Categories
Life

Politically Incorrect, Morally Questionable, or Technically Illegal

As I delved into this novel about a grandmother who stumbles upon something morally reprehensible while doing something illegal, it occurred to me that there are a range of topics that I’ve not allowed myself to discuss on this website. These are things that poor people do just to survive. They aren’t in it for profit; in fact, when their finances are steady they abandon the procedures. But when the chips are down and they need to put food on the table, these are the routines that they fall back on.

I’ve never thought about the self-censorship I’ve employed. As friends and family have suggested that I write about certain things, I simply didn’t write about them or I changed them in ways to make them unrecognizeable.

For instance, it’s illegal to remove the tags from pillows and mattresses. There are people who find those tags unappealing for a variety of reasons, yet I cannot tell you whether I am among that number for fear that my post will lead the Mattress Gestapo to my door.

Another example that used to be common a decade or so back involved software, movies and music discs. Parents would burn copies of their expensive originals for their kids. Rather than allow their children to scratch up a disk that cost them $20, $30, and sometimes more, they would let the children use the copies while the originals were stored away. They didn’t do this for profit; they did this to protect their originals from damage. But this procedure was considered evil enough that operating system manufacturers began to limit and remove the ability from modern operating systems because these parents were “stealing” — costing millions of dollars of injury to the original producers of the item. That’s actually one of the reasons that software manufacturers started listing their products in online marketplaces. While they stated that it was for “convenience,” it was actually to prevent parents from practicing these preservation procedures.

I’ve read tales in years gone by of minimalists who, determined to remove physical clutter from their lives to be a bigger dog in the primordial pissing contest who would rip the contents of their music and movie discs to their computer and sell the originals.

That’s highly illegal since the money received from the physical copies is considered pirating so you don’t hear that discussed now.

I’ve got an entire case of music CDs in my home right now due to the illegality of the practice. Rather than sell the ancient music CDs I’ve acquired over the years once I rip them, I eliminate the cases and stash the originals in a binder. You see, it’s not technically illegal to rip your music to a computer so that you can listen to it on a broad range of devices, it’s just illegal to sell or dispose of the originals.

The originals are proof that you legally obtained your digital music, you see.

If you want to thin down your physical book collection by scanning the pages to create a digital copy, guess what? You’re breaking the law as well. While it’s acceptable if you have proof that you actually owned the physical copy at some point in the past (so that you can argue that you were the one who scanned it), it’s part of a legal gray area that’s best left untouched.

And don’t you ever dare to think about sharing a digital copy of a book with a friend. That’s considered pirating, my friends.

Yet there are people all around who practice these little things. They don’t do it for profit, they do it because they feel that if they bought the original item that they should have the right to change the format, back up their originals, or share them with a friend for free.

Some companies are even now fighting to make it illegal for you to fix your stuff. I stumbled upon an article about this the other day. They are involved in a court case stating that it isn’t “safe” for the average person (or even a shade-tree tech) to maintain, upgrade, or repair the devices. John Deere is currently turning farmers into pirates due to this. They are purchasing illegal software produced in foreign nations to hack the software in their tractors just so they can fix the things without facing an outrageous bill from the John Deere corporation.

None of these farmers can write about the practice on the Internet. If they did, they would be providing evidence that could be used against themselves in a court of law.

And finally, there is the court of Political Correctness that seems to be running rampant in our society. Back when I worked a public job a police officer came into the store searching for a suspect. He didn’t say who or why; he just provided me a description of the person. He visited all of the stores in our little area, so us managers were all gossiping. The poor officer must have felt the fear that his description would be considered politically incorrect and therefore punishable because, depending upon the race of the person he asked about the suspect, he would either include or leave out the color of the suspect’s skin.

Those of us who shared the suspect’s skin color were rather shocked at that discrepancy. That single piece of information may have helped us identify the person better yet this officer was so worried about his job that he felt the need to leave it out when asking those of us who shared the suspect’s skin color.

Yet to me, skin color is not a discriminatory issue. It’s a color, for goodness’ sake! Seriously, I know for a fact that I’m a poor white Cracker every single time I look in the mirror. It’s not going to offend me if somebody uses my color when they describe me. The tragic part of that is the fact that I have friends in a rainbow of colors who feel the exact same way. As long as the terms are used as a description and not an insult, as a whole we see no harm in the practice.

