Where’d They Go?

For those wondering where all the blogs have gone – I was on a once/week or better output for over a year – I’ve been distracted (this is not newsworthy).  Lately, the particular distraction has been my novel (this, maybe, is).

Yes, like every 3rd human on planet earth, I’m writing a book.  And one not all that creative, I suppose, since it’s basically “Star Trek” but with minimized people in a tiny ship inside a human body.

Same Thing...Just Smaller

Entitled “The Journals of the Micro Project,” I started writing the book waay back during my first year of med school to help me survive…med school.  Anatomy and physiology, in particular.  Then I just kept going, as I kept taking more classes.  Then I started writing the story to help me make sense of my feelings about religion and international politics (since we were living in Israel), how the American social order relates to dreamers and idiosyncratic personalities…and even how I feel about the city of Jerusalem.  Yeah, that all got in there.  Possibly some funniness and mildly-believable sexual tension stuff too.

I knew about the likes of “Inner Space” when I started my story.  But since I was using it to help myself understand and remember facts about medical science, I didn’t care about any sort of “hook” or “unique voice” or “poetic angle” so important to selling fiction.  I wrote it for me…not to foist on the rest of the world.

Then I started hearing the cha-CHING of literary greatness when I learned that the average novel makes an author less than $5000.  I figured ‘Daaang, I gotta get me some o dat action!”  Immediately, I began working on crafting a novel that everyone would like to read and pay, oh, 2-3 bucks for.  By ‘everyone’, I suppose I’m referring to Jr. High super-dorks with a left brain so big and a right brain so atrophied they walk in left-leaning circular arcs all day.  But so be it!  Friends are friends, even if they eat Captain Trilithium for breakfast.

Suddenly, things like verbs, quotation marks, PLOT, coherence and originality actually mattered.  Whoah.  Pressure.  So, I put a lot of work into all the mechanic stuff during residency, usually at the Bayview Deli in downtown Olympia.  The manager there gave me permission to hole up and write all day.  Sitting in that cafe, looking through giant bay windows onto Puget Sound, studying its many moods – from glistening to tumultuous, from deathly still to rollicking and granular, from green to blue to silver to explosions of orange and red and purple – remains one of my life’s favorite memories.  And that 2nd floor of the Bayview Deli remains one of my favorite places…making a respectable run at the Armenian Tavern in the Old City of Jerusalem.

As I sat there, pondering what kind of Eternal Being could possibly drum up the idea of a vision like the Sound, the distant snow-capped Olympic mountains and all the glorious splendor of trees, hills, clouds and wind that make up the southern edge of Budd Bay, I figured I was writing a freaking MASTERPIECE.  Move over, Bill’s Faulkner and Shakespere.  Make room for the New Guy.  Who wouldn’t write a masterpiece when surrounded by such divine poetry?

The guy's on a throne...how'm I supposed to compete with that?!

But, like a tire iron to the face, I learned only recently about a similar story written by Isaac Asimov, which was based on a movie screenplay.  I guess it was written in the ’50’s – when all anyone cared about were those evil Commies – but aside from that political angle, my story apparently bears many similarities (I am mortally afraid to read his book, lest I find that all my plot ideas have been used up).  So, turns out that more than one person on the planet has, at one time or another, imagined what it might be like to travel around inside the human body.

If you want my opinion, he’s a damn inconsiderate un-original jerk, Asimov.  Depending on your definition of “time”, Asimov pretty much totally ripped off my idea and then went back to the 1950’s and wrote the killer app (we’re talking sci-fi here…it’s an arguable point).  And really, how many ideas did that guy use up on his stuff, anyway?  Couldn’t he have left at least a science fiction crumb for anyone else?

Oh well.  By the time I learned about the Asimov thing, I was too far in to quit.  So, tired drivel though it likely will turn out to be, I’ve been putting some of the final touches on the book.  All 150,000 words of it.  It’s all I do with my spare time.  I get home from work, play with kids, help with the dinner/bed axis, try to give eye-contact to anyone who is talking, chill in front of the T.V. for a bit, then I attack the book till 12 or 1 every night, even when I have to be up at 0630.  The result? A sadly neglected blog, baggy eyes, and a book that now needs professional help (arguably, like its author).  Once off to a good editor (bro, you’re up!), I suppose I’ll get back to some regular blogging.

But until then, dear SW101 nation, bear with me as I pursue this 8-going-on-9-year exercise in being told, “Don’t give up the stethescope, Dr. Delusion”.

