One of the things I’m enjoying about The West Wing (I’m on season six) is the guest stars. I know it’s going to be a good one when we approach the new person slowly, and hear the voice before we see the face.
I wrote the report of the tooth extraction just a couple of days after I’d had it done, and by a couple of days after THAT things were nearly back to normal: I could eat dairy, I didn’t have to use ice packs or ibuprofen, and I was much better at talking with the little tray in. Now it’s been just over a week and I’d say things are pretty fine. I went back to the oral surgeon so she could make sure it was healing well, and she snipped off the little surgical-string ends I couldn’t keep my tongue from messing with (luckily that stopped feeling icky/painful after the first few days); the extraction site looks pink and normal, like regular gums. I can successfully eat salad again; it’s not EASY, but it WORKS. It doesn’t bother the extraction site to have the little tooth-tray in; I still only wear it when I go out, because I don’t like the feel of it in my mouth and it makes it harder to talk.
The discouraging thing is that I’d been…well, “looking forward to” getting the flipper is a severe understatement. I was more like counting the hours, and also feeling incredulous that it would take so long to make one. I was hoping it would be a significant, wear-all-day type of improvement over the tooth-tray, and I was thinking things such as “This is the last pottery class where I’ll have to struggle to communicate around this gross tooth-tray!” But when I went to the dentist, almost a week and a half after the extraction, they did STEP ONE of the flipper. They had not been tracking with the change from Plan A (attach my own extracted tooth to the implant) to Plan B (if the implant can’t be put in, make a flipper instead), and no one noticed this lack of tracking until the appointment. Now I have to wait more than another week, and I had to have a little weep in the parking lot. In the long run this time will seem like a meaningless blip, but right now it feels like everything is terrible.
Speaking of pottery class, I’ve gone to two sessions and so far I don’t really like it. I’m the only person in the class who is new at this; the others have a minimum of one year’s experience, and some of them have over a decade. It’s supposed to be a mixed-levels class, but the others sign up again and again; one of the regulars didn’t sign up this time because of traveling for so much of the session, which is why there was an available space for me, the newbie.
In theory, this is nice: it theoretically gives me another half-dozen or so teachers, and theoretically gives me more of the actual teacher’s attention. In practice, it turns out that the teacher doesn’t so much teach as supervise, and that making things on a pottery wheel must be mostly a matter of getting the FEEL of it, so every single person (including the teacher) is telling me how to get the feel of it, but that’s not something that can be explained, or at least not by any of this group, or at least not to me. I’ve spent two 3-hour sessions sitting at the wheel trying to get a piece of clay centered while someone tells me that I am in charge of the clay not the other way around, and to move my hand DOWN the piece of clay when my hand is already resting on the wheel and can’t GO any more down, and to make sure to use enough water, and to just get a FEEL for it. Oh, but not with your hands positioned like that. And your elbows are too high/low. No, keep your hands RIGID. Elbow down/up/planted/STEADY. Also there are air bubbles in your clay and you used too much water. Meanwhile everyone else is churning out mugs and plates and mixing bowls and vases and flower pots, and it’s a little discouraging. I wish there were just ONE other person in the class who was new at this—although I guess it would be even MORE discouraging if that person got it right away and I was still struggling.
Everyone is assuring me that it just takes time to figure out how to do this, and telling me their stories of how long it took THEM to figure it out, and that IS helpful, so I have only cried once, and only a little: it was more like a slight leak. I kept my face down and I don’t think anyone noticed, or if they did they were tactful about it and it’s probably not the first time it’s happened. It was when my fourth piece of clay in a row had gone floppy and rogue after a long careful attempt to get it as far as that, and the teacher was trying to tell me how to keep it from doing that but nothing she said was making any sense to me (“Start with your hands low and see if you can rein it back in”) so I didn’t even feel like I knew what to do next time to have it work any better, and while I was listening to her I was also thinking that I could actually just leave, no one would force me to do the rest of the classes. But instead I put my collapsed piece of clay over on the table for overly-wet clay, and I washed my hands and went off to find the bathroom, and I stayed in there for a little while extra, thinking I might do a little unsuppressed crying but it turned out I didn’t need to, and then I washed my hands again and went back to the pottery room and got another stupid piece of stupid clay.