Yet people can lose their careers over that.

I’ve heard of folks who used what they consider to be their right to free speech in our nation that have lost their jobs because they stated beliefs that were considered “hostile.” While some of those people may have gone overboard (it’s not for me to judge), shouldn’t they have the right to express their views without being persecuted for their beliefs? After all, there is a line between words and actions. It’s one thing to say that you believe all … oh, let’s use a term most everyone can agree to hate … infant sexual abusers should be … treated, or perhaps punished in a certain way. As long as they don’t go out, track down one of these infant sexual abusers and do that to the person, shouldn’t they have a right to express their opinion of what should be done if said person molested their toddler?

And if you look at the paragraph above, you will notice that I censored myself yet again. I didn’t want to censor myself, I just did. I may still receive hate mail because of that, because even the topic is considered a hate topic in certain circles.

The very stories I grew up with in my childhood, stories whose names I don’t dare to repeat here are being rewritten by the Moral Majority or outright banned. I grew up with those stories, yet I cannot locate a physical copy of the stories in question because they are considered wrong now. Fortunately, some of these stories are out of copyright so it is actually legal to download a digital copy of the original texts. Yet I don’t dare confirm or deny that I’ve saved copies of the original stories from my childhood because I know that it would label me some sort of racist monster.

It’s getting to the point where I wish that I would have never allowed those in my physical circles to know that I actually have this website because it drastically limits what I can safely discuss in this realm. As it is, I’ve taken to publishing my fiction under a variety of pen names that I don’t tell anyone about for safety.

Some of the nonfiction books I have published have resulted in grief from my physical circles as it is. My view on things is a bit different from several around me so I burned some friendships when they stumbled across the titles online.

The sad part about the entire situation is that those who know me well understand that I don’t hate anyone. I may disagree on certain subjects, but I am open enough to consider other views and alter my personal opinions when the case warrants it. I avoid confrontation like the plague. I grew up in a home filled with violence and I want no part of that, yet now I have to censor my words and alter my “personal beliefs” depending upon the person I happen to be talking to.

I don’t even dare to share my innermost personal beliefs with you because someone from my physical world may stumble across them and use them against me in some manner.

That is the world we live in now, a world where we censor ourselves automatically for personal safety. A world where we cannot discuss the things we actually do just to survive, not to profit, but because the things we are forced to do are illegal, morally questionable, or politically incorrect.

Hell, just my stated opinion that in order to change things within our government that we should do what we can to stop giving the major corporations our money labels me an extremist. My personal use of the Linux operating system had me on a watchlist years back. A coffee shop I used to frequent received a notice that they should report the names and info of their customers who used it because we were all potential cyber-terrorists. We weren’t cyber-terrorists; my friends and I were tired of Windows crashing all of the time so we started encouraging our less technically inclined friends to try Linux instead. We would sit in that coffee shop, installing Linux or helping newbies install it because that’s what Linux was about yet our own government considered us the bad guys.

I was so spooked that I eventually bought a Mac, though I didn’t dare state that reason here. I just stopped writing about it and went underground. I have had that hanging over my head for years now, wondering how to handle it. Now that my kids are grown I no longer care. I used Linux to bring an almost seven-year old laptop out of mothballs so I could sit at my kitchen table and sit in the sunlight to write while having the ability to work on my stuff at the library or a coffee shop, and I’m tired of concealing that fact. The laptop in question was manufactured by a company that offers these exact same laptops with the option of Linux or Windows, so I doubt that they would legally persecute me for the switch. Microsoft might disagree, however. By switching to Linux I avoided paying the “Microsoft Tax” for an upgrade that would have rendered this old system unuseable.

I’ve got friends who stock up on groceries that have shared this with me in secret. It’s on a watchlist somewhere that people who stock up are considered “preppers.” Collect weapons and you’re another sort of extremist even if all you do is dust them.

And I don’t dare write about these things. Poor, honest people who stock up during tax time because they know that they won’t be able to afford a lot of food until next tax season are doing it in secret. I know of people who are actually concealing their stockpiles within their furniture or otherwise disguising it out of fear. The sad part is that when I had kids I did the exact same thing. I would spend hundreds of dollars buying stuff in bulk because I never knew if I could afford to feed my kids if I didn’t. I wasn’t preparing for the end of the world or whatever it is some think I was doing. I was making sure I had food on the table because I didn’t want myself or my kids going hungry. And just like my friends are doing now, I hid it from general knowledge. I concealed it in totes and called it clutter.

