29 September, 2012

apology accepted

“I am sorry, I should have listened to you.”  That is what I had to tell my dentist.  I apologized even though I am not certain that I was at fault.

It all started a when a group of us went to the local market for breakfast and some food shopping.  The market here is like a ‘farmers market’ back home, except that a farmers market is something out of the ordinary and many times viewed as something a ‘naturalist’, ‘granola type-person’ or alas…a vegetarian would go to.  Here it is the norm and basically the only way you can get food outside of growing it yourself.

A typical Khmer breakfast is baboa (runny rice) or noodles, both with veggies and meat).  I was satisfied with a couple of strong cups of coffee with a touch of condensed milk since both Khmer breakfast dishes are prepared in meat sauce.  After breakfast, we ventured into the food part of the market and picked up lots of fresh veggies, my beloved chilies, dried soybeans and some snacks for the kids.

On the way back to the truck I saw a lady selling some kind of treat.  Street food is usually off limits to me, but this stuff looked sweet.  I confirmed that there was not any formerly living creatures in the snack and proceeded to buy one. (or actually 2 since they were priced at a whopping 2 for 500 Riel – or 13 cents).  I could not believe how delicious it was; something like rice, shredded coconut and freshly ground salt and pepper rolled up into a crepe.  Sweet and salty and spicy at the same time!  I gave one to Pisey and shoved the other in my mouth.  I turned to Wayne and the others and said “You have to try this!”  I was so entranced by the taste, I turned and handed the lady 1000 reil and bought 4 more – greedy greedy Melinda! 

Driving home, I bit into my 3rd one and felt something crack on my tooth.  I guessed it was a chuck of pepper that wasn’t ground up properly.  I kept fiddling my tooth with my tongue because now there was something sharp.  I thought I might have broken one of my filings or that there was a piece of pepper stuck between my teeth and by the time I got back home, my tongue was raw.  About 30 minutes later I finally realized that there wasn't anything stuck between my teeth instead, I had broken my tooth in half!

I kept wiggling one piece of it back and forth but it became extremely painful and I couldn't bite down on that side of my mouth. I didn’t know if Wayne could pull the broken piece out safely or if it was stuck to the root; therefore would cause the whole tooth to come out.   It happened on a Friday morning, so a trip to Phnom Penh was out of the question.  It was election weekend and more than likely the dentist office would be closed.  I sucked it up and ate rice and noodles carefully on the right side of my mouth all weekend.
I wasn't worried about infection since I had been taking Amoxicillin for about 5 days when it broke.  Why was I on Amox?  Well, you see it appears that for me “as the saying goes” that your body doesn’t start breaking down at 40, it’s actually at 44.  This year I have had one thing after another happen, the broken toe was just the start of my left foot ailments.  Sometime in the week prior, a spider (or some insect) bit me on my 2nd toe.  It didn’t’ really hurt, but more itched like crazy.  I kept the wonderful “Climb On!” on it and it kept the itching to minimum and the wound clean, but couldn’t stop the layers of skin from peeling away.  It was like a non-contagious version of toe leprosy!

Two days after that I slipped on the rainy tile and as my right foot shot out in front of me, the pressure of my forward falling body caused my left big toe to scrape against the cement which ripped off a rather large chunk from the top.  I took one look at it and knew there was no way to save the top so as I poured peroxide on it, I clipped off the top (anyone still following the story?) and quickly packed CO! on it with a large bandage as I limped to find my flip flops as my crocks would be too confining…..where was I…

Oh yeah, the tooth thing. Well, bright and early Monday morning, I went to the local village dentist.  He took one look at it and said he could maybe fix it, but if it didn’t work I would have to go to Phnom Penh; so he suggested that I go there anyway.  Once in PP,  I went to the same female dentist that completed my pain free root-canal about 6 months before.

As I settled down in her chair and let her take a look in my mouth, she started to reprimand me.  At first I was a bit shocked since last time she didn’t speak such good English. She said that when I got the root canal she had told me to come back in a few months to get the tooth capped so it wouldn’t be damaged further.  Now I have a pretty good memory and I do not recall her telling me that. 

 Me looking perplexed.

But then I couldn’t argue very well with my mouth open and that sucker thing going full blast.  As I laid there hoping this procedure wouldn’t be painful she stuck a large needle right into my gum and then moved it all around.  OUCH!  When she was satisfied that either she numbed it properly or that I had shed enough tears, she pulled out the needle and then the broken part of the tooth.  She then drilled away at the stub and….

My kind-of-scared look.

Well, let’s just say the rest of the procedure did not go by as fast as I would have liked, but I had a temporary crown and was told to come back in 2 days for the permanent one.   That’s when I wiped my tear stained face, sucked it up and told her I will listen to anything and everything she has to say from here on out.

Two days later, I received my permanent cap and it’s been pain-free and holding ever since…and all for a whopping $100.

nah nah nah nah nah – only $100 dollars!

