Well…. It’s a Deep Subject

Water tower in a storm

It happened suddenly.

I was going along like I always have, working on several posts at once, when BAM! Out of the blue….

The frickin’ well dried up. 

There’s a string of half written posts saved in my que but when I go back and read them, they sound incredibly lame, like something I would roll my eyes over if someone else posted it. Seriously. So embarrassing.

Gah.

Why? I have asked myself this over and over again. Is it possible that I have simply burned out? Is there just nothing left to say anymore? Am I too happy in my current life to stir up anything angst worthy enough to post? Is it a time issue?

Or is it something else…

And then I realized that just like I had been in the habit of blogging and reading for so long, I was suddenly out of the habit. Do you all know how much time I put into this every day? Newbies have no idea. Then life happened and here I am, weeks later. People are noticing how quiet I have been and honestly I don’t even know what to say to them.

So I don’t say anything at all.

The words are coming back, though. I just have to do things differently in order to preserve my sanity. Please bear with me as I try to figure out exactly what “differently” means….

In the meantime, I am not dead nor have I suffered from some terrible tragedy. My fingers are all intact and I am working my way back. Thank you to everyone who took notice and said something and even to those who didn’t.

I love you all!

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Hanging Out

Old Ferris wheel in black and white

I find that I am more and more conscious of my own nose hair. What is interesting about this is that I never, ever notice the nose hair of other people and if I did happen to see some bits poking out of a nostril it would not gross me out. So WHY on Earth do I care about my own nostril hair? 

Is this because my nose hair is getting longer? 

Perhaps I am growing more and more sensitive about the change of appearance that comes with aging and I am finding myself more interested in controlling the things that I can have some influence over? 

And then I wonder if there are people who do care about other people’s nose hair and if so, why do they care? What else do they do in their free time?

These are the thoughts I have on a Sunday morning after yet again having one of those pesky hairs ripped from my poor tender nostril by the stupid nose hair trimmer that is supposed to CUT the stupid things. I swear, next time I may as well just tweeze them out….

What’s On Your Shelf, Victo Dolore?

I am hanging out over at Every Day’s A Mystery sharing what’s on my shelf. Come check it out!

It’s time for  ‘What’s On Your Shelf?’ and today, ladies and gentlemen, we have the doctor in the house! Yes, I know what a coup, please give a very warm welcome to Victo Dolore from ‘Behind The White Coat’. Victo can be found blogging about the daily rollercoaster that  is working in the health service, interspersed with dark, witty and frankly therapeutic, fiction and poetry. If you haven’t already, you can check out Victo’s blog here and more wonderful fiction here. So, without further ado, let’s see what’s on the doc’s shelf!

‘I love books. I have spent my entire life surrounded by them. They taught, provided escape, and empowered me. Much of who I am is because of those words.

My house has hundreds of books spread out all over the place spanning hundreds of years and covering just about any genre. The oldest ones date from the 1600’s but my favorite is the Victorian period. People said and wrote crazy…

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Behind The Scenes

Gnomes in Switzerland

WordPress reminded me yesterday that I have been blogging for three years. Three whole frickin’ years. 

How the HELL did that happen, anyway?

I thought it might be fun to talk about the reality of what three years actually means here at Behind the White Coat:

5,060-ish people “follow” this blog as of this writing. When I wake up tomorrow it might be a few more or a few less. This number is meaningless, though, trust me. 

I average about 300 hits on my blog per day. That’s right. Sometimes less, like when I don’t post for a few days, and sometimes more. WordPress has changed how it calculates hits so many times that I don’t really know what that means anymore. I might get more traffic if I were on Facebook or Twitter or other social media platforms but honestly, I just don’t have that kind of energy. 

This post will be #865. That is a whole helluva lot of hot air. Some of it I am proud of. Some is painfully, woefully laughable. Some just flat out sucks. I have bared much of my soul here. Bless all of you who have taken the time to read anything I post. I appreciate all of you more than you could know.

Each day I spend between 2-3 hours reading other blogs and answering comments. Over three years that is an awful lot of time. Fortunately I don’t have any other serious hobbies right now. Anyone who tells you blogging is easy is either lying to you or selling something like SEO whatama-ever-thingamajigs (I have no idea what that really means, anyway, do you?).

I was Freshly Pressed in 2015 and featured on Discover WordPress in 2016. Those were huge honors but I found that they made me nervous. I don’t really want to become famous after all. That surprised me. When I started blogging I had delusions of grandeur. I was gonna be the biggest thing since KevinMD. Ha! Not my goal anymore. What is my goal? Having fun, making connections, and learning something new.

For 2016 I had a total of 112,879 page views and 27,416 visitors. The most viewed post was Black and White and Blurry All Over but not because it was some amazing piece of writing. It just happened to go up the day I was featured on Discover WordPress purely by accident. I got lots of hateful comments left by plenty of scary people on that one. 

