Social in the City

After a great Italian dinner in my favorite outdoor cafe, my date and I headed to an art exhibit opening gala in the big city. He is on the board of directors for the museum; happy to have me on his arm as he pronounced me “cute” for the evening festivities. I must admit that I enjoyed the attention; meeting a wonderful but superficial group of people at this event. The evening was chilly after a very hot day with fog rolling into the harbor. I have learned to carry a jacket under all circumstances since I can hold onto cold better than I can hold heat.

Great run this morning along a familiar path with plenty of hill work. The hills feel better after my speed work but did incorporate them into my mileage for the day. I decided to run one of my usual paths in reverse direction; adds a bit of interest to the familiar. The tide was in, warm breeze off the bay; my friends. I enjoyed the smiles of the folks I met along the path who greeted me; familiar nod of fellow joggers just out for our routine workouts in the sun.

It was great fun to drive into the city for the gala with my date who is a new acquaintance. He surprised me when he asked me out but was a total gentleman. Attending a gala reception complete with plenty of wine was welcome since I didn’t eat very much at dinner. I did eat a small bit of carpaccio but don’t eat pasta; too filling for me these days. I just cannot eat much; not much interest in food as I have to remind myself to eat in most cases.

One of the people I met at the gala said that I looked like an athlete; great compliment for me! With my continued weight loss, I see angles to my musculature now loving the definition of my muscles. My legs are looking pretty good these days too; showed them off in one of my mini dresses (yes at my age, I can rock a mini). The music and dancing helped work off the dinner as I lived on the dance floor for a change. My thanks to my new ballet teacher.

My scientific project is well ahead of schedule and quite rewarding. I can begin packaging the reports for early next year. I am honored to have been asked to head this phase of the research. This project has been great for my professional outlook and good for my soul. I feel as if I made the right decision to spend the summer here in the West on this work; integrating my clinical and basic science training. I have worked with some of the most professional staff ever and I am grateful for this opportunity.

As my project wraps early, I contemplate an overseas trip since I have plenty of time before starting my new position in the fall and have much of the summer left post project. Since I do not anticipate house guests this summer, I can travel; always good for my soul. There is nothing like an adventure overseas for my restless mind; always love to connect with other cultures and people.

All in all, my life moves along at a rapid pace; fine for me and my spirit. I am tanned, strong and decidedly resilient these days. I also love my life especially my new social life with positivism in abundance. I am grateful and thankful for all that I have been given; so fortunate for this generally solitary soul. My connections are very gratifying and a wonder these days with much acceptance at last.

Pastoral Work in Paradise

“If you have to diminish your spotlight to support another they don’t deserve your stage or your audience.”- Unknown

I don’t know the source of above quote but I like message on many levels. I support the amazing friends in my life who increase my spotlight rather than diminish it. They simply allow me to burn brighter. For my increased light, I am grateful. I am a most fortunate woman to have wonderful friends and express my gratitude like a broken recording.

Our pastoral meeting for my adopted church is tomorrow. For this meeting, I have prepared my readings and work, happy to do so for these wonderful people here. They enrich my soul each Sunday by allowing me in their life and church. I feel quite comfortable with my limited role in the church while missing my Cathedral back home. The adjustment to here was very easy though as I spoke to my priest friend, he’s not as comfortable here as I  seem to be.

My priest friend is quite shy, a mystery for me because he’s smart and handsome. He’s almost too much to take in but I enjoy the challenge. I scarcely believe that I can sit, have a beer and discuss problems as something of an equal with this amazing man. I hope my enthusiasm for touching each person, the sacredness of the connection will rub off on him a bit. I believe that is why he enjoys having me listen to his sermons and ideas.

I enjoy the discussion and appreciate his approach to his craft. His thoughts are very educational for me, a neophyte. These meetings never involve coffee but always involve beer and crackers so that I can make the two mile drive back to my house on the opposite hill. I also love driving the Porsche around the curves to get off the hill and climb up the hill to the church but I should do these meetings on coffee.

The first day of summer, as a dear friend reminded me, resulted in a couple of neighbors heading over for steaks on the grill by the pool, plenty of beer and a great breeze off the bay with loads of laughter and lighthearted conversation; city lights flicker in the distance. Life could not be more fun. The house is great for impromptu little gatherings that are very enjoyable as I had not made any plans.

My neighbor is a musician, always has great stories of his life on the road with the band. He plays jazz saxophone and piano. I love to hear how he puts a show together and how they travel from place to place. I do enjoy when he noodles on the piano in the living room filling the house with music.

