I had four cavities. FOUR. Now I just have four more fillings in my mouth. And a numb face.

Here’s the worst thing about this morning, and perhaps the worst thing one can ever hear while enjoying a visit to the dentist: “Oh, you aren’t supposed to be able to feel that.”

Fantastic. Apparently my mouth requires about eight shots of Novocaine as compared to the original three he figured would do the trick. I have to be honest though. What exactly is accomplished by having nerve endings in one’s teeth? Teeth don’t obey my commands, they can’t wiggle about in my mouth if I so desire. Just don’t get it. The only thing accomplished by the presence of nerves in my teeth today was that I now understand why people are afraid of the dentist and that awful drilling noise.

I’m sure most of my readers take much better care of their teeth than I do so you’ve probably never found yourself laying in the chair in the dentist’s office, face numb, four different apparatuses sticking out of your mouth, wishing your dentist would realize that though one side of your mouth is numb that doesn’t mean the other half is and his hand resting on your lip which is poking into your canine doesn’t feel great, and wondering, ‘What the hell is happening in my mouth right now,’ but that’s where I was this morning. And it is impossible to ask any questions during this process, though it sounds like the dentist and hygienist have no relationship and a forced conversation about Survivor is taking place over your head when the nice thing would be for them to explain what they’re doing as they do it.

But since that is apparently unnecessary, the only knowledge I gleaned from my appointment is that Boston Rob is apparently just as devious as ever and it’s shocking the producers of the show are allowing him to do whatever scandalous thing he’s doing this season. And of course now I’m on CBS.com watching episode one of this season. I think perhaps my dentist is being paid to sponsor Survivor.

Since I had a few questions (ie, Why must they DRILL into my teeth when they are trying to patch a hole? and WTF is that blue light thingy?), I’ve done some research while my face regains some feeling. For those that are curious, they drill to remove the ‘brown’ part of the filling (this is disgusting…and also highly questionable as I found this information on YAHOO Answers) and then to rough up the tooth so the filling will stick. And the blue light just sets the filling and dries it quickly. And now that I’ve read this, I remember that my sweet dentist I had most of my life back home actually DID explain the process and I knew all this already. Apparently, old age is setting in.

As a bonus, I will quickly relate the fun doings from my birthday gathering last night. I think the whole thing can be summed up by saying that the advent of camera phones makes letting loose around friends and coworkers a risky undertaking. They look like they are texting! But they are actually taking a photo of you stuffing your face!

Also, I must thank a few people for making the time to hang out with me last night. I have yet to create nicknames for any of my coworkers at this job (crazy! I’ve worked here for over six months!), so I suppose it’s high time I rectify this situation. The Café Queen gets a special shout out for spearheading the whole event. My Rock-Star-in-Businiess-Casual friend, I think (I was still feeling the effects of my margarita at the time), apprehended my bill and paid it, which was incredibly generous and I thank her whole heartedly. Off-the-Grid Friend made a late appearance and I hope I didn’t embarrass myself too thoroughly. Apologies, if so. Not that he’ll read this… And Sweet-but-Naïve friend rounded out the gathering. All in all, a good time was had. By me. I can’t speak for them 🙂

In closing, I would like to say that I’m quite pleased that my face is numb because I went to the dentist, not because I am still drunk from last evening. A win for my ever-tested self-control!

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It has been TEN YEARS since I graduated from high school. TEN YEARS since I met my college roommate, Dear Friend and subsequently Funky and Fabulous friends. TEN YEARS since I first shook hands with the man I would eventually marry and, last year, divorce. Y’all, I still feel 18.

My ten-year high school reunion is happening this summer. Obviously, I will fool no one who is the occasional reader of this blog, but I have a plan for appearing to have accomplished what some might have thought I was capable of accomplishing in ten years but I haven’t even come close to yet:

I’m not going.

One of my loyal friends will spread the rumor that I’m happily unattached and busily touring the states promoting my YA novels that were published under a nom de plume. Stephenie Meyer perhaps. We are not dissimilarly featured, she and I; I might convince a few folks.

