Over


View from my bedroom

I am pleased to say that the Dental Doom was much less doomish than expected. In fact, it wasn’t doomish at all.

I was greeted warmly at the oral surgeon’s office, and was soon ensconced in a comfortable chair in a pretty office, with the sun shining through the window. The assistant covered me with a soft, heavy fleece blanket, which was very comforting as well as warm. I told them that I have had nausea after anesthesia in the past, so they put some anti-nausea drugs in my IV before doing anything else.

And that, my friends, is all I remember until I woke up. I don’t remember being put to sleep, and they didn’t freeze me until after I was asleep, so I didn’t even have to deal with the needles.

They did freeze the heck out of me, though. I stayed frozen all day. I picked up what I hope is my last antibiotic prescription of the year, along with pain pills and prescription ibuprofen (one giant pill for mankind, instead of 4 little ones), and grabbed some dim sum from Hang Ah on my way out of town.

Arriving home, I took a nap, and after that, I was pretty much back to new, waking up to the pretty view you see above from my bedroom window. Other than the blood taste in my mouth, and the quite enjoyable post-anesthesia stoned feeling, I would never know anything had happened to me. There was no pain or swelling, and almost a week later, I am pretty sure that nothing bad is going to happen from the surgery. One of my co-workers in our dental department checked in with me to see how it went, and took a look in my mouth. She said it looked “perfect”, and that she would need a mirror to see the indents where the teeth used to be. Fun fact: it can take up to 10 months for the bones to grow back and fill in those indents. I didn’t know that happened.

All in all, I was really lucky. The procedure I feared the most turned out to be the best. And I am hoping that it marks the end of my dental problems, at least fior the immediate future.

A YEAR AGO: A little trip to the South Coast.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A stormy start to the week.

TEN YEARS AGO: The Audreyness of Audrey knows no bounds.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: I was bitten by a parrot. Seriously.

Flamingo

It appears that the only reason I ever leave the County is to have expensive and painful dental procedures. The last time I ventured to Santa Rosa was for a root canal, and it’s debatable which was worse: the procedure or the shocking cost of the procedure, which I am still slowly and painfully paying off.

This time, it was to have my lower wisdom* teeth removed. The one on the right has been causing me all kinds of hell lately, and though I am very grateful for my sister’s ability to magically produce antibiotics and pain meds in the middle of the night, living on them is not a sustainable lifestyle, though I have certainly given it a serious try.

I refused to even contemplate such a horrifying procedure while conscious, so I had to go to an oral surgeon, and the closest one was in Santa Rosa. All the knock out appointments are in the morning, so I drove down the night before. If you have to worry about dental problems, why not do it in style? So off I went to the Flamingo, with its glamorous lobby:

It’s quite magical at night:

My room was lovely:

Here’s the seating area:

And the lovely bathroom:

I got Indian food delivered and watched a hockey game before going to sleep. I slept surprisingly well, considering the impending doom. All that glamor definitely helped.

*They should really be named Trouble Teeth or something that is more descriptive and more accurate. They should also hurry up and evolve into non-existence.

A YEAR AGO: File under miscellaneous.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Of rain, cats, and dogs.

TEN YEARS AGO: Rob finally got his permanent disability.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A good deed. And a very good dog.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: My wonderful in-laws were visiting us in San Francisco. It was a great time.

Ow


Still Standing

I may have been early in putting up my tree, but I am late in taking it down. Twelfth Night, aka The Saddest Day of the Year, has come and gone, but the tree is still standing, and I am still enjoying its comforting glow when I come downstairs on these dark winter mornings and during the long winter evenings*.

I was planning to take it down late, anyway, but it’s a longer reprieve than I expected. My plan was to take it down on the 8th, and at the same time do at least some preliminary organization in the Closet of Doom, starting with putting the holiday ornaments in the back, under the stairs, the least accessible part, and then assessing where the rest of the stuff should go and what could go up in the water tower.

Instead, I ended up in dental hell, where they are going to start charging me rent if I don’t look out.

Late on Friday afternoon, it started to feel like something was brewing on the right side of my mouth, the side most popular for crowns and root canals. Do I have any undoctored teeth left there? Apparently I do, because by the time I got home, it was screaming. I had taken Advil when I first felt the grumblings, but unlike during my other dental (mis)adventures, the pain just laughed at it and suggested it try again later.

Liver be damned, I took more Advil, but the pain was undefeated. At this point, I was actually crying with the pain. I texted my doctor, who responded that she would call in a prescription for antibiotics, but since the pharmacy was closed, I would not be able to get it until Saturday, aka the day I was planning to deal with the Tree and the Closet.

I texted Megan, who magically, somehow, came up with antibiotics and pain reducers (I know know that painkillers do not in fact kill pain, only reduce it, which is one of the major disappointments of my adult life), and went to meet her in town outside the ER to get them. Knowing her sister’s silliness, she also provided me with written instructions and the advice to eat something and get some ginger ale in order to keep all the pills swimming in my stomach.

It was a long night with the terrible pain – worse, somehow, than when my face was giant – but after the second dose of antibiotics, I began to feel semi-human again. A trip to the dentist revealed that the culprit was my wisdom tooth, which apparently needs to be evicted, a horrifying prospect. Stay tuned for more on that.

So far, I am unimpressed with the New Year. It needs to try harder.

*I have noticed that it’s not pitch dark at 5:30 anymore. We are returning to the light!

