Author Archives: Swistle

Doing Social Good with Money

I would like to know, to the extent to which you would like to tell me, where you like to do social good with MONEY. That is, I know some of you volunteer your time and/or skills, and some of you use your position/power to pull other people up, and some of you write letters and make calls and circulate petitions, and some of you fundraise, and some of you coordinate workplace efforts that benefit the community, and some of you loan your possessions, and there are lots of other good non-money ways to do good—but right now I am only wondering about the things you do that involve giving away your own actual money. Well, or things that involve giving away items you have to buy with your own actual money, such as if you buy diapers and donate them, or if you buy presents to donate to a family at the holidays.

If you would like to discuss it (and feel free to go anonymous: the comment form asks for an email address, but it accepts fake ones), this would be a very useful place to mention some of the ways you yourself were helped at a time in your life when you needed it. Paul and I were extremely helped by a local, non-government program that helps to pay dental expenses for children: Rob was about six, and we were so strapped for cash we weren’t going to the dentist, and a school dental screening showed Rob had several small cavities. There was no way we could pay for that, but there was a fund, and there was a matter-of-fact person running the fund, and she matter-of-factly connected us to a dentist and paid the bill, and also arranged for him to have sealants (sealants are an excellent example of “it’s more expensive to be poor”: not being able to afford them can lead to expensive dental problems). I can get weepy just thinking about it.

This is a fine moment to mention charities you like, but I am particularly interested in other ideas. Here are some of the neat ones I’ve seen:

• donating money to a school, asking them to use it to help pay off lunch-account debts

• donating money to a library, asking them to use it to help pay off fines and lost-material fees (the library SHOULD be the perfect resource for people without much money—but anyone’s kid can accidentally lose a book, and some libraries won’t let you check out anything else until the fines are paid down, or a family might be embarrassed to keep being asked at check-out if they will be paying off their account)

• donating money to an auto mechanic, asking them to put it toward someone who needs help paying for a repair

• donating money to a vet, asking them to put it toward someone who needs help paying for a treatment

• buying pants/underpants on good clearances for the school nurse’s office; the nurse can use them for kids who have an accident or a muddy fall, but nurses are also in a good position to find a way to discreetly get the clothes to kids who may need them

• buying backpacks on good clearances in the fall, and donating them in early summer to local welfare groups who collect such things

• buying winter outerwear on good post-season clearances, and donating them in the fall to local welfare groups who collect such things

• buying the really-good-sale foods at your grocery store each week, having them bagged separately, dropping those bags in the donation bins on your way out

• banding together with a group (church, social, work) to put together a scholarship for a local high school senior (when Rob was a senior, there were a lot of scholarships in the $500 range)

 

But I am not ONLY interested in creative/non-traditional ideas. I want to hear ALL of them: one person’s “well, this isn’t creative or interesting, but I…” is another person’s “OH, I hadn’t thought of doing that, but it really appeals to me!” Also, I hope I don’t need to say this, but let’s be on the safe side and say it anyway: this is not the place to criticize other people’s methods of giving. That is, I don’t want to see a link to that article that tells people to stop donating food to food banks, even though food banks are asking for food donations. I don’t know about you, but that kind of thing makes me want to give up and do nothing.

Dessert Samplers and Love Songs

Paul and I went out for a Valentine’s Day dinner last night (to avoid crowds/reservations on the actual day), and that is probably how we’ll celebrate the holiday from now on. It makes me feel like we Did Something for Valentine’s Day, and also gives me an answer if friends ask. We each ordered a fancy cocktail from a menu that didn’t have prices (why do cocktail menus so rarely have prices? is the answer “because if they had prices, no one would pay $12 for a cocktail”?) and after dinner we ordered a dessert sampler.

I wish to further discuss the dessert sampler, because on one hand it was amusingly overpriced (for that money we could have instead purchased four half-gallons of mid-grade ice cream plus the family-size bottle of Hershey’s syrup and a canister of real whipped cream), but on the other hand it was perfectly priced: expensive enough to feel like doing something special. Also, I hardly ever have room for dessert after eating out (I will eat the entire bread basket and all my dinner and some of yours too), but I always WANT to have room for dessert, so it is a very nice way to get just the right amount of dessert. Also, I was happy to get to try samples of several different things, instead of having to choose just one. (Perhaps that last one is the wrong sentiment for a Valentine’s Day dinner.)

