“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” ~Albert Camus

Journeying Through the Health Care Maze

ObamacareWe’ve been into the ACA now for some months and reports are coming in from any number of sectors. After all the dire warnings that economic disaster would ensue, millions of people would lose jobs and coverage, the facts tend to tell a quite different story.

The Congressional Budget Office CBO continues on a regularly basis to project that the costs associated with the law are dropping with each assessment. Further, uninsured rates are dropping significantly in those states that adopted the ACA and Medicaid expansion. Insurance carriers are expanding their services, and entering new markets.

Evidence is still scant, but there are reports that states are seeing more competition and some evidence at least that premium costs to consumers will reduce or at least not rise at nearly the rates they did before the law went into effect. Trips to emergency rooms has dropped significantly for participating states versus those who stubbornly refuse to help their most disadvantaged.

Those are the general facts. I’d be the first to tell you that anecdotal stories have little value in terms of proving a point, since truth is seldom an all or nothing proposition. It’s usually an “on balance” sort of thing for such things  that involve millions of people. Some people undoubtedly have suffered under the Act, but we have always asked more of our more wealthy citizens, and there are almost no verifiable stories of people grossly hurt by the law, although there are no end to horror stories that upon investigation turn out to be bogus.

My story is offered as one that, as far as I have learned from a dozen or so others, is not atypical of the average person.

Years ago, back in the mid-90’s, I was associated with the Sister’s of St. Joseph who ran St. Joseph’s Hospital in Flint, Michigan. As a potential novice, I began volunteering there. As part of that activity I had a general checkup. It was noted that my blood pressure was elevated and I was given a cuff and told to monitor my blood pressure several times a day for a week. The results suggested all was okay.

Fast forward several years, to 2000. I am newly married and my husband insists that I get some coverage. At 50, health is going to be more of a concern. I apply. I routinely inform them that I was last checked at the aforementioned hospital with the only concern being my blood pressure. The carrier was unable to obtain any records. I was denied coverage. That became my “pre-existing condition.”

So I was one of those unable to secure insurance.

Along comes the ACA.

I, like thousands of others, entered the Marketplace soon after the site opened. I too ran into trouble. I was not “verified” as to who I was. I was given a coded number and told to call Experion who would complete that process. When first called, Experion told me I had called too soon, and to wait a few days. Days turned into weeks, and I decided to wait a couple of months to let things get sorted out.

When I returned in December, things had not improved. Experion did not have my coded number. I called the exchanges to speak to a live person. They started my application over again. In about 30 minutes we were done. I was informed that I “might” qualify for Medicaid, so I could proceed no further until that was resolved. I was told this would be submitted automatically but that I could call them and speed up the process by giving them the information over the phone.

I called New Mexico Medicaid. In an automated message, I was given a laundry list of required information. It included prices for any cars, what was still owed, mortgage if any, stocks, savings accounts, utilities,  as well as the normal “income” requirements. We were most sure I could not qualify and hated getting all this crap together for nothing.

I had kept a newspaper which gave the names and numbers for some “facilitators” operating in our area. I called and made an appointment. My goal was to cut the tape, avoid the Medicaid issue and return to the Marketplace. Instead, my facilitator seemed to have little information regarding the ACA, but told me that the NM Medicaid had no business asking me for any of the information beyond what my income was.

She filed an application securing only our SS income and sent the application in. A couple of weeks before the closing of the open enrollment, I got a letter from NM Medicaid, along with two cards. The letter made little sense being full of acronyms which were not defined, but suggested that BOTH my husband and I had been approved for something, and denied something, none of which we could figure out.

My husband called, and sure enough, the cards were our new Medicaid cards and we both were covered. My husband politely declined, being entirely happy with his VA coverage locally and at Fort Bliss VA facility. I, after my usual “avoidance” as I awful-ized all the dire medical diagnoses I could imagine, made an appointment with my new doctor and proceeded to begin a series of referrals and tests to “bring my health records from non-existence to a reasonable state”.

That process began in late June and was in mid process in mid-August when I got a letter from NM Medicaid. Again, a letter that made little sense but suggested something was up. I called. I had been cancelled. They had “just learned” that my husband had started to receive SS. WRONG. My husband in one fashion or another (disability for PTSD to regular SS) had been receiving benefits since the late 90’s. Oh, so then I must have just started receiving SS. WRONG. I’d been receiving SS for two years. Both yearly totals had been included on my regular application.

The bottom line: I did not qualify for NM Medicaid, a thing we had both felt fairly certain of before we applied.

NM Medicaid indicated that my coverage would CONTINUE until Aug 31. Why that was so, is inexplicable. I was also informed that I had been graciously granted “family planning services” so my future pregnancies or contraceptive care was meant to offset my loss of general coverage. At 64 I was really happy to hear that.

