In Praise Of Teeth


I walked into the familiar waiting room and my ears were immediately assaulted with the sound of a screaming child. Screaming children in of doors is never a sign of anything positive, with the exception of establishments that cater to them, e.g., Chuck E. Cheese. I’m blissfully unaware of the innards of Chuck E. Cheese. I only know there’s screaming in there, because I can hear it on the outside. I’d imagine that my dentist’s office is nothing like a Chuck E. Cheese inside.

The screaming is unsettling. I’m not overly fond of children when they’re not screaming. I hear the receptionist say to a dental hygienist standing out of view, “Why is she screaming? She’s never even cried before.”

Then she turns to me by way of apology and says, “Oh. She has a cavity.”

This doesn’t bode well for my nth visit to the dentist since I finally sucked it up and started seeing her in June.

It has been a month since I’ve been to the dentist’s office. I was the last patient they saw before summer vacation and I’m the last patient on their first day back.

I sit in my favorite seat in the waiting room. I usually sit in that chair or the one next to it. My PTSD subconsciously chooses optimal seating. It’s midway between the door into the hallway and the door into the rooms where all the screaming happens. Both of my preferred chairs have arms, which give me an added buffer from anyone else in the waiting room. There’s never anyone else in the waiting room, because I’m always the last patient of the day, but just in case someone else is in there someday, I’ll have arms.

Part of me doesn’t want to appear OCD, so I don’t sit in the same waiting room chair every time, but alternate between the two, but then I think that, by alternating so I don’t appear OCD, I’m actually being OCD.

Where do normal people sit in the dentist’s waiting room? Do they just sit in the first chair they see? Do regular folk even consider which chair to sit in? Does anyone ever sit in the chair right next to the door where a sneak attack is imminent? The concept makes me shudder. My PTSD always chooses defensible seating.

Over all the screaming, I try to have a conversation with the receptionist, whom I know rather well since I’ve hung out with her more than my best friend this summer. She tells me all the fun things she did in the month that she had off of work.

I try to imagine what it would be like to have an entire month off of work and fail. The only time I’ve ever had a month off of work was when I was unemployed and that was hardly fun. I’ve only taken two weeks off in a row on purpose once.

The dental hygienist ushers me into the exam room next to the screaming. As she’s readying all the instruments and whatnots, she tells me all the fun things she did during her month off. “Did you take any time off this summer?”

I ponder the question for a second. “Well, the last day I had off of work other than weekends was July 4th.”

She looks at me like I’m holding an adorable puppy with incurable cancer. In her best attempt at cheerful, she says, “Well, at least you had a month off from seeing us, right?!”

It’s true. After going every week, sometimes twice a week, for two months, I did enjoy my month off from the dentist.

Then the dentist makes an appearance. “Hello! How are your teeth?” I like my dentist, despite all the pain she’s caused. She’s a straight talker. She tells me exactly what she’s doing and why.

“OK, I think.”

“Let me see.”

I open my maw and she shoves ninety-seven pieces of metal in there, plus, a laser. Tick tick tick tick. That’s what lasers sound like. They smell like burning.

During the lasering, she talks about the screaming child and how she hates seeing cavities in children that are the result of the child, and by extension, the parents not following through on what they need to do, i.e., proper dental hygiene. “I can only tell you what to do. I can’t come to your house every night and make you floss.”

When the tick tick tick is done, her face beams. “I’m going to be honest with you. When you first came into my office, I thought we might have to pull at least half of your teeth, that it might have been too late to save them…”

I start pouting.

“…but you proved me wrong. You have done an excellent job! There is hope!”

I awkwardly say, “Yay,” because I’ve been hanging around the internet too much where saying “yay” isn’t an abnormal thing for a fully grown human to say. However, saying it out loud to your dentist is awkward as it turns out.

She isn’t perturbed by my juvenile expression of enthusiasm. I’m sure as a dentist of children, she hears that word sometimes when they practice proper dental hygiene. “When I was on vacation in Europe, I actually thought about you and how your teeth were doing. It was fifty-fifty whether you would follow through or not, so I’m happy to see that you did! Some people would have given up and just had me pull their teeth.”

“Really? People would rather have their teeth yanked? That’s crazy!” I feel like a marathon runner and she’s my coach. “Why would I want that? After all we’ve been through already, of course, I’m going to fight.”

“I’m so happy you did. We can probably save all your teeth now.” She hands me a mirror and tugs at my upper lip. “See? Healthy pink gums everywhere! Good job! I’m so proud of you for fighting!”

She’s right. I’m a fighter even if I don’t want to be. Even if I want to crawl into a darkness and disappear, some small part of me won’t allow it. I’ve fought through every awful thing that’s happened to me, and there are a lot of awful things. I just never thought I’d have to fight for my teeth.

Having just heard her scold a child and her mother, I’ll take my praise where it comes. Plus, I take comfort in knowing that I’m better than a six-year-old. Nya nya.

I also begin to ponder what field I could go into where I get to take a whole month off of work every year (that doesn’t involve children or teeth).

The Dentist


If you are scared of the dentist, you might not want to read this post. Or, alternatively, it might make you feel better about your own teeth.

I’m not afraid of the dentist; I am afraid of how much it costs. Dentists are like Pringles; once you pop you can’t stop. I’ve never made just one dentist appointment in my life. One appointment always turns into a dozen. Going to the dentist is like one of those time-share seminars. You think you’re getting a free vacation until you realize you have to spend days watching lectures on all the time-shares you could buy around the globe and writing a rather large check at the end of it. Dentists are the pyramid schemes of the health care industry.

