I Went to a Hipster Dentist

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And I’ve never felt more like George Washington



This little bit of goofiness was written in response to a satire writing contest and I must have been in some sort of weird state of mind. I had a lot of fun writing it. My story didn’t go anywhere in the contest, but it found a home on Medium and I wanted to share it here.


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Photo by Nathalia Belfort on Unsplash

After working four years and six months at my Angel Investor-backed, cash-infused, market-disrupting employer, I finally qualified for benefits. Whew! I know, I know. As far as unpaid internships go, that was on the short side.

After unironically eating too many Flintstone gummy vitamins from the company breakroom, my back tooth started to ache, so I found a company plan-approved dentist in the rapidly gentrifying part of town.

Okay, it was the only approved dentist, but no matter. I have insurance!

Well, color me delighted when I arrived at Dr. Ethan’s one-room office in the backroom of a nail salon and was greeted by the sight of so many archaic dental implements scattered about. What a collection!

Never in my wildest dreams did I think he’d actually use the hand drill on me. But he did. Without novocaine.

 

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An illustration of dental keys for tooth extraction from Savigny’s catalog of surgery implements, circa 1798, and found here

I guess the screaming upset the mani-pedi customers, so Dr Ethan handed me a half-empty fifth of gin and an old Iomega at Comdex giveaway stress ball to squeeze. It was all very Old West and I feel honored to be a part of the vintage dental ways.

I can’t believe people actually lived through this! I bet my brother — the one with good job — has never experienced anything so cool.

After the rotten roots were properly canal’ed, Dr Ethan offered me a wide range of replacement teeth in many colors, none of them white and porcelain.

Oh, I could have chosen a gold tooth (not covered by insurance), an amalgam of something toxic and something radioactive (also not covered by insurance), or a nice assortment of wooden teeth.

I don’t know if it was the gin or the blood loss, but I was pleased to have the chance to choose between a knotty pine, a beautiful mahogany, or a nice hard teak.

Well, I chose mahogany that day and haven’t looked back. Sure, the varnish is seeping into my salivary glands and small splinters of tooth fly off when I eat oatmeal, but I am now the coolest, most throwback guy in the office. I can hardly wait for the next tooth to rot out of my head! And for this infection to go away.

The only downside: My urge to chop down cherry trees has never been stronger.

This item first appeared on Medium, find more of my work @karenfayeth over there

Love in the Time of Covid-19

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It’s not all toilet paper and hand sanitizer, you know.

 

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Today I reluctantly rose from bed, put some mismatched clothes on my body and headed out. The roads were unusually empty. Stopping at my neighborhood grocery store, I parked and hopped out of the driver’s seat.

Behind me I heard, “Hey! Is anyone coming?”

Assuming this was not directed at me, I leaned into my car to grab my wallet and heard again, more insistently this time, “HEY! Is anyone coming?”

Realizing this was in fact directed at me, I whipped around to see a man in a very new and very shiny cherry red Mustang. He pointed as if to show me that he couldn’t see around the large Amazon delivery van that was parked next to him, and was wary of backing out in the tightly packed parking lot.

“Oh sorry,” I said, and turned to look, the morning sun blinding me as I did.

Shielding my eyes and with a pirate’s squint I said, “Yeah, it’s okay, come on back.” I stood there waving my hand and muttering encouragement while he maneuvered his pretty vehicle through the obstacles. “Yep, keep coming. Yep, you’re good.”

Finally, the driver straightened out the wheel and put it in drive. While pulling away he yelled out the window, “Thank you! I love you!” revved the engine, and was gone.

I stood there for a minute with a perplexed look on my face.

Then laughed.

Then went inside the store. Chicken salad was my goal.

Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash

The encounter and the sentiment stuck with me. I could easily write it off as a funny but odd human moment often found in city living. One of those “See, people aren’t so bad” kind of thoughts.

Inside the store, I walked down the toilet paper aisle (the most express way to the deli counter) and saw boxes stacked up. I saw my fellow citizens wearing face masks. I sneezed into my elbow.

While washing my hands for the umpteenth time today, I realized that a funny brief moment of human compassion had all the more resonance today. Right now.

It’s easy to separate: me vs them, you vs me, us against them all, but times of crises have a funny way of bringing people closer.

We’re all in this together. We’re on the same team. It’s us against a virus. We’re all scared. We’re all uncertain. We all just want to have a nice day.

And so this shouted “I love you” from a stranger was about the nicest start to an otherwise beautiful early-Spring day.

I did not shout anything back in that moment, so stunned was I by the declaration, but you know what Red Mustang Driver? I love you too.

Love, love, love. Maybe the Beatles had it right? Love is all you need.

But just in case, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, get some sleep, stay hydrated, and wear your seatbelt.

For when all of this is over and you are mad because I root for the wrong team, vote for the wrong person, or say the wrong thing, just know that I’ll still love you in my own Red Mustang kind of way.

