A trip through the retrospectoscope

Blame Tam for this meme 😉

20 years ago:

April, 1986. I was in my third year of medical school, second year of marriage. Karen and I lived in married student housing on the Stanford campus. The walls were paper thin. Once, after a noisier than usual session in the bedroom, we overheard our neighbor screaming at his wife . . . about us. Talk about buzz kill. He kept howling, “They should be PUNISHED!” I thought I would never want to have sex again.

That feeling lasted all of about two days.

10 years ago:

April, 1996. I had finished residency the year before, but stayed on at USC as faculty. Karen and I lived in a Spanish-style home in Alhambra, a quick ten-minute drive from LA County General, where I labored at what would forever after be called the Douglas Hoffman Remedial Year. Really. My fellow residents called it that, and they liked me. Just imagine what they would have called it if they hated me.

Jake was six months old and full of personality. Thanks to Jake, our animal collection dwindled; we used to be notorious for our snakes, frogs, scorpions, spiders, and chameleons, but baby-tending took precedence over all else.

5 years ago:

April, 2001. We had been in the Pacific Northwest for nearly three years, and we’d recently bought our home in Harbor. The preceding year, I’d had a one year paying gig writing for iVillage. I was their ear, nose, and throat agony aunt, and I loved it. Two thousand words a week . . . it seemed like a lot of writing at the time.

It may be a long, long time before I make that much money again from my writing.

With the big 40 looming, I decided to channel my midlife crisis energies towards a worthy goal. I would become a successful novelist. I didn’t set any sort of time limit; I hoped that I would achieve my goal in time to save me from the inevitable doctor-burnout syndrome.

1 year ago:

This blog was about two weeks old, and I had recently blogged on my dieting struggles:

Atkins dinner for me tonight: a four-egg omelet, five strips of bacon, and two pieces of low carb toast. Handful of dried cranberries and a stinkyfart bar (love those sugar alcohols) for dessert. I made pesto for Karen and Jake, so I can’t eat that, and I’m sick of salads. But I’m not complaining. (What, you thought I was complaining?)

I’m keeping the weight off.

I can see my wiener when I go pee.

Some things are important.

1 month ago:

Beats me what I was doing one month ago. Working. Netsurfing. Blogging. Blogwhoring.


Jake and I went to a local beach and did some serious tidepooling. We saw jillions of little crabs, some not-so-little crabs, a colony of sea anemones, a few tiny green shrimp, and something rather large that slithered off into the seaweed before I could get a good look at it. We found three clams and cooked ’em up with dinner. Yum — lamb and clams!

I also finished the laundry, cleaned the kitchen, reviewed two more short stories for Tangent, went to market, did my lamb extravaganza, blogged about it, and didn’t manage to touch my poor, neglected manuscript (for book two).


Another day at the office cleaning wax, sizzling bloody noses, and getting coughed on by pishers. By the time I make it home, cook dinner, and clean up, it will be time for the Daily Show and Colbert. And then it all begins again . . .

In the next minute I am tagging . . .

Whomever wants to play.

What I learned about myself while googling “iVillage Hoffman”:

Breast shells and nipple preparation (the Hoffman Technique) are often recommended to help evert flat or inverted nipples. There are no studies to conclusively prove the effectiveness of using either of these prenatally, to help break the adhesions and draw out the nipples.

The Hoffman Technique (Hoffman, 1953) is intended to loosen adhesions. Place your two thumbs opposite each other at the base of your nipple. Press firmly and at the same time, pull the thumbs away from each other. Rotate the thumbs around the base of your nipple. This should be done five times each day.

Reminds me of what the general surgery residents used to say: “A proper breast examination requires the careful implementation of all five senses.”

Good night.



  1. Pat J says:

    Why “iVillage Hoffman”, may I ask? Or is that the magic of the meme?

  2. kate says:

    taste? wow.

  3. Kris Starr says:

    Ooo! This one looks like fun, Doug!

    I think I’ll tackle it a little later today.

    I don’t know about the twenty years ago bit, though…I was naught but a wee sprout then.

    *innocent blink*


  4. Darla says:

    Wow, I didn’t realize what a milestone-ish month this was until I played along.

    And wasted a lot more time than I should have today. Thanks a lot, Doug.

  5. Walnut says:

    Pat, I was trying to remember which year I’d written for iVillage.

    Kate, in my dreams.

    Looking forward to it, Kris.

    On my way, Darla.

  6. Damn, great memory! I tried to think of what I was doing 20 years ago, and it’s mostly a blur (college, need I say more?)!

    I’m really enjoying your blog. :-)

  7. Rae says:

    Loved it Doug! I am trying to think back as well, 20 years ago? I was 16…..oh yeah….

  8. Lyvvie says:

    Really, I’m sure 20 years ago I was a mere fetus. I refuse to do the math. don’t make me. Wait, my mind is doing mental math – WHY?! It can’t be bothered to balance a chequebook, but of a sudden it can deduce I was 14 20 years ago….I hate my brain. Do you see what you’ve done, Doug? You’ve turned a woman against her own brain.

    heehee…we annoyed our neighbours with rowdy sex noises too. They were very happy we moved out. Ah the days.

  9. Sunny Lyn says:

    This was an eye-opener for me. Enjoyed your post tremendously, Doug. Love hearing the fatherhood adventures.

  10. Walnut says:

    Thanks, folks.

    Lyn, what was an eye-opener? I thought you guys knew everything about me by now.