Monday, December 5, 2016

Paths to Pathological Apathy

I got the news that another physician had committed suicide a few days ago. Sadly, this is not surprising, but this time it was a person I knew. There has been a lot written recently about physician and medical student suicide and I will leave the numbers and such for other people. What I do want to address is what I perceive to be the underlying reason -- and again, many other smarter and more experienced people than myself have written about this, too. I feel like the suicide epidemic in our society, including physicians, but also other groups seeing huge increases (veterans and children) shares a common cause.

As I reflected on the latest bad news, a question that was asked of me in an interview came to my mind.

"What is the largest problem facing our society today?"

Of course, this can be taken in many different directions, and I've never been asked that before in an interview (although I love these open ended questions -- my main problem is staying focused -- which is hard when you have so many (good?) things to say!) and as such, I hadn't really thought about this. After a moment's reflection I said: "apathy."

At that moment I was not looking at 'apathy' as a component of the suicide epidemic, but just something that has been on my mind concerning the larger American public in general. But they are tied at a level that I hadn't been able to put together at that moment.

Now, most of my days are filled with people who are filled with passion -- and for this I am thankful. However, I'm not seeing patients these days and I get to select who I spend time with. But even with these people (those lucky enough to see me regularly) and myself feel powerless -- which is the spark for apathy. Many of us feel it in our jobs where the joy and satisfaction that comes from a job well done is often futile, and at worst brings repercussions.

Many veterans have written and spoken about the terrible disillusionment that came from the noble desire to serve their country and protect their fellow citizens only to feel like they were nothing more than a political pawn in a grand money making scheme. A dreadful sense of powerlessness descends and, especially in a rigid power structure like the military, apathy is the safest and most natural reaction.

Humans do not thrive when they are powerless, when they have no hope, when nobleness is usurped by corruption.

Physicians today, in America, especially young, aspiring or in-training physicians are choosing a path which has disparate material rewards per unit-of-effort put forth -- this is why many of our brightest young people choose finance, or even computer engineering. The time, debt and liability that comes with being a physician is unparalleled and unless we can find satisfaction in what we set out to do in the first place, apathy will set in.

I place no claim on understanding why everyone who commits suicide does so -- but one aspect of the act itself that is noteworthy is the inherent self-empowerment (in what could be called a perverted form, to be sure) that comes with such a decision. To what degree this element plays has to be varied and individualized.

Perhaps in future posts a more detailed exploration of what makes physicians feel powerless is warranted. Undoubtedly as the years go by I will have a better understanding, too.

It doesn't mean anything to the suffering loved ones to repeat the mantra that 'suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem,' in the face of suffering -- I acknowledge that. But when a young life so full of promise and already acting as a conduit for good into this world is snuffed out, I don't have a lot else to say to the rest of us who are approaching this same threshold.

Friday, November 11, 2016


I've avoided writing or posting about it. I've, mostly unsuccessfully, tried to avoid reading all of your writings or postings about it.

Like most people I had strong feelings throughout the election cycle.

For a long time I thought the Republican-come-lately's campaign was in cahoots with the DNC and HRC in order to ensure her victory.

Which says such negative things about the whole process, or at least, about my outlook on the whole process.

And in that incredible thought of mine -- that the election of our very President of these United States of America could be that corrupt -- is why I think our Reality Star just had his pilot reviewed and a new season approved.

I've spent a lot of these past six months travelling around the country. I've been up and down the West Coast, in the bible belt, Florida, the Carolinas and around the Northeast. I've met a lot of nice people -- many of whom were going to vote for Trump precisely because of his political exogenous nature. Most were highly disapproving of the essence of his character. Some went on and on about the supposed corrupt nature of Hillary, but most recognized her as a symbol of the establishment -- and this is key -- it is this element, not her gender which people voted against. This is my optimistic side speaking, to be sure.

The relative large numbers of third party voters speaks for this. And truly, I believe plain misogynists, willingly-ignorant fascists and racists, in whatever proportion they truly are in this country -- and in my first hand experience through face to face interactions is a minority, all but sealed the deal last night. It doesn't seem like many have lost when betting on the lowest common denominator of a fragile and fearful human psyche.

I do believe this nation is worse for the wear under the leadership of the 45th President.

We've seen disrespectful discourse of all kinds, striking at the tender and inflamed nerves of our society, once again highlighting the worst of us as a whole. As I've stated above, I do think that the most significant element of this outcome is the symbolic vote of non-confidence in the status-quo. But what a very painful and terrible price. This is a more dangerous place for women, minorities and vulnerable people of all kinds not because those who bought into the Tower Of Power are rapists and bigots but because it empowers those among us who are prone to the baser violence of human desire.

I've written in the past about various ways current event information is disseminated and the sea-changes therewithin. Mark Zuckerberg denies that Facebook's fake news and algorithm enforced "echo chambers" had any affect on the election. I assert that it did. I also put forth the idea that one who views Fox News as a legitimate news source is much more likely to find themselves gleefully mashing that "share" button. But is this my echo chamber speaking?

Verily, I say unto you: it is better you lose both scrolling fingers than spend one more moment in Facebook related despair.

I'm seeing and hearing much hypocrisy from a lot of people -- and one thing comes to mind and is worth remembering: the non-partisan nature of this type of behavior. It is simply human nature. And while, in general I agreed with the First Lady and HRC that when "they go low we go high" I see the fiasco during the primaries with Bernie Sanders as going very low and the leadership of the DNC had no intention of the primary process having any meaning other than the pre-ordained one. The people who were (are) itching for a major party to eschew big money and power were disenfranchised from the process before the real election even started.

Before, when I said that I thought that Clinton was using her old family friend to ensure her victory, is precisely why I now, with the benefit of hindsight, am not surprised with this outcome.

One last thought on the current state of FaceBook.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ender vs Roland; The Final Battle

Between work and residency interviews I have been travelling a lot in the past few months. Recently, during another drive up and down I-5 I tried to listen to the audio book The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, the first in a series of novels by Stephen King. In my teenage years I devoured Stephen King novels. I don't think I've touched one since. What I remember makes me think that most of his work should stay in the teenage years. However, I had a conversation with a friend who was excited about the series being turned into a movie and emphatically encouraged me to read the The Dark Tower series again. I was unsure whether or not I had started this series before, but after getting into the audiobook, I was reminded that I indeed had. I was also reminded why I didn't continue the series.

