Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Almost 50

May 30, 2006

In two days I’ll be 48 years old. Almost 50. How do I feel about that? Truth is, it varies from day to day.

Some days I feel puzzled, as if I’m in a foreign country listening to a language I don’t understand. Fifty can’t be right. It’s not possible that I’ve lived that many years. I don’t feel 50! What is 50? Last I noticed, I was thirty-something! Anybody around here speak English?

Some days I feel depressed. I’m OLD! That means I’m unattractive! I haven’t DONE enough with my life! I’m stiff and weak, and getting more so! Wait, slow down! I’m not ready for this. Give me time to catch up! Can I get a body lift, please?

Some days I feel calm. Accepting. It is what it is. I am who I am. The number isn’t important. More important is how aware I am, how much I’ve grown. Personal and spiritual growth doesn’t happen in a linear fashion, can’t be measured in candles and calendars. I’m still me, at the core, have been since birth. Ommmmmmmm.

Some days – well, okay, some times, some hours- I feel open and glad. Fifty means maturity. Maturity means wisdom. Fifty means I don’t ever have to be twenty again. It means I’ll be hanging out with more people who have The Answers than I did ten or twenty years ago. People over 50 tend to have a pretty solid sense of themselves, and often have trimmed their lives down to the meaningful essentials. I’d like hanging out with people like that. Maybe it’ll rub off on me.

Most days I do the old one-two on my own mind. I’m not fifty! I’m “forty-something”. Way different from 50. Fifty is YEARS away! Besides, 50 is the new 40, right?

Well, I’ve got two whole years to get used to the idea of fifty, and figure out how to arrive there in style. Meanwhile, I’m healthy and whole, and a birthday, whatever its number, sounds like a good excuse for a party. So pop the cork and crank the tunes! It’s my birthday!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. It was originally called "Decoration Day" because it was the day the living decorated the graves of those who had died in battle.

I heard an interesting opinion piece on NPR yesterday, suggesting we redirect our memorial day energies from big sales and barbecues back to honoring fallen servicemen.

I've always been a pacifist. I was raised in the Quaker tradition of nonviolence and conscientious objection. I don't like war, and believe it should be avoided if at all possible. I believe we will someday evolve beyond using violence to solve our differences.

Having said all that, I have huge respect for the young men and women who voluntarily join the military and put their lives at risk, and lose their lives in the line of duty. Being against war does not mean being unsupportive of the men and women in uniform, at least in my case. I hold the leaders responsible. I am in awe of what the servicemen and servicewomen are willing to do. And I grieve for those who have lost their lives so young.

On this memorial day, I will thank and honor the fallen and pray for greater wisdom for the rest of us.

This is a poem written by an American soldier and poet Brian Turner, who served for seven years in Bosnia-Hezegovina and Iraq. Mr. Turner reminds us that war has more than one way of taking life.


It happens on a Monday, at 11:20 a.m.,
as tower guards eat sandwiches
and seagulls drift by on the Tigris River.
Prisoners tilt their heads to the west
though burlap sacks and duct tape blind them.
The sound reverberates down concertina coils
the way piano wire thrums when given slack.
And it happens like this, on a blue day of sun,
when Private Miller pulls the trigger
to take brass and fire into his mouth:
the sound lifts the birds up off the water,
a mongoose pauses under the orange trees,
and nothing can stop it now, no matter what
blur of motion surrounds him, no matter what voices
crackle over the radio in static confusion,
because if only for this moment the earth is stilled,
and Private Miller has found what low hush there is
down in the eucalyptus shade, there by the river.

PFC B. Miller
(1980-March 22, 2003)

Never Let 'em See Your Underbelly

I made a HUGE mistake today on the soccer field. I was Assistant Referee (AR) for a U-12 boys game in a tournament. U-12 means the boys are under 12 years old at the beginning of their soccer year, so by now most of them are 12. Two teams, one from Texas and one from Colorado. There are two AR's for each game and one Center Referee (head honcho). The AR's are positioned along the touch line, which is the side boundary of the field. Each AR "runs the line" from the half line across the middle of the field to the goal line at one end. One AR gets the team side, one gets the spectator side. Today I got the spectator side, the side with all the parents. (cue in "pending doom" music)

I made a bad call. It was actually an error of omission. I failed to make an offside call when it was indicated. It was due to my misunderstanding of a fine point of the laws of soccer, and I won't bore you with the details. Unfortunately, a goal resulted, and the parents went bananas. "OFFSIDES, REF!! OFFSIDES! OFFSIDES!"
([In truth, it was only two or three Dads - it usually is- but they were loud enough and awful enough to expand my impression to the whole group.) The center ref came over and we conferred privately. I explained the positioning of the players to him. He educated me, then he made the offside call, took away the goal, and restarted the game at the offside position.