A YEAR AGO: An unappreciated visitor.

FIVE YEARS AGO: In the midst of a long and cold power outage.

TEN YEARS AGO: Some technical difficulties.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Carrie’s new baby. Who I now realize is, uh, a grown-up.

Pain

And suffering…

I once again had dental pain, though no swelling. I went to the dentist, where they took an x-ray and things looked suspicious. The suspect in question is a tooth that already has a crown on, which I naively thought meant it was sealed off from further dental horrors, but I was, as is so often the case, incorrect about this.

They gave me a prescription for antibiotics, and maybe it was all in my head in more ways than one, because I began to feel better after the first dose. I took them for the prescribed week. But a week after I finished the pills, the pain woke me up in the middle of the night*.

I got another prescription and the sad news that I needed yet another root canal, and you know how much I enjoyed the first one. The further bad news was that my dentist could not do it until October 28, and the even further news was that the dentist he referred me to was in distant Santa Rosa, meaning 5 hours of driving on top of the lengthy procedure. Also? Santa Rosa Dentist is super expensive.

What’s not to hate?

But I had no choice. It was a glorious day as I drove through the redwoods and the idyllic wine country. It would have been lovely if I weren’t scared out of my mind.

At the dentist’s office, I was greeted by the sad and shocking news that I would have to pay $1,700. Yes, you read that correctly and it’s not in some strange foreign currency where 1,700 actually means $5. It took everything in me not to cry.

The procedure was as grueling and unpleasant as you would suspect. You’d think for those Cadillac (Rolls Royce? Bentley?) prices, they’d render you unconscious, but alas, this was not the case. I tried to focus on my breathing and think about being in Maine when I was little.

Eventually, it was all over, and I was given my third prescription for antibiotics this month, this time to be taken three times a day, along with a prescription for Motrin. I took it to the nearby pharmacy, a little mom and pop shop called Tuttle’s, where the pharmacist asked, “Are you really from all the way up there in Albion**?” I admitted that I was, and he said how much he enjoyed going to Ledford House, so it seems that Megan and I are not the only ones who enjoy going there.

Sadly, I will need a new crown, since the old one was destroyed in the root canal process. Why can’t I collect the sparkly diamond kind of crowns instead of the painful dental ones? They cost the same.

*Why does dental pain always strike at night and/or on the weekends?

**Which he pronounced “Al-bee-YON”.

A YEAR AGO: Getting some computer repairs.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Audits are so fun! Also, happy birthday to Rob!

TEN YEARS AGO Little Clyde was a little under the weather. And the weather was hot.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: The joys of air travel. ~Shudder~

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Sleep mysteries in a world gone mad.

Seeing

It had been a long time since I got contact lenses. I hadn’t been to the eye doctor in five years. In the meantime, she had moved offices so she was within easy walking distance of my current job. I walked over there one day to see about getting contact lenses again.

I can’t remember why I stopped wearing them. Maybe they just seemed like too much trouble. Or too expensive. For whatever reason I stopped, it seemed like a good time to start again. Call it the whim of a whimsical girl.

The doctor tested my eyes again. She asked if I were 50 yet, flattering when a girl is nearly 60. Apparently, one’s vision tends to change after hitting the half century mark. It didn’t seem like mine had, perhaps because it was already so bad to begin with. I have had glasses since I was 5, and I probably needed them from birth. I still remember my surprise at learning that the world did not, as I had previously believed, look like an Impressionist painting. I also drove my parents crazy, reading out every sign I saw on the way home wearing my new glasses.

So there wasn’t much change in my prescription, if any. Given my allergies and astigmatism, the eye doctor thought that daily disposables were the best choice for me. She ordered some for me to try out, and when I got them, it was weird to drive home in them. I would say that my vision is not as sharp with contacts as it is with glasses, and the eye doctor confirmed that this is usually the case. Also reading and texting are more…challenging with contacts than with glasses. Maybe I just need time to adjust.

The first day I wore them to work, I hit a deer with my car. I’m not saying the two were related, but I’m also not saying they’re not. It will be interesting to see how I do driving with lenses in the dark. At least I was driving pretty slowly. I was on the Ridge, near the turn off onto the highway. The deer ran right out in front of me. He also ran away, and there was no damage to Wednesday, so I’m hoping there was also no damage to the deer. I figure his being able to run off immediately after I hit him was probably a good sign. I know that with the amount I drive and the number of deer around, it was inevitable, but I still feel terrible about it.

I have been bringing my glasses to work with me every day, and I have an extra set of lenses in my desk drawer just in case.

TEN YEARS AGO Catching up while working 6 (or was it 8?) days a week.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: John took over writing my blog while I was in England, dealing with Dad’s death. You can imagine things were just a little different around here then!

Flat

Oh, dear!

The “low tire pressure” light came on in my car. I have come to learn that this alleged warning sign only comes on when the tire is already in fact flat, or basically dead. I have never once had it come on when there was not a disaster involved.

Fortunately for me, this happened when I was at the gas station near work. I decided that the best thing to do was to take it to the tire shop, which was not yet open, and return later with my keys.

In this, I was correct, because about a block away from the tire shop, I could hear metal on asphalt, never a happy sound or a good sign for a girl’s ever-svelte (and getting svelter) wallet. I barely made it to the tire shop. I rather regretted having a giant pink Kate Spade bag:

full of my laptop, a book, and other things and stuff as well as my lunch as I schlepped to work.