Wikipedia states that the King's work is inspired by a poem by Robert Browning, published in 1855. And, it is clear that his inspiration is reflected in the flowery, prose-like text. It is so full of adjectives and abstract descriptions of everything and everyone that I found myself having to refocus my attention every few minutes and try and see if I remembered where the story had gone. Similar to driving up and down I-5, where the miles blend together and the mountains between Redding and Ashland seem like just a passing moment. Was it just this way because I was listening to, instead of reading the novel? I was curious and it made me wonder whether I would, now, think differently of the style of writing if read versus heard.

I spent more time pondering how I write, and what styles I subconsciously adhere to (ending a sentence with a proposition is a style that I actually think is okay, seeing as how that "rule" stems from Latin grammar and the Oxford Dictionary people are on wax stating that this rule is not appropriate for modern English written communica.) I also recently listened to Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card, another novel I read as a teenager, but also one that has stood the test of time in fantastic fashion. In some ways, it translated to an audiobook perfectly. It also represents that type of writing that I would like to emulate (not the quasi-anti-semitism part) especially the action scenes that he penned. How does one go about writing an action scene that is engrossing to the reader? It is a difficult task. And one that I am struggling with currently. In a way, I'm hoping that writing about it will allow the words to flow and the action to become naturally apparent on the page.

In a world that loves hyperbole and is quick to label current events as "the greatest or worst of all time" how does one try to write an event that is awe inspiring? My personality, which is inseparable from my writing, defaults to a fact based narrative that allows the reader to assemble the story and magnitude in their own mind. When I describe a tremendous earthquake that causes half of a mountain to slide into a wide river gorge, pushing the river high onto the opposing canyon wall it seems impossible to understate the awesomeness of this scene. But writing it how it deserves to be described pushes me into using words that are commonly used in any sports article or (boo! hiss!) political news story. If Orson Scott Card was writing it he would simply describe what was going on, providing the facts that lead the reader to realize what a momentous event they were "witnessing."

I am a scientist now -- a scientist of the human condition, more commonly known as a physician. That is a limited description of a physician however -- the art of medicine is a thing for a reason. Being a physician allows for the marriage of science and humanities unlike any other state of being that I know of. I embrace this marriage and I like to think that this dynamic plays into my writing. When one side becomes more dominant I become uneasy, and I think that the The Dark Tower is, for me, too full of conclusions in the form of adjective overdose. When each character, landscape and interaction is given a paragraph of lengthy description I am unable to build a scene for myself. I want the building blocks, not a finished product for my mind's eye while reading fiction. And this is why I want to exchange my audiobook for another one -- good thing Audible had a bunch of free credits with my Amazon account.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Did the original Bridge of the Gods have a toll?

This is my first rough draft of the second chapter. Struggles remain with this story and in some ways I feel compelled to just get stuff onto "paper" so I can clean it up and reorganize while knowing full well that I may not even like what I have. The idea of writing about historical events in fiction is so very intriguing to me and in that sense, I really want to make this work. However, my thoughts of how to do so are divided and it is showing in the writing -- the action is happening too fast -- huge momentous action scenes, such as an earthquake causing a mountainside to fall into a river, creating a huge wave that sets a canoe on the opposite shore's cliffside is a crazy, Hollywood-esque scene. I start and finish it with a few paragraphs. In chapter two, I have a man tumble down a huge set of rapids, nearly drowning and then saved within a few paragraphs. Perhaps I'm writing short story yet and I just haven't come to terms with it yet! And that is okay -- I'm used to being told things by my subconscious that I may not really like. 

Chapter 2

            The early flames of panic began to lick the mind of Nuua-Slingit. His canoe was laden with pelts and grains and admittedly, a canoe the size he was piloting really needed two people to safely navigate. He had seen the rapids as he ported his canoe and goods while going upstream. He was now coming upon them as he headed back home, downstream. The violent nature of the rapids, with huge boulders and boiling pools of green water made the decision to circumvent the water an obvious decision. This was his first trip from his home with the Clatsop people on the coast at the mouth of his river, to the Walla Walla tribe, who lived on the same river but three weeks east, into the dry lands.

As he approached these rapids from the eastern aspect he was on the north side of the river and unbeknownst to him, there was no place to pull the canoe ashore, as there was on the south side. A rocky shelf that abruptly ended, plunging into the river was all that the north shore provided. He had frantically tried to grab the rock to slow the canoe but only earned bloody and torn hands. When it became obvious he would enter the rapids with his canoe, he jumped into the cold water and held on to the side of the canoe in hopes of pushing off into relatively quiet pool close to shore. As soon as the canoe hit the first drop it pushed the back of the canoe, where Nuua-Slingit was holding on, violently sideways. He was flung backwards. The last thing he remembers is the searing pain in his back and gasping for air as his breath was knocked out of him.

            The small village of fishermen on the south side of the river had seen this seen unfold – they had yelled to him but the river was so wide that Nuua-Slingit could not hear them. One of the men had run to a small canoe on the sandy beach positioned downstream from the rapids. He paddled out into the river to find what he assumed would be the body of the unfortunate sailor. To his surprise Nuua-Slingit was alive, but bleeding and not breathing. The man pulled his upper body into his canoe and turned back to the river’s south shore. Nuua-Slingit coughed and river water shot out of his mouth. He began to gasp for air. By the time the rescuer had circled around to head to the south shore, the debris of the destroyed canoe and cargo was slowly bobbing away from the rapids.

            Nuua-Slingit’s survival was looked at with awe by the people who lived in this small village. Hundreds of people had accidently gone through the river’s gauntlet in the people’s memory and very few had survived, most were never found. For the first day he was delirious, refusing water and food and speaking gibberish. The eldest man, who functioned as the tribe’s doctor for most of his life, stayed with Nuua-Slingit in the same long-house. Through observation, the doctor recognized, by pressing his ear to his chest, that breath sounds were decreased on the patient’s right.  Also, the rise of the ribs was not the same, with the left side moving more. He had seen this previously and had learned from his mentor to craft a dried lambskin tube and insert it into the throat and push until the tube was in the chest. By marking the tube intermittently while it lay on the patient’s chest he could tell how far the tube was inserted. The tube was inserted and the doctor placed his moth around the end of the tube protruding from the mouth. Matching the inhalation pattern of the agitated patient he blew hard into the dried lambskin tube. He repeated this until the chest rose symmetrically.