That was not my huge mistake. It was not even the first mistake of my (so far short) reffing life, nor will it be the last. Nor was it terribly egregious, although I was embarrassed that I didn't know the law more thoroughly. All refs make mistakes. It's the nature of the beast. You can't be everywhere and see everything all the time. A good ref does his/her best, gets most of them right, and everybody's happy. Or, everybody's equally unhappy, which is the same thing. As it turned out, the team that lost their ill-gotten goal went on to cream the other team anyway. They were a better team.

No, my mistake wasn't that I missed a call. My mistake came afterward. My mistake was forgetting that referees never make mistakes. Period. By definition. The referee is always right. You may not agree, in fact you may disagree verbally, but the game goes the ref's way. Every time. Parents (and other spectators) disagree all the time, often very verbally, sometimes abusively. The experienced refs have learned to just shut their ears to the parental barrage. Most parents have only half a clue about the laws of the game, and they're on the sidelines, not in the middle of the action, meaning they can't see the game as well as the refs, and they're usually wrong about whatever they're bellowing about anyway, so the good refs ignore them.

I find this difficult. I'm working on it, but when I hear rude shouts from the people behind me, challenges to good calls made with comments like, "Are you BLIND, ref?""Are you watching the game at ALL, ref?" etc, my hackles rise. (I don't know where hackles are exactly, but I know what it feels like when they rise). I want to turn around and educate them, or chastise them, or punch 'em in their obnoxious faces! Conversely, I've been known to chat up a nice group of parents before the game or during a break. Both of these approaches are bad ideas. Do not engage the spectators. Period. In no way, shape, form or fashion. These are probably rules 2 and 3 of referee etiquette.

And ESPECIALLY don't forget rule #1. The referee is always right.

So, when I, after screwing up the offside call, turned and apologized to the parents for making a mistake, I was trashing all three rules. THAT was my big mistake. NEVER say "oops" when refereeing. NEVER admit a mistake. Oops, I mean, we don't MAKE mistakes! We are always RIGHT!

In medicine, we also make mistakes. Of course. People are human. Everyone makes mistakes. So, when I make a mistake in my medical practice, I do what seems to me to be the Right Thing To Do. I acknowledge the mistake, apologize, and fix it. And do my best not to repeat the same mistake. I believe this is the Right approach in life in general.

But in refereeing, it really is different. It really is important that the referee maintain their status as undisputed boss of the field, head traffic controller, the guy (or gal) with the Last Word. The referee must maintain control of the game, or the game will get out of control. "The referee is always right" is one way this crucial control is maintained. There are no debates about what the correct call should be. There are no voting sessions on the field, or discussion with players, fans, or coaches. Right or wrong, the ref is right. We must maintain the illusion of omniscience in order to keep things running smoothly.

Back to my blunder. I naively thought that admitting my mistake to the howling parents and apologizing would calm them down, would satisfy them, would make them see me as human. NOT! Instead, it seemed like it lit a fire under them. First, they looked at me as if I were speaking Hungarian. Then they proceeded to get even more rabid, even more insulting, for the rest of the game.Like jackals who catch sight of a gazelle's soft underbelly, they were on us, growling and snapping. What I had done was give them ammo. Evidence of incompetence, which they hungrily foist upon the three of us for the rest of the game.

I didn't turn around again, didn't make eye contact again, didn't speak to a one of them after the game. I learned my lesson, too late for that game, but not too late for the next. No more Ms. Nice Guy. Rule number one is my armor, my shield, my backbone.

Next time too, I think I'll bring earplugs. And a muzzle (for me). Just in case.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

My Walk to Work

The school year is over! This means I don't have to wear my chauffeur hat for three months, which means I get the pleasure (and exercise) of walking to work each fine morning. I am going to attempt to post some pictures I took on my way to work. It takes me 30 minutes if I walk fairly briskly.

