Monday, March 4, 2013

Letting It Go

We Brits have been boiling food, drinking tea, and eating chocolate for centuries, ergo, well-known for our fate of twisted, falling-out, terrible teeth.  Sheer luck, or Swiss bank account, were the only reasons to get strong, straight teeth with these peaches and cream complexions.  Having crooked, brittle, British teeth, I somehow held to the fantasy that, someday, false teeth could make me hold a happy smile, a smile that would go so well with the Royal wave I had practiced as a little girl!  I was going to make it all work, finally, and wave goodbye to painful teeth that had plagued me for a lifetime. 


Understand when I say, everything that could go wrong in a dentist’s chair—has gone terribly wrong in a dentist’s chair.  I had baby teeth pulled, ether as anesthesia, and still remember the vividly terrifying technicolour nightmare I had.  There was a giant pink octopus, pulling me into its cave under teal-green water streaked with sunlight (do we, as writers, always have to notice minute details?) just before waking up alone in a back room to my very first puking hangover.  At three, I didn’t handle it so well.  This was but the beginning of my relationship with dentists, each one insisting they would be the ones to break Murphy’s Curse for me (even tried a Dr. Murphy!) but only one ever did, and I had to leave my wonderful Dr. Richard Amar back in New York, when we moved west. 


I’ve had laughing gas turned up, staff returning to the room to find I was in convulsions, and I’ve had too little anesthesia, surfacing during surgery and trying, apparently, to climb out of the chair, backwards.  I’ve had medicine put in a molar that needed a root canal, only to find out that I’m part of a small percentage of the population, violently allergic to it. When the infection broke through to my sinus cavity, I became a puffy-faced, fall-down clown.  TMJ problems developed because my mouth was too small for forty-two pairs of hands all, of course, wearing latex gloves that gave me hives.  One young, hot-shot local dentist, who advertised he dealt well with fear-paralyzed patients, actually yelled at me for feeling pain.  He felt he’d given me enough numbing, dammit, and he wasn’t giving any more.


Over forty years with these second teeth, pain, infections, and I was done.  Give me the ones to make me look good, the ones that could be mailed to the damn dentist to work on, while I stayed home.  Yeah, that’s what I want!  More money than most of the cars I’ve owned, but that’s small price to pay, I thought.  I would get used to them, my stomach would settle down, and my heart too, I thought.  There was no turning back.  I had tried for a third set of teeth, through meditation—and managed calcium deposits, growing under my tongue.  Why would sharks get seven rows of teeth that keep coming, and humans can’t grow a third set, to see us through our freakin’ golden years?  Bring on the dentures and let peace be, I thought. It was the hot-shot Doctor Berg who made my upper plate—and who told me it was my fault it didn’t fit, after physically abusing me, and frightening me to death in that chair.


Oh Missus Natcheral, if you couldn’t wear a bra…what made you think you could handle an ill-fitting dental plate???  If you couldn’t handle a wire and biting elastic under your tits…what made you think you could wear a batter’s helmet on the roof of your mouth, delicate flower of sound for a singer???  And there was Mr. Murphy, waiting always in the shadows.  Not only had I been given but a small bud of a mouth (those of you who have heard my mouth, please refrain from commenting!) but, as it turns out, it is deformed.  It might have something to do with forceps on a preemie.  This is the theorumrectal I’m going with, also explaining my lacking left brain and the Mighty Mouse brain to its right.  We all find our own explanations, eh?


Out of sheer vanity and desperation, already quite invisible to men I was working with because I had lived beyond sexy, I tried my good-golly-damndest to wear that molded upper mouth, smile and sing for the folks.  Oh yes, and during ‘menostopthatshyte’ I began to experience significant bone loss, disappearing parts of aforementioned deformed ridge, so the upside-down plastic bowl in my mouth would wiggle and wobble as I sang, vibrating against, and rudely tickling private parts of my  oral orifice edifice, until it reached my oh-so-high gag-reflex.  Oh babies, let me scare you with tales of oozing glue, of plastic rubbing against bone, of cut and pasted papers that give way in the middle of performances…oh yes, I have suffered for my Art!  Why would I keep punishing myself for everyone else’s comfort?


