Tuesday, December 14, 2010
And I was reminded this week of how much work is involved in being poor. An example:
I reluctantly went back on this state's version of Medicaid, because I can't be without medical coverage or I will have pre-existing conditions that will keep me from *ever* getting covered treatment for the moderately serious health issue I've been dealing with for the past few years.
This state insurance became effective December 1. Let me first say that I am incredibly grateful to have this option, as I have already racked up almost $8k in medical bills over the last six months, and that was *with* the insanely expensive insurance coverage from my last job.
I saw my doctor yesterday, and she gave me a refill on a couple of prescriptions, which I dropped off at my local chain pharmacy. When I returned to pick it up several hours later, they told me that they couldn't fill my prescription because the state insurance system thinks that I have another form of insurance that needs to be billed first. This insurance ended 11/30, which I did tell my caseworker at DHHS, but no matter, accidents happen, and this information was not entered in the state system. What I needed to do, they told me, was call the Medicaid system and have them correct the problem. I paid cash for one urgently needed prescription and went home.
I called Medicaid today during a 15 minute break at my per diem job. I spent a long time on hold and eventually spoke with someone who said that they could correct the error, but some computer irregularity means that it can take several days for their system to update with the information. If I gave the pharmacist another 1-800 number to call they could verify my coverage and I could get my prescription filled. I was only five minutes late back to work.
After work, I returned to the pharmacy and spent a solid 5 minutes trying to explain the situation to the very harried pharmacist. She called the number and spent a long time on hold with the system. I went and picked up a couple of other items at the store while she was waiting on hold. Back at the counter, Harried Pharmacist told me that she was eventually able to verify my coverage, but that now they had to actually fill my prescription, and I would have to return later in the day to pick it up.
I went and did some errands (picked out the cutest tiny Xmas tree for our apartment, actually--super deal at $12) and went back to the pharmacy and picked up my prescription, which she'd had to break into *two* prescriptions due to the slightly odd dosage the doc had given me. Total cost was $6, which was much more reasonable than the $45 I'd had to pay under my old insurance plan, and the for-now-insurmountable hundred-odd I would have had to pay if I'd been without insurance.
But add onto that the time I spent on four trips to the pharmacy and calls during my only work break, and it gets frustrating. If I'd been working full time all of those trips and calls would have taken days to accomplish, or would have required time off from work. That's not even counting the initial 3 hour trip to DHHS to have my eligibility evaluated or the small mountain of paperwork I had to mail in after the eligibility assessment.
None of this is anyone's fault. The caseworker, the pharmacist, the state computer system are all functioning to the best of their ability I'm sure. They are working, like me, with few resources and many many needs.
And let me reiterate: I am grateful that this option exists. Without it I would have to give up this medication entirely, which would leave me in a terrible situation for sure. Because of where I work, I can't help but imagine what it feels like for someone with little education (which makes it very difficult to speak with bureaucrats & professionals, all of whom have their own language) or no access to a car or phone, or just a low tolerance for frustration. And even I, with all of my education and experience and my car and my phone and my job, am expending great effort to do something that is easier for people with more resources.
This is what it means to be poor.
Sunday, December 05, 2010
With the new cuts in food stamps scheduled, this is what someone is supposed to survive on in a week:
How is that in anyway healthy? If unseasoned potatoes, rice, and oatmeal is all I ever could eat, I’d probably sell my food stamps and buy liquor and cigarettes, too.
Anyway, I had this dream again last night, and it was the first time it had been set here in this apartment even though I've been living here for two and a half years. And my family (which apparently now includes my 13 year old daughter's boyfriend of six months) spent a lot of time trying to decide what to carry out of the house and save, and then we all went to an emergency shelter and survived to return to our muddy, soaked house when the tide receded.
Which I'm trying to see as a positive sign, right?
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
“He loved her because it was his nature to do so, but there were times when he could not endure her love for him. There were times when it became nothing but pure idiot mystery…”
— Flannery O’Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge
Sunday, November 07, 2010
One of the worst things about having trouble with the lady parts is that it's hard to talk about. I will sometimes mention to an acquaintance (to one of the teen's friend's parents, for example, to explain why I can't come pick her up) that I had surgery, and they will inevitably ask what kind. And I have to hesitate, especially if it's a man. I don't think they really want to know. But then again, they asked... I generally defer, as I will below, to a vague description and squirming discomfort.
Let's just say that it was fairly major surgery, and that I should not be having any more of the trouble that I've been having for the past four years. I finally found a doctor that I like, and he was able to perform the surgery in the least invasive way possible--for which I am extremely grateful. I hope I'm on the last pages of that particular story.
