Friday, August 4, 2017

Emily

I do not usually post so frequently. I am a somewhat reluctant blogger, a sometime writer, a midwesterner turned Californian who has discomfort with sharing and yet knows the only hope is to reach out to others.

I have been listening to podcasts a lot lately. My real addiction is  Audible.com, but as I try to spend less cash, I find I can do without so many books all the time by tuning into the podcast genre. Today, while walking one of my dogs, I was listening to an interview with a poet, Marie Howe. She teaches her students this poem, by Emily Dickinson:


I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, (340)

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading - treading - till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through -

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum -
Kept beating - beating - till I thought
My mind was going numb -

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space - began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race,
Wrecked, solitary, here -

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down -
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing - then -

Her students were like, "What?" 

She asked them "Have any of you ever experienced a panic attack?"

And if you have, read this again. 

Ahhhhh, poetry.

But Emily is just so-

When I was about 10, I was sitting on the concrete wall next to the driveway of my childhood home. My brother's friend, who happened to be named Emily, asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said "A poet."

How weird was that?

But it turns out that my husband is a writer, my eldest daughter is a writer and I am-

I am-

Today I spoke with two families and patients about "code status". This is where we get to decide, on paper, whether to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation or not. Do we intubate? Do we put in the intensive care unit? 

Do we put a tube down their nose or into their abdomen to feed them when they cannot swallow? 

My advice: no tubes. But then my perspective is that of a doctor. I Know I would not want it for myself. I know that life ends. I know that death can be hard. I know that just because we can do more things to people does not mean it is right.

21 years ago, my Mom died. 21 years ago this weekend, my Mom died.
 I was nursing my eldest child in the waiting room where we slept when my Mom died. I was a medical student, who knew so little about it all but then learned more than I wished to, when my Mom died. My Mom died when we all stepped out at once to have some food. I ate a veggie burger in the hospital cafeteria. I can still taste it. It was not good enough to be absent when my Mom died.

But then again, I can still taste it. It was not like real meat. It had some substance to it though. The bun was whole wheat. I ate it next to my husband and brother. My caloric intake was important, because I was breast feeding.

When I came back to her room, she was no longer gasping for air. She was gone.

I wailed, but my Dad wailed louder. Not 2 years later, he was gone too.

Poets are amazing. They have to condense, speak truth, follow the rules of decent writing, and touch our hearts.

Sitting on the concrete wall of my parent's yard, I did not know it would be so hard. Nor did I now doctoring would encompass so much poetry. Nor did I know life would encompass so much-

So much-

Emily? 

The Emily friend of my brother is now a physician. And so am I.

Thanks, Mom.









Saturday, July 29, 2017

Perspective

I just started listening to a podcast called Ear Hustle. It is relatively new, only 4 episodes so far. Which works out well because I am relatively new to having a child in prison, and this is like a connection to him. I keep hoping I will hear his voice in the background (as it takes place in his current prison), or maybe he will get interviewed. Yes, I did not really picture this as an aspiration for my child. I can see the bumper sticker now: "My Kid is the Ear Hustle Inmate of the Month!"









Ear Hustle is quite good. I recommend it to anyone, whether you have had a prisoner in your life or not.

I was listening to it today while working in my yard. For perspective, I am on call this weekend, and thus not exactly "free", but as I listened to the stories of the inmates, while sweat poured down my face from pulling weeds (yes, I am a wimp), I felt so very free. Houses, gardens, work so often feel like traps or cages or something we do while we wait for the good part of life to start. Which is ironic given house-garden-work represents the American dream.



Turns out life is just life. You wake up (if lucky), go to work (if lucky), eat some good food (if lucky), try to exercise (if lucky), walk your dogs (if lucky), do the wash for the millionth time (if lucky). Unless you are in prison, or a war zone, or a drug addict or super sick or mentally ill without good treatment or poor or Donald Trump. Whom I do not suppose has done a load of wash in his entire life.

artist http://www.lizavonrosenstiel.com/gallery/


I posted on Strava the other day.


