Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Repairing cracks in the facade

I hear truly horrific things in my line of work. Maybe it's just my personality, but I seem to attract either genuinely sociopathic people or people with tragic histories the likes of which most wouldn't believe. Both are taxing to deal with. There are some people who no one can help. They will spend their lives using and abusing others, callously engineering their environment to their benefit. They usually come to see me through legal obligation or because they are trying to get something from me. In the end, there is no progess to be made and little anyone can do. The second group with the tragic histories I can and want to help, but sometimes I forget what it is to have to bear witness to the tragedy with them. Although I didn't live it, sometimes the emotion in the room is so raw it is possible to experience it with the other person. They want you to experience it, to get a glimpse of what they suffer. Through this you are able to take the pain away just a little bit and help them heal. It all takes its toll. I like my job and wouldn't change it, but it's a harsh look in the mirror on a daily basis. Not only must you contain others, you must contain yourself. Some days that's easier said than done. Many put up a good front, but few humans are truly stable.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Cassandra Complex

Of all the creatures I created for the literary world in which I play, by far the most tragic are the Amunites. For those of you who haven't read the first book in the series (Lost Devil's Throne, go get it. I am not above shameless self promotion.), the Amunites are human oracles, people who can see the future of anyone or anything they run across. How terrible must it be to know a tragedy is on the horizon, but powerless to do anything about it? To a lessor extent, this happens to all of us during our lives. If we're particularly observant, we can see the hurdles before our loved ones or ourselves smash into them. We may warn and advise and still be forced to witness a bad outcome. Just because you know there's a trap doesn't always mean you can avoid it. One of my favorite characters from Greek mythology had this problem. Cassandra knew what was coming, but was cursed so no one would listen to her warnings. No matter what she did, she understood she would inevitably bear witness to unspeakable carnage as the city she called home went up in flames. She's described as being crazy and, frankly, I don't blame her. In writing the Amunites I often wonder what keeps them from going nuts and they tread a very thin line with regards to their sanity. Insanity is, after all, a rational response to an insane world.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lesson for the week

I almost got hit by a bike yesterday. Not an unusual occurance in a big city during the summer, but this sequence of events stuck in my mind. I honestly didn't see the guy since I was looking for cars on a one way street. Since cars couldn't come from behind me and turn I wasn't looking behind me. Should I have looked anyway in retrospect? Probably. As I prepared to cross the street, he came from behind and turned to bike against traffic down the street. I wasn't expecting him and my hand grazed his tire at which point he cussed me out and shook his head in disdain like I was a stupid, petulant two year old. Not the first time something similar has happened and certainly won't be the last, but it reminded me of a recurring theme I've been noticing. No one takes responsiblity for themselves anymore. I am in a unique position to hear every excuse known to man. It's the rare person who looks at me and says "I was to blame, it's my fault." I do the same thing too from time to time. It's easier to blame others, but it doesn't solve the problem. The only way to fix problems is to control what we have direct control over and that means admitting we have control in the first place. Blame is easy, responsibility and work is hard. And always look because you never know what's coming up behind you. Thus endeth the lesson.

Friday, July 9, 2010


I get to work freakishly early. I am up anyway sans alarm at some ridiculous time which I attribute to the training we're required to have since medical school to function on as little sleep as possible. I like the world better either early in the morning or late at night. There's a peacefulness which simply can't be found during the day. Time to breathe, time to think. I get my best writing done during this time as if my imagination feels stifled by the crush of humanity and sunlight. I am comfortable being alone for extended periods of time. It works for me. Maybe it's because I interact with so many people for my work on such a personal level. During my down time I don't want to talk, I don't want to be in big crowds. I just want peace and quiet. I think that's why my husband and I get along so well. We both see the value in comfortable silence. Sometimes it's enough to be there for each other guarding the solitude of the soul.