I have books in my possession that I don’t dare reveal to the public. I collected them for ideas and to expand my knowledge because I was curious yet those very same books could label me in negative ways so I hide them. As I stated earlier, some of those books are from my childhood yet I don’t dare mention them here.

Last night one of my daughters messaged me with a brilliant post idea about one of the ways that people in a financial bind stretch their money. I wrote the idea down with the intention of writing about it this morning yet with the cold light of day I realized that I couldn’t. Due to the current nature of our society, my discussion of this practice might get people in trouble. It is real, it is happening all around me, yet I don’t dare mention it even in passing.

I intend to save the idea and write about it in fiction. It seems that fiction is the only safe place to discuss certain practices anymore. It allows the author to disclaim the procedure by calling it a lie.

It saddens me to think that the only safe way to discuss certain things is in whispers or encrypted chats. It saddens me to realize that I have been editing my words and discarding potential blog posts for fear of repercussions. It saddens me to no end to realize that there are people just like me who are hiding the stories from their childhood and concealing books they read out of curiosity, who even conceal the fact that they stock up on food when they have the money out of fear of our current social climate.

I don’t even know how to handle that. I’m not even certain if it is considered politically correct to mention the dilemma here. In this case, I have resolved to take my chances with this post. Unlike so many others, I have very little to lose.

Have you ever found yourself editing your words or concealing things that you do on a daily basis out of fear for the current social and political climate? If so, how does that make you feel? Please phrase your reponses in generic terms should you share your thoughts in the comments, especially if you think someone you know in the physical world may stumble upon them. Thank you.

Categories
Life

The Flood of FAKE

This evening a friend of mine pried me away from my keyboard. She insisted that some new scenery might clear the cobwebs from my head. Our local McDonald’s had redecorated, replacing the “wall of smut” that I had held in affectionate disdain so she decided to show me the new theme they had chosen.

Something felt off about the place. I couldn’t put my finger on it, so I played with my straw as we made small talk while I pondered.

“Earth to Annie!” K waved a hand in front of my face. I was so puzzled at the discrepancy that I hadn’t even realized that she had asked me a question.

“Something’s just…wrong…with this place,” I confessed. “I can’t put my finger on it so it’s bugging me.”

“Eh,” K shrugged as she took a bite of her sandwich. “It’s the same old McDonalds but with a different face.”

The brick wallpaper, carefully designed with a splash of ‘spray paint’ caught my attention. I followed it upwards, spotting the fake wallpaper bars. Glanced around at the plastic paneling that had been carefully curated to resemble plywood. Even the chairs had a worn look that had been artfully integrated.

But the chairs were new.

The chairs were new. The wallpaper was new. The paneling, the floors, everything was new yet it had been deliberately designed to look….

“Oh my God, they went grunge.” It finally clicked what disturbed me about the place. It had been filled with brand-new, very expensive decorations that were designed to give it a careworn, “welcome to the ‘hood” appearance all the way down to the fake graffiti.

This newly redecorated restaurant had tried to be what it was not and it had failed abysmally. It was the silk purse trying to transform itself into a sow’s ear, and it was the perfect symbol of what our society has become.

We are taught to be all of the things that we are not. We are supposed to look a certain way, act a certain way, do certain things because it is “important” when in reality it is not.

We have fake food now. Tofu masquerading as cheese and meat and God knows what else. We have fake fur, fake leather, fake cotton, fake nails, and fake jewelry. We have fake wood, fake friends, fake news, even fake money these days. We swipe a card filled with fake money instead of using real cash based on real metals with more fake money added to the pool whenever the government runs low.

We rarely even see the truly old stuff anymore. When we want something old we go to the store and buy a cheap new replica. Old means ‘poor’ and ‘dirty’ and ‘wrong’ so we buy the fake stuff and call it fashion.

We live in an age where people buy their pants pre-ripped so they can have the grunge without the grime. We want the gritty without the grit. We want the bling without the bankroll and it’s fake, it’s all fake.

