Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I make jokes about being dentophobic because I think the word sounds funny. However, it is not, in my opinion, a true phobia.

Phobia is defined as a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.  My dislike of dentists is not irrational, but is based on more than 3 decades of unpleasantness, pain and blood.

The first time I ever went to the dentist I was 11.  The dentist was a loud, overweight bald guy, who made inappropriate "jokes" about how tight my shirt was and whether or not I had a boyfriend.  He creeped me out in a way that I had never experienced before.  I was also kind of scared, having heard all the stereotypical hating-on-dentists jokes, and he made fun of me for being afraid to have a cavity filled.  I ended up crying the whole time he was filling my tooth.

Then a year or two later that same dentist decided I needed braces, but first he pulled 6 (six) teeth. Then I had braces for two years.  Luckily the orthodontist he sent us to was very nice, so the braces ordeal was about as pleasant as it could be.

I continued going to that same creepy dentist for the next year or so, until we all started noticing that my teeth didn't meet at all except at the very back of the right side of my mouth.  (I wrote about it here.)  There was literally an inch of space between my front teeth when my mouth was completely closed.  This was not because my teeth were growing in crookedly, my actual JAWS were.  So, another referral from creepy dentist, and we started seeing a surgeon to get ready for the surgery.

But first, another year of braces to get everything in place.  Do you know how much fun it is for a teenage girl to have braces TWICE?  No fun at all, that's how much.

So my parents and I met with this surgeon guy, where he repeatedly assured us that the surgery really wasn't as bad as it sounded.  It was similar to having wisdom teeth out.  Sure, I'd have to be in the hospital for a week, but that was just to learn how to eat with my mouth wired shut.

I remember being in the hospital the night before, meeting the anesthesiologist and thinking this feels like a very big deal.  Then in the morning they came to take me to surgery, and gave me an IV that knocked me out.  The next thing I knew I was in Cardiac Intensive Care, with electrodes on my chest hooked up to beeping machines.  Through a fog of anesthesia I was dimly aware of my parents there, very upset (my Mom was crying) and a nurse saying something about trouble controlling bleeding during surgery.  The next day I was a little more conscious, and Mom brought me the newly released Purple Rain album.  I remember the nurse giving me a sponge bath, and trying clean my long thick hair, which was caked with dried blood.

Oh, and learning to eat with my mouth wired shut?  The tips of teeth were enclosed in a plastic tray, my braces were wired together top to bottom, the only space to take any liquid in my mouth was the space between each front tooth.  Basically, I learned that all I could do was suck lukewarm liquid through my teeth.  Fun.  I actually developed a bit bigger space between two front top teeth, which they told me was normal and would go away when I got unwired (it did).

Then a year or so after that I got all four wisdom teeth cut out, which was not pleasant but obviously better than the surgery.  In the meantime I also had a couple more cavities filled, once with no novocaine (the dentist didn't think I'd need it, and I ended up crying all through the procedure while he kept saying we were almost done).  Did I mention that one time, when they did use novocaine, the needle hit a blood vessel in my mouth?  My mouth filled up with blood, my blood pressure dropped, yadda yadda yadda.  That happens to everyone, right?

So, to recap:  before the age of 20 I have had 6 teeth pulled, 3 or 4 cavities filled, braces for two years, braces again for another year, horrible face-bone-cracking-and-wiring-back-together surgery, mouth wired shut for a month, 4 impacted wisdom teeth removed, and much miscelleaneous pain and blood, and creepiness.

I go off into the world as an adult, out of my parent's control, and I think: to hell with this dentist crap.  That is enough of THAT.  And even though I really did understand the importance of taking care of your teeth, somehow 5 years went by without any trips to the dentist.  I moved to a new state and never found a dentist, and time passed without my realizing it, the way it is wont to do.

So in my mid-20's I found a dentist recommended by a friend, and though I was anxious, I made the appointment.  I told them when I made the appointment that I was afraid of dentists and haven't been in a very long time, and the lady on the phone was nice but abrupt.  When I got there, the dentist lady made no attempt to hide her disgust with the kind of person who would go five years without a cleaning. When the x-rays showed no cavities, she was quick to point out how lucky someone like me is to avoid teeth rotting right out of my head, and I would swear that the hygeinist made cleaning my teeth more painful than necessary.

I went home and cried, and felt like I was probably at fault.  I went back to that dentist another time or two, and there always seemed to be an undercurrent of meanness.  They kept telling me that my teeth still looked awful, that it would take years to undo the damage I had done by going so long without cleanings.  When I moved to a different part of town, I decided I wouldn't go back, I'd find a better place.

