I did not get picked for jury duty – again. I never do. I was the only one who showed up dressed in a suit.*  I suppose it was the death kneel in the ears of the lawyers to hear I am a psychiatrist with some legal experiences who has some knowledge of forensic psychiatry (it was a criminal case).  After eight hours of scrutiny they picked fourteen ‘neutral’ folks. I felt sorry for the ones who asked to be dismissed from duty as they are the sole income/caretaker at home and to miss work for eight days would be ruinous.

I am home now and having a snort. When I was in Canada William and Laurent gave me a bottle of rye. I had not opened it until now; it is delicious.

As I type this, Harper is licking the coverings of the armchair. She often does this; it is her inscrutable habit.  Perhaps she likes the fabric’s course texture of the rough or it has salt in it. If Spo-fans have pets who do likewise I am interested to know what is your hypothesis to the cause.

The new office is wonderful but the water is bad. It has a tin taste to it, as if the pipes are made of aluminum. Worse, a pot of tea made with the bilge has and ‘off’ taste  and there is an oil slick on top of it. Blech. I am lugging in jugs of drinking water which I buy on my way to work from the local Circle-K.  Alas, putting in a proper water system is not high on the boss’ ‘to-do’ list of renovations.  We don’t have a conference room so all pharmaceutical lunches are indefinitely canceled. Last week one was accidentally scheduled and we ate standing up in the kitchenette which doesn’t have tables and chairs yet. **

Tomorrow is symphony night. They are playing bromides so the odds of Urs Truly falling-asleep are pretty good. Nowadays Someone ushers and I sit alone so there is no one to poke me in the ribs when I nod off. Happily, I’ve discovered as sentinel coffee beats him by a country mile. In order to wait for the traffic to dissipate we may stop in after the show at a local bar and have another snort – good stuff (no rubbish) and no local water/ice please. Do I sound bad to disclose I am looking forward to this more than the music?

*It has been a few years since I donned my suit; it still fits thank you very much.

**The Rx representative brought in Chik-fil-a, which I have never had until now. To my surprise the food was relatively healthy consisting of salads and chicken wraps.  Not bad.  Aren’t we not supposed to not eat their wares?  I forget if they are on the boycott list anymore. It is hard to be politically correct when one is edacious and there is a sudden arrival of free eats.

I’ve been summoned to jury duty; I am not pleased.

Mind! I am proud to do my civic duty and truth be told I think I would find being on a jury a fascinating experience – if they would let me. As Hamlet says, aye, there’s the rub. In the countless calls to come to court not once have I been chosen.  Waiting in the jury room, I sometimes play a little game with myself: how long into the process will I get before I am dismissed.  The penny drops when I am asked to tell about myself .

“Yes, your Honor. I am a board certified psychiatrist. I have some legal experience with court-ordered treatments and commitment trials. I used to work in a law firm reviewing notes for depositions. I am an expert in psychology and I know something about the legal process. I believe I am quite qualified to be serve on a jury and not be persuaded by emotions or lawyer tricks.”

Normally I don’t get past the “P” word before I am thanked and dismissed.

I this took only an hour I wouldn’t be so nettlesome but I usually have to wait the full day before I am paraded in front of His Honor for the inevitable conclusion.

It seems rather tedious. Can’t they put me into their file system as an A-1-anathema and leave me alone?  Oh well. It is only once a year or so.  At least I get the satisfaction of having done my civic duty.
I will show up in a suit with bow tie.  This is somewhat to reflect the dignity of the law but it also makes me stand out (and not in a good way) from my peers who often look like they just came in from working in the yard. Formally dressed with a beard I look even more the cliche shrink; this makes me even more an object of suspicion.  I will have some medical journals with me. They may as well be picket signs in big red letters that say “PASS ME OVER”.

Too bad. I am curious to be on a jury but it ain’t gonna happen. In the last time I was dismissed the fellow chose over Urs Trudy was a gas station clerk who seemed confused and uncomprehending of what was going on. It was he not I who determined whether or not the defendant was guilty. It makes you think.


I recently heard a lecture on creativity in which the speaker said if you think you have come up with something original you are either wrong or the idea is bad. His main point was people often shun from ‘being creative’ as they feel obliged to come up with something novel, something nobody has done before. Creativity (he explains) is about taking the things you have before you and making something of your own out of it.

