Thursday Ten: Sheltered in Place Edition

  1. It’s been a very long time since I’ve written here and I told myself that one of my goals for this week would be to try to start writing again – someway, somehow. So here I am, reviving this space – at least for today. I have missed writing. I’m not sure I have something to say that’s different from anything the rest of you are saying right now, but here I am anyway.
  2. It’s been nearly a month since the shelter in place order became a reality in Michigan. And for now, we’re two weeks away from a review of the status. Will it be lifted or extended? I have a hard time feeling optimistic, if I’m being totally honest. I want to believe any little glimmer of hope I can hang on to, but I also know that even if the SIP order is lifted, we’re a long way from the sort of normal we used to know. I wonder what that will look like when it happens.
  3. I’m lucky to be working from home and I know that so many people aren’t as lucky. I’m working hard right now – and long hours. I read a stat yesterday that said that although the stereotype is that people who are working from home are hanging out and watching Netflix, the actuality is that they are often working longer hours because it’s tough to turn work “off.” And this is without the benefit of being able to gab with coworkers off and on throughout the day for a breath of fresh air —though we are making use of Slack and Zoom like the rest of the world. (Sidenote: I hate Zoom. You know it’s a Zoom meeting day when my hair isn’t in a ponytail.)
  4. Oh yeah, I’ve let it all go. Most days, I’m wearing leggings and a sweatshirt. In the past month, I’ve bought two pair of joggers, gotten several pair of leggings, and while I”m comfortable, it’s a whole look. I mean, I’ve taken to doing squats and pushups during the day, so I need pants that move with me, but frankly I’m not sure how I’m ever going to get used to wearing real pants all the time again.
  5. There’s some struggles here as well, though. One of the biggest challenges through all of this is that The Princess, in her senior year of high school, is missing EVERYTHING. There will be no prom, who knows when the graduation ceremony will be, and basically, they’re done with school already. All that’s left is AP tests and her online class. Yeah, she had her last day of high school ever and didn’t even know it. It stinks to have come this far and to have worked so hard, and to lose all of those milestones for this year. And already, college orientation will be a virtual event instead of a weekend at her future college… and that’s a bummer, too. It all just sucks and I’m sad for her and the rest of the class of 2020.
  6. I have already watched all of “Tiger King” (ugh) and am currently binging “All American.” What are you watching while stuck at home? I’m also three episodes into “Little Fires Everywhere” but somehow keep forgetting about Hulu so I may never finish.
  7. I’m not reading as much as I would like to be, though. Trying.
  8. All the races have been canceled but I’m trying to keep my mileage up. Another perk of working from home? Being able to hit the treadmill for a lunchtime 5k.
  9. Another fun gem for staying at home? Cards Against Humanity Family Edition. You’ll get a hand cramp cutting all the cards out but it’ll be worth it.
  10. Dang, I really did plan to use all my vacation time this year. Don’t think that’s gonna happen. Sigh. I’ve already missed out on a trip I was very much looking forward to (and four days off), so… I think I’m going to take tomorrow off. I’m not going anywhere or doing anything, because… stay home… but a day may do some good.

It’s No Joke*: Today I Have Health Insurance Again. Finally.

When I had my yearly physical in January, I paid with money I had been saving for two months – money I had set aside solely for the purpose of going to the doc, putting my feet in the stirrups, getting all checked out like a responsible adult does. I was given a ten percent discount for paying in cash and when my doctor prescribed antibiotics for a lung infection for me at that same visit, she took care to prescribe generics that would be likely to be available free or at a reduced cost from most pharmacies.

And later, when I had my eye appointment so I could get new contact lenses (because the poster they have in their office of the eye infections you can get by not changing your lenses FREAKED ME OUT), I purchased my new (totally clean and hygienic) lenses with money I had saved from selling old jewelry, money that I’d wanted to use to buy my kids better gifts at Christmas, but instead used…for my eyes. And that was after my amazing eye doc gave me a free eye exam and reduced the cost of my lens fitting because he is awesome and I? I was broke.

After my divorce was finally officially final last May, I immediately went on my employer’s health insurance plan. Great! Exciting! No lapse in coverage! Whoohoo!

