books, Commentary, education, entertainment, librarians, libraries, lifestyle, love, Media, music, opinion, personal history, Society, Uncategorized, writing

Great moments in librarying (yes, it’s a verb now), with illustrations

The best seven months of my work life so far are the ones I’ve spent as a public librarian. Here are a few of my favorite moments librarying and some pictures of the reason I now describe myself as my library’s “Display Queen.” (Yes, I did use “library” as a verb. Thank you for noticing.)

  1. Putting a John Coltrane CD into the hands of an 11-year-old saxophone student. I don’t remember how we struck up our conversation. I asked what was in the instrument case, and when he told me I asked if he’d heard of Coltrane. He hadn’t. I fixed it.
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This display included books and recordings by the musicians listed above. It’s getting swapped out for the incoming class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.

  1. Sending two aspiring rappers home with a visual dictionary and a copy of “Hamilton: The Revolution” in addition to the thesaurus they came in looking for. As I walked them over to where it was, I asked if they wanted it for something specific. That was when they told me they were rappers looking to increase their vocabularies. And that it was their first time in the library. It was my first time meeting two aspiring rappers, so we engaged in a beverage-free toast to firsts all around. (They were strikingly good looking – tall and slender with beautiful smiles and great hair.) I suggested the visual dictionary, which they thought was a good idea when they saw it. Then I remembered that we’d just gotten “Hamilton: The Revolution,” a book that includes the lyrics to the musical and also talks about how its evolution from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brain to the stage. THEY HAD NEVER HEARD OF HAMILTON! We don’t have the Broadway soundtrack recording in our collection, but I had my i-pod and a pair of headphones, so played them a few seconds of “Alexander Hamilton” and “Cabinet Battle 1.” Definitely a “Go, me!” moment.
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I asked for – and got! – a display case. This little exhibit is because I had the material. My end game is that patrons with interesting collections will share those.

  1. Something I did not know happens at libraries until I started working at one is that banning is a thing. A sad thing, but a necessary one. Upwards of 99 percent of the people who walk into a library bring their best (or at least second-best) selves. But the 1 percent who don’t? They really don’t. Some bans are short-lived; others can last a lifetime with the ability to appeal at annual intervals. My first experience with a banned patron was one who’d gotten the ban letter and wanted to know what was wrong with his card. When I told him, he left quietly. My second experience started the same way – the patron wanted to know why his card wasn’t working. But this time when the ban notice came up, the banning period was over. So I smiled, because his ban had ended and I was happy I got to welcome him back. He smiled, too.
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    This display was for Domestic Violence Awareness month. I wanted to include information for everyone who might be affected.

  2. In October, our main branch put together the most incredible Halloween extravaganza, including opening up a “haunted” and usually closed-to-the-public floor. It was my job to lead people coming off the elevator from the third floor up to the haunted fourth floor. But one little girl was terrified, and her family wanted to see the haunted floor. So we stayed on the third floor together and joined a group heading out to our green roof, where two telescopes had been set up, one for viewing Mars and the other Saturn. I’d never seen either as clearly and neither had she. We talked about school (hers) and planets (ours) and then I showed her some of the pictures I’d taken of the fourth floor earlier in the week before she rejoined her family.
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This picture was taken from the “haunted” fourth floor, but the window reflected the dome and the a view of the third floor, showcasing another non-public area.

  1. In December, Millie, our library educator (and an amazing librarian), hosted a gingerbread house construction project with a roomful of kids. One, the sweetest nine-ish year-old girl you can picture, wanted a couple of books. It took some doing, but we managed to track down and put them on hold for her. She turned to her mom and told her she wanted to give me her gingerbread house. Her mom said, “I thought you were going to give it to (name).” “But she was really helpful,” the little girl said. It turned out the named recipient was her little brother. So I told her I knew of a way she could give it to me and still take it home to her brother. I’m not posting the picture her mom took of the two of us holding the house because I didn’t ask permission to make it public. It makes me smile every time I look at (or even think about) it.
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This was one of my Christmas displays.