Of course, as I said, women become invisible to men when we live past sexy, and I’m not talking about flirting here (sheesh, who has the energy?) oh no!  Add no teeth to the beginning of our Third Act and we are dumped into “Old Witch” character, it’s presumed we are stupid, and probably a drain on society.  Bring out the dunking machine fellas, we have an older female amputeeth!  The Witch is always only one step above the Village Idiot, because she can squawk and scare.  Squawking was what men began to hear.  Where once (when all was perky) my words might be listened too (though my mouth often seemed to rest in my cleavage then) I turned into a witch, squawking.

Now, I know I still have a brain, and I worked as hard as any other amputee on my PT, teaching myself to enunciate properly again, training my tongue’s placement so as not to lisp, rehearsing and working alone, month after month, on the many muscles of my mouth and face, working to get back to my work, my play, my labour of love.  I still have a voice that longs to be let loose.  But I am an amputeeth who has lived past sexy, while the band plays on.  It killed me to see Bonnie Raitt has had a “little work” done, trying to stay as a headliner, while the huge concert to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy collected enough gnarly old male musicians to look like funeral drapes, held up by wonky, partially-missing Brit Ivory, right across the stage! 

 Well, Missus Natcheral is just stubborn enough not to lie down and take it, old enough to know I don’t have to accept prejudice—as a woman, or as an amputeeth.  I will continue to work hard against prejudice, of any kind.  I will face the world comfortably, “sans dentes” and the world will continue its turn.  C’est la vie, c’est la guerre, c’est la merde.  This is Missus Natcheral and, as the Grateful Dead sang, I’m still truckin’…like the dooh-dah man…together more or less in line…jus’ keep truckin’ oh-oh-oh-oh-on….!  Peace, my aging brothers and sisters.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Traveling Band circa '73

The main residents of the Union Street House were the Union Street Band...a Grateful Dead kinda band. We did a lot of their stuff amidst other rock 'n' roll, country, and originals. That's why there was live music in the house every night after dinner.

Michael would usually be the first one to wander over to the piano...a piano he retrieved and restored from a local movie theatre. It was used to play along with the silent flicks of yesteryear and, with a lot of TLC, Michael made it sing. Three of us from the band are still musicians, over thirty years later.

We used to do tours of the Gulf Islands in Georgia Strait...Quadra, Cortes, not to mention up and down both Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. We packed all the equipment into our blue '57 Divco panel truck, which never went from second to third gear unless you swore a blue-streak! My seat was an amp...and I wonder why my tailbone doesn't wag in me old age!

We would play in one-room school houses or funky old buildings and the hippies would come out of the woods, food, kids and sleeping bags in tow. Some folks arrived with cabins built on the backs of old pickup trucks. A lot of good-hearted, long-haired folks and beautiful bumbies with names like Sita Sunshine-Daydream poured into the place. The audience always seemed to be kinetic colour, as we played for hours and hours...till people began to curl into sleeping bags in corners.

One night, on Cortes Island, we were invited to stay at our friend Bear's cabin. He had often sailed down to Vancouver, bringing a thirty-pound salmon or whatever his catch was...but we had only been on his boat, never to his cabin. After almost eight hours of playing...we were ready for another adventure. Oh, to be young and boundless in energy!

We drove down to where Bear had a rowboat waiting in the dark, the sky taking our breath away with its starry brilliance above. We rowed across the small cove and began climbing a cliff, our eyes adjusting to find the hand holds in the pale light of a waning moon. It took a while and we all hit the mattresses, cushions, couch, or floor as soon as we got inside the cabin.

I was the first one up, just a few hours later, and lit a fire in the wood stove for some coffee. Then I walked to the window and the sight that waited for me shall forever stay in my heart's memory. We were atop a cliff of a couple-hundred feet, the cove and Georgia Strait filling the view. Eagles were fishing for breakfast, whales, dolphins and seals playing in different waves throughout the vista.

