Tuesday, August 31, 2010

So Long, Ole Snaggletooth. Hello Regular Guy.

WARNING! If you're my brother or Alex, don't read this blog. Or at least don't look at the pictures. For some reason, certain people don't like seeing a close up picture of my face with a broken tooth hanging out in the front. If you don't want to see that picture either, then you should probably just stop reading right here. And also, you should probably get ready for me to give you a hard time and call you a wiener a lot. I just don't see what the problem is. It's just a broke-ass tooth! Man up!

So here's what happened. When I was 19, I was going to school at a lovely little liberal arts college in Beloit, WI. One of my good friends from high school, Straight Edge Rob, had come to the same college with me, and we lived in the same dorm our freshman year. One night, I believe in February, we were hanging out in the lounge of our dorm with a bunch of people, being innocently stupid, as most 19 years olds tend to be. I was doing a headstand in one of those big lounge chairs when I felt something hit me in the mouth. It didn't hurt at first; just felt weird and not right. I heard, sort of in the distance, our friend Gail exclaiming "Oh my god, Robert, you broke her tooth!" I came down from my headstand and put my hand to my mouth. Sure enough, there was a gap in my front teeth! My front left tooth had been broken in half in the front, and then angled upwards so there was almost no tooth left at the back of it. "Oh my god oh my god oh my god" I kept saying, looking at Rob. He looked horrified, insistingly saying "It was an accident!" I looked in the mirror and screamed, full out. I had a giant hole in my mouth. Damn.

A couple of questions are probably floating around right now. Namely, I imagine, "what broke your tooth, Reem?" Well, my friends, I'll tell you. It was a plastic hair pick that Rob had thrown. Yes, one of these:

Rob kept saying something about how it must have been the trajectory and angle at which the pick came down and hit my tooth that caused it to break in half. I was skeptical, but I really did know he couldn't have thrown something at me that hard on purpose. Or with that good aim. It was definitely an accident, but um...yeah. What an accident.

I assume the second question you're asking is "what happened to the part of the tooth that broke off?" Well...I can say with about 95% positivity that I swallowed it. The thing is, I don't remember swallowing it, but everybody else seems to remember that happening, and the tooth was nowhere to be found, so...I guess I swallowed the piece of tooth. Whoops a daisy.

Here is a picture of me shortly after it happened. I've been reluctant to share this in the past, not because of the ugly gaping hole in my teeth, but because of my crazy ass eyebrows in this picture. Yep, I'm sometimes vain. Not vain enough to resist posting pictures of myself with broken teeth, of course, but almost vain enough to not show you my pre-waxing-days eyebrows. Now you know everything.
See the broken tooth? The Cosmo comes into play because not but an hour before Rob knocked out my tooth, I'd been doodling on the cover of that Cosmo magazine, and had colored in Cindy Crawford's front left tooth. The same tooth I got knocked out! Creepy, eh?

I got the tooth fixed pretty soon after that, and had a couple of temporary crowns that fell out from time to time, usually in food or right before I had to get in an airplane. Very stressful. I had bad dreams about teeth falling out for about a year and a half after that and still have them every so often. Most recently (three nights ago) I dreamed that I had braces and the wire came off, which revealed the fact that I had no teeth at all on the bottom right side of my mouth. All gums, smooth and soft, that I could feel when I ran my tongue over them. So gross. One positive to come out of this, however, was a poem that my dad wrote and sent me right after this happened.To the best of my memory, here is an excerpt:

Reem laughed very hard with a mouth that opened wide
When from a far off land came RJ comb and busted her tooth apart!
One half went down in her guts and gave her the diarrhea!
The other half was broken and triggered the hysteria!
Reem called up her parents and cried out her heart
Thinking that for the rest of her life, she'd have to work at WalMart...

Oh Dad! I can always count on you for laughter during stress. Thank you! By the way, RJ was what we called him in high school, and how my parents knew him.

I eventually got a permanent crown when I was 20, which was a relief. And really, it wasn't too bad until the last couple of years or so, when I realized my fake tooth was looking longer than the rest of them. I called it my Snaggletooth. Apparently it wasn't evident to very many people, but there are definitely pictures in which it's obvious. Like this festive holiday one:

Or this one, which is one of about 20 that I took at all different angles in order to fully display Ole Snaggletooth. See it?

