Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth), or: Fear Itself

I’m currently enjoying the last of my three mostly-relaixing days off work in a row with a cup of coffee and Faith No More’s superlative 1992 album Angel Dust. I’m thinking about watching a movie when I’m done writing this (maybe The Thing or Full Metal Jacket), and I’ll probably take a nap at some point. I might watch an episode or two of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I don't know if we'll have enough time.

“Hey Joel, how did you manage to snag three mostly-relaxing days off work in a row? Isn’t your job currently crushing your soul and slowly draining you of life?”

Kind of rude of you interrupt, but I do appreciate your interest. I’ll handle the second part of your question first: as a matter off fact, my job is currently crushing my soul, and has also been sapping my very will to live lately. That’s not say that I don’t enjoy my job; as jobs go, I could do (and have done) much worse for myself. I actually quite like my job most of the time, inasmuch as I am capable of liking a job. (I firmly believe that the purpose of human beings on this planet/holographic simulation is not to toil away at jobs, but I’m caught firmly in that game, and it’s a hard game to quit). Frankly, most of the soul-crushing and life-draining I’m currently experiencing is a direct result of working in the foodservice industry during a global pandemic.

It goes without saying that what follows is solely my opinion, and does not reflect the opinion of my employer but I’ll go ahead and say it just to be absolutely clear: everything published on this blog is solely my opinion, and does not ever reflect the opinion of my employer or anyone else, unless otherwise noted. We obviously need your business so we can stay in business, but many of us are overworked to the point of near exhaustion. A little bit of understanding (and maybe a little empathy) from the general restaurant-going public would be pretty great, and I would love to be able to take a couple of days off work that don’t involve oral surgery or covid vaccines for myself and or my better half.

But I digress. To answer your first question, I was able so score three days off in a row by scheduling oral surgery (I already used up the covid vaccine excuse) to finally get all four of my wisdom teeth removed at the sprightly young age of 44. I went into the experience knowing that even though I would likely end up miserable and unable to eat or sleep or think about anything but pain, I would at least have a good excuse to rest my feet and back, and to not think about work for three days. My overworked and underpaid prep cook/manager Mike also picked up an extra day to cover one of my days off. That guy is a fucking champion and a bloody legend. All hail Mike, the Fucking Legendary Champion.

Anyway, let’s hold the rest of your questions until the end of this piece, please.

This song is not about being overworked and exhausted, but rather is about vampires. Your second question made me think of it, though, and it’s a fucking rad song, so why not shut your damn fool mouth and dig it, especially since you apparently decided it was okay to interrupt me with a question? You should proably go ahead and listen to the rest of the Surf Nicaragua EP while you’re at it. It’s not my favorite Sacred Reich release, but it’s a damn fine piece of work.

Here’s a little backstory on my experience with dentists, since you insist on knowing so dang much about my three days off in a row.

My mom never took me to the dentist as a kid, because I was one of 4 kids, and neither she nor my dad had dental insurance, and we just couldn’t afford it. No one in my immediate family went to the dentist when I was a kid, aside from emergency situations, and being #blessed with pretty good teeth, I never went at all. One result of that reality is that I made my first ever visit to a dentist at the age of 21, when I started having some relatively intolerable tooth pain. I chose a dentist from the Yellow Pages pretty much randomly, which was the style at the time, and Dr. Asshole (not his real name – I probably wouldn’t have picked him if that had been his name) informed me that the pain was, in fact, tooth decay, and that the decaying tooth was, in fact, one of two baby teeth that never came out of my mouth as a child, and which was now starting to just rot out of my big dumb head. He gave me a local anesthetic and began to chisel it out, stopping once, ever-so-briefly, after I indicated that I was was in pain. He said “does that hurt?” and I said something like “yehhh” and said “that’s weird, you shouldn’t be able to feel anything” and continued to chisel away until he was finished. He gave me a prescription for darvocet, and I went home to rest. After taking my second dose and going to bed, I got the fear, and became convinced that something(s) was/were in my closet. The only thing that made sense to calm me down was to get out of the room and watch Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, which is the best of the Police Acadmey franchise, I don’t care what you say. COP helped soothe my jangled nerves and I eventually fell asleep in my easy chair.

