My name is…


I’ve been thinking about names lately. My daughter and her husband are going to have their second child soon. We know that it will be a little boy, and they have settled on a name for him.

He will be named for a well loved Great Grampa who died a few months ago. It’s perfect, right?

But I’ve been thinking about how names sound, and the impression that they give. I’ve been thinking about names that sound like a person you’d trust. And names that make you shake your head and wonder if those parents hated that kid.

As a confirmed lefty, I’ve been doing my part to support the Our Revolution movement. That’s the next step in the Bernie Sanders movement, if you don’t know. Very vibrant, very interesting group, and I’m happy to help! So I’ve been doing some data entry for them.

Which means that I have been seeing some amazing names.

I won’t use any real ones here, of course, but to young parents everywhere, let me just say that before you slap a monicker on that adorable little bundle, THINK about how that name will read in 30 years when some old lady is putting it into a data base.

Some names inspire trust. I would want my doctor to be named “Michael Hampshire.” Solid, not too flashy, unpretentious. “Jennifer Worth.”  Yup. She can do my cardiac surgery, for sure.

Other names make me want to write a short story that involves a diner, a lonely waitress and a quietly insane fry-cook. “Sarah Bluette” and “Jace Pratchett” fit right in there, don’t you think?

Then there are the names that you know Mom and Dad chose because they were so adorable and original! They did not picture the kids in sixth grade making fun of little “Sharley McRoggle” or “Kerreigh Koyne.”

And some names make me just feel humble. The names that ring of truth and strength. Names that are unapologetically ethnic or racially proud. Names that mean, “I am not going to melt into the pot, no sir. I intend to be the spice in your potato soup.” Names that are spelled originally or names that hark back to older generations. “Karim” is a personal favorite of mine. “Sasha” or “LiYu” or “Epiphania” or “Dougal” or “Shaquan.”

My mom’s name is Vincenza, but she is known as Zena. That’s very cool.

Our names are, in some odd ways, our destiny.

I was aware of this when I was at the Woman’s March in DC not long ago. I was with my High School friend, Karen. As we moved through the surging crowds to get onto the Metro, we heard a voice calling, “Karen! Over here!” We both turned, of course, and we saw a woman our age, waving to her friend.

All the Karens in the US, it seems, were born between 1952 and 1958. You’re not going to find a Karen in kindergarten, although you might very well find a “Helen,” an “Alice” or an “Ed.”

When I was naming my own kids, I was careful. Paul and I thought about how the names sounded. We like the ‘th’ sound, it turns out. We have Katharine, Matthew and Timothy in our family. But we were also thinking of nicknames.

Being named Paul and Karen meant that we didn’t have a lot of nicknames. There’s not much you can do with the labels we got at birth.

We wanted our kids to have some flexibility. If they became businesspeople or lawyers or politicians, those full names would work. If they became teachers, or coaches or athletes, they’d have cool nicknames. Katie, Matty, Timmy.

Naturally, all three of them now go by Kate, Matt and Tim.

Still. A lot of thought went into those names. A lot.

Yours truly,

“Boots” aka “Karen” aka Kira aka Karima and now known as Nonni.

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Panic in puppyland


It’s so damn hard to be a good doggie Momma.

I’m very good with human children. I can usually tell when one is sick, or hurt, or coming down with a cold. A few times in my classroom teaching days, I was able to tell that a kid had a fever before the kid even complained.

But dogs are different. They don’t cry when they hurt and they don’t say, “Nonni, up!” when they are needy. You just have to try to figure it out, right?

Sometimes you can guess what’s going on, something not so much.

Take this morning, for example.

We were in our living room, bright and early, talking about the foot of heavy wet snow we’ll be getting today. We were making sure we are prepared in case the power goes out.

I was feeling anxious. I despise the cold, the snow, the sleet….especially when they come in the spring. I was also anxious about my daughter driving to work in the bad weather, six months pregnant and getting over bronchitis. I was worried about my granddaughter Ellie, who has had a cough all week.

And our old dog, Tucker the Wolf King, has been struggling with his back and spine and hips. He’s been in pain.

