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Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Titanic Tooth

The Titanic Tooth

Tuesday night I was lying in bed eating a “fun size” bag of peanut M&Ms. First of all, what’s so fun about eight tiny pieces of candy? A fun size portion should contain about three pounds. There is nothing fun about eight M&Ms in a cute little bag. More candy equals more fun. True story.

So I was lying in bed reading and eating my nightly chocolate ration when I bit down and crunched into something very hard. Hmmm. Must be a burnt peanut, an M&M that weaseled it’s way through quality control and into my fun size packet. No worries, work it over with my teeth a little more and I’m sure it’ll succumb to a happy peanut paste existence. CRUNCH. Wow, this nut’s not giving up. A tough nut to crack, if you will. You know what? Maybe it’s not a nut. Maybe it’s a thicker part of the thin candy shell that makes them melt in my mouth and not in my hand. CRUNCH. Nope. That’s not right. I pushed the piece to the front of my mouth with my tongue and removed it like it was a stray dog hair. I looked down at it and realized that this wasn’t a peanut or a piece of the thin candy shell. Uh-oh.

I hesitantly rolled my tongue around my mouth, flicking it over each tooth just to make sure everything was where it should be. Except that it wasn’t. Near the very back of my mouth, my tongue immediately noticed a difference. The next to last tooth on the bottom right side now had a gaping hole in the side. I pushed my tongue as far as it would go into the hole. Compared to the piece of what I now knew to be tooth, the hole was huge. This could only mean one thing.

I ate part of my tooth. It must have gotten mixed in with the thin candy shell and I didn’t even know it.

This was definitely not the highlight of my day because it carried with it several implications: One, I wasn’t going to get to finish the rest of my M&Ms. And it would drive me nuts (pun intended) to know that there were two M&Ms left hanging out in the tiny bag.  Two, I was going to have to make a dreaded emergency trip to the dentist as soon as possible because I definitely don’t want to risk getting an infection in the tooth, forcing me to have another root canal. Three, until I could make the cringe-inducing trip I was probably going to be on a liquid diet, which meant Slim Fast shakes for every meal. And fourth, and most alarming, I JUST ATE PART OF MY SKELETAL SYSTEM.

It’s odd how things that probably wouldn’t frighten you during the day become major catastrophes under the dark of night. A person could easily say , “Oh well. I’ll call the dentist tomorrow and get it fixed in the afternoon and be back in fighting shape by nightfall.” and go back to reading her book. I am not that person. And that is not how my mind works. Especially not at night. After the full realization that I JUST ATE PART OF MY OWN HEAD sunk in, I wondered how I had eaten something like that and not even known it. This just corroborates my recent thoughts that I definitely need to chew my food better. (I realized this when I threw up a hot dog and looked at the size of the pieces laying in the parking lot and my first thought was “I could totally put those pieces back together to form a hot dog puzzle.)

So now my tooth was on a journey that could not be stopped. I’m no doctor so I don’t know the entire medical process of where it was going but I did know where it would eventually end up. And here’s how I am concerned that the journey might go:

I swallowed part of my skeleton. It will journey down to my stomach where it will sway gently among the English toffee cappuccino I had on the way to my appointment this morning, colliding with the white cheddar popcorn that I had during my Mary Higgins Clark movie this afternoon. (It’s hard to focus on a movie while chewing on one side of your mouth with your head turned sideways so that no stray popcorn pieces goes careening over into the cavernous hole.) Eventually it will travel down through my intestines and out of my body among some poop. This is where my concern kicks in. The tooth is all jaggedy. I can tell that by the size and shape of the gaping hole it left behind. This means that it will surely rock back and forth in the stomach juices, threatening to puncture my stomach lining, sending white cheddar popcorn bits and cappuccino onto my organs via my torn stomach. If, by some lucky twist of fate, the tooth doesn’t puncture my stomach and escape into my vital organs, it will travel down through my intestines in a mix of digested stuff that will at some point, if it hasn’t already, turn into poo. (Again, I don’t know the medical process. I don’t even want to know. The less I know about the way my body functions, the less likely I am to faint.)

I texted my fears to my friend Romy, who tends to be the voice of reason when I board my crazy train.

Me: I’m scared to eat. I’m afeared (Yes I use the word afeared.) I’ll eat part of my tooth. (which I had already done.) Literally I could digest part of my skeletal system…

Romy: Then you’ll just poop it out. No problem! (Because it’s normal to poop out part of your skeleton.)

Me: I’ve given this some thought: what if it’s jaggedy and tears a whole in my intestines and poop leaks all over my body? I could die.

Romy: It won’t. It will be so covered with thick gunk that it will just glide through.

Me: I’m an idiot. A hole. (Bet you thought I wouldn’t catch that.)

Me: You can’t guarantee that. It could settle on the outer fringe of my poo and tear me open like the titanic.

Romy: Nope. (Very reassuring. I think this is when she realized that the crazy train had already left the station and the only thing she could do was ride along. Truth be told she was probably checking between her toes for lint at this point. )

Me: You are not a doctor. I know things.

