Tagged rant

In all my nightmares, I’m wearing the wrong underwear

My mouth hurts. I keep imagining the look of gums, the redness, the swollen horizon around my teeth, that pink vulnerable skin scratching against everything. Yesterday, I had one of the worst dental experiences of all my 28, nearly 29 years: it was just a cleaning and exam.

Due to my god-awful dental insurance (one of few reasons why self-employment blows), I am only able to visit a handful of dentists in the area. I had to part with my former dental gang, which—trust me—wasn’t easy. I love them. I really do. I know about their cats, their hobbies, their schooling… I’ve introduced them to things like My MilkToof, which just might be the coolest blog about clay-made teeth I’ve ever seen. Plus, they kindly humor my anxiety and kindly hook me up with dentist-goer perks like a free toothbrush and coupons for mouthwash.

I’m serious when I say that I leave Dr. D’s office with a huge smile on my face and a reminder card for my next appointment, which I’ve already scheduled. Listen. Teeth might just be everything to me.

“For a smoker, you’re really obsessive about your teeth,” said the curt hygenist that nearly scraped my gums out of my mouth yesterday.

“You have to be when you’re a smoker,” I replied.

“Or you could just quit,” was her retort. No shit.

Perhaps I didn’t think of that. Maybe she thought she was telling me some grand secret, like the time it never dawned on me just to roll up the bottoms of my pants, instead of holding them at the knees as I walked in the rain… DUH! But chances are she was just being an asshole. Sit tight. This shit gets better.

My appointment was at 12:30 in the afternoon. Now that I work from home, I can do those sorts of things. Make doctor appointments. So I was told to come in early to fill out the paperwork. When I stepped up to the counter and conversed with the woman on the other side, she smiled big into her computer screen then looked up: “You’re K’s friend it says.”

I was referred by a friend and someone had put it in the notes—hilarious. So from here, I expected special treatment. Maybe they would let me cut the line or put me in a special room—or better yet they were going to give me two toothbrushes. I was set for another six months with two toothbrushes!

“Hey guys, if you could let me know what this is going to cost me, I’d appreciate it. I have a new insurance and it’s kind of crappy…”

My bubble quickly dissipated when the other woman behind the counter, a middle-aged blonde with a romantic croak of a voice, raised her head: “OH! IS THIS THAT OBAMACARE?” (Loudly.)

I felt like someone just pulled my pants down in a crowd—only to reveal I was wearing the wrong day-of-the-week underwear. But it’s Thursday… I imagined the crowd murmuring, staring down at my two-day-old, “Tuesday,” day-of-the-week underwear.

Ok. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to take offense to the “Obamacare” remarks; however, she’s not the only one with which I’ve employeed my defenses. It makes me feel uncomfortable, like I’m getting something for nothing, or I’m cheating the government. I feel as dirty as the word “Obama” in this conservative, a-little-too-close-to-West-Virginia town.

“Umm… you mean healthcare.gov? Yeah. I pay for my own insurance. Myself.”

About two years ago, I had no real concern about the healthcare industry. Sure, make everyone healthy and happy. Why not? Give those people without insurance some damned coverage already… the important word being them. Now suddenly, I am them.

I didn’t get called back for my cleaning until 1:15, nearly an hour later, which is when I encountered the “Tasmanian Devil of dental hygienistry,” or so I’ve dubbed her to everyone else. I’m sure there is a more fitting title, something funnier: The Edward Scissorhands of Teeth Cleaning, Freddie Whiter Smile (or Else) Kruger… Anyway, she RAVAGED my mouth—probably for the sake of hurrying. I was flinching, pinching my legs, groaning with my mouth agape. Was this happening?

photo cred: skymovies.sky.com

“Stay still,” she said coldly, continuing with her icepick, plaque bits hitting me in the cheeks.

Five minutes later: “You have to quit jerking. Stay still.”

After that, it felt like she was going at it harder, sadistically, and once more I was six years old being scolded with the same line over and over: Meghan. Meghan, don’t jump down the stairs. What did I say? Meghan. Don’t. Meghan Patrice… don’t jump down the stairs. Walk down those stairs. Meghan Patrice, if I have to… I swear I’m going to… (I didn’t listen as a kid—or now either, I suppose.) I actually broke my leg this way when I was five, jumping down stairs.

“It just hurts really bad,” I tried to explain to Buffy the Gum Slayer, as she vandalized my face.

“Well, I can’t do my job if your teeth are traveling all around the room.” She pulled back with a frown.

