Monday, January 15, 2018


Having recently given in to the retro craze for vinyl, pulling albums out of the attic, life-threatening to me in their dust and must, I am struck by the tenderness of the act of placing the LP on the turntable. The way you handle it from the moment you make contact with the album cover, cautiously sliding it out of the sleeve, then reaching in to place index and middle finger on the label in the center, and thumb on the edge of the disc so you do not tarnish it with fingerprints or scratch it with a stray fingernail. You gaze for a moment with a squinty glance and blow off real and imagined particles that may otherwise cause pops and skips. Then lightly placing it on the record player, and handling the delicate stylus arm and placing it down upon the first outer groove, you wait a second or so and there it is. Music.

So different from tapping on the iTunes app. Different than the CD too, which can also be life, or at least limb-threatening in terms of the sharp devices needed to open the seal, surely the cause of many Christmas Day ER visits. The CD you toss on, maybe 5 at a time if you have the kind of player that rotates between discs, and hit play and walk away and it will probably sound brilliant. Until that day it stops working, which you never thought would happen when they first came out with CDs. In this day when mindfulness is hot, it is no wonder LP's are making a comeback. The tender act of playing an LP is retro hipster Zen, and I actually do not mean that in a bad way.

I have found albums dating back to the 1940's in my parent's old collection. And no Dad, I am still never going to listen to "A German Christmas". But there is some Leonard Bernstein worth saving for sure, and all the Beethoven symphonies, ala Toscanini. Also Horowitz' first Carnegie Hall performance in 12 years, 2 discs. He opens with a Bach-Busoni monster of a piece, which was incredibly brave for a guy who still puked with anxiety prior to performances at age 86 and had not performed live in 12 years. So many people stood in line for tickets, that Horowitz' wife, Wanda (nee Toscanini-sheesh can you imagine having Arturo T as a father-in-law?) got bunches of donuts and coffee and distributed them to the crowd.

I found two new LPs today, I mean new in condition but older than me in terms of when they were recorded, and after dropping the needle felt an expansion of my day. I've heard these albums dozens of time, on CD, but my CDs are worn out.

The slow arc of playing an album, which must of course end with careful replacement in the dust jacket, had me thinking today. Metaphorically speaking, it is rich. The slow arc of justice comes to mind, which when freedom and decency is involved makes the meditative value, the Zen patience, the hipster grooviness less palatable. When the KKK has broached the highest house of American government and our president is so reckless with his words, there is a hollow feeling reading all the lovely MLK Day posts on Facebook and Twitter. Why didn't anyone in The Room that day of "shithole" infamy stand up and call a time out?

My Dad would have. If you wonder what all the bumpiness has been, perhaps making you almost fall over in your tracks in recent months, that would be my father rolling around in his grave. I mean, he was cremated, but even his ashes are rising up in protest. I think of him today because he not only talked the talk, but he walked the walk. He was arrested, had his life threatened, and was almost ex-communicated from the Lutheran Church. He was a minister in Dearborn, MI during the mid-late 60's. He suggested a black pastor come speak at the church. The Lutheran Church thought maybe the best response to that would be kicking my Dad to the curb.

It is easy to vilify institutions such as this, but the institution is only going to stand if the people who are its framework continue to hold it up. It is also easy to idolize great people who do stand up to power at the risk of life and profession and comfort. Martin Luther King was not perfect. I am not entirely sure MLK would come out of the #metoo movement unscathed. And my father told the absolute corniest jokes the world has ever heard. I am pretty sure there is a lot of groaning and face palming going on in heaven right now, unless corny jokes are just plain outlawed there. Which I hope they are not funny!

What people like MLK and my Dad did was, quite literally, stand up and look others straight in the eye and call their bullshit. In social media, we can just say stuff, often anonymously, and it will not likely effect our work status, our legal status or whether the government puts us on the list of people to watch. Well, maybe that last one is not so true.....Have you donated to the ACLU lately, by the way?

