Monday, October 20, 2014

Leaving the In Between

There's a certain appeal to those in between places. Like the waiting area outside the gate at the airport. You've made it on time, the security nonsense is behind you and you just have some time to fill. All you can do is wait (and try to ignore all the TVs blaring CNN), so there's nothing to stress about. You even have enough room to sit comfortably until boarding time.

But in between is no way to live a life. And that's where I've been living for the past 2 years. Since things ended badly with The Kid, we've been waiting to dive back into the whole fostering/adoption thing. The first year, we had to recover emotionally and financially. Adopting a child from the foster system is cheaper than other methods, but it's not free. We spent more than we could afford on the months of visits before she moved in with us, only to spend even more buying her a new wardrobe because her previous foster mother didn't buy her anything and nothing fit anymore. This was going to be OK financially because you get a $20,000 tax credit when you adopt a child, so we'd be getting all that money back. Plus there would be some reimbursements from the system when the adoption was final.

But when you end up not adopting the kid, you can pretty much go fuck yourself. Even when the adoption doesn't work out partially because of things workers in the system did. Or when the kid shouldn't have been placed for adoption in the first place because their past made living in a family setting so upsetting that they harm themselves and others.

So we had to get ourselves back to the point where we could afford to buy another kid a bunch of clothes if we had to. All while paying out of pocket for a shrink to help me deal with everything. (You know how incompetent new mothers feel? Try being a new mother with 3 social workers criticizing everything you do.)

But we got back on our feet a year ago. Yet we didn't move forward with the kid thing because we knew it would be hard enough without me getting a migraine every other day - and that was what I was averaging a year ago. So we agreed to wait for me to have a good month. Not a whole month without a migraine, but a month where I had more than one good day in a row several times. 

We're still waiting for that, though I did have 4 whole good days in a row this month, so progress. Though that was followed by 5 migraines in 6 days, so fuck my life.

All this time, we've been paying to live in a two bedroom apartment without using the second bedroom. His Awesomeness started making his evening business calls in there. But I kept my office where it was - in the living room. I kept the door of that room closed as often as possible because that empty, useless bed only reminded me of my failures. Not just as a mother, but as a human being healthy enough to leave the apartment without getting winded.

Meanwhile, I've been stuck trying to work at home while the hearing impaired retiree upstairs blasts the TV at all hours of the day and night (and slams the door in my face when I ask him to turn it down). Of course, his TV is directly above the part of the living room where my desk is. Wireless headphones helped with that, but then I realized there's a better solution.

I told my husband that I was tired of living in this pathetic in between state. The bed needed to go into storage so I could reclaim my office space in the spare room. He even figured out a way to rearrange the closets so we could store the bed ourselves instead of paying for a storage locker somewhere.

It took him a couple of hours to move things around. It took me a couple of weeks to get everything in order, and I'm still not done, because migraines, but things are running smoothly at least. And I don't hear the jerk upstairs while I'm working.

So I'm no longer in between. It doesn't mean much. We're still planning on adopting when I'm feeling better. I'm still in too much pain too often to get my novel revised. I doubt I'll be blogging daily any time soon because I still have to save my scant energy for work writing. All it means is that I'm no longer in a holding pattern waiting to get physically better. Because who knows when the fuck that's going to happen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why Is Everything So Fucking Hard? the Sequel

This isn't me, but it might as well be.
When you have a chronic illness, the little things tend to pile up. So many had piled up that it was starting to nag at me, so I made a list and started working my way through it.

The first couple of things went smoothly - pay a bill, order more electrodes for my magic space tiara. The next thing - not so much. I called a doctor to ask them to call in a refill for my prescription, but since the doctor is on vacation I have to have the pharmacy call them. They can't call the pharmacy. Because.

I figured I'd walk over to the pharmacy later and ask them to call.

Then it was time to make an opthomologist appointment. The vision in one of my eyes has been a wee bit blurry, so it's kinda urgent. Good thing I already tracked down a conveniently located doc who takes my insurance.

So I called. Apparently, it's a big office with lots of doctors and "patient service specialists" who will take my call as soon as one becomes available. After a 5 minute wait, one does and then transfers me to billing to find out if the doctor (who is listed on my insurance company's website) actually is in network.

I got someone's voicemail in Billing, so I pressed 0 to talk to someone else. And the fancy, sophisticated phone system hung up on me.

So I called back. Waited only 3 minutes this time. Asked again about the insurance issue and the patient service specialist hung up on me when they tried to put me on hold or transfer me back to billing.