And wouldn’t a “coffee and dessert sampler” date be a fun early-dating date?? You could adjust the intimacy level fairly easily, either by splitting the number of samples so you each choose and eat your own, or else by getting all different samples and then sharing them. MY SPOON IS WHERE YOUR SPOON WAS <3 <3 <3

I would also like to say that more restaurants should have dessert samplers. So if you are in charge of making that kind of decision at a restaurant, or you are in a position to influence someone who is, could you get on that please.

 

Some love songs to mark the day:


Adore – Amy Shark


Never Enough – Loren Allred


Rewrite the Stars – Zac Efron and Zendaya


A Thousand Years – Christina Perri


Worlds Apart – Joshua Radin


Beautiful Soul – Jesse McCartney


Rhythm of Love – Plain White T’s


Always – Yoon Mirae


Hold Each Other – A Great Big World ft. Futuristic


For the Longest Time – Billy Joel

Nightmare

I had a dream last night that women were being forced to use the language of consent for whatever men asked them to do. I saw a man with his hand on a woman’s throat, holding her against a wall, saying, “I will only touch you if it’s okay with you. Is it okay with you?”—and pressing her neck harder against the wall until she said it was okay. A woman who was already with a man was safe from other men, because of what men had decided was honorable male behavior toward women. Paul and I were in a museum and got separated, and I was getting that cold nightmare feeling because a man had approached me and I couldn’t find Paul; I put the man off with a light remark, but he was starting to get closer and angrier and louder.

Things are not great right now in the waking world, either. There are a lot of people who are having a lot of trouble understanding that even though they themselves feel comfortable and safe from assault, and even though they themselves believe they would not assault someone else, those two things combined don’t mean everything is fine for everyone, and that all other people can also feel comfortable and safe. Even some really great people are saying things like, “This whole thing is getting out of hand”—referring not, as you’d like to expect, to the vast number of assaults, but only to the REPORTING of the assaults. The REPORTING OF ASSAULTS is getting out of hand, they’re saying. Like: in order to improve the situation, reduce the reporting.

I have thought a lot about this, and I think it must be that some people’s brains are jumping over a tricky spot: the spot where “hearing about it less” does not equal “happening less.” The brain is saying, “Listen: until recently, you and I did not think very much about how many people-unlike-us were being assaulted. It is very, very uncomfortable now to think about how oblivious we were to the really bad things people-like-us were doing to people-unlike-us. It is also very, very uncomfortable to feel as if we are being accused just because it was people-like-us who were doing the things, and WE are people-like-us. BEFORE people-unlike-us were making all these reports, we felt pretty good: we didn’t know, we didn’t think about it, we didn’t have these bad feelings in response. If we went back to not hearing about it so much, things would go back to how they were Before, and we would feel pretty good again.”

Here is why we need people to stop thinking that way: people committing assaults don’t listen to the objections of the people they’re assaulting. Of COURSE the people being assaulted don’t like it! In order to assault people, you have to already NOT CARE that they don’t like it. Change happens when the people who are NOT being assaulted, people in the same group as the assaulters but who do not assault or approve of the assault, stand up for the people who ARE being assaulted. People listen to people-like-us, not to people-unlike-us. It is a well-known and understandable phenomenon of human psychology and, like the bystander effect, even just KNOWING about it can be enough to break it.

People who feel accused of assault but are not participating in assault: YOU ARE THE ONES WITH THE POWER TO CHANGE THIS SITUATION. Currently a lot of that power is being diverted and wasted. Some people’s brains are channeling it all into self-defense: “I’M not doing this! Why do we have to judge ALL of us based on the actions of a FEW?” Some people’s brains are going further and channeling it into attacking the accusers or finding ways to defend the assaulters; that is such a sad and upsetting response to suffering, I don’t even want to think about it or talk about it anymore. Some people’s brains are channeling the energy into wishing it would all go away. Here is how some of it could actually go away: if the people with power use that power to defend the people being assaulted, rather than using it to defend themselves or the assaulters.

Splitting the Cost of a Ride Home

I emailed Rob to ask if he was for sure coming home for Spring Break and if I should therefore go ahead and buy the bus tickets (there is a great students-only bus with free Wifi that drives kids almost all the way to our house)—and he said actually, a college friend who is also from our town offered him a ride home.

So, okay, let’s not discuss how this compares to the nice safe rental bus that is very high off the ground and is driven by a professional and has a chaperone on board. Let’s not address how much more anxious I will be while he is traveling. Let’s avoid picturing the two teenagers getting into a “STAHP it, no YOU stahp it!” slap fight while driving, ending in fiery death. Or falling asleep while driving because they stayed up until 3:00 in the morning, ending in fiery death. Or being inexperienced drivers, ending in fiery death. Let’s snort together as we dismiss Paul’s argument that this is like the anxiety felt on the first day Rob went to kindergarten: on the first day of kindergarten, I was not LEGITIMATELY ANXIOUS ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF FIERY DEATH.

