Dentures: 4-Months Out

I’ve learned I hate my bottom dentures. 

So much so, I never wear them anymore. They, the $1000 teeth, sit in the container with water on them. I cannot imagine wearing bottom dentures until I can get the $3000 to anchor them down permanently.

I could not even eat one bite of mashed potatoes before they fell out. I have not eaten anything remotely hard since early April. If I’d have known I would never eat sushi again, I would have eaten a hell of a lot more at the beginning of the year.

Uppers Only

I only wear the uppers now and those suckers stay in fabulously. They get looser at the end of the day, but from what I have learned, that is typical. 

I use my bottom gums as the “plate” upon which to rest my food as I chew with the uppers. I don’t lose my teeth. I don’t worry about them falling out in my plate. It’s just the best solution all around.

And the weight loss side effect doesn’t hurt either.

Dentures

No One Even Knows

The best part is no one can even tell! Even people with dentures couldn’t tell, even after I told them. So, I just don’t care anymore. If I can go out securely, eat fine (relatively speaking), and no one tell, then why worry about it?

I spent a long weekend at my daughter’s, have been going out to doctor appointments, and even went to lunch with my family, no worries whatsoever. The lowers just stayed at home where they belong.

Refitting?

Many people have said they need to be refitted, but I swear to you, I really do not want to fuck with them at all. With how many complaints there are on the Internet about lowers falling out and never fitting right (“they ‘float’ on the gums, they are just going to fall out”) I have just given up on them.

Suits me just fine.

When A Writer Writes

It’s been three days with about nine hours’ worth of writing after a couple (plus) years not writing anything except required work writing.

Finding That Old Groove

It feels good to wake up excited to put my headphones on, Queen singing in my ears (and heart), and opening Scrivener, seeing my words. I love picking up where I left off the day before, noticing how many words I’ve added and grinning with happiness the words are advancing and not stagnant.

My typical process is to read everything I wrote two or three days earlier before beginning, but these past few days, I am reading the last line only and pressing on.

Finding a New Groove

I’m consciously, albeit with a great deal of discipline, not editing as I go along. That is one of the major obstacles to my writing – editing my words. I will spend twenty minutes in a Thesaurus trying to find the right word for a sentence.

I remind myself there will be time for that.

Just write.

When This Writer Writes

I feel whole.

I’ve written since I was 8-years old. I only stopped writing when someone read my journals or when I was shamed about what I was writing.

Now my journals are online and everyone can read them.

Fuck you all who shamed me and tied my hands. I’m kinky, but it has to be consensual. I no longer consent to you binding and gagging me.

To My Writing Companions

Write.

If you don’t write, it can be toxic enough to kill you. If not physically, then definitely your spirit.

If you have no privacy, write in the bathroom. If people are snooping, hide and lock your words.

Please just don’t keep them in.

Write with no expectation of being published or famous.

(Do you hear that, Barb? Are you listening?)

Just fucking write already.

Writing

“Don’t Like Mine? Go Write Your Own Fucking Book!”

As I recommence writing, I’m finding myself against a roadblock I have tried to overcome for 50 years as a writer of personal thoughts and feelings. As well as my strong opinions and yes, even judgements.

My topics are controversial in many arenas and in many individuals’ beliefs.

I have written about midwifery since 1983 and if birth wasn’t meant to be controversial, it sure is now. I am writing about my time as a midwife, not fully formed yet, but it is taking shape.

I’m writing about the gay life I was a part of immediately pre- and post-AIDS. If gay sex causing AIDS (yes, I know, a virus causes it. You know exactly what I mean. See? Already justifying myself?! Argh!) isn’t controversial, nothing else in the world is.

I’m writing, with full permission, about my former partner of 28 years’ transition from female to male. Our private choice to separate after his transition is an extremely volatile topic today.

The last book I have started that came to me in a dream, fully-formed and has not vanished yet, is a midwifery thriller. It’s going to be a great read when it is finished.

Self-Editing Sucks

I have been censored and edited by those around me, and many not even near me, for decades. I must have the thinnest skin of any writer in the world because I cower to the criticism. Even here in this blog, when I wrote about being a midwife to migrant women, I shrunk and hid the post because one person… ONE PERSON… spewed hate all over me. What I wimp I am.

I stopped writing about my kids because their father told me to stop.

I stopped writing about the inner workings of home birth midwifery because I was ostracized from my community for being a whistleblower.

I’ve edited articles, posts, notes on napkins, all with the fear of being judged.

As I write this, I am bracing myself for hate and vitriol, but I am a different woman now. I am a crone. I am in that place where I really do not give one fuck what anyone else thinks. They can’t take away my kids. They can’t take away my career/life’s calling. They can kill me, but my words will still exist.

Enough

I can finally see the extreme anger and hate from people as it swirls around them in all aspects of their lives. They believe they walk pristinely on the earth, their thoughts pure and hearts open. But I can see the truth. When they open their mouths, the bees fly out. The wild buzzing, stinging, hungry bees looking to feast on the pollen of vulnerable flowers.

I’ve taught my children and many others how to put up heart shields so the energy is exchanged at will instead of allowing energy vampires to attack the tender-hearted. It’s time I re-build my own shield.

Thank You, Elizabeth Gilbert

I am listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic for the fifth time and on this read, something jumped out and bit me hard in my vulnerability. How I missed it four other times is beyond me.

As she speaks about the self-censoring in order to fend off critics, she has a fabulous response to those who dare open their mouths to pass judgment thinking their positions are The Correct and Only Position That Counts.

To paraphrase Ms. Gilbert, “Don’t like mine? Go write your own fucking book.”

Now I Am Going to Write My Own Fucking Books

Rabbit Hole: Track 13

For some odd reason, like I hear from several others, I fell down the YouTube rabbit hole. 

From the COVID Years, Back to Life

I was in a 2.5 year funk during the COVID years. Depression, fear, and anxiety is a more accurate description.

As I came out of this period of advanced mourning, I wondered why I had not worked on the four books I have had in the works for several years I was horrified when I looked back and saw the last time I’d put 10 words on the page.

Watching YouTube was not a conscious thing, but the rabbit hole led me to Queen.

Re-Fallen in Love With Queen

I have re-fallen in love with Queen… Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon.

Queen
Roger Taylor, John Deacon, Freddie Mercury, Brian May

I first discovered them when I was 14 with A Night at the Opera and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I danced around the living room with the speakers blasting as I acted out the song. I know every note’s rise and fall. I called BJ105 requesting it several times a day to make sure it was the number one requested song of that day. It was. For a lot of weeks.

I can sing “The Prophet’s Song” still. “You’re My Best Friend” was played whenever my group of girlfriends got together. Watching “Love of My Life” on YouTube transports me back to those teen years.

1978 Queen Concert

I was blessed to see Queen at Lakeland Civic Center on November 4, 1978 when I was 17-years old.

I remember a lot, but mostly I remember how the audience in the Arena stomp stomp clapped for at least 30 minutes before Queen even took the stage. I can feel the reverberations still, 44 years later. (The bleachers were made of wood back then so the stomping really kicked ass!)

But I did not know so much about the intricacies of the band and how their music was created. While I know a bit more now, I am still learning and they are freakin’ geniuses, including Dr. Brian May, an astrophysicist, who started towards his degree in 1971 and received it in 2007 at the age of 60.

Dr. Brian May
Dr. Brian May

Fascination Turns to Inspiration

So, in listening to Queen for a few weeks, watching interviews they have done, studied the 30-years-later thoughts and memories Brian May and Roger Taylor share (John Deacon retains his privacy… it has been said he took Freddie’s death quite hard), I am moved by their tenacity to continue performing in their 70s when they started singing together in the 70s!

Brian May Roger Taylor
Brian May & Roger Taylor

As I learned more, I wanted to know more and began listening to their albums, in order of their release. I have found real gems – Sheer Heart Attack and News of the World, for sure, and then others that didn’t resonate so much.

I replayed their Greatest Hits albums, too. I owned several as a teen/young adult, so I was traveling down familiar territory.

