Health Care Through the Eyes of an Average American

August 3, 2011 by  
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If you want to get someone fired up these days, just ask them about health care. It is one of the biggest political hot topics around and why shouldn’t it be? It’s something that affects all Americans. Whether you are young, vibrant, and healthy, or are elderly and need to take a handful of pills every day just to make it to the next, health care affects you in some way. We, the American public, watch our politicians grandstand, create crises, and run this country into the ground. They do their jobs poorly all while earning six figures, getting retirement, and healthcare. Let me tell you a story about what it’s like for the rest of the country.

I have a friend who started a new job early this year, making the most money he’s ever made. He’s thirty-eight years old and single. He waited out the required ninety days of “probation” where he would then be eligible to get benefits. He had really been counting on the healthcare package because of some prior health issues. When it came time for him to sign up for insurance, he realized it was going to cost him almost $700 a month. That was going to be a good chunk of one paycheck. He wasn’t even given the option of getting vision and dental separately, it was an all or nothing deal. Because this wasn’t something he could afford, he opted out of his health insurance.

For the past several months, my friend has had a tooth that has bothered him. He figures he had broken or cracked it and it was always sore and tender. He’d pop some aspirin and the pain would remain tolerable. This past weekend his tooth took its revenge against him by flaring up and causing his face and head to swell up like an egg. He was in excruciating pain. He was unable to eat or drink and even water in his mouth was almost bringing him to his knees. He ended up going to an emergency room and was prescribed penicillin and told he needed to see a dentist as soon as possible. This was a doctor’s visit and prescription he had to pay out of pocket.

He took Monday off from his job (thus not earning any money that day) because the pain had caused him to not get any sleep. He spent two hours of his day calling dentists in his part of the state. Guess what he learned? The dentists he called wouldn’t see him because he didn’t have insurance and he would need to pay for anything they did up front. Have you been to the dentist lately? Do you know how much they charge? The first thing they are going to do is take X-rays, which costs a bundle. So, on his day off, he was unable to find a dentist who would see him and help get him out of his terrible pain.

Tuesday, he went to work. He was able to drive an hour to get where he needed to be but he was in such torment he couldn’t focus while driving. The swelling had not gone down and his head and face were throbbing. He finally called his boss and told her he had to go back to the doctor. So, he took more time off (thus not earning any money again) and finally found another doctor who would take him. His reason this time was to be prescribed pain pills because he was officially at his limit of the pain he could tolerate. Have you gone to a doctor lately to ask for pain meds? They make you feel like a junkie. I can assure you, my friend is not addicted to pain pills, however he needed relief from his torture. This doctor was a medical angel. He prescribed my friend Vicodin for the pain and also gave him a list of dentists who charge their patients based on income. He then also told him that if he couldn’t afford this doctor’s visit, to “just walk right out of here.” He wasn’t going to charge him. He hadn’t used any equipment or done any tests on him. What a great guy!

Using the list of income-based dentists, my friend was able to find one in Saginaw that was a walk-in clinic and it was first-come/first-serve. So, Wednesday morning, my friend took another day off (thus AGAIN not earning any money) and drove an hour to Saginaw to see this dentist. He had X-rays taken (go figure) and it turns out he has broken two teeth and had multiple abscesses which had gone into the bone and were starting to go into his ear and sinuses. He also had a fever of 102 degrees from the infection. The dentist told him he couldn’t do anything until the infections were gone and so now he gets to drive all the way back to Saginaw next week sometime to have two teeth pulled. He’ll be missing more work because of this.

We are now several days into the week and my friend is still in excruciating pain. Vicodin doesn’t really stop the pain the way morphine does. It just makes you loopy enough to not care, I guess. My friend will be off the rest of this week and whenever next week he can go back to Saginaw to have two teeth pulled at his new walk-in, income-based dentist. I can’t see a senator or representative having to live through this much pain for this long because they don’t have insurance. I also can’t see a politician not getting paid because they can’t come to work. Yes, health care affects all Americans. Unfortunately, those who make the health care decisions for us, have no idea what it’s like to be an average American with no insurance.


Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Expanding

August 1, 2011 by  
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I haven’t written anything for almost a week now and it’s weighing on my mind. I like having this blog and I really enjoy writing. Unfortunately, I’m not finding the time I would like to put into writing here. With Hubby unemployed and home every day, I don’t have the luxury of sitting at my computer and staring at the screen trying to figure out how to word something exactly right. I like being left alone and apparently, at this time in my life, if I’m going to write I need to sit down and bang it out immediately with little or no thought. I don’t like that.

I realize that I was the one who put the target on my own back by deciding that I was going to have blog posts ready every weekday at 8am and BY GOD, that’s how it was going to be. Life doesn’t work that way and right now, I can’t either.

I will write for my blog when I am able to and won’t sweat the small stuff. I am not giving up my blog. That’s what I would have done in times past but now I’m taking my own words of advice to heart and saying, “Just go with the flow.”

The whole point of this blog was to force me to write and practice. That’s what I’ve done and will continue to do. However, I can’t turn it into work or I will begin to hate it and I will give it up. Besides, I still have my novel, which I haven’t touched since I started this blog. I need to find time to do both the blog and novel, and that’s what I intend to do. Even if you can’t see it here, know that I’m plodding away at my own pace…writing.


Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Amy Winehouse and Her Wasted Talent

July 26, 2011 by  
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This past Saturday, singer Amy Winehouse died alone in her bed. She was twenty-seven. She had routinely made celebrity headlines over the past few years with her erratic behavior. The girl loved her booze and she loved her drugs even more. She had no problem going out in public disheveled and acting wild and out of it. Leading up to her death, she had to cancel all shows of her 2011 European tour because she had gone on stage in Belgrade with disastrous results. She had appeared to be too drunk to perform. She couldn’t remember what city she was in, the lyrics of her songs, or the names of her band members.

The moment her death was announced, social media, like Twitter, exploded. Celebrities came out of the woodwork to wish her a “RIP” and to comment on her talent and how much she had influenced the music world and blah, blah, blah. If you were a non-celeb on Twitter, you probably fit into one of two categories: 1) You mentioned how hard you were crying and you just couldn’t believe Amy Winehouse was gone, or, 2) You made inappropriate comments and jokes about her and her death. I probably fell somewhere in between those two groups. For her “fans”, I’m interested in knowing how many of them had ever even actually heard her first album, which was a jazz album. Jazz is an acquired taste that a normal teenage girl isn’t going to be jumping all over. It requires some thought. For those making jokes while her body was probably still warm, I completely understand, even though I didn’t participate. Do you think that sounds kind of harsh? It’s not, and I’ll tell you why.

Amy Winehouse had an amazing voice with so much talent and she threw it all away. I have her “Back to Black” album on my iPod. I have listened to those songs many, many times. She made it look and sound so easy. There was no effort there and the talent just flowed from her. She had this distinctive voice and she wrote her own songs. There are so many people who give anything just to have her voice, let alone her songwriting ability. One person shouldn’t be allowed to have so much talent, especially when they don’t appreciate what they have. She chose to be a drunk and a drug addict. We all knew she was going to die. If it came as a shock to you, then shame on you. Also, shame on her parents who didn’t do more to make sure she was getting help (hello, can anyone say Britney Spears conservator???), shame on the record-label and music industry people who enabled her, and shame on her celebrity peers who let her embarrass herself publicly. The girl needed help and nobody gave her the tough love she needed.

I realized Saturday, as I watched the celebrities sending out their condolence Tweets, that they have to do this. They know that if any of them meet their own demise prematurely, they hope that other celebrities will memorialize them publicly as well. It’s kind of a “You scratch my back and I’ll Tweet your death” type of thing. It’s Hollywood and even death is an opportunity to network. I do firmly believe that there are a lot of celebs who are much closer to possibly overdosing on illegal (or prescribed) narcotics than we realize. Many of them know Twitter could be exploding about their deaths tomorrow or even later today, yet they still look away and prefer to talk about her talent and what she meant to them. Don’t idealize her behavior. I have seen headlines for stories, which I refused to read, which basically said that since she was a true artist, then she had to have been tormented. Basically, she couldn’t have been successful without her demons, drugs, and alcohol. I call bullshit. Being talented doesn’t mean you are given a hall pass for bad behavior. If a “normal” person showed up to their work as fucked up as she showed up for her concerts, they would be shown the door but it was okay for Amy Winehouse because she was a true artist. Whatever.

