On Doing-Nothing: At the Dentist's

Doing-nothing has been losing ground to doing-something at a very fast pace, with the pervasiveness of the interwebs and hand-held entertainment steadily permeating through every crevice of our lives. It's been my personal experience, though, that great thoughts often come while I'm doing doing-nothing, but that is not to guarantee that all thoughts arising during doing-nothing are great. Without further ado, here we are: doing-nothing.


  • I don't eat a lot of sweets, and I'd like to think that I'm still pretty young, although my knees and Mei sometimes tell me otherwise. What that means for my dentist is that he doesn't need to see me more than once every 3-6 months (read: a year), and when I do see him, I don't REALLY see him. I get to see yet another rotating dental hygienist.
  • I hope that's a product of my absence, or that they're all off to better things in life, as opposed to getting fired.
  • Few things in life require consciousness but put absolute restrictions on movement, physical and mental, while providing nearly zero emotional stimulus. They often involve sitting on a chair while another person hovers around you. Not all visits to the dentist are like that, but getting your teeth cleaned falls squarely in that category of activities. Another is getting your hair cut, though that depends on how anal you are about your hair, I suppose.
  • "Do your teeth hurt?"
    "No."
    "Do they bleed when you brush?"
    "No."
    "Do you floss everyday?"
    *hahaha...* "No."
  • I always wonder whether I will fall asleep. I wonder if anybody ever falls asleep while getting their teeth cleaned.
  • I forgot: you can't fall asleep. If I close my eyes, I feel eerily similar to lying in my bed, having just woken up but not wanting to get up, but not being able to fall back asleep because the sun is shining right in my face and yet another construction crew dutifully started drilling holes in the ground at 9 in the morning. The world always needs more holes to be drilled into the ground.
  • For the majority of the time, the hygienist uses a single tool. It makes a screeching kind of noise via conduction when it makes contact with my teeth. I have yet to figure out whether it's a high-pressure water gun or a rotary filer. 
  • Is that the sound of my teeth screaming?
  • With my eyes closed, my attention drifts between the jarring noise I'm trying to ignore, and the endless Top-40 tunes coming out of the radio. Did someone at some point decide that's the best thing to do? Is silence too sterile and horrifying with all the buzzing of these medical instruments? Would playing classical music inadvertently fulfill our stereotype of a doctor's visit? I already feel like I'm in a movie though: I'm the extra in the dental office where Bruce Willis is about to burst through in an attempt to escape from some henchmen. 
  • God, sitting in that chair makes it incredibly easy to think about the millions of people living their own lives in the city. If I were to guess, they will probably be doing "nothing". I'm doing nothing, but the hygienist is working her day job. 
  • "Uh", "hmm", and "uh-huh" suddenly conveys WAY more information when I'm sitting in that chair.
  • How much pain is normal? I definitely don't want to stop her and tell her it hurts like hell if that's what everybody else gets as well, but if I don't say anything, would she somehow realize that she's scraping my gums? Am I just soft or weird?
  • Nope, she definitely knows she's scraping my gums. Apparently I need to floss more. Who doesn't?
  • In the instant I'm supposed to spit out the water I just gurgled, there is a huge clash of what I suddenly want with my life. On the one hand, I want to see that water muddied with all sorts of plaque and stains. On the other hand, I hope I see nothing... nothing but water. 
  • The hygienist ends the visit by calling the dentist over. The speed and ease at which he inspects my teeth tells me that he's either the best or the worst dentist in that building, possibly in the city. I will never know.

And that is all from today's episode of On Doing-Nothing.