Of course, you know what happened.  I dreaded it so much I kept putting it off, and then all of a sudden several more years had gone by.  If my teeth had been in such bad shape then, how much worse had they gotten since?   I would lie awake at night worrying.

Two years ago I finally turned the corner where worrying about what would happen if I DIDN'T go became more terrifying than worrying about what would happen if I DID go.  Unable to get any recommendations from friends, I finally just picked a dentist nearby, in an office that looked nice. 

Gee, guess what happened?  The x-rays showed no cavities, but the dentist said I had severe periodontal disease that had eaten away a significant amount of the bone, which meant that my teeth were in danger of falling out.  The only thing that could prevent that was an extremely expensive laser procedure, which my insurance wouldn't cover.  They cleaned my teeth using a process called scaling, with no novocaine, which was literally one of the most painful things I have ever experienced.  And also bloody.  I was in his office for two hours of stomach clenching, tearful horror.

I was still in pain and crying when my husband got home from work.  Why had I even let them do that to me, he asked?  Why didn't I just leave?  After all, I didn't even know for sure what the dentist had told me was correct.

It honestly never occurred to me to leave.  This is what going to the dentist is for me, I sobbed to my husband.  It ALWAYS hurts, it's ALWAYS horrible, it's ALWAYS like this.

I asked around at work, and found several people recommending a dentist right near our office.  Panic and anxiety combined to make me immoble once again, and it took much longer than it should have to make the appointment.  Plus, it was harder to coordinate this time, since my husband would have to come with me for hand-holding/tissue detail.

I went last week, just for x-rays and a check-up, no cleaning or procedures of any kind.  X-rays showed one small cavity, and periodontic disease that had resulted in some bone loss.  They were so nice to me, and very patient, and explained that if I came in for scaling and took good care to get my teeth cleaned regularly I'd be okay.  Yesterday I went in for the first of two scaling procedures and the hygienist was so nice.  She obviously went out of her way to be encouraging, and kind.  My husband pulled a chair close to me and held my hand during the whole thing.  I had to get six shots of novocaine, which wasn't fun, and the procedure took more than an hour, but it really wasn't bad.  The hygienist called me "sweetie", and kept telling me I was doing great, and my teeth were looking beautiful.

Even with all that encouragement and wonderfulness, I still had uncontrollable stomach clenchiness and had to keep reminding myself to breathe.  And, truth be told, I got a little bit teary.  But I feel much less anxious about going back for the second half, and I feel like I have finally found a dental office of people who not only good at what they do, but also are NICE.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rocky Horror Picture Show, part 2

We all had such a great time on Saturday!  We had Italian food and sangria, then hung out singing Bon Jovi and Michael Jackson songs in the bar at Margaritaville, and despite the rain we all had a lot of fun.

I would like to congratulate myself for resisting the peer pressure to do a Jager bomb in the theatre before the movie.  (Yes, the massive movie theatre at Citywalk has a full bar.)  There's no pressure worse than do-a-shot-with-the-group pressure.  But I persevered and emerged victorious!  And sober.  :)

We sat in the front row, which for this show is the place to be.  The Rich Weirdos seriously do the most amazing shadow show I have ever seen.  They are professional, and extremely talented, and take it very seriously.

Here's a photo of shadow Frankie (I don't know their names) with shadow Columbia, during Sweet Transvestite.  You can see the movie behind them, and shadow Brad and Janet and Riffraff off to the sides.

Also during Sweet Transvestite, here's shadow Columbia, Magenta, Frankie and Riffraff.

Even though he doesn't have one in the movie, shadow Frankie's mohawk was very cool.

We have decided to make RHPS outings a semi-annual event, at least.

I want to go
oh oh oh
To the late night 
double feature 
picture show

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rocky Horror Picture Show

The first time I saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show I was a mere adolescent girlie of 17. A small group of us went to nearby Blacksburg, Virginia, home of Virginia Tech. And it was Halloween night.

We had no idea what RHPS was, really. I had read about it in a music magazine and thought it might be fun, and we just lucked out that it happened to be Halloween. The theatre was full of college kids, and pretty much everyone except for us was dressed up.