If the girl didn’t want to live, if she felt it wasn’t all worth it, then fine. That still doesn’t mean I will give her any sympathy. I watched my fifty year old father, who was “just a school teacher”, fight for his life when he had stomach cancer. He didn’t want to die. There was still so much more he wanted to do. He still wanted to teach and watch his own children become adults. He would take chemotherapy and radiation treatments in the morning and come back to school and teach the second half of the day. He would go to the bathroom and vomit in between classes. Nope, he wasn’t a true artist and, nope, he didn’t have his demons and, nope, celebrities didn’t give him a “RIP” when he died. What did happen, though, was he lived when he was alive and even though he was “just a teacher”, he didn’t waste the talents that he had. That’s why I’ll continue to mourn him and not give a rat’s ass about Amy Winehouse.


Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Amy Winehouse and Her Wasted Talent

July 26, 2011 by  
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This past Saturday, singer Amy Winehouse died alone in her bed. She was twenty-seven. She had routinely made celebrity headlines over the past few years with her erratic behavior. The girl loved her booze and she loved her drugs even more. She had no problem going out in public disheveled and acting wild and out of it. Leading up to her death, she had to cancel all shows of her 2011 European tour because she had gone on stage in Belgrade with disastrous results. She had appeared to be too drunk to perform. She couldn’t remember what city she was in, the lyrics of her songs, or the names of her band members.

The moment her death was announced, social media, like Twitter, exploded. Celebrities came out of the woodwork to wish her a “RIP” and to comment on her talent and how much she had influenced the music world and blah, blah, blah. If you were a non-celeb on Twitter, you probably fit into one of two categories: 1) You mentioned how hard you were crying and you just couldn’t believe Amy Winehouse was gone, or, 2) You made inappropriate comments and jokes about her and her death. I probably fell somewhere in between those two groups. For her “fans”, I’m interested in knowing how many of them had ever even actually heard her first album, which was a jazz album. Jazz is an acquired taste that a normal teenage girl isn’t going to be jumping all over. It requires some thought. For those making jokes while her body was probably still warm, I completely understand, even though I didn’t participate. Do you think that sounds kind of harsh? It’s not, and I’ll tell you why.

Amy Winehouse had an amazing voice with so much talent and she threw it all away. I have her “Back to Black” album on my iPod. I have listened to those songs many, many times. She made it look and sound so easy. There was no effort there and the talent just flowed from her. She had this distinctive voice and she wrote her own songs. There are so many people who give anything just to have her voice, let alone her songwriting ability. One person shouldn’t be allowed to have so much talent, especially when they don’t appreciate what they have. She chose to be a drunk and a drug addict. We all knew she was going to die. If it came as a shock to you, then shame on you. Also, shame on her parents who didn’t do more to make sure she was getting help (hello, can anyone say Britney Spears conservator???), shame on the record-label and music industry people who enabled her, and shame on her celebrity peers who let her embarrass herself publicly. The girl needed help and nobody gave her the tough love she needed.

I realized Saturday, as I watched the celebrities sending out their condolence Tweets, that they have to do this. They know that if any of them meet their own demise prematurely, they hope that other celebrities will memorialize them publicly as well. It’s kind of a “You scratch my back and I’ll Tweet your death” type of thing. It’s Hollywood and even death is an opportunity to network. I do firmly believe that there are a lot of celebs who are much closer to possibly overdosing on illegal (or prescribed) narcotics than we realize. Many of them know Twitter could be exploding about their deaths tomorrow or even later today, yet they still look away and prefer to talk about her talent and what she meant to them. Don’t idealize her behavior. I have seen headlines for stories, which I refused to read, which basically said that since she was a true artist, then she had to have been tormented. Basically, she couldn’t have been successful without her demons, drugs, and alcohol. I call bullshit. Being talented doesn’t mean you are given a hall pass for bad behavior. If a “normal” person showed up to their work as fucked up as she showed up for her concerts, they would be shown the door but it was okay for Amy Winehouse because she was a true artist. Whatever.