Fun tangent: I got the opportunity to meet Bobcat Goldthwait many years later/several years ago (god I’m getting old) and I told him a very abridged version of that story, and he listened patiently, and when I was all finished, he responded “Really? Police Academy 4 calmed you down? That’s pretty weird, man.” Then he signed the very same VHS copy of Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol that saved my life that night all those years ago. Bobcat Goldthwait is a hilarious, weird, very friendly man, and a true American Treasure.

Upon my expiration from this plane of existence, I would like to be cremated with and/or have my remains shot into outer space accompanied by this item, please and thank you.

About a year later, one of my wisdom teeth started to bother me. After a few days of grinning through the pain, I found a different dentist, this time on the recommendation of a friend. Dr. Much-Nicer-Than-the-Last-Guy (also probably not his real name, although I couldn’t begin to wager a guess as to what his real name was) diagnosed the problem and gave me a prescription for antibiotics and a referral to an oral surgeon. The antibiotics made the pain stop, so I threw the referral in the garbage where it belonged and went on with my life. A couple of years after that I was living in Austin, Texas in the early stages of the car crash that was my first marriage when that wisdom tooth started to bother me again, only much worse this time. After lying awake in absolute misery for a few hours, I woke up my ol’ lady and informed her that I needed to go to the emergency room. I caught a vibe from the ER doctor – let’s call him Dr. Dickhead – like he thought I was trying to score narcotics or some such. If only he’d known about my darvocet experience.

“It’s your wisdom tooth. It’s infected. You need to see a dentist,” Dr. Dickhead said prickishly.
“I know what it is,” I responded through clenched teeth, my clothes dripping with sweat, “but I don’t currently have a dentist and it’s 3:00 AM, and I’m in a lot of pain.”
“I can give you some antibiotics, but you need to see a dentist,” he said, dick-headedly.
“I don’t currently have a dentist, but I would love to have some antibiotics, thank you.”

I took the day off work and consumed as much ibuprofen as I could safely consume, along with the antibiotics Dr. Dickhead so graciously prescribed me. The antibiotics cleard up the infection, like antibiotics do, but this time I found a proper dentist (Dr. Very-Nice) and became a returning patient. When she told me I should think about getting my wisdom teeth removed I pretended to do so, but they weren’t bothering me, so I decided not to bother them.

In the interest of saving us a small amount of our precious and fleeting time, let’s fast forward to now-ish, which places us at 17 years and 2 dentists beyond Dr. Very-Nice.

A few months ago, my current dentist, Dr. Weirdo (who is in no way an asshole, a dickhead, or even a prick) recommended I get my wisdom teeth removed, just to avoid issues down the line. They hadn’t bothered me at all in at least 10 years, but I trust that weirdo, so I got a referral and set a date for my surgery. I was nervous, because I’m a fairly rational human being, and after consulting Mrs. Circlepit, with her lifetime of dental woes, I decided to opt for general anesthesia. Essentially, the idea of sitting in a chair for an hour hearing the sounds of oral surgery was mostly unappealing to me, and remebering the fact that my first local anesthesia experience from 23 years ago was much more uncomfortable than either I or Dr. Asshole expected, I decided I’d rather spend the extra money and get knocked out.

It woulda been cool to be knocked out by this.

Extraction Day arrived this past Monday, and I put on a strong face, but on the inside, I was shittin bricks.

As I sat in the chair waiting for the doctor to arrive, I thought back to all the people I’ve known who have had wisdom teeth pulled and/or cut out, and how nearly all of them (especially the ones over 30-ish) experienced a recovery that sat somewhere on a scale of rough-to-bad. I though about the old medical dictionary my mom had from the late 60’s or early 70’s (which I enjoyed reading as a kid), remembering the horrifying stories of olde-tyme surgery and early anesthesia (knowing it wouldn’t be like that, but thinking of it nonetheless). Then the doctor came in, told me he was gonna insert an IV, and that I would probably feel the medicine going in for a couple of minutes. Next thing I know, I’m being awakened by the nurse.