I suspect I haven’t had an original idea for years, if not decades; everything I know and say is a pastiche of things learned or read or experienced. My hummingbird brain is a gallimaufry of everybody else’s materials even when I think I am being clever and original.

Blog writing is no exception. When I sit down to scribble out of my thoughts a conglomerate of authors arise in my head like Mulan’s ancestors. “Whom am I going to emulate today?” I wonder.  My “team” consists of Charles Dickens, David Barry, Alice Thomas Ellis, with cameo appearances (when they are in the mood) of Gore Vidal, Jean Kerr, and Carl Jung.*  What a collection! It certainly does not lack for variety. Can you imagine the dinner party conversation?  Ellis would loathe Jung and nobody would want to sit next to Charles D. as he’s so wordy. Sometimes I imagine them sitting in a salon waiting to be called upon or (more likely) blurting out advice and giving contradictory directions. Mind! ** In my fantasy I don’t see them vying for attention or wanting the upper-hand; they seem to me to be more like student advisors who have a lot to do and have to stop out of obligation to help me decide topic and word order.  My relations are similarly annoyed; they still watch what they say around me knowing I am collecting things like a junkman to take home and resell. I consciously try not to imitate or ‘borrow’ material from blogger buddies, but inevitably something comes up that can be traced back to someone’s entry,  sometimes ages ago. It is disappointing my unconscious isn’t more discreet.

I am glad to be free from the concern to be ‘completely original” for I enjoy congregating my flitting thoughts and cutting and pasting them collage-like into prose. Even as I type out this rubbish I haven’t a clue from whence it comes. A few hours later I will probably realize once upon a time Mr. Vidal or Mrs. Ellis said this exact thing. Stinko.

*Sometimes I don’t realize the style until afterwards. This is more amusing than conscious channeling.

**That’s Charles. He has a panache for fustian interjections.

Finally! The temperatures are dropping; we are seeing lows dipping into the sixties. To celebrate this blessed event, I got out the autumn decorations. Soon the house and office will don orange and brown colours and pumpkins. Someone doesn’t like the Halloween items to go up to soon though.

The AC is barely turned off but it’s time for Us Truly to locate a Christmas pudding bowl. I’m going back to MI this year (alas) for Christmas, so I can compensate for staying home by making Christmas pudding #2. I made my first last year improvising with a casserole dish; it turned out decent. This year I want a proper bowl and no rubbish either.  In my web searches and advice from Facebook friends I have leads to one from Marks & Spencer (whatever that is) and first cousin once removed. She tells me my great aunt Susan had one (really?!). I am astounded to hear someone in my family made puddings. Who knew?

A stalwart salesman at the gym gave me a test for body-percentage, which stated I am 20% blubber. This is highly discouraging if this is accurate for it means nothing is altered despite four years of exercise. There’s a part of me that wants to quit all this time consuming and tedious exercise and just stay home and watch “Law and Order” marathons like Someone, as it doesn’t make a hill of beans difference.

It is Sunday and there’s work to be done. I need to finish paperwork and I want to read blogs (for I am quite negligent). Perhaps shopping is due for I have a handful of photographs in various dimensions in want of frames. These gamines have been stuck in the frames of existing photos and everyone look quite crowded. They look like someone was posing for a formal picture only to have someone run in at the last minute and get in the way.

Going out is a bit ticklish for I started a probiotic for ‘general GI health”. I won’t go into details lest Spo-fans are eating lunch but these nefarious wee-beasties have turned out to be absolute gangsters raising hell in my entrails worse than a trip to Central America. Oh the embarrassment.

This week I have jury duty – again. I am continually summoned on a regular basis. I am proud to do my civic duty and I really would like to serve on one. However, as soon as I open my mouth and explain my credentials as a board-certified neurologist/psychiatrist with legal experience, I am dropped like a hot potato. I am gambling this is going to happen again for later that morning I have an appointment with The Good Doctor for a routine check-up. He is well over four feet and he means to tell me my Vitamin D level is low – again.  Apparently there is a detour in my duodenum which goes directly to the Twilight Zone for what else explains such low levels despite xertzing down dozens of D’s?

Anne Marie – I dedicate this one is to you!

Recently a patient of mine described being vexed for his 13yo daughter, who is most anxious about ‘fitting in’ and being ‘different’.  While I empathize with the child – having felt the same at her age – I now see absolutely no value in achieving that awful goal. It did make me think what else don’t I give a damn about thanks to age and wisdom.

