New year, same old sh

Happy New Year, folks. Yes, it may be arbitrary, some day on a calendar we’ve invented. It’s not the solstice, equinox, or some other astronomical tick of the clock, but it’s a nice marker to have. It gives us a reminder to contemplate, reflect, and hopefully, spend some time with friends and family. It’s often painful to reflect on the nastier bits of the year that has gone, and I understand why some people push those thoughts away, but sometimes it’s good to look at a disaster, hold it in your hand, turn it around under the light before crating it up and putting it in the basement. It’s also an excuse to savor the good from the past year, maybe look back at the year in photos, or writing, or other personal bits that you can savor and look back on with a smile.

Memory is tricky, of course. It’s far easier to bring to mind recent things than those further in the past, to recall November’s dreams rather than February’s events. It takes a little work, perhaps a glance at the calendar, journal, blog, whatever.

That being said, I’ll now bore you with some of the things that stand out from my year. If you’re not interested, please take my wishes from above and have a happy, healthy New Year.

This year falls in the “good” column for me. Professionally, I’ve finished my second year at my current medical practice, and it’s going quite well. I enjoy it, I love my patients, and I love medicine. Yes, there are things about the practice of medicine that are discouraging or difficult, but these are far outweighed by the good.

I feel like I’ve diagnosed a lot of cancer this year, but I’m sure that’s just a cognitive bias of some sort. Still, there have been times during the year where I’ve had to dole out some pretty horrible news to people I’ve known for many years. It’s almost a “goodbye” in some ways, since cancer treatment tends to consume their lives after diagnosis, and they have little reason to come see me. Often I can follow their progress over the phone or through other patients who know them, but the relationship is fundamentally different, as if the obelisk from 2001 had dropped between us and changed everything.

As of last night, PalKid discovered her beauty. Yes, she’s always been beautiful, but now she sees it in the mirror as something more objective, and it’s kind of sad. I had taken her for a haircut and the stylist spent time blowing out her long hair. The kid came away with a bit of style to her long hair and she loved it. Before going out for New Year’s Eve, she spent time brushing it in front of the mirror, putting on some kid’s lip gloss and generally acting like a stereotypical girl her age. I guess I hadn’t realized she’d gotten so old. Thankfully, most of the time she’s just my hilarious little girl, smart, energetic, and insouciant regarding such ephemera as beauty and fashion. I’m going to savor every minute with her over the next year as she rapidly approaches adolescence and maybe crosses over barriers where I can’t follow.

Writing—my primary hobby—has had a tough year. Because my practice has gone well, time for writing and research has dwindled. While I used to post daily, and tried to make each post substantial, time doesn’t allow that. I’m not a professional writer, I don’t have to write to eat (which is a very good thing!) and I’ve had to tell myself that it’s OK. Thankfully, writers who I’ve met online and in person are generous, friendly, and kind. I’ve tried to take advantage of what they have to tell my about writing, journalism, and communicating with an audience of greater than two. I’m very thankful to the folks on twitter, facebook, and email who have allowed me to dip a toe into the writer’s water, or at least let me imagine I could be part of the tribe.

We moved. For the second time in as many years, my family moved, although not too far. For over ten years I’ve been trying to figure out how to really enjoy living in this part of the country. I no longer mourn my lost time in other places, rather, I enjoy those memories, those snapshots of places that really no longer exist in the way I know them. Here, I have family, and there’s a subtlety to the natural beauty. And being physically active has helped me extend my sense of place. It’s been a little over a year since I started exercising regularly, mostly running, but also some biking, snowshoeing (my new thing), and swimming. Even though it’s not “enough”, it’s made such a difference. I love that my daughter sees me going out to run and sees that as normal. I love stopping to take pictures on the trail, just mementos of the different moods and seasons here.

Still the most important part is family and friends. I don’t have many friends, but the ones I have are keepers. While much of my family is further away than I like, I’m very near my parents, in-laws, and others who share the accidental connection of blood.

So I’m putting this year in the “good” column, much more so than previous years. I hope this new one should be just as kind to you.

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  1. Pal,
    Thanks for always being a font of wisdom and common sense, and a source of solid, heartfelt writing. Of all the blogs out there, I enjoy your writing the most. They’re sincere, reflective and, well, real.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, making a difference in countless lives… your patients’ too.

    All the best,
    Brian in Texas

  2. or some other astrological tick of the clock

    I do hope you meant astronomical…

  3. Pal, I’ve been reading you a while now, and always find some wisdom in your posts, not to mention the fact that you make me smile 🙂

    Have a wonderful New Year!

  4. Anthropologist Underground

     /  January 1, 2013

    Your writing is really fun to read. Thanks for sharing! Happy 2013.

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