cutting teeth

When life gets busy, I decide to do things that are unimportant. I’m sure my behavior proves something that Gretchen Rubin would love to analyze, but let’s get back to that later (and I still want to talk to you eventually about her new book!).

Last week’s unimportant thing was actually quite delicious—read: smitten kitchen’s key lime pie—which I happily discovered was extra delicious when atop yogurt and granola for breakfast. My discovery got me thinking—when we open our bed and breakfast some day, we should definitely serve key lime pie with yogurt and granola. So in this case, I suppose you could say my unimportant project turned out to be more important than I originally thought. Redeemed! Plus, pie.

But this week, oh, this week. Let me tell you the very unimportant things I elected to do with my time. First, I organized all the Twitter accounts I follow into lists. In case you don’t use Twitter, you should know that no one is ever going to note or appreciate I did this, nor will I probably ever use the lists I made. But then, THEN, I decided to go back to my old blog and delete some posts that were boring or otherwise not worthy of saving for posterity. I don’t know what to tell you about these activities except getting ready to move brings out odd parts of my personality.

What I can tell you is that while I was on my old blog, I came across a photo of myself that made my eyes go cartoon-buggy. It was of Nate and me, taken in Sweden in 2006, and what I could not stop looking at was my face. It was so different! Now, I would have told you I knew I had aged in the past ten years, but damn. I suppose what future me would probably say to present me about past me to make me feel better is that over the last decade, I have learned useful life skills, am more at peace with myself than I was then, am more productive as a human being, and have stronger relationships and all that. Which is true. But still, my face!

Not that it will mean as much to you to see it, but if I were you, I would probably want to see the picture. We were babies!

Pondering my face changing over time reminds me of something else that’s been on my mind lately. Right before Vivi turned five, she lost her first tooth. Granted, it was a long time coming and happened earlier than usual because of an injury to it, but that experience must have burned in my brain that turning five equals teeth falling out. Charlie will turn five this summer, and of all the changes that have happened lately or I am anticipating will happen soon (the haircuts, kindergarten, gigantic puppy-sized feet, etc.), the change I’m looking forward to least in Charlie is the arrival of big teeth. Perhaps it’s because she’s had these cute little teeth since she was a baby, but losing teeth is the most literal shedding of babyhood I can imagine.

Putting aside my truly awful childhood haircuts for a second (but really, let’s also get back to those at a later date), have a look at the two photos below so you can get an idea of what I’m talking about.

c. 1984. Dimple!
c. 1987. I look like I am wearing chiclets.










I know, I know. We don’t have to say any more on this topic. But if you see me posting more pictures than a sane human should of their daughter’s mouth, now you’ll at least know why.


It was after I typed the above title for this post that I recalled a few friends recommending a book with the same title, which I must have stowed away for safe keeping in my brain until now. Here’s part of the synopsis from Amazon:

Cutting Teeth is about the complex dilemmas of early midlife—the vicissitudes of friendship, of romantic and familial love, and of sex. It’s about class tension, status hunger, and the unease of being in possession of life’s greatest bounty while still wondering, is this as good as it gets?

Oh boy. I plan to buy that book soon because that just about says it all, and so much better than I could if I continued rambling on. I don’t wonder if this is as good as it gets because I know it is, and it’s always been enough for me, but I do think moving to a new city sparks a sense of unease. Or maybe unease sparks a move to a new city. Hmm. I wish I had a way to wrap this post up with a tidy ending, but the best I can do for you is say that if you’re going through complex dilemmas of early midlife, why don’t you come sit over here by me and soothe your gums with a glass of whiskey? Cutting teeth is a bitch.


10 thoughts on “cutting teeth

  1. I just love this Justine, I zigzagged all over the post with you, nodding my head in agreement. It all comes together though in one word, time, and how the passage can be hard on the soul. My face is quite different now than it was a decade ago, but so is my brain (most ways good, some ways not!) but I’m starting to look at my laugh lines as beautiful proof of a life lived than proof of simply aging. That’s not to say I was happy about bathing suit shopping this year…

    But yes, teeth and the aging of our kids. A literal loss of childhood, at least the beginning, and it’s hard to let go.

    Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro looks great, and as a former Brooklynite, where the book takes place, it seems it should be on my reading list (also she’s super nice on Twitter, and YAY you for the lists! I get it!).

    1. What a lovely comment, Dana. I spent all day yesterday on a high after reading it. Isn’t it what we’re all after when we write, to have someone say, “I get you!”? Zigzag is the perfect word for this post, for these emotions. Thank you for getting me, and I get you too.

  2. Love all what you say here, and particularly because I recently also had a “my face!” moment two weeks ago when I stumbled across an old photo. So young, the “pie in the sky” expression…all of it. Hard to believe it’s me! So I get this, is what I’m trying to say. I’ve heard about Julia’s book on many fronts too–please report back if you read it!

  3. It’s a great book! Recommend. And I love this post, because just as Dana said, I was delighted to accompany you on the zigs and zags. And I know that punch-in-the-gut feeling that accompanies finding old picture and realizing how much has changed, even when it doesn’t FEEL like it has. xox

    1. I’m pretty sure it was your recommendation that first put Julia’s book on my list. These zags are a gut punch, all right. But as we always say, I wouldn’t take the sweet without the bitter!

  4. Love how you talk about the past and present zig-zagging. I often pause when these moments occur and feel the deep piercing of time passing by. That’s life, I guess, but it never feels comfortable.
    I’ve also heard great things about Cutting Teeth, but haven’t had a chance to read it.

    1. “It never feels comfortable.” That’s true. I listened to an episode of On Being recently, in which Krista interviewed the singer/songwriter Joe Henry. My favorite quote is this: “We’re sort of seduced into thinking that, like, here’s life and then there’s these bad things that can happen that are like obstacles that just fall into your road. As if the obstacle is not the road, you know?” That the obstacles are the road is such a seemingly simple notion but a powerful reminder too.

  5. I have not done any side by side pictures from ten years ago. I’m scared. #wrinkles
    Also, that key lime looks AMAZING. I also do lots of unimportant things when under pressure and they almost always involve food.

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