Let’s instead discuss what are the right things for Rob to do, in order to cover his share of this trip. Should he pay half of the gas? All of the gas, since the other student is putting all the miles on her car? Should he treat for meals (they’ll be stopping for two meals, probably)? What is The Right Way? What is The Fair Thing?

Valentine’s Day Complaining; Valentine’s Day College Care Package

I was going to take a minute to complain about the airplane tickets that changed price by hundreds of dollars as I was trying to pay for them, but eh. I’m wearing a cozy cardigan, and everything worked out fine in the end, and I guess I’m not in the mood for complaining about it now.

I sent Rob a care package this morning, with a Valentine’s Day emphasis. You know what, actually I am in the mood for complaining, just not about plane tickets. I want to complain about Valentine’s Day. Paul and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, which makes me a little sad every year because I really like the holiday (pretty colors, flowers/lace/hearts, chocolate everywhere, a brief break from the long joyless winter), but we tried it for a number of years and it just doesn’t work out with anyone feeling happy about it. And I am so easy to buy for! Here is what I want: a pretty, heart-shaped box of nice chocolates. That’s it! That’s not so high-maintenance! Well. I guess also I want it purchased not at the last minute, and without a cranky, burdened attitude, and without a heavy “WHAT is it you want, again?” sigh, and perhaps that is too picky FOR SOME. And lest you are thinking, “Well GEEZ, Swistle, maybe he just wants to have his own romantic idea for a Valentine’s Day gift and you are STIFLING him by acting like you’re PLACING AN ORDER! SOME people don’t go in for TRITE CLICHÉD CONSUMERISM, you know!,” rest assured that the specific request is at his specific request: he absolutely did not want to think of his own idea. And he is a fine, fine man in many other ways, and if a once-a-year traditionally-romantic gift was so important to me I could have married my high-school boyfriend, but instead I wanted smart and funny (oh snap high school boyfriend) and this particular Smart/Funny came equipped with “responding amiably/amusingly to irritable comments rather than allowing them to start a fight” instead of “buying heart-shaped things,” and it’s still a trade I’m willing to make. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get to complain. And he can go ahead and complain to HIS friends about whatever it is he thinks it would be nice if I’d do.

Anyway, now I concentrate on the non-romantic parts of the holiday: valentines for the kids; buying/making heart-shaped foods; contributing heart-shaped paper plates to the elementary-school parties; appreciating the cute elementary-school classroom exchanges; buying my own pretty, heart-shaped box(es) of nice chocolates at 50% off on February 15th. This is our last year of having a kid in elementary school, so that’s a little sad.

Where was I? Oh, yes: care package. What the kids have wanted every single year is those giant 7-ounce Hershey Kisses. At our Target they are only sold in teacher-themed packaging, but the children say they do not care, so that’s what they get every year. (I have heard that some other stores have the giant Kisses without the teacher theme, and if the kids cared I would investigate that option.) I put one of those in Rob’s care package. Also, I have been buying the Valentine’s-Day-themed Hostess and Little Debbie snack cakes for the kids to have as February-leading-up-to-Valentine’s-Day treats, and I set aside one little cakey from each box to put in the care package. Also Valentine’s Day Tic-Tacs, Valentine’s Day Junior Mints, a Valentine’s Day Hershey bar, a tube of Valentine’s Day M&Ms, and Valentine’s Day Sweetarts. For non-Valentine’s-Day-related stuff, I put in a box of cereal bars, a box of granola bars, a pocket pack of tissues, two of his favorite pens (I bought a box of 12, and I parcel them out at the approximate rate I think he’ll lose them), a few ziploc baggies and clothespins (so handy!), a miniature bottle of Tabasco sauce, a package of beef jerky, a package of cough drops, a tin of Altoids.

Reader Question: Things To Do with an Alexa

Today we have this from Phancymama:

We got an Alexa and a dot for Christmas, and I would love a post on this where I could read lots of comments from other people! I also find myself wishing for Alexa in the car. And I feel like my feelings run from “incredibly useful” to “I forget it’s there” and I have the feeling I’m missing some of the tricks and tips. (For instance I ask about the weather but not the news!)

