Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bebop the Tooth Fairy


I went today to get my lovely wisdom teeth pulled.

(Hold up.  I would like to take a Zack Morris "Time out!" here and mention that I am breaking away from a very riveting episode of House Hunters: International to write this.  The couple on the show is in Kent, England.  I know that House Hunters is fake and all, but it is very hard not to watch people in Kent.  I mean, that's where Lady Catherine's hizzle was in Pride and Prejudice, you know.  Oooh...tea and scones...)

Ahem.  The teeth.

I went today to get my teeth pulled.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Tooth was pulled almost exactly a year ago.  That left Shredder , Rocksteady, and Bebop.

Yes, I named my teeth.  I still remember the names from Ninja Turtles.  If you are just now realizing that I'm weird, you obviously do not know me.

Shredder came in sideways and is lodged against my other teeth.  Despite his accommodations in my mouth, he's actually not been too painful.  Rocksteady is huge.  Recently, he's become quite a nuisance, cramming my teeth together tightly and making my veneered teeth super achy.  Then, there's Bebop.

Oh, Bebop.
Doesn't my artistry astound you?

Bebop is a little tooth, and I gave him the name because Bebop sounds like a name one would give a little, harmless tooth.  Bebop never even broke through my gums.

Despite his small stature, Bebop has hurt on and off for the past couple of years.  Last night, Bebop woke me up due to the pain.

When I went to my dentist today, he informed me that Bebop was a little sketchy.  In fact, Bebop is somehow partially in my sinus cavity.

The dentist (La Dentista?  El Dentisto? I hope my dentist doesn't know I blog about him.) decided he didn't really want to take Bebop out under his watch.  He wanted to leave him in my head, lodged against my top molar.  "I can go ahead and pull the other two," he said.

I thought about this.

I thought about the yuck, the nausea, the dry socket.  I thought about little Bebop, still stuck in my head, causing ache and pain.

I thought about my rambling blog post about my first tooth removal.  I wrote it to be funny, so I would laugh at it later, so my kids would say, "hey, Mom's kinda weird."   I also wrote that blog to remember the sheer mess of it all.  I didn't want to go through that mess three times.

Most importantly, I thought about the time.  Time is precious for me as a mother...not to be forsaken. 

"I want 'em all out at the same time," I said.  "That little tooth hurts, and I want it out."

After a very brief discussion (and after making the dentist realize that teachers are not like dentists and can't just show up for work at anytime and tell the sub to go home) with my dentist and my aunt, who works with my dentist, we decided what was best.  I was ushered next door to an oral surgeon.

I became very antsy.

Surgery makes me shudder.  I had surgery at fourteen and it did not go well.  I reacted to the anesthesia.  Of course, thinking back, what ever went well at age fourteen?  (It was the worst year of my LIFE.  But that's another blog entry.)

Sitting in the midst of the 80s decor - away from my aunt and the familiarity of my dentist's office-  I started to kind of freak out a little.  I appreciated the surgeon's willingness to help me, but the nerves began creeping into my stomach, making me wretched.  I watched the video where some Dr. Oz-ish looking fellow told me about wisdom tooth extraction.  It didn't help.

Then, I started to freak out a little about the cost.  I remembered that life was so much easier when my parents gave me money for my teeth. Even though I didn't believe in the whole "Tooth Fairy" thing (which is okay, the Tooth Fairy is dumb), I got money under my pillow.  And that money bought me a sweet Little Mermaid doll back in the day.

After my consultation, the oral surgeon (El Dentisto Grande?) calmed my nervousness, my hesitance about anesthesia, and my general stupidity.  I felt better.  Not great, but better.

Then, I was told the good news:  my health care was covering everything but a co-pay.  I was so excited.  It turns out Bebop, the little impacted tooth, probably served as my tooth fairy. 

I'm not looking forward to tomorrow, but I'm ready to end this dilemma that's been going on in my mouth for ten years.

Tomorrow night, my pillow will probably have some blood on it.   Probably some of my tears will rest there, too.  My flair for dramatic tendencies, I'm sure, will overwhelm me.

Eventually, however, maybe I'll rest easy, knowing my pain will finally, FINALLY be over within a week.

There won't be a five-dollar bill under my pillow, but hopefully I'll take comfort in the fact that these teeth didn't bankrupt me before my property tax bill is due.

Perspective is vital to one silly enough to name teeth.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Moment for Memory

As a history teacher, I'm prone to remembering the past.

It's what I do for a living.

On the tenth anniversary of September 11th, I can't help but think about George Santanya's haunting words that grace the front of my classroom: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

I think I can speak for many of us when I say September 11th was and is a painful reminder of a country long gone.  For me, the reminders of that day are put aside, like an old waffle iron placed into storage, a blanket in a far away closet, pictures in the attic...

What Santanya never told me is that it is much more difficult to tackle an event that lives in my memories. The past is easier...distant.  I cannot fathom how the Greatest Generation managed to distance themselves from the Great Depression and the terrors of World War II - and yet their reflections on life and war have often seemed so graceful, so fitting.  They remembered because they knew it was important.  There is still so much to learn from them, and they are slipping away from us.

Santanya understood.  If I am smart, I'll heed his words.

So, bear with me as I'm taking a moment for memory.  I'm going to push past the desire to leave the past in and remember September 11th as someone who experienced it.

The computer lab was full of students that fateful day. I remember the instant message I received from a friend - "the towers are crumbling - everyone is crying."  I remember the student center crammed with students - wordless, terrified students.

I remember standing in a grocery store void of customers.  I was working there, waiting on the president to speak and subdue the untenable fear I felt. I feared for my country, the people within it, and my own life.  I shuddered as I watched image after image - horror after horror - unfold on my television set.  I gasped at explosions that took the lives of hundreds in seconds and the desolate collapses that took the lives of thousands.

I didn't lose a family member.  I didn't lose an acquaintance.  I only saw what most others saw.  I only experienced the experience of an average American.  But despite my youth, I was able to understand that something died that day.  In addition to the lives lost, America lost something heartbreaking, nameless - precious.  I can't identify what it was, but I'll tell you that the world hasn't been the same since September 11th.

I processed the event like so many others did.  I scribbled down stanzas for poems that seemed never-ending.  I discussed, analyzed, and processed the event in my political science classes.  I made conjecture about the future and pushed past the pain of the past.  I listened to Caedmon's Call sing, "my faith is like shifting sand/so I stand on grace," and clung to the fact that my stability did not rely on the strength of man.

While my memories are obviously and rightfully eclipsed by those who experienced true pain and loss, I hope this message speaks for so many of us.

Us.  The survivors who stared at the television set, the simple American wondering, "why?"  Us.  The ones who cried when Bono raised his American flag at the Superbowl to say, "I'm sorry.  I care."  Us.  The ones who realize we've kept things too quiet for a generation of ipod/ipad/facebook loving children who have no idea of how richly they've been blessed....of how quickly the world can change in an instant.

Us.  The 9/11 Generation.  It's up to us to never forget.

Because those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.