Life is Entirely

Early run with no fog; could see the city lights as the sun came up. I took the ferry across the bay and ran the marina. After getting to my office, I showered before reviewing my data sheets over coffee. It is very civilized to get one’s work completed in the early dawn hours Hopping the first boat was a splendid idea so that I could participate in rounds. I loved having coffee on the ferry in the cool morning air with its promise of a clear day.

I am settling into my job out here with ease. I do most of my work from home on most days of the week leaving me too much time to carouse with my posse. My friends are different and more diverse here. They seem to appreciate my early rising, academic work and certainly they welcome my clinical contributions. All in all, it’s not a bad gig; acceptance for my East Coast manner. In short, I love it here even if I have to play the socialite a bit; a role better suited to my sister.

Life and the bar

My mind restless and unsettled. I piled into the Porsche and drove to a little bar in our small town on the bay. It was a warm day with plenty of fog everywhere.  I have to get out of my head because I was missing someone more than I should. My whole trip out West here to forget him; to try to channel my feelings into my life of service. I simply must get him out of my head for survival. He doesn’t want me. I am just not good enough for him and I must accept this. I have done so much in my life and I will achieve getting him out of my brain.

It’s probably a cliche of women to be “strung out” over a man but this man is worth the pain in my heart. He’s brilliant, he’s creative and he’s wonderful for my soul but he belongs to another woman, of a higher race and ability and I will come to terms with this. His decisions for his life I will honor. I pray to accept this; please let me accept this so that I can move on with my life; I know what I must do; I will do.

I met a few friends in my local bar; drinking rum and Coke for a pleasant change of pace. I needed the distraction. loved the music and loved the games that we played. I even danced; a new role for me. One of my drinking buddies is a publisher, going through the motions of life; perhaps we can help each other.

He kept telling me that he can’t come to terms with liking me as a black woman (only half-black) but who is counting race? They always count race. It always comes back to the fact that I am not good enough. I can’t change my parents and my birth; what I look like and what I am. Please let me move on. I am so tired of  being devalued because of my race.

I danced and tried to have fun with my friends. “It’s a shame that you don’t belong to one of us,” a posse member said. ” You are just a beautiful and smart woman. “Who am I kidding?  I will stay here on the West coast because at least they don’t hate me. In time, I will accept reality. He’s never going to see me again in this life. I had to put myself far away. This I do tonight.

My heart is in the Midwest, loving a great man of letters and creativity who doesn’t want me. He has the life that he chooses for himself. I love a man who will never love or even appreciate me. As much as I should have run from him when I met him, I didn’t; what a stupid mistake for me.  I accept the pain or my error and hope that my work out here will provide anesthesia. It’s time for me to go on and soar.

My heart knows greatness and acceptance as I find it. I was given this gift of empathy and it’s pure hell. I can’t apologize that money is in my family.  I can’t apologize any more for being not good enough; beautiful enough; talented enough. I listen to music; dance in the darkness and lose myself.

I know that I am going to survive this one. When he’s living his wonderful life with the woman that he loves, he will be happy and I will be in my world of service. The world will be OK.

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.

Smoke Detector Sanity

One of the smoke detectors in the house began to emit that familiar chip of needing its battery replaced. I climbed up onto a step stool and replaced the battery hoping that I had solved the problem. After all, if there is a problem, I try to solve it. Well, the thing keeps chirping even after I have replaced the battery with a fresh new one. My thought now is that the error code needs to be reset but I don’t know how to do this.

Most things around the house that need maintenance, or my attention, I keep notes but this one is a new task for me. I find myself in tears at the prospect of not being able to get this problem under control. Fortunately, there is no way to silence this chirp which is a good thing but unfortunately, my sister, is the beneficiary of most of the noise. She’s ready to kill me because I even changed the battery.

I could wax philosophically about this situation but I wonder what would happen if I had not been here to help trouble-shoot this thing. I need to stop playing with my head and get this under control. This is why I have a maintenance person at my home in the Midwest.

Listen with only your ears

This morning in the cool salt air, I decided to warm up, get into my comfortable cruise form and listen. I wanted to see where my mind would take me; where my thoughts would go. Last evening, in the clear chilly air with an almost full moon, my mind, body and head enjoyed the spiritual feel of live jazz music done by my neighbor.

The venue was intimate, the drinks were good; a superb warmth of hearing every chord, tone and riff enjoyable, no make that fun and playful. When my neighbor plays his “horn”, I can see him smiling, feel his joy and love the sounds he produces, a great talent. His brother, a guitarist, joined him on the small stage in the dark lounge. For me, a woman of no creativity, a performance by my talented friends is most welcome.

