Braces

So, once the retainer was removed from my mouth it turned out that I also needed braces. For my four front teeth. I would probably have been perfectly happy to have my teeth turn out crooked or to have my jaw wired shut or eat an entire living chicken or whatever thing I had to do to not get braces.

 

I was awkward enough without all that. I was freakishly tall and thin. My mother cut my hair and always wanted to give me bangs, when she then cut WAY too short. I wore glasses. I had to wear special shoes because I had high arches and I would get awful leg pains otherwise. Also, my mom dressed me in a combination of clothes she made herself and thrift store clothes (before that was cool). Yes, I was painfully dorky.

 

But I still had to get braces. And I hated them. They were my mortal enemy. Unfortunately, when your mortal enemy is inside your own mouth, there is no way to get away from it. Even when you are sleeping it is there, fucking up your ability to feel happiness.

 

My parents forbade me from having any gum or hard candy. At all. Not that I had liked either of those things. But suddenly I was obsessed with them. They were my new favorite thing in the world and my parents were ruining my life by denying me of them.

 

The braces were also sharp and destroyed the inside of my lips. I couldn’t stop fucking with them either, which didn’t help. I ran my tongue over them over and over again. This only served to rub the wax off them that was protecting me from cutting the inside of my mouth.

 

The inside of my mouth was constantly raw and ravaged as was the tip of my tongue. It was like a thousand paper cuts on top of each other.

 

I had fairly strict parents and they had managed to keep gum and hard candy away from me for several months. Until Halloween came.

 

Halloween was on a Saturday that year. While I was out trick or treating with my family I gleefully thought about all the forbidden candy I was collecting. I fantasized about gorging myself on flavored, dyed sugar.

candy

The stuff of dreams…

 

But then I realized the fatal flaw in my plan.

 

My parents always checked each piece of candy for razor blades or puncture marks before we were allowed to eat a single piece. Surely, they would confiscate everything I wanted at that point.

 

I couldn’t let that happen. Even though I knew it meant that I might die of a poisoned piece of candy or ingest a razor blade, I was going to sneak a few pieces. I should add that this was after the glass swallowing incident so it’s possible I thought any sharp object I swallowed would pass harmlessly through me.

 

I placed a few prized pieces of candy in the pockets of my Halloween costume, congratulating myself for my genius plan.

 

The next day, a Sunday, I snuck into the bathroom to enjoy some candy in private. I had learned my lesson from the glass incident. My mother was not going to walk in and ruin this too.

 

I pulled out a blow pop. Gum and hard candy in one! Double score. Take that mom and dad!

candy2

Sweet, sweet rebellion.

 

After a few minutes of sucking I began to get bored. I hadn’t adequately planned for how long it would take to eat this hard candy. I didn’t have a book to read or anything. I sat on the toilet, growing increasingly impatient, until I decided to just chew through the hard shell to the gum goodness inside.

 

I bit down hard trying to crack it open. The blow pop cracked and I felt a sharp pain in my gums.

 

I looked in the mirror, mildly worried. I had broken through the wire of my braces. It was now poking deeply into my gums. My teeth were covered in blood.

 

I realized this was probably exactly why this stuff was forbidden. I panicked. If my parents found out, I’d never be allowed to have candy again. I knew I had to find a way to fix this without letting anyone know.

 

I tried to pull the wire out with my hands but it was too thin, too deeply imbedded, and too slippery with the combination of saliva and blood. I reasoned that if I could just get a pair of pliers out of my dad’s tool kit, I could pull the wire out of my gums, reposition it, and nobody would know the difference.

 

I snuck past my family and went out to the garage where my dad’s tools were. I picked up a pair of pliers. These weren’t some kind of tiny jeweler’s pliers. These were huge, rusty, construction worker pliers.

rusty pliers

Ah, childhood memories.

 

I slipped them into the waistband of my pants and pulled my shirt over them. I made my way back to the bathroom.

