The Holy Grail & Lessons from Teeth

The Holy grail cup placed on a rock in a cave, with a beam of light shining on it from above.

I’ve been chasing an ever-elusive thing my entire adult life, and it’s beginning to feel like a lost cause.

My Holy Grail? A fulfilling life where I’m healed, not struggling in poverty, with love, and meaning. I’ve failed at all of these quests. I’m tired of just surviving.

“The Holy Grail (French: Saint Graal, Breton: Graal Santel, Welsh: Greal Sanctaidd, Cornish: Gral) is a treasure that serves as an important motif in Arthurian literature. Various traditions describe the Holy Grail as a cup, dish, or stone with miraculous healing powers, sometimes providing eternal youth or sustenance in infinite abundance, often guarded in the custody of the Fisher King and located in the hidden Grail castle. By analogy, any elusive object or goal of great significance may be perceived as a “holy grail” by those seeking such.”

Source: Wikipedia

My previous job was very close meeting all my needs. It was work I could do, and I was good at it. The hours were reasonable, I eventually had harmonious work relationships, I was able to grow by making mistakes and learning from them, I was able to heal part of my attachment issues, and I was modeled mature communication. Having a free source of weed was a nice perk, too, then. Having fun work relationships was nice. But it’s over. I can’t physically handle the work, and I’m not that person anymore.

I want a lot more out of work.

I have to take what I learned and use it going forward to the next thing.

Whatever that ends up being.

The math assessment.

Yesterday I took a Math assessment test as required for college class requirements. I got a score of 14 out of 51, which placed me in Math 081 classes, well below the level I would need to register for Math 116, the class I would take in my first quarter in college. I do have two more free attempts, but doing this test brought up resistance.

There is no worse feeling than realizing that you are going to fail because you aren’t skilled enough at something. I felt so embarrassed that I didn’t remember how to do basic math. I completely forgot the formulas and abilities of how to solve geometry, fractions, some algebra, and addition/subtraction/multiplication/division without a calculator. I once knew and was good at all of these basic math subjects. Now, I look at them and draw a blank.

I don’t like math. I had decent grades until I stopped at precalculus because I was going to culinary school. But, since I went to college for the first time, and the previous time I went back briefly, I’ve loathed doing math. I don’t remember how to do a lot of the math I did growing up. It was useless for my time working in the restaurant industry. For any of the work after that, all I needed was basic math and a calculator.

I hate taking math classes in college because:

  • 1) I have to pay for it, or it takes up previous student grant money
  • 2) I feel it’s taking hostage classes I’m actually interested in
  • 3) I don’t see how it’s relevant in the psychology career path I’m going to college for.
  • 4) I don’t want to relearn stuff I will not be using again.

Such as fractions. Fuck fractions… The only time they’re somewhat useful is for measuring cups, but even then, once you know the metric weight or general ounce amount, they become annoying.

I understand the importance of math in society, needing to learn it growing up and be well-rounded once you enter the work world. I acknowledge that it plays an important part in science and many careers. There never has been a time when it would be great if many people had critical thinking skills and could analyze the information they are presented with on the news.

The point of college is finding work with a higher salary than not going to college.

Taking the math test isn’t about math. It’s about me facing failure and my inadequacies in the subject.

I’m sensitive to rejection because of ADHD.

Inadvertent gold from my long-time dentist, Dr. Phi.

Today, I went to the dentist after taking the math placement test. Going in, I assumed that it would be a regular cleaning or possibly something terrible as I spotted a dark spot on the top of the second to last tooth in the back right of my mouth. In my immediate family’s history and dental history, it equals DOOM.

Not the fun classic PC game where you slay demons on Mars with various sci-fi guns.