Since I was taking several medications and scheduled for several more tests, I was in a bit of a pickle. Sure I could pay the bills myself, but they would be rather significant (the routine blood analysis and urinalysis alone was $1100).

I called the Marketplace in a serious funk, sure that they would tell me I had to wait until the open enrollment resumed in November, leaving my uninsured once again for the intervening months.

The Marketplace people were simply appalled at NM Medicaid’s error. All the information was indeed there on my still-filed application. They assured me that my circumstances allowed them to “reopen” my file as a “failed” Medicaid deferment, and I re-entered the Marketplace. They completed everything over the phone, gave me time to look at several plans with the promise that I could go to many others if I was not satisfied with those.

I chose my plan, and they scheduled it to start on September 1, so I would have no loss in coverage. I was given the phone number of my new insurance company. They apologized again and again for the error that was not theirs.

I called my new insurance carrier. They found me in their system immediately, and pointed me to their web site. I was able to pay my premium online well before the bill came in the mail.

I got all their material and my new health cards seamlessly.

I had to go to my doctor to get help with prescriptions that Walgreens was screwing up. I told them about my new insurance and that I was not sure that I could continue with her under my new plan. The women there took the information and got in touch with my carrier, worked it all out, and I was able to keep my doctor. Again it was all seamless. My previous carrier paid for everything up to August 31, and my new one took over on September 1.

While the ACA was a mess in terms of sign up at the beginning, they did everything else wonderfully as far as I am concerned. I am pleased with both my insurance coverage and my doctor and her care. My meds are amazingly affordable as are my copays.

I have the peace of mind that can only come from being checked and found in pretty good shape. My blood pressure is a bit high, and I have meds for that. I am at the entry level for type II diabetes, take a med for that, don’t monitor my blood sugar, but avoid “obvious” sugar. My eyes are fine, so was my mammography, gynecological exam, and bone density scans. I feel great, I’ve lost a few pounds, and I’m seeking to eat a better diet.

If it were not for the ACA, I’d still be rolling the dice. I am most grateful. Bureaucracy will always cost us time and trouble. That is not a good reason to grouse about a law that provides decent health care to millions who did not have it. My experience was annoying and frustrating to be sure, but very little of that had to do with the law. Most of the fault lies with the people who work at NM Medicaid in my case.

I am happy with my health care. I thank my President. My heart goes out to all those millions who still go without care because their Republican-controlled states refused to help them just to prove that hatred in their case is more powerful than doing their duty by their citizens.

Bookshelf Tag

Well, I like doing stuff like this regarding books especially. There are so many. Too many. Never enough time to read all that I want, or even know all that I would like. And again, we are all so different. We all have such different and interesting lists. Following are my answers.


1- Is there a book that you really want to read but haven’t because you know that it’ll make you cry?

No, can’t say as I can think of a single one.

2- Pick one book that helped introduce you to a new genre.

Isaac Asimov’s I Robot. It hooked me on science fiction for a few years. I read simply tons of it, along with a few Sci-Fi magazines. Sold or gave away almost all of them, literally more than a hundred books. As I youngster I was fascinated by Rome, I devoured any book I could find that was set in that era, and eventually it became my favorite period of history, roughly the time between Julius and say Nero.

3- Find a book that you want to reread.

I am not much of a re-reader simply because there is so much out there not yet read. I did however re-read War and Peace and enjoyed it every bit as much the second time around. I can see myself re-reading Dostoyevsky. I love his stuff.

4- Is there a book series you’ve read but wish that you hadn’t?

I read North and South  by John Jakes and basically thought it fairly trite. I read fiction quite fast, always have, so series are always a boon for me.

5- If your house was burning down and all of your family and pets were safe, which book would you go back inside to save?

Well none actually since most everything is replaceable at this point, but certainly Shakespeare and Walter Breuggeman’s, Genesis are among books I treasure for the wealth of wisdom within. The bible of course. Perhaps Christology at the Crossroads by Jon Sobrino, or something by Gustavo Gutierrez such as  Liberation Theology

6- Is there one book on your bookshelf that brings back fond memories?

Probably The Five Books of Moses, a Matthew Fox translation of the first five books of the bible. I studied it when at Marygrove College, sure that I would one day be working on a doctorate in Biblical studies and a Dominican nun. Those were precious days studying under some of the best teachers I have ever had. If I am a grown-up Christian it is due to Father Tony and some of the Sisters who taught me to really understand the bible, and thus see God in a more realistic and beautiful way. The generated a life-long interest that has never waned.


7- Find a book that has inspired you the most.

Two actually, for similar reasons. Leon Uris’s  Mila 18 that probably helped me understand as no other book what it was like to live in Europe as a Jew in Hitler’s time. The other was Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead, which made it clear to me that there was no glory in war. It was simply ugly, painful, and terrorizing every day, all day.

