life

This Is My Voice

I am a writer, this is my voice and I’m going to use it. I will not tolerate bullies. I will not tolerate hate. I will not tolerate discrimination.

I will not be silent. I will not sit idly by on the sidelines and watch. I will call you out if I see or hear it coming from your mouth, your page, your actions.

To everyone, can we please return to a civil society and respectful discussions? Instead of gloating, boasting, disparaging, and name calling, can we respect one another, agree to disagree, and move forward? Enough with the meme’s, the “let me help you pack” statements, the name-calling because of one’s appearance, it’s not funny, it never was.

It all comes down to one thing, respect.

If you want to have a discussion, where we engage in a sharing of ideas, without name calling or raised ires, then I’m here. Let’s talk.

If you are going to shout at me that I am wrong and you are right, I’m not going to listen. And you certainly won’t change my mind with that sort of behavior.

This is my voice and I’m going to use it.

What Will You Do?

I’m sitting here this morning, my heart pounding in my chest, my brain spinning uncontrollably, trying to find words, having a difficult time putting it all in an order that makes sense to my brain and my soul.

I am trying to find a way to calm my daughter’s anxiety. I am trying to answer her questions.

How do I explain to her that people now feel they have been given permission to judge her based on the color of her skin?

That they can openly harass and deny services to her family members because of who they chose to love?

How do I try to calm her fears that old white men are going to tell her what she can and can’t do with her body?

Please, someone, offer me the words to explain this to her, because right now, I have none.

 

How Did We Get Here?

I am sick to my stomach. I am scared. No, I’m beyond scared, I’m terrified. We are three days away from the most contentious election I have ever been witness to and I can not even begin to imagine what the world is going to look like in four days.

In the past year, less than a year, the level of vitriol, hate, prejudice, and downright nastiness that has been shared over the airwaves, online, and in person is beyond anything I have ever experienced. While I may be too young to remember the civil rights riots and well anything that happened before 1966, I do have memories of bigotry, segregation, and misogyny that have taken place in my lifetime. I’m also a student of history, it’s one subject I actually enjoyed in school, and firmly believe if we don’t learn from our past we are destined to repeat it over and over. Which I guess is what’s happening now.

But what really hits home about this is being a parent. My teenager is not yet old enough to vote but is old enough to be aware of what is going on in the world. The level of anxiety that this brings on for her, and in turn, me, I’m finding is difficult to describe.

It used to be that when I was a kid, I could look to the future and think “wow, I have my entire life ahead of me. There are so many amazing things on the horizon; inventions yet to be produced, cures yet to be discovered, experiences yet to be had.” We had hopes, dreams, and passions we all wanted to pursue.

When she looks to her future, she sees none of that. What she is faced with is a population that is killing off  the planet. Robbing it of its resources and life-giving habitat. Not to mention what we are doing to the animals. She is faced with consumerism being the only reason to live; make money, buy stuff, repeat. Don’t think about saving money, just keep droning on, making those dollars, paying your taxes and debts, and turning a profit for the corporate giants that are taking control of every single aspect of our lives. Keep doing this until you die.

What kind of life is that? Is this really what we’ve become?

I’m not even going to speculate what the world will look like on November 9, 2016. Because every scenario I come up with, is not good. I only hope that we can come together as a country, as a world, as a human race, and somehow get past what has been dividing us, and save humanity before it’s too late.

 

It’s definitely you and not me

Dear Facebook,

I am on the verge of breaking up with you.

You used to be fun. You used to be that extroverted friend I would check in with every day, more than once a day I might add. I used to be able to see my friends posts; what was going on in their lives, who was getting married, having a baby, other day-to-day life events that they chose to share. It was a social gathering place. It was one of the early, online social gathering places where friends from all over the world could connect or even reconnect after years apart.

But lately, you’ve changed. No longer is it “social”. Now my feed is full of pages sharing their latest post which usually is just click bait, followed by an ad, followed by maybe one of two friends statuses, and then more page posts and ads.

