Sunday, April 01, 2012

Greetings to Number 19 and Thank You for Not Breaking My Jaw

Last Monday, KQED’s Forum program was about the shooting of Trayvon Martin. The day before, on On the Media, they had played the extremely upsetting tape of the 911 call. On Forum, some of the African-American male guests were talking about the very frequent experience of seeing that white strangers, particularly women, appear to be afraid of them. One said he now just takes the initiative to cross to the other side of the street himself when he sees a white woman walking toward him.

On my way back from the ocean that day on my bike, I saw a black guy walking by himself in the park, and smiled and said, “Good morning.” I recognize that this could be construed to be condescending, but we had a very pleasant interaction, and I (anyway) felt uplifted. Also, if he had been thinking, “This woman probably thinks I’m a criminal,” at least on this occasion that notion was banished.

After more than a year of not being able to use the left side of my teeth for chewing because #19 was on a gay holiday elsewhere, I found myself still avoiding that area even after my dentist placed the implant crown. The day the crown was placed, I first visited my oral surgeon so he could attach an abutment to the screw that was sunk into the jawbone; the crown itself attaches to the abutment. He explained that when we chew, all of our teeth shift slightly, the upper ones up, and the lower ones down. He said that when my dentist adjusted the crown, she should make it so its surface wouldn’t meet any opposing force until after that slight downward shift of the bottom teeth had occurred and that if there was a choice between the top of #19 being a bit high or a bit low, it should be a bit low.

He didn’t go into graphic detail, but I think he was trying to say that if #19 encountered undue pressure, because it can't give a bit the way other teeth do, my entire jawbone could shatter where the titanium screw was driven into it and it would be unfixable, as well as hideously painful, and I’d have to go around for the rest of my life with a big sling around my head holding the lower third of my face on.

Ergo, crown or no crown and already being in practice, I decided just never to chew on that side again. But as luck would have it, pain arose on the right side Monday morning during my power breakfast—thank goodness it didn’t happen before the crown was placed—and I was forced to chew using the left side teeth for the first time in 15 months, and my jawbone did not shatter.

Later that day I finished installing MySQL and was kind of thrilled to have done so successfully; it was not entirely straightforward. On Tuesday I installed the latest version of Perl (a scripting language) and went to Howie’s and fulfilled my greeting duties. Wednesday was a fun day of playing with the computer, which bolstered my idea of maybe being a developer.

However, on Thursday, I discovered I’d broken the iMac, which I realized when I was unable to update iTunes and also the Logitech Media Server, the software for my beloved Squeezebox Boom. This all caused me to remember how much I hate computers: ixnay on becoming a developer. I ended up having to reinstall the Mac’s operating system, which fixed every problem, thank goodness. Then I reinstalled Perl but was thinking that if computers ever start to seem fun again, it might be a good idea to get a cheap Windows laptop to experiment on.

On Friday I took a long walk. I’ve really been enjoying getting to know the largely Latino Mission St. better. The stretch between 16th and 20th has been somewhat familiar, but everything else I had only a vague idea of. I’ve lately been walking the 13 or so blocks south of 20th, on alternating sides of the street, looking carefully at my side and the other side, and have seen so many wonderful things.

Yesterday Howie’s group did another lovely half-day of meditating together at the Happiness Institute and afterward four of us ate at Ananda Fuara. After lunch I telephoned the hospice facility to say I was on my way to visit A., and learned he had died Thursday morning, after my 26th visit to him, last week. Maybe the very last piece of U. S. mail he got was the recipe for chess pie. It is touching to think that his mother and something she cooked long ago were on A.’s mind in the very last week of his very long life.

Thus at loose ends, I went instead to Mission Pie with N., on my new favorite street, at 25th. She had lemon pie and I had a sort of horrible tea called “vital green.” Then she took me to see her place. Back at home, I found I’d broken the Mac again and had to reinstall the operating system from scratch a second time! Well, it has been a week of learning. I’m now persuaded that even if the Mac’s version of Perl is six behind what’s current, it’s really not a good idea to remove it. You can have yours as well, but don’t remove theirs.
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