8- Do you have any autographed books? 

Yes, two that I can remember, possible more, but one is by a wonderful internet and blogging friend, Shannon O’Donnell’s Save the Bones, about her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s, and the other from Bart Ehrman, Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at UNC Chapel Hill,  Misquoting Jesus.

9- Find the book that you have owned the longest.

I have sold off hundreds of books and undoubtedly my oldest. But my Complete Works of Shakespeare is so old the cover is nearly half torn off. The oldest book I can remember actually reading was My Friend Flicka which had been my dad’s I think. It’s long gone.

10- Is there a book by an author that you never imagined you would read or enjoy?

Several. I didn’t expect to enjoy Don Quixote by Cervantes certainly. Nor Balzac, Voltaire, Virgil and Homer. All were surprises. The Greek playwrights were shockingly fun to read and I thought they would be mostly unintelligible today. I find generally many ancient classics are simply delightful even today.

Don’t Get Me Wrong

We-All-Have-Stories-To-TellI’m a bit of a student of humans. Being one, I find it helps me find my place in the herd.

I’m astoundingly and endlessly fascinated on why and how we grow up together, face the same national and international crises, yet see it all quite differently. Any parent will tell you that even identical twins are quite different in personality.

While I am perfectly unique, as you are, we share some attributes, therefore, given that there are over seven BILLION of us, nobody probably has any attribute or notion that is singular to only them.  Meaning we can all relate to somebody else about something.

Facebook is an perfect vehicle for looking at this phenomenon. Some people use it only to keep in touch with family and close friends. Some use it for business. Some use it as a voice for their beliefs. Some share everything including the kitchen sink with everyone, some with only some, some share very little that is personal. All have the absolute right to do as it suits them, and nobody has any business being critical of their choices.

Keep that last point firmly in mind. I am NOT criticizing anyone. I am not judging anyone. If anything I point to my own perceived flawed personality which makes me react differently that others do under similar circumstances. I do that because if I feel that way, undoubtedly others do too, and I wish to let them know that it is not wrong, just different. For there are no wrongs or rights here, just idiosyncrasies which we all have and in some cases share with others.

I refer to the issue of sharing life’s downsides with others, people perhaps that you have never had a face-to-face conversation. Now first I don’t want to make much of the face-to-face thing, since there are relationships that have been forged which are deep and abiding although the respective parties had not met. I use the phrase to mean more specifically, people whom you know on Facebook, but don’t really know, if you get my drift. You share something in common but that’s about it. You talk about THAT thing, but not about much else.

As far as I know, no one in my family is ill with any “serious” disease. Serious these days is relative since people are learning to live quite long and productive lives with a lot of things we thought of as fatal thirty years ago. But on Facebook, I know quite a number of folks who are battling serious debilitating illness and they talk openly and frankly about their struggles.

I’m always taken aback when I first read these accounts of “I just got diagnosed,” or “I got bad news with my test results,” because I would NEVER disclose such to hardly anyone. Seriously I wouldn’t likely have told my parents when they were still alive. Other than my husband, I doubt I would tell anyone at all.

Here’s why.

First of all I don’t believe in a God that “answers prayers” in the sense of changing an otherwise outcome. If God operates that way then God is cruel to some very deserving people I have known. I believe that prayer is my way of communicating with God, but I don’t believe God changes outcomes because a prayer ‘touches” Him where another doesn’t. I believe that knowing that people care enough to do that for you is helpful because good emotional response to disease is helpful to treatment, but that’s the line  I draw in the matter.

So proffers of prayers just comes to me as “gosh I’m sorry” and “boy I’m counting my blessings again”. In other words, I hear pity, because I  am  now separated from the herd of okay people and plunked in the “sick” group. Clearly I’m wrong in this, but it’s how I react.

Second, unlike a lot of really good people I know, I have people who detest me. I often say things knowing that I will anger, offend and piss people off. I do it because it seems right to point out bigotry, ignorance and willful lack of concern to people who need to know that they are not escaping notice. I admire people who are beloved by everyone, they are essential to the world, but I am not one of them. I have “enemies”, and nothing would please them more than to  tsk-tsk my misfortune as “finally getting what I deserved”. I am reminded often by fundamentalists that the price of my stubborn resistance to their “right way to live” will be eternal damnation, a prospect they enjoy thinking about, since they always smile when they say it.

I will not announce my illness simple because I will not give them the satisfaction.

I will share with you that I suffer from the “what might happen” syndrome to a far greater degree than is healthy or normal in my opinion. I am well aware that it’s silly and stupid and a waste of time, yet I struggle none the less, and I am blessed with a husband who helps prod me off dead center to get moving to address my fears and get the verdict. So far, it’s always been thumbs up, which makes me feel like a horse’s ass in the end, but doesn’t do much to cause me let it go the next time. I can dream up more bad outcomes than Carter had liver pills as they say.

