Wednesday, February 25, 2009

no, he wasn't wearing a kilt

I haven't been to the dentist for a very long time. Just how long became apparent today, when I finally fronted for my half hour of torture and realised that some things have actually improved. The place itself was more airport lounge than dental surgery, although that old familiar smell - equal parts fear and fluoride - left me in no doubt I was in the right place. The 'nurse' (actually she used that word, not me) looked roughly 19 years old and seemed a little embarrassed, or maybe just perplexed, at her role in proceedings. I was a tad perplexed myself. How can somebody born in the late 1980s be saying things like: "I'll be your nurse today''. Yes. And technically I could be your mother.
Enter Mr Dentist, who unlike any dentist I've ever encountered, was relatively young (though thankfully from Gen X, not Y), had a dazzling smile, was really quite cute and was Scottish. Tick, tick, tick. Let's just say he had me at hello.
There have been quite a few dentists in my past, through no fault of my own since I just happened to grow sub-standard teeth and far too many of them to fit comfortably in my mouth. Almost all my dental visits were arranged, attended and paid for by my mother, because I was too young to have a say. Thank goodness for mothers.
When it fell to me to arrange my own dental hygiene, brushing twice a day was generally the maximum commitment I was prepared to make. I had the odd check-up here and there, but aside from the general hideousness of all dental surgeries, there were the old, balding dentists with bad breath, the uncomfortable eye contact, the maniacal buzz of the tiny drill ... it is no accident that people hate going to the dentist. When I say people, I mean me.
But today I was in for a treat. Not only did Mr Cute Scottish Dentist wear a surgical mask while he stared into my gaping mouth, thus sparing me any shattered illusions should his breath not smell like 12-year-old single malt, he also issued me (should I say ''the nurse'' issued me) with sunglasses. Apparently for the glare from the overhead light, but I've stared into enough of those babies to know there's not much your eyes have to worry about, it's your teeth that need to be afraid.
My stunning aviator-style black plastic numbers (no, they could not have been less flattering) enabled me to avoid the awkward scenario where you try not to look directly into the eyes of the man who is looking directly into your molars. Let's just say there's not much else you can focus on when their entire head is obscuring your view.
So there I was, shades on, thinking: "This is not so bad''. Even the fluoride treatment, which used to contain a ''flavour'' that instantly induced vomiting, was bearable. Could it be I'm turning into a grown-up? Needless to say, I didn't ask my nurse.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

the art of self-preservation

I’m not so much avoiding my children as practising self-preservation. It’s a new thing to me, the whole ‘live in the now’ concept, but I have to say it makes sense. Do not fret about what’s for dinner, what dreadful future emotional suffering you’re putting your kids through by letting them watch four DVDs in a row on a day not unlike that on which the Ark was first considered. Forget about it. Let it rain. Let their eyes go temporarily square. Let your awareness rise above the fact you are wearing a 10-year-old cardigan that’s seen better days, tracksuit pants that are clearly not in any way flattering and may be one size too small and ugh boots (enough said). If you look within yourself, you will see the real thing. This may mean removing yourself, if not physically then at least psychologically, from the room. Even from the building. Do not feel guilty about this. It’s in everyone’s best interests. Find your centre and focus on it for a few minutes. Breathe deeply and concentrate on feeling good about yourself. Not about exterior sensations or kind deeds or even perceived character strengths. This is not about any of that. This is about the blood that’s pumping through your veins. The air in your lungs that keeps your heart beating. The essence of what it means to be alive. You have all of these things and you need to be aware of them, even if it’s only for a fraction of time. As long as it’s enough to get you connected again to that which is truly you. Say hello to your higher self and remember they are always with you. Mentally puff our your chest, put your chin up and resolve to carry on. You are never alone and you are always strong and wise and doing what you’re meant to be doing.