15 June 2005

"She'll Take Manhattan, And I'll Have The Root Canal, Please - Hold The Epinephrine!"

I waited...and I waited.

No phone calls. Traffic was miserable, according to every NYC Traffic-cam I could find on the web. Of course, when I would go to one of those traffic sites (auto-traffic, not web traffic), I would look through "eyes half open", because NYC can be a scary place, in terms of transportation and all of the things that can go wrong when 8 million people decide to call the same, relatively small piece of real estate home.

I paced. I drank another coke. I pretended to have my mind on other things, but I was absolutely unable to "dupe" myself. I'd jump on the rare instances that my cell phone rang yesterday afternoon, and slink back into my chair when caller ID revealed it was not my daughter ringing in. On the off chance she might be calling me from an ID mysteriously labeled "Unavailable", I even answered the calls that I normally never answer. Of course, it wasn't her.

I called my friend/confidant, who told me she was certain that everything was just fine. That Katie was probably out having fun, exploring, and was so overwhelmed with the sights, that she had slipped her mind that I might be mildly curious as to if she arrived safely and in one piece.

I scoffed at that notion. Katie often does a lot of really blond things, particularly with her hair recently re-enlightened, however the one thing she has always been consistently dependable about, is letting me know she was where she was scheduled to be, when she was scheduled to be there. She may not have always liked doing it, and I certainly haven't always liked where she might be calling me from, but she could be counted on to keep me posted, just the same.

No, I was absolutely certain something was amiss. Perhaps they had run out of gas on the George Washington Bridge? The Jersey Turnpike? The Holland Tunnel? My mind, however, by around 5:00 PM EST, went into full-blown, "this is so terrible I probably can't even imagine what has happened to my baby", panic mode. The clock was not my friend yesterday afternoon.

By 6:30, I was ready to call out the National Guard, the Marines at Camp Lejeune, NORAD, Interpol and anyone I knew with a Northern accent who might help me figure out where to start looking for my little, blond needle in a haystack.

In the middle of one phone conversation, I got a call waiting beep, and blessedly it was from Katie's cell phone and I heard her voice... for all of five seconds. "Mom, we're here in..." and then it cut off. Where, I wondered was "..."? At least I knew she was alive. That information alone was enough to return my heart to the lower triple digits. I went back into the line

It turns out she was in some town near Dover, New Jersey. They were staying at Chaundra's friend's home, the actress who also owns the Manhattan Property, in New Jersey and that plans had been a bit modified. The actress was flying to Italy tomorrow (today) with her fiancee, and so Katie and Chaundra were staying at the Jersey Home and would be relocating to the Manhattan residence on Thursday. Oh yes, and the reason that I hadn't heard from her before 6:30, was that this lovely actress, and I now know which one she is, and her fiancee had taken Katie and Chaundra out for a wonderful meal at some Indian restaurant. She called only after getting a few hours rest and returning from dinner, just in case I might be wondering where they were.

So let me get this straight; I am going out of my mind here in Wilmington, North Carolina, making a new trail in my relatively new carpet by pacing, wearing out my heart due to it's stress-induced accelerated racing, and she's out enjoying Indian cuisine with some celebrity? I went from wanting to hug her to wanting to strangle her in less than 60 seconds. What do you MEAN "in case I was wondering" where you girls were?

So I'm thinking - tell me you can't be that insane! What else would I be doing, imagining two young 21 year olds driving into Manhattan traffic - where it's ALWAYS rush hour and where road rage is a cabbies normal state of mind and business as usual. Please tell me you had a sudden case of unexpected episodic amnesia, or that all of the cell phone towers in Jersey were mysteriously inoperable for several hours, or even that you ran out of gas in the middle of some tiny town with really nice New Jersey folks who were more than happy to help you out, but couldn't provide you with a land line on which to call and let me know you were safe and sound, but do NOT tell me, don't even go there, that it never crossed your mind that I was home losing mine, because you hadn't called to let me know you were safe and well and not in some ditch or swimming with the fishes in the Hudson River.

I was grateful that she was safe and well-fed and hanging out with the rich and famous, but I was beyond irritated that she didn't consider that I might feel better knowing she was fine.

Oh please, throw me a freaking bone, why don't you?

