Double-mint gums. (Post-op update 1!)

First of all, you guys, the response to my last post about my gum grafting surgery was just totally unexpected and rad. Thank you all so much for your good wishes!

I’m happy to report that so far, my plan to make October a month of awesome and November a month of ghastly pain and discomfort is going very well. This makes me happy. I like when things go according to plan.

As expected, my face has been swollen, misshapen, and multi-hued, starting on the blue end of the spectrum on both sides. The left side of my face was more severely mangled. I’ve had a fat upper lip that’s prevented me from closing my mouth, which has caused my lip to crack and peel with dryness in spite of constant lip balm application. I haven’t gone out in public since the surgery, because I’d rather not have people stare and wonder WTF.

It’s getting better every day, so everything’s healing well! I noticed that the swelling had gone down a little when I woke up yesterday morning, and the hue of the bruising on my face had turned to a beautifully saturated yellow. I do indeed look like I’d been in a fight. If anyone were to see me and comment to that effect, I would say, “You should see the other guy. He’s a cadaver.” Which would be true.

Here’s a pic I took this morning:


Post-op Day 5


(It’s hard to see here, but the area beneath my jawbone is streaked purple. The other side of my face is also bruised.)

I wanted to tell you about the most interesting aspect of this surgery, though. I came up with this genius idea to do something that’d never occurred to me before: upon insertion of the I.V. anesthesia needle, I would remain as aware as possible so that I could analyze the feeling of going under, discover whether it would be possible to resist it, and determine at what point I wouldn’t be able to do that.

This scheme turned the anesthesia process into a bizarre and utterly surreal event.

Strenuously resisting the anesthesia and paying great attention to it made my descent into unconsciousness a jagged and mildly unnerving experience. It created a sensation of plummeting down from floor to floor within a tall building, bouncing off the staircase landings in between, my fall disrupted at intervals.

Feeling cemented to my back while dropping down distinct levels brought the vaguest sense of panic into my field of perception. It was panic so far removed, it was a mere echo, like a ghost in the ether – it was there, but it couldn’t approach. I simply concentrated on the feeling of falling through the center of my own being, pulled downward bit by bit through a widening black sinkhole that opened from my solar plexus while the surgeon’s murmurings faded into pointlessness, like post-apocalyptic static filtering through a surviving short-wave radio.

And then I woke up.

As cool as it was, I don’t think I’ll repeat this experiment when my next surgery comes around in April.

Back in the present, I’m working through pain and the unpleasant sensation of my gums suffocating beneath the cadaver tissue plastered over them. There’s this feeling that I’ve got a thick band of foreign matter wrapped around my gums, and it’s maddening. I want to reach in and rip it out. I know that my body is busy growing nerves and whatnot to connect everything together, but I wish it would hurry up!

My tongue has become accustomed to the feel of the suture knot behind my front teeth. The other thing I’m trying to disregard is the fact that I can’t brush my upper teeth at all. I’m using the medicinal cleansing solution given to me, but it doesn’t make my teeth feel clean. The nurse on the phone this morning reiterated that I can’t brush until after my stitches come out, because until then, the stitches are all that’s holding my gums together.

The stitches come out next week.

I’m famished.

Watching Zach Choi ASMR (YouTube) has been a keen exercise in self-torture, but I can’t help myself.

Foods I dream of shoveling into my mouth with shameless abandon:

  • Salad dripping with OLIVE OIL and red wine vinegar
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts and broccoli, also saturated with OLIVE OIL
  • Roasted, SALTED nuts
  • Pasta with GARLIC and OLIVE OIL
  • Pizza with vegan cheese, double mushrooms, double black olives, red onion, and also vegan chorizo (SALTY AND SPICY)
  • A huge bowl of Asian noodles with lots of veggies (SALTY AND SPICY)
  • Chips and salsa and vegan-cheese nachos with pickled jalapeños (CRUNCHY AND SALTY AND SPICY)

Also, APPLE CIDER VINEGAR… and I can’t wait to chew gum again! (Pun not intended.) I miss MINT. I want double the mint, double the everything.


