Something to Chew On

At 3 a.m. I turn into a tooth fairy. It’s not what you imagine with wings and a wand. It’s not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. There are no frilly tutus or magic wands. It’s just the standard flannel pajamas and fuzzy slippers. I know it sounds hard to believe, but give it a second and read my story and you will see.

I work in a dentist office by day. My life is surrounded by teeth, gums, and saliva. “Open wide. Gargle. Rinse and spit.” Your general dentistry shit.

But that is not how I got this job. I sort of fell into it by chance. With five kids it is hard to make ends meet and I had been praying for some sort of miracle or help landing on my feet. Sometimes you get just what you ask for, but it may not quite be what you expected. 

One night I was still up after the baby’s middle of the night feeding. I rinsed the bottle and tried to clean the sink. A shiny black roach raced across the counter. I snatched it up in an old paper towel on the sink. I squeezed and felt its body pop in the wad of paper. “Go and tell your friends,” I said as I squished it even more and threw it in the trash. It was starting to feel like a bad scene from the Erin Brokavich movie, except I’m not Julia Roberts and I don’t have big boobs.  

I glanced out the kitchen window at the full moon hanging low in the dark sky. It whispered of hope and a way to get the mortgage paid. I rubbed my eyes. I really do need sleep. I heard movement upstairs. Water was running in the upstairs sink.

I walked along the outer edges of the stairs so they wouldn’t creak or groan. I expected to find my two-year old son in the bathroom, standing on the toilet and leaning over the sink to fill up his little plastic Batman cup for a drink. It drives me crazy when he gets up in the middle of the night. At least this time he wasn’t sucking on the tube of toothpaste for a midnight snack.

This bad habit of his scares the hell out of me when I find him out of place. He should be in bed. I will be going downstairs to make a bottle and there he will be, standing in the hallway or sitting on the steps scavenging stuff he’s not supposed to be into. It always startles me. He looks like he should be one of the Children of the Corn kids staring blankly at me with pale blue eyes and an albino face.

But this time I found someone else.

A stranger stood in my bathroom with a toothbrush and a foamy Crest smile.

I couldn’t utter a word. My tongue was twisted and tied. My stomach flip-flopped as my eyes googled over this shirtless stranger. I didn’t know they made abs like that anymore.

A smirk and a grin played across his face.

This can’t be for real. I’ve been working too many long hours. I think I might have transported myself into a Harlequin romance novel with no plot.

He grabbed the hand towel from the rail and I realized this was real.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

I tried to answer. I tried to speak. Still nothing would come out. I should be screaming and shouting, but there was a calmness about him. Could he be my Edward from Twilight? He wasn’t sparkling, but that was fine. He had no fangs or hairy face. I tried not to follow, but nothing was out of place. It was smooth calmness. It was part of my fate. 

He grabbed me by the elbow and whisked me through the hall and into the kitchen. I couldn’t resist that devilish grin.

“Take a bite,” he held an apple to my lips. “You will understand everything with this.”

My hand brushed his wrist as I sunk my teeth into the tender flesh of the yellow apple. 

Old knowledge appeared before me, stuff I always knew but had forgotten. This was my place. I just missed the target by a little trace.

That is how it all started, how I got my job as a tooth fairy. I found a handsome stranger at my sink. I had asked for help and it had appeared. It may seem like luck, but it was always part of my calling. It is not quite the full-blown out tooth fairy job. I would call it more of a carrier type of position. I collect the bags and deliver them to the secret place lost baby teeth are kept.

Haven’t you ever wondered what the tooth fairy does with all those teeth?

If I can trust you maybe I will let you know.

Every night when the rest of the house is asleep I sneak through the kitchen for a night-time snack. I bite into an apple that is as full as a harvest moon; special apples to help me travel through the night, light as can be.

The hours are not very long, but the pay is good. Who would have ever guessed the tooth business to be so lucrative, except maybe a dentist.

There are some downsides to the job, too. Lately my teeth have been tingling. I also felt something strange in the roof of my mouth, almost like a lost popcorn kernel wedged between those lines on the roof of your mouth.

It was sore and tender and sharp. It can’t possibly be. I’m too old to be growing more teeth.

I met my Crest man one night and told him of this crazy predicament after a second tooth grew.

“It’s time then,” he said.

“Time for what?” I asked.

“Don’t worry. It happens to everybody in this business. It’s time to meet the man.”

Hint: Whoever said the tooth fairy had to be a woman with a frilly dress and wand?