With each step I grew stronger, still not aware of my destination.

Queen Greatest Hits
I will confess that even back then, I had a major crush on Roger Taylor. It wasn’t until now that I realized how I was one of millions.

Then Finally Comes Made in Heaven

I came to the end of the discography list with Made in Heaven, the album that was released 4 years after Freddie’s death, culling together pieces-parts of lines, verses, singing-thoughts Freddie sang near the end of his life.

Queen Made in Heaven Sunrise
Queen: Made in Heaven Sunrise

Freddie said to his friends and bandmates, “Get me to sing anything, write me anything and I will sing it and I will leave you as much as I possibly can.” He knew and welcomed they would finish his work after he was gone.

How fucking powerful was his urge to perform even as he was so close to dying?

I got chills and a soaring inspiration from that artistic ethic.

I wanted to make it mine.

Queen Made in Heaven Sunset
Queen: Made in Heaven Sunset

Exquisite Music/Exquisite Ponderings

Excerpts from the song “Made in Heaven“:

“I’m taking my ride with destiny
Willing to play my part
Living with painful memories
Loving with all my heart”

“Made in heaven
I’m playing my role in history
Looking to find my goal
Taking in all this misery
But giving it all my soul”

Track 13

Track 13 is the 13th song on the album, but has no name, although some call it “Ascension.” It is formally known as “Track 13” or just “13.” Ascension comes from the image of Freddie rising to his greatest heights after death: Heaven, Nirvana, the Great Rock and Roll Band in the Sky.

Queen Track 13

Queen’s Meditation

I am used to meditating/pondering to Pink Floyd, but to Queen? Not so much. They do have wondrous lyrics to consider as one considers poetry or art, but for me, meditating is another art form altogether.

But Track 13 is amazing for meditation. 22:32 minutes long and only a few interjections by Freddie’s words: “Are you running?” and the last word, “Fab!”

“Are You Running?”

Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury

“Are you running?” might seem an odd thing to put in a meditative song, but it seems a directive to me. Am I running as fast as I can so I can get to the finish line accomplished and complete? Am I running as fast as I need to to complete at least one of these books before my demise?

The answers are no, but I am fixing that now.

Who Knew Queen Would Kickstart My Writing?

I never expected this outcome when I watched that first Disney World YouTube video. I berated myself for not writing and spending hours a day watching video after video. For weeks.

The choices winnowed their way down to Queen, pre- and post-Freddie Mercury. I love Brian May’s and Roger Taylor’s solo works, too. (If you have not listened, do so!)

I watched Bohemian Rhapsody a dozen times, squinting trying to see what was just out of my range of vision.

And then it clicked.

“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now!”

I wrote for a three hours yesterday and it was a joy. Made in Heaven and Track 13 on a loop played in the headphones, urging me on.

Every time Freddie said, “Fab!” I knew he was saying it to me. “Fabulous! Keep going!”

I woke up at 4am this morning, eager to get writing, putting the headphones on and tap, tap, tapping, hearing the stomp, stomp, clap of  “We Are the Champions.” I wrote for three hours again and feel the urge to write more after this post. 

I Will Rock Me

Of the hundreds of ways I’ve tried to get myself writing again, I am thrilled it was Queen that pushed me to get on it already. Goddess bless that Freddie Mercury with his endless desire to be heard and seen. I am soaking that up and spilling it out my fingers.

Watch out world!

Calling All OG Birth Bloggers (Navelgazing Midwife Wants You!)

I, Barb Herrera, am finally coming out of my midwifery coma, 10+ years of ignoring everything birthy, and now I’m feeling very alone. Sure, it was of my own making, but I am aching for reconnection with several other OG birth bloggers that have to still be around somewhere.

  • Sage Femme – Pamela Hines-Powell
  • Red Spiral
  • Dark Daughta
  • Shyla
  • At Your Cervix
  • Housefairy
  • Kneeling Woman
  • Doulicia
  • VBAC Facts
  • Emory Student Midwife/studentnursemidwife

If you read my old blog Navelgazing Midwife, please touch base if you are so inclined.

NavelgazingWriter@Gmail.com

There is a reason behind my madness. 

We Are the World (Damn, I’m Old!)

I’m watching YouTube Reactions of people watching We Are the World and am weeping… no, sobbing… at how few know even 3 of the singers. Granted these people are much younger than I am, but still.

In case you are under 100 years old and have somehow missed this video, here it is:

 How could they not know Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, or even Lionel Richie by name?! The person most recognized was Michael Jackson, which brings mixed feelings.

I am begging you all who are reading to listen to the songs attached to the names and teach the singers and songs to your children. These are some of the greatest singers of all time and deserve our respect and our voices, no matter how poorly we sing.

Sing your hearts out!

Amber Riley

Conductor
Quincy Jones

Soloists (in order of appearance)
Lionel Richie
Stevie Wonder
Paul Simon
Kenny Rogers
James Ingram
Tina Turner
Billy Joel
Michael Jackson
Diana Ross
Dionne Warwick
Willie Nelson
Al Jarreau
Bruce Springsteen
Kenny Loggins
Steve Perry
Daryl Hall
Huey Lewis
Cyndi Lauper
Kim Carnes
Bob Dylan
Ray Charles

Chorus (alphabetically)
Dan Aykroyd
Harry Belafonte
Lindsey Buckingham
Mario Cipollina (of Huey Lewis and the News)
Johnny Colla (of Huey Lewis and the News)
Sheila E.
Bob Geldof
Bill Gibson (of Huey Lewis and the News)
Chris Hayes (of Huey Lewis and the News)
Sean Hopper (of Huey Lewis and the News)
Jackie Jackson
La Toya Jackson
Marlon Jackson
Randy Jackson
Tito Jackson
Waylon Jennings
Bette Midler
John Oates
Jeffrey Osborne
Anita Pointer (of The Pointer Sisters)
June Pointer (of The Pointer Sisters)
Ruth Pointer (of The Pointer Sisters)
Smokey Robinson

We Are the World with Names

If you are needing to see the connection of names to people, here is the video with names.

Here is the 35th Anniversary Edition with many singers added from around the world. How many can you name? (You better be able to recognize Aretha Franklin or I am going into apoplexy!

Sing to the Heavens, People!

What I’ve Learned About Dentures in 3 Weeks

The first thing I have learned is every person has their own learning curve. I am trying to make mine as quick and easy as possible. It will be interesting to see where I am in a year. For now…

Mindfulness with Dentures?

If you, like me, have never mastered Mindful Eating despite trying for 40 years, dentures are The Way to do it. I have never eaten slower or in a more purposeful manner than I have in the last 3+ weeks. I am constantly on alert about my bottom teeth falling out (which they do with most meals), so I eat very slowly. Very. Slowly.

It is still a trial and error to get my bottom teeth to stay in. It is incredibly frustrating and I know they are fitting perfectly because I have gone, more than once, to get them checked. 

Denture Creams

The grossest thing on the planet to put in your mouth every single day is denture creams. I use Secure after trying powders and liners and the most popular brands of creams. I could open a store with denture supplies I have around me.

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Before beginning any morning ritual and then post-denture-removal ritual is brushing my gums and tongue. If you thought your days of brushing were over, you were mistaken. I feel like I brush more now than ever before.

Thank Goodness for YouTube!

Everything from here on, I learned from YouTube. I think my Denture Magician should have a tutorial to hand out since not everyone has access to YouTube.

Cleaning the Nibblers

This process is just crazy weird and often disgusting. I will describe getting the teeth out of my mouth to clean later.

First, I soak the newly out-of-my-mouth dentures in a fizzy cleanser that comes as a round tablet. I put it in a small denture container and cover it with warm water while it fizzes overnight.

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Morning Ritual

First thing I do is lay a washcloth in the sink. These denture-suckers cost $1000 and will break if I drop them. I am meticulous with protecting them. I’m probably as purposeful handling them as I am eating with them.

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Then it is time to clean the dentures with a denture brush and some denture toothpaste. (Do not use regular toothpaste on the dentures, it will scratch them.)