 

I opened my mouth as wide as I could, my face close to the mirror. I pulled the pliers out and positioned them in my mouth. I was in a lot of pain from the stabbing that had now been going on for probably about 15 minutes.

 

I gingerly clamped them on the wire and slowly pulled it out from being embedded in my gums.

 

That was when my mother burst into the room.

 

I feel like we stared at each other for a long, long time. In reality, it was probably only a few seconds. But it was enough time for my short life to flash before my eyes.

 

Her face transformed into a mask of pure rage. She began shrieking. “What in God’s name are you doing?! You’re removing your braces with  pliers?!”

 

I hadn’t considered how bad this would look to an outside observer. I hadn’t planned on someone barging into the bathroom in the middle of all this.  I thought she was just going to be mad at me for eating candy. But now, I thought she might murder me before I had the chance to explain myself.

It turns out she didn’t murder me. But we had to make an emergency Sunday visit to the dentist’s office to get my braces fixed. I was grounded for a long time after that. I hate hard candy now. And I actually never did get the chance to explain what had really happened. Until now.

Intractable Migraines

It turns out I have this thing called intractable migraines. I won’t bore you with the details of how I found out that lovely bit of information. Let’s just say it involved a migraine so bad I want to rip myself to shreds, Rumpelstiltskin style, never ending vomiting, a hospital, and a douche-y doctor that wanted to give me a spinal tap in case I had meningitis even though he admitted I had none of the symptoms. Fuck that guy…

 

Anyway. The best thing about intractable migraines is the way they can blindside you with absolutely no warning and last for weeks at a time. To help prevent that from happening my doctor prescribed me a grocery list of medications.

 

If I start feeling a migraine coming on, I have a caffeine pill that I take. If that doesn’t work I have a muscle relaxer. If that doesn’t work I have a special migraine pill. If that doesn’t work I have something to help manage my nausea. And if that doesn’t work I assume I will vomit so violently I will tear myself in half and can stop worrying about my head hurting.

 

The nausea pill rarely gets taken partly because the preceding pills work so well. But mostly because one day at work I took the nausea pill and was sitting at my desk trying to feel better. I caught a glimpse of my hand in the reflection of a laminated piece of paper and thought it was a giant fucking spider on my desk. I freaked out trying to get away from it and knocked my bottle of water all over myself. My boss sent me home for the day after that little incident.

 

The muscle relaxers are the ones that usually do the trick. They don’t make my migraine go away so much as they make me not care that my head hurts. Once, I was texting a friend and he asked how they made me feel and I responded that they made me feel like a “chill as fuck waterfall.” So… whatever that means.

 

Another time, while on the muscle relaxers, I was at the grocery store with a friend. I told her that my legs were no longer obeying my brain’s commands. She worriedly asked if I needed to sit down and I told her “No, it’s okay. My legs just happen to want to do what my brain wants them to do.” My legs were like, ‘okay, we can go look at Ben and Jerry’s, but only because I want to. Not because you’re telling me to.’ They’ve always been petulant like that.

 

But really, my favorite muscle relaxer story was the time I went to Savannah with some friends. We were at this flea market and I was so out of it that one of them had to stay with me as a chaperone as I was having trouble walking a straight line.

 

I found a stall that had a little display case of charms and findings. It said STERLING SILVER $6.

 

I had the shopkeeper open the case and picked out three things that I absolutely had to have. A thimble, a Tibetan prayer box pendant, and an old Tiffany’s tag. All sterling silver. All utterly irresistible.

 

I picked them out and handed them to the shopkeeper. I knew these things were worth more than $18. When he saw them he hemmed and hawed and explained that actually, these items were more than $6 each and he had accidentally put them in the wrong case.

 

I joking replied “Oh, they were $6 but now that I want them they’re more. How much?”

 

The man snatched them away from me, slammed the case closed and told me they were no longer for sale.

 

My poor drug addled brain couldn’t process what had just happened. I wanted to buy things. I wanted to give him money for things. And he was suddenly saying no. Those things were already my things in my mind. I had plans for them in my life.

