This is my Camino. Welcome.

The lengths I’ll travel for dental health. Or something.

This is the catty cat of my friend! How cuuute!
This is the catty cat of my friend! How cuuute!

From what I understand/ have been told, there’s a famous short-story by Leo Tolstoy where a series of things happen—some considered “good,” others “bad.” During the course of these events people will comment to the protagonist, “How fortunate!” or “How unfortunate!” and his answer is always something along the lines of, “Who knows if we are to be envied or pitied (by these circumstances).”

Running the risk of slaughtering beautiful literature, because I don’t remember all of the story, say it’s something like:

His daughter’s carriage breaks down…
(How unfortunate!!
But “Who knows if we are to be envied or pitied in this circumstance…”)

But the carriage-repair guy turns out to be a hunk…
(How fortunate!!
But “Who knows if we are to be envied or pitied…”)

But, alas, he also turns out to be a jerk…
(How unfortunate!
But “Who knows if we are to be envied or pitied…”)

But the police officer who listens to the daughter’s report on the carriage-guy turns out to be a good listener and a caring soul, so he proposes to the daughter instead…
(How fortunate!
But “Who knows if we are to be envied or pitied…”)

And so on and so forth, you get the picture.

My life, then.


Yesterday I had a dental appointment at 2 p.m. Because I’m an adult, I’ve taken to scheduling my dental cleanings six months in advance. This in contrast to when I was a college student with no idea of my college schedule six-months-out where I simply filled out a post card. Anyway. Now, when I schedule, I mentally tell the future-me, “Hey, me-of-the-future, enjoy your day off.”

Or, rather, half-day. Because I don’t return to work after that, since commute to the dentist office is way closer to home (read: a half-mile) and driving back to the office to work for thirty minutes and then commence my 45-minute commute home? Nah.

So. Yesterday I was going to have a few extra hours post-dental appointment to be productive.


And one of the first things on my list was to cash some checks. The first was the one from Uncle Sam for paying my taxes, the other was a deposit that I was returned because I treated things with respect instead of ruining them. And, in all, it was a leetle sum of money. Not a lot, but a leetle. And sometimes it’s nice to have a leetle cash.

And I thought, “Oh, wow, maybe I’ll buy myself a new summer dress!”

For I love both summer and dress and summer-dress is the perfect hybrid, in my humble opinion.

So my plan was to go to the dentist, to go to the bank to hand over checks in return for green stuff, go to the store and mayyyyybe try on some dresses and mayyybe, if I loved one, to buy it and take it with me on “vacation” next week. (In quotes because I’ll be riding around three hundred miles on a bike. Is that really what you consider rejuvenating, Nell???)

Who knows if we are to be envied or pitied by these circumstances?

First things first, though, and that would be commuting to work.

Did I ever tell you that way back when I was a new-er driver my brakes once completely failed? Completely. And it was on the way to a college-final and I drove into a park and it was, by every measure, kind of traumatic. Because you don’t realize easily you could kill an innocent person until you’re driving 3,000 pounds of metal with NO WAY to stop. No way. Not even at intersections where you are clearly the person who should be stopping. Not even when people are standing in the street and they have the right of way. Again, traumatic. (Envied or pitied?)

Anyway, because of that, I’m admittedly probably super paranoid about my brakes at all times, even though I don’t drive that car anymore (or long after that escapade, I might add). A few months ago my brakes started acting weird, so I took the car in and the mechanic assured me that everything was OK. He knew about my previous experience with NO BRAKES, so he was gentle and assuring and, “Nope, didn’t find anything.” Oh, OK.

For the past few weeks my car has had some car-y problems happen, but none too large. For instance: the A/C hasn’t been very cold or the shift between gears hasn’t been very smooth. In my mind, I was going to drop my car off for a tune-up next week while I’m relying solely on the energy of my legs and a bike-chain for transportation.

That’s your background.

Back to my commute yesterday morning.

Back to the fact that I didn’t see a traffic light until I was ALMOST THROUGH IT, so I slammed a bit on the brakes.