Until my job got cut to part time in July.

Since July 1, I have had no health insurance. Today, my employer’s health insurance coverage kicks in and once again, I can breathe a sigh of relief.

I can’t explain how it feels to not be covered by health insurance other than to say that if you think too closely about how you can be bankrupted by one illness or injury, you will want to wrap yourself in a bubble and spray everything down with disinfectant constantly. Things you might go to the doctor for when you have insurance, you think twice about when you don’t.

That lung infection I had in January? Yeah, I totally wouldn’t have seen a doc for that if I hadn’t already had an appointment I had saved for. Even though I was miserable. Even though I needed it.

There were things I did to somewhat ease my mind – I upped my car insurance a bit so that if I had gotten injured in a car accident, those medical expenses would be covered by insurance. I started taking Vitamin C. I stopped playing in traffic. Just seeing if you’re paying attention.

Anyway. There’s only so much you can do.

Anything can happen to anyone and there’s pretty much not a damn thing you can do about it – and when you don’t have health insurance, it’s terrifying.

In the midst of all that, I saw someone post on Facebook complaining of the effects of the Affordable Care Act on her copays (Note: I don’t care if the Obama administration themselves have taken to referring to it as “Obamacare” – I just don’t). What I wanted to say, and never had the guts to (because I’m not a pot-stirrer) is this: The ACA wasn’t made to help the people who are taking their family of seven on multiple trips to Florida every year. Yes, you’re awesome. You work hard, you earned your money, and you can do with it whatever you want. But… it wasn’t made to help you.

It was made to help people who are in the boat I have been in. People, for whom purchasing their own insurance was out of reach. Before ACA, buying your own insurance was pretty cost prohibitive. Yeah. It’s still expensive. I mean, hell, clearly I couldn’t afford it because I didn’t have it… but it was far less expensive than it had been previously.

Am I defending ACA? No. It’s far from perfect. I think the idea of it is a good one – people shouldn’t have to sacrifice good health and preventative care because their circumstances aren’t ideal for affording medical care or insurance.

But, it wasn’t made to help the people who could afford it. And I budgeted to get a pap smear, so my heart doesn’t break too much for those who may end up reconsidering whether or not they can afford that fourth trip to Disney this year.

(I may have been made a bit bitter by my situation. I own it. It’s been a hard year.)

A few months ago, a woman I know posted something to Facebook about people who mooch (not my words) from government programs. Drug tests for everybody!

And I was appalled and insulted.

If you’ll remember, I had spent FIVE HOURS waiting in line at an unemployment office waiting for a meager sum of money that ended up making a huge difference while my work situation was what it was. Did I not have a full time because I was a druggie? No. Did I not have a full time job because I was lazy? Did I expect to just hold my hand out and have someone fill it? No. I worked hard for years, and when times got tough I needed help.

It happens.

It sucks and it happens.

It has been a long hard road of feeling like I would never find my footing again and today, today I have health insurance again and I hope to not take that for granted, just how amazing it is that I will be able to take care of my health and well being without months of planning and budgeting and penny pinching.I look forward to not having to weigh which of the recommended routine physical tests I will do because I can’t afford them all. I’m looking forward to finally rescheduling the dental appointment I cancelled last month because I had no insurance.

So, yeah, I’m excited. More excited than I should be perhaps (“Whoohoo! I can get my cholesterol tested without pinching pennies before hand!”) but excited because if the past year has taught me anything, it’s that there’s a lot that I had been taking for granted, a lot I didn’t appreciate as I should, and now, after everything, I am so grateful, SO. VERY. GRATEFUL. to have peace of mind.




*I hate April Fool’s Day. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it.

Rage Against the (Snow Removal) Machine

Sometimes I wonder if it will ever stop snowing.

This winter has been relentless – both emotionally and weather-wise.

I am still reeling from finding out on Wednesday that my job is being eliminated due to budget cuts. My boss and the director of human resources sat me down, they complimented me on my sweater, how it made me a ray of sunshine or some such, and then told me that sorry but this is how it goes sometimes and la la la la la it was hard to focus after that because as much as I’d love to go completely stoic, I’m just not built that way. My eyes flooded with tears and my brain was instantly slammed by what I was hearing.

