November 29, 2010

Tooth Trauma

Roughly two years ago, I had a bad cavity that unraveled in a series of tedious and horrifying trips to the dentist, and over the course of six months or so, involved the yanking of an otherwise happy tooth, chipping away at surrounding teeth, and installation of a bridge to make up for the lack of molar. I'm pretty sure my dentist spent a week at a Sandals resort as a result of my payments, and I may still owe him an additional pound of flesh. Because he wouldn't accept my gallon of tears or bushel of minutes of sleep lost/nightmares collected as payment.

For some reason, at each turn and twist of this saga, I turned into a weepy puddle of anxiety with each update. When they told me the tooth would have to go, I cried. Every time I made a payment, I cried. Every time an assistant said something kind and reassuring, I cried. Oddly enough, I never reacted this way to the painful parts- just the mental shocker parts.

It was probably the cost, plus guilt for sabotaging three years-worth of torture in the form of braces, combined with straight-up fear of the unknown and my bad habit of imagining the worst possible outcome. For example, I was given the choice between the triple-tooth bridge to cover the gap, or an implant which they attach to a metal bolt screwed into my gum and jaw.

The implant carried the risk of breaking through the upper palate, and as soon as my dentist Dr. Ebenezer Scrooge mentioned this, all I could see was my sad, collapsed face, unable to eat or drink or laugh again, all alone because my husband couldn't possibly love a crater-face wife. This, of course, made me cry in self-pity and horror. And so I went with the bridge option.

You'd think making a decision would calm me down a little, and when it came time to pull the troublemaker tooth I was mostly fine. The oral surgeon used local anesthetic and the whole procedure took less than ten minutes (although it's a little disturbing just how little effort it requires to yank out a molar).

But then, he left the room with my tooth full of emotional baggage, and I let out the breath I had been holding for two hours. As the assistant asked me a question I found I couldn't form a coherent sentence, what with the gasping sobs coming out of my mouth.

I felt bad for alarming her- "Are you okay? Does it hurt?"- and all I could do was shake my head while I cried. As I tried to choke out "I'm fine! I'm fine! I was just scared!" she wrapped her arm around my shoulder and patted my head, shushing me like a small child, consoling in her Russian accent, "Ch-ch-ch, it's okay, it's okay, don't cry! Your husband think we beat you!"

This made me laugh, and calmed me down pretty quickly. Even though the saga of dentist trips was just warming up, the worst of the weeping fits were over, since I had finally managed to wrap my head around the process.

A couple months later, me and my husband went to get our first tattoos together. Halfway through mine, the tattoo artist asked if it was hurting too much, and I informed him that four hundred dentist visits made the tattoo needle feel like puppy snuggles and angel kisses. No comparison.

November 26, 2010

reset button

This past week has just been a beat-down. Nothing dramatic, just feeling like each good thing got smacked in the back of the head by two bad things right behind it. I blew a tire on Monday, one of the tires my compassionate dad had bought for us five weeks before, just as the circus known as Driving in Winter is set to start. And I didn't even have to really deal with it; my saint of a husband spent the next 24 hours on a laughable, under-60-km-per-hour tire replacement hunt. And things sort of just sunk from there.

Thanksgiving is the first holiday I have noticed and felt a difference living outside of the U.S., and it felt a bit strange. Not really sad, because I don't really have much nostalgia or sentiment attached to it; but, when I thought about giving the thankful train a wave from across the border, it just felt forced. This week has been a doozy to pretend to be grateful for, and giving thanks for the standard food-shelter-family-freedom just rang hollow.

So, it is good we did not sit at home on Thanksgiving. Because we were tempted. It sounded really good to just wallow and eat some junk food and drink a half a box of wine and go to bed at 8:30. But we dragged our asses out the door and went to small group.

It wasn't earth-shattering, or anything much more than ordinary, but it triggered a small thanksgiving for me. Despite setback after setback lately, it's still marvelous to me just how many of God's small mercies are all over the place. Our own tornado of life changes could have dropped us anywhere, dizzy and bewildered, but it dropped us here, in a pocket of warmth and generosity and people who love Jesus. There is so much richness in that alone, and even Negative Nancy can't deny that.

Tonight we'll probably have a mini-Thanksgiving, and roast a chicken instead of a whole turkey, but there will still be stuffing and green bean casserole, and if I have anything to say about it, an apple tart I am already thankful for. And I am grateful, as Anne Shirley says, that "tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it."

November 15, 2010

He can't be bought.

If nothing else, reality tv has given me the following gifts: "The Bachelor" consistently reaffirms my gratitude for my husband, and “The Dog Whisperer” reaffirms my gratitude for my dog.