Of course, this has been my experience, what with the absolutely crappy teeth my ancestors handed down to me. You’d think in all that time since Christopher Columbus’ day, we could have evolved better chompers. Nope. Like everyone else in my family, I’ve got shitty fucking teeth. I guess that comes with being partly British.

Anyway, last month, I told you about how one of my teeth fell out. We were going along fine together for decades, when all of a sudden, mid-bite, it took a runner. Fortunately, I didn’t chew on it or swallow it.

Once that tooth was gone, the one next to it decided that it might want to see what was outside the mouth, too, and started getting loose. This, of course, meant that I had to go see a dentist right quick. Seeing as I have new dental insurance, I figured I might as well take it for a spin. I spent a week with a missing incisor before my first appointment.

Appointment 1, Friday.

Full mouth X-rays. It took approximately ninety hours to take fourteen pictures of every angle of my mouth by shoving a giant black thing attached to a very not smooth plastic piece that essentially acted as a cheese grater on the roof of my mouth. I was bleeding before I even had any dental work done.

Then, we had a cleaning, which hurt more than it should have. The dentist told me to raise my hand if I felt any discomfort, which I did approximately every five seconds. I raised my hand more in that hour than I did in all of my years in school.

After that, she yanked out the loose tooth. All the anesthesia in the world isn’t enough to entirely kill the pain of a tooth being ripped the hell out of your mouth with a pair of pliers. OWWWW.

I left the dentist with fewer teeth than when I went in. I spent three days walking around with two missing incisors. I tried to talk as little as possible, because when I did, there was a distinct whistle every time I pronounced the letter S. I found myself using my brain thesaurus more than usual. My internal monologue before I spoke went a lot like this: OK, what’s another word for stop without an S…? Halt! You have no idea how many words have an S in them.

Appointment 2, Monday.

Monday, I went back with the hope that they might have fake teeth ready and I would stop whistling. Obviously, it had been far too long since I had been to the dentist. That coupled with my inexperience with having missing teeth led to my misunderstanding the process.

They had no teeth for me on Monday since they hadn’t done impressions yet. The reason for the weekend delay on the impressions was that the dentist wanted the gaping hole she had made with pliers to heal first. How silly of me!

Monday, they filled a plastic tray at least three times the size of my mouth with gooey pink gunk. This whole works was shoved into my mouth as if I have a jaw that can unhinge like a snake. I don’t.

Before they filled my mouth with pink goo though, they made sure to scare me about it. “How’s your gag reflex?” “About normal I suppose.” “Well, just so you know, this process makes some people want to throw up.” Great.

Shoving the giant trays of pink goo in my mouth and keeping it there for a full minute, while uncomfortable and certainly not pleasant, didn’t make me want to throw up. It wasn’t until they took it out and I discovered that the back of my tongue was coated with it that I felt a little nauseated. Something about having flecks of pink goo stuck to the back of my tongue that I couldn’t remove, did in fact, make me want to hurl. Still, I didn’t. Yay me.

I spent another week walking around with two missing incisors.

Appointment 3, Friday.

My third appointment in a week. Earlier in the week, they called and told me that my temporary fake teeth weren’t covered under my dental insurance and would cost over $600. Great. Do I really need temporary fake teeth? Can’t I just wait for the permanents? Do I care $600-worth about pronouncing the letter S? Screw the letter S. It’s not important.

However, the dentist said that it is important, since it will be at least a month of cleanings and other dental nightmares before I get permanent teeth. Without the fake teeth to act as placeholders, my teeth could shift and I’d have to do the pink goo trays all over again. If it was money that was holding me back, they’d only charge me $350. “It’s important,” the dentist reiterated. Fine.

On Friday, I went in and got my fake teeth. Yay! I can now say, “Stop sucking, sucker!”

But, we were not done yet. I left with an appointment card with four more appointments written on it. FOUR. Booo.

Appointment 4, Yesterday.

Appointment 4 was the first of four deep cleaning appointments. The dentist is going to do one quadrant at a time. I went on my lunch hour, because the receptionist told me that it shouldn’t take longer than an hour. Two hours later, I was on my way back to work.

First, she numbed me. Those shots directly into your gums hurt like a son of a bitch. Once I was properly not feeling anything, she measured my gums by sticking a metal measuring stick between my gums and teeth as far down as it would go like using a jimmy to break into a car.

“Yeah, we have some periodontitis going on down here…”

Then the actual cleaning started. She began with the robotic tool that swishes water around in your mouth and sounds like a drill even though it’s not drilling anything except the icky stuff on your teeth. She finished by going in by hand with a metal pick. A metal pick against your delicate teeth has to be one of the world’s worst sounds.

Then came the laser, which not surprisingly, smelled like burning. What was it burning? My flesh and the billions of evil bacteria in my mouth. That wasn’t all that scary except that I had to wear special eye goggles.

Finally, she injected antibiotics in between each of my teeth and the gums. Two hours later, with a completely numb face, including my nose, I was out the door and back to work.

At first, I felt nothing, because I was still numb, but as the anesthesia wore off, it began to hurt. By the time I left work a few hours later, it felt like I had been smacked in the face repeatedly with a shovel. And I was still bleeding. It still hurts today, but it’s more like getting hit with a pillow–a rather firm one with maybe some rocks hidden inside, but still just a pillow.