Of course most of Stephenie’s back story will have been fabricated. I live and work quietly in Auburn, am not a graduate of BYU or the mother of three boys with a handsome Hispanic man (ok I’ll admit none of this is probably actually true, I’ve read just enough about the real Ms. Meyer to sound foolish to those who really know what they’re talking about). Anyway, the point is, I’m ME but I’m also secretly wildly successful. And of course they’ve all heard of me and envied me from afar but didn’t realize they were envying ME. And after that night, they’ll say to themselves, “That Liz, I always knew she was going to have an amazing life. I sure do wish I’d kept up with her, I might could have met Taylor Lautner” OR “I bet she wrote Edward Cullen after me, I always knew she liked the quiet, pale, super-smart type” OR “Wow what a sell out. Why didn’t I think of that?”

Then at the 20 year reunion when I show up they’ll all probably have figured out it was all a dirty falsehood, but it won’t matter then because I really will be a successful author who read a bit of her novel to the Creative Writing department the Friday night before and had to take a special break from her book tour just to see them. And my utterly wonderful husband will be by my side, lovingly gazing down at me as I talk about our two great, smart kids who I’d have every intention of enrolling at ASFA if we didn’t love New York so much. And we’ll all laugh about the ten-year reunion that I skipped while pretending to be Stephenie Meyer, and they’ll all think to themselves, “She really didn’t have to do that, Liz is such a star, it just takes everyone different lengths of time to reach their full potential” OR “She’s just as hot as she was twenty years ago” (PLEASE?!?!?) OR “Her books are so much better than Stephenie Meyer’s, thank god…”

And for those of you who actually think I’d skip this reunion and pretend to be someone I’m not, you’d better rethink that. Of COURSE I’m going. I may have to find the bar before I feel like talking much, but I guarantee we’ll all laugh about the disaster of my life. And if I can make people laugh, I’ll feel pretty successful after all.

About a month ago, I agreed to cat-sit my parents lovely, fluffy gray cat Willow while they were in Louisiana visiting my little sister. There were perks. A huge house all to myself for two days, plenty of bottles of wine in the basement, permission to ‘throw a party’ Saturday night, and for all this, I would get paid. All I had to do was let the cat in and out of the house during the day, make sure she was inside at night, and keep her fed and watered. Couldn’t ask for a better set-up!

The bad news was, I had to close the store the Friday night before, and Birmingham is a two-hour drive away. I made it to my house after midnight sometime. Read and wrote for too long, fell asleep around 2 am, woke up at 6:30, packed and headed out the door because, oh, there was one other draw back to the situation – I had to be in Birmingham by 9 to let the cat out because she’d spent the entire day before cooped up inside. For that, I got a cash bonus. Of course I would sacrifice sleep for cash. So I got in my pathetic little car at 7am, freezing my…umm…nose? off, feeling perhaps more physically uncomfortable than I’ve felt in some time, and drove for two hours.

My activities for the day consisted of boring things no one cares to hear about, letting the cat in and out of the house, watching a football game and taking a nap. That night, Dear and Funky friends came over to my parents’ house for pizza and beer, which actually started as pizza and a bottle and a half of wine, then beer, and for me, more beer, to top off the margarita wine cooler I’d had before the girls had even arrived. Knowing as you do from a previous post, I have a very low tolerance for alcohol and sometimes I get carried away.

Also, alcohol has this uncanny ability to make one need to pee. Obviously, I ended up on the toilet. With my phone. Drunk.

Anyone who knows me also knows I am highly ungraceful, and that’s when I’m sober. When I’ve had too much, I’m a walking disaster. Needless to say, my phone ended up in the toilet.

Have I mentioned that I just purchased this phone the day before? Right. I’d just purchased the phone the day before. And it was in the toilet. Effing hell.

Funky friend offered some sage advice. A bag of uncooked rice. Otherwise, she and Dear Friend just made fun of me. I, however, was inconsolable. My phone! My life-line! I do not do well without it. I had to have a replacement. Immediately. I was no longer a happy silly drunk, I was a belligerent and devastated drunk no one wanted to be around. Funky Friend excused herself shortly thereafter. As I was letting her out the door, out also went Willow. You know, the cat who wasn’t supposed to go outside after dark? Yeah. That one.

Gah.

Obviously the only solution was to run around the wet yard in my sock feet screaming after little Willow in the hopes that she would for some reason come back to me. The raving lunatic. Cats just love raving lunatics running around in wet socks. Of course, she ran.

As frustrated as I was by Willow getting away, I had more important things to deal with after Funky’s departure. I  needed another phone. Stat.