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Not just clean them, but scrub them.

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Scrubbing?

With my brush, I first clean out a gross, thick, aspic-like glob (and I say “aspic” because, all too often, there is food embedded in the goop) that was left when the dentures were removed from my mouth and swelled in the water.

The swelling with liquid is what the denture cream does against our gums. That, apparently, is the blech that holds my teeth in. 

Even after the soaking, the glob of nastiness is still in there needing to be brushed out.

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Could this be any more disgusting?

But Look How Pretty When Clean!

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Drying the Dentures

Again, learned on YouTube. This part is kind of confusing to me so if you can explain it scientifically, that would be really appreciated.

Drying the dentures thoroughly before putting the paste on is supposed to be crucial to the glue-ishness sticking to my gums. You’ll see why I am confused in a moment, but let’s dry them for now.

Back in my room, I lay them gently on some paper towels, being sure not to have them near any edge where they might fall. Then I get a sheet of paper towel, fold it up so there is a wedge-like angle, and dry the canal of the dentures. I go slowly and meticulously.

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Even after being thorough, there are crevices that are still wet so I use a Q-Tip to dry those places.

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After using the Q-Tip, I set the seemingly dry dentures on another paper towel to evaporate the rest of the wetness on the gum portion for about 10-minutes.

This process is annoying, but I find if I do not do it, my bottom teeth will sit in my mouth until I swallow of liquid and then fall right out again.

I talk to myself. “I love this process! It is so mindful. I am taking care of my mouth so perfectly.” I don’t believe it one whit yet, but I’m trying.

Striping (Not Stripping)

I learned that the cream swells with water/saliva/liquid, so the next step made much more sense to me. 

Then I remembered I was drying the dentures until they were desert-like first. If wet is what activates the cream, why can’t I put the cream on with the dentures wet? This is what someone can explain to me, please.

But, when it is time to put the cream in, I put it in three patches, well, small strips about 1/4 inch or so.

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Then, using my pinky, I frost the cream like I am icing a cake (ironic since I can’t even eat cake anymore).

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I make sure it gets on all sides and edges. This saves me from feeling gushing globs of cream in my mouth. That is grosser than gross, especially when you take your teeth out.

This frosting technique was a stroke of brilliance via a YouTube teacher.

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Sip, Insert, & Hold

Before inserting each plate, I take a sip of water to kick the cream into it’s sticking goo, then put the plate in. (Again, why not put them in when they are still wet or just damp?) Because the cream swells with water, that’s why you don’t need great globs of goop in the gum portion.

When I put in each plate, I press it for 30-60 seconds. 

To Recap

I clean, dry, put the cream in the top plate, frost it, sip water, and put it in first. I hold it for about a minute and then start over with the clean and dry bottom plate, putting the cream strips on after the top plate is secure in my mouth. I do not frost them both at the same time. Each plate gets its own individual attention. Then, once the bottom one is in, I hold it in for 60 seconds.

My Top Tier

Happily, the top plate sticks like Super Glue. It stays in all day without any issues.

I will share how I get it out in a moment; it’s an adventure.

The Fucking Bottom Tier: Eating

The same cannot be said of the bottom plate.

Only once have I been able to eat 2 meals without them falling out. Usually, it is during the first meal of the day that they are slipping out of my mouth.

They say to eat evenly in your mouth, which I have been doing. Again, sooooo mindfully, it is excruciatingly slow and precise. 

I am taking bites as small as one of the front teeth on my dentures. Not kidding. I cut my food, even the soft eggplant parmigiana or fettuccini Alfredo, into teensy bites.

Yet, I can feel the bottom teeth when they begin to slip. I roll my eyes as I take a tiny bite of something as soft as egg salad with a piece of bread with the crusts cut off, using a knife and fork (the idea of biting the sandwich is absurd!) and feel my teeth stabbing me in the gums. From what I have heard, this is all normal. For fuck’s sake, normal sucks.

I can see why people get their bottom dentures implanted. I cannot wait to make a ton of money to get that done.

Removing the Teeth (that haven’t fallen out already)

Clearly, the bottom teeth have zero issue getting out of my mouth when I am ready for bed. They are usually out long before that. 

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The top teeth, however, even without a palate part of my top dentures (which I had them cut out first thing), stick like they are cemented in

I had been ripping them off, tearing my gums to bleeding and crying each time I needed to take them out. What was wrong with me? I went to Google and finally learned how to get them out. BLOW! Nudge the front top teeth down, close my mouth, and blow up a balloon. Voila! Out they come each time. And minimal bleeding or crying.

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You can see a drop of blood at 10:00. There used to be a puddle before I learned how to remove my top dentures.

Waxy Crap Stuck in My Mouth

When I pull the dentures out, I am left with a wax-like material crammed into the somewhat still-open sockets.

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This is after I remove the dried cream from my sockets, but before I pulled it off the back of my gums.

Losing Weight!

The best side effect of all is I am losing weight. I weighed at the Cardiologist appointment a couple of days ago and I have lost 16 pounds since I last weighed a few months ago. I can guarantee it has all been in the last month since I got all my teeth pulled.

I can see it in my face and body. How could I not be losing weight with 2 weeks of mush 3x a day and now only eating solids (if you want to call eggplant parmigiana or rice solid) once or twice a day for another two weeks. I eat soy yogurt for the other meals.

I got some bruschetta yesterday, hoping against hope, I could eat the bread. I broke it nearly into crumbs and it was still too hard. I can’t bear to throw it away, so it’s sitting next to me, tormenting me. 

(I did eventually toss it, but sighed sadly as I did.)

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There Is Beauty!

I know this is a lot of whining, but I do want to say that I was able to smile – a lot – while my girls and grandkids were here. I took pictures for the first time in many years with an open mouth smile. Glorious!

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Was It Worth It?

HELL, YES!

Extractions & Dentures (Finally!)

I’m sitting here with new dentures in my mouth. I started writing this when I got my first extractions, but it seemed smarter to wait until I was done. So, here we go.

I do have to say that I am reading this aloud as I write to practice speaking with my new teeth.

“History has its eyes on you!” <— My most practiced sentence. From my beloved Hamilton, of course.

Dental History

Both my parents had terrible teeth. Mom got dentures at 23 and my dad’s and siblings’ teeth were/are a total wreck. Heredity does have a say in how many cavities we get.

I needed dentures years ago and started looking 4 years ago for someone who would do it with my insurance. They had one place 90 miles away, but they wouldn’t pull them unless I agreed to “alveoplasty,” shaving down the bone under my gums which would cost $1000. My insurance would pay for the teeth being pulled and the dentures, but not that $1000. Another piece of that complicated puzzle was I would be without teeth for 4-6 months.

I gave up.

Then the pandemic hit and I fell into despair about much of the world and my life. My teeth were already in disrepair and during the first year of the pandemic, my teeth began breaking and falling out of my mouth. The second year, I got abscesses three times that sent me to the ER for Clindamycin, the medication for dental infections. Every medical person I saw told me to get my teeth out asap because it could cause sepsis and kill me.

During that year, I was working with my insurance to find someone to remove my teeth and give me dentures and I/they/we could not find anyone taking new patients.

My niece works with a dentist who recommended a place called Extraction & Denture Center. (I get no $$ or perks for talking about them.) Their site is amazing in that all the prices are printed right up front. They take no insurance, so everything is really discounted.

Besides their 5-Star ratings all over the Internet and their prices, I would be without dentures for a mere 3-4 days instead of 3-6 months.

Two precious people in my life fronted most of the money that I will begin paying back as soon as I am working again in a week or so. I am so grateful for their kindness and understanding of how bad my mouth hurt and how horrified I was whenever I looked in the mirror. Even when I didn’t have to, I wore a mask, even talking to my kids and grandkids, because I looked so scary.

Of the hundreds of selfies I have done, I took 2 of my mouth and then promptly deleted them. I did not want anyone remembering me that way.

This is pretty much how I looked before dentures.

