Friday, November 13, 2015

I am still Muslim!

My heart is broken.  A whole city under attack.  What is going on?  Not to mention that I'm affected by this through reading the links on Facebook.  I have not turned on my tele.  If I did, it would be far worse.  Then I read the comments.  Some horrific comments about Muslims and Islam.  Of course, there are those who defend the religion and try to give perspective.  My favorite is the one that we are accusing people without knowing who is behind these attacks.  Oh dear God!  Stop!  Please.  So many people died.  Can we slow down and stop these accusations and focus on what's important?
I should not make light of this situation but I have to be honest.  At the back of my mind, I can see the news 3 days from today.  I see a young caucasian being arrested.  "Mentally ill individual blamed for the attack on Paris" will be the headlines and then I'm not sure how the media will take it.  Flip side.  Do we really need to know what the flip side is?  Some mentally ill idiot who has a Muslim name and/or mentions the words Jihad or Islam and we all know how that story will go.  We have lived through our 9/11.  You haven't truly lived through 9/11 unless you've been affected by it, as an innocent Muslim; as majority of Muslims have been.  I cringe to think this is Paris' 9/11, but the result will be the same.
Memory flash back.  2001.  I wear a head scarf and pray in the resident's room.  One of the resident's silently watch.  A faculty member walks in as I finish prayer.  "Here you are praying and over there your people are destroying our country"  This when the wounds of 9/11 were very open and sore, in all of us.  My wounds were only torn apart more and salted because the perpetrators of such insults never considered I had wounds.  They never considered that it was an attack on humanity and that my religion does NOT stand for that kind of insanity.
I see a post about bomb blasting in Lebanon or Syria yesterday and many were killed.  The post talked about our "first world" concerns with bombings.  I guess, if 1000 people died elsewhere, but 200 died in Paris, what's worse?
Then there's the article I read or saw about empathy and how we can empathize with 1 or 2 people dying, if we put a name and a face to it.  The moment we say a million people died, our empathy is not as much.  It's an occurrence.
I don't know every nook and cranny of my religion, but I know one thing.  I know my religion, the religion of Islam absolutely CONDEMNS this and all acts of terrorism.  No ifs ands or buts.  That's a period.
This is not a time for hate.  This is not a time for finger pointing.  Actually it never was the time for such judgements.  I was going to write this article yesterday.  How ironic that I didn't and Paris happened today?  I was going to write about the climate of hate on Facebook.  There are some posts that are very anti-Islam.  Then there are posts by Muslims in defense that are anti-Jew and back and forth.  I think it's time to step up to the plate and recognize if you are part of the haters or the hated.  If you are a hater, then it's time to stop.  It's time to stop using your confirmation biases and posting against any group or religion.  If you are a hated, it's time to stop retaliating by hating someone else for something else.
Our world whether we like it or not is transient.  At the end of the day, we all go 6 feet under, unless we are cremated.  We are all humans.  We have one planet.  Can we not take care of our planet and each other?  Why must we continue to destroy and hate because someone else is doing it?  I challenge you all to stand up for respect and understanding of all religions and human beings.  Walk a mile in their shoe.  Let's not let these acts of terrorism poison our minds with distrust and vengeance.
Tonight, I'm praying.  I'm praying for everyone in Paris and all the families and friends of those affected around the world.  I'm praying for the protection of our world and the protection of all human beings.  I pray for community and thoughtful leadership.  I pray because I believe in a higher power and I believe we are insignificant dots on the landscape of time and space.  I pray we all can be better people and more accepting of each other.  And I just pray...

Please join me in prayer for all our humanity.  Please join me in love.

Best wishes always,

Thursday, November 12, 2015

More HMS Victory modeling

I know I haven't posted about my model for a while.  It's been a work in progress.  If you look at the picture below, you'll see all the paint; yellow and black on the outside.  You can see the little wire stairs on the side, also painted in black.  Painting is not the big deal.  Do you see the threads sticking out outside the ship?  If you can't, look inside.  Those were little loops I had to make, and it was a royal pain, let me tell you.  This step was holding me back for the longest time.  When I first did a few, I had them backwards, so I had to re-do them.  Arghh!  It's not easy.  Sometimes the knots would go through the hole and I had to redo it.  It was just a mess.  Solution?  I finally got a glue gun and made the knots bigger and it was very time consuming to get all those loops on the ship.  

Loops done!  Time to put the two parts together and I finally took the leap of faith.  As you'll see, the 2 sides have been glued and are clamped together quite nicely.  The clamping part and all was easy.  Looks like it took 6 clamps.  It's the fear and excitement that I was taking a step forward that made this journey a tad nerve-wrecking.
Here's to the start.  A new direction to the same journey.

This picture on the left, is the second step after gluing the 2 main pieces together.  This forms the cross bracing for the decks that will go over it.  I painted it white as per the directions, but in retrospect, it was a waste of time and paint to do that.  No one is going to be able to see these braces when the ship is all complete.  Why the instructions had me do that?  It's a mystery to me.  Or you can blame it on the French! I don't mean the language, I mean the people.  Their ways are just their ways.  Most certainly doesn't make sense to me

Here's the first deck that was glued on.  It looks simple but I will be repeating myself quite a bit.  It's not simple.  The process has not been intuitive.  The deck had to be bend and pushed to make it settle in place.

Remember the loops and knots I spoke about earlier.  Yeah!  Putting this deck in place meant having to be careful to not displace those loops.  I think I displaced a few and had to re-do them.

On a side note, being a dentist, you would think a 1mm loop should not be a bit deal for me.  I was trained to eye 0.3 mm chamfer margins on a tooth, but this is not about eyeing it.  It's about physically working with it.  Holding it and tweaking it and to be blunt, doing dentistry is easy.  This part is more painstaking.

And here I am painting the bottom of my ship.  Bronze!  How did I pick the colors?  I followed directions!  I know.  Boring!  I do believe the color works though.  If not, I would have changed it.  I don't have all the recent pictures in this blog.  My ship has progressed since I uploaded these pictures, but in my next post about this model, you'll see how I used my judgement on painting!

Look at the pictures on the top and bottom.  You can see the cannons sticking out of the cannon ports.  Do you remember the blog from a few months ago about making cannons?  Well, I finally put them to good use!  I think it looks gorgeous.  So happy about it!

This last picture above is my favorite for this blog post.  Just more complete and shows the most growth.  I promise I have more pictures.  It just takes a while.  It's on my iPhone and I have to send it to my blogger app and then it takes a while to upload.  I prefer to edit on the Macbook itself, so the process takes a while and meanwhile, the ship grows!

Until next time,

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


I love flowers.  In trying my hand at gardening, I've come to the conclusion that no matter how much I love flowers, the deer love them more.  Of course, the good news is that the deer are moody.  There are times they eat my chrysanthemums and sometimes they don't, but this is about the Iris.

This beautiful blue flower is a spring flower.  I used to not know my flowers (I still don't completely), but I was introduced to the Iris when a friend of mine bought me a bunch  and told me that she loved this flower.  She was right.  It was beautiful and I loved the flower so much, I decided to plant them.  That's when I realized that not all Irises were all blue/violet.  Some of them have combination white and blue petals with a beautiful vein striping on them.  The petals are just gorgeous on these flowers.  The flaminco dress was probably designed from this petal;  flow and frill.

As you'll notice it is the fall season currently and I'm talking about an Iris; a spring flower.  Well, a lonely Iris showed up to brighten my life a little over a week ago.  It's funny.  I've been running around these past few months and one thing after another has been going wrong - mostly in my office but it's been a constant battle and a constant stress that I bring home.  For a moment, I thought I was cursed.  Honestly, I did.  It's a very scary thought.  I thought that perhaps God was not happy with me.  Another scary thought!  While I entertained such thoughts, my friends tried to explain to me that it wasn't true and then I would tell them of something new that had gone bad that day.  This went on and on.

Last week, as I was driving away, I noticed one lonely Iris bloom in my front yard;  the only flower there as the deer had eaten all my mums.  I can't recall where I was driving to because my mind has been in a haze for the past few cursed months but I looked at the flower and said, "Hmm.  It's a spring flower.  I didn't know Irises bloomed in the fall!" and drove off.

