Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ten Quick Randoms: Volume 1

Here are ten quick randoms from my couch this evening. Monumentally unimportant. So please--know that before spending any significant amount of time reading them.

Here we go.

1. First up-- this. I was so overdue for a good flash mob. Mo and Ant -- thank you both for seeing to it that I got this little slice of YouTube sunshine.

OM-expletive-G. This flash mob made me almost as happy as the one Gary did for Brad on It's a Brad Brad World.  Flash mobs are right up there with Key Lime pie for me. Seriously? If you are trying to decide if you should surprise me with a flash mob (or invite me to participate in one) at any time, please know that the answer is . . . .

DO IT.  

2.  How does anyone manage to eat bleu cheese? Or feta cheese? Without feeling like they are directly consuming toe jam? Please. Somebody, anybody tell me this.

*Sorry. Just threw up in my mouth a little bit.*

3.  Yesterday I spent nothing less than two hours trying to hunt down the source of a motley crew of fruit flies that have decided to have a convention in my kitchen. I looked for fruit. I looked for old potatoes. I even checked out the bread. Nada.

A fruit fly takedown is serious business, y'all. Especially in the South. I get rather OCD about it all and go crazy trying to find a source. Which is funny because I am terrified that I will find some Stephen King looking fruit fly fest somewhere. Fortunately, I never have made such a discovery but did once get close with a renegade sweet potato.


4.  Finally I got on the internet and learned about "drain flies."

And yes. Before you even say it,  I had been pouring bleach down the drain but this is Georgia and our flies drink bleach with their breakfast. And then they belch in your face.

I am 100% certain that people like Ms. Moon knew this already but did y'all know that putting a bunch of ice and dishwashing detergent down your drain and running the disposal gets rid of them?

Ummmm hmmm.

In yo' FACE Drosophila!

5. Hmm. What else? Oh, of course. Am I the only one who just adores Mrs. Obama?

Love. Her.

She is all that and a slice of Key Lime pie. And she wears clothes from H&M and TARGET. Seriously? Seriously.

6. Oh yeah. Speaking of First-ish Ladies. . . have I told you of my growing fascination with Duchess Kate? (Who clearly has excellent taste in friends.)

Yeah, I'm kind of digging Duchess Kate. She has that iconic style of her late royal mother-in-law, don't you think? Apparently when she wore this dress pictured above she totally crashed the website that sells it. No disputing it--the girl has style. And proves that you can look feminine and pretty without looking like a hoochie mama.

Which reminds me -- wasn't Princess Diana awesome? I loved her style both figuratively and literally. And she also looked fresh and feminine without looking like a hoochie mama.

Plus -- she OWNED that short haircut long before it was super cool to do so.

(And clearly I am partial to those who aren't opposed to whacking all of their hair off.)

No, I'm not British but I was sad when she died in that car wreck back in '97. Yes. This African American from Los Angeles watched her funeral in a stuffy call room late one night instead of reading her Harrison's Textbook of Medicine. I cried like a baby when Sir Elton John sang that remix of Candle in the Wind.


I think that Di would have approved of Kate. I also think Kate would have approved of Di's short haircut. And I approve of their non-hoochie-mama-ness.

Oh, and I love Elton John, too.

7. Speaking of fascinating women with short haircuts. . . . did you know that I secretly have a dream of being interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air?

Not. Kidding.

I imagine her saying, "My guest today is Dr. Kimberly Manning, author of the blog 'Reflections of a Grady Doctor' and multiple New York Times Bestsellers. She is also a regular contributor here on NPR and on CNN and a professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine. . ." (Can't you just hear Terry's voice?)

I'll let y'all know when she calls me. Or when her people call my people.

Oh yeah. Speaking of Terry Gross . . . . I just went back and laughed my head off at this old post on my friend Ann's blog. It was about how she's a little bit Terry and a little bit rock 'n' roll. Dang, I feel that way sometimes, too. Warning: You might have to be a Fresh Air fan to find the humor in it. Cracked me up. (Ann always does.)