 

I sat there in shock, trying to make sense of it all. I went to my friend, like a sad child  and told her what happened with the things and how much I had wanted them.

 

My friend approached the man using her very best “concerned psychologist” voice (a special talent of hers). She explained that I was on new drugs and they were affecting me very badly and that I just didn’t know what I was saying. (But I totally did. I really am just an asshole sometimes). She finally convinced the man to sell them to me. For $15.

It was the first time I have ever gotten in trouble and been denied a sale. It was the first time I had ever misbehaved so badly that someone had to apologize for me. It was great.

 

sterling silver

Totally worth being a dick to an old man.

The fairies are everywhere

One day a few months ago I was out on an adventure with my father. Most trips with him turn into adventures. I was looking for a rainbow bumper sticker to class up my fancy new car. My father suggested we go to a new age shop in my very small hometown. I didn’t expect to find the bumper sticker there (incidentally, I didn’t) but it was something to do.

 

We walk into this new age shop and there is a woman working there; looking about how you’d expect. Tie dyed, ill fitting, men’s shirt. Weird ugly sandals, bandana on her hair, nose piercing. You get the picture.

 

My dad seemed to know her (no surprise there) and they began chatting about god knows what while I wandered through the shop trying not to eavesdrop.

 

I turned the corner and saw it. A giant wall of ceramic fairy statues. It was so big, so impressive, I couldn’t NOT comment on it.

 

I said something clever like “That’s a lot of fairies.”

fairy statue2

Like this

 

I didn’t even realize they’d heard me until the shopkeeper launched into the story I am about to share with all of you here. You’re welcome.

 

‘I have a couple that come in at least once a month and buy a fairy statue. The wife collects them. They had probably bought about 15-20 when one day the husband came in looking very agitated.

 

He asked if we could buy back the fairy statues. I was surprised to hear this and asked him why. I knew that his wife loved them.

 

He said they were keeping her up at night. They were talking to her and wouldn’t let her sleep. Also, they were saying nasty things about him.’

 

That caught my attention immediately. I looked at this woman, and my father. I studied their faces back and forth for a moment. They were utterly serious.

 

I looked around me, trying to find a weapon. These people had clearly lost their minds and I needed protection. All that was nearby was a magic wand and a softball sized kyanite ball that I’d been admiring. (The kyanite ball was under $400 if someone is looking to buy me a present).

fairy statue3

And this…

 

She continued, ‘I knew the two of them could be happy with all those fairies so I decided to ask him a few questions. I first asked where they kept the fairies.

 

He said that they kept them all in a display cabinet. I was horrified. I told him that he couldn’t keep all those personalities locked up in one place.

 

Then I asked him where in the house did they have the cabinet. He sheepishly admitted that they kept them in the empty spare bedroom.’

 

At this point, without missing a beat, my father interrupted. “Who would keep them all locked together in an empty room. That’s like expecting a room full of five year olds to get along with no adult supervision.”

 

The shopkeeper replied. ‘I know. That’s exactly what I said. I told him that he and his wife were causing all of their problems. Then I asked if they had been discussing getting rid of the statues in front of the fairies.

 

He again said yes and I told him it was no wonder they were saying nasty things about him. He was trying to get rid of them!

 

So I advised him to go home and take them out of the case and put them all over the house in various places and to put them in rooms where they actually spent time. And to reassure them that they weren’t going to get rid of them.

 

Well, he went home and did just that. He came back a few days later thanking me. The fairies were very happy now and letting his wife sleep again.’

 

This entire story was told without an ounce of snark. Something I am not capable of. Then she told us there was an annual fairy fest coming up somewhere nearby which I believe is going on my bucket list of things to do before I die. Which I now need to start.

 

The takeaway of this story, at least for me, was this:

Somehow (and I don’t know how) those two delusional people found each other, fell in love and got married. And if they can, so can you. And so can I. There is hope out there. So don’t give up.

