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This weekend I did a little preliminary packing for next weekend’s holiday. Normally I am excited in the running around as I gather together the books, shirts, and such  – but I was not. Today there was a sense of disappointment: I have a sad initiation the vacation will be a bit of a let down. Some of this is based on the weather. I hoped by delaying the trip to the end of February Palm Spring would have guaranteed sunny and warm weather. The forecast looks like it will be quite cold. I worked hard to get into shape so I could parade around in my foudroyant shirts and T-shirts (or in nothing at all) and it looks now like we will be under heavy winter wraps. p71 !  However there is a more philosophical elements to my down mood. I’ve been going on this annual holiday since the 90s. The original resort (Key West) is gone and most of the original gang have moved on or have disappeared.  We transferred to Palm Spring with fair success but even that is a-changing.  Some of our favorite restaurants have closed and some of our coterie won’t be coming.

I recently heard the short story “Mono no aware”. Mono no aware (物の哀れ)  is an expression that translates literally as “the pathos of things”. A friend of mine who knows Japanese tells me it can be translated as “an empathy or a sensitivity to the ephemeral element of things”. It is a term of awareness and acceptance of impermanence. MNA has a gentle sadness to it at things passing and the knowledge this is the reality of life. 

Having just heard about it for the first time, I don’t know how depressing or comforting the expression is.  Jack Gilbert’s poem “The Lost Hotels of Paris” reminds me it is the memory and not the thing itself that holds the most worth. 

“If you can’t have tradition, have an adventure” I tell patients when they are bereaving a situation different now that ‘X’ is no more. While I finishing packing this week I will do so with anticipation of reliving annual delights  but I will also try to be open to what novelty awaits. Aware of mono no aware and an openness to what happens, I suspect it will be a good vacation. 


Last week Princess-Goddess asked me via Facebook IM to contribute to her school’s fundraiser. I made a donation. Yesterday I received in the post a thank you note. Not only did she write to acknowledge my gift she wrote out in cursive a few lines about her plans for a science project.* A handwritten thank you note! I was struck speechless but this marvel. I wrote her back in longhand using my best stationary. i extolled her good manners and thoughtfulness. I enclosed 20$, passing it off as a grant for her science project but it was really a reward for outstanding behavior I was so happy. I want her to keep writing.

I am one of the fuddy-duddies who believes handwritten thank-you notes and letters are essential to character if not for civilization. In grade school I learned beautiful and thoughtful penmanship was as important as intelligence and character.  Our handwriting illustrates who we are; it is as personal as a fingerprint.

I remember as a boy being proud of my penmanship.It wasn’t fantastic but it was mine; it symbolized who I was. I remember having developed slightly different styles whether I was writing a letter or signing my name to a document. 

Handwritten documents have a sense of the personal. This is illustrated by my grandmother’s handwritten recipes on index cards. When I touch them I know grandmother had done so. One does not get this sort of intimacy from a fax or word document. 

Keyboards with their automatic spell checks and cut and paste editing do not hone skills that come from the cultivation of handwritten prose. Writing in cursive requires time and practice. It slows us down  to think while we write. It makes me shudder to think kids are  possibly not being taught cursive. Woe onto them who think so! They lose more than they realize.

There is a continual threat to the extinction of my careful cursive. I write more via keyboard and less on paper. What I do write on paper is rushed and this discourages legible beautiful (readable) style. I plan to resist. I realize my paper journal is not just to preserve what I do but it is a means to keep my penmanship from degenerating.

I hope we always keep our hand writing for the beauty, dignity, and intimacy they hold. 



*In the thrill of receiving the letter I don’t remember what she is planning. Nuclear fusion from kitchen utensils or something.


This one is a bit dark; it is an on-line ‘coming out’ on a personal problem. I have two goals in writing it:

  1. a) writing it out may help me solidify my thoughts on the topic
  2. b) I want to reach out to others who may have something similar to get their input and advice.