The continuing problem was that I was drunk and could not drive. The solution: Dear Friend is also Perfectly Responsible Friend and had consumed far, far less alcohol than I had, and nothing in the last hour of our gathering.

I didn’t have to do much begging before I was in her SUV’s passenger seat being chauffeured to the nearest Wal-Mart.

Which was closed.

Wal-Marts CLOSE?!?!? Who knew.

Anyway, there is another Wal-Mart not far down the road and Dear Friend is quite dear, so she drove me to that one. Where I drunkenly questioned the only electronics worker on duty after midnight on a  Saturday night. He was unhelpful. Apparently some Wal-Marts close and not all Wal-Marts carry the same product. I’d purchased my phone the day before at the Wal-Mart where I live.

Blast and bother.

Dear Friend drove a sullen LizHarrell back to her parents’ home, then left. LizHarrell stood out in the cold and called for Willow for two solid minutes on both the front and back porches. LizHarrell was ignored, or was else the cat was incapable of hearing from the gut of a coyote.

I then got on AIM with Dear Friend who volunteered her spare cell phone. By this time, I was so sober it wasn’t even funny, so I drove over to her house, got the spare phone, and drove back to my parents’.

Called for Willow again.

She ignored me, again.

Quietly, I made up a little bed on the sofa between the front and back doors. I had a cell phone again, and had high hopes for the bag of uncooked rice restoring my brand new phone to its brand new state. But I had failed at my only charge for the weekend. Willow was out in the freezing night, being pursued by large scary animals, and I was to blame.

I huddled into a ball on the sofa and waited with as much optimism as I could muster for Willow to return home. I fell asleep.

And at 7am, Willow came prancing up to the back door as if nothing at all was wrong. Apparently the rule about her staying inside at night was unnecessary. As was my night on the sofa.

As always (knock on wood), I avoided a hangover. My parents returned home to a clean home and were not too annoyed by the missing alcohol. I never told them about the phone… but it didn’t matter. The bag of rice actually worked!

As it turns out, not all mistakes are irreversible or disastrous. Cats come home and phones dry out. Knowing that certain mistakes can be undone is really very comforting. If only it were always so easy as a night on the sofa and a bag of uncooked rice!

Sometimes people look stupid. Sometimes people could stand to lose a few pounds. Sometimes they’ve just dared to wear a skirt that was too short. Sometimes people do stupid things. Sometimes they open their mouths when they should have kept them shut. Sometimes people *gasp* make mistakes. Sometimes they can’t even see how silly their decision-making skills have become.

And that’s our cue to jump in and judge the hell out of them.

We may not even know someone. We may take one look and say, ‘Gawd that person looks ridiculous,’ or ‘What on earth was she thinking?’ and probably even ‘I could have pulled that off much better,’ or ‘I’d have NEVER done something that stupid (or mean, or cruel or hurtful or rude or selfish…).’

Then again, they might be our best friend. We laugh at their taste in music. We tell them they really ought to wear a belt with that outfit. We wonder why they haven’t got a real job already. Or if they’ve done something really dumb, we talk about them behind their backs. We re-evaluate our opinion of their character. We may even stop hanging out with them.

That happens all the time. To everyone. No one can do or say or think or feel anything without someone else passing judgment on it. It’s just the way of life. Get used to it.

Of course some people find themselves in a situation where they can’t even act anymore for all the judgment thrown in their direction. A mistake is made. Perhaps it doesn’t feel like a mistake. Perhaps it’s wrong and the person knows it but has no sense of how to stop the mistake. Sometimes the person is just out of control. These things happen to all of us at some point in life.

So why should anyone feel the need to publicly and loudly judge something another person has done? A person’s life isn’t art. For instance, I don’t do the things I do for public consumption. I don’t create a mistake and say to the world, “Here! Judge me!” My life isn’t a movie or a painting or a story that I’ve shared with the world in hopes that the world approves. It’s just my life. And I don’t get to distance myself from that. Ever. Well, not without taking drastic measures, at least.

And what’s to say I feel good about the mistake? Chances are, if someone else is looking at the ruins of my choices and seeing ruins, I’m seeing an effing sinkhole of despair. I know I’ve judged the shit out of some people over the years without once considering how miserable they must feel, or how stuck, or out of control, or perhaps just in denial.