 

I have a first-generation Echo, but it looks like those are only being sold refurbished and the second-generation Echo is the current thing. I also have a second-generation Dot. Here is what I use my Alexa Echo/Dot for:

1. Every single morning, I ask it for the news (“Alexa, what’s the news?”). I had to set up what news source I wanted (I do set-up stuff on https://alexa.amazon.com/spa/index.html#cards (I just type in alexa.amazon.com and it adds the other stuff automatically), but there is an Alexa app that lets you do it too and makes more sense if you use the Alexa for lists; I started to install the app long ago, but I seem to remember feeling uncomfortable at the time with the permissions/access it wanted), and I chose NPR. You can also set up more than one source, so that it will go through them one after another, but NPR is about exactly the amount of news I want in the morning, delivered in exactly the right tone of voice.

2. Songs! So many songs! “Alexa, play On Melancholy Hill,” “Alexa, play Magic by The Cars,” “Alexa, play Dancer in a Daydream,” “Alexa, play Fever by Peggy Lee.” Sometimes she needs title and artist, sometimes just title: there’s more than one song called Magic; there’s more than one artist who sings Fever. There is a rotating list of songs she’ll say she can only play a sample of, and that’s annoying, so for Christmas I asked for and received a subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited, the $3.99/month version that gives access on just one device. Paul thought this was silly and wanted to get the $7.99/month plan that would cover both devices, but even the $3.99/month adds up, and I wanted to try it out for awhile in a way that would let me compare and see if it gave me enough more songs to be worth it. So far I really like it: when I came home from The Greatest Showman and wanted the soundtrack, the Echo played it for me right away; when I was folding laundry later and asked the Dot for the same thing, it said I would need Amazon Music Unlimited for that.

2a. Asking what song is playing. I LOVE this. I say, “Alexa, what is this?” and she says “This is Let the Games Begin, by AJR,” or whatever.

2b. Asking for a radio station. I have a radio in the kitchen, but it only gets two stations I like. So I’ll ask Alexa to play a different station. I’ve asked her to play Rob’s college radio station, which was fun. It can be a little tricky to get the one I want, because she can play practically anything, so it’s best if you know the call letters.

2c. Asking her to play songs by a certain artist. I’ll say, “Alexa, play songs by AJR,” and she’ll shuffle songs by AJR.

2d. Asking her to make an assorted playlist based on a certain artist. I’ll say, “Alexa, play Peter Cetera radio,” and she’ll play an assortment of songs: some Peter Cetera, some of a similar style, some from that time period, and some weird choices that don’t make any sense. If she plays a song I don’t like, I say “Alexa, thumbs down” and she puts it on a don’t-play list. If she’s playing a song I don’t want to forbid but neither do I want to hear it right now, I say, “Alexa, skip this one” or “Alexa, next.”

2e. Asking for a song I don’t know the title/artist of. “Alexa, play the song that goes ‘Every time I see you falling’.”

2f. Asking for a type of music. “Alexa, play ’80s hits,” “Alexa, play ’90s alternative rock,” “Alexa, play classical music,” “Alexa, play Christmas music.” I’ve had mixed success with this: sometimes I get exactly what I want, but sometimes she’ll play, like, a bunch of music that may be from the ’80s but nothing I recognize, or she’ll get weirdly overly-specific and say “Playing Christmas Country Down Home Favorites” or “Playing music by Bach.” No, no: I wanted an ASSORTMENT of Christmas/classical.

3. Timer/alarm. Mostly I’d rather just set a regular old timer. But it’s handy to have the Alexa when I’m out of timers (the kids walk off with them, or all the timers are in use) or if I’m doing something that makes it inconvenient, like washing dishes. She can do a timer (“Alexa, set a timer for eight minutes”) or an alarm (“Alexa, set an alarm for 1:30”).

4. General information. Sometimes I hear a news story that I don’t quite understand because I didn’t pay attention in American Government class or whatever, or sometimes a kid will ask me a question I don’t know the answer to, or Paul needs to know YET AGAIN how many tablespoons are in a quarter-cup (IT’S FOUR, PAUL. It’s ALWAYS FOUR), so we ask Alexa. Sometimes she doesn’t know, or doesn’t understand the question.

5. Weather: “Alexa, what’s the weather?,” “Alexa, will it snow tomorrow?,” “Alexa, what’s the temperature outside?,” “Alexa, what will the weather be like on Saturday?”

6. “Alexa, teach me something new.” She’ll tell you something neat about dogs! or stars! or the crippling effects of a break-up!

7. “Alexa, tell me a joke.” (Mostly the kids do this one.)

8. Random number generator. If you tell her to roll a die, she’ll give you a number between one and six. Or you can ask her to roll a hundred dice. Or flip a coin. Or give you a random number between one and a hundred.

