A Brief History of Our Time at the Dentist’s Office


Careful with that book discussion. You might hurt someone.

Funny and somewhat mortifying story from yesterday. It has to do with a book, sort of.

Due to colds and rescheduling, my son ended up with back-to-back dental appointments yesterday. He had a 2:00 appointment with his regular dentist to have some impressions made in the hopes of getting a bridge for his missing tooth. Then he had a 3:10 appointment with the orthodontist’s office for a retainer check. (Currently, he wears a retainer that has a false tooth built-in.) Fortunately, the two offices are within five minutes of each other by car.

We arrived at the dentist’s office a few minutes early. While we were waiting, the dentist was at the reception window having a discussion with someone about fluoride and the politics thereof – a discussion I don’t want to have here, by the way. She’s an information-giver and will always come up with studies and numbers for any question you ask. The woman with whom she was talking seemed pretty persistent and their conversation went on for five or six minutes past my son’s scheduled appointment.

Meanwhile, my son and I were having our own conversation in the waiting room. He’s in the middle of reading “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking. He was telling me about the book, and we got onto the subject of time travel. We talked about whether it’s really possible, and how freaky it is to try to wrap your mind around it. How would it appear to you? If you were heading toward two converging black holes, and another spaceship was behind you, then you went back in time, would you then be behind the person you had just been ahead of?

In the midst of this head-spinning ponderation, the dentist’s other conversation ended, and she told us to come on back. She apologized for running late. I said it was okay, and trying to be conversational, did mention we were going right over to the orthodontist afterword, but it appeared we had plenty of time. Then she apologized again. And a while later, again. I kept thinking, “Why is she being so overly apologetic. She wasn’t that late.” I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. Maybe I just looked stressed?

So, the kid had his impressions made. We talked about what happens next. We said goodbye and she apologized again. Geez! I’d told her it was okay.

Then my son and I went to the van and resumed our discussion of…oh, it all became clear. She’d overheard snatches of our waiting room conversation, with our repeated references to time, and who was ahead and who was behind. She probably thought we were spending the whole time complaining about not being on time. I was a little slow there.

I emailed her today with my epiphany and let her know the real deal. No word back yet.

On Presidents and Not Feeling Like a Grown-Up

With the Presidential inauguration today, I was thinking about what a tremendous amount of responsibility comes with the job. I mean, who actually feels qualified to take it on? He’s not all that much older than I am, President Obama. But when a pale shadow of the responsibility he shoulders falls over my life, my blood pressure rises as my confidence falls.

Put me in front of a desk, with a banker behind it, and watch how my hand trembles as I sign the mortgage papers. (As an aside, here’s further evidence of my immaturity – any time I have to sign official papers, I like to pretend I’m signing the Declaration of Independence, or else a pardon for Sirius Black.) But, back to the mortgage. Even though I have a life-long history of behaving responsibly with money, I still can’t believe someone will trust me with a loan amount that contains a comma. Imagine taking on the national debt.

“When I’m a grown-up…” These words echoed through my childhood. The prelude to my vows about the decisions I’d make, the ways in which I would take charge. But the truth is this: ever since I’ve been a grown-up, I’ve felt like a fraud.

On the rare occasion I have to call a professional of some sort, an attorney for instance, I always half-expect them to tell me to put my father on the phone. I wonder how Barack Obama felt the first time he dialed up Vladimir Putin.

Once, when my kids were little, I pointed to them and said to their dad, “We made new people. Other human beings. Are we allowed to do that?”

Sometimes it gobsmacks me, the knowledge that I was allowed to do such a monumental thing. And then there were all of the decisions that followed. Huge decisions sometimes. Decisions about schooling and medical treatments, decisions that shape their very lives. And I have to make those decisions, even when the voice inside me is yelling, “I don’t know what’s best. Ask someone who knows. Ask a grown-up.”

I agonize, because what I do will change the lives of two people. Multiply that by 150,00 million. Wow. I wouldn’t take it on.


If at First You Don’t Succeed…Calling Medicare

I have no poignant anecdotes to include in this blog post. Only a piece of advice about dealing with Medicare over the phone.

If at first you don’t succeed, then try calling again to speak with a different representative. This is the lesson I’ve learned as I’ve been on the phone with Medicare a few times on my mom’s behalf. Long story short on my most recent issue, I was simply trying to make sure her prescription drug coverage didn’t lapse.

Nobody seems to have a whole picture of what’s going on. Sometimes I call and the person says they can only speak to her and not to me, even though I did both mail and fax a form she signed giving me permission. Other folks, as long as I can supply her Social Security number, place of birth, etc., they’re good with it. Doesn’t mean they can tell me what I need to know, but they will try. I’ve gotten transferred a lot. I think everything’s good now. She has her new prescription drug cards.

And I figured out something. If the representative I’ve reached seems unable or unwilling to help, I shouldn’t accept that answer as the end of the matter. I simply say, “Thanks for your time. Goodbye.” Then I hang and up and immediately redial. The person with whom I was just speaking has moved on to a different call, and I get someone new. Possibly someone who knows more or is more willing to work with me. This strategy has solved my problem more than once. And, magically, they never seem to realize I have already called and talked to someone else who told me they couldn’t help. I’d assumed they would put a not in the record, a note the next person would see, but apparently not.

So if you’re getting the run-around with Medicare, just keep calling back. It works for me.

When Being a Parent Pays Off

blackberry tart



It was worth it, every bit of it – the pregnancy, the day and a half labor, the diapers, the sleep deprivation – for it was all  leading here. This blackberry tart was made by my 17-year-old, and it was possibly the best dessert I have ever eaten. In. My. Entire. Life.

I’m not sure from whence her domesticity comes. But I’m impressed by her accomplishments in her newest field of interest – fandom-based cooking. Thanks to her, our New Year’s Day was filled with a feast of Hobbit/Lord of the Rings inspired baked goods. In addition to the tarts, she made tea cake, seed cake and yes, lembas bread. She even wrapped the bread in “leaves” (green paper) as the travelers did in the Lord of the Rings.

Lembas Bread, unwrapped.
Lembas Bread, unwrapped.
Leaf-wrapped Lembas Bread