Romy: I know more than you. (This is debatable. But I think she was throwing stuff on the wall to see what would stick and if she could get me on her side, she would win and the crazy train could be stopped before it turned into a wreck.)

Me: Not about me and the way my body works.

Romy: Your poop isn’t different than anybody else’s! I’ve been pooping for 48 years…How about you? (Ah the age card. Normally I play the age card about her being so old and me still being young. Reverse Ageism, well-played, Romy.)

Me: You got me there. You are, in fact, the elder pooper.

I don’t know what made me give up and accept her age answer but I did. For some reason that I now cannot explain, I accepted the fact that because she had been pooping longer than me, that she was more of an expert on the subject of what happens when one’s tooth takes this unnatural journey through the body. So after first accepting her explanation and logic of what would happen to my tooth, my reality has taken back over and I know that right now there is a tooth floating around somewhere in my body, wreaking havoc on my system. For all I know, that bit of denture is somewhere in my intestines, on the outer fringe of my oncoming poo, just waiting to bump into the walls of the intestine and leak poop and toxins all over my body.  It will stick out of the poo and scrape it’s way down the intestine, tearing a lengthy hole in me, which is how my body will then fill with poop. My organs will be soaking in waste and I will eventually die from the poison.  And the band will play on as it happens…

I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon to get the tooth taken care of.  Bad news: another trip to the dentist. Good news: I will probably have more fodder for my blog.

Toothberg dead ahead!

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My Name Is Alice…

My Name Is Alice…

Now that I have unlimited minutes on my cell phone, I do things that I normally wouldn’t do.  I accept calls from telemarketers, time permitting.  I used to just hang up on the frequent calls but now if I’m not really doing much and I’m bored, I entertain myself by either trying to keep them on the line for as long as possible or by trying to shake them a little by getting them to go off script.

Recently, a telemarketer from India ( Ahhh outsourcing.  I miss the days when I talked to annoying American telemarketers.) called me to talk to me about online education because apparently I had inadvertently signed up for someone to call me to speak to me about furthering my gun repair and home taxidermy education when I requested my free PERT shampoo sample in the mail.

This particular telemarketer was speaking really fast and all I catch is,

“You requested information about online education.”

Here is a transcript (but not really because it’s from my memory and not an actual recording) :

He: Miss Jane Knifer Morphine?

Me : This is she. (Wheels began to turn, think fast! Think fast, Jane Knifer!)

He: My name is ______________(To protect his anonymity and because in reality I don’t remember it. ) and I’m calling because you requested information about online education.

Me: What?

He: You requested information about online education?

Me: Are you speaking english?

He: Yes. I called about online education.

Me: Honey, I can’t understand a word you’re saying. (At this point I’m not sure if my character is old or deaf but I just go with it and decided to sort the details out later.)

He: (Slowly, because the elderly or people with hearing issues need more time to process the words. ) I’M CALLING TO SPEAK TO YOU ABOUT ONLINE EDUCATION.

Me: Awning? Oh honey, I don’t even own my own home.

He:  ONLINE EDUCATION.

Me:  I rent.

He: Ma’am I’m calling because you requested that someone call you about online education.

Me: Hon, I can’t hear you. Can you speak up? (I do this just to see if I can get him to nearly scream.)

He: (decibels louder) CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Me: What?

He: (speaking slowly and yelling) I’M CALLING TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT ONLINE EDUCATION. YOU REQUESTED INFORMATION ABOUT ONLINE EDUCATION.

Me: Honey, I don’t need an education about awning because I just rent this apartment.

He: Oh, OK. You’re deaf.  THANK YOU MA’AM. (click)

The man literally said “you’re deaf” and hung up on me.

Then a few days later, I had the best experience with a telemarketer, EVER.  I was zoning out in the hallway of the hospital where my doctor’s office is (because I am always way early for appointments and then I get frustrated when they’re even a minute late.) when my phone rang.

It was a telemarketer for a credit consolidation corporation.  I’m not sure how they got my information because my credit is spectacular.  Perhaps I wanted a free sample of Nutter Butter cookies. I had at least half an hour to spare, and I could tell she was another outsourcee so I decided to have some fun.  She told me her name was Alice. What?

In perfect, albeit accented english:  “Hello, my name is Alice…” and then she went on to verbally stumble through the rest of her script.

So distracted was I by her obvious lie, I let her finish her first pitch and then said,

“I’m sorry. I don’t believe that Alice is your name.”

There was a long pause and then she dutifully went back to her mumbly jumbly script about debt consolidation.  So I let her finish again and then said,

“Am I right?”

She paused again and then said, “About what? I did not hear you.” (Thank you Alice, for paying attention to your potential customer instead of just plowing through your script half-heartedly as you try to occupy the minutes remaining until your next smoke break.)

“I said, I don’t believe that Alice is your real name.”

 

What happened next has been, and always will be the best thing a telemarketer has ever said to me.

Alice came back with:

“Then you can just go to hell.”

And as fast as she had connected, she was gone. Alice hung up on me.

