Pictures of me

A few months ago, I had a new set of headshots taken. I don’t usually mind having my picture taken, but I don’t just love it, either. Like everyone else, I’m probably my own worst critic. I can always find the flaws–and I might be more likely to focus on the flaws and ignore the good qualities. (Is there anyone who looks at their own photo and says “Man, I look GREAT?”)

At any rate, my last set of headshots (which I actually loved) were nearly six years old, so I figured that it was time for an update. It helps to have a nice, patient photographer. It helps to wear one of my favorite colors, too.

Jennifer Larson_Headshot2_3-18 (2)

Jennifer Larson_Headshot3_3-18

Side note: yes, in the great tradition of Southern women everywhere (read: my grandmother), I will probably be going blonder as I get older. Stay tuned for the next set of headshots in a few years, and let’s compare.

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All I want for Christmas is…

It’s that time of year again!

The time of year when I start frantically scrambling to make sure that I’ve paid all my membership dues to all my professional associations. The time of year when I start wondering, “Hmmm, is this the year that I finally subscribe to Big Name Medical Journal That Costs Hundreds of Dollars for a Subscription?” The time of year when I start wondering if there’s anything else I need for a potential business deduction for 2017. The time of year when I think that I really should replace my aging iPhone with a newer one with a nice shiny reliable battery.

(Of course, with the current tax proposal before Congress, this may all become (sadly) irrelevant. But I digress.)

As I start to make my list of what I, as a freelance writer/editor, would like to, er, get myself for Christmas, I do want to note that I really am grateful. I’m lucky to get to do what I love for a living. As I told someone a few days ago, I literally learn something new every single day. How many people are able to say that?

Hope you all have a lovely holiday season!

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2017: And so it begins…

I always say this, but I always mean it: oh my goodness, it it really already a new year?

2016 had its ups and downs, but I’m not quite sure how it went by so quickly. Here’s hoping that 2017 will bring you many wonderful opportunities for happiness and success.

And just to get your year started off right, here’s a gratuitous photo of me with my family on Christmas Eve.

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Presidents Day Anecdote

In honor of Presidents Day, I wanted to retell one of my favorite anecdotes.

When I was pregnant with my older son William in 2006, I was working as a reporter for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs. One morning, I covered an event at the big hospital in Rancho Mirage for high school students who were shadowing hospital employees for an internship-type program.

Given my third-trimester pregnancy state, I was moving a little more slowly than usual. So afterward, I was one of the last people to leave. As I walked out the door of the hospital alone, a genial-looking elderly gentleman walked toward me. He nodded, said “Good morning,” and passed by me, walking up the wide steps into the hospital. I smiled and nodded in return and kept walking.

A few steps later, I realized why he looked familiar. It was Gerald Ford.

(And it really was. We confirmed it. Because of course, I immediately went back to the newsroom and exclaimed, “I just saw Gerald Ford at the hospital!” And one of my colleagues called the former president’s spokesperson to see what was going on. Sure enough, he was going in for some tests. He was fine, at least for then.)

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Goodbye, farewell and amen

My last living grandparent died yesterday. My grandfather, or Grandaddy Bill, was just two days shy of his 98th birthday. He was a dear man, and we will all miss him.

I’ve written about him here a couple of times before, most notably when we moved him from his hometown of Vicksburg, MS, to Nashville, TN, to be closer to us. He lived here for about three-and-a-half years, and we saw him regularly.

Here’s a photo of a recent lunch we spent with him at the nursing home:

Family photo with Grandaddy Bill_November 2015

My grandfather was always a very dignified man. He was sturdy, stalwart. He could get things done.  He was reliable, calm, intelligent. He was the kind of person you trusted because he had always demonstrated trustworthiness.

These last few years, he began to shrink as his body aged. His voice was not as steady. His memory remained good for a long time, but over the last few months, he began to get confused. We all told ourselves that it was not unusual for a man his age to be in such a state. And it wasn’t.

And so, yesterday, he came to the end of his long, good life. We will miss him, but I am so grateful to have gotten the chance to have him in my life for so long. He knew both of his great grandsons–saw them regularly, in fact. And I am also grateful for that.

There’s a lot more I could tell you about Grandaddy Bill. How he was in the Army Corps of Engineers, how he served during two wars, how he was a huge railroad buff, how he read archaeology magazines, thick biographies and weighty nonfiction books up until about a year ago.  I could tell you about how he was married to my grandmother for 67 years.

But the important thing is that he loved us. And we loved him. And we are better people –luckier people–for that.

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My Summer Reading List

People are always asking for book recommendations on Facebook, especially in the summer with the prospect of beach reading ahead. I do it, too–usually with a disclaimer like “Yes, I’ve already read Gone Girl.”

This summer, I got the best list of book recommendations ever. I noted that I love a good novel but I also adore non-fiction, and people really outdid themselves with suggestions.

Here’s a partial list of some of the excellent books that I read this summer–and that I’ll recommend to you, particularly if you have a little unfulfilled med student in you, like I do:

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson [Yes, I got on a big Erik Larson kick. I’m also reading Isaac’s Storm right now.]

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson

The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped Our History by Molly Caldwell Crosby

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

I read a few novels, too, but other than Anne Tyler’s excellent A Spool of Blue Thread, I’m struggling to pull the names out of my head at the moment. I feel like I should have kept a log, like the kids who participate in the public library’s summer reading program. Maybe I would have won a free ice cream sundae or something.

At any rate, even though summer is winding down, if you’re looking for a book to immerse yourself in, check these out.

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Happy 2015!

Happy New Year! It’s 2015, and I am making a concentrated effort to write 2015 on all my checks, files and other documents. As you probably know, that’s much harder to achieve than you think it’s going to be.

Speaking of 2015, if you have a minute, please check out my latest article on DailyParent.com: 7 Family Fitness Ideas for 2015.

That was a fun piece to write, by the way. It did make me wonder, however, if I’m really gutsy enough to ever take my kids stand-up paddleboarding. Well, given that one of my goals* for this year is to make sure that Andrew learns how to swim and William improves enough at swimming to lower my blood pressure, it will likely not happen for this family in 2015. Maybe in ’16.

*My main goal is to be more grateful. Which is very important to me but perhaps slightly less exciting than Andrew’s goal for 2015, which is to learn to climb a tree.

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