It was one of the best morning's of my life, alone with the Mama and all this natural peace. This was the morning I finally felt I had found home for my spirit, after wandering the world. Of course, life always derails our train of thought and runs away with our plans. In just a few years I would be in New York and it would take me nearly twenty years to get back to the part of Mama's lap I wanted to call home.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Looking For A Firm Foundation

Yesterday afternoon (warm and muggy) hubby and I headed to Target (Tar-JJAY, as we like to say...along the same lines as the thrift boutique we like to call Valoo Vill-AHJJ) on a quest. 'Tis a quest almost every woman can attest to...and roll their eyes at...the quest for a new garment...boob socks...breastage hammocks...I don't care what you want to call them...I just know that the experience is, for me, somewhat akin to the Spanish Inquisition's Basement Sale of Iron Maidens! There is torture and madness in retail, rather than therapy. A thrift store is a treasure-hunt, while department stores offer mind-numbing sameness...with prices and sizing that make me feel abnormal and hostile.

The day before I had officiated at a wedding. It's polite to wear a bra for a dressy ceremony...but when I went to put one on, there was a SNAFU. You see, I've lost a lot of weight in the last couple of months but was happily at home, wearing the same big t-shirts and floppy big pants...or cotton caftans in the heat, without a bra. It's been a while since I needed to heft the puppies up to an unnatural place, decreed by fifteen year-old models. Now I was suddenly the picture of a nine year-old girlie...putting on her mummy's bra and pretending! Only difference was...I had parts that were escaping out the bottom, at the same time as not filling the parts of the cups falling into creases.

This is where I'm so glad to have a sick-crazy-stoopid was cracking me up, rather than freaking me out. The world's falling apart and I should have a breakdown about a wardrobe malfunction? I think not. I put on the smallest sports-bra I had...only 3 inches and four holster sizes bigger than the homogenized-heat I was packin'...and draped a dupata (one of those long lovely scarves that Pakistani women wear with their pants and long tunics, called a Saalwar-Kameez) around my neck to hang loosely down the front. No one but me knew about the under-tunic comedy verite and all was well. Obviously though, it was time to find out the two-scoop size.

Cue dramatic orchestral break!

Okay...first off...I'm allergic to man-made fibres...especially lycra, spandex, elastic etc. That's all part of my 'being part of a bastard offshoot of the Royal Family' theorumrectal, which we can save for another time. I am the Pea Princess of any underwear department...I mean, we're talking hives and welts here!

Secondly...I'm an ol' hippie woman who only puts these things on to save the tender feelings of those who find it just too damn National Geo-graphic when they bounce upon my knees!!! Well...that and needing not to knock meself out during a musical performance, I suppose. I do need to keep a couple of bras, behind the in-case-of-emergency glass door, in my foundation drawer.

Cue the mindless muzac and numbing haze of a Tar-JJAY....

Warm, small, sickly-lit dressing rooms...and six bras at a time to try on. I really do believe I can do this when I start...I really do believe I can find THE right-fitting bra (with the gentle holding of breastages that no male I've close-encountered has known the technique of) the right-fitting bra which will reverse-telescope old dawgs back into puppies! JUST a little high on the expectations...all past experience ignored in my reaching for support-bliss...SILLY SILLY WOOOOMAAAAN...sing it with me now!!!

First one...made underarm growths instead of puppies...second...Cheshire Cat smile slipping below the elastic...third one...seemed full of spiky sea-urchins...and I begin to sweat and my back begins to bi-atch about the canterlevering exercises...leaning with an ess-bend from pelvis to shoulders. I take a look in the mirror at this point...jaundiced from the light and blotchy...with a sweat-shine...oh yum! Change tactics...and try for this stretchy bra/camisole thingie...guarandamnteed to smooth you into the best shape of your life. Says so right on the label.

