Thursday, February 14, 2008


Your words are way more interesting than mine. To amuse myself while propping up a febrile three-year-old (who, having finally exhausted the orifices from which noxious liquids can be discharged, is all better), I categorized your words into several groups (and arranged them in alphabetical order – no, my word isn’t “compulsive,” why do you ask?):

Tough Stuff
I was interested to see that this is the largest group. If you find your word in the list below, you don’t break under pressure. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, etc., etc. I aspire to be here myself, but I’m really not:
If you find your word in this category, your theme song is “What a Wonderful World,” especially as sung by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. We need more of the likes of you:
Is your word here? You’re not in a good place. No silver linings for you; life is one big ugly cloud. Your glass is half-empty – or maybe even bone-dry:
If your word is here, you have trouble deciding, though you may be charming while you ponder:
This is the category for those who don’t want to follow stupid rules. You make your own rules, and if you want to have three words instead of one, you damn well will:
Bad Attitude
DILLIGAF (“Does it look like I give a fuck?”)
Friendly Cranky-Pants
Shoot here
Yeah, yeah, whatever
Not too many people fall into this category, more’s the pity for the rest of us:
No pretentions here; you are what you are:
The realists:
It is the last group into which I fall, because my word is:


Boring, right? But accurate. This essential aspect of my nature explains many of my choices and actions in life. It’s why I was much better suited to being a doctor than a writer. It’s why I can’t stand spending money on fancy cars or cosmetics or wedding dresses. It’s the backbone of most of my advice to others (“What is it you hope to achieve in this conversation with your ex?” “In deciding what you want to do with the rest of your life, think about what will make you happy to be doing every day”). It allows me to remain Zen-like in the face of “difficult” patients (getting upset will only hurt me, after all).

Being incorrigibly practical has its downside. For instance, it makes it hard to dream big. I hate the interview question “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” because I have a hard time imagining my perfect future. This seems sad. I do save like crazy for retirement, but only because I am following the rules, not because I have any specific plan for what I’ll be doing with the money. Being practical made infertility treatment uniquely awful, because I had a very hard time wrapping my mind around doing it when each procedure was more likely to fail than not. And occasionally my aesthetic sensibilities are pitted against my pragmatism. I learned the hard way that I can’t live in an ugly place no matter how much money I’m saving, but I am feeling very conflicted over our current plans to replace our hideous but relatively new kitchen cabinets with ones that yes, will function better, but mainly will look nicer.

Have I miscategorized? Anyone want to change their word?


Anonymous said...

Well, I am mildly horrified to see 'fresh' categorized as artless! To me, it means creative, different, not stale, young, bright, pure, inexperienced, saucy.

Maybe you took it literally? The body as fresh meat?

This was an interesting exercise.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, my name doesn't link to my page. I'm at


judy said...

What fun.
My word was inquisitive, and while I am somewhat practical, I really just like to hear people's story's so I ask a lot of questions. I also like to know how things work and why things happen, hence more and more questions.
What do you think?

DoctorMama said...

some definitions of artless:

free of artificiality; natural: "artless charm."

characterized by an inability to mask your feelings; not devious

unaffected; unconstrained; natural; inartificial

That's why I put "fresh" under that heading!

Anonymous said...

Oh, good. I took 'artless' to mean:

Lacking art, knowledge, or skill; uncultured and ignorant.

Poorly made or done; crude.

I prefer your definition, and accept your classification.

Anonymous said...

Mine would be Overwhelmed. Being really really sick (as severe anemia, elective IU ablation to fix that, then MRSA, then a pinched nerve and MRSA again, then thyroid and adrenals both crapping out at once) for ten months can really screw up your life, especially if one of your kids is also really sick (as in g-tube, as in two geneticists have told us that maybe we'll get something named after us). I haven't opened any mail my husband hasn't specifically brought to me because it was a card or a package in...well, about ten months. We also moved right in the middle of all of that, and rekindled The MIL War, and I juuuust got healthy enough to drive everyone to PT and OT every week. The Practical in me hates to go and schedule the sleep study and three endocrine workups (for the children), and minor eye surgery for me, and the hematologist all around. Wait, can I change my word? I think it's less Overwhelmed and more F*cked.


Anonymous said...

Hmm. My word was Fortunate and I don't think of myself as particularly happy-go-lucky, just extremely cognizant that the universe has brought me pretty good luck, unlike Eliza. Eliza, big hugs to you, and I really hope everyone feels better soon.

mary said...

curious is in two categories!

Anonymous said...

My word was DREAMER, but i thought you would have a zillion of them so i didn't respond. So there you go......dream and make your dreams come true or close enough to make you smile. BTW Love your blog, happy v day.

Anonymous said...

I've been informed that MY word is "insatiable". Which makes a lot of sense. Why would I EVER be sated? Satiety (in a generalized sense) seems more like a dead end than a desirable goal. I'm ticked that I only get one brief go-round in this corporeal form; why would I insult the time I've been given by NOT cramming in as much as possible, whenever possible?

(This may or may not be the reason that word was chosen. Famous Quote, Re: Me - "If you were a guy, you'd be... well, probably in jail.")

Another fun exercise is to come up with a thing/product which best embodies a person. While I couldn't come up with the perfect word for you, I DID come up with a product that fit pretty well!