The head guy, nice as he is, is greedy as hell. Teeth are his specialty and he has plenty of them. He regrows them in his own mouth. Hundreds of them, sticking out of dirty gums like an old picket fence in a dead cemetery. He only wants more, like a weird addiction.

“After you have been delivering teeth, you start growing more. It’s part of the magic. Now you have to pay your dues,” the Tooth Fairy man explained to me.

“Don’t worry. It’s not so bad,” my Crest man whispered in my ear before the Tooth Fairy’s minions grabbed me. Their hands were bony and gripped my arms like a vice. There was no getting away.

I was flattened to a board. A large roll of clear shiny tape reflected the metal instruments hanging from the ceiling. Large tape was pulled from a roll. They wrapped me like a hot dog in Saran wrap from shoulders to feet. But this was not Saran wrap, it was some sort of industrial tape that stuck humans on it like a fly gets caught on that yellow sticky tape. When I was little I remember counting dead fly carcasses hanging from the tape in my Grandma’s garage. Red gooey black bodies with no legs clung lifelessly to the tape. Luckily there were no carcasses on this tape.

I couldn’t move.

“In just a minute you will feel pressure and pulling,” a strange voice said.

The only thing I could see was pain shooting like stars. Sheer pain searing through my jaw and head.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to yell, “Don’t take them. They’re my babies.” But I couldn’t utter a word as a million centipede fingers pulled on the edges of my lips.

The long needle passed over my head. Why the hell did I look? It probed my gums and assaulted the roots of my teeth. They shot up my mouth. I could feel it going down in deep. 

The bitterness of the injected juice slipped down the side of my tongue and sat at the back of my throat. I could taste the bitterness and the smell singed the insides of my nose.

The strange surgeon looked down at me with a light on his forehead, like a spelunkers in a cave. His features were a blur. The light on his forehead shadowed his face so I could not see his sadistic face.

I tried not to look at the instruments. Was that a pair of pliers? It sure looked like a pair of regular old pliers and not the usual shiny dental instruments.

Before I knew it, it felt like pressure on my whole head, an unnatural pushing on my entire face and twisting and turning.

I heard something crack.

“You’re all done,” he said. The masked assistant removed bloody gauze from my mouth, a trail of saliva sticking to my lick as if it was mozzarella cheese. More gauze was crammed into my cheeks. I couldn’t speak.

“Do you want to see it?” Crest man asked me.

“No!” I mumbled with bulging eyes. I did not want to see the unnatural teeth that was yanked and pried from the roof of my mouth.

“Do you want to see the place where teeth go?” he asked.

The Crest man motioned for me to go. I held his hand as we crawled up a pile of sharp and stubbly rubble. I looked down. I looked all around. We were surrounded by piles and mounds of human teeth. We were wading in a sea of teeth; incisors, molars, and sparkly fillings galore.

“This is the cemetery where the teeth are kept.”

I would never have dreamed of this kind of sea, but it is real. You just have to find it. It is someplace where the ends meet the sky and imagination is reality. Be careful what you ask for.

“Now that is something to chew on,” I thought.

writers' week

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The Beginning of Complicated

Exactly one year ago today the complications of my pregnancy with the twins became very complicated. It was a traumatic experience and I am very thankful to be here today with two healthy babies. I have been thinking about it a lot lately, since it was exactly one year ago today.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It was the beginning of a very long bed rest and being two hours away from my children and family for the first time ever. The medical issues and the helicopter rides and the doctors and the list goes on…

I didn’t write through this period of time. I wish I had. So the following posts are my memories of that experience. It may not be exact in all the details, but it is the exact way I remember it and how I feel about it.

It will be in several posts. I was on bed rest for 6 long and lonely weeks. It was rough. I can’t go through it all at once again. So you will get the story in “bits & pieces.”

To read about when I first found out I was pregnant with twins you can find that post <here>.

***

Brad was cooking barbecue chicken on the grill. He made a straight path that he followed frequently; flip the chicken, through the back door and straight to the tv to check the football game. He stood with his arms crossed in a defensive stance in the doorway, ready to yell or cheer at the tv.

I tried to keep my eyes open as I sunk further into the recliner. They wouldn’t stay open no matter how hard I tried. I have never felt a tired like this except with my pregnancies. The sheer exhaustion and toll on my body from carrying twins was twice as much.