The long arc of justice is not one beautiful spiral pass by a great quarterback which we can just watch sail by into the end zone. It felt a little like that to me though when President Obama was first elected. It felt like we had arrived, that we could slam that ball of justice onto the field and do a happy dance. Or cry with the sheer brilliance of it, like so many of us did. This game isn't over yet, and Trump being elected felt like some crazy ref threw a flag on the play we all thought was the clincher,

I am totally out of my zone here. I know very little about football. Better I think to consider the long arc of long distance running, particularly the marathon: the LP of the sports world. You cannot rush to a personal record. You have to put in all the tender, cautious and gutsy work to become fit, strong, fierce. You have to treat your body right, listen to the cues it gives you, and turn to others around you for support and buoyancy. You have to face failures, which will definitely occur if you run enough marathons, and dust off your ego and hamstrings and get back to training. You celebrate the wins, the PRs, the workout you killed. But always remembering it is fleeting. Health is fleeting. Sometimes we cannot run the whole way, or at all. But running long distances is a good way to practice for hard stuff in life, and right now what is harder than NOT being silent about the outrageous HATE being given by the leaders of our country?

One thing President Obama modeled was the impact of community service and grass roots action. I think Americans are actually naturals at this. Most of us came here as immigrants or children or grandchildren of immigrants, and had to figure out how to be a part of this larger community, so different from the homogenous countries we came from. When things go wrong, we band together. One last metaphorical musing: our proverbial "band" needs to get out of the practice room, and onto the stage and we need to sing. Nay, SHOUT, like the American mutt punks we are.

If it helps to think of Your Favorite Things first, just to feel less scared, here is some help from one of my "new" LPs. Dog bites? Bee stings? Upsetting the oligarchy? Pshaw.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Facts, Fracks and My Telltale Heart

Facts: Today was my one hundredth day in a row of running. Which is about 27% of my goal of a whole year of runs. The average person has 100,000 heartbeats per day. My resting heart rate, so says my watch anyhow, is 45. That makes around 65,000 beats per day not including my runs which get my heart going pitter-patter. Over a million Americans have HIV/AIDS. Almost 200,000 do not know they have it. The entire Presidential advisory council on HIV/AIDS was fired this week. My son turns 20 in a few days. He will be behind bars till about age 30.

Some patients of mine broke their backs recently. I had about 36 hours of bad low back pain this week. I never get low back pain. I decided, like a father with morning sickness, that my body was empathizing. Worldwide there are about 8.9 million fractures due to osteoporosis annually. If you are 50, white and a woman, you have a 16% risk over the rest of your lifetime of developing a broken back. Today I ran before my evening hospital rounds. I passed a silver haired older woman riding her bike. She waved at me and said "I'm impressed!" I waved back and said "So am I". Which is to say we acknowledged each other's badassery.

Yesterday I was running at the beach. It was one of those foggy days where it can be hard to know where you started and easy to lose your dog if he strays too far. With my head in that fog, and earbuds budding from my ears,  I listened to Prince Harry interview President Obama. It was like being on another planet, what with the fog, the waves, the prince, and a highly thoughtful, intelligent, well-spoken president. Miles, my dog, stuck pretty close except when stealthily tearing off after a seagull or raven. Speaking of bad asses, beach ravens are the baddest. I've seen one teasing Miles, swooping down and darting out of his reach while he barks his head off, over and over. This is the same poodle who notices animals on TV then searches for them behind the TV. If I had a choice between a raven and my poodle to take my next Boards exam for me, I would have to go with the raven.

Facts: Once a tagged wild raven lived to be almost 23 years old. My father knew Poe's The Raven by heart and used to recite it to me in a creepy voice at bedtime. My father had two hearts. The one he was born with, and the one that was transplanted into him at age 60. I think Poe would've liked this. He might've even written something like The Telltale Heart Transplant. ZDoggMD, can you do something with this idea??

I like to read and re-read and listen to and read again the books I enjoy. Same with TV shows. Recently, we are revisiting Battlestar Galactica. I like how everyone in charge is called sir, gender non-specifically. I like how the women are strong, the men are good looking and the cylons are above average. And the way everyone gives such a frack about everything is inspiring. I mean, they are less than 40,000 souls and the only surviving humans and go months and years without a run at the beach or feeling one bit of sunshine on their backs. And yet, they keep surviving. And they keep caring about each other and their kids and, most astoundingly, the deeper meaning of existence. Also, Fred and Carrie from Portlandia totally lost their jobs because BG is such an addictive TV show.