I have not been posting my runs all that often, because I am really slow now. I mean I was never super fast, but could run 7 min miles for a prolonged period, up until that *cough* extra 30 lbs. Freaking steroids. So anyway, I posted the other day all whiny about my slowness and was reminded by someone "yeah, just be glad you can run."

As my teenager would say, "oh, snap!"

So today I ran and posted it because, let's face it, I do like my social media, and just had done my rounds at the inpatient hospice unit, then walked the hospice labyrinth and somehow it felt OK that I ran like a slug on quaaludes. Which might be slightly redundant.



Who ya calling a slug?

Another thing that gave me perspective recently was listening to The Brothers Karamazov on Audible.com. Which took 37 hours and 8 minutes to be read aloud to me. One part was really funny, about the over-specialization of doctors:

"I tell you, the old-fashioned doctor who treated all diseases has completely disappeared, now there are only specialists, and they advertise all the time in the newspapers. If your nose hurts, they send you to Paris: there's a European specialist there, he treats noses. You go to Paris, he examines your nose: I can treat only your right nostril, he says, I don't treat left nostrils, it's not my specialty, but after me, go to Vienna, there's a separate specialist there who will finish treating your left nostril."

I also liked getting to know Stinking Lizaveta (and her unfortunate son). Because a band I like quite a bit derived its name from her.



The perspective I gained in "Brothers K" was:
1) I am not the worst parent in the universe. It is amazing the Brothers K made it to adulthood.
2) It was probably not worth 37+ hours of my life.
3) Some guy READ FOR 37 HOURS DOING ALL THE ANNOYING CHARACTERS.
4) Stinking Liz is mute though, so that part was easy.
5) Dostoevsky did not like doctors much. His Dad was a doctor, and he grew up playing in the gardens of a hospital for the poor. He did seem to like courtroom drama. A lot. A whole, whole lot.
6) Russian novelists of a certain era seemed to lack editors.

I don't have an editor either, so there. Ha. It's my blog and I can share my perspective for as long as I want to.

My parents both died a long while ago. Coming up on the 21st anniversary (deathiversary?) for my Mom next week. They may have left the earth prematurely, but their perspective on life and love and compassion and humor had a big impact on me. A cousin recently sent me this picture of them.
You might think it odd that they are turning their back. But I know them, and they were just being goofy. Perspective.

  

Running amongst the giant redwood trees gives me goose bumps, even after all these years. They are really big. Even the young ones. The old ones are just so stunningly massive, it feels like being in the presence of a living piece of history, like the kind of history you find on timelines long before anyone was doing much besides scratching off their cave lice and dragging their fists in the dirt. Perspective.

The point? I don't really know. I thought I did but I see now that life has no point, so to speak. We just keep showing up until we don't. What makes it bearable is noticing. Noticing the funny and horrible and beautiful and goofy and painful.
artist: Jianhong H.

One guy who is a master of this art of noticing is actually playing my town tonight. Still out there playing, after all these years.



I am on call pretty much every day of life. For work, which is truly painful, but hey, I have a job I love so....I try to keep perspective. But I am also on call for life. I am waiting for the next little thing, which I suspect involves walking the dogs given their impatience with this endless blog post. Thank goodness beepers are no longer a thing, because if life was paging me on a beeper all the time, I just do not think I could take it.
Life: "beep, beep, beep"
Me: "Fucking pager, what is it now?"
Life: "come out and play, stat!"


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Ode to Laura

I have known strong people.
I have known hilarious people.
I have known people who run fast.
I have known people who are kind and compassionate.
I have known people who light up the room when they enter.
But it spins my head to know someone who is all of the above.

I would like to be Laura when I grow up, all buff and intelligent and
Such a good story teller.
It hurts to run with her because
1) she is way faster than I am and
2) she makes me laugh so hard

When you are just trying to hang on to a pace, laughing is not at all helpful.
Elite runners might want to take this to heart, and tell killer jokes on the third turn of the track, just before you kick to the finish while your opponent is doubled over with hilarity.