Aside from chewing gum, I don’t want sweets at all, because most of what I’ve been consuming has been sweet/not-savory, and I’m definitely a salty/savory person. I’m planning the sides I’m going to make for Thanksgiving, and I’m hoping that my craving for salt doesn’t lead to me to over-season the dishes. Thanksgiving dinner will be the first “real food” meal I’ll have, and I have to remember that I won’t be the only one eating the food that I make.

Until Thursday, then!


October is over, so I finally went ahead with it. (Gum grafting surgery!)

October was splendiferous. I wanted it to be so, and I made it so with a little bit of strategic scheduling: I put off my oral surgery just a little bit longer. After postponing it for more than two years, how could another month matter much?

I had the surgery this morning, and because I’m immeasurably blessed, I spent the rest of the day and evening convalescing at the home of angels. They do not wish to be named, but “angels” will do. They picked me up early this morning to take me in, came to collect me afterward, and brought me home to their house. It was a two-hour surgery, and I was wiped out! I have no memory of my follow-up appointment being made, or of being taken to the car in a wheelchair. One minute I was getting an I.V. inserted, and the next minute I was in the car with an ice-pack.


Several hours post-op [7 November 2019]


Standard post-op pain notwithstanding, it feels so good to have had this done. Surgery wasn’t possible while I was taking certain meds, so I finally decided to stop taking them just long enough to do it and recover from it. Today was Surgery, Part 1. Part 2 will take place in the spring, and I’ll be sure to clear the temporary med-cessation aspect with my rheumatologist. I’m feeling properly contrite about having gone off my meds without consulting her first.

About the surgery, though!

I’d had no idea that such a thing existed as gum recession caused by extensive childhood orthodontia. My surgeon described the phenomenon with technical language and a diagram drawn and demonstrated in the air. Two years later, I don’t remember the details of the explanation – I just remember the words “flaring out” –  but the nurse who fits me for my retainers summarized it simply as there was so much orthodontic movement happening in my bones when I was young and still growing that now, decades later, my gums have pulled back from my teeth.

I found basically nothing about this when I went to research it online, save for two studies that largely dispute the connection… not that we believe the internet to be a 100% reliable source of medical education.

In any case, my orthodontia was the orthodontia of the 70’s and 80’s; no doubt the technology’s evolved since then. I was an O.G. metal-mouth, the first one in my class. My nine-year orthodontic adventure started in 1976, when I was seven, and it unfolded in two phases between which I had two full sets of braces (first metal bands, then metal brackets), tooth extractions, both a neckgear and a headgear, “separators,” a “positioner,” rubber bands, and retainers. It was a lot. At one point during Phase 2, I had a full set of metal brackets, a full head-gear, and four rubber bands crisscrossing in my mouth from front to back all at once!

All of this was to correct an overbite and crooked teeth, and I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful and glad that it was even a possibility for me. I’m also glad that orthodontia looks different enough now that maybe children today won’t grow up to develop gums receding from teeth that had “flared out,” or whatever it was that supposedly happened as an orthodontic aftereffect.

In this morning’s surgery, the doctor fixed my upper gums by grafting cadaver tissue over them. (He’ll do the lower ones in the spring.) He’s going to remove my stitches in two weeks. I can’t work out at all for at least a week, he said, and it’ll be a month before I can go back to eating the way I normally do.

Right now, of course, the pain is super real. I feel like I’ve been K.O’d, and I can barely open my mouth. This will happen when your jaws are pried open and held open for two hours! I can’t smile or really move my face at all, I’m drinking water and liquid food through my teeth, and I’m wondering how I’m going to get through the month without losing weight.

But again, I have no complaints. I’m truly so fortunate that I’m able to have these surgeries. Life is good.



Warm days, chilly nights, good horror. (October Favorites!)

October’s short horror posts left little room for daily-life or other content here, so all that kind of thing will pick up again henceforth. First, a look back at the little things I enjoyed in the tenth month of the year!

I bring to you a few films, a streaming T.V. series, some food items, skin care, and make-up. As usual, the food items are vegan (plant-based), and the skin care and cosmetic items are vegan (no animal ingredients) and cruelty-free (not tested on animals). I’ve also got a song/music video for you this time!

All of the viewables on this list are horrific in their unique and unexpected ways, might I add. Altogether, they amplified everything I love about October. It was a good “favorites” month, for sure.