Back to the fact that the brakes didn’t engage and my pedal hit carpet instead of whatever they normally hit.

Back to the fact that I swerved into a right-hand turn to avoid the intersection…INTO A ONE WAY. And, no I was not going the right way. I turned right into a one-way coming at me. Luckily, though, no one was coming at me, and I was able to make it into a parking spot using some little bit of brake that was sticking around.

So I thought to myself, “Well. That’s odd. It seems like my brakes aren’t working.”

BUT! I also acknowledge that I’m a bit paranoid about brakes, so I wrote it off a little as me having that other bad experience and warned myself not to overreact.

(?????? I know, right??)

So I went to work and worked until 1. I decided I’d take the car to the mechanics first, then go to the dentist.

It was a good plan.

Then I got in the car and this light that read “BRAKES!!!” lit up in alarm-colored red and suddenly an alarm started going off. It was this high-pitched ding-ding-ding that went off literally every half-second because heaven knows every second isn’t annoying enough.

And the brakes were holding on by a thread.

And remember: high-pitched dinging.

So I called my mechanic. Why? I don’t know. Maybe so he could talk me down from the ledge or something.

I was driving at that point, “Hi, um, this is (insert full name), um, my brakes don’t seem to be working and I’m in Detroit and, um, what should I do?”

He was like, “If you’re driving it, you’re probably OK. Come to my shop. But stay safe.”

And I was like, “Um, OK.”

Then I left my father probably the most high-strung voicemail in the history of voicemails. Because: failing brakes in Detroit with the high-pitched, non-stop dinging.

So I’m driving through the back-roads, in case of total brake-failure, and a few things cross my mind:

  1. Whether or not I’m ready to meet eternity. I think when this happens to most people, they have, like, flashbacks of their lives and stuff. Not me. I just think of the last time I went to confession and if I’m in a state of grace. #CATHOLICISM.
  2. Earlier that day I’d discovered two tiny holes in my underwear. And I thought it would be awful to have the EMTs find me and also discover I wore rachet panties.
  3. It also occurred to me that I might not have time to blog-post (I was correct)
  4. I thought about filming a quick film on my camera of my last words, just in case, you know?
  5. I decided I’d use one of my favorite John Paul II quotes as my last words.
  6. I couldn’t remember all of the quote. It’s too long. So I didn’t make the film.

Then I looked at my watch and realized, dang, I was cutting it close on the dental appointment.

So I called and left an equally high-strong voicemail, “Um, hi, MY CAR IS FAILING, so, I’m dropping it off at the mechanics and I’ll be walking to your office, BUT I MIGHT BE A FEW MINUTES LATE and, um, also, I won’t have time to floss my teeth beforehand.”

Or something like that.

And I dropped my car off at the mechanics and tried to be like, “So, when will this be done?” but I’d already exerted all the man I could muster from my man-hair with the 45-minute drive of no brakes/ dinging alarm/ Detroit so instead it probably came out like, “Yeah, man, take your time. I’m a girl. Tee hee.”

And then I booked it for a half-mile in the highest wedges I own, since I’d elected for super cute instead of super practical that morning. And I was like, “YOU RAN THREE MILES THIS MORNING, HOW ARE YOU TAKING SO LONG, IF ONLY YOU HAD DIFFERENT SHOES.”

And I made it to the dentist by 2:03.

And they applauded.

Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.

No cavities. Some small talk. Some scraping with metal things in my mouth. A free toothbrush.

Then I walked back home, walked to the bank and cashed my checks and realized that, really, that money would probably need to be directed somewhere besides “dress.” Probably more towards “car,” so it was a good thing I had no “car” to help me in procuring “dress.”

Then I made myself a smoothie.

And who knows if I am to be envied or pitied by these events.

All I know is: I have another dental appointment scheduled in six months.

Enjoy it, future-me.

Smoothie of grape juice, frozen mango, greek yogurt, blueberries and spinach. Yes.
Smoothie of grape juice, frozen mango, greek yogurt, blueberries and spinach. Yes.

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