The Artist

Room detail, Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC

Over twelve years ago I met an artist.

What she had was a gift. I never had to tell her what to do. It was like she just knew. Left to create on her own she did the most amazing work.

Today was my last appointment with her. 

My hair stylist is retiring and I am grieving. She was the first and only person to ever take charge of my hair and make it look GOOD. She made me feel better about my hair, about myself. I cannot put into words how important and life changing that was.

When I ask patients what they do, often I’ll get the, “I’m JUST a…. fill in the blank.” Hair dresser, office worker, mail handler, Mom, etc. I hate, hate, hate that phrasing. 

Never doubt that what you do has an impact. No matter what your job happens to be, it matters to someone. 

It matters to me.

Maybe I will find someone just as good. 

Maybe I won’t. 

I loathe this kind of change so it will be a growing experience regardless but for now, I grieve. She was an artist in the true sense of the word and she will be missed.


Taking The Lumps

“You should probably wear a girdle with that,” my mother said, poking at my lumpy bits. 

I was maybe twelve or thirteen. I had no idea what a girdle was. 

She explained.

When I had put the dress on, a hand me down from some unknown person, I had felt beautiful. Now? Not so much. I hid in my room and took it off, never to wear it again.

My mother did not mean to be mean, I suspect. She had her own her serious body image issues, but it still stung something fierce and those words stuck with me for many, many years. 

Food in my house was torture. My father was obsessed with feeding us as cheaply as possible. For breakfast we ate slimy gruel every morning that he would concoct and which made me gag. My siblings and I would choke down bites, watching with extreme envy as my mother chowed down on a bowl of Cheerios.  To this day even oatmeal is hard for me to eat. He would bring home cans of salmon and forbade my mother to take the spine bones out. A salmon patty, which might have otherwise been tasty, was punctuated by chalky bits of vertebrae. I could go on, but I won’t. It was driven by a certain degree of poverty at one point but even as that improved, the food torture did not.

When I could get good food, edible food, I over ate. 

After my mother’s comment, I stopped eating much of anything, skipping meals whenever I could get away with it, even the things I liked to eat. As I saw it, I did not deserve to eat tasty things if I could not control my weight.

Thus began my issues with food and weight.

I have been blessed to have love in my life that does not see me for my weight, whatever it happens to be at the time, but that does not stop me from being hard on myself. For decades I have struggled with the fact that I have a curvy butt and fuller thighs. I still struggle but it is a losing battle. My body shape is in my genes. I cannot change that without plastic surgery. Even when I lose weight, even when I exercise like crazy, my butt and thighs are always “disproportionately” larger than the rest of me.

Who determines correct proportions?

You know what has helped the most? Finding jeans and pants that fit ME right. It seems so silly. It would appear obvious that women are not made the same. It was not until these past several years, though, that the clothing industry really began to embrace this fact. Thank God, because I feel less shame when my pants fit right. 

Go figure. 

Now, I am starting to like me better. I don’t feel like I have to punish myself by withholding food or exercising. I don’t have to squeeze myself into clothes that don’t fit. Exercising is fun. So is food. And the weight is fixing itself.

Is this going to be the end of my issues? 

Maybe not. 

But it is a very good start.

Wrapped Around My Finger

black and white wedding ring on hand

This is my wedding ring.

Pretty, isn’t it? (Ignore the wrinkly, dried out fingers from repeated hand washing… )

I wear it every day that I am out in public, but especially when I am at the clinic. The fact is, I have to wear something on that finger. Otherwise, I get all manner of awkward questions and comments. 

Here’s the thing that gives me special joy, though:

It’s fake!


Entirely fake.

I had a real ring that I used to wear (rather small and plain by comparison) but my kids stole/played with it when my back was turned while kneading pizza dough. They admit to taking it but swear they have no idea where it is now. Riiiight. I imagine it will resurface as a tiara for Barbie at some point. 

Could I have a “real” one? Sure. But why?

I don’t need a real diamond on my finger to feel loved and cherished. Everything else matters so much more.