            The days turned into a week and the delirium continued to slowly fade. Instead of fighting the sips of water offered by the doctor, he eagerly took them. His appetite returned with vigor.

            Nuua-Slingit stood by the fire for many hours after the others had gone to sleep. He had improved significantly in the past weeks since he had been recuperating from his disastrous canoe accident, but still struggled to sleep from the pain while lying down. Initially, the pain from his body weight pressing against his fractured ribs was enough to find sleep while in a sitting position. That had abated, but still, the very act of breathing was enough to keep all but the most desperate slumber at bay. Rib fractures are notorious slow to heal, as they must remain in motion. Nuua-Slingit had broken his arm as a child and knew the pain of a fractured bone.

            Despite the pain and the growing fear of how he was to get home, Nuua-Slingit began to enjoy the sleepless nights as best he could. The doctor, who was busy during the day tending to his own family and the ailments of the tribe would often stay up and talk with him. Nuua-Slingit was a young man, all of 23 years old and recently married with a baby one the way. He supposed that the baby may have already been born, as he planned his return to coincide with the delivery.

            The doctor told many stories – stories of triumph and heartbreak with all the people he had treated in his life. Nuua-Slingit’s favorite topic was the stories of how the rapids had formed – after all, the fishing village was close enough to the water’s edge so that the whitewater’s roar was ever present. Also, as he grew stronger he began to feel a sense of pride, albeit somewhat misplaced, that he had survived his calamitous accident.

            Ten generations earlier, a direct ancestor of the doctor was one of the few survivors from the tribe that inhabited the small fishing village, which at the time was not so small. A great shaking of the earth powerful enough to cleave the towering mountain on the north side of the river struck during a warm summer day. There was still evidence of this landslide, as the shear cliffs that apparently were only on the southern aspect of the mountain peak were striking. No trees grew there. The doctor said that if one were to climb one of the surrounding mountains and gain a bird’s perspective, it became clear that a landslide had pushed into the river, creating a bow in what was mostly a straight and broad river, for dozens of miles on either side. The river was noticeably narrower at the point where the rapids were, and clearly, the rapids were nothing more than the collapsed mountain that deigned to bury the river.

            Proudly the doctor told Nuua-Slingit how his forbearer survived when no one else did. He was saved by the river itself, as he fished with his net in the river, in his canoe, when the earthquake occurred. The massive movement of soil, trees and boulders pushed into the river creating a wave of gigantic proportions, one that lifted the canoe high into the air and as the wave crashed over the land, destroying the village and all living things in and around it, his ancestor was behind the crashing wave and ended up being gently deposited on the steep hillside that overlooked the village and river. As the water receded he watched from the side of the cliff as his loved ones and all he had known were swept into the river in a swirling mass of logs, trees, animals and people. The river itself had saved him and this was why the people who lived here revered the river and made their homes as close to the river’s edge as possible.

            Nuua-Slingit delighted in his imagination of what life was like for people who lived long before him. In his village there were stories of an earthen bridge that traversed the river, and this was collaborated with other stories the doctor told him during the cool sleepless nights. The landslide had come to rest on the south side of the river. It had created a damn, with a lake quickly forming behind it. The former place of the village was now a part of the earth, swallowed up with no trace left other than the debris floating to the sea. The lake continued to grow and push against the damn. Over the years, with the lake now many times wider than the original river, it pushed out the dirt from under the damn. At this point, the damn had become a conduit between the northern and southern tribes, which before had to rely on boats to ferry people and goods to each other. The river bed downstream still had water in it, but until larger tributaries further down stream joined the river, it was only a ribbon of flowing water with a mud field on either side.

            The river is relentless and turned the damn into a bridge. The lake drained and a surge of water pressed towards the ocean, yearning to make up the lost time. The shallow rapids that nearly killed him were the collapsed remnants of that earthen bridge.

Nuua-Slingit was nearing full health and he set out to build a canoe that would take him home to see his wife and firstborn child.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Meany - ful Use

Earlier this year I felt great relief when I matched into a graduate medical education program that would allow me to train for three years and at the end, allow me to take a test in which I could earn a board certification in internal medicine. During these three years a great transformation takes place -- a doctor in practice replaces a doctor in name only. After those three years I would spend two years learning how to be an intensive care doctor -- an intensivist. A good portion of my life's efforts for the past ten years had been in the name of this process. I've taken on over $400,000 worth of debt in this process.

"Why do you want to be a doctor?"

This is a question that any pre-medical student hears frequently. I came up with many clever and thoughtful answers (not mutually exclusive) during that time, and over the years since my numerous medical school interviews. At the heart of it all was a desire to have a job where at least an element of "noble" potential remained. Physicians, by no means, have this type of job cornered. A customer service representative that does a good job helping people may enjoy a more noble career than some physicians I've met. I wanted a career which had a high ceiling for this esoteric idea of being noble, and that mixed with the other components of science, medicine and intrigue sealed the deal.

Due to a few personal reasons I've taken a step back and am not in residency. My classmates, for the most part are approaching the end of their first block of residency; their intern year 1/12 complete. I'm proud of them. They are averaging less than minimum wage pay per hour in the hopes of becoming competent enough to truly improve their patient's lives. And, it is not about the money. Physicians will be better off financially than most of the patients they treat. What it is about is being able to use the expertise and years and years of intensive training to practice medicine. Physicians in the United States have given this away, as if it meant nothing. One could argue it was wrestled away, but this is besides the point.

I've been working as a clinical consultant helping physician's deal with a new electronic medical record implementation in their clinic.

The frustration of being handicapped by administrative decisions is apparent.

The bitterness imbued by a bureaucratic machine that scolds physicians for writing pain medication prescriptions per their expert judgment (and makes it an enormous pain in the ass for the patient and amazingly large time sink for the clinic) but ties their compensation to patient satisfaction, is front and center.

The worry for patients that can't afford their medications, procedures, or imaging -- much less their deductibles detracts from the joy of catching a serious diagnosis early or reassuring a new mother.

The disrespect from patients who are frustrated with navigating the inhuman and cold machinery that is American healthcare is understandable, but slowly eroding the will to continue clinical medicine.

I thought I wanted to be an intensivist. I thought I wanted to help the sickest people and respectfully usher the dying and their families through the final phase of life which is waiting for us all. I would be good at it but the price to pay is not something that I'm willing to do.