If the girl didn’t want to live, if she felt it wasn’t all worth it, then fine. That still doesn’t mean I will give her any sympathy. I watched my fifty year old father, who was “just a school teacher”, fight for his life when he had stomach cancer. He didn’t want to die. There was still so much more he wanted to do. He still wanted to teach and watch his own children become adults. He would take chemotherapy and radiation treatments in the morning and come back to school and teach the second half of the day. He would go to the bathroom and vomit in between classes. Nope, he wasn’t a true artist and, nope, he didn’t have his demons and, nope, celebrities didn’t give him a “RIP” when he died. What did happen, though, was he lived when he was alive and even though he was “just a teacher”, he didn’t waste the talents that he had. That’s why I’ll continue to mourn him and not give a rat’s ass about Amy Winehouse.


Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Organized Religion and the Evil It Breeds

July 25, 2011 by  
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Friday, the world watched in horror at the events that unfolded in Norway. First, a bomb went off in the city of Oslo that killed at least seven people (according to news reports at the time I was writing this). Two hours later, a gunman went on an hour and a half shooting spree at a youth camp, picking off teens as they tried to swim to safety and killing another 86 people (again, the number given at the time I was writing this). Police have one man in custody who claims he acted alone. He is 32 year old Anders Behring Breivik and is Norwegian. At first, many people believed evil of this magnitude must have been committed by a Muslim terrorist. Imagine their surprise when it was announced these acts were performed by a very white guy who is a Christian Fundamentalist and right-winger.

I have a huge problem with organized religion of any kind. I am not excluding any religious group. I am not singling out any particular group either. I am not an atheist. I have a belief system that is ever-evolving as I live my life. I don’t expect anyone else to believe exactly the same way I do. I don’t believe I have the answers. I have questions but know they won’t be answered by another human being in the form of religious teachings. I won’t be finding those answers in any religious book like the Bible, Qur’an, Torah, Sruti or others. In the last sixteen years, I have stepped inside a church four times and they were all for funerals, not to worship. I don’t believe God hates fags (quoting from the Westboro Baptist Church). I don’t think that floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, or solar flares are the work of a displeased God. I don’t think that God has a greater plan and that’s why the people we love die before their time should be up. I don’t think God would appreciate having teens blown away by a crazed Norwegian, in his name.

I look at all the hate and discrimination in this world and believe a large portion of it exists because of organized religious beliefs. Since 9/11, Muslims seem to have been in the forefront for all that is wrong with religious extremists. They make convenient bad guys because they are usually easy to spot and their rituals are foreign and weird. Most people figure “Death to America” is pretty straight forward and there’s no mistaking their evil intentions. However, religious extremism can be found everywhere. Let’s not forget the Westboro Baptist Church (U.S. Christian), who delights in picketing the funerals of soldiers who died in service for this country. I seriously can’t think of anything more evil than those people. The additional pain and suffering they cause to the families, I just can’t fathom it. Why do they do it? They view the United States as being very gay-friendly and they say that God is killing our soldiers because “he” hates fags. Charming, eh? The depth of their hate for everything is staggering and in their minds, it’s all in the name of God. Honestly, I feel that anyone who hides behind a Bible to discriminate against gays, and make them feel like second class citizens, is truly a bigot and should deal with the “real” reasons they hate gays.

Do we not remember the fighting in Ireland that took place between the Protestants and the Catholics? Protestants were mostly British and wanted to control Ireland while the majority of the Irish population was Catholic and wanted nothing to do with British rule. They are still not overly happy with each other to this day. The Crusades were fought mainly by Roman Catholics against Muslims and Greek Orthodox Christians in an attempt to gain Christian control of the Holy Land. We see how well peace has worked in the Middle East for the past few millennia. It makes sense to kill and destroy in the place viewed as most holy to the Christians, Muslims and Jews. I’m sure that’s what God was thinking. How many people have died in all of these religious battles? How many innocents have been caught in the cross-hairs? We certainly know how many died on 9/11.

When you allow someone, or something (like a book), to tell you how to think, believe, and act, then you are giving them control over your life. Unfortunately, not everyone uses this control for good. Whether it’s the shady minister who encourages his flock to give him as much of their money as they can spare, or it’s the Muslim cleric who convinces his followers that they’ll go to heaven if they strap a bomb onto their bodies and let it explode in a busy square, religious control can be scary and gives extremists a playground to act out their own sick, deluded fantasies. The need to evangelize and bring others around into a group’s way of thinking has turned organized religion into the biggest multi-level marketing scheme in history. Once people can stop viewing religion as an exclusive club and stop going through the religious hazing process, perhaps we’ll someday have a chance to have a little peace in this world. Religion wants us to work on getting to our next life yet we seem to be wasting this one with hate and oppression.


Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

The Best Nights of My Life

July 22, 2011 by  
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Looking back on my adult life and remembering some of my more notable experiences, there are two nights which always are first and foremost in my mind. I consider them to be the very best nights of my life. One night brought me the closest to God I will ever be in this mortal life and the other was just about as much fun as I could imagine anyone having. They were nights that I will be telling stories about for the rest of my life, however long that may be. They were perfect.

In July of 1994, I saw Pink Floyd at the Pontiac Silverdome. I had been able to get seven tickets and I went with my boyfriend at the time and my cousin and his wife. My brother and two of his friends took the other three tickets. This was my brother’s very first concert and he has said he wishes that perhaps he had a chance to see another concert before seeing Pink Floyd because no other show will ever compare. I know he is right and he has been ruined for concerts ever since. I had gotten these seven tickets to the first show that went on sale. Because the tickets sold out in only a few minutes, another show was added but it was added the day before the first concert. I know quite a few people who were extremely irked by this because they felt that they were being penalized for being able to get tickets to the “first” show, which was then technically the second. As it turned out though, Pink Floyd ended up playing “Dark Side of the Moon” straight through for our show and didn’t for the concert the day before . That’s right, I’ve seen “Dark Side” played all the way through live. I think it was their way of thanking those who got their tickets first. It was very, very cool.

For those who have never seen Pink Floyd live in concert, all I can say is they put on one hell of a show. It was breathtaking, spellbinding, and magical. It was rock and roll combined with amazing imagery. I won’t go into the gory details but let’s just say I experienced Pink Floyd the way you are supposed to enjoy their music. The videos and music seemed to be created just for me that night. My chest really felt like it would burst from the sheer joy I felt. There were times afterward that I felt melancholy because I knew I would never feel anything like that again. It truly seemed like I had some sort of spiritual experience that night.

What makes that night more extraordinary were the other events happening in my life right then. My dad had just been diagnosed with stomach cancer two days before that concert and I started, what I now consider to be, the best job I’ve ever had the very next day after that show. My cousin’s wife also found out that she was pregnant after that show to which my cousin uttered the now semi-famous line, “The baby was at Floyd!” That Pink Floyd concert happened at a moment in my life when a big page was turning and in some ways, sums up that whole period for me.

The second greatest night of my life took place in Tampa after seeing a Detroit Red Wings game with my best friend in Florida. We were two chicks who drove four plus hours to Tampa to watch hockey. That night, my Wings had lost and after the game we had gone to the sports bar across the street to have a drink or two before making the trek back to Jacksonville. While we were there, these three guys came up and started talking to us. It turns out they were from Kelowna, British Columbia and they were in a band that had booked some shows in Tampa. In between shows they had decided to catch some hockey, as any good Canadian would do. They were completely floored that two chicks would drive four hours to watch hockey without men being involved. Basically, they thought we were so cool.

Ultimately, we all ended up in the same car driving around Tampa late at night looking for some place to hang out for awhile. We were driving through Ybor City and finally heard music coming from one of the buildings. We stopped and went into this bar. We were the only people there and the bartender seemed appreciative that some business had come in. Finally, around midnight other people started rolling in and that’s when we realized we had ended up in a gay bar. I have to give it to those Canadians, they never blinked an eye and completely went with the flow. The gay men loved the guys from Kelowna and our boys never gave a moment’s inkling that they might have been uncomfortable. We danced and laughed and were crazy. Their manager, who was also a lawyer, ended up dancing partially naked on the bar with crowds of men cheering him on. The night finally ended with my friend and I saying goodbye to our Canadians and we all went our separate ways. A few weeks later, we received some CD’s in the mail from their band, which was awesome. I know we both have incredibly warm fuzzy feelings for those boys and that night. It was just a lot of fun and good will. There’s not enough of that in this world.