Without further ado!


1). Joker




It’s always satisfying when a movie I’m anticipating exceeds my expectations. Joker accomplished this in brutally raw fashion. Joaquin Phoenix acted the hell out of this character, a comic book villain who didn’t seem like one, at all, because the film didn’t come across as a comic book film. Joker is a very real, very human story… a story about the making of a monster.


2). Parasite (Gisaengchung)



Parasite was brought to life by Bong Joon Ho, the genius behind Okja (Netflix); like Okja, Parasite is a masterpiece. It’s also scarce. If you can find this Korean film in a theater within your reach, I’d 100% approve of your decision to chase it down. Be prepared for a dramedy that gets pretty dark!


3). Suspiria (Amazon Prime Video)



Suspiria had been on my “to watch” list for months, so when it came to my attention that it was available on Amazon Prime Video, I wasted no time. Incidentally, this horror remake features Tilda Swinton, who was also in Okja, the brilliant film created by the guy who did Parasite (above). I’m convinced that Tilda Swinton’s otherworldly talent makes Suspiria creepier than it would be been without her, but the story’s creep-factor is solid.


4). Creepshow (Shudder Original Series)



I believe I’ve already raved about this Shudder Original Series somewhere in a past post. Creepshow is horror I’d characterize as good fun. Highly recommend!


5). Marilyn Manson’s cover of “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” (and official video)



Thick in this current cycle of my Marilyn Manson obsession, Manson went and dropped a cover of my favorite folk song, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.” I popped the video into this post so that you may appreciate the man’s cutting and creeptastic artistic vision, as well. Manson growls out the song’s darkness in glorious Manson form – he digs his own grave and buries himself alive – though the song is plenty dark on its own. (Johnny Cash’s chilling version is still my favorite. Manson’s is a close second.)

Allow me to take this minute to whine about missing Marilyn Manson’s show when he played here on Sunday night. YES – Marilyn Manson performed at the Van Buren downtown two nights ago, and where was I? NOT THERE, that’s where. Not only that, but he performed “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” which he’d dropped in conjunction with his tour. I’m dying. Anyway.


6). Mighty Manna Bread (Carrot Raisin). (Vegan)


Mighty Manna Bread in Carrot Raisin


INGREDIENTS: Sprouted organic wheat kernels, filtered water, organic carrots, organic raisins.

(I’ve decided to start including the ingredients of my food favorites, so you can see what you’d be putting into your body were you to eat these things.)

I’ve tried several varieties of Mighty Manna’s delicious, dense, sticky-sweet breads, but this carrot raisin one is my favorite so far. I love it for breakfast! I cut the bread into thick slabs and bake a couple of them in the toaster oven until the outside edges are slightly crisp, and then I slather them with organic almond butter.

I’m incorporating more gluten into my diet these days, but I’m choosing sprouted grains as much as possible. So far, so good.


7). Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread. (Vegan)


Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread


INGREDIENTS: Organic Sprouted Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Fresh Yeast, Organic Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt.

I’ve cycled back around to Ezekiel bread with its yummy, wholesome sprouted grains. It’s a classic, and I’ll always love it!


8). Kitehill Almond Milk Cream Cheese (plain). (Vegan)


Kitehill Almond Milk Cream Cheese (plain)



INGREDIENTS: Almond Milk (Water, Almonds), Salt, Enzyme, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Lactic Acid, Cultures.

This almond milk cream cheese is so light and creamy!! I’ve enjoyed Kitehill’s vegan cream cheese in the past, but I don’t remember it being like this (though it was also amazing).


9). Nourish Organic Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion. (Vegan and cruelty-free)


Nourish Organic Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion


Between this product and the cosmetic item below, you’ll see what I mean when I say that I generally spend more money on skin care than I do on make-up. I love Nourish Organic’s products, so I wasn’t surprised to find that I love this face lotion.


10). e.l.f. 16HR Camo Concealer. (Vegan and cruelty-free)


e.l.f. 16HR Camo Concealer


I had to blink the first time I put this on and looked in the mirror; I could not believe what I was seeing. This liquid concealer seemed to effortlessly erase the dark circles under my eyes. e.l.f. continues to astound me… it’s sorcery, what they do. I’ve used pricey concealers by Urban Decay, Tarte, and NARS, and they were all good, but e.l.f.’s humble little $6.00 concealer is my holy grail of concealers. It’s PURE MAGIC.