Collin, who just turned one, was hanging on my knees bawling. I couldn’t pick him up. I was not supposed to pick anything up. I rubbed his back the best I could to try to sooth him, but I think I fell asleep sometime in between there.

I woke up to a quiet house. The kids were napping and it must have been a lull in the game because Brad wasn’t yelling. That was the calm before the storm.

I came down the stairs slowly, waddling, holding the weight of my pregnant belly. “I need to go to the hospital right away,” I said.

“You’re kidding me,” Brad said. “Today is the first day of football. This is the first game.”

“We have to leave now,” I said, even though I couldn’t get any emotion or urgency into my tone. “I’m bleeding.” And from there I was on a mission and that mission was to stay calm and get to the ER.

I have never seen him move so fast except for the other two times when I went into labor. But this was record speed. It was September. I wasn’t due until December.

I clenched the steering wheel and drove as fast as I could. I had cramps, but I didn’t think I was having contractions.

“You need to slow down.”

“I need to get there NOW. I just feel it.”

I pressed down on the accelerator as another small wave of cramps spread across my stomach. “Somethings wrong. I just feel that I need to get there because something big is happening. I just feel it. I’m in trouble. This just isn’t right. It’s not bad now but I’m scared.”

I have to say that the ER was ready and on the ball. As soon as I said I was pregnant with twins and bleeding I was whisked away in a wheelchair and straight to Labor and Delivery. It is a route I know well, having had two other children at the same hospital.

I was moved to a hospital bed, which was also familiar, and IVs, monitors, and nurses surrounded me with a million questions. I tried to get comfortable against the cool white sheets.

The monitor said I was having contractions. Why do I never know this? I never knew it with my other two pregnancies either, not until it was really bad.

I don’t remember much after that. It must have been the drugs, good ol’ Magnesium to try to stop the contractions. I was in and out of sleep with blurry faces coming and going.

I remember a nurse who looked like one of my friends said, “I can only get one baby on the monitor. The other keeps moving,” she said as she moved the paddles around, searching for the other baby, her neck craned to see the screen. I wasn’t too worried. They could never get both on at the same time. I fell back asleep. I couldn’t help it.

I remember hearing the nurses say, “Someone is to be with her at all times.” And they never did leave me alone. Every time I would roll over I would see a nurse or Brad.

I remember Brad pulling out the sofa bed. We were here for the night.

Then it hit. I was fully awake with wicked pain. There was no more sun peeking through the blinds.

“Brad! Wake up!” I yelled.

Panic.

Nurse call button. Where was my nurse? It was the first time I was ever left alone.

***Note – now is the time to stop reading if you are uncomfortable around labor and delivery rooms, have a queasy stomach, if blood bothers you, or anything about things that can happen with a complicated pregnancy might scare you or gross you out too much. It gets scary and gross. You have been warned.***

She came through the door in a second.

“It wont stop gushing,” I screamed. I cried. I squirmed. “Make it stop! What is happening to me.” I could feel it pouring out of me. I could feel the pressure.  I could feel substance to it. I could feel it everywhere, spurting out. I tried to look down at my body. The white sheets were bright red, and not just a small spot. I tried not to look after that.

I felt helpless. I felt reality slipping away. “Help me, please,” I cried. “Just make it stop!” I felt like I was delivering spawn. I felt like the Exorcist girl flopping around in bedand tied up with IV lines and wires for monitors. My head already felt like it was spinning.

And it kept pouring out of me, bright red blood thick between my legs.

Screams.

Panic.

I remember her dark eyes and long dark hair through all of this, it was a new nurse. She looked worried but she worked fast and knew what to do. Some code blurred through the hospital speakers. It was for me. 

“Doctor is coming,”  she said.

But it only got worse.

xxx

Leave a Light on for Me

I don’t know why we were talking about lightbulbs, but we were because somehow the conversation led us that way. And every time I change a lightbulb, or see one that is out, I think of Donna. It’s just one of those weird things.

“I still haven’t had to change the lightbulb at the top of my steps,” Donna said. “Roger (her husband who passed away in the house) must be looking out for me. He knows I could never reach it.” Donna is as short as me, which means just about 5 foot tall. Shhh. Don’t laugh at us short people.

“I still can’t believe it hasn’t gone out. How long has it been now?” I ask. But yes, I do believe her.

“Twelve years.” 

“You know, that is crazy. Nobody would believe you if you told them,” I add.

“I know. But I haven’t ever had to change that lightbulb. I don’t know how I  even would if it went out. It is right at the top of the steps at the highest part of the house. Even if I put a ladder there I wouldn’t be able to reach it and I would be dangling over the stairs.”