Sitting in the crowded theatre was exciting, and seeing the shadow cast in their weird costumes setting up props and things in front of the screen seemed mysterious and intriguing. From the first few minutes of the big red lips filling the screen, I already loved it.
Michael Rennie was ill the day the Earth stood still
But he told us where we stand
And Flash Gordon was there in silver underwear
Claude Raines was the invisible man

The movie was immediately campy and ridiculous, and watching the shadow cast act things out, in costume, right below the screen was very cool. The audience all seemed to know the drill, throwing rice at the wedding and yelling at the narrator about his lack of neck.

The whole audience stood up to dance the Time Warp, so we did, too. Lucily it was not a complicated procedure, and there was even a handy onscreen diagram. Of course, just listening to the lyrics will give you a good idea of what to do.
It's just a jump to the left
And then a step to the right
Put your hand on your hips

Then bring your knees in tight
But it's the pelvic thrust

That really drives you insane
Let's do the Time Warp again!

But the most memorable moment for me was right after we sat down again, post-Time Warp. The party guests are lying strewn about on the floor, Brad and Janet are backing towards the door, and slowly an elevator is descending; all you can see are feet in silver sparkly high heels. STEP, STEP, STEP, the audience chanted in anticipation, keeping rhythm with the feet,building tension. Then the elevator door swings open, Janet faints, and the camera swings to Frankie. And the full force of my teenage hormones rushed over me in a wave of absolutely unprecedented lust.

Here's the deal. I have always had kind of a "thing" (you know, a THING) for guys with British accents. Who doesn't, right? And, okay, also for guys in makeup. Okay, maybe that is a bit more unusual, but there it is. (And it may partially explain my crush at the time on Adam and the Ants.) And, just for the sake of full disclosure, I do also think it's hot when guys (gay or straight) are a bit femmy.

So when I see Frankie (Tim Curry) in the elevator, a hot guy wearing makeup, lingerie, and speaking with a British accent... OH MY GOD.

Since it was only my very first time at RHPS, I had no idea how lucky I was that there were not one, but TWO shadow Frankies, one for each aisle of the theatre, and they were both guys. Out of the few dozen times I've seen RHPS since then, I'd guess maybe 70% of Frankies have been women. Which is not very exciting for me, although I admire their commitment.

But two hot young college guy Frankies, PLUS the giant onscreen Frankie, was almost more than I could stand. Oh, MY.

Since that night I have seen RHPS maybe a couple dozen more times, once at the 8th St theatre in Manhattan where it all started, a few more times in Blacksburg, a few times in Atlanta, a few times here in Orlando. I've seen it in theatres that were pretty much deserted and had no shadow cast at all, I've seen shadow casts that tried hard but really fell pretty short of the mark, and I've seen groups that clearly spent a lot of time and effort rehearsing and making props.

I think the shadow cast at the giant movie theatre in Citywalk at Universal here in Orlando is one of the best I've ever seen, rivaling even the amazing 8th St theatre. They call themselves the Rich Weirdos, and they are really INTO it.

Tonight will be my third time seeing them. Yay! I'm excited. And the part I am most looking forward to is that same STEP, STEP, STEP anticipation followed by the shot of Frankie in the elevator. Followed by Frankie prancing around in his stockings and garters, singing Sweet Transvestite.
Don't get strung out
By the way I look
Don't judge a book by its cover
I'm not much of a man
By the light of day
But by night I'm one hell of a lover

Link to YouTube video

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy First Day of Fall

People think I'm kidding when I say that I moved to central Florida from southwestern Virginia because I was cold, but it really is kind of true. During the Virginia winters I would layer ridiculously. I'd get those thin-but-warm longsleeved undershirts that have lace around the edges and pretend they are "lingerie" but in reality they are just slightly prettier long underwear. Then over that I'd wear a longsleeved shirt or a turtleneck, then over that I'd wear a thick sweater, and possibly over that I'd wear a cardigan. This was just to be inside my classrooms, or the mall, or someone's house, mind you. To go outside I'd put a coat or two on top of all that. Often when coming inside I'd be so cold I'd keep my coat on, even though I knew that would just hurt me extra when I had to go out again. I remember plenty of snowy gray weeks when the temperature wouldn't get above 20, even in the daytime, and it seemed like the bitter cold would seep into my bones and I would never be warm again.

Luckily my parents built our house to have separate heat controls in each room. Well, lucky for ME, anyway. Mom would come in my room and cringe, and fan her face. "Oh no! It must be eighty degrees in here!" She'd turn it down, and I'd turn it back up after she left. Unfortunately, the dial didn't GO above 80.