Which all means exactly nothing much I guess. I am not ill. In fact, (a post I’ll be doing in the next week or so) my travels through the health system has turned out quite well indeed, if annoying at times.

Which might lead you to conclude that you can’t trust my professed happiness much of the time. Actually you can. When I’m not happy I tend to just not mention happiness. And it’s doesn’t mean I’ll never tell you about it. But it will be after the fact, when I have a perspective from which to offer hopefully something that might help somebody in similar circumstances. I wish I could be like you, and accept the tender embraces of friends near and far, but I cannot, and in I guess I’m pretty okay with that. Whether I am or not, it is what it is.

Which means that when you talk about your illness or loss, I do commiserate and I do empathize and most of all I appreciate your strength of character. You become my role model I guess. I have been in awe of the grace that so many of you show in battling these detours in life.

Aren’t we all just amazingly weird when you get right down to it?

Boom We Boomers Went

hippieturnsfatIt’s been a question I’ve pondered for some time, and noted here once or twice (way too lazy too look that up for ya). The question you ask?

Why did my peers from grade school to high school turn out so very differently on how we view the world? I’ve thought a lot about it, and read one book that shed some light on the subject. Not a light that made me very happy I might add.

I posited that to some degree, it had to do with those who ventured from the home base (Genesee County) and those who did not. But that is superficial at best. I know a strong liberal from Ann Arbor and a reactionary teabaggin’ fundamentalist from Traverse City, and a reactionary from the Phoenix area. So go figure.

No attempt to define the divide is perfect for quite obvious reasons, people are individualized too much for such neat and precise division. There will always be not just a significant outlier, but lots and lots of softer outliers. One is always operating on a bell curve and before you start providing me with examples to disprove the theory, it’s best you get that first. Those with some education in statistics assume it but for others, it is not so obvious.

I’m reading a book called Generations, written in the early 90’s by William Strauss and Neil Howe, who posit that it is helpful to examine American history based on generational attributes (strengths and weaknesses) and their reactions to big turning points, like revolution, depression, war, spiritual awakenings and so forth. For Boomers (born 1942-1960), the GI generation (most of our parents) is a prime example.

Fighting the big one was a seminal turning point. The GI generation became the can do generation, taking upon itself to build and build, institutions, infrastructure, and one of the biggest booming economies the world had every seen. They saw failure as not an option. They were also the generation that from start to finish saw the greatest growth in government all designed around them. From child labor laws in their youth to Medicare in their old age, government was their provider against the big bad realities of the world.

Boomers were a nurtured, and largely indulged generation, raised on Dr. Spock, offered everything, the apple of everyone’s eye. We were encouraged to seek the moon, and we became the most self-confident in our own righteousness of any generation in a long time. Fifty-eight percent of us went on to college, the largest percentage before or since by a long shot.

That I think is the key. Education.

Because we are perhaps one of the most fractured of all the generations as well. We may well be the beginning of the great divide between “red” and “blue” in this nation. We gave the biggest votes to Pat Robertson and Jesse Jackson in their respective runs for President. If that isn’t a divide I don’t know what it.

While something like only 10-15% of us were “hippies” or like travelers–civil rights workers, feminists, environmentalists, anti-war activists, campus radicals,  we controlled how this generation was perceived and responded to. We adored our mothers, and argued with our dads. We, were not interested in emulating our father’s drive to build things, but we examined the ethical underpinnings of the world and found them largely missing.

The Silent generation which sandwiched between the GI and the Boomer (1925-42), flipped between trying desperately to match the GI productivity with “something big” themselves, and trying to be “young” during the 60’s in their late 30’s and 40’s.

Boomers gave George Wallace more votes than any other generation. Those from Michigan can surely relate where Wallace gained  his third highest greatest electoral count, behind Maryland and Texas outside the South. Surely boomer activists were not voting for Wallace!

Contrary to what right wingers suggest (that all colleges and universities brainwash youngsters into liberal malarkey), education, by exposing youth to the underbelly of a largely white-washed and prim history presented in high school, opens eyes not to some liberal Marxist ideology, but teaches a basic distrust of “traditional” answers to traditional questions.

I learned, (and I have no reason to think I am different than most)  that everything should be questioned, and that books and experts provided the window to an expanded perch from which to reach a conclusion about what was true and what not, or at least what was not quite so true as offered.

This was coupled by the very real truth that people who are college educated simply make more money, live an easier life-style and have less quarrel as a result, with helping others through taxes.