 

Phancymama and I would like to hear how you use your Alexa.

Movie: The Greatest Showman

A friend invited me to go see The Greatest Showman, and I knew nothing about it except that it was about Barnum and/or Bailey, so I figured it was a pretty safe bet: if nothing else, there would be good circus scenes. Things I didn’t realize until I arrived at the theater:

1. It’s a musical
2. Hugh Jackman is in it
3. My friend had already seen it: she invited me right after seeing it the first time. Like, from the parking lot.

I liked it. As expected, there were good circus scenes. There were also some good big musical numbers with lots of stuff happening: trapeze artists! lions! flames! stomping! clapping! And there were a couple sweet songs. And two good power ballads. I would be happy to see it again. And I might end up doing so: as the credits rolled, my friend said, “Same time tomorrow?” It was a good one to see in the theater, because of all the big/colorful/loud scenes.

I would like to see more movies. It’s an activity that ties in beautifully with my dabbling goals. For example, since seeing The Greatest Showman I have:

1. Asked Alexa to play me the soundtrack while I made dinner
2. Looked up the actress who plays Jenny Lind (I still don’t know why she seems familiar)
3. Looked up the singer who sings Never Enough (Loren Allred)
4. Thought of the song Never Enough reminds me of (Already Gone, by Kelly Clarkson) and listened to it
5. Looked up the actress/singer who plays Anne Wheeler (Zendaya)
6. Felt interested in finding out why this story about Barnum doesn’t mention Bailey
7. Thought about how glad I was that what seemed like [spoiler] was actually [spoiler]
8. Felt interested in learning more about Jenny Lind

It gives me renewed Interest in Things. It’s a good way to counteract January.

What it Was Like To Get a Dental Implant, Insofar as the Nitrous Oxide Will Let Me Remember

I have been so sad and anxious about getting my dental implant, and now it is done and I am so much happier. Plus I tried nitrous oxide and now I have a new life plan involving lots of dental work.

To review, I had the tooth extracted back in September, and a bone graft put in. In early January the oral surgeon had me come back in to check the bone graft, and it looked good so I went back near the end of January for the implant. (Before having this done, I thought “the implant” was the fake tooth, but the implant is the name for the screw-thing they put into the gums for the crown to attach to; the crown is the part that looks like a tooth.)

I chose to be unconscious for the tooth extraction, but chose nitrous oxide for the implant, partly because I was less upset about the second procedure than the first, and partly because I wanted to try nitrous oxide after hearing all the varying reviews. I am happy to report that my experience was on the positive end of the spectrum: it was MARVELOUS. The only downside is it felt a little like having too much to drink, in that I felt self-conscious about how I was coming across to others; and I was uncertain about successfully coordinating, for example, the assigned complicated task of breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. And my mouth was numb and I didn’t have my glasses on, so I had the unpleasant sensation of being semi-detached from most of my senses. But that was like 10% unpleasant combined with 90% Very Very Pleasant, so in short I am a fan and plan to see if I can get it for all future upsetting dental work, such as crowns. I HATE getting crowns, and I have four of them and two of them are getting ready to need replacing.

I will see what I can remember about getting the implant. They first gave me a dose of antibiotics and asked me to confirm some information. I had to have someone with me to drive me home, since I was having nitrous oxide. They put a shower cap thing over my hair and disposable booties over my shoes and a big disposable sheet over the rest of my person. They took my blood pressure and asked if I was nervous (yes), and put an oxygen monitor on my finger. At this point it was still just me and the person who administered the nitrous oxide. She then put a little cup thing over my nose and gave me some oxygen, which just felt like a cool nose breeze.

Then the nitrous oxide, and she asked me to tell her when I felt a little tingly. I get a little paranoid about things like this: I worry that I am highly suggestible and will say I feel something when there is no way I could be feeling anything yet, and then they will be like “Gotcha!” Which of course they would not do. Anyway, I felt nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, maybe I feel something I can’t tell, no it’s nothing, nothing, maybe I’m imagining something, no it’s nothing, nothing, nothing, OH there it is! Just sort of a tingly feeling, as advertised, and then maybe a minute later a definite headrush/buzz/high feeling. Really great. She told me she’d leave it right there, but would crank it higher when we got to the point where the oral surgeon was putting in the Novocaine. And I was not nervous at all! Why had I been nervous! Everything was great!

She said it would work in a “rollercoaster” fashion: first I’d feel it, then I’d feel it less, then I’d feel it more again, and so forth. She said this was partly the nature of the medication, and partly because when it’s working well, people forget to breathe through their noses, and then they sober up a bit and remember. And that was how it worked for me: at one point I thought she had turned it off and started the oxygen (which she’d told me she’d do at the end), but then after a few minutes there was a renewal of the headrush/buzz/high feeling.

