May 24, 2013: my last day working with Scott and Jim.  The transition from our idyllic little private practice turned into something I didn’t like, and a series of events took place at the end of April that made it impossible for me to stay.  So, it ended in May and I decided to take some time off from being a rabid workaholic and simply retain two jobs (teaching still, doctorate in progress) and not work clinically for a few months.  Time to travel a bit, relax, focus on life. 

I didn’t line up a new job, really, (a few things are percolating, I’ll get to that) which is terrifying, but I’m pretty lucky to be able to  say I took 4-6 months off to travel and have some fun.  Who gets to do that at my age?!

The Sabbatical

Wednesday, May 22, 2013:  On my last day in the operating room, Jim and I did a T2-pelvis scoliosis (I’m not sure how much I’m going to miss them, I do like doing them, but it’s a long, long case and a lot of standing and my feet hurt me nowadays, so I will but I won’t...).  I asked Andrew Ly, the circulating nurse of the day and a great guy to take some pictures with my phone.  He surprised me by taking a whole bunch, cataloging the entire day!  We flew through the case and before I knew it, we had finished and it was all over.  It’s a peculiar intimacy you develop in surgery that I think is unique only to this.  You’re standing there, heads together, talking to each other day after day for hours and hours, and you really get to know each other in a specific way.  Lantz, our “usual” spine tech, myself and Jim, all talking history, politics, philosophy, religion, medicine...  It’s sad to think about that ending, but I’ll always remember our times fondly. 

Friday was clinic and my official last day.  Scott and I didn’t cross paths, I had wanted to say goodbye in person, but it didn’t happen and I was home early.  He sent me just the nicest text messages, and we both said our goodbyes. 

Me; “I had hoped to say goodbye today, but you have no AM clinic.”

Scott: “That’s it then?  Won’t you be around?”

“I’m so proud that I’ve known you and can consider you a friend.  Your mind is so keen you are outstanding at what you do and fun to play with.  That’s about the highest compliment I can ever pay.  Smart AND fun.”

Me: “Oh, boss, I certainly feel the same way about you.  I hate to leave you.  The best boss I’ve ever had, the best doctor, AND fun.  It breaks my heart to leave.”

I had to pull over here, because I was crying reading his message- Scott has this effect on me.  I love and adore the man, as much as I can want to murder him at times.

And as much as me quitting happened because of HIS bad choices, I still adore him and hate to leave him. 

‘Wanna stay?  I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t ask.”

Crying, but thinking: you didn’t ask a month ago when this would have been more sage, and when you could have possibly reversed the damage you knew you did when you chewed me out  in the middle of CHO for not reading your freaking mind...

“Ah, you know that’s truly hard for me.  Maybe when you guys get all the kinks worked out maybe it could be.”

And so, it ends.  An era, an epoch.  The Belle Epoch.  An epoch I will never have again, never know again, never live again in the rest of my life.  And even a mont later, I can shed a tear or two knowing that this once vast, great empire we had in our own little fiefdom has been burned to the ground in a war that Scott himself started.

I stacked up a bunch of stuff to do pretty much every day Saturday through Wednesday, which was nice, and things worked out with Nick, who is going to stay at my place, holding down the fort and watching Charmer (he has 2 pugs of his own). 

Monday, May 27, 2013:  My research partners, Anita and Ginny and I all really like each other and have ‘meetings’ which usually involve eating at some great place and drinking, and talk about our research, yes, but a lot of fun too.  Anita lives in Sacramento, but also has a house in the city where she spends her weekends.  Her husband doesn’t love galleries and museums, so we have gotten together to see exhibits and things from time to time in the city.  Monday was the labor day holiday, and the current exhibit at the Asian Art Museum are the terra cotta warriors from China.  The last day they were there was tomorrow!  So we got tickets and went.  Ginny couldn’t make it, unfortunately, but Anita and I went and they were so cool. 

The exhibit was sold out completely, so it was lucky Anita had the thought of pre-ordering tickets online for us, and got us right in. 

The exhibit was in 3 rooms.  The first, discovered in the first emperor’s burial chamber, was a startling series of bronze crane statues.  They were amazing.  In the second room, there was pottery, pieces of the palace building, bronze funerary ornaments as well as every day ornamental items like wine servers and an ancient rice steamer.  A solid bronze little frog on a box was an incense burner and the smoke would have come out of his back and his snout.  In the third room were the warriors, which included horses.  They were discovered by a farmer in China, and the discoveries from the first emperor’s palace, burial tomb and other buildings was 27 acres in total and yielded some amazing finds, like hundreds and hundreds of these terra cotta warriors, all different, all assembled and then fired fully built, along with horses and chariots. 

After we got our fill of the warriors, we went for brunch at Chez Maman, a place that’s so hopping there’s always a line down the block to get in, and I’ve wanted to try since it opened last year.  The food was stellar.  I had the salmon fillet with fingerling potatoes and a burre blanc.  It was perfectly cooked, with crispy skin that I actually really enjoyed, and Anita had a chicken with pesto sandwich that she also loved. 

We caught up, she offered, if I do move back to New York, to do the fun drive across the country with me, seeing the cool places we’d like to see and explore along the way.  Pretty wonderful day. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013:  I had lined up meeting Shane for brunch at Flipper’s at 11am and didn’t get out of bed until shockingly late.  The intention was to come home after and clean the house, wash the towels, change the sheets, and generally clean the place up for Nick who was coming Thursday to stay while I’m in New Orleans, but brunch lingered a while and turned into “everything is in bloom, it makes me want to go to the Arboretum in the park to walk around.”  This sounded so nice and so charming that I decided to go with, so we hopped on Muni and got over to Golden Gate park around 12:30.  I haven’t been in the arboretum in about a decade- you can’t bring the dog in there, so I usually skip it.  It’s free for SF residents, so we got right in and at the entrance, a docent asked if we’d like a tour.  Shane looked dubious, but I said yes, and in the end it turned out it was just the 3 of us.  The guide was fantastic, and she walked us basically through the whole arboretum, which is set up to highlight different parts of the world (we started in Asia and worked our way through the Americas, the local flora, South Africa, and Australia before ending up back at the beginning.  We spent just over an hour on our tour, and had a great time. 

Before heading back to Muni, we took the quickest of minutes to run through the conservatory of flowers to see the butterfly exhibit they have going on (Shane is good- she basically let the woman let us in for a ‘minute’ without paying).  The butterflies were in a room much like I saw in the ones in Costa Rica- and it’s magical.  They’re all types of butterfly and moth, just fluttering around in there all over the place, hundreds of them.  Magical.

Shane and I also made more plans to possibly travel together, we’ll see what shakes out, possibly a camping trip to Yellowstone, or Lassen, or something similar.  We’ll see.

I got home a little on the late side to really clean up the house the way it should have been, but I tidied and got the major things done for Nick in the evening, then went to bed early. 

I registered for the Teaching Professor conference, which was in New Orleans this year a long time ago, and it’s upon me. I haven’t been to New Orleans since 2003 when I went with mom, and of course that was before Katrina happened.  The convenient, inexpensive and comfortable Cotton Exchange hotel is where I stayed in 2003 and it’s only two blocks away from the conference hotel (the Sheraton) for half the price, so I booked it again for this trip. 

Time for a little learning in the Big Easy.