This item first appeared on Medium, find more of my work @karenfayeth over there

Just Gimme Some Bread, Man

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It is a dark, gray and drizzly day here in Northern California and to be honest, that is a good thing. I say that even as my mood can best be described as poopy. The fact that the earth needs the rain doesn’t preclude a little blue mood to go with the not-blue skies.

To be honest, in March, this is what the Bay Area is supposed to do. It’s supposed to rain. So I’m grateful for the rain.

But still, I’m cranky.

Days like these make me want to stay in bed all day and only come to the surface for something tasty to eat (then dash back under the covers).

Last evening I watched an old episode of No Reservations when our host, Anthony Bourdain, was in France. At one point they showed warm hot loaves of bread coming out of the oven. Of course now all I want to eat is gigantic loaves of warm bread smothered with butter.

But alas, the butter is a non-starter for me with the lactose intolerance and all. And well, we all know bread gets a bad rap these days.

Later in the show, the host was eating some gigantic meat-on-meat madness type of meal and I said to The Good Man, “I…I just don’t think I could eat that. I mean, I would try, but oh how my stomach would hurt.”

What the hell has happened to me? I remember the days when I would and could eat everything from flaming hot green chiles to milk products to fatty meats washed down with a lot of beer and wouldn’t even blink an eye.

Now as I ponder yet another birthday coming along in a few months, I realize what a little lily I have become. A hothouse flower who can’t eat things too hot anymore (damn my GERD) and can’t eat milk products (well, I can, but it’s an unpleasant outcome) and I sure do eat a lot less meat than I used to because my tummy just can’t take it.

Alas! What has become of poor Karen? I don’t even know who I am anymore.

I suppose it’s all a part of the cycle of life. I mean, I have tried and digested a lot of good food in my life. I don’t hold back, I’m willing to give most foods a shot but I have become a lot more circumspect in how I nosh.

A “good” meal can be great in that moment and can then ruin my whole day. So I eat a little less quantity and a little better quality and I wonder what else I’m going to be a candy-butt about in this great life.

First world problems. I got ’em.

(And give me time, I’ll get over myself. I always do.)








Image found here.




Feliz Año Nuevo

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Today feels more like New Year’s Day to me than it did on January first. This is easily explained, as today is my first day back at work and the reality of 2014 is slowing sinking in.

Today was the first day back to old routines and old problems and that dratted alarm clock squawking at me at some unspeakable hour when even the sun doesn’t want to be disturbed in his slumber.

But here I am, back in the grind, wondering how I can keep myself stress free and high energy for all of the many days that lie ahead until my next two-week break.

As such, it’s time for me to turn my attention back to words and writing and the ol’ blog.

I thought I’d kick off the New Year by doing an update post, addressing many of the things we’ve chatted about over the past month or so.

Where to start?


Oh Fair New Mexico


Well, let’s be a little meta and start by talking about my little blog. March will mark seven years of writing words on Oh Fair New Mexico.

Total count (before this post) is 566,730 original words over 1,669 posts.

For the loyal readers, I give you a huge hug and lots of thanks for keeping up with the wild meanderings of my mind.

In the past I was able to consistently post every weekday, and did so for years. Lately that flow has slowed quite a bit.

Is it that I just don’t have anything more to say? Hardly.

The nature of my job is such that I rarely have a free second of time during my days. This job is high energy and decisions required moment to moment.

In my former gigs, I was able to write up a post over my lunch or while on a break. Now, when I eat lunch (at my desk, usually) I have a line of people out my office door wanting to chat.

I often hear “Oh she’s there!” outside my cubicle walls and an “Oh, are you eating lunch? This will just take a minute” when a face peeks around my doorway.

My employees are top-notch folks and I take working for them very seriously.

But dammit! Mommy needs some alone time!

I get quite frustrated sometimes over my lack of time. It’s something I’m working on in this new year.

I’m telling you all of this by way of saying that even if a week goes by and I haven’t posted something, don’t give up on me. I’m still here and I’m still writing.


750 Words

Nice segue. Speaking of writing, lately I have been getting a nice boost from a website named 750words.com.

If you ever read the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, then you learned the value of morning pages. Per Ms Cameron, morning pages are three handwritten pages about any topic you please. The intent is to help prime the ol’ pump and get the creative juices flowing.

I have done morning pages off and on for years and they sure help, but it’s easy for me to let them drop. They are kind of a pain in the butt sometimes, plus my handwriting sucks. Also, my hand can’t go fast enough for my brain.

Enter 750 words. The creator of the website did the math and figured out that three pages is, give or take, 750 words.

So it’s morning pages, online, with reminder emails and badges and statistics and fun.

Why I’m telling you this is because I have been working on words on that site and boy can I tell a difference.