The oral surgeon and her assistant came in right after I was starting to feel the nitrous oxide. The doctor asked how I was and the person handling the nitrous oxide said, “She’s doing great: she loves everyone,” possibly because that’s exactly what I had told her a minute earlier. The doctor put numbing gel on a Q-tip and propped the Q-tip between my lip and my gum. Then there was some talk about needles, and I floated right through that. Ha ha! Needles! So funny! I felt very much like laughing, but stifled it. The doctor picked up something I couldn’t see, and the person handling the laughing gas said she was going to give me more now. I felt GREAT, and also like I might pass out but in a very good way. I felt as if I could definitely fall asleep if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to miss any of this legal high. There was some sort of needle sensation I guess but who cared! Then the doctor said “I’m afraid this one is a rough one,” and her assistant said, “Deep breath in now,” and I thought, “Wheeeeeeeeee ow ow wheeeeeeeeee isn’t it funny how that theoretically hurts quite a bit and yet la la la wheeeeeee this is GREAT I feel WONDERFUL and also I think I successfully obeyed the instruction to breathe in, so that’s good!”

Things are a little muddled in my memory. There was a lot of messing around in my mouth. Some gauze and some suction and so forth. I couldn’t really feel anything because my mouth was numb and because I was quite high. I think the doctor might have tried one kind of implant and rejected it for another kind, because she said something about magenta being more feminine but the other was a better fit; I don’t remember if she put one in and then took it out or if she discovered this some other way. And the doctor showed me an implant and it took a moment for me to understand she was talking to me so I could tune in and take a look at it, and I remember seeing a little grey cone/screw thing. I don’t know if this is the same one I have now or not, because the part that shows is a gold/bronze color, and I also remember her saying something about gold being fancy and that now I had some bling, so maybe she tried/considered three different implants. I remember hearing, with no concern, some debate about which one to use, and there was an x-ray and then some more work, and then after awhile there was another x-ray, and then some more work, and then another x-ray. Sometimes I let my eyes close; sometimes I looked around to help stay awake to appreciate the high. There were at least two occasions when something like a tiny jackhammer was doing something on my gums; I assume putting in the implant? It didn’t hurt, just sounded/felt a little weird. Mostly sounded: I wasn’t feeling much in the mouth region at all. I couldn’t even tell if my mouth was open or closed.

A few times the assistant said I could close and swallow, and I tasted a lot of salt. I would think this meant blood, except it didn’t taste entirely like blood, and also they were frequently using a sprayer and a suction thing in my mouth, and also I wouldn’t think blood would be quite so salty. It tasted more as if they had been using salt water in the sprayer. I still wasn’t sure I was able to successfully follow instructions, but each time I did seem to be following them, at least enough to satisfy. They asked for my flipper (the temporary tooth on a retainer-like thing) and I was able to tell them it was in the pocket of the cardigan I’d given to the nurse, but I was a little surprised that I was able to do that. The surgeon put the flipper in and said, “Yep, that’s going to be in the way,” and they discussed whether I had an appointment scheduled with my dentist, which I did. I continued to float/enjoy. The person handling the nitrous oxide asked how I was doing, and I said “Great!,” and she said “Mom knows best, right?,” and I didn’t know why she was saying it, and I thought she was referring to herself as “Mom.” (Afterward I remembered that we’d talked about my mom saying nitrous oxide was great and that I should definitely try it.)

At one point the doctor said, “Oh, sorry,” and I had no idea what she was talking about but thought it was very important to indicate to her that I TOTALLY got it, so I nodded and half-winked and tried to look knowledgeable/forgiving. Once she said, “Oops, let’s not drown you,” and I had no idea what she was talking about. Several times she asked if I was okay and I said “Yes” and “Lovely!” She said unfortunately she couldn’t send me home with a canister of the stuff, and I laughed and then had trouble stopping laughing but did manage it.

Then the assistant was wiping around my mouth with a damp cloth and the doctor was saying things had gone really well. I tried to nod understandingly. She and the assistant left the room. The person handling the nitrous oxide said she was going to switch me to oxygen, and in the next couple of minutes I started sobering up and regaining control of my various senses. I thought, “OH, I see, my mouth is hard to control because it’s all NUMB! I get it now!” I shifted my arms and legs for the first time since starting the nitrous oxide. It felt kind of good to not be so out of it, though I also felt like I would like to breathe through my mouth to extend the nitrous oxide as long as possible.