That’s when I noticed all of the blood on her blue latex gloves, my blood. I wiped the tarter sprinkles from my eyebrows, from out of my nostrils, and opened my eyes to see a bruiser of a kid, highschool aged, looking at me from a room from across the hall, half-grinning in his cut-off t-shirt. Had he witnessed the whole thing? Was he taping me with his iPhone and shooting all over the interwebs?! Why in the bloody hell didn’t she close the door?

I walked out of that room to—I supposed—another room for an x-ray or an exam with the dentist, whatever thing came next. But I followed her… to the waiting room? Again? I waited for another 20 minutes among the unaware, pre-pain-stricken souls in the large lobby, my mouth sore and tasting of blood. I never left the dentist’s feeling like that… cleanings were refreshing, pleasurable even. I left with a fresh coat of mint and silky smooth teeth that I rubbed over with my tongue for days. Really, folks, I’ve only had one cavity in my life, ONE, (humble brag) because I’m that cautious and thorough with my oral hygiene. I am so sure she didn’t need to go all Kill Bill on my gums.

Best part… ready? Finally, I get called back for the exam, where I wait for another fifteen minutes for the dentist WHO COMES IN WITH HIS CELLPHONE IN HIS HAND going, “My wife called at 12:41 and left a message… Let’s see what she has to say.” Then, he leaves the room with his phone in his ear. WHAT?!

In total, the visit took a little over two hours for a cleaning! I just want to know what kind of treatment I would have been given had I not mentioned my friend’s name. And you know what? I didn’t even get a fucking toothbrush!

mt

Christmas Rant | Retail Woes, Ugly Blow-Ups & My Grinch-Sized Heart

I want to hurt people.

No…let me rephrase that. I’m not a violent person. Really. It’s probably hard to believe I could hurt anyone. Just look at me. I’m a four-eyed, sweater-clad twenty-something with a graduate degree in poetry. So let me put it this way: I want to hurl shopping carts at people—but not really hit them, just come close enough to send them running in the other direction, preferably out of the shopping mall all together and back to their cozy suburban dwellings.

It’s the time of year that gets me. I become loudly disgusted in humanity: prone to fits of Tourette’s-like cursing, erratic driving, and sometimes when no one is listening, I revise the words of popular Christmas tunes to sing about murder, prostitution and all-around mayhem. It’s cool. I would never do anything about it. It’s just a thought.

I know. I realize it’s a hell of a time to be ornery, especially for someone like me—noted to have an almost tragic “hippie optimism” and a deeply rooted humanitarian-style set of personal politics. But let me explain.

It isn’t the grinning array of elves and Santa knick-knacks, nor the multi-colored strands of lights outlining every house. In fact, I enjoy the décor. Well, all but those obnoxious ballooning blow-ups strangling the lawns of Greensburg. Talk about overdoing it. I thought lawn balls were lame. But now we’ve got puffy Snoopys and snowmen, carousels and over-fed Santas… Look, people, chances are if you’re a suburbanite like me, your green space is already limited to a patch of scraggly yellowing grass, maybe a shrub or two, but most certainly not enough room for a life-size team of googly-eyed reindeer. Just sayin’.

Thanks to the NYTimes.com for this pic.

I’m still trying to figure out the whys of this. What happened to me? What happened to my Christmas?

Retail is the most obvious scapegoat. I like to blame the years spent holed up in a 12 by 12 room, on-camera, counting money in a grocery store’s cash office. For years, it was nothing but me and seven endless hours of looped Christmas music (a day) counting someone else’s dirty money. I only ever emerged when called upon to handle extra-bitchy customers. More than likely, our system was declining their gift cards, or they wanted to return their holiday turkeys and hams before they had a chance to enjoy them. Hey, customers can be smart. They found them for two-cents-per-pound cheaper at Shop ‘N Save or Community Market. And I’m supposed to give a shit. Because now, I have to throw these things away. Yes, for public safety reasons, Giant Eagle automatically assumes all perishable returns—no matter how well they are sealed—were injected with cyanide or simply left to grow bacteria in your backseat for days.

“But wait,” a customer might point out, as I’m disposing of their 20-pound mistake. “Are you sure you have to pitch it? I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it. I just found it cheaper somewhere else.”

And yeah, this sounds heroic like maybe they even care that people are starving right next door, but even after I tell them “no-can-do,” they’d pocket their refund like the Scrooges they are and prance out of the door proudly, mentally patting themselves on the back for their two-dollar savings.