These are my new Keen walking shoes. Tres comfy!

This is the view from my front steps. Oh poor me.

My friend Mike's house, just around
the corner
(nice la
ndscaping, Mike!)

The UNM North Golf Course, a cozy little 9-holer that serves as a dog romp at sunset.

The UNM School of Medicine

and a road median, New Mexico style

Finally, a dorm on the main UNM campus, close to my clinic. I hope these pics post ok - it's my first effort, other than that silly bug drawing. Pretty nice walk to work, isn't it?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Team Name Update

A while ago I asked for help coming up with a good name for a team that will be walking to support breast cancer research. You all had some wonderful suggestions, so I thought I'd let you know the final outcome.

One creative person here suggested "The Golden Globes". I added that to the list at work, and one of my creative colleagues took it a step farther.

We are now "Los Globos".

This has multiple layers of meaning. The obvious "globe" analogy to the Body Part of Interest. The play on the musical group "Los Lobos". And finally, the allusion to the University of New Mexico's mascot, the lobo! Brilliant, eh? (It means "wolf" en espanol)

We're now brainstorming costume ideas. I'll post pictures after the event.

Peg, proud leader of the pack

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Too Hot to Think

"The time is 6:54 pm. Current temperature : 87 degrees. "

I wonder how hot it was at noon, when I was up on the roof in the sun. Pulling the old cooler pads off, brushing out the cooler box, sneezing and coughing as the dust rose and the brittle straw splintered in my hands. Must have been near 100. My sun-kissed cheeks betray my laxness with the sunscreen. It only takes minutes to burn here in Albuquerque, a mile high in the desert sky.

Every year we try to make it to Memorial Day before we turn the coolers on. Used to be a friendly contest between us and our nearest neighbor. Who was the toughest? Who could stand it the longest? Who could "live naturally" without "wasting" water and electricity to cool down? Some years she "won", some years we did.

I don't think I can make it to Memorial Day this year. In fact, as soon as I post this, I'm going back up there in the (relative) cool of evening to finish the job. The heat makes me cranky. I bark at my kids and hiss at the pets. I drink never-enough water to feel saturated in this dry desert summer. What I really want to do is sit on the verandah all day sipping -what is it they sip- mint juleps, delicately fanning my damp ringlets. Or, better yet, fill my tub with cool water and lie there like a turtle, only my head poking out as I wait for the sun to pass over.

Thank goodness for modern technology and whoever invented the Swamp Cooler.

How's the weather where you are?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Nurse Margaret's Magic Words

This year we have a harmonic convergence of Nurses Week with Mothers Day, an event that brought to mind a certain nurse who eased my passage to motherhood.

Nurse Margaret's Magic Words

"Dr. Spencer! Peggy! Please, sit down! Please! We do NOT want to have this baby in the tunnels!"

"Wait! I can't. Hoooo. Just wait a minute! Hoooo. Hoooo." I was contracting and panting, standing in front of the wheelchair, hanging onto my husband. My face was red, my breathing fast and strained, my hold on hubby just short of a vice grip.

Nurse Patty was not happy. She was a clinic nurse, temporarily relegated to transport duty. Not a delivery nurse. She had been assigned to wheel me from the clinic, where I had measured a mere 4cm twenty minutes ago, to the hospital, via the underground tunnel system, more direct and warmer than overground in November, but still quite a trek. She wanted to get there, pass me off, and get away.

This was our second baby. The first one, almost 5 years earlier, had taken her sweet time making her grand entrance, with several hours of labor at home and several hours more at the hospital. Plenty of time for everyone to be at their appointed places on cue. More about her another time. She deserves her own story.

They say every child is different from the get go, and they are right. This second baby rocked and rolled for 9 months, making me feel more like a private gymnasium than a holy vessel of life. I never forgot for one minute that I wasn't alone in my body. And when the time came, man, that kid wanted OUT. My labor changed from frequent but mild squeezes to out and out hard labor the instant my water broke as we pulled into the lot outside the clinic. Good thing we had gone there when we did. I had called the doc in confusion minutes before, asking, "How am I going to know when to come in? The contractions have been a minute and a half apart since I first felt them a few hours ago and they've never been strong." He wisely advised me to come on in, taking the fact of my phone call as evidence of a change in the labor progress, whether I was aware of it or not (I wasn't). He'd been there before.

