Thank you 

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Sometimes healthcare is overwhelming. 

I have been thinking about what the healthcare providers in Las Vegas went through that night. I just hope they know how much they are appreciated.

There are situations that are embedded in our memories and nightmares, patients or families that haunt our dreams. We get up every day and do it again. 

Later, if we are lucky, we get to discuss the situation with coworkers and hopefully find other people who understand how we are affected. 

When someone asks me to make a decision at work, I find myself going down a mental checklist (sometimes I do it out loud) and trying to determine the possible outcomes from my choice. Some think it’s indecision or lack of knowledge. They are wrong, it’s too many memories of bad outcomes from poor decision making I have witnessed in the past. It may be a mistake I have made. Either way, I am just trying to apply my experience. 

What happens in a chaotic situation like a mass shooting? 

I am fortunate, I have never experienced this. I suppose the only real hope we have is to have processes in place for these scenarios. 

A huge number of trauma patients, horrible flu epidemic, ebola… all of the situations are a strain for hospitals. We have to find solutions and we do the best we can. 

I listen to people tell horror stories about their experiences in hospitals and one of my first reactions is to wonder what the providers were experiencing. How many felt overwhelmed and afraid of not measuring up? Did they feel inadequate to rise far above the limits of our training. 

I don’t know if drills help, I suppose knowing where to turn for guidance in an emergency is the first step. We have to work as a team to handle emergencies. 

I hope the healthcare providers who were treating these victims are getting the support they need to process what they saw that night. I hope if they are feeling inadequate someone is reassuring them. I hope processes are being examined and tweaked for future reference. 

Above all, I hope they are recognized for being a team. 

Far too often we forget the team aspect of providing care. People are petty and criticize their team members. They seek to destroy careers or reputations out of their own petty inability to see the whole picture. This happens in lots of professions. Instead of building people up, they tear them down. 

Let’s stop doing that. We need to remember what it is like to care for our coworkers. 

First, let’s thank the providers who answered the call and provided care in a horrific situation. Let’s remember it was horrible for them too. Let’s support them so they can continue to be there in the future. 

Just Be Nice

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I have been trying to write about the mass shooting in Las Vegas, and I found I have nothing new or helpful to add to the conversation. 

I was going to abandon my attempts to talk about it. 

And then I read another story about someone tweeting or posting something horrible about the victims and how they don’t deserve sympathy. 

Gee. Seems kinda odd to me that people who are supposedly so against hate use that platform and politics to justify an attack on thousands of PEOPLE. 

I am sick and tired of reading phrases like lib-tard, repug, snowflake, and many more. 

Why do people insist on finding differences and attacking people for it? 

Let’s go back to the beginning.

Rules for life: 

  1. Keep your hands to yourself.
  2. Don’t take things that do not belong to you. 
  3. Don’t write on the walls. 
  4. Don’t call names. 
  5. Wait your turn. 
  6. Don’t shoot people. 
  7. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. 
  8. Mind your own business. 
  9. Be nice to animals. 
  10. Help your neighbors when they need it. 
  11. Say “thank you.”

This can’t be that hard. 

Everyone needs to take a deep breath and take a hard look at themselves. All the self-righteous indignation about what other people may or may not believe is ridiculous. 

Just be nice. It’s not that hard. 

Don’t lump people into a group and assume they have certain traits. 

Stop being hypocrites. 

No one deserves to be gunned down when they are doing nothing wrong. No one deserves to be attacked for no reason. No one should be running away from a concert to escape a barrage of bullets. 

This shouldn’t happen. 

Despite the media’s attempt to play up the discourse between humans, I firmly believe we are all a lot closer in ideology than politicians and social media want us to believe. 

Instead of tearing people down, see if you can help them. The government has proven to be ineffective at this. So, let’s fix our communities and stop waiting for someone else to fix it for us. 

Just remember, it’s not very hard to be nice. 

Create Fearlessly

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Today I was flipping through this Moleskine reporter’s notebook I frequently use to jot down random ideas and I found a quote I had taken the time to not only write down, but to note the author, book, and page number. I suppose I thought I may need to use the snippet eventually.