Those from my generation who sought to follow their fathers plan, i.e, get a job, work hard, marry, have children, buy a house, and live contentedly until retirement with a nice pension and social security, ended up in a very different place. For my classmates who took that route, GM, long the “job for a lifetime” turned into plant closings, layoffs, and ultimate blame placed not at the corporate doorstep (where it so perfectly belonged) but rather at the feet of the unions. Unions became some bizarre “bad parent” who fed the unable to think for themselves babies too much cake until they got sick, and corporations threw up their hands in disgust and moved to Bangladesh or similar cheap labor environs.

These folks did work hard, harder certainly than the rest of us and what they got was “barely making it” and instead of what I got (doing better than my parents but by a slimmer margin).  They regressed.

Somebody has to be to blame for that, and of course their were just tons of slimy politicians all pointing the finger at minorities, immigrants, and other lazy-shiftless individuals all the while receiving yet another check from corporate coffers to deflect the blame away from them.

All those classmates who paid next to no attention to politics for 30 years, suddenly woke up in a world that definitely was not what they expected, and listened of course to those who gave them somebody tangible to blame. Business can’t be the problem because “business” built America for God’s sake. But people who don’t have a job? Well, why don’t they? Is it because they are LAZY? Easy answers for people accustomed to being given answers by their betters.

The educated half of us is more liberal because we don’t accept standard answers, we distrust simple, and know that truth is often buried deep in self-serving rhetoric and grey fringes. We are not without blame in all this either. We are the part of a generation that thumbed our noses in our 30’s at our brothers and sisters who were working in factories and raising children as the “not with it” folks. They were the one’s inhibited the transformation we saw as imminent in the Age of Aquarius. We berated the stay-at-home-moms for being part of the problem, by living out all we stood against–being “somebodies wife or mother”.

If Lennon’s Imagine was our utopia, we surely went about it the wrong way. We alienated our own. If there was a resurgence of “spirituality” for our generation, at least half of it went not to “new Age” but rather to fundamentalism. If we brought before the eyes of American the horrors of war in our marching, the largest segment of people supporting the war were from our own as well. Similarly the war over abortion is largely led by the divided boomers, divided not so much by education here, but by birth placement. The early boomers are pro-choice the late boomers like the next generation (13’ers) are decidedly less willing to compromise on the issue.

Our legacy in the end is one fraught by victories on a social scale and disastrous set backs on that same scale. We set out to change the world. And we did, but good God, we never meant for it to go this way.

That’s the way I see it today.

It’s a Crying Shame I Tell Ya

JesusweepsWhile I never have enjoyed pulling wings off of flies, I must admit that I chortled with delight at the news that Bob McDonnell and his wifey were convicted on a bazillion counts of bribery the other day.

Yes, my halo must sadly await placement upon my sacred head for a while longer, for I did indeed revel in the anguish of my fellow man and woman. I am but a flawed human still, though I continue to trudge through the sludge of humanity ever confident that I too shall emerge at the end of this life with a robe of white.

Bob said something similar as he stumbled from the courtroom, no doubt shocked that anyone would think him guilty of wrongdoing, spouting that his “faith remained in the Lord” or words to that effect.

Everyone talks about how “sad they feel” for the kids and grandkids who must suffer the public humiliation of their parents and such, but heck, all of us sooner or later discover that our parents are in fact mere mortals with feet of clay don’t we? People who choose public life necessarily put their good character out front to be sullied and blasted rightly or wrongly by a notoriously hungry and uncaring press and public who hunger most of all for juicy tidbits of naughtiness to make themselves feel superior in all their stellar tract homes of existence.

Take no prisoners is my call.

Good old Bob decided in some desperation to play the “Adam card”. I say in desperation since it appears that given Virginia’s rather lax laws regarding ethics in public office, Bob and Maureen thought that they could trade influence for pretty shiny things with impunity. When indicted, there was precious little “defense” available to them.

Thus, Bob and his ever trusty sidekick Maureen decided, either jointly or severally, that Maureen would serve herself up as the Eve of all Eves–evil temptress seducing the unsuspecting and beloved by God, Adam to bite and then bite again (and again too numerous to count) of the apple of bribery. Adam  (Bob) would claim “the woman made me eat!” So awful was the spector of Bob talking to Maureen, that there could never be a collusion of purpose. The two plainly lived in one house but in separate wings however quickly put together. In fact, to bring himself closer to the Lord, Bob took up living with a Roman Catholic priest, and was (it is reported) once seen touching with real humility the brown robe of a monk for that picture perfect  photo op. (Okay, so I sorta embellished there.)

Alas for Bob and Maureen, the jury was not exactly impressed.

Perhaps it was because, for all this, the McDonnells had been so darn good at putting on the face of marital bliss as recently as 2012 when they were both courting the Mittens team in an attempt to soothe the savage beast of greed for that Christmas present of all time–POWER.