I went through telemarketing training and the rules were very clear. You were not allowed to hang up on a person and you must wait for tme to hang up first no matter what. You give them a “Have a good day,” or some other “polite disconnect” even though what they probably just said to you was far from polite.

I was a little shocked. And very amused. This seemingly soft-spoken woman just told me to go to hell! Awesome.  I hope she calls back.  I don’t know how the ques work and it may be random dialing but someone from the same company called me the next day and I just hung up on her. I refuse to talk to anyone but Alice about my non-existent credit issues from now on.

So if you get a call from Alice, as a favor to me, please keep her on the phone as long as possible so that she doesn’t make her monthly quota and doesn’t get that “Employee of the Month” certificate. 

You may also opt to tell her that Jane Knifer Morphine decided against the trip to hell and instead chose to go visit the National Tin Foil Museum, where upon she purchased a miniature of the World’s Largest Ball of Tin Foil for her coffee table.

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2011 in Jenn's Adventures

 

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Facebook-The Beast

Facebook-The Beast

Isn’t it amazing how we throw the word “friend” around now that we have this bizarre creature named Facebook?  Ten years ago if I had said we were “friends”  some of you would have been appalled that I dare call myself your friend. But in this technologically advanced, socially declining age, we are all friends.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook; not like the one that I have with the musical Cats. With Cats, I get really excited every time I hear that it’s being performed in St. Louis and I get my double disc album out and prance around my living room while pretending to be the Rum Tum Tuggress (female Tugger of course) and singing and dancing. And then I go to the show and “Memory” starts and I’m like, “Dang it. I HATE this show!” Every time. It’s as if when it comes to Cats I have a short-term memory. I call this my Cats Conundrum.

But my love/hate for Facebook goes deeper.  I love that I am in contact with my childhood friends from Pennsylvania, or that I can look at pictures of my Centralia High School classmates’ kids. Or that I can read about the funny things that happen to you during the day.  My favorites are the snarky status updates from my most clever friends. These things I enjoy.

Facebook allows us to be social without being social. I can sit here and have a conversation with you while I’m in my underwear. I don’t  (usually). But I could. And you would never know.  It allows us to be “friends” with people that we may have been in a geometry class with but never actually spoke to. It allows us to catch up with people without actually having to interact with them. It’s like being a legal non-invasive stalker.

I can see pictures of your vacation without you having to tell me about the neat way that the Disney staff left the towels on your bed, or to have to hear about how low you could go with your limbo. Because as fascinating as these experiences were to you, I’d just rather see the pictures without hearing you tell about how neat it was that the chocolate waffles on the buffet were shaped like spades, diamonds, hearts and clubs.

Facebook allows me to be a voyeur in the privacy of my own home and without feeling dirty about it.

But it’s also a double-edged sword, because for everything I love to hear about on Facebook, there are ten things I don’t want to hear about, or think are ridiculous or find as boring as dryer lint. Here is my not-all-inclusive list of things I dislike or am bored with on Facebook:

  • People who say things that aren’t appropriate. I think the first rule of Facebook is that you should pretend that we (your “friends”) are all at a dinner party together. If you haven’t seen them in seventeen years I’m pretty sure they don’t want to hear about where you pooped.
  • I feel pressured to say “Happy Birthday” to everyone that was ever born. I feel like if I don’t say it, then you will think I don’t care. Yay! You managed to NOT DIE for another year! Way to go! Have some cake!
  • When someone uses their wall to get sympathy.
  • When someone has a loved one pass away and they say “Heaven got another angel today” Really? You really think it works that way? You really believe that God needed your Great Aunt Mamie, who let’s face it, wasn’t all that pleasant to be around while she was down here? You think that’s who He chose to be an angel?
  • When people have an anniversary they say “11 years ago today I married my best friend, Lover( please don’t take me into your bedroom) and the man/woman I want to spend the rest of my life with” When what they should really say is “11 years ago today I settled for my husband/wife and while some of the time he/she is a pain in the butt, overall, I do not regret my actions and I feel that we will make great companions when the sex is gone.”
  • When people say about their kids’ birthday: “6 years ago today, I met the most amazing little person who changed my life! Happy birthday Jr!” when they should really say “6 years ago today I was in a hospital spread eagle trying to eject a living breathing, peeing, pooping basketball out of my body. It took 15 straight hours and my husband was in the waiting room watching the World Series and for that I will always be passive aggressively angry with him. Happy Birthday Jr!”
  • When people complain about it being Monday or not Friday or wish me a “Happy Hump Day” Saying “Happy Hump Day” is the verbal equivalent of giving someone a black “Over the Hill” cane with a side mirror on it; it was never funny.
  • When people complain about the obvious: heat, snow, rain. This is as deep as your river runs?
  • When people put entire conversations that they had with their kids that they think are unique. Some are really funny and I appreciate them.  But guess what? Every little kid calls animals “aminals” and spaghetti “pasghetti”   Originality is what is funny.
  • When people rant about politics on there but then if you disagree with them they either defriend you or get nasty with you. I’m sorry…when did we lose that whole free speech thing?
  • When people who are my age and I haven’t seen since high school still act like they did when I knew them. And still make references to the music of that day-and not because they’re remembering but because they’re stuck in that time.  Also, we are in our late thirties, it’s no longer cool to be  proud of how drunk you were last night.
  • People who try to guilt me into re-posting something to show support for something. Seriously, if you want to show support, throw some money towards the cause instead of posting something that only your FRIENDS can see.
  • People who use Facebook to attack former boyfriends/girlfriends. We are not in junior high anymore. Please take up your issues with your ex, not with the Facebook community.