“So, this above all: Find your own voice.” Christopher Hitchens in Mortality, page 50.

I have this idea for a story that may not be as completely original as I think it is, but I have certainly never read it, and I want to. Unfortunately, I have realized my idea might be becoming a bit of a Sci-Fi adventure and I know very little about the genre.

Are there still truly original ideas, or is everything simply either satire or pastiche? Yep. I learned a new word, AND I took notes on three of the possible meanings. I also read a couple of things discussing the concept. 

I don’t want to write some silly little story. I did that in college and my instructor gave me a C- on one of my favorite stories from my adolescence. He said it was trite and I should work harder to write something more significant.

What if trite is all I can manage? How can writing bring me so much joy and leave me terrified all at the same time? It seems genuinely and dramatically unfair. Now I want you to imagine me running into my bedroom and dramatically flinging myself on the bed facedown and sobbing until someone notices my need for more attention and comes to console me as I protest the injustice of my personal insecurities. 

I have been mulling over this idea for about 15 months or so. While I was working on a different idea I finally thought of a possible way to solve the problem I was having with how to introduce a certain situation in the story. Which was a bummer, because it was the thing making the whole story possible. 

I think I have finally figured out why “Only the good die young” and how to explain fate and the secret of life. Turns out, it’s not just a good cup of coffee. Despite my inability to believe in the popular religious explanations of our creation and our death, I may have found a way to explain the purpose of it all.

I feel like I have been searching for an explanation for my entire life and when I was unable to find an existing one I decided to come up with my own. I don’t imagine it is much different from Joseph Smith and his golden tablets. Oh! Except I invented mine. There was no revelation or scripture delivered to me. Phew. That would have been awkward. 

So, in light of the absence of divine intervention, I am going to try to tell the story in my voice. The way I write and think. I am going to tell the story I have been working on all this time.

Worst case scenario?

Someone will call it trite instead of funny, clever, or original.

Best case scenario? I write my story and I am proud of it. That rarely happens.

Wish me luck! No. Wish me courage.

I just need to Create Fearlessly.

Only Hot Middle-aged Bikers

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Insomnia strikes again. Perhaps it is because I am working on an idea for a story. Regardless of the cause, I am awake in the middle of the night Googling alternate reality and other ideas I don’t really understand. I am sitting on a bench in front of my hotel surrounded by three beautiful motorcycles. 

I don’t touch them, because I have been taught manners. 

While I am sitting there, three gregarious gentlemen amble up the sidewalk. I am pretty sure they are mildly inebriated, but I don’t judge. 

The one in the middle calls out to me, “Thank you for watching our bikes!”

“No problem! I like your bikes.” I probably blush a little. These guys are hot. 

“Atta girl!” He replied with an impressive and charming grin. 

They go inside the lobby. 

After about a minute one of them comes back outside. 

“Excuse me darlin, what time is breakfast?” 

I honestly don’t know, but I feel like I need to tell him something. So I let him know I think it starts at six. Then I panic a little and tell him about the sign on the wall with the hotel’s breakfast times. I am completely flustered by this hot biker dude calling me “darlin.” Hehe. 

Only hot middle-aged bikers get away with that kind of behavior. 

Now excuse me while I go to bed and try to get some sleep. 

Mile High Shenanigans 

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Driving through the mountains I love looking for the hidden secrets that the mountains are protecting from our prying eyes. A peek of yellow, a little waterfall tucked away from the highway. 

My heart breaks a little when we drive past the trees that have been killed from some strange beetle. These trees don’t belong here, so they didn’t survive. Sometimes transplants are not a good idea. 
We pull through the last tunnel and turn into Dillon. I am always blown away by the vision. I could never live here, but I love the feelings I experience after the drive through the mountains. This year is especially lovely. The aspens are turning and I am so happy to see this. 

We pull into the shopping center parking lot that I will forever associate with Jill. Standing proudly to the West of the shops is “my mountain.” 