I was handed a bottle of water. “Take a sip, it’ll help.” I couldn’t see then, and still can’t, for that matter – how on earth water was going to help me? What could it possibly do to fix anything? I awkwardly took the water after being urged once more, “Be sure you drink some of that.”

It’s been a crazy few days since. I’ve been hoping, actually, to have time to truly process it – to truly just stop and just BE and pout a little if I want to, cry a little if I want to, bury myself under the covers if I need to. One thing after another has conspired to keep me from having a proper mope – a false alarm with my sister at the hospital, the kids not having school Friday, and then a weekend of mom’ing.

And Saturday morning, I woke up to this.

147 | 365

In the midst of winter storm warnings, we had blizzard like weather – with not much new accumulation (I don’t think) but a lot of blowing and drifting snow. When I opened my garage on Saturday morning this is the sight I was met with – a drift that was at least a foot tall, probably closer to two (And oh, how I wish I’d measured it).

I scooped a pile of snow and the shovel was heavy with the weight of the wet snow. I turned around and went inside.

I can’t do this, I said.

I bitched about winter on Facebook a little.

“You need a snowblower,” some genius commented on my status.

Admittedly, my hackles were immediately raised.

Oh really? So, that’s how you get rid of snow? A snow blower? Is that what I need?

I don’t need a snow blower. I need a job.

Disposable income? What’s that?

OH. A SNOW BLOWER. I hear they’re giving those away with Happy Meals now.

As if you could understand.

I don’t want to be angry and I don’t want to be bitter, but I am a little angry and I am sort of bitter and frankly I found the comment to be so irritating that I bundled up in two pairs of pants, my grandpa’s flannel, boots, hat, scarf and gloves and I went back outside and I pushed through it until my whole damn driveway was nearly clear. And when my brother-in-law arrived as the local road crews were burying the end of my driveway in sludge, I graciously accepted his help and we finished the shoveling.

I don’t need a snow blower.

I am strong. And I’m capable.

I may hate the cold. I may hate the snow. I may hate shoveling. I may be recovering from being sick.


And I did it thinking of that smug woman and her “You need a snowblower” sitting in her home while her husband undoubtedly took care of her driveway and I finished it proud of myself.

(Still angry, though)

This morning, I cleared out the three new inches of fresh powdery snow in a -8° windchill. By the time I made it back inside, my body was numb. Despite my gloves, I couldn’t feel my hands. “I hurt, I hurt, I hurt, I hurt…” I kept repeating over and over until I was able to regain feeling in my fingers.

I hate winter.

This Polar Vortex garbage is lurking on the horizon again and we’re looking at another week with bone-chilling temperatures. I cannot take it anymore. Every winter makes me want to move to California again – this winter more than most.

I want to escape the cold. I want to escape the snow.

I want to escape the helplessness I feel – helpless because I’m losing my job, helpless because finding a new one is proving to be dang near impossible, helpless because I can’t run away from it all. I’m here. And I have no choice but to put one foot in front of the other.

“You need a snowblower,” was just one more thing.

As though problems are so easily solved. As though one can know what any one else is enduring. As though the answer is to always take the easy way, the way that is the least work, the one that allows you to push through without the back-breaking, muscle-aching, sweat-dripping, snow-slinging WORK.

I’d love to take the easy way.

Who wouldn’t?

But since I can’t, I’ve got my shovel out. May take me awhile to get it all cleared out…but I’m told that I will and I’ll just have to believe it.

Thursday Ten: BRING ON THE POPSICLES Edition

1. I’m getting sick. Nothing too crazy – just a fall cold – you know, the typical kid goes back to school and the germs have a chance to incubate and turn to a fantastic phlegm fest and the kids pass it on to mom cold. Yeah. That. I have a runny nose and a sore throat and I feel like my head is going to pop right open. So, bring on the popsicles. I cater to the popsicle-soothe-the-throat method of killing the cooties.