The really excellent part is that I get to do this three more times since she only finished one quarter of my mouth! Not only that, but once all of that is over, I have to go back to get my permanent teeth and fix whatever other horrible disasters lurk inside my mouth. So far, I’ve spent over $500 and we’re not even done yet.

So, the moral of this story is, no matter how broke you are, do not wait 10 years and/or until your teeth fall out to go see a dentist. It will be less painful in the long run. Trust me.


Goldfish The Slack-Jawed Yokel


By today’s standards, I’m barely middle-aged. By Middle Ages standards, I’m as old as Methuselah. Do you know who Methuselah is? Neither do I; it’s something my grandmother used to say. I just looked it up. Apparently, he was in the Bible:

And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.

That’s pretty old, especially when you consider that young earth creationists think the whole works has only existed for 6,000 to 10,000 years. According to that bit of provably untrue silliness, Methuselah lived some 9.6 to 16% of the total age of the earth.

Anyway, this post is not about the idiocy of creationism nor is it about disputing yet another unpossible claim from the Bible; it’s actually about getting old and I’ve gone very far afield already.

Yesterday, as I was having lunch at a restaurant, I bit into a sandwich and felt something odd. No, dear readers, I didn’t bite into something horrid; the establishment was blameless. The something odd was that one of my masticators was being masticated by my other masticators. In a self-defeating practice, I ended up chewing on one of my own teeth.

Every single one of us who is old enough to have survived childhood is familiar with the concept of teeth falling out, since our entire set of pearly whites is replaced when we’re kids. Still, it’s been quite some time since I experienced a tooth falling out, and unlike last time, I have no hope that my mouth will magically sprout a replacement.

And, I wonder, why can’t it? Why don’t we grow a new set of teeth every five or six years? Our meatsacks are obviously capable of growing a whole new set of teeth, so why don’t they? It’s strange that we’re given one set to last less than a decade, and then expected to live the entire rest of our lives with only one more.

Then, I realized it’s because we aren’t built to live this long. Our life expectancy keeps getting long and longer, yet our corporeal meatsacks haven’t caught up. They haven’t evolved to re-create the things we need to survive, like teeth. Perhaps, if the human race doesn’t annihilate itself first, in a few thousand years, we will grow more teeth when the crappy ones we’re given fail, but for now, I’m stuck with a mouth full of crappy teeth. Actually, as of yesterday, I have less than a mouthful.

My family has crappy teeth. When my grandmother died, she had two real teeth. Two. With a legacy of crappy teeth already in place, my mom went and married a man with crappy teeth. My dad is 85 now and he has less than ten real teeth left. If we had a family reunion and you went into a shared bathroom at night, you would see jars of teeth soaking on the counter like some sort of creepy sideshow.

I had thirteen cavities in my baby teeth. Thirteen. Kids only have 20 twenty teeth. 13 out of 20 of my teeth were total failures. The dentist didn’t bother fixing them since my adult teeth would be coming in soon, so I limped along with thirteen cavities for a while.

When my adult teeth did come in, they weren’t all that great either. Within a year or two of having my brand new teeth, I already had a cavity.

You might be thinking, well, you should take better care of your teeth. I do take care of my teeth. I brush them at least twice a day and floss daily. I even use medicated mouthwash to no avail. You can’t overcome genetics. Putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t make it any less of a pig.

Given my history with teeth, it wasn’t a terrible surprise that one of them fell out decades before retirement age. The problem is the location. It’s one of my incisors in the front of my lower jaw, one right in the middle of where it says “incisor” in the diagram below:


One of the incisors on my upper jaw is already a complete fake and has been for at least fifteen years. I got that one after domestic violence monster knocked my real tooth out of my mouth with his fist. It sounds like an impressive display of strength, but his opponents, my teeth, aren’t all that formidable. Fortunately, that happened when I was working corporate and I could afford expensive dental work.

Unfortunately, now, I can’t afford expensive dental work. I can’t even afford inexpensive dental work. I have half-assed dental insurance now, but it will only cover a tiny portion of the expense of getting a new fake tooth, if at all, since it’s not considered preventative. There’s nothing preventative you can do for a missing tooth, so at least for the foreseeable future, I’m officially a slack-jawed yokel, just like Cletus.


If only we lived in an era where growing a new tooth ain’t no thing. If only I hadn’t been part of the class of working poor for the last fifteen years or so, I might have attended to it before it fell out. Though, it’s not very likely anyone could have done anything to save it.

My vision is failing, my teeth are falling out and shit ain’t what it used to be. In addition to all the other expenses I can’t afford, now I have to buy a new tooth. I hope I can find a dentist with a payment plan option. Ain’t getting old grand?

Birds, Rats & Other Dead Things


Either we’ve got a biblical-style apocalypse coming on slowly or I am causing things to die with my funereal presence, since in the last two days, I’ve dealt with more death of woodland critters than I’d care to.

Yesterday morning, my dog and I were on our morning constitutional, you know, the walk where I anxiously wait for her to stop sniffing things and actually do her business so I can get some much-needed coffee in my gullet and make my inexorable way to work.

Anyway, as dog was busy sniffing and not businessing, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye followed by a THUNK. I looked to where the thunking happened and saw a dead bird in the middle of car hood. This was not a freshly dead bird who did its death spiral out of the sky before me. This dead had been going on for a while. The little dead bird had definitely seen better days, sometime around a week ago I reckon.