First 4 Teeth Removed

My first visit to the Extraction & Denture Center was to have 4 teeth pulled. Everyone was so, so kind.

Sonia, the woman at the front desk, and I had spoken several times as I prepared for getting myself there, money being the major issue barring my going at all. Sonia was so kind and patient with me as I, over and over, said I was coming in (it was walk-in, so not an appointment I was cancelling) and did not.

One of my front teeth broke off a few months ago and I got an abscess again under the same two teeth that kept getting them and they were the first two I had removed along with my front tooth that was broken and another, a molar in the very back, that had the gum distressingly low.

Amanda, who got my history and did the X-ray, was sweet as could be.

I explained to the oral surgeon, Dr. Bhatti, that I had had these two teeth abscess three times and he said that the infection sits under the gums and an abscess is a flare-up, but the infection is still there, making me ill. I had no idea. He said I had had that infection since before the first abscess over a year earlier.

For fuck’s sake, no wonder I always felt so sick and tired.

While this place has both nitrous oxide and a sedation option, I knew I could do it with just the lidocaine. Dr. Bhatti numbed the holy hell out of me and I felt nothing for the first time ever of having my teeth pulled. I was shocked at how pain-free it was.

When he finished, it was an enormous relief to have those major two teeth removed and I cried with happiness as I left.

I was put on Clindamycin for the still-underlying infection. After I finished the 7-day course, the place where I’d had the abscesses began swelling and good lord, did it hurt. During that day, I felt it, well, tasted it, as it burst and the infection poured out. Talk about gross. Hopefully you aren’t having a snack while reading this.

I called the surgeon who prescribed a Z-Pack and by day 3 of 5, the infection was gone.

Hurry for kick-ass antibiotics!

Last 14 Removed

I went in a month later, Friday, April 15th, and got the last 14 removed. I cried with joy while waiting to begin as I sat in Dr. Bhatti’s chair. I couldn’t believe I was going to have them all gone, to know I was on my way to a real smile again. The prospect of not having that constant pain, the recurring infections, the need for antibiotics so often, being able to go without a mask as everyone else is removing theirs… it was all really overwhelming.

Again, I chose to have just the lidocaine (with epinephrine) and besides the zippiness of the epi in my system, I had no pain as he removed the teeth.

His assistant, Heather, who was there the first time, too, tapped my arm each time a tooth was removed. They would have said nothing if I wanted that, but I was counting and it helped to know.

I do want to mention an odd thing that happened that night. It might have been a complete coincidence, but had not ever happened before and has not happened since. My heart rate went down to 40-44 for several hours that night. I looked up variations of “Rebound effects of epinephrine” and found a few things, but nothing really about having a lot of injections of lidocaine with epi and the rebound with bradycardia. I debated going to the ER for a couple of hours and my heart rate started going back up again. I see the cardiologist in a few weeks (for heart palpitations from COVID), so will ask him then what that might have been. I did not ask Dr. Bhatti when I saw him on Monday. I forgot.

Impressions Done

Monday, April 18th, I went back in and a great dentist? Technician? Magician? (denture technician) named Alex put these globs of Silly Putty in my mouth and had me bite down for 2.5 minutes each. Top, bottom and palate. I expected to gag, but not at all. And I am a gagger.

It was molded into the shape of my jaw each time.

In Alex’s section, they had a huge screen on the wall where adorable animals were shown, like a constant Cute Animals from YouTube. I was laughing – until the snake came on. Then I closed my eyes and counted seconds until Alex came back to take the Silly Putty out of my mouth.

Easy Peasy!

The Morning of New Teeth

I always wake up about 4am to write. That’s my prime writing time, 4-7am. But this morning, April 19th, I was so… nervous? Excited? I could not place the feeling. I had stomach issues and thought I might even have to delay the 8:30am appointment. But, I recovered in time to call Uber and I headed over.

Later, my daughter Meghann said the nerves sounded like the first day of school. That was the feeling exactly!

Wax Test Set

I went first thing in the morning on April 19th to see how my teeth fit while they were still made of wax. They had to adjust them a teensy bit, but OH MY GOD did I look different with teeth!

I was gagging on the part that sticks to the roof of your mouth, so Alex had Jenay, the main denture creator, shave part off. I was still gagging when it went in so Alex said he could shave that whole part off, but there would be no suction and I would have to use cream to secure the teeth. I didn’t have to think for a second: Shave it off!

When Jenay did that and Alex put it back in my mouth, it was like night and day.

Once again, I saw what I looked like with teeth and got tears in my eyes. Stunning difference.

The Wax Try-in

I was to return for my new teeth at 2:00pm.

Testing Out My New Teeth at the Denture Center

Alex brought me my new dentures and he knew before they were in my mouth a segment needed to be adjusted on the back bottom rim. They did that and I put them in again. I could not believe how good they felt. Mind you, my gums still have holes in them from the teeth removal process, but the dentures, besides feeling like I had a mouth full of hard something, did not hurt.

I was given instructions and was shown how to put the cream inside the dentures.

Then I was showing off my new teeth to everyone in the place. Dr. Bhatti came in and was effusive about how great I looked. Alex was a wonderful cheerleader and then other assistants in the office also were very kind.

Then I walked outside to my new life with a smile again.

New Teeth!

My New Teeth 4/19/22

This was me walking out of the Extraction & Denture Center. No makeup. No posing. Just filled with glee!

Last Thoughts

I cannot say enough about this place. From my first contact to walking out, every single person was a joy to spend time with. Dr. Bhatti is amazing. Heather took such wonderful care of me. Alex was so much fun. Jenay, who I did not meet, created a masterpiece. Sonia has the patience of a saint and I appreciate her more than I can say. Even my limited contact with Amanda that first day, she set the tone of what I was going to experience there. What I did experience there.

No one alluded to how fat I am, although the waiting room chairs all had arms so I sat outside on a bench (thank God for the bench!). (Get some sturdy chairs without arms for us fat people!) They accommodated my walker and were patient when I was slower than most people getting in and out of the exam chair. You who have read my writings over the years know how important Fat-Friendly Providers are to me. This place wins the prize for kindness and non-judgment.

If you are reading this, Extraction & Denture Center angels, thank you, thank you with all that I am, for giving me something I could not have gotten without you.

The ability to smile once again.

Censored Out of NaNoWriMo Forum!

I’ve been on the periphery of the NaNoWriMo community since 2018. I have never really found “my crew.” So as I was trying to “find my crew” in the LGBTQIA+ group, preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo in April 2022, I thought I would try to find others who were of like minds.

I wrote:

Old Femme Dyke Looking for Other Old Homos (Most Un-PC Thread Ever)

taking a big deep breath

“I’m a 60+ year old femme dyke and am writing a semi-autobiographical novel about the years between 1978 and 1988, immediately pre- and post-AIDS. It’s mostly uplifting – filled with fun and joy, sex and way too many drugs, and includes a road trip (of course).

“I’m keeping the vernacular of the time, hence wanting to talk to others who were in the discos – the glory holes, the bath houses, etc. – during those years. I was a fag hag who lived with groups of gay men, so was privy to their sexual lives. While graphic sex isn’t the driving factor of what I’m writing, it is definitely the undercurrent throughout. (And I am not wanting to have sexual discussions here!)

“Adding another layer, I was coming out as a femme lesbian in a world filled with androgynous women. Drag Queens were my sister-friends. Trans folks were rare, so have bit parts in the book. (One of the hundreds of Un-PC things being written.)

“I am also wanting companionship as I recall those who died without hope and without their families.

“Gads, this is complicated. Anyone?”

Reply from the Moderators

Intro to automated one:

“Hello,

“This is an automated message from NaNoWriMo to let you know that your post was hidden.”

That was boring.

Highlights of the individualized email:

“Your post has been hidden because of the language of your title and in the body of your post.”

“… inflammatory words.”

“… you are part of the community”

“… you have every right to reclaim that word …”

“… we support the community reclaiming those words …”

“… seeing these words can still be triggering …”

“Thank you for understanding.”