Instead I am redoubling my efforts in areas that I believe allow for noble efforts that will be supported by me being a fully licensed physician. I started a consulting company aimed at creating education for medical professionals and patients. I wish to write in a capacity which fosters understanding that things are not "okay" and "business as usual" when it comes to medicine in this country. And, yes, it's not all about the money, but I am worried for my family's future when most of my student loans accrue interest at over 8% with a recapitalization of the interest annually. I feel compelled to have one foot in medicine and one in business and that is what I'm doing this year: assuming a businessman pose while re-entering residency a year from now. Oh yeah -- and getting my fat-ass in shape, too.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Ruff Draught

A complete rewrite of the first chapter. I read the other chapter, with some editing, at a writing workshop last week and it fell flat. I received many solid critiques, namely that I was overreaching with my flashback scenes in the rough draft and that my mixing of modern "white-man" terms with Native American terms was confusing, and a little patronizing. I also took the outright references to the landmarks, rivers and mountains out and described them without the names. Simple things, like describing the canoe as being the length of 5 men laid end to end, versus a canoe 30 feet long. It has to be kept simple, though, and describing long distances, such as the width of the river is more difficult. We'll see how it shakes out. It will be an ongoing challenge to balance this particular facet of the story telling. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to the modern stories. 

Chapter 1 (first major rewrite)

The biggest were the size of my hand. The thick line of raised scaly ridges broke the water close enough for me to touch them. It prompted my dad, in the front of the dugout canoe, to thrust his fishing net into the cold swift river water. I could see the fish now, which was at least half-as long as this canoe, which measured 5 grown men from head-to-toe long. It swam into the net. The canoe lurched forward ensuring my dad, at the front, my mother in the middle and me in the back went tumbling backwards. I hit my head hard on a cedar box secured to the stern of the canoe, dislodging a pile of sea otter pelts and burying my upper body in stinky oily fur. 

            I climbed out from under the pelts with much effort and found my parents holding their bellies from laughter. The sturgeon had taken the net when my dad lost his grip and we could see the wooden handle bob across the surface of the river. This was not the first time a net was lost and there were more in the canoe. 

            “We're getting close to the waterfalls. Let us stay close to shore as we come around the next bend.” My father said, still smiling while he watched me restack and tie down the pelts. 

            Now that I was thirteen years old I was expected to be able to man the most posterior position and handle all the responsibilities concerning paddling this large canoe. I had grown a lot in the past year but was still a smaller version of my father. We both had the long black hair separated into a handful of braids with seashells as clasps; his was much longer than mine. We also shared broad shoulders upon which hung determined muscles of our torsos, his much more developed than mine. 

            Sunshine and a warm breeze filled the gorge through which a mighty river flowed. We had started our journey in this canoe three weeks prior, from the southern aspect of where this river meets the sea. A wide tumultuous area of water, where the sweet water mixes with the dominating saltwater; this, along with the winds and frequent storms characterizes the nature of the river where we lived. Learning to pilot a canoe in dangerous waters like that allowed for carefree enjoyment of paddling the canoe on this protected stretch of river. On both sides of the river rose vertical granite walls. This was the beginning of summer and the waterfalls that plummeted over the cliffs looked like slivers of clamshell interiors stacked up along the cliff. 

            “How soon until we land, dad?” 

            Here the riverbank was rocky and uneven with no obvious good place to pull the canoe ashore. Stories that my dad had told me since I was old enough to understand him described the stretch of river we were coming upon. The year I was born, my father had been on the return leg of this very same journey and nearly drowned. At no point was this a lazy river but this area was impassable by any ship, marked by rapids and numerous disjointed waterfalls. Even the salmon had to fling themselves out of the water in hopes of climbing the smaller boulders as they returned home to spawn. The people who lived here had constructed boards that jutted out over the whitewater allowing them to catch a flying fish with their net. 

            “Don’t worry, Nuua-Chaahh” said my dad, “in a just a bit we’ll have a sandy beach that will allow us to push up right out of the water.”

            My father, Nuua-Slingit had done this every summer for the past fifteen years and knew what he spoke of. As soon as we passed the bend and I could see past the rocky outcropping, the still dull roar of the rapids surrounded us. The sandy beach that eased out from the river on the beach was obvious and I started to point the bow in that direction.  I began to breath hard as I paddled, trying to gain enough speed to beach our canoe. At first I was not sure if the low rumbling was in my ears alone but suspicion was confirmed with the look on my mother’s face. Wide-eyed she was staring at the northern shore, across the river from us, which was shaking back and forth. I turned my head back around and saw the beach, which we were fast approaching, shaking back and forth, too. I resumed paddling, imagining that we should beach the canoe and run into the forest. We hit the beach with a lurch. This time we were all ready for it and jumped out started to pull the canoe up onto the land. 

            We had the canoe half way out of the water and the earth was still shaking; it had been at least 20 seconds thus far. The roaring of the shaking was marked by a sound like I had never heard before; like a stone striking another stone but so loud and pervasive that we all turned to face the mountain peak north of the river. The side of the mountain facing the river has falling towards us, towards the river. The David Douglas trees, which sat so majestic and silent, reaching for the sky, were now pointed towards us -- and coming fast.

            “Laana-Tshimshian! Nuua-Chaahh! Get the boat back into the water!” My father yelled frantically at my mother and I. I was still frantically was pulling the canoe onto the sand, not understanding why he wanted the boat back into the river. 

            The side of the mountain continued to separate and fall towards us. Whether or not the earthquake had subsided none of us knew. The sound and vibrations from the mountain on the move took up where the earthquake would have left off. My father had run around the side of the canoe and was now pointing and pushing for my mother and I to get the canoe back into the water. It was clear that there was no arguing with him.  