My neighbor just “wrapped” recording a holiday album for this upcoming Christmas. He spoke of flying in earlier in the day, hoping to just rest for the week before his next engagement in a nearby city. I’ve been invited to the club and to hang with the band after the performance something that was great fun when I first arrived here a couple of weeks ago. He did enjoy just being here with those who appreciate him sharing his gifts with us.

Still remarkable for me is that I am more social here on the West coast than back in the Midwest but as good for my soul and outlook as my meetings with the priest. I am dancing, running, reading and just enjoying the delightful people surrounding me and increasing my light. Life is just sublime and so is the music.

 

More Ballet and More Direction

With my ten pound weight loss has come a bit more running speed and comfort. Every step is a gift at my advanced age; in this beautiful location next to a bay at the foot of a mountain is paradise. My mind goes in a million directions with happiness and serenity as I hear the crunch of sand under my feet with my steps. Though I share the running path with bikers, I seldom notice them as my mind is most often deep in thought. My weight loss is also welcome evidence that my abdominal work is sound.

Ballet class last evening was joyful and instructive. My master teacher corrects my hand and arm positions even correcting a bit of posture this time. I see the faint outlines of upper thigh muscles working. My flexibility increases as I work for maximum extension.  These classes have improved my posture and certainly improved my confidence in movement; both characteristics great on the jogging paths.

A few months back, I remember watching one of my friends do a quick turn across my living room as I noted his superb posture. Though he endures a knee injury, his walk and his presence are notable. He moves with an ease that is most attractive; matching his extreme intellect. My thoughts on his complete persona; his fine craft shows in every step he takes much as in every word he speaks.

What a gift of an example for this friend who is working on changing parts of herself; reinventing herself on this bright sunny day in paradise. Though I miss seeing him, I hear from him from time to time, always makes me smile as he’s just fabulous for my spirit these days, reminding me of what I left behind in the Midwest. I appreciate his friendship as he’s in my thoughts daily.

My skin is brown from the sun, my body taking on that angular direction I seek and my head clearly focused on my work and learning. I could not ask for more; thankful for the changes and my directions as my summer goes along with increased comfort in my spiritual and physical conditioning.

Ballet Class

I decided to participate in a friend’s ballet class after a very long run in the hot sun yesterday; my first hot day in this wonder of a location. The sun in my face for most of the jog left me feeling the burn; noticing the increased tan in my skin. Fortunately for me, I did decide to wear sunglasses on my run. The hot sun in my face; no wind off the bay working up a welcome sweat as I pushed myself. My body needed the challenge before sampling the ballet though I did have a small problem with dehydration as I worked up a good sweat.

My goal this summer is to increase my speed and flexibility thus challenges are good for my mind as well as my body. I run the steep hills without thinking; love them in the early evenings. I have lost ten pounds in the past three weeks; seeing the angles of my frame at last! My heart is happy that my physical conditioning comes along as I planned; so thankful for the body upgrades at my age.

As I popped on my black leotard/pink tights, I clearly see the outlines of my now thinner upper body and leg muscles coming into focus. When my flexibility matches, as I intend, I will be content to go into maintenance mode. Clearly, I need to lose another 25 pounds but I almost look like the other dancers in the group. I strive to go to the the boundaries of what my body will allow; find surprising results as I am an outlier but happy to be in this case.

The discipline of ballet was welcome along with concentration and correction by my instructor. She complimented me on my posture, surprising since I am a runner but consistently corrected my hand and arm positions. I found myself laughing as I see the outlines of my rib cage over my abdomen. My abdominal muscles are coming along too with the goal of a six-pack achievement in mind. I take mental notes of her corrections and instructions. For 90 minutes, my body loved this work and I loved that I could keep up and learn; not missing a note.

With my ten-pound weight loss, my dresses are a bit large on my small frame. While I am on the taller side, my frame is not large but small. With this smaller frame, I need to be light and flexible; my goals in training. At university, when I played competitive tennis, I carried heavier muscles but as a runner, I see where I need longer and lighter musculature. My training is a slow process but no injuries-minus the ladder incident of last week.

As goals are good for my  body, soul and happiness, I settled into my Cantonese lessons for an upcoming trip back to the Far East. On this next adventure, I will be on my own in a city that I love seeing the world on my terms. All in all, not a bad life for a solitary woman of service. I will have the life that I want.