My Response

“Well, ‘understanding’ is probably not the word I would use, (name removed), but since I have no choice in the matter, that pretty much is the end of it.

“You and I both know that ‘inflammatory’ words are in the eyes and ears of the beholder. These words are not inflammatory to me at all, never have been, even in the cruelest and most volatile of years.

“It’s certainly going to be interesting to see this book in the hands of the public some day. I better build my walls of armor now.

“This reminds me of the 1978 book called Faggots by Larry Kramer (I encourage you to look it up) when the gay community went berserk with his disclosing what they wanted to keep hidden. I can relate!

“Instead of feeling thwarted, I am empowered to move forward faster.

“Thanks for the sword!

“Barb Herrera”

Where Do I Belong?

Zack (pre-transition) and me standing in line to get married in San Francisco, CA on February 16, 2004

I called my former partner, my Beloved Zack, to ask, “Where do I belong if I don’t belong with my tribe?” He was so kind and said, quite emphatically, “NOT IN THE LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITY!”

He recounted a discussion at a Transman meeting after his phalloplasty and they were talking about penises in general and someone stood and said “My girlfriend” (who was sitting in the meeting of transmen), “is triggered by the word ‘penis'” and expected the discussion to stop. Zack told the guy to take care of his girlfriend by ushering her outside if she did not take care of herself by removing herself from the transmen meeting.

That was the last Trans meeting Zack went to.

Again, Where Do I Belong?

Me, San Diego Gay Pride 1987

So, am I so old that I really do not even belong in the gay community anymore? What about my feelings of ostracization and feelings of experiencing ageism?

I have marched and written reams of articles fighting for lesbian rights, gay rights, lesbian mothers’ rights, gays in the military, gay marriages … I’ve spoken on local and national TV news programs … and now I am marginalized? Now my own experiences are moot because I am old?

Zack and I in the news after our San Francisco wedding.

Now I am not needed because those rights have been won and it was so long ago, the fight doesn’t even matter anymore? Because no one alive in these groups remembers the people who fought for them?

I FOUGHT FOR THE RIGHTS THEY HAVE TODAY!

Who the fuck did they think won these rights for them?

Now I am not needed because I am not PC? Because my words don’t “fit” with the younger mindsets? Because the vernacular changed while I was out fighting for their rights?

Me, San Diego Pride Parade 1987

Where Are My People?

Zack told me to find an older group of liberal straight writers to work with. I have no idea where they are, but will begin a search. (Thank you, Google!)

Isn’t that kind of sad? Isn’t that really sad?

I think so.

Disney World at 50… My Memories

Here come a bunch of thoughts/memories in celebration of Disney World being 50-years old this year. Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle! ¡Por favor mantenganse alejado de las puertas!

December 31, 2021

I am watching the ResortTV1 Live Stream at EPCOT. There are DJ Dance Parties all around World Showcase. It’s crazy!

DJ Dance Party in Italy – 12-31-21

I watched the New Year’s Eve celebration at the Magic Kingdom last night (they do 2 nights of it) and it was wild seeing the MK rocking out to dance music! (Tristan corrected me and said it is called EDM Music now. Yanking me into the new millennium!)

This is what it looked like at the end of the fireworks show. Spectacular!!!

MK New Year’s Eve Celebration (a day early) 12-30-21

I’ve been scanning more pictures and putting them on SmugMug (the best photo storage place ever) and can across one I had been looking for forever.

Tristan and me, November 21, 1982 … with Mickey!

Could my glasses be any bigger? Look how long my nails were! Clearly, I was not typing on anything yet. And I was so, so, so tired. I had no business dragging my new baby and my newly postpartum ass to the Magic Kingdom, but I was just as obsessed about Disney then as now.

Back then, running into characters was a hit or miss thing. There were never announcements or special locations to find them, so to run into so many characters that day with Tristan was so cool! Especially this one with Mickey!

December 24, 2021

  • I first went to EPCOT September 28, 1982, during one of the preview days. I was hugely pregnant with my first (he was born October 20, 1982) so technically, he was at a Disney Park before he was even born!
1st look at EPCOT September 28, 1982.
Inside the Land September 28, 1982.
  • It’s really weird seeing people wearing masks at Disney Parks. I am rarely out so they are still foreign to me. Others have said it looks weirder when people do not have them. I suppose I will get there, too. I have to say, it does make me happy to know Disney still takes COVID seriously. I would wear my mask everywhere, not just inside rides, but that’s just me. I can only attend to my own safety. I am willing to bet I will wear a mask every day now forevermore. Remember how we used to roll our eyes at the Japanese tourists who wore masks all the time? Look who’s eye-rolling now.

December 23, 2021

I am finally getting back to blogging. It’s been awhile and having to let go of a lot of things to get some work done. I totally missed NaNoWriMo, wrote on Day 1 and then dropped it to get work done. I am having a great time with work, so that is good, but it is time consuming.

BACK to DISNEY WORLD!

  • I discovered a Live Stream of Disney Parks from Josh and Jenna, a brother and sister who call themselves ResortTV1. I accidentally came across them in Instagram, as a recommendation, and that night they were doing the first Candlelight Processional after the pandemic began. I had to watch and it was amazing! I told mom and my youngest daughter Aimee and we all watched together. It was great. We’ve watched the Candlelight Processional as a family for as long as they have been having them (the began in 1994).
A photo I took years ago of the Candlelight Processional in EPCOT.

Now I am in love with ResortTV1! Their Live Stream is so wonderful because they stop talking when on rides. Not everyone has that courtesy. Thanks Josh and Jenna! You now have a fan!

  • Memory when watching Retro Disney World Josh did as I watching IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. I loved that music and downloaded it onto (what is now an ancient) iPod. Months and months later, after listening to it dozens of times, I had a client who needed to have her baby before she could even go home and get her things and she was most upset she didn’t have her Reflections of Earth music. I laughed and pulled out my iPod with headphones and she listened to it during her cesarean. We thought that was the craziest thing ever. Who would have guessed a midwife being a doula would have something so obscure, IN SAN DIEGO, as Reflections of Earth from Orlando’s EPCOT at Disney World on her iPod?
Photo I took of IllumiNations

  • I wonder how many videos I am in from being in the parks so much over the years.
  • I just learned they removed my Dancing Fountains (aka Fountain of Nations). The last show was on September, 7, 2019. You can see how out of touch I have been with my Disney Self. I am immersing myself again and it feels good. I used to dance like crazy when Yanni’s Standing in Motion played and wonder if people recorded the crazy fat lady dancing like a banshee to a fountain.
Photo I took of “My” Dancing Fountains.
Another angle of “My” Dancing Fountains.
  • Looking at these Live Streams, I see how much things have changed since I was last there about 3 years ago… maybe 4. I was sad to not see the Christmas Arch in EPCOT from the Dancing Fountains to the Christmas Tree next to the World Showcase Lagoon.
Photo by Disney Addicts
From Disney Tourist Blog