Only now...someone has turned my pores to fully open...and this thing has to be pulled over the head...and now my ponytail (down to buttage) begins to reach for things like a grasping herd(?) of octopi at a free fish handout! Reeblefrazzinrattafrat thing rolls itself into a hair spliff, mon...just above the puppies...puppies looking as forlorn and left-out as a cocker-spaniel in the rain. Me, a fully-grown, sensible woman...beginning to panic, dancing around tiny room (prolly in front of security cameras!) trying to unroll this little bastewd...down...up...any bloody way that would release my hair and let me breathe again...AAAIIIIIEEEEEE!!! CLEAN-UP IN DRESSING ROOM TWELVE PLEASE!!

Three hunnert and forty-twelve fargin' bras later...I grab the two fer one cotton sports bras...ten bucks...and manage to wrestle into one. Then my dear husband, who knows me soooooooo well, brings me a long dress he has found on the Clearance Rack...a dress that is soft, like an old beloved soft I immediately have to grab it, caress it, bring it to my face...with a draping neckline that hides the somewhat ski-jump look of the sports bra...and ties around my waist...deep plum coloured...and...did I mention...soft? I looked in the mirror (ignoring easily the blotching, jaundiced-caucasia, sheen, and humidity-frazzled hair because by now, my glasses were all fogged-up!) and felt like a soft, soft Goddess with an hourglass figure. Okay...a little more sands of time in the bottom...but as good ol' Senator Al Franken would's okay...and I like me...I really do.

Who else could I tease like this and have know I still love and desire them?

What A Long Strange Trip It's Been

Yes, the Revolution of Love was and is, for some of us, real...and real hippies still do exist. I'm not talking about those who wore a hippie style, lost themselves to drugs, or denegrated good soldiers in an impossible situation. I'm talking plain-speaking, big-loving, individual-styling, tuned-in...*GASP*...Liberal (with a capital Luh) hippies.

There was a magic to flashing someone a peace sign and immediately being involved in philosophical discussion. There was a beauty in barriers coming down between young people of different cultures, especially in the wave striving for civil rights and equality. There was such movement in a generation on the road to self-discovery. Yes, there were dipsy-doodles...but name me an Age where funky li'l gene pools haven't spilled into the river!

I lived communally, north of the 49 Medicine Line and we often housed young American men, traumatized by the peace in their hearts slamming into the Draft and an insane war half-way round the world. I will never in my life forget the night I held a young man as he cried. He came from Mississippi and had actually volunteered for Vietnam, with his best friend and his brother-in-law. The best friend was killed...the brother-in-law badly injured...and then this young man was also injured and sent home. After recovery he tried to return to life, one night stopping into a bar for a cool beer. He was told, "We don't serve N*****s in here boy!"

He tore the bar apart and headed north.

There were never less than twelve for dinner at our house, so dinner was often whatever variation of brown rice and veggies bought in Chinatown. Sometimes a guest, traveling into Vancouver from up-island, would bring with them a huge, fresh-caught salmon. We also gladly fed and housed anyone for three days at no cost. Participation in house-chores was a must though and all was organised through weekly house-meetings by the residents.

Here's a little economic misty memory for you: The rent for this five-bedroom house was $250/month. Each of us living there paid $6/week for food...and we ate really well. When you only had to cook once a week, you put a little extra effort into it. Our entire back yard was used for a veggie garden; the soil fed by a rockin' homemade compost bin. We recycled everything we could, amazing the neighbours with the small bag of garbage put out every week.

We had no TV or radio...but we had live music every night...and I mean EVERY night. There was the possibility of theatre every day...and there was love and laughter in a tie-dyed swirling smile. We got naked together...and physically was the least of it. I burned my bra...I stopped shaving and wearing make-up...oh sweet comfortable freedom!

That's what this blog is about...sweet comfortable freedom to be who I am. Perhaps I'll be serious...perhaps I'll get a li'l slapstick. It's gonna be, like, real man...and if that's too much for you...peace...and don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out. For those who wear Big Boy/Girl pants (and they may be Depends!) and who feel Love may be free but the responsibility is work, I hope you'll do a li'l truckin' with me.