After anointing the Honda seat, we made our way from the parkng lot into the clinic. I had to stop twice on the 50 yard trip, put my arms around my husband's patient neck, and pant through what were suddenly much more intense contractions. The patients in the clinic waiting room looked at us in alarm as we passed, and one nurse wondered aloud if this was the right place for us at this stage. Perhaps we should be at the hospital.

Our beloved and highly competent family doctor took us calmly into an exam room to "check" me, making reassuring noises to everyone. Getting up on the exam table and lying on my back was about as appealing as standing on my head in a tar pit, but I managed somehow, and he did his thing. "Four centimeters" he announced.

No way! Four?! Only four? That's out of ten, in case you didn't know. Four is the beginning of the beginning. It's usually not even considered active labor at four. I could have been at four for days. After four is when it gets serious, when the contractions get effective and start to do their work. Well, mine were feeling effective, all right. I thought he was going to say at least six. I was going to have six more centimeters of this? "Yep, looks that way. No, don't go home. Let's have you go over to the hospital. I'll meet you there after I finish my charting."

So here we were, making our halting way through the lonely concrete maze, me balking, Patty urging, my husband trying both to support my labor needs and get me to the delivery suite ASAP. "Stop!" I'd demand. "Here's another one!" I couldn't take them sitting down. I had to stand. There just was no question about it. So I stood. He held me. I panted. I breathed. Patty begged. I sat. We went on. The tunnel seemed endless.

Finally we made it to the elevators, none too soon for Patty. Pushed the button for the 3rd floor. Stopped on one, to take on several visitors and staff. Stood to pant between 1 and 3, not caring what the other riders thought. Out at 3 and into Testing and Triage, where Patty took her grateful leave.

Testing and Triage, or "T &T", is where women come to be evaluated when they're pregnant and have any kind of problem, from a bladder infection to labor. It's staffed by nurses and interns, and is usually a pretty controlled place, where things move at a reasonable pace. The typical pregnant woman at term will present to T &T in early labor and either be sent home to progress or admitted to Labor and Delivery ("L& D", naturally) to, well, labor and deliver.

I was not the typical T &T patient. I was really laboring hard by this point. Internally, I was struggling to find a rhythm, to settle in for the long haul, to pace my breathing and stay calm and all that other crap you read about that doesn't apply to real life. I felt totally out of control. It was like a giant hand would reach down, pluck me up, squeeze the livin' breath out of me and drop me like a spent sponge, only to wring me out again a minute later. I was only partly present, dimly aware of a triage nurse asking me for a urine sample (There was no friggin way I could sit on a toilet, much less manage a sample collection), of my husband answering the questions I couldn't. I wanted everything to slow down, so I could hang on, so I could catch up. I heard fragments of conversation. "They said she was four." "She doesn't act like four." "Can we check you?" "We better just get her out of here." "Can you walk?"

I could walk. It was a matter of feet from T &T to L &D. I knew that. I had worked in both places, had collected the urine samples, had examined the cervices, had coached the labor and caught the babies. In another life. Now I felt like a stranger, a frantic, out-of-control instrument of someone else's design. I had been taken over, occupied, shoved aside for the crew. My cervix had gone from 4 to 9 during our subterranean voyage, unbeknownst to me. I was already in Transition, that wild-eyed no-woman's land that causes many of us to declare absurdly that we're "not doing this any more", as if we had a choice. All I knew was that this was moving a lot faster than I was ready for. Life had taken over and left me hanging onto the back, just hoping not to fall off. I wasn't sure I could handle it.

Next thing I knew, a cool hand was on my neck , a steady arm around my waist. "Let's go." I stood and started to walk, with this cool stranger helping me. She looked familiar. Long dark hair, cat glasses, untroubled face. We started to move, and made it a few feet before the giant hand came down again. There's got to be a stronger word than "squeeze". SQUEEZE! My mind closed in, focusing on the sensation, struggling, fighting. Then Margaret's two strong arms wrapped around me, and her calm voice spoke low in my ear. "You can do this."

"You can do this."