            We pushed off into the water and with my father in the back of the canoe he told us to paddle straight out from the shore. We did. The mountainside had reached the basin and was now entering the water with full force. It became obvious that wave of water that was to result from this intrusion into the river would be of significance. My mother and I exchanged glances and we both could tell the other was unsure about continuing to paddle into the river. We were now three times as long as the canoe in distance from the shore. My father yelled for us to continue paddling. The wave began to take shape and was gaining height. We continued to paddle towards it; the wave hurdled towards us, lifting the river upwards towards the peaks of the southern rim of the gorge. We paddled; the lip of the wave was now high enough that we could not see what remained of the mountains on the northern aspect. The bow of our dugout canoe began to rise and we were lifted upwards and backwards. We all stopped paddling at this point and were holding on to the sides of the canoe. We accelerated, moving backwards away from the still moving landslide, which we could now see as we were on the crest of the wave. It felt like we were flying – perched on the crest of the wave, unable to see where we were going, facing backwards. This continued for an unbelievable amount of time; I raised my head and looked behind me and saw the still immobile trees of the southern shore getting larger. We were riding the crest of the wave past the river shore and up into the forest where the cliffs began. We hurtled towards the tips of the trees while the wave began to break into a chaotic blur of pine needles and whitewater. The day's third lurch of the canoe overshadowed the two previous. The wave had let us down into the trees and I was now falling out of the canoe and through the wet arms of the trees, I didn’t know whether to prepare to drown or fall to my death but I tumbled and tumbled, with no orientation known until I stopped falling. The large fish just down the hill from me, with a fishing net around his head, flapped occasionally, knocking the surrounding trees with the fishing net handle. That and the dripping of water from the trees was the only sound besides my own breathing.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

While trying to fall asleep, which usually is not a problem for me, I've had my brain kindly bring up that one (take your pick) embarrassing episode from 9 years ago and I lay in bed just wincing at the memory. Or, perhaps its during a contemplative moment -- nevertheless, having these cringeworthy moments is a good way, provided they stay in check and an unstoppable avalanche of anxiety doesn't start to fall, to stay grounded -- to remember that all of us are vulnerable to doing stupid shit, at any time. Going back and reading old pieces of writing isn't so different. There are times I think, while checking out old short stories, essays, or whatnot, that "hey, you weren't a complete idiot back then." Most of the time, however it is very similar to that feeling of brain betrayal while trying to fall asleep. Right now, for instance, I went back to read the blog post detailing my plans for my first component of this project.  My main character, I say, is 3 years old. Well, I meant to have him at 13 years old -- and while this is not a big deal, I feel kinda the same as if I made a some faux pas at a big work party or something. And, while I don't edit or proof-read these blog posts as I would if they were being turned into a writing class (why I don't is a good question -- as presumably more people will read these things than a single professor) I may have to spend a little more time doing so. 

Well, here is my rough (read: 1980's skateboard griptape) draft for the first chapter. 


Chapter 1

Even though the dull roar of the rapids and waterfalls ahead was still audible, the rest of the wilderness had grown quiet. The normally rambunctious wind was resting and the birds were caring for their own in their nests with quiet intensity. I was in the front of the 20 foot long dug-out canoe -- at 13 years old I was finally able to help my mother and father with the paddling duties. We were approaching the same spot where my father had nearly drowned 13 years earlier, as he was heading downstream on the mighty Columbia River as it passed through the sheer granite glacier carved cliffs that is the Columbia  River Gorge. He survived that accident and now was careful to seek portage before the swirling green waters became too treacherous and silently sped up in preparation for white water excitement. 

It was at this point that the hills began to shiver, which grew to full on shaking. It was disorienting at first -- to be rocking to the small waves of the river as we approached the shore and to reconcile the growing bouncing of the towering mountains on either side of river. We first heard the deafening roar before we saw the side of the northern mountain face begin to slide towards us -- with the tall David Douglas Fir trees pointing towards us instead of reaching for the sky as the earth sought to swallow. 


My name is Nuua-Chaahh and the day I was born my father was not there. He had been expected to return before the end of the summer, as he had all the years prior since he had begun trading with the Walla Walla tribe which was 3 weeks up river, on the other side of the mountains. My father did arrive soon after my birth. His delay was due to a near drowning while passing through the challenging rapids of the Columbia river as it passed through the Cascade mountain range in the dramatically glacier carved gorge. He was no worse for the wear but he was forced to stay with locals near the rapids while he recovered. I knew all of this not because I remember it but because it became lore and legend in our tribe, which sat at the sand dunes on the southern aspect of the mouth of the mighty Columbia River as it feeds into the Pacific Ocean. 

As I grew up in the shadow of my Father, like any young boy, who continued to annually travel east to trade with the powerful Walla Walla tribe I looked forward to the day when I could accompany him, and now my mother to visit the land where the hills were barren, only covered with the stubble of prairie grass and trees only found on the southern aspect of the rolling golden hills. I was used to towering evergreens and lush foliage of the northern Pacific coast where the living was relatively easy provided there was wood for the long house fire and men to hunt the seals, salmon and whales which formed the backbone of our sustenance. And indeed, this is what we traded with -- the oil from the whales, the pelts from the coastline fauna, the cured meat and of course, the shells. I didn't understand this at such a young age, but the Walla Walla tribe did not have many goods we needed -- except regional power and a chief with a daughter who was a year younger than I. My father started the relationship with the Walla Walla chief initially to gain power and prestige within his own tribe, however after a few years it morphed into an effort to have his first born son, your's truly, enter into matrimonial relations with the Walla Walla Chief's only daughter. 

The other young men of the Clatsop tribe yearned to reach the age where they could partake in the whale hunting parties that could take dozens of men in numerous sea going dug-out canoes out to sea for days at a time. I waited for the day I could accompany my parents to the dry side of the mountains  from where the sun was born every morning -- to the Walla Walla village. 

My father, Nuua-Slingit, had learned from the people that lived in the area of his near drowning about how generations prior there was a terrible earthquake that had caused the mountain to fall into the river. They described to places along the river where this had happened. The further east location was where the trees no longer grew and had caused large waterfalls to form from the mountain remnants. The area where he had to recuperate saw the river become much  narrower and thus swifter and the walls of the gorge were much steeper with the cliffs on either side turning the multitude of streams into waterfalls adding to the girth of the river as it headed to feed the sea. Nuua-Slingit would tell the story during potlatches about how the mountain created a damn, displacing the villages that were streamside, and how eventually this damn became a bridge, as the relentless river bored through the underside of the earthen barrier. This had collapsed into the waters many generations ago, adding to the already treacherous passing. It was this story that crept into the back of my mind as I saw the mountain crack in half.  


I'm already becoming apprehensive about how to integrate the culture of the Native Americans I'm trying to write, along with the time period, which predates the Western naming of the regional landmarks. How far do I take it? Is it disrespectful to call the it the "Columbia River?" when this is obviously not a name that would mean squat to my characters? My instinct is to use these Western names in hopes that the reader understands that non disrespect is meant and that we have to use names. I have specific locations and events in mind that I'm basing this story around. 