8.  I got my toenails painted sea foam green this weekend. In fact, it was this exact color.

I was so happy to be getting a pedicure that I told Cindy, the nice woman working on my feet, to choose whatever she thought would be cute--and that wasn't an extra fee (because clearly I'm cheap.) Then I fell asleep in that massage chair. She chose this bizarre color called "Thanks a Windmillion" which, at first, I was rather digging.

Today when I put on my taupe peep toe shoes to go to work, I looked down at those toes and immediately regretted it. This is the problem -- I let her choose a "flip flop color." Totally.

Thanks a Windmillion, Cindy.

9.  I recently saw this man who had immigrated to the United States a few years ago and his main complaint was erectile dysfunction. Or as he described it "I cannot do thee do."


After some questions, my female resident and I learned that even though he had medical problems that could potentially explain this problem, it was likely related to some issues he was having at home. This man looked at us with a very, very straight face and said, "Our women are not like you American women. You American women want to do it, do it, do it all thee time." (NOTE: Please insert accompanying arm-pumping gesture here.) "You American women want it all thee time. Even when you get off of work. You wear thee negligees and thee high heels to get your man in the mood. Our women just lay there like a bump on a log and say, 'Aaaaahhh. Just come and get it.'"

0_0      0_o

Uuuuuh. . . . . .okay.

10.  And last but not least, a few extraordinarily random snaps of Zachary and me on the MacBook photo booth (which he LOVES by the way.)

Yes, people. Admit it. This is exactly what you come here for. Heh.

Wards start tomorrow. Wish me luck and lots of F.P.s. .   .

Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Love's Myopic View.

me and my daddy, eighth grade graduation 1984

"It's like forgetting 
the words to your favorite song.
You can't believe it 
You were always singing along.
It was so easy and the words so sweet.
You can't remember
you try to feel the beat."

~ Regina Spektor

Daddy, I see you in a three piece suit. With a brown suitcase gripped tightly in your right hand and an afro so perfectly round that it defies the laws of afro-nature. I also see you with a bright gold headband around that same natural that, on weekends, you allowed to be distorted by terry cloth and elastic. Your goatee is immaculate, your shorts nineteen-seventies short and your socks Kareem Abdul Jabbar high. There are other times that I see you squatting behind twelve year-old Little League catchers with a that funny little umpire cap and a mask covering your face. Calling out in this throaty and animated voice phrases like, "Yerrrrrrrrrrr outta there!"

me and my daddy, Emory SOM graduation 2012

Later I see you with male-patterned cowlicks in your afro. But still I see you as a strong, athletic thirty-something father in a suit on weekdays and at Getty's Baseball Field on Saturdays.

mommy on my wedding day, 2004

Mommy, I see you as an officer in the PTA at my elementary school and with your brow furrowed over a Singer sewing machine before the first day of school. I see your hand on a steering wheel and hear you snapping Wrigley's spearmint gum in between KABC TalkRadio shows. I see your hair dyed some unnatural shade of reddish-blonde with your dark roots emerging --yet owning the look like the Beyonce of your time--eyebrows arched almost to non-existence. After that, I see you with your coif shorn into a natural. And later with some sassy version of the "Anita Baker" haircut.

retro-mommy with newborn, preemie JoLai (in her twenties, not thirties)

But still in all of those versions, I see you as a thirty-something. 

And yes. On most days for me, Grandma Ernestine is fifty-five with speckles of salt in her hair. Granddaddy Cottrell is nodding off in an easy chair but smiling and loving when he isn't. Mudear is shelling peas on her porch or watching her "stories" or off on a cruise ship in her most dapper attire. Which includes a mink coat. T'Renee is standing in the House of Style Beauty Shop or, depending on the situation, in her kitchen pressing everybody's hair with a hot metal comb and Blue Magic hair grease while Auntie Mattie is smoking cigarettes after closing up shop for the day at Winchell's Donuts.

