Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Liking It

This poem.
-Stephen Dobyns

Running in Tryon Creek Park in Portland last week, I dodged a few banana slugs. The slugs and the ferns and the rainforesty feel made me feel at home, though the trees were different.
Tryon Creek Run. Tree. 6/2012

Whilst dodging slugs, a couple of thoughts crossed my mind:
1) I am tired.
2) I am not liking it enough.

I did truly enjoy the beauty. And when I ran in Tryon Creek Park with my kiddo, I also enjoyed the beautiful company. In any given moment, I can like it so much it is absurd. But the grander Like is getting harder to grasp, probably mainly due to Fatigue with a capital F.

Tina Fey quips about her problems, noting simultaneously that for people with real problems she must appear ridiculous. I can relate to this, as a well-fed, employed, happily married mother of 3 stunning children. Still, it is hard sometimes (see prior post), even for a WFEHMMOTSC. No one escapes grief, I have noticed. Or fear. Or vomiting children during long car trips. Or disappointment, disbelief, disconnectedness or dummkopfs.

I cannot imagine running a marathon in a month, as I am so tired I can barely keep my head balanced on my shoulders. At any second I expect my head to fall off and roll across the floor like that meatball in the song.

If this was being written by a child of mine, I would be pulling the world's smallest violin out of my pocket and playing for them. They love it when I do this. They have grabbed and stomped many of these violins of mine into tiny little pieces, but I have a lifetime supply so I just let them stomp with abandon. Cry! Stomp your feet! Decide to quit everything and take up organic farming on a plot of land in the middle of nowhere while living in a shack and reconnecting with the deeper meaning of things. Then, come to your senses regarding your medical school debt plus that annoyingly and deeply ingrained need to take care of sick people, and go for a (pathetic) run. Go through the motions, and, perhaps, discover How To Like It.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Life is sad
Life is a bust
All you can do is do what you must
You do what you must do and you do it well
I'll do it for you honey baby
Can't you tell?
-Bob Dylan

 Marsh path run, 6/16/12

I have an ulcer. Again. I can blame this on many things. But I suppose it is largely due to the path I have chosen. And dipping into the Naproxen doesn't help a whole lot either.

Stress is such a buzzword these days, it hardly means anything. Standing in line at Starbucks is stressful, and so is getting a diagnosis of cancer. Also, final exams, raising teenagers, trying to heal heroin addicts and waiting for your Hulu TV show to download. It is like all in the same category: stress. Personally, I am stressed that they hired back Thomas on Downton Abbey. What were they thinking?

I would like to think my choices have been reasonable. I mean, giving up music performance for the relatively easy path of medicine seemed very sensible at age 21. Leaving primary care for the hospital fits my type A personality. Chopping off my unruly curls will surely solve the problems I face. It has also decreased my wind drag so I can run marathons with abandon. Marathons. Another questionable path. Sometimes I wonder.

And my children: what path will they choose? I can tell you there is no shortage of anxiety as I ponder this question. Teenager-world has only one well worn path, and it is called uncertainty. Which is why I read Wendell Berry at least once per day. Wendell Berry works better for me than proton pump inhibitors.

A wise young friend recently told me I should let my children take the path they are meant to take. In other words: let go.
I am thinking this might be good advice for me, myself and I. So I called a meeting and the three of us agreed: Just do what you must do and do it well. I do it for you, honey baby, can't you tell?

Oh, this is dedicated to my husband of nearly 20 years. Happy Father's Day (I know your views on the Hallmark absurdity of this holiday, but that aside, you are an extraordinary Dad).
One path I am absolutely sure of: my path with you.

Marsh path run, 6/16/12

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Apparently, the rabid foxes have returned to my town. Also, there have been several mountain lion sightings in the neighborhood. Also, everything is in bloom and you can't turn around without bumping into someone with an allergic sneezing spasm. These things, among others (more birds atwitter, frantic wooly bears crossing every street, children with spring fever, farmer's market, sweet fresh strawberries) mark the nearing of summer in northern California.

Yesterday I ran 20 miles or so. I just headed out toward the beach, along cow pie alley and over the Hammond bridge. What I noticed was the foxy digitalis in bloom. They come in bright neon colors and they look out of place, as if they think this is Las Vegas or a Shaman cardiologist's office. So pretty. And useful too.

Today, I was running in the marsh. The other sign of spring/summer here is the sudden astounding growth of foliage along the paths that somehow gets beaten back by rain and sub 60 degree weather in the winter. Temperate climates are subtle, especially for those of us used to the screaming extremes of Wisconsin (for instance), where one month the candles are melting in the heat and 2 months later you lose all feeling in your toes waiting at the bus stop in what seems to be the arctic. The marsh today was full of birdsong and also this lovely sound of tall grasses rustling in the wind. I was uncharacteristically unplugged from my iPod and just sort of meditating with Mother Nature as my centering music. I passed a guy twice, sitting still and obviously meditating on a bench. Such still meditation both fascinates me and freaks me out.

I am creaky and sore more often than not, but have decided not to let that deter me. For inspiration I turn to my fast friends (Monica, Ellen), my fast and Zen-like child (Vera) and a magnificent drummer and athlete (Cheshire) who was recently hit on her bike by an idiot driver. I am inspired by my cousin (Linita), my athletic and brave brother and my husband who actually prefers the treadmill to Mother Nature, at least when it comes to running. Also my many patients. Also I enjoy ice cream and the occasional doctor's lounge donut, and without running, God only knows how I would haul my ass up the stairs at work.
Thank you, all of the above.

Beauty for me these days is when my children and husband are content, my body lets me run, work is fully staffed and my fingers can still find most notes on the piano while half asleep. The rhodies are blooming, the redwoods have those soft new light green buds at the tips of their already gargantuan limbs. I would like to think everything is going to be OK.

But, the foxglove are afire. The foxes are crazy. Who knows what might happen next?