Finally – A Woman for President

I’m not naive enough to believe that the first female president will significantly alter the misogyny that infects the lives of women and girls in this country. But what I am beginning to believe is possible is something that is a parallel first step: a sense of empowerment.

I have spent a career in medicine, a lifetime in the operating room. Surgeons are (mostly) men. Nurses are (mostly) women. Anesthesiologists play a role something like Chief Financial Officer in this unique environment, the currency being patient physiology. The OR is special in terms of being a place where we take teamwork to a very high level. But in the corporate boardroom of the organization that runs the group of anesthesiologists and CRNA’s in which I work, we are still a throwback to the corporations of decades past. Our board consists of middle-aged mostly white guys. No woman is represented.

To say that I have lived and worked with misogyny is simply to say what women my age have experienced forever. I am certain that some women have been luckier, and some much more unfortunate. It can take years to understand the ways that discrimination works. If I, as an educated white woman, feel it as acutely as I do, imagine how people of color feel, or those without my privileges.

But for once I am beginning to believe that what matters is not the attitudes of the men around me, the attitude of those with power who want to hold on to it. I am beginning to understand that what matters is a belief in something better for women, for the future, and for our daughters. It is a belief that women, with or without men, will make things better for themselves and for their loved ones. That belief is not something that comes easily. You can’t buy it; it isn’t a slogan. It comes from somewhere deep inside, from watching someone persevere while knowing exactly what that perseverance means. Hillary made that possible for me.

I’m with her.

Hope For a New Book

Tomorrow – March 1st, 2016 – my new book will be released.  Hope For a Cool Pillow,  published by Jon Roemer and Outpost 19.  I am excited and grateful and amazed.  No dreams of Amazons this time around.

It has been four years since Good in a Crisis came out.  The path to getting this new book into print has been long and rocky.

Writing HFACP was an arduous process, involved much research, and – because it was partly about my family – required me to step carefully through my personal history to evaluate what I wanted to record.  I wrote a lot that I subsequently deleted.  It felt important to write it down first.  It felt equally important to parse that history and make editorial decisions based purely on what was needed to move the story forward, not on what I wanted to say about myself or them.  I feel as though I stood in one spot and turned a full three hundred and sixty degrees, keeping track of what was in front of me at all times.  I tied my observations together in a story about end-of-life care, a story that juxtaposes the personal and the professional, the empathetic with the economic, the orchestrated with the riotous.  From this singular vantage point, I can continue to turn, taking on other issues, and other stories.

In the past four years, I have learned a lot about publishing.  The industry has changed during that time and continues to do so.  The agent who represented me for GIAC tried to sell my second book, couldn’t, and so fired me.  I didn’t write material that she could sell.  But shortly after firing me, I sold the book by myself.  I don’t know what that means, exactly, but I guess it means she wasn’t the right agent to sell this book.  She suggested I write fiction, specifically humorous fiction.

I have begun working on my next book.  It is not humorous fiction.  But I’m liberated nonetheless.

I am grateful to Jon, who really gets the book.  It’s so nice to work with a publisher who appreciates your work.

Several people helped me at key steps in this process.  One friend read for me when I was just beginning, encouraged me to keep going.  Another friend helped diagnose a lump in the first third of the book, recommended simple surgical treatment that turned out to be curative.  So many friends provided critical life support, the belief that I had something important to say.  And that I had the ability to say it.

So many times I feel like an oddball.  Most people I know don’t do this.  They don’t feel the need.  I’m not part of a writing community.  I can’t explain why I write, but the thing is here inside me and I can’t make it go away.

The need to blog, however, comes and goes.  At the moment, it’s mostly gone.  I suppose this entry is more for me than for anyone else.  Sometimes I just prefer to keep my thoughts to myself.  I recognize that this represents the germination stage of the next book…and it comes not a moment too soon.

Time to move on to the number three.

Deer Season in Harbert

B5112AAD-A922-4A49-A21B-F92A56029502This morning I took a walk in the woods. It was particularly beautiful, a crisp and colorful autumn day. The water ran high in the streams; the sun warmed my back. I wore earphones and sang off-key to the Rolling Stones, pumped my arms, and enjoyed my day off. I knew that overflowing gutters awaited me.

I don’t mind cleaning gutters. I have a long hook that I use to scrape the schmootz out of them. Typically a lot of it lands on my head and clothing, so I have to take a hot shower when I’m finished. Occasionally, I find ticks on my arms. Best to get those off sooner rather than later to avoid Lyme disease. Ah, life in the woods.

Unfortunately, there was a dead deer lying next to my front door. I’m not sure how I missed him when I went out, and last night it was dark when I arrived. But when I arrived back home after my walk, there he was, lying in the midst of the gorgeous blanket of red leaves dropped by the Japanese maple. Dead. I screamed a little. This was a large deer. Quite large.

I went into the kitchen and paced a bit. Hyperventilated. Did a few laps around the island. Then I made a plan.

I would remain calm.

First I called the Chikaming Township office. The nice lady there didn’t know how to help, but referred me to the Harbert Police Department. The Police Department answering machine took my message. They have not yet returned my call.

Then I sat down at my desk and studied the situation through the window. The deer died not far from the bait houses that Franklin Pest Control left outdoors to try and control the mouse population that makes its way indoors into my home each year. Naturally, my first thought was that the deer had died because I’d okayed the mouse bait, and the deer ate the mouse bait, and now I’m a deer killer. I’m okay with being a mouse killer. But that’s pretty much where I draw the line. Guilt crept in.

I emailed my neighbor Liz for the name of a different exterminator. Perhaps one that is more humane. One whose mouse extermination program has fewer unintended consequences and doesn’t make me feel like I’ve killed Bambi.

Then I called another neighbor. Mike. Blessed Mike. I told him my situation. Or rather, our situation. He asked if the deer was still warm. AS IF I’D CHECKED!!! He said he would be happy to take care of it. He was out shopping, but he would stop by and remove the deer from my front yard. And if the deer was fresh, he would butcher it. I told him he was welcome to all the venison he could eat.

Then I went and had a massage. My TMJ is so bad I can barely open my mouth.

When I got home, the deer was gone.  Mike had already dealt with it.

Mike stopped by shortly after and showed me where he’d taken the deer, into the woods across the road. I could still see him. He said the animal had been shot in the hind leg. He’d been dead 36-48 hours; he was already “gassy”. Which explains why he appeared so big around. The poor thing was a 6-point buck that Mike knew; he used to feed him in his back yard. Whoever shot him didn’t bother to track him. So the animal not only suffered, but his meat also went to waste.

Mike also mentioned that deer season doesn’t start for another week.  So shooting this buck had been illegal, perhaps the reason it wasn’t tracked.

Liz called and told me that deer don’t eat what’s in those bait houses. They only eat green things.  I think I actually knew that.

I’m feeling a little better now, and particularly lucky to have such wonderful neighbors.  It seems odd that the buck chose my front yard as his final resting place, but perhaps he’d been here before.  Perhaps he’s the one who’s been eating my hydrangeas all summer.  After all, he died right beside them.  If so, then this must have felt like home.

The gutters can wait until tomorrow.