Alone

By

Leonard Zwelling

         Since my firing as a Vice President in 2007, I have spent an
awful lot of time alone. Where once my days had been filled with meetings,
conferences and seminars, I found myself exiled first to one of the Main Street
office buildings, then to a 600 square foot apartment in Washington, DC, then
to another apartment in Bastrop and finally to the South Campus, the MD
Anderson equivalent of Siberia with worse food, but much hotter parking lots.

         I was very lucky though. One of my many therapists told me a
long time ago that I do very well on my own. How right he was!

         Now I spend almost every day alone with my MacBook Air, blogging,
writing books or protest letters to the various publications I now have the
time to read like the NY Times, the Wall
Street Journal
and the Houston
Chronicle
. And reading these periodicals also lets me know why I spend so
much time alone. At the risk of repeating my favorite quote from all of
literature:

         “They were more morons than crooks, but the crooks were
higher up.” Vinny Daniel in Michael Lewis’ The
Big Short
.

         The world has gone absolutely nuts!

         I also have long conversations with my few close friends. Usually
these are on the phone, but occasionally on the golf course or over a meal I
exchange views of the world of medicine, academic medicine and MD Anderson in
particular. It’s amazing I still have an appetite. I now know that I simply
could not exist in any of my old positions. I also appreciate Drs. Krakoff,
Hohn and Kripke more than ever for working for them was not only a privilege,
it was sanity personified compared to what I would have to endure now in that
they knew exactly what they were doing, why, for whom and how. Because they
did, they could guide me, teach me and correct me when necessary. Working for
them was a pleasure. Working for those who have employed me since or who are in
positions of authority at Anderson now would not be so nurturing. In fact, it
was anything but when I last worked in an organization as I was abused, yelled
at and otherwise told to do things I knew were wrong before I finally rebelled
and was fired—again! I’m like that guy on that TV beer commercial who can’t
hold a job so he travels and drinks the beer he makes. I sit still and write. I
don’t know how to make beer, only drink it.

         What I see around me though are people with greater social
skills than my own who actually thrive in environments where they are working
productively with other people. Those people are starving for attention at MD
Anderson today as the leadership runs around in fits of self-aggrandizement and
wealth accumulation while the rank and file faculty and staff struggle to get
through another day.

         I am lucky. I got out, even if not fully of my own volition.
It was in time to save my sanity. I migrated to a life of solitude which is
egosyntonic with my personality. Not only do I have fewer headaches and less
gastritis, I have no therapy bills. Talk about a win-win!

         Every now and then, I do need company beyond my devoted BW
(beautiful wife). I have lunch with a colleague or my co-author or publicist
and then go back to writing. It is not the life I expected now nor the one I
chose. It chose me and I am grateful that it did. However, I do answer emails
and take phone calls if you want to talk. I answer them all. I am not all that
busy.

         Love ya, miss ya, don’t ever change. Let’s do lunch. Air
kiss.

Leonard Zwelling