Four simple words. One simple concept. It sunk right into me, all the way down. From top to bottom, her gentle confidence became mine, and I felt my breath slow, my shoulders soften, my body relax. Her words settled into my womb, and I felt it, too, relax and open. The last centimeter gave way, the gates were wide open, it was time. And I believed her. I believed her.

The last minutes of labor are a bit of a blur. A nurse telling me to go ahead and push. Me insisting I'd wait for my doctor, while I panted and held off. Doctor arriving just in time to throw on gloves. Husband right there, touching and encouraging me. Two gigantic, wrenching pushes, mostly involuntary and entirely effective, and here came Derek, diving headlong into life.

I fell back exhausted, bathed in sweat and grateful tears, holding my slimy baby on my slimy belly. Taking what felt like my first voluntary breath in days, I understood that what had just happened was done TO me more than BY me. If I had passed out in the tunnels, my body would still have done its job, and this boy would have been born. It's a natural process, unescapable, inevitable. Maybe "through me" is a more apt phrase. "They come through you; they are not from you," cautions Khalil Gibran.

So maybe I didn't do much. Maybe the Universe picked me up and squeezed me like a grape until the tender flesh inside popped out. Maybe I was just a tool, the skin of the grape, a holding tank. But, as I gazed down at this wild child who had taken me on a wild ride, as I felt the love bloom inside me, I heard again the magic words of Margaret the nurse, "You can do this" and felt the rise of gratitude and pride. It couldn't, after all, have happened without me. And, though logic tells me otherwise, I don't think I could have done it without Margaret.

I ran into Margaret (and this IS her real name) in the supermarket one day, when wild child was about three years old. I reminded her who I was, and thanked her for her magic words and her steady hands. She just smiled and nodded. All in a day's work. Last I heard, she had gone on to become a midwife, a perfect move. She'll be smoothing the passage for many fortunate women.

And she'll never know how often, even now, I think of those magic words and say them to myself. In times of struggle, when the task seems impossibly huge, when life's pain threatens to overwhelm me, I remind myself.

I can do this.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Universe-al Mantras

"Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should." (Kahlil Gibran)

"Let go, let God." (Alcoholics Anonymous?)

"Don't push the river." (Barry Stevens)

"Trust your life" (Peg's therapist)

Just thought I'd share these simple but profound statements that I try to remember and live by.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Do I LOOK Like a drug whore?

"Hey, Peg! There's breakfast in the lounge!" one of the nurses called. "Better get it before it's gone!"

I knew. I could smell it. Coffee, sausages, something baked, something savory. My un-fed salivary glands were working overtime. A cup of green tea just hadn't cut it, and my puny yogurt was looking punier by the minute. Pharmarama (not their real name) was supplying food today. A real breakfast. Cooked and all. The lovely Pharmarama representative Elizabeth (not hers either) was waiting in the lounge to fill our ears as we filled our bellies.

I was sorely tempted. But as I considered, a memory rose up and shook a scolding finger at me. A year or two ago, a friend had asked if I was going to the Medical Meeting in San Diego. A weekend in the sun, all expenses paid by Big Daddy Drug company. Thousands of dollars' worth of rooms, food, and entertainment. Oh yes, and a little "medical education" thrown in to make it legal.

I looked at her, drew myself up to my full 5'3", hoisted a self-righteous, "
of course not" look onto my face and demanded, "Do I look like a drug whore?" (Thankfully, she didn't answer)

We doctors get a lot of exposure to pharmaceutical representatives. They bring us samples. They bring us food. They give us pens, pads, clocks, calculators, tote bags, etc. They send us to San Diego. They provide us with "educational opportunities" in the form of dinner lectures, meetings, articles, impromptu informal conversations over free breakfasts.

What do they get in return for all these gifts they so generously hand out? Our ears. Our minds. Our business. They get to tell us about their drug and how great it is, how it beats out the competition hands down. They flash graphs at us while we spread cream cheese on our bagel. They leave us articles we never read. They give us trinkets with names of drugs on them in hopes of subliminally influencing us in our prescribing practices. We hand out their samples, which may or may not be the most appropriate drug for the situation (I have seen some wildly inappropriate uses) and may or may not increase our use of said drug.

Most docs I know claim that they aren't affected by this deluge of biased "information". They say they prescribe what they think is right, based on their own research or experience. This may be true, but I ask you; if Pharmarama didn't get something from their efforts, something they could put in the bank, why would they continue to do what they do? They wouldn't. And they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on us. This is a gazillion dollar industry we're talking about. They wouldn't continue to make these "investments" if it wasn't worth it to them.