When I have felt shame for my parenting woes, true kindness has been a hand reaching to me with words of solidarity and "it could have been any of us".

When I have felt shame for my health woes, true kindness has been a reminder that just being able to move is a gift and the speed demon inside is only waiting for the next best time to emerge.

When I have wondered what strength is, I get my magnifying glass out and check my Oxford English Dictionary.

Strength: 1. Laura McNulty.
Used in a sentence: Laura is strong as shit. Unbreakable pretty much.
Cuz females are strong as hell.

I have known strong people.
I am thankful for them.

And I am thankful Laura is no longer in my age category for road races. For the time being.

My goal: to be unbreakable as LM. And to be as kind as LM.




Saturday, July 8, 2017

Orange is the New Black

When President Obama said "orange is not the new black" I laughed and laughed.

I am no longer laughing.

For profit prisons have no motivation to rehab their prisoners. And Mr. Trump has no reason to behave, because he was elected while wildly misbehaving. How can you tell your children to strive for a better education, a better understanding, a more compassionate heart so they can be successful, when the Oval Office is occupied by someone who does not read, does not care to read and apparently does not give a shit about his own country?

I like the show "Orange is the New Black", but as a parent of a prisoner, it is no longer just mild entertainment. My son is not a big person, and he has mental illness and he likes to please the people around him which is partly why he ended up in prison in the first place. But all of that makes him a target. I am terrified of what might happen to him. And I cannot do a damn thing.

The local online rag published his arrest, and the comment section was filled with hate for him and my husband and I. Now we are not perfect, but we are parents who love our children, and we both are solid citizens, and we did our very best. Two of our children are pretty darn successful at life--they are kind, smart, caring, funny and capable. And they are not on drugs. It turns out being on drugs really messes up a kid's mind. Naive as I am, I never imagined drug dealers would present themselves to my child's middle school with drugs and make them feel like big heroes with money by asking them to sell drugs for them. Seriously, I am not stupid, and I have cared for many a drug user and pusher in my work over the years, but in my little, rural town, who would've thought drug dealers can just walk onto campus and fuck up your kid?

Once there was a young man (20-30 years old) who was admitted to our hospital for cutting off his own penis in a fit of drug-induced insanity. He was not on my service, but my colleague caring for him commiserated.

I keep thinking of what I could have done better as a parent. Maybe I should have worked less. But they had a full time Dad at home. I grew up with 2 working parents, and I considered it a  luxury to have a stay-at-home Dad.

We loved and sang to and read to and educated and supported and travelled with and did I mention we loved our children? But it was not enough.

All that aside, today I did a house call on a 100 year old person and prevented an emergency room visit and hospitalization. After that, I got a haircut and my teenaged daughter said I looked "on fleek." I think that is good, but I am not absolutely sure.

Today I also ran on the beach and my dog was thrilled. The fog was dense at the beach, though cleared just 1/4 mile inland. I have learned to love the fog. It is mysterious and cool, and thankfully it keeps my runs from being 100 degree torture sessions. The sand was a little like molasses today and I was also not exactly on fire. But I ran, my dog frolicked, the birds ran away from my dog and I kept a 100 year old out of the hospital. So if I die tonight, let it be known, my last day was not so bad.

For profit anything might be super cool for rich people, but it is the pits for everyone else. For profit healthcare? Not compassionate. For profit education? Bullshit. For profit prisons? A good way to ensure young men, especially men of color, stay incarcerated and never get a chance to shine in life.

A house call on a 100 year old is not particularly profitable, in the monetary sense. But I beg the world to listen and understand: when you are laying on your back, with your eyes watching God, the only thing that matters is how much you cared.

Orange is the new black. Now, what exactly are we going to do about it? And how will we live this one precious life?


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Screen Doors

There are certain things I miss as a Californian. I have been here more than half my life now, and it has always felt right for me, with the ocean and mountains and relatively progressive politics. But there are some things I miss as a Californian.

