Archive for December, 2011

It’s that time of year again. Not Chinese New Year, or that Rosh Hashana one, but the all American time to dress to the nines and drink to 2012. Cheers! And if you live in the South, it’s time to soak your black eyed peas.

Bob tells me that the custom of making Hoppin John for the New Year with rice and bacon is actually a Jewish thing. Well not the bacon part. It seems that in the Talmud, there is a story of God giving in to his people; along the lines of “OK if you must keep a good luck charm, keep black eyed peas in your pantry.” Sephardic Jews brought this tradition to Georgia, and a meal was born.

So Happy New Year you’all! Out with the old and in with the new. The Bride wanted to know what resolutions I’ve made. I don’t normally make them, why set yourself up for disappointment. If I’m going to make major changes in my life, I’ll do it when I’m good and ready. Not by some arbitrary calendar date. But here are my top 2 mini-resolutions:
1). Resolved to live in the present. Let go of past grudges. Let go of hope for the future. If you don’t get this, read more about Buddhism.
2). Resolved to celebrate more, for no reason. Like making latkes when it isn’t even Hanukah.


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Two movies of two very different women have captured my attention this week – Marilyn and Maggie. On Christmas Day, when Bob was saving lives, I went to our local art theatre, Vinegar Hill, to see “My Week with Marilyn.” Michelle Williams embodies Marilyn Monroe, she doesn’t just play her. It’s a marvelous bit of film making, made even more special by my husband’s distant relation to Arthur Miller (her husband at the time). Stranded in Britain to film “The Prince and the Showgirl” Marilyn is at her most vulnerable.
When she asks her young 3rd assistant director, “Who’s side are you on?”, we are offered a glimpse into her psyche. A not so pretty side of a sexy, movie star on the brink of fame who cannot help but view her life and loves as one continual battle for survival.

A female warrior of a different kind, Margaret Thatcher will be portrayed by our grande dame of tinsel town, Meryl Streep, in the upcoming “Iron Lady.”

The year was 1979 when a British grocer’s daughter stormed the House of Commons. Women’s Lib was fairly new across the pond and Maggie ignored it, preferring to joust with the her male opponents wielding her rapier wit and a pocketbook. Like Marilyn, she was an outlier who forged ahead despite a cultural inclination to keep her in one place. Say what you will about her policies, and she was a Conservative of the first order, Maggy was a relentless and formidable leader.

I was riding on top of one of those open-air, red London buses when I sensed her power start to slip. Thatcher made a deal with Reagan to allow our planes to take off from British air fields and bomb Libya. It was the first time I felt like an ugly American abroad- fear was palpable. The British people didn’t want to promote war. “I have seen enough of one war never to wish to see another,” Thomas Jefferson

Thanks to the Flapper, I’ve been a pacifist my whole life. I saw enough of Vietnam. Thank you President Obama, for ending the war in Iraq. Let them have their civil war, we had to have ours. And I think I’d get along famously with Meryl, another Jersey Girl. What I didn’t know is that she is fighting to build a National Women’s History Museum in Washington, DC.

We may not be able to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, but we private citizens can sure as hell put our blue suede shoes on the ground to build a museum!

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Some places are always open, even on Christmas. Thank you to all the Emergency Physicians working this weekend – please try and stay safe out there and out of their departments.

And if you’d like to know where some of the best Emergency Medicine residents are trained, take a peek at this Vandy video – you might see the Bride if you look close enough!


And just a reminder, don’t drink and drive, or get on an ATV or do anything fairly complicated. Happy Everything you’all.

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Imagine you are traveling over the holidays. Added to the hustle and bustle of ornaments, caroling, wrapping, and eggnog let’s just say you find yourself checking into a hotel, alone. You’ve been reminiscing with family; maybe finding out something new about the siblings who grew up without you. They each have a story, and you’re not in it.

The Salvation Army came to the house Christmas in 1948 and Mike was mad. He was 11 and decided to get a paper route in order to support us. Self- reliance was a skill we all learned early.

Then an angel appears. There’s no sound of bells, no trumpets. Just a girl at the front desk with a name tag, “Angel.” Or maybe it’s a nurse named Van And you know that despite it all, life continues. Even now, especially now when illness strikes and we switch to a running game. When everyone wishes you a Merry Christmas. Love survives. Travel safe



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Are you a list maker? Or do you try to just wing your way through December? I was in the mall yesterday with the Bride looking at shoes. Well boots actually. When a woman next to me hit panic mode; I feigned looking away. Her friends were all helping her search for something. They reassembled their shopping bags and purses, preparing to soldier on through the Christmas crush as the less panicked slightly disheveled woman caught my eye.