This continued to happen and about the 3rd day, I realized I hadn't had the time to even go out and appreciate the flower.  I made a mental note that I needed to do that when I got home.  Well, 2 more days passed and the flower was slowly getting old.  I remember telling my husband about it.  How life had just passed me by that I didn't even have the time to walk outside my front door to look at a flower.

The next day, my husband and I walked out the front door to address some issue we had with the home (painting, cleaning) and I talked about cleaning out the weeds at some point.  My husband stopped me and said, "Look at your Iris! You keep mentioning that you haven't had the time to even appreciate this flower and now you are out here.  Get a good look."  I looked at this flower, all beautiful still, holding on to its last moments of grace.  It had been waiting for me every day for several days.  Everyday, it was holding the message.  "You life is not cursed and I'm proof of it".  I was just too busy to even go out and get it.  Finally, I was able to appreciate the last bits of the weak crinkled petals, wet in the rain and too weak to hold on.  The color of its youth had faded, but it was still beautiful.

I have several Irises planted in my front yard.  None of them bloomed this fall.  Just this one flower.  The one flower that would defy exception to come into my life to tell me that there's still beauty in this world and that I need to stop and take a look.

Best always,


Friday, October 2, 2015


I remember the first time I tried an olive.  It was at my uncle's home in Dubai and he offered me this strange round fruit.  I asked him what it was.  "An Olive," he said.  Hmmm.  An olive.  I decided I should try it out.  I think it was a black olive but I cannot recall.  I remember a bitterness in my mouth and I remember wondering how someone could like this fruit.  I saw all the adults eat it.  It must have been something "adult" otherwise, I would have enjoyed it too.  I can't remember more than that.
My next olive memory comes from my visits to the supermarket with my dad.  We would buy the unpackaged olives that were still in solution contained in large plastic containers.  I remember getting both the green and the black ones.  I think by then I loved the olive; I was eating it a lot.  I think I was trying to determine if I liked the green or the black one the best.  I don't recall what I had chosen then.  I do believe it might have been the black olive, but that was then.
In America, sure you get the bottled olives, but some stores have olive bars in them.  Whole foods (the store that slices the jackfruit) has an impressive array of the fruit.  I've just resorted to buying the bottles now.  I'm not so picky to have the ones from the olive bar, although they are tastier.  I've had jalapeƱo stuffed olives or even garlic stuffed olives.  I like them all.
Today I was just craving an olive and for the most part I have some at home.  As I got a few olives out of the jar, I wondered about when this whole process of myself eating olives started.  That's when my memory went to my uncle's home when I first tried it out.  I still can't believe I did not like it at all.  Who would have thought?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Muny emergency

My last blog post was about the musical Oklahoma at the Muny.  This post is about something that happened during the show.  So, there's a song where Curly comes up to Jud's cabin and is talking about what would happen if Jud died or something like that and in the middle of this song, I hear, "help".  Seemed like a weak cry, yet I could hear it.  I look around trying to figure out how that fits into the show.  Next thing I hear is, "Is there a doctor?" That's when I realize that something happened 10 seats forward, a bit towards the left.  I'm not sure what to do.  Am I a doctor?  I am a pediatric dentist, but what do I know?

I try to focus on the musical and have a rough time with all the shuffling of people going on in the front.  I lean over and whisper to my husband, "they better stop the show!" and he nods and we continue to watch.  The shuffling in front increases.  I say again, "are they going to stop the show?"  Nothing.  The show must go on, right?  Then the shuffling gets quite ridiculous.  I lean over yet again, "What is going on?  They have to stop the show!"  I'm missing the musical as I can't focus and I don't know what's going on, but if it's a true medical emergency as it appears from my seat, I'm disappointed at the Muny.  When are they going to stop the show?  Shortly after I leaned over to my husband a third time, I see someone come up on stage right with a walkie talkie.  Then the woman goes back into the wings and I'm thinking, "this is crazy!" and the next thing we hear is the announcement on the speaker.  "Ladies and gentleman, due to a medical emergency..." and as the speech is going on, the actors are still singing.  How can they maintain such focus?  I'm impressed. The woman motions the actors to stop.  That's when the actors stopped and got off stage.

Back to the emergency.  I don't know what's going on and I'm sitting back where I am and I ask the woman in front of me, if she had heard anything.  She said, "I don't know but I heard they are doing CPR!"  "CPR?" I ask again.  I look at my husband incredulous.  "I know CPR.  I should go help!"  He said, "Yes, you should."  So, I grab my keys which has a CPR mask in the key chain and head on down.  Between the first and second row of Muny's terrace A section, a man was laying with his head and body on the aisle and his feet between the rows.  He was smiling and talking.  I was confused.  CPR?  Emergency?  This man is talking and alert and just laying there.  I go there and ask what was going on.  Someone sitting there looks at me and goes, "Are you a doctor?"  I say, "Well, I am a pediatric dentist and I heard they were doing CPR.  I do know CPR."  The woman says, "Oh!  You are a doctor.  I'm just a CPA!"

Meanwhile, another woman walks by and asks the appropriate questions.  She said she was an EMT and started asking about what happened and whether someone had called for an AED.  Someone there said that the man had gone unresponsive and they had started CPR immediately and had done a minute of it and the patient had become responsive after that.  So, the woman (who works as an EMT) confirmed the facts about the CPR and stated that they should bring an AED just in case.  I think the patient was anxious to have an AED on him and the woman explained that the device will not randomly shock the patient and it would be good to have just in case.  Turns out, the patient was a doctor himself.  I think he was beginning to feel sick and as he was explaining to his wife about it, he passed out.  That's why they started CPR, immediately.  Back to the patient, he was chatting cheerfully at this point.  You would had thought this was a big joke or something.  He was continuing to answer questions.  A man in a clean white shirt and dark grey slacks appeared.  He identified himself as a cardiologist.  He inquired about what had transpired.  I figured they were all fine and they didn't need me.  So, I was going to go back to my seat but then the accountant told me to stick around.  The official EMT came in 10 minutes later and carried the patient off in a stretcher with the audience applauding.  The show went on.

I narrated the story to my husband during intermission.  I told him that I should have gone when I heard the "is there a doctor here?"  I explained that I knew what to do in an emergency but I second guessed myself.  I just thought, What does a pediatric dentist know?  My husband reminded me that I was a doctor and that I did know more than the average person.  I think I don't give myself much credit.  It's only when the facts of the emergency were presented to me that I realized I wasn't so clueless after all.  My training through the GPR and through my pediatric dental residency, not to mention, basic CPR enables me to potentially help in an emergency.  Perhaps, I do know more than the average CPA when it comes to a medical emergency?  I felt badly that I hadn't gone immediately to help, but all's well that ends well, I suppose.

Next time, I'm hoping I'll do the right thing.



My nieces live in Oklahoma and the joke when I drive by Oklahoma is this:  I would start off with, "Oh my God, look there!"  My nieces would say, "Where?  What?"  I reply with, "There!  Look, there are people here!"  "Ha ha," my niece would retort.

Yup!  I didn't think Oklahoma had much.  When I used to go to Oklahoma they didn't have a professional ball team.  Not that I care about sports, but come on!  Oklahoma finally got its basketball team thanks to mother nature.  It's quite sad how it all happened.  When Katrina hit, they scrounged and got to pick up some of the pieces from the New Orleans team and didn't want to return it.  That's how the Thunder were born!  Or something like that.  I do tend to down Oklahoma.

I think the only thing really unique about the state is its red clay.  I always considered Oklahoma a wannabe state.  When I grow up, I wanna have an airport!  Ha ha.  OK.  There I go dissing Oklahoma again, but you get the drift about wannabees.   Oklahoma is still developing.  Yes, they have come a long way with restaurants and stuff, but they have a long way to go.  Of course, people don't like St. Louis, but that's a whole different story.

I was at the Muny this past year.  Last show; the musical Oklahoma!  How is it possible that my nieces haven't defended my affronts on Oklahoma with simply, "We have an entire musical about us!"  Well, it's not about Oklahoma, but it is set in Oklahoma and it was the first truly modern musical so that does amount to something.  Yes, we have Meet me in St. Louis, but I'm just trying to give Oklahoma something here.  The truth is that this post is really about the musical; I don't have much more to say about the city.