At least puppy Lennie seemed fine, and full of his usual energy.

But then Kate and Ellie arrived, and Lennie went into fits of excitement. He started his usual jumping up on Kate routine, running in circles, wagging his tail furiously. Everyone was talking at once, “Lennie, down!” “Ellie, let’s take your hat off.” “Can you leave early today?” The Wolf King was barking and Lennie was squealing.

It was your basic morning bedlam.

Suddenly, I looked over at the pup, and saw that he was having some kind of terrible back spasm. We had seen this happen to him a couple of times in the past, but it was never this severe. His back end was hunched and sort of curled forward, and his whole back end was sort of pumping forward and back, really fast.

He looked very uncomfortable.

Now, let me digress for a minute. Tucker, with his arthritic spine, sometimes makes the almost same motion, but with less vigor. His vet told us that it happens to Tuck when his back muscles go into a spasm. I massage his spine and his spasm goes away.

So, I grabbed little pumping Lennie and tried to massage along his spine. It didn’t help a bit. When I let go of his collar, the little guy started frantically licking at his private parts, or what’s left of them. He was neutered before we got him, we were told.

He kept on sort of nipping at himself and turning in circles and that back end just kept on pumping.

“Oh, no!” I said it out loud. “He’s in real pain! Oh, poor baby!”

Paul joined in and so did Kate. We all thought Lennie was suffering from some terrible crazy muscle spasm or seizure or something. We were so worried!

We all looked at him and his pumping backside.  He started to bite the tip of his tail and run in circles.

I grabbed him as he raced past me, and decided I should check his undercarriage.

Holy hard as a rock, Batman, the little guy’s niblets were like steel.

This is the part where I have to confess to complete idiocy, but at least my husband and daughter are as dumb as I am.

At the base of his fully erect little doggy rocket, there was a huge, hard, round mass, about the size of a golf ball.

Did I mention that he’s been “fixed”? You know, altered. Neutered. Deballified. There should not be a big, hard, round mass where his testicles used to be, I thought.

“He has a tumor!!!!” Was my first comment. Or maybe my second, after I quickly pulled my hand away from his altogethers.

We called the vet. Paul got dressed in a hurry to take him in. I cuddled the poor little boy, feeling overwhelmed with worry. As I stroked his neck, I noticed that he seemed to be slowly relaxing and feeling just fine.

The little rocket went back into its socket, and the golf ball disappeared.

Huh.

So. Paul took the pup to the vet, who examined him thoroughly and calmly announced that what we has witnessed was a “natural hormonal response to excitement.”

The little guy got kind of worked up from all the joy of greeting Kate and Ellie.

The vet suggested that we find a way to get him some doggy playdates so he’ll learn how to control himself a little.

Ewwww.

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He looks pretty relaxed in this shot…

Conquering the Wolf King


The Wolf King is aloof. He is regal. He needs no man.

Oh, OK. He needs man, or woman, to get the kibble out and to gently mix in the carefully cooked chicken livers. Sure. And, yeah, fine, he needs man, or woman, to let him out in the morning so he can do his royal doody.

Still.

The Wolf King is the ruler of his domain. He does not rely on any human for emotional support.

And yet.

Today the little one in our house was sick. She had a bad cough, a stuffy nose, a little bit of a fever. She was OK for most of the morning, but by lunchtime, she was really droopy.

WomanWhoFeedsMe put away the toys and handed Little Girl her favorite stuffed Floppy Puppy. They went down the long, dark hall into the nap room. The Wolf King watched them go.

He stayed in the living room. That hall is really long. And dark. He laid his royal nose on his powerful paws. He started to doze.

And then he heard it.

Little Girl was crying. The Wolf King lifted his head.

She was making that choky sobbing noise that he hated so much. There were words in her choking cry. He tilted his head to the right, and then to the left. What was she saying?

“Huck” she coughed. “Hucky..” she choked. He heard the sound of WomanWhoFeedsMe, gently cooing, trying to calm the little girl.