Needless to say, it was time to have it taken care of. This, in addition to the fact that I needed a root canal on the tooth and I had an abscess above it that was starting to weird me out. I went to the dentist, a very nice man who hums along with the Lite FM station in his office while he works, and over this summer, have had three dental procedures to fix my tooth, hopefully permanently.

During my second visit, they removed the old fake tooth and put in a post to help stabilize the permanent one I'd get a few weeks later. In between the removal of the fake tooth and them putting in the temporary one, I asked to look in the mirror. To my surprise, the leftover real tooth that was there was a totally different shape than I'd imagined. I think it looks like a sideways pacman, or maybe a shrunken head, in a way, but you can decide for yourselves (by the way, this is the picture Emil and Alex were mad about. Whatever, man):

When I asked the dentist and dental hygienist whether I should take a picture of this, they were both emphatic about me not documenting this. The dentist even said "You don't want to remember what this looks like, do you?" Hmm, I guess he didn't think I looked too good, eh? I guess some people don't think broken teeth are funny. Like Emil and Alex and Dr. Kosovec. Waa waa. You know what though? When they left the examining room, I jumped out of the dentist chair and snapped that photo real quick on my phone. I'm not one to let a golden moment go to waste. I just can't.

This morning was my last procedure, and I got my permanent crown put in. It's such a weird feeling to have my tooth be the same length as the rest. Also, the old crown was super thick in the back and this one is normal, and it's so strange. But I think it looks pretty nice! I'm trying not to micro-examine every inch of it, but I think it's okay.

And that's the story of my tooth, babies! Thanks to those of you who lasted through all the pictures. Were they really that bad?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Going to Homes Coming to Home

After I visited my friend Helen in New Orleans earlier this year, I wrote something somewhere about home and Home and coming to your home and going to others' homes. I thought of it again after I visited my friend Anna's hometown in Iowa, but I can't for the life of me find where I wrote it, or remember most of what it said, but this one line is ringing in my brain.

This is why we have to visit each other.

In an attempt to carry on with that...We need to be in each others' homes, to see the worlds in which we live in order to come closer to understanding this person. To see them water their plants and take out the trash, and walk down the street while neighbors greet them. To meet their friends and participate in their social lives. To eat their favorite foods and walk around their favorite tree. To have them point out the spot where they played their first gig, or had a really lovely date. To look closely at how they decorate their home, to see what they like to look at on an every day basis. What matters most to them. What is important to them. We need to go. Be in the person's home to truly see them. To see how they live and what they love, and to love them, love the experience of it all.

I feel this so strongly in Atlanta when I visit my sister. Yes, this is different from when we're in Chicago. This is her life, and I'm looking at it, loving it, being a part of it. Needing to be there more often. And then the other reminders: Go to Austin. Go to New York. Go to San Francisco. Go to Portland. Go to France. Go everywhere. Invent teleportation. Know the people I love. Learn about their lives.

I returned home tonight to wonderful food at my favorite Thai/Vietnamese restaurant and lovely catching up and conversation with my girl Genia, the regular routine. But then, Cycropia at the breathtaking Orton Park with old, giant trees lit up in blue, giant white orbs of light hanging from their crawling branches, and people in costume dancing and swinging on trapezes. Their grace. The quiet awe of the audience. People ducking out of the way so others could see. Strangers smiling. Walking everywhere all night and not driving at all. Running into friends on the street. Walking to the lake and seeing the moon reflect on the water, one single bright star below it and millions more shining clearly in the sky. That's my home. I'm home. I wish you all could see it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oh, Hey Music!

As we drove to North Georgia today to visit a zedonk (half zebra, half donkey - pictures and story to come soon!), my sister and I were talking about music and the most important albums in our lives. I'd done a note on this awhile ago on facebook, narrowing it down to 30 albums that were influential or important to me over the course of my life, but it was really fun to bring it up again, discuss together and compare notes. So, here's my list! I highly encourage you to make your own list, if only for my satisfaction and curiosity as I like you all and find you very interesting. For real, let me see your list. Leave it in the comments or write it somewhere else and link in the comments. I like you. I want to know about you and your music. Plus, music is awesome. Come on now.