The musical was very beautiful.  There's a reason a musical from the 40s could stand the test of time and be charming in 2015!  Oh!  What a beautiful mooor-ning! :-)  The music still rings in my ears and the dance from the cowboys and farmers should be friends number was just old fashioned fun.  I smile as I fall in love with Oklahoma.  Oooook-lahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plains.  Maybe I don't love the city as much, but the musical surely has me taking notice.  I already told you guys it was a Muny production and so you can imagine how well it was done.  So, there you go Oklahoma.  You may not have much, but you have a musical and that's big in my books.

While reading up on the history of the musical, I was impressed by Oklahoma's run.  What show fared better than Oklahoma?  What was the next best musical?  1956, My Fair Lady, my favorite musical stood up and made people notice.  I bring this up because this a musical that is near and dear to my heart.  I love this musical.  I get goosebumps hearing the songs.  I get a big smile on my face, like I'm a kid offered a giant piece of Cadburys.

I was lucky to watch My Fair Lady at the Muny this year.  I was jumping up and down when the Muny had released their 2015 season.  Yes.  I was going to finally watch My Fair Lady live.  It was their opener.  This year was going to be perfect.  I usually get tickets for Thursday night.  My birthday was on Wednesday.  I switched my ticket to Wednesday and have been talking about it since.  Trouble started in paradise as we had rains in St. Louis.  4 of the performances were cancelled.  I cannot imagine how I would have felt if it would have rained on my parade on my birthday for my favorite show.  Rain was in the forecast, but it was supposed to stop at 7pm (show starts at 8:15pm) and the rain was supposed to restart at midnight (Show ends at 10:30pm).  Was it luck?  Was it fate?  Don't know.  It most certainly was a memory that I will not forget.

 Whenever you love something, you want to share it.  A couple years ago, I tried to get my niece to watch My Fair Lady.  This past summer she admitted to me that she wasn't impressed at all.  I think about when I fell in love with the musical.  It was when I was much older.  Strange enough, I didn't appreciate the love story.  How could I not?  I don't know.  Maybe it was just a matter of time.  Maybe I needed to grow up some more.  Who knows?  So, for now, I'm waiting for the day my niece will call me and say, "OMG aunty.  I finally get it.  My Fair Lady is awesome!"  In the meanwhile, I'm just curious if she would like Oklahoma; or perhaps it's better to stop recommending musicals.

Until next time,

Talent and the mirror

I think I've always considered myself a writer.  Not always.  Since I was about 13, I would say.  I remember a conversation with a friend about how well her sister wrote; she showed me some of her essays for school and that's all it took.  I was fascinated.  I wanted to weave those words into intricate patterns to make it seem like the author really knew what s/he was talking about.  Writing became crucial to my identity.  I felt I would only be a second rate person at best, if I didn't write.  Somehow, writing well meant bragging rights, and who didn't want bragging rights?  I think I started writing poems;  I wrote other things too.  I was fascinated by the story of Moses and I remember re-writing the story in my own words.  I was going to submit it to a writing contest in the newspaper, but never did.  I never really lead on to anyone that I truly enjoyed this new thing I was doing.  Bragging rights or not, I felt a strange compulsion.  No one told me to put pen to paper.  I just did.

I remember when I came to America, when everything felt new and out of place, my written word served as my clutch.  I wrote.  Anything I could think about, I wrote about. In college I remember I would explore short vignettes.  Random stuff.  Between studying, I wrote.  It was around that time I felt I maybe identified myself as a writer.  I say "maybe" because I couldn't convince myself that I was good enough.  At 16, I started the first 2 handwritten pages of a novel, that didn't go further than that. So, I couldn't be an author or write a book, but I just kept writing.

I think somewhere in my 20s, I figured it out.  It wasn't about bragging rights at this point.  I had started writing at 13 because it was cool, but nothing propelled me forward except myself.  I tried to pin it down as to why I wrote so much.  Why did I continue to write?  One day, the answer hit me in my face.  I write because I can't help it.  It was at that moment I realized that the words I was cooking up came to me because they did.  The stories I wrote about came because I didn't have a choice in the matter.  It was a part of me.

In my late 20s, I started to take writing more seriously.  I took some courses and tried to study the art of writing fiction.  In Indianapolis, I even started a writing club.  We met at a church every Tuesday night and we had rules about submissions and discussions.  It was this club that helped propel me to start writing my first novel, which is still not finished (75K words later).  Funny thing with life;  it throws curved balls at you and makes you balance and surf through storms and you find yourself immersed in a new, terribly disturbing situation.  When I lost my job and was very much in the process of losing my marriage, I lost something far more significant in the shuffle.  My words.

10 years ago, that 75K novel, called Color Of Rain, died.  Well, didn't die, the characters just left me to go to the other side.  Words failed me.  I stopped writing.  For the first time in 20 years, I stopped writing.  That is an inaccurate statement.  I think I wrote little bits and pieces, poems and sorts, but I felt I wasn't writing anything major.  I had gotten to the point of trying out for the majors and suddenly I was punting at the little leagues.  So, yes, I would say I wasn't really writing.  I wanted my novel and I wasn't going to have it.

That's when I met my husband.  In normal circumstances, the person that I was, would not have considered hanging out with someone like my future husband.  The carrot he dangled was something no other man had dangled in front of me - the challenge to write again.  He introduced me to the medium of writing plays.  I worked at it.  I have written 1 full length and 3 short plays so far.  None have been produced.  I look at the other playwrights and their plays and I meet my talents eye to eye in a mirror.  Do I stack up?  No.  Not really.  My husband thinks so, but what does he know?

I have to be honest with myself.  I don't have the best stories to tell.  Someone can make an amazing heart wrenching story about a cat that walked the street.  My story would be:  A cat walked the street.  Period.  The end.  I guess deep down it hurts that I don't have it in me.  I have to live by my own saying.  You do the best you can.  So, for now, I have to say, I'm writing.  This blog has gotten more words out of me; that's great.  Where to from here?  It's pretty much doing what I can't help; putting words together to make sentences.  Little at a time, about this and that and waiting.  If nothing else, it keeps me moving forward, talent or not.

Until next time,

Monday, August 24, 2015

Where do I stand?

We have all had friends at some point.  Well, we think they are friends and then the going gets tough and you realize they really are not your friends; or you find a friend come out of the wood works.  Friendships are very important in life and I believe they shape you in a lot of ways.  Yes, your parents are your first critical influence, but your friends help mold your character and fine tune your personality sometimes.  They help you learn and understand issues that are hard to deal with or one simply cannot discuss with your parents.  They serve as one of your pillars of strength and it’s a significant one at that.

I’ve gone through friends in my life and I’ve been foolish with them or even immature and disrespectful.  Over the years, I’m left with 3 friends that are not family and not related to me.  Well, I’m kinda fibbing.  One of my “friends” is a family friend and well, she is kinda family although she’s not family, but I’m including her in the “friends” category to make me look good.  So, there you have it.  I'm sticking with the number 3!  I have 3, not 2 very good friends!

I’ve never really pondered on what made a good friend and what didn’t, but something happened recently that made me think about this.  It’s the topic of secrets.  Whom will you hold secrets for?  Also, whom would you trust with a secret?

A few weeks ago, I was privy to a secret.  I got a call and as we talked I got wind about someone else. Of course, the person who called me said, "don't tell anyone this.  I don't think s/he would want others to know..." and you get the story.  The secret itself wasn't "impressive".  If I were to grade the gossip, I would give it a B-.  Besides, the person who I got the run down on wasn't a good friend of mine.  Was an acquaintance.  Wasn't even someone I dealt with on a regular basis.

A couple of days later, I see some "news" on Facebook.  An engagement or something like that. Now, this was interesting because I didn't even know that the couple who got engaged were dating.  This could have been something my friend could have told me about.  But she didn't.  I never questioned her.  See, the thing is this.  The person who got engaged was her best friend and so she was protecting her privacy.  Maybe the person who got engaged had told her not to tell anyone that she was even dating.  Maybe she didn't want things to be public 'til it was official.  That's pretty standard psychotic desi protocol - "don't tell anyone."

