Monday, October 29, 2012


Thank you for reading A Year of Fencing Dangerously. I have decided to create a new blog, Tasting Notes, located at: I hope you will enjoy reading the new one as well.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Stay tuned for new postings. Really. I'm coming back, people.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thanks, I'd Really Prefer to Fall on My Own Ass

The wine: Sagelands Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008. Nice little Washington State red, with good depth and blackberry/dark chocolate notes I absolutely adore. Never underestimate an $8 Fred Meyer wine.

The music: Hard Way Every Time, by Jim Croce, the first man I ever fell in love with. Sadly he was dead, and I was 10, at the time, so it had very little chance of working out.

Well Readers, you didn't really think I could stop writing for any length of time, did you? A writer writes. It is not a choice, anymore than breathing is a choice. The written word is my oxygen. And so, longing to breathe deeply and freely, here I am. Talking, which I do all day, everyday while treating patients, leaves me parched and tired. Writing, with good music and a good wine, is the ultimate restorative. And tonight, writing is about...getting back on the horse.

I've been thinking a lot this week about how I learn, as I stumble around like an idiot in a thorn bush through all kinds of new experiences. My new workplace is a large campus of buildings, and rather resembles a rabbit warren. I routinely get lost, and today, my first round of Well Senior screening visits took me twice as long as it really should have, because I kept getting lost. Yes, lost. Damned lost. Sweaty, clutching my clipboard, squinting into the distance, cannot-find-my-own-car-in-the-parking-lot, single tear lost.

I know you, Dear Reader, will not laugh at me when I tell you that I have had tours of these places not once, but three times now. And yet, I am still lost. This I admit only to you. Because here's the thing: when you are given a tour, your guide is talking to you. Out loud. The whole time. And you are expected to talk back. Out loud. The whole time. This helps me not at all. Because unfortunately, when I am talking, I am not touching, feeling, smelling, seeing and absorbing deeply my surroundings, what I need to do to develop that instinctual sense of place, that internal compass, that despite appearances, I am actually very good at. I learn by Braille.

And people, god bless them, WILL try to help you. Around every corner, some cheerful face asking you if you need directions, more well-intentioned yet distracting auditory input. I try to gently convey that I am not technically lost; I am wandering, exploring, and only by doing so can I find my own way. They seem hurt, even though I am kind. I can only really learn by doing it myself, by failing, by making wrong turns, by running blindly into walls. The only way to get really good at something is by being really bad at it for a long time.

My father likes to tell stories of the extremely independent five year old I used to be. According to him, I never wanted any help to do anything, and he still mocks me by repeating my favorite phrases: "DAD, I can do it! DAD, I can handle it. DAD, I can handle this job ALL BY MYSELF." The last one he sings, as he complains that my visit is too short, and I give him hugs for his "hug pocket" and call him a "Poor, neglected Senior!" We are, once again and always, Dad and Daughter, sitting on the riverbank, fishing as the sun comes up.

Tomorrow I will be less lost, better at whatever I am doing, because today I fell on my own ass and struggled back up, and so will my patients. The only way to get stronger is to lift more, run faster, breathe harder, face more than you think you can. You have to be willing to fall on your own ass, and struggle back up on your own, learn the hard way every time, to really get anywhere.

Monday, January 9, 2012

And Now, One Glorious Moment of Silence... replace the one daft moment when I thought I would take a break from writing. I can't figure out how to remove the post, so I'm editing it. Re-writing history, if you will.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sleepless in Seattle

It's 1:06 am and I am awake. I have been up for hours, wondering why I have been up for hours. I have had enough chemical help, frankly, to knock out a racehorse, and yet here I am. Still awake and running, just like a racehorse. Just as no amount of pain killer ever numbed me at the dentist, nothing, and I mean nothing, knocks me out enough to sleep. I read about someone like me once, a man who could not sleep more than an hour or so a night. Apparently, he finally made peace with his insomnia and earned an MD and a JD in his spare time. I've thought about that. I seem to have twice as much time as the average person. Might as well earn another degree or two. Apparently I've got the time.