This sort of suggests that the McDonnells are well versed in the art of sleight of hand and/or pulling the wool over the eyes of their subjects or betters as the case may be. It may well be that the average jury has the collected IQ of something less than the actual IQ of any single member, but that stupid they are not.

Which all leads to the conclusion that one cannot pretend to have a normal marriage and then “admit the awful truth” just coincidentally when it appears necessary to save your sorry skin. Fakery screams loudly in the night, and in the daylight as well it seems.

I suppose that as scandals go, this one is somewhat tame. Nobody was secretly dressing up in tutus and screwing obese diaper-clad bearded old men, but it was still fun to behold. While the “better class” talks about how sad it was to watch this downfall of such a promising politician, I remind them that, like the usual “low class” gawker, they too were not able to avert their eyes at the bloody accident, but indeed did GAWK. And in reality these “better” people will, with appropriate shaking heads and tsk-tsk, discuss the scene of execution for weeks to come at all their soirees of note.

In a world in which Russian has invaded a neighboring state in the hopes of resurrecting Tsarist Russia’s might, where young men with great firepower dream of world conquest by laying waste all those who oppose them (ISIS or Duck Dynasty [convert 'em or kill 'em] Phil Robinson, your choice), where a virus threatens to decimate portions of Africa and spread worldwide, where droughts threaten to become decades long in the Southwest of the USA, and on and on, it’s a small thing to find a bit of relief watching the crash and burn of two very stupid people.

I for one am not sympathetic to their situation nor apologetic for my enjoyment of their self-absorbed/induced misery.


Links, Blades, and Scooters

sawbladeI’ve tried to explain that living with the Contrarian is an experience hard to describe.

It’s not for the feint of heart.

It’s not for the seriously humorless.

It’s not for your average joe-ess.

Plainly, you must be slightly off your rocker.

Since I am, it all works fine.

When I say I am off my rocker, I mean in that way that to the outside world doesn’t show, but  is only known to myself and my inner workings which are one hellofva weird chaotic mishmash of circuitry with a whole lotta cables hooked up to nothing and just there “in case”. If you get my drift that is. If not, I suggest you skip reading further and return to old issues of Cosmopolitan which are probably more your speed. (Make that Sports Illustrated if male) I was going to say Popular Mechanics, but I have no idea whether that is still published or what made some mechanics popular while others were apparently not. Could be the chest hair.

In any event, which means nothing but takes up ten letters and about an inch of space, I am married to The Contrarian, which is the prototype for all contrarians, though I don’t think anyone has ever asked for the plans.

I just thought I’d catch you up on some of his escapades, or adventures in our fair state of New Mexico, which is as they say, neither “New” nor “Mexico”, which makes it a great place to hide out as both Billy the Kid and Walter White would tell you if they were (a) still alive or (b) real.

As pointed out on previous occasions, my dearly beloved has some sort of “balance” issue, which causes him to walk while weaving like a drunken sailor, which is half right since once upon a time he was most assuredly drunk but not a sailor, wearing the insignia of the army instead of a rubber ducky. Now, he has been probed, examined, MRI’d, ear-peered at, and all the rest numerous times, only to discover that by golly-g, he has a brain and there is some sort of lesion there, which is as they say “organic” which basically means that “we have no clue and try the auto lube joint down the road”.

So to avoid having to go around the block, always leaning to the left, to get across the street, he sometimes uses a walker, which doesn’t walk at all, but rather rolls (comes with hand-brakes!). He doesn’t use it all the time, but only when the “wobblies” (as we call them) are bad. On his steady days, he runs marathons. (just kidding).

So one of his true delights has been discovering the motorized shopping cart. He loves those buggers. Not all said ve-hick-als are made the same. The K-Mart one’s are too speedy and have you racing down narrow aisles at Indy speeds, without a small enough turning circumference to make the intersection turn (think riding lawn mowers). The one’s at Lowe’s tend to run out of juice too soon, which is a real pain since that store holds about 14 football fields within it’s confines. The Walmart (we make our customers comfy so they spend more) is of course, “just right”, having  speed, dexterity, and staying power to make your shopping experience a deep pleasure.

What the Contrarian has discovered is that with the cart, and the proper expression of sadness, mixed with frustration, and a sip of melancholia, presents the perfect picture for lots of ladies to offer their assistance in getting things off the shelves. No matter than he can stand and walk almost normal, why do that when a bevy of women are there to fetch for ya. (It helps to extend the arm to it’s natural length and wiggle the fingers just a bit, and sigh of course while doing so).

Shopping has become a joy and one that he relishes each week now.

To that can be added of course the “accident” which makes him all the more helpless and pathetic.