One hundred total, no additional office fee, no additional charge for pulling the tooth, no additional charge for the anesthetic, no charge for her cell phone number she gave me if I had any problems.  Yep, for a $100 and a little scolding I can eat anything I want again, but maybe I’ll stay away from cute little ole’ lady street vendors as I hang on to my toothy smile a bit longer.      

14 September, 2012


While walking in Phnom Penh (waiting for Princess Fiona to arrive!!) an old Bon Jovi song began to play on my little green Ipod (thank you Kat Chma - I didn't think I would use it much, but I was wrong!)  All of a sudden I was overwhelmed with the pure thought of "What If".  That song transported me back though time.  Within a few paces, my mind  was scouring through past relationships somewhat like flipping through the pages of a picture book.  Some pages caught my minds attention and I allowed myself to consider the "what if".  A few faces stuck with me and some made me smile.  Although there were those that did not warrant much consideration at this time, it did not mean that those experiences didn't in some form or another help shape me into "Me".

I remember in 2006 during peace studies while at Native Spirit Camp, I was overcome with the realization that if I were to die at that very moment, I would do so with no regrets in life.  There was nothing in my life that I doubted or would have changed.  No "What If" scenarios occupied my thoughts.  Therefore, as I continue to walk and ponder the chosen few memories (I'll never reveal who had the honor!) I envisioned the house, the kids, the white picket fence and I smiled.  As I smiled and walked onto the street to maneuver around a car parked on the sidewalk, I caught the eye of a sleepy security guard and he smiled back at me.  A very sweet honest smile which brought me back to reality.  My reality, the here and now, and I had to smile even bigger knowing my "what if" can be filed in the fiction section of my mental library meanwhile the here and now has yet to be shelved.

As I reached my new favorite coffee shop, NOM, Bon Jovi's "Misunderstood" had been replaced by MeatLoaf's "Life is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back"...further solidifying that my "what if's" are nice thoughts to pass the time, but will never become regrets.  I have made the right life decisions at the optimal times to bring me the most joy and happiness possible into my life.  

While sitting down writing these thoughts in my journal New Order's "True Faith" started playing. It is one of my all-time favorite songs and the bizarre video prompted me (at the wee age of 19) to go buy a sign language book. 

Those particular songs in progression...ironic? - no such thing as irony, what's meant to be is meant to be.

By the way, haven't heard the songs? Click away.

01 September, 2012

life as I know it

I have been asked at different times by people something like “how did you give it up?”  “How were you able to just leave everything behind.”

My answers varied during each conversation, but lately I started thinking about what they asked and wish I would have said more at the time than just saying “Oh, my path led me here”.  It’s not really that simple even though it now feels like it was. 

I remember times when I was torn over decisions I was forced to make, decisions that not only affected my life but those around me, too.  As I choose one path over another time and again, sometimes I unintentionally hurt those close to me.  As I searched to find meaning in my life, I moved from house to house, broke promises that I had made to love interests, and confused my family and those that tried to figure out why. 

“Why can’t you just be normal”, I was asked once.  I laughed outwardly along with others, but inside I was angry.  Angry at this so-called-friend who didn’t understand that my life was normal to me.  Angry because she assumed hers was!  This one woman who lives in the middle of the United States and who has never been out of the country (much less out of her state) assumes ‘her’ life is ‘normal’.  I guess in comparison to the 1000 materialistic people around her, it is, but when you compare the life she is leading to the billions of people in the world, I would have to say that her life is very much abnormal in an alarming harmful way.

So when asked “How did you leave it all behind”, I must look at what I actually left.  Obviously the physical human lives, which I am not able to see as often as I like is one thing, but besides that, I left many many things quite easily.

I left financial burdens such as a car payment, rent, insurance, monthly phone bills, etc.  I left complaints over gas prices, over the high price of organic food, $3.00 cups of coffee.  I left my vanity behind, no more worrying about my hair, face and nails, or whether my clothes matched every morning.  I left drama (mine and others).  This list can go one and on...  

Over time, I was able to let go of feelings of inadequacy, insecurities and finally the desire to have an adult relationship.  America is supposedly about freedom, right?  Land of the free?  Personally, I am far far away from that country and yet, I have never felt more free than I am now.

Free, yes, selfish, no.  I didn’t think about what I was leaving (those realities came about later), but what I focused on was what I was gaining.  A heightened sense of awareness that can only come from being invited to explore and examine another way of life, another culture or religion perhaps. 

I am now fitting into this culture the best I can and have never felt more fulfilled.  I don’t blog as often because of this new sense of normalcy.  The kids are constantly doing interesting, cute and news worthy things, but it’s become harder and harder to make the time to blog about it.  I guess that’s where hand-held devices come in handy…but it’s not something I will be utilizing in the future.

I guess for now, I will continue to live life as I know it, but at the same time will try to keep everyone updated a bit more regularly.  Here are some 'feel good' photo's to hold you over until the next update :-)