Microscopic

I originally thought his story took place when I was around 7, but my mother says she was pregnant with my sister so I was probably actually three…

One of my siblings had a microscope lens. It was very small and thin. About the size of two dimes stacked together.

microscope lens

The object of my tiny obssession

For reasons I don’t recall, we were all putting it in our mouths. This was indeed just a random piece of glass. After pulling it from one of our mouths (I’m betting an older sister) my mother placed it high up on a built in bookshelf in our living room.

She did this in plain view of all of us. In retrospect, that was a mistake. One she should have known better after having  8 children.

Knowing it was up there became an obsession for me. I needed to put that piece of glass in my mouth in a way that I can’t even describe to you. Hell, I couldn’t even explain it to myself at the time. It was like the beating of the tell tale heart, mocking me. It’s very existence was torture.

Finally, my tiny mind was driven insane and I devised a rudimentary  structure to assist me in my goal. My sheer desire for that microscope lens had transformed me into some sort of architectural wizard.

I climbed to the top with trepidation. The life’s dreams of my short life were about to be realized. I would have that piece of glass in my mouth once and for all. At first, it was pure joy. My thirst was slaked. My desires were fulfilled.

But, like most obsessions, I soon realized it wasn’t enough. My craving was not satisfied by that first glorious moment of triumph. I needed more.

I began sneaking into the living room and piling things up over and over again to get to it. I knew I couldn’t risk taking it. Someone might notice and I’d be found out. I was like a crackhead, going to extreme lengths to hide my addiction from my family.

Every free chance I got, I was sucking on that piece of glass. I felt anxious all the time, wondering when my next fix was going to come. Some days, I didn’t get the opportunity and I lie awake in bed at night, thinking about it. Jonesing for it.

I think my mother and siblings had mostly forgotten about it. They didn’t glance at the shelf every time they walked past it the way I did. They didn’t seem to be having any trouble sleeping or concentrating at school. I couldn’t fathom their lack of interest. This piece of glass had consumed my every waking moment.

One day, I went too far. I had probably missed my fix the day before and it had made me desperate and careless.

My mother walked into the living room while I was sitting on the couch, getting my fix. In my panic at being caught, I accidentally swallowed the lens.

It couldn’t have been more than a day or two later when my mom glanced up to that shelf and noticed the microscope lens was gone. She demanded to know where it was.

My other siblings convincingly told her they had no idea. But then, they’d always been convincing liars. The best thing about having 7 siblings was the anonymity of bad behavior. Without a witness it could have been any one of us. And my denial somehow blended in with the others. Despite my lack of skill at lying and my obvious (at least to me) guilt.

“That’s fine.” My mother said. “You don’t want to tell me where it is. Fine. But one of you is going to put it in your mouth. And you are going to accidentally swallow it. And that piece of glass is going to cut up your insides and you are going to die a horrible and bloody death.”

I still remember the exact words of her death sentence after all these years.

I immediately burst into panicked, uncontrollable tears. I was going to die! A horrible painful death. I was inconsolable and certain of my impending demise.

I can only imagine how much my mother regretted saying those words at that moment. I had always been a bit emotionally fragile. None of us were sure if I was going to recover from this one.

My mom wound up driving me to the emergency room for a stomach x-ray. I sat there waiting in a shell shocked silence. I had cried every bit of tears that my poor doomed body was capable of producing. Now, I had resigned myself to waiting for the inevitable end.

After many hours of in the waiting area we were finally told by the x-ray tech that nothing could be seen as it was clear glass and that I would probably pass it through my system with no issues.

Sometimes, I like to imagine that I didn’t pass it, though. I like to think it is still somewhere inside me. Always with me. Forever.

Pre-chewed

My father is a very, shall we say, eccentric person. I always read stories that people write about their childhoods in which they claim to not know how strange their families were. Not me. I was always acutely aware of it.