  1. Just before Christmas, a woman about my age came in to print out some papers related to a job for which she was in the process of interviewing. I called on some of my former “helping other people get jobs” skills from my past and gave her a few tips. Two days later, she came in with an acceptance letter!
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This is a close-up of the other one.

  1. One of the scary things about being a librarian is seeing how vulnerable people can be. A recently laid-off man building his profile in the state’s unemployment system (the only way to apply for benefits) turned out to not only not have computer skills, he also didn’t have an e-mail address. My 11 months in my own version of his shoes before getting this job became an instant asset as a result of a counselor named Jeff Armstrong, who’d been affirming and supportive when I’d gone to see him. In another stroke of great good fortune, Jeff answered his phone and the two of them had a conversation in which they arranged a face-to-face meeting.
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This is the rest of the other Christmas display. I was particularly happy about the Bukowski.

  1. The Syrian refugee who came in looking for ESL classes for his wife. A couple of months after she arrived, they came in together and got library cards.
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This isn’t a display. I found it while weeding and thought, “I have the greatest collection in the world!” It wasn’t on the weed list.

  1. The patron who came in to pick up a book that had been on hold for his mother, only to find that somehow the book had gone wandering. After we re-ordered it, she called. She told me about a couple of other books she was planning to read and I found and put them on hold for her. When her son came in to retrieve the found book, he was able to bring her the others, too.
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This was my shortest-lived display. It stayed up a day and a half, at which point a woman came into the library asking for it. She got the book and what was inside of it, which was the New York Times story about Mr. Whitehead winning the National Book Award. I didn’t think Oprah would mind me using her 2004 photo from the car giveaway, given that she was probably at least that happy for the success of her book club pick.

  1. On New Year’s Eve, the library was closed. At the grocery store, three medium-sized kids were gawking in front of the lobster tank. I asked the guy behind the counter if he was okay with me doing something unconventional, and with his approval I was able to resurrect my long-unused lobster-wrangling skills. Three round-eyed kids stared  as I reached into the tank and pulled out a lobster. I did the two-minute version of “Lobster 101” for them (sea cockroach, underside of tail how they swim, if not banded in the tank there’d be fights to the death, claws grow back, can only live in salt water, can grow to be upwards of 20 pounds, encouraged them as they gently touched it).

“Do you work here?” asked one.

“No, I said. “I’m a librarian. Come see me at my library!”

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arts education, call to action, Commentary, entertainment, justice, kindness, librarians, libraries, love, music, opinion, politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized

Two post-election vignettes: ‘Hamilton’ cast makes most of ‘Carpe Diem’ moment; Ephemeral display lets librarian do the same

This morning, I woke up to the Facebook village and Twittesphere going nuts over what happened when Vice-President Elect Mike Pence went to see “Hamilton” last night.

My first thought was “Geez! If I’d known becoming vice president would have helped me get ‘Hamilton’ tickets, I would have applied for the job.”

But who am I kidding? There’s no question that my political leanings, vagina  and average looks would have completely disqualified me from consideration.

On a more serious note, there were a couple of FB posts calling what the cast did “rude and out of line.”

My question, voiced to those posters, was this: When would they have been able to have that kind of access and opportunity to be heard? And that doesn’t just go for the cast of “Hamilton,” who, once the makeup and costumes are off, are just ordinary working Joes and Janes like the rest of us.

Their 90-second address, delivered by Brandon Victor Dixon, the actor who plays Aaron Burr, was a respectfully-delivered request. He spoke to the fear and anxiety many people are feeling about their well-being and that of people they love and care about. He refused to let the audience boo Mr. Pence.

It was a heartfelt speech, a request for reassurance in a situation where it is becoming increasingly apparent that reassurance is needed.

From all I’m seeing, the Trump/Pence administration is going to do everything it can to limit access to anyone who doesn’t agree with everything they believe in or want to do. This includes the press, which they seem to want to keep in the dark as much as possible. That scares the you-know-what out of a lot of us.