What may that be? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a list:

Being closeted. 

It’s amazing: at one point in my life I was terrified what people would think ‘if they knew’. In the manner of Ann Marie AKA Warrior-Queen now I don’t give a flying f-ck.

I can’t think of one gay/lesbian person who regretted coming out too soon but they all say they regretted waiting so long.  Sheer liberation.

Old-fart activities.

I am not ashamed to state on most Saturday nights I am pleased as punch to stay home, read a book, have a snort and go to bed early.  A hot cup of cocoa and a thumping good read beats bar hopping by a country mile.

Hanging out with the ‘A list”

I am no longer interested in networking with the ones who can advance me in life or invite me to the right parties. I like people for their wit, intelligence, and warmth rather than thems with the connections, the diplomas, the accomplishments.


I have a beard and I don’t moisturize. My face shows every wrinkle earned through blood, sweat, and tears. I look 53yo because I am 53yo. I wear clothes until they have to be replaced. Spo-shirts are my style, and not a fashion. If I need this year’s Pradas and Armani suit to attend a function I stay home thank you.

Being Midwestern

F-ck that sh-t. If I see injustice or rudeness I speak up. “Being nice” becomes less and less attractive with each passing year. One of my favorite new expressions is “Stop that. That’s ugly. You’ve got no business acting that way.”

Keeping up my good Henley St. name.

An expression of yore meaning being careful not to do anything that might make the neighbors talk. Provided I am not rude or breaking the rules of courtesy I am a-ok to do what I want.

Guilty Pleasures

I have no more guilty pleasures; I only have pleasures. If I want to eat Ramen or watch Dark Shadows or listen to The Specials I do so without shame or justification.


Tell me something you are too old and wise for anymore.

All day long things pop into me gulliver: memories, characters out of books and scenes from movies, songs, and words of wisdom from long ago mentors. As a shrink pause to  wonder ‘why’ this item suddenly appeared and what triggered it and what does it tell me about my situation or self. Sometimes these pop-ups are worthwhile to share with patients to illustrate a point.

Today –  for no apparent reasons yet realized – this poem or lyric – appeared:

I still remember a summer gone by

Why was it over so fast

I still remember when we said good-by

Why can’t our summertimes last?

Do you remember me? once I called you my own

I’m sad as I can be for it’s no fun all alone

Why can’t a memory roll away like a tear?

Why do I go to my window 

Hoping you will appear?

Cause I need you

Cause I miss you

Cause I wish you were here.

Curious: I can hear the song clearly but I can’t remember the context. I think it was in a movie. *  Going just with the words, the it appears to be about someone longing for another now lost to him or her. In my process of expanded imagination (as a good Jungian does) I sense this isn’t about me longing for some past love but someone – or something longing for me to return to it. I am not sure. Certainly it is about longing for something or someone that is no more.

It makes me think what is it I am missing and longing to reconnect with?  I don’t believe this is a literal longing for some past love; it is something more esoteric and profound. Indeed I hear it recited in a female voice; this makes me think it is a symbolic representation of something and not of someone.  Some sort of Anima message.

It is a bit unsettling. It isn’t so much I can’t deduce what it is or why it is popping up all of a sudden from the recesses of my pumpkin. What is concerning is its ‘past’ element. There is a longing to go back and retrieve something lost and reconnect. I am usually suspicious of “going back” as it is not forward. Yet I don’t feel this is a siren song. It sounds lost.

There is something of which I am out of touch calling me to join her/it.

Certainly the emotions it evokes are pathos and sadness.  So what is it I have lost in myself? Why is it repairing now? And how to I find it?

I need not worry. Eventually it will manifest itself consciously either from more careful analysis or merely in time. Truth and archetypal energies will be heard; if they don’t succeed the first time they keep at it (through dreams or daydreams or synchronicity) until the person connects with it.

Meanwhile I feel the melancholy of not finding the path to it.  I am missing something and I need to find what it is.

* I would be most grateful if some Spo-fan can ‘name that tune’ for me. I think knowing some of its actual context would help me to solve the mystery.