In the movie "Midnight in Paris", which I wrote about a few days ago, Owen Wilson plays a character who just wanders the streets of Paris at midnight, and he eventually wanders into Paris in the 1920's, where he feels very much at home. Tonight, I cannot get that idea out of my head. I'm contemplating wandering the streets of Seattle at night, on the chance that I too might somehow wander into Paris in the twenties. No one would bother me, because I am not the sort people bother. I would be safely invisible.

After such a high flying week, I suppose it was inevitable I would sink down into reality tonight. Tomorrow, my blades will hit the ice, and there will be no sound except the slice of each blade across the virgin ice. The air will be cold on my face, and I will relax through motion. Every muscle that is now wound tight as a drum will find a happy release on the ice. There is a harness at the gym for practicing spins, attached to coiled cables. In it, you are freed from gravity, from concern of falling, fear of injury, and therefore you are free to be more than you could be before, on the ground. Like any sport, like writing or flying or fencing, it is a form of defying gravity, and once you do it, you get it. Life on the ground is often very painful. Why wouldn't you leave it?

Any art or sport is about defying gravity for a moment at a time. It is about leaving the ground, leaving behind the pain, the worries, the care, the unfulfilled dreams, the dashed hopes, the failures and unspoken truths we all carry around hidden in our pockets. Through art or sport we become more than ourselves, a better, edited version of who we really are. We cannot even hope to be perfect in real life, and some of us, like myself, stumble so miserably through any human experience that perfection through creation of a piece of art, or one perfect run, one perfect fencing bout, one perfect landing, one perfect spin is our only real shot at happiness.

Meanwhile, we wander. Through streets in the rain, through the winding pathways of our own minds and hearts, hoping to find what we are looking for if we just keep looking long enough. Might as well wander. I mean, I'm up. Maybe someday I'll run into happiness. Maybe I'll run into peace.

Maybe I'll run into Hemingway.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Law of Attraction

The music: Reina de la calle, by Orishas is the sound of "flow". I "discovered" this wonderful French Cuban Rap group a couple of summers ago when I was living in Jacksonville, Florida. Listening to it takes me back to that wonderful time, a time when I did exactly what I wanted, when I wanted, where I wanted to do it and with whom. I learned Salsa, ate tuna steaks and fruit every night, drank red wine and coconut water, ran because it felt so good to my body, hit A1A with a camera, a notebook, and a free spirit. I never wanted that feeling to end, and then I discovered, it didn't have to. Free your body and your mind will follow. Free your mind, and you're in for the ride of your life.

I've been thinking a lot today about The Law of Attraction. You know, that New Age idea that has had a lot of press recently, that basically states that what we think about, we attract into our lives. I've always been interested in these ideas, but I'm also a scientist. A part of me understands metaphysical ideas, feels them to have merit, experiences them as true and valid in my own life. Another part of me wants solid proof, a biological mechanism, a chemical equation. I may never get that. And yet, I continue to have experiences that seem to support the notion. Coincidence? Is there really such a thing? I'm not so sure anymore.

This morning as I rode the elevator down to my car, I started going through my mental checklist of my day. Things to talk to my director about, things to talk to my receptionist (and by receptionist, I mean Miracle Worker!) about, clinical issues, marketing issues, space and equipment needs, my new patient load...and suddenly, a shiver ran up and down my spine. Literally. I stopped dead in my tracks, and I thought, "My God. I got everything I asked for." And tears of joy spilled over, and I started laughing, right there on the second floor of the underground parking garage.

And I realized, it was all there. I'm doing what I want, where I want, with the people I want to do it with. I have exactly, exactly the opportunities for growth that I wanted. I have the level of responsibility I wanted, and the level of support that I needed. I have an incredible group of people to work with, learn from, and high five at the end of the day. The patients I am serving have an incredibly rich history that is so inspiring, the companies I work for are in line with my moral, ethical and professional beliefs. My learning curve has gone up at an exponential rate, I am already getting leadership opportunities. I get to practice, indeed build a specialty clinic, in exactly what makes me feel like a rock star. I got exactly what I wanted, the best possible version of what I envisioned. And incredibly (I almost hate to say this) it practically fell into my lap. I made a call, rather on a whim, because suddenly it seemed right. And the rest is history. Or, is it destiny?

These days, I'm having a hard time telling the difference. But here's what I know for sure. Ask and ye shall receive. Knock and the door will be opened unto you. My God, it really is true.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.