So Friday was a singular chance to be heard, and the cast seized its moment.

I’ve been seizing display space at the library, and, because of it was able, yesterday, to seize my own “be heard” moment.

The morning after the election, I cleared out my “He said/She said” display. This (below) is what I put in its place.

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My post-election display. Someone has already taken out the cat book (replaced with another cat book). I borrowed “Comfort Food” last weekend  and made maple glazed baked beans for Book Group. The book next to it is a recipe book for making cocktails. My fabulous manager, Amelia, helped round up books for the display – Cats, Canada and Jamaica were her finds.

 

Then, this past Wednesday, one of my favorite recent reads, Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad,” received the National Book Award. So Thursday, I made a display. It was an Oprah’s Book Club picture, so I didn’t think she’d mind me borrowing this 2004 shot of her looking extremely happy (she was giving away cars). On Friday, a woman came in looking for the book. I felt just like Oprah when I handed it to her. I also seized the opportunity to recommend “Underground Airlines” by Ben Winters and “The Sellout,” by Paul Beatty, which just won the Man Booker Prize.

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I hope that woman likes the book and comes back for the others, but even if she doesn’t, seizing a moment to share something valuable is a valuable thing to do.

So go out there and seize your chance to be heard. In the face of uncertainty, a little love and reassurance  (in many forms, including between the covers of a good book) can go a long way.

Kudos to the “Hamilton” crew for showing us how to do it with grace and dignity.

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entertainment, Family history, Family story, music

A vote for harmony and service: Skipping the Republican Debate to sing and tie a shoelace

I spent Tuesday night with some old white men here in Milwaukee, and they weren’t Republican presidential wannabes.

Not only did we get to see Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey on stage, but after the show, we got to go backstage and hang out with them. Well, mostly we hung with Peter. And we did get to thank Noel for co-hosting a great evening, and especially for the terrific story about how his song “Cue the Moon” came to be. They also talked about singing “Blowin’ in the Wind” at the March on Washington in 1963, and how their late partner Mary Travers (z”l) called it a song with nine questions.

Most of the audience was “of a certain age” and white. But there were a few whippersnappers in the house, among them Niece and Nephew (who survived my childhood) and a sweet young writer named Ben, his mother Wendy and their friend. Ben, Wendy and Friend had driven into town for a protest at City Hall in advance of the Republican Presidential Debate, which was occurring in a theater down the street at the same time Peter and Paul were performing.

My sister (she of the 1,400-mile road trip) and brother-in-law, Dr. Brilliant Scientist Guy are visiting Mom this week and sprung for the tickets. I am currently between paying jobs (read: unemployed and looking for work), so Sweetheart and I have stricken the live show line item from our household budget.

Peter Yarrow, however, occupies a special place in Debby and Dave’s lives. Twenty-five years ago, D&D, along with a friend, headed straight from his successful dissertation defense to a pizza joint in New Haven to celebrate. There, they ran into Peter, who was dining with his daughter. Debby had had occasion to go to Peter’s apartment after a concert he’d performed with our cousin, and he’d been lovely to Debby, plying her with cranberry juice and engaging her in pleasant conversation. She wasn’t sure he’d remember her, but he did, or at least pretended to. They chatted, he congratulated Dave and they parted ways.

“Who was that again?” Dave said as they sat down at their own table.

Peter Yarrow,” Debby said, “You know, from ‘Peter, Paul & Mary.’ ”

Dave and his friend gawped.

“WHAT?” he said, when he’d finally recovered enough to say something. “That was PETER???”

Debby then answered a raft of questions about how it had come to pass that an original Puff Daddy and Debby were well enough acquainted to exchange friendly greetings during a chance restaurant encounter.

The story has become part of family lore. So when I realized Debby had a chance to take Niece & Nephew to see one of the featured players in their parents’ lives, I let her know. She asked if we’d like to come, and I told her that Sweetheart gets up very early for work and probably wouldn’t but that I’d be up for it.