There was much schlepping involved that day, since I had to walk back again to bring them my keys and then return to work, and finally walk over there again after work to pick up Wednesday. They had applied a spare tire, so I had to drive slowly and majestically, trying not to look at the ominous and unnerving “low tire pressure” light on the long drive home. At least it’s tourist season and no one is driving fast.

They ordered a new tire for me and told me that the other ones were healthy, at least for now.

A YEAR AGO: A pretty addition to the bedroom.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Quite possibly the sweetest birthday gift ever. ~Sob!~

TEN YEARS AGO: Our beloved Rob was recovering from his spine surgery.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Adventures with the Lovely Rita. I still miss her.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A glamorous and highly enjoyable day. I have not changed in 20 years. I still love all the things in this post. Also, someone recently referred me to me as “a 40 year old girl”, which is encouraging when you’re one year away from 60.

Encore

Endless summer continues. I guess that’s what endless things do, and its key to endlessness that you keep on keeping on. It’s still around 70 at the ocean, 10-15 degrees warmer than it should be, and in the 80s at Chez Suzy, where I personally would prefer that it never went above 70, or 75 at the outside limit of endurance.

I realize this probably sounds pretty good to those of you who are already bundling up and staring down the barrel of six months or more of winter. You might be both surprised and envious that I had the air conditioning on in the car on the way home from work this week. It does cool off in the evenings and at night. It’s probably around 50 degrees when I head to the car to go to work, checking for signs of the Bear’s having paid me a secret overnight visit (and glad when he hasn’t, since those visits tend to be messy and more enjoyable for my ursine caller than for me). When I walk to the car in the mornings, everything is still but the crickets and sometimes a neighboring rooster. The stars and planets are blazing in the clear, dark, sky, and I have to stop and enjoy the stillness and the glory before getting on with my day.

One day last week included a visit to the dentist. It seems that a piece of my tooth came off – without my noticing – and an ancient silver filling was now exposed. Happily, it didn’t hurt, but unhappily, I am facing yet another coronation. One was enough for the Queen, but apparently three time’s the charm for me. I hope this is the last time I have to face this expensive and unenjoyable procedure. At least I don’t need a root canal this time (as far as I know). Apparently, they now put in the permanent crown the first time, instead of making you get a temporary and then come back for another appointment to get the permanent one. The downside of this is that the appointment will take an hour and a half, which I think we can all agree is a long time to sit in a place no-one ever wants to be.

That hour and a half will cost me around $700, even though I have insurance. I will be able to pay it off in three installments instead of all at once, which is a big help. I was so taken aback by the crown diagnosis that I forgot to ask them for what my stepmother used to refer to as “tablets”, her term for Valium and its soothing cousins. Last time after the root canal débâcle, I took a tablet before I went for the crown, but it had the unpleasant effect of making my brain (or its two remaining cells) foggy while my body remained super nervous. So I’m not sure if I really want to try that again, or if it will be much worse without it. I have a month to figure it out, since the fateful day is November 23, unless my injured tooth starts complaining.

In the meantime, I’ll do some complaining: Why can’t I have a tiara instead of a crown?

A YEAR AGO: Even buying a couch cushion can be a thrilling adventure if I’m involved.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Vertigo, and not the fun, Hitchcock kind, either.

TEN YEARS AGO: I was super helpful.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Wildlife, even in the heart of the city.

Crowned

The day of my crowning arrived appropriately gloomily. As prescribed, I had taken the Valium the night before, though I failed to sleep like a baby as promised, unless babies wake up every two hours worrying about doom. Maybe they do and that’s what fussing is all about.

I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that the Valium I took for the actual procedure just made me feel messed up while leaving the anxiety in full control. So I was nervous in my body and stoned in my head, which is not an enjoyable combo platter, at least not for this girl. It somewhat saddens me that drugs are not fun for me. I hated how the Vicodin made me feel when I had the toothache from hell (and indeed, Advil was much more effective at handling the agony), and the same goes for the non-pain killing pain killers I took after falling off the sleeping loft onto the unsuspecting floor below. I have never enjoyed Mendocino’s most famous product. It just makes me paranoid. Give me a glass or three of wine any day or a cocktail at my favorite seaside bar. I’m old school like that.

Fortunately for Self and the public at large, I walked to the dentist’s office just a couple of blocks away. The lengthy appointment was as delightful as I expected. It seemed that they took about a thousand goopy and gag-inducing impressions (Why? Why? I was in no position to ask), and of course there was the fun of smelling burning bone as they sawed away at my root canaled tooth.

Theoretically, since the root or whatever had been removed, I wasn’t supposed to feel anything, but I did feel the post installation and whatever crap they were doing inside the tooth before closing it up for what is hopefully posterity. I have come to the sad conclusion that I can never be completely numbed and that going to the dentist is always going to be horrible, especially since the daytime Valium does not seem to help.

And because reality bites, and usually bites me in the wallet, I do owe the old dentist $740 and I will probably owe the new dentist about the same for the unpleasantness listed above. Once again I am mystified by how I can (or will somehow have to) come up with $1,400 in dental fees but not, say, to go to Hawaii. Would anyone like to buy a soul? Only slightly shopworn?

As they merrily sawed and gooped and drilled away at me, the dentist and his assistant compared the vacations they had just returned from in Cozumel and Oahu respectively. Not for the first time, I have the feeling I’m in the wrong line of work.

