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Friday, October 23, 2009

Thoughts Of a Dentist's Drill

It's been a long week, and a long day. Fridays always seem to be the longest and the shortest days of the week, long because you're just waiting for sundown to come so you can sit down and take a breath and finally relax, and short because there's never enough time to do all the things you need to do, like dust on top of the refrigerator, sort your winter clothes, and prepare three entrees for Sabbath lunch :P

This week I was at the dentist, again!!! I'm starting to feel like it's my second home; I wonder if they have a preferred customer card and if I can get a discount on crowns, you know, buy one & get one free? Probably not, unfortunately! I joke that I don't need to go to heaven because I've got enough crowns here on earth!!! Thankfully all I had this time was a cleaning, and the dental hygienist was a very friendly young lady who seemed to know what she was doing as she measured the pockets of my gums, used a water drill (?) to clean off the dark spots (they always ask if I drink wine, coffee, or tea, because of the staining, but one dentist said that comes from eating a lot of vegetables), and then applied the tasty polish. It wasn't the most pleasant of procedures, but each time I'm sitting in that plastic chair with the extra plastic cover down at my feet (are they concerned about shoes passing on germs?), head tilted back as I try to stare anywhere but into the face of whomever happens to be bent over me at the moment, as they peer intently into the cavern of my mouth and begin drilling or filling or cleaning, I think about what kind of a job dentists and their assistants have, and I grow more and more grateful. I mean, think about it, would you like to spend your days looking into mouths filled with dirty teeth, poking and prodding around, sucking up saliva with a small aspirator, making sure nothing falls down someone's throat, drilling just enough tooth off so the crown will fit and not too much so there isn't any tooth left for it to hold on to, and sticking globs of plaster between teeth and then peeling and prying the hardened stuff off. Or perhaps you enjoy flossing other people's teeth, scraping away at little stubborn dark bits, or sticking needles in the exact spot, and making sure someone doesn't go numb in the wrong tooth. I really appreciate all the staff there, Jermaine, the friendly dentist in training who thinks I'm 18; Gloria, the no-nonsense Filipino dentist who assists my primary dentist; my dentist, a very sweet Indian lady whose name I still haven't learned; and the front-desk secretaries who never fail to call me to remind me about my upcoming appointment (only $925 for your crown, payable in advance, would you like to pay with check or credit-card and when can I make your next appointment for?). During each procedure I've had, whether a filling, a crown, or a cleaning, they've always made sure I was comfortable, asking me if I'm okay and if anything hurts, and apologizing if something was the slightest bit painful. I don't know how many of them are Christians or how much of the friendliness is "customer service training" but regardless, I appreciate that I am cared for. As I reflect on how the staff are both professional, friendly, and caring, I realize that this is something I need to strive more for. A Christian witness speaks louder than words and will convict more than a thousand sermons.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Unfinished Thoughts Still Smoulder

Got my H-1B visa extension approval notice yesterday, it came through 2 weeks early, which was kind of nice. Trying to adjust mentally to being at Weimar for, well, if I stayed another 3 years, that would be 14 years in all. Can you imagine that? Hahah.

Just finished watching Chocolat, with Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench (one of my favourite older actresses) and Johnny Depp. The plot of the film is where a young single mother and her daughter come to a very conservative set-in-its-ways town and she opens up a little chocolate shop, during Lent, and all the residents are supposed to be abstaining from things like chocolate! It was quite a good film, set in a little French town, and it was very emotional. I could identify with it because the mayor of the town also controlled everyone's lives, particularly spiritually through writing the sermons that the young priest had to read each Sunday. The mayor was skilled at weaving guilt all throughout the sermons and at making everything into a moral issue.

But near the end, there was one part that really rang true with me. The young priest, in his Easter Sunday sermon, said, "I think we can't go around measuring our goodness by what we don't do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist, who we exclude. I think we've got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Still No Answer

There doesn't always have to be a rhyme, a reason, a "why" to why something is. As children we grow up asking why and adults push us away or try to explain in language that is more complicated than the question, but one day we finally feel we have found all (or at least most) of the answers to our "whys" and we then turn around to answer the next generation's questions with a pat on the head or encyclopedic pontifications. Sometimes there aren't any answers, though.

When a young baby dies of no seeming cause, there is a why, but no answer. When children are abused, and their fear is unseen by those who can save them, there is a why, but no answer. When refugees in Sudan walk thousands of miles to escape those who kill the only life they have known, there are many whys, but no answers. When a woman finds her husband trading a lifetime of commitment for a moment of emptiness, she asks why but hears no answer. When an elderly man is sent home to die from cancer, or an elderly woman finds out she has breast cancer and had a stroke in the same day, they still ask why but silence echoes no answer. When earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and the swine flu lay claim to so many lives rich with the fabric of being and now stilled in an instant, a collective "why" ascends to heaven and still. . .no answer.

Only a Father Who weeps. . .

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Bit of This & That

Wow, it's been a while! After a couple hectic days (okay, make that "day") getting ready to head up to MT for Heather & Matt's wedding, then 5 days on the road, and the past week recovering from a head cold so generously shared by friends, I'm trying to get my life back into some semblance of order. However, order does not seem to be one of my strengths, because, while oddly enough I can be quite organized at work, once I come home, all my organization skills hop out the window and I'm faced with mountains of STUFF, wondering where it came from and why I feel the need to rush out about once a week and purchase more of it!!!

You'd think that I could get my shopping "highs" from grocery shopping, since I love a good bargain no matter what it is, whether colby jack cheese sticks with an instant $1 off coupon at Walmart, Mediterranean Veggie Chips at Grocery Outlet, or Kashi's soft granola bars at Target. But no, even though grocery shopping keeps me happy, I'm not completely happy unless I've purchased enough of the bargain item to make it worth my while. Which usually entails buying enough for me. . .my family. . .my friends. . .and the entire campus!!! It's quite hysterical, really, because while I have only two borrowed pans in my cupboard, I have three boxes of Kashi's assorted cereal (I had coupons!), four different kinds of washing up liquid (coupons again), and I'm well stocked in the ready-meal section with three different Indian sauces and numerous packets of basmati rice, just ready to pop into the microwave (specials at Grocery Outlet). I guess I just have my priorities straight!

I'm not exactly sure how I wandered onto this tangent of shopping, but I should be wandering towards my bed right about now. I'm still harbouring a bit of a cough and need to beat that before we head to Yosemite for some fun R&R next weekend.