Temptation lingers for the inclusion of footnotes; David Foster Wallace style. I've tried this in the past and couldn't control myself. It would make things easier and provide explanations that would only serve to weigh down the story itself. Perhaps I'll create some footnote ground rules for myself and explore that option. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Nathaniel's Sorrow

Character workshop

#1: Netanya, Israel -- but in the from of flashback, with main character in a coffee shop in Portland, OR while he tries to write a novel about his experience in Netanya, Israel during the Passover Massacre

Date: March 27th, 2012 (10 year after the Passover Massacre in 2002)


We will start the journey with the main character as he goes to his favorite coffee shop on upper Hawthorne, in Portland Oregon (I have a certain coffee shop in mind -- one that has a grand-opening this Saturday (congrats boys!)) to continue to work on his memoirs from his time as a medical resident who was working at Laniado Hospital as a Global Health Trip, when Hamas used a suicide bomber at the Park Hotel, where 30 civilians were killed and 140 were injured. This attack was the most deadly during the 2nd Intifada. Our character is not Jewish, and went to Israel for no particular reason other than being intrigued with their culture and heritage. He was a 2nd year Internal Medicine resident doctor when he went to Israel and was very overwhelmed when the attack happened. He was enlisted to help triage the victims in the parking lot of the hospital. It was a turning point in his life, and he has tried to put into writing his experience and what he took from the incident for the past few years, with little success. The 10 year anniversary is this very day, and he is determined to make much progress with his writing.

Laniado Hospital has a unique and interesting history. In short, it was founded by a rabbi who desired to build a hospital that would happily treat everyone -- a credo they still strive to honor to this day. Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam was in the concentration camps for years, and was on a death march to Dachau, where he was shot in the shoulder. He knew that if he requested treatment, he was as good as dead. He vowed to God that if he survived the march and the war, he would build a hospital that would treat every person, no matter creed, race or religion. This is where Laniado hospital comes from.

Ryan Moore works as a Hospitalist in Portland, and has since he finished his GME training. In the past 10 years he has married, had 2 children and is engaged in the community and with his family and friends. By all accounts he is well adjusted. And, he is -- except for the few occasions he tries to evoke the memories from the parking lot triage and the subsequent fear that followed while he worked the rest of his time in Netanya. This dynamic will be expanded on in the motivation and character section -- but the key is simple: humans are capable of adapting, growing and thriving in the face of adversity.

I'm compelled to use Netanya and Laniado Hospital during the Passover Massacre since I actually went and spent a month at that hospital as a medical student. I saw nothing like this while I was there, of course. I did here from doctors, nurses and friends that I made there about that event and what it was like during that time when suicide bombings were happening in Netanya. There were other suicide bombings in the town -- one at a busy, popular market that I spent quite a bit of time buying vegetable and such during my time there. I understand that there are terrible things happening to all of the different peoples in that area of the world, and this story is in no way an indictment on either side. I also realize that not aiming for an indictment of one side or another can be harshly judged, as well. So it is with trepidation I enter this particular gambit but I believe in writing what we know.  And with that, a doctor staring at his laptop in a Portland coffee shop while lost deep in thought is something I know.


As above, I do want this to be a feel goodish story, in that this isn't about politics, or an exploration of PTSD, or even concerned with redemption -- but about resilience and that, simply, life goes on. In some cases life doesn't go on -- an obvious statement, but such a universal truth, one that supercedes just about every other common human experience. I assume there are people who have lived without ever seeing the sun, or some other crazy common aspect, but those people, unfortunate as it is to live any amount of time without ever seeing the sun, sky or moon, will have or will die.

The process of becoming a physician, of which I am almost one, affords ample opportunity to deal with death and dying. There many people in our society who have not seen a dead body outside of the funeral setting. The funeral home goes to incredible lengths to make the corpse look as "undead" as possible. And I get it -- death is ugly and a tough thing to digest; but despite all of that, it is something that can be dealt with in a healthy way and I strongly believe denial is the most insidious pathological ways of digestion. Why is the United States so concerned over broadcast naked body parts relative to gun violence? This is an aspect of our society that has been explored by others with more wisdom that I have but it does speak to how we digest death in our culture. But this is also not what the story is about, either -- but is a component of why I wish to tell a story involving such a horrific real-life event.

#1: Ryan Moore

A 40 year old physician who grew up in Philomath, Oregon his entire life, went to undergrad in Vermont and medical school in California, and residency in Colorado and now lives in Portland, Oregon. He works as a hospitalist in a large community hospital in Portland, has a wife, 2 kids, a dog and a home on the western slope of Mt. Tabor with a fantastic view of the city, with majestic sunsets when its not obscured by cloud cover. He can walk to the basketball courts that are in the ancient cauldron that remains near the top of the volcanic cinder cone that serves, for the most part, a city park. He is quantifiably and qualitatively successful in most aspects of his life. As a character, he is really not going to be that interesting. I would be lying if I said this character wasn't broadly based on my life and self-perceptions -- kinda like a best case scenario for myself, I guess. He is a good husband, and a good father. He even picks up his dog's shit when he is on a not-oft-used path through the woods of Mt. Tabor -- when no one is around. It will be the story that is told, as he writes it while struggling, on the 10th anniversary of the bombing, to put his experiences into words.

Four years prior, he contacted a number of publishing houses in an effort to sell his story -- a story that was not written yet. Based on his previous publications, most of which were in undergrad (another way that he is the best version of myself -- he had sold a dozen short stories, one to the New Yorker, which was the aspect of his resume that allowed him to sell the unwritten tale. He had pushed back the deadline more times than Ryan would like to admit -- in fact, if there was an element of his life that smelled most like failure, it would be this -- an enduring inability to write his perspective of what happened that day.

We will meet Ryan as he is in a writing frenzy, at the coffee shop, on the 10th anniversary of the bombing and over 3 years post first deadline for content due his publisher.

We will start by reading a SOAP note for a patient he treated that day. A SOAP note is ubiquitous in the medical field and is comprised of 4 sections S = Subjective, O = Objective, A = Assessment and P = Plan. And it is as simple as that, but serves to allow efficient communication between providers of all kinds. Ryan is an Internal Medicine trained physician, and if there is one thing an IM doc can do, its write the best SOAP note. Each doctor has his or her own style, and some border on verbose, and some tend to write like a surgeon (which is almost nothing) but in general, the "story" of every patient treated by the physician is known through the SOAP note.

Ryan gets the idea that he will use this form to frame his experience. He will expand the standard form that one would find in an EMR, or paper chart in any given hospital, but will stay true to the style and format of the note, maybe with some clever (worried about cheese factor here...) twists and turns in the note.

