In 1973, after 6 years of living in San Francisco, my wife Josephine and I decided to move to Marin County, north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate bridge. Although we loved the city, we were attracted to the warmer temperature, the chance of living in a somewhat more secluded area, and having easier access to outdoor activities. We hoped to rent a home to “test drive” the idea, and as we entered the very first house I “knew” immediately that it would be perfect for us. Not huge or fancy, but configured for our complex interests, and perched on a woodsy hillside. We’ve been there ever since, having purchased the home after renting for a couple of years.
The bottom level houses my psychiatric office, waiting room, music studio, wine cellar and equipment storage area. The upstairs is our living space. Josephine is the most creative person I know, and at that time her interests focused on cooking. But soon she was also intrigued with the challenge of developing the woods of our property, began the study of landscaping, and shortly thereafter was writing and photographing for horticultural and landscape journals and books. Her photographs have also appeared on cat calendars and jazz albums. It wasn’t long before she became a professional landscape designer and licensed California contractor. She has created many beautiful gardens elsewhere, but to my biased eye, what she has done here at home is most special, and has been featured in several landscape magazines and books. Josephine continues to re-invent herself, and since the Millennium has also taken up acting. She has since appeared in over 20 independent films (one of them, “Sonata” was released in 2005 on DVD) and is hoping to get a role in a Hollywood feature or TV. I treasure our relationship; meeting this extraordinary, creative, funny, empathic, wise, beautiful, high-spirited woman was the luckiest day of my life.
Because of the intensity of our multiple interests, and our desire to preserve quality time as a couple, we made the decision not to raise a family. We have sublimated this with an increasingly exotic succession of wonderful cats and dogs. Our current brood includes a Singapura—a short-haired cat which looks like an Abyssinian, except silver-gray; a Javanese—a long haired white Siamese; a Red Burmese—actually cream colored; and a gray Tabby that we rescued from a shelter. They all get along, and amazingly, don’t have much trouble with our two dogs—a pair of Cirneco del Etnas. This breed is part of the “Sight Hound” group that includes, among others, Greyhounds, Whippets, Pharaoh Hounds, and Salukis. All these dogs have deep chests and awesome acceleration for running down their prey. Our Cirnecos are perpetual motion machines—quite a handful.
My life with Josephine here at home is the hub of my existence. Music, psychiatry and my other interests radiate outward and back like spokes on the wheel. I thrive on variety, and the shape of a typical work week reflects this. I often begin by practicing the piano in the early morning, then see several patients in my home office, take a break mid-day where I’ll work on music, take a run or a bike ride, meditate a bit in the hot tub, stroll through the garden, hang out with Josephine, and in the afternoon drive into San Francisco and see patients in my office there until early evening. Josephine and I enjoy having late dinners, often meeting friends at restaurants where we bring our own wines, or dining at home on one of Josephine’s special improvisations.
I find myself tremendously grateful for the shape of my life—to be in a loving relationship; to be able to pursue my passion for psychiatry and music; to spend time with a cherished circle of friends; to cultivate my other interests; and to be in good health.