The Wolf King rose slowly to his feet. His back hurt. His back legs were shaky and his spine was making creaky noises.

He took one step toward the long, scary hall.

“Tuck…Tucky….hhum!”

He heard it. He heard the sound of Little Girl, calling his name. She was telling him to “come.”

The Wolf King gave one soft whine. Really?, he was asking. You really want me to walk all the way down that hall?

“Tucky…hum!”

He gave a sigh. He shook himself, from head to tail. He walked down the hall, really slowly. Past the dark, scary doorways, over the creepy scary reflections of light. He moved forward.

He would not be afraid.

Little Girl needed him. She WANTED him. He would not fail in his duty.

The Wolf King made his way to the nap room. He walked to the bed and rested his chin on the mattress.

“Tucky!!!” Little Girl cried, coughed and reached out one small hand to touch his warm head. “Tucky.”

“mmmmm,” the Wolf King answered as he lowered himself slowly to the floor beside her bed.

“Tucky…” she murmured as she curled into the arms of WomanWhoFeedsMe. She fell asleep.

So did he.

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Mutual admiration…

Off The Main Page


In my effort to reinvent myself after my mommy years disappeared, I started this blog.

In my effort to keep improving myself after my teaching years were taken away from me, I started to write for some online sites. I’m trying to get to the point where I can call myself a professional writer. A freelancer. A place where I can sit at a bar in the Caribbean and casually say, “Oh, me? I’m a writer” as I sip my rum drink.

Well. I might not make that last part, but I really am doing my best to make a small living by writing.

With that in mind, small blog following, I have a favor to ask. Can you check out these two sties, and see what you think? If you like them, hoorah! If not, thanks for looking.

The first is LiberalAmerica. Obviously, we have a decidedly leftish approach to the day’s news. If you want to hear from like minded writers, and want a site that aggregates big news stories and included lots of links to more news, please come and check us out. We are absolutely 100% REAL news; we make nothing up, ever. We double and triple check our sources and we always link back to the sites where we get our information.

The second site is a place to read funny, silly, heartwarming, interesting and for the most part not very political news. Its called Off The Main Page. I’ve written about goat yoga, local restaurants, dead cats, a camel camera and a giant space ravioli. Just to name a few.

Come by and check us out. Share if you like what you read!

A nonni’s gotta make a living, right? Even if she’s not at a bar in the Caribbean.

 

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What can I say? A woman can dream.

Food is love


The idea that food equals love is not an original one. Years ago I had a friend, a teacher colleague, who used to talk about her own nuclear family growing up. They were Italians, like my own family, and her Mom raised her, as mine did, with the idea that feeding people is a way to show that you love them.

I totally live that way.

One of my favorite hobbies now that I’m retired is going through old, old cookbooks and reading about the delicacies of the past. I’ve been collecting old cookbooks that I read the way other people read a novel.

One of my favorites was a wedding gift to my Mother, given to her in 1950. The book was first published in 1901. It has tips on things like making a roast chicken. Step one? Kill the chicken.

Anyway, I was thinking today about the whole cultural idea of food as a show of love. And I think that feeding a hungry person is absolutely an act of love.

In my 61 years on this earth, I have brought food to friends who are grieving, family who are sick, friends and family who are celebrating milestones. I have made soup for fellow grad students on a snowy night. I’ve brought muffins to school on the morning after terrible and shocking events like 9/11.

And I’ve learned, slowly, to accept tortellini soup when I was the one in need. I loved it when a friend at school gave me a gift of lasagna for Christmas when I was a working mother of three little children.

So in the past few weeks, as Ellie has had her first bad cold and ear infections, I found myself thinking about “food is love” once again.She had the chills; I made her ginger lemon tea. Not from a tea bag. With actual grated ginger and lemon and honey.

I made soup. I had frozen chicken stock, made after we had eaten our locally raised, organic, sustainable birds. I cooked down the carcasses, peeled off all the meat, froze it into small cubes. Which I then cooked with garlic (antibiotic properties), onion, carrots, the herbs I dried from last summer……

It was good. She like it. She ate it. No biggie.

