Lightning in a Jar: No More Fun & Games

Lightning in a Jar: No More Fun & Games

As the blistering, muggy heat of summer gave way to autumn, I felt a choking sensation in my throat. The one that comes with dread. Dread of senior year and what it meant. The goodbyes and moving on. Except, where would I be moving on to? Hadn’t my guidance counselor already determine I wasn’t prepared for much? Continue reading

Songs in the Key of Divorce

When I was a kid I’d imagine a soundtrack to my life, just like the people in the movies. When Audrey Hepburn goes traipsing through the streets of New York, Henry Mancini‘s haunting melody, Moon River, follows her all the way to Tiffany’s. It’s the same for John Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy, only this time it’s Harry Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talkin’.

So why not a soundtrack for me as I jauntily made my way through the streets of Flushing, New York? No such luck.  Henry Mancini wouldn’t give me the time of day. Ditto for Harry Nilsson. And forget John Williams. My Star Wars theme song just wasn’t in the cards.

But then something happened when my divorce was larger than life—consuming every waking moment—and haunting my dead-of-night dreams. Hands down, this was one of the most agonizing, unforgiving chapters of my life.

And so I invented my own soundtrack.  One created out of necessity, to help me cope and find sanity—and a bit of comfort, too. There are many stages in divorce and, lucky me, I didn’t miss a single one. So herewith are the songs that accompanied me during each of these phases:

Phase One: Shock, Denial  – Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You

Whitney Houston’s songs in The Bodyguard soundtrack got me through this stage. I was still having strong feelings for my ex, despite his shameless ways. I was still in denial that my marriage was over and my damn heart wasn’t ready to believe the worst, let alone move on. Perhaps, I needed Cher to yell at me to “SNAP OUT OF IT!” Sans that, Whitney voiced my emotions best.

Phase Two: Mourning – Carly Simon’s Coming Around Again

This was the period when Carly Simon’s songs from the film, Heartburn, became my constant companion. In Heartburn, Meryl’s character is pregnant and married to Jack Nicholson, a louse who cheats on her. Boy, could I relate! I wasn’t pregnant but, at the time, my youngest was still in diapers. A lot of the songs on this album are empowering, including my favorite, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, which is a twist on the childhood ditty. Coming Around Again gave me the kind of hope that springs eternal, representing my “I’m-a-survivor-like-Meryl-Street-in-Heartburn” period. It also showed me that the only solution to my divorce hell was the one that involved leaving my marriage behind, and moving on.

Phase Three: Rebuilding and S-l-o-w-l-y Moving On – Sting’s album, Ten Summoner’s Tales.

Can you believe I never listened to Sting before my divorce? Sure, I was familiar with The Police, but  Sting was already on his own and my marriage was unraveling around the time that this album came out. These songs put me in a different state of mind, making me feel like I was worth something. Sting’s music helped me rebuild my shattered self-esteem. Songs like, She’s Too Good for Me and Fields of Gold.

Phase Four: On My Own – U-2’s Joshua Tree

Pre-divorce, the only Bono I knew of was Sonny. But Bono of U-2 fame became my latest obsession after hearing a duet he sang with Frank Sinatra on, I’ve Got You Under My Skin. And boy, did Bono get under my skin, with his ultra sexy, bedroom voice.  I couldn’t get enough of this guy and then my friend Hellen, told me about U-2 and gave me the Joshua Tree CD. One play and I was smitten. Three songs made all the difference for me:  Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, and With or Without You.

Phase Five: The Single Life—or to Hell with Being Married! – Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell II

Some may find this hard to believe, but during this time, I became a Meat Loaf junkie. Bat Out of Hell became my anthem.  Thanks to a gym I belonged to, where they’d play Meat Loaf constantly during some intense step classes, I became a dancing queen, finding new joy in my singleton life.  Best songs on this album include: I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That), Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire, and Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere).

The songs I chose to listen to became a part of my therapy and ultimately contributed to my healing.  So for all of you currently going through your divorces, or just thinking about it, now you have my “Divorce is Hell” playlist to add to your iTunes library.  Consider it my gift to you. Trust me, you’ll feel better.  And, you’ll also owe me one. So, you’re welcome.