It's a matter of constant ethical debate in the medical profession. Should we accept gifts from the drug reps? Should we even spend time with them? Does the money they spend on us come out of our patients' pockets? Can we be neutral? Does fraternizing with them make us "drug whores", like we tease each other?

I have nothing against the pharmaceutical reps as people. One of my colleagues is married to one, and one of my friends is dating several. Most of them are very nice and charming folks. Of course, this is part of their job description, but still...they're polite and I feel obligated to be polite back. In residency and for several years afterwards, I was one of the docs who always listened to the spiel. I felt guilty if I didn't. I was raised right, and I knew it wasn't right to eat and run, or to accept a gift without saying thanks.

A few years ago, I decided to "just say no" to drug reps. Rather than draw some arbitrary line between "okay" and "not okay" (e.g. a sticky pad is "okay" but a trip to San Diego is "not okay"), I drew the line at my own feet, so to speak. Everything was "not okay". This was made easier by the fact that my clinic stopped accepting samples, for fear our lousy record-keeping was going to land us in regulatory jail. The frequency of rep visits did decline, but I have still had to test my own resolve on a number of occasions.

As this internal debate raged in my conscience, the mouth-watering aromas wafted down the hall each time a staff member exited the lounge with a full plate. What should I do? Should I give in to my gut and ethics be damned? Or should I retire to my office, close the door and dig gamely into my yogurt like some monk with a hair shirt? What if I just ate a little bit, and only smiled at Elizabeth without listening to the spiel? Would that make me a "little bit of a drug whore"? Or is that, like "being a little bit pregnant", a wishful impossibility?

What do you think?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

My First Time as Top Dawg

Try something new, I always say. Good idea, right? Spice up your life, get some perspective, challenge yourself!

Today I tried "being a center referee" in soccer. Brand new experience for me. I've watched soccer for 15 years, played soccer for 7 years, and been a sideline referee for 1 year. So you'd think I'd have a pretty good idea of what to expect, right? Think again, bright eyes.

I should have known better. After all, one of the main lessons I learned each time I started a new soccer activity was that I had no idea what the next step was like until I experienced it. Parents who watch from the sidelines, yelling directions and criticisms as if they know the game inside and out, have no clue what it's like for their kids to be out there playing. Until the parent plays. Parents who play develop an instant respect for their kids. Once I started playing, I stopped yelling from the sidelines.

Players, in their turn, tend to get critical of referees. They think the ref "has it out" for them, is favoring the other team, is blind, stupid, incompetent, slow. I've been there, too. Until I became a referee. It's a whole different view of the game, and it carries a heavy responsibility, even for the linesman. Lines
person, in my case. Players who ref develop instant respect for the referees. Once I started reffing, I stopped yelling from the field.

From linesperson to center referee is a bigger step than you might think. The center is the Top Dawg. The center's word is Law. This means the center has to know the rules cold, and to make decisions quickly and, well, decisively. And stick with it, even if it's the wrong call. The center keeps time, records goals and penalties, keeps the game under control. It's a big responsibility, a lot to do, and I had beginner's butterflies.

They gave me 7 year olds. Oh good, seven! Sounded manageable. Good way to practice being an authority figure, which is always a challenge for me. At seven, the field is tiny and there are only eight players on the field at a time, four from each team. No goalie. I won't bore you with the rest of the rules, even though there aren't many. The players are tiny and cute and you'd think the parent comments would run along the lines of "Aww, look, he kicked the ball!" Think again, bright eyes.

I was amazed by this group of parents. "Enthusiastic" doesn't begin to do them justice. You'd think their tots were World Cup contenders. Constant uproar from the sidelines. Shouted instructions to the kids. Shouted instructions to me. Loud protestations at my calls. Real anger if a call went against their team. Deafening cheers for each goal. That last, I don't mind. Positive enthusiasm is always welcome. But the rest....whatever happened to "setting an example of mature behavior"? Whatever happened to "respecting authority"? Whatever happened to "Hey, they are only SEVEN YEARS OLD for crying out loud, and this is A GAME, folks!"