My father was a big gum chewer. He still is in fact. He likes to chew the same piece of gum for three of four days. He complains that gum nowadays is too soft and too  flavorful for his liking.

He only chewed Wrigleys mint gum or the original cinnamon Dentyne (which I admit is the only kind I like personally). But they still had too much flavor, hence him chewing them for days.

Now this wouldn’t have been so bad, except that he used to take his gum out of his mouth and stick it to whatever was closest while he ate his meals. Usually it was the dashboard in his truck. But sometimes it was kitchen counters or the stove.

My mother found this habit particularly disgusting so she would shriek on finding the little grey pre-chewed wads and would promptly throw them in the trash. My father, not to be deterred would then pick through the trash till he found the gum wad and would resume chewing it.

I always found this completely horrifying and revolting. Unfortunately, my little sister did not. Inspired by his example, she used to do the same.

That’s worse than trash picking/dumpster diving/freeganism. Eating sealed food from the trash is on thing. This is another.

In recent years you can still find the gum stuck to the dash in his truck.

One night a few months ago I was out at a bar with him listening to some local music. He was chewing a piece of gum and dancing. I’m not sure what exactly he was doing, he is an unusual dancer ( I do a mean impression of it). Suddenly the gum fell out of his mouth onto the bar floor.

We all know and support the five second rule, right? But does that work in every situation? For me, no. Bathrooms, hospitals, gas stations, bars. These places are exempt from that loophole for me.

But not my dad.

Without hesitation he reached down, picked it up, and popped it back into his mouth. I was horrified and yes revolted, but also, not the least bit surprised. Several people around him reacted in disgust looking from him to me and probably wondering if I actually knew him, but I just laughed.

At this point in my life, my family is going to have to try a lot harder than that to embarrass me. I’ve become desensitized to it all. I’m beginning to wonder if I have any shame left.

It actually reminded me of when certain religious youth groups would pass around a piece of gum, then take it out of it’s wrapper and chew it up. Then the youth group leader would ask who wanted to chew the piece of gum now. The gum of course represented each of them and chewing it was akin to them having premarital sex.

I’m willing to bet, had my dad sat in one of those youth groups, he would have happily chewed that pre-chewed piece of gum.

Then again, he is gross like that.

The Good Word

So, there was a time when I still had hope of meeting someone on the internet. It was before I got so badly burned, disappointed, and weirded out that I might have just given up on that avenue forever. I have many many terrible experiences from that heady time in my life.

Once upon a time, I was young and thin and single. Actually, I am still single. I turned to the internet, like many lonely desperate people do, hoping for love or at least a few non-shitty dates. I made a witty, edgy profile on a free dating site and downloaded some cute pictures that were tasteful and hid how nice my body used to be.

I got a lot of responses. A lot. Mostly from guys wanting me to post full body shots, or to at least let them see how big my breasts were.

I did talk to a few decent guys and even got some dates out of it. Dates that wound up turning so horrible I can’t even believe I didn’t give up right then. But no. I still had to meet, oh, let’s call him Trey.

Trey was cute and my age and sent me a very polite, very articulate message.

As I do, before I respond to anyone, I went to his profile to see what kind of things he cared about/believed in. Mostly about religion, politics, and feminism. Those things are kind of deal breakers for me.

I noticed that he seemed to be extremely Christian, stating the Bible as his favorite book. He was also a self-proclaimed Republican. But he was strangely silent on women’s rights.

Now, I made the mistake of believing that, while we weren’t right for each other romantically, I could have some interesting conversations with him. I enjoy talking to people about faith and politics as long as they are respectful to my own beliefs.

So I messaged him back that I appreciated his interest but didn’t feel we were right for each other as we held fundamentally different beliefs.

He wrote me back, still polite, that our beliefs didn’t have to prevent us from being friends or even from dating.

I was relieved to read something so inclusive. I wrote him back asking a question about his political beliefs. At this time Obama had been in office for about a year. My mistake.

He responded with a very angry tirade over Obama being a Muslim and not even an American. Then he asked if I had voted for him.