She gave me some after-care instructions: don’t eat unpasteurized dairy for a couple of days; use ice for 20 minutes out of every 60 for the first two days, then switch to heat if necessary; don’t eat spiky/crispy things such as chips and nuts for a week; chew only on back teeth, no biting with the front teeth (I haven’t been able to bite with my front teeth since September, so no problem); swish with salt water; take ibuprofen; etc. I felt about 75% able to receive such instructions, but she gave me a piece of paper that repeated everything.

The whole thing from antibiotics to paperwork was less than an hour. I didn’t need gauze or anything afterward, because the bleeding had already stopped. The oral surgeon had said something earlier that baffled me but did not cause me to want clarification: she said she had a “perfect-size punch” so that there was hardly any bleeding and no stitches required. Let’s not think too much about what a “punch” might be, or how it might be used.

This is when I started feeling some pain, and the pain increased quite a bit over the next five or ten minutes. She’d told me to take four ibuprofen when I got home, but I had some in my purse so I stopped at the drinking fountain in the building’s hallway and took them right away. The pain increased to the point where it was hard to think about other things. It wasn’t excruciating, but it was very ouchie/distracting, and I felt squinty and bad. My other teeth were hurting too, even though they shouldn’t; I remembered the orthodontist long ago telling me that teeth are particularly prone to “sympathetic pain.” My mom and I had talked about stopping at a store on the way home, but I was too uncomfortable.

Instead my mom drove me directly to the dentist, where I had an appointment an hour later to get my flipper (the temporary fake tooth on a little retainer-type thing) adjusted to make room for the part of the implant that sticks out of the gums. I’d been worried the sticking-out part would be gross and upsetting, like an eighth-inch of screw protruding disturbingly, but it’s just a little nearly-flat gold circle on the gum. It’s almost pretty—as if I’ve gotten my gum pierced to match my earrings. And I can barely feel it with my tongue, even though the tongue exaggerates the size of everything: it’s much flatter and less noticeable than the stitches were, back when I had the tooth extracted.

It was about a twenty-minute drive to the dentist, and by the time we got there I was starting to think I might be feeling better. By half an hour after that, I was DEFINITELY feeling better: it was partly the ibuprofen but also I think the implant just stopped hurting so much, because when the ibuprofen wore off I still didn’t have any pain. Maybe just a slight tender feeling. It was like stubbing your toe, where first it hurts tremendously but then the pain drops off sharply and it doesn’t usually hurt later, or maybe it’s just a teeny bit sensitive. It was as if my gums were saying “AAAAAA INTRUDER AAAAAAAA NO THIS IS NOT RIGHT AAAAAAAAA THERE IS A GIANT THING HERE THAT SHOULDN’T BE HERE oh actually no this is okay this is fine no problem we can make room.”

The dentist carved a teensy bit out of the flipper, and then it fit great. The whole thing took about five minutes, and that included chatting about how the implant procedure had gone. My mom dropped me off at home and I put a bag of frozen corn on my face; I felt like I didn’t need it (no swelling, no pain) but didn’t want to be the idiot who thinks she’s fine and doesn’t follow the instructions and then gets a swollen face. The next day I did notice maybe a tiny bit of swelling, but maybe I was imagining it. Mostly I looked a little pink from the ice pack.

I feel VERY HAPPY about having this step done. I hope there are no complications, because if there aren’t, then all the stressful/hard/painful parts are over: all that’s left is having a crown attached to the implant, and I can have that done in about ten weeks, and then life can proceed. And I will not think about how the oral surgeon said it looked like the same problem might be happening with my other front tooth (probably injured at the same time and in the same way, whatever that time/way was) and we will just have to wait and see.

The Crown; Biography of Queen Elizabeth

I am on Season Two of The Crown. It is difficult to gauge what is a spoiler when a show is based on actual history. I was never good at history so it’s all spoilers to me. I mean, I know Queen Elizabeth has a son called Charles, I did know that. But I have to be careful not to search online to find out, for example, why that photographer looks so familiar (it’s because he was also in Downton Abbey) because when I do, I see little bits of history that would have been a complete surprise to me two episodes later.

Anyway. I just watched the episode where Charles goes away to school at Gordonstoun. It’s so well done, I think: you can absolutely see how great the school was for Prince Philip and why he wants Charles to go there so intensely that he can justify being an absolute dick about it, and you can even see how it MIGHT have ended up well for Charles too—while also seeing that it was an experiment that should have been discontinued after the first year and better yet even sooner, and that Prince Philip should have noticed that he and Charles are VERY DIFFERENT TEMPERAMENT TYPES with very different issues to work through, so what was good for one of them would not necessarily be good for the other of them. Plus, Prince Philip does not give evidence of being a really superior person, so perhaps he should not over-credit the effect his school experience had on his character.