Because there was no fucking way I was going to start researching a new doctor at this point, I called back. Told them I'd been hung up on twice, so let's not do that again. The patient service specialist knew that the office took my insurance, but she wasn't sure about the doctor I'd asked about. She put me on hold for realsies, and came back to tell me that the doc does take my insurance and has an open appointment in 3 weeks. 

By then, my eye will either be better or really bad. I briefly considered traveling more than an hour to see my old opthomologist who usually has same day appointments. Then I asked if another doc in the practice had a sooner appointment. So now I only have to wait a week and a half.

By then I was starting to have a stabbing pain in my non-blurry eye - thanks for the migraine patient service specialists.

It then occurred to me that I could call the pharmacy and ask them to call the doctor's office instead of doing it in person. These are migraine rescue meds that only sort of help, but it's better than nothing.

So I call. And listen to an automated message about flu shots and immunizations and get very close to screaming in frustration because I actually need to get going to To Do list-related appointment. I finally get a pharmacy tech and ask her to call. She puts me on hold to deal with an in-store customer, and I have to repeat the whole thing when she gets back. Which is only annoying because I'm in pain. I loathe having to repeat myself when I have a migraine because the sound (and vibration) of my own voice hurts.

She informs me that I actually have refills on an earlier prescription for the same meds that I didn't know about. Rx#1 is for 18 pills a month - my insurance will pay for 12, which is fine, so she tries to process a refill. But she can't because the insurance will only pay for 12 a month and I just got 6 pills a couple of weeks ago. Because Rx#2 was for 30 pills. Not 30 pills a month, but 30. So they gave me 12 pills a month for 2 months, then gave me the 6 as a partial refill. For which I paid a $60 co-pay.

Still with me?

So my insurance will pay for 6 pills against Rx#1, but I'll have to pay another $60 co-pay. Because that's how co-pays work. This enrages me because it would've been cheaper to refill Rx#1 in the first place instead of getting half a month's supply from Rx#2. But I was completely unaware that I had refills left on Rx#1 and they completely overlooked that fact when I asked them why I only had a partial refill coming to me. So now if I want my pills, I have to pay $120 for 12 lousy pills instead of the $60 I have to pay every other time.

The insurance company, of course, is paying based on the actual cost of the pills. So they don't have to pay extra.

The pharmacy tech kept trying to explain to me how co-pays work, which I already know, but refused to answer me when I asked what the insurance company would do to them if they didn't charge me that second $60. The right answer, of course, is nothing, madam and in the interest of keeping your business we'll just waive that second co-pay. The answer I got was another explanation of how co-pays work and a, "so what do you want to do?"

By this point, I was definitely getting a migraine, thereby requiring me to take my last pill, so I told her I'd pay the 60 fucking dollars for the refill.

Now, my old rescue meds (which I'm also still getting because 12 pills a month doesn't cut it when I have almost daily migraines) cost about $2 a pill. I used to pay for them out of pocket to get around the insurance company's limit of 8 pills a month. This new medicine works slightly better, but costs something like $30 a pill, so I can't afford to go rogue and just pay for them.

For that kind of money, they should actually stop my migraines instead of just making them not so bad. I suspect they might work better if the dosage were higher since standard dosage is based on an 150-pound person and I weigh quite a bit more than that. But my doctor refuses to have that conversation. The first time I brought up the subject, he told me to lose weight. Which is so totally easy when you're in daily pain. The second time, he told me that you don't want to take too much of any medicine. which yeah fine, but you don't want to take too little either. Maybe third time's the charm. It only took me 2 visits to get him to prescribe the magic space tiara, so there's hope.

In contrast, the appointment I had was with a banker to rollover a wee amount of money into my Rollover IRA. I was the laziest nightmare client. Here's a statement from the old account that's over 6 months old, and BTW it's under my maiden name. And I opened up the IRA at a different branch, so it's assigned to some other guy I've never met.

But for a lousy $700 (I didn't work at that job long), they made it work. Changed the person assigned to the account, called the 401k people to get the paperwork started and figured out how to get the money into the account even though they're under different names. The banker even offered to help me do the paperwork when the 401k company e-mailed it to me, but it was super easy and only a couple of pages.

So, take my money and destroy the economy with it? They're all over that shit. Take my money in exchange for goods and services? They don't want to (or can't) make it easy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Why Is Everything So Fucking Hard?

