Friday, February 27, 2009

Back From the Frozen North

Holy cow, Chicago is cold. I had such a great time with Amy. In our limited time together she showed me her city, introduced me to her friends and took care of me when the nasty bronchitis hit.
I'm really not sure how to move all the photo's around to make this a coherent story, so enjoy it anyway.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Angela's Dating Tip #3: Lap(top) Dancing

Ah, online dating. Those of us who rely on the electronic cupid admit it a bit sheepishly. Who wants to admit that they're fishing in a barrel? With dynamite? Ok, just with big firecrackers, but still...

The bait for the hook is the profile. The profile needs to have an attractive picture showing the quarry in its natural habitat. It should make the prey look approachable, with healthy plumage and a nice nest. Remember, the point of the display is to attract a mate.

Some members get this. Their profile photos are pleasant, they smile, there are flattering shots of them in exotic locations. Sometimes they include their dog's or cats to show their sensitivity. Kittens, especially are a nice touch. They have also proof-read their profile text, checking for spelling errors and NEVER writing their profiles in all-caps or in text-speak.

There are also those that seem a little confused about the purpose of the profile. The photos look like mug-shots, with scowls and furrowed brows. One profiler that I saw even flashed a gang sign. Gentlemen, these things are not attractive. They are scary.

You attract more flies with honey than vinegar. Show those pearly whites. Use that spell-check if you really want to snag a smart girl. Think of a profile as a resume, first impressions count.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Conversations in Hot Water

Going up to the Montezuma hot springs is one of my weekend routines. Get up in the morning, have a cup of coffee, check emails, go soak. I'm a lucky girl. Usually I go early enough that I'm there alone to listen to the river and the bird songs and watch the vapor rise off the water undisturbed.

Sometimes, though, I meet people. Interestingly enough, its never been the same person twice. I've met professionals, carpenters, hippy travelers, neurotic 20-something couples, obnoxious teenagers, eccentric locals, and people in transition. The first timers are easy to spot; nervously going from pool to pool, looking for the right spot, checking out the vibe.

The hot springs have their own rules of ettiquette. If a pool is empty, its fair game. If someone is in it, you always go to another pool. If they are full, you ask if you can share. In general, noise is to be kept to a minimum and conversation is entered into with an almost ritualistic respect.

Today I struck up a conversation with a very interesting man. We talked about the nature of relationships and love. We discussed the difficulties of independent people who value their space entering into romantic relationships and what has to be done to keep a relationship going.

"What if" he proposed, "you could find someone that didn't expect you to change, even subconsciously, who you are, who wanted the best from you and you felt the same. Someone who encouraged your eccentricities and you did the same. What would you do then?"

"That would be great" I said. "But the difficulty is getting past expectations."

"Expectation minus reality equals disappointment" he returned. "And in the end if we are open to possibilities we are always changed by our encounters with others."

Then I went home and made pancakes.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Clean up on aisle 5

Thursday afternoon is my time to clean up after Uncle Sam. That's when I see veterans. Most of the time this is Geezer patrol, my favorite demographic. The WWII guys are generally a lot of fun, they've had time to deal with the horror of their experiences and we're dealing with their cholesterol, diabetes, and arthritis just like the rest of my geezers. The vietnam era guys are usually in some sort of substance abuse recovery, are starting to deal with some of the geezer issues of old age and generally have some sort of chronic pain.

Then there are the folks coming back from Iraq/Afghanistan. These people can't sleep at night between the physical pain and the nightmares. Some of them can't hold a job because the PTSD symptoms of anxiety, irritability, and hypervigilance get in the way. Looking into their eyes is looking into anguish.

When one signs on with the military, one is "guaranteed" health care for the duration of their service. If a service person is injured while in the military, they are guaranteed healthcare for the rest of their lives. The staff of VA hospitals and clinics are quite good and quite committed to their patients, as committed as those found in civilian clinics and hospitals. The problem is the beaurocracy and the lack of forethought on the part of the government when the current wars were budgeted.

Here is an example from today. A 30 year old man came to my clinic for back pain related to a service injury. He also suffers from depression, insomnia, and anxiety. He has scars on his face and neck from burns. He is able to go to physical therapy once a month at the VA hospital in Albuquerque, two hours away. He would like to go to counseling for PTSD. This referral will take approximately 3 months to complete. I requested that he be able to go to a local provider for weekly PT in Las Vegas. It is highly unlikely this will be approved.

The next man was a 45 year old man. He'd had rods inserted into his spine, one of which had slipped and was moving up his back. He told me that since the psychiatrist had given him the right meds, he didn't have to retreat to the woods behind his house to work out his nightmares. He could now manage a long grocery line and a traffic snarl. The surgical referrals I wrote today were for the "Invasive Spinal" clinic, orthopedics for a carpal tunnel release as well as a dermatology referral for laser therapy.

These guys were perfectly healthy, sane, and productive young men before their national guard units were called up. They are the victims, along with the civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, of the hubris of W, Dickie, and Rummy. Its a picture of waste and half-baked schemes. If you weren't already against the war, an afternoon in my clinic will change your mind. And I don't see the worst of it. We'll be paying for this one for a very long time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Angela's Dating Rule #2 and Other Minutiae

Pre-date nervousness is natural and, if managed correctly, can even be endearing. There's bound to be awkward moments, butterflies, and sweaty palms. It's ok. If you don't allow the jitters to be overwhelming they can show your date that you are vulnerable. Vulnerability = attractiveness, especially if you are a man. Chicks dig vulnerable guys.

