I Got a Mouthguard: Clearly I Am Cool.

posted in: Day In The Life, Sicky 21
A mouthguard from a boxing match at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, or so Wikipedia tells me. Image: Wikipedia.
A (grody) mouthguard from a boxing match, apparently. Not my mouthguard, not my boxing match. Image: Wikipedia.


Pop Quiz No. 1:

Q: Two weeks ago, I went to the dentist to get a filling repaired. How did I break a filling?

A: Because I chomped ice cubes for like two months straight before my labs showed my anemia was so bad I was .5 ice cubes away from the blinkin’ emergency room. 

You remember, don’t you, how I narrowly-avoided an ER trip — it has been known to happen — but got my iron infusions and avoided that at the eleventh hour? That was great. Less great is that my dentist, Dr. Tahbaz, confirmed that my ice-eating was probably the main culprit for my busted filling.

Pop Quiz No. 2:

Q: My dentist visit cost $250. Guess how much my iron infusions cost?

A: $3,600. After insurance. 

I’m not sure what my face did when I opened that bill from Northwestern. Did it twist? Or was it flat? Did it buzz and fizz or was it numb? I don’t know because I kinda blanked out. I regained consciousness somewhere in the next few minutes, though, because I remember that I started laughing. Not because I was happy, or because anything was funny. No, I started laughing because I somehow kept opening mail and it somehow kept being bills for astronomical amounts: hospital treatments, tuition for grad school, condo payments. And I pay my own taxes, so I have to put money aside for that every quarter, which means that the money in my accounts isn’t really mine. I kept laughing to keep from crying or hitting things.

Life, man. A girl could just gnash her teeth all day over it all.

Except that she can’t. Because guess what else the dentist told her?

“You need to get a mouth guard. You’re grinding your teeth at night. A lot. Get a mouth guard. Today.”

It’s not earth-shattering news that I grind my teeth. I vaguely remember other dentists mentioning this to me. But either they were never really that concerned about it or I wasn’t listening, because no one ever did anything about my bruxism. Did you know that teeth-grinding has a name? It’s a real affliction/condition and it’s called bruxism.

Pop Quiz No. 3: 

Q: If you’re a teeth-grinder (tooth-grinder?) and an annoying person at a cocktail party asks you about your theological, ideological, or political beliefs, how do you answer like a boss?

A: “I’m a Bruxist. Oh, look at the time.” 

What I’m trying to get at is that I had to buy a mouthguard. The good news is that it was $25, not $250 or $3,600; the bad news is that I have a mouthguard I’m supposed to wear at night so I don’t grind my teeth against themselves but against a piece of inert plastic, instead. The news is bad because a) it’s sad I need protection against myself via the nocturnal manifestation of anxiety and existential angst, and because 2) mouthguards do not inspire a feeling of attractiveness, exactly. Mouthguards are practical, but they are not sexy.

But I like my teeth. Healthy teeth are sexy. So fine: I’ll wear my charming! clear! dainty! mouthguard when I’m sleeping alone. But should I have company, well, that thing is getting stuffed into the medicine cabinet before you can say “iron supplement.”

“Aren’t You Hot??”

posted in: Tips 1
Now that's a hot sweater! Image: Wikipedia.
Now that’s a hot sweater! Image: Wikipedia.

I have a question about etiquette. Is the following statement TRUE or FALSE?

It is appropriate to ask someone, after appraising their clothes,
“Oh my god, aren’t you hot in that?”

Personally, I think it’s false; that is, I feel it is not appropriate to ask someone, even if they are wearing a snowsuit in June, if they are “hot in that.” I think it would be similarly strange if I was wearing a floral-printed dress and someone said, “Why did you get a dress with flowers on it?” Not only is the question a touch on the pointless side, it’s hostile. I mean, back off, man: I like floral, cable-knit, floor-length dresses. What’s it to you?

Also, if there are lots of people around and the question is said loudly, it means everyone in earshot is guaranteed to whip around and look to see what heavy, thick, sweat-inducing garment the freak’s got on, which then forces that person to explain herself not just to the person who has asked the rather insensitive question, but everyone else in the room. Everyone else in the room is sure to be wearing a sundress or a sleeveless shirt or a slingshot or whatever.

This is all personal, of course. Whatever you take umbridge with, you’ve got baggage about that thing, guaranteed. And I’ve got baggage around the “Aren’t you hot in that??” question.

I’ve never been comfortable in shorts or sleeveless tops. It’s stupid, it’s silly, I know, I know: but I’m insecure about my freakishly pale skin and my inability to achieve Madonna-like limbs. Yoga, pushups, squats, light weight-training; my DNA is not and will never be programmed for “ripped.” I can’t get past “pancake” unless I flex in this very specific way and you can’t go around flexed like that all the time or even longer than a few seconds. So I accentuate the positive (my neckline! my waist!) and minimize the negatives by wearing pants, not miniskirts, and tops with sleeves. I might drape a jacket or sweater over my shoulders.

Which, yes, sometimes means I’m a tad warmer than you. But when you ask – and of course, dear, I know you don’t mean any harm – it’s so awkward for me. If I say no, I’d probably be lying, and that’s never good. If I say yes, then I’ll be forced to take off my sweater and we now know I don’t want to. If I tell you the truth, that “Yes, I’m hot but I have a terrible body image and this sweater is allowing me to feel more confident as I move through the world today,” you’re gonna think I’m weirder than you do already and it’s Monday, man. I can’t start that far behind the starting line so early in the week.

