Grandma D


I don’t generally tell these types of stories about my family. There are a lot of them. I don’t really know where they go in my life. It’s really sad, but also kind of funny in a terrible way.


I have been thinking about my grandmother a lot lately. I am not really sure why. I did not know her at all. She died when I was 22. You might wonder why I didn’t know her considering I was an adult when she died. And the answer is…


I don’t know.


This is one of those weird things that my family refuses to talk about. I remember her calling sometimes when I was growing up. She’d call and after I said “hello?”


She’d say, “It’s Grandma D. Is this Maurna?”


And I’d cautiously say “Yes…” (This was before caller ID, for all you youngsters).

This shit was life changing. Suddenly you could avoid people without missing the calls you wanted to get.

There’d be a long pause where I would hold my breath, waiting for her to ask me something, anything about myself. Instead she’d reply with, “Is your father there?”


And I’d either say yes and get him, or say no and tell her he’d call back. She never asked me anything about my life. We never said more than those few phrases to each other.


Sometimes it felt like we were reading from some alienating, dysfunctional script. But we weren’t. We were just so unknown to each other, it was an impossible barrier to breach. I guess we were alienated and dysfunctional.


When she died, I felt nothing. I still feel nothing about her being dead. She was a voice on the phone and a picture I once saw of her. Nothing more.


Until my father went out to go through her things. She lived in the desert in Arizona. In a single wide trailer with no AC. Her truck was 40 years old and also had no AC.


She was an interesting lady. She owned a co-op that she had started herself. It began with her pulling clothes from the trash (a habit I seem to have picked up) and cleaning and mending them and giving them away to the poor or needy.

Seriously. My favorite shirts are from the trash.

Soon she was going to the dump and picking up broken appliances and fixing them, cleaning them, and taking them to her co-op. Everything was sold by donation only at her co-op. You could work a few days in the shop or just take what you needed.


When she died, she had branched out into food as well. She had volunteers that would dumpster dive at grocery stores and collect prepackaged or unspoiled food items to give away too. I hear she was even working with local farmers to donate surpluses.


In some ways I really admire her for doing all these things. It is exactly the kind of thing I could see myself doing. But in another way, that fact scares the fuck out of me. Because she was mentally ill.


She went to the dentist one day and got sick. For some reason, she decided that the dentist was trying to poison her. She became increasingly convinced of it. So much so that she stopped eating.

And starved herself.

To death.

I don’t really know why she didn’t just lock it up.

When my father went out to her place, he found that she was a hoarder. Most of my family is, in my opinion. She had stacks of clothes waiting to be taken to the co-op. And appliances. And jewelry. And envelopes full of money.

This is about what I imagine.

Lots of money. She was a multi-millionaire. Living in the desert with no AC. Starving herself to death.


She was actually my favorite of all my grandparents. And I guess, in a weird way, we were the closest. We seem to have the most in common.


I don’t even know why I wrote this. I guess I thought sharing it might get it out of my head a bit. And it did. I promise to be funny again next time.

Hollow Tooth Theory

I had a check up at the dentist’s on Monday. I know you would think I had learned my lesson after the last time. But I didn’t. It’s like the dental care never ends!


They started cleaning my mouth and giving me shit for my poor flossing habits. It’s not that I don’t floss, it’s that I do it too rough and have sensitive gums.


So I changed the subject by complaining about my jaw hurting pretty regularly. And, since I have really terrible nightmares on a frequent basis I suggested that I was clenching in my sleep. Smart move on my part. Because now they are really pushing for me to get a mouthguard (which I’m sure will only make me even more sexy).


Then hottie dentist came in and started being all overly friendly and touching me in places that I found inappropriate. Which in this context means touching me anywhere other than inside my mouth. Which is weird when you think about it.


There is no way I would let anyone else stick their hand inside my mouth and I pay this guy to do it. What if that was a turn on for me? Wouldn’t that make him a prostitute? Paid for by my insurance.


Anyway, they put this laser in my mouth that measures my tooth density. It’s used to check for cavities. They put it on one of my back wisdom teeth and even I knew the reaction of that machine was not good. It started having a seizure. My teeth are so shitty I gave a machine epilepsy.

Also, that wand looks like a skinny penguin.

Hottie dentist then tells me that he wants to open up that tooth and see what’s going on inside it. Immediately.