I have been working a lot lately. I am not proud of this, it is just a fact. When I work without breaks a few things tend to occur:
1) My heart sinks when my phone rings.
2) I get cranky.
3) I start to feel responsible for all disease in the world. Like personally responsible.

If you ever try calling me and wonder why I don't answer or I answer with crankiness, please see 1 and 2 . Although I try to combat number 1 above by changing up the ring tone. For awhile it was the Downton Abbey theme song. When that started making me want to smash my iPhone to pieces, I switched it to the theme to James Bond. That went off when I was rounding in isolation garb the other day, thus my phone under layers of antibacterial, neon urine-colored, paper gown material. I just sat there and continued discussing life and death issues with a bemused gentleman, in his own hospital garb of a butt-flashing, bleach-smelling cotton dress of the typical drab coloration. He laughed at the Bond serenade. And wanted to know where his goddam pants were. Ah, the healing power of American Medicine.

As for number 3, I gotta work on that one. Fact is I cannot keep everyone healthy all the time. It is perhaps possible that I give too much of a frack to have a sustainable life as a physician.

And yet, a physician am I. Care I do.

Pretending not to care about stuff that matters must be exhausting. If one has to be exhausted either way, why not choose caring. If life hurts either way, why not choose hope. If love lives in our hearts and that heart beats 2.5 billion times before we give up the ghost, it seems we have a lot of love to go around.

Facts: I can run 100 days in a row and live to tell the tale. My dear son is almost 20. My patients live until they die. My heart breaks and heals again, stronger than before. My heart breaks. My heart heals again. Stronger than before. My telltale heart.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Have you read The Color Purple? If you are in prison in Texas, then you have not, as it is banned there (while Mein Kampf and books by KKK members are not banned-bah humbug). But I am not in prison in Texas, so I am re-reading this book, which I first read around age 19. At that time, some slightly older than me and erudite woman asked me what I was reading, and when I said The Color Purple she rolled her eyes and scoffed "ohhh". "I thought you read real literature". I was baffled then but am even more baffled now as I re-read it. It is well-crafted, hard to put down and did after all, win the Pulitzer prize. The thing is it is quite prescient. That is to say, it is scary how it still sings truth to a broken world that might even be slightly more broken than when I was 19.

But this post is not about despair, this post is about hope. As someone who has been struggling with my spiritual mooring for several years, born and bred a Lutheran (albeit a radical, left-leaning one) of many generations, and now mostly aghast at the words that come out of vocal American Christian mouths, I have been trying to figure out how to define my faith. Because I have it, I do. Alice Walker's character Shug Avery gave me some words for it, which I think I did not get the first time I read this book so many years ago:

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”
― Alice Walker, The Color Purple

She says a whole lot more on the subject, but I don't want to spoil this shiny part of the book for those who have not yet read it. Notice the word "it". Not "he", not "she".

Anyhow, I injured my hamstring but am still on my running streak, day 81 today. It has become like breathing. Sometimes it helps to remove the "if" and replace it with "what time, exactly" in life. Like, "if things get worse I will speak up" becomes "I will speak up at 2pm today, rain or shine, fire or flood, as my country is losing its soul while thinking it has gained the whole world."

Not my words, of course. Take it from the experts:

Hope is not a plan, says Atul Gawande. He refers to planning during serious illness and in the last phase of life. But this quote is good for many occasions. The word hope derives from "to have confidence and trust in the future". Maybe related to "hop"--"leaping in expectation". Add to that a plan, and we are in business.

Hope: the world does not end because of climate change.
Plan: stop consuming so much.
Hope: my hamstring will heal despite my stubborn decision to continue my running streak.
Plan: do massage therapy, heat, ice, stretching, and use the evil foam roller.
Hope: that compassion will win in the end.
Plan: model compassion and vote out the assholes.
Hope: my community becomes healthier.
Plan: show up, face the inequities, and stop waiting for someone else to fix things.
Hope: my dog doesn't eat another entire bag of pistachios again today, or any day.
Plan: hide the pistachios in a poodle-proof bunker from now on.

Have you noticed the color purple?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Maltese Falcon

I recently re-read The Maltese Falcon. Dashiell Hammett is a decent writer. A decent writer with a cool name. Dashiell was on my list of names for our son. Would things have been different if we had named him Dashiell?