The Toilet Excuse? Really?

“I need more drugs because I had a heart attack yesterday and in my monumental pain I flushed my Percocet down the toilet.”

I stare.


AWwww, MAN, I don't know WHAT happened, man.

“No really.  I’m serious.  I don’t know what’s going on with my heart and I accidentally flushed my drugs down the toilet when it was causing me, like, serious pain.  I REALLY need some more.  I’m in like 24/10 pain.”


“That’s a pretty strange fraction.”

“Well, that’s how bad it is.”

I hope my eyes are at least a little more than half-closed, “Dude.  That’s your excuse?  Really?  That’s the best you have for me?  Flushed?”  My ever-blindingly cheerful mood deflates a bit.

“Well, it was the case manager who told me to come to you for more Percocet.  I tode her Dr. SW101 isn’t cool with narcs, so I figured you wouldn’t go for it, but she told me to try.”

“So, the NURSE made you do it?”

“No…well (looks hopefully at me), uh, maybe?”


Dr. SW101 set me UP!

He did utter one truth, I’m not cool with writing for unfathomable doses of highly-addictive, mind-altering substances that have outrageous street value and regularly cause the utter destruction of families, careers and lives.


He’s right.  I’m not cool with that.

Sometimes it feels like I’m just sitting in my clinic handing out bullets…each one stamped with “If this causes a disaster of any kind, please blame Dr. SW101.  His bank account number is 7749220485, and you can find his children at 13 XX street, usually after 6pm.  Punish him accordingly for making such a mockery of his Doctor’s Oath, society, God, the memory of Elvis, Stonehenge, Hello Kitty, Gooeyducks..and everything else even remotely sacred to humanity.”

But I’m used to that.  I’m used to being the candy man.  What I’m NOT used to, is being taken for so dimwitted that the medical equivalent of ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse might work on me.

“You’re really using THAT one on me?”

“Look man,” (whips out his Blackberry Smartphone, provided free of charge by the Army to help with his healing), “I got pictures of the pills in the toilet.”

I decline the visual.  Don’t even need it.

“You’d need to pin my face to a cork-board with something in the range of 34,000 thumbtacks to talk me into giving you more narcotics with that lame excuse.”  I say.  What I DON’T say is that aside from fighting the good fight against blatant drug addicts (I do take care of true heroes; he’s not one of them), I’m just flat-out annoyed at the excuse.

“Frankly, you’re story is miserable.  Put in a little work, and you might score a few hits out of me for creativity.  I’ve been known to drop a few Vikes on someone just to tribute their impeccible style alone.”


“Yeah, you know, do some deep-thinking before you try get me to double your daily horse-halting, blue whale-euthanizing, brontosaurus-stupefying doses of addictive opiates.”

“Liiike, a better story?”

“Yep.  I loovvve fiction.”

“Um, like what?”

“The doc I’m replacing was partial to “I washed ’em in my uniform”, so I’d say that’s a little, uh faded haha no pun intended *aHEM*, sorry, not making light of your “pain” or whatever, just a little side-joke for this glorious Army morning.  Anyway, where was I?”

“You were helping me come up with a story to score more narcs out of you.”

“Oh YEAH.  Thanks!  Let’s see, maybe I can help you….next time, try something along the lines of:


They're real. Seriously.

After a valiant but ultimately tragic battle, a saber-tooth tiger ripped your friend’s head off.  In desperation, you heroically dispatched said wildcat with your bare hands (careful with the back).  Then, without pausing to consider yourself, you gave him your ENTIRE BOTTLE of pills strong enough to drive the entire population of Gambia into rehab.


Unfortunately, when he swallowed them – since his head was removed from his body – your pills just dropped out on the ground, all slimy and spit-covered and quickly dissolved.  Thinking fastly, you propped his body up and then held his head over what you figured was the esophagus part of  your life-long friend’s neck so the remaining few pills – “Damn you, Johnny, swallow! – dropped out and settled into one of his neck-tubes, hopefully not the trachea.  Then you got him to a local ER, where they skillfully re-attached his head.

ONLY THEN, after your friend was recovering (he just might pull through, snif), did you think of yourself, realizing that you were, in fact, out of drugs for your endless back pain and heart attacks which you’ve been suffering from since you were born, 20 years ago.”

That would work?”

“No.  But honestly, that story has more credibility than, ‘I flushed ’em, brah, gimme some more.”