31fLiPdNrRLMy last entry so moved The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections they sent me a few mementos to add to my box: a dried herring and a bone of some unidentified animal.  The dears.

clip_image001Tonight I am in a disconsolate mood for my exercise did not go so well.  First of all, I forgot my weight belt – left it at the other gym on Monday. This always makes me feel fatuous. *  Feeling timorous to do things too strenuous I ‘cut back’ but hurt my back anyway.  Recently I sent The Personal Trainer some videos of me doing some exercises.  The feedback was quite critical; I am doing just about everything wrong.  It was a disappointment.

ICD-101 October starts the new billing codes at work. I’ve spent three months tediously revising charts over to the new codes so we can get paid for goodness sake.  ICD-10 is the new coding; DSM-5 is the new diagnosis list, and “Mobile Notes’ is the new stencil for writing proper notes for Medicare. It seems apt to have new things for a new office. My diplomas and objects d’art are up on my walls and it all looks quite nice. Across the street is a fairly good Chinese restaurant.  The outside is shabby looking but the service is quick and the staff quite amiable.  So I have a good gig.

FatLadySingsNow that is ‘the season’ again, I will be attending the opera, the symphony, and the ballet as well as a handful of theatre.   If ever I can figure out how to fix the calendar app, I could tell you what I am going to see. Meanwhile, I must rely on Someone to inform me what happens and when.  I think this weekend we hear Tannhauser, the first ‘live from the Met’ broadcast.  Jolly good fun.  Just remember to bring supplies and a change of clothing.

On the bedroom dresser is a plain wooden box which I bought at an auction in Pennsylvania so many years ago I cannot remember when. In the box, sold as something made in the late 1800s, is a removable little top shelf, divided into three sections in which to place smaller objects; larger bibelots fit below. I don’t often go into this box for it contains nothing practical or necessary for daily doings. Yesterday I noticed it was quite dusty so I removed the knickknacks which reside on top of it (a carved wooden orca and an eagle totem pole) and looked inside.

In the top tray is a plain stainless silver key, without markings or suggestions of what it may open. I know what it is: it is the key of my house in Chicago. It was a lovely place with vegetable and flower gardens, wooden floors and a standing bathtub deep as Lake Michigan. In another section are the black beads and silver cross of a rosary, broken, given to me by a Dominican Brother, now deceased.

Under the tray reside not too many things, a gallimaufry of memories. There are two collars, red and blue, worn by the cats Claudius and Tiberius. On the tags is my Chicago telephone number, which I cannot remember anymore. A brass doorknocker, shaped like the bust of JS Bach, sits propped among funeral cards – the latest is of Wayne “The Cajun” J. The knocker was taken from the door of my room the last night I slept in my grandparent’s home, the day of his funeral. I suppose it was theft but I wanted a souvenir of childhood’s end.   There is a whimsical collection of plastic flamingo swizzle sticks, tied with a rubber band now fragile and ready to snap if I dare touch it. These are from my halcyon days of Kew West visits, one from each year I suppose, leftovers from Sunday brunches at Big Ruby’s, now closed. Finally there is a round tin, with the ironical label ‘A lump of coal” a tongue in cheek Christmas present from a piano teacher from the 80s. In a small cotton pouch with a hole in its side is a silver necklace – my first piece of real jewelry. I don’t wear it anymore, as my physique has changed and this is for a younger man’s neck.

After inspection I shut the box and put it back on the dresser and I began to weep. It wasn’t about the memories – for all were pleasant – but for something more ineffable upon which t I can’t quite put my finger, something about loss, love, and Life in general.

When growing up I would weep whenever I read ‘The Littlest Angel”. For those who don’t know the story, the littlest angel gives God a present consisting of a box of memories of stones and the collar of his deceased dog. God choses this gift as the prize most apt to become the Christmas star.   These two times of tears are one in the same. Even now I am welling up and I cannot write more.

Journal writingI read a lot of blogs. Many are popular; all are entertaining –  I would not be reading them otherwise.  Mind! I think all blogs in my links are splendid. The writers, many of them well over four feet, are ’well known’; they have plenty of readers.  Alas, a some of them seem not to have many visitors. (1)  I find this frustrating as they are TGR. (2) Their blogs are well written and well worth a look-see.  Today I thought I would tell you about seven of them so you may consider paying them a visit if you aren’t already. I am pointing out the ones who seem to me to be without the audience they deserve. I hope you will enjoy them as I do. I think they would be grateful for a wider audience. (3)

Spewing Truth in the face of Lies – Witty, charming, and sharp writing about politics and technology. Half the time I don’t understand the techie stuff, but his style is a delight. He often clarifies political matters for me.