Debby bought five tickets and then got in touch with the person she remembered as Peter’s manager. After a few bouncing e-mails, she eventually connected with someone who hooked her up with backstage passes. She was very excited, and asked me to keep it a surprise from the N’s, which I did.

Things got confusing when the guy working the Will-Call window handed her an envelope containing four tickets and four passes.

“I bought five,” she said. Then she looked at the tickets. They weren’t the ones she’d bought. By the time it was straightened out, we were holding five backstage passes and nine tickets. The five she’d bought (in the second balcony) and the four she hadn’t (near the front of the house).

She sent the family inside and we hung out on the street until we’d given the tickets away to our new protester friends and a kid on a skateboard who ended up not using it. I know, because those were my people. I sat up in the bought seats for the first half of the show, and Debby hooked me up with an unused front-of-the-house seat for the second half.

Our backstage visit with Peter was lovely, I met a local writer who is a friend of his, and doubled the items on my “Things I Have Done for Folk Singers” list, which consisted of “making coffee for Arlo Guthrie” and now includes “tying Peter Yarrow’s shoe.”

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Peter Yarrow with my sister and her family.  My brother-in-law was a mere boyfriend 25 years ago when Peter was the first to congratulate him on his successful dissertation defense.

Your correspondent (left) with Peter Yarrow and my sister.

Your correspondent (left) with Peter Yarrow and my sister. Maybe we should invite him to come along on our next road trip. (Or not.)

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entertainment, journalism, music

Nuggets from my life as a music journalist, featuring Mark Lindsay and the woman formerly known as Bruce Jenner

Once upon a time in another life, I was a music journalist. I started out doing it because I love music and it gave me the opportunity to interview (and in some cases even meet) artists I’d long admired.

It also, at a point when I was dirt poor, helped me feed my music habit.

I’m not sure how old I was when I started buying 45 RPM singles, but a babysitter gave my sister and me her Monkees albums when we were about 6 and 7, starting me down a music-collecting path from which I have never strayed. As a slightly poor single mom decades later, my big indulgence was one new record/CD a month. Things hit a point where even that got out of reach.

A couple of years into trying to escape my dirt-poor stage, I got my first career-track job at the ripe old age of 34. My title was features reporter, and the paper was a small-town daily that published six days a week. (Our Saturday paper was the fat one; we didn’t have a Sunday edition.) One of the first things I did was to start a record review column. As scams go, it remains one of my greatest.

I had just enough credibility with the record companies (read: tearsheets of interviews with Arlo Guthrie, Cleo Laine, Bruce Cockburn and a few others I can’t remember) to make the grade. Within a few weeks of sending them out, along with a letter of introduction on letterhead from the newspaper, the CDs started rolling in. I named the column “Fresh Sounds,” and it ran every other Saturday. On Monday, I’d haul out the scissors and have an arts-and-crafts marathon, clipping copies of the column and mailing them to my contacts at the record companies.

Pretty soon, I was swimming in CDs. Other record companies found me and started sending unsolicited music. Two of the companies, Rhino and Rounder, sent monthly mailings with lists and descriptions of upcoming releases, along with a checkoff form I’d send back with my wish list. Wishes were always granted – in full. Others included Virgin, Ryko (where they let me raid the closet when I visited them on a trip east), Atlantic and Narada.

After I left the daily, I kept reviewing for awhile, and in 1998, Rhino released a four-disc boxed set called “Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the Original Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968.” I was working at a weekly paper group. There were 22 separate papers, each with its own reporter and a common features insert. The editor of that section gave me the go-ahead to do a story.

Recently Sweetheart and I attended a party to which we’d been asked to bring 60s artifacts. What could be more 60s than a “Nuggets” boxed set? (My Woodstock poster, that’s what. But it’s huge and framed, so I didn’t.)

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The Woodstock poster I did not bring to the ’60s party.