Naturally, I looked up to see where a not-recently-departed bird might have fallen from, but there were no trees or even power lines above the car. It’s a mystery! The only conclusion I can come to is apocalypse.

Or perhaps a crow–notorious for eating pretty much anything–decided that old meat was still meat and was carrying little dead bird back to its lair for a snack, when halfway there, it said, screw this, I can get only slightly fresher meat at 7-11 and dropped it on the car hood.

7-11: Our meat is slightly fresher than a week-old dead bird!
Our meat is slightly fresher than a week-old dead bird!

I felt badly for whomever’s car that was. When they came outside to find a dead bird squarely in the middle of their bonnet, they probably assumed that someone in the neighborhood was trying to send them a message. I thought about leaving a note saying, “I saw this bird fall on your hood from nowhere. No one hates you (or at least, if they do, they didn’t express that hatred by leaving a dead bird on your car, because that was all nature and shit),” but I didn’t have pencil and paper on me.

Last night on our evening constitutional, I killed a snail. I’m ashamed to admit, it wasn’t the first time I’ve murdered a snail. One of my neighbors waters his lawn entirely too much for a drought (I’ve thought of dropping a dime on him, but I don’t know who to call). There are a ridiculous number of snails in his yard because wet. His sprinklers go off almost every night before I normally walk my dog. The snails in his yard, being all “Wee! It’s dark and wet!” go on their constitutionals around that time, too.

If you’ve never really encountered a snail, they’re a dumb design. They move so very slowly that they can’t possibly duck or dodge anything, they are just about the same color as a wet sidewalk and their tough exterior shell is really not tough at all. I am always wary of snail steppage when I walk at night, because like I said, I’ve crushed one underfoot before and I like to avoid unpleasant experiences whenever possible.

Last night, I zigged to avoid one snail only to find another: zig, zag, CRUNCH, crap! Poor snail. I really need to get a flashlight.

On this morning’s constitutional, I thought all was going well; I avoided the area where I had murdered the snail the night before, so I hadn’t run afoul of any carcasses. We had done all of our morning sniffing and business and were on the way to the dumpster to deposit said business, when in front of my garage, I spied a suspect object. Jesum crow.

It was a large rat curled up in a rather fetal position. I hoped maybe it was sleeping. It wasn’t. I thought of leaving it there and making it someone else’s problem, until I realized that it died smack dab in front of my garage. I did the calculations in my head and found that I would run it over when I backed my car out in about twenty minutes. Well, shit.

Meanwhile, my dog, who is as picky about meat as a crow or 7-11 customer, was trying to get at the thing. I don’t know much about nature, but I suspect that letting my dog snack on a dead wild rat probably isn’t the best idea. I would have a hard time prying it from her mouth and prying a dead rat from my dog’s mouth first thing in the morn is not something I’d generally like to do.

I’m not afraid of rats. In fact, I’ve had three of them as pets: Race, Plague and Fink. Still, there’s a world of difference between the domesticated kind of rats you keep as pets and the wild kind of rats you find dead in your driveway.

I decided to dispose of the thing. I pulled out another poop bag and cursed that I don’t have a pooper scooper, which would have made the whole affair much less personal. Keeping my dog at the end of one arm and with a poop bag over my other hand, I picked the thing up by the tail. It was cold. I carried it at arm’s length without looking at it the twenty feet to the dumpster. Then I went inside and frantically scrubbed my hands with antibacterial soap like a crazed germaphobe to get all the bubonic plague off. I can still feel its cold little tail between my fingers. Ewww.

I don’t live in the country. If I did, those unfortunate vignettes might be excusable, even commonplace. No, I live in Los Angeles, the megalopolis of glass, concrete and steel where green is an afterthought called landscaping. If I go home tonight to find another dead animal, I’m moving to the country where things like that don’t happen.

The Break Up

Sometimes, polar bear facepalm is the only appropriate reaction.

It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve had to break off a relationship. I’ve never been any good at it. I stammer and stutter my way through with it’s-not-you-it’s-mes and you’ll-be-better-offs. That said, I’m not the type to stay in a relationship if it’s not working for me.

I have a friend who has been with the same woman for ten years now. They’ve never belonged together, not since day one. About a month into their relationship, he asked me to go to coffee. He wanted my honest opinion. I gave it. It went something like this: You want different things out of life. She wants kids; you don’t. Even outside of relationship making/breaking things like children, career and life goals, and political and religious beliefs, you don’t have anything in common.

Ten years later, they got engaged. Last week, they broke up again for at least the fifth time (I’ve lost count) and the wedding is off. At least, for now it is (and I’m totally ok with that seeing as this is the same woman who dropped a save the date card at my door the day of Male’s memorial.)

After the second time they broke up and got back together, most of us have learned to keep our mouths shut about their breakups and not to count our breakup chickens before they’ve hatched. Last time they got back together, they got engaged. The time before that, they got a dog. Maybe this time, they’ll have a kid “to strengthen our relationship, of course,” because that always works. Why would you want to stay in a relationship that clearly makes you miserable and isn’t right for you?

I’ve never been one to do that, so I’ve had more than my share of break ups. Over the course of my life, I’ve been the one doing the breaking a lot more times than I’ve been broken up with, mostly because I beat them to the punch if it isn’t working.