Does someone feeling badly about their choices make a mistake okay? Heck no. Mistakes are valuable in a way, because we learn from them, but other than that, a mistake sucks. It sucks the good right out of a situation. It may hurt people. Badly. It may ruin lives. And someone who makes a mistake like that should feel awful. But our judgment accomplishes nothing. It may even make the poor soul on the receiving end of the judgment a little more empowered. Maybe they hear our judgment and say, ‘F you, world! I’ll do what I want!’ or ‘Well the damage is done now, it can’t get  much worse than this,’ or even ‘Who is (s)he to judge me?’

Obviously I write this from my heart and from a very personal knowledge of how this situation feels. Maybe your life is perfect. Maybe you have a special edict from God on High to pass judgment on your fellow sinful creatures. I don’t know. But I do know that my life isn’t perfect and I’m as guilty as anyone of judging others. But I want to say, from the perspective of someone who’s made some hurtful mistakes, judging is a pretty hurtful mistake, too.

Almost a Hugh Grant movie, right?

This weekend was one of the more emotionally turbulent of my existence. Rarely have I experienced such desperate lows and such jubilant highs all in one day.

My grandmother’s funeral was on Saturday.

That was tough.

She was an inspiring woman I will never ever forget. I can’t imagine one situation in my future that wouldn’t be improved by her being around for it. Not one. I don’t want to think about her being in a better place, though I know she is. I want to think that this place was better for her being in it, and my own selfish heartbreak over the whole thing is clearly paramount to all.

The service was in one of her favorite places, Wilson Chapel in Roebuck. She helped make that church what it is today and every element of the environment honored her. It was also evident that she was loved in the community. She moved to Columbus, Georgia about four years ago and STILL so many people from her life in Birmingham took the time to come to her visitation and funeral.

Needless to say, this comprised the lower parts of the day. Of course I got to see my extended family for the first time together since Christmas, and there were also celebrations to be had. Two of my cousins have recently proposed to their (then) girlfriends. Congratulations all around! Best wishes to all! These lovely ladies are most welcome to the family. And the best part is, it was really nice to have something to be happy about at this occasion. Very nice indeed.

From the graveside, we returned to my parents’ house for food and more family time. Emotions were elevating by this point. We shared stores of Miss M, of our years so far, etc, etc… it was fun and relaxed.

I went from there to a dear high school friend’s wedding and reception. Beautiful in every respect, and really good fun. The band amazed me, and it was the first wedding I’ve attended where people actually danced. A lot. With wild abandon. And I danced! With some of my favorite people from high school. Gosh it was fun. I got to let go for a little while, which was nice considering my life as a whole at the moment.

All I needed was a dashing British man showing up at each of these functions being flippant and witty and forward. Meh. I think I did alright with out him 🙂

Yesterday I had visitors. Dealing with some life issues that really required the intervention of Dear and Funky Friends. And of course, they intervened in the traditional way: card games and food.

Actually, I provided the food, they provided the games, and we worked together on the conversation and fun. All in all, we had a good day. But (if I do say so myself), one of the better aspects was the menu for the day.

They arrived at 7:30 yesterday morning with their appetites firmly in hand, and thankfully I was prepared. Sausage was cooking on the stove when they pulled into the driveway waiting to be added to what became perfectly formed omelets full of cheese, tomatoes, onions, and of course the sausage. Yeah that sentence got away from me and I’m exhausted so it’s not getting edited. The girls drank copious amounts of coffee and I had some organic orange juice… spectacular.

Anyway. I can cook some omelets (Miss Feisty, I refuse to compete on this one at work. If we can find another venue, it’s on). Added to the plate was a fruit medley (strawberries, cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple and grapes). This was a terrific breakfast.

Lunch came around much more quickly than I was anticipating considering that we’d each eaten a two-egg omelet about four hours before, but all of a sudden, after two vigorous games of Phase 10, we were all mutually hungry again. I’d prepared chicken salad the previous evening (using organic rotisserie chicken! yum!) and needed one final ingredient to add to the mix (bacon!) so we had to run over to the Piggly Wiggly to get some of that. I will admit to having stolen the idea for Bacon Cheddar Ranch Chicken Salad from a restaurant in Auburn (The Chicken Salad Chick, where they call this variety of salad the “Sassy Scotty” in case you’re interested) but the recipe was just my tastes buds guiding me (as usual). Topping the sandwiches with some leftover chopped tomatoes and onions, I was beginning to feel pretty proud of my mad kitchen skills. Also, the salt and vinegar chips were a perfect pairing for the meal.