We got there and opened the box. That was when I discovered I’d hung on to the press releases and interview transcripts. I’d spoken to Lenny Kaye, who compiled the songs for their original Elektra records release (Rhino specializes in reissues) before becoming the lead guitarist in Patti Smith’s band.

I’d also interviewed Mark Lindsay. He was lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders and one of my childhood idols. He was teen-idol cute with a dazzling smile and a killer voice. I was as smitten as a little girl can be with a grown man who comes to her house via radio and television.

The band performed (including on an episode of “Batman”) in 18th-century costumes. But at least once I saw Mark Lindsay on TV when he wasn’t in fancy dress and he wasn’t singing. He was on a show called “The Dating Game.” (Couldn’t find a Lindsay clip.),” in which a man or woman, secluded from three potential dates, would ask them questions and then choose, based on their answers, which one he or she wanted to date.

I’d opened the interview by asking about his Dating Game experiences. Three lines into the transcript, a throwaway comment from an 18-year-old interview landed me straight in the middle of a current pop-culture moment.

“I was picked for a trip to the North Pole,” Lindsay said, “with the woman who married Bruce Jenner.”

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cleaning, lifestyle, music, organizing

Repo Week- Day 2: “The trouble with normal/is it always gets worse”

First off, a shoutout to Bruce Cockburn. Today’s headline is ripped straight from one of his songs. It’s actually the title track of his 1983 release.

By the time my office gets to its new normal, it’ll be better. But right now, it’s worse, even though I hauled a bunch of stuff out yesterday. Some went to the trash. Some went into boxes for the neighborhood rummage sale we’re holding this summer. Mom & Dad’s record collection is downstairs because my pal Ronn is going to digitize a bunch of them before I toss or donate the rest.

Grace hung out with me yesterday and got me to throw away things I might not otherwise have done, and when she left, I got lost in a box of Mom’s stuff before I really went nuts.

She saved everything, and multiple copies of it. I found four of these.

a letter from Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis

As this letter from former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis illustrates, anyone who meets me knows instantly that I am delightful. Mom had this original in one file and three copies in another. Clearly the Clutter-attracting Apple did not fall far from the Packrat Tree. (The copies have been recycled.)

 

Then Sweetheart came home and started working in the laundry room. (I’d gotten it sparkly last year. He filled it up. When I told him what I was going to do this week and asked him to take a few days off – after I’d gotten a running start – he said he was going to start there.)

When he came upstairs to tell me it was time to go to Cindy & Andy’s for dinner, I’d moved on from the box of treasures I’d found in one of Mom’s boxes and was hard into removing paper clips and fasteners from grad school papers and tossing the remains onto the floor (I’d already filled the recycling bags) to box up and haul off.

Repo Week Day 2

It might not look better, but at least it looks different. Tomorrow? Who knows!

That’s where I’ll start this morning, as soon as I’m back from buying a pound of coffee and dropping off fresh blueberries at the nursing home and collecting a hug from Mom. (I have not told her I am off work this week, because she would want me to hang out with her and I have to get this done. I will spend some time with her, but not until that room is the way I want it.)

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Family story, music

Giant erasers, mean girls and shag carpet: A Dispatch from Misfit Hell

“And I never forgot how that year after Dad died and we lost our house, my best friend moved away and the youth group turned its collective back on me felt (picture one of those cartoons where Daffy Duck is standing on a cliff and the giant eraser comes and suddenly there’s only duck and no background).” E-mail, 2012

I sometimes joke that the worst parts of my life so far have been elementary school and the marriage part of my first marriage.

But there’s also the year I turned 15. Three months before my birthday, my favorite person in the world – my dad – died. Because he was the rabbi and the synagogue owned our house, we had to move. My best friend Nancy announced that her family was also moving – out of town. And I ran for an elected position in my synagogue’s youth group, but a girl two years older than I am got elected.

That wasn’t surprising, as older kids frequently won these elections. With this girl, though, things were more complicated.