One thing is screen doors. I grew up in a home where the front door was open all summer, as was the back. But both had a screen door to keep the mosquitoes and other sundry flying creatures from making residence inside. For sure, if you left that screen door open for too long, Mom would be on your ass to close that thing. It was almost as heinous a crime to linger with an open screen door in the hot Wisconsin summer as it was to lollygag with an open refrigerator door while deciding which snack (American cheese in those little plastic wraps? Braunschweiger on bread? Mom-made leftovers?) to devour. Refrigerator door lollygagging always led to the following statement from whichever parent was nearest: "Are you trying to air condition the neighborhood?".

We did not have an air conditioner, we had screen doors. An air conditioner might've been better when it was 96 degrees and darn near 100% humidity, but to this day I cannot really get used to air conditioners. Like when I go to a meeting in a warm place (Florida or Vegas) and know (after experience) I need to pack a sweater because in the dead heat of summer it is going to be 52 degrees in the windowless meeting room. When I was at a meeting in Fort Lauderdale several years ago, the beach was not even within running distance. My one free afternoon, I took a cab to the beach. The ride there took 25 minutes, and was uneventful. I walked the white sands, marveled at the entirely different universe that was Fort lauderdale compared to my home beach which is generally almost uninhabited except for seals, crabs, my dog and great white sharks. When I caught a cab back to my hotel, the cab driver was unfamiliar with the hotel, which was somewhere near some mall and which had highly efficient air conditioning. It took 90 minutes to get back, and several times along the way his GPS said "rerouting". During that ride, he told me his life story in a thick Brooklyn accent. He was pretty pissed at his teenaged son. At the time I could not relate, though now I sort of can. Anyway, he charged me only half the fare (which was still considerable) and I was just glad he did not rape me and throw me into his trunk. Guys out there-don't be shocked. I cannot think of a single woman who would not consider that possibility in such a situation.

When it was really hot in Wisconsin, the best place in the house was the basement, which is another thing California lacks. I mean there might be a basement somewhere in California, but I have never yet met one. Basements are innately creepy, but always delectably cool in the summer. My brother made his bedroom in the basement. I was not allowed down there much during those years, but sometimes would sit on the steps of death (as a physician catering to the geriatric crowd, I now know that was what these steps should've been called). There was no way those steps were built to any code, and it is amazing we all did not fall down them and die in a bloody heap at the bottom. Anyway, I would sit on the death steps and listen to my brother playing his Kiss albums when friends were over. If he found me there he got very angry, and I ran like a bat out of hell. Or maybe it was Meatloaf he was listening to on those days.

The basement held spider webs, darkness and the laundry room. We had a storage area and it was definitely crawling with vermin but sometimes in the winter you HAD to go in there to get your ice skates. My brother made a darkroom under the stairs, and he rarely let me in there either. I am concerned about those darkroom chemicals he was breathing in our haunted basement all those years ago. But last I saw he was biking around some mountain lake in California. Which is something we did not have in Wisconsin. I assume the chemicals gave him super powers to bike as he does. Maybe I should have spent more time in that dark room, like when he was not looking.

I sat on those fall-risk basement stairs with my hands over my ears when they came to take away my Dad's body. Now before then and since then I had and have seen plenty of dead people. I am not a serial killer, do not worry, rather I am a physician and it comes with the territory. Especially as a hospital physician, you get called a lot to "declare someone dead." It is an awkward moment, as usually loved ones are at the bedside grieving. I remember my Mom once saying to me "make sure I am dead before they bury me." I was probably like 10 when she said this and I will never forget it. The thing is I did NOT make sure she was dead. But I assume the doctor that declared her dead DID. It is a source of continued worry and guilt.

