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Posts Tagged ‘swimming pool’

  1. Swim with an Overbite, and it’s Happy Hour at the Dentist

    November 27, 2016 by Diane

    The summer before sixth grade, I zipped my lips shut for what I predicted would be the rest of my life. All because of a neighbor’s pool.

    Playing Marco Polo with Chris and Johnny and Robin and Carol, I dove underwater and popped up near the edge of the pool, mouth open in laughter. Due to an unfortunate overbite, I chipped one of my front teeth on the concrete, instantly transforming my once fat pearly-white into a permanent dagger.

    This meant a trip to the dentist. I was terrified of dentists. I avoided them. But there I was, trembling in the chair, as the dentist conferred with his assistant in the hallway. I heard the words “too scared” and “anxious,” and then the dentist returned, unhooked my paper bib, and told me he wanted to leave the tooth as is.

    “I’m saved!” I thought, and then, looking in the mirror again, “I’m doomed!”

    All through sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, I aimed for invisibility. I slunk through the hallways as teachers and classmates said, “Why don’t you smile? Smile, smile!”

    In high school, I mustered the courage to get the thing capped.

    Zoom ahead twenty years.

    I’m flossing after dinner, and—ping!—the cap pops off. In the mirror, I see that scraggly tooth again. I’m back in junior high, slinking along with buttoned lips, hounded by teachers, by classmates, to “smile, smile!”

    I grab the phone. “My tooth fell off!” I tell my friend, whose father is a dentist. “I mean the cap, the cap! What do I do?”

    He gets his father. The dentist-father tells me to buy dental glue from the drugstore, glue it back on, and see him at nine a.m.

    In the morning, I bring my own father for support. He picks up a magazine in the waiting room, and I follow the receptionist down the hallway. The dentist-father is standing by his tools, wearing a white smock. He looks like Ed Sullivan. He invites me to sit in the dental chair.

    Invites me. Like we’re having tea together.

    I grip the arms of the chair. He reclines me slightly.

    “Are you comfortable?” he says.

    Is a cow comfortable before slaughter? 

    He shows me his new gadget, a camera that looks like an oversized thermometer. He inserts it into my mouth. On a large screen, we view my teeth and gums from every nook and cranny. Gone With the Wind was shorter than this viewing.

    Can we just get to it? 

    At intermission, he gets to it.

    He pries off the glued tooth. Shows me his fancy drill, pointing out the features. I’m afraid he’s going to ask me to feel the heft of it.

    “Now, if at any time you feel uncomfortable, raise your left hand. I’ll see it, or Bubbles will see it, or Ramon will see it.” Bubbles the receptionist, also his wife. Ramon his assistant, also People Magazine’s reject for most handsome man in the world. “One of us will see it, and I’ll stop.”

    Zzzzzzz goes the drill. Zzzzz, Zzzzz, Zzzzzz. He leans in and drills that tooth down to a stump. While he’s at it, he shaves the tops off a couple of bottom teeth to make them more even. But not too even. “You want them to be like the columns of the Parthenon,” he says, and gives a long-winded discussion about Greek architecture, holding the drill aloft. Finally, “Would you like to take a break?” he says. “Have a cup of coffee?”

    A cup of coffee? I want out, is what I want. I want to collect my purse and my father and ride home. “Let’s finish this,” I say.

    He glues a temporary cap to the stump, and holds up color samples like an interior decorator, finding the perfect match for my teeth. Bubbles leaves her desk so she can peer into my mouth, along with Ramon and some guy in a leisure suit who pops by to discuss golf scores. They all make appreciative sounds as my eyes dart from one to the other.

    Finally, Happy Hour at the dental office is over. Bubbles, Ramon, and Leisure Suit return to living their lives, and Ed Sullivan backs off, nods, and puts down his toys.

    “We’ll call you when we have the permanent cap,” he says.

    God help me.

    I stagger out to the waiting room.

    My father is staring at a wall. He’s aged ten years.

    At home, I look in the bathroom mirror. I smile. The temporary cap makes me look like Bugs Bunny.

    I zip my lips shut.

  2. How to Rewrite a Novel: Step Four

    August 14, 2016 by Diane

    hand opening red curtain on white.

    Rewriting a novel is like sitting on the edge of a pool. The water’s cold. You can dive right in, get the discomfort over with, splash around to warm up, and then lose yourself in the steady stroke of limbs through water.

    Or, like me, you can hang out on the edge while the sun bakes your skin and your feet turn into prunes.

    Welcome to week five of my novel rewrite.

    This is how rewriting my novel looked:

    I attended an outdoor concert with a Meetup group from The Sierra Club. The club turned out to be a bunch of lively women, ages sixty and up, and a grizzled guy who may have been a sea captain. Another guy, wearing a goofy beach hat, stood around grinning like babies do when they have gas. I sat in my low-slung chair behind a woman in a sleeveless blouse who shaded her eyes with one hand, cutting off my view of the stage with her underarm flab. Occasionally, she dropped her arm, so my view became a vision of Michael Jackson–if Michael Jackson was middle-aged and fifty pounds overweight and stuffed into black leather pants–strutting and doing that pelvic bump, while a four-man horn section dipped and pivoted like the backup for The Temptations.