My wardrobe of choice has become a fashion statement. Rich people want to look poor so they pay a fortune for the appearance. Poor people want to look rich so they max their cards to buy the brand names.

Neither group is what they are pretending to be and I find myself horrified at the revelation. It’s no wonder that Trump won the election. He was the only one honest enough to own the fact that he’s an asshole.

And who will they pit against him in the next election? Chances are it will be the rich bastard who’s playing himself off as a middle class saint. Millions of dollars, multiple mansions, yet he pretends to attack the very thing that he is and he expects us to swallow his bullshit.

Seriously, if you don’t like the rich, if you detest the fact that the rich are getting richer then get rid of your fucking mansions and come live in the ‘hood with the rest of us. We’ll be happy to share our roaches.

I don’t care if you’re rich or you’re poor as long as you own what you are to the world. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not because in the end we’re all going to end up dead regardless.

It’s okay to have money. It’s okay to be broke. It’s okay. It’s all okay. Just own what you are and get on with your life.

What’s not okay is when we waste our time and our money pretending to be the things that we are not. What’s not okay is when we waste our time worrying about what others think when it doesn’t matter. That is my problem with the world today and that’s a problem that I just realized that I have with myself as well.

I come from the Mountains of Eastern Kentucky. I am the daughter of an ex-con and a stripper. I grew up helping my daddy bootleg because we did what we had to do in order to survive. I learned how to talk my way out of trouble at an early age when dirty old men tried to drag me in their cars.

I hated school because it was boring and we skipped ahead every damn time we got to the interesting parts. It was more important to color inside the circles than it was to actually learn something. I can read and I can research and I can learn more in a month than most classes teach me in a year. I resented the waste of my time but I just tried to pretend that this wasn’t a problem. I told myself I needed a piece of fucking paper when in the end all I needed was the knowledge.

That piece of paper was just to prove to the world that I was a person.

I was molested as a toddler. I was raped as an adult. I had my first two kids out of wedlock and I thought that made me wrong so to fix it I got married. The worst part of that was that he was fake too. I just couldn’t see it through my own damn fakeness. I was too busy trying to be something that I was not.

And right now I am a toothless old crone who is aggravated as hell at the fact that the truth was all around me and I missed it for ages. I live in a run-down shack on a grungy street like so many others yet the world looks for us and all they find are the mansions shown on TV.

Hell, we all believe that we’re supposed to live in mansions now because that’s all we’re allowed to see. We glamorize the rich and vilify the poor because “fuck them, they’re trash.”

People jump here from across the world looking for streets paved in gold only to land in rat-infested tenements. They wonder what they did wrong when they thought they did everything right.

And they did do everything right. It’s the world that’s wrong.

It’s the image we give, the lies we tell when we say we’re all doing well while most of us are struggling. It’s the shit we buy that we can’t afford so we can brag to our friends that we’re special.

But Tyler Durden of Fight Club had it right:

We are not our job.
We are not how much money we have in the bank.
We are not the car we drive.
We are not the contents of our wallets.
We are not the clothes that we choose to wear.
We are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.

We are. We really are. We are born, we live, and then we return to the earth from whence we came so the circle can continue.

There is no point in being fake. There is no point in pretending to be what we are not. All we do is make ourselves miserable in the end.

Life is too short not to be enjoyed. And we cannot enjoy it if we believe the lie that we are somehow wrong.

It is time we ended the fakeness. It is time to stop pretending to be something that we’re not. It is time to stop believing the lie that we are only worth something if we dress a certain way or act a certain way or buy the certain stuff or do the certain things.

It is time we realized that we are okay where we are with what we have right now.

So keep your stuff. Use the things you already have because something new won’t make you better – it will just make you broke.

And stop supporting the companies that feed you the lies that they’re ‘just like’ you and they ‘care about’ you and they ‘want what’s best’ for you because the truth is this:

All they want is your money.

They want to use you up and spit you out and laugh when you’re tossed in the gutter.

~

We are nothing to them, and it is time that we accepted that.

And it is time we treated them the exact same way that they treat us.

Just like that McDonald’s I visited tonight, they dress up their lies and call themselves authentic. They believe they have us brainwashed enough that we’ll believe it. I hope that they are wrong about that.

Don’t fall for their games. Stop feeding the monsters.

~#~

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I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Frugality Simplicity

Is it Socially Acceptable to Save Money?

