Where Did All The Wisdom Go?

This week I’m in and out of sleep, taking pain meds every few hours, essentially on a diet of yogurt, broth, applesauce and ice cream thanks to an experience Monday that I just had to tell you about.

For the past few weeks, dare I say months (I know), I’ve been desperately trying to avoid dealing with pain around my wisdom teeth, swollen gums, the whole bit. I actually was encouraged by a dentist two years ago to get them removed and I thought, nah I can power through the pain.

When the more recent pain started I thought it had something to do with medication I was taking or perhaps the weather or perhaps some other random reason. Whatever the reason, it kept me in denial about actually going to a dentist to address the issue. It was part fear, part financial because who wants to drop hundreds of dollars (after insurance) for little more than 1 hour of work, part who has the time to deal with surgery and recovery and part a laissez-faire attitude about the whole thing.

Thanks to a loving but stern talk with my mother last week I booked an appointment that night for the next day. I went to see a dentist and ultimately got a chance to consult with an oral surgeon which led to a decision that I needed to get all four wisdom teeth removed from my face at the earliest — May 21.

I was so nervous leading up to it, had tons of anxiety and was so glad that my boyfriend could be there with me. I was taken back to the room and told that they were going to start the laughing gas pretty soon because of course if I’m going to have teeth pulled by the root I need to not feel anything and I mean that! This was my first surgery and first time having anesthesia that was so strong and what an experience that was!!

I didn’t think the nitrous oxide would have such an effect but I knew it had taken hold when the surgeon walked in to ask if I was ready to go and instead of using my words, I just could not stop laughing.

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Actually, several times throughout the surgery I burst out laughing because of random things I was thinking about like my boyfriend’s face if he walked in and saw my face looking like a balloon. I was also laughing at the surgeon a little bit whether he knew it or not because he had a tough time with some of the teeth that were really in there. Afterwards he told me that my roots really liked me because he had to work hard to get those teeth out.

I was so glad to have laughing gas but boy coming down off that stuff is a real drag lol.

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Of course, Beyonce and Drake got me through the first half of the surgery and I was so grateful but my Google Play app did not repeat the playlist that I had started so about halfway through the surgery my music was gone and of course I’m far too loopy to figure out how to unlock my phone. So I had to just listen to everything. All of the drilling, the talking, the root pulling and I’m way more conscious of what’s happening. It sucked.

The first half at least I was humming and singing a little bit. I’m sure it sounded crazy to them because I had a mask over my face, a bunch of tools in my mouth and occasionally let out wild hyena cackles but in my head I could have been on tour.

I thought that I would have been sleep the entire time so I was a little surprised when most of the time I was awake. I was able to look around. I knew what was kind of happening but there was a time or two when I let the gas take over and I could not keep my eyes awake. I realize that must have been tough for them because they gave me instructions to hold my head still, keep my chin up. In my head I was thinking I’ve got to stay in this to help the doctor and in reality my body just was going to do whatever it was going to do and sometimes I just went limp.

When the surgery was over my bottom lip felt HUGE like that scene in The Nutty Professor where Eddie Murphy is fighting between the skinny and fat version of himself.

I asked them if I could keep the teeth to remind myself of this experience. They could only give me one because the others had to be drilled and chipped into a million pieces.

I remember last week when I first went into their office and they gave me some post-op instructions to review before I came back. They said that I should be able to leave out after surgery on my own if I didn’t have somebody to be with me. Fast forward to surgery day when I woke up from the anesthesia and it was time for me to get out of the chair and leave all I could think was, “How the hell could somebody walk out of here after something like that on their own and be okay?” My boyfriend was the real MVP and has been since.

I felt very Michael Jackson trial or post hollywood cosmetic surgery walking out. Adrian got me a mouth cover to put on. You know, those things that people wear in public sometimes at the airport when they don’t want to share germs? I had my coat on zipped up, my hood on, sunglasses on even though it was raining.

Something very valuable that I learned and would tell anyone now is that I should have taken that next pain pill earlier than they told me to because the timing of when the anesthesia wore off and the pain started to set in….babyyyy…. it was Unreal. I stayed and have remained staying in one place as often as possible — Changing mouth gauze every 30 to 60 minutes, spitting out lots of blood and my face is the size of Canada. My home is a series of alarms going off every so often to remind me of another pill to take or another dressing to change or just to eat.

I’m grateful for the thoughts and prayers and well wishes. I was given a long list of risks prior to this surgery and I was an increased risk for a few reasons. I’m so glad things went as smoothly as I prayed for. Recovery has been a bear but I’ll be better eventually. Keeping some sense of humor is helping me through the moments of crying because of the pain or laying on the bathroom floor because of the nausea caused by the meds. Once I can eat a burger and fries, I never want yogurt again lol.