 

The Trinity on Trinity Sunday

Continued soreness from my stupidity of climbing ladders but a great run, alleviated most of my soreness, on Trinity Sunday set my mind at work on revisiting the Trinity. Here I sit in one of the greatest scientific meccas of this country surrounded by people who are far more brilliant than myself, who asked about my experiences so far here out West. I simply related some events of my day and this morning, keying in on my personal growth.  I related some lines from my brilliant friend’s play that have increased my explanation and relationship to the Trinity.

As per usual, I will repeat my astonishment concerning my stunning academic friend whose teachings force my mind in a million directions, least I forget these days, his dialog from his play has forced me to think more theologically as I question and perform more questioning. I sit here in my office, looking at the haze of the morning, I settle in with my thoughts and questions, more comfortable with them, chatting with my team as we completed our strategy session.

In my line of thinking, the general should not negate the specific which means that to just to pronounce “the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost” on Trinity Sunday was not enough but understanding in the heart should be sought. In our common prayers, we speak the words but often don’t ponder them as spirituality for me is in the pondering in the energy of thinking; nothing new, I suppose.

I pushed my sore body thorough some early morning yoga poses, thinking I was too sore to run, I thought of the “clones”. Yes, they are one in the same and as a biochemist/physician, I understand cloning for what it is. While clones are genetically identical, they are not exactly the same but remarkable aspects of the same, genetically and otherwise. This was my heart, my connection something in my thinking to share with my scientific colleagues so refreshing.

Yesterday, I eagerly awaited what the rector of my adopted parish here in the West would say about the Trinity. His message didn’t disappoint me but added to my thinking, perhaps in a manner that he didn’t intend. “Yes, Virginia,” I have more questions and explanations because it’s my nature as a scientist to question and to see answers. I suspect that this is my nature as a student of theology too. More reading for me!!!

My pastor, spoke of sleep and why God has placed this state within the minds of humans. Certainly, there is nothing to be learned during sleep no matter that as a child, I placed my trigonometry book under my pillow hoping that somehow, I would absorb knowledge from it. No, sleep for most, is a chance to reset, renew and turn off consciousness, that which makes one more human. Babies, the most human of us, sleep more that older humans but we all sleep and become quite aware of when our sleep is not sound or resetting. No great Trinity pronouncements by my pastor yesterday.

Instead, my scientific colleagues listened with rapt attention as I read the lines from my friend’s play. “How delightful and wonderful,” pronounced my principle investigator who is my pick for a future Nobel laureate in medicine and physiology. Yes, just more evidence that I am not wrong about my superb academic friend even if I piss him off most of the time. I can’t wait to read his lines in our parish meeting later this week. I suspect that my new priest friend is going to excommunicate me but we shall see. Yep, the God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Ghost are one in the same and I am a heretic!

Communion

“I don’t want to die,” he said to me as I stood by his bedside in the intensive care unit. My medical training and experience told me that his body was in very precarious condition as far into failure as any human can be and still live.  His heart had failed and his kidneys had failed; not enough myocardium to pump enough blood to sustain his renal function. I knew that even with the form of dialysis he underwent continuously, kidney function would not return for this patient. Still, remarkably, his mind was sharp, anxiety high and fear with every breath he took.

“Are you in pain?”  I asked. “No pain but I am so scared,” he said with tears starting to stream down his cheeks. He was childlike in his fear. I found a tissue and wiped them. Many of my patients at this point don’t have fear but an acceptance. Not this patient and not at this time. “Please don’t leave me,” he implored. I wasn’t going to leave. Instead, I pulled up a chair and sat next to his bedside; signaled the rest of the team to finish rounds without me.

“Please don’t let me die,” he stated, as the dialysis machine alarmed when he moved enough to disturb the temporary access catheter in his neck that I had placed when he came into the hospital. “Not this evening and not now,” I said. “But let us talk about the things on your mind, right now,” I said. His brow furrows eased and he took a deep breath.

I found some grape juice and a bit of bread from his dinner tray. “Let me offer the Eucharist,” I asked. “It’s about sharing a communion between two people even though I know you are Jewish,” I said. I spoke the words that I had learned from childhood in the Anglican Church. He shared the “wine and bread” with me. I prayed, without shame, with him, the mystery of my faith to be shared with anyone of any faith which equals a communion of connection because Christ for me, means the messiah, and savior in present life.

He fell asleep and certainly didn’t die. His renal failure is permanent; I would place a fistula which matured so that he might undergo dialysis three times weekly. He moved to a rehabilitation center where I often stop by to visit. I share the Eucharist with him when I drop in. His mind bored by his surroundings; sometimes deep depression. My great honor as a physician is to commune and connect. My faith overlaps my medical and scientific training. I am reminded that St. Luke was a physician after all.