Oral Surgery #14

Last week I had oral surgery. The 14th in a series. In fact, I have been having oral surgery as often as some women have pedicures. In fact, I have it so often you’d think it was my secret obsession, my clandestine vice. It’s been close to five years now. Maybe more. I’ve lost count.  Perhaps I should have been keeping a scrapbook, marking all the procedures I’ve had done and carefully labeling all my x-rays. Indeed, when you consider all the money I’ve invested in this mouth of mine, thanks to these procedures, I probably should have had it long ago insured by Lloyds of London.

Dustin Hoffman gets some work done by his own Dr. S. in The Marathon Man.

So my gums are a mess, which is crazy when you consider how often I brush my teeth (about eight times a day). And I also floss nightly. Yet my gums are too flimsy to withstand the test of time inflicted by my chompers and the trillions of bites of morsels that have passed through these lips.

I know this because of something to do with an examination that dental technicians perform on gums. You know, the one where they stick a pointy instrument into your gum to measure its depth. Apparently, 3’s are good, but 4’s or higher are really, really bad. The max you can score is a 6, but I think I had nothing but 10’s. Off the charts, if you ask me. Let me put it this way:  If we were measuring it in terms of terrorist threat level to our national security, my gums were  in the red or “Severe Risk of Terrorist Attacks” level.

I measure the health of my gums by the national security threat level barometer.

I really don’t know what exactly is wrong with my gums, let alone what is being done to remedy them.  All I know is that my long-time dentist, the handsome and debonair Dr. T, once told me that I needed to have this surgery done. His gleaming white teeth and movie star good looks gave me no choice but to believe him. So he referred me to a stodgy, old periodontist, Dr. S., who confirmed that I needed the surgery and needed it desperately.

Dr. S., reminds me of Laurence Olivier when he played Dr. Szell, the nefarious dentist who worked on Dustin Hoffman’s teeth in Marathon Man. He actually grimaced the first time he looked inside my mouth, staring at my gums as others might stare at a 52-car pileup on the freeway. I saw the revile in his eyes–the look that told me he would condemn me forever if I didn’t have my gums repaired. So I scheduled my first appoint and kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t suffer too much pain at the hands of this menacing periodontist.

In order to prepare me for surgery, Dr. S. started me off with a cocktail of three acetaminophen and two ibuprofen. Full disclosure:  I hate swallowing pills. The thought is enough to make me gag.

After I take the medication, Dr. S. gives me five different shots of numbing solution. I need five because, now that I’ve had surgery so often, I’ve built a tolerance for the stuff and it takes much longer for the numbing to take effect. When it finally does, Dr. S. spends the next 90 minutes cutting, digging, shoveling, grinding, scraping, pulling, shoving, grafting, and stitching the gums in my contorted mouth until finally, he finishes with the pièce de résistance: a gray mass of goop that is plied around the wounded, tormented area of my mouth. The goop tastes delightfully like a mixture of water, glue, cornstarch and shredded newspaper. In other words, papier-mâché, and I’m supposed to keep it on for two weeks.

At the end of the surgery Dr. S. reviews the “At Home” directions—all 12 pages, which I pretty much know by heart: I must sleep in an upright position for a week, gargle with antiseptic, followed by a medicated solution, followed by salt water. I must apply an ice pack for six hours to prevent swelling, and Lipton teabags to avoid bleeding. No straws, no spicy or hard foods, and no smoking. Furthermore, no probing the affected area, no stuffing popcorn kernels in my mouth, and, definitely, no sticking poppy seeds between my teeth.  When Dr. S. is assured that I know the rules, he sends me home with a cocktail prescription of Vicodin, Tylenol Codeine, and a 10-day supply of antibiotics. Great. Just what I need. More pills to swallow.

I did receive some good news at the end of last week’s visit. Only one more procedure and then all the work on my gums will be complete.  It is the light at the end of the tunnel.  Or, in this case, the green light at the end of the threat level tunnel.