I’ve never had a real one year anniversary with anyone. Male and I were togetherish for fifteen years, but only the first eight months or so were a proper declared relationship. The rest of the time, we just circled the issue. Even in the last five or six years or so, when we were, for all intents and purposes, in a serious monogamous relationship, we didn’t declare it as such. We knew, but rarely acknowledged it (except, strangely, the last time Male visited, he started a very out of character conversation about “us” wherein, I chickened out again).

I’m not saying that my approach to relationships is all that healthy. Far from it, actually. I’m pretty much a walking what not to do. I’m not very good at relationships. I tend to feel trapped and sabotage them–either consciously or subconsciously–which is why my non-relationship relationship with Male was so perfect. Because I was never put in a box like “girlfriend” or “wife,” I never felt trapped.

Anyway, it’s been a very long time since I’ve been dumped or dumped someone, but I made a breakup call the other day. I broke up with my psychiatrist.

Last Monday, I asked your opinion on my psychiatrist‘s obsession with my non-existent substance abuse issue. Most of you told me to stop seeing her. I thought about it all week and the more I thought, the more I realized you were right.

I was absolutely dreading going to therapy on Saturday. I talked to my sister about it. We’d had a post facto conversation about what has happened in every session except the last one. I told her that shrinkydink said she wouldn’t be able to work with me if I “continued using” and that she saw my taking half a Klonopin to get through Male’s memorial as a “red flag.”

My sister, normally much more even-tempered and nice than I am, got pissed. She’s also registered nurse: “Does she really think that I would have allowed you to take Klonopin if you had a substance abuse problem?! How dare she question my medical ethics! Dump her!” It’s rare to see my sister angry. Plus, she reiterated what the rest of you said.

By Wednesday, I’d pretty much made my decision to stop seeing her, but in typical Goldfish fashion, I didn’t do anything about it right away. My appointment was on Saturday at 1pm. I waited until Friday at 12:30 pm to call her, just under the 24 hour cancellation limit. And it was a very awkward one-sided conversation.

I had rehearsed what I was going to say with my sister. She and I decided that it was easiest if I didn’t give any details; just a clean break. My sister, being a medical professional herself, told me that I didn’t need to give a reason. I could end it any time I wanted and there was nothing she could do about it. “I won’t be coming to my appointment on Saturday and I have decided to end our sessions. Thank you for your time.”

But when I actually made the call, and thank bog that I got voicemail, it went more along the lines of this: “I won’t be coming to my appointment on Saturday…. I’ve decided to see a grief counselor instead… and… oh… I’m not rescheduling? I mean, I’m ending our sessions… for a while at least. Starting now. Thanks for your time… Talk to you later…” Talk to you later? DOH!

Sometimes, polar bear facepalm is the only appropriate reaction.
Sometimes, polar bear facepalm is the only appropriate reaction.

Why didn’t I just stick to the script? Why did I decide to throw a lie in there at the last minute? I have no idea. I guess I felt bad. I wanted to give her some reason she could cling to in her hour of emotional turmoil. I pictured her listening to that voicemail and taking some small comfort from it. I’m also an idiot.

But, the awkwardness of the voicemail aside, I had ended it. I had broken up with my psychiatrist. Once the “DOH!” wore off, I did a little happy dance. I felt less guilty and more free, like a big weight had been lifted.

My sister and I went out to lunch when I normally would have had my Saturday cut in half by an inconvenient 1 pm appointment. I kept my phone out, expecting her to call, but knowing I wouldn’t answer if she did. She didn’t call on Saturday and she hasn’t called since. I guess she got the hint.

When was the last time you had to break up with someone? How did it go? Have you ever dumped a therapist?

8-Track Players & Rainy Days


My family has a cottage in the woods on a lake. It sounds so fancy, right? Owning a summer home on a lake… but the cottage in the woods was built over 100 years ago by one of my relatives as a hunting cabin. It didn’t even have a door, just a heavy tarp, until a bear walked in and helped himself to the food in the kitchen while my grandfather was playing poker with friends.

Have you ever smelled a wild bear before? Most people are only familiar with bears from afar, but when you encounter one close up, the first thing you notice isn’t its adorable bloody fangs or the huggable razor-sharp claws. The first thing you notice about a wild bear is the smell. It’s also the last thing you notice, because even after the bear is gone, the smell will stick around like a wet fart. Bears smell like a combination of wet dog, peanut butter and death.

I can totally see how this would be useful in battle. (
Hug me.

When my dad retired, my parents remodeled the cottage into a home. It now has a proper door and insulation, which is good since it’s in northern Michigan, which has a tendency to get very cold.

They took down all the stuffed deer heads, miscellaneous animal pelts and elk horns (not kidding–that’s how it was decorated), took up the real Navajo rugs, and replaced it all with more homey, less specter-of-death decor. I liked it better before. The elk horns–a rather impressive set measuring about 10 feet long–are mine. I claimed them, but since I live in another state, I’ve never been able to collect them since you can’t really carry these on a plane:

These won’t fit in the overhead bins. (

Even though I own guns, I am not a hunter. I’m not fond of the concept of killing animals, stuffing their heads and hanging them on walls, but since those antlers were from an elk that died long before I was even born, and my grandfather was the one who stole them from an elk, somehow, that makes it better, like inheriting an antique piano with real ivory keys.

I don’t have much else from my grandfather since he died before I was born just like the elk. I totally want those antlers. They are my birthright. Besides, no one else in my family wants them and my mom would have thrown them out long ago had I not claimed them.