Except that I felt fabulous. I felt like Nonni of the year.

Why? I didn’t make her better; she still had to take her antibiotics and her nose drops. She still had her fevers and her chills.

But I COOKED for her. I showed her how much I love her. I gained a totally false but somehow satisfying sense of control over the microbes of the universe.

It was great.

Today Ellie and I roasted a big pan of beef bones, which we then put into a stock pot with veggies and spice.

It’s simmering on the stove right now. Just waiting for the next cold or flu to hit someone I love.

Food. Is. Love.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

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Thank you, President Trump


I know, that headline made you a little sick to your stomach. I get it.

Can you imagine how hard that was for me to type?

But you see, I am channeling my inner optimist. Who is hiding these days. Hiding really, really well.

My inner optimist is hiding behind the evidence that points to us having elected a mentally ill, out of control despot.

It’s hiding behind the realization that our Congressional leaders don’t really care that the guy with his finger on the trigger is out of his mind. They’re too busy fighting the traditional Democrat-Republican game of “YOU’RE A DOODY PANTS” to try saving us all from nuclear holocaust.

So.

I’m trying to look on the bright side.

For example, I might as well eat that dish of ice cream since we’ll most likely be incinerated before I can die of heart disease. Also, if we go into a long nightmare of civil war and the grid goes down, its probably the fat people who will live the longest.

Also, there’s this little fact.

Whenever I get anxious, I clean things. When my kids were little, Paul used to be able to judge how well the day had gone based on how the house looked when he got home. If every surface was sparkling and there was a smell of Clorox in the air, he knew that one of the kids had gotten on my last nerve. He’d open the door, sniff, and ask, “Oh, oh. Who is it this time?”

He’s a therapist, so he explained to me that my desire to clean the house was a reflection of my feelings of helplessness. When my life felt out of control, I asserted my superiority over dust and grime.

If that’s true, then I really have to thank President Trump.

Over the last few weeks, I have found myself unconsciously organizing closets, sorting through old clothes and scrubbing things I didn’t even know I owned.

My granddaughter is 18 months old. This morning the two of us scrubbed the floors in every room of this house. I buy her all kinds of art supplies and books and toys in my effort to be a wonderful Nonni, but we spent an hour with me sweeping and her using the wet swiffer.

She seemed to enjoy it.

But honestly, I didn’t realize just how anxious our new administration was making me until tonight.

I found myself vacuuming the garage with a glass of wine in one hand.

Thanks, Mr. President!

When the mushroom cloud appears overhead, at least my house will look fabulous in that last eerie glow.

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The Wolf King Reborn


I am the Wolf King.

Or at least, I used to be the Wolf King.

Lately I’ve been The Old Dog Who Can Hardly Get Down The Stairs.

What can I say? Time goes on, and arthritis hits hard.

For the past few weeks, I have had to contend with the humiliating prospect of a young pup, constantly jumping up to nip my ears or grab my collar. Always trying to get me to jump and play.

Annoying little fool. I have gone along with him as often as I could, but sometimes I just wanted to smack him. I have barked and growled at him so much that my royal voice is getting really creaky.

Today was a sunny day, and the air was crisp and cold. The yard was filled with fresh white snow, and birds filled our feeders.

The puppy, so foolishly named “Lennie,” was whining to go out. Woman Who Feeds Me made those sickening little cooing noises at him, and soon he was wearing his blaze orange collar.

I stood, slowly and regally. I do not beg to go outside.

But I don’t say “no”, either. I waited, aloof and calm, as the Woman Who Feeds Me put on my bra…. I mean, my Wolf King harness.

We headed out into the cold.

For a few minutes, I walked calmly alongside the Woman. The small, annoying puppy ran in circles around us, barking and yipping and racing in and out of the woods.

After a while, I noticed that my leash seemed very lax. I was able to wander away from the Woman Who Feeds Me without feeling the tug of the leash. Hmm.

Suddenly, a truck pulled into our driveway.  Somewhere, deep in my brain, I remembered that I am the Wolf King; the protector of our castle.  I began to bark. I ran toward the truck.