It all gives a parent a lot to think about, is what I’m saying.

Speaking of spoilers/history, this show makes me want to read biographies and history books to get more information about that time and these people. Do you have any you’d recommend? Probably I’d want to start with a biography of Queen Elizabeth, since I now love her. I am also interested in reading more about Princess Margaret, and eventually I want to read more about Prince Charles.

Bad Kiss

Last night I couldn’t sleep, and nearly got up to write a post about all the things keeping me awake, but about three-quarters of them were things I didn’t want to revisit in the morning if I didn’t have to.

One thing I was thinking about was something that happened at a party when I was 17. I’d gone at the flirty invitation of a flirty guy friend, and when I got there he had his arm around another girl, so apparently we were playing a game, and at that stage of my life I was all-in for that. The party was a small casual sitting-around-the-campfire-drinking-wine-coolers-and-beer kind of party, and I had obtained parental permission to attend by promising not to drink any wine coolers or beer, but I did sit and talk with people who had had a fair number of them. Everyone there had known each other for years so I was a novelty, and my act went over well. Flirty guy friend observed it going over well, and I observed him observing it, which was additionally pleasing. Your move, sir.

When I’d arrived, I’d found my way from the dark road to the party in the woods by following the light of the campfire. When I left, I couldn’t tell which way to go; it was nothing but dark woods in all directions. My flirty friend, his arm pinned by the girl he was sitting with, asked if someone could see me safely to my car, and one of his buddies volunteered. The buddy did a mock bow and said “My lady,” and walked me to my car. The buddy then prevented me from getting into my car, and kept trying to kiss me.

I am not sure how long this went on. I said, “I can’t do this,” and “I need to go,” and “My parents are going to kill me if I miss curfew,” and “Okay, I really have to go now,” and he seemed to think we were in the Baby It’s Cold Outside song and I was just flirting, and he kept trying to kiss me, and he kept blocking the door to my car. My sole and focused mission became to persuade him to allow me to leave. Isn’t that weird to think of? I had to work, and work hard, to persuade a stranger, with no authority over me, to let me do something I was absolutely allowed to do, and something he absolutely shouldn’t have been preventing.

I’m interested to look back on that scene and observe that I had already completely incorporated, without being taught, that it is not safe to shove away a guy on a dark road when the two of you are alone; there is a good chance of him shoving back, and then where will you be. He’d already shown me that he was going to ignore boundaries and social cues, so it was hard to know how far out we’d find the line he wouldn’t cross. And he’d shown an additional worrisome trait by pretending he was taking me to my car for my safety, when he intended to make me significantly less safe than if I’d gone alone. But neither did it feel as if we were in a situation where screaming or pepper spray would be anywhere near appropriate: those are for when strangers come leaping out of the woods, not when they accompany you out of them. The only way I could think of to get out of this was to pretend reluctance rather than repugnance, to avoid making him angry (danger/escalation path) or hurting his feelings (danger/escalation path), and to lie about next time in order to get away safely this time. I did so, and after some period of time I did get away safely.

I’m not going to pretend it was a giant trauma. It was a little gross, and it was a little scary while it was happening and when all the potential outcomes were still open—but because it stopped where it did, and because the guy did NOT escalate things but instead seemed more like a tipsy idiot, and because by that age I’d done a fair amount of kissing and could be more casual about it rather than feeling as if My Lips Have Been Violated and Shall Never Recover, it lives in my memory as A Memorably Unpleasant Thing That Happened and not much more. Sometimes I go back in time and ask my friend to free his arm for long enough to see me to my car himself, or I ask one of the girls at the party to go with me. Sometimes I imagine taking the risk and shoving him. Sometimes I imagine an unrealistic but satisfying “How DARE you!” scene. Sometimes I imagine an unrealistic martial arts scene.

The next day my flirty friend called me and said his buddy had asked for my number and should he give it to him, and I said NO at length. The buddy kept asking my friend about me for awhile; he didn’t understand why I didn’t want to see him again. Last night I was lying awake wondering how things went for him from there: did he ever learn not to do stuff like that, or no? Does he wince at how he used to act? Or does he have a sentimental memory that doesn’t match mine at all, about some girl he liked at a party, and he walked her to her car and kissed her, and then she vanished into the night? Or maybe the same thing happened with so many girls, he doesn’t have any memory of it at all.