As I look back upon this year, I realize that the majority of the criticism that I’ve received concerns how I choose to spend (or not spend) my money.

Among the things I’ve been told:

  • I should rent or buy a bigger home.
  • While I’m here, I should spend money painting and decorating my current home, despite the fact that I neither own this place nor intend to live here forever.
  • I should purchase more clothes, despite the fact that I have more than enough.
  • I should definitely go to college, but I should go to a more expensive school in order to acquire a “better” education–to earn more money.
  • I really “need” a car, despite the fact that I don’t go anywhere.
  • I “need” a high-paying job.
  • I need to invest in a modern, high-end computer since I love them so much.
  • I need to buy (insert item here).

These criticisms are usually framed in a back-handed way in an attempt to mask the criticism:

“I admire how you want to live a simple life, but you really do need to get a bigger place. It’s ridiculous that you sleep in the living room.”

“I understand that you want to save money, but would a bucket of paint kill you?”

According to the people I interact with, I “need” to acquire a larger home so that I can have my own bedroom. I “need” a traditional cook stove and a standard-sized refrigerator. I “need” to toss my perfectly serviceable kitchen table and replace it with new. I “need” dentures, new clothes, matching dishes and many other items.

When I ask why I “need” these things, I’m informed that I’m depriving myself or given long-winded speeches that are hard to decipher.

Why is this? Because I’m definitely not depriving myself. I’m content exactly where I am.

Is it because my life is so different from others that I receive this criticism?

Is it because they believe that I am secretly judging them?

I don’t have any answers to these questions but when combined, it makes me wonder if it is socially unacceptable to avoid spending money to keep up a certain appearance in our society. It makes me wonder if we’re programmed to own certain things, to spend our money in a certain manner not because we care about the items in question, but just to fit in.

I asked a friend about it once over this past year. She informed me that we need to own a certain amount of stuff, of a certain quality because it tells the world that we are doing “okay.”

Why do we care what the world thinks?

More importantly, who gets to decide what we buy or don’t buy?

Could this be why so many people are struggling in our society? Could it be that we are programmed by social pressure to own things that are meaningless in the grand scheme of things to the point where we jeopardize our financial security just to acquire them?

As we conclude this decade, I would like for you to ponder this situation. Have you ever felt pressured to acquire something or live a certain way, to spend money that you wouldn’t ordinarily spend?

If you removed the social pressure, how would you live? What would you spend your money on? What would you stop spending money on?

In short, why do you buy the things that you do? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Life Personal

How Deep Does Our Mental Programming Go?

As I sit here today I am pondering the thoughts and decisions I have made over the years. How many of those decisions came from me, and how many came from societal programming?

My reason for this line of thought stems from Christmas dinner yesterday. I ate that meal perfectly well, yet there is a part of me that is screaming over the fact that I’ve yet to get around to acquiring a set of dentures. I feel somehow wrong and less because I am toothless, but why?

I can eat perfectly well. I may not be able to eat nuts or really hard items, but I can eat. I can actually eat better now than I could when I had teeth!

So why do I want dentures? The purpose of dentures is to not just improve appearance but to help people eat better, right? Yet I can eat perfectly well without them and my appearance has already improved.

So how much of the desire for dentures is from me and how much of it is the programming I’ve received since childhood?

I am having similar questions with my pursuit of college. Why do I want a degree? An Associate’s Degree will increase my income potential a bit but to be honest; I’d make more if I took a job at a factory than I ever could with an Associate’s Degree.

As for the knowledge attained, I find myself doing busywork more than actually learning these days; if it were not for the pointless exercises I would have a lot more free time. I’ve reached the point where I do believe that I could learn more faster if I skipped the busywork and just read the books in my spare time.

Of course, college isn’t designed like that. If you don’t do the busywork your grades suffer immensely. Even worse, if you come to a solution in a way that varies from what the instructor wants you are wrong even if the result is exactly the same.

Yet we spend money just to spend our time doing stuff that really doesn’t matter in order to attain a piece of paper that is supposed to tell the world that we’ve become someone special.

I may be onery in my old age, but I’m beginning to question the logic of not only college, but other facets of my life. Just how much of my desires actually make practical sense in the grand scheme of things?