Surprise Pc GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Doom, as in drills, pulled teeth, root canals, and tooth crowns. While I had not had any dental problems before, it’s become a source of fear because my mother has had an awful history with her teeth. This is because she used to crack hazelnuts to eat the nuts as a kid. As a result, she’s had problems because of that. Which has become a lifetime worth of fear of the dentist. She has taken care of her teeth since then, but the root canals, crowns, and other unfortunate teeth-related things she and my brother have faced created a deep fear in me regarding the dentist. Even when our family dentist is incredibly skilled, kind, funny, and a good dude.

Enter yesterday. To start, my long-time dentist, Dr. Phi, is amazing. This is a man who went to dental school in Vietnam, immigrated to the US, went back to dental school again to be able to practice here, and has been doing this work for over 20 years. There can’t be many dentists like him with this much experience and training in the world. It’s nice to know I’m in good hands. Plus, he’s kind and funny. I need to remember the latter to laugh and breathe through my nose when he’s cleaning my mouth.

I say at least 20 years because he told me today that I’ve been going to see him since 2001. Wow, I feel old. I haven’t had many conversations with him, one because it’s not possible at the dentist, and two because it’s his vibe– he and his staff are friendly, and I feel comfortable, but it’s small talk. How are you doing? What are you coming in for? How’s your family? Why haven’t you been in in a while? Kinda thing.– To be frank, I’m not great at scheduling regular teeth cleanings. I care for my teeth well and do not need extra dental care. For once, it’s nice not to worry about a health issue.

The results of the dental visit?

Cat with cartoon eyes and mouth with human teeth, mouth wide open.

The teeth assessment.

My teeth are great, and the one concern I had going in was nothing to worry about. He said something that was exactly what I needed to hear:

He said, playfully: “You came in all worried about a bunch of things that you had nothing to worry about.”

He then explained to me what to look for in unhealthy teeth. You don’t want the teeth or dark spot to sink in. What I had was a scar from a baby tooth that broke to give way to the adult tooth. I had a stain on top of the scarred tooth.

While waiting to see if I had to pay, he opened my file, held the x-rays of my lower right jaw, and nodded. It’s the same as it was 22 years ago. No cavities, no problems all this time. I’ve had clean, healthy teeth for many years in a row.

All of this is because I have been consistent with dental hygiene. I don’t have perfect teeth. They aren’t pearly white (which doesn’t mean they’re healthy and have to use chemicals to appear that way), My bottom row of teeth is not lined up, and I have uneven gaps on the top row, and I’m working on flossing regularly. I could get braces to make them perfect, but I don’t care about that.

The point is that this part of my life is successful and healthy because I have kept at it every day to ensure health. I control what I can and keep at it. When I saw a potential problem, I scheduled an appointment with an expert, someone I trust to see what was up.


I was reminded that sometimes your worries aren’t founded. My anxiety has gotten worse in the past 16 months because of Long Covid. It is natural to be stressed out and anxious to be worried about a new health condition that is barely understood and in the process of being studied by science. Adjusting to this new normal has been challenging. It’s why I had to change careers.

I resigned from a job where I had worked the longest I ever had at any one place.

I realized I needed a different career path and wanted to find it in college. I’ve only been to community college and not to a university before. I am pretty sure this path is psychology, and I want to become a therapist. At the same time, I have not had the opportunity to explore what I want. College is the one place where you have many paths available to you and can easily change it.

What was my point again? Oh yeah.

I’ve been stressed out these past months because there have been massive changes that I initiated.

So, I need to stop stressing about what could happen and the negative outcomes and instead just do it. If I fail, then start over. Even if I don’t know everything and why I need to do something, have some faith and trust in those who know what they are doing. Have faith in yourself that you will be okay whatever happens. Success is small progress every day over a long period. Sometimes it may come quicker, and sometimes you may fail fast.

I must become comfortable with the unknown and become comfortable with failure again. Once I do, I’ll get where I want. A successful man is comfortable with failing because he knows he can handle it and move forward.

I’m anxious and stressed because it appears my future is unknown and I don’t know what I want to do for work in the short term or long term.

Failing at math or other subjects in college is far better than failing at a minimum-wage job.

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