Peter, Paul and Mary - The Best of Peter, Paul, and Mary - Ten Years Together
This is the first album I remember listening to as a kid. We had the record, and we would go see them at Ravinia (big outdoor music venue near where I grew up) most summers. Definitely instilled a love for vocal harmonies in my kid brain.

The Pointer Sisters - Breakout
The first tape I ever bought. I think I was 6 or 7. I remember listening to "I'm So Excited," "Neutron Dance," and "Jump (For My Love)," then rewinding it and listening all over again. Sometimes I would try and listen to "Automatic," but I thought it was boring and never got very far with it.

Michael Jackson - Thriller
We also had this one on vinyl. My favorite song was "Human Nature," and I saw the video for "Thriller" at way too young an age. I still get creeped out by Vincent Price's voice.

Jesus Christ, Superstar - Soundtrack
I have every word memorized, and I've seen the play 6 or 7 times, and I used to perform the entire thing in my room when nobody else was home, and my secret dream is to play Judas in a production of this musical. Don't tell anybody.

Led Zeppelin - Disc 2 of the Box Set
My sister owned the box set, and we'd set our cd player to play "Black Dog," "Over The Hills and Far Away," "Immigrant Song," "D'yer Mak'er," and "Stairway to Heaven." Once I finally listened to the rest of the disc, and the rest of the set, they became one of my all-time favorite bands.

Mötley Crüe - Dr. Feelgood
This was the first cd I ever owned! Sara gave it to me for Christmas in...7th grade? It came in the long box, and I loved it. I still have the same copy of this cd, and I still love it.

Guns n Roses - Appetite for Destruction
What do I even say about this? I think it is the most rocking album ever made. WAY ahead of its time. I mean, jesus christ, it was released in 1987! Crazy. I have two copies: one for the apartment and one for the car. It is my all time favorite album.

Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville
Oh Liz! You did so much for me. This was one of the first albums that introduced me to any kind of feminist ideals, and one of the first solo female artists I ever loved. Hearing her sing about sex and love was eye-opening for me.

Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes
When I was 15 or so, I needed Tori music more than I realized. Although I totally make fun of her now, I still listen to this album during my more angsty nights. Her lyrics were something I absolutely needed to hear at that time. And also, duh, piano rules.

Hole - Live Through This
Oh man. I think I also needed to hear some screaming when I was fifteen or sixteen. This was one of the first albums that made me want to play the drums. I used to try and sing along, but after a couple of minutes, my throat would hurt and I'd just drive fast. Every time I listen to this album, it's over too quickly.

The Violent Femmes - Add It Up
I had this tape playing in my car for most of my junior year in high school. It's awesome. I finally got to see them at the Aragon when I was seventeen, and it's still one of the craziest shows I've ever been to.

Ani Difranco - Not a Pretty Girl
Similarly to Tori, I needed to hear somebody saying this stuff. Saying that crazy shit had happened to somebody else, and hearing power and survival and inspiration in the music and lyrics.

The Pixies - Doolittle
I had a lot of friends in high school who I was intimidated by because they had "advanced musical taste," and loved The Talking Heads and They Might Be Giants and others who I totally didn't "get." I got The Pixies though, man. I got the shit outta them.

Immortal Beloved - Soundtrack
All Beethoven music. It formed what I wanted to do with my life. For real. After hearing these recordings, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to music. And it was the first time I heard my most favorite piece of music ever in life (2nd movement of the 5th Piano Concerto) Thanks, Beethoven!

Concrete Blonde - Bloodletting
Another from my sister. Johnette Napolitano's voice is one of my favorites, and was perfect for those confusedly-angry days of high school.

The Mix Tape Emily Weaver gave me for my 16th birthday.
First time I heard NOFX, the Descendents, A Tribe Called Quest, and the first time I really listened to Sly & the Family Stone, Sam & Dave, and Ella Fitzgerald. A HUGE influence in my developing musical taste at the time.