If the purpose of attaining a formal education is income, there are much faster and cheaper ways to do it. We can work at factories while they still hire humans. We can take a quick certification course and enter fields that don’t require a degree. Hell, if my only purpose is to earn more money I could start busting my ass on this website, produce more books, and go from there. I could even spend $500 to take a set of tests that would certify me in the computer field–and that would be a large boost in pay. I could start accepting new clients in my computer repair business or read a few books on phone repair and earn a tidy income from home.

So why am I so set on attaining a degree? With any of the other options I would actually be able to earn even more money a lot faster than I could by spending my time in college.

And if I said “forget about it” on my teeth I could save $1,000 or thereabouts and be done with the mess.

Just how much of these desires are from me, and how much is from my societal programming?

Have you ever thought about that? Wondered how much of your desires are truly yours? What is your opinion of my personal situation?

I could really use some advice right now so please contribute to the discussion by commenting below. I would really like to know if I’m on to something or if I’m losing my mind.

Thank you.

Categories
Health Life Personal self-improvement

It is Better to be Toothless and Healthy than to Suffer for Vanity

If anyone ever tells you that working a public job, running an online business, attending college, and getting all of your teeth yanked simultaneously is a good idea, please tell them that they are being incredibly stupid.

I can now say that from experience. I just tried it and it wasn’t fun. I highly advise you to take at least a week off from everything should you decide to get all of your teeth pulled at once, unless you happen to enjoy masochism, that is.

That said, I sincerely hope that the misery is completely behind me. I just looked through the maudlin posts I’ve been publishing and ended up depressing myself.

To summarize what I was trying to explain in my previous posts, living an intentional life is determining what you really want, making sure that it’s something you want and not something that society says you should want, and then living your life accordingly as you give the middle finger to the mindless masses who happen to disagree.

On to the story…

As all of you know, I decided to fix my painful visage once and for all by having every single tooth in my head removed. I decided that my health was far more important than my appearance and made my decision accordingly.

Society would like us to believe that the people who choose to have their teeth removed are all illiterate hicks. We either didn’t take care of our teeth or we destroyed them by using drugs as we showed off the car collection we keep on concrete blocks in our front yards. As a result, those of us who decide that it is best for our health to remove our teeth are stigmatized by society.

Oddly enough, it seems to be the poorest of the poor who hold that belief most often. I’ve had several obviously middle and upper class customers who actually praised my decision to forego immediate dentures, citing the pain they suffered from their personal decision to select vanity over comfort, while my less fortunate customers now sneer at me in disdain or tease me about my condition.

As one so eloquently phrased it, “I’ve got more teeth than you now. Guess you shoulda brushed!”

One of my neighbors decided to come through my line during the height of my misery.

“What happened to your mouth?” she asked with a laugh. “You look funny!”

If I hadn’t felt so bad I would have reached across that counter and slapped her into next week. It was obvious that she was determined to make me feel even more miserable than I already did from the expression in her eyes. It was typical behavior for her but I wasn’t in the mood for her attitude.

“When it comes between choosing between my teeth and my life, I choose my life every time,” I sniffed, outraged that she would attempt to humiliate me in the middle of a rush. “I plan to get dentures once my mouth fully heals.”

“I wish more people were as smart as you,” Mr. Mild Mannered Gentleman chimed in from his place behind her in my line. “Most people would rather poison themselves with rotten teeth than have the courage to accept the inevitable.”

Once my neighbor left with a splutter my defender continued the conversation. “I wish I would have been brave enough to not go with immediate dentures,” he confessed quietly as I scanned his purchases. “Those things are absolutely horrible.” He gave me a glimpse of his beautifully fake smile as he walked away.

For the record, I brushed my teeth faithfully. I flossed and did the other little things I could to take care of them to the best of my ability. Based upon the decade’s worth of posts I’ve written for this blog, I also believe that it is safe to say that I am far from illiterate. While I will own the fact that I’m a hillbilly, I know for a fact that my vocabulary can run circles around the more pompous I’ve encountered1.

But let’s face it, folks. Shit happens. We make a false step and end up scarred for life. We get in an accident and we lose a limb. In my case, I didn’t discover the dangers of soft drinks until my teeth started shattering in my head. It wasn’t common knowledge back when I was a child.