Mercifully, a seven-year old game is short, and I was so busy keeping track of everything (like which team was headed which way - don't laugh, it gets confusing!) and trying to focus on the game and do my dang job, that I didn't have attention left over to chastise the parents. Not to mention I was new and nervous and none too sure of myself. I wish I had. Chastised them. I should have. Now I want to go back and do it over again, with my 20-20 hindsight and my belated bravado.

Next time I'll
begin the game with a lecture to the parents. I'll hand out chill pills, pleas, threats. I'll remind them that the players are children, they are adults, and request that they act like it. I'll tell them firmly that if they don't behave, I'll throw them out and they can watch the game from the parking lot. More importantly, I'll remind myself that my word is Law, that I am the Top Dawg, and that nobody, but nobody, better mess with me! Just try it, chump! Grrrr! Back off! Woof!

The kids were just boys playing soccer. They were cute. They were energetic, active, involved in the game.
Thank goodness, their parents' attitudes hadn't trickled down to them. They did what I said, accepted my calls, played the game without protest. Until the last minute. I called a corner kick. As the boys gathered in front of the goal, one of the defenders gave me that look. The look that said, "What the fuck is that call, ref?". Hands outstretched, palms up. Mouth open in righteous disbelief. I'm sure you can picture it. A very grown up look, shockingly out of place on a seven year old face. I almost thought I imagined it, but he held it long enough to be sure I got it. Little prick.

At the time I was pissed (in case you couldn't tell). But now, looking back, I'm just sad. Sad about the messages those parents were giving their kids. Sad that at the tender age of seven years old, that child had already internalized an attitude and a behavior that was just going to fester and grow with him. An attitude that, in the end, would do him as big a disservice as those he foist it upon.

I'll take on Top Dawg again sometime, wiser and tougher after my surprising experience today. I expect my sadness will turn to wisdom and my shock into strategy. Meanwhile, I'll be licking my wounds and practicing my woof.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Pearls from the Blog

As I gradually become a more experienced blogger, I learn things I think might be useful to others. If you're an old blog-hand, just ignore this post. Or add more suggestions and pointers. The more the better!

One really useful site is bloglines . This site lets you list your favorite blogs all in one place, and you can see at a glance which ones have new posts, and go directly to them by clicking on their link right there on the page.

Another recent discovery of mine (thanks to dribear) is the weekly Grand Rounds, which is a compilation, by a different host each week, of various blog posts from around the world. It's loosely medical, meaning it can have scientific posts, medical news articles, creative writings, personal experiences, whatever. If you click the Grand Rounds link above, you'll get to a page on the blogborygmi site, hosted by a generous ER resident who is willing to coordinate grand rounds, and you can see a schedule of hosts for upcoming Grand Rounds. These are the folks you send your submissions to, and the sites you visit for Grand Rounds. I've also noticed that many blogs I visit will put a post up each week linking to the week's Grand Rounds, as a courtesy to the host. This week will be hosted by polite dissent. It's a good way to link to a bunch of sort-of related posts all at once. Also, if you're a blogger, it's a good way to increase traffic to your site.

Lastly, just so's ya know, those of you who comment here, your comment also gets emailed to me, so I can be alerted when it's happened. I'm usually pretty good about going to the blog and responding to comments, but sometimes I get enthusiastic with my delete key and then forget that I had comments (see my "middle aged memory" post). Also, the email doesn't say which post you have commented on; it just gives me the text of your comment. So if I don't respond, I apologize, but please know I do read every comment, at least once.

Oh no, there is one more thing. I don't know if anyone pays attention to the ad banners down there on the left. If you do, you might have noticed that when my "vaginal discharge" post was up top, the green square ad was all about "vaginal odors". Now, since the post about the gal at Wendy's is up, the ad is for Wendy's. This is because blogger has a feature that allows "bots" to "crawl" over my blog and find key words and create ads. Then, if people click on those ads, I get a percentage. I signed up for this, and for the Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and Google Search boxes, in a burst of optimism, in hopes that I'd eventually be able to quit my day job and just blog for a living, supported by my commissions from clicks. FYI, I have to date netted a whopping $2.59 in three months. So much for bursts of optimism. Good thing I like my day job!

'nuff. Apologies if I have bored you. "Drug Whore" post coming soon.

The Authors of "50 Ways" Interview on KCHF TV

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