Personally, I think it is silly that diamonds, a market that is artificially manipulated to inflate the price, are “forever”. That is a fairly recent invention and I refuse to pander to it. I am not going to spend that kind of money just for convention, particularly when my kids are probably going to try to pilfer this ring, too. I don’t judge others for their diamonds, I just don’t want to take part myself.

By the way, research shows that the more money you spend on your ring or on the wedding, the more likely it is that you will end up in divorce. All of those big diamonds on fingers I used to envy? Not on those fingers anymore. 

AND? I don’t get why you are given the big diamond when you agree to marry someone but when you actually sign your life away by doing the deed itself, you get the band with the tiny diamonds. That seems rather backwards. 

(Please note: All of that doesn’t mean I don’t like jewelry. In point of fact, I love jewelry. I adore it. All kinds. Please feel free to give me jewelry…)

Do I tell people it’s fake if they ooh and ahhhh over it? You betcha. I don’t want anyone thinking I am throwing away their copay on some bit of outrageous bling!


dinosaur skeleton outside the Field Museum in Chicago

“Get your jammies on, please. Bedtime!”

“But mommy, I want to wear this!!!!” 

She was standing in the doorway to her bedroom, hand on her hip, wearing hot pink leggings and a long sleeve Hello Kitty T-shirt.

“Why can’t I sleep in this?”

A thousand retorts flew through my mind, none of them really any good, but at that moment it struck me that this was about control. For both of us.

I want to control you.

The reality is not that pajamas help you sleep better. AND, I had to concede that pajamas would not be not more comfortable than what she was wearing. In truth, I suspect pajamas are actually a plot by the clothing industry to force us to spend more money. Like “girl” toothpaste and “boy” toothpaste…

“Please, mommy?” she pleaded.

So who gets to have control in this situation? Me, because I am the “authority”? Should I enforce the rules because if I let the little things slip, it would pave the way for letting the big things slip? Why IS it a rule, anyway? Should I let it go, choose to pick my battles waiting for something bigger? Is it a better lesson to show we can change stupid rules? 

If I don’t have her change, I can get her down for bed all that much faster…


Screw all of the philosophical mumbo-jumbo. I choose getting to bed. Quickly. Painlessly. 

That is my control.

Maybe I can convince her to wear leggings and Tshirts every day….

A Day of Patient Comments

carvings, Field Museum in Chicago

She looked me up and down disapprovingly. “Doc, that scarf. You need more color. Too much black and brown today.” 

Several hours later, a different patient… Same scarf. “Doc, you look so gorgeous! I adore that scarf!!!”

“Doc, we love your butt! We could just eat that butt up!” From two grown women in with their elderly mother. 

“Oh, Doc, I know it’s a benign skin lesion. I’ve got another one over here. I just wanted you to hold my leg like that. Made my day. My year! I might be old, but I’m not dead…”

“Doc, I am glad to see you don’t drive a sissy sports car!” Yelled across the parking lot by a patient as I was getting out of my big black pick-up truck.

“The only good thing about coming to the doctor is that I get to see you!”

Pan, at On The Road Cooking, asked about best patient one-liners. These are a few. I’ve done a bunch of other posts over the years with funny things patients say. While some of the things may seem shocking to you, I am used to it. Provided they are not being ugly, I just let it go. 

Fiction Friday will start next week!


two birds painted on a pink scarf 

“Doc, I think this is the first time I have ever seen you without a scarf!” she exclaimed as I walked into the exam room.

I pondered this for a moment.

She comes in an awful lot. Is it possible that I wear scarves that often? 

It had not really occurred to me before….

I started wearing scarves in earnest after my first child was born. Baby drool and upchuck do not look good on a professional woman but especially not when that woman works in the medical profession. Appearing dirty in any way is an instant black mark against you. With a mere flip and a twist I could hide any stains in a matter of seconds. It saved me more times than I care to admit.

Further, I could conceivably wear the same shirt five days in a row with a different scarf each day and everyone would think it is a completely different outfit… Not that I ever *did* that, you understand. Maybe two days in a week when I could not get laundry done or three days when I was backpacking through Europe. Still, in the event of a collapse of modern society, I have my wardrobe wrapped up. 