So to recap, I felt God with Pink Floyd, and felt cheer and good will with some Canadians. Sure it’s not like I married the future king of England in a televised broadcast watched by billions of people around the globe or anything, but I would never, ever trade those two nights for any other experiences. They were the best nights of my life.


Rating: 4.5/5 (2 votes cast)

My Little Secret

July 21, 2011 by  
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I have a secret. It’s not a big, bad secret. It’s not something I’m ashamed to admit. It’s just one of those little things that most people probably don’t know about me. I like to swim. I think I might have been an aquatic animal in a past life.

Growing up, we didn’t have a pool because my parents said it was too expensive. I was extremely envious of the few people we knew who had pools. Back in those days, you weren’t allowed the convenience of buying an inflatable pool in a box. You either had the above ground or in-ground pools. It was all or nothing. I can count on one hand the people we knew who had them. It seemed to be the ultimate luxury item, more enticing than gold or diamonds (which I cared nothing about at that age).

There was a public swimming pool at the local fairgrounds way back when. That was where I took swimming lessons. I used to be scared to death of the water. I was okay if I was able to touch the bottom with a toe, however, if I got too close to that uber-scary drop-off to the deep end, which was usually marked by a floaty line that was hooked across the pool, I would start to panic. As I’m writing this, I am trying to remember when I finally got over my fear of the water and I find that I have no idea. It was just something that happened as I got older. Now I realize how gross that public swimming pool probably was and the petri-dish of ick that was probably brewing in it. It was closed long ago and they have since filled it in. You would never know there was once a pool there. I guess my parents were right about them being expensive.

While living in Florida, I dated a guy for a short time who owned a house with a pool. In Florida, a lot of people put huge screen houses over their in-ground, outdoor pools. The pool area and back yard are completely closed in. Bugs don’t come in yet you are still outside. The screen also keeps leaves and debris from getting in the water and thus, you have a much cleaner pool. I had never seen such a thing in Michigan but they seem to be fairly common in Florida. While I dated him, I swam my little heart out. I was in that thing every day. He also had a hot tub that was connected to the pool. It used the same water but that area was bubbly and heated. So if I got too cold from the pool water, I could jump into the hot tub and warm up. It was great. Too bad he had zero personality and I had to say goodbye to him and his pool.

Last summer during a hot spell, Hubby and I broke down and bought one of those inflatable pools in a box. It was small, as in three feet deep. It was just deep enough where we could sit in the damn thing and have water come up to our shoulders. It was meant for cooling purposes only and not to entice friends to come over and have a pool party. I did insist on having my pool noodles and enjoyed them tremendously. Sadly, at the end of last summer, the pool was neglected and ended up in the loft in the barn. I’m sure it’s unusable. We didn’t even try setting it up this summer because of our money issues. Maybe someday, if we can ever afford it again, we’ll buy a larger pool. A girl can dream.

I love the feeling of being in the water. I like the weightlessness. When you are in water, it’s almost like you can fly, yet won’t crash into the ground and die a horrible death. I find myself getting giggly when I’m swimming. I take great joy paddling around and going underwater and touching the bottom of the pool. It’s simple fun and I love every minute of it. Perhaps when I’m swimming I get to step back into childhood for a little while and enjoy something I didn’t get to do very often because it was just too darn expensive to own a pool.


Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Beating the Michigan Heat

July 20, 2011 by  
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I once lived in Florida for seven years. There were a myriad of reasons that I moved back to my beautiful home state of Michigan but one of the biggest was that I just couldn’t stand the heat. I am a Northern gal. If the temperature never, ever went above seventy-five degrees ever again, I would be so freaking happy. In Florida, I would go outside and my shins would sweat. I can honestly say I have never sweat from my shins before living in Florida and they haven’t sweat since I moved back to Michigan. My shins aren’t supposed to sweat. I couldn’t go outside in Florida during the day for any length of time because the sun would wreak havoc on my very pale, Nordic skin. I lived twenty minutes from the ocean and the only time I could go to the beach was at night, once the sun had gone down, so I wouldn’t get a terrible, blistering sun burn.

