Sunday, April 08, 2012

Haters Hating Their Own Kind

Something really heartbreaking happened at the office not long ago. A Christian-owned, private hospital in a rural, Southern community had a critical need for a Psychiatrist. In this particular Southern state, this hospital is allowed to practice preferential hiring for Christians--as an exercise in its freedom of religion. But they discriminated against a Christian, because she doesn't "look like a Christian."

A fantastic physician, by all available measures, had applied for the role of Psychiatrist. In the pre-interview questionnaire from the hospital, she affirmed her Christian faith. Yes, she had a long name with lots of letters. She is most certainly not a WASP, but she grew up a Christian, in a Christian family, in the Middle East. Yes, they still have Christians in the Middle East.

Perhaps her parting shot best summarizes how this hospital, its patients, and its community will suffer because of such short-sided, small-minded, and stupid practices. The doctor said, "I don't feel so bad being turned away from this place. They would probably turn down Jesus Christ himself, since he was born and lived closer to my homeland than to theirs."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Kentucky Headhunter

September, 2010. That's what blogger tells me is the last time I posted. Hard to believe it's been that long. A lot has happened since then. Soon will be 2 years....

I've been gone from the greater-NYC area for over 6 months. I miss it. And for a long time, I missed professional fulfillment. But I've found it again! The only real career I had ever had, before 2011, was in book publishing. I loved it! I was passionate about it! It was great! I'm still a reader to the point of it being compulsive. But, to pay my bills, I've found something new. I'm now a recruiter for physicians. Psychiatrists, to be specific. I work for an independent firm that contracts with hospitals and clinics all across the US.

The fulfillment comes from the pure and simple joy I get from feeling like I actually can (and do) help people! I have found in myself a particular passion for the underdog--like the late-career doc in Boston who had a license suspension several years ago because of a patient complaint. A patient who also complained about every other medical provider that patient ever encountered. A doc in New York who, more than 2 decades ago, prescribed a narcotic to a lady-friend without an evaluation, and also suffered a license suspension. But I also feel rewarded by those docs without a mark on their histories. The full-faculty member of a top US university who wants to pick up a few clinical hours per week to help him remember why he became a psychiatrist in the first place.

There's a particular reward when I can feel like I helped both a doc and a hospital. When a clinic in rural Vermont or Rhode Island calls and has a critical need for a Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist, and I have a *perfect* doc for them who needs a J1 Visa Waiver, or H1B Support, or Tuition Assistance, I feel on top of the world when I can find the right fit. I harbor no illusions that I actually help the kids and families in those areas, but I do take my share of the credit for playing matchmaker. And I thrive on it.

I haven't been doing it very long, but I'm loving it. I have a reason to be excited about getting up and going to work every morning, something I haven't experienced since, well, let's see, soon after September, 2010.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Freedom to Believe

New York City has so many cultures, so many races, so many languages--and so many religions. As evidenced by the Baptist churches in my neighborhood, even my own faith is represented here in this giant melting pot.

And I am ashamed of myself. Let me explain.

I would estimate that 90% of my friends are agnostic or atheist. I am a 100% believer in my Christian faith. I know my prayers have been answered too many times and that my faith has pulled me from the brink of tragedy so often that a higher power, for me that means Jesus, must be involved. My belief and faith is ever growing in my heart. My righteousness? Well, that's another issue.

I am ashamed because if any of my non-believer friends want to see an example of someone trying to live a righteous life, and they look at me, they are going to see failure. Some times I manage to receive the strength from my Savior to do the right things--to love others as myself, to give when asked, to pray often and to pronounce my thanks and gratitude for every blessing bestowed upon me. But it is the big and visible things where my failure is greatest. The body is a Temple of Christ, and I don't treat mine as a Temple should be treated. Sometimes I let my frustrations interfere with my thoughts, which should be focused on thinking and doing the will of Christ. The number of my personal failures could take up pages. I am guilty of being a weak ambassador for my Lord.

There is a reason that God has put me where I am today. I don't know the reason, and I may never know the reason. But I do know that I am traveling a journey that God is guiding. And as the Bible teaches, I want to submit myself to God's will--which means listening to that still, small voice and prayerfully considering my thoughts and actions.