A YEAR AGO: The end of the mattress fiasco.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A day at the beach.

TEN YEARS AGO: A veritable mountain of boxes.

Better

The doc really did fix me up as promised. The Cough has gone on to find someone else to torture and I am no longer exhausted. It took longer than I expected to regain my normal voice, and I sounded like Peppermint Patty for a while. Laughter led to coughing during those Peppermint Patty days, but my natural frivolity was impossible to restrain as usual.

Once I stopped my sickness cycle of work-bed-work, I realized that the house needed some attention. One thing about cats is they never do housework. They create it, but leave the Staff to take care of it. So when the Staff is unavailable, housework does not get done. They quite rightly flee at the sight of the vacuum cleaner. Clyde also abandons ship at the sound of glass cleaner being sprayed. No manual (or paw) labor for him!

Cleaning up led to more cleaning up. When putting away dishes, I noticed that the shelves needed cleaning. So I ended up hauling everything out and washing the shelves. Looking at all the things and stuff that had been stored there, I decided that the rarely used things should be relegated to the studio, and that the stuff that was no longer useful or being used should be thrown out or rehomed.

I also got rid of all the Tupperware which didn’t have lids, which was remarkably satisfying. It also led to some online shopping for esoteric items not readily available in the environs of Hooterville, such as a pot lid organizer (instead of having a jumble of them and never being able to find the right one) and another organizer for frying pans of varying shapes and sizes.

So the simple “let’s put the dishes away” became an hours-long extravaganza. Eventually, the cats’ – or at least the boys’ – curiosity won out over their disdain for housework, as Clyde showed Dodge how to supervise projects. As you know, he is an excellent project supervisor with a flawless track record, so Dodge is learning from the best. Audrey just looked at us all with disdain from her throne, as befits the empress she is.

A YEAR AGO: Taking a civilized little break in town.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Storms and power outages. What else is new?

TEN YEARS AGO: A little film noir festival at home.

Groundhog

It’s a week later, and I’m still sick. It’s still raining, and the power has been out repeatedly, both at home and at work. I feel like I’m in an endless loop, like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day”. Every day I go to work and get through the day in a daze, then go home and go to bed. My voice is an unfamiliar croak. Sometimes I eat dinner and sometimes I don’t. Food is still spectacularly unappealing to me.

Earlier this week, I was taking minutes in the doctors’ meeting, and my cough was there, too. After the meeting, one of the docs took me aside and said, “Come and see me and I’ll fix you up.” I made an appointment for the afternoon, but half an hour after the meeting ended, one of the medical assistants came to tell me that the doc had a no show and sent her to find me. Clearly she was on a mission!

The doc listened to my lungs, with their familiar ripping lace sound, and said I have bronchitis. She then gave me a breathing treatment, which I have never had before. It’s kind of like a little hand-held vaporizer that you breathe in. It also looked a bit like something out of a mad scientist’s laboratory in an old horror movie, with its pale, visible vapor bubbling out and wreathing away mysteriously.

After that, she prescribed me a 5 pack of antibiotics, an inhaler, and some codeine cough syrup to wrestle the Cough from Hell into submission at night so our heroine could get some much-needed sleep. We are beyond beauty sleep at this point, my friends.

The inhaler was also a new experience for me, and I’m still not convinced I’m using it correctly, but hopefully it’s helping. I’m supposed to use it for another week after I feel better, if this ever happens, to make sure my lungs are operating properly again. I’m still drinking hippie tea, too, so my bases are covered.

Of course, this is a long weekend. You know how extra time off always leads to some kind of Calamity Suzy episode! My goal is to feel less crappy when I return to work on Tuesday. Can she do it? Stay tuned…

A YEAR AGO: A visit to the past, my favorite place.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Showers bringing flowers.

TEN YEARS AGO: Flowering plums and Meyer lemons.

Ugh

I’m sorry to report that our heroine has been under the weather. And snowy weather at that. Yes, snow. On the jasmine:

On the huckleberry bushes:

It’s everywhere! It’s beautiful. Audrey likes it. I think it reminds her of her Canadian roots.

As you know, I am a snow fan and am not blaming the literal weather for the figurative weather I’m under. For the past week, I have been subject to an apparently endless compulsive and convulsive cough, which makes both my throat and my stomach ache. Both of my brain cells have gone on strike, and it sounds like ripping rotting lace when I breathe. Add in endless nausea, chills, and burning up and you have quite the cocktail of misery.

I took three days off from work, even though our sick days and vacation days are all the same thing. At the end of the three days, I didn’t feel any better, but I was tired of bleeding precious time off, so I returned to work, where everything seemed like a horrible dream and a million details had piled up on my desk.

Remembering Eddie Murphy’s instruction in “Raw” that Tussin can fix anything, I got some on my way to work. I wanted a totalitarian regime that would suppress any cough or even ideas of coughs.

My Tussin hopes turned out to be as unrealistic as my painkiller hopes. The Tussin was unequal to the admittedly Herculean task of repressing The Cough from Hell, much as the broken rib pain chortled merrily at the very idea of the painkiller loosing its agonizing grip.

My co-worker convinced me to get seen by one of my other co-workers. I said that she would tell me that it was a virus, there was nothing they could do, and please pay your co-pay on your way back to your desk. This is exactly what happened. Personally, I am convinced that they tell you it’s a virus when they don’t know what the hell it is.