This week in Michigan, and all around the country, we are having a pretty spectacular heat wave. For a week straight, it’s supposed to be ninety degrees or hotter, which is very significant for the people who live in the Great White North. We didn’t have air conditioning in our house until this week. For two years we have lived in this house with the simplicity of ceiling fans and open windows. With summer night temperatures dipping down into the fifties (sometimes even forties), we have learned to have the house wide open at night and let it cool down as much as possible. We then quickly get the windows shut up and the blinds closed in the morning before it starts heating up. We run a dehumidifier in the basement to knock down the humidity and we can usually keep the house seven to ten degrees cooler than outside. That’s impossible to do this week, however. With the night time lows staying in the seventies, it has been impossible to cool the house off adequately to prepare for the next day’s heat. We were starting the day off already hot and it sucked.

So Sunday evening the new, portable air conditioner came home. My mom bought it for us (I’m forty and still need my mom’s help financially, awesome!) and we are both very grateful. Luckily it wasn’t too much of a bear to install. The window kit that came with it was made to go in either up-and-down windows or sliders. We have all sliders in our house. When we put new windows in, some windows were too big for up-and-down windows, so to make everything uniform, all sliders were installed. The air conditioner now lives in our bedroom and Sunday night we invited all five dogs to come into the bedroom with us and we shut the door and let that sucker work its magic. I slept great that night. It was wonderful being able to snuggle under a blankie which is one of my favorite things.

Sadly, the new air conditioner isn’t manly enough to cool the whole house, so we were given a tiny, old one that Hubby put in a kitchen window. We now have a gorgeous piece of plywood in that window which makes the house look elegant and classy (sarcasm) but it’s on the back of the house so I won’t complain too much. It’s helping to keep the house cool and dehumidified and I’m so happy I could just shit.

Now I get to secretly freak out about our electric bill. I already had the talk with Hubby where we both agreed these air conditioners will not be run all summer, only when it gets to be excruciatingly hot. He’s unemployed and I’m working a part-time job that pays eight dollars an hour. We can’t afford to be silly with the air conditioning but, this week especially, is an extreme case. A friend on Facebook posted that you know it’s hot in Flint when the fire hydrants are all opened up and there are people swimming in the Flint River. It’s hot all over Michigan. Our local library has announced it can be used as a cooling center all this week for those who don’t have other ways to beat the heat, which I think is great. Good for our library!

This heat wave cannot end soon enough. I fled Florida so I wouldn’t have to experience heat like that ever again. Thank you to my mom for the gift of cool air. I’m thrilled to say that I never sweat once during the writing of this story.


Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Growing Old

July 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Faith & Life, Family

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Back in May, I began working as a caregiver for the elderly mother of my cousin’s wife, whom I also call cousin. I have no training as a caregiver; it wasn’t a career choice for me. It was a situation where there were two needs (me needing to make some money and my cousin desperately needing someone to care for her mother) and we were able to help each other out. The job started as two days a week during the day. With my Hubby losing his job, it now looks like I’m getting four days a week, still during the day. It’s a very sweet, wonderful thing she is doing for me, getting me those extra hours. Yes, it’s only eight dollars an hour but it’s better than nothing, which is one reason I’m doing it.

I had met the lady only a couple of times before I started going to her house and sitting with her. I understand the awkwardness of having an almost complete stranger coming into your home and having them rummage through your kitchen, bathroom and bedroom as they wait on you throughout the day. I would absolutely hate it. I try very hard to put myself in her situation. I’m so weird about people touching my things and violating my privacy and personal space anyway, I couldn’t imagine hiring someone to come in and do it. She has caregivers with her 24/7. She never has a moment of privacy. Even when she is using the commode, I am still standing outside the open door waiting for her to let me know she’s done so I can hold her steady while she pulls up her drawers.

For someone who needs 24/7 care, she is pretty easy to take care of. I am responsible for getting her medications and breathing treatments at the right time (I set the alarm on my Blackberry so I don’t forget). I help her get up out of her chair while having her walker ready so we can zip to the commode. She doesn’t need any help with her bathroom “stuff” other than me making sure she doesn’t fall (thank goodness). I warm up her coffee in the morning (many, many times – she likes her coffee very hot), prepare her lunch and whatever snacks she wants throughout the day. The last hour of my time there, I wash and put away our dirty dishes, and clean her kitchen, commode and bathroom, which takes no more than forty-five minutes to complete. The rest of those eight hours, I’m sitting on her couch watching her ABC shows with her in the morning and her TNT shows in the afternoon, or reading my Kindle.