The other thing California does not have is proper seasons. Granted, I am not complaining. I get to run, bike and take my dogs out year round without freezing my proverbial or actual ass off. And I have become familiar with the subtleties of season change where I live: certain wildflowers bloom at certain times. The redwoods fronds pad my path with pillow softness in the fall. The ferns unfurl and tickle my legs when I run past in the summer. The birds sing in the mornings in the summer, and the frogs peep in the mornings in the late winter and spring. But in Wisconsin, there were at least two distinct seasons. It went like this:
Summer: Yesterday it was 50 degrees, today it is 90 degrees. Suck it up buttercup.
Fall: Oh man, those blood red trees are magnificent. Wait, it is 90 degrees again! Oh, never mind, it is snowing.
Winter: Cold. For at least 6 months. Which is so fun except when the snow turns brown with dirt and salt and it is April and you cannot get your back door open to let the dogs out because there is TOO MUCH SNOW.
Spring: "Professor, can we have class outside?". Three days later: summer.

I signed up for the California International Marathon in December. Can you blame me? It is a "net downhill course". The thing is I am conflicted because the North Face Endurance marathon in the Marin Headlands is in November. I won this race a few years back. It is grueling, with intense climbs. When I ran it, there was also the 50 and 100 mile races, so when people cheered me on I kept saying "Oh, I am just doing the marathon."

Who says that?

My runs lately have been lacking speed. I am not sure whether I have another marathon in me. I really want to PR (personal record) but this might be LI (literally impossible) as I am OOS (out of shape) and have an AID (autoimmune disorder). But my DOG (dog) thinks I should just run a lot to get ready for whichever race I end up doing, and take him along for the ride.

I had a dog in Wisconsin. My Dad named him Brandy because he was the color of brandy. I have never personally drank brandy but it is on my bucket list of things to do before I die. I had better not visit my childhood home and walk down the basement stairs before I have had brandy. And also I should not do so after I have had brandy. Conundrum.

My dog Brandy lived a long life, and he enjoyed walks and runs off leash because he was just that cool. One day I was running and realized he was not at my side. I looked over my shoulder and saw him about a quarter mile behind me running next to my friend's Mom. That's when I knew he was old.

Now I am my friend's Mom. My fate will be sealed when the elderly neighborhood dogs find me a compatible running companion.

Until then, I plan to be inspired by the greats. I plan to unplug my ears while sitting on the stairs of doom and face the realities of loss, aging and grief. I plan to keep the refrigerator door open for as long as I please. When I meet my parents on the Other Side, they can lecture me. I am looking forward to giving them a heavenly eye roll.

I plan to open the screen door of my heart and let it all in.

Except the gosh darn mosquitoes.


Joan Benoit Samuelson. How cool is she?






Thursday, June 22, 2017

Black Lives Matter

I am thinking it is time for another marathon. I have put it off due to slowness and sickness and tons of work and fear. But time just keeps ticking and I am pushing 50 and I think a marathon is in order.

Now both of my parents died in their 60's, so pushing 50 is no joke. When you are 20, time is endless, when you are 30, you still feel pretty invincible. When you are 40 you start to sweat a little, like shit I am 40 and I had better do all those things I meant to do 20 years ago but never did. Except when you are 40 you are likely busy, either raising children or building your career or having a mid-life crisis. But when you are 47 going on 48?

We got a letter today from our son at San Quentin. He is just barely 19 and in the special needs yard. Which is interesting, because he was considered "special needs" when we adopted him. At first that seemed accurate, as he needed thickened formula due to tracheomalacia. But as we got to know him, and saw him (literally) make other mothers nearly cry from jealousy in the sandbox when they realized that at 12 months old he was speaking in full paragraphs, we were not so sure. Then he went on to somewhat wreak havoc throughout his school life. And eventually find drugs and gangs and finally, prison.

My son is white. But I think he has some struggles that made it hard for him to survive and flourish in the world of academia and white bread success. When I think of his struggles, I cannot help but think of the black mothers who  have seen their children be killed. I do not pretend to understand the pain and fear of this phenomenon. But I continue to wonder at the repetitive aspect of this particular type of murder.

Philando Castile.