I gave up on the Tussin days ago and am drinking a tea made of Meyer lemon slices, turmeric root, fresh ginger, and a spoonful of local honey, which I realize makes me sound like a gigantic hippie. Maybe I am. There’s a lot of evidence against me, including the fact that I live in Mendocino County, pretty much the official home of the hippie, my family has an organic garden and orchard, and I live in a hippie hovel, so…guilty as charged?

A YEAR AGO: The smallest of small town days.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Growing up Archi! Still Jarrett’s BFF.

TEN YEARS AGO: A civilized train ride. Is there any other kind?

Updates

Other than the Case of the Missing Landlord* and the plumbing mutiny, here’s what’s been happening in and around Stately Suzy Manor.

The Epic Dental Safari: I went to see my dentist after the hell of the root canal. It was supposed to be for a minor surface filling and to get the night guard**, but he decided to permanently seal the root canaled tooth first. As I now know, it’s never good when they talk about opening up the tooth and get that fascinated look on their faces. Also there is not enough nitrous oxide in the world to make it less unpleasant. Basically it was a mini root canal, as he took out the temporary filling and posts (who knew?) and replaced them with permanent versions while complimenting his colleague’s work. I will still have to get a crown in the new year when I get a whole new batch of dental benefits.

Speaking of which, the HR person was able to reduce my root canal bill by $200, which was a delightful surprise. Also, I learned that the pharmacy had been charging me incorrectly for the past few years, apparently not realizing that I have insurance. So I got a refund for the difference in cost for the antibiotics this month and will only have to pay $15 a pop going forward. So things are looking up in the dental and medical departments.

Dodge City: Little Dodge is flourishing. He now has a complete covering of fur all over his body, including his no longer rat-like but still very long tail. He is significantly less skeletal as well. He is enjoying his new lifestyle of constantly available food and water, daily treats, and lounging on the bed, which is his favorite place. He is both handsome and happy, which gladdens my Grinchy little heart. Here he is, hanging out on top of the armoire (aka Audrey’s throne):

I’m still keeping him inside. He doesn’t seem to have much interest in the Wide World. Perhaps, like Henry Etta, he knows that no good comes of it and being inside is safer, warmer, and an all-around better place to be. Clyde continues his lack of interest in playing outside, and even the imperious Audrey hasn’t bothered with her early morning constitutional lately. Maybe Dodge will just stay an inside cat. I can revisit it when the weather warms up next year. By then, he will definitely know where he lives.

Dodge and Clyde have started playing together. I have seen them touch noses and even give each other little baths:

so they are on the road to friendship. Naturally, Audrey regards them both with the same disdain she applies to everyone. The empress is egalitarian that way.

*Where’s Nancy Drew and her blue convertible when you need her? As Marilyn approvingly observed in “:Northern Exposure”, “She’s competent.” Unlike me.

**He did have time to do those things, too. So far I have not been able to get used to the night guard, which makes me nauseous in addition to its general lack of comfort.

A YEAR AGO: A peek at the eccentric local message boards.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Heading home from San Francisco.

TEN YEARS AGO: Hanging out in Pasadena.

Painful

When we last saw our heroine, the right side of her formerly lovely face was swollen up like the Great Pumpkin. She figured she should give the antibiotics time to work, and the swelling would go away. As so often happens, she was wrong about this, because the swelling mutated overnight and started creeping under her lip.

Of course, it was a Friday, and rather than the prospect of the weekend being a happy one, it was a frightening abyss of no available dental services other than the dreaded and expensive ER. Dr. Megan nagged her resistant sister into going to the walk-in clinic at the clinic where she works. The doctor examined her with that fascinated look on his face that doctors get when something is really horrible*, and prescribed another antibiotic to join the first one. This is not the kind of cocktail our heroine enjoys. He left the room with the cheery news that the itchy indignity of a yeast infection would almost certainly ensue**.

Hoping that the pharmacy staff didn’t suspect her of having a particularly resistant STD, our heroine picked up the second antibiotic. The pharmacist suggested applying ibuprophen instead of ineffective opiates to attempt to dull the pain, and this suggestion was actually helpful in dealing with the astronomical pain, though taking 2 antibiotics and 4 ibuprophen every 6 hours is suboptimal and not without its unpleasant side effects.

On Thursday, the dreaded endodontist appointment rolled around, the fifth dental appointment in two weeks, a personal best (or worst). It was 96 degrees in the County seat, versus 63 at the coast. The endodontist’s office was quite fancy, and staffed by girls with giant false eyelashes***. Sadly for our heroine, the Valium she had taken did nothing to allay her quite reasonable fears. It was hard not to cry as the endodontist spoke cheerfully about opening up the tooth. Or the fact that the procedure would take about an hour or more.

Despite the application of nitrous oxide, our heroine remained inconsolable as the operation proceeded, with its alarming noises, smells, and the sight of smoke rising before her horrified eyes****. That horror, however, was nothing compared to the bill. The Eyelashed One expected nearly $700 to be paid immediately. She expressed surprise that no one had informed our hapless heroine of this term and condition.