Facebook has changed our culture irreversibly.  It allows us to re-connect and keep in touch with friends that we might not have been able to find. For me, it is fodder for some of my funnier thoughts. But I think in reality, Facebook needs a catchy phrase, maybe some truth in advertising. So I suggest this:

“Facebook: By the time you realize you know an idiot, it’s too late. You’re in too deep to get out without hurting someone’s feelings.”

Of course, if you’re reading this and you’re a friend of mine on Facebook, I’m obviously not talking about you…

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Easily Annoyed?, Random

 

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The Dentist

The Dentist

Going to the dentist, as I have mentioned before, is always a high anxiety experience for me. I go to a dentist in small town in Southern Illinois about two hours from St. Louis every six months. I have a two-hour trip of dread wherein I imagine the worst possible scenario. It’s the same dentist I’ve gone to since I was in eighth grade because I hate change.  I am comfortable with my dentist and I don’t want to have to try my joke out on anyone new. (He asks how I’m doing and I say “I’d be better if I weren’t here” and no one but myself finds it amusing. It’s the same joke I’ve been using since I first went to him. See? I told you I hated change.)  I try to distract myself by singing along with my music but that makes my mouth dry and since I don’t want to screw up the perfect brushing job I did ten minutes before I left, my only option is water so I just stop singing because the water will rinse away the minty clean feeling.

When I leave the dentist, I always tell myself that I’m going to do better between now and the next time I have to visit. I’m going to brush for the full three minutes in a circular motion all over my teeth. I will floss every day. And then about two days later, after the I-just-left-the-dentist clean teeth feeling is gone, I go back to my old ways of not doing as well as I should in both areas.  Then about two weeks before I have to go to the dentist I start cleaning them all crazy compulsively, like the hygienist isn’t going to be able to tell that for five and half months I semi-neglected my duties. Who do I think I’m fooling?

I enter the office by way of the five by five foot lobby and always stop by the bathroom to make sure I am boog free because I don’t want the hygienist looking up my nose in disgust, worrying that with one misplaced jab at my gums the boog is going to fly out at her when I exhale in pain. So far I’ve been lucky enough to never have this happen (the booger flying, not the exhale of pain. The exhale actually happens every time without fail.) I’m not even sure how I would recover from the humiliation if it did happen aside from just getting up and walking out without saying a word and never returning. The lobby smells like a basic commercial lobby: industrial carpet and Pledge. It’s size keeps it from holding more smells.

The bathroom didn’t really have an odor (thank God)  and I was indeed boog free, so I went into the office, signed in and sat down with my book.  I look at the walls to see if there is any new “art”.  What I’ve noticed about every dentist I’ve ever been to is that there are three things that will never change:  Every dentist I’ve ever been to has Norman Rockwell paintings on their wall. Every dentist also has that Children’s Storybook Bible mixed in with their magazines and every dental waiting room I’ve ever been in has Highlights magazine.  And the pages are always scribbled on in blue and green crayon, the hidden pictures are always solved and someone has spilled some unknown liquid on it so that there is no way I’m going to touch it without imagining what kind of liquid it is. Yes I am on the upper edge of my thirties and I still enjoy a good hidden picture puzzle.

The waiting room has that dentist-y smell: It smells like the gritty toothpaste they use to clean your teeth. I think the smell of the gritty paste is less noticeable (but still slightly minty, even though the paste is always pink. What’s up with that?) because of the feeling of biting down on wet sand that you have when they tell you to rinse.

I look around the waiting area and notice a wide variety of people who appear to be from 1995. There is the small town cheerleader and her mom. I know she’s a cheerleader because she always has a high school cheer shirt on with matching shorts.  Then there is the elderly couple, both there for their denture check-ups and fittings. She is wearing sensible flats and he is wearing the old person staple, New Balance tennis shoes. Sitting on the other side of the room is the overly tan biker lady whose cigarette smoke I can smell from ten feet away. You’re at the dentist lady, you should at least brush your teeth before you come in.

I was sitting by the door to the lobby and pretty soon I heard the front door open and the bathroom door close almost simultaneously.  I dove back into my book until about ten minutes later when this older gentleman in a John Deere trucker cap sauntered in, bringing with him the smell of whatever he did in that bathroom. This smell soon permeated the lobby and overtook the smell of the commercial toothpaste.  Every time I looked up John Deere was either heading to the bathroom or coming from it. Sir, perhaps you should have rescheduled if you are having that many stomach issues. 