“I just can’t see a lightbulb lasting that long. But your house is weird anyways,” I tell her.

She has told me so many stories, I think her house is haunted…or has visitors you just can’t see. Lights flickering when the grandchildren are around and many other strange tales. Her aunt and grandmother passed away in the house, too. Maybe she just has a lot of guardian angels.

But who in the heck has ever had a lightbulb last 12 YEARS?!?! That is nuts.

xxx

Another Bloody Lip

It was one of those days…

It seems every other week since Collin has became mobile he has busted his lip. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but it is at least every other month.

It is not uncommon for him to be sitting on my lap crying, snot running down his nose, mixing with all the blood streaming out of his mouth, and pouring into the towel I am holding to clean it all up. This is a common scene at our house.

When he started crawling and standing it seems he always fell on his face, resulting in a bloody lip. When he started walking he would always fall on his face. Now that he is running…well, he just can’t stop and runs into things with his face.

I worry about his adult teeth coming in all crooked and out of the roof of his mouth. He went to the dentist before he was two and had most of his teeth. But that was because he chipped his front tooth at daycare by falling on his face on a windowsill.

Today the boys were racing to the door to let the dogs in. Bradley, who is older and naturally faster, got there first and opened the door. Brad and I hear a “Wham!” and then a screaming toddler comes around the corner. I put him in my lap and checked his mouth (which is just what you do when Collin comes a cryin’) and sure enough, blood is everywhere.

I didn’t think to much of it. I did what I always do – held him on my lap and catch the snot and blood. I tried to look, I tried to distract him, I tried to tickle him, I hung him upside down to get a look. It just looked like the normal busted lip. So I made breakfast and went to work.

Brad calls me around lunchtime. “I think we are going to have to take Collin to the doctor. He just woke up from his nap and he looks like Bubba from Forrest Gump.”

“Is it that bad?” I ask.

“I’m calling you, aint I?” Brad says, always sarcastic.

So I’m thinking it is that bad. If Brad notices and thinks he needs a doctor then it must look pretty bad.

The drama continues. Aunt Brandi brings popsicles.

Brad took him to the ER. It does look like he bit through his lip. They glue the outside cut and said to the leave the inside alone. They sent him home with a stapled pack of papers with common sense instructions.

At least the swelling finally went down.

Until next time…

xxx

Happenings Around the House

Bradley got glasses.

Haha! Not those. The ones down below.

These. He is so cute in glasses. Of course, I’m partial because I’m his mother and think he looks cute even at his scariest moments.

Collin is sitting in a big boy chair, sort of. He is sitting half the time, the other half of the time he is on the table. “Collin, get off the table! Sit in your big boy seat,” I say every day at every meal. He will eventually catch on.

He had to give the high chair up to the babies.

And the girls enjoy their baths in the sink.

Elsie has two teeth on the top and bottom. Mallie has no teeth yet, but she has all the hair.

Time flies by so fast. They are all getting so big!

xxx

My Trip to Sherlon Alpaca Farm

September 5, 2011  Monday

I was so lazy this morning. I didn’t want to get off the couch. I just wanted to snuggle my afghan and watch the kids crawl around on the floor like ants.

I planned on not answering the phone and zoning out to the Pickers marathon on the History Channel. But I am one of those people who can’t ignore the phone, so when it started ringing I answered it. I’m glad I did.

It was Aunt Terrry, “Can you get out for a while? We are going to go on a road trip. I need to get this Alpaca yarn and you can see the butts of the Alpacas that the yarn came from,” and on and on she went. “It’s amazing out there. You will have so much fun and Sheri is so nice.”  

“I don’t really feel good,” I said. I just didn’t want to do anything. But the more she went on the more interested I became.

“She makes her own yarn from the Alpacas?” I asked. I read about this once. I tried to talk Brad’s mom into getting Alpacas so I could learn to spin my own yarn, sell it, and make lots of hats and scarves with it. This is when I had time on my hands last year. Complete bedrest gave me all kinds of crazy ideas, with the help of Google, of course. “Okay. I will probably feel better if I get my butt up and around. When do you want to pick me up?”

We pulled up into the driveway. Moss roses covered a corner of rocky landscaping along with other beautiful flowers and shrubs. There was a cool country breeze blowing the long grass and wild flowers in the fields. It reminded that fall is soon on its way. I was glad I brought a sweater.

