference.
4. In fact, don't ever discuss the cost of your clothes even if it DID cost that much.
5. Use less hair gel, pomade, or whatever made your hair look like you stole it from a seal.
6. When a woman abruptly walks away from you, don't find her twenty minutes later to continue the conversation.
7. When she abruptly walks away from you again, get the hint, and don't try find her AGAIN, resulting in her ducking and running through a club with her friend in tow. It makes for a long night.

So it was great meeting you, and let's never do this again.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

You Wouldn't Jump off a Bridge

I want to preface this with the statement that I love my friends, and I choose carefully whom I bring into my circle, even my social media circle.

I value intelligence, creativity and education certainly, but I also put a great deal of stock in the ability to question that which is put before you as a fact. I grew up in a household that embraced and encouraged independent thought.  When I would come home from school and summarily beg to do or buy whatever thing some girl at school had, the conversation went something like this.

Well if Suzy jumped off the Mackinac Bridge, would you do it?

The obvious answer was no, I would not jump off the bridge.
Well then let’s not worry about what Suzy is doing then.

It was a frustrating argument (yet I like to believe I made some pretty compelling arguments in favor of bridge jumping) because it was putting independent thought and action ahead of that ‘going with the crowd’ mentality that permeates school from oh, kindergarten to grade 12. 

When I graduated from High School, I had developed enough freedom of personality to realize that some people are followers, and some are leaders. I endeavored to be a leader, and erroneously believed that the vast majority of the people I would encounter after high school would feel the same way. The age of ‘following the leader,’ I thought had ended.  I couldn’t have possibly realized at eighteen years old how incredibly wrong I could be.

When a person dies, they lose all rights to privacy because, well, they’re dead.  Medical records, documents, that embarrassing middle name, that first questionable marriage, and just about everything that was once considered personal information becomes public domain. 
The unfortunate part of this is that, apparently, the dead’s thoughts and ideas also become public property, and can be altered to fit whatever agenda might need a spokesperson.  That combined with that modern blight on society-- the Facebook Meme--total falsehoods can now be spread like a cancer in less time than it takes to point, click, and share. 

What is it about our society that no matter how ludicrous the statement, if it’s attached to an important name many will believe it without question? Furthermore, what about our modern social media mentality allows some to believe that if an outlandish statement is attributed to a revered Founding Father or other historical figure, those of us with opposing viewpoints are suddenly going to change course without question.

Well I thought that the concept of not paying any taxes was oversimplified and illogical, but hey Lincoln said that the Tea Party is the smartest thing to come along since Warren G. Harding, so I guess I’ll just change my entire socio/political viewpoint, like now.”

I’m also somewhat puzzled that in this age of instant information, anyone wouldn’t take five seconds and attempt to establish validity.

Hmmm, this quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson seems to speak directly to this exact cause--A cause that would not have been an issue during his lifetime. Maybe I should make sure this Jefferson quote about Goodyear Tires is accurate before I smear it all over my social media and my friends pick it up and smear it around too.

I realize the desire to give a beloved social or political cause real validity is a strong one.  As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have strong opinions about, well everything, and champion some pretty outlandish ideas, like that as a woman I should have equal pay and freedom to made decisions about my own body. 

I do find it reassuring when Thomas Jefferson said something that reinforces a belief  I hold dear, and I’m disappointed when I find a famous individual that I admire said something that disagrees with me.  (I have not, as yet, found a quote in which Thomas Jefferson discussed the reproductive freedoms of women, but I secretly think he would have been on my side.)

However, I would never attempt to spread an untrue “Jefferson/ women’s rights quote” as the truth in order to lend credence to my cause because it cheapens the cause in the same breath that it cheapens the memory old Tom.  And also, some of my friends are WAY smarter than I am, and would know that Jefferson never said anything on the subject.  When they realize that, it invalidates everything else I’ve ever said on the subject because clearly I just make things up.  Suddenly my beloved cause is suffering because I jumped the shark in terms of “quotable support” for Women’s Reproductive Rights.

So in short, my advice to everyone: 
Fact check, and don’t jump off the bridge just because Lincoln said it was a good idea.