So, a blog post was born.  I took a step back and thought about it.  It is true.  We defend the privacy of our friends that are nearest and dearest to us.  We hide their mistakes and make them look good even when they are not there.  Don't talk poorly about our best friends in front of us.  We will defend them because we truly love those that are close to us.  If I were to talk about someone in a manner that may compromise them, then perhaps, they are not my closest friend and one can gauge who my best friends are based on who I talk about and how.

Sometimes I run into a secret I'm trusted with to not tell anyone and someone calls me to tell me about this secret and I wonder.  Is the friend who trusted me with the secret, just telling me something that's not a secret and pretending to make it a secret?  Or does she not trust me, but wants me to believe we have a great friendship?  I'm still working on the fake trust part, but friendships are so interesting, but it all boils down to understand and respecting another human being.

In reality, the best principle is to not talk about people whether you like them or not, if you can help it.  It's just the right thing to do.  Whoever said doing the right thing was easy?
I step back and think about my friendships.  Who are my go to friends?  Who are my fun friends? Who are my acquaintances that I love to gossip about?  Here's the thing though.  If you do have an acquaintance and you find out you hang out with them long enough to call them a friend, things change.  It's all about truly getting to know someone and having empathy before you decide to not talk about them.  Or something like that.
Until next time,

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Wax be this, wax be that!

We all know what wax is, right?  Well, we do and then we don't.  There are several sides to wax.  No, this is not a gross story about ear wax, so please get that off your mind.  Now that I have said that, let's start off with the prep to my story.  It's really a defense story, but here goes. As most of you know, I'm a dentist and part of my dental school training is learning to sculpt teeth on wax.  I can't recall the name of the wax, but we had different colored wax for that.  As I progressed through dental school, I progressed through the waxes - boxing wax, bite wax, sticky wax, rope wax and I'm sure several others that I can't recall right off the bat.  It has been a while.  So, when someone talks of wax, you can see how I get confused easily.  It has potential to be a complicated topic.  And of course, there's the wax that everyone thinks about; the kind used for candles.

Anyway, my story really is about getting a manicure/pedicure.  I found this local shop where they do the job, but what I liked most about them was that the treatment included the pink paraffin wax.  This shop used it for the hands and the feet.  It feels really great after dipping ones hands and feet in the wax.  Well, as time progressed, I guess to cut costs the shop stopped offering paraffin wax for the feet and soon they didn't offer it at all.  I stopped going there.  I decided I would look for another place that offered wax as a standard part of the manicure; at this point I had given up on any store using wax during the pedicure.  As I looked, I was disappointed.  No one offered it.  What's the deal, I wondered, but I continued on my hunt.

Couple of months ago, I went to a mani/pedi to one of those mall spots.  I took my 12 year old friend with me.  So as they are doing the manicure, I ask if they offer the wax.  They said yes, would you like wax?  I said, yes, I would, how much?  They thought about it and said $10 more.  I said OK.  Let's do it.  I said, also, I know she would like the wax too.  I was mentioning the friend I took along.  As luck would have it, they said they would do it and they were heating it up.  I said OK.  They were finishing her manicure and applying her nail polish and they hadn't done the wax yet.  I asked about it and they said they could do it after.  Most of you know where this story is going, but I was clueless.  I was surprised that they would do it after the manicure.  I usually got the wax before and then we washed our hands and then they applied the nail polish, but oh well.  Who was I to question?  I don't know about this stuff.

They asked me how much wax I wanted, if I wanted the whole arm.  I should have known by then, but no, the light bulb in my brain was still off.  I explained that I only wanted my hands and didn't want any above my wrists.  I was quite confused.  No one ever had me dip my hands in the wax above my wrist.  Whole arm?  What?  Anyway, they finished her mani/pedicure first and took her to the wax.  They told her to sit down and that they'd be right back.  I was getting my nails done nearby but something was not adding up.  Well, the woman came back and applied the wax (the kind to wax hair from your body) to her hands.  It took all that for me to say, "No!  Stop!  We don't want that.  We want the other wax, you know, for the hands?  You dip your hands in it and it makes it feel smooth?"  The woman says, "Oh you mean the paraffin wax?"  Duh!  I said, "Yes!  The pink paraffin wax."  She says, she doesn't offer it there.  She asked if we still wanted our hands waxed.  I said, no!

I was telling my friend's mother this story and she was laughing up a storm.  She threatened never to let her daughter come with me again; she was joking.  She told me to blog about it.  She said it would be funny.  So, I decided to write this blog but I thought I would defend my case.  Honest mistake.  Anyone could have made that mistake and besides, someone like myself, who has dealt with a lot of different waxes is bound to get confused at some point, right?  So, there's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Interesting enough, I went to a spa for a mani-pedi recently and still no paraffin wax.  The woman said that they had to stop using it for hygiene reasons?  Or something like that.  I don't know.  Oh well.  I guess, I won't be searching for it anymore then, if it has been pulled from the regimen.  And hopefully I won't make a total fool of myself again!  C'est la vie!