And I can’t help myself. “Do you think it’s hollow?”


He laughs a little. “It’s probably not hollow. It would have already broken.”


“But what if it was hollow? What if you crack into it and it’s like the hollow earth theory from Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne? What if you open it up and find a whole ecosystem in there with it’s own sun and little creatures living inside my tooth?”

Inside the Earth. Also, my tooth.

Hottie dentist is cracking up now. “That won’t happen.”


The dental assistant (who is also gorgeous, think Amy Adams in a few years) says “I’m beginning to see why you have nightmares. That would just about do it for me.”


And now I can’t get the thought out of my head. I am calling it Hollow Tooth Theory.


So they get me all numbed up with the coolest looking needles ever. And I reminded the dentist it took two shots last time. But he already remembered that I was a troublemaker.

They seriously could not be cooler.

He gives me two shots and we start going for it. But two was not enough. So he gets back in there and gives me four more smaller shots (seriously).

Turns out I just had a normal sized cavity in there. But I am going back on Friday to drill into the other wisdom tooth. I am looking forward to the expedition. Stay tuned for Hollow Tooth Theory part 2.


Also, they recommended that I start rinsing with Listerine. But I am such a wuss when it comes to things like that. I think I have a chemical burn on my tongue now. Seriously. I cant even chew Big Red (and I love cinnamon gum) because it gives me blisters.

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.


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.


When I was seven the dentist told my mother that I had a jaw deformity. To hear the dentist describe it, I would be hideous and unlovable and it would barely function as a working jaw until it was fixed. And there were only two choices:

Have it fixed right now; immediately (obviously the only choice for a parent that actually, you know, cared about their child)

Or wait until I was in my late teens to have my jaw broken and reset and wired shut. This would be excruciatingly painful and possibly kill me. Also, it would definitely cause me to not get a date for the prom.

Which wound up actually happening; okay that dentist may have been psychic.

They chose the immediate, right away option. This involved a complicated permanent retainer that was cemented into the roof of my mouth. I am not exaggerating when I say the cement used in that procedure tastes exactly like a garbage truck full of wet, hot, decomposing garbage.

And yes, I do know how that tastes, now. Once, while on the back of an ex’s motorcycle, a garbage truck pulled out in front of us and I got a delicious face full of garbage water. And the taste was spot on.

Once the retainer was in my mouth, the dentist demonstrated how to use it properly. Every morning and every night, one of my parents had to take this little key, stick their entire adult sized hand into my seven year old sized mouth, and tighten the retainer.

This was even less fun than it sounds. And it was unbelievably painful which was not disclosed to me during the whole decision making process. Probably because my dentist was a sadist that enjoyed torturing little girls and their parents in painful and humiliating rituals.

Maybe he was trying to instill in me a healthy fear of dentists. I don’t know. If so, it didn’t work. Dentists aren’t even on a top 20 list of things I am afraid of. I’m afraid of things like zombies and emotions and becoming a real life Cassandra. I don’t have time to be afraid of things as mundane as the dentist.

Also, the retainer was not flush with the roof of my mouth. There was a half inch gap between the retainer and my mouth. Did I mention that it was permanent and cemented up there? This meant that it was just big enough to trap food, but I was not able to get the food out.

I eventually found that if I held my mouth just right, I could create a suction that would suck the food out of this gap and into my mouth to be chewed up and swallowed with the rest of my meal. The noise this caused was halfway between slurping soup and sucking a straw in an empty drink. And just as loud.

It was classy.

This evil retainer tightening ritual went on every morning and every night for about a year. It brought tears to my eyes and caused me to lose my appetite most of the time as my mouth and jaw were in near constant pain.

One day, the dentist saw that I had become desensitized to the pain and social rejection he was causing me. And he decided to remove the permanent retainer. After another bout with the delicious taste of garbage they were off.

And then it was time for the removable retainer. Mine was purple and glittery. Because pretty is important when pulling something coated in long strings of saliva from your mouth. (I am a particularly spitty person too).

It came in it’s own little pink case that looked like something you would keep tampons in and smelled like wet dog and halitosis.

And also, the braces. But that is a story for another time.

Update: I just looked it up and this is called a palate expander. Ew. I must have blocked that out. Turns out they were expanding my jaw and not tightening it. Either way. It still hurt like a motherfucker.