A though went zinging through my head.

“Hey! I’m running, and there’s no leash.” I glanced back at Woman Who Feeds Me.

Sure enough, she looked guilty.

“Tucker, come!” she called. She held out a tiny cookie.

One. Tiny. Cookie.

Ordinarily, I would walk on hot coals to get one of those cookies. But now. Now the cold wind was rushing through the woods. The smells of deer and moose and birds and fox came wafting toward me. I lifted my head. I sniffed.

I looked back at Woman Who Feeds Me. Her hand was out. Her voice sounded stressed.

I looked forward, toward the woods. I saw the puppy, running free, racing in circles.

“Tucker?”

My old eyes met the worried eyes of my Mistress.

“Adios!” I barked. And I raced like the wind away from the yard and into the woods.

Oh, OK. Mostly I didn’t really race. I sort of lumbered. And limped a bit. But I still went into the woods with the puppy dancing around me.

It was glorious. It was heaven. It was freedom, remembered from a time long ago.

It. Was. The. Best.

After a while, Woman Who Feeds Me, Annoying Puppy, Poopie Baby and Young Woman With Treats all went back inside the house. They called me to come.

But I would not be tempted back inside.

No. The Wolf King decided to sit outside of the house. Resting in the deep snow. With freezing ice pellets sticking to my niblets.

My back was aching like you read about, what with all the running through the woods, jumping over fallen trees, avoiding puppy kisses, and climbing over snowbanks.

I kind of wanted to go inside. Back to the fire. And the heat. And the cookies.

And the couch.

But I remained firm. I stayed out for hours.

I was so proud of my freedom and my strength.

Eventually, as I dozed with my paws held over my half frozen nose, I smelled the intoxicating aroma of cooking chicken livers. The window to the living room had been opened, and the simmering pot placed on the ledge.

“Oh, Woman Who Feeds Me,” I howled. “Have you no shame?”

She was trying to lure me back in.

But I would NOT be moved.

I stood erect ( except for my bendy spine and my splayed-out back legs.) “NO!” I barked with royal strength. “No! I will not yield to the liver! I am the Wolf King and I am FREE!”

I lasted a full four minutes before my aching back, my shaking legs, my frozen niblets and my empty belly got the better of me.

OK. So I came back in.

I got all warm. I ate my liver. I let the Woman and the Baby cuddle me.

I came back in.

But really? I only did it because I could hear that puppy whining for me to come back home to him.

I can’t resist the little goof when he gets all kissy like that.

But don’t be fooled.

If they drop that leash again, I’ll be off.

The Wolf King will be back. You can count on it.

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Still as handsome as you ever were.

A Puppy, A Baby, And A Nonni On The Brink


Oh, sure. It all sounded so easy.

Of course I could handle a baby and puppy. Pffft.  I used to teach fifth grade! How hard could this be?

See, I pride myself on being a nurturing, loving, patient Grandmother. When I picture myself (you know, when no one is around, and the house is all clean and quiet), I see a chubby, gray haired, smiling woman in an apron. Her wrinkles all match her smiles; there’s nary a frown line to be found on her sweet face. The house smells like delicious food and the floors are immaculate.

Birds are singing, the sky is blue.

You get the picture.

I don’t think it’s asking too much to expect reality to live up to the image.

So. We got a puppy.

We got little puppy Lennie on a Saturday morning. He was sweet, cuddly, full of puppy kisses.

He also peed every 60 seconds, indoors and out. The pee was nasty and bloody.

We spent his first afternoon at the local animal hospital emergency room. Puppy Lennie had come to us with a raging urinary tract infection.

We got through Saturday night and Sunday with 79 loads of wash and 65 floor washings.

Then in was Monday and our best beloved little one year old Ellie arrived. And the sweet, smiling Nonni in the apron turned into a raging lunatic old woman in a hoodie.

See, when you have a puppy, you have train said puppy. Which means that you have to reward said puppy literally every time you say “come” or “sit” or “drop it” or “get the hell off the bed, you stupid mutt!”