I didn’t think I was going to fall in love with these crazy looking creatures. The more time you spend with them you realize how sweet and special each one is. They were a little timid at first. Once I started to feed them they warmed right up.

This sign is so true!

I mean seriously, who can not love faces like these?

Sheri, the owner, was a wealth of information. She told me so much about Alpacas. Watch the video below, it is my favorite piece of information. Ladies, you will know what I mean.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eahkhbS7lUo

Skeins of Alpaca yarn, gloves, and socks lay on her kitchen table. I ran my fingers through the soft yarn, thinking of all the things I could crochet, if only I had the time. I really want to buy one of her bags and a pair of the super soft socks and I might as well add a pair of gloves in there, too. Oh, and a hat! All of her items are so soft and beautiful. They are well made, also. And if you met these sweet Alpacas you would not be able to say no. You would just be thanking each of them for their super soft coat that goes into making all of these goodies.

I had such a wonderful time. I am so glad I got to meet Sheri and her Alpacas. You can contact her at Tinymyt@aol.com for information or to buy her Alpaca goods.

xxx

Below are lots and lots of pictures of our day. Thanks again Aunt Terry for getting my butt of the couch and getting me out of the house. You just never know where a road trip will take you.

Alpaca love

Grandma Jean’s Story

“Grandma Jean’s Story”

It was a perfect day at the beach. A light salty breeze blew the rim of my Grandma’s big sun hat, threatening to blow it out to sea. She pulled it down harder on her head with both hands and tied the pink ribbon under her chin with a tight loopy bow. I love the way her hands look, paper-thin with old freckles blotching the tops of them. She had delicate hands, artist’s hands, that would never harm you. She would often pat my back or rub my arms, telling me how much she loves me and how good I am. She was so soft and kind.

Her fingers were unique. I remember studying them when I was little. The very tips of two of her fingers on her right hand were slightly gone, giving them a claw like appearance. The nails curled around her skin and grew close, protecting an old injury. They were still pretty hands. They were hers.

She lost them while driving a bus. It broke down when she opened the hood, I think a belt cut them off. I wish I would have listened to that story more closely. She’s not here to tell it anymore. Even though she wasn’t one to go on about an old story; she just lived and loved all her kids, grandkids, and great grandkids with all her heart.

Grandma Jean, North Carolina

“Hunny, we need to get you a big hat like this. You should always wear a hat out in the sun to protect your face. You have such beautiful skin.”

“Okay, Grandma,” I said, pacifying her. At that time I would never be caught dead wearing a thing like that; silk hot pink flowers tucked around the ribbon. I was 23.

It’s 6 am and I’m not sure why I’m up so early. I have never seen the sunrise over the ocean before, at least not that I could remember. Still, it’s so early but I dragged my butt out of bed to go with grandma.

She always found the best treasures on the beach early in the morning. Large conch shells, small colorful shells that looked like gems in the sand, and perfect driftwood that was smooth and worn from the crashing waves. We once dragged half a tree across the beach and through many states just to get it home for her.

It’s been years and the driftwood is still around, propped up against pots of geraniums and petunias on the back porch. Unfortunately grandma is not here, but she left us with perfect memories.

We would spend several weeks on the North Carolina beach. The whole family packed into a beach house. One of my favorite memories is Grandma insisting that she was just going to sit in the sand and let the waves swish over her feet. “Okay, Grandma. We’re going to go swim and play around in the sand.”

A while later we noticed Grandma waving her big ol’ bonnet above her head as if she was trying to flag down a plane. “Kids! Help! Come here!”  High tide was coming in and the waves were almost to her waist. We ran and helped her up before she was washed out to sea. That is the thing I loved about her. She may not have the best mobility, but she enjoyed herself and lived in the moment. I love her for that.

Even the memories that embarrassed me at age 8 are treasures now. My grandma always took my sister, cousin, and me to the grocery store. It was not uncommon for us to be several aisles over with grandma yelling for us, “Amanda, where are you guys at? Do you want chicken for supper?” What were we supposed to do, yell back over the aisles? Instead, we rushed back over so she wouldn’t get to aisle ten and be yelling across the whole store. I think it’s hilarious now. It’s just grandma.

I need to go buy myself a big hat with a floppy brim. I would not be embarassed to wear it now. She taught me so much. I miss her.

xxx

This post is part of Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writing Workshop. You can read her immensely entertaining blog by clicking here.

Thanks for stopping by!