The thing is, Trump ruined everything. What I noticed this time through Hammett's fabulously noir, San Francisco hip novel is:
-"a girl is here to see you"
-"shoo her in, sweetheart"
-"you'll have to trot along, precious"

Also, Cairo was gay and that was clearly not cool in Hammett's world. Or at least Sam Spade's world.

If any of the "girls" tried to do something, say something, THINK something, they were patted on the head and sent on their way, or into the kitchen, but usually only after they were squeezed, kissed, touched or fucked by Sam Spade.

I wonder why I was not too bothered by any of this before? I used to read Hammett while on the N-Judah or J-Church. You could be even more in San Francisco in his novels than you were by actually being in San Francisco itself. His novels made me want to smoke hand rolled cigarettes and drink scotch like it was a major, nay essential, food group.

The J Church, San Francisco

It is possible misogyny is an essential part of being a manly man's man, I suppose. The Greek is: miso (hate), gyne (women). Clearly Sam Spade does not hate women. He loves them, as does [insert name here of any of the recently discovered misogynists whom likely just represent the tip of the misogyny iceberg]. As does Trump.

An interesting aside. Though I could wax poetic about how poetically Hammett describes the tender rolling of a smoke by Spade, I am actually a misocapnic. I miso (dislike) capnia (smoke). In medicine, we talk about hypercapnia in reference to the retention of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream of those who no longer have the urge to breathe properly, making them pretty doped out. Smoking is a risk factor for developing the tendency to forget to breathe properly, in part because the brain gets so used to having a low oxygen level.

I can hardly breathe recently. Who will be next in the world of misogynistic creep wads? And why is the president endorsing a child molester to represent people in the governing of our country? Oh yes, it is because it is better to have someone who has hurt children be in power than someone who is a democrat. Or brown. Or gay. Or a woman.

It is exhausting to realize I have a president who would see me as an ugly person. And not because he actually cares what I think, but because I have wrinkles and some grey hair and am old enough to have daughters he would want to date. It is likely many will not understand how exhausting it is. Because I do not just sit there and think about how my daughters have to see such men rule the world, and sexually abused children have to hear their president say it is OK for people to molest children. But I have this deep-seated fear of what the backlash from white men (not all of them, just the ones with power and great fear of the rest of us) will be. I keep picturing an Atwoodesque response, ala The Handmaid's Tale, where subjugation of women became the way they/we were protected from misogyny. It is sneaky and creepy and scary as hell. It felt like a weird science fiction bizarro world the first time I read it. But like Hammett, I re-read it recently. And Trump has ruined everything.

I am not a sacred vessel. I am not a girl, a sweetheart, a precious. I am not the one doctor in the room you call by her first name because all the other doctors are men and need to be addressed as Doctor So and So. I am not interested in your opinion about my waistline, my outfit, my hairdo, my legs, my vagina, or my choice of shoes. I am tired of feeling like I might get raped or verbally assaulted when I run in the dark or in public. I am sick of worrying about my daughters having to experience all the same shit I did, which in the grand scheme of things was really just the usual shit, nothing too extreme. But lots and lots of women suffer in the extreme, because they are women.

On a brighter note, today was day 62 of my running streak. I have noticed I am getting stronger. My heart rate averages 47. My body keeps asking me "are we training for a marathon or W.T.F.?" My dog is fairly elated, my laundry quotient is through the roof, and I think my brain might be directly connected to my Strava feed. I don't even need any electronic devices anymore. I am one in connection with the social athlete media world. I laugh at the pounding rain of the pacific northwest. I revel in the dark encroaching upon my morning and evening free hours. I fly free and fast and furious.

I am furious. Which brings me back to reading Dashiell Hammett.
Sam Spade was more tolerable in the Obama era because hope abounded. Sam Spade was the past. Hope and respect and, dare I say, even love for others was the present and future. There would never be any going back. Until there was, there is. Until the Asshole era.

But I do not want or need to be protected from all the assholes. I just want to be able to speak my mind, teach my daughters, practice my medicine, play my music, love my neighbors and go for a run in the dark in peace.