Oh, Shit!

I threw on my Jimmy Choos and a silver mini dress. At the suggestion of my very brilliant  friend, I drove the Porsche up north to hear a neighbor’s musical gig. These things are so foreign for how I live but I take a risk because I need to take risks. Here on the West Coast, I live a far different lifestyle from the surgeon/professor lifestyle that I live in the Midwest. It’s pure fun to drop the convertible top on my little sports car and drive. I didn’t care that it was cooler but not so much cooler than my house on the hill on the bay.

I arrived in the late evening, at the invitation of my musician neighbor. He has been overseas doing a musical cruise but now back in the States, playing his gigs. He’s a saxophonist with a bit of a national following but for years, I just knew him as a neighbor that I would meet on the bike paths, running trails. I discovered his music quite by accident, almost not knowing who he was until one of his songs hit the national billboard.

The venue was on a lakeside resort about two hours north of my house on the West Coast. I didn’t have anything to keep me in the city so I took a chance and drove up at his invitation. A million stars in the sky, the moon shining brightly. He was honored that I came. I drank wine and enjoyed the full moon next to the lake.

This role is so foreign for me. I am not a princess or a socialite, yet I am. My neighbor pointed me out in the audience, I was embarrassed that he did so. After the show, some of the audience members made a fuss over me; so not me. At any event, I felt like royalty, thanks to my funny neighbor who plays sax and makes me smile.

I have to integrate these two roles; upscale socialite and low class servant. I have to come to terms with where I need to be as a woman of ideas, scholarship and lover of all things creative. Surely tonight, a million stars in the sky, my convertible sports car driving fast down the highway. I am grateful for my life at this point; learning to  be what I am, an unusual woman of a thousand things.

I loved how my car took the curves. I loved how I mastered the curves with the top-notch German suspension. I am becoming a bit of a driver; not as good as my touchstone but loving the curves and the speed.  I loved the joy and fellowship of those who loved my neighbor’s music and I loved how he made a bit of a fuss over me attending his event. Yes, I am a very blessed woman but “Oh, Shit” I don’t know how to play this role, however, my touchstone was spot on, “Drive the Porsche”, he said.

Within Context

My students asked me if I believed in everything in the Bible and in God. That’s a complex question for me to answer but I believe that the Bible is based on writings from the 1st century AD with multiple translations and perhaps modifications. Ever time something is translated or copied, it changes.  With this in mind, I don’t follow or subscribe to everything word for word that is in the Bible. It’s interesting literature and reading but certainly written by men of a different era than the one in which I live. Since those men were human, there are bound to have been mistakes.

Do I believe in God? Yes, my God within the context of my life. There is an energy, a spirit that powers my life and the lives of everything and everyone around me. Do I have to offer burned animals to appease this being? I am not even sure that my God is even a being!

Trust me, I am not burning anything that has to do with good meat but my God certainly isn’t a little old white guy on a cloud dressed in robes with a beard and lightening bolt aimed in my direction. My God, doesn’t have a sex or a form but is pure energy; wavelengths of light, mostly green because green is my favorite color; however my mind can imagine. My God is the energy, from which I tap and connect through my meditation and prayers.

As a scientist, a biochemist, the more I learned and discovered of the chemistry of life processes, the more I believed in God. The efficiency of energy produced by oxidative phosphorylation via the electron transport chain, can’t be duplicated in the chemistry laboratory by man. We lose in the process of creating those chemical reactions on a macro scale.

God on the other hand, takes two torr of oxygen minimally to the mitochondria and powers every life process. We get the fuels from consumption of protein, carbohydrates and fats in the form of carbon-based compounds that ultimately becomes acetyl Co-A  converted to our high-energy bonded adenosine tri-phosphate. The process is remarkably efficient, with the carbon dioxide produced by the tricarboxylic cycle being exhaled, the water that is produced being excreted. Nothing is wasted; everything is reused in some form if we don’t destroy this planet. Yes, God is the ultimate scientist and engineer.

Within my context, I connect to energy and spirit. At times, my sensitivities are overloaded to the point I withdraw for self-preservation. At other times, I find myself in a zone where joy is increasing and life is fun. I question those times of increasing joy because I don’t feel that I deserve joy without earning it. This is the imposter in me; I fight for my authenticity. Since I have no creativity, I must rely on those gifted, to share with me. Oh so wonderful the sharing and amazement within the context of my life in science and medicine.  My creative friends are the true magic in my life and gifts from my God.