Cliffie’s Notes – Eileen’s blog is brilliant. The gimmick: a large fish is plotting with her sea sisters to overthrow us ‘Monkey People.  Her reviews of B-horror movies (from a fish point of view) are hilarious.  I wish her work was more appreciated.

In Dodd we trust – I almost did not put Michael’s blog on this list for I suspect he has lots of readers but apparently they don’t comment. His thoughtful contemplations bring me serentiy and smiles and a few chuckles to boot.

Willy or Won’t he? – I tend to use ‘brilliant’ a lot but this time it is spot-on. He is erudite with a capital E. He writes about all sorts of interesting things history, music, literature – what does this man not know? I’ve learned so much music from his blog. His personal stories are the most delightful.  He has a tendency to suddenly break out in song.

The Writing Cabin – This is another blog I almost did not put on the list as it is like telling all your friends you know of a delightful quiet chair in a library that no one ever uses – now all will.  John doesn’t post often but when he does each contemplative entry is exquisitely composed. Not a word falls flat. I wish I could write as he writes.

Facing Traffic – D@vid is another one who posts infrequently but each entry is extraordinary pose, whether it is his poetry or his thoughts about life.  Awful confession: he is cute as a bug’s ear and I like just seeing him.

Domani Dave – Mordant wit and great photos. Pay no attention to the announcement he is closing down soon. Go visit/leave comments and keep him going please.

(1) This is the hypothesis; I don’t know for certain if they truly don’t have many readers. My conjecture is solely based on the lack of comments on their entries. For all I know they have a myriad of readers  who apparently never leave a comments !

(2) Thumping Good Reads

(3) And no, I am not getting paid for doing this.

chickenparanoia2Among this week’s bills and bumpf in the mail was the latest edition of “Current Psychiatry”, a journal I regularly read for the “fear column”. In it, it warns of who would have thought it lawsuits. This week’s scare was on the probable liability of suggesting or supporting a patient’s request for ‘medical marijuana’.  The blunt answer was ‘No’ , do not recommend or support such a request. As there is little good ‘proper’ evidence to support such, and it is still illegal on the federal level, a patient or third party suing you after something bad happens while using it is a near- guarantee loss. The writer reminds us malpractice insurance policies do not usually cover marijuana; this is the death knell for doctors to recommend things. Last month’s Cassandra-cry was about the ‘female viagra’ , warning us not to prescribe it without first getting the patient to swear in blood or spit or bright blue ink never to have another drop of alcohol as long as she lives or she will drop dead from fainting on the medication-alcohol interaction.  So much for that medication being prescribed.

After that jolly read I read in the newspaper certain sects see this weekend’s lunar eclipse as the apocalyptic harbinger of the end times. Oh the crashing bore of it all. The fact ‘blood moons’ happen regularly in batches (twelve per century I recall) doesn’t appease or assure. I am disappointed but not surprised we haven’t learned the lesson astronomy is not astrology although I am relieved we no longer sacrifice virgins to appease the mood god’s lust for blood.*

On the subject of paranoia why is it that I am the only one who washes his hands prior to eating in restaurants? Without fail, after I order, I announce I am going to wash my hands (doing so in the proper fashion viz. no touching handles and knobs with cleansed hands). No one else does this; they open the door, sit down and pick up their food in their bare hands and eat. Given everyone’s hysteria about catching Ebola or the illness-de-jour nobody seems to mind handling food after opening the store’s door handle.

Youtube recently reminded me there are more wee-beasties on my desk, keyboard, iphone, and computer mouse than any toilet seat. I admit I regularly wash such devices for this reason.

Alas we are wired to look out for danger and imagine the worst-case scenarios. This all combined with the axiom “Paranoia sells” makes for regular sensational  headlines.  I don’t watch Fox News, but I suspect they make their living this way selling fear and stay tuned for more.

This weekend I plan to watch the moon and marvel at its mysteries rather than dig a foxhole. I will read blogs rather than medical articles. And I plan on having something nice to eat – after I first watch my hands.  I dislike paranoia but I like to think I am sensible.

* Perhaps this is premature. Let’s see what outrages are done Sunday night.

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October 2015
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