Making my own dye from berries
would've been easier.
So a few weeks ago, I realized that it was time to dye my hair because the roots were so long that I could finally get a good look at what my natural hair color is now. It's that gunmetal gray the cool kids are deliberately dying their hair these days, so I wondered if I should just dye it gray and go with it, but then I remembered that I'm 43 and no one will think my gray hair is trendy.

I'm saving money at the moment, and salon chemicals would probably give me a migraine, so I stayed with my usual home dye.


I looked for my specific shade of red in the drug store near me, and it wasn't there.

Nor was it in the second closest drug store. 

Or the third.

So I spent half an hour online looking for someplace that had both my hair dye and one other thing I needed. I didn't want to buy from Amazon because of the whole Hachette thing (in which they screw over authors while claiming that they're looking out for authors). It took me so long to find a place that I started to think that my specific shade was being discontinued.

Two days later, they e-mailed to say that both things were out of stock.

So I placed an order with Amazon. I switched to the shade I settled on last time when I couldn't find what I wanted. This one looks better thanks to an added potion that stains like a motherfucker. I may never get the stain out of the bathroom sink.

The order came, but it smelled chemically. I opened it, and everything seemed to be intact. I put it in the guest room where I don't go so that it wouldn't give me migraines.

Then I waited two weeks because I had a stye and couldn't wear my contacts and wasn't about to dye my hair while wearing glasses or flying blind.

Finally, finally! I was ready to dye my hair.

And discovered that the little plastic bubble of glaze (that makes the color look shiny and makes the whole thing less stinky so I can use it without getting a migraine) had ripped open and spilled all over everything. And was now empty.

The smell and the frustration gave me the start of a migraine, which pissed me off even more because I had a party to go to that night and now I had no hope of going because pain.

I took out some of this frustration on Amazon customer service who I had to call because hair dye is considered a hazardous material and you can't just mail it back or request a refund or replacement online.

They sent it rush shipping so that it would arrive two days later.

I saw the UPS truck parked outside my building on the appointed morning and saw the delivery guy take packages into my building. Yet he didn't buzz my apartment or knock on the door.

Online tracking verified that he had delivered my package into the package room which no one can actually get into. (It's the porter's job to hang out in the lobby as a part time doorman and give people their packages. Our porter has terminal brain cancer, so he's not doing that now. The management company hasn't brought in someone to take care of that duty, so we have to go to the super's apartment during specific hours when he's not actually there. So it can take weeks to get a package.)

I called the management company thinking that the super's assistant (who isn't quite up to being the new porter, but works around the building) had intercepted the delivery guy. But the online tracking included the name of the person who signed it, and it was the porter. (The management company also told me that the super is supposed to call people when they have a package, which he doesn't do.)

So the UPS guy bothered the guy who's dying. And doesn't need to be bothered with my hair dye delivery. So I complained to UPS because if the delivery guy knew where the porter lives, then he should also know that he's not on the job and should be left the fuck alone. Other UPS guys come to the individual apartments, so what was this guy's problem?

So His Awesomeness retrieved the package when he got home from work. 
The next morning I was finally able to dye my hair.

And got a migraine anyway.


Friday, July 4, 2014

I Hate Fireworks

Yawn.
There. I said it. I hate fireworks for the same reason I hate watching sports that don't involve a ridiculous obstacle course. They're boring as fuck. No drama at all. Yes, even the professional fireworks displays.

Oh look, colorful lights in the sky. And now there are more colorful lights in the sky. And now there are colorful lights in the shape of something. Apparently that's worthy of applause. Well, isn't that interesting?

There's more drama in a rerun on The Honeymooners. Hence the holiday marathon.

I don't like watching fireworks on TV even with the dramatic music and color commentators. Watching them while sitting on a lawn somewhere while being bitten by mosquitos and no-see-ums for hours while you wait for it to start? No thanks.

One year, His Awesomeness and I were in Chicago on the 4th. We sat out in the park with hundreds of other people waiting to see the fireworks because what the hell else were we going to do. There was a storm threatening, and the flashes of everyone's cameras as they documented the exciting sitting in the park and waiting kept making me think that there was lightning, which would due an excellent reason for getting the hell out of the park. HA realized this wasn't going to work, so we went back to the hotel and watched Deep Space Nine on DVD.

(Side note: I also fucking hate people who use a flash when taking pictures on the NYC subway. The locals are still a bit jumpy and the cars are well lit enough that you don't need a flash anyway so just give it a fucking rest.)