It wasn’t two or three hours later before we were all once again thinking of food (this time after more Phase 10 and some serious RummiKub action), and dessert was in order. Organic vanilla ice cream topped freshly baked and still ooey gooey warm (Tollhouse) chocolate chip cookies. It was delicious. Word.

The girls left right around when normal people would probably be eating dinner if they hadn’t stuffed themselves silly with lots of yummy foods, and I popped the cap off of a Peach Beer (yes friends, you heard that right – it’s surprisingly refreshing in the summertime) and sat back to wash some dishes.

What surprised me most was that after the dishes were done and I’d tossed back the last sip of beer, I was actually hungry again. Like, ravenously. I will admit, in the past few weeks my daily food intake has equaled probably ONE of the meals I’d already eaten that day, but I knew I could eat again.

Mistake? Probably. I ate some of what I grew up calling “pasta salad” (noodles with ranch dressing and shredded cheddar) with a side of Club crackers. Soooo good. Not the best thing I’d eaten all day, but it definitely did the trick at the time. And then starting about three hours later, I felt sicker than I’ve felt in a while. Heartburn. Nausea. Indigestion. Can somebody say Pepto?

I settled for Tums around midnight, which did enough to let me sleep, but I was still feeling the burn when my alarm woke me at six this morning. Needless to say, I have not eaten very much today. Maybe I’ll even skip dinner. But I’m pretty sure all of that food was worth it. It was indeed a good food day. And I’ve had relatively few of those lately.

Also, you may ask what’s up with the organic. Coupons to Earth Fare (organic grocery store) baby! Still insanely expensive even with coupons, and will only be special occasion purchases going forward. Just givin’ the Earth Fare a shot to make its case.

I must say, with the exception of my hubby being out of town and all the strange things that seem to suck about my life, I am really loving being alive right now. My job is, frankly, awesome. My co-workers are, clearly, some of the most amusing people in Auburn. And, bonus, they think I’m sorta funny too.

Because I wrote and scheduled my post from this afternoon at about five o’clock this morning, I missed getting to take note of a few truly special things that happened today. So, this bonus post seeks to remedy that.

  • First, I drove like a maniac to work this morning because I was late and STILL a little off from the blood donating. Also, I was definitely woozy last night when I let myself into the house because part of the reason I was late was that I couldn’t find my keys. Where were they? Stuck in the outside key hole of my back door. Brilliant.
  • If I haven’t made it clear, I spend a vast majority of my days laughing. Hysterically. So it is natural that when walking out of the building with ComiColl after a long day of laughing, when I saw a rather odd skateboarder who was swerving all over the place and I was thinking to myself, “That guy is going to run into us” and then the skateboarder hopped up and tried to be super smooth and he really just didn’t succeed. He looked really goofy. And I busted out laughing. In this poor college student’s face. I am a horrible person. Worse? I couldn’t stop laughing, had to turn my back on the poor person, and just kept on cracking up and couldn’t stop. I’m on the bus straight to hell.
  • The Boss, ComiColl and newly named Splint-Ter-Rific {STR} (a comic book fan who’s sensei-like personality reminds me of the mentor of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)  all really wanted to know if I creamed the curb again today. And since I’m sure my readers do too, I will share: I totally avoided hitting the curb on the way out of the parking lot today. Success!
  • I made a couple of stops on the way home. The first was at a random tire place that was clearly just about to close down for the evening. There were seven men standing around the counter and when I walked in, all of them stared at me as if they’d never seen a woman in a pencil skirt and heels before. I can’t say this wasn’t mildly gratifying, but the staring sort of got in the way of good service. Also, if they were going to stare, they could have given me free things like most of the other mechanics I’ve met have. I got a much better deal at the next place I stopped, where I was not ogled.
  • At the second stop, the adorable little woman behind the desk asked me in a creepy way about ten minutes after I’d handed her a sheet of paper with my personal information on it “if that big house across the street is still that ugly green color.” I can honestly say, I stood there gaping at her for a minute before I realized she must have recognized my address. I pulled it together as she explained that her grandparents had lived close by for quite a long time. And apparently their neighbors had a pea green house.

And that, in about as many words as the original post for the day, is today’s bonus content. Feel special. I know I do.