01/17/21

“You have two cavities,” the dentist says, and I feel a catch behind my ribs.

My dental habits this year were the most dedicated and disciplined I’ve ever managed. Even though I avoided flossing most of my life, I haven’t skipped a single night in a solid year and counting. I worked really hard to build healthy habits this year, and this was one I thought I’d nailed. If not 100%, then at least 99%.

I ask the dentist if the cavities are big or small. She just reminds me where they are, and I’m still too stunned to push it. I leave the dentist office in a disappointed daze. I want to know: crap happens, especially with soft, cavity-prone teeth like mine, but didn’t my efforts make any difference at all?

After the kind of week I’d had leading up to this appointment, with heart-shattering relationship implosions ending in denial of progress or closure, I just wanted a perfect reward in at least one area of my life. Wasn’t partial perfection too much to ask?

But life isn’t like that. It is filled with imperfection and disappointment as much as reward and fulfillment. The significance of the one can’t be felt without the pain of the other.

So I’ll pick myself back up, adjust expectations and strategy based on new data, take comfort in how my mental health progress this year proved strong and healthy under pressure, and take myself back to the dentist to get my dental caries filled.

Words

After months of limiting my access to social media and the news for my own mental health, I have been scrolling social media so incessantly for three days now watching the newest political crisis unfold, that it made my wrist tendonitis act up.

I feel like I need to do something, but I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what my community needs, what I could ever say that would get through to the people that need to hear it most. I’m not sure the people I most want to reach will listen, because to them, I’m mostly just naive, a backslider, a sellout.

When I think of things I could say, a few things come to mind:

Maybe, “Even though you didn’t want to be complicit in white supremacy, the fact that it benefits you makes the nation’s attempts to eradicate it uncomfortable, even threatening to you. That’s okay and perfectly natural, so long as you see it for what it is and take practical steps to help dismantle that kind of social cancer, and make sure your fear and resentment aren’t stoked to terror and misdirected by questionable leadership (like, say, televangelists, Fox News, and Trump himself.)”

Maybe, “You heard him brag about sexually assaulting women, and you voted for him anyway. Twice. And you have the gall to make excuses for him, to complain about social justice movements to my face even while the escalation continues. If you think the implications shouldn’t mean anything to me, as a woman, you never had empathy for me in the first place.”

Maybe, “Fuck.”

That’s the one I really just want to say over and over again.