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User Journal

Journal Journal: A long hiatus

Hello, friends! Here to wish you the brightest of holidays and the most promising of new years. As New Yorkers hustle and bustle without the benefit of our MTA, it makes me think about those things I've taken for granted.

A place to live. A car. A great career where I meet people and get to help them. Four good limbs. One good heart. A family where any of us would gladly take a bullet for any other one of us... to name a few.

I've been in private practice now for almost three months. There are many frustrations but at the end of the day, it feels good.

I am still posting about once per week on my squarespace site, in case anyone is interested.

Warm wishes to everyone. Peace and health in the New Year. Namaste.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Houseguests, routines, and "The three-day rule." 1

I have my apartment back! My guest left about ten minutes ago and can't tell you how great it feels to have my space again.

He was a good houseguest. Made up the sofabed, kept things neatly in place. Did his own thing while I was at work. Had an unfortunate bout of a stomach flu on Saturday and slept, literally, all day. That was a bummer, since I felt trapped here while he slept. What if he needed something urgently? What if I had to take him to the hospital? He lives in London and does not know his way around here.

I don't mind a guest for a few days, but six days pushes my limits, especially when 1) We barely know each other; and 2) there is no romantic involvement.

I wake up early in the am to go to work. I sleep until the last possible moment and have a well-choreographed routine so that I get to work on time.

Getting dressed in my small studio apartment with a male guest here is a challenge. I found myself crowded in the bathroom or in my closet, doffing and donning clothes. Without fail, he would awaken exactly when I did, needing the bathroom or something else that would break my routine. Frustrating. And it threw off my days. I forgot things I needed for work. Misplaced things I use all the time.

Now, the guy is a good guy. He did nothing wrong. Except maybe show me how much I rely on my routine and my space. Maybe he made me question whether I am able to live with someone at all?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Opinions, please 5

Recently there have been a few bloggers out there who have asked serious questions of their readers.

One asks whether she ought to break up with her long-term boyfriend, as he is chronically mopey, stalled in his career and generally miserable. Another asks if she ought to intervene after her good friend terminated a pregnancy. Apparently, the father of the baby washed his hands of the whole situation and left the woman to face the procedure and its aftermath alone. This blogger wants to approach the man's mother!

I do not ask you, my "right hand side of the Bell Curve" friends, the answers to the questions posed. Rather, I am interested in reading what you all think is too big a question to be posed on a blog.

Moreover, what do we really know about a person through his or her web journal? Can we get a good picture of a personality through almost daily postings? Is it valid to analyze someone through their writings in this medium?

I look forward to your thoughts.

Namaste. ~HDJ

User Journal

Journal Journal: It's Birthday Season!

Richard was not the only one celebrating last night. As is tradition, my friend Amy had a dinner at a trendy restaurant for her birthday. Nine of us feasted on upscale Mexican food and drank VERY strong drinks. Photos posted at Once I learn how to link things in HTML this will be prettier, I promise!

We are a LOUD group. Amy's laugh is from her spleen; can be heard for miles. A group of women at the next table join in on the fun. Wouldn't you know, one of them is Virginia Wade of women's tennis fame?

She is a delight, and poses for a few photos with the girls.

Afterwards, my friend Doug and I head to Julep, a great dive bar on Avenue A. We meet three friends of his and shoot pool until the wee hours. I am by far the worst player, but rise to the occassion and actually sink a few balls.

Of course, I am registered for a half marathon today. I try to be good, switching to water after one beer. But then Sophia, our dear bartender, begins presenting our group with Alabama Slammer shots. How can I resist?

Needless to say, the alarm at 6 am today was not welcome. Maybe I was still drunk? Well, I made an executive decision to miss the race.

When I did wake up at 9:30, I drank a liter of Gatorade, donned my running clothes, and ran 13.1 miles, all by myself. So there.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Cookies 3

Was reading the journal of my friend, Matthew, and came across this link: Not sure if this is true, but it's scary. Especially the part about the doctor. I hope this is one of those urban legend thingies.

I find it hard to believe that this person passed out from a diabetic attack and was allowed to leave the hospital after a couple of hours in an ER. In that situation, (certainly if she were my patient) she would have been admitted at least overnight for insulin drip and management. There is also no way she was allowed to leave the hospital without insulin and some way to check her glucose.

Also, if she passed out with the journal in her hand, how on earth did the B&B owners not know she had written in it?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Deadly, Part Two: Greed

Here is the start of my latest entry at Enjoy!


In New York City, it's nearly impossible to find someone who does not enjoy the luxury of things. We wear trendy clothing. We carry cell phones with so many features they border on self-awareness.

The Greedy Date does not merely enjoy these luxuries; he cherishes them more than he does other people. This date is obsessed with material objects to the exclusion of all else. His goal is to acquire the trendiest and the most "stuff." And then to play with it...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Deadly....