It's been 11 days since my surgery, and while I am making definite progress, I'm not as recovered as I would like. When the cat showed up the other day with a nasty abcess on her back I was able to bring her to the vet; going across town felt like an adventure into deep space. I still have pain when I'm moving around, but sitting is OK. I've been reading a lot (although not consistently updating my Twitter book list, sorry), bingeing on TV shows, knitting, and doing crossword puzzles. I get tired very easily and I can't walk far without the help of painkillers. It's hard to remember what normal life and wellness are like, though I know I've passed the lowest part of this and am on the upswing.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Just a few minutes ago, the Princess and I were sitting on the front steps, watching the ferries go back and forth in the harbor. Our front yard is a common space between two rows of townhouses, and a pair of birds squeaked like rusty springs in the the almost-bare oak trees in the courtyard.
But I couldn't see any birds, and on closer examination we saw that the squeaks were coming from two squirrels, each perched in its own tree. They shouted back and forth to each other, creaking and clicking from their separate branches. They reminded me of my neighbors here in this low-income housing project, whose personal lives often spill out into the courtyard and prompt police intervention.
These squirrels are used to people, and will take peanuts and almonds from the fingers of a person who holds very still, and then shallowly bury the nut, pat pat patting down a thin dirt cover with their hand-like paws. I watched one today place a peanut under a decaying plastic grocery bag and smooth the material over it like the squirrel was putting it to bed. They will go through an open apartment door if its resident isn't nearby.
But the squirrels are not tame. They are fidgety and darting in their travels across the courtyard, and always mindful of the human residents.
I don't like feeding wild animals: I think it's a bad precedent to set. And yet, I have succumbed to the temptation to hold out a raw almond, keep very still, until the squirrel approaches and grabs it from my fingers. It's hard not to anthropomorphize them. They are so like us, with their trusting/terrified approach, their wary eyes, their courtyard squabbles. Last week I was in my small, fenced backyard when a squirrel darted under the gate with a treasure to bury clasped between its teeth. Our joint surprise at finding each other there was so familiar--"Oh, excuse me! I didn't know this one was occupied!" "Not at all, excuse me, I didn't realized you'd be coming in!" But the yard is mine and the squirrel left to find another shallow hole for its meal.
Like a household pet, I am soon to be neutered, my ovaries and uterus removed and my shaved and de-sexed body sent home the same day. Unlike a household pet, I will be given hormones to replace the ones that are missing, so I will not likely become overweight and complacent. At least, not from the surgery.
This surgery is for no one's convenience (except possibly mine--who has been tormented for years by problems with those lady parts); it's not so that my wild behavior will stop or so that I will not come home full of unwanted babies.
But I can't help likening myself to the squirrels. I am certainly human, with a thinking mind and thumbs to turn my thoughts into actions. I am also an animal with a body that must be obeyed.
Pat pat pat. Cover over the treasure. I can find it here later.
Monday, October 18, 2010
D.A.R.E.: Ripping Families Apart Since 1983
When it comes to its stated mission—keeping school-age children from trying illicit drugs—the D.A.R.E. program has been a failure. But D.A.R.E. does have a fun history of teaching kids to turn their pot-smoking parents in to the police.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Thursday, October 07, 2010
- A Teen ear infection
- A scheduled and canceled Liza Minelli concert for the Princess
- The loss of primary jobs by two adult members of the household
- The discovery of six cavities between two people
- The filling of three of those cavities
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Friday, October 01, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
In one way it was good: I have always associated fall as the season of death and loss, and this year has proven to me that summer can be just as horrific. I'm going to take winter and spring and hide them in a sad-proof safe, so that I have something to look forward to.
I've also been taking steps to care for myself during this time: I went back on antidepressants for the time being, I got a lovely new tattoo, and I've been consciously trying to spend time every day doing at least one thing that I like (usually it's reading, but sometimes cooking, watching movies, walking, going out to eat, listening to podcasts). Now that it's getting cooler, I'll probably add yarncraft to that list as well.
I also submitted a poem to a magazine--the first thing I've sent out in more than a year--and it was accepted, which was a wonderful confidence boost. You can look for my poem in the inaugural issue of Salacious magazine in January.
While I wait for all of this to take effect, I'm just pushing along. What else do you do?
EDIT: Updated to include the link to Salacious. SALACIOUS!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Are Memoirists Predators? Well, Probably A Few Are: 'Some people are observing things and are sitting there like, 'How can I shape this into something that will be a fifteen-hundred word personal essay that I can sell to a women’s magazine for three dollars and fifty cents a word?''