My mom, sister, grandmother and I spent summers at the cottage from Memorial Day in May until Labor Day in September. My dad had to work downstate in Detroit, but he had two weeks of vacation and he’d come up on weekends.

It was heaven for a kid. Woods to play in. Lake to splash in. Bikes to ride and territory to be explored. I was never bored there, even though I had few friends. On rainy days, my sister and I would turn to library books, board games and the ancient 8-track player.


My mom had mostly 8-tracks we didn’t want to hear; Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Barbra Streisand, and a ridiculous number of Broadway musical soundtracks. Jesus Christ Superstar still gives me PTSD flashbacks. The best among them was ABBA.

I went on a time travel tour to that cottage on the lake this morning. I was just getting on with the normal business of my day when ABBA started playing. Suddenly, I was a kid on a rainy summer day dancing around the living room with deer heads to an 8-track–a true dancing queen.

ABBA holds nothing but happy memories for me. And even though the cottage in the woods is where the sexual abuse started, it predominantly holds more happy memories than bad ones. I won’t allow it be ruined entirely.

What music instantly transports you to happy memories of your past?

Reluctant Freedom Fighter


A week or so ago, I wrote a post. It was a complaint post (shocking, I know) to WordPress about their recent changes in which I may have used some naughty words and portrayed them like this:


Somehow, as things often do on the internet, my post took off all on its own without any prompting by me. People started sharing it and tweeting it and commenting on it. On Monday, the high point of its popularity, it got almost 1000 views. As of this moment, it has 362 likes and over 400 comments. It was reblogged 37 times. It was spread on Facebook and retweeted 23 times.

Somehow, this shy, reluctant fish became a figurehead in the “we’re not happy, WordPress” movement. I inadvertently became a freedom fighter and a slacktivist leader. Well, so be it. I stand by my words (even though I did edit that post about a million times).

I do not like all this notoriety. I didn’t ask for it and I don’t want it. While some people may blog for fame and fortune and glory, I do not. I blog because I have nowhere else to put the words that I pry out of my brain in order to get some peace until they come crowding back into my consciousness and the whole goddamn thing starts all over again.

I have been Freshly Pressed four times and each time, it makes me uncomfortable. I find it awkward to have so many strangers traipsing through my virtual living room. They don’t wipe their feet. They eat all my cookies. They read the one post that they came here to read, and leave again to find the next flash in the pan internet sensation.

This past week has been much the same experience. It was like being Freshly Pressed without being Freshly Pressed. With the exception of one comment–which was quite gentlemanly retracted so that all was happy in FOGland again–I have gotten nothing but overwhelming support. Comment after comment says something to the effect of “I thought I was the only one! Thank you!”

The WordPress forums are full of complaints, too. I’ve been reading them since this whole thing began. People all over the kingdom are complaining about the same things I complained about, albeit sometimes with more tact and less swearing.

Yet, even with all this tweeting and reblogging (thank y’all for that), nothing has really changed. In all those 400 plus comments on my post, there’s not one from the powers that be. I have no indication that anyone at WordPress even read it, and we still have no link to the notifications archive in the dumbass drop down comments menu that they’re still forcing down out throats and “you’ll damn well like it.”

It seems to be the way of the world these days. Companies hook us with their service, then they completely change their paradigm (look at me using corporate speak) without a care for their most ardent and loyal subscriber base.

What did we really accomplish with all this complaining? Did anything actually change? As is generally the case with slacktivism, it was hot for a few days and now, it’s died down again. I’m still getting the odd comment on that post and people are still complaining in the forum threads (even though WordPress keeps closing them), but the hubbub has died away and we’re still not really any closer to getting our old, beloved format back.

To all the new followers I’ve gotten over the past week, I’d like to extend a warm welcome. Have a poke about and read my shenanigans. You’ll find little coherency here since I write about everything and nothing in particular. Please, forgive me for not knowing what to do with this “movement” now, since this whole spokesperson thing is quite new to me. It’ll take some time to get my sea legs back.


So, now what? What do you think? This is a democracy after all. Where do we go from here?

People Of The Dog Park Part 3


I don’t have a yard and I have an (almost) four-year old dog with lots of energy. My options are to hire someone to exercise her, take her for a 10 mile walk every day or go to the dog park. I can’t afford a dog walker and I don’t have time for 10 mile walks in the morning since I’m always running late, so the dog park it is.

In my daily visits to the dog park, I run into a lot of the same people. The strange thing about dog parks is that I know most of the dogs by name, but I know hardly any of the people’s names, so I’ve assigned them nicknames based on behavior.

Laser Pointer Guy

There’s a dude with a boxer who goes to the dog park several nights a week. Instead of letting his dog play with other dogs or throwing a ball around, he brings a laser pointer. I’m not a fan of using laser pointers with dogs. I think they’re cruel and here’s why.

When I started going to the dog park, there was an argumentative jerk who also used a laser pointer to exercise his dog. In the process, he broke someone else’s boxer.

The boxer loved chasing the laser pointer, but eventually, he got obsessed with it to the point that, whenever he was at the dog park, he would only stare at the ground, waiting for the laser pointer to show up. The boxer’s owner eventually had to stop bringing him to the dog park, because he never got over it.

Laser pointers are cruel for dogs, because no matter what, they will never, ever catch it. Dogs need tangible results, not a thing that they will never catch. Throw a damn ball instead.