This morning, still feeling the energy of last evening, my ears head the faint sounds of a breeze coming in off the bay. What was in this breeze for me? It was telling me to relax, feel the serenity and just be present. Sure, I said my prayers of gratitude for my health and my capacity to love purely without promise. I am grateful that I realized that I have come to a place of peace within myself. It has taken some years of hurt, tragedy experienced but now no expectations other than to enjoy the moment I am in.

I went to thoughts of adding more precision to my practice. As I spend some much-needed time on my journal reading, I make notes of what I must incorporate in my teaching. I know I have made the best decisions for where I am in life; now grateful that I can stand alone, perhaps thrive alone. Though I want to share my adventures, that is not to be as I come to terms with being solitary by force.

My solitude of which running is a part, is not sad or lonely. It’s my method of listening to those matters I need to hear. I can’t be of service to others in need without being complete within myself. So I moved along the jogging path, hearing the wind, hearing  inside my head. My world now will be OK as I keep listening with both ears, concentrating on one sense at a time. I have nothing to lose and now I know my end. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing those I love succeed and enjoy happiness. If I can contribute even a small bit to their lives, I am grateful.

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.

Why Does It Matter?

A good friend shared his disappointment with something that has not worked out for him, though he’s been working on this matter for months and months. As I read his note, I found that I share his disappointment and frustration with this task. I always want the very best for this friend because he’s a very good and kind individual, not to mention that I hate for him to be sad, period. I thought of him last evening, my empathic connections picking up his very palpable vibes even from a distance. In the lines that he wrote, I read a combination of anger, rightful in this case and exhaustion.

I know that he’s resilient; probably the strongest persona I have known but I hate for this not to have worked yesterday. It’s been a long road, trust me on this with discomfort. I just can’t stand for him to feel anything that hurts, is stressful or is uncomfortable. This has always been my connection with him, almost from the time I first met him. I trust his mental resilience, for sure but it matters to me, his friend, that he gets this behind him as soon as this may be done.

Why does it matter? Because he’s my touchstone and my wonder. I care and I connect. I always want to be a person in his life, if he allows, that understands his disappointments, hopes and accepts him as I find him, without agenda other than wanting the very best for him and the achievement of what he wants for himself.

For sure, he has been a source of wonder and joy for me at times, especially with his supreme generosity and sense of fun. My hope is that he’s feeling a bit better today; having found some relaxation. I could give him the world; my world if he wanted because he’s that good. He has much greatness and gifts yet to share with the world. I see that very clearly even if he doesn’t see these things in himself at times. It matters, simply because he’s my friend.

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.

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Intimacy with Erotica

While having a conversation with my posse at friend’s winery yesterday, our subject matter turned to the erotic. For my friends, who surrounded me as I held court yet once again, they eagerly listened to what I had to say on the subjects our minds go when we are a bit buzzed and enjoying light banter and fun. When I did become an expert here? Not! Still, I had some thoughts readily shared with my honesty, boldness; clinical explanations thrown in.

“Intimacy can be quite erotic for most men,” I said. “For most women the erotic component just isn’t there as they crave intimacy often trading sex for the intimacy,” “Men relish staying in the role of enjoyment of the erotic long after intimacy is gone in their relationships, even with wives because wives give up on intimacy, the reason why marriage is not for me” These were my statements just thought material for my boys who are nice guys, all married for many years.

“How do you figure this?”, one of them asked me. That was a good question but I implored him to think about even this conversation. I readily have to discuss intimate subjects with my patients as a physician. There is nothing more intimate than examination of the body as I search, no confirm, pathology and solve clinical problems. Trust me, there is no and never any erotica. Erotica can never be part of a clinical relationship.

For many in life, the intimacy goes quickly followed by loss of the erotic and then something of playing a role, keeping comfortable sets in and stays there. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable in the presence of another person, especially if you live with that person but as a solitary soul, I never want comfort without intimacy. I understand the erotic but it’s far buried for me; not to return; my heart smolders with the erotic but not with the intimate.

One can have intimacy in friendships and not confuse that intimacy with that which is erotic. The best kind of friendship is intimate, accepting and perhaps a bit celebrating. Such joy in an intimate connection with great spirits. My vineyard boys not appreciating that intimacy doesn’t involve my shoulder to revealed its bareness or my lace dress caressing my thigh, now becoming more muscular with my daily running though they found those gestures erotic- I definitely did not go there. I couldn’t stop laughing because I couldn’t even do this two weeks ago, too frightening for me.

I sipped my chardonnay reserve, tasting more fruitiness as it’s coldness touched my tongue after enjoying its bouquet. This wine was an aged white with the display of the environment of the grapes when they were picked; now captured forever. I settled in with coldness of the glass moving across my bare forearm with a smile. No boys, I experience the intimacy of savoring this wine without the erotic. I took a bit of your hearts, integrating them in this experience too. Don’t make the mistake of being confused as there was no confusion on my part. Consider the erotica without the intimacy!