I am not ashamed of the fact that my beliefs have a stark difference from the "establishment" Baptists that have turned "church" into corporate conglomerates. Here is the kicker: I don't believe that Baptists will be the only ones in Heaven! Jesus said, "I have other sheep ye know nothing about." I don't know if that means other planets, other faiths, or other life-forms. But I do know that part of what will make Heaven a glorious place for me will be learning about all these other sheep.

God's still working on me. I need to stand out of the way. Because when my friends or their friends hear the word "Christian," I don't want them to think of me as being like all the headline-grabbers of our lifetime who teach and preach hate and confusion. And let me be very clear about this: preaching hate and confusion is from the devil! It is evil! And in this nation, they don't have to answer to us, but a day of reckoning will come.

I love my friends. I want to see them on the other side of the River Jordan. I know I will see some of them, but I want to see all of them. In my heart, I believe my calling is to live my life as righteously as possible to be an example. Then, one day, somebody is going to ask me, "why are you so happy? What is that glow about you? How do you manage to stay so cool under pressure?..." And on and on. And then I will be able to share with them my testimony. But before they will listen to my testimony, they will have to see me living it.

And remember, God is Love. When you hear someone try to teach or preach anything else, you can be sure that he is confused. And Satan is the author of confusion. Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and all the others: I open my arms to you. God has already blessed me with a heart full of love. It is humbling and joyful to me to share that love with you. And, allowing the strength of my Lord to work through me, when I am able to share my love with you, it will be complete and irrevocable. It will be forever. For that is the way the Love of the Lord is to me. Emulating that Divine Love is a task for which I am not worthy (and never will be), but which I accept. And only, only, with the continuing strength and guidance of my Lord will I ever be able to reach even the most minute speck of success.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile
No slaves or masters
No male or female
For we are all one in Jesus Christ
Galatians 3:28

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Don't Unpack Yet

War is Hell. And the US is claiming to be winding down a warfront in Iraq. But my prediction is that the US will be forced to return within 24 months. Why? Iran will invade Iraq as quickly as possible because the Iranian leadership wants to taunt the US all it can.

History will be repeating itself. In more ways than one. But mark this day, Wednesday, September 1, 2010, as the day I predicted the US would be back in Iraq will at the firepower it can muster before September 1, 2012.

Just like the US came to the aid of Kuwait, it will come to the aid of the Iraq of its own creation, which still has no stable government and citizens who believe Saddam is still alive and this is some big game. It won't be a game. It will be death and pain and suffering all over again. Lord, please have mercy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Book Publishing Mantra

You may not realize it, but there is a phrase heard in book publishing houses all across North America on a daily basis. To call it a mantra is imprecise. It is more accurate to call it an exclamation or epithet.

Here it is:

"Get that whackjob's review off of amazon!" Or, a variant: "Get that nutjob's review off of amazon."

This phrase is uttered after (and only after) an author who compulsively checks his amazon "ranking," and searches for new reviews, finds one that offends his sensitive temperament. He will then call his agent or his editor, who will then call someone in sales or marketing, and utter one of the phrases above. Or something that means the same thing. Then the salesperson begins the tedious process of assessing the review to determine if anything in it can truthfully called "unfair." If so, then begins a month-long flurry of email exchanges flying (in my case) from the East Coast to Seattle and back. And after that, if amazon agrees, anything a reasonable person may find offensive or unfair is removed from the amazon website.

Just another reason that the book industry will always need salespeople!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Starting Over Again

Well, just came to an understanding with somebody with whom I'd had a couple of dates. I made the mistakes of being too nice, too eager, too open, and too vulnerable, trying too hard, being over-analytical and presenting a facade of insecurity. The opportunity to date this person came out of left field, and not having dated in YEARS, I don't know the rules. Now my emotional "walls" are thicker and stronger than ever and I'm not sure when I will ever be trusting enough to date again. If ever I do date again, I have learned some very valuable lessons about keeping myself less excited and more cautious. (And when I say that, I imply NO mistrust of the other person, who is truly a great individual in difficult circumstances. I am talking about trusting myself to be self-disciplined.)