My mountain is different than the others. She is rounded and to my eyes a warm reddish hue. The other mountains are sharp and angled, somehow they seem to be imposing their will on the wind and the land. 

My mountain is different, she is inviting. I feel like she is protecting us.
The clouds roll over these peaks casting long, dark shadows, while the sun seems determined to break through the gray. 
This year my mountain is shrouded in a light, opaque haze. It’s from the smoke of distant wildfires. This week is better than other days recently. However, her red hue seems muted to the point of obliteration. 
We meander over to a spot overlooking a cove on the lake. My friends’ effervescent giggles float in the wind up to my spot where I am sitting on what I think is a big piece of granite. The wind is slightly chilly, and the sun feels intrusive despite the shimmering diamonds it is dropping on the ripples of Lake Dillon. 

I forgot my wallet. (Yes, I am well aware my friends would front me the money for lunch, but I am disgustingly embarrassed… I packed a whole bag for this adventure and forgot my wallet!) 

We drive over to Breckenridge, which is more than a little contrived and touristy. I like it there, but I don’t love it. I did get this gem of a photo, so it may have been worth it. 

I love my time in Colorado. I love spending time with these girls. I may even love the mild confusion I feel from the lack of oxygen at this elevation. 

Already excited for next year. I suppose I left out the shenanigans. Guess you had to be here. 

Rental Car Blues

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No, I wasn’t standing out behind your car exasperatedly hitting the trunk open button on the key fob because I was trying to steal your identical silver grey Nissan Maxima. I thought it was my rental.

No, I obviously didn’t notice the trunk pop open on the car not even 2 feet from where I was standing. I was too busy being perplexed at the unfathomable difficulty of navigating a different set of keys all the time.

Yes, I realize what a dork I look like right now. Why did you park right next to me in the hotel parking lot? It’s nearly empty. I park in this spot every time I am here. Don’t you know that? Oh, you are not here all the time. Yes, I am aware most people do not spend weeks on end in the same hotel.

No, I obviously don’t have anything better to do than stand here having an imaginary conversation with you. You didn’t even say anything to me. I was just preparing in case you did.

Yes, I am going to sheepishly climb into my rental car, look intently at my phone, and pretend I am doing very important business things. After all, I would not want anyone to notice I am frequently just one step away from being an absolute walking disaster.

By the way, does anyone want to do my laundry tonight? I hate doing laundry, but I need clean clothes before I head to Denver for my next great adventure. Anyone? No? Fine. I’ll do it myself, but I am NOT matching the socks. I will turn them right side out though. I am not a complete heathen.

Not My Ocean

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I had a few days off. Not long enough to waste two full days traveling, but long enough for an adventure. So, I headed to Atlantic City. 

It was fun, but not magical. I didn’t find the sky mystically bluer than every other sky. I didn’t bask in the aroma of fresh, salty sea air. It was humid and sticky. 

The ocean was nice. That’s all. Nothing more. I did not even take a photo. It was just an a big body of water. I did not feel a pull of tides calling me to leave a little piece of my soul. I only felt called to leave part of my bank account in the casino. 

The Pacific calls to me. It seems less tame. When I think of places I would like to be if money were no object, Northern California beach property seems pretty swell. 

Maybe I would feel different if I spent time somewhere else on The Atlantic. Atlantic City must have seen better days. The parts I drove through were derelict, much of them abandoned. I suppose I could do more research and learn about why the economy in that particular tourist trap seems to be struggling, but I’m not that interested. I don’t plan on going back. 

I suppose you can’t compare Atlantic City to the Boardwalk of Santa Cruz, which is one of my favorite places in the world. Maybe I am just a West Coast girl. 

I believe I need to explore some of the South. I also need to spend some more time on The Gulf of Mexico. So, perhaps what I am really saying is I should vacation more. 

Ink and Wells

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Sometimes I need a reminder to fight for what I know is right. 

Sometimes I need a reminder to fight for me. 

Sometimes standing up and speaking out is necessary to achieve some peace and quiet. 

Sometimes you learn to trust new people. It’s okay to have a little faith. 