What is not ok is telling your date that you are intimidated by them. If you are out with someone that intimidates you it's time to do a check-in;

Do you think your date is out of your league? Then thank your lucky stars they asked you out/agreed to go out with you! And for crying out loud, don't admit it! That's just saying "I really don't have a whit of self-confidence". Sexy.

Are they doing something that makes you uncomfortable? Its probably time to cut things short and move on to greener pastures. Life is too short to voluntarily be around people that are weird or judgemental or smell bad. Go home, open your favorite beverage, turn on some Sinatra and give yourself a pedicure, even if you are a man. Nice toes are sexy.

Update: My mother is home from the hospital and doing ok. She left with a lot of hardware, 4 cardiac stents, and will have one more placed in a few weeks. I dealt with my mini-breakdown by taking a deep breath and reminding myself that no one was actually dead yet.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I'd really rather write about the fact that George Gershwin was 38 years old when he died but had already made an indelible mark on American music. I'd rather write about the SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Plan) bill that President Obama just signed. The wonders of modern antibiotics, the color of the sunset tonight, the white cows that escaped into the dun colored pasture across the river (I followed their hoofprints tonight in the half-light of dusk).

My mother, who is 58, had two cardiac stents placed this afternoon. She'd gone to the emergency room late last night after two days with chest pain. There are a total of 4 partial blockages in her arteries. Tomorrow the cardiologist will decide whether 2 more stents will need to be placed. Given the possibilities for disaster, this is really pretty good news. I just didn't expect the collision with heart disease to happen so soon. However, if she takes her cardiac rehab seriously she should have many relatively healthy years ahead of her.

My relationship with my mother has always been difficult. I don't think I've ever left that adolescent same-sex separation stage. My mother has never had anything but unconditional love for all of her children and grandchildren, really for just about everyone around her (except my father, but that's a totally different story). I, on the other hand, love my mother but often wish she was a different person. A more responsible, more energetic, more together mother. I'm sure I seem to her odd, and cold, and hard. But she loves me anyway for being her odd, cold child. Our arguments haven't begun because she was pushing me. They happened because I was pushing her. Now I'm faced with the fact of her mortality. I don't care for that idea at all.

I called a friend tonight to talk about all of this. Her mother has recently moved back in with her at age 87 with all the mother-daughter baggage. My friend has been practicing buddhism for many years and reminded me of the impermanence of everything, including those we love. I'm pushing back hard against that pillar. This, I suppose, is a natural reaction. We think that by holding on tighter to the things we care for that we'll get to keep them. We're greedy. The more we kick and scream, well we just kick and scream. It doesn't change impermanence. I don't like that either.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


While I was sick in bed yesterday, nursing a ridiculous fever and bellyache, I was tossing around blog ideas. I probably should have been resting my little fevered brain rather than hallucinating about the blog but at least I wasn't hallucinating about little green monsters nibbling my toes. On the flip side, I could have conjured up images of Liam Neeson bringing me soup and cool washcloths for my hot forehead and telling me that even with the sweaty chills and morning breath I was still gorgeous. Then maybe he could have nibbled my toes. Apparently I have to be in a state of reasonably good health to come up with that one. Damn. That could have given me hours of enjoyment.

I've been doing a bit of dating over the last few months, both the online and offline varieties. I have learned a few things about what makes for a good date and what I look for in a dating site profile. You, my lucky readers, are going to reap the rewards of my experience, the good, the mediocre, and the ugly.

This is how its going to work; I'm going to continue to write about the things I usually write about. This would be the stuff about work, about family, time with the dog, etc. Interspersed with the regularly scheduled programming will be Angela's Rules for Dating. You can also send me your dating rules and tell me why they are important to you.

Here comes rule number one.

On the first date it is acceptable to mention, in passing only, the previous relationship/marriage. It is date DEATH to spend 20-30 minutes discussing the reason the above mentioned relationship/marriage failed. Save that for later. There will be a time when you will want to work through issues that may have cropped up before. The first date is not that time. The first date is for investigating issues such as intellectual and physical chemistry, for discovering you both have a passion for the hokey-pokey or that his love of neopolitan ice cream turns your stomach. Giving too much information too soon does two things: 1) shows that perhaps you aren't as over that last person as you thought you might have been, and 2) makes the person sitting across the table from you feel a little uncomfortable and/or bored. Don't bore your date.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

You know that job interview question "where do you see yourself in five years"? Its a good question. It asks about long range planning and the ability to set goals. These thought processes are important to organizations. Planning and goal setting allow them to improve productivity, create new products and services, and maintain a budget and staff.

But right now if you asked me about my five year plan I'd have to say I have no idea. I know I want to keep practicing medicine but where that will be or what form it will take is a mystery. Community health is intensely rewarding but I'm finding myself very good at women's health (which I never thought I'd like). I'd like to be in a position to travel more, learn more, dance more.

I keep saying that I don't know where I'll be in 5 years because I would never have put "live alone and work in Las Vegas, NM" on the plan. I thought I'd be happily married, Katie would be living with us, and I'd have a orthopedic surgery job with a big practice, and we'd be either putting an addition on the house or moving into something with a little more space, maybe in the North Valley.

PA school was the big goal, it was Mount Everest. I got down with just a little frostbite but with all my fingers and toes intact and now my mountain climbing predilections are temporarily quenched. Whats a goal oriented, hyperfocused girl to do? I guess its time to enjoy the warm tent and the abiltiy to breathe without an oxygen tank.