Hopefully that difference will show up here on Oh Fair too.


The Feline

Just before Thanksgiving, I wrote a pretty sad post about my little fuzzy one.

She had just spent a weekend in the pet hospital and when we brought her home she was weak and quite skinny.

At the time, we didn’t think she would make it to Thanksgiving.

She did.

Then I was just certain she would not make it to Christmas.

She has.

So here I am on January 6th feeling pretty amazed that The Feline is actually doing ok. Through the wonders of modern veterinary medicine, she is not only ok, she has gained a little weight and is clear eyed and feisty and full of vim and is feeling like her old self.

It’s kind of amazing. The Feline will never recover from her ailment, what she has is terminal, but The Good Man and I now understand how to manage it. We got her steady and we have more time with the little punk than we thought.

She will be 15 years old in March, and now my hope is that she gets to celebrate her little cranky feline birthday.

Here’s a photo taken about a week ago. This was the first time I really realized she was feeling better and it’s become one of my favorite photos of her:




Copyright © 2014, Karen Fayeth



That Damn Chocolate Bear

You listened to my tale. You sympathized with my anxiety. You heard my cries.

The response was best summed up by a New Mexico friend:

“Snuff the Yogi.”

And I want to. Oh. I want to.

Here is the status of the Bear as of this morning.




Copyright © 2014, Karen Fayeth

He sits there, mocking me. He is in residence on the shelf set aside for snacks. During the height of holiday madness, that shelf was cram packed with delicious treats and he survived by cowering in the back behind the biscochitos and the sugar cookies and the See’s Candy and the rocky road treats made by The Good Man’s little sister.

After the piranhas had their holiday feeding frenzy all that’s left is that damn bear and a crappy candy cane.

Yes, people, I’m telling you that the bear is still intact.

I asked The Good Man, “What kind of maniac doesn’t eat a freaking chocolate bear?!”

He politely responded that since things have escalated, he will be seeking a safe house where the bear can be granted asylum.

He’s just doing this to torment me. He knows one day in the not too distant future I am going to tear the apartment apart and walk through that bear’s gold foil restraining order and tear him chocolaty limb from chocolaty limb.

Oh it’s happening.

Well there we have it. I think that gets us all pretty much current and caught up as of today.

I am through most of my first Monday back at work. All in, it was not bad.

Manageable.

Onward until tomorrow.

Feliz Año Nuevo my friends.

I just realized that it’s only two weeks until the glorious three day weekend of MLK Jr. day.

I can hardly wait.




All images © Copyright 2014, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons in the right corner of this page.




I Guess That Is What Autumn Means?

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When poets, musicians and bards speak of the seasons, they speak of the cycle of life. Birth, life, death. The never ending cycle that none with a soul and a heartbeat can avoid.

I like to think of autumn in philosophical ways as I crunch the leaves under my feet. Ah yes, the earth must turn. The leaves must turn brown. My hair must turn gray.

But really, autumn isn’t quite just a philosophical thing for me anymore. I guess as years go by I have racked up painful scarred notches on my soul. Reminders. Injuries that push me from the figurative to the literal.

We are just a week away from the Thanksgiving holiday, and I am reminded that the anniversary of my father’s birth is also next week. He always favored an apple pie for his birthday, which occasionally fell on the actual day of Thanksgiving.

It has been almost nine years since he passed, and this autumn day has caused me to think of my father, and the deep well of sadness that I will likely not ever recover from.

His death broke something inside of me. Resolve? Courage? Strength? I don’t know. I do know that in the wake of his passing, I cry a lot easier. I get sad a lot more quickly. I grieve more profoundly. And I love with gusto because time is always ticking away. The world does not stop turning. The leaves cannot help but turn brown.

Today, when coworkers casually passed me in the hallway and asked, “How was your weekend?” by way of making small talk, my answer couldn’t be the usual “Fine, and you?” Sure, I said that a few times. And a few other times I said, “Actually, I had quite a terrible weekend.”

It’s true, but not everyone wants or cares about the truth when crossing paths in the break room on the way to the coffee machine on a Monday morning. Lying is hard for me.

My precious Feline is sick. A few months ago we knew she was sick but it didn’t seem terminal. Two months later and it’s not good. She spent the weekend at a pet hospital where too many people grabbed at her and poked needles in her and she wasn’t at home with her humans.

She’s home now, and that helps. They sent us home with bags full of medications and regimens. We cannot cure her, we can only make the symptoms a little less awful.

The prognosis is tough to make. She may live another year. She may only live until tonight. I have no idea.

But the clock is ticking. As I watch her lose weight and refuse to eat I know that the specter of death looms large. As large at the oak trees that line my residential street, spilling their leaves and showing me their skeletons.

This is autumn. As sure as I am not ready for pumpkin spice lattes, I’m also not ready for what this autumn has in store.





Photo Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth




Photo Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.