As I'm writing this, I realize that the names of the victims are known -- they are real people. I can google these people and see their wikipedia page. They have families. Hmm. Perhaps I should alter the dates and the circumstances of the bombing? I'll have to ponder this aspect and how best to maintain respect.

#All the Patients

Considering the story will be about these people -- the story has a lot of work left to flesh out. I'm not worried, as just like Ryan, once I start writing fake SOAP notes, it will flow like water -- hopefully it won't be as bland as water... I must admit, this third act may end up being insufferable to any sane reader.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

From the Tavern to the Bar

Character workshop
Act II
#1: From the Tavern to the Bar (Stumptown Shanghai and the Sandbars of the Columbia)

Date: October, 9th 1890 (3 years prior to the completion of the railroad from San Francisco)


Starts just south of Portland Oregon, on a rickety wooden dock that juts out from the heavily wooded embankments on either side; they are bringing in Opium from China. From there we move to a saloon in what is now referred to as "Old Town" Portland. The "Mariners and Mounts" was an establishment that sat on the northern end of the warf of the west side of the Willamette river (the 2nd largest northward river in the world, with the Nile in Egypt being the largest) that is so named because they were known to have a large stable of for horses; for boarding and sale, and of course the sailors who worked on the numerous ships that served to move the goods out of the Pacific Northwest, either to San Francisco or China. This is a very busy establishment, known for a wide variety of temptations and dangerous men, but most who drank, ate or stayed there were just looking for a little fun while on shore leave. And furthermore, most of these sailors were known, and knew each other and the local people. It was strangers coming in alone that had needed to fear.

Crimping, or more commonly known today, Shanghai-ing, is just another foot note in the shameful history that is human trafficking. In 1890, there was enough of a demand for labor in the Portland area that men could make a good money without ever having to step foot on a boat. And while working as a lumberjack or carpenter is dangerous work to be sure, it is not nearly as dangerous as trying to navigate the Columbia River Bar and then the open ocean of the Northern Pacific. Sometimes sailors had to be "encouraged" to join a ship's crew. This story will focus on a Chinese ship and her Captain who regularly "hires" help with the help of a partner who partly owns the Mariners and Mounts and also runs the opium den under the saloon that also functions as the tunnel from the saloon's back room to the waiting ship. My main character, Abraham B. Chalmington, is a man coming from New York by way of San Francisco an the gold mines to Portland looking to earn enough money to bring his wife and young child out to live with him in the Portland area.

He arrives at the Mariners and Mounts late in the evening, seeking shelter and a hot meal. This was his first mistake. One thing will lead to another and he will be given some top shelf whiskey, something he is not used to drinking, which is the reason he tells himself that it tastes weird. 1 hour later he is locked in shackles in a cell in recessed corner of the opium den surrounded by Chinese men who speak no English to him.

From there he is on the ship, forced to be one of the rowers who were needed to navigate the treacherous riverscape. The Willamette meets the Columbia not more than 10 miles north of where he was imprisoned. From there sailing is easier but still dangerous until the mouth of the Columbia River, where they encounter what is known as the "graveyard of the Pacific." The ship probably wrecks here. I don't know whether Abraham lives or dies. But he will do some cool shit during the storm, when all hell is breaking loose on the ship. This portion of the story has a lot of development needed. I'm not sure whether or not he survives is integral to the overall aspect of the story I wish to tell. This is a world that is beautiful and awe inspiring but is right on the edge between the brutal, deadly nature of the north but has echoes of the southern, more gentle climates and landscapes. It is no mistake that the end of the story here will take place on the water flowing by the shore that held the camp of the Clatop Tribe.


Well, I kinda just spoke to this above. But, there is more -- I want to take myself, through writing and researching this, on a journey back in time as an exercise in acknowledment that Portland and it surrounding areas are so new compared to most of the country. Portland was founded in 1845. The mission in San Franciso was formed in 1776, with an economy and influence that has only continued to grow to this very day.

I also want to highlight the rough edges that Portland has always seemed to have. This includes the people that lived and live there, and those that have always been attracted to it. It is no secret that the area is cloud covered a good part of the year. Many days are dark -- with clouds so thick that sunshine can barely penetrate. And the rain. It is not a deluge kind of thing. It is an everpresent kind of drizzle; so much that without realizing its even raining one can become drenched. Weeks and months of nonstop dark and dreariness always is punctuated with a day of bright sunshine, sunshine that causes all kinds of flora to glow in a type of unearthly glow. It is this juxtaposition I wish to highlight.

#2: Zheng He

A 45 year old Chinese national who has been involved with exporting opium since his dad started to teach him the trade when he could walk. We first meet the captain of the largest and most cut-throat opium importer as he is supervising the off-loading of an opium shipment south of Portland, where modern day Oaks Park would be. He will be a simple character until the shipwreck, when we see him at the end of his life. He may either act out in a final gush of cruelty or perhaps, he shows mercy on his captured slaves. Zheng He will work in tandem with the part-owner of the Mariners and Mounts, BattyFang Bobby to shanghai the strangers who come into the saloon looking for shelter.

#3: BattyFang Bobby

An 35 year old English man who jumped ship in San Francisco 20 years earlier and made his way to Portland to help bring in the onj hb pium after meeting Zeng He in the mean streets of San Francisco's China Town. Another fairly flat character, who never gets any opportunity for redemption. He will just go on and on drugging unsuspecting strangers and selling them to any ship's captain he can. His name comes from a low London phrase meaning to "thrash thoroughly," possibly from the French battre a fin -- he has spent more than his fair share of nights licking his wounds after triumphantly celebrating another bar fight where he was the only on walk away.

#4: Abraham B. Chalmington

A 25 year old New York native who is trying to make enough money in the wild west after struggling to make ends meet in New York City. His young daughter has respiratory problems that are being exacerbated by the industrial revolution and the associated air pollution. He is a good man, one not prone to excessive drink or smoking. Abraham first landed in San Francisco via the transcontinental railroad. While the gold rush was decidedly over at this point, there was still a lot of mining in the Sierras. However, there was not enough money to be made near enough to San Francisco to allow his family to comfortably move away from New York. Portland had the reputation at this time of being a boom town, with enough work near the growing burg to support a family in a town with some infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools.