I can't really articulate all the things I'm feeling right now, but as I sort them out, I know that things will be fine. But for now, I am falling into the trap of shutting down, isolating myself and basically being unavailable. Thankfully, I have the old fallback of work--and there is plenty of it to do. I will bury myself in work and travel and exploring new things in new places to keep my mind focused on what is in my control, and not focused on what is over and done.

It hurts like hell, but soon, the pain will pass. I know that from experience.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Non-smoker's Journey

Okay, for anyone still following along in this little corner of the interwebs, it's just now approaching 2:30am on Wednesday, July 7th. That also means (24 + 7) 31 hours without a cigarette. The withdrawal symptom I most feared has not happened: irritability. I have remained as happy as ever, as far as I can tell. (Have I snapped at YOU? Lol.)

Other symptoms of withdrawal, some surprising to me, have happened. Fitful sleep, which I've always had, but now just seems even more pronounced. Sort of like a car that needed new shocks, but now also has flat tires. But at night #2, I am resisting ANY sort of meds. No Ambien, no Lunesta; no Valium, no Xanax, no Ativan (in fact, nothing from the benzodiazapine family). I'd rather suffer the symptoms as my body detoxifies, at least from the nicotine. The success rate for quitting Heroin is twice as high as the success rate for quitting cigarette smoking. This will soon be a real feather in my cap!

Indigestion like crazy. I must have been eating Pepcid like candy today. But I just took a Pepcid Complete to help get me through the night. So, correction to the above paragraph: one med to help get me through the night.

Another withdrawal symptom: inability to focus. An expense report this morning had errors in 3 separate line items. That has NEVER happened to me. First one was an error in calculating mileage; second was an error in which I entered a subtotal rather than a total from a receipt. The third was an error where I mis-calculated tolls from the RFK Bridge (formerly known as the Triboro Bridge). Now, in spite of these errors, I can, at nearly 2:30am, recall them clearly. I can also tell you that taking all three of these errors into consideration, my expense report was still only eight cents from what the correct amount is.

A little bit of light-headedness is also striking me from time-to-time, but cigarettes also did that, so no big deal.

I think of having a cigarette periodically, but I am not dwelling on it. That pleases me.

A higher energy level is something else I'm feeling. I kept thinking of productive things to do today after work. Among those "productive" things was addressing another symptom of withdrawal: sky-high libido. Nowhere in the literature that I have seen is increased libido a symptom of nicotine withdrawal. I think I remember reading somewhere that smoking suppresses the libido. If that's the case, DAMN. Forget saltpeter in prison--give 'em nicotine. I had to "take matters into my own hands" more than once after work today.

My personal history is full of instances of over-analyzing things. That has also become more noticeable to me. Things between the Good Nurse and me ended many months ago. I had decided to hide myself away in work, and in so doing, hide myself away from the world so that dating ever again would not be something necessary for me to face. I had it all worked out. My need for social activities could be satisfied by the occasional vist to the Web for Saturday night karaoke, at which there is rarely more than 6 people, anyway. No risk of "falling" for someone. My need for time on the beach or time in the mountains could easily be married with my work travel. But then something strange happened. Someone I met during basketball several years back invited me to pop by a place called the Cage in Hoboken, NJ, for karaoke the last Friday of May this year. There I became reacquainted with another basketball mate whom I remembered, but who did not remember me. (Subsequent to this meeting, I even proved to him I remembered him by correctly telling him the color jersey he wore when our teams played each other.) So, cut to today. We have spent some time together. And, as par for me, I am over-analyzing every-damn-thing. And it's even crazier in my head with nicotine withdrawal. If the basketball mate doesn't disappear during nicotine withdrawal, maybe there's hope yet. The weirdest part, though? While ethnically, the Good Nurse and Basketball Mate are very, very different, their parents come from the same general area. Same area as the Marcos' in the Philippines. And, they both are related to the Marcos,' meaning that they might be related to each other. Now try not to over-analyze that my friend, and then we can talk.

I suppose that's about it for right now. As a reminder, this is my blog, written by me, for me. You are merely being allowed a glance at what I write. So if you don't like this, move along. If you are a friend or loved one, your input is welcome. :-)