It’s not that this happened recently. It hasn’t. But I wore a blazer over my shoulders yesterday because my top was sleeveless. The sun was shining and my shoulders were pretty warm back there. But I promise: I’m an adult. If I’m hot, I’ll figure it out. You don’t have to manage my body temperature. I love you!



Well, That Was Interesting: Making Out With a Doctor

posted in: D.C., Day In The Life, Story 4
Ah, dinner. Photo: Chris Phutully, 2013.
Ah, dinner. Photo: Chris Phutully, 2013.

The best way to tend a bruised heart is to go on a date with someone new. That’s what they say.

The breaking up of love, the move, the rats, the second move, the hemogoblins, etc. — all this has meant that for many moons my cocktail dresses have stayed put on their hangers, my evening bags and high heels in dust bags on the shelf. Not too long ago I began to look longingly at it all and I realized I might like to go out for dinner with a good-looking man. I’m absolutely allergic to love right now, but dinner would be nice. Maybe even some smooching would be nice. I’m a grown woman.

Well, I did go on a date and I even smooched but what’s really noteworthy about the whole thing is that mid-smooch I was diagnosed with an ailment I can now add to my list of ailments. I’m 100% serious.

My dinner companion, who I met online, is a doctor. He wore a beautiful suit and his Range Rover, as I would come to find out, had excellent butt warmers. (That is not a euphemism.) I wore a luscious, canary yellow dress with my favorite Dolce & Gabbana heels: black satin with bows on the toes. Dinner was great. I picked the restaurant: a mahogany-paneled, real power-dinner place where I know heads of state have done dirty deeds dirt cheap in the corner booths. There was a live piano player and a standup bass. The conversation flowed, the steaks were rare, the champagne was right on time. All of this factored into my mind as I looked at this very handsome fellow across the table from me and tried to decide if I’d let him smooch me when he dropped me off at home. Yes, I decided. Yes, I would.

We pull up to the door of my building about an hour later and we start smooching and it’s going great; he smelled incredible, all soap and cologne. He said all the right things, e.g., “You’re gorgeous,” and “You’re such a great kisser,” and a few other things that are not appropriate to mention here (hi, Mom.) So then Dr. Smooch gives me a little squeeze, kinda on my hip. I liked that a lot, so he squeezed me again. Then he like, poked me there on my hip a little. Poke, poke.

“You have a lipoma here,” he said.

I shot back like a shrimp and crammed myself against the window of the passenger seat. “What?! What are you saying? What do I have??” I felt just where his hand had been on my dress, there on the left side, right at my pelvic bone. Sure enough, there was a small bump that wiggled around when I massaged it.

He chuckled. “It could just be a muscle,” he said, poking it again. “It’s nothing serious. Just a little fat deposit.” I looked up at him. I had just been diagnosed with a fat deformity mid-makeout session, proving to me once again that if you just get out of bed in the morning, if you just get out of bed and walk out the door, things will happen to you. Things you could never have imagined. Things like this.

Thanks, Doc. I’ll get it looked at. Now, where were we?

My Life As Alabaster.

John Hoppner, "Mary Robinson 1758-1810 as Perdita." Oil on canvas, WikiGallery imprint on screen. Pale skin recognized by author.
John Hoppner, “Mary Robinson 1758-1810 as Perdita.” Oil on canvas, WikiGallery imprint on screen. Pale skin recognized by author.

I do not tan.

Oh, how I’ve tried. In my twenties, like so many undergraduates, I donned those weird winkie things and lay back in tanning beds — not enough, I hope, to wreak significant UV damage. (I knew better and it never worked for long, anyhow.) But I didn’t stop chasing a tan, no way. I’ve bronzed. I’ve lotioned. I’ve spray-tanned a few times. But the fact of the matter is, my half-Viking, half-Scots-Irish self ain’t gettin’ nut brown for long. I am a pale thing.

When I’m in yoga, my near-albino-ness is more evident than usual. There’s more of my skin to see in the yoga room; in Bikram, you’re one sweaty strap away from nude. Even in winter, when most yogis are not actively tan, I stand out in the room as though there were a beam of moonlight shining on me. This observation is not clouded (milky?) by the fact that I’m commenting on my own body and it’s hard to be objective about oneself. No, it’s really true that I’m vampiric compared with everyone else in the room.

All through school and into my adult life, my palest pale skin was a source of shame for me. I was enraged that I couldn’t manage to turn more than barely-toasted marshmallow for more than a couple days. All these honey-colored girls seemed to prance about without a care in the world from May to September, their bare, sun-kissed shoulders tossed insouciantly at recess. Then the girls became women and were effortlessly tan at parties, at bars, at charity events.

But growing up is highly recommended. As years go by, you (hopefully) start to care slightly less about such surface things, or maybe you start to love yourself more. Sometimes it’s as simple as meeting more people — because the more people you meet, the more likely you are to meet people who are totally into what you’ve got going on. That’s the best discovery of all. Being told that my pale skin is pretty, even beautiful, is a great way to get over it. Someone told me my near-translucent skin was “gorgeous” once and that very day I stopped feeling like a cocktail shrimp.

Whatever physical difference you’re annoyed about, don’t forget for a second that there’s someone out there who thinks you are seriously hot precisely because of the thing you’re freaking out about. There’s someone out there who will howl at the moon for you and try very hard to take you out/kiss you/marry you/etc. because you’re so unique. Trust me on this. I don’t know a lot but I know this is true.

And so today, in beautiful New York City, as all the Soho fillies passed me by in their short shorts, enjoying their Coppertone souls, I donned a cute, lacy white dress I got at Neiman Marcus that perfectly matched my pale skin. I turned a few heads, too. Probably because the sun actually glinted off me. That’s what sunglasses are for, people.