Replacements for “My kid made the Honor Roll!” bumper stickers (geekologie.com)

So I’m bitter, maybe. But anyone who has ever worked retail knows that people only grow nastier during
this joyous season. Good will toward men—my ass. It’s probably the stress of shopping, organizing, sending out horrifically worded Christmas letters bragging about their children making honor roll. Thank god my mom never sent out those letters. The most she’d have to brag about would be my growing pile of melodramatic poetry scribbled on notebook paper or how this school year, I wore something other than boy’s JNCO jeans and skater shoes.

But the closer it comes to Christmas, I do lighten up. I swear. It’s just the initial onslaught of a premature-Christmas that gets me: the over-eager shoppers barreling through aisles without regard to the human race, the limited parking spaces, the garbled holiday tunes playing over every store radio.

This year, it was November 7th when I got my first taste of it. NOVEMBER SEVENTH, people. C’mon. I hadn’t even finished my Trick-or-Treater-candy overage and already I’m bumping elbows with crowds of puffy-coated holiday shoppers fighting over gaudy, discounted tree ornaments, and all to Dolly Parton’s rendition of “Jingle Bells.”

I was just trying to buy some damn acrylic paint at Michael’s.

Christmas threw up… (Thanks alleewillis.com)

But it’s got to be more than my seven-plus years working at a grocery store. I think it’s the hypocrisy of it all. We’re supposed to be celebrating a holiday that imposes good values: kindness, generosity, and an appreciation of what we have, the simple things. Yet, there’s nowhere I can turn without catching a stark glimpse of Christmas—the twiggy wreaths hung on doors shiny with metallic paint and stuck Styrofoam birds; the phony LED icicle lights hung from eaves, glowing an aura so fake I can describe it no other way but “death”; and let’s not forget the screaming children everywhere, pointing and crying for the latest video game or Lego’s set.

Maybe more than all this, I’m pissy with myself. Because at some point, we all realize the sham. It’s not hard to sit there and point out the materialism, the chaos, the wide-eyed consumers scurrying for more coupons and sales flyers, but I do it too. Sure, I make many of my gifts, put more thought into them than I should, really. I refuse to buy gift cards and spend too much time trying to find the perfect gift. My idea of a Christmas horror story would be getting a gift from someone I didn’t anticipate and leaving them empty handed. How sad is that?

I don’t know what happened to Christmas for me or anybody
 else. It doesn’t really matter, I guess. Whether I want it to or not, it’ll come every year. And like the Grinch, I’ll stand at the edge of my mountaintop, or more aptly—my soapbox, swearing to myself, a little black heart beating inside my chest. I’ll watch the world frantically preparing for the season and think of hurling those shopping carts.


But truly, I’d like to believe that, like that same Dr. Seuss tale, if all the decorations and presents and roast beast were to disappear, the world would still be singing. But I’m not going to jail for grand larceny to find out.

*Christmas Rant from my reading at Awesome Books on December 8th, 2012.

This all said… Merry Christmas, everyone! [:
mt

Finally over! That deserves a royal high-five!

Ah, so I sit here on my hand-me-down couch in silence, going over the day and thinking about how it’s nearly midnight and I could sleep… quite possibly for the next 12 years. I know I’m only 25, but this getting old thing is… well, getting old. I blame it on the weather, the the lack of consistency, the sloppy thick mucus that has taken my lungs hostage. One minute a nude, bathing gentleman in a tub is flying by our windows (a horrible Oz reference) and we’re ducking swirly tornados, the next I’m stripping down to my undershirt in the sun during my hour lunch break. In one day I saw snow, hail, rain and very warm sunny skies. Tonight, the temp is dropping back down to 35˚F. Tomorrow? 70˚F. Anyhow, enough whining about weather. I should be grateful to live in a place with four seasons, right? It makes the anticipation of each rather exciting. Except winter. Winter feels like death.

Oh wait. I have more whining. This royal wedding business. It’s over, right? Does this mean I can go back to my empty, soulless life–living without heart-shaped, jelly-filled donuts from Dunkin, flamboyant grocery-store cakes with the faces of the the royal couple, and the sparse (but still too many) British flags flying about in the neighborhood? I just don’t get it. It’s America, people. Don’t we have something better to do at 4 in the morning? Sleep, maybe?

Wow. I’m a total crankpot this evening. To be fair, all I request is a Snickers and a Midol. (Maybs one of those Reester Bunnies!)

Please, tell me you’ve heard of the Reester Bunny. Happy weekend!
xx