Morning!

Will head off to spoken mass for Sunday as I still attempt to get my jog in as early as possible. I won’t get my run done before mass but my spiritual duties will be taken care of before my run. I miss my  3 AM runs through my little Midwest suburb; unable to run that early because of darkness here. There simply are no streetlights. It’s quite beautiful to run along the roads and paths by the bay smelling the wondrous salt in the cool air but I love the solitude of the very early morning.

I completed another book recommendation by my brilliant academic touchstone. His suggestions have taken my mind and thoughts in welcome directions. I know that he’s busy with his work, teaching superbly as he does. I am grateful that he might think of me and what I enjoy reading and hearing. I enjoyed the last novel in the very hot sun poolside; forgot the sunscreen and now my skin is a bit red. This is a West coast rookie mistake for me. Still, the enjoyment of good summer reading makes up for my stupidity!

My restless mind needed the relief of an absorbing read just as my jogging clears my head with meditation and prayer for clarity. I am blissfully at peace in this paradise of a place with magnificent vistas surrounding me. The palm trees have become my friends at last. The sea birds stand in the mudflats as I pass; different from my deer and raccoon friends.

I completed my data analysis for Monday morning’s meeting made easy because my staff is so agreeable. I keep thinking that I must “slog” through but my organization is quite complete because I have a great team; I lead a great team. After my meeting, I will get a chance to participate in Grand Rounds; loving the high level of academic medicine here; a welcome change. Things move at a relaxed pace but with precision a precision I enjoy.

I have not participated in any surgical cases but Grand Rounds punctuated with Mortality and Morbidity conference will make up for my lack of operating. Decision-making under these conditions is fine. I don’t miss the gun shot wounds and stabbings. I am invited to scrub anything on the schedule but I am fine to observe and allow the residents full participation.

My mornings are relaxed and chilly. My Midwest world seems far away. I am at peace with my thoughts. I have some weight training planned to get underway next week for upper body strengthening. My lower body flexibility is returning as my mileage is down but will ramp up. I don’t want to lose any ground as I plan a half-marathon distance next month.

I vow to get my head clear so that I might keep moving forward. My thinking is shifting and my heart is at peace. The thought of some who have been quite wonderful missed because I have much to share. I will always give him the best and want the best for him. He’s in my thoughts because he’s powerful. It’s a new world here in the West; I embrace it as I become a new person and assume my new role leaving my Midwest behind.

2017-05-25 14.16.12

 

Basilisk

I leaned with my back to the wall  and against the partially closed door so that I could stare at the ceiling and hear that wonderful modulation in his voice; trained, no honed; a treat for my ears. He explained his craft in terms that even I could understand. He wanted his students to see something that he understood and lived as easily as he understood simple arithmetic. I kept thinking, “If I understand this, they have earned their Ph. Ds with your explanations”. “Don’t you realize this?”

I say this because my mind always moves toward those subjects that are analytical, safe and without emotion. His subject matter is difficult for my mind to comprehend; I haven’t lived enough or experienced enough to make a dent in understanding the complexities of his creative craft. As I apply the theories of differential calculus to my research in an effort to explain what I observe in the lab, he sees around the corners of life and translates in emotion and explanation. In this manner, I can only listen and not watch if I can gain any insight into a foreign subject.

The room was dark as he played a movie clip for his students to see and appreciate. I heard the sounds, listened to the dialog; much safer for me. My mind tends to focus on first one sense and then the other; vision was too powerful for this. He explained what the director was attempting to convey; I heard his words and received the message as a prayer.

One look! I could risk one small look at this point in the dimmed lights of the room, couldn’t I?  His head bowed so that I could see the grey hair in that characteristic wave that it made, never falling completely to his forehead but shining strands of silver in the dark. I can’t do this! I turned my back to the wall and the door once again; safety in no visual here. No pauses, no uncertainty and a warmth of generosity in the tone of his voice; made me almost laugh at my stupidity, caution and fear.

With this experience, I knew what I was dealing with. My sense of self-preservation was stronger than ever. My fear was so visceral that I could smell it and feel the rush of adrenaline that I can’t control. As a scientist, I have to control and observe without emotion but my body betrayed me. I walked away from the door, from the solidity of the wall and from the sound of his voice. I couldn’t look at him for if he looked up at me with those eyes that see me, my death would be instantaneous; the grey basilisk.