So, whenever I see laser pointer guy and his boxer at the dog park, I go to the other end just in case my dog ever decides to chase a little red dot she can never, ever catch.

The Praying Mantis

The mantis is a 40-something woman. She spends hours at the dog park every day and she’s been going there nearly as long as I have. Every few months, she’ll get cozy with a male dog owner, then, after a few months–or sometimes, only a few weeks–the men disappear and you never see them again. I don’t know what happens, but it never seems to end well.

I call her the praying mantis since it’s one of several insect species where the females devour their mates.

The Dog Whisperer

I’ve written about The Dog Whisperer before, so I’ll just quote myself:

There’s a guy who goes to the dog park with a year old dog named Carter. Carter is a pretty good dog, but he had a habit early on of grabbing onto dog’s necks when playing. This is not a good habit. His owner tried to break him of this habit by screaming CARTER NO at him every 5 seconds. He still does this even though Carter has broken himself of this habit. I called Carter’s owner the Dog Whisperer one day specifically because he is the antithesis of whispering and getting dogs to do what you want. A few days later, I wondered aloud whether Carter actually thinks his name is Carterno. So, now whenever screamy guy shows up, the people at the dog park say The Dog Whisperer is here with Carterno.

The Irregular Regular

Just last night, there was a girl there who purported to be a regular. She seemed intent on impressing everyone with the fact that she was a regular. Yet, I’ve never seen her before. She didn’t know me or my dog and I go every single day.

Being a regular at the dog park really isn’t anything special. It’s not a great feat. You don’t need a special skill-set or to train like you would for a marathon. Basically, all you have to do is go. I’ve been going regularly for almost four years; several times a week for the first two years when I still had a yard, and every night for the last year and a half. Yet, I’ve never seen this girl or her dogs before.


Max is one of the few people’s names I know. He is 95 years old and in perfect health (for a 95-year-old). He walks under his own power and doesn’t even use a cane. He has a total sweetie of a Belgian Shepherd named Charlie.


The only part of Max that is starting to show his age is his brain. He repeats himself a lot. Every time I see him, he introduces me to his dog, “This is Charlie. He’s a Belgian Shepherd.”

At first, I used to say, “I know,” but now, I either pretend not to know or I preempt Max by walking up to Charlie and saying his name.

Max is 95 years old. The way I see it, if you live to be 95 years old, you can do whatever the hell you want. I cut him some slack.

Asshole Dog Trainer

I actually refer to him as Asshole Dog Trainer and apparently, one night, one of Asshole Dog Trainer’s clients overheard me refer to him as such. I don’t care. I don’t proactively ruin Asshole Dog Trainer’s business, but I don’t go out of my way not to either.

Asshole Dog Trainer uses the public dog park paid for by taxpayer dollars (mine) as a place of business. He takes dogs on leashes to the public off-leash dog park as a way to make them ignore distractions. Asshole Dog Trainer could use any of the myriad parks in the area for this, but no, he brings dogs on leashes to the off-leash park.

If you know anything about dogs, you might know that dogs on leashes around dogs not on leashes tend to get a bit aggressive or fearful or any of the negative emotions dogs are capable of having. While that makes him a bad dog trainer, it has nothing to do with the “asshole” part of his name.

Asshole Dog Trainer used to just be Dog Trainer Guy. The “asshole” was added after an incident with my dog.

This is not the sign on the gate at my dog park, but the rules are similar:


Asshole Dog Trainer had treats. My dog and her amazing nose sniffed them out. Instead of doing any of the reasonable things he could have done to get her to go away (including waiting until I got over there since I was about twenty yards away and walking towards him), Asshole Dog Trainer gave my dog a knee in the snout.

But, that’s not the worst of it. When my dog didn’t go away in the five seconds he allowed her, he air horned her in the face.

Screen shot 2015-01-22 at 9.25.35 AM

Contrary to what it says on that packaging, air horns should not be used for dog training since they’re really loud and dogs have excellent hearing. The air horn is a last resort in case of attack. And, if you do use one, you never point it directly at anyone, let alone point blank in the face. No one likes being air horned in the face, especially when you’re a dog who can hear a lot better than us humans.

My dog wasn’t attacking him. She was sniffing the treats he wasn’t even supposed to have, and after kneeing her in the face, he air horned her. I was absolutely enraged. I couldn’t even go over and say anything to him, because I could not trust myself not to grab that air horn and quite literally shove it… repeatedly.

The next time I saw him, I went off on him, but by then, it was too late. The damage was already done. Ever since, my dog has been terrified of him. Whenever he’s there, she won’t go more than two feet away from me. If he ever comes near my dog again, I can’t be responsible for not killing him. ASSHOLE.

People Of The Dog Park Part 1
People Of The Dog Park Part 2

I Went To Vegas And All I Got Was This Lousy Picture


I went to Las Vegas with my family. A word to the wise; don’t do that.

If you’re going to do that, don’t go the day after Christmas.

If you’re going to go the day after Christmas, don’t drive; fly.

Eight hours after we left Los Angeles, we arrived. Driving from LA to LV is usually just over four hours. It took us eight, because everyone and their brother had the same idea that we did. The idea being that nobody will be in Vegas the day after Christmas, right?

Wrong. Millions of people were in Vegas the day after Christmas. In fact, the lady at the concierge desk said that the week between Christmas and New Year is normally their busiest week, but with gas prices so cheap this year, it was way busier than normal.