“Oh good, you found your phone,” I said to her with a cell in hand. “No,” she replied sorrowfully and then imploringly said, “I LOST my LIST!” To which we all fell out laughing.

And this is why I am not a list maker. Making a list implies you must actually follow a plan, cross things off, check boxes. Making a list means you won’t forget it. You are an organized, resourceful person, the kind everyone relies on to get things done.

There can only be one list maker in a relationship. If there are two, you run the risk of paddling two separate canoes down the river of life. Which is why Bob keeps our Christmas card list in an excel program and this year we did it all online with just the slightest twinge of guilt. Thank you Shutterfly.

So Santa Baby, go ahead and check your list twice. You don’t scare me.


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We’ve been to Ireland twice. The first time right after I survived my bout with West Nile, and the second time was to take the newly graduated Bride on a trip to our ancestral homeland. It was my brother, Michael E, who dug up the Lynn Family tree. The original Michael J Lynn has his portrait on a wall in some bank in Pawley County, PA. It is said he was a “…Democrat, broad and liberal in his views, …filled the offices of collector, an overseer of the poor, and overseer of roads.”

He was a son of a cattle dealer in Ireland, who came over from Mayo to Scranton, PA in 1854 with “…four pounds sterling.” Or about $20. Starting out in the coal mines, he built a mini-empire of farming, lumbering and a butchering business; he owned over 200 acres of land. Michael H Lynn was the second born son, one of 15 children. My Grandfather took over the cattle business. I believe it was frowned upon when my Father, Robert, decided to study pharmacy instead of the meat business. And it was doubly frowned upon by his family when my Father married the Flapper. A widow with 2 children. She may not have been born high enough for their Irish Catholic tastes.

The Irish Cousins

Mary Gilboy is our remaining cousin in Ballina, Ireland; she is a beautiful woman, a widow in her 80s. She was a teacher of Irish who lives on the sheep farm her Husband worked with her son, John. They have a black and white border collie who likes to wind down a day of sheep herding by watching TV in the evening. She has 2 daughters, Deirdre and Fiona. Deirdre owns the “Wild Haven” youth hostel on Achill Island, and Fiona’s family make rugs in the Gaelic way: http://www.ceadogan.ie/.
Mary has brought us to see the Lynn Family Homestead and been wonderfully hospitable on our visits.

The Irish Christmas package is speeding along across the ocean with my long letter and a few CDs of “Dogs” for the kids. And now I can feel the ancient pull of family, the tidal yearning for belonging. No matter the separation, we Lynns are a strong and brave breed.

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I’m not a doctor. But I play the MDW (medical doctor’s wife) role now and then. Usually this fact doesn’t even come up, because when it does I have seen the change come over a person’s face. There is a slight leaning toward deferential, there is a wall erected, it gets in the way of things. One consequence of the MDW degree (and now the MDM, medical doctor’s mom) is that over the years, other people view me as having more medical knowledge in general, which is not true. I may be able to say “Homonomoushemianopsia” but it doesn’t mean I know all there is to know about it.

One thing I do know about is how intransigent this Congress has been, and I heard Bob say recently that Medicare reimbursement is taking a big hit in January. Then I heard that my brother’s primary care doctor stopped taking Medicare patients. So I set out to investigate. Now let’s just assume because it’s true, that ER physicians are a separate breed altogether. They donate almost 30% of their work to the poor. Overall, almost a third of patients who end up in the ER don’t have any insurance and are indigent. Can you think of any other business that writes off a third of their work? Emergency Medicine docs are the social safety net of our society.

But a Family Practice or Primary Care doc, he/she has spent the same amount of time being educated: 4 years of college, 4 years of med school, 3 years of residency and sometimes more when they get another fellowship. And now they are being asked to take a pay cut of 27% from Medicare. Around $168,000 is the average salary of your PC doc. A doctor’s income in a private practice is:
A – plus, what he/she takes in (payments)
B – minus expenses or overhead (staff, office space, electricity, malpractice, equipment).
Overhead runs on average 60% of a doc’s practice to about $259,000. It’s guns and butter, pretty basic economics. They are being asked to take a 65% cut in their salary because while their Medicare payments shrink by 27% their overhead costs will stay the same, or go up.