I never liked being outside in the cold, my nose turning red and running, and my fingers stiffening up, getting icy windburn on my cheeks if I had to walk very far. Getting so cold that my stomach muscles would clench up, and my whole body would shiver uncontrollably.

After graduating college and working temp jobs, not finding a "real" job, I decided to move away. Why not? It seemed like the only time in my life I'd ever have the chance to do that, being young and single and pretty much unemployed. It seemed like an adventure! It was 1989 and I was 23. I considered San Francisco, New York City and a few other cities that I had been to and loved. After growing up in a very rural area, where cows outnumbered people and the idea of a sidewalk seemed exotic, I wanted to live in a city. Then I read an article in Newsweek about great job opportunities in the growing and impressive city of Orlando, and I saw a lovely little picture of the pretty Lake Eola fountain under a sunny blue sky, and I was sold. I had never been to Florida and didn't know anyone there, but that was the adventurous part!

Driving south in my Tercel I watched the landscape get less and less mountainous, then pretty soon after passing Valdosta I started to see the monotonous Georgia roadside pine trees turn into Florida palm trees and big lakes. I had never been south of Atlanta before, but I really felt at home in the sunny flat state.

I never intended to stay here, I planned to go home to the mountains of Virginia after a few years. I think I underestimated how much it really did matter to me to live in a climate with a lot of sunshine and no cold, snowy weather. A lot of people here (most of them transplants from northern climates) say that there are no real seasons in Florida; but they are here, they are just more subtle. Today is the first day of fall, and even though it is still plenty warm, overall the temperatures are getting slightly cooler. And the sun is setting earlier, which makes me feel the change in seasons as much as falling leaves ever did.

During the winter it regularly gets into the 40's at night, sometimes the 30's. That is plenty cold enough to turn on the heat and enjoy the cozy feeling of bundling up under comforters. But in the daytime the temperature rarely dips below the 50's, which is just cold enough to throw on an extra sweater (or five) before heading out. I never have to scrape ice off my windshield, or carefully dry my thick hair before going outside so a stray wet strand won't freeze solid, or step across brown muddy piles of snow scraped up on the side of the road (that never seem to melt, long after the pretty white snow is long gone).

I have to admit, having now spent half my life in Florida I feel pretty much native, but I still think the Floridians who put on gloves, hats, scarves and heavy winter coats to go outside when it's 60 degrees are HILARIOUS. It seems like they see people wearing "winter clothes" on tv, and they see "winter clothes" in the stores (Why? Why do stores in FL sell heavy coats and thick gloves?) so they automatically put on their "winter clothes" when "winter" arrives. I remember bitter wind cutting through my clothes and building up a layer of ice or snow on my jeans and coat, leaving a pile of melting ice and snow inside the door, and my toes getting so frigid that it hurt to warm up. These funny Floridians do not understand what clothes like that are FOR.

When it's a beautiful bright Florida day in January or February, the temperature in the high 60's, I walk outside and feel the sun on my face and I just love it. And actually, when it's a scorchingly, sweatingly hot day in July or August, and I walk outside at midnight and it is still sticky and humid and in the mid-80s, I love that too.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Anniversary Gifts

I have a new toy! My husband got me an iPod Touch for our 6th wedding anniversary. It's the coolest thing ever, and it's my new best friend. I'm still looking through apps and figuring out how to use it, but it's seriously an amazing piece of technology.

He gave it to me early, two weeks before our anniversary, either because he was rewarding me for finally going to the dentist after 2 years and attempting to conquer my severe dentophobia, or because he was overexcited (who isn't after a trip to the Apple store?) and couldn't wait.

But this left me with a dilemma: We had previously decided not to get each other gifts, we had planned just to go out for a nice dinner. But an iPod Touch is an amazing and expensive present, so clearly I had to get him something. Plus, this is the most expensive anniversary present he's ever given me, so I am torn between wanting to spend at least that much on him, and wanting to not spend anything at all because he spent so much on me.

I had the next day off, so I sat down at the computer and tried to think. (Why yes, I do think better and more effectively when I am looking at pictures of kittens on, so there.) My friend Jacki said that giving an experience of some kind is always a fun gift, and so I thought of concerts. I pulled up Ticketmaster, and who was right there on the main page? The Killers! One of Greg's favorite bands. I look up whether or not they'll be in Orlando, and they are. On our actual anniversary date! WIN.