Not that my dog is a shining beacon of canine behavior, because he’s not. Or, I’M NOT, because if Cesar Millan has taught me anything, it’s that any and all wackiness and psychosis on the part of the dog is all my fault, directly or indirectly. If there is no Calm Assertive Pack Leader, it’s all shot to hell because I didn't get my act together.

He really is a wonderful dog though; whoever owned him before we adopted him gave him some basic training, and he obeys and listens 100% of the time at home and 70% in the outside world where overstimulation fries his brain with 800 electric shocks every half a second. He’s funny and goofy and has a boundless energy we have yet to scrape the bottom of.

I love him, but he is a freak. And here is my proof. He is the only dog I have ever known who, when offered either a walk or a game of fetch, if I throw him a treat he will catch it and Spit. It. Out. On the ground.

There is no bribery juicy enough to win him. You can’t reason with that kind of fanaticism.

Toby vs. tube from Anna Dyer on Vimeo.

wanna go for a walk? from Anna Dyer on Vimeo.

November 11, 2010

Today's Playlist

The radio station at work today served up no fewer than three Justin Biebers, two Avril Lavignes, and three Taylor Swifts. I know, they are all tiny and shrill and harmless, but they just about sent me over the edge.

As you might imagine, I am ready for the weekend to get here already.

In order to balance the music scales in my life today, I resorted to Christmas music for the drive home. And you can't even get mad at me- know why? I live in Canada, where Thanksgiving happens in October and therefore there is no universally accepted green light for the Christmas music and the commercials and the oversized mall decorations.

Just think that through. No one to rain disapproval on the pine scented candles or strings of white lights or the viewings of 'Elf' and 'It's A Wonderful Life'. Too early? SAYS WHO? Not Canada, that's for sure!

And, seeing as we received our first official Christmas card at work on November 1st, I'd say we're in a free-for-all.

(Christmas 2008)

November 9, 2010

Let me paint you a picture.

Here's a metaphor for you.

Say one's complexion is like a fresh, dewy lawn of grass.

And, in this scenario, that would make acne a rampant infestation of dandelions... sometimes blending in with the grass, and sometimes exploding all over the place.

Therefore, I find myself with two (and maybe even a third, time will tell) of these:

And that's pretty much what they feel like.

You're welcome.

November 5, 2010

The Very Worst Missionary

I don't know this person, and I can't even retrace my steps down the internet rabbit hole that led me to her blog, but I love this post. Her words resonate with me. (Plus, she's pretty funny.)

"I believe, whole heartedly, that Jesus Christ, himself, wades knee deep in shit to save me.

Not that he did. But that he does. Because I am not yet wholly restored, I am not fully healed, and not nearly perfected."

I think I (and most people) hold people like missionaries and pastors and church staff to a different (and somewhat impossible) standard, and I find her honesty and vulnerability refreshing and necessary.

November 3, 2010

greens & blues

Well, a knitting update is as good as any, right? It's not like you want to hear about the sort of day that involved forgetting to set an alarm; a thwarted attempt to buy desperately needed gas because, apparently, we don't live in a paperless society quite yet; flinging half a bowl of soup against the wall at work and a thwarted attempt at cleaning it up with the breed of paper towels that don't absorb anything and push the soup around instead. That kind of mildly negative day. I would have had a little more respect for today (and a much better story) if the day had some gumption and stranded me on the side of the highway with an empty gas tank or something.

Therefore, what follows is a series of uncomfortable self-portraits. Let the awkward posing commence!

This yarn is a beautiful silk/baby alpaca blend that was a birthday present several years ago.

I was hoping this hat would have a more slouchy fit, and sometimes I can mash it around so it looks that way, but to be honest by the time I bound off, I just didn't have the heart to rip it all out and start over. It's a weakness. Kind of like thinning carrots in my garden.

I had some of the same yarn left over, and I couldn't figure out something more clever, so I made a wee triangular kerchief/scarf thing.

I forgot that the lights inside are just no good, so here's a self-conscious one in natural lighting. And I should probably add a button or something eventually, because right now (because I'm still wearing it, right now) the ends are held together with a bobby pin.

Apparently, my laziness makes itself known in just about every thing I knit. Huh. Never noticed that before. Can't quite shake it, nasty laziness monkey.

Here's my attempt to make something I could wear with leggings.

I'm not trying to look unhappy; I'm just busy trying to decide what to look at and where to put my arms and how to not look like a moron.

The collar has a cable, but the yarn didn't quite take to it- not sure why. It was the last piece to knit, so I was content to leave it as a chunky roll. Again, the laziness monkey.

Lastly: 3/4 of a sock!

Unfortunately, this is the first one, so if laziness monkey has his way, there might never be a second. Christmas is coming, after all. I have some people to knit for besides myself.