    After three songs, I folded up my chair and left.

    The next day, I went swimming. The pool was packed. I swam laps in the shallow end. The woman sharing my lane trudged back and forth in hiking boots, talking on her cell phone the entire time. One hundred dollar hiking boots. In chlorinated water. And a cell phone.

    Some days, I stood in the middle of my room, thinking.

    Had I stumbled once again onto Resistance Highway? Or was this non-writing activity actually accomplishing something?

    Well, a little of both.

    I was noodling loglines.

    It’s part of my action plan for rewriting a novel. I had arrived at:

    Step Four

    Write a logline.

    What’s a logline?

    It’s a sentence that describes the novel, and answers the questions:

    Who is the protagonist?
    What does the protagonist want?
    What’s at stake?

    Ya gotta know the who, what, and why-bother, otherwise, how can you rewrite the dang thing?

    So, I contemplated. I gnawed on ideas. I engaged in other activities. And then I took a hike with my niece, who was on a whirlwind visit through town.

    We talked writing. She wanted to know what my novel was about. I launched into a lengthy description and ended with an exasperated, “I just wish I knew what’s driving my protagonist!”

    And my niece said, “It’s funny, we wonder what our characters want, but we’re the ones making it all up.”

    We’re the ones making it all up!

    D’uh. Head slap.

    All I needed to do was pick something, and go with it.

    Write ten possible loglines. Twenty. Twenty-five. Whatever. Then PICK ONE.

    Jump in the pool.

    Stuck? Or Avoiding?

    Sometimes, we get stuck in our writing, and need to occupy ourselves elsewhere so the idea we’re searching for can swim into our consciousness. But there’s a fine line between taking time away, and staying away because the water’s too cold.

    That’s where those vows come in handy. You know, the ones that start: I promise to show up for my writing every day, no matter what.

    So, how do you know what side of the line you’re on?

    Look for signs of resistance.

    I know I’m in resistance when I start doing what comes easy, rather than what comes hard, like rewriting. “I’ll just answer a few emails. Shuffle papers. Blog.”

    I know I’m in resistance when I force myself to write, and I lose track of time.

    But If I force myself to write, and resent it, I know I need to go back to noodling. Nothing wrong with that.

    At least this time, I recognized the highway, and hitched a ride out. I was digging through some boxes of books in storage, looking for some good reads to bring on my vacation, and found a copy of Sell Your Story in a Single Sentence, by Lane Shefter Bishop. A whole book about how to write a logline! Had my intuition guided me to that box? Could be.

    I read the first few chapters. Jotted down a rough idea. Refined it. Refined it again and again and again, eliminating excess words, homing in on the want, the stakes, until…Bingo! I had my logline.

    Is it the perfect logline? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s something I can work with.

    Onward, to Step Five!

  3. The Ending to the Never-Ending Pool Demolition

    March 29, 2015 by Diane

    Toy carts

    If you, like millions of others, are waiting with bated breath to discover the ending to my landlady’s pool demolition project (and who wouldn’t be? It’s a riveting tale), wait no more.

    Without further ado: the final installment.

    On Monday, driving into the driveway after work, I dodged two piles of soil, and the pile of rebar and concrete that hasn’t budged since it was jackhammered from the pool several weeks ago.

    On Tuesday, I dodged three piles of soil, the pile of rebar and concrete, and a new pile which consisted of boulders, pieces of wood, scraps of plastic, and a work glove.

    On Wednesday, I dodged the same three piles of soil, the same garbage pile of rebar and concrete, the same mystery pile of boulders, wood, plastic, and glove, and a new collection of two blue wheelbarrows, two shovels, a giant rake, a pick ax, and a steam roller (without the steam). In the back yard I noticed a half dozen unopened bags of organic top soil that someone had flung around the perimeter of what was once the pool, waiting for someone to open them and distribute the contents.

    On Thursday, the piles of soil had mysteriously vacated the driveway. Also missing: the wheelbarrows, rake, pick ax, shovels and steamroller. All of those items, I discovered, were now in the backyard.

    On Friday, the guys arrived.

    The guys from the landscape company that my landlady hired to complete this demolition project by February 25.

    It was now March 27.

    Unlike the previous landscape guys, these guys worked. They did not have cell phones on which to text updates. They did not have cigarettes on which to puff. It was just two guys in jeans and T-shirts, one of them wearing a huge sombrero, who carted wheelbarrows of dirt from the driveway to the back yard, spread it around with the rake, and steamrolled it without the steam. They scattered seed for lawn, ripped open the bags of top soil, scattered it by the handful, turned on the sprinklers, and stood back to admire their handiwork.

    Then, in a magnificent display of manliness, the guy sans sombrero rested his index finger against one nostril and blew an impressive amount of snot out the other. Both men climbed into a truck and drove away.

    The piles of rebar, concrete, boulders, wood, plastic, and work glove are still in the driveway, along with the blue wheelbarrows, the pick ax, the shovels, the steamroller without the steam, and a layer of dirt blanketing the asphalt, the nearby oak trees, and the row of tulips in front of the house.

    But the project, at long last, is now complete.