Over the years I have developed an anxiety about time, more specific: the management thereof. It is a sort of horror about time being wasted when it ought to always spent ‘doing something”. Sitting idle evokes angst. Every minute of the day is judged as being productive or not. Last night I ran around the house right up to bedtime doing things: taking out the trash; putting away the dishes; clearing off counters; doing laundry. While I did these things Someone sat on the couch watching TV while playing a game on his iPhone. I wasn’t making things up to do; these were tasks that arguably needed doing (especially taking the dumpsters to the curb). I sense he was aware of these matters; he was choosing to ‘chill’ after his long and tiring work day. The contrast between us raised in me emotions of mild resentment (dammit there’s work to be done!) but mostly bewilderment how he could relax knowing there were things that could be done. Mind! I didn’t see him as slothful and myself as proper; he seemed to be strong one and myself the neurotic – even ‘trapped’.

There isn’t an official diagnosis for this. There isn’t anything specific in the medical literature. The internet is full up with proposals. I read about ‘Time phobia’, and chronophobia, and “time anorexia”. Time anorexia or chronorexia gets my vote for this matter has at its heart anorexic properties of diligence, control, and fear of drifting from a punitive ideal.

This sense of ‘purpose’ to every minute is also demonstrated in my menu of podcasts. Nearly all of them are ‘intellectual” types. They are full up with history, science, medical matters, even politics – all ‘learning’ which is equivocal to time not squandered listening to silliness.

I wonder if this is how an Olympian figure skater feels in front the judges who are watch and critiquing every minute of my performance looking for less than stellar movements. To be not doing something would be like coming out in my skating costume only to just stand there. What would ‘they’ think?

Even the mundane things in my life are tainted by this anxious need for time not squandered. If I should watch TV I need to be doing something more/else – I just don’t sit.

This is not OCD: I don’t redo things nor do I make up things to do. Indeed there is always something that could be done. The point is can I allow myself to do nothing?

I won’t bother to write out the probable factors that contribute to time anxiety/anorexia. It’s more important to recognize the problem and start working on a solution. The goal is allowing myself to ‘waste time’ as it were. First, change the negative term to something less pejorative – “Quiet time” perhaps.

I think it is The Tao that says one can not make or lose Time but only spend it wisely or foolishly. Perhaps a better approach is to forgo the value judgment and let Time merely happen.


The other day I ran across one of those questions which are supposed to get you to think about yourself in a self-reflective way. Most of these pop-psychology ponders are rubbish but I thought this one had some value:

What is true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry?

I sat down with him over a cup of tea (yes he drinks tea) and we discussed it. He asked what was I doing and I replied. My 8yo self was mostly shocked by my 56yo self but he didn’t cry much – a good sign. However there are a few exceptions:

I am not now working as a ‘dinosaur expert’ nor am I an astronomer, both lamentable to the lad who was gung-ho in his passion to be one or the other. In my defense I continue to be interested in both topics and science in general, so the little twerp wasn’t too disappointed.

I no longer play the piano, which was awful news to Spo-8. That certainly got him to tears.  “You mean all those years of practice when I could have been doing something else is for nothing?”  Yes, I’m sorry to say. He was saddened but I had to admit I am not.

Seriously now, he was quite saddened by my lack of book-reading. In my youth I could not read enough; nowadays I struggle to read a book a month. The tyke say this as horrible and worse than growing up gay. He saw it as a sign ‘growing up’ is not worth it. 

He teared up to hear about all the places I haven’t traveled to see. It was a sort of Monty Python Cheese Shop Sketch as he asked have I gone to see X: ‘no”. He was especially sad about the Northern European places like Norway and Sweden.  “You made a promise” he pointed out between the tears. 

He reminded me he is so excited about growing up to the capability of cooking as many creative dishes as possible and not eat mundane and repetitive rubbish as he eats now. He was amazed by many things I eat now. He had never heard of most of them – but he added ‘but are you cooking anything new NOW?” He had a point. 

Reading, traveling, and cooking can be lumped into the common category of constrains of Time. I tried to explain I have only so much free time to do things. The 8yo Spo said he sort of understood but ended our tea party with a Parthian shot saying it sounded a threadbare excuse. In the parallel universe where he is growing up he will be traveling and cooking and reading thank you very much.