A good man looking for a better life for his family, including ill daughter is lured into a night of drinking and female companionship only to be drugged and then placed into a cage and sold into seamen slavery. Then, when he is working in the belly of the Chinese frigate trying to row out to sea past the Columbia River Bar Crossing, the ship is overtaken by waves and the ship sinks. As mentioned earlier, I'm not sure whether Abe dies or not. I can see him sacrificing himself in order to save some of the other slaves, or perhaps the slavers themselves.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Today is a day that I've been waiting and fretting over for a very long time -- the day where I match into a post graduate medical education program and begin the last leg of training to become a fully licensed physician.

I have a lot of thoughts and could opine for hours over what this means and how brutal this process can be at times -- but will leave it for later. I just thought this occasion warranted a place marker in this blog.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Act I; The Bonneville Slide Takes out the Family in the Dugout Canoe

Character workshop
Act I
#1: The Earthquake and Landslide

Date: October 12th, 1492

Place: 30 miles east of present day Portland Oregon, in the Columbia River Gorge at the western edge of the Bonneville Landslide, which was a 30 mile wide swath of land which fell off the side of Table Mountain, which resides on the Washington side of the river, which is the north side. The people who I will have pushing eastward along the Columbia River, leaving their coastal village to meet with the Walla Walla tribe, in order to trade -- but also to show off their young first born son, in hopes of someday having a marriage between their chief's daughter and the most successful trader's son, from the Clatsop tribe who live at the mouth of the Columbia River, where it feeds the Pacific Ocean.

It has been proposed that in light of recent carbon dating from a Douglas Fir tree 150 feet under the fill from the Bonneville Slide showing a range of 1550 to 1750, whereas previous estimates had it as early as year 1000. Most likely there were a series of landslides, along the 30 mile swath of fill. There is evidence of a 9.0 earthquake which occurred around year 1700. I'm bending history a couple of hundred years, and while I wish to select a significant date in "western" history for the setting of the story, I don't necessarily wish to use Columbus day -- I only selected it as a placeholder and reminder that I plan on finding a better date.

Motivation: The raw power and demonstration of complete physical domination from an event such as a 9.0 earthquake followed by a mountain falling off of its perch and into the deep and wide gorge below,  obstructing the mighty river which carved the gorge in the first place will be difficult to get on a written page.  But told through the eyes of a 13 year old boy -- opportunities to tell some cool stories will present themselves.

The whole novel, with these disparate and really, not tangibly tied together with serious connections other than the land they call home, needs to be a character in each of the three sections. This section will show the power and terrible power that can arrive in the blink of an eye. There is no storm clouds on the horizon to portend an earthquake. The Pacific Northwest is a place of mountains, volcanic and otherwise, that have been carved into by glaciers and glacial dam flooding left when the ice receded. And this topography and living natural history is also beautiful and mysterious and intriguing. And that is exactly what I should illuminate.

#2: Nuua-Chaahh

A 3 year old first born male of Nuua-Slingit and Laana-Tshimshian, a successful couple who built a business trading sea otter pelts, whale blubber and other marine and coastal goodies to tribes on the eastern side of the Cascades. In this story Nuua-Chaahh is making his first trip east of the Cascades as he is finally old enough to be of help, but also because his parents wish to show him off to the chief of the Walla Walla tribe, a large and influential tribe centered around the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers in what is now Eastern Washington, in present day Tri-City area of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco. Interestingly enough, it is also the place of Hanford, a federal facility that played a large role in the Manhattan Project.

Nuua-Chaahh is a good kid, loves his mama, loves talapus and the Clatsop tribe too. He's a good kid, crazy 'bout blubber. Loves salmon and his girlfriend, too. It's a long day, living in Astoria, there is a beaver runn'n through the yard.

He will probably be the narrator for this portion. I'd like to incorporate flash backs as he travels up the Columbia River in a dug out canoe. He is excited for the adventure of travelling this far from home, but he is not as excited about meeting the daughter of the Walla Walla Chief as he has a girlfriend in a village close to his.

As such, he will undoubtedly be the hero of the story. The earthquake and then the landslide into the Columbia river and the resulting wall of water sent in both directions might be a scenario they find themselves in. One way or another, tragedy will be befall the traveling party.

#3: Nuua-Slingit

A 33 year old male. Father of Nuua-Chaahh, and husband to Laana-Tshimshian. A Successful trader who operates the trading post at the southern aspect of the mouth of the Columbia river; where current day Astoria sits and spends 1/3 of the year traveling around the Pacific Northwest conducting business. This particular trip is especially important as he is hoping to initiate discussion concerning his first born son and possible nuptial relationship between a daughter of the chief of the Walla Walla tribe. He may be a little to excited at the prospect, in that he has not stopped to consider his own family member's feelings, nor has he thought about the potential offensive nature of a non-chieftan to propose nuptial relations with the most powerful tribe's chief and his daughter. He will probably die, or maybe even sacrifice himself in the interest of his family, passing on the responsibility of taking care of the family to his son. An element of redemption with this character needs to be present.

#4: Laana-Tshimshian

A 28 year old female. Wife to Nuua-Slingit and mother of Nuua-Chaahh. She will be the most prominent female character in this story; but she will be fairly static, loving and strong mother and loyal but independently thinking wife. She recognizes the utility and opportunity that having their son marry the Walla Walla princess, she knows that Nuua-Chaahh does not desire it, and furthermore, she was born in a long house by the mouth of the Columbia River, with the sound of breakers crashing into the beach in the distance and the smell of smoking salmon ever present -- she does not enjoy leaving the comforts of the coast and wishes to have less trips into what is now the relatively dry and barren landscape of Eastern Oregon, not more, as she grows older.

At such an early stage of development, it is important, I believe to keep over arching themes and principle issues in mind.

One of my English professors used to speak about the fallacy of the "noble Indian" and how, even today the idea of the Native American had changed over the years, in that one lens with which modern culture uses to view the historic Indian character discounts their humanity by placing them on a morale pedestal, of sorts. It is something that resonated with me, and something I had not put a lot of thought into, until that time. I grew up with that exact idea, that the key to cutting through modern life's entrapments was to channel the spirit of the "Indian" who was in touch with the land before it was perverted by the arrival of the white man's greed and plundering. I mean, walking through a true old-growth forest and contemplating the fact that this is what all forests where like before we logged them all, save for a few patches here and there, can easily lead to this conclusion. While I desire to remain conscious of the cultures at play in this story, it is not the reason for the story.

I look forward to further fleshing out this story of adventure.

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