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
If you haven't done so, I urge you to check it out. It's quite entertaining... and I must say that I'm a little disappointed that the crime of "Mayhem" has been repealed (although equally relieved that "Crime Against Nature" has been removed--I suspect I know what that one was).
And all apparently interested in Katy Perry, these days:
via mental floss
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Thursday, August 05, 2010
4: Children gathering potatoes on a large farm. Vicinity of Caribou, Aroostook County, Maine, October 1940. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Jack Delano. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Last week I came across a new Portland blog, and I've been trying to figure out how to address it ever since. Monument Square Has Eyes the new-ish (since February of this year) blog of a person whose office overlooks Monument Square. "Brusox" snaps photos of people and happenings in the square and, for the most part, snarks about them.
The thing that bothers me isn't that s/he posts pictures of unsuspecting people online: they're in a public place, and it's therefore legal to take photos of them. Unethical maybe, but legal. Although I suppose if you see a photo of yourself and/or libelous remarks on the blog and want Brusox to remove it, you would be within your rights to ask.
Now y'all know I'm not opposed to a little snark. I appreciate clever, cynical commentary, especially when it's directed at people who have social power and have chosen to live their lives in the public eye. Ahem.
1. Brusox's commentary isn't especially clever, so it comes off as mean rather than funny.
2. The focus of the blog tends to be mocking the severely mentally ill people in and around the Square. They clearly can't help themselves, which makes the commentary about them not humor, but just bullying.
I suspect there isn't any good way to address this. The writer of the blog is totally within his/her rights to post on whatever they see fit, and if they think this stuff is funny I'm sure there isn't anything I can say that will change their mind. In fact, the bullying behavior demonstrated on the blog makes me a little afraid to post my thoughts, because I don't especially want that focus on me.
But more importantly, I know that there are folks being targeted on that site who can't defend themselves, and that really pisses me off. What do you think? What's the best way to address this behavior?
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Friday, July 02, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
- My body continues to age EVERY SINGLE DAY. Evidence: I had to switch to half-decaf coffee, I bought callous cushions for my feet, and I am ready for bed (I actually literally just typed "dead" instead of "bed," which, well, there you go) at 9pm. Also, I might need a hearing aid, which proves that I should have listened to my mother when she told me to wear earplugs to all those heavy metal concerts.
- The Tween has been home sick for a couple of days with a sore throat and a fever. Because of this she missed dissecting a freeze-dried frog in science class. Since I had to buy the frog anyway, I wonder if we could dissect it at home? Now THERE'S some family fun time.
- I quit Facebook. I don't even miss it, except as a thing I used to do to kill time inbetween doing other things. Sort of like smoking. Here is my reasoning, only tangentially related to Mark Zuckerberg's desire to help us all unintentionally spill our grossest secrets: I just got tired of it. I started to feel weird about the passive sort of friendship that FB encourages. The people who are my actual friends are pretty much up to date on what's going on in my life, and constant status updates were ruining any conversational opportunities I might have with acquaintances... plus sucking my creative energy away from other, more literary, pursuits. Case in point, here I am writing here.*
- I bought a coffeemaker. It has a timer that lets me set it to make me coffee BEFORE I WAKE UP in the morning. So exciting! Next I'm thinking about one of these newfangled "Refrigerators" to replace my old icebox.
- The Princess brought me up to visit her family upcoast. I had met Mom and Sister over the winter, but Dad and Grandparents remained a mystery. I wanted to check out the childhood haunts and see the settings for all the stories. I did. It was lovely; I got got sunburned and fly-bitten and disappointed by the changes to Perry's Nut House, and also got fed barbecue chicken and strawberries, and I think we're going to go back next month.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Friday, May 07, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
People (well, Salon) keep saying that she's saturated us; we can't possibly love her more, and yet... new singles are slurped up whole with demands for more. I'm not tired of Gaga. And I love her fans.
The choice of subject isn't irrelevant; she's walking id for American teens, singing about heartbreak and cell phones and destructive relationships and dressing like your weirdest dreams.
People seem compelled to perform through her; her words in their mouths, her hips moving theirs. Clever and curious, funny, sexy, embarrassing. All sincere.
Want more? Fifty more YouTube Gaga covers here.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Mainers mark Earth Day; Portland selling 'green' items | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram
Mainers mark Earth Day; Portland selling 'green' items | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram: "Portland is promoting the sale of compost bins, kitchen waste pails and rain barrels at discounted prices."