They call my name just as I am starting to think I might have to offer John Deere some Tums. They lead me back to the cleaning room and I sit down, dreading even more what I know is to come.   I sit down in the chair and assume my normal dental position: legs crossed at the ankles (so that I can press them together in anticipation of the pain)  hands with a death grip on the rests as my knuckles turn white and every few minutes I have to unclench them and do little finger exercises, and my neck so stiff that I am sore from it for an hour after I leave. I lay there in this position, jaw clenched until I’m told to open up, assaulted by even more smells:  the burning of the drill, the toothpaste and someone’s lunch, which while I can’t prove that this is what it is, smells like day old Chinese takeout.

Hygienist adjusts her stool, turns on the light and pulls it closer so that I am now in the spotlight.  Every time I look at this light, while I am waiting, I can’t help but think that it looks like a giant snake falling out of the ceiling. The light itself looks like a giant snake mouth coming at you with big venom-dripping fangs. Look at this light next time and tell me it doesn’t look like a gaping snake mouth.

Hygienist begins her task of scraping my teeth with that sharp pointy jabby tool. I tense even more.  She always starts conversations by referring to whatever t-shirt I happen to be wearing that day. Usually it’s a Cardinals shirt so she will reference the team or tell me that they went to a game a few weeks ago. I appreciate that she is trying to talk to me like a normal person but in this instant I am not a normal person.  I know this because normally I don’t have a stranger’s hands poking and jabbing and shoving their entire fists into my mouth. Every time she talks, I have to respond which means prolonging the time that I am in the chair. I realize she’s probably trying to put me at ease but I’m not there to discuss the National League standings or to hear about her daughter’s first concert experience (Miley Cyrus)  Just keep scraping.  The scraping is the worst because not only can you feel it, you can hear it. The sound of the scraping is worse than the actual scraping.

After much blood loss and rinsing, she draws out a long piece of dental floss.  I’m just getting over the trauma of the scrapey scrape when she starts to floss my teeth really fast.  Obviously she does this twenty times a day but she’s still very rough with it. She’s so rough that I worry every time she flosses my teeth that one of these times she will hurriedly put the floss between my teeth, swish it around and when she goes to pull it out, will send one of my teeth flying out of my mouth.  Again, this has yet to happen but I am sure that one day it will occur.

That takes less than two minutes and then the wet sand cleaning begins.  Before she begins she puts on one of those little rings that has a well in it for the paste. Is that a necessary tool? Is it that much harder to shove your hand six inches further and dab on the paste from the little table? I wonder if a dentist has ever proposed to his hygienist and used one of those rings as the engagement ring. I’ve never seen anyone wearing one outside of the dentist office, so probably not. 

She finishes brushing my teeth and gives me the little Dixie shot glass of water to rinse with. It’s never enough water so I have to do two shots of it just to get the sand out of my mouth and even then, I walk out with some remaining sand in my teeth but I’m afraid if I go for a third cup Hygienist will think I’m questioning the quality of her work and will store away that information and will use it against me in six months. Like it’s going to make her mad and be even rougher next time.

The dentist then comes in to check her work. I guess that’s why he comes in. He trots in whistling his little made up tune ( I wrote about this in the Candy Drawer post if you missed it) and sits down at the stool. He asks me how I’m doing.

“I’d be better if I weren’t here.”  (dead silence. Is this thing on?) 

Smelling like onions from his lunch, I try to hold my breath as he gently pries my mouth open and takes a look-see (his word not mine).  He continues to hum and decides that I have a cavity (even though as he says ” I thought we’d be past that at this point,” meaning “I thought by now your candy eating addiction would have subsided but I can tell by the teeth that it has not.”) Since I live so far away he does my cavities on the same day as the cleaning to save me the trip.

He gives me the shot in the jaw that causes my eyes to fill with tears from the sting. Then he turns off the snake mouth and tells me he will be back in five minutes.  After about five minutes I hear him standing at the desk having a conversation about his weekend and the things he got done on the farm. I am getting peeved thinking that he has forgotten me and that by the time he remembers me the numbness will wear off but he will drill anyway when he walks back in.

He drills and the smell of decaying tooth along with burning plaster pipes up to my nose. At least, that’s what I think burning plaster smells like.  Then he calls off some numbers and the hygienist hands him tools. He pokes and prods and jabs and crams and then tells me to bite down, which I do.  After a few more scrapes to remove the excess gunk, he tells me I am done and that I can rinse the gunk out. I do my two shots again, not taking a necessary third.  The hygienist hands me a crappy little toothbrush with the dentist’s name on it.  With the quality of the toothbrush, they can’t possibly expect me to actually use this thing on my teeth but it will be good for cleaning the grout.

I step into the office which smells like musty paperwork from 1979, scotch tape and dust. My dentist is like no other I’ve ever been to. He has a deer head hanging on the wall of his office. Nothing says “sterile environment” like half of a dead carcass on the wall. I make my six month appointment and pay and the lady hands me the appointment card. 

As I am leaving the dentist, I get that surge of happiness and relief.  I survived and have clean and happy teeth.

This must be how Yadi feels after leaving the vet or groomers. We both have an extra little bounce in our step. Clean and happy because we survived and know that we are going to get a treat when we get home. Hers is a dog bone, mine is a Happy Meal. 