On that note, I’ll close out this list… it’s a good and appropriate note for October.



HALLOWEEN post – a true ghost story (Haunted Cathedral edition)

Happy Halloween, my ghouls!

I have a story to tell you, mostly in pics. We’re talking about my office. We’re talking about how I thought the antique mirror was haunted, and then I didn’t, and then I did, and then I didn’t, again. That’s where we are now. I do believe that something in my office is haunted, but I don’t think it’s the mirror. I think it’s my print of Canterbury Cathedral. I guess it’s possible that the arrival of the mirror brought out the haunting, because I didn’t see it before the mirror arrived, but there’s no way to know.

Going back, then: At the end of September, I photographed my office to death so that I could show it to you in my updated office tour post, in the process of which I took a plethora of pics of my thrifted Canterbury Cathedral print. The print was the most important element. I wove my “Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical Gothic/Haunted Cathedral” décor theme around it, after all.

You may recall how in that office tour post, I explained that Canterbury Cathedral is haunted by the ghosts of those who were murdered there, most famously that of Archbishop Thomas Becket. Going through the pics in deciding which ones to include in my post, I noticed a strange occurrence in a few of them. My dear friend Caroline convinced me that today, Halloween, would be an ideal day to share them with you. She was right, of course. First, though, let’s have a look at the beautiful Canterbury Cathedral from the outside:


[pic from “The 13 most haunted places in Canterbury and the spine-chilling stories behind them”]


Here’s my print:


Thrifted Canterbury Cathedral print


Getting down to it now, I’ll have you focus on this print detail – this is the same pic I’d posted in my office tour post:


Nothing amiss here.


And finally, we arrive at the pics in question, which came from a different series of shots. May I just say that it’s gratifying to know that Callaghan shares my incredulity over these? I didn’t understand what I was seeing as I scrolled through these pics. Neither did he. Neither did Caroline. There are varying degrees of skepticism amongst we three, but we’re all baffled. We all agree that these pics defy explanation.

Like 99% of my pics, these are completely untouched. I captioned them to point out the oddities within:


Faint white shape on the wall above the stairs; blueish haze slightly above and to the right


The shape on the wall becomes bolder, while the blueish haze becomes more faint


The shape and the blue haze vanish, and a bright white crescent shape appears, seeming to float up into the dark of the cathedral ceiling


The crescent becomes a slash with a bright spot toward its left end, and the faint blueish haze appears again at the top of the conjoined pillars to the left


The blueish haze becomes fainter and drifts higher as the white slash in the center thins out


The white shape comes back, but now it’s at the top of the arch, much brighter than before, and more defined against a white square background; the blueish haze appears above and behind it to the left with a window pane imprint


Also, this last pic is more blueish in tone overall.

This is all quite inexplicable.

That weird shape, for one thing… it’s kind of like a cell phone, but my phone doesn’t look like that. It also reminds me a bit of the Instagram logo, but it doesn’t look like that, either:


[My phone on the left, Insta logo on the right]


The shape in the picture doesn’t match either of these things. It’s not a reflection of my phone. It’s not an imprint of the instagram logo on my phone. So what is it? What is all of this?

Callaghan and I have studied the print from the same vantage point and at the same time the pics were taken; we’ve looked around to consider lighting, the objects in the room, whether there could have been a reflection, etc., and we came up with nothing. Callaghan is an artist and designer who knows his way around images. He examined the print to see if there’s a watermark or something else lying within or beneath the paper. Nothing.

Here, I’d like to share the text about Canterbury Cathedral from the article “The 13 most haunted places in Canterbury and the spine-chilling stories behind them”:

The twelfth century cathedral is a famous pilgrimage site where Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1161 to 1170, was murdered.

However, the ghost of another murdered Archbishop, Simon Sudbury, is said to walk the Cathedral.

Killed by Wat Tyler, the head of the Peasant’s revolt, in 1381, Sudbury’s pale and bearded ghost haunts the tower named after him.

