Wednesday, February 28, 2018


To be of the opinion, to have a way of thinking, a sentiment.
This is where the word "sentence" comes from. 
"In my opinion your son deserves 13 years", said the judge, unsentimentally.
No tender feelings of emotion, just a motion, sealed by a gavel.
That is 4,745 days, during which no pizza is delivered, no joints smoked (well, as far as we know). No studying for exams, no kissing girls, no tossing a baseball with your old man.

I often wonder if people in prison have a plan.
For getting through each day, I mean. I have heard some thrive because in all their prior years
there was no structure, so the structure is a relief of sorts.
I can relate to this, being a lover of structure who is oxymoronically also the least organized creature in the universe. By loving structure, I mean anatomy and histology were like water to a fish or air to a balloon or milk to a hungry baby for me. When I studied these things, I saw nerve bundles in tree branches, liver cells in sidewalk splotches. I walked around my medical school campus in Madison and named your forearm muscles when you waved or flipped me off. By structure I mean I like to know where I will be sleeping, when I might wake up and whether I have enough clean running bras to last through my next day's run. I like to know my hospital orders are being carried out and making someone better instead of worse. I like my family to leave a note if they won't be home when I expect them to, and to text back instantly so I know some ditch somewhere has not claimed them as its own.

My disorder lies in the state of my desk on any given day, by the moat of books that tends to form around my bed, by the piano music lying open in competition for my attention. I am entropically gifted.

I am nearly halfway through a year of running every day. What happens on day 366?
Running has become something of a fix.
Fixing my broken parts. I have always wished to be a quilter. Someone who can make a lovely whole from smaller bits of oddity and beauty. I once did house calls on a quilt artist who saw the end approaching and quilted like a cyclone in those final months, harnessing and sewing pieces that were swept into her eddying energy, fueled by chemotherapeutic fumes.

On day 160 of running I realized something, in-between sneaking peaks (hoping not to burn my retinas to a crisp) at the setting sun drowning in the Pacific Ocean.
I am making a quilt.
Metaphorically lame, yet the thought stopped me for a moment.
Quite literally I have a picture of each day of running thus far. I pick one that most captures my senses. I notice things. Those pictures form a sort of story. Seasons, state of dog grooming, flora, fauna, urban austerity, travels, darkness, all captured.
But what made me stop in my tracks on run 160 was my brokenness that feels like it heals just a little bit more each day I run, like pieces coming together, even in the physical strain and fatigue, the admonitions of too much running and the potential harms, even in the days I fall and draw blood. It reminds me of how Wendy sewed that shadow back on Peter Pan. Ouch, but he needed that thing.

Running is hard, I suppose. Tonight it was cold, rainy, and my work day had been stressful. A couple of weeks ago my femur was screaming in pain. Have you heard the screams of a bruised bone? Angry skeletons are scary as shit. On days when I work a 12 hour hospital shift, the run will be in the dark on one end or the other, and usually the morning end because 12 hours is a nice thought but usually that will become 14 or more. I am not a morning person, really. There are two professions to avoid if you are not a morning person:
1) parent
2) physician

I am a mourning person, as are we all or as we all shall be if we are lucky enough to ever love.
The dopamine surge of exercise is a nice temporary ticket to planet Happy, but that is not why I run. Running is not my cocktail of choice. I do sometimes wonder how I got into running every single day. Once a colleague pulled me aside, and bored his almost black eyes straight into my soul while whispering with Slavic accented mystery "I see you running so much. What are you running from?"

Dude, sometimes running is just, well, running.

I am not sure 365 days is the right goal. Because my structure-craving side needs a goal, that seemed like a reasonable one. But the thing that has me most broken these days, that makes me mourn, is the 4,745 days my son has been dealt. Just desserts? I don't know. He's a kid who screwed up. And I am a Mom who cannot fix it.

So, although my running is by no means a prison sentence for me, and in fact is about as freeing as anything I can imagine in life, it is something I can show up for every day in some solidarity with my child. Maybe I will run for 4,475 days. And hope some of the beauty and hope I feel when doing so will transmit to him through that unruly bond we share called family.

If we get early parole or the proverbial bus takes me out before then?
Well, then, hopefully someone will finish my quilt for me.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Flames, Failure and Falling: Advice to My Children

If you were to substitute I in falling, you get failing. I prefer to keep the El in falling though, because without it I would feel like a failure, and would know I had lost my connection to my superpowers. The superpowers that let me get up every single day.

Falling, like failing, is hard to define. Unintentional travel from a higher place to a lower place might sum both up. With falling, everything can fall apart in an instant. Failing might occur more slowly, sneaking up and standing next to you for awhile before you give it the side eye and realize with a start, oh man, that is Failure next to me!

When you fall, get up. If you can't get up, punch your lifeline. If failure is at your side, wrap your arm around its shoulder. If that scares you, it should. I try not to be afraid of anything and am afraid of everything. I try to look tough despite my bleeding heart. I can wear pants like these and still be on top of the world.

The other day, I fell in the literal sense on a trail marked "use at your own risk". 