2. My hard drive went kablooey over the weekend. Want a rude awakening as to how bad you are at backing up your photographs? That was definitely a rude awakening. BUT, I was fortunate to have lost NOTHING. Nothing but my sanity and several hours trying to get the new hard drive up and running. I’m still finding random things I forgot to install (Adobe Reader, anyone?) – but for the most part, it’s good. And I did it myself versus paying the big box store nerds $130 to set it all back up — though I can see where it’d be worth it, what a time consuming pain in the heinie.

3. I complained about last week’s episode of Glee, but I have to say – this week’s ep was much better. I actually missed the first half (so that could have been totally craptastic, I don’t know), but when I remembered to turn the television on, Kurt was singing, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” I got goosebumps. And yeah, I DL’d the song from iTunes. My only music purchase of the week so far. His voice is ah-maze-ing.

4. Last week, we took Sir Pups A Lot (name changed to protect the not-so-innocent) to get neutered. And THEN, because he’s a rowdy active puppy, he managed to pop a stitch. We noticed after this not-so-fresh smell started radiating from his incision. The vet says it’s not infected, and has instructed us to keep putting Neosporin on the surgery site – but WHOA NELLY – that’s one stanky dog.

5. Last night, I watched two episodes in a row of “Top Chef: Just Desserts” (HEY! I’m sick, I can be lazy if I wanna). If ever there was a reality show after my own heart – this is it. Nothing but desserts FOR AN HOUR (actually, plus some – last night’s ep was long).

6. I really DISLIKE the “I like it…” Facebook meme. I am a tremendous fan of raising money and awareness for breast cancer, and love all endeavors to think pink and make people realize just how serious this disease is… except… How does the location of your purse do that? If you would like to raise awareness, there are other ways to do so. My heart is with two of my friends who will be walking SIXTY miles for breast cancer this weekend. And I’ll be walking forty again next summer (as always, feel free to click this link and donate to the Avon Walk).

7. Because I have teh cooties – I decided today I would up my water consumption, by… A LOT. I filled up my 32 ounce water bottle when running errands this morning and I DRANK IT ALL. I then hit every stupid red light on the way home. Sometimes, it just doesn’t pay to hydrate.

8. Last night at 11:59 p.m. was the deadline to vote for ArtPrize. It was a VERY difficult decision for me, and I was torn between Beili Liu’s “Lure/Wave” and Mia Tavonatti’s “Svelata”. Both were tremendously amazing pieces of art – both moved me so much. BUT, I only had one vote. I’m not telling you which one I voted for (well, unless you ask – in which case, I probably would), but it was one that I kept returning to. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I am grateful for the weeks we get to spend immersed in art and the opportunity to expose my kids to it. Brings me huge joy.

9. My list of books I want to read keeps growing and I get so frustrated because just when I’m finally getting caught up, I go to the library to return some books and leave with four more. I love reading. Currently, I’m reading two books: Lit: A Memoir (P.S.)* by Mary Karr and Little Bee* by Chris Cleave. Little Bee is our latest book club pic and I haven’t gotten far into it yet.

10. This weekend: Michigan versus Michigan State. Kind of a big deal in this neck of the woods. GO BLUE!

*Affiliate links

Weekly Winners: Art Prize Style

Some of my favorite shots this week have been from Grand Rapids’ Art Prize competition which is ongoing. I’ve been twice – and will likely go several more times before it’s over.

For more weekly winners, visit LOTUS.

Memorial for Stephanie J Tubbs (Artist: M. Murphy)

Street Pianos, Luke Jerram

Lure/Forest (Artist: Beili Liu)

Collage of "Seven Days of Creation" (Artist: Suzi Furtwangler) - this is made entirely of crayons!

Vessel (Artist: Amanda Katz)

Dream Big (Artist: Pete Fecteu) - made entirely out of Rubik's Cubes

Dream Big (detail)

Dream Collection (Artist: Heather Holloman)

Dream Collection

Weekly Winners, Traverse City Style

Gosh, y’all… I could easily go another week posting pictures of the puppy dog (No, it wasn’t totally intentional that we got such a photogenic dog, but dang, he’s supah cute), but I will refrain from overloading you with canine snapshots, and instead travel back to midweek when I ventured up north.