The goal of the question is of course to get in touch with the negligences and shortcomings of ones life and try to recapture some of these things before it is too late. I may not be able to travel/cook/read as much as my 8yo self would like me to do but I can do better. Both of us can feel a bit better for it.  

What is true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry? Please tell me in the comment section. 



It is raining here in Phoenix – a rare event indeed. Alas, The Super Bowl will have to be canceled. Rather I will stay home and drink tea and read books.  Perhaps an afternoon nap will be necessary. I hear one can go on Youtube to watch all the commercials. Why on earth the sports barons allow this is a mystery as it seems to negate the need to actually watch the silly game. 

People get into a swivet over anything and everything these days but I am bewildered I don’t see more remonstrance in the social media on this year’s absence of Valentine Day candy hearts. An unpredicted consequence to the cessation of NECCO (oh the horror!) they aren’t making any more candy hearts. The loss of NECCO wafers was bad enough but ‘no hearts on V-Day’ borders on human rights violations.  On 2/14 I don’t care about dinner or roses; don’t give me no chocolates. I can even go without “I love you” – just give me a handful of hearts. 

Yesterday at Albertsons while looking for picante sauce (hot) I ran across bags of Brachs. My eyes widened; my face was suddenly lit with joy. The sight of the pink plastic bag full of pastel hearts hit me like the radiance of a brilliant sunrise. I could not believe Fate had delivered me such a gift.  I bought two bags. 


While filling up the candy dish with one of the bags (having consumed the other) I wondered how on earth did these lovelies come to be.  I have a terrible intuition these been sitting in some warehouse until now. Like the sausage principle, it’s best not to think too much on it.  Happily they taste the same: a chalky TUMS-like flavor with the redolence of artificial peppermint.  I am a happy Spo. 

Later I bothered to read some of the pale red fuzzy sayings on the hearts. These may be older than I first imagine, for one read “Thou mayest” 

I need to stop composing at work among the no-shows. I write good prose (if I may say so) but my hummingbird brain forgets to post said masterpieces so when I get home I have nothing.  

“The infinite monkey cage” podcast this morning was about whether or not man is still evolving.* One of the topics was the genetics of lactose in/tolerance. Apparently U.K. white supreme types like to drink milk in public as a brazen sign of alleged genetic superiority showing they can digest diary.  It is true thems descended from Nordic stock can digest dairy while most of the world can not. The sight of a sullen skinhead glaring at people while donning a milk mustache doesn’t elicit fear in me so much as the giggles.

Urs Truly has no troubles drinking milk but I dislike the stuff; there is something downright disgusting about it. I think I have one or two glasses of milk in a year max, consumed with the Christmas cookies. Otherwise cow-juice is off the Spo-menu other than the occasional drop into my tea to cut the tannic. 

Someone regularly drinks milk. We used to buy the organic-type kind-to-trees dolphin-safe ultra-pasteurized type that suspiciously lasts for weeks, but he goes though the stuff so quickly there is no need for such refinement. I now buy him the ‘usual cheap stuff’ in large plastic jugs. I catch him sometimes drinking right from the jug which adds to the ‘yuck factor’ of the beverage.**

On the other hand while I abjure milk I adore cheese while Someone doesn’t care much for the stuff. Sometimes we clash on the topic. I try to show I am not arguing but merely explaining why I am correct.  Cheese is various, flavorful, and good on the palate – like my men. Milk is a homogeneous (pun intended) tasteless beverage full of dairy industry matters. Oh well. As one of my analytical professors said to me in my residency:  there is no accounting for taste.


*Short answer: Yes. The podcast is a cross between ‘Cosmos’ and ‘Monty Python’. It is worth hearing.

**I realize there is a lack of logic here; I regularly kiss Someone on the mouth etc. Please don’t write in. 


I read on Facebook and other sites for friendly socializing it’s rawther cold in most parts of the country. Some write it’s downright gelid in their neck of the woods. Living in Arizona has its faults but I am grateful to be here. This week’s highs range between 20 and 23C. By summer the tables will turn and my Midwestern relations will have their comeuppance. But for now I had the upper hand. I can go outside without freezing my wrists off. Suddenly the scorpions seem worth it.