Interestingly, despite the fact that the ex-Archbishop’s head was buried in a different place from his body, he does not appear as a headless ghost.

He actually appears as a solitary figure, dressed in grey robes and is often seen haunting a bedroom in the tower, reportedly tucking the occupant in at night.

There is a passage in the cathedral known as the ‘Dark Entry’ which is thought to be haunted by the ghost of Nell Cook, who was a servant of a canon (priest) at the cathedral.

Nell was furious with her boss after discovering his affair, she poisoned the canon and his mistress with tainted food.

As punishment for her crime, Nell was buried alive beneath the ‘Dark Entry’ and her spirit haunts the passageway on dark Friday evenings.

According to legend, anyone who is unfortunate enough to see the ghost of Nell Cook will die soon after.

The cathedral is also said to be haunted by a monk who can be seen walking in the cloisters with a thoughtful expression on his face.


Having considered everything, the easiest explanation for the occurrences in my pictures is that the print of the haunted cathedral is itself haunted, in the sense that something was picked up by the photographer’s lens. I’ve taken numerous other pics of this print, and only the ones above show “activity.” That this activity was revealed after I brought the antique mirror home is probably a coincidence. It may be a fanciful stretch to say that there might be a connection, but I’m saying it anyway, because it is possible. Also, it’s Halloween, and I guess this post amounts to a ghost story.

In any case, I adore this print. I love having it next to me as I sit here and write, and I’m dreaming of the day we can go to Kent, England to visit Canterbury and take a ghost tour of the village – including and especially Canterbury Cathedral!

I’ll leave you in proper spirit with the theme song from Halloween, my favorite classic horror film.



Happy Halloween, All!



Last one! “Next Floor” and “The Herd” (Short Horror October post 5)

Alas, we’ve arrived at the end of this year’s Short Horror October series.

One thing I love about a short film is that its length makes it easily re-watchable. This next (penultimate!) horror short begs for re-watching, as it’s heavily symbolic. My own thought is that the guests around the dinner table are of more significance than the food that’s on the table.

This beautifully filmed, multiple award-winning French Canadian film is called Next Floor.



This brings us to the last short film I’m posting in this year’s series!

The Herd is age-restricted for potentially challenging content. It’s not pretty, but it’s a brilliant horror film that’s worth watching to the end of its 16 minutes.



And that, as they say, wraps it up. I hope you enjoyed this year’s Short Horror October series as much as I did! I’m already counting down to next October… but you knew that.

Happy Friday Wednesday Eve, my friends. (Thank you for correcting me, Caroline!)



“Instinct” – Short Horror October post 4

Well, I can’t believe we’re down to only two more blog post days in October. We’ve got next week Tuesday and Thursday, and that’s it. Thursday is Halloween! I’d planned to do a Halloween post for you sans horror short, but I changed my mind because I wanted an opportunity to post two more films, and then I changed my mind back (convinced by a friend that I ought to do the Halloween post on Halloween), and so – long story long – my last horror short post for this year will be on Tuesday. I’ll still post two more films, though! I’ll put them both in Tuesday’s post.

Today’s horror short, Instinct, is one that I find to be nearly perfect… that is to say, I think it’s a stunning work of cinematic art. Please note that the film features some nudity, but it’s brief, tastefully done, and not at all gratuitous. A little research revealed that Instinct has been viewed in over 30 film festivals, and it’s won 12 awards, but I’d already decided that you had to see it.

Without further ado:



The end.

Happy Friday Eve, all!



I don’t have a Halloween costume. (Yet?) Here’s “Jameson,” though! (Short Horror October post 3)

I’ve been so immersed in the glories of October that I almost forgot about a Halloween costume! I didn’t realize it until yesterday at the gym when a few of us were talking about maybe coming to class in costume next week. Callaghan and I have no plans for Halloween this year, after all… unless I were to count Body Pump as a Halloween plan?! Should I get into costume just for the gym? Hmm.

Today’s Short Horror October film, Jameson, was written and directed by John Humber, and it stars Brad Carter (Ascension, Sons of Anarchy, True Detective). I’m excited to share this one with you. I’m uninterested in zombie films for the most part, but every now and again I find myself caught off-guard by a fresh specimen of the genre.

Please to enjoy…



Until Thursday!