We chat quite a bit. She is really quite sharp mentally, however she can be forgetful and she knows when she is being forgetful. She is very self-conscious of it and at times it makes her cry. I have no degree in psychology but again, I try to put myself in her shoes and try to say the right things. I tell her it’s no big deal that she forgets things, that I forget things all the time. She knows I set the alarm on my Blackberry for all her different medications and treatments, and I let her know I would forget if I didn’t have my alarm. When she remembers something, like a date or the channel a certain show is on, I praise her and point out that she remembered something. I make an effort to not treat her like she’s a child because she certainly is not. If there is a commercial with a baby, toddler, or animal on it, she loves it. She thinks it’s the cutest thing ever. We watch the T.V. show Las Vegas together and during the opening credits, I dance like an idiot to the Elvis song they play. I think, at first, she was a little shocked by my general dorkiness but now I notice her smiling and wiggling her feet in time to the song as well. I consider that a victory.

I really do enjoy my time with my “old” friend. She can swear like a sailor and has some semi-raunchy sayings that really crack me up. She weighs all of one hundred and seven pounds, she has white hair and she hunches over. She has a tiny, squeaky, adorable little voice. She is your quintessential old lady and she amuses the crap out of me. I think she likes me well enough too, which makes me glad. I’m happy that instead of sticking her in a nursing home, she is able to stay at home and watch her own T.V. and sleep in her own bed. I know what her daughter has gone through to make sure her mom gets to stay at home. When the time comes, I hope I am able to provide the same level of comfort for my mom. Growing old appears to really suck. I guess the level of suckiness depends on what your kids are willing to do for you.


Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Old Dreams

July 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Faith & Life

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The child is grown, the dream is gone. I…have become comfortably numb…

- Pink Floyd

I remember having dreams, once upon a time, that didn’t involve winning the lottery. They were my youthful dreams from a long ago life when I believed all the hype my parents told me about myself. You’re beautiful. You’re so smart. You can be anything you want to be. They were the final thoughts floating through my mind as I drifted off to sleep at night. They were the threads that I clung to when I felt I was about to fall off of life’s precipice.

My biggest pipe dream back then, the one if I could have been anything I wanted, was to work with gorillas. I think to live in the African forest and observe a troop of gorillas would be absolute perfection. I would have given anything to be able to watch them in their natural habitat and have them become used to me so I could get closer without disturbing them. When I was very young, I would read all about Koko, the gorilla who knows sign language, in Weekly Reader. I was fascinated by the idea that a gorilla could speak to humans with its hands. Koko could very well have started me down the science road that I love so much but have never done anything about. Interesting sidenote: I learned that Koko is the same age as I am and also doesn’t have any children. I have so much in common with a gorilla.

In Florida, I worked with a guy who had previously worked at Marineland and got to play with dolphins every day. I was so jealous and made him tell me stories about his experiences. If not working with primates, I would love to work with sea mammals like whales and porpoises. To this day I have felt that I should be working with animals, which is probably why I’m living with five dogs, three chunky cats, two goats, and two donkeys.

I also had the dream, which I think every teenage girl has, where I become an actress and make a fortune and a string of classic movies which are loved and remembered by generations to come.The issue with this particular dream is that I’m not confident enough to be an actress. I don’t know if I could mentally handle putting myself out there and potentially making myself look like an idiot. The nastiness of reviewers and critics, along with today’s Internet user, is also something I don’t think I could stand. I’m not an exhibitionist. I don’t want everyone looking at me. When I was younger it might not have been an issue but it’s certainly nothing I want now, at this point in my life.

Dreams are funny things. They say without dreams, you have no hope. However, I don’t think the dreams of a teenage girl could possibly be the same as a forty year old woman. I had big visions for my life way back when. Now, I dream of winning the lottery. When I stare off into space and lose myself in daydreams as an adult, I am wishing for an easier life where my bills are auto-paid and if I want to spend a day laying in my hammock reading, it’s perfectly okay. If I wanted to get in my minivan and take a day-trip across the state, I could do it without having to debate whether I can afford the cost of gas. I guess as long as I still dream of winning the lottery, I’m not completely without hope, right?


Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

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