Sometimes you have to ignore perceived slights and get over your own ego. 

Sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge the truth. 

Sometimes you just have to do what is in front of you, regardless of the outcome. 

Sometimes you grow weary of the constant battle between right and wrong. 

Sometimes the best decision is not black or white. It’s not even gray. It’s a shade of red you don’t even like. 

Sometimes others can speak on your behalf, sometimes you have to find your own voice. 

Sometimes writing feels pointless. Your pen ran dry.

Sometimes the well is full of ink, just waiting for you to find the answer with your words. 

It’s okay to use all the words you need to illustrate the situation. Just allow veracity to be the ruler. Don’t minimize or exaggerate. Be transparent. 

If you run out of ink, borrow some from another well. Take a deep breath, find the truth. Tell the story. 

I’m Listening

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Oh. I get it, I should listen to you because you are a man. No, wait. I should listen to you because you are 30 years older than I am. 

Oh, really? Huh. I have never heard this before. I’m pretty sure this is exactly 100% wrong. 

Oh, damn. I had no idea every single doctor, pharmacist, nurse, nurse practitioner, and physician assistant I have ever worked with has been treating these conditions wrong. 

Oh! You are older, smarter, wiser, and just all around better than I am. I will blindly follow whatever path you have suggested. Don’t fret. I won’t worry my pretty little head about it at all. 

Falling

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I’m afraid of everything. Heights, bridges, new places, new people, failure, success, loneliness, entrapment…. and falling. 

In every way falling can happen. 

I’m afraid of falling down. That shit hurts! 

I’m afraid of falling in love. That hurts too. 

I’m afraid of falling out of love. Especially after all that work to fall in love. 

I’m afraid of falling off a bridge. I would die. Or worse, I would just be hurt and unable to support myself. 

I’m afraid of falling after I trip over air. People just don’t believe something grabbed my foot. 

Falling is probably the worst thing imaginable. Why would anyone do it? 

Tom Waits said it best. “I hope that I don’t fall in love with you. ‘Cause falling in love just makes me blue.” Except by the end of the song even good old Tom was falling in love. 

Chicago, on a Monday evening. I find myself sitting in a piano bar, the only patron. The bartender, Mike is prepping for the night. The piano player and his wife are up on stage, no set list in sight. He complains somewhat gruffly the piano is slightly out of tune. I can’t hear it. 

I have my new book, The Accidental Life, and it is no accident I had to buy it, as well as five other books at the bookstore I just spent an hour wandering through. Nothing humbles me as much as being surrounded by someone’s work. This book is a collection of essays by Terry McDonell, an editor who worked for Rolling Stone back in the Hunter S. Thompson glory days. I feel like I am getting a grand tour into some secret club full of the people I wish I were brave enough to emulate. 

Tito’s and soda, music, and my book. I couldn’t be more content. 

I can’t help but start thinking of ways to describe this moment. These are the memories I want to preserve. When I am old, I want to remember this feeling. The times I was at peace with myself, no inner war and unease. Just me. 

I made a list of the songs I heard while sitting at that bar. 

Wonderful Tonight. He’s no Clapton, but it’s easy to be transported to an imaginary place where a man loves you so much. Even if you have never experienced this. The song makes you feel it is really possible to be loved by a flawed man, and for it to be perfect. 

The piano player asks me (the audience) if I like Tom Waits. What? I love Tom Waits. He plays Ol’ 55. I sway along and read my book, murmuring the words under my breath. Next up is John Prine’s Angel from Montgomery. His guitar playing wife singing in a nice harmony. They are good together. It’s a nice rendition. 

Next, he plays another Tom song, An Invitation for the Blues. I also get introduced to a band called Little Feat, that I have to google. Willin’ is quite a song. I like it. 

Maybe I don’t have to be so scared of falling. 

I can lose myself temporarily in music, books, love, lust, stories, and adventures. I can always scramble up out of the hole into the real world. 

My Neverland, Wonderland, Imaginary World is always waiting for me. I just have to allow myself to fall into it. 

Maybe falling isn’t so bad.