Like me, she played guitar, and like me, she was youth group co-songleader. We were equals on that front, but I was the more accomplished musician. My ear was better, my intonation was better and I could feed out chords and learn songs more quickly. The rest of my life was a mess. But this was the one place I could shine. I also took the “co” in my title seriously, doing everything possible to make sure my counterpart was equally able to share the sunlight.

Without guitars around our necks, it was a different story. CoSong was tall, confident, had fabulous hair, a figure that didn’t quit and a natural gift for being the center of attention. (Which meant we had divergent definitions of “equal.”)

This is the guitar I got in December of the year referenced in this story. It lived under a bed in Phoenix, Arizona, and I bought it for $300 with confirmation gift and saved babysitting money. This picture was taken just after I got it. You can see it was a pretty joyful moment.

This is the guitar I got in December of the year referenced in this story. It lived under a bed in Phoenix, Arizona, and I bought it for $300 with confirmation gift and saved babysitting money. This picture was taken just after I got it. You can see it was a pretty joyful moment.

She was also a Mean Girl straight out of Central Casting. When Dad was alive, I had minor protection, because who wanted the rabbi to think badly of them? As a widowed teacher’s daughter, I was an ordinary nobody. Or, as CoSong and her Minions saw things, fair game.

That summer, I got shipped off to Kutz, the Reform movement’s national camp for three weeks.

It was harvest time for a huge crop of new songs, and I spent several hours a day in songleading class learning them all. My 12-string guitar took a little bit longer to tune than everyone else’s sixers, but our teachers – Doug Mishkin and Ramie & Merri Arian – didn’t mind. We learned upwards of 100 new songs that summer. I was going to teach them to religious school students during the next school year, working off the scholarship the synagogue had given me to attend camp.

What I was really excited about, though, was teaching them to the youth group. All the other TYGs (Temple Youth Groups) would have to wait until conventions, when the regional songleaders would teach the TYG songleaders. We’d be able to sing them right away.

I came back to our new home – a townhouse on top of a hill. It provided several sensory experiences. In the winter, it shook when the wind whistled through it. In the upstairs bathroom, you could turn a timer switch next to the light, triggering a percussive ticking sound and a blood-red light that turned the white walls pink. The light was a heat lamp, so at least it had that going for it.

The townhouse also featured dreadful avocado green and brown shag carpet that covered the floors and stairs, my holding-cell-sized new bedroom (my former room had run the length of the house, from the front of the garage to the back of my father’s study) and an electric stove. We’d always had gas. I’d loved turning the knob to bring the flame to life, and missed the whooshing sound of the oven turning on.

In September, the youth group held songleading tryouts. There was no question about who was most qualified. Three of us were vying for two spots. One girl was a year older than me. She played and sang passably, but not as well as CoSong or me. My guess was that it would be me and Sweet Girl, because CoSong already had an officer position. Or, if Sweet Girl blew the audition, it would be me and CoSong.

I taught a song I’d learned at camp. I don’t remember what the others did.

The Executive Board, including CoSong and her best friend, Minion, went behind closed doors to deliberate.

I knew CoSong didn’t want me, for the same reasons some kids pull the wings off of flies and hold magnifying glasses over them.

Our TYG president was a lovely, self-possessed girl to whom I ascribed a highly-developed sense of fairness. So, given my qualifications and the fact that CoSong already had an elected position, I felt confident that she and the rest of the board (Minion excepted) would shut Mean Girl down and give Sweet Girl and I the job.

The board came back with its decision, along with the news that I’d mistaken the president’s highly-developed sense of fairness for a highly-developed sense of something else.

CoSong approached, with Sweet Girl trailing behind her.

“We need you to teach us all the songs you learned at camp,” CoSong said.

I was still taking it in. I looked at her. I looked at her co-songleader. Then, I uttered the words that sealed my status as youth group pariah until the next election cycle.

“Learn them yourself,” I said. “You’re the songleaders.”

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lifestyle, music

A trip to the dentist, featuring “tooth-colored” filling material and a few good bands

You know life is getting stressful when the prospect of multiple injections in your mouth followed by the replacement of every filling on two quadrant’s worth of teeth sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon.

