Lately I have been practicing something called “metacognition.” That’s a big word for being aware of my thoughts. Like, acknowledging (even out loud) how I’m feeling. See that mosquito hovering around my face? I would say, “This mosquito is annoying me. I am rather annoyed.”*
Or how at least twice a week I find out my fly is open and I wonder, “How long, oh tired out zipper, have you betrayed me? Oh, I am feeling, um, rather pathetic and crummy.”
That last one is a bit embarrassing.
This is all supposed to help me be “in the moment” and to “process my feelings” when I’m “feeling a bit like I want to take a chainsaw to my day.” It also helps very much if whenever I use the metacognition thingy that I go all “quote fingers” on you.
I had to go to the dentist today.
Metacognition to the rescue!!
So, I’m sitting in the chair, and the dentist has me basically reclining so far back that my feet are above my head. I can feel my cheeks (the ones on my face) start to slide up towards my eyes. “My feet are above my head. I think this could be some sort of yoga pose. It probably is good for my back. I am feeling fine.”
Then, she puts that gigantic piece of pink rubber in my mouth and kind of thwacks it around, shoving it in with tenacity and skill. It tastes just like a pencil eraser. “My dentist has a lot of tenacity and skill with that pointy metal thing. This rubber feels all sorts of unacceptable. I am feeling like this is unacceptable, really. That’s how I’m feeling.”
I start to concentrate on the poster of the Colorado Rockies that is stuck to the ceiling. Smooth move, dental workers. This poster is riveting. I could stare at it for, like, three whole minutes and just feel the rapture of that mountain stream casca-
GOOD GUACAMOLE, SHE IS POKING ME WITH THE GIGANTIC NEEDLE THING I AM GOING TO DIE.
“I am feeling like I am going to die. The gigantic metal needle thing is poking all around in my mouth. This is, I think, pretty much just the worst thing ever.”
Mountains. Stream. A bit of tape at the corner that is falling off. I think there is a stain on the ceiling that kind of looks like Ronald Reagan. Breathe.
“Yep. Pretty much still think I’m going to die here. Right here in this chair. They would feel pretty bad, the dental community, wouldn’t they? I bet they would. This is just awful. I hate everything about this. The world is just a terrible place, that there are people who put needles in your mouth and say things like, ‘Now, you’ll feel just a pinch.’ That’s like when you go to the ladybits doctor and she says, ‘Now just relax.'”
I count four corners on that poster. Yep. Counting. I can also count how many tiles are up there, but I have these Blublocker glasses on and and everything is this trippy gold color. For some reason this makes counting hard.
I wonder if my husband will miss me, after I’m gone.
AND THERE’S THAT DRILLING SOUND. I HAVE SEEN MARATHON MAN. I HIGHLY REGRET IT, BUT IT HAD DUSTIN HOFFMAN IN IT AND I JUST LOVE HIM. HE WAS SO YOUNG IN IT AND HAD THAT GREAT 70’S FEATHERED HAIR AND ALL. BUT REALLY, JUST A TERRIBLE MOVIE.
“I feel like I’m going to die again. It’s a good thing I didn’t wear my workout clothes to this appointment. I am in clean underwear. This is a bonus. But yes, I am still sitting, looking at my toes and pretty sure Jesus is calling me home. No drama, here.”
Holy cannoli, my dentist just said, “Uh oh.” This made me tense up so much my entire backside basically levitated me out of the seat. It seems I have a fractured tooth. More work to do. More drilling.
“So, I am still sitting here. My appointment is lasting way longer than I thought. This is just awful again. I am feeling, uh, scared and fearful and frightened. And yes, I know those all are synonyms but you can’t expect me to come up with better word choice at time like this.”
This dental dam thing is really starting to get all slimed up. So that’s just gross. Have I mentioned this is just awful? It really is. Wal-Mart on a Saturday morning kind of awful. Chucky Cheese has nothing on this.
“Ok. What am I feeling? Yep. This is pretty much just awful. Still awful here. Nothing new to add.”
I am convinced at this point that this appointment has gone on far too long. In fact, I think it’s time to just disentangle myself from the rubbery grip of the dental dam and storm out of here. But not before I give a perfect exit speech, indignant and powerful. This is just cruel, I tell you. Medieval quackery! Hocus pocus! I’m calling the news channel! This is ENOUGH!
In my mind (a lovely, green place, I tell you) I see it: The moment plays out as eloquently as the final courtroom scene in To Kill a Mockingbird. It would be an “In the name of God, do your duty” kind of epic speech.
But, as most of my life tends to go, what I envision is not reality. (Oh that it were! My life would be so much more fabulous if it just would actually match the rock and roll show with a side of A Room with a View slide show in my head!!)
Alas, no. Reality would be me, wobbling to a standing position, half a pink bit of rubber thing still sticking out of my mouth, and my hair all bunched up wacky from all that reclining, saying something like this:
“Ib da mabe of Dod, do you dooby Id da mabe of DOD. BELIEB HIB!”
And from there, history.
Thank you, metacognition, for saving the day. Because, right prior to my speech and introduction into that dental office’s hall of fame, metacognition piped up with:
“Dude. You are one dial short on the rotary phone of nutball. Just sit here. It’s awful. But you, my friend, have bad teeth. And also, you are NO Gregory Peck.”
“So here I am. At the dentist.”
*One of my dear friends once told me that a mosquito landed on her face while she was in the car and she promptly slapped herself in the face. Did she actually kill the mosquito? I never found out because once she told me that story I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that there was actually someone else out there who functioned like me that my synapses stopped firing for a minute.