After an hour of trying to figure out how to buy tickets without using the debit card (so he won't see it on our bank website) and a few misspent moments searching Craigslist to see if anyone is selling their tickets, it finally occurs to me that I can just go to the actual box office, buy the tickets with cash, and avoid Ticketmaster charges. Unfortunately, the concert is at the new arena at the University of Central Florida; a place that I have only been a few times, and every single time I have gotten lost in its incomprehensible and seemingly random streets. Oh, boy.

I called to get directions, with very little hope that that would actually be helpful. I've never been to the arena, but I know it is part of a whole new area of the UCF campus. Trying to psych myself up with thoughts of how I am an ADULT and should be able to handle something as minor as driving to a box office to purchase tickets, I head off with the Black Eyed Peas on the car stereo and the AC on full blast. I can DO it, I can DO it.

Well, I did it, but holy crapmuffins. It was a morass of one-way streets that without warning would suddenly end up in faculty parking lots, huge parking structures that all seemed to be for student use only, and a frightening combination of cars driving really really fast and pedestrians walking really really slow (while texting). After circling the "block" (block = jumbled area of streets) in defeat several times, trying hopelessly to read the signs on the streets and the buildings while still paying a little bit of attention to actually driving, I lucked into a spot on the street. Yay! Parallel parking was easy breezy.

I got two tickets in the fourth row of the first balcony, which seems pretty good (I hope, I've never been to this venue). At $35 per ticket, I am spending way less than he spent, but still getting an awesome gift.

Getting back home was way easier, although admittedly I am pretty familiar with where my house is.

I spent the drive home imagining how best to surprise him. I could insist on eating dinner at the Chinese restaurant that's right across the street from UCF, we haven't been there in forever. Then I could slip the tickets into his napkin when he wasn't looking. What's this? Why, it's concert tickets! For my favorite band! And it's tonight!!

Or I could make it a kidnapping-style surprise, not even telling him where we were going. Maybe we could make it all the way to the arena, and he'd know when he saw "Killers concert tonight" up in lights. Or would there be signs, directing parking, that said "Killers", that would give it away? Well, maybe I could blindfold him.

Honestly, I am not sure he would go for that.

As much as I like surprises, I also love looking forward to things, so I ended up giving him the tickets when he came home from work. Okay, I was overexcited and couldn't wait! He seemed pretty thrilled with his present, and now he has a couple of weeks to listen to the Killers for hours every day in anticipation.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Watching TV

I was pooting around on the tv, looking for something interesting, and I saw that the entire season of Nurse Jackie was on Showtime On Demand, so I watched the first few minutes of the first show. I thought it looked well-made, but fairly depressing and sad. I turned it off.

But then I kept thinking about it.

So I went back and watched a few more minutes, and turned it off AGAIN, because I really hate tragic medical shows, they just make me cry and fear hospitals. Plus, it did not appear to have any vampires it in at all. Isn't there some sort of regulation that every new show has to have vampires?

But I still kept thinking about it.

I finally gave in and watched the whole episode, and I thought it was brilliant.

Me: I saw the first episode of Nurse Jackie, and it was pretty awesome, I know you would love it.
My husband: Nah.

Two days later
Me: No, seriously. It reminded me of the first episode of the Sopranos, it's like a movie.
My husband: I don't like Edie Falco.
Me: Yes, you do.
My husband: Why would I want to watch a show about a nurse?
Me: Why would you want to watch a show about a high school glee club, or people in an office? If a show is well-written and has interesting characters that you care about, it doesn't matter what it's "about". (Yes, I made air quotes with my fingers.)
My husband: Nah!

The next day, there's nothing on TV, and I say: Nurse Jackie is on On Demand... just sayin'.
My husband: The whole season?
Me: The whole season.
My husband: I'm not interested.
Me: Yes, you are.
My husband: I'll give it ten minutes, and I am going to bail if I don't immediately love it.
Me: Deal!

Five minutes later he said he loved it. I win!

Three hours later we had watched the first 5 episodes in a row. We kept pausing the DVR so we could talk about the show, and whatever strange/immoral/shocking/illegal thing Jackie had just done. Jackie is that kind of character that is sympathetic yet exceedingly flawed, and most fun to watch. I wouldn't want to be her, and I don't know if I could even be friends with her. I do, for sure, want to see what she does next. Apparently this show has received a butt-ton of praise from critics, and had excellent ratings. Within the next couple of days we had watched the entire season, and I'm so glad it's been renewed for a second season. I can't wait to see what happens.

Of course, it's not quite as good as True Blood. :)