Which means that you have to walk around with a pocket full of tiny doggy treats. Hence the hoodie with its handy front pocket.

The raging lunatic part happened at about noon.

Poor Ellie was cutting four molars, and her digestive system was not at its best. It had been a long morning full of, “Lennie, drop Ellie’s sock!” and “Down! Down!” and “Let go of her hair, you menace!”

Ellie was overwrought. Nonni was exhausted. Lennie was having the time of his life.

Then Ellie pooped. She pooped a lot. She pooped as only a teething baby with an uncannily omnivorous appetite can poop.

I laid her on the couch and peeled off her diaper to find a massive smear of disgusting orange human waste and a butt so raw that there were blisters. Poor baby girl!

I grabbed a handful of baby wipes, trying to get off the worst of the mess without hurting her any more as the poor little kid sobbed her heart out. I carelessly plopped the poopy diaper on the coffee table beside me. I figured I could wrap it up and throw it out in a few minutes.

Yep. You called it.

Puppy Lennie, also affectionately known as “the Poop Hunter”, grabbed the unwrapped diaper in his tiny teeth and took off through the house.

He galloped, the poop flew left, the poop flew right. In his joyous excitement, Mr. UTI peed with every step.

Ellie sobbed, and rubbed her sore bottom with her fist, thereby smearing the poop all over her hand, and right into her hair……

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Flash forward 30 minutes. Ellie was safely seated in a warm bath, Lennie was back in his crate with a rawhide.

Nonni was hurrying back and forth from the bathroom to the rest of the house, vinegar soaked mop in hand.

Eventually, after what felt like a week,  the baby, the puppy, the walls and the floors were all clean again.

Ellie fell asleep on a blanket on the couch. Lennie fell asleep on a rug on the floor.

I collapsed onto the sofa. I looked at my elderly dog, Tucker, sitting at my feet. He looked back at me. Our eyes met. Neither one of us smiled.

I’m not sure about him, but I know I still had poop under my nails. I contemplated changing my clothes, but it seemed kind of pointless.

I reached out my stinky, vinegar and poop scented hand and patted his stoic old head.

“You don’t happen to know how to make a dirty martini, do you?” I asked.

He didn’t.

But I felt better anyway.

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I was sure that the next day, I’d wear an apron and the house would smell like cinnamon and love instead of vinegar and poop.

Stay tuned.

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Who, us? What did we do?

Just Clowning Around


When I was a little kid, Bozo the Clown was just about the coolest character there was.

OK, maybe he wasn’t quite as awesome as Rex Trailor, the TV cowboy, but he was still pretty fun. I used to watch Bozo on TV all the time. I even went to see him live one time! It was great.

Clowns were silly, funny, amusing. They used to be the grownups who didn’t act like grownups. We used to love clowns!

Now I find myself completely baffled and not particularly sympathetic when entire university campuses are put on lockdown because someone has allegedly spotted a (cough, cough) clown.

I mean, I understand the fear caused by the appearance of adults in strange makeup who try to lure kids into the woods. That original report by a little boy in S. Carolina was definitely spooky.

But now we have an entire country shaking in its boots because of…..um….clowns. Countless invisible clowns who haven’t actually done anything. Not one has been caught, arrested, or even questioned.

Seriously, folks? I mean, really?

In a world where families live with the constant threat of barrel bombs dropping on their homes, we are scared of clowns?

In a world where people have to fight for every bite of food for their children, we’re staying up at night because a guy with red nose is standing on the street?

I fear that we have lost our collective minds, America.

Last night I saw a message on Facebook warning people in my small, sheltered New England town to “Stay safe! Clown sightings in town! Keep windows up in your car!”

Why? Because he might squirt you with a flower on his lapel? He might squeak his nose at you?

Fellow Americans, we need to get a grip. The world is a beautiful place. There are so many things to love, enjoy, savor in the world around us.

And there are things to fear, too. Ignorance, hatred, greed. Fear those if you need to feel afraid. Superbugs, wars, famine, drought. Those are actual threats to our well being.

But clowns?