“Is it over already?” I slurred, trying to steal a few more seconds behind the comfort of my closed eyes.
“It’s already over,” she replied. “We need to you wake up so you can go home.”
“He’s finished? No shit? I don’t even remember it,” I mumbled.
“He’s finished. Can you wake up for me?”

And I did, eventually. I guess. I have no memory of being put into the car, and I have the faintest image of sitting in the passenger seat at the CVS drive-thru while we tried to pick up my post op prescriptions, but they apparently weren’t ready yet, so we came home and then there’s a dull awareness of taking my shoes off and sitting on the couch, whereupon evidence retrieved yesterday shows that I attempted to watch a previously recorded A&E Biography episode on retired pro wrestler Shawn Michaels, but fell asleep before it even started. Mrs. Circlepit picked up my Rx a little later, by the way, to the tune of $6.66, which is undeniably pretty fuckin awesome.

Let him who hath understanding reckon the total, after insurance coverage, of your prescriptions.

I ate like a horse on a liquid/soft food diet that first day, putting away some V8, fruit smoothie, applesauce, yogurt (twice), cream of tomato soup, and two Burger King milkshakes. I’ve inexplicably felt zero discomfort since I was in the chair pre-surgery, when the childlike worries of possibly not waking up from the surgery flashed through my brain, and I only had to do about 90 minutes-worth of work yesterday, mostly getting next week’s schedule finished before I was inundated with even more time-off requests, which also allows me the luxury of doing jack-shit today, which is a pretty nice feeling, even though a tiny part of me feels like a lazy sack of turds, thanks the difficulty with being still that I inherited from my dear ol’ Ma. I realize there are a lot of commas in that last sentence, but I don’t really care. Besides, I’ve written sentences that used way more commas before.

I guess the point of this, if there is one, is that sometimes (often?) the things we worry about most don’t come to fruition. That and, if you’re in the vicinity of Bloomington, Indiana and need oral surgery, I suppose I’d recommend Dr. Devitt (that is his real name) at Bloomington Oral Surgery. Seems like he did a helluva fine job. If I wasn’t able to feel the stiches, I wouldn’t even know he’d ever been inside my mouth.

Thanks for reading. And seriously, eat a meal at home every now and then so I can, too.

Old-Ass Mixtape Reviews, Volume 1: Beloved Songs

Howdy! I’m trying really hard to make sure I write something every day, no matter what. Right now I’m not feeling my main project, so I thought I’d try something new(ish), just to keep my brain moving. I have a bunch of old homemade mixtapes from way way back (most recently circa 2005), and I haven’t listened to most of them in well over 10 years. What I’m gonna do, from time to time, is play one of those tapes and write about it.

I plan to write while the tape is playing, ostensibly to write a real-time “first listen”-type review, but also to just force myself to write for a set period of time. I will not allow myself stop before a tape is finished, except in cases of emergency, or if the tape just goes kaput, which so far seems like a real danger with this first one. I’ll be surprised if I can make it through a single play without this tape literally (figuratively) exploding.

Readers of my old blog might recall my Old-Ass VHS Reviews there, wherein I would review an old-ass VHS tape featuring some kind of heavy metal band or bands. This’ll be similar to those. As stated above, I’ll write while listening, and then I’ll go back over it for some light editing – minimal overdubs, unlike this tape. This tape so far is like if mud made a sound.

Oh, “this tape” by the way, is called Beloved Songs. There’s no date on it, so I’m not sure when I made it, and I legitimately have no idea what’s on it. Anyhoo, here are some words about it.

Side One

1. First up is “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan. I don’t remember liking this song before Ministry covered it on their 1996 album Filth Pig, but I guess I did. A lot of people think Filth Pig is a real piece of shit, and honestly, I understand why a long-time Ministry fan might feel that way. I, however, am more of a casual fan of Ministry, and I really like Filth Pig. Especially the title track – holy shit!