Ironically, I woke up Wednesday morning feeling very not so fond of the state of Michigan – probably partly related to the stifling crazy heat we’ve had – but then? I drove a few hours, put my feet in the sand and spent hours with friends talking beneath the stars. Suddenly, Michigan looks a little better.

I have been to Traverse City many times over the years – but oddly there is so much of it I haven’t seen. I actually really enjoyed having the opportunity to wander around and see new places.

I love elephant ears. I didn’t get one. I fought the urge. But MAN. I love them.

Ferris wheels scare the bejeebers out of me. But they’re SO FREAKIN’ PRETTY.

Oh hi, Lake Michigan.

The drive home was rainy. Very very rainy. I finally pulled off at a gas station to wait out some of the rain.

For more Weekly Winners, go visit Lotus and check out her great snaps of the week as well as the other WW participants.

Weekly Winners, Week ending 6.26.10

I’ve gurmbled and griped a lot this week, but no matter how busy I’ve been or what part of the state I’ve been in, OF COURSE, I had my camera with me. Here are some of my favorite shots. For more awesome weekly winners be sure to visit Lotus and the other participants.

The Dude must live here.

The shutter speed made this look like pieces of glass coming out of this fountain.

Because I Think Mother Nature Is On Crack

The other day, we were knee-deep in snow (and I’m not totally exaggerating: it was NUTS). Last night we had a winter thunderstorm, and woke up to loud gusty winds, rain, and warmer temps.

Now, most of the snow is melted. It was raining so hard earlier, but now it’s stopped.

And where my kids’ sandbox used to be is now a wading pool, I guess. I’m not entirely sure why the lid wasn’t on but with the melted snow and the fresh rain, the water is level with the rim of the pool.

Winter in Michigan. You never really know what you’re going to get.

And I’m not complaining (today). Wait ’til the temps drop tomorrow and it all ices over.

Thursday Ten, Twinkle Twinkle Edition

1. Today was my first guitar lesson. My instructor is very sweet, and fortunately, turns out it’s a private lesson. I would be really frustrated to share my time with some punk 11-year old prodigy… That would make me feel old… and talentless (both of which I AM… for now). Learning parts of the guitar, what strings are which notes (EADGBE – now I just have to get more used to thinking like that – I think better as far as which number a string is versus which note). Also dealing with learning what fret is what. I spend a lot of time stopping to think about what I’m doing – certainly not instinctive so far. BUT, at the end I played part of “Twinkle Twinkle” so I’m pretty proud of myself.

2. My brother is in the hospital again and has been since Monday. I haven’t been to visit him yet – basically because I’m a schmuck. He will be getting out tomorrow is what we’re told.

3. The Princess is still loving school – so… whew. Big sigh of relief.

4. We’ve finally got some rain today and the temps are hovering right around 60 degrees. I’ve got jeans and a hoodie on today and am loving it. I love when the weather is like this – eventually the rain will annoy me, but my grass has been brown for a few weeks now, so it’s fine.

5. Project Runway last night… Well, that was an awesome challenge. Better than the “innovation” testing challenge of tearing up a Saturn and making something out of it – creating a design for DvF’s line? That was cool. Buh-bye Stella.

6. My project that wouldn’t die? Still won’t die.

7. College football started last weekend. Michigan lost to Utah. Crap, crap, crap. They play Miami (of Ohio) on Saturday so here’s hoping that works out a little bit better for my Wolverines. Game is at noon on ESPN2. Goooooooooooooooo Blue.

8. I let Pumpkin have Cheetos for breakfast and so I’m kind of feeling like a slacker mom. The thing is – I think I was doing a community service. Kiddo in her room at daycare has a peanut allergy – would it really have been better to let her have her usual peanut butter on a waffle before going there? Allergies scare the hell out of me – I wouldn’t want to miss a drop of PB and send some poor kid into an allergic tailspin. So, yeah. Cheetos. Go me.

9. New music. Ehhh. I am pretty slackery lately. What is everyone else listening to?

10. Luna Chocolate Peppermint Stick bars taste a little like Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. Told you I was random.