This morning I weigh 78.4 kilos, which is down from 78.8 kilos last week. I started the year at 80.6. Let’s hear it for regular exercise and sensible eating!  There is more to go however. Palm Springs is coming. *

A Spo-fan recently asked for follow-up on The Father Figure and his prostate cancer. I called home last weekend for a check-in. As is his wont The Progenitor tells me all the goings-on of the family until I interrupted him to ask about did he have radiation therapy. He stated he had one week’s worth of RT without any overt adverse reactions and he finds out next month if it did him any good. He then went on to the topic of Mother beating him again at cribbage, indicating he isn’t at all vexed by it so I won’t either.

insanity  The sleeping arrangements at Spo-house have taken an odd turn that Someone likes to fall asleep holding Harper. From the looks on her face she seems to be doing this with a quiet patience just long enough for Someone to fall asleep and then she gets up from underneath the covers to sleep on top of things at the end of the bed. This seems to be her position of choice and comfort – for awhile. If I should get up in the night she gets up as well – and moves directly into my space.  I lean over and ask Cecilia to move which she does after careful consideration as if my command is reasonable. Sometimes I have to get in around the recalcitrant  dog in a sort of “C” to her ensconced “O”. Happily the bed is big enough for all these shenanigans otherwise is would be Nessum Dorma for the lot of us.

I have a new set of daily pill boxes. You know the sort: seven plastic rectangular boxes for each day of the week, divided into AM, noon, PM, and night time bins.  Traditionally mine ‘open on the left’ but this latest opens on the right. It must be made in England or Australia.  I keep trying to open them from the left until I remember.  More than once I’ve taken the daily doses backwards viz. night time to morning.  This is the highlight of my week.  Palm Springs can not come soon enough.



*This was written on Wednesday. Today it is Friday. Last night was our anniversary so we decided to ‘splurge’ with wine and pizza. This morning I feel I’ve gained it all back.

Someone listens to a podcast that always ends with the panel question: “What’s making you happy this week?” The panelists then take turns answering this inquiry. I thought I would give it a try.

What is making me happy this week?

My laptop has a new battery, which frees me from the necessity to be plugged into an outlet. The old battery was holding only ten minutes of juice before the screen went dark.  The Apple store was able to replace the battery. Mr. Salesman (who looked about 15yo) explained to me the battery had to be ordered . My laptop and its battery are considered ‘vintage’. Vintage? He explained mine was a 2012 model and anything over five years old is considered ‘vintage’. Urs Truly does not consider 2012 ‘vintage’. Back to the point – I can use Vintage Mac sans cord. I look forward to reading and writing blogs n Palm Springs  by the pool without the need for a long orange extension cord. 

Once again it is grapefruit season in here in Phoenix. Everyone’s citrus trees are putting out fruit en masse. Sacks of yellow and pink grapefruit are thrust upon me at work. From now until March I can have one every day, which I eat with relish. 

I can fit into my dress trousers again! Let’s hear it for diet and exercise! I’ve had to stay in khaki Dockers the ones with stretch waistlines. Maybe I can soon again wear some T-shirts I put away. 

At work we won’t be doing paper prescriptions anymore; all scripts are to be electronic. This cuts down on errors and the constant need to be on the lookout for prescription pad theft. Medicine is moving into the modern age.

Also at work: I am told AHCCCS (Arizona’s Medicaid program) no longer accepts prescriptions from non-AHCCCS providers (hey, that’s me). The AHCCCS patients will have to see AHCCCS doctors. They won’t be happy of course, but they will actually get more resources (including Rx coverage) and I get to purge my overloaded patient roster. 

Finally,  speaking of podcasts, I was mentioned on one!    I was pleased as punch to hear my name mentioned.  It’s a small thing but it made my week. 


So, what’s making you happy this week?