Are YOU prepared?

Admittedly, I have a vast collection of scarves that spans decades. I hate to throw them out so they accumulate in my closet even if they are not being actively worn. I even have some ancient silk ones that once belonged to my grandmother…

Now that my kids are well past the spit up phase I think these scarves have become a security blanket I can wear around my neck. I used to hide behind a white coat. Before that, I hid behind a short, red London Fog type jacket with the sleeves pushed up that I wore in all weather, rain or shine, even in 100 degree weather. 

Time to dial back the scarf use, I guess.

On Stage


“Dancers should be in costume with their make up on, ready for the photographer at 7PM.”

Make up?

Make up?

Truthfully, I am not ready for this. I am not ready see what a grown up version of my little girl is going to look like.

Oh, sure, she loves make up, but she still thinks that a beautiful application of lipstick extends about an inch beyond the actual lips, hardly realistic and I am just fine with that.

I was not allowed to wear make up growing up. Even all through high school. None. Now, I had my ways of getting around that, to be sure… For instance, I had art pastels. The colored chalk sticks made great blush and eyeshadow in a pinch. Or black acrylic paint could stand in for mascara (I was too desperate at the time to worry about what that might actually do to my eyeballs). The trick was keeping it subtle so that my parents couldn’t tell and my brothers wouldn’t realize and rat on me but still enough that I did not stand out to my peers as a repressed, prudish freak. A very delicate balance.

I swore through all of that I would not do the same to any daughter of mine.

Then I had one. And now she is five and in dance and has to wear make up!?!??!!?

So now I am left wondering if the whole issue with make up for my own parents was not that it would make me look like a whore, as they said, but rather having to adjust to the reality of their daughter growing up. 

Maybe both.

I am not going to ask them, though.

Excuse me while I go watch some tutorials on dance make-up application.

Bound Up

Cambodia 512

My question for today: Why do jog bras have to be so goddamn hard to get on and off? 

The older I am, the stronger the elastic has to get because the girls are just not as perky as they used to be.

Each and every time there is that moment when my arms are pinned up over my head tangled in the elastic and I realize:

This is NOT going to work! 

While the bra is somewhere it shouldn’t be I discover that I can barely breathe and I start to get palpitations. Only then I realize that I cannot go back the way I came. I have to get it on before I can get it off. 

Gah! All manner of profanity runs through my head at these moments.

I am terrified I am going to get stuck that way and have to use my nose to dial 911. And you know that it will be the hot firefighter guys that end up bring the jaws of life…. no understanding female will be in the bunch. This is why I always make sure I at least have shorts on before I attempt the jog bra. 

They shouldn’t have to see my naked butt, too.

Thank goodness for touch screens, people, because I swear one of these days that is gonna be me. You will hear about it in the news and know it is me…



There are certain chores that annoy the hell out of me:

Putting gas into my car.
Washing makeup off my face.
Applying cosmetics.
Washing dishes.
Folding laundry.
Shaving the bikini area.
Trimming fingernails.

They are necessary, to be sure, but they are tedious. Mind-numbingly tedious. 

Sooooooo…. I am curious. What chores do you loath? 

Let it Fly!

The pants I wore yesterday were not flattering at all. Not one bit. I knew this when I put them on. I didn’t like them when they arrived on my doorstep after ordering them online and I do not like them now.

In fact, they have been taking up space in my closet for nigh on two years now because I could not ever bring myself to wear them out in public. As it turns out, it is very, very difficult for me to get rid of things I have never worn. I feel terribly guilty (Perhaps a throw back to the fact that as a kid my clothes all came from Goodwill?) so I hold onto them in the hopes that something someday will change. 

Maybe they really aren’t that bad? I only have to wear them to find out. Yet, I have pants that I really do like so I wear them instead. But still, maybe? And so on and so on.

Dust collects.

After going through my closet last weekend, I decided to go ahead and just wear the stupid things so I could get it over with.


Of note, there is nothing like a bad pair of pants to throw you completely off your game and no manner of fancy panties can remedy that fact.

Those pants have now gone off to the throw away bin. I will not inflict them upon someone else!