So marathoning seems a little ridiculous in the face of social injustice and racism. But what it provides is this:
A chance to test limits
A dance with the body and the mind
A glance at the impossible and improbable
A prance with all the other fools who choose to do this crazy race
A look askance at those who judge

I ran early this morning at the beach. It is day 2 of summer. The mist and fog sort of clung to the river feeding the beach. The sun was rising and painting the ocean pink. My dog was fucking crazed to chase the birds. My heart was pounding regularly at a rate of 143 bpm. My resting pulse is about 51. I ran along the sand thinking "will I ever be fast again?"

I think the answer is yes. I may need to lose my prednisone pounds. I certainly have some work to put  in:
fartleks
tempo
repeats on the track
core work

But mostly it comes down to the mind. My son, in his recent letter from prison, said "I need to focus on the present. That's the only way I'm going to make it through this."

Be here now.

Recognize the struggles of those in your community.

Understand life is precious, limited and all in all, sort of hilarious.

Never stop fighting for what is right.

Black Lives Matter.







Saturday, June 3, 2017

Sorry, Not Sorry


Caldera Retreat Center, Oregon, Blue Lake

I ran and wrote with 30+ other women in the wilds of Oregon, near a caldera lake that reflected all the trees and sky into its impossibly deep self, near a rushing stream insistent and serene and rapid all at once.

Caldera derives from the latin caldarium or caldaria, meaning a room for taking hot baths, or maybe a cooking pot. When magma erupts from a volcano especially rapidly, the support crumbles and a big depression forms, kind of a sinkhole. Complete collapse leads to stunning, almost mystical bodies of water. This particular body of water was decidedly not hot. Some of my retreat-mates did skinny dip one early morning in it, and I suspect their screams were heard in California.

Lauren Fleshman led us in running. She is wise and kind and funny and multitalented. One workout we did was "the predator", involving 2 minute fartleks back and forth on a dirt road at noon, wherein you found the last place you stopped a fartlek for the next one and changed directions. Thus someone was always being chased or chasing someone else. We started with warm up exercises to wake up the body and fast twitch muscles. We were hands on the dirt road, knees in the dust and when running dust kicked up and clung to legs, leaving a dirt tan at the end of the day. "Oh yeah, you will get dirty during this workout. Sorry-not sorry", said Lauren.

"Not sorry" came up as a theme, as women tend to apologize a lot. Notice this next time you are with a woman. Especially younger women. I see myself doing it less as I age, and my geriatric patients almost never at all, but almost never means there are still apologies, mainly for bothering me about something that ails them (what exactly am I there for as a doctor other than that?).

Marianne Elliott led us in writing. With her lilting New Zealand accent, she helped is to write wild and true. She is unassuming and inspiring, an advocate for human rights, a powerful presence. Plus she runs well. Lauren writes well. In fact, all of the women at this retreat, from all over America and the world, run and write with passion.

That is about all I can say about the retreat, because it was sacred. And although that may sound hippy-dippy, you will just have to accept it as fact. Sorry, not sorry.

One thing was this woodpecker. I was planning on meditating on the deck of the A frame where I was staying, early one morning, coffee cup near at hand and the light settling on me from the east, rising through the bent pines so gently. "Tap, tap, tap." I am instantly distracted. Opening my eyes I look to my right and there on a log is Woody the woodpecker. I decided that day to meditate on the red-headed woodpecker. He-she had this attitude which was frankly hilarious. So sure about where it was knocking on the log, first one place, then another, then over to this tree, then back to the log. At one point a squirrel was running up near Woody and he-she puffed out breast and feathers and raised wings to look threatening. Squirrel retreated. Sorry, not sorry, but this log grub or whatever it is that is worth pecking at bark for existence, is MINE.

Another thing was a 10 mile trail run. Now I run trails regularly, living in a rural place with endless running loveliness. But on my 10 mile trail run I fell three times. It wasn't like a slow motion "oh-I am fallliinnnggg" sort of thing. I just found myself face in dirt thrice, no warning. It was a metaphorical bonanza, the falling and getting back up, the falling and not giving up the run, the falling and licking dirt like it was humble pie. I was a bloody mess by the end, but Lauren patched me up and I added another thing to my bucket list (check-being administered first aid after a trail run by Lauren Fleshman). I figured out with Lauren's help that it was the polarized sunglasses, which I never wear at home on trails, as I run in the shadows of redwood giants. My eyes, not the best at baseline anyway (having been offered corneal transplants which I declined, sorry eye doctor, not sorry), could not discern root from rock from shadow.

