Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lost Slots

Worry is weird - obviously we're not starving, and we have enough equity in our home to take out a home equity loan to add a bathroom for Gerry. Gotta love the equity.*

BUT, we've worked for 20 years to GET that equity - and we realize that the way things are going we may be eating in to that equity in a very large way in the next few years [months?]

As my mother would say, "That's why we earn it..." But is it? So that a healthcare CEO can earn 419 times more than the woman who cleans the toilets?

I can't help but feel there is something to this beyond helping the insurance company execs become as rich as humanly possible. Or would that be as rich as inhumanely possible.

I think it's all part of a plot to keep the middle class down (man!) Or, more realistically, to destroy the middle class and create a new lower-lower middle class of folks so broke and poor due to health care costs (biggest reason for personal bankruptcy! Oh, I forgot, we can't really declare personal bankruptcy anymore - dang) Then we can finally compete with China to make those 2¢ American Flags the rich folks' kids will put on their bikes on July 4th.
We are the face of the race to last place
Actually, I'm not sure if I'm such a conspiracy theorist - or maybe I am - hmmm, what's your theory on that... But I do think there are powerful entities working to retain the status quo, and the status quo is - quite literally - killing us.

Just keep repeating to yourself, "We're the wealthiest nation in the world, we're better than this."

Because we are.

Then sit yourself down and tell yourself, "I'm the most powerful person in this country, I have a vote."

Because you do.

When I was so sick 4 years ago we rang up a butt load of medical & non-medical expenses (we didn't have insurance, and although my doctor treated me for free, she couldn't get my drugs or xrays, etc. for free.)

But we got through by taking out loans and living very frugally. When we sold our house in NJ this past year we made enough on it to pay off the loans we'd taken out at that time. Yay. Nothing like a fresh start, huh?

So it seemed like some kind of poetic injustice to have this hit us just when we felt a bit free and clear.

Lesson: Perhaps we're not meant to be free and clear.

Better Lesson: This wouldn't be an issue if we lived in almost any other industrialized nation.

Perhaps no one is EVER really free and clear, and this is the impetus we need to keep us striving...? It's a theory.

George Bernard Shaw felt that a person's unhappiness was in direct proportion to how much they had above or below their needs. The very rich and the very poor are both unhappy - only those who have what they need (and not too much more or too little) are truly happy. I tend to agree with that.

I just received an advertisement in the mail asking, "When was the last time YOU had a lifestyle makeover?" Every time I take off my friggin' bra at the end of the day it's a "Lifestyle makeover." Every DAY is a lifestyle makeover.

With the sales from the Red Carpet Convertible (and for income reasons we are considering them as pattern sales) we've socked enough away to just about cover the accommodations in Rochester for 6 weeks, the airfare for the kids and part of the airfare for Gerry's mom to come out. There are still (always!) other expenses, which is why I continue to work so hard right now. Knit, knit, knit!

But I've cut down on my teaching, writing and designing SO much that it's really scary at times. And sometimes shops help me out by cutting my teaching down for me - this evening I received a note that read,
"[We] thought that to pressure you this spring with your family issues was not a good idea. Therefore, we let your teaching assignment ride. We recently filled that time slot and that takes care of us for this calendar year."
Hey - thanks for the heads up!

It was a surprise, to say the least. I guess it does make it easier when I don't have to make those hard decisions like 'Should I teach this Fall?' myself. That IS a weight off my mind!

But this shop is an anomaly. Most shops are being great about waiting with me to see how things shake out. They're being very kind about letting me cancel at the last minute if I need to - even though it does mean they might lose a 'slot.' Dang.

How will things shake out? Someone, tell me - make a decision for me - buy me a crystal ball, f'crissake.

To be honest, if we're not approved for SSD, I have NO idea what we'll do. Oh, who cares, I have 3 full cartons of Diet Coke left, and I'm wild with a chemical high! (Thanks Rob & Matt!)

But if SSD doesn't come through we'll apply again. And we'll get through. We'll borrow, we'll find help [thank you, everyone!], I'll work my butt off, I'll write a best selling book about this and they'll make a movie. Renˇe Zellweger will play me (she'd be able to gain the necessary weight.) Bob Hoskins can play Gerry.

- You had me at 'I love beer!'

We'll become rich, Gerry will be 100% better, and the kids will have no cavities.

But then the tension and stress from all that extra money will make us fuss & feud, and eventually our newfound wealth will cause a divorce.

So see how lucky we are now? And with our newly organized front porch, we're living the high life (let me tell you!)

*The more I crunch the numbers, it seems that the ground floor bathroom is going to be a good thing to have someday if selling the house becomes a necessity. Not that it will. Or will it?

I'm still waiting for that crystal ball...

Speaking of deliveries, my Staples & Simon Delivers orders came in today - 1 day shipping! Both were great (with the minor problem of the worm in the ear of corn ...) but everything else in the Simon delivery was wonderful and we will definitely be ordering again.

And it just feels GOOD to have the back to school stuff in a box waiting to be shoved into backpacks over Labor Day weekend!


Minnie~Knits said...

Isn't Simon Delivers great? I used to use 'em before I started working right next to a grocery store. They are VERY good about problems such as the corn. I emailed about something they'd left out; and immediately it was credited. Sometimes they'd accidentally give me a free something or other, and never wanted it back.
The best part: eliminating the "impulse buys" that always happen at the store. For example: I came home with 2 boxes of oreo's the other day. And I live alone. And they weren't on the list. But they *were* on special!!! LOL

July 19, 2007 12:10 AM  
Anonymous said...