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
The Maine Boatbuliders Show is produced by Portland Yacht Services and will take place at the Portland Company building at 58 Fore Street. via
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Monday, March 08, 2010
- When I cook I make extra so that it can also be work lunches for the week.
- While shopping, I try to buy food in containers (glass jars, closable plastic containers) that I can reuse instead of buying disposable tupperware. I also keep a ceramic bowl and cup at my work desk because I don't like to reheat food in plastic.
- Food waste becomes nutrients for my garden in my backyard composting bin, so I don't have to buy expensive fertilizer and trash bags.
- The slow-cooker works at cooking food while I'm working at my job. This is the only way I've been able to use inexpensive and nutritious food like dried beans.
- Nutrition: Twinkies and snack foods can be inexpensive, but they're not very nourishing--causing poorer health. Less processed=better, and I buy snack foods only at discount stores like Marden's and Big Lots.
- Longevity: will it break right away (i.e., is it cheaply made)? Will it cause long-term consequences (as poorly fitting shoes or dollar-store medicines might)?
- Landfills: It's hard to think about sometimes, but I try to minimize the amount of waste that I create, because cleaning up the environment is going to be HELLA expensive in the long run. This just means simple things like using waxed paper or reusable containers instead of plastic bags.
- buying used whenever possible
- borrowing things like tools and machines instead of buying my own
- going on cheap dates, like the First Friday Artwalk (if you time it right you can get free wine AND snacks too!) and cheap night/matinees at the movies
- volunteering as entertainment
- avoiding restaurants
Thursday, March 04, 2010
VONNEGUT...So much of what happens in storytelling is mechanical, has to do with the technical problems of how to make a story work. Cowboy stories and policeman stories end in shoot-outs, for example, because shoot-outs are the most reliable mechanisms for making such stories end. There is nothing like death to say what is always such an artificial thing to say: The end. I try to keep deep love out of my stories because, once that particular subject comes up, it is almost impossible to talk about anything else. Readers don't want to hear about anything else. They go gaga about love. If a lover in a story wins his true love, that's the end of the tale, even if World War III is about to begin, and the sky is black with flying saucers.
INTERVIEWERSo you keep love out. VONNEGUTI have other things I want to talk about. Ralph Ellison did the same thing in Invisible Man. If the hero in that magnificent book had found somebody worth loving, somebody who was crazy about him, that would have been the end of the story. Céline did the same thing inJourney to the End of Night: he excluded the possibility of true and final love—so that the story could go on and on and on. INTERVIEWERNot many writers talk about the mechanics of stories. VONNEGUTI am such a barbarous technocrat that I believe they can be tinkered with like Model T Fords. INTERVIEWERTo what end? VONNEGUTTo give the reader pleasure.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
With a little bit of serendipity this situation will be settled--for all intents and purposes, although there is more court later in the year--today. Please think good thoughts for us.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
UPDATE: I was too early on the nickname front, and another one has developed all on its own. Princess she is and shall be.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
The Hurt Locker
Up in the Air A girl from Portland is in this movie. On that basis alone it should win, right?
**Hey. Remember when the Nickelodeon was $2 per sticky seat? God, I miss that.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
“She had burned through a fair sampling of manhood trying to find someone, not to make her ‘happy’ - that wasn’t the point - but to cauterize her relentlessly dripping wounds.”
— Arthur Phillips, The Song Is You
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Sometimes what my brain coughs up is a message for me, and sometimes not. I have been lately pondering domesticity, and this is one of today's--those last two lines stuffing up my thoughts. I highly recommend the collection that this came from. May the copyright gods forgive me.
Affections Must Not
by Denise Riley
This is an old fiction of reliability
is a weather presence, is a righteousness
is arms in cotton
this is what stands up in kitchens
is a true storm shelter
& is taken straight out of colonial history, master and slave
arms that I will not love folded nor admire for their 'strength'
linens that I will not love folded but will see flop open
tables that will rise heavily in the new wind & lift away, bearing their precious burdens
of mothers who never were, not white nor black
mothers who were always a set of equipment and a fragile balance
mothers who looked over a gulf through the cloud of an act & at times speechlessly saw it
inside a designation there are people permanently started to bear it, the not-me against sociology
inside the kitchens there is a realizing of tightropes
Milk, if I do not continue to love you as deeply and truly as you want and need
that is us in the mythical streets again
the houses are murmuring with many small pockets of emotion
on which spongy grounds adults' lives are being erected and paid for daily
while their feet and their childrens' feet are tangled around like those of fen larks
in the fine steely wires which run to and fro between love and economics
affections must not support the rent
I. neglect. the house
Friday, January 15, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Thursday, January 07, 2010
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