What could I say? What I did say was that I would have appreciated knowing what I now knew, earlier. I was glad the Indian food was so tasty. I was happy the actress and her fiancee were so hospitable. I was more than relieved to learn they would be taking the train from Dover into Manhattan on Thursday, rather than attempting to drive. And of course, I thanked her for calling me and told her at least three times that I loved her and hoped she would have a great time.

My anger at being kept out of the loop wasn't nearly as potent as my angst when considering all of the things that could have gone wrong, but thanks be to God, didn't. All I wanted was to know she was OK. Even if it was a few hours later than I had hoped, I was still way beyond grateful.

It's so amazing how wonderful everything looks, feels and smells after the worry has waned. I ordered a spinach salad, sweet iced tea and was, as Shawn Colvin sings, "living in color, laughing out loud", from a song appropriately titled, "Round of Blues". But I noticed that my upper left molar, the one with the crown that I broke a year and a half ago; the same one the dentist put a temporary repair on because I had to leave town the next day, started feeling...strange. Not so much painful, as swollen.

By the end of dinner, the roof of my mouth on that same side felt much larger than the other side and that's how I usually know that I am about to enter dental distress. I was looking at either a sinus infection or a seriously infected tooth that would, no doubt, require a root canal. Though I would welcome neither prospect, I could afford the sinus infection because I have a stash of antibiotics that I was supposed to take for my mid-spring episode of bronchitis. If I'm not living right and it turns out to be the infected tooth/root canal waiting to happen, I will be looking at a minimum of $600 and probably more like $900, because I don't usually do anything halfway, and without at least a few complications.

So there I sat with a cracked dental crown that wants a new tiara. I don't have the funds set aside for a dental debacle. I can't afford to repair it and I can't afford not to. I hate it when I don't like what's behind door number ONE and door number TWO, and there's NEVER a door number THREE - the one that holds the winning lotto ticket, or attorney telling you that you were named in the will of some distant, recently deceased, richer than God relative that you didn't even know you had, but knew who you were and left you about $50,000. No, make it $20,000. I don't want to appear greedy.

And yet, given that I could still be waiting for a phone call from my wanderlust daughter, I'll take this tooth tragedy and smile doing it. I hate root canals. I'd almost rather give birth than experience another root canal, because frankly, my oral surgeon, though technically competent, has the personality of a potted plant, but not quite as engaging. He divided my last root canal up into two parts - shot me full of novacaine laced with epinephrine, unannounced, which sent my heart rate and BP toward epic heights, and made the understated remark that I seemed to be "a little more sensitive than normal" to stimulants.

Gee, you think? Could that be why I broke out in hives and nearly came out of my chair? How many weeks were you in dental school Dr. Darko and I had NO IDEA that Devry Institute now offered courses in endodontics.

I just don't have time for pulp fiction.

I'm generally pleasant, particularly to people wielding sharp, shiny instruments about my mouth, but I came up out of that chair and told him in no uncertain terms that he was NEVER to even entertain the thought of infusing me with anything epinephrine-related. Ever. He made no further remark, shrugged his shoulders and gave me a prescription for two Halcion to be taken one hour before my next visit the following week. That was probably the kindest cut of all.

Conscious sedation. It was a win/win situation.

If it does turn out to be a root canal in the making, I may very well have the great misfortune of being under his "care", and I use that term loosely because he basically behaved as if he couldn't possibly care less, but maybe Wilmington has added new skilled sadists, in the time that has passed since June 2002, and there may possibly be an endodontist in possession of that rare trifecta: skill, kindness and compassion. I'm afraid I'll be finding out in the next few days.

What a time for Uncle Sam's (AKA my ever so undependable, incommunicado ex-husband) five months late check to turn into rubber.

When it rains, it simply gets more humid. There's a heat advisory issued for today, with heat indices hitting around the 109 degree mark. I think I'm going to find something funny to read while I wait for this Advil and benadryl to take effect.

The days are just packed...and with any bad luck at all, my mouth will probably be packed as well...with cotton and all manner of pain-inducing paraphenalia.

I dearly hope that no one reminds me to "have a great day!", today in some faux, perky, Katie Couric, over-caffeinated delivery . I just can't handle perky today.

Tonight, after the sun calms down, I need:

A walk on Wrightsville Beach.
A meeting on Wrightsville Beach.
A large iced tea with lemon.
Coffee, definitely some coffee.
Oh yeah, and I need a BREAK!

Not necessarily in that particular order.

Peace out.