The solution was to get Care Credit. The charges would go on that account and have to be paid off within a designated number of months in order to avoid the 30% interest that would ensue. Other unwelcome news was that a crown was required to cover the root canaled tooth, and I seem to remember from the last time that this was in the Beverly Hills neighborhood of $900. Oh, and this is WITH dental insurance. Though mathiness is not our heroine’s strong suit, this means that she has to come up with around $1,500 while spending half of her monthly pittance on rent. It’s hard to see how this is economically feasible. It is not surprising that the long withheld tears were finally indulged in once the sanctuary of the car was reached.

There are still at least two dental appointments to come, so it’s not over yet.

*I will never forget visiting my ex-boyfriend, who was hospitalized for a raging case of meningitis, and going up in the elevator with two doctors. One said to the other, “You have to check out that meningitis case. All the classic symptoms! You gotta see it before he dies.” He didn’t die, but it was close.

**So far, the plague has not descended. That’s something to be thankful for.

***What is it with dental assistants and their false eyelashes? They are sported to a cartoonish degree among the dental assistants and receptionists where I work, too.

****When I mentioned this to Megan, she said, “Yeah…I didn’t want to tell you about that.”

A YEAR AGO: At the County Fair with our beloved Ben.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A triumphant Fair for Erica.

TEN YEARS AGO: The thrill of the sheepdog trials at the County Fair.

Ouch

I’m coming to you from Dental Hell. I’ve been here since Sunday, and I really don’t recommend it. Stay away if you can!

On Sunday, the right, lower side of my mouth was bothering me. This was the site of the last filling, which took an hour and a half to complete, and which I thought was bad until I arrived in Dental Hell. The filling was a mere preview. I was up all night with the incredible pain on Sunday night. On Monday, I went to the dentist. They did x-rays and various tests. Although they could see that a different filling had popped off, they could also see that it wasn’t infected and was innocent of decay. They opined that I was grinding my teeth in my sleep and that’s what caused the filling to pop off.

They made an appointment for me to get impressions done for the indignity of a mouth guard, an unwelcome return to the retainer of my youth, and another for the filling. I began to wonder if they were going to charge me rent on top of my ever-escalating dental bills. They also gave me a prescription for painkillers, even though one of my recent life lessons was that despite their name, they do not in fact kill pain.

By the time the first appointment rolled around on Wednesday, it was clear that something was really wrong. Not only did the pain laugh merrily at the application of its would-be assassins, it had escalated to the point of being totally unbearable. If I ever wondered about my ability to stand up to torture, I no longer do. The right side of my face is swollen up like a seasonable Halloween pumpkin. Trick or treat!

I kept the appointment for the impressions. It is proof of how dreadful the pain was that the gagging and grossosity of the impressions process just seemed like nothing compared to the agony of what I now know is an infected tooth. The dentist prescribed a strong antibiotic and is going to refer me to an endodontist, who is of course located in the County Seat, which is a three hour round trip drive. So I get to look forward to doing that at least twice, once for a consultation and once for – gulp! – a root canal. If I weren’t in so much pain, I’d be horrified.

A YEAR AGO: Being a cat servant can be challenging.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Giving away dear Schatzi’s things. I still miss her.

TEN YEARS AGO: Ah, the strange dreams swirling through my head!

Aching

I am coming to you from my couch, instead of my office, where just this Monday I was surprised by the unexpected appearance of beach lavender in my sea urchin dish:

Beach lavender was a new flower to me. It’s like upscale baby’s breath, with little purple flowers. I also found a bag of still-warm chocolate chip cookies on my desk, so as Mondays go, not too bad.

Except for the horror of my lower back pain.

The LBP started on Sunday, when I was on the phone with our good friend Paul. You will be glad to hear that he is doing just fine, and that like every other summer for the past 20 years, this will be the last one he will work in the Hamptons. Suddenly, my lower back made its displeasure known, and after I said goodbye to Paul, I took to the couch with the heating pad.

On Monday, I went to work, even though getting dressed was an adventure and I kept praying that I wouldn’t have to brake, since lifting my leg to move it to the brake was so uncomfortable. I made my crab-like way through the day, but the back spasms were horrible by the time I got home.

It soon became clear that getting in and out of bed, not to mention turning over once I was in it, were no longer possibilities. So I have moved operations to the couch, where I have been ever since, equipped with heating pad, lots of pillows, the fascinating Victorians Undone, and the delightful reboot of Will & Grace, which thankfully undoes the egregious errors of the final seasons, so that Will and Grace are child-free and Stan is still around, though we still have to endure an appearance by the ever-awful Minnie Driver. But Karen is still rich, married to Stan, and gloriously Karen.

So I have missed two days of work due to illness, which makes me feel guilty, especially since I just had the horrible cold from hell about a month ago, and the worst flu in 20 years 6 months before that. I feel like I’m falling apart.

I have been keeping up with my emails, both work and personal, and thus learned of the loss of my former mother-in-law, Marj, seen here with John’s Dad Ed at their lovely home on Sharbot Lake:

Marj was 84. I was lucky that she and Ed were always so good to me, even after John and I split up. As Ed told me, “you will always have a place in our hearts,” and they will always have a place in mine, too.

Ailments

I’m sorry to say that after more than a week, The Crud still has me in its unpleasant grip. Repeated daily applications of Sudafed and Afrin seem to do little in the way of loosening its claws, and if I buy shares in Kleenex now, that would be perilously close to insider trading.

Maybe I need to take time off from work and follow a Victorian style regime of daily doses of champagne and perhaps a trip to Egypt or the French Riviera. It’s medicinal, you know.