My parents and nephew came to visit which is just the sweetest. I’ll spend the weekend with my family. I had to tell them there was nothing to worry about. I’ve been in very good hands. My boyfriend has done just a phenomenal job of taking care of me. He has been so kind, patient, keeping me in good spirits. I looked up at him today with jaws full of gauze and the inability to open my mouth very wide because of the pain and swelling and called him my true love then laughed because I clearly looked a mess. He obviously understood none of it but he replied oh yeah of course.

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So the road to recovery I’m on continues and it’s painful but I’m glad I’ll never have to do this again. Seriously…

Forget wisdom I’ll keep whatever is left.

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No is a Complete Sentence 

“What’s a pretty girl like you doing by yourself?”

I have spent many times at bars or restaurants alone watching NFL, NHL, NBA or MLB games to name a few. It has never really bothered me to be alone in public places. I quite enjoy it sometimes as I often look around to see people with friends yet all parties are staring straight into their phone, not enjoying one another’s company at all. Though I don’t mind being alone, I have unfortunately found however that in some instances when I am not with my boyfriend, my experience is very different and sometimes it’s exhausting. I often time get approached with opening lines like, “What’s a pretty girl like you doing by yourself?” To which I respond, “Having a beer and watching the game just like you came here to do by yourself.” No thanks, I’m not interested.

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Consider this a PSA — Women are capable of being out and about unaccompanied. Gentlemen, don’t make it about you and what you think is the story. We’re not desperate to pick you just because we arrived without a man.

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I remember when I lived in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua. A country I have come to love very much for its beauty and many of the beautiful souls I met there. The violence and unrest of late is particularly devastating to a country that has forever been in a state of rebuild from decades of both natural and man-made destruction.

Anyhow, while I lived there, I studied. The center where I took classes was on a long, dusty road tucked behind homes and trees and even a soccer field. Around one bend in the road on that journey was often a large group of men who would sit for hours, waiting for trucks to swing by in need of day laborers. Some days no one came by so they sat all day. When you could take a taxi past, you could hear the whistles and catcalls once they recognized a woman was around. When I would walk by with other girls, the catcalls grew louder. They never were physically threatening just harrassing from a far. We ignored them, never looked in their direction to show we were clearly not interested in their advances but it didn’t matter for they would call out anyway.

I remember one day I finished with my classes early and had nothing else to work on. I wanted to leave early but I had no one to walk with or ride with. It would be hours before anyone else left for the day. All I could think of was walking past that group of men. I went back and forth in my head then decided to leave since it was the middle of the day. I said a little prayer and went on my way. As I approached the corner, I braced myself for the whistles and yelling but heard nothing. On that day, maybe they all found work or it was far too warm to hang but no one was there so I didn’t have to walk that uncomfortable looong walk past the whole group of them! I whispered a “Thank you God” and continued on my way. Later on that road (it was at least a mile or two), after mostly quiet I walked past a group of homes and heard a whoop to get my attention. Because it had been so quiet on my walk it startled me so I looked up which only increased the whistles. I never saw anyone which I’m grateful for but it made me realize it was a dumb decision I had made. It was unfair that I had to feel that way but it was reality. I was living in a foreign place, a temporary home where I was still learning the language and though I had said goodbye at the center before I left, no one truly knew where I was. I didn’t have a smartphone or gps tracking. In the end, though I know it was God who kept me safe, it wasn’t my best decision to test God’s protection in the first place. I never did it again.

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Over the weekend I was helping at an event at McCormick Place. There was at least one instance I clearly recall where I was like, come on. I was working with a group and one of the girls was my buddy for the day. We clicked and spent much of the day sharing about our lives and praying for time to move quickly. During one of our event breaks, another man we were working alongside started hitting on her. He pulled her aside and asked if she was married and when she said no, his response was, “So you’re interested?” To which she told him she was not interested in him. She was in a relationship and even if she wasn’t, being single is not an auto-invitation to make someone uncomfortable. This man was also twice her age so it caught her completely off guard since she had been as nice to him as she had with everyone, making conversation since we were with each other for 13 hours.

Do you sense a theme here?

These are just instances of people using their words to make someone uncomfortable. It’s also awful for those in this world where harrassment goes beyond words and turns physical.

I was having this conversation with a guy friend of mine the other day over brunch. We were discussing some of the big stories and names that have caught the attention of the public over the past few years. We agreed that it is terribly sad how engrained victim blaming is in society. Harrassers and criminals can repeat harrassment and crimes like assault with little to no fear for retribution when women are involved.