So anyway, people's attempts to convince me that fireworks are interesting actually make me hate them even more. The fireworks, not the people. I know I'm outnumbered here - like fireworks all you want. But when someone calls from the other room, "Jen! You have to come see this!" and it's just a bunch of colored lights in the sky? You have failed to impress me.

When I was a kid, I did enjoy setting off fireworks under the appropriate adult supervision. This was back before you could buy 1/4 of a stick of dynamite for fun. I enjoyed the feeling of power that comes with creating a big noise, of making something happen. But really, there are other ways to let kids feel empowered.

I started losing interest the year that I was supervising my younger cousins setting off some little fireworks that bounce around on the ground harmlessly unless you get too close. The people across the street had a yard below street level, and started setting off bottle rockets, not realizing that they were firing at us. One just missed my face.

One of my uncles used to be really in to setting off fireworks. Until one of his co-workers died in a fire started by a bottle rocket.

And let's not forget the explosion in the Grucci factory in 1983 that killed 2 fireworks professionals.

Fireworks are a bloodsport, and let's not forget it. And they're not even that interesting! Usually stuff that could get people killed is riveting. Even car racing has the whole race thing going for it.

But big noises and flashing lights? That's nothing to lose life and limb over.

Even though most people disagree with me, I know I'm right. If fireworks displays were so interesting, there would be a video game version. (In all fairness, there is a video game where you can create a fireworks display, but since it's on the Disney UK site, it's safe to say that it's for kids and we all know how easily impressed they are.)

So while everyone else is wringing their hands over whether or not Hurricane Arthur will interfere with their local fireworks display, I'll be saving my energy for all the other things I worry about unreasonably.

Monday, June 30, 2014

I Am A Couch Ninja

Some guy dressed as Batman failing on the Warped Wall.
Photo credit: blackfeathers

I haven't been posting because the dog ate my homework. And I signed up for a fiction workshop and needed to turn my novel from a stack of dusty papers into a work in progress. Which I did with 2 days to spare. And I had to take it easy because I haven't been up to doing anything for a full day in I don't know how long. Sometime before I was sick for the entire month of December.

This must be how a triathlete feels after they…I feel like there should be a verb meaning "to do a triathlon," something like "they triath."

Speaking of which, I've been watching American Ninja Warrior because G4 is gone and I can't watch the real Ninja Warrior anymore. It has all the goodness of watching people try to complete a ridiculously hard obstacle course. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they wipe out spectacularly. But because it's on American TV, it also has these inspirational featurettes on contestants who got themselves in shape to compete in just a year. Who then fall on the second obstacle. 

Or someone who's older than other contestants, but is still way younger than the oldest contestants on the Japanese version of the show and oh, by the way age is irrelevant because there are eighteen year olds who could never get in that kind of shape. Some people are never going to be an elite athlete because, you know - elite. 

Plus, ninja warrior isn't only about athleticism  Former Olympians regularly fail on this thing. The fact that someone in their mid-50s is 2 years older than the oldest American guy to do the obstacle course before now is nowhere near as interesting as the announcers seem to think it is.

It's already impressive that people are attempting this ridiculous task. I don't need mini-features that highlight how disappointed people are in their pre-training bodies. We don't all have the same priorities, and our priorities change. Considering how many people wipe out on the first or second obstacle, training for Ninja Warrior may not be the best use of someone's time. Hell, there's only a cash prize for finishing the whole thing, which no one has done yet, so thus far it hasn't been a good use of anyone's time. 

I'm glad they do because it's fun to watch. But when they play the same music over the "I didn't really exercise" bit that they would play over an "I was in a debilitating car accident" part of the story, I start hate-watching the show.

The most insulting part? There are people who complete the obstacle course, but we don't get to watch their entire 3-minute run because their backstory didn't merit an inspirational featurette.

His Awesomeness and I have started fast forwarding over the little featurettes. We've even taken to muting the commentators some times. Or HA just talks over them, doing commentary in the style of the original show.

And these contestants? Professional break dancers and parkour do-ers. (I dunno - is there a noun for people who do parkour? I would care except that one of the parkour doing competitors has traveled internationally to teach parkour to orphans which seems really low on the list of orphan's priorities.) I miss the old guy with the octopus from the original Ninja Warrior. Where are the fishing boat captains? The gas station managers? When you have professional athletes wiping out on the course, you only underscore how ridiculously hard it is. And the whole thing starts to feel stupid.

