Why the Basques don’t need Santa Claus

December 25, 2007 As an outsider looking onto what is completely routine and normal in the town of Portugalete, of Bizkaia, País Vasco, España, I note things to myself that people here take for absolute granted. For example, I am constantly aware of the ethnic pride-slash-mild superiority complex that perfumes the air. I get it: … Continue reading Why the Basques don’t need Santa Claus

My first Thanksgiving

Once in a while, I meet an innocent ignoramus who'll ask me with a straight face: "do they celebrate Thanksgiving in Russia?" I usually reply, "Well, it's a holiday that started because people wanted to celebrate the Pilgrims arriving in America, so... no.  No Native Americans in, you know, Russia." Russian immigrants like us celebrate … Continue reading My first Thanksgiving

My trip to Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA: 14 expectations for your visit…but funny

I did something at least 50% out of character for me this weekend.  I went on a weekend getaway to the Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA.  I'm going to call it "a retreat," because it sounds fun, even though it wasn't anything that official.  I had this vision of cabana boys feeding me grapes and … Continue reading My trip to Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA: 14 expectations for your visit…but funny

I hate the limbic system

I was standing there doing procedures today...  By the way, I do procedures 3 times a week, and it's basically a half hour of intense visual concentration and hand-eye coordination times ten, but frequently, my thoughts are allowed to wander, so if it seems like half the posts here start with "I was standing there … Continue reading I hate the limbic system

How to save a life

A patient came into the office a few weeks ago, and tearfully thanked me for saving his life. I am not bragging. It's just that a patient thanking you happens really rarely; much more rarely than "you are doing nothing for me," and "I waited too long to see you," and other complaints.  So when … Continue reading How to save a life

All these thoughts…

Well, so, just like anything in parenting, we have our ups and we have our downs, and often they come in rapid succession.  Just yesterday I was fawning over my son's genius, basking in the glow of his awesomeness...   And today, I was sent crashing down from Olympus with astonishing velocity. His teacher called. She … Continue reading All these thoughts…

Teaching kids about illness: when vague explanations just don’t cut it

My son just never ceases to amaze me.  And my daughter, too.  And also, how different they are.  In yet another installment of "My child is a genius," I bring you this story.  It really belongs in the "Sh*t my son says" section, but it's too long and too great to stick there. First, a … Continue reading Teaching kids about illness: when vague explanations just don’t cut it

Discussing everyday existentialism: a few theories

  I remember in high school AP English class, stumbling upon existentialist literature--Sartre and Camus, to be exact--and being utterly stunned.  Existentialism is the idea that the human being, is not defined by the world around him, rather, the world around him is defined by the individual.  "Existence before essence" is a key idea, meaning … Continue reading Discussing everyday existentialism: a few theories

The Invincible Mrs. Connelly

It was the week after 9/11. Everyone was in shock, naturally, and doing their best to climb out of their own personal hell however they could. In my mother's case, the shock manifested itself as a long-forgotten buried sensation of physical visceral fear that used to be part of the daily existence for her in … Continue reading The Invincible Mrs. Connelly