Come on. If you are living in fear of a clown, you have to admit that life for you is pretty damn sweet and you are actually incredibly safe.

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What the absolute f*ck?


I know. That’s just such an improper headline. I know.

But my sister Liz showed me the most hilarious little video that had that as the punch line, and now its in my head.

And when I tell you what has happened to me in the past week, you will also feel the need to say that same phrase.

Really.

Let’s begin three weeks ago, more or less.

I realized that every now and then, when I sipped my nice hot espresso, my lower left molar would go into a screaming fit of pain. My mouth would fill with saliva and my left cheekbone would start to feel like someone was jamming a hot spike into it.

Now, I am not stupid.

The fourth or fifth time that happened, I realized that I needed to call the dentist. So….a week or so after I realized that I needed to call, I looked up the number.

A few days later, with “call the dentist” at the top of my To Do list, I started to notice the same hot spike feeling if I ate something cold. Or sweet.

So I called.

See? I am not an idiot. I called the dentist and I got an appointment for three weeks later.

Yay, me!

This past weekend I went down to Pennsylvania with my sister Liz, who is better than I am at everything. I love her in spite of her awesomeness, and the two of us laughed our way down the  highways toward Lewisburg Pa, where we were going to meet our brand new great niece.

On the way, we stopped for coffee.

I was driving. Liz was looking at the map and chatting away. I took a good deep swig of the hot coffee and I felt the entire left side of my head explode.

My left eye watered as I drove. My heart hammered in my chest. My vocal cords made an involuntary “eh-eh-eh” sound.

I needed to have my tooth yanked out. But I kept driving.

After a half hour or so, the pain faded down to a dull roar. All was well. I knew I could make it another week before my appointment.

Liz and I went to Pennsylvania. We met our gorgeous little great niece and we celebrated with her wonderful parents. It was so so sweet! And my jawbone cooperated without having a screaming fit, so I was very happy.

Last night I got home, and unpacked and chatted with Paul. I went off to bed feeling happy and relaxed.

Hahaha. Silly, silly me.

As I went to bed, I popped in the little rubber mouth guard that I’ve been using for the past 5 years. It stops me from grinding my teeth and breaking all my molars. It’s not a big deal.

I fell asleep and had a lovely dream about the new baby.

Then I woke up. It was 3 AM. Something seemed off.

As I came more fully into consciousness, I noticed that the tip of my tongue felt very very strange. It felt like sandpaper. It felt like a bloated balloon. It felt like a big, bloated, sandpapered balloon.

I ran the scratchy balloon across my lower lip.

What. The. Hell.

My lower lip was just wrong.

I got up, fumbling for my phone to give me some light. I stumbled to the bathroom and quietly closed the door so I wouldn’t wake Paul up. I turned on the light, and made my way to the mirror.

Holy horrific images!

There was a face looking back at me. Its eyes were ringed with wrinkled, puffy sacks. Its gray hair was standing up in tufts all over its head. It had a big nose and a HUGE, pendulous, swollen lower lip hanging out over its chin.

It was my scary, creepy Uncle Salvatore staring back at me from my bathroom mirror.

The shriek that came out of that mouth would have roused the dead.

Luckily, I realized that the sound was coming from me, and that the distorted face was the result of some kind of crazy allergic reaction. I pulled out the mouth guard, took a long cold drink of water, and tried to think of what to do.

My mouth was burning, swollen, itchy and numb at the same time. I took a Claritin and some herbal antihistamines. I laid back down in my bed.

I tried to sleep, but my giant lip kept finding its way between my teeth. Finally I dozed and I woke to another day.

I have no idea why my body decided to react to the mouthguard after all these years. I have no idea why my lip turned into a giant raw wound filled with hot coals. I don’t know if any of this is related to the nerve in my lower jaw that definitely needs to be removed as soon as possible.

All I know is that as I stood in front of my bathroom mirror in the middle of the night with my gigantic lip throbbing in pain, all I could think of was the final line of that video Liz shared with me.

“What the absolute f*ck?” could be my motto today.

What am I supposed to do with the world’s biggest lower lip?