As requested, letting you know of another website entry. "Dating by the Deadly Sins." Can you tell I am having fun? Namaste.
User Journal

Journal Journal: So here I am... 6

I want to vent. I am angry. Even though far worse has happened to many more people than me, I am still PO'ed.

I hired a mover. A reputable one... "Best in Manhattan" is what they boast. I called multiple times to confirm. Be there at 9:30. Restriction on moving in to the new place. We must be there before 4:30.

Nine thirty:I receive a call from the moving company. They are running late. I remind them of my move in deadline.

Ten:I call again. Not to worry. They will be there soon.

And so on.

Fast forward to two thirty in the afternoon, after my having called every half hour, frantic. Reminding the company that I needed to be at my destination before four thirty.

Five:We arrive at my new home. The management company tells me that the super will decide whether I can move in. The super tells me that it is up to the management company. Twenty minutes later, after having been told alternatively that I can move in and that I cannot, a woman, carrying her briefcase as she leaves her office to go to her (furnished) home, informs me that "it's too bad... there is no way I can move in tonight."

Devastated, and on the verge of tears, I call the moving company. They will come back in the morning. But what about tonight? Where am I supposed to sleep? The dispatcher asks, "Don't you have a friend you can stay with?"

All I can think at that point is that I want to go to the moving company's office and throttle this guy. How dare he? What if I had moved from Philadelphia? I need a space. A room. A hotel. Something.

Good friends

I call a male friend. Friend. Period. Sure, we've "slipped up" a couple of times. He is an attractive guy. Going through a nasty divorce. My mother was dying. We clung to each other. Twice. Now, many months later, we are friends. Period. I tell him my story. Initally, he tells me that he has "plans." Can't help, but let him know if things work out. Five minutes later. He calls back. Of course I can stay at his place. He told his girlfriend not to come over. After all, I am his buddy.

Almost immediately, a few others (including my cousin) return my messages, so I opt to stay with someone who does not have plans.

The next day, I move in. Had to cancel work for that day. Unexpected events.

I claim my space. My little box in the sky. My furniture. My clothes. Just me.

My sister is looking to buy a home. She wants her own space. As a joke, a friend of my mother's offers her shed as an option. Ten feet by fourteen feet. Enough room for a car. Or an entire family from China, El Salvador, Pakistan. When did we start needing all of this space?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Just One Thing 1

"Paolo," is a friend from London with whom I exchange emails and IM's regularly. The other day, we played a little game. We would each write a one-liner about someone we know, including first name, age, occupation, and one "thing" about that person. The other person was allowed only one question. It went something like this:

Him: "Bill, 34, painter, missing one tooth."

Me: "How did he lose the tooth?"

Aside from the opportunity to make pithy comments, it was a fun, thought-provoking exercise. How does one distill a person into one thing? And what questions do we ask when we only have one? What would be the one thing that others would write about us?

For sure it would be context-dependent. Someone with whom we work would choose different words than someone with whom we are intimate. A family member would have an entirely different perspective. What stands out to them and would come out in an instant? Is there just one thing that can capture the essence of who we are? Or, at least, who we are to one person?

And how do we view our relationships? Are most people in the same profession as we are? Are they in our age group? Are their names all culturally and ethnically similar? Are most of the comments we write positive or negative? Are most of the people we list as "friends" new friends? Old friends? When was the last time we made a new friend? Why has it been that long?

Wow. And I thought we were just playing a little game.


Tonight, sit down and play this game with one of your friends. Or, write your one thing for ten of the people in your life. And then, write down what one thing each of them might write about you. Are they all good? How can you make them better?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Fixation 2

... this is an excerpt from my website ...

She is not your average High School cheerleader, this patient of ours. Sure, she's blond, tall, beautiful. One of the more popular girls in her school in Indiana. One of the brightest, too.

But this cheerleader can't whistle. She can barely raise her arms over her head, which limits the number of cheers she can perform. She cannot help lift the other girls. She isn't strong enough for some of the pyramids.

Mary Jo* has a genetic disorder called Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy. It is a rare disorder, with prevalence of 1 in 20,000 people. It is also autosomal dominant, meaning that it will be passed along to one half of the children of affected persons. Unlike other forms of Muscular Dystrophy, people with this disorder have a normal life expectancy.

The muscles in the face and the shoulder girdle do not function well. Affected persons have hollow cheeks. They also have drooped shoulders and are unable to raise their arms with any strength. They also have scapular winging, which happens since the shoulder blade is untethered to the underlying ribcage. Until gene therapy provides a more definitive solution, many patients opt for surgery to create a stable shoulder girdle.

Six years ago, Mary Jo arrives at the Mayo Clinic with her large family. I am a first year resident on service with the Chairman of my department, a pioneer in shoulder surgery. It is my second month working as a doctor.