In some of the most famous headlines when there are multiple women telling their story of sharing the same experience, they are called liars or whores or gold diggers or reputation ruiners. They are questioned about what took them so long to speak up. People put timeframes on someone else’s pain and experience. How unfair and unkind to ask someone to hurry up and get over it already.

When a person goes through any harrassment, assualt or trauma, they are likely to process or recover or grieve in a number of ways but the timing of that is their own. There are people who take decades to speak out and acknowledge trauma that happened to them as little kids. In our society, as adult women get harrassed over and over, the world just gets used to it. The stories are so commonplace, it’s ridiculous. Women are told to take it as a compliment or not get so sensitive. Women have actually been killed by strangers for saying they weren’t interested.

Ever seen the videos of the woman who secretly filmed how many times she gets harrassed on the street by men in a day? Part of the #MeToo movement is about individuals declaring how commonplace the experience is.

When individuals who don’t believe it, ignore the victim’s pain or truth after they have relived that trauma by speaking their truth to power, it reinforces the negative beliefs they may have been told by their abusers or the shame they have settled in themselves. Victim blaming damns the victim for wanting to be free.

And the shame placed on women makes the environment that much more uncomfortable for men to come forward about their own experiences with trauma, assault or harrassment. No means no and that statement is not gender specific.

No is a complete sentence. If you don’t like it, you can piss off.

I felt compelled to write this post because I too think our world has room to change. I have a zillion examples of things like this from family, friends, myself and so on. From something as simple as unwanted flirting or advances (no doesn’t mean try harder) to physical attacks, actions have consequences and No means No.

It doesn’t matter how late or early in the day it is. I don’t give a shit what she had on or what signals she might have been giving. People need to keep their hands to themselves in the absence of mutual consent. And yes I believe consent can be revoked at any time if one party feels uncomfortable.

One day in the future I also want to write a blog with this title thats not about the topic of harrassment or assualt but how No is a complete sentence in the workplace or your personal life. You can say No (without explaining yourself all the time) and keep your peace and sanity. Saying No should not make you feel guilty when you’re being asked to meet unrealistic demands or just don’t want to do something.

A Flight of Gratitude

Here is a post I drafted last August and didn’t finish until now…

On a (not so anymore lol) recent flight I took, I sat in a row of three seats with a Marine and Navy man, two young retired U.S servicemen, not much older than me. They didn’t know each and I didn’t know them but boy was I honored for the experience.

Man did I hear some powerful stories.

This BETTER NOT be news to you but there are very real humans fighting and serving all over the world.

I know many men and women on active duty and many veterans. It is a unique role to be in and a special position to take on for those who join the military. My dad is a veteran, honored to have served and I love him dearly for it.

Back in my window seat, I heard many of their graphic stories – one a more animated storyteller than the other.

I heard of an experience in Fallujah —
A guy shot in the head and a bullet ricocheted off his helmet and left a dent this soldier could put his hand in. I was shocked by how casually he spoke about it. Obviously I know nothing of the front lines of war. I have watched my share of documentaries, read my share of personal stories and heard my share of experiences from individuals all over the world. I remain in awe every time still.

Something else very fascinating they mentioned in agreement which I had never heard… When people say “Thank you for your service” or “I appreciate your service,” while those words never go unappreciated, they said… when they come from someone who hasn’t been on a battlefield, they can’t really know. They don’t really know what it takes. What it’s like.

That struck me. I, for one, have never been on an active battefield.

I happen to believe things happen for a reason. Of all the flights, of all the seats I landed there and so did these guys. As I said before, they did not know one another. They had different ethnic backgrounds, different religions, different experiences. Neither wore a uniform. But they recognized something in each other and spent the entire flight sharing with one another about it.

To them it was special because though different military branches, they each have a level of understanding that I for one will never have even though I fully support the men and women who give of their time and lives to do what they do.

These men talked about their lives now, the struggles they face, the PTSD and how they survive millions of miles away from the battlefield. One, encouraged the other through his faith. The other, resistant but respectful while hearing what worked well for his new friend.

Though I don’t stand in their shoes and I haven’t seen or done what they have firsthand, I am grateful for them anyhow. I am thankful and grateful beyond holidays that remind us to remember to have gratitude and show care or kindness. I am glad I chose that seat near the rear of the plane, for I will forever remember that experience.

Finally a request to any employer… hire veterans. A request to regular citizens… remember to treat all veterans and our servicemen and servicewomen with respect both when they return home and while they serve. It breaks my whole heart that there are people who served and don’t have proper access to healthcare, housing, food, mental health services and many other resources or support they may truly need. I hope that changes in my lifetime.

I personally don’t care much for war but that doesn’t stop war from happening so while I pray more that true peace can exist worldwide, I will do another thing that feels like my part. I have and will continue to fully support the people who honor the role, the duty and our country with their sacrifice.