I proudly replied that I did and that I had read he was some denomination of Christian and had definitely been born in this country.

Trey wrote back again in an angry tirade stating that Obama was a socialist that was trying to turn us into a communist country with his healthcare plan.

At this point I still found Trey very amusing. I wrote him back that I supported universal health care and any other social program to help people that needed it.

He wrote back asking me if I was a good Christian.

It very clearly stated on my profile that I was both a Democrat and an Atheist. I pointed that out to him.

He responded asking me if I had, perhaps,  heard of Jesus Christ. Did I know about the Bible? Did I know that Jesus had died for all of our sins? Even mine.

I almost, almost wrote to him claiming to not know anything about it just to fuck with him. But I couldn’t be that mean. Instead I assured him that yes I had heard of Jesus, I was familiar with the teachings of the Bible, I just didn’t personally believe it.

And that’s when Trey let me have it. He couldn’t stand by any longer in the face of my blasphemy. He let me know that not only was I wrong, I would be punished by God for being wrong. That the very existence of the Bible was proof that God existed. That I had my head up my ass regarding politics and that I would be very hard pressed to find someone that would be willing to engage in my insanity long enough to ever get married. But he wished me luck in finding someone as fucked up and insane as I was.

I wrote him back hoping the same for him.

He honestly believed that if he just told me about Jesus I wouldn’t be able to help believing. As though my lack of faith was caused by a lack of knowledge about Jesus and religion in general. As if faith were really just that easy. As if anyone in this country could possibly have not heard the “good word.”

It still makes me laugh.

The Dentist part 2

I just got back from the dentist. They had to numb my entire mouth to fill three cavities. Have you ever really looked at the numbing needles they use in dentists offices? They are bad ass looking. It looks like what they used to use  in the Old West to get someone high on morphine or whiskey before amputating their gangrenous foot.

syringe

Also, when I first walked in, they had all the tools laid out on a tray. I couldn’t help but notice the pair of nipple clamps with a metal chain connecting them. “Um, what are those for?” I asked the dental assistant.

She told me they were for the procedure and I got a little bit nervous. It turns out they were just for holding my bib around my neck. My mistake. But really, can you blame me? Look at them!

dental bib clamps

Anyway, by the procedure took about an hour and afterwards, my VERY sexy dentist tried to talk to me but I didn’t even want him to look at me.  It’s very hard to consciously attempt to hold your mouth in a natural way, especially when you aren’t sure what it is up to.

It’s like when you start thinking really hard about the way you breathe and suddenly your autonomous system gets all self conscious and you have to concentrate on breathing in and out for a while and it feels so freaky and totally forced. And you wonder how the fuck you are even alive if you can’t even breathe without thinking about it consciously.

I went into the bathroom at the dentists office to try to find some semblance of a normal look but every face I made either made me look deranged or mentally handicapped. I finally just said fuck it, mouth. I don’t like you and you don’t like me; do whatever you damn well please.

I came home and thought it might be a smart idea to drink out of a straw instead of my normal wide mouthed cups. Even on a good day I can’t manage to drink from them without spilling all over myself.

It turns out drinking out a straw is much harder than you think it is. I didn’t realize the muscle coordination required to make a successful experience. I couldn’t even figure out the muscles required to suck. Hell, I could barely close my lips around the straw.  But I will never take it for granted again.

The dentist also warned to be careful eating as I might bite through my tongue. Um, no thanks. I think I’ll take a break on that one.

Now I am sitting here, drooling on myself, playing with my tongue and lips. My lips are softer than I ever realized before. And they actually feel disturbingly like those flesh sex dolls. Creepy and fake.

 I’m really wishing I had someone to make out with right now. I’m sure it would be beyond awful for them. But, in the name of science, it would be necessary.

I just went and looked in the mirror to try to make a kissy face. It wasn’t pretty.

Maybe this is how people that are terrible kissers feel all the time. Like they just don’t know how to hold their mouths.