Mary will have a seemingly simple yet alarmingly complex surgery called a scapulo-thoracic arthrodesis. We will use metal cables and metal plates and screws to fix the shoulder blade to the ribcage in hopes that the bones will heal together as a fracture does. This will create stability in the shoulder girdle, improving her strength as well as her appearance.

The dangers here are quite real. When the cables are passed, they must skim underneath the ribs, over the surface of the lung. A millimeter or two too deep, and the lung is punctured. The plates and screws must traverse past major blood vessels. If one of these vessels is nicked, our patient could lose a large percentage of her blood volume in a matter of seconds.

After surgery, Mary Jo will be in a body cast with her arm held away from her body. She will be held like this for six weeks, after which she will use a brace for another six weeks. She will not be able to use that arm. For this reason, we can only operate on one side at a time.

Mary Jo is anxious, but brave. She looks forward to looking more "normal." She can't wait to be able raise her arm above her head. I wheel her on a cart into our operating room, making silly jokes. She squeezes my hand when the anesthesiologist starts her IV. I continue to hold her hand as the medicines are delivered through that IV and she is made unconscious.

Incision. Our dissection to the bone is immaculate. The cables are passed; the plate is fixed. We close. We mold the body cast before she awakens.

She is in the hospital for a week, during which time we discuss her dreams and goals. She tells me about her family, her church. She teases me about my ending up marrying a dairy farmer from the Midwest. Her casted arm akimbo, we enjoy an awkward hug on the day she leaves the hospital. She is exhausted and happy.

The next time I see Mary Jo, it is a year later. I am no longer on service with my Chairman. It is the nature of a residency program that we move around to experience all aspects of our specialty, and I was with another mentor. But she asks the nurses to call me. She will undergo surgery on the other side and she wants for me to be there.

Over the course of my residency, we see one another two more times. Recovery from her second surgery was rocky and the fixation needed to be redone. Fortunately, the second attempt is successful.

My final personal encounter with Mary Jo is when she returns to have all of the cables and plates removed from her back. This time, five years after her first surgery, I am met by a confident young woman. She now holds a Bachelor's Degree. She is married to a wonderful man from her church community. They have a son. And she can lift him above her head.

**Addendum** I received email from Mary Jo and her family last week. They have another son, who is now three months old. In her email, she wishes me luck in my private practice in New York City (my hometown), and asks if I have met any nice dairy farmers.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Courage 4

"So pryketh hem natur in hir corages,
That longen folk to goon on pilgrimages."

I love The Oxford English Dictionary. Where else can one find almost every known meaning of a word? One undergraduate Shakespeare professor set our class to the task of examining the occurence of one word in one of the Bard's plays.

I choose the word "courage" in Macbeth. What I learn, besides how misogynistic the play is, is that the word "courage," is rooted to the Latin cor, which means "heart." In addition to its modern meaning of "strength in the face of pain or danger," the word has an older, lesser-known meaning:

"sexual lust or vigor."

Three times during Macbeth does the word occur, and only once does it mean what we, today would think it means. The other two occurences involve one challenge to Macbeth by Lady Macbeth:

"But screw your courage to the sticking place/and we'll not fail." - 1.VII

and yet another veiled challenge, after her husband has killed king Duncan:

"That had a heart to love, and in that heart Courage to make's love known?" -2.III.

Lady Macbeth uses her sexuality as power over her husband. She also controls her husband through his need to be a sexual being.

How did our understanding of courage evolve from the meaning it apparently had during Shakespeare's time (his audience would have recognized its sexual meaning) to how we use it today? Is it merely coincidental that "courage" is viewed as a masculine quality? And that the need to be viewed as the courageous man who can save the damsel in distress plays upon many a male ego today.

Women, too, play into this courage trap. Modern women appeal to the masculine sense of courage much as does the power-hungry Lady Macbeth. Too many women today play the role of the "broken" or "needy" woman, knowing that there are more than enough men available who want to save them. Most amazing is that there are always men who take the bait. And they are smart men, just as is Macbeth until he becomes consumed by his need to prove his vigor.

It's a delicate task for a man to prove his strength and a vigor without destroying himself. And it is, indeed, a challenge for a woman to accept strength and acknowledge a man's sexuality without being manipulative.

The answer? My inner Pollyanna tells me that it is love. In the context of love, there is no longer a need for the tug-o-war. And love is only a more advanced product of the cor, the heart.

User Journal

Journal Journal: hes dead, jim

Hello, All. I was asked by Bethanie to tell you when there are new posts on my website: I've just posted one today. And there will be new entries almost daily. Thanks for reading.... I welcome your comments! ~ Claudette

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The means-and-ends moralists, or non-doers, always end up on their ends without any means. -- Saul Alinsky