Monday, April 23, 2012


I am currently obsessed with the concept of halfness. The Yin and Yang. For instance, I have recently taken to adding half and half to my coffee. I like the first cup black, but the second with cream and sugar. It is like the dark and light side we all have, but in coffee form. The yin yang symbol would look nice in a cappuccino.

In this season, the winter and spring coexist. Last week I was running in the Bottom and it was a stunning green and yellow with snow still on the hills in the background.
The Bottom, April 2012
This time I was not pelted by hail. But one never knows around here.

People can be pretty mean. Like the guy in a rusted pickup who flicked a cigarette at me when I was out running today. It didn't hurt but I thought it was rude. And, being highly cultured as I am, my first thought was that 'Mater (whom the truck eerily resembled) would never do something like that. I bet the cigarette flicking guy has a better side. Yea, I am sticking with that. His Mama likely loves him. Though the Oompa Loompas might have something to say about where he got his manners from. I am just full of artistic references today!

People can be incredibly nice. Like Betty Chinn. Like the charge nurse who noticed me about to die of fatigue on my night shift the other night and the next thing I knew I had a warm, strong cup of coffee in hand. Like my sweet, perfect children. "And when they are good, they are very good, but when they are bad they are..."as said by .-Longfellow, and also my Dad. Dad, was I horrid? Only sometimes. Maybe half. At most.

I do not like to do things half assed, and sometimes this trait bugs people around me, maybe most of all my beloved family. I do like to be given half a chance though. And I half believe that things will most certainly get better, on any given day, or in any given lifetime. 

Most importantly though, I am totally psyched to run the Half Marathon in a couple of weeks. I ran about 15 miles today and it was pretty good considering I had only about half a tank of energy. I have half a mind to NEVER do another night shift. NEVER, I SAY.

Also, about half of the medical students in our country are women (except in Alabama, for some reason). 

I embrace the Half. And the other half too.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Rain Rave

It is spring. How do I know? California doesn't offer the obvious signs (no melting of snow, no sudden emergence of college kids laying out on the lawns of their University), but I have learned to notice the subtle changes. Trillium. Purple iris. More songbirds.
Trillium, April 2012

Also, there is the Redwood Sunshine. 
Redwood Sunshine, April 2012
I can never help but stop in my tracks when the trees split the rays of the sun. If I was a serious runner, I would ignore all such distractions and never break my pace. On this particular day though, I was on my first run for over a week (thanks to a howling hamstring) and it had been many moons since I had run in my woods. I have been so focused on the long runs in preparation for May's marathon. I had forgotten how key the woods are to my well being. And on this particular day the woods were on fire, figuratively, thank God, and at one point I ran in to the very center of one of those sunray circles and it took my breath away. Or maybe it was just not running for a week. Either way: humbling.
On Fire, April 2012
But my moment of clarity came yesterday, 95 minutes into a run in the rain. The hail came tumbling down and I had to put my head down and drive into the wind and weather like a guy with a football hugged to his chest pushing through all those great big defenders. The odd thing is all throughout this soggy run, no one looked at me as if I was doing anything unusual. Several bikers passed me, many cars and walkers too. This is the Pacific northwest: we love rain. And like a dedicated smoker in Minnesota, where 60 below with windchill won't stop you from huddling outside your office building in your suit to get a smoke on your break, a bucketload of rain and hail shall not deter the runner within. There were a couple of llamas on my route who looked at me like I was crazy. But they tend to do that no matter what the weather.

I love the deep green of this season.
I love the way everything is in bloom, from Azaleas to Rhododendrons, from Trillium to Breath of Heaven. 
I love the way the Eucalyptus smells during and after a rain.
I am in great shape for a 20 mile run, but that last 6.2 will most certainly kill me, or at least cause injury both psychological and physical.
So, what the heck, I will do the HALF marathon in May. 

Once I realized that I felt light. Hail yes.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lemonade is Overrated

"When life gives you lemons, life gives you lemons."-me

When my eldest kid was still in a highchair, I once turned to see her face down on the highchair tray. At first I thought something was seriously wrong, then I noticed she was actually quite contentedly sucking on a lemon. Even now, she loves lemon. No sugar, just straight up.

On "30 Rock" it is funny how the boss is named "Liz Lemon." Everyone is always trying to fix her. Mostly she tells them to leave her alone, but usually only after some bizarre turns of events. No sugar, just straight up.

I read this book recently on the recommendation of a wise friend, called "Talk So Your Teens Will Listen and Listen so Your Teens Will Talk."It turns out, according to this book, that teens really hate sugary compliments without specifics. They also dislike bossiness, long monologues, dire predictions about their future (that is my personal specialty) and being powerless. Life is constantly handing those guys lemons, and we are all telling them how sweet it is. They. Dislike. This.

From the point of view of a marathoner, I just really want one sweet race. Or better, one sweet race after another. I want a PR. I want not to have a hamstring that feels like someone was punching it all day long. I also want to be in Runner's World Magazine and I would like very much to have hair that flows into a cute little pony tail instead of my crazed hair that always looks faintly Harry-Potterish in its lack of cooperation. I am forever indebted to the inventor of cute beanies.

From the point of view of a doctor, lemons might be any number of hideous diseases. Pour any amount of sugar in that bowl named disease, and it still causes dis-ease. But there are some things that respond well to sugar. Like gnarly wounds, for instance. Try it! Do not expect your insurance company to start footing the bill for your chocolate chip cookie dough however, even though they really should because everyone knows the healing power of chocolate chip cookies. Recently, an older colleague of mine was totally psyched that his shipment of maggots had come in. Yes, we have come a long way but some ancient things still really do work. Maggots (unlike lemonade) are underrated. A medicinal maggot by any other name is still a maggot.

From the point of view of a parent, I have been thinking a lot recently about my palliative care colleagues and what they offer to me and every one of us, really. This may sound dire, but what I mean is the concept of "bearing witness". Our children suffer now, they will suffer again, and ultimately no matter how hard we try to deny it, cajole them out of it, get angry at it, freak out about it or hire someone to fix it for us, they need to know that suffering is part of being a human, and that it is better done with someone you love by your side, bearing witness. It takes a fair amount of discipline and subversion of the inner panic to put your arms around your boy-man or girl-woman and say "wow, that is hard". Period. No offer of how to make it easier. No sugar, just straight up.