Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Eh, I'm back... again...

This time, back from Toronto.

What a FABULOUS city! So clean, so green, so safe, and so many great restaurants!

No writing conference this time. Nope. The day job beckoned, so I convened with about 2,000 other druggie types to share the latest in pharmaceutical economic and outcomes research. 'tis what I do to keep me in boxes of paper and toner. Though, to be frank, I kind of groove on my day job: it's fun. Never a dull moment. No matter how carefully I plan each workday, I am assured upon arriving that it will be a day rife with surprises - some good, some not-so-good - that will prevent me from becoming a dull professor.

Plus, the fodder for my writing... yes, so, so, so much... I have almost an entire 80 page, college-ruled notebook FULL of anecdotes for novel 2 (which, per my Prior Post, will most likely be novel 1).

Anyway, back to Toronto...

I presented my research, sponsored by a drug company (gasp!), on patterns of antipsychotic use according to how likely said antipsychotic contributes to metabolic side effects such as weight gain, lipid problems, and diabetes. These are huge adverse effects of many antipsychotics, and lead to non-compliance by many patients. After all, who wants to gain 20 pounds just by popping a pill every day for a year? But the clinical outcomes of non-compliance - hospitalization, emergency department visits, mortality - are significantly worse. Indeed, severely mentally ill individuals die 30 years younger - on average - than their non-psychiatrically ill counterparts.

Medications are important.

Unfortunately, many health plans make formulary decisions based on economic considerations (i.e., how good a deal they can get by making Risperdal the preferred antipsychotic for the members over the other four contenders) rather than considering the subtle - and not so subtle - differences of each antipsychotic, thereby allowing for latitude in choice.

Anyway, I won a nice big green ribbon for my poster presentation. Which made my sponsor happy. And me, too.

And speaking of poundage... I ate very well in this city. It's hard not to dine superbly in any cosmopolitan city, and hanging around with the industry elite (remember, I am but an academic) generally makes for nice meals out.

One night, a colleague and I made our way afar from the maddening conference crowd to a small joint called CAVA, named for the sparkling wine of Spain. The best meal I've had in years: crostino with rapini and manchego, cider-glazed sable fish with black rice and escarole, fennel salad with orange and pistachio, grilled octopus with a hazelnut romescue, rhubarb clafouti with a strawberry yogurt ice. And wine, of course: a white rioja and an excellent tempranillo.

The following evening, off to VERTICAL. Well. I went to gastronomic heaven. Opened with a ricotta gnudi served with fava beans. So light, so airy, these little dumplings, in their sweet cream butter sauce. Oh my. A salad of dandelion, pistachio, and terrine of golden beet. Oh Goddess... then, sea breem (there is a fancy word for this fish, but I do not remember) served en papillotte with ramps, kale, and other spring vegetables. Amazingly aromatic, and truly delicious. The grand finale was a pine nut torte with honey, served with complimentary moscato asti. Yes. Yes. I will remember these meals for a long, long time...

Writing? Eh? I edited about 80 pages of Brighter than Bright on the turbo-prop flights and early morning, but otherwise, it was pharmaceutical shop, lots of glad-handing, seeing my current and past graduate students, and creating new research ideas. Oh, and eating.

Peace, Linda


  1. Linda, you made me hungry. Great post--both intellectual and sensory. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Years ago, when I was just a kiddo, I lived in North Tonowanda, NY (about 20 miles from Niagra Falls). On more than one occasion, my parents took the family off to Toronto. Your picture, and your story, brought back fond memories. And I agree: Toronto, and Canada, is very clean (at least from what I remember).

    And don't beat yourself down too much about writing. I think we all go through spells where nothing much gets done. I believe J.A. Konrath has posted an entry on his blog where he admits that he doesn't write every day. You've got to deal with what works. Or in my case, with what doesn't work. I don't have much of a consistent pattern.

  3. it's May 16th. :)

    tick. tick.

    *running away before Linda throws something at me*

  4. "where nothing much gets done."

    Exactly how I've felt for the past year. I'm not so sure publishing is a good idea.

  5. Hey all,thanks for dropping by. I DO love Toronto and even though it's only a little over an hour by plane, it does have that European feel. Can't wait to return...

    Greta, I can still taste those gnudis in my dreams...

    Stephen, writing on your own terms... thanks for the reminder, friend.

    Twiz, nag me all you want - it's good for me, keeps me honest.

    Sarah, I'm mighty happy for publishing, else I'd never have read your book. Hang tough and keep writing.

    Peace... Linda

  6. Publishing is a HORRIBLE idea. But so's eating a whole bag of frozen peanut M&M's, and yet...