Lees on the Road

We’ve been gone for 10 days. Two consecutive plastic surgery meetings required four flights and long hours wasted in airport security lines. In Phoenix, the retractable barriers separating switchback lines of shuffling travelers boasted “The Friendliest Airport in America!” which was contradicted by exasperated staff barking at us to empty our pockets and remove clothing that might beep. As we padded through the fucking garbage hateful scanner, I fumed at the futility of this pre-boarding nonsense. “Not one of us is a terrorist!” I didn’t scream, because then everyone would think I was a terrorist. I blushed at uniformed strangers getting a glimpse at my implants in the name of national security. “Hey, these contain MORE than four ounces!” I didn’t joke because the security line doesn’t like jokesters. Finally aboard the plane—fondled, humiliated, and bathed in the breath of strangers—it was two to four hours of restless, foodless discomfort. Hats off to those of you who travel frequently and don’t offer a constant stream of more-annoyed-than-thou tweets about the experience.

I might be a grumpy traveler, but I’m a darling meeting attendee. Honestly, I’m so darned impressed with anyone who stands up in front of a huge audience of peers to talk about what they do. Especially when what they do is restore women to pre-cancerous normalcy, even beauty. Also, there are always new people to meet and I love love love new people to meet. Isn’t everyone amazing and smart and delightful? I think so– especially when meeting them happens during cocktail hour.

I also “met” a broader tweeting community, as Bernie and I launched the Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery into the social media sphere. I’ve been playing with Twitter for years: following the funny people, writing little nothings, and getting to know @JustinGuarini all over again. (He’s delightful. Go see.) With a handful of new plastic surgeons following, my feed is full of facelift facts and why you might want your implants to be textured. This community has only a small toehold in the virtual world of opinion-shouters, but it’s growing thanks to charmers like @OlivierBranford and @danielzliu. And now that I have two more #SoMe sites to monitor, I’m more attached to my phone than an Instagrammer with an Etsy, new kitten, and a kitchen remodel project.

Monitoring social media is more of a time suck than deciding what to watch on Netflix, and I have stuff to do. Or, maybe I don’t. Between these two meetings I was asked 163 times if I’m ever going to be a surgeon again. Some are genuinely wondering if that is a thwarted dream on temporary hold. Other inquiries gently imply that my days are spent waiting for repairmen and searching for delicious crockpot recipes. Which is ridiculous. I hardly use the slow cooker at all during the summer.

Once again, I found myself defending my days, recounting hours spent on “pathological volunteerism” and reminding them that submissions to the Journal are read and vetted by me first. So there, you little misspellers and Oxford comma omitters… I’m judging you!

At long last the meetings had ended and it was time to race back through airport security to attempt a standby flight to see our little boys even one hour sooner. I wanted to be home instantly. Ten days is forever. I was sure they were taller and better at math. There were missing teeth to appreciate, stories to hear, snuggles to give. We were miraculously awarded the last two seats on the plane. Squished into middles… in separate aisles… bathed in the breath of strangers. Couldn’t have been happier.

It’s nice to be home. HVAC guy should be here any minute.


Bow tied Bernie and me. Lees on tour, now happily home.





Last night I made a completely mediocre dinner. Everything was organic and gorgeous and roasted and sautéed in approved oils and should have been delicious. But it wasn’t. Also, those Whole Food-vegan-pig sausages are too reminiscent of phalli to be consumed by the 11 year old without protestations and sniggering. So in lieu of yummy noises (which is the norm at the dinner table), there were lots of giggles (because of the penis dinner), and everyone was going to be hungry again in an hour.

This week, Tom and Gisele’s cook was interviewed in the Boston Globe. Their gifted chef would never serve mediocre food. Or maybe he could. According to my interpretation of the interview, Tom and Gisele don’t really like food. Their kids eat vegetarian sushi with brown rice. For lunch. Every day. “Comfort food” is wilted kale over quinoa. Sugar is so verboten Tom will hardly tolerate a banana, or understandably, the homemade fruit roll ups the chef makes with pond scum. Yes, America’s healthiest beautiful people eat pond scum. After spending $1200 and umpteen on-line hours learning about nutrition from noted specialists, this Chef to the Loveliest touted Spirulina (a blue green alga) a “super fruit” and mixes it in to all sorts of dishes to keep America’s sweethearts heart-healthy.

Now, I might be a bit more schooled in the subject of phycology than Allen Campbell. After all, I’m published in Aquatic Botany. But most multicellular sentient beings recognize that algae aren’t fruit. And though you could make a reasonable salad with kelp stems and spring Ulva, why would you bother when we have stores containing shelves upon shelves of… food?

Immediately and irrepressibly I was poking fun at Chef Campbell for admitting he doesn’t begin any work day until 11am, and for his zeal for sober, raw, gluten-free, mostly meatless (possibly joyless), decaffeinated meals that MUST BE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY. With my medical degree and usual smugness, I wondered if sprinkling an Advil over a bowl of fettuccine could have the same effect. But Allen Campbell, with his impressive log of one (1) on-line course in nutrition, informs Globe readers that tomatoes, eggplants, flour, sugar, mushrooms, milk, and fruit will be the death of you. Also, scrap your shaker of Morton’s. The beautiful people only salt with the Himalayan pink crystals (which are, in fact, 98% good old NaCl).

Maybe he’s right. I mean look at Gisele and Tom– so genetically gifted they are perched on the high dive of the gene pool, hardly dipping a toe in the deep with the rest of the sugar-eaters. But if the secret to youth, beauty, vibrancy, likability, wealth, success, and Super Bowl victories hides in their mostly empty kitchen cabinets, it’s worth attempting one Brady-Bundchen meal à la Campbell. So I did. And it wasn’t gross, it was just… meh. Maybe Spirulina was the secret ingredient missing from my bowls of savory, organic stew. More likely it was the shit ton of garlic and delectable saucy flavors only a talented chef could invent to mask the fact that super healthy food is often super blah.

Allen Campbell isn’t the first celebrity chef to affect medical wisdom when he has none, but his lack of self-effacing perspective really made the interview dry heave-y. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these people could giggle a bit about food? The carefully curated diet, hired specialist, and ever-growing list of Must Never Eat foods is so so so so so boring to me. It’s Kardashian level boring. Certainly nutrition is essential, but it would be nearly impossible for most mortals to plan affordable and entirely organic and vegetarian pond scum flecked meals that taste wonderful. I would have eaten up an article by Campbell confessing how fucking hard it is to whip all of these plants into something as satisfying as a burrito from Anna’s Taqueria. Or how little Benny and Vivi snigger at and refuse to eat a penis-shaped or otherwise repellent-because-so-healthy meal. So sometimes he sneaks them cereal an hour later. Just like the Lees.


Kids! Dinner’s ready!