Until next time,

Saturday, August 8, 2015

American Fruit

I used to think that pears were the bomb!  And then I came to America.  Funny thing here is that apples and pears are abundant.  What about the fruits I grew up with?  Jackfruit?  Nees berries?  Custard apple?  Guava?  Where are those?  I will talk about fruits and the reason for this post, but let's start off with something simple.  Coconuts.
Growing up in India, in the hot and humid climate, when we were thirsty we found a coconut vendor on the street.  Coconuts are such a treat.  A guy with a machete knife, will cut through the top of the coconut, make about a one inch diameter opening into the coconut, stick a straw into it and there you were, drinking nature's best electrolyte filled thirst quencher.  It doesn't end there.  After you are done with the drink, you return the coconut to the vendor;  another strike with the machete knife right through the center of the coconut.  One more cut with the machete to slice a piece of husk, used to release the coconut jelly and also used as a spoon for the jelly.  That's how you do coconuts!
I've been to Thailand, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Ecuador;  yes, same story.  There's a right way to do coconuts and then there are variations.  Well, in Cozumel, Mexico, the coconut story varies a bit.  Yes, there's the coconut, yes, there's a machete and yes, you drink the coconut water with a straw. Oh!  And the coconut water was the sweetest that I have ever tasted or can remember; and yes you return the husk to the vendor to prepare for the coconut jelly.  Except, in Cozumel, the vendor offered to spice the jelly with a mixture of chilly powder, lime and salt.  I have to say, that was my first time and it was out of this world.  It was really good.  I can buy that variation for coconuts.  Why not?  If it's better, I say, go with it.
And then there's America!  Coconut vendors aren't on street corners here; It's hard enough to find a vendor.  So, walking outside the Hemingway home in Key West, Florida, there was a woman selling coconuts.  My eyes lit up.  Coconuts?  In America?  Of course, I went.  $5 for a coconut.  Yes, overpriced, but it's such a rare thing.  So, my husband and I asked for 2 coconuts.  The woman picked up a couple of coconuts and before I could scan for the machete, she pulled out a wireless DeWatt drill.  Yes, a drill!  She bore a hole into the coconut with a 1/4" bit or something and stuck a straw into it.  I don't remember much else.  I drank the coconut water, but I was more in shock at the drill than the coconut or a street vendor in America at that point!  OK.  There are other ways to get into a coconut.  I'm learning.  I'm not impressed, but I'm learning.
I finish the water and return the coconut to her to open for the coconut jelly.  The coconut jelly is half the thrill of having a coconut.  How was she going to open it up I wondered?  I didn't see a chop saw there on the street!  Well, unfortunately, the story ends here.  She said she can only drill into it for the water.  2 coconut jellies; wasted!  It's like one threw away perfectly good food.  Yes, she didn't have a chop saw and you couldn't "plug it in" in the middle of a street, but she should have been using a machete knife in the first place!  I'm disappointed and disturbed at the waste of food;  And my $5 coconut, did not include the jelly, so essentially, I paid even more for the coconut than I had originally thought.  Yes, I would have still bought the coconut and drank the water, but it's just the principle of it. If there's a job worth doing, it's worth doing well.  That's the bottom line.  If you want to open a coconut, learn how to do it the right way.
I did say I was learning, right?  Well, I guess I wasn't.  This is where the Jackfruit story comes in.  When you live in America and haven't had certain fruits or drinks, you crave it.  Especially when it's available in the store, you want to go right out and get it.  Any taste of it.  Exotic fruits, the fruits I grew up with and took for granted before I came to this country are just so rare;  you crave it.  When I get wind that jackfruit was being sold at the local Whole Foods Store, I was excited.  Jackfruit?  Really?  Just recently a friend of mine had posted a picture of jackfruit on Facebook and I was jealous and already craving the fruit.  So, yes, I went to Whole Foods.  I should have known that the average American doesn't understand exotic fruits.  Didn't I learn my lesson in Key West?
I had jackfruit in Jamaica 2 years ago, so it hasn't been years, but I'm still craving it.  Incidentally, Jamaica is the place for fruits.  OMG amazing.  I want to return to Jamaica just to eat the fruits.  They are sweeter than any other country I remember, including Thailand and Thailand is also known for their fruits!  I'm digressing.  Back to Whole Foods.  So, here I am in Whole foods, and they have slices of the whole jackfruit!  I mean, the whole fruit was in one inch slices!  They were treating it like a watermelon!  Yes, it's the same size as a watermelon, but this is a completely different animal!  No, the pods were not separated and I tried to explain to the guy who worked there that jackfruit should be sold by the pods or larger wedges.  He looked at me and said, "Well, people use the other parts of the jackfruit, like the white stuff!"  Really?  This is news to me.  I have never heard of that.  It's like saying, people eat the banana peel.  OK, the white stuff is not totally the peel, but it's just the fibers that hold the pods (the main edible parts of the fruit) together.  The guy asked me if I wanted to buy a whole jackfruit and with just myself and my husband, I said no!  I decided to buy a couple of slices, for what it was worth.  Maybe I could find a few half pods in there, I thought.  So, yes, there was a few half pods.  I would say off the 8 - 9 half pods, only 4 were half way maybe sweet.  The rest were tasteless.  I might as well have been eating the white fibers.  There may have been no difference in taste at that point!  I did boil the remaining seeds and those were surprisingly alright.  I don't know.  I haven't had boiled jackfruit seeds in over 15 years, so maybe my reference point has shifted by now?  Don't know.  I do know this.  In America, when it comes to fruit, we need to stick to apples, oranges and pears.  If I'm looking for exotic, I need to buy it from a vendor who understands the fruit.
The reason I mention a vendor who understands the fruit is because in Chicago, in Devon Avenue, where there are a lot of desi stores, they sell fresh sugar cane juice.  Yes, it tastes like the original and it's good.  So, I can't down everything in America - just people who don't understand or take the time to truly learn what the fruits are and how it's served.
Other than the obvious spoof on Americans doing exotic fruit, I guess I want to say that if you are in Cozumel, drink the coconut water and eat the coconut jelly with the spices.  It'll add to your experiences.  And in Jamaica, their jackfruit is sweet as sweet can be.  Don't miss it there!

Until next time,

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Red - a tale of a horse.

Every birthday, my husband plans a surprise for me.  As with every birthday, I spend months guessing what he has up his sleeve.  I had exhausted all options and suddenly one day it hit me.  What did I really want?  My husband has always been able to give me the perfect gift; somehow he manages to figure out what I want the most.  So, instead of spending time guessing, I decided to get introspective.  What did I want? I wanted to ride a horse; I wanted lessons and such.  Yes.  I had guessed my gift correctly.

My husband had me block my schedule for the Saturday morning before my birthday.  I kept telling him I think it's a horse.  He kept telling me that I may be disappointed if I didn't get my wishes.  Well, Saturday morning, I'm still rolling in bed when my husband says that my hint was waiting for me on the kitchen table.  I jump out and run to the table to see a black cowboy hat sitting there.  "We are going on a horse!" I jumped with delight.  "Yes, we are.  Run along and get ready!" he said.  "It's the bestest birthday gift ever," I squealed and off I went to finish the morning hygiene routine.  And readers, yes, I know that "bestest" is not a real word!

We drove an hour to the Royal Arabian ranch in Illinois.  Apparently a friend of my husband told him about this place.  He had further recommended a particular horse for me.  Red.  Red was supposed to be great with first timers and so my husband had called in to reserve Red.  I have ridden him twice now and I can see why Red was the recommended horse.

For a first timer, they use a step stool to help us mount the horse.  They make sure the stirrups are the right height and well adjusted.  There I was, in the indoor training arena, on Red;  I couldn't have felt better.  He was just calm and it seemed like he didn't care that I was on him.  The instructor told me to kick him and say "walk on".  I tried that.  Red wouldn't move.  He just stood there bored.  "Kick him harder!"  "But I don't want to hurt him," I retorted.  "You can't hurt him.  You are like a fly to him!  Kick him or he won't know you want to go."  So, I tried;  over and over and over again.  He finally did move on the instructor's direction.  Oh Red!  "He just doesn't want to work."  That's what the instructor said.  Perhaps.

I must add that it's hard to kick a horse, with your toes pointed up and trying to keep your feet in the stirrups all at the same time.  No wonder it felt like a fly to Red.  It's just tricky.  Red eventually got the hang of it.  He moved and he also took direction very well.  He went right and left as I guided him.  He did well.  It took him a while.  "He knows you are new and if he can get away with not working, he will."  That's what I was told.  As we made our way through the trails, all it took was one kick "walk on Red" and there he was, walking again and navigating his way with my direction.  There was a particularly sharp turn and I helped him navigate through it;  he did wonderfully to avoid a head on collision with a tree.  Red did well.  Through the ride, he stayed calm and bored.  He knew I was nervous but he didn't care.  He probably thought, another day another kid!  He was also good at reading me.  He knew that I didn't know any better and he could get away with not moving, if he could.

This past weekend, we went back to ride.  I requested Red again.  I liked that he was calm and disinterested.  I guess when you are riding a horse you don't want one that's just going to take off and leave you stranded.  I mounted Red using the step stool again.  My instructor gave me the same instruction.  "Kick him and say walk on."  So, I did.  Red walked immediately.  Then they asked me to stop.  Red stopped immediately.  They did say that was probably his favorite command, but I was surprised at how responsive Red was.  It felt like a different horse. Maybe Red knew I was more confident?  I don't know.  Red followed my directions precisely through the ride and he was going at the pace of the instructor.  We did have to stop several times as my husband's horse, Queen, didn't want to move this time.

Seems like tables were reversed.  This time around, Red was moving and I hardly had to tell him to move and Queen was constantly being talked to.  I could hear my husband from behind going "Walk on Queen."  "Come on Queen.  Walk on."  This went on the whole trail ride.  Red, was a different issue this time.  He just decided he was going to have a good day and I was lucky to ride him.  I'm not completely sure that Red takes all my commands, but I will request him again.  He's just a quiet fellow and I would love to get to know him better.  I'm coming back for you, Red.

Until next time,

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A conversation with an Iraqi woman

I've wanted to blog about this for 2 weeks now, but my schedule only delayed this blog.  It's been waiting to be written.  Everyday, this blog calls to me and tonight, I finally have time.  I would like to write this blog as it was narrated to me, by my Iraqi friend.  Of course, I didn't tape our conversation so I'm quoting, but it's really a paraphrase.

Here's what she said:

"You know, when I was in Iraq, we had Saddam Hussein.  At that time, he was very strict and no one could say anything bad about him.  That's how we grew up and that was life.  We just knew not to talk about him.  If anyone said anything bad about him, they would be taken to the town square and killed in front of everyone.  If people did anything bad, he would kill them in front of everyone.  We knew the rules and we didn't break them and we followed them.  It was very strict.  Maybe it felt too strict, but that was life.  When Saddam Hussein was no longer in power, that's when we missed him and wanted him back.  Yes, Saddam Hussein was very strict, but when he was in power, he ruled with an iron fist.  There was no corruption.  There was none.  We were too scared to say or do anything, but everything worked fine.  The only thing was that he didn't pay us well.  He had all the money but he didn't give it to the people and we wanted more money.  We didn't say it, but we thought that would be nice.  Then America took Saddam Hussein out of power.  When Saddam Hussein was gone, we missed him.  We all wanted him back.  You know when you have someone you don't realize it and we wanted Saddam back.