The accident was the culmination of a lifetime spent using power tools with blades all without incident. Years of chains saws and tree toppling, slicing and dicing, and splitting all without injury. Until the “sled”. Now, I don’t know exactly what a sled is, except that it “slides”, somehow managing your piece of wood to it’s destination with the “blade”. He somehow designed it in such a way that a blind spot occurred wherein his finger resided (thumb actually), and before you know it blood was flying and he realized it was best to shut that sucker down.

Now, no animals were hurt in the making of this tale, other than the cat gut used to sew up said digit (and I think all that stuff is synthetic these days). Cats are grateful. He cut no bone, and no tendon either, just the big fat part of his thumb wherein his identity lies. Doc says that part of his thumb shall be forever no more, once the healing has finished and the dead skin is flushed. So I figure a life of crime is a good second career, since he can’t leave a print with his left thumb any more. Which makes working in a super accelerator requiring thumbprint identification impractical, or in the heart of the mountain where the big button is located that will end the world. I figure it too requires a thumbprint to make sure you have the au-thor-ity to doom the world.

Which all leads to the exceedingly boring story of what a baby men are when they have a little boo-boo. I mean seriously, the moaning never stops.

He had it checked at the hospital on Monday, and there was no infection, but he was thoroughly upset because the doctor made him “look at it”, which is akin, in his mind to making him look at two-headed snakes and other such unnatural and “icky” things.

So, I took out the trash for him, and made his breakfast (once), and open his candy bars at night. I told him he need not cook on Friday, but he said as long as I made the batter, he could probably flip a pancake. He can’t break an egg, because he can’t without both thumbs, so he says.

He pouts a lot.

He’s says it itches.

He complains that the lady nurse rewrapped it much more stupidly that the guy who did it the first time.

Diego sniffs it every day and will alert us if he finds anything worth eating in there. So far, no, and given Diego eats EVERYTHING, that’s sayin’ something.

So, I asked him, do you want bacon or sausage with his pancakes on Friday? and he said patties, which I took to mean sausage, which he meant to mean sausage but not links but patties, which makes no freakin’ sense since they both TASTE THE SAME.

And he thinks he should have a body cam so that he can play back our conversations because he is sure I asked him links or patties instead of sausage or bacon. And I’m really sure I didn’t, because I never think of patties versus links and only decided to do the links because I like Johnsonville and they don’t make patties at least as far as I saw, so that’s why I got the links in the first place.

And he just purses his lips in that way that men do when they are thinking, “I’m right, but what’s the use?”.

And I’m thinking, “You’re right, there is no use, since I’m right.”

And he’s off to get my oil changed which came out all wrong, since I don’t get oil changes but my PT Cruiser does, and he has my girl in his custody.

He wants a new bandage put on his thumb, but decided to wait until he got back, because he’s going to the “filthiest place on the planet” after all, so there is no use getting his thumb all spiffed up before THAT. And, no he was not referring to the Jiffy Lube, but rather to WalMart.

My eyes, were examined by an expert the other day, and they came off with an A+.

No wonder, all the eye-rolling I get to do living with this man. Exercise is very good for your eyes they tell me.

If you can beat any of these stories (which are true I swear with just the slightest hyperbole to make it interesting), I’ll roll my eyes for you too!





Reasons Why

parentingThis appeared on Facebook and I put it up on my wall with the caption: “Is this what parenthood does to a person! If so, I’m glad I escaped!”

While there weren’t many replies, one caught my interest and got me to thinking about what might lie behind the statement.

While it may have been meant innocently enough, the comment was “no this is not your normal situation and you did miss a lot.”

I took that, however meant, as a defensive lob, one meant to suggest that parenting is a great thing and I was much the poorer for having “missed” it.

Of course, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.

I chalked it up as another of those, subtle or not so subtle put-downs by those with children of those of us without. The other one that I remembered vividly was a discussion about corporal punishment by parents (or caregivers) and the suggestion that I was unfit to comment, “since as I recall, you didn’t have children did you?”

I think I know where the defensiveness and consequent “I’m really better than you because you don’t have children” comes from

Dial back the time machine to the late 60’s when I graduated from high school. The sexes were still pretty much set in stone. I knew that a number of my classmates would probably be married within a year or so, but I was off to college. It was the beginning of that “sweet spot” in time–the convergence of the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, the hippie movement, and the feminist movement. The Vietnam anti-war movement began in the mid-sixties and continued and escalated during the late 60’s and early 70’s. We marched on campuses, got tear-gassed, shut down campuses. Some campuses were more volatile than others, yet we all found ourselves involved in “teach-ins”  (where I first learned of the play Lysistrata by Aristophanes). 