Apparently, I don’t think outside the box all that well.

My father can walk, but not far and not all that well, and certainly not fast, so we rented a wheelchair for him. While all the casinos are handicap accessible, they’re mainly designed for walking. And they all have carpet. Have you ever tried pushing a wheelchair with a full-grown man on carpet? Yeah, don’t do that. Pushing a wheelchair on carpet is like trying to run on sand.

Not to mention the static electricity. Every third step, I got a shock. The wheelchair had rubber wheels and handles, yet I still got a shock every third step. Roll roll ouch, repeat. My hair was so static clingy that it looked like I was touching a lightning ball. My mom had her FitBit on her and six and a half miles was the final walking tally for the 26th. Six and a half miles of that.


My parents are not big gamblers anyway. I am. I can become an addictive gambler very easily. One trip to Vegas, I had to be literally dragged away from a craps table by my friends. Let’s just say that it’s a very good thing that gambling isn’t legal in California.

I blew my whole wad, which was $150 of my Redbubble earnings, in about two hours. The degenerate gambler that I am, I even tried to go back to the ATM to get more money, but it said I had reached my daily limit. Good thing, too, or I probably would have spent my rent money. Gambling and I don’t mix well.

The rest of the time, I sat there watching my family play penny slots, including this one:

This was the only picture I took in Vegas and I took it just for you.

The only thing more boring than playing slots is watching someone else play slots. Yawn.

I lost all my gambling money, spent too much on food, and pushed a wheelchair six and a half miles in one day uphill both ways on carpet, getting shocked every third step. Jiggity jig.

As a bonus, here’s my dog destroying Christmas.


Only seven more days with family to go. Sigh.

The House Guests


My parents are coming! GAH!

My parents, together as a unit, haven’t visited California in nearly ten years. My mom started the countdown when there were still some 57 days left.


They’re actually starting their long journey most of the way across the country today and they’ll be descending on FOG HQ on the evening of the 23rd. That’s like tomorrow! For once, I’m actually glad that I work for a Scrooge-like company and get hardly any time off since it means I get respite at work while my sister does the bulk of the entertaining. Yay cheap-ass company with no holiday spirit!

I spent all weekend cleaning every crevice of my house. Not that it was necessary really; it’s just that that’s how I was raised. My mom would do the same if she had house guests coming. We always do a really thorough cleaning before guests arrive even if it is just family.

My mom is a gigantic fan of Christmas and I told her I’d make it look like Santa threw up in my house, so I have four Christmas trees. I also decorated the Ficus tree in my living room, so that’s four Christmas trees and one decorated Ficus, complete with tree topper even.

There are two trees downstairs; the main attraction and the only real tree in the house, and a tiny one in the solarium kitchen window that faces out on the street. Upstairs, there are also two Christmas trees, but they’re both small. Every room in my house is decorated for Christmas. Fortunately, my sister is also a huge fan of Christmas and actually had enough crap to decorate four Christmas trees and a Ficus. My family is a little weird.

So, we’re all ready for the descent into madness.

I have mixed feelings about this visit since I still don’t get along with my family terribly well. First and foremost, there’s the fact that they betrayed me by not believing that I was being sexually abused in our own home and letting it continue. Because of that, I didn’t talk to them for many years. They abandoned me to deal with child sexual abuse all on my own. If they had gotten me some help when I was a kid, I wouldn’t have wasted so many years being self-destructive.

So, there’s that. That’s a big “first,” but there’s also a second. Second, we don’t have much at all in common. My mom is an elected official. A Republican elected official. They go to church every Sunday. My mom actually worked at a church for many years. Most of their friends are church friends. They live in a very Christian, very conservative Republican part of northern Michigan.

I am a liberal atheist artist with tattoos who works for an adult industry company. My family and I are completely ideological opposites. The only time we talk politics is in a general way since, as county clerk, my mom is responsible for running elections. We avoid talking religion altogether.

When they decided to come out for Christmas, one of my worries was that they would insist on going to church on Christmas eve like we always did as a family. When I visited for Christmas about five years ago (which was actually the last time I was home), we had to go to church on Christmas eve. It was awkward, but I played along. I sat in a church holding a candle and sang some songs.

I don’t know any churches in my area. I drive by churches all the time, but I don’t see them. My brain identifies them as churches and puts them in the “useless information not necessary to remember” category along with day care centers, plastic surgeons and prostate doctors.

Fortunately, I don’t think they have any expectation of going to church. Still, Christmas is a religious holiday, so I’m sure we’ll do something god-like to mark the occasion, perhaps saying grace at dinner or something.

I play along. And we don’t talk about it. As long as we don’t talk politics or religion, it’s all good. The last thing I want to do is argue with my mother over beliefs. If I’m going to argue with her, I’d rather it be about something important like their denial of child abuse and failure to get me any help.

This will probably be my dad’s last visit. He’s getting on in years (he was in his 40s when I was born) and we just found out a few days ago that he has an incurable, degenerative illness I’ve forgotten the name of that will probably, eventually kill him. So, at best, I only have a few more years with my dad.

When I think of my dad, I always picture him as he was when I was a kid. It’s always sobering seeing the reality of a shriveled old man who can’t get out of a chair on his own.

So, yeah, mixed feelings of anger, resentment, nostalgia, and ultimately, love, because even after all they did (or didn’t do) when I was a child, they are still my parents and life is always a little bittersweet.