See, the new leaders started to give us more money and that was nice but then corruption increased.  We couldn't be at peace.  The doctors were scared to send their children to school, because people knew the doctors had money, so they would kidnap our children.  We may never see our children again, even if we gave them money and for those of us who did get to see our children again, they were not the same.  They did horrible things to them.  We wished for Saddam Hussein.  This kind of corruption would not have taken place when Saddam Hussein was there.  People just knew how to behave.  We couldn't even say the words "Saddam Hussein" but who cares?  It was more peaceful.

Why did you take Saddam Hussein away?  Why?"

At this point, I didn't know what to say.  I'm historically clueless and I live under a rock.  That's not a great excuse.  I didn't even know what the two wars were about.  I really didn't.  I knew thousands of innocent lives were lost, but ones empathy dies when the numbers are high.  I read an article about that.  I'm not making an excuse, just stating what I had read about empathy, but back to the conversation.

"I think Bush invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein was mistreating women or …"  I wasn't allowed to finish my sentence, not that I had much more to say to further expose my ignorance.

"It's lies.  It's all lies." she pleaded at me. "No, Saddam Hussein was good.  He ruled very firm but he was good.  Times were so much better when he was there.  You all took him out of power and Iraq is so messed up.  But we recovered.  You know, we Iraqi's are strong.  They destroyed a bridge and we rebuilt it immediately and it was done in 2 weeks.  As soon as the war was over, my mom told me to go back to school, the very next day.  We are strong people.

And then Bush came back and destroyed us for no reason.  He said we had chemical weapons and nuclear weapons and it was all lies.  We had nothing.  They found nothing.  My mom and I were at home and a bullet went right above our heads.  If we were taller, we would have died.  You know, my mom came home in shock and crying one day.  There were 2 babies on the street and the tanks just rolled over them.  And the soldier who shot into our homes, just lost it.  He just opened gun fire on us and then he started crying and saying he's sorry.  What is he sorry for?  After he shoots everyone?  Why were they killing all of us?  What did we do to you?  Bush came in and killed our people and he should stand trial for those charges.  He is a prisoner of war.  I will tell as many people of this as I can.  He just came and killed us for no reason.  No reason.  What did I do to you?  What did my people do to you?"

What does one say to that?  "I'm sorry.  I don't know what to say?"

"I hate Americans.  Iraqis hate Americans.  I didn't want to come to this country but my mother explained to me that if they destroyed our homes, they are obligated to give us homes in their own country.  We think you just destroyed our country and then you let the educated people come to America so you steal the brains from our country.  You know there are Iraqi people in high positions in America because Iraq was destroyed.  If we were there, it would benefit Iraq, but we can't be there because of the corruption because the war destroyed us.

I'm torn in this country.  I thought Americans were horrible people and then I met my neighbors and I met the people here.  Everyone here is so nice and inviting.  I'm torn.  How can nice people live in this horrible country?"

"I think the people don't really know the truth." I tried to explain, to no avail.

"Then we must tell them.  Bush is a prisoner of war and he should be tried for his crimes.  He just killed thousands of innocent people and no one said anything?  I will keep telling people as long as I can.  I will tell as many people about how horrible Bush is and how he should be tried."

"You do that!  I think the people do need to hear."

"Yes, I will."

So ended the conversation.  I wish I had it taped.  It was far more powerful than my paraphrase 2 weeks later.  I could ask her again, but I hope I got the salient points of what she had said.  It's ironic.  Few years ago, I was in a play called The Buffalo, by Steven Clark.  I played the character of a dead Iraqi woman and at the end of the play, I had this speech.  It didn't sink in then, but it does now, and I'll end this blog with one of the lines from that speech.

…We once had a king.  A great, but terrible king, but he is lost forever….

Best always,

Thursday, June 11, 2015

I want your job!

A good friend of mine calls me to tell me how frustrated she is with a particular corporate dental company.  A little background; dentists who own their own private practice are not big fans of the corporate model and so neither am I!  I hear her frustration and it's legitimate.  I'm pressed for a deadline to write an editorial and told her to send me the information that she was disgruntled about.  I thought I could write about this "issue" of corporate dentistry and as I was thinking about the flow of my editorial, it hit me.

The story is always better from the horse's mouth.  I thought she would have a better take on the presentation of the editorial.  I call my friend and tell her that my deadline was coming up for the editorial, but I felt she would be better suited to write a guest editorial for me.  She said, yes.  She said it'll train her to take over my job soon anyways.  I asked her what job?  She said, being the editor!

More background for you folks.  I'm the editor for the magazine on the city level.  I had applied to be editor for the magazine on the state level.  I was quite slated to get the position.  I was requested to apply several times.  I declined because I felt obligated to my little city publication.  The thing is this.  After my editorship, our publication won a couple of awards and we have upped the level of the publication that it competes with a lot of the state level publications.  I felt attached to this one.  I couldn't leave it and I couldn't be editor to both.

As I had talked to my friend about it, she suggested I apply for the state level.  If I got in, she would take over my editorship on the city level and the publication would be fine and I could still help her with it.  Long story short, I didn't get the position and I'm not here to talk about that, but it was a couple of years ago.  So, when my friend said she was going to take over my job, I was surprised.  I reminded her that I didn't get the state editorship.  She said, ya I know that, but when they realize they made a huge mistake, they'll want you back and then I'll take over this publication!  "Ya right!" I said.  "They're not going to do that!" and that was that.

The interesting thing about this conversation for me is two fold.  One, I have friends ready to step up to the plate for me.  Second, I have friends who believe I am destined for "bigger" things.  I have friends and to me that's one of the biggest blessings of all!  The state can keep their publication the way they want it.  I'm not backing down.  I will keep edging our publication forward.  They can copy my ideas and pass it off as their own and follow suit.  As my managing editor said when one of their issues looked almost exactly like mine, "I guess it's the best form of flattery!"

That's it for now folks,
Best always,

Saturday, June 6, 2015

May God bless you!

This post has been sitting in my drafts for over a couple of months now.  I just re-read it.  I think at that time I had reservations about posting it.  I know I don't mention names or anything.  Honestly, I can't even track the name down anymore because I don't remember the date of this draft.  I came here to delete it, but I wanted to read it one last time.  Well, I like it so I'm taking a chance and posting it!  Some details are a bit confusing on the read, but you will get the message.  Have fun!

This post is a long time coming, and  I'm trying to organize my thoughts.  What is this post about?  Religion?  Business?  Dentistry?  In truth, it's all of the above.  Perhaps I should just state my two stories and let you be the judge?  Interesting, another "two story" occurrence.

Story one.  The story that really prompted this blog started on a Friday afternoon.  I was at the cleft lip/palate clinic and wasn't expecting any calls or texts, except from my mother, because those are random.  The text tone on my phone goes off and I assumed it was my mother and I looked to see what she wanted but it was from a number I did not recognize.  "Interesting," I thought and opened the message.  The message started with "AssalamuAlaikum sister!" and I rolled my eyes.  Great!  A religious sermon from someone wanting money!  It wasn't that though.  I continued to read and it was basically a message stating that he had a daughter in pain caused by her teeth and he would like her treated ASAP before his insurance ended in 10 days.  Of course, the text ended with a "May Allah bless you" etc etc etc.

Couple of things, I am a dentist and I treat patients with respect, honesty and dignity not because it is required of my religion.  I do it because it is the right thing to do.  Period.  I would do it irrespective of being a Muslim!  I personally do not like bringing "religion" into treatment.

Back to this situation.  I had a major constraint.  All my appointments were fully booked for the next 2 weeks.  At the back of my mind I did feel, "a delay on your part, does not constitute an emergency on mine!" but the child was in pain.  I could have turned down helping them as they were not patients of mine.  However, the text felt very "beggy".  Please help us!  May God bless you for your help!  We'll pray for you!  Can we milk this anymore?