If a limb is gangrened, do we hold on to it or do we get that sucker amputated, attach a prosthesis, and get on with our life? Having your teeth removed is no different in the grand scheme of things.

Society is wrong for stigmatizing people who have made the intelligent decision to choose their health over their smile. What does it matter if your teeth are real or fake, if you have a complete set or not, so long as you are healthy?

It doesn’t matter one bit.

To the person out there in the world who is suffering because you are terrified of what society will think of you if you have your teeth removed: Ignore those idiots. It’s none of their business anyway. If they don’t pay your bills they don’t count and if they don’t like how you look you tell them where to kiss.

If you aren’t comfortable enough to do that you tell them I said where they can kiss. While they’re at it, they might be well-advised to tuck that stuff back in.

Their ignorance is showing and it’s ugly.


  1. For those that are wondering: Yes, I talk rings around them for fun. I find pomposity annoying. 
Categories
Health

The Reality of Aging

I woke up to a face filled with pain the other morning. I sat up with a moan, trying to figure out what was happening when my daughter entered the room.

“Oh my God! What happened to your face?” Katie exclaimed.

I staggered to a mirror. My upper right lip had swelled to the size of a sports ball.

That would definitely explain the pain. Poking around the area I determined the source of my agony:

I had another toothache.

Shit!

I thought I had sorted all of my teeth. I choked down some pain meds, applied an ice pack to the swelling, and waited until my dentist office opened.

I spent a week on antibiotics to reduce the infection before my dentist felt safe removing the tooth. I am now teaching myself to speak with my upper lip covering my remaining teeth to conceal the gap and aid in pronunciation.

It is time I faced reality. I could end up killing myself if I continue with the misguided notion that I can save any of my teeth. My dentist has urged me to at least remove all of my top teeth and advised that I may want to have the remaining bottom teeth removed as well. While they may have a few years of life left in them, their removal is inevitable.

I’ve known this time was coming for years even if I didn’t want to face it. I’ve spent the past few years asking people who have had all of their teeth removed about their experiences as I sought their advice.

Interestingly, while those in the lower and middle-class income spectrum all recommend getting an immediate denture, every single wealthy person I’ve questioned has informed me that I would be wasting my money. Immediate dentures rarely fit right so they are uncomfortable to wear if one is able to wear them at all. Even the people who recommend them have told me that they only wore them on rare occasions if they could wear them at all.

One distant relative, a very wealthy businessman, had all of his teeth pulled at the height of his professional career. His research indicated that dentures would not fit properly until his mouth settled so he dressed in his business suits, taught himself to conceal the issue while he spoke, and waited three years for his mouth to completely settle before investing in his first set of dentures.

Other wealthy people have told me a similar story. Almost every single one of them decided to throw vanity aside and wait three years before acquiring their first set of dentures. Not a single one of them had any regrets over the decision, and every single one of them told me that I would be throwing my money away if I didn’t wait at least a year before acquiring my first set of dentures.

My auntie has suggested a middle-of-the-road approach. Have them all pulled and wait until at least Spring of next year to evaluate the condition of my mouth and decide if it has healed enough to justify the expense. She believes that, while I may have to replace that initial pair in a few years as my gums continue to shrink and the bones readjust that it would offer a reasonable compromise between vanity, health, and expense.

I’ve got to do this. If I don’t, I could end up killing myself. This last infection came completely without any warning. While I had noted that I had less energy over the preceding week, I did not make the connection between my energy levels and my mouth.

I have no desire to regain my freedom just to drop dead from a tooth infection.

Despite what society tells us, losing our teeth is not necessarily a sign of poverty. Even multi-millionaires have removed their teeth to avoid health issues and have opted to go without dentures for a time to allow their mouth to properly heal. As one wealthy lady informed me, it makes no sense to spend thousands of dollars trying to save something that will have to be removed regardless or to spend a thousand dollars on a set of dentures that will be useless in a few months to a year.

I happen to agree.

When my dentist office opens today I intend to call and make arrangements. I will set my vanity aside and allow the world to think what it wants about my toothless demeanor; my health is more important than societal beliefs.

To answer the question you may be asking: no, I am not completely comfortable with the thought of eliminating my teeth. I am definitely not comfortable with having to walk around toothless for an extended amount of time. It has to be done, however, so I may as well get it over with. Procrastination serves no purpose.