Which brings me to the fact that I have had my fair share of trolls. The really psycho ones can be pretty scary until you figure them out…. They all have the same agenda, though, no matter who they are. It is best to just ignore that they even exist. 

In truth, I follow 1, 957 blogs. Only a small fraction of those still actually do any posting. This makes me sad. We have lost some fantastic bloggers over the years. Some left due to time constraints, intimidation, boredom… death. I hate to unfollow anyone, afraid I’ll miss their comeback post someday. 

Me, though? 

I’m not going anywhere anytime soon….

The Deviled Inside

img_2933

What food do you love the most at Thanksgiving or Christmas, or any other holiday for that matter? What do you look forward to being on the table? 

I don’t really care for turkey or dressing. Or congealed cranberry “sauce” from a can. Green bean casserole? Ick. My personal favorite holiday food is deviled eggs. In fact, I ran an extra four miles this morning just so I could eat 4-5 eggs and not feel guilty about it. Oh, who am I kidding? I will probably try to eat six or more…. Of course, I have to sneak them. Most people judge you for openly putting that many deviled eggs on your plate.

For my international readers who may not know what deviled eggs are exactly, they are hard boiled eggs that are shelled and cut into halves. The yolks are popped out and mashed with mustard and mayonnaise, some salt and pepper, and then piped back into the egg halves. They are then topped with a dash of paprika and a slice of pimento stuffed green olive.

Mmmmmmm…..

There are countless variations out there. Some with bacon. Capers. Dijon. Schiracha. I haven’t met a single one I didn’t like. 

I first discovered deviled eggs when I was a kid. Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house, to be more precise. She would boil up about three dozen eggs and assemble several platters of deviled eggs, one for the elder adult table, one for the lesser adult table, and one for each of the kids tables. Fortunately, the kids at my kids table hated deviled eggs. More for me….

Here’s the thing, though. The eggs are hard work. I would much rather make a key lime pie with a homemade graham cracker crust and fresh squeezed lime juice from dozens of those teeny, tiny limes without the help of a juicer or garlic press, my finders bloodied from trying to get a tablespoon of zest off of the awkward rinds, than make deviled eggs.* 

Why do I love something so much and yet hate to make it? Dunno, but there it is. Probably a good thing because honestly, I cannot control myself. Twice a year, if I am lucky, I can get my fill.

So, what are YOU eating today?

*I made a key lime pie once and I promise you it will not happen again!

Starvation

Fall foliage on the river

I hate CME.

No, that isn’t true. Not entirely. I love learning. I adore it, in fact, so I like a lot of the continuing medical education (CME) that I end up doing. BUT I hate, nay loath, the maintenance of certification hoops that I have to jump through in order to maintain my Family Practice board certification. 

Every year I say I will start it early, I won’t wait until the last minute. But what happens? I wake up one morning and realize it’s now crunch time. I can no longer simply say, “I can do it tomorrow.” Oh, no. There IS no more tomorrow left.

Crunch time also happens to hit during the holidays AND the busy time at work when everyone is trying to get their physicals in before their deductibles start over again or falling ill to all manner of miserable communicable diseases. And then there is that pesky new EHR. I’d like to meet the person who thought October would be a fine time to introduce a new electronic health record. Why not the spring when it is slow, hmmmm? Instead, they must capitalize on the misery and my tendencies toward procrastination…

I just want to beat my head against the wall. My tolerance for this kind of stuff has gotten worse with all of the other stupid crap I have to do for my job and for Medicare. Let’s just dump tons more crap on the doctors, why don’t we? Turns me crabby!

Hell, I cannot even keep up on blogging. If I missed your post, I’m so sorry. I cannot see my real life friends. My kids are lucky they have another parent involved in their lives because some days it feels like I am dead to them. Yesterday I only ate some nuts and an apple all day. Good thing I didn’t get to drink any fluids aside from my morning coffee because I didn’t have time to stop and pee anyways. 

The reality is that medicine is complex and changing every day. Gone are the days of merely treating a heart attack with a prayer and an aspirin. We have to work hard to stay current. But answering questions on pain management that have not been edited since 2007 to prove that I deserve to be board certified is such a friggin’ waste of time when there are other, more important things I need to be doing… like moving to Canada!

This rant is brought to you by the U.S. Election Day, 2016… and by board approved “knowledge assessments”!

We’ve lost Paul Curran, our master guest columnist and prolific comment-leaver

Whenever I made a post, I could count on Paul to have something to say. Most of the time, his comments were better than my posts. I am going to miss him something fierce. Rest In Peace, my friend.

Mark Bialczak

Those of us who’ve grown to love the lively words that bounced from the head and fingers of Paul Curran will never be the same.

The writer from Canada has died, according to his neighbor Steve Watson.

I received this email on the contact tab from my blog:

With great sadness I have to tell you that Paul Curran has passed away. Paul passed last week.

Our guest blogger, Paul Curran. Our guest blogger, Paul Curran.