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Clean That Up!

Clean That Up!

I can’t complain about any of the places I’ve worked over the years. Except for a few jobs that I resigned from (Read: Went to work for three days and on the fourth sat in my car in a remote parking lot and bawled my eyes out, sobbing on the phone to my best friend that “I can’t do this!” while inhaling white chocolate macadamia nut cookies) I have been blessed enough to have commendable employers, adequate paychecks and when applicable, KILLER commissions (although it was not coincidental that I rocked my quotas every month so I earned every cent.) If I had to lodge a complaint about any (or all) of my former places of employment, my grievance would always remain the same, the break room microwave.

No matter where I’ve worked or who I’ve worked for, the break room microwave has been the most foul aspect of every workplace.

If you’re reading this at work, please take a second to look around you. These seemingly normal, seemingly CLEAN people who you work with, joke with and maybe even socialize with ARE SLOBS.  Yes, lurking among your co-workers is a slovenly pig.  And by the probable look of the microwave, you are among a whole herd.

I am the leftover queen.  And on days when I don’t have leftovers, you can bet your sweet bippy that I have surreptitiously hidden my Banquet chicken pot pie behind that grouping of frost-laden Hot Pockets that have been in the freezer for six months.  No one knows who the Hot Pockets belong to so they never get thrown out when someone finally has the gumption to clean the refrigerator.

Every day, at every job I have ever had, after exactly four hours of work (because I am nothing if not a by-the-book kind of gal. I take my breaks at the appointed time.) I clock out for my lunch hour, which is actually just thirty minutes long. And thank God for that, because after forty minutes of watching daytime tv, I want to take my plastic spork and poke myself in the eye. But with my luck one of the tines would break off and I’d have to be taken to the emergency room, thereby making my day even longer.

After four hours of usually mindless albeit time-sucking work, I am famished.  I go to the communal fridge and pull out my Wal-Mart bag of goodies. While the entrée varies, the extras never change: A soda and a Little Debbie snack cake. (Never mind that in a one year time frame I gained thirty-seven pounds by devouring two to three giant Little Debbie treats a day.)  Today’s entrée: leftover home-made spaghetti laced with tons of garlic.  As I uncover the condensation covered Tupperware, the smell engulfs the room.  One can never be too generous with the garlic.  My mouth starts to water as I imagine the party my taste buds will attend in one and a half minutes, knowing that the garlic has had time to marinate the whole batch and saturate each and every slippery noodle.

But first: Re-heat.

I carry my beloved spaghetti (home-made sauce, by the way) to the microwave and pop open the door.

And I recoil in disgust.

The inner box of the microwave, the one that will soon nurture my spaghetti back to its former piping hot glory, is covered in everyone else’s culinary spatterings. First I lay eyes upon Joe’s leftover crusty white sauce from last week.  Next my eyes dance over to the butter stains from the popcorn that Sonja popped three months ago.  The glass turntable is completely covered in a multi-colored greasy film of brown gravy, white gravy, red sauce, white sauce, one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish sauce.

Every color of the rainbow as well as every food group is well-represented in the cookspace of the break room microwave that I apparently share with a group of people who, while appearing amazingly functional at their jobs, are apparently living in wretched squalor based on the condition of this oven. And the stains and smutch are not just from today.   Some of this gunk has been there for weeks, if not months.

So why, you ask, is this the first time that I’ve noticed the condition of the microwave?  It’s not.  But today is the first time that the problem has gone 3D on me.  Roosting in the middle of the circular glass plate that gives me assurance that I will not have ice-cold noodles beneath tongue-scorching, day-ruining sauce because it will cook everything evenly, is a new sight. A nasty sight.

There, in the middle of the plate is a white-ish, still liquid enough that I can tell what it is but old enough that it has congealed a bit, splash of New England Clam Chowder.  The piece de resistance of this gathering of abandoned food?  One perfectly square potato cube sitting beside a lone commercially fished, miniscule rubbery clam floating atop a thick white broth.

I can’t win.  Normally I overlook the collection of crusty and clumpy food bits.  I turn a blind eye to the microwave ceiling splatterings of Chef Boyardee.  But today I cannot ignore it because the mess has taken up residence in the middle of the rotating glass.  Smack dab in the middle of where I would normally put my loaded-with-goodies Tupperware, there sits a mushy cube of potato accompanied with a sad-looking unhappy clam.  Unavoidable.

A sudden rush of anger wells up from deep within my hungry soul.  I work with pigs.  That guy I share my Pixie Stix with every day?  Is that his mozzarella dangling from the front door?  That girl who always talks to me about the latest episode of the Office?  Yeah, that’s her crusted ramen pelted all over every wall of the cooking space.

I dwell in my anger just long enough to blame everyone who has ever worked here for the mess that is lingering in the oven.  My thoughts are suddenly peppered with horrible, horrible ways to retaliate.  I come to my senses, remembering that I only have thirty minutes and just spent the last four minutes steeping myself in angry juice.  I must take action.