2. “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin, or maybe something else…no, the chorus just kicked in, it’s definitely “Immigrant Song”. Is that a chorus? I don’t really know. Anyway, this song is dope. This recording sounds like it’s playing from the bottom of a 50-gallon drum filled with muddy water, and maybe a turd is floating on top. I might have to scrap this experiment and try another tape.

3. Is this “You Could Be Mine” by Guns ‘n Roses? I think it is. It started out as something else, and then this cut in. Oh yeah, Slash’s guitar is almost cutting through the muck. Duff’s bass is definitely discernable, but Duff is a complete badass, plus bass is almost the only thing audible on this whole tape so far. The longer this song plays, the more it sounds like if the band was playing live at an amphitheater, and I was listening from someone’s back yard like half a mile away. And it was kinda windy outside.

Side note: I sat in the living room with a tape in the VCR for three Fridays in a row in hopes of catching this video on Friday Night Videos so I could record it. Life before the internet (and without cable TV) was hard. You kids have no idea. Now get off my lawn.

4. “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin. This one is kinda clear. It still sounds like shit, but I could tell what it was immediately, and there was no doubt whatsoever. I fuckin love this song.

5. “Hey You” by Pink Floyd. This one is also relatively audible, especially once I remembered to turn down the bass. I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d listen to this tape ever again, but if things continue thusly, I might be able to get through it one more time for this. Holy shit! it got super loud for a sec, and then…
5a. “Nothing’s Changed Here” by Dwight Yoakam cut in during the guitar solo. Dwight is such a badass. Then after about 15 seconds…
5b. “Speak of the Devil” by Pirates of the Mississippi cut in for four lines of the chorus, and then…
5c. “Hey You” slid back in for literally 2 seconds, and then…
5d. “Where Are You Now” by Clint Black on the Big Ten Countdown on Indiana’s Country WKKG (101.5). Damn, y’all, that Bart Ellison had a smoooooth goddamn voice.

Shit, that was regular ol’ rollercoaster!

6. We now join “Monkey Business” by Skid Row already in progress. This song is so fucking good. Skid Row was so fucking good. Not just the hits, either – Skid Row was a goddamn beast from 1989’s Skid Row through 1995’s sUBHUMAN rACE. I saw them live on the sUBHUMAN rACE tour when they opened for Van Hagar (who were touring for Balance). I will never forget how immensly heavy Skid Row was that night.

Side One clicked off while I was telling you how motherfucking heavy Skid Row was, so I’mma flip it, reverse it, etc.

Side Two

1. Ooh, it’s “Fly Me Courageous” by Drivin’ N’ Cryin’! I haven’t heard this song in a long time. I think I still like it, but I can’t tell from this copy. I couldn’t even tell what it was until the volume shot up right at the refrain.

I was really into this song back when it was new, but I don’t remember ever listening to another Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ song.

2. “Brain Damage/Eclipse” by Pink Floyd. I was really into Pink Floyd for like 5 years in my early teens. It seems like that was pretty common among teenage boys back when I was one of them. I still like them a lot, but I’m less likely to put them on a mixtape these days. The tape has returned to sounding like muddy buttholes.

3. “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent. Man, Ted Nugent is such a piece of shit. I hate myself a little bit for liking some of his songs. I saw Ted Nugent live two summers in a row (1995 and ’96, I think), with Bad Company providing support both times. I wasn’t as acutely aware of what an asshole Ted was back then, but my memories of his band’s live performance are positive. Bad Company kicked every bit of ass both years. Also, lawn seats only cost 12 bucks.

4. “Traveling Riverside Blues” by Led Zeppelin. My discovery of Led Zeppelin coincided with the release of their box set in 1990, when I was 13. That’s a pretty perfect age for a dude to get into Led Zeppelin. Anyhoo, the box set included 2 previously unreleased songs, and this was one of them. Like the bulk of early Zeppelin, this is mostly just an amped-up cover of an old blues song, but I still dig it. I do prefer their middle period, though, especially Side Two of IV and the entirety of Houses of the Holy. I remember seeing the video for this on MTV at my aunt Connie’s house once. That was pretty exciting. I saw the video for “Sweet Child o’ Mine” once there, too. I’m getting of track, though.