Some folks have jobs in which they move about; they are constantly on foot at the workplace or driving/flying to interact with clients. My job is the opposite: I sit still and my clients (A.K.A. patients) travel to see me. Some of them (the dears!) travel a long way. Some come from other states rather than find some local doctor. I listen to peoples’ comings and goings while ensconced and sessile in my chair.

This iniquitous arrangement makes me sometimes jealous. This was apparent the other day when “Peer” showed up for his appointment. He pops in every 3-4 months for a routine check-up. As usual he’s a bit late to return to clinic as he’s been vagabonding.  As I escorted Peer into the office it seemed to me he’s aged – not in a bad way but simply I’ve watched him grow older. Peer reported he was fine and he feels a fortunate fellow. He is retired; he has a cabin in northern Arizona that he adores. When he isn’t there he is traveling – a lot  – for he loves it so. After a few formalities to convey he’s steady and the meds are worth continuing I asked what’s coming up. Oh, he replied, he’s traveling to Chile ‘for the millionth time” to hop a cruise ship to NYC. Maybe afterwards he may visit Canada, he isn’t sure, or perhaps he will just relax at said cabin.

On his way out he joked he’s seen me growing old which makes sense as ‘I’ve been coming here for five years or so”. I looked this up: we first saw each other in 2005 – 14 years ago.  This made him laugh and he doubled his gratitude for my care taking. Well, see you after I get back from South America and he waved good-bye.

I went home that night feeling a bit melancholy. We have watched each other grow old and the years have flown by. The difference is he’s circled the globe countless times while I, Solveig-like, have stayed home. In a way it seems a disappointment to spend one’s life growing old in chair watching others live out their lives.

A lot of my success at being a shrink and as a physician is being constant. In a world of perpetual change my patients appreciate I’ve been there for nearly fifteen years and counting. I hang in with them while they go on their peripatetic tumultuous Journeys. I’ve received many thanks for ‘doing well for me’ based not so much on making them better but just being there.

All the same, I don’t want another 5-10 years of watching patients grow old. It is very difficult for me to take time off from work but it isn’t impossible. I don’t want to see Peer in another ten years under similar circumstances. It’s time for me to get out and be more than everyone’s rock.   I can be both Peer and Solveig.


super-bowl-sandwichIt is only 21 January and I am already tired of The Super Bowl. Last weekend while I was in the loo at our favorite bar I saw a poster advertisement for a 2PM Super Bowl party,  scheduled for 3 February. [1] I learned then what date was the game  (I thought it was always the last Sunday in January). Last night Facebook exploded in the fury of an orchestra of scorched cats mostly making reference to some recent football game upset that established which teams will be participate. [2]  One of my podcasts is talking about the history of chicken wings and how they came to be the proper food for Super Bowl Sunday.

Oh the pain.

As you see I’d sooner eat rats at Tewkesbury than watch The Super Bowl. This is mostly out of boredom about football, thrown in with some inability to sit still. Someone and I are doing fairly well on our diets so neither one of us wants to consume the countless calories seemingly required to properly attend the American mysteries.

Perhaps I would be more ‘into it’  if I attended a party. Super Bowl is sort of like Thanksgiving that

a) you are expected to be with others

b) allowed to consume huge amount of high-caloric foods without feeling guilty about it.

In my life I’ve been to a few Super Bowl parties and they are all boring. People tended to put on the gam and proceeded not really to watch until the commercials came on. [3]

I will probably spend Super Bowl Sunday as I usually spend my Sundays quiet at home sans television sans chicken wings sans beer sans everything. I will feel good about the calories not consumed. After all Palm Springs is coming and I want to look my best. That’s the real Super Bowl for Urs Truly.



Oh the pain.

[1] The advertisement promised (in this order): drinks; food; fun; football. The game looks to be almost an afterthought.

[2] I don’t recall now which two; I wasn’t pay that much attention.

[3] I should point out the parties I’ve attended were all hosted and attended by thems light in the loafers. The food was fabulous but no one gave a damn about the game. I hear tell in the straight-arrow versions of such parties men actually watch the game. Can you imagine?

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