It is not like I have not fallen before. You can expect this with trail running. But this one left me wondering if a had fractured my femur. I figured not, as I could bear weight after the first couple of nauseating minutes laying on the ground. So.....I finished my run, albeit at an extremely slow pace, such that the banana slugs were passing me left and right. When the next morning found me barely able to walk, I decided to use some modern technology instead of my super Xray vision, and got an Xray of the biggest bone in my body (besides my head). No fracture! So.....I went running, because I am on a streak, people. Day 144 today. It is going to be slow going for awhile though.

Doctorly Disclaimer: never run on an injury. Unless, like me and El, you have superpowers and checkered pants to prove it.

Figure skaters should not fall. They train their whole lives for this 3 minutes of olympic glory, and if they fall, nay even wobble, they fail. I have to watch their leaps and landings through a little slit in my fingers, with hands ready to hide the horror, sort of how I watched the movie It. 

It all brings me to think that we are too quick to judge the value of everything. It is fear of failure, fear of falling and fear of the unknown. It is standing right next to us.

Say, for instance, a skater is on a frozen pond, of the type we used to have in winter in my hometown in Wisconsin. It is dusk. There is no one else around. Skater nails a quadruple axel. If a skater nails a quadruple axel at dusk at a pond where no one is watching, does it count? Does it count less than nailing it in that one 3 minute time slot allotted to the olympic contender?

I have been traveling more in recent years, and finding myself more overwhelmed by how many people there are in the world. People living their lives, just like me, and each and every one of them the center of their own universe. People who will do great and terrible and mundane things on any given day. Some people will die of hunger, some will die of gluttony. Some will have sons who get olympic gold medals, some will have sons in the hole in prison for their own safety after standing up to a gang. Some people *cough Emma Coburn cough*will be leading a race till the last two laps then get spanked by that one woman with the wicked kick, plus a few others that had more left in the tank.

Some doctors will be famous. Some quietly do their care, one patient at a time. Some pianists will play Carnegie Hall. Some will never be able to afford a piano and thus never even unlock the talent inside their brain and fingers. Some writers will be published and some will sit in solitude writing the most beautiful things no-one ever read.

Some need to never fail, never fall. Or at least appear that way to the world. I, for one, grab the hand of my friend failure and take my chances. This is what I want my kids to do too:
Fail miserably, fall often, and live life. Forget about not going gently when death reaches out a hand. Instead, devote yourself to not go gently in all the days leading up to that last. Look up from the hole and see the light, burning from within. Lean in and whisper all that matters. Its your superpower.

This poem failed to win a contest. But maybe it is better just curled up right here in my preachy blog.


Antiseptic flared my nostrils,
white light burned my eyes.
One hand was balled into a fist,
the other tucked inside my mother's as she led me to say goodbye to my father.
I did not raise my hand to my face to protect myself from breathing fire.
It filtered through me and curled up inside:
an ember, a bomb, a pyre.

A white coat and dozens of notebooks crammed
with a new language.
Greek and Latin pouring light into dark corners of human anatomy.
Anyone could be blinded by my new armor
under the glaring fluorescents.
The man with AIDS laughed with me
as I made my rounds.
I wanted to make a good impression
on my attending. I wrote a beautiful note.
Later when my team was summoned,
we marched where he led: the morgue.
My laughing man was splayed open
on the silver table. Dead.
I did not raise my hand to my eyes
burning with formaldehyde.
The image burned my retinas,
curled upside down and righted again.

Housed by hippocampus, a hotel with many rooms,
Little tombs.
For the black man, first night intern year
who died and died and died again.
I pushed on his chest and felt bones crunch, my own bile rising.
"Good," my senior resident said,
"That's good CPR."
For the young husband, who was losing his wife.
Obviously terminal, she suffered
while he raged.
My words with no power to tame, I learned
Some must go down in flames.
For the veteran who outlived war
only to drop on a nursing home floor.
I ran the code and he lived again, with displeasure.
He's there, curled up with all the others,
tucked in my hand—
but sifting through, falling away,
grains of sand,
dry and warm like the parched lips
I lean into, my own hair graying,
white coat brushing the forearm of
the hand grasping mine.
Whispering all that matters:
an ember, a bomb, a balm.

Jennifer Heidmann, MD

Monday, January 29, 2018

Pantoum on Multifactorial Burnout with a Side of Absurd

They tasted 27 flavors of Gu and ranked them all.
Cucumber Mint fared poorly, as did Tastefully Nude.
I can't say I'm surprised. It also turns out
siding with the underdog in prison is ill-advised.

Cucumber Mint fared poorly, as did Tastefully Nude,
but I am still deciding when to refuel.
"Siding with the underdog in prison is ill-advised"
could flow from my pen to him, but then who am I?

But I am still deciding when to refuel.
Thoughts churning, stomach yearning, calves burning, patience
could flow from my pen to him but then who am I
To be so strong when none of it makes sense.

Thoughts churning, stomach yearning, calves burning, patients
Needing endless attention and someone else
To be so strong when none of it makes sense.
My treehouse home and freedom from want is some recompense.

Needing endless attention, and someone else
To laugh with me about everything, stupid and wise.
My treehouse home and freedom from want is some recompense,
my retreat from disenchantment in its thin disguise.

To laugh with me, about everything! Stupid and wise.
I can't say I'm surprised it also turns out
my retreat from disenchantment, in its thin disguise,
is also my fuel: Love, in 27 million flavors of pain and doubt.

JH 1/29/18

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.