Losing My Teeth to Writerly Angst
OCCUPATIONAL HAZARD: LOSING MY TEETH TO WRITERLY ANGST
by Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of SOMEBODY'S DAUGHTER
Everyone on this blog seems so nice, so put together. Thank you, Susan, for inviting me to guest-blog. Hope you don’t mind a dose of angsty-ness. I thought when I moved out of New York to sleepy Providence, Rhode Island, some of my angstyness would dissipate (the interregnum year, spent doing research for my novel, SOMEBODY'S DAUGHTER, in hyperspeed Seoul Korea actually wasn’t super calming, either), so I’ve determined I am just hardwired to be angsty.
So can I tell you about my teeth?
I have the kind of teeth that make dentists swoon. I had an awesome dentist in NYC, chosen by my girlfriends and me because he was so damn cute (turns out he was a great dentist as well, pwew!). He used to always say he’d cry if anything ever happened to my teeth.
Forty-plus years into life and no cavities. Not a one. But something happened recently that would make Dr. Kent cry, if he knew. My current dentist stuck his little tool that looked like a miniature sheperd’s staff into one of my back teeth and said: “Uh oh.”
“Cavity????” I shrieked.
“Nah,” he said. “But we’ll have to put a filling in all the same.”
Now, I have never heard the word “filling” used in conjunction with my teeth. I don’t drink soda, I floss twice a day. But it turns out that when I write and when I sleep, I clench my teeth so badly that I’ve actually worn off the enamel on some of my teeth, creating a opening into the dentin, same as if I had a cavity.
May I point out the irony of my father, who survived the Korean War on a starvation diet, but never suffered a filling in HIS teeth? Now his daughter, who has never known real hunger, has to get a filling because she is so angsty? Really sad commentary on modern life, ey?
So just as I have gone through a small, private gloat-fest (and inviting the wrath of the karma police) over a small and always-rare check I received for some reprint rights for my novel. Now—zap!--just as fast I had to sign over every penny for my four (!!) fillings and something called a Night Guard which snaps onto my two front teeth and makes me look like some kind of overgrown chipmunk but keeps me from clenching my teeth at night (n.b. a quick query to my angsty writer friends, 90% have this device, which I have never heard of before). It works, yeah, but I’ve been naughty and not wearing it every night because it’s wicked uncomfortable.
Epilogue: The other night I had a deam that I finally met George Clooney. He looked even cuter that he did on ER, and he even asked me out on a date. Of course I considered for a looong dream-moment saying Why, yes, of course! But then I decided I had to be honest and tell him that I was married. Urk! I woke myself with my teeth audibly clacking like a pair of maracas and my jaw muscles in a vise. Guess I’d better wear the %$)(*#$(%#&* Night Guard. #(*#$_)%*!!!
p.s. Thanks to Susan and others, I have been finding blogging and guest-blogging a delightful procrastination tool—look, I’m writing!! You can aid and abet this habit at GreenFertility.blogspot.com, where I write about health, recipes, and anything that vaguely has to do with fertility including how I keep my teeth looking naturally nice and white (what’s left of ‘em, at least) and with pictures of the choppers in question.
Thank you, Marie, for joining us here at Lipstick! Marie is an acclaimed Korean American writer, author of Somebody's Daughter and the young adult novels, Finding My Voice and Saying Goodbye. Her stories and essays have been published in Witness, The Kenyon Review, Newsweek, and the New York Times.