On the other hand, children DO need protection from assholes. I hope my country wakes up and does the right thing, which is to say do not look the other way any longer. Just a few for instances: No child molesters in office. No rapists in office. Flint needs clean water. Immigrants need respite. Puerto Rico needs the lights on. No one needs to walk our streets/schools/churches with loaded weapons of assault. Our graduate students need to be educated without suffocating debt, so we can be an intelligent country who can solve problems.

Now excuse me while I get down off my soapbox. I have a hot date with my foam roller.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


When I was 8, I knew my next best age was going to be 48. Then after that 84. It is a thing with me, this attachment to the numbers 8 and 4. I might have thought about this at age 4 too, but I cannot remember much about age 4. Mainly I remember the feeling of my toes in the the sand of an Atlantic Ocean beach on some family vacation, probably to Florida or maybe it was Long Island,  and the time my family stopped on the highway to help another family who had a car crash in front of us. There was a lot of blood involved. My Mom was a nurse, and she seemed pretty much in charge of the situation, as I remember it.

I recently turned 48. I am celebrating with a streak. You can rest assured I will not be running around naked. The last time I was naked in public was that summer night a bunch of us skinny dipped in Lake Mendota. Although I guess I have done a few of the quick changes at the beach after surfing or swimming since then. I do recall a gaggle of well toned naked surfers of the male variety which I spotted on a run a few years back, them just toweling off on the side of the beachfront road while I ran by all sweaty and middle aged. It was one of the moments where you both blush and thank God you are a runner who likes to go off the so called beaten path.

My "streak" is a run a day for 365 days. I have recently started regaining my health after a few years of struggle. The struggle as an athlete was compounded by mega doses of steroids, and not the ones that acned teenaged boys or Soviet era track stars might take to get all buff. Nope, just the kind that make your body turn into an alien. A blobby alien that would never get picked up at one of those bars on Star Trek. Anyway, thanks to science, a new drug came out this year that finally let me kick steroids to the curb. Thank you science.

Science. Remember that? It was this thing we used to pride ourselves on in this country and now our media ridicules it. It is only adored when it does us a good turn, like vaccines or safe contraceptives for our teenagers. Oh but wait, did I say adore or abhor?

Please forgive my digression. I am 48 years old and my mind sometimes wanders.

I am on day 25 of my streak. I have been at this running thing for enough years to know that this kind of thing can be risky. Especially in middle age and beyond. So I am varying pace, terrain, mileage and shoes. I am also lifting weights because I want to be strong. Very few people are aware of my secret identity as a Ninja Doctor. I must work my core and be ready for stealthy diagnosis and most especially be ready to jump out at my staff unexpectedly.

From the Ninja Doctor series, by Heather Irvin

I am not quite ready to go back to racing yet. I might never reach my prior pace, but I think with a little more time in the post-steroid era and some steady daily running, I might have a chance. Maybe at the Avenue of the Giants.

I just read a tweet (does one read tweets? Or is there a special verb for this, like #skimmed140?) about a guy who completed 800 official marathons all under 3:20.  I would love to run one under 3:20. I was 6 minutes shy of that in the pre-steroid era. Who knows what 48 will bring. I also #skimmed140 today that Meb ran his last long run before NYC, a 27.7 miler, in 2:56.
Ah, Meb. Coolest cat around.

Yeah, that's me and Meb

I have been thinking about the frivolous nature of going for a "streak" during these times. Puerto Rico is under water, yet without barely a drop to drink. An amazing colleague and friend lost her home in the fire, still burning, just south of us in California. My baby boy is in prison, and once again they are on "lockdown." On lockdown, all prisoners must stay in their cells 24/7, sometimes for weeks. They get a shower every 72 hours. I spent this weekend admitting people to hospice and putting the finishing touches on a lecture I will give soon on dementia. People, life is grim. A friend mentioned this weekend she feels bad complaining in the context of the abject suffering around us and around the world, but really suffering is not a contest. It is like comparing that apple snow white was given with the orange man in office. Or Harvey Weinstein and the guy who dry humped me against my will at age 16 when I was trapped, one of many sardines, on a bus in Rome. It is like comparing the unthinkable with the unfathomable, or the irritating with the bothersome. It is like comparing cancer with dementia or a hurricane with a fire or a bully on the playground with a bully in the workplace. Which is worse? I would say it doesn't matter.