I replied professionally that I would love to help them but I would have to look at my schedule when I got into the office and if I had an availability, I would fit them in.  Another text.  May God bless you etc etc.  That was Friday.

Sunday night rolls around and I get a call from a father of another patient of mine.  A Muslim.  Although he wasn't pulling the religion card on me, he was introducing this other patient (the one who called me on Friday), and he was pulling the "Call Dr. **.  She'll take care of you," card.  She'll take care of you?  I'm a miracle worker now?  When someone believes you are magical, you strangely feel the need to pull a rabbit out of your hat.  So, the patient who called me was basically requesting that I see this other Muslim brother's daughter (the one who texted me on Friday) as she was in pain.  He was hoping I could help them and he had basically told that other patient that I was the right person in this situation.  If anyone would help, it would be Dr. Me!  I explained to him that I would do my best.  I explained that I was pretty booked up in my schedule but if I had an appointment to give, I would give it to them.  I explained that the other patient had texted me earlier that week and I had told him the same.  He said, "that's all I'm asking!  If you can help them, help them!"  There was the "May God bless you" at the end of that, but it was what it was.

I felt badly for the patient's parents.  It felt like they were helpless and pulling at straws.  Texting me, and now having someone else call me.  I imagined that maybe this "emergency" just came up and they felt stranded with their insurance running out and they didn't know where to turn to.  I decided to help them.  It wasn't to receive the blessings of God.  Like I said earlier, I thought the patient's parents must have felt desperate.  I do have an emergency slot every day, slotted for my existing patients and I was working in my mind that I would give it to them, and if I had to, I would work through my lunch to help them out.

Funny thing is that I had a prior social commitment at lunch time and I had blocked out an extra half hour of my schedule, and I realized that I was being unfair to a visitor from out of the state but what could I do?  I wanted to help this child.  So, on Sunday night I picked up the phone and left a message for my front desk that they should look at our appointments for the next 10 days and hold any available spots for this patient.  My staff usually come in sooner than I do.

Monday rolls around and I come into work.  I finally get to glance at the schedule with my front desk.  The next 10 days were booked solid.  We did have the half hour slot that I had blocked for my social commitment, there was a reschedule and long story short we moved patients around also.  We had to call a couple of our patients and request they move to help us accommodate the emergency and patients were wonderful about it and it was great.  We opened a 11pm slot for 2 days in a row.  Those were the only availability or wiggle room I had.

So, it's still Monday and my front desk calls the patient and tells them that we had to move patients around, but we have a 11am slot for them.  Now the rest of this conversation was told to me by my front desk.  Apparently, the patient stated that he couldn't do 11am and wanted to come later.  My front desk stated again that we moved patients around to help accommodate them and 11am was the only spot we could manage.  Apparently this went on for a while where the patient's father kept stating he had a meeting with his professor or something like that.  He stated he would come 30 minutes later.  My front desk came to me and asked me what I wanted to do.  I couldn't believe it.  If it was such a huge emergency, they would have come when we gave them an appointment.  It was hard enough to extract an appointment and now they were doing this dance like I had my entire schedule open and what I was doing for them was really nothing.  It was just required!  I was not happy.  So, I said to my front desk in no uncertain terms that if they weren't there by 11:15am, I would leave the office for my social commitment and lunch break and I did not want to deal with this anymore.  After going through all that, I couldn't believe it.

I was very surprised.  The patient showed up at 10:50am.  Yes.  On time.  Early, but they had paper work to fill out.  So, I finally get to do an exam and looked at all the teeth.  I don't think we were able to get X rays.  Communication was an issue.  The child did not speak English and dad was in the room trying to translate for us.  That adds its own dimension of complication in communication and treatment of the child but anyway the child had 2 lower molars that had large decay and she's been complaining of pain.  She had other cavities also.

Based on everything, I suggested we can finish all her work in 2 days.  I usually do not do treatment the same day I meet a child.  I like them to get comfortable with me first and choose the first appointment to be easy and a way for the child to build trust.  However, this was different.  So, I talked to the father and stated that we could do half her mouth that day and the other half the next day.  We had after all planned for this and moved patients around for it.

The next step of course, is the finance of all of this.  Although they were in network with the insurance, every insurance is different.  My front desk gal went to work and called the insurance company and found out exact out of pocket costs.  This is when things get fun.  I explained everything to the dad and he stated, "but the other dentist said it would all be covered".  What other dentist?

Apparently, they had gone to another dentist a month ago and according to dad, all treatment would have been covered.  I don't recall why he didn't go back to the other dentist or why he was coming to me in the first place.  I stated to dad that I could only tell him what our costs are based on what his insurance company told us and we are in network with this insurance company.

Dad says that he'll think about it.  I said OK.  That day was crazy.  We had another emergency patient waiting in the reception area.  So, I told dad that he could think about it while I helped the next emergency kiddo.  I got the next kiddo done.  It didn't take long.  I come back to the father in the waiting room and stated that we could start seeing his daughter now.

He started a totally different dialogue with me.  What if she doesn't do well?  What if she cries?  Of course, I explained about treatment and about how children don't really understand why we do what we do and how it's important to get her out of pain.  She may be anxious but we did not want her to continue to be in pain.  Dad says, "let me think about it."  By now, I was looking at my watch.  I was already into my lunch hour.  If dad wanted me to do treatment, I would still have done it.  You guessed right.  He said, he needed to think about it some more.  He didn't think he would have to pay anything.  He would let us know if he could come the next day.  He did thank me for seeing him and thanked me for my time, but I have not seen him or his child since.

My thoughts.  I'm going to be blunt here.  What is your child's well being worth to you?  That's what I think.  I get it.  There's a cost for dental treatment.  I run a business.  This story might be different if the child was not in pain.  I don't know.  Am I supposed to hand out free treatment because someone is a Muslim?  I don't know.  I've met parents who just wanted what was best for their child.  Period.  I've met parents who after I've given them permission to delay my payment, refused to leave the office until they got someone to give me a credit card number because they felt that it was right to pay me immediately after doing the treatment.  I've met parents who questioned everything.  I've even met a parent who told me that I was wrong because insurance didn't cover something and insurance companies knew better.

Now, back to the situation above.  After all that effort, and moving patients and the texts/phone call over the weekend and to my front desk on the Monday, how should I have reacted?  The TTR I know would be livid, but strangely I was very serene and at peace with the whole thing.  I wished what was best for the child and I hope they were able to get the care somewhere.  I don't know if I've become hardened with experience.  I feel exceptionally well for offering above and beyond and I think internally I'm very happy because I'm applauding myself for doing the right thing.  And yes, I would do it again!  I know I was being manipulated.  I know God was being thrown in the mix.  The final result was no treatment.  Their insurance coverage probably already has ended and what is left to say.  Nothing.

The second story?  This post is long as it is.  Perhaps I'll write a part 2 with the second story some other time.  So, I'll leave you here for now.

Best wishes,


Sunday, May 31, 2015

In memory of an acquaintance.

I've been in the thespian community for a few years now and while I act and direct or help out with sets, I generally stick to myself or people I know.  Is that the introvert in me?  I don't know.  The truth is that I am shy.  I will reach out when it's needed, but mostly, I just do my thing.

Funny!  I met my husband that way.  I met him through learning to write a play, but this story is not about him.  It's about the man who was sitting with him the day I met my husband.  While I was flirting with Brad, the president of the theatre company, in hopes of getting a part, I totally ignored the man who was sitting with him, Jim the producer of the show.

I even ignored Jim the first few Mondays I went to Big Daddy's for a reading.  I would go straight to the one man I knew Brad, my future husband (didn't know that then) and say hello.  I might have said hello to Brad's son too, but I don't know.  One Monday, Jim made me know who he was.  After I said my usual hello to the couple of persons I knew, I sat down.  Jim came up to me and said, "What?  Am I chopped liver or something?"  I was taken aback.  I back tracked.  He was right.  I hadn't say hello to him.  After that day, I never missed saying hello to Jim again.