Prince - Purple Rain AND The Hits 2
I love them both. I associate The Hits 2 with driving to summer school the summer before my junior year. There was this ten-day period where my parents took my sister to look at colleges and drove my brother to Space Camp (that's right, Space Camp!) and left me home alone, and all my friends slept over in my parents' family room and we drove to summer school, listening to Prince. And Purple Rain because...well, dude! It's Purple Rain!

Beastie Boys - Ill Communication
I get this surge of energy when I hear them. Every time. I remember having fantasies of having MCA as a roommate, doing it with Ad Rock, and playing video games with Mike D. I'd still do all of those things.

Portishead - Dummy
I think that, for awhile, I may have been a little depressed in high school and college...

Björk - Homogenic
This is the only album besides Appetite of which I have two copies. The song "Jóga" is one of the most painfully beautiful things I've ever experienced.

Jeff Buckley - Grace
I listened to this album non-stop the summer of 1999, between my sophomore and junior years of college, right after Sarah Wallbank died. I would literally sit in my dorm room and cry and write and then wander around in a daze. It's still sort of hard for me to listen to this now.

Jane's Addiction - Nothing's Shocking
Another of the most rocking albums, but with a lot more beauty than Appetite. Every time "Summertime Rolls" comes on, I think of Christopher and laying in the bed in my dorm room on a beautiful, sunny day, and I feel more alive and full of love.

Hot Hot Heat - Make Up the Breakdown
Hands down one of the most upbeat, fun albums ever. The lead singer of this band is like maybe my height and has this great head of puffy hair and wears jeans that must be from the little girls department. But I digress. I mention this album because it marks a point at which I started listening to music that was way more fun and a little less...serious?

The Dismemberment Plan - Emergency & I
I remember Kaleb letting me borrow this album and telling me to listen to the track "Spider in the Snow." I did, and I was hooked. I've listened to this album in its entirety at least twice a month for the last 7 years. It just works.

Le Tigre - S/T and Feminist Sweepstakes
I listened to these a lot whilst living in the Womyn's Center at Beloit College and while playing in The Koochies with Sarah, Cody, Helen and Nicole. Very meaningful days...Once again, more wonderful ladies saying more things I needed to hear.

The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
"Fight Test" will always make me smile. I listened to this a lot when AJ-then-Tony was making his solo album and I got to play piano on it. This album means summer to me.

Postal Service - Give Up
Ben Gibbard's voice, while totally wienerific, is pretty lovely, and I actually listened to the lyrics of this one, unlike most music I listened to after 1999. Beautiful music for winter or summer days, which I think is a rarity!

Devotchka - How It Ends
The first album I ever owned by this amazing band. I love them.

Simon and Garfunkel - Greatest Hits
This album is one of few that I listen to while I'm in Ireland. One, because it's one of the few albums that whoever is there can agree on listening to. And that's only sometimes. But also because being in Ireland can often be bittersweet, and this album always helps me remember that when I want to come home, I already sort of am. Also, remember in Almost Famous when Anita puts on the song "America" and tells her mother "this song explains why I'm leaving home to become a stewardess?" Awesome.

Devotchka - A Mad and Faithful Telling
This album signifies a turning point in my life - right around a year ago - and has been a sort of necessity to me for the last year. I can pick out specific chords in "Along The Way" that lift up my heart. I get chills when I hear Nick Urata's tired voice on "Undone." Every time I hear this album, I feel like I'm discovering something new.

Written on 2/26/09.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Speaking For Me

If I could just hire all my favorite musicians to walk around with me every day and play songs on command, I'd feel a bit better about my lack of ability to speak and say what I want to say on certain days. At the end of this honestly beautiful day, which is at the end of a very emotional couple weeks full of love and family and sadness and beauty, a time during which I am having so much trouble verbally articulating anything I'm trying to get across, at least I can count on music to help me out. Some of the beauty, specifically, I'm feeling and appreciating as of late, and specifically today and tonight:

Simon and Garfunkel - For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her

Led Zeppelin - The Rain Song

Loggins & Messina - Danny's Song

Andy Williams - Moon River

Björk - Jóga

Jane's Addiction - Summertime Rolls

Music is pretty magical, don't you think? I hope you have some time to listen.