And yes, I know that Granddaddy Cottrell, Mudear, T'Renee and Auntie Mattie have all gone home. And I know that my Grandmama Ernestine is a rock's throw away from her ninetieth birthday and no where near the fifty-five years old that I constantly see when speaking to her on the telephone. But still. This is how I continue to see her. And them.

Just as I see you--my parents. Through the lens of a ten year old child.

I believe that no matter how old we get, we all do that with the people we love. Even if our childhoods were imperfect, we still freeze-dry people in whatever constitutes the simplest of times. More often than we even care to admit.

I call it love's myopic view. It's this nearsightedness or farsightedness or whatever you want to call it that somehow happens without us even thinking about it.

I know this is true. It's what, I think, often keeps people holding hands well into their sixth decade of marriage and through life-altering illnesses. It's what brings a daughter or son to change the diaper of a parent without even flinching.

Love's myopic view.

But you know? I believe that very thing is what makes it so difficult when matriarchs and patriarchs begin to age and show signs of being mere mortals. Mere mortals. Because to our ten year-old selves, they were never mere mortals. Even if they weren't perfect, they were still the closest things to superheroes in our lives.

And perhaps this is what that view beholds while changing the adult Pamper of a once healthy dear one once they've reached a point of being able to manage bodily excrement for themselves.


But every now and then, you get a jolt out of that time-trippy myopia. You go to see an aunt or uncle or parent or grandparent and suddenly see them with glasses that are clear and not rose-colored. You notice the humped back of collapsing vertebral bones and those parchment paper neck skin folds. And you look and you think, "Who is that?"

I know I have. Especially when a lot of time has passed.

I know I'm fortunate to see my parents regularly. And despite my earlier statement, I actually realize that my mother is indeed sixty-five and that my father is sixty-eight. I know that Tounces (mom) has mostly silver and white hair instead of Dark 'n' Lovely auburn and that my daddy's once electric 'fro is a buzzed down white crop.

I know that.

But on the inside? It's totally different. My heart sees them as thirty-somethings. Totally.


That reminds me.

I have a fairly new friend whom I now hold dear. We actually met because of our blogs but now talk far more by phone and text than by our blogs. Which is both interesting and heartwarming now that I think about it. It's also besides the point, so I'll reroute from that and get back to my point.

One of her parents is sick. Her parent has been fighting a series of very serious illnesses. So far, the words "fighter" and "overcomer" have been understatements. The medical history defies much of what I know scientifically; her parent has lived to see the other side of some pretty hard diagnoses.

Today we talked on the phone about the most recent of these medical setbacks. She wanted to know what I thought. And I consider her a friend--I truly do--and I know she was asking me because she considers me one, too. So I told her that I was concerned. That this sounded serious to me and that, if she was ready, here are a few questions she might want to ask the doctors. And I rattled those questions right off.

Then I froze.

Because I could hear it in her voice. I could hear that struggle between her image of a strong and virile afro-wearing parent rolling around on the lawn at age thirty-five and this reality that her doctor-friend was speaking over an iPhone. It made me imagine that this was my own parent. How would I even get my head around that?

I can't.

When Poopdeck had a massive heart attack, he survived. Just like the thirty-something I imagined him to be, he lived to power walk at the park every single morning and spend summers with his grandsons. So even when he tells me of any ailment, I have to shake myself hard enough to listen and acknowledge it with some pragmatism. And not see it as something for Excedrin or Alka Seltzer only.

Her voice was stoic. She is a professional and an extraordinarily smart human being so she got the facts I was telling her. But no matter how many degrees you have, it's hard to shake that ten year-old image of your parent. No matter what somebody is telling you.

I worried after we spoke today. I reflected and had this ah hah moment after we'd talked. I felt that I'd been insensitive to that ten year-old time warp and gave the facts too direct, too harsh.  She never said or did anything to suggest that, but it's how I felt.

Which reminds me.

When I was in residency my Mudear's baby sister lived not even five miles away from my apartment. My daddy made sure that I got to know his mother's sister and I'm glad he did. Auntie Mac was the only person I knew in Cleveland when I got there and even though she was in her sixties and I was in my twenties, we spent a lot of time together. We grew close and developed a very special relationship over coffee and chats. Even though she looked a lot like my Mudear, her personality was uniquely her own.