5. HOLY SHIT! A live rendition of “Jesus Was Way Cool” by King Missile! I’m hoping future tapes have little surprises like this hidden inside. I feel like this must’ve been recorded off “Brave New World” on Rock 92 FM.

“If you were blind, or lame
You simply went up to Jesus
Or, well I guess if you were lame, Jesus would probably go up to you
Because it’s difficult, if you’re lame, to go up to Jesus”

And that’s the end. That was a fun little excursion. Look for another one sometime soon. Don’t look too hard, because I make no promises, but I’m gonna try to try. Thanks for reading! If you like what you read, why not tell a friend?

Don’t forget to follow Clockwise Circle Pit on Instagram and Facebook. I’m on Twitter too, even though I hate it, because it’s much easier to talk shit to Donald Trump and his kids (and Ted Cruz) there. So, y’know, follow me there if you want, but I don’t really use it for updates or anything.

Rando Review, Volume 1: My Day Off

Work was literally a figurative Hell On Earth these past few days. Indiana University hosted the Big Ten swimming and diving championships the last half of the week, and some 38 billion people descended upon the restaurant where I work in four days, with an estimated 12,000,065 alone from 4-11 pm yesterday.

Some people won, some people lost, and most importantly, all the motherfuckers who came to town for that shit are gone. Buncha off-menu orderin, half-and-half pizza eatin jackanapes. Anyway, that shit’s in the past now; I’ve had this whole day off, and it’s been pretty tight. Mrs. Circle Pit is out of town with her sister and their mom for a basketball game, so I’ve literally had the day entirely to myself for the first time in longer than I can remember. I approached the experience with no plan whatsoever, and if I may say so, I’ve done alright for myself.

I ate nachos for lunch while watching an episode of Key & Peele, I drank a bunch of coffee, and I’ve listened to Fully Completely by The Tragically Hip (a perfect album) and Hidden History of the Human Race by Blood Incantaion (weird, bitchin psychedelic death metal). I’m currently listening to No Good to Anyone by Today is the Day (it’s a fuckin banger, although there’s a chance the bass guitar in the opening/title track might’ve gotten me pregnant – stay tuned for updates), and am about to listen to Mirror Reaper by Bell Witch.

I also cleaned up my flower beds and built a raised bed for this year’s vegetable garden…

Our neighborhood is lousy with wildlife (seriously, it’s like a friggin Disney movie sometimes), especially deer, so I nailed chicken wire to an old pallet and leaned it against the fence to help minimize potential deer access from one side. It serves a dual purpose, though, as I can grow some kind of climber up it, i.e., zucchini, because that shit’s delicious.

I lined the bottom with several layers of newspaper (thanks, IDS!) and some dead leaves. I’ll be adding my soil soonish, and I’ll figure out some kind of cheap way to protect the other three sides from deer, as well as other woodland critters.

I’m gonna grow a tomato plant, definitely zucchini, and something else (some kind of pepper maybe?), along with some herbs and flowers.

I’ve wanted to build a raised bed for several years now. I’m not sure what inspired me to finally get on today, but I’m glad I did. It felt good to work with my hands, and the result is far from perfect, but I’ve spent way more time making way shittier things in my life.

Last but not least, the icing on the cake that is My Day Off: I picked up a copy of Phantasm on DVD at Big Lots for fuckin two dollars and eighty-eight cents! I owned a DVD copy a long time ago, and it disappeared at some point. I own a VHS copy, but both of our VCRs shit the bed in the past year, and I haven’t gotten around to replacing either of them yet. Now I own a watchable copy, and I intend to watch it very soon. Maybe tonight, right after I finish this dumb thing.

Now I’m chillin and enjoying some Ruby Bloom Amber Ale from Bloomington Brewing Company while I wait for Mother Bear’s to deliver my dinner. So far, I’d rate My Day Off a 9 stars out of a possible 10 stars. Your move, Mother Bear’s; show me what you got.

Thanks for reading, friends. Until next time…