Plus I am 48 this year and my 8 year old self is telling me that no matter what evil befalls us, 48 is golden.

Don't do it SW!

Speaking of Twitter, and Facebook, today many women have posted "Me too". That is to say, that almost every woman you know has been sexually harassed or assaulted in some way at some point during their life. I wrote last time about running as a woman. Short version is, I think we should be allowed to run free and we should not be expecting to be attacked. Except maybe by a mountain lion, and that is their prerogative given we are on their stomping grounds.

Run at your own risk...

I also just finished re-reading The Handmaid's Tale. Sheesh, talk about grim. What struck me about the book this time through were three things:
1) Atwood has a brilliant way with words
2) Never take the game "Scrabble" for granted
3) They justified enslaving women as a way to protect them from assault and misuse by men. So, it is like doing them a favor.

#3 is kind of scary, because I could see this happening. In a society where predators are considered unable to control themselves, you either shoot them or you hide. And although many think it is OK to shoot a mountain lion who wanders into "our" space, I would bet many would not see punishment of the predatory male, particularly the predatory white male, as optimal. In fact it is possible some might even want such a predator to be in the oval office! But I have been reading too many scary fairy tales lately...

Incidentally, I do not agree with shooting lions for simply wandering into our back yards which were once their own backyards. But they are scary as hell, and I hope I don't meet one tomorrow morning when I go for my run! At least not too close of an encounter, because spotting magnificent wildlife is wonderful. Just let it see my fierce poodle companion and know we are not worth the bother.


The heaviness of grief involved with just being here and awake is potentially suffocating.

Rx: hope, run, read, love, laugh, rinse and repeat. 48 times.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Running With XX

Now don't get excited. I have neither the personality nor the stomach for pornography. What I refer to here is the female chromosomal composition.

I have been thinking about the whole issue of being female lately. I mean, I have been thinking about it my whole life, but with the election of a proud misogynist who considers our White House a dump and pussy grabbing fair sport for all men, it has been on my mind more. Also, as the days shorten I face my yearly dilemma. How comfortable am I running in the dark?

My email feed fed me this story today, about a high school XC runner attacked. The response is the team will fight back, learn self defense. Turn off the music, remove the ear buds, be vigilant, etc etc

All good advice that I would readily give my own daughter but where is the strong and furious shout to men to "STOP ATTACKING WOMEN!" Granted, I don't worry about it as much anymore, as I am relatively old (yeah, I turn 48 this week, planning to ask for headstone for my birthday) and not particularly beautiful. But even today, I was on a walk during my break at work. The neighborhood I work in is pretty sketchy. I like to listen to my book on "tape" while I walk. I like to walk to get my ass off my chair. Anyway, this guy was acting sort of weird and blocking my way on the sidewalk. I considered a different route, but instead put my game face on and moved forward. He so completely owned the sidewalk that I had to step into the dirt and circumnavigate him. I was ready to kick his ass if necessary. But alas, he turned out to be not interested in me. But he was also oblivious to his power.

Men who might read this: please be aware that you have power, just being you, just walking on a sidewalk, just stopping in front of us for reasons we cannot fathom. I am sorry if this is a drag for you, but imagine how your friends of XX chromosomes, wives, daughters, coworkers feel. Every time we venture out into public space alone feels potentially dangerous.

Not long ago a runner fought off her attacker in a rest room during her long run.
Moral of the story: never stop to take a piss.
Moral of the story: take a self defense class because some men are really awful.
Moral of the story: Not today mother fu$%er.

Even that phrase, "mother fucker" is so awful. Violence against women made into a catchphrase. Now I love Miles Davis as much as anyone ever has, but his use of that word was excessive. I got to see him in concert once, and he just flung that word around on stage, like it was nothing.

I don't really get what it means, though I guess it might be considered praise. it might be that men are so intensely disempowered by their mothers that they had to think of a way to regain that power. Or maybe I am overreacting. Whatever. I will continue to enjoy Miles Davis' music.

When I was in elementary school, I could outrun all the boys. That is the beauty of pre-pubescent youth. The male-female thing does not mean much until the guys sprout density and the girls sprout softness. Even just a few years ago I could outrun a lot of men. But then age, health, gravity, and discouragement got the best of me. Which is not to ay I can never return to my prior prowess.