October 1, 2021

  • For years before WDW opened, there was the Walt Disney World Preview Center in Lake Buena Vista between 535 and down what was then called Preview Center Road. It opened in January 1970 and closed right before WDW opened in 1971. In that year, we had to have visited it more than a dozen times. I have in the recesses of my memory, every word of the spiel.
  • Here is one of the many pics I have taken of the Preview Center over the years. I remember being there, dirt road out front, as if it was yesterday.
  • I stepped into the Magic Kingdom when I was 10-years old. It was a couple of months old. I remember it like it was yesterday. I can see Cinderella Castle at the end of Main Street. The place was pristine. Magical does not begin to describe that memory.
A photo I took from the catwalk outside California Grill at the top of the Contemporary Resort.
  • My mom started working at Walt Disney World (WDW) in 1973 at the Pueblo Room at the Contemporary Resort. The Pueblo Room was where George Kalogridis also got his start as a busboy. My mom, a seater, worked with George for several years. He is now the President of Segment Development and Enrichment for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products (whatever that is).
  • Because mom worked there, we got in free. This was when tickets were a thing, but there were rides that didn’t need one and we went on them a lot.
  • This is a WDW Tickets in 1973 site.
  • One of my faves was If You Had Wings. There was never any line and it was ice cold inside. Looking at the video, I am reminded of the growing hanging fish… and the people in the waterfall. Wow.
  • We went to River Country a lot. That was on Bay Lake (a natural lake, whereas the Seven Seas Lagoon is man-made) by the campground, Ft. Wilderness. Early on, and for a long time that I can remember, there were no alligators (that we knew about or saw) in Bay Lake. We used to swim in the lake a lot and there were and swimming races by Discovery Island, across from the Contemporary in Bay Lake, early on, too. We knew about the amoeba early on (Naegleria fowleri) but until several people died from the primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, the warning about swimming in lakes in the summer were rare. Now we know much more.
Bay Lake behind the Contemporary Resort.
  • When we went to the Magic Kingdom when my mom was working, as it got close to her getting off work, we would hang out in the arcade on the ground floor of the Contemporary Resort. It is still there, but much larger now. We did not have arcades back in the olden days, so this was fascinating. I cannot imagine my parents giving us much money to spend, but I do remember playing air hockey, probably on someone else’s dime.
  • How did we find people who were lost in the park? How did we do this without cell phones? I can’t even remember. My mom says we had to meet at certain places at certain times and BE THERE or else. I guess we found each other. I know where everyone is tonight!
A photo I took of the welcome arch.
  • I remember when Space Mountain went so fast they had to slow it down when someone got hurt. Sitting one in front of the other? No thank you!
  • Ahhh, the Buckets… the Sky Ride. I loved that thing so much once I got on them. I was scared for years, but once I finally climbed in, it was great! Wonderful place to make-out.
  • Speaking of making-out, when one was at the Magic Kingdom (MK) at night, there were tons of places to get naughty with a boyfriend or girlfriend. How was there ever a time without cameras everywhere? I liked by the Liberty Tree Tavern… very dark there.
  • Tomorrowland Terrace. Remember the eccentric Michael Iceberg? He was fascinating with his musical computer!
  • I also saw Maynard Ferguson and other jazz musicians on the Tomorrowland Terrace stage. So much fun with my band friends.
  • Grad Nights! I don’t know how I got to go to so many Grad Nights, but I went to several. Here is a list of the performers for Grad Nights from 1972-2008. I graduated in 1979, but know I was at other people’s Grad Nights, too. Tickets were expensive! 1972, they were $9. Get a look at the Dress Code. HA!
  • I knew the MK so well, I could do tours and did. Later, I went with a couple of families who were on vacation and photographed them, allowing everyone in the family to be in the pics. I took some great shots! Do I still have them? Nope.
Photo I took from Liberty Square.
  • I do have some of the (now missing) thousands and thousands of pictures I took at Disney World during my Rec.Arts.Disney.Parks (Radp) days. I need a separate blog just for all the posts I have from there.
  • We took Tristan to WDW when he was 4 weeks old. Here are a few pics of him. How tired do I look in my 1982 giant glasses? I should have been home nursing my newborn! I tried nursing in the Baby Care Center… lovely with rocking chairs in a darkened room that was cold and cozy. I had a hard time nursing in bed. The rocking chair was nigh on impossible. My boobs were so swollen!
Tristan and Me at the Magic Kingdom November 21, 1982.
  • Remember the Year of a Million Dreams? 2006-2008. I love this pic of a monorail I took. The moon high above.
  • Here’s an early monorail leaving the Contemporary Resort.
  • Oh my god, do you remember the hoopla surrounding when the “Fry Cart” was coming into the Magic Kingdom in Frontierland? If you were in online Disney groups in 1996, you will. If we had known it would be gone by 2008, I wonder if we would have had such heated discussions. I love McDonald’s fries, so I was all for the fry cart.
  • Do you remember when Tape Art came to the 2nd floor of the Contemporary Resort? I happened upon it accidentally and let the Radp group know Michael Townsend and Erica Duthie were decorating the hotel, inside and out. I LOVED the Tape Art! Here’s Meghann and Aimee after their own creations… while imitating what they made!
  • Here’s one of my fave pics I took of Cinderella Castle from the top of the Contemporary Resort.
  • Another Castle pic I took. Same vantage point.
  • And a few moments later, when the Castle changed colors.
  • The 5-Legged Goat on the wall closest to the monorail going through the center of the Contemporary Resort. When riding, I would always make sure to show it off. I told parents if they looked at it, their kids would not cry all day. The craned their necks.
  • This next one is Tristan and Meghann behind the Contemporary Resort when they were 3 and 9 months respectively, in 1985. Mickey sunglasses. Go, Tristan!
  • Meghann on her 21st Birth Day in 2005. Crystal Palace.

I have many more memories to share but want to get this out on Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. I will add more as I can.

A photo I took of the Cakesle 25 years ago. Everyone hated it but me. I loved the Cakesle!

May 20, 2022

Do you remember when Disney Cast Members were not allowed to have mustaches, beards, piercings other than ears (and only for women, of course). How fingernails used to be limited to just beyond the fingertip and the color had to be “conservative?” Earrings had to be posts in diamonds, silver, or gold… no Mickeys allowed, even.

I was watching a Live Stream at Animal Kingdom and the CMs had so much jewelry. And tattoos! Visible tattoos on a Cast Member? Just wow.

I took this picture of Joe Rohde on Opening Day at Animal Kingdom and he was an anomaly in the Disney Cast Member world wearing so much jewelry and a mustache.

Joe Rohde, Imagineer who created Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Opening Day, April 22, 1998.

Random Ponderings

I’m going to write things I think about. Many of you might not give one whit, but many of these things, I hope are springboards for extended posts. Others, just thoughts, maybe for my kids or grandkids, who knows. I just feel the need to get some things out that have been piling up in my journal.

  • Just had my several-months-late Dermatology Exam for the melanoma that wanders over my freckled skin. CLEAN! Not even a biopsy needed. I was so scared there would be something I should have been in months before to find. Whew!
  • Serious memories jumping up. Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here showed itself this morning. Then there is the Great American Melting Pot… I know about a few million Republicans that need to review that one.
  • I’m doing a labor intensive project for work so am pretty sure I will not be able to do NaNoWriMo this year. My book sits staring at me and I pray I still have the words when I get back to it. If I didn’t sleep, I could work on it, but, alas, I am still tired some of each day. I do, however, LOVE the book a lot. It’s moving along well. When it moves forward.
  • Do you remember Afterschool Specials? They have a boxed sets on Amazon selling all of them! I remember running home to make sure I saw each one. They were fantastic. It was the first place I saw anything about where babies came from. Reading the synopses, I would love for my grandkids to see these. Nothing that I know of is around nowadays.
  • Out of the blue, I had a dream about drag queens in Minneapolis. Mary Tyler Moore was there. Not one clue where that trigger came from.
  • “I need to sing louder than my fear.” (I don’t remember where I grabbed that, but love it!)
  • When I was in 5th grade, I had 2 crushed velvet skirts, one deep purple and the other deep blue. When the waist was in the proper place, the hem was down right above my knee. For some reason, I needed the skirt up around my ass instead, so pulled the waist up under where I would one day have boobs. Sitting here 50 years later, I am embarrassed for what that little Barbie had to have looked like, her panties showing with each step she made. What was I thinking?
  • My first kiss was during Spin the Bottle and I kissed Pat Quinn. I can still feel that tender, wonderful kiss. I wonder if any one since has been as sweet.
  • I have a post I’m working on about Zora Neale Hurston and W. E. B. Du Bois. Both these black writers, essayists, and, in Hurston’s case, also an anthropologist, have opened my eyes more about Black History than anything I have read before. I hope to finish the blog post post soon.
  • I’m reading War and Peace for the first time and absolutely love it. A client recommended it, saying it was better than Anna Karenina (both by Leo Tolstoy), which I really loved, too. I thought, “What the hell,” and was sucked in from the beginning. I am listening to it (50 hours long!) and know I would never have been able to read all the Russian names, hear the French properly (bits in this translation are in French, sometimes translated to English, but not always) or pronounced the cities’ names correctly. I really like hearing it. Thanks, Audible!
  • I just saw that David Cassidy died. In 2017. How did I miss that? Liver failure from drinking. He was 67 years old.

