Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Again

Christmas is rapidly fading into the darkness.  We drove around looking for lights here in colonial New England.  For the most part people are traditional, a candle (electric) in the window, with some lights, mostly white, around a tree in front.  This year Home Depot, in addition to selling those wire reindeer  must have put out strings of blue, green and purple lights, they seem to have caught on around here.

We came around a curve on one of the more traditional colonial neighborhoods and were suddenly rewarded by a four story house with what must be at least 30,000 lights.  Not just lights, characters, ornaments, shapes and trees, and the best part was that each segment blinked on and off in some kind of random, blinding pattern that added to the celebratory chaos.

A quarter of my clients spend Christmas by themselves.  Another 40% have to deal with difficult family situations, either choosing to see father or mother, or just plain old fashioned tension, due to constant criticism, rejection or something worse. But that leaves 35% who want to go home for the holiday.  They see their parents and siblings and they feel refreshed, sustained, welcome and happy.

As you may have figured out by now, I am not the biggest fan of the religious aspects of anything. But I don't want to get into that now; just ask Michelle Bachmann and think the opposite.  But I do believe that any occasion that makes people think for at least a minute about Peace, Love and Understanding is worth celebrating.

I hope everyone celebrated happily, and in their own way.  I hope everyone got what they wanted from Sanity Clause.

Monday, December 19, 2011

pushing buttons

I got to spend a bit of time with the one year-old.  She is good natured, mobile, curious, adventurous, friendly and very quick to laugh.  I guess you can tell that I like her.  It's fun to be around someone with such enthusiasm.

We got her some blocks in a bucket.  She picks the blocks off the floor and throws them into the bucket (mostly). The she crawls over, grabs the bucket and dumps it over.  She laughs heartily.

But whenever she spots any electronic gadget she immediately heads for it.  An iPhone, and iPad, the TV remote.  She already knows those things have magic power.  She has apps on the iPad.  She pushes the screen and animals appear.  She pushes it again they made noise.  She laughs.

She does Facetime on the iPhone.  She smiles into the screen and says "Hiiiii. " Then she grabs the phone, turns it over and turns it off.  She laughs.

First I thought, this may not be good for a child.  She will think that all she has to do is push a button and the world changes.  Then I realized, it is good for her.  That is the way the world works.

Thursday, December 08, 2011


We went away, the wife and I.  She said winter is coming, build your strength.  She asked my daughter where to go, the one who has been everywhere, really, everywhere.  She said, go here, it is the most beautiful, most far away, the most the way it should be place there is  ( and pretty pricey ).  So after a long week at work in which I tried to cram everyone in. I made nine phone calls in the last hour to arrange for everyone else.  I rushed home and packed.

We went, and it was.  The turquoise bays, the warm water, the sloops bobbing up and down.  This place was quiet, isolated, with nothing but water.  No TV, no music, no radio, no telephones, no golf; nothing but a perfect setting and fine food with people popping up, bringing everything, and then disappearing.

I talked to two men who live on the boats.  One brought his wife, one left his behind.  They go from island to island.  They take pictures of the sunset.  They ferry around the people who want to snorkel, or see other islands.  They have escaped from the world.

Attractive?  I didn't think I could do it, to just drift along, and let the rest of the world make idiots of themselves over taxes, entitlements and financial derivitives.

The trip home was exhausting.  I got home and received twelve messages.  Three people were yelling, two were crying. One of the yellers was from one of my patients who I had called just before I left.  She was the eighth of ten calls.  She called back screaming and swearing at me.  Apparently in my haste and exhaustion, by the time I reached my eighth phone call I was too rushed, too flip and not all that professional.  I thought I was rearranging her appointment as she had hoped, she thought I had insulted her.

She is a delicate, accomplished woman.  We had done a lot together to deal with her anxieties that came with the constant quest for achievement against belittling men in a difficult field.   Now it seems that one slightly misguided remark had huge unintended consequences.  She screamed and swore; she vowed never to talk to me again and that I shouldn't try to contact her.

Now, she did have a right to be upset; I was a bit too flip, but really, what bothered me was that after all the work we did, she was just going to scream and retreat.  If she was going to quit and leave me because I treated her badly, (which I really didn't, and certainly didn't mean to) she should have learned how to confront me, deal with it, let me acknowledge my mistake, and then either get over it and accept an apology, or walk away knowing she made a point.

But she didn't do that, so now I have to deal with it as I can, as it isn't ethical to just let her vanish without some kind of follow-up.  It will be frustrating. She was a really fascinating person to work with too, so I will miss her.

So, I went home and told my wife that if we sell the house, we could get a really nice boat, and still have enough money to wander through the islands, rum in hand, for a long time.

Except I don't know how to sale, and she doesn't do well if the water gets choppy.