And before you give me all sorts of helpful information on how to “see this friends post first” or that I should unlike some of the pages, I have done this. I even created “lists” so I could easily see groups of friends and what they chose to share. But recently it seems that you don’t like that idea, so you’ve made it more difficult to access these shortcuts.

So you see, it’s not me. It’s definitely you.

Please, let’s bring back the social aspect of “social media” that you used to be and let me get my “media” from somewhere else more fitting to serve me the news, ads and other detritus.

 

4 extra teeth?!

“Are you sure this is your x-ray? How old are you again?” “Wow, I’ve never seen anything quite like this.” “Well, would you look at that tooth!” These are all direct quotes from dentists that I have seen over the years.

Let me set the scene for you. At the age of 24 I had to have my wisdom teeth removed, so I went to see an oral surgeon. He took the requisite x-rays and discovered that in addition to my wisdom teeth, I also had 4 extra teeth that were still impacted in my lower jaw. I had no idea they were there. They weren’t bothering me. When he told me the process of what would take place to remove them and all the other work he wanted to do, I saw dollar signs flash before my eyes and then I politely declined. I figured I would take care of it later if it ever became an issue.

Fast-forward a bunch of years later and they started to become an issue. Apparently, there were five extra teeth, one had erupted and fused to another tooth, kind of resembling a piece of cauliflower. The other four remained below gum level. It wasn’t a major issue, but through a series of visits with a periodontist, my regular dentist, and an orthodontist, it became clear that they would need to finally be taken care of if I wanted to keep my own teeth for as long as humanly possible.

April of this year was when the process began. First was the surgery to remove the teeth. The only memory I have of that was the laughing gas before general anaesthesia and then the soft food diet and pain meds for the next two weeks. The oral surgeon was of course fascinated by the entire situation, and scheduled an extra post op visit for a month later just to satisfy his own curiosity.

Two weeks after the surgery came the braces. I never had braces as a kid, so I had no frame of reference as to what to expect. Because of alignment issues I had to get regular braces and couldn’t opt for the Invisalign.

Looking back on it, I can honestly say, had they told me what I was in for, I probably would have thought twice, maybe three times, before committing to this process. For another two weeks after the braces were put on, I was still on a soft’ish food diet. Not to mention the restrictions on what I could no longer eat. Did I mention that I really like bread? A good crusty bread, a nice piece of cheese, a good bagel, a nicely toasted panini, well you get the idea. These were all foods that I could no longer eat.

Now my trainer would tell you that cutting carbs, especially bread, is a good way to lose weight. I can say, that is true. Five months in now I have dropped 21 pounds. I also attribute part of that to eating smaller meals, because with the braces I have to cut everything into toddler-size pieces and it takes me twice as long to eat, so I tend to get full faster. But damn, I still miss bread. I’m pretty sure that will be the first thing I eat when the braces finally come off.

So here we are, five months into the process, a second surgery had to take place. It would seem that despite their best efforts, the oral surgeon missed a piece of tooth. Cue laughing gas and general anaesthesia again, followed by yet another soft food diet. Let me tell you, after a week of smoothies, soup, and yogurt, you really want something you can sink your teeth into. Oh yeah, still can’t do that yet, though. But it has been mutually agreed upon by both the surgeon and myself that we never want to see each other again and we parted on good terms.

And that tooth that looks like a piece of cauliflower? Well, that’s the next  item that is going to be addressed. An endodontist has now been introduced into the mix of dental practitioners that have a very close relationship with my mouth. I am waiting to hear back from him if the tooth is viable and can be reshaped and crowned to look like a normal tooth again, or if it will need to be extracted and have an implant instead.

So here I am today, I still have 19 more months to go based on the original estimate given by the orthodontist. I’m hoping that since I’m such a dental anomaly that maybe it will go faster, but I won’t hold my breath. And if you see someone cutting up a burger into toddler-sized bites with no toddler in sight, that’s probably me, because now I really want a burger. 🙂

 

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The Melting Pot

No, not the restaurant, although that’s pretty tasty, especially the dark chocolate fondue for dessert. No, this title refers to our country, the United States of America. These days it seems it’s more the divided states of America, but that’s for another post.