Are you still with me? If so, please consider letting your legislators know this has to come up for a vote before the holidays. http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=57348501&queueid=%5Bcapwiz%3Aqueue_id%5D


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No, I’m not talking about that sitcom with Betty White. The reference is to the 1980 debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. By all counts, the Great Deflector won the night at the Music Hall with his famous rhetorical question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” That was after dodging a bullet from Carter about cutting Medicare with, “There you go again.”

What a dismissive, insulting attitude. I always wonder at the GOP’s continual deification of Reagan. Some questions are just not fair, and that one was akin to “Have you stopped beating your wife?” If you answer in the affirmative, it means that you were indeed beating your wife; and if you take the negative route, well that presumes you still are…then you get stuck trying to prove that you didn’t beat her…or even think about it once or twice.

On 60 Minutes last night, for those not watching football, President Obama seemed to skirt the issue of the persistent drumbeat from the Right to make him a one term President. “…reversing a culture here in Washington dominated by special interests would take more than a year, more than two years, more than one term, probably take more than one president.”

It’s enough to make you squirm, these debates. Reform in Washington? It’s a systemic nightmare. The patient, democracy, is morbidly ill. But I like this Rolling Stone reporter’s take on money and government: http://smirkingchimp.com/author/matt_taibbi
And I like Little Stevie’s latest pledge drive; “I, The Undersigned, pledge to overturn Buckley v. Valeo and eliminate all private finance from the electoral process, thusly restoring America to it’s democratic principles.”

The Rockers do have a point! Are we better off? Let’s think of a better question.

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Bravo to the Parlor Mob! iTunes named their latest record, “Dogs,” Rock Album of the Year. This means that Apple music editors really really loved it, it has nothing to do with sales. Except that remember that single I loved, Hard Enough? Word is it’s sold more than a quarter million copies!
Hopefully this honor will get them noticed. And maybe, just maybe, nominated for other awards; the kind where red carpets are involved.

So what is the cost these guys pay for sticking with their beliefs? They leave their families on holidays to tour in support of their music, they lay tile and deliver pizza so they can work at a job that let’s them go at a moment’s notice, they play with and support their musician friends up and down the Jersey Shore. They fight to have a friend produce their album instead of a company hire. I can’t remember a time when I was visiting my son and somebody wasn’t living on their couch. In fact that’s the first time I met the bass player.

They don’t throw TVs out of windows or swing from the steel girders on stage. They look tough but in fact are the kindest, most generous band of brothers. I love each and every one of them. And to my son the Rocker, I want you to know how very proud I am of you. Here he is with the Bride at the rehearsal dinner. He’s kinda cute with a beard!

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What does a therapist, a lawyer and a retired travel agent have in common with a 30 Rock actor and frequent guest host of SNL? They were all escorted off their flights for speaking inappropriately or disrespectfully or maybe just plain speaking to a beleaguered flight attendant who was having a very bad day. In Palm Beach, the semantic scuffle started over an AirTran attendant’s baggage handling skills; and according to Alec Baldwin in LA, the American attendant “…reamed me out 4 playing WORDS WITH FRIENDS!” It was all over his refusal to turn off his electronic device aka cell phone. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” Shakespeare.

Because I am a devout word nerd, I play Words with Friends. This is the one and only online game I do play and it is just with the Bride. We like it because we can play around her hectic schedule without time constraints. Bob, otoh, loves to play Suduko by himself on his iPad, in the travel magazine or wherever he can find a puzzle. We were both sitting on a US Air flight out of Charlotte, NC recently when the attendant announced that passengers should turn off their electronic devices. My cell was off and stowed away but I kept reading on my Kindle, thinking that because it was not connected by wifi at the time it would not interfere with avionics…wrong. Well actually pilot Bob said it wouldn’t, but I listened to the attendant when she specifically told me to “Turn It Off!” We had a very nice exchange actually – and this was after experiencing a rough pat down at the security gate.

What’s the take away? We have no rights people when we buy a commercial airline ticket. We agree to be mauled, xrayed and treated like cattle, “You, that line, you wait over here….” But I would like to propose that airline attendants receive specialized training in social skills, in anger management, in plain old fashioned courtesy. In fact we may all benefit from reading a book my psychologist brother Jim told me about, “Crucial Conversations.”

“Learn how to keep your cool and get the results you want when emotions flare. When stakes are high, opinions vary…” Start with your heart, oh and Happy Holidays. No I’m not ready for Christmas just in case you thought of asking….

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