Your Barrista -- Paul Curran Your Barrista — Paul Curran

Now Your Barrista – Paul Curran Now Your Barrista – Paul
Curran

A series of the column head shots Paul sent me since 2013 to just a month ago.

I found the email this morning. I arrived yesterday. Steve Watson was listed as the photographer in the If We Were Having Coffee Sunday column Paul had me post here on Sept. 11 after his emergency operation.

I could not find an obituary through search engines.

Paul lived in Ottawa, Ontario…

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In Miniature

interior, Colleen Moore's dollhouse

He pushed a slice of pizza on a napkin toward her.

“Eat!” He smiled, encouragingly.

She shook her head no, silently, feeling herself shriveling up inside.

Hunger had been tearing at her insides before… she hadn’t eaten all day… but her appetite had left the moment he had only purchased the one all you could eat buffet instead of two. He had answered the cashier’s quizzical look by saying she was not hungry. At that point, it had not been a lie. Once they reached the table he explained he would share with her off of his own plate. 

Maybe he just didn’t have the money? 

She sure didn’t and she didn’t want to make him feel bad if that were the case.

They were just a couple of college students, after all. Poor college students without parental funding. Her meal plan, the only one she could afford on her scholarship, allowed for five meals a week at the cafeteria. She had used them up earlier. This, right now, was supposed to be her meal for the day. She had been counting on it, counting on him, but she would never tell him this. 

She was too embarrassed. 

The Freshman fifteen had not been a problem.

“Go on. Eat.” He gave her a sharp look of warning, demanding with his eyes that she comply. He was getting angry with her. 

He pushed the pizza closer. 

She was afraid to say anything, worried he would leave her. She had changed everything, defying her parents and convention, because she loved that he had noticed her. She loved him for seeing more in her than she saw in herself. No one had paid a lick of attention to her before. Now she was terrified that she would not be exciting enough, pretty enough, daring enough, or smart enough to hold his attention. 

That was why she had given him her virginity but doing so had only upped the stakes. If he left her now, what would she have left? Nothing. Nothing of value, anyway.

Just fear.

Her fear of being alone eventually overcame her fear of getting caught. Glancing around first to see if anyone was watching, she took a furtive bite, chewing the tasteless mass slowly. She swallowed carefully around the lump in her throat. 

In a matter of seconds the manager was there, glaring down at her. How had he seen?

“You need to leave.”

She looked back across the table for guidance but there was none. He just stared at her, shock playing on his face.

“Now,” the manager said, his voice rising. “What you did is stealing. I could have you arrested.”

She could not find her voice so she grabbed her purse instead, starting to scoot her way out of the booth. 

Other patrons turned to stare.

“Wait. What if I go ahead and pay for her?” He pulled out his wallet and took out some bills, handing them over.

Mollified, the manager took the money and left, shooting her one final dirty look over his shoulder. She could feel his and everyone else’s eyes on her, judging her to be something she was not. 

A thief.

Then again. She had been the one to eat without paying. Not him. 

“You may as well eat now, get our money’s worth,” he said, gesturing dismissively to the salad bar and the line of pizzas laid out on the warmers.

Her head swam.

He’d had the money.

She just hadn’t rated the price of a pizza buffet.

She watched his face as he ate, anger and shame rising up like acid in her chest, burning a hole through her rib cage. 

There were times he could make her feel so cherished, so loved. Then in a flash, in the blink of an eye, he could wipe it all away and make her feel tiny and worthless. It hurt so much more because of all of the opinions in the world, his was the one that mattered the most to her.

This was not her fairytale.

She stood up from the table.

“I want to go home.” 

He didn’t move. 

“I want to go home. Now,” she said, more firmly.

He looked up at her with new eyes.

No words were spoken in the car. He tried to lean in for a kiss as she exited at her dorm but she turned away, slamming the door as hard as she could, hoping it would send the message she was not brave enough to speak with words.

I do not ever want to speak to you again.

That was the first time she left him.

Picturing

bird poop on a picnic table
Last week, wgr56 of Roman Gnomials (such a cool blog name) asked:
“Your prose and photography are both magnificent, but I’m wondering if you have connections in mind. I suppose with all art, the interpretation is best left to the viewer, but I thought perhaps you might be willing to shed a little light on your own process for pairing art with story.”

I love photography. It is the lazy way to make art. Just point and shoot. Maybe a little bit of cropping, apply a filter, and BAM! An image that will take your breath away.

I can see photographs in everything. Even the bird crap at the table I am sitting at right now…..

Some photographs are so awesome that I have to write a post to complement it. Those are the hardest. Matching words to images is tough.

Sometimes I write the post and then will find a photo that goes with it or find a title that ties the two together. A post on urine, requires a fountain. Something on sexuality might call for something phallic or vaginal. I have thousands of photos I have taken over the years so there is a ton to choose from. My favorite combinations are ones that makes me laugh.