I’m also sorry to report that Wednesday, too, is ailing slightly. I pulled up at my bijou residence one evening to discover that I could not open the car door despite repeated efforts. I rolled down the window and opened it from the outside, then rolled up the window again. Effective, but slightly annoying. The annoyingness, like many things, seems to increase the more I have to do it.

Another development is that the driver’s side door no longer locks. This is not a problem in Hooterville, but makes me uncomfortable when leaving Wednesday for many hours in the parking lot at work, which is sometimes frequented by sketchy characters, some of whom seem to live in the bushes surrounding it. When I left work after a 12 hour day this week, I actually looked in the back seat before I drove off in case someone was napping and/or had taken up (hopefully temporary) residence there. Fortunately, my neuroses and I were the only ones in the car. I have ordered a new door handle, which should arrive soon, and when the boys install it, that should take care of all of the car problems at once. If only there was as effective a remedy for whatever ails me…

Update: Rob very kindly installed the new door handle while I was at work. Hooray! Yay for Rob, door handles that open on the inside and outside of the car, and the Heap for getting me to work and back today.

Megan told me that when she woke up this morning, Rob was sleeping with his arm around Stella, who was wagging her tail in her sleep. How’s that for happy?

A YEAR AGO: A delightful day at Navarro-By-The-Sea.

FIVE YEARS AGO: An out of season power outage and an annoying day at the jobette.

TEN YEARS AGO: It was hard to say goodbye to the Lovely Rita. I will always love and miss you, darling girl.

Math

Despite spending much of my working life in finance, math and I are not close friends. And you will not be surprised to hear that logic and I are but distant acquaintances. However, no matter how slow on the uptake I may be and the fact that I still don’t know all my times tables (and at this point, I think it’s safe to say I never will), it has become abundantly clear to me that:

Suzy takes time off = Something bad happens

Let’s review, shall we?

The last time I took time off and had the temerity to venture over the county line, I got the flu from hell which took forever to recover from.

The time before that, it was the Worst Long Weekend Ever, with day after day of blistering temperatures, inside and out, after a summer of working six days a week.

This time, I took two days off in honor of my birthday and ended up with the flu. At least it’s not as bad as last time, but come on! That was a mere six months ago.

I felt so horrible I couldn’t sleep, and texted with Megan, who is up and on duty at 2 am. She stopped by on her way home from work with Pringles, ginger ale, Sudafed, and Afrin. I spent the day on the couch and hopefully tomorrow will be back at work. I wish I didn’t feel so guilty about missing work and letting my boss down. Maybe it really is three strikes and you’re out, and next time I take time off it will actually be fun.

Finally

I am pleased to report that the mattress nightmare is finally over!

Like particularly capricious dates, they kept standing me up at the last minute. This happened twice. The day and time was set, and then the night before, I’d get a call saying something had come up and they couldn’t make it after all. Each time, they would defer the fictitious pick up to the following week.

The first time this happened, I was annoyed. The second time it happened, I was enraged. Like the great Ramona Quimby*, I made a great big noisy fuss (though unlike Ramona, I did it via email rather than in person). I didn’t expect anything to come of it other than relieving my feelings, so imagine my surprise when they contacted me to tell me that the pick up was going to theoretically happen a mere two days after it was supposed to, instead of ten days. They also refunded all the money on the spot, which may have been the most surprising thing of all.

The date selected was Saturday, which also happened to be the day after the giant storm, or “atmospheric river”, as the weather men call it. So that made me even more dubious that they would show up.

I went about my regularly scheduled cooking marathon (braised chicken with goguchang; smothered pork chops; curried chickpeas), and much like lighting a cigarette at a bus stop, they turned up in the midst of it all, announced by Mark’s herd of canine doormen. Once again I had to convince the delivery men that the dogs were all bark and no bite.

It didn’t take them long to remove the mattress and be on their rainy way. I felt like a curse had been lifted from the house. I temporarily abandoned cooking operations and went upstairs to unfurl the new and hopefully improved mattress and leave it to puff up and recover while I finished the cooking.

Later, I went back upstairs and made the bed. I discovered that what I thought was a pair of pillow shams was in fact only one, so I ordered another one and used the old ones for now. I also discovered that they new sheets I ordered were not quite the same green as the new comforter set, but that’s the hazard of ordering online. They are 800 thread count, so they feel great, and with the bed all made up, you can’t really tell that they aren’t the right shade:

The new mattress also feels great, being a pillow top memory foam. It has the cloud of bliss feeling I was looking for. Thanks to all of you who recommended memory foam. I should have asked you in the first place, instead of relying on my ever unreliable judgment. It does make me wonder, though, how one mattress can possibly be worth about a billion dollars more than another. In this case, the cheap one felt a billion times better than the super expensive one. Maybe I’m just a cheap date.

*I am delighted to note that Ramona’s creator, Beverly Cleary, just turned 102 yesterday!

A YEAR AGO: A rather wintery spring.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A busy but happy Saturday.

TEN YEARS AGO: Meetings and music.

Sprung

Spring has definitely sprung. The overachiever is flaunting what is probably its final flower of the season:

as the outdoor garden tries to catch up. I noticed that the jasmine is budding, if not blooming just yet, and that the peony bush is making an appearance. I should probably get out there and do some fertilizing and maybe even some watering, though we are due for rain later this week. I guess I can’t always rely on the Almighty to do my chores for me.