I loved her.

From the moment we got to know each other she'd already been dealing with health problems. So my lens was not a ten year old one at all. It was that of an intern and a newly minted physician. I saw her as a mortal, albeit a mortal I loved. Her health failed more and more. In my second year of residency, she peacefully slipped away in home hospice.

I was sad mostly because I would miss her. I would miss taking her three dollars and running to the corner to "play her numbers" or even her getting into the passenger seat of my car while holding an overfull cup of Folgers that always, always spilled all over my cloth interior.

But I knew she was mortal. Even if I would miss her dearly, I saw her with eyes that were okay to let her go.

me and my Mudear (in my Auntie Mattie's kitchen)

When my Mudear came to Cleveland for her sister's homegoing celebration, she sat right beside me on that pew. Like a little girl she fell into a heap on my lap and cried hard and deep. I patted her platinum curls just as anyone would their own child because that was the right thing to do. But what I said in that moment was less so. I remember saying, "It's okay, Mudear. Mac is at peace now. She's at peace."

And don't you know that my Mudear didn't even lift her head? All she said through her muffled sobs was this:

"She's my baby sister. My baby sister."

And she wept and wept until her body sputtered like a car out of gas. While I rubbed her head and closed my mouth.

It didn't matter that Mac's body had been decimated by organ failure and pain. It didn't matter one single bit. This was her baby sister. That was her myopic view of that day--through the lens of a big sister. And when you see it that way, you know that there's nothing natural about being at your baby sister's funeral. At all.

Especially if you still hold her in your heart at a certain point in time. Now I know in my heart that my Mudear was mourning the loss of that version of her baby sister the most. The one that got on her nerves and asked to borrow her things. Not the one with jaundiced eyes and an edematous body.

And you know? I don't even know where I'm going with all of this. And I know that I'm rambling and I'm all over the place. But really I'm just thinking about all of this and trying to flesh it out. That's all.


Talking to my friend made me reflect on my Auntie Mac and how it felt to console my grandmother when she died. It made me think about what she must have been feeling and how this translates to my friend and the health of her parent and how she might be feeling.

And honestly? I just want to be sensitive to the dichotomy between the cherished images of our loved ones that we have seared into our hearts --  and the ruthless picture painted by reality. Because there is a dichotomy there. There so is.

I guess the point is that I'll try to remember this when I'm talking to my patients. I'll choose my words more carefully--and tell the truth, yes--but do so while knowing that this dichotomy exists and must be considered if I truly strive to be empathic.


I just thought of something. Not only do we see our parents and loved ones through love's myopic view--we see ourselves the same way, too. We're shocked when we pass a mirror and see grey hairs here and also there and crows feet bursting from our eyes in photographs. Unnerved when we feel hot flashes and back pains or bewildered when somebody prescribes us with blood pressure medication. It doesn't match up with our myopic self image, does it? I'm thinking that maybe--just maybe-- we, too, see ourselves at our most fertile and virile. No matter what reality and calendars are talking about.


Maybe I'll put that thought on a mental post-it note for later.

So yeah. That's what I'm thinking about tonight. And maybe none of it even makes sense. Or all of it makes perfect sense. Hell, I don't know.

Either way, that's all I've got for now.

Oh, and a few more of these lyrics:

"You spend half of your life 
trying to fall behind.
You're using your headphones 
to drown out your mind.
It was so easy 
and the words so sweet.
You can't remember
You try to move your feet...."

Sleep well. And thanks for listening.

Happy Tuesday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .I can't believe I'd never heard of her until I heard her interviewed on NPR's "All Things Considered."  The sweet and haunting voice of Regina Spektor. . . hear that whole song here:

Monday, May 28, 2012

What they miss.

"You miss so much. It's more than putting your life on the line. It's agreeing to miss out on the living while it's happening."

Those were the words my husband spoke to me one year when I asked if he ever regretted leaving the Army.