Beneath her feet
Undulating roots
Rocks squat cowardly in shadows, then
Rise up and grab from
Beneath her feet
Separated as they are from trail
With an inch of rubber
Shoes made for gripping
Beneath her feet
Are also apparently made for flying
Then falling so
For a period of time there is nothing
Beneath her feet
Which normally carry her with confidence
So her eyes can gaze
At prehistoric monster-leafed plants and not focus on what's
Beneath her feet
Which love the unpredictability
Which trail offers over boring road
And at least the landing is soft
Beneath her feet
Soft, iron-tasting dirt
Mixing with iron-tasting blood
Where she leaves a bit of herself
Beneath her feet

There is so much to be learned from falling and failing and flailing, all of which I feel an expert. Recently, like in the last week,  Donald Trump's lawyer threatened to sue Berkeley Breathed. He was making fun of Trump, I suppose. A couple of things ran through my mind as I saw Breathed's response, which was to promise to cease and desist because he would rather not be sued by a rich and powerful asshole (side comment-I have respect for the presidency, but I just cannot cannot cannot respect the current president in any way, shape or form, sorry, not sorry). The things I thought were: DO NOT BE SORRY, MR BREATHED! People have been making fun of presidents since the beginning of presidents and we live in the United States of America, where freedom to criticize is one of our rights. I also thought, hmmmm, can this guy not take a joke? Can he not be humble? Can he not find himself face in the dirt and get up and dust himself off and continue on the crazy-assed road he calls his life? Finally, I thought, no he cannot. And he is teaching our children the following: admitting failure is for losers, you do not have to strive for excellence to do one of the most important jobs in our country, and a nerdy cartoonist with a penguin fetish is scary to the leader of the free world.

It was good to retreat, but I am back now, and I am not apologetic for my indignation about the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Pact. Whether or not you care about the beauty of the Earth or the right of its citizens not to find themselves under water or scorching to death due to climate change, it seems we could all agree that the end of life on our planet is a pretty grim prospect, and certainly not an economic advantage to anyone involved. I am not apologetic about my slowish running pace, because I have a disease with shitty drugs that have altered my body. Good news on that front, as a new potentially miraculous (ha ha , as a doctor that is pure folly, but as a patient one can hope) drug for my condition was recently FDA approved, and prescribed for me. I am currently wrestling with insurance to get the elixir to my hot little paws. My indignation about recent healthcare proposals is personal and political. My elder patients and my child with a pre-existing condition and my own little self is bound to be screwed by the overhaul being proposed by the Republicans. I do not apologize about my indignation, because I have been in the trenches and I am telling you now, whether or not you believe poor people and sick people have a right to have a chance at health, we can all agree that economically it would serve us better to care for everyone equitably so not so many dollars bleed onto the floors of our over-burdened emergency rooms and hospitals. Because we all pay for those under and uninsured folks in our own premiums.

It was good to retreat, but I am present. I am armed with some workouts to spark my speed engine, which has been sitting rusting in the corner of my proverbial garage for quite some time. I am present to my need for daily time in nature and meditation and woodpecker gazing and music and sitting and talking with wise and gorgeous people. Like my artist and philosopher friends of 28 years who came to visit this week and filled my heart and mind and funny bone to the brim with gratitude.

It was good to retreat, but I am not sorry to be nearly back to my daily routine. I do so love life, and though the pain is intense with illness, a son in prison, and a megalomaniac in the White House, I found in retreat that a falling down, a deep depression from hot magma boiling away all the supports can lead to a indentation that fills with the clearest water that reflects all the goodness around it and invites stillness, awe and abandon.

Naked abandon. Sexy? Nope. Sorry, not sorry.