I grab the nearest roll of paper towels, wet them in the sink and start scrubbing, pieces of cold clam chowder sloshing around everywhere  as I scour every inch of the cook box. I even wipe down the ceiling because I know that when heated, whatever food particles that are desperately clinging to it will become pliable and fall into my bowl. And I am not about to eat someone else’s exploded Beefaroni that plummets the short distance and mixes with my sustenance.

I would like to tell you that I totally spring-cleaned the oven but I would be lying.  I would also love to tell you that it was due to a time constraint that I didn’t clean it well but again, I would be lying.  I didn’t clean it well as an act of pure defiance.

I get the microwave just clean enough to make sure I don’t get some kind of gut-wrenching food poisoning. I punch one minute and thirty on the keypad and wait while my goodies turns a slow circle inside the oven.  I can hear the sauce begin to pop and sizzle.  I can trace the faint, but-ever-strengthening smell of garlic overload seeping out.  Finally it beeps and I open the door to see that my spaghetti has exploded all over the inside of the microwave, leaving me with a few dry, crusty, sauce-covered noodles to sustain me for the rest of the afternoon.

I would love to tell you that I cleaned up my own mess…..

 

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Sleepover Part 3

Sleepover Part 3

We scurry about BG’s room, gathering up various pens, pencils, metallic paint pens and scraps of paper.  We WILL deliver that autograph on Monday morning.  We scatter about the room, each of us intensely practicing our Olivia Newton-John autograph.  Every few minutes someone will say “I got it!” and hold up their specimen only to crumple onto the floor in failure after  close inspection.  The problem is that all of us write like third graders because….we are third graders. We must employ someone who doesn’t write like a child. BG’s brother is out because even though he is in fifth grade, his chicken scratch looks worse than ours does, and also we don’t want to interrupt the I’ll-impress-them-with-my-weightlifting session he is doing in his room with the door open just for our benefit.

We know that BG’s mom won’t sign for us because she is a very uptight and serious woman so our only hope is her dad. We sit around and try to figure out how we will get him to sign this autograph without having to fill him in on the whole story. We know he won’t be a willing accomplice if he knows we are plotting against this particular neighbor because they are golf buddies. No one comes up with a good plan, so we continue to practice our fraudulent signatures. Our scheming is interlaced with a series of phone calls from both sides, in which the calling party quickly hangs up after the phone is answered. Two hours into the war, the phone calls mercifully come to a standstill.  Lucky for us because this is the same time that BG’s mom calls us all back into the dining room for more birthday festivities.

We traipse back to our seats with the only light being the glow from the nine candles that are sticking up out of the Rainbow Brite adorned cake.  We sing “Happy Birthday” to Birthday Girl and she blows out the candles, probably spraying her pizza sauce flecked spittle all over the cake, which I am now supposed to excitedly eat. It’s hard eating something that someone has spit on when your mind works the way mine does. But I know that this is all protocol and it would be rude to not partake so I try to scrape off the top layer of icing (using the real excuse that icing makes me sick) and eat the rest while distracting myself with the pile of gifts that have now been placed in the center of the table.

We chatter on, talking faster and overlapping as the sugar hits our system and the plates are taken into the kitchen to clear the way for the gift opening ritual. BG’s dad gets out his huge 35mm camera and positions himself on the opposite side of the room, ready to click every moment of unwrap.  We all watch as BG’s mom picks up each gift, asking who it is from and then repeating what was just said, as if she is speaking a language that is foreign to BG and so must have an interpreter.

BG opens the first card with a look of disappointment as no money comes fluttering down. She pretends to read the card and places it on the table, making eye contact with the giver as she carefully begins to unwrap the affiliated gift.

A Hello Kitty stationery set! Complete with fruit-scented markers and tiny envelopes!

“Thank you so much! I love it!”  says BG, a little too fervently, making me wonder if she really does love it or is trying not to hurt the giver’s feelings.

By the fifth gift, BG has thrown out all gift opening etiquette. She opens the cards just long enough to wait for the cash to fall out (if there is any)  not reading the card at all and then tears into the neatly wrapped presents, barely hiding her disenchantment as she is given things that she didn’t really want.  The dining room floor and table are both covered in colorfully crinkled paper.

The take was huge.  Along with the stationery set, BG’s loot included: Three packages of dessert shaped novelty erasers, a stuffed unicorn, a fake gold bracelet with her named etched on it, a Hello Kitty mini purse, two ET posters, an ice cream cone pillow for her bed, a basket of various gummy candies, three pairs of Jem socks (truly outrageous),  my Rainbow Brite paint by number kit, a monkey puppet with googly eyes, and from her parents, a Michael Jackson doll, complete with sequined glove (which was actually a sequined mitten. I remember this because I also got an MJ doll for my birthday and was very frustrated when I saw that not only was it a mitten, but once taken off,  it was nearly impossible to put back onto his tiny microphone-clutching hand.)

We helped BG take the loot back into her bedroom.  Everyone oohed and aahed and passed the presents around for post-giving examination.  Having long given up our quest for the perfect autograph, we finished watching and singing along to Grease and then head back into the living room where BG’s dad has fallen asleep in his favorite recliner while watching the sports recap on the news. He jumps awake as he hears the group descending upon him like a herd of girly geese. BG asks if we can watch a movie and he says, “yes”, stumbling out of his recliner, wishing us a good night and retiring to his room.