There have been a couple of warm days already, including a couple where the temperatures were in the 70s when I got home, so they were probably around 80 degrees during the day. I had the balcony door open on those nights, and on one of them, I must not have closed it completely, since I woke up to a suspiciously quiet house.

The unusual quiet was due to the house being temporarily cat-less. They had sneaked out at some point during the night. When I turned on the back porch lights, there they were. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to see them, especially Clyde. Though Audrey is the undisputed winner of Survivor: Hooterville, I will likely never get over the loss of Clyde’s brother Roscoe and I never want to go through that again.

My recent carelessness was not limited to the home front. At work, I went to put my library book* in the car. I tossed my bag onto the passenger seat and closed the door, leaving me holding the book and realizing that I had locked my handbag in the car, since my habit is to press the door button rather than the zillion dollar key fob in the hopes of not having to replace it.

So there I was, holding the book instead of the bag.

Fortunately for me, EMS is always close at hand. Even more fortunately, EMS was at our friend Lu’s nearby house, hanging out before her night shift. She was kind enough to bring me a spare key. I was on a conference call, and Megan dropped the key on my desk, observing, “Dork”, before getting back to her regularly scheduled life.

Sad, but true. It may or may not be a coincidence that I drove the 30 year old heap today. Even I can’t lock the keys in it, since it needs a key to lock the door from the outside. Sometimes you have to Suzy-proof your life.

*I have been asked to attend the next library Board meeting with a view to joining the Board. They seem to be fooled by my faux adult exterior, at least so far.

A YEAR AGO: Remembering Mom on her 85th birthday. Miss you, Mom!

FIVE YEARS AGO: A delightful breakfast at Queenie’s. There is no other kind.

TEN YEARS AGO: Yet another Calamity Suzy day. This year’s looks pretty good by comparison, actually. At least I no longer have to wear nylons.

Once (or Twice) Upon a Mattress

Decision-making is not my forte. I tend to wait until a course of action becomes inevitable and then just go along with it, like the artist Edgar Degas, who believed we were all just “corks* in a stream” and that life was just a random series of events.

If I do make a decision, it almost always turns out to be the wrong one. You know, like getting married. And selling my apartment for a pittance just a few years before it was worth well over a million dollars. And moving to Oaktown. I could go on, but you get the gist. What was I thinking?

Maybe it’s only having two brain cells.

In my finite wisdom, I decided that it was time to replace my ancient Ikea mattress. In my defense, I have had it well over a decade, which is past the normal lifespan of a mattress, and resorted to mattress pads and a featherbed to make it more comfortable. I did a fair amount of research and settled on one that had new technology and rave reviews. I confirmed that they would deliver to what my beloved stepmother used to call “the back of beyond” and that they understood how long it would actually take to drive here from the Bay Area.

It also cost about a billion of my hard-earned dollars, but I had decided – there’s that word again! – that it was an investment in better sleep and hopefully an at least marginally improved Suzy.

So I was pretty excited.

Delivery Day arrived, and the truck pulled up within its delivery window. Its arrival also released the hounds, and it took some persuading to get the delivery guys to get out of the truck and into the midst of Mark’s flock of enthusiastic and enthusiastically barking dogs. The dogs failed to eat the delivery guys, living up to my claim that while there was considerable bark, there would be no bite.

They dragged the heavy new mattress upstairs, removed the old one, and went on their dog-free way back to Civilization.

I couldn’t wait to make up the new bed with the new comforter set I had bought for the occasion, which as you can see got the Audrey seal of approval:

Audrey’s opinion is always important, but since she spends most of the day on the bed getting her beauty sleep, it’s especially important when it comes to new bedding.

With promises of fabulousness dancing in my head, I got into bed under the Audrey-approved covers, and…meh. Rather than the cloud of blissful comfort I expected for the exorbitant price, it was unyielding and implacable, much like Audrey herself. I did not wake up notably more refreshed, or wake up less, either. Nor was it a haven of bliss.

I have to admit I was pretty disappointed. Yes, it met my usual goal of less crappy. It is much less crappy than a decade old Ikea mattress. But it also cost about 100 times as much, and is not 100 times better. And I spent a bunch of money on something that is not wonderful. I steeled myself to spend the money to indulge myself in a luxury, and it’s not. All that money and no enjoyment.

I have 100 days to return it, but now my decision deficient mind has to decide whether to keep the horribly overpriced yet utterly underwhelming mattress, ort search for another one when I have lost what little faith I ever had in my mattress buying acumen.

The entire process is additionally hampered by the fact that the delivery guys took away the old mattress, so if I do get another one, I have to do it before I convince the delivery guys to risk life and limb to come back and pick up the expensive mattress. No matter what I do, it’s going to be a hassle. And whatever I decide will undoubtedly be the wrong thing. Maybe I should be like George on Seinfeld and do the opposite of my instincts, and everything will turn out fine.

As so often happens in life, none of these options are appealing. What do you think? Some of you must be better decision makers than I am!

*It turns out Degas was something of a cork expert, or at least a cork aficionado, since he stuffed his statues with used wine corks.

A YEAR AGO: The local message boards were all aflutter about birds.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Almost time for Dad’s birthday. I still miss him so much, even after 17 years!

TEN YEARS AGO: It looks like I was counting down to the Sex & the City movie, but the post is having technical errors.