Our country is made up of immigrants. Whether they arrived here as recently as yesterday or as long ago as the Mayflower, any way you look at it, there is an immigrant somewhere in our family history. For me, the most recent was my grandparents and my mother, along with her siblings, in 1958. So technically that makes me first generation “American-born” in my family lineage. Of course my daughter is adopted from China, so technically she would be considered an immigrant as well. See where I’m going with this. This country is a beautiful mix of all sorts of people – Native American (the only ones who can claim to have always been here), European, Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian, Russian, Pacific Islanders, I could go on but you are intelligent, I think you get the idea. So what gives anyone the right to claim that their race, their identity, or who they identify with is the absolute right one and all others are wrong.  Just because someone’s skin is a different color than yours doesn’t mean they are inferior or anything less than you.

This also applies to religion. We supposedly have the freedom of religion, in fact the first amendment clearly states “…Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It goes on to prohibit impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. So again, who is to tell me that their religion is the absolute right and all others are wrong. Just because you disagree with something or someone does not make them wrong. You are allowed to believe what you want, you are allowed to share that message, you can even disagree with me here. But please, be respectful. That’s really what it all boils down to. Respect one another, respect that we all come from different backgrounds, respect that we all have different views and beliefs that shape us. Let’s embrace each other as human beings who are sharing this planet, and try to live in peace and harmony, especially now, and for the future generations to come.

Something Doesn’t Add Up

Correct me if I’m wrong, but something about this scenario doesn’t make sense.

For a family of 3 we pay $806 a month for medical and pediatric dental insurance. We pay this because we own our own company and only having 2 employees does not qualify us for a “business” health insurance plan, therefore we have the individual (family) health insurance plan. This also does not include adult dental insurance because by law only pediatric dental insurance is mandated. So our premiums amount to $9,672 a year out of our own pocket. We have a deductible of $6,350 per person. That adds up to $19,050 a year. That is the out of pocket money we have to spend for anything other than an office visit or wellness visit. And of course for those we still have our $20 to $50 copay depending on the doctor. But for the sake of this argument I’m only basing this on the premium and deductible amounts. So the total for the year between premiums and the maximum deductible is $28,722.

Now generally we try to avoid going to the doctor as much as possible. All three of us are in good health, with a few minor issues that have been creeping up due to the aging process. There are no major conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, terminal illness, you get the idea.

This year has presented us with a few health issues that have been diagnosed and advised by the doctor to be taken care of. The total cost for one procedure was $3,188.78. Another procedure was $575.87. This all went towards the deductible for one family member. So now out of pocket we have paid $3,764.65, the insurance company has paid $0. So in keeping with the math, we have paid out of our own pocket $13,436.65 so far for the year. (This is our yearly premiums plus out of pocket expenses). Again, the insurance company still has paid $0. Yes, it’s less than the $28,722 if all three of us had met our deductibles and paid the premiums for the entire year. But even if we did that, the insurance company still would have paid $0 and I’m still out $28,722.

My question is this – why then must I have health insurance that isn’t paying for anything? I get absolutely no benefit from the insurance company. If I don’t have insurance I get fined by the federal government. If I didn’t have insurance this year I could have saved $9,672. This could have gone into an interest bearing account for say my child’s college education, or an emergency fund if something catastrophic should have happened. I could have also used that money to pay for the expenses that we did have and still have some left over. I get that there are those who didn’t have insurance, who needed insurance, who can now get supposedly affordable insurance. I also get that it’s possible tomorrow, next week, or next year one of us could be diagnosed with some awful, terrible disease. It’s also possible that I’ll live to be 100 and be perfectly healthy that entire time too. What I don’t get is why is this being forced on me, making me pay for something that is not benefiting me in any way, and based on the letter I just received getting more expensive next year? I just don’t understand.