Though when I think about it, Ninja Warrior makes most sports looks idiotic in comparison. Oh, you like watching large men slam into each other, causing traumatic brain injuries while trying to get an oblong ball to the end of the field? Wouldn't you rather watch a bunch of people try to get to the top of something called The Warped Wall?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fuck Mother's Day

Can't we, as a society just agree that Mother's Day is a stupid fucking holiday that makes more people miserable than not?

Here's a short list of people who have a hard time on Mother's Day:

  • Bereaved Mothers
  • The Infertile
  • People who had difficult relationships with their moms at best.
  • People who had great relationships with their moms who has since passed away
  • Moms with small kids who have to spend the day visiting their mom and mom-in-law instead of having a day all about them even though raising small kids sucks. (As Stephanie Pearl-McPhee says in her latest book, the way most toddlers treat their moms violates the Geneva Convention.)
  • People waiting for a table so they can get Mother's Day brunch over with.
  • People who can't get the day off to spend time with their kids or moms because everyone in the fucking country has to take their mom to brunch on that one day.
  • Women who have no desire to be a mother, and have to put up with the assumption that all women are supposed to be mothers 365 days a year.
  • Mothers who would like to be treated nicely the rest of the year too.
  • Mothers who have to clean up after their husband's and children's lame ass attempt to make them breakfast.
Is there anyone over the age of 10 not on that list?

I wasn't even that old when I first had issues with the day. I was maybe 7 or 8 when my Dad bought corsages for both me and mom to wear to church. I refused to wear mine because it made zero sense - I wasn't a mother. I explained this to my mom (who for some reason was stuck with talking me into wearing the stupid thing, even though she's not the idiot who bought it), and she shouted, "You're a future mother of America."

I has barely reached the age of reason, yet this was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard. I've probably heard stupider things since then (thanks, Fox News!) but this is still up there. 

Kudos to my mom for such a remarkable achievement.

Of course, this is not an uncommon sentiment. Yet, a big chunk of feminism can be summed up thus:

Yes, the ability to gestate a human being is neato. But we can do other stuff too. Some of that stuff is even more important or impressive than baby making.

Mother's Day is a homage to heteronormativity. It's this one fucking day where we're supposed to give hardworking moms a break and honor them for ruining their lives. When they wouldn't have to work so hard if their husbands turned off the fucking game and did some housework or childcare. Or if it were more common for single parents to live together Kate and Allie style, so they could share the work. Or if we got some paid maternity/paternity leave and subsidized day care.

But until then, we'll just have to settle for greeting cards and feeling bad because we're not Claire Huxtable.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Comments I Did Not Post on Facebook

This is what I look like when I visit Facebook.
...but totally wanted to. Not all aimed at the same person, natch.

Happy Birthday, person who I haven't seen in 20 years and who used to bully me.

Jeebus, is there anything you can't complain about?

Dude, first world problems are still problems. People are allowed to complain about stuff even though they have reliable access to clean water.

There's a child walking down my street and wailing like they're being dragged to the gas chamber. I'd say that a complete lack of perspective is a childhood thing, but I know too many adults who never grew out of it.

We really need to get together more often because you're so much less pretentious and annoying in person.

Hey casual acquaintance, I really wish I saw you more often, but I know that your social anxiety makes it hard for you to keep up with the friends you already have, so the kindest thing I can do is to never see you in person again.

Thank you for forcing me to see pictures of injured and abused animals. 

Sorry that dog is going to be euthanized today if no one adopts them, but I live 8 states away and I'm allergic. Oh, and neither one of us has any reason to believe that this post is from today and not 3 weeks ago.

Also, you've really got to love animals to adopt a dog from death row and then not regret the decision every time they throw up on your carpet.

I'm sorry your dog died, but since you talk about him/her like it's a person, I had to click around your profile to make sure that you hadn't actually lost a child, so, um, perspective please.

Please tell me the secret to raising such perfect children. Or it is just conveniently misplacing the camera whenever they act like real people?

Thank you for posting a picture of your kids playing and getting dirty. I was starting to think that kids these days only stand around posing for pictures in their church clothes. While hugging their siblings who they adore and never, ever fight with.

Hey, you wanna come to that thing with me? Oh wait, I'm not sure I like you enough to spend an entire afternoon together with just us. Never mind.

Seriously? You believed a news story from some weird web site that no one's ever heard of?

Snopes, mutherfucker! Try checking it some time before posting some crazy shit.

I won't believe what this video shows? I can't believe this video is any more shocking or surprising or impressive than any of the other world's most shocking videos.



OK, your turn - what comments have you wanted to post on FB but didn't because you want people to keep speaking to you?