Bette Midler and Memories of “P,” the Best Drag Queen Ever

As I work on my book about the late 70’s and early 80’s right before and after AIDS hits, I am going through so many inspirational music genres. Of course, Disco has the main stage, but so do Broadway Musicals.

Right now, it is Bette Midler. I have listened to her Bette Midler: Live at Last over and over the past few days as I write about the drag queens I hung out with between 1978 and 1980. Hung out is not really what I did. I fawned over them.

P

Paul Wegman as Miss P

I followed my favorite queen P like a puppy dog. I was so enamored of P I could not be in her orbit for a long enough time. I was 17 when I met P. She was the emcee at the Parliament House, a gay complex here in Orlando. I lived for the drag shows… Thursday through Sunday nights. I loved sitting up front, in the vulnerable section of the audience. The lights were always glaring over the first few rows and P could see who was there easily.

Her ability to banter with anyone was uncanny. She took great chunks out of people’s armor, illuminating their naughty sides, baring their shameful sides and highlighting their most wondrous parts as well. Her brash social commentary operated without any polite bullshit enveloping it.

It wasn’t until I was out of the drag queen community and came out as a lesbian, reading everything I could about the gay community that discovered Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds. In there, Judy Grahn, a poet and historian, shares a bit about the history of drag queen speech:

“…incessant witty verbiage, gossipy, outlandish, repetitive, poetic, and philosophical in the most elemental sense. Sensual, barbed, informative, revolting, political – Fairy speech is a living art.”

Another Mother Tongue, Judy Grahn, page 86

Also:

“…splashy entrances and exits, louder than anyone and funnier, more daring, taking up a lot of space and always with a smart remark, a critique, a commentary cutting through hypocrisy, conformity, or rigid manners, revealing the bones of the matter.”

Another Mother Tongue, Judy Grahn, page 86

Drag Queens will have a prominent space in my book. They taught me a lot about communication and honesty. I struggle with that a lot, so am tapping into P and the others to be brave and keep writing.

Bette Midler

P loved Bette Midler, “singing” to her Live at Last album so many times even I memorized the words. As I listen to Ms. Midler sing, I can see P lip syncing to “Shiver Me Timbers,” guiding the audience through, “C’monIWannaLeiYou” and sharing hilarious Sophie Tucker naughtiness.

I wanted to add this small part about Ms. Midler because I want her to know how integral her voice was to my growing up.

When P became a friend, his name was Paul. Paul and I worked at Subway Sandwich Shop in Winter Park, near Rollins College. I was even more enamored of Paul than I was of P (which, looking back, would have been a pretty hard thing to do!). He teased me as if I were his kid sister, playing pranks on me like, on my first day, sent me back into the old parking lot to pick lettuce behind a brambly bush. I can see him still, cigarette dangling from his lips as he sliced the salami, laughing at my blissful gullibility; anything to make Paul happy. (I really did think there would be lettuce to pick back there.)

We had a small transistor radio that played above the slicer and whenever Bette Midler’s “The Rose” came on, Paul stopped whatever we were doing (except making sandwiches, of course) and swept me into his arms to dance with him. I can still feel his warmth against my body. That song encompasses everything I feel for Paul.

This book I am writing. Paul is my Muse. I talk to him as I write. “Do you like that? Did I describe it right?” It might be fiction, but it is autobiographical fiction. Paul wants me to get the words down as he saw them, too.

I’m writing, dear one. I am writing.

Paul Wegman died of AIDS August 24, 2004. He is missed by so many.

Writing in a Cocoon

I seem to go through cycles in my writing.

First, I love to write, then share what I have written with a couple (few) people, then read what I have written at various Open Mics on Second Life.

Then I find myself feeling all heady and full of myself when I get good reviews (which, so far, have been always).

After that, I struggle to reclaim my humility, feeling as Dani Shapiro says in Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Writing Life, that when one shares their work before it is finished, it drains the energy to continue writing. The pressure… divine pressure… is released before the task is done and the work suffers.

I am in that third place, realizing that I have been floating on a cloud of good reviews and instead of writing, I am gloating, looking over what I have written. The previous post, Ravel’s Boléro & My Writing, is an example of that gloating.

When I wrote:

Turning back to the window after hearing a couple of guys oooo and ahhh, (Lisa) stood watching two particularly active men. Tilting her head and squinting, they became notes on a musical staff, Ravel’s Boléro pulling the men through the staccato eighth and sixteenth notes. She watched as they tumbled three-quarter speed through the lines on the page, each thrust into a man’s body creating the accent at the end of the wave before a new crest of orgasms began. The symphonic orchestra in her head, mixing with We Are Family on the motel’s radio, created something resembling a Stravinsky composition.

…I swooned and shared the paragraph in half a dozen places, including, as you see, here in my blog.

Shapiro says that when that swooning happens… when one is so enamored of a section, a sentence, a word… that is the first thing to go in editing.

The original attribution is from British journalist, critic, and novelist Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, who said: “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it — whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

I re-read what I wrote and laughed aloud because after I put it here in my blog, I saw the absurdity of the paragraph, that it would take a musician to know what I was talking about. Is it a pretty section? You bet. Can I use it where I put it in the book? Not at all.

Re-Building the Cocoon

I’ve decided I am not going to share any more of my writings with people until I am ready for Beta Readers when the book is finished. I’m going to stop bragging about the book’s possible names, the importance of writing the book now and how much is me and how much is the character.

I’m re-building my cocoon.

I better stay in it for a darn long time, too. I have work to do!

Sharing my writing is sapping my creative energy. I need to cocoon and write for my One Reader (my inspiration!), finishing before sharing the whole work at one time.

Ravel’s Boléro & My Writing

I’m working sort of diligently on my main Work in Progress about the gay world immediately pre and post-AIDS and created a few sentences I wanted to share with you before I tell you about my Rabbit Hole experience with Ravel’s Boléro .

Turning back to the window after hearing a couple of guys oooo and ahhh, (Lisa) stood watching two particularly active men. Tilting her head and squinting, they became notes on a musical staff, Ravel’s Boléro pulling the men through the staccato eighth and sixteenth notes. She watched as they tumbled three-quarter speed through the lines on the page, each thrust into a man’s body creating the accent at the end of the wave before a new crest of orgasms began. The symphonic orchestra in her head, mixing with We Are Family on the motel’s radio, created something resembling a Stravinsky composition.

The paragraph formed as I was writing in silence, Boléro being what began in my head and then I had to look and see when the movie 10 came out… 1979… exactly where Lisa would have heard the song first. Lisa was also in band and would have known details about the music. Then as she came back to herself, the combination of Boléro and We Are Family, a disco song, would have created the cacophonous sound of a Stravinsky orchestration. I have never liked Stravinsky, so that was an easy one to “hear.”

Example of the complicated cacophony Stravinsky offers.

Herbert von Karajan

Moving to YouTube to listen and the first orchestra I heard was the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra with Herbert von Karajan as Conductor. I watched mesmerized and needed to know more. First, I scrolled through the comments, blessedly I read Spanish, too, because everywhere I read the next few days had a lot of Spanish comments and articles. In the comments, I see the word “Nazi” in relation to Karajan, so off I go to Wikipedia and learn that sure enough, he was a Nazi during WWII. When he traveled around the world to conduct orchestras, he had been picketed, his evenings of conducting interrupted by protesters (including here in the United States). While I do not know the year this particular video was created, the orchestra is all white men. He died in 1989, so before then. While his conducting was amazing and my favorite, I just cannot watch him anymore.

Maurice Ravel

Then I head in a different direction learning about the actual piece Boléro by Frenchman Maurice Ravel who, thankfully, was not a Nazi. Boléro was a commissioned piece for a ballet.