Here's why:

The BHE was on the career-military trajectory. He shocked a lot of people when he opted for an honorable discharge after ten hard years. Without even staying in the reserves. That was a stunner with all that he'd done.

And he'd done a lot. An officer. Ranger-qualified. Airborne-qualified. Time in the Old Guard. And even a Jump Master. Admittedly, I didn't know what any of that meant before meeting Harry. I even thought him being a "ranger" meant that he was the park kind. As in the chase Yogi and Boo Boo kind. So yeah, I didn't know WHAT all that stuff meant. And in case you don't either, just know this: It's kind of a big deal-- and it involves a WHOLE lot of time and sacrifice.

So yeah. It was surprising when he decided to become a permanent civilian.

"When soldiers return or get out, it's a shame how they're treated. Why are so many veterans homeless? Or unemployed? It's awful."

And those were also Harry's words.

So today I am reflecting on those service men and women who have lost their lives while serving our country. But I am also remembering those who are alive, yes, but somewhere missing out on life as it is happening.

And that's a lot of people. A lot of people we know and love.

Today I imagined what Harry would have missed if he'd stayed in the military. As an infantryman with that kind of combat training, surely he would have been deployed repeatedly--just like many of his closest friends.

So the selfish part of me is relieved. Relieved that I get the perks of all he learned from being an officer but not worrying now that he is simply a gentleman. And I know--that's so selfish to think. But thanks to the unselfish perspective of my husband, I am fully aware that a strong military presence is necessary. But it happens at great sacrifice.

To someone. Even if it's not me.

So thank you. To those who put their lives on the line--and their living on the line--thank you. And to the families who stand by you and sacrifice so much right along with you--thank you just as much.

Happy Memorial Day.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Forever young.

"May your hands always be busy 
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation 
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful 
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young 
May you stay forever young."

~ Mr. Bob Dylan


Yesterday was filled with laughter and youth. It involved kickball and freeze tag and popsicles. Someone ran off to hide and someone else went to seek. Someone stuck their foot in the middle of a circle and someone else eenie-meenie-miney-moed until someone was finally left as the last one. 

Which meant they were "it."

And that's okay because in this game,  being "it" was just fine.

Those someones were children. And those someones were also mommies and daddies who slowed down from all of their grown up hustling and bustling long enough to remember to be children-at-heart. 

It made us all remember what it felt like to be in that place in life. It also reminded us of how much kids love to see our inner-child. Because they do. They so, so do.

 We get so busy, you know? So worried about the things that we have to do and the things that we haven't done. Or the things that we have done and whether or not they were right.

Are we giving them enough attention? Are we working hard enough to be the best parents? Are we making wise financial decisions? Did we remember to apply to that camp by the deadline? Will we get that promotion?

And so on and so on.

But not on this day. On this day we filled every single inch of the atmosphere with as much innocent joy as we could. Because that's what children who are cherished and safe should have. Innocent joy. Untampered by the constant heaviness of life and reality.

At least most of the time they should.

I'm just thinking. We could learn a lot from children. We could learn about wonder and curiosity. We could remember to take turns. We could roll on grass without worrying about chiggers. And we could throw our heads back and dance like nobody's watching. 

Or at least not care or consider if they're watching.

So that's exactly what we did. We lived and loved and laughed like kids. 

And this went on and on.

Until dusk began to fall and the fireflies began to twinkle.

And it was perfect and joyous and memorable in the purest sense of every one of those words.

And everyone went in when the streetlights came on.

Just like when we were kids.

May you build a ladder to the stars 
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young 
May you stay forever young.

Happy Sunday. May you, too, stay forever young. 

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .both of these versions of that song on one continuous playlist.

First, Mr. Bob Dylan sings it here all quirky and Dylan-y:

Next, Mr. Rod Stewart sings it all raspy and beautiful here. . . .

. . .and this version including Mr. Bruce Springsteen just for Ms. Moon and Shugsie who are both fans.
Springsteen-Dylan "Forever young" by betterday