As soon as the coast is clear, BG punches the buttons on the giant remote and suddenly we are watching a horror movie about a Medusa-like villain with live snakes sticking up all over her head.  We unroll our sleeping bags and huddle together, munching on gigantic bowls of chips and pretzels, even though thirty minutes earlier we had finished off two-thirds of a pizza-sauce-spittle-flecked sheetcake. At some point during the evening our numbers have dwindled for a few different reasons:  someone got homesick, someone got mad and was still pouting in the bathroom, and someone threw up (I usually fell into this category if I ended up leaving the party. Pizza sauce did not and still doesn’t sit well with my stomach.) No slumber party is without drama in one or more of these categories. Someone will always be crying or sick or just grumpy.

Soon after the movie began, the weaker girls start drifting off into dreamland as the stronger ones are enraptured by the movie (or in my case, just too scared to fall asleep around this group of girls for fear that they might do something mean to me, as I have often heard rumors that this was their M.O.)  Out of fear that this monster might somehow jump out of the console television and into our lives, no one says a word as our eyes are glued to the screen, periodically jerking our heads around to see what made the noise behind us.

By the end of the movie, I am the only one still alert.  I look at the sleeping bodies that surround me and I am suddenly very awake and very aware of how much my tummy hurts from the acidic pizza sauce I devoured earlier. Great. Not only am I wide awake but I am also in severe pain.  I lay there very still, trying not to move because one of the girls, in her sleep has taken me on as a stuffed animal and has her arm draped over my neck with her face a mere two inches from my own. I can smell her Doritos breath and I suddenly make note that Doritos breath is very similar to the breath you have after you throw up. It’s doubly horrible when it’s being piped directly into your nostrils.

Fully awake and in severe stomach pain, I lay there for the rest of the night, trying to fall asleep but unable to because my mind is now wandering around like a kid unsupervised in the hallways of my mind.  My thoughts drift from focusing on remaining still to avoid an awkward moment for myself (the living teddy bear substitute) and the hugger to mentally willing the hours til morning to fly by so that I can pack up my gear and go home.  Just as I am thinking I might have to initiate a move and wake her, the hugger changes position and I am free. I quickly take advantage of the freedom and get up to go use the bathroom, which I forgot to do earlier because I was trying to seem as if I was really into the movie.

Upon my return I grab a magazine out of the rack and situate myself in the recliner. It is here that I remain until morning.  One by one, starting with BG, the girls begin to stir and sit up.  They look around at each other, doing those slow blinks that you do when you’re not yet fully conscious. No one speaks for several minutes. Finally someone asks me how long I’ve been awake and I tell them I never went to sleep.  No one says it but you can tell they all think I’m some sort of nocturnal weirdo.  BG clicks the tv on and we all just settle back into staring at the Smurfs while we (or those of us who slept) are trying to gather our bearings.

Slowly we all begin to come out of our sleep stupor (although mine would be a lack of sleep stupor).  The back door opens and BG’s dad pops in with a giant box of donuts from the bakery and two gallons of chocolate milk.  We grab our donuts and go back to the Smurfs.  After the sugary goodness of the donuts has had time to hit our system and begin to flow through our veins, we began to talk to each other. Soon everyone is chattering and laughing but no one mentions the night before.

For some reason, at every sleepover I’ve ever been to, there is that morning weirdness.  Everyone remembers everything that happened the night before but there is that underlying knowingness about not talking about it.  No one talks about the sudden departure of the homesick.  No one talks about how we heard her dad going about his business quite loudly in the bathroom.  No one mentions the lengthy conversations about boys.  No one says a word about our phone war with the other sleepover. We flit around these topics the morning after and no one knows why.  We all know that we remember the previous evening but we pretend, for now, not to. Secretly though, we have stored away the entire evening.

Parents begin to filter in to pick up their daughters.  Girls gather their possessions and scramble to the car to wait while her mom has a long drawn-out conversation with BG’s mom. She is nearly asleep by the time her mother gets into the car and zooms home. And each and every girl will spend the afternoon recuperating in front of the tv, drifting in and out of much-needed sleep.

Sleepovers are an essential element of growing up as a girl.  Love them or hate them, you must at some point participate. While the details vary, the vital elements of a sleepover NEVER change:

Someone will always end up in tears.

Someone will always go home sick.

There will always be pizza for supper and donuts for breakfast.

There will always be at least one time when the party is divided into an argument and people take sides, with the Host always being the one to be the mediator.

Boys will always be discussed.

And come Monday morning, the hallways of the school will be filled with exaggerated accounts of the party and how much fun was had (in order to make the other sleepover jealous of what they missed).

But no one will ever mention the non-existent Olivia Newton John concert.

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A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Normally I would shy away from just posting a pic but I think that this could easily be the best picture of me that has ever been taken.  So in lieu of a story, please enjoy this photo. 

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2011 in Jenn's Adventures

 

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