As I spent more time with Brad, I would see Jim there.  It was a Brad/Jim combination that had kept the theatre going all these year.  I didn't know Jim very well then, but over time, I got more comfortable talking to him.  I would be there for Brad and help out and Jim would always thank me.  Eventually, with Jim, I took the liberty of offering advice about the theatre company.

One day, Jim offered me a position on the board of the theatre company.  I looked at Brad who was working at something in a distance.  Jim noticed my glance and said, "If you are thinking about what Brad would say, don't worry about him.  I'll deal with him.  I'm asking you to join!"  I declined.  I thought it was too much.  Yes, it was a big mistake on my part.  Until today, it's been a huge regret of mine.  I later joined the board, more in memory and honor of a man who respected me enough to ask me to join, but I wish I would have served on the board when Jim was around.  I was never on the board when Jim was alive, and I don't know what it would have been like.  I do often feel his presence at the meetings.  I had often joked to Jim about not joining the board and stating that I was the invisible board member.  "I'm there Jim!  You just can't see me," I would say.  Well, Jim is the invisible board member now and he's watching on the sidelines.

It is a great honor for me that Jim saw the first play I directed and was very happy with the results.  After the show, he pretty much gave me his blessings to direct a full length.  It was those times that I was getting to know Jim better.  I was getting to know how much time and effort he put into the theatre and just when I felt like I wanted to work with him some more, he took ill.  I saw him on his death bed, the day before he died.  He couldn't talk, but he very clearly nodded his head when I asked him to give me permission to direct a full length play.  See, the theatre company was going through changes and without Jim to defend me, I wasn't going to be given a full length play.  Jim in the presence of my husband was using his last bits of energy to nod and tell Brad that I needed my play.

I'm in the middle of rehearsing actors for my first full length and I miss Jim terribly.  The thing is that Jim wasn't my best friend.  I don't even think he was a friend.  We were acquaintances.  We spoke when we were at the theater but nothing major.  The usual hi, how are you and bye, or I would talk shop with him, but nothing more.  Today, I look back and see how much he was the wind beneath the wings of this theatre company; my husband too, but without Jim, we have taken a major hit.

I guess we don't consciously think about death everyday or think about seeing someone one last time.  We may think about our families, but not anyone else.  We don't know what they mean to us, if they mean anything at all, and then when they are gone, you realize what they brought to the table.  Gosh Jim.  I still miss you.  Wish you could take a break from heaven and stop by and watch my first play.  Would be nice!

Geekway to the West

Hi all,

I haven't been MIA.  I have been busy.  It's been a week since I returned from Seattle and there's things I can blog about that, but here's a post that has been long overdue.  The weekend before I left for Seattle, I attended my first "Geekway to the West".  It's a board game convention!

The story really started early this year when I was in casual conversation with a patient's parent about board games and how much I enjoyed it.  She talked about being a gamer, but she liked video games. As we talked, she told me that there was, however, a board game convention in St. Louis.  She wasn't sure about it.  "A friend of mine went and she liked it!  That's all I know."  The other piece of information I got was the possible name.  She asked me to google "geekway to the west" but she wasn't sure if that's what it was called.  She said it would be close enough.  The joke in the office switched to myself not showing up for work or calling in sick with some lame excuse when I really was playing games at this conference.  We all laughed at my craziness and I walked away.  The next thing I did in my office, before checking on patients was to stop by my computer.  Ah!  Google!  Thou art a true friend.

Geekway to the West showed up and I was looking at the website.  Pre-registration was open for $35.  I didn't want to go alone.  I loved board games, but did I love it enough to go to a conference?  I wasn't sure.  This looked serious.  I called my friends.  "Hey!  So, there's this conference for board games.  Uhm.  What do you think?"  Of course, they were all busy and had other things to do than go and play games.  One of my friends wanted me to go as a guinea pig.  If I liked it, she would join next year.  Others checked their schedule and said they would think about it.  The thing is that pre-registration was going to close in a couple of weeks and registration would be $45.  Walk-ins was $50 and everyone pretty much decided that they couldn't make a decision for pre-registration or even registration.  "We'll do the walk-ins if we have to," is what I got.

I told my husband that he's going with me.  LOL.  No.  He's not a big fan of board games, but he is a big fan of me, so he obliged.  I pre-registered for 2.  As luck would have it, registration got sold out.  They capped at 1300 people and so walk ins were not allowed either.  My brother was going to come into town for the conference.  I told him that the walk-ins were sold out, but he could use my husband's badge and come.  After all, my husband wasn't too interested.

The conference opened on Thursday.  I was at work and was supposed to get off by 1pm.  Long story short, it was a horrible day at work and I got off at 3pm.  I was exhausted.  I was going to throw in the hat.  Who cares about some stupid board game convention, I thought.  I'll go later.  As I thought about it, I changed my mind.  I was not going to let a bad day ruin the rest of my evening.  So, as tired and frustrated as I was, I went.  I got confused about the location.  I knew it was at the Sheraton Chalet, but at the last minute I talked myself into believing it was at the Sheraton which was walking distance from the Chalet.  So, that took a while and I finally ended up at the conference and registered.  I told the person at registration that I had a rough day at work and I had no idea what I was doing there.  This was my first time at a game conference and I was alone.  He looked at me and said, "Well!  You forget about your bad day now and you just play games."  "Games?  But what do I do?"  I really didn't know how it all worked.  He suggested I go to the "play and win" room and just find someone to play with.  I look back at that and it's funny.  A simple task - find someone to play with, seemed gigantic to me until I walked in there.  I found someone to play with immediately.  We picked a game neither of us had played - Viticulture.  We found a teacher to help us learn the game and I had a lot of fun.

The next day, Friday, I got there at 9:30am and stayed until I had to leave at 7pm to go pick my brother up from the airport.  By then I had played Viticulture, again.  I played 5 Tribes.  I played an army game I can't recall, Resistance, and The Game of 49.  Saturday, I went with my husband in the morning and I took my brother in the afternoon.  Sunday, I left for Seattle with my brother taking our badges and waiting to see if I won any of the games we played in the "Play and Win".  My brother texted me that we did not win anything.

It's funny.  It's a world of board games I would not have discovered.  So many.  I was told by a friend before I went that people may be aggressive.  I didn't encounter any of that.  I encountered like minded people who just loved to play board games for the fun of playing.  Of course, we all wanted to win, but we weren't going to be aggressive and yell.  We just played a fair game and it was a fair fight to win.

I got a text from my brother when I was in Seattle.  "Forget medical conferences.  Let's just go to board game conferences from now on!"  Hahaha!  Yes, I would say he loved it too.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Candy Crush Alarm

As a lot of you know, I'm a Candy Crush player.  I've been called an addict.  If I were an addict I would replay all the levels to either get my Candy Crush high or to just satisfy my craving.  I beat the board again.  A second time.  Last time I beat the board, I had a day of no Candy Crush and they added new levels.  This time, I'm afraid the wait will be for a few more weeks.  I play Candy Crush primarily when I wake and also when I go to bed.

Candy Crush helps me especially when I wake up because as I'm barely able to process information I throw colored candies and combinations to my brain and before I know it, my brain can process other stuff too.  This morning I woke up and realized that I had beat the board and there's no more brain processing to throw at it.  One could argue that I could have played an earlier level to help me wake up but that's the thing though.  It can get boring.  I only played to finish the levels.  I don't know why, but I feel like I have embarked on this journey and might as well finish it.  Besides, I don't play any other "games" on my phone so this is my only clutch.  Towards the end, I was just going through the motions.  I knew how to defeat the board, I just needed the candies to do it and it all depended on programming of the game when it was going to let me through.

Now that I'm out, I don't really want to play the old levels.  There's no point for me.  Go ahead and beat my score.  See if I care!  Should I get a new game to wake me up?  Do I need a new addiction?  I do not know.  Perhaps, I can just use this as an experiment and see how I do.  Today was a miserable fail with waking up and being at work on time.  Thank God I'm the boss.  Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Don't feel sorry for my pathetic Candy Crush self.  It's just something stupid I do.  We all have our little idiosyncrasies and this would be mine.  I know this is not a thought provoking blog, but it's just a light reading cheesy fun type blog.  I'm trying to mix it all up.