But in order to do so I need to run in the dark, because summer is short and I work long hours. I need to be able to go out in the wee hours of the morning and not fear for my life, except maybe a healthy fear of the mountain lions and tripping over redwood roots on the trail. I would like to think my advanced age and elder status is like an armor, so I no longer need to worry about creeps on the streets and trails. And maybe I do not.

Women are objects. Women cannot be president. Women are either beautiful or worth nothing.

Or maybe our president and his followers are actually mistaken. Maybe we are just people too, some of us fierce and powerful, some of us petite and shy, some of us goofy and nerdy, some of us gay, some of us transgender, some of us soccer Moms, some of us Paris Hilton, some of us just about to turn 48 with hopes of one or two more PRs in the marathon.

So what should we do about women runners? Should they just be able to run, whenever and wherever they wish? Without fear? Except the fear of their own limitations? Or should women be always on the alert for the next attack?

So, what?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

For Granted

I am not exactly sure where the phrase "taken for granted" came from. I assume it has to do with the thought that if someone grants you something, it comes at no price, it is expected, it is bequeathed, it is a gift.

There are seven things I commonly take for granted:
1) The 800 acre redwood forest that is my back yard
2) The ability to run, albeit slower than I used to
3) My career, though I did work pretty hard for that one
4) Playing piano, which is something I can just do
5) That I will one day retire, and be able to enjoy my days without worry
6) That my son is OK, despite being in prison, because surely someone cares about him there
7) That I will wake up tomorrow

My parents put off a lot of things till retirement. Then they both died before retirement so....HA! That gives me pause.

The other morning, I was getting ready for work. We boil water for our pour over coffee, and I had just turned off the burner and poured the boiling water on the precious grounds. I knew the stove grates needed cleaning, and started lifting them up, one by one, to put in the sink. The last one I grabbed was the one I just turned off. It immediately started to melt the skin off my thumb and index finger. I screamed. My high school kid did not wake up. My husband freaked out. I spent the rest of my pre-work morning with my hand soaking in a bowl of ice water.

The thing I took for granted: playing piano. What if I actually burned my fingers so severely that they died? A thumb and index finger on the right hand is a requisite for every single Beethoven Sonata.
I have not played much recently. I am too busy. Studying for Boards. Working a lot. Not able to get this darn piano recital together, so why bother at all?

But the thing is, if you told me tomorrow I would never be able to play Beethoven again, I would swoon. And not in a good way.

I have a very good job, and a very nice house. Very.

So when I come home from work and walk the dogs in the woods with enormous redwood trees towering over me, I should be awed. Often, though, I am just thinking "Zoe! Take a crap already!" Zoe is our 12 year old Golden Doodle who is an idiot savant. She loves music, but only through the very early 20th century. She chews on stinky socks while contemplating Mozart. She faithfully trotted down the hall every night to sit at my feet and peer up at me while I sang my children to sleep, back when I did this. She needs a gold-engraved invitation to take a shit.

I used to run sub 7 miles. Now I am ecstatic when I run sub 8. True, I am fatter, as my 100 year old patient so aptly pointed out the other day during a house call. But there are things that affect speed beyond blubber. Like:
1) son in prison
2) working 60 hours a week
3) lack-o-motivation

Now about work, I do like it. I get to think hard every day about challenging puzzles. I get to serve people in need. I get to take the Boards again October.

The boards:
1) expensive
2) standardized
3) a racket

My son, well he is in prison. What can I say? I am a terrible Mom.

Oh, also, he is not half the criminal our current president is.

What I do not take for granted, when I stop to ponder:
1) my children, though not flawless, are beloved
2) my husband, who is a rock
3) my legs, which might someday reach sub 7's again, at which point I will gloat mercilessly
4) my piano hands, which through not invited to Carnegie Hall, can play pretty much whatever you place in front of them
5) my work, which feeds my family and feeds my soul
6) my compassion, which you can just try to pry out of me. I dare you.
7) my friends. Who provide comfort, hilarity, steadiness, support and reality checks.

Seven ways to not take things for granted. Just kiss not taking for granted goodbye.