I find the rhythm, the pace and instrumental shifts as interesting as it starting pianissimo (as soft as possible) and ending fortissimo (as loud as possible).

I have listened to orchestras from around the world play Boléro… professionals and students, loving each performance. There are Flashmobs that are worth watching.

Two ballet performances in particular are worthy of your time. Both were choreographed by Maurice Béjart, one with a ballerina, Maya Plisetskaya and one with a ballerino, Jorge Donn… an extremely homoerotic piece that is amazing to watch.

Jorge Donn dancing Boléro

I have a preference for the slower pace… between 62 and 76 beats per minute. These were the beats Ravel himself set in his scores. It annoyed the crap out of him to have the conductor speed up as the piece goes on, something that, apparently, is really common.

When Piero Coppola was doing the first recording of Boléro in 1930, Ravel sitting next to him, Coppola says:

Maurice Ravel… did not have confidence in me for the Boléro. He was afraid that my Mediterranean temperament would overtake me, and that I would rush the tempo. I assembled the orchestra at the Salle Pleyel, and Ravel took a seat beside me. Everything went well until the final part, where, in spite of myself, I increased the tempo by a fraction. Ravel jumped up, came over and pulled at my jacket: “not so fast”, he exclaimed, and we had to begin again.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bol%C3%A9ro

Conductor Arturo Toscanini

Toscanini premiered Boléro with the New York Philharmonic in 1929. I am sharing that because the original recording is in YouTube and knowing that was the first playing in public of the piece gives me shivers of happiness! How lucky we are to be able to hear this! Instrumental foibles and all.

Where’s the Part About Writing?

Listening to Boléro, my writing has been going really well. This book is flowing along. Not fast enough for my taste, but at least it is going. I must have listened to it 100 times now, and watched half of that.

Gustavo Dudamel

When I need to take a break, I love watching Gustavo Dudamel, a Venezuelan Conductor who is delightfully animated as he directs the Wiener Philharmoniker. Someone commented: How to be a good conductor… really love music or have a controlled seizure. This fits Dudamel perfectly.

And then there is writing this post. No one might care, but I have a new blog post out and I am very happy about that!

Coming Back, Again

I am doing really, really well.

COVID Vaccine

I have gotten BOTH my COVID vaccines (Moderna), having nothing more than a sore arm the 1st time and no side effects the 2nd, I am 3 weeks out from the 2nd shot. Not bad for a once Anti-Vaxxer, eh?

Writing

Writing is going really well. I wrote so much during NaNoWriMo 2020, still needing to write more, but am editing a lot, too. This is an excerpt from near the beginning of the book:

Lisa heard Manny whispering, “Is that one over there?” She looked and saw a tallish man wearing jeans and an AC/DC tee shirt slip behind the azalea bushes.
“Lake Eola is hopping tonight. Let me go talk to him,” Lisa said.
She stepped away from her friends to follow the older man now in the shadows. When she was also hidden in the darkness, she softly asked, “Are you looking for someone?”
His answer was more a grunt than an assent.
She continued, “I think your friend might be over there.”
He nodded towards her friends chatting out on the sidewalk. They were deciding who would be the first “friend” tonight and who would be the decoys for the cops so the cocksucker would be safer with the guy in the bushes.
“Yeah, you know where my friend is? He got lost. Tell him where I am.”
She went back onto the moonlit sidewalk, pulling Manny by the hand, the hand that was sweaty and sticky before he even got near the other person.
“Don’t be nervous. Once you get going, it’s easier.”
She yanked him back behind the azalea bush and dropped his hand before turning to go back to the other two guys waiting for her to find them a “friend,” too.
Lisa and the two waiting their turn sat on a bench together, chatting. They acted as if nothing out of the ordinary was going on except they were out at Lake Eola at midnight on a school night, watching the space ship-shaped fountain changing colors.
Lisa had been going to Lake Eola since her family moved to Orlando in 1965 when she was four, six years before Disney World opened. Orlando was sleepier then. T.G. Lee Milk had a ranch with cows on it on Bumby Avenue T.G. Lee was just a boring building now. The city had changed so much in thirteen years.
The three of them waited and before seven minutes were up, Manny was back out of the bushes, looking triumphant.
He said, “You were right! It was easy!” and all the guys high-fived each other.
Manny was the first of the group to suck cock at Lake Eola that night. Lisa felt like she had become a tour bus operator on a kinky road trip through Anonymous Homosexual Sex Land.

Malignant Melanoma

Well, I had a patch that needed surgery for awhile and my daughter Aimee and I did all kinds of woo woo incantations and such on it and by the time we finally scheduled surgery and did another biopsy to see how much it had grown or gotten worse, it was GONE. HA! I cured myself! So, for the moment, I am cancer-free. Wheeee!

Spirituality

I have been exploring, as I have said before, and had been looking for the perfect book to guide me along. I read all sorts of Ram Dass (whom I love) and then some other books, but one was suggested to me that was perfect: Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. It answered so many of the questions that have puzzled me for so many years and I finally feel on decent footing for finding a spiritual path just for me.

Somewhat Caught Up

Work is really good. I am thrilled writing is going well. My kids are amazing and we get to spend a few days ALL together in a few weeks. Me, my mom, my kids and my grandkids. I have not seen all 3 of my kids together in one place in about 10-12 years. I am going to be in heaven! All but one of us is completed vaccinated. We are prepared!

Hopefully, more soon!

COVID & Me: I Year Old

March 11, 2020 was the day the world learned we were in a COVID-19 Pandemic.

A Year Ago…

…I was riddled with anxiety and depression knowing I was going to die within weeks. I did not want to die alone in the hospital, so decided I would die by suicide at home. I gathered all the most potent medications and set them out, trying to figure out when I should take them. I called a beloved friend who would sit with me on the phone as I faded away, so felt more in control over a completely out-of-control experience.

A Year Later

On March 11, 2021, I got my first COVID vaccine shot.

I am going to make it through this pandemic alive.

Reflections of Aire

Last week’s Initiation class was about the element of Air(e) (I like the E on there even though I am not British.)

I am a Fire sign, but was l-o-s-t in the Fire element discussion and meditation 2 weeks ago. I did not have much hope for Aire, something I had never given much thought to.

So imagine my shock when, as the meditation began, I was thrust onto the terrazzo floor in the house I grew up in, ice cold because the air conditioner was always on… the antique Hi-Fi Stereo System we had playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. This stereo was like a suitcase with hinges so the speakers could come off and be placed, corded, somewhere in the room to get the best sound. For me, the best sound was when each speaker was sitting on either side of my head, blaring into my ears.

Flying!

As Pink Floyd played, I found my (drug-free) 16-year old Self lifted out of my body… spontaneously. Not something I had ever heard of or aspired to do. First, I flew around the house, up to the ceiling, then I mentally opened a window and flew out of it. I wandered/floated around the neighborhood, my viewpoint being that of a bird. I felt no flapping wings, did not feel like a bird, but was UP and dipping and flying back UP again. I could hear Pink Floyd in my ears, but it sounded further away.

The first place outside of my neighborhood that I had to visit was Disney World.

When I got used to the flying feeling, I thought how cool it would be to wander further,

I never told anyone about these flights of fancy lest they commit me to a psych hospital, but in times of pain or fear, I would zip up and away from where I was not having a good time. Escapism at its finest.

Not sure when I stopped flying around, but I had not thought of it for eons… and then…

Initiation Into Aire

…imagine my surprise when, as our meditation began a couple of weeks ago, Pink Floyd started playing in my head almost immediately. Before I could even wonder what I would do during the meditation, I was up and out, the still-familiar feeling of flying I had not experienced in decades.

I wandered all over for the 40 minute meditation, but don’t remember exactly where I went (should have written it down!), but it was fantastic.

Claiming the Aire

I won’t overlook air again!

And, I was also reminded I have a hummingbird on my left breast, a dragonfly on my right arm and Tinker Bell on my calf. Apparently I am more Aire than I thought!