FISHER SPACE PEN: indicates a high level of reliability, competency and flexibility in various challenging situations (writing upside-down, on a greasy surface, in ZERO GRAVITY!). However, utterly down-to-earth, level-headed and non-pretentious (can be purchased at the Natural History Museum's gift shop!). However, as "PRACTICAL" is quite apt, I get the impression that you'd be more like one of those fabled cosmonauts who eschewed expensive pen-R&D and just used pencils.

There is also LIFESAVER... true both literally and figuratively, both professionally and personally. Practical, fun, multifaceted (in the case of the five-flavor pack) and imbued with SCIENCE (in the case of wintergreen, what with their nifty clouds of sparks. :-)

Anonymous said...

Re: "What is it you hope to achieve in this conversation with your ex?"

Getting back together, of course! Although I wasn't consciously aware of it, SOME part of me knew that spending four emotionally-intense hours on a couch with someone who's verbally gifted and Would Be In Jail If They Were a Man would be enough to make ANYONE reconsider their choices.

E. said...

I used your word-tatooed-over-heart anecdote as a prompt in my Creative Writing class. (Think of a character with a one word descriptor tatooed over his/her heart. Now write a story about some other character encountering the tatoo for the first time and what ensues.) It generated some amazing stories.

Glad your boy is feeling better!

Feral Mom said...

While I love the idea of myself in the tough category, and the company to be kept therein, I'm not sure I belong there, riddled with anxiety and shyness as I am. Part of the problem is that I'm not even sure what feral means. Hmmm. Sounds noncommittal. But put "feral" where you will. Maybe staying in the tough stuff category will help me be fiercer.

Thanks for a fascinating series of posts, and glad that E. was able to use the idea with her students!

Anonymous said...

I am Loquacious; and 'Artless' is also perfect for me!!

Now, to be true to my nature, I should go on and on at length about why my loquacity is artless, etc.

But my second choice word was: EXHAUSTED, so I will go with that, today.

Artemisia said...

I didn't post, I couldn't think of a word that really emcompassed me. Maybe a combination of bitter/playful/pragmatic?

I tend to approach things the way you do - what's the goal, what are the options, what are the risks and probable outcomes.....

The funny thing is, I am a writer - but in corporate and technical settings. Believe me, the pragmatism saves me..

Anonymous said...

Hi! I know this is going to sound really random... but first, I found your blog from Cecily's blog. I am not a blog stalker! Now, on to the random...I read your post from Dec 31st... the one about your friend who was running for too long. I just started running and I really struggle!! I am going s l o w but want to know how long/far I should go in order to build up to the full half hour? Any advice? My name is Lisa and my email is - If you have a second, I would appreciate any advice you have on how to tackle this running thing!!!
Thanks :)

judy said...

Hello fellow runner. I am not doctormama, but I have children and I run.
Go slow for as far as you can go, BUT stop after 5 miles and cool down (if you are not at 5 yet make that your slow goal)
You know what? I just figured out that I am totally invading this blog, so I will email you. If I am being too intrusive just delete me.

Hi doctormama, loved the "who are you post"
you rock,

Anonymous said...

Neurotic here,

I had never thought of my particular neurosis as non-committal. That's an interesting angle. It sounds like I don't care to come to a decision. But there's another category--those, including me, who care too much to make firm decisions. I am so committed to doing the right thing and being thoughtful, that I don't come to a decision.

Anyway, very interesting post, very thought provoking. Thanks!

DoctorMama said...

mary—now struggling to keep myself from removing curious from one of the categories … fighting the compulsion to perfect … everything …

DREAMER — dreaming of what? I want to know!

Insatiable — that would go under Tough, no? And you’re right, I’d probably go for the pencil—but then again, at work I use rather impractical fountain pens, so maybe?

E.—I’m thrilled that you used the anecdote! And anything that creates better fiction is a Good Thing. When I taught creative writing to undergrads I actually forbade them from having a protagonist who was in college, because those were guaranteed to be the most self-absorbed, boring tales.

Feral—I did bounce “feral” around through a few categories, but decided on Tough finally because though I’ve been told that you are almost as shy around new people as I am, your writing is as fierce as it gets, and that, I’m convinced, is more indicative of the Real You.

Anonymous—my friend wasn’t running for too long, she was running too fast. Judy’s right, just go as long as you can, but slowly—before you know it, you’ll be running the full half hour.

judy—I wouldn’t delete you!!!

Neurotic—see? Charming while you ponder.

Anonymous said...

I would love to change my word! Thank you for asking!

Unfortunately, I put "broken" and changing it will likely take more than saying, "Yes, please."

Mignon said...

I couldn't comment before, somehow. My word was 'realistic.'
Pretty sure I can guess what category I fall in, and I'm happy with that, especially given how closely your perspective and sensibilities match my own.

I, however, do like to dream big, only because I feel like dreaming is just that. As a realist, whatever I really want in life, I make happen. I know you can understand this.

Miss Two said...

My word? Indefinite. Yeah. That's where I am... great posts!


JuliaG said...

Oh...I got here a couple of months late. My word "devil's advocate". In graduate school I was named "Captain Counter-example". I'm always coming up with the loophole or new way of thinking about something. It sucks to be married to me...or to fight with me. I can ALWAYS think of some new angle or perspective that makes me right, or you wrong. Nothing is black-or-white...but many shades of gray. I guess I'm "non-committal", eh? I wish I could be one of those happy-happy people.