Women were a big part of the movement but often relegated to second-class status behind the men. This mimicked that of the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks did not suddenly pop up one day on a bus in Montgomery Alabama, but had long been a worker in the field. She was of course kept much in the background in terms of leadership as were other African-American women of the day.

The Hippie movement, also a product of the 60’s was most renowned  for Haight-Asbury and Woodstock, but it signaled the advent of free-love, birth-control, and a defining break with the past and all it’s traditional values. The Hippies were also vehemently anti-war. The Beatles, most notably John Lennon became a major force for peace with “Imagine”.

Women in this movement two were pushed to the rear, often treated as secretaries and much needed lovers for the important work being done by the men in the “awakening”.  Angela Davis and others fought back.

Women looked to each other during this period and Betty Freidan, Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem,  Kate Millet, Shirley Chisholm, and Bella Abzug were the emerging role models for women like myself who were just starting to look higher than the secretarial typewriter for our future. We read with relish The Feminine Mystique, and Sexual Politics. Later, immersed in the Church, I would cling to In Memory of Her and She Who Is, as the patriarchal stereotypes of the bible began to be dismantled by women of faith but also biblical expertise. Women like  Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza and Elizabeth Johnson became household names.

I was in that first wave of women admitted in law school in large numbers. We leaned on each other, we learned, and we excelled. Because we were steeped in the injustices of the past, we were angry, defensive, and could spot a “sexist pig” at twenty paces. Offering to hold a door for us was likely to be met with a angry look, and a statement like, “I am more than capable of opening my own door, thank you.”

Plenty of men retreated before us “ball-busting bitches” and sought more traditional women to welcome them home at night and bear their children.

That is the world out of which I emerged into my late 20’s, a time when most women start to realize that if parenthood is on their agenda, one best get busy.

As a look back at the cadre of young women I worked along side of I can recall what we talked about and how we felt quite vividly. We were in our late twenties, still working more often with men than with other women. Most judges were still male, most prosecutors, most defense attorneys, most cops. We were not insignificant, but we were far from a majority. Mostly we were treated with fairness, although there was a lot of what today would be unacceptable sexual harassment. To us it was business as usual. We slipped the grasp of unwanted advances (mostly from judges who somehow thought that being a judge’s mistress must be our dream????), and commanded salaries the likes of which our hardworking fathers (mothers of course didn’t even come close) had never attained in their working lifetimes.

Among those of us who were single, (most of us) the issue of children inevitably comes up. And of course it came up more regularly for single women than married, since we were single mostly by choice. Men were wonderful, but unnecessary as a financial crutch so mostly we were looking to take our time. I don’t count myself as being usual in having had good half dozen serious affairs, and my share of brief flings. There was no reason not to.

As best I can tell, we split about 50-50 on the child thing. About half arranged by any number of methods to get pregnant and have a child with no intent to have the father play any significant role in the raising of the child. The other half, myself included, opted out.

I can say that during my now more than sixty-four years, I spent roughly eight months considering the idea seriously, but I have to say it probably had more to do with the man I was seeing at the time than on the biological clock ticking. I cannot say what was the key reason I chose not to have children, only that it was a combination of over-population around the globe, the desire not to have my own free-wheeling lifestyle disrupted, a serious question whether I would be a “good” parent–having no real role model, and some lack of “mothering” instincts, that I felt should be stronger than they were.

Looking back, I recognize that children bring a certain joy, apparently some sense of accomplishment (though again why escapes me pretty much), and I think some security? about the future that is perceived rather than necessarily experienced. It seems to feed some egos, though not all from what I have seen. I think children are marvelous creatures, and I think being good at parenting is a very hard thing, a thing most people take for granted and therefore don’t do a very good job at. I’m glad I didn’t do it, but I am in awe of some people I know who have.

I definitely think it ought to be way harder to qualify to be a parent. It’s amazing to me that so many people turn out as well as they do given their crummy experience with parents. I wonder how amazing this world might be if so many people didn’t have to spend so much time overcoming their poor upbringing.

At one time, we in the feminist movement disliked our sisters who chose the traditional roles. We thought they made it hard for those of us who wanted to be treated equally in jobs, advancement and pay. I think that time has long past. We, or at least I, recognize that the ultimate freedom is to chose the life you wish, and it is certainly an honorable and important choice to choose parenting.

The opposite is also true. To not choose parenting can be smart, noble, and a recognition that it is a special profession, one not suited to everyone, and not simple the thing “most everyone can do”. It is not an accomplishment, but a sacred responsibility one should take on with eyes wide open.

I think it all points to the fact, that while all of us may have had the same “historical” background, we responded to it differently. It imprinted on us quite dis similarly and we apparently made different judgements about it. That is what makes us human I suspect and why we thrive overall. If Aristotle was right that there is a set of absolute moral precepts, we will, it seems, go on arguing forever about just what they are.