To be fair, a part of that is my new-ish dentist, Dr. J and her hygienist, L.

Dr. J is young, beautiful and so fit that four months after having a baby, she looked like she’d never been pregnant. Her daughter is about six months old. The last time I was there, L had just gotten married and was getting ready to go on her honeymoon.

So we took care of the really important business first. I checked out the latest baby pictures, then got the skinny on L’s Dominican Republic honeymoon.

Four years ago, Dr. J bought the dental practice where Sweetheart has been going for decades. After listening to him talk about how good she was and wax poetic about all the high-tech equipment she used (a headlamp rather than an overhead light, and other tools that he said made his dental experiences much more interesting than they’d been when the previous dentist owned the practice), I thought about giving her a try.

But I wasn’t unhappy at the Big Dental Mill where I’d been going since finally having health benefits that included dental insurance. Then, Mom moved here and asked me to find her a dentist. So I took her to Dr. J.

She was deeply kind and welcoming, instantly putting Mom at ease. Dr. J shares what she’s seeing. She tells you what she knows about it and what she thinks should be done about it in a way leaves no doubt she understands you’ve got a bigger stake in this than she does. After all, those teeth are in your mouth, not hers!

She also appears to be a terrific boss, unless the camaraderie between she, her office manager L and L the Hygienist is just a really good act. (Doubtful.)

After my last cleaning, she said it would be a good idea to replace my fillings. She talked about how best to handle it (two appointments, one for the left side and one for the right) and had Office Manager L check to see what my insurance would approve.

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The LED light is for curing the filling once it’s in. The tool on the right is what Dr. J used to put the filling material in the tooth, and the lipstick rack-looking thing is the adhesive she put on the inside of the tooth before inserting the filling.

“You have really good insurance,” OML said. “Your co-pay will be $27.”

“That’s great!” I replied. “Sign me up!” Which, because it was January and the appointment was months off, I was all chirpy about.

So, today I showed up. After we got the baby and honeymoon news out of the way, Dr. J. spread some coconut-flavored numbing gel on the inside of my left cheek and the party started. She told me to wiggle my toes while she did the injection, and I sang while I wiggled and she injected. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t so evil. That numbing gel is great stuff.

Before she came at me with the second injection, I dragged out my ipad and threw on some music so I wouldn’t be singing alone.

While the numb-up took effect, we talked about the music on my i-pad (bands with local ties – The Violent Femmes, Garbage) and some from other places (Each Other).

Then I went looking for music to get your fillings swapped out to, eventually settling on Manhattan Transfer and Southern Culture on the Skids, because, why not?

She started. I felt pain. She stopped. Turned out she’d needled me with a normal dose of numb-up.

It wasn’t enough. So she fetched more coconut numbing gel, even though I was numb enough that it wouldn’t make a difference (it didn’t, but it smelled good). Two injections and five minutes later, any remaining feeling on the left side of my face was gone. If someone had told me they’d seen it out shopping or hanging at a bar while I was getting worked on, I’d’ve asked if it was having fun.

After drilling out the top filling (there was only one up there, and four on the bottom), Dr. J undertook a multi-step process to replace it. First, there was adhesive. Then, a “tooth-colored” filler (which made me think about “skin-colored” band-aids and that inside our mouths, we’re a lot closer to the same color).

BettyToy&A2ToothColoring

That’s the tooth-colored filling material. Dr. J used “A-2” for my teeth. A and B are for white teeth that are more orange or yellow cast. C and D are for white teeth with a more blue or gray cast. I thought the purple dental bib holder would make a great cat toy. I was sorely tempted to snatch it for our cat Betty. But I behaved myself.

She put the filler in and cured it using a tiny LED light. Then she took off the excess filler so I’d be able to bite normally. She repeated the process with the bottom teeth, and then it was over.

Several hours later, home with the numb-up all but worn off, it seems that at least one of my life plans is on-track – the one about dying with all my own teeth.

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