Here's something that may make you feel a bit better. My parents have friends that live in Sweden. They're very wealthy. The Swedish government takes 80% of their income. Yet, when he was ill last year, he almost died because, even though his health care was paid for, he couldn't get into the doctor for 2 months. He also didn't have the choice to go to Mayo, the best health care in the country. At least we have choices.

July 19, 2007 12:58 AM  
gemma said...

Keep looking for positives. And your verandah looks good with the sofas in there.

July 19, 2007 2:06 AM  
Anonymous said...

Dear, dear Annie, I don't know you, but I wish I could give you a hug and try to help you accept the craziness of life. I'm sorry, but Anonymous of the previous note is just wrong--that's one case, and all the evidence is that the US is far, far behind all other industrialized nations in any measure of social safety nets. I know you mean well, Anon, but until you've been where Annie is and many of us have been, you just don't understand. Before I was divorced, I didn't understand either, even though I tried to be empathetic. For the last 10 years, I've lived with fear and anxiety, but I'm still here, and profoundly grateful that I understand on a deeper level what it means to be human. Every time I think I can't hang on, someone or something happens that keeps me going, and my heart truly sings with gratitude for the kindness of strangers, the beauty of nature, the warmth of love. None of us would ever choose to be tested as you and your family are being tested, Annie, but you will all learn deeper truths, be stronger, love each other more clearly. My heart is with you. Kate

July 19, 2007 2:10 AM  
Debbie said...

sigh, I just hope one day before to long that we have some type of health care plan for all here in the States.

Would say I'm somewhere in the middle to upper middle class arena and all I can afford is a very high deductible health insurance and then the one time I am truly sick, I have to fight with the doctor to have tests run. Loved it when the doctor told me "I'm just a doctor, what do you want me to do?". Thank goodness I am in the medical field and held my own with her and refused to let her pull that crap to save Kaiser some money.

I, for one, plan on to continue to send you a little bit with each paycheck. Knitters are a wonderful, kind hearted group of folks and I think you will be having a large group of folks helping you out in a lot of ways over the months and years.

July 19, 2007 6:17 AM  
Michele with 1 "L" said...

The worm is added protein. A delicacy in some countries.
Take care.

July 19, 2007 7:49 AM  
grngrl said...

Hi Annie,

I've been where you are and it's beyond maddening....

"Anyone else think insurance companies are evil? Stand up and shout now. The insurance companies in America insist that they have to keep cutting coverage and raising prices to counter the rising cost of litigation and the pharmaceutical companiesÕ excessive price ranges. Bullshit. At the same time, many insurance companies are posting record profits year in and year out. Someone do the math for me."

This was from my blog when I was going through treatment. The insurance company was refusing to pay for sleep aids. You keep fighting. They should have to pay in guilt if they don't pay in captial.

Many blessings,
Kelley Green

July 19, 2007 8:44 AM  
Tracy said...

You could look at it this way--the worm in the corn means that your corn is just that much closer to the farm fields! You wouldn't have that worm if your corn were shipped from halfway around the world... :)

My husband is British, and though he's lived here for more than 20 years, he's still mystified by the American healthcare system. So am I. It's completely backward for a so-called modern nation. Good healthcare should not be for the rich or for those fortunate enough to work for companies that provide decent insurance coverage. Healthcare should be a basic human right.

Chin up, and know that we're all behind you!

July 19, 2007 10:47 AM  
beth from lorna's loaces said...

I'd send you my crystal ball but when I checked it last night it was all full of wool and I couldn't see a darn thing.

July 19, 2007 11:38 AM  
Annie said...

Anon -

Why would a story about your father almost dying make me feel better? I'm sorry your family had to go through that, and I'd be interested to know the details of that.

I'm afraid I'm in the group who thinks if someone is very wealthy they should pay pretty high taxes. I don't think 80% is out of line for some of the wealthier citizens in this country.

And choice is a funny thing. It's like that expression, "A rising tide raises all boats." - which is true, and which I like, but it's only true if you HAVE a boat.

Medical choice is good if you have that choice. But if you don't have access to medical coverage, then you really have no choice.

July 19, 2007 1:01 PM  
Anonymous said...

Yeah - this dang insurance stuff. When I had a mastectomy, I was allowed 23 hours in the hospital! Yee haw I told my doctor that IF the CEO of the insurance company was having an important male appendage removed, I imagine HE would get more than 23 hours in the hospital!!! Sheesh

Take a day, sometimes just an hour, at a time Annie.

July 19, 2007 2:46 PM  
Carol in St. Louis said...

This last post was NOT from the same anon. This last post was from me, Carol in St. Louis I'm thinking about Annie and Gerry every day.

July 19, 2007 2:50 PM  
Kathleen C. said...

Just wanted to let you know that I called our LYS (who are having you in November) to tell them that I'm hanging on for you and I understand and accept the uncertainty. I know they're planning on hanging in with you too, but I wanted to make sure they knew that so were we (the class pre-registrations).
BTW, I was curious so I looked up Sweden's tax rates. A person making the highest amount of income with the least amount of deductable is taxed (combination of local and national taxes) no more than 60%. Possibly as low as 45%. Not 80%. (this does not count capital gains, inheritence, VAT or other side taxes).
In fact, the average Swede seems to only pay about 10% more than the average American (if I am reading the chart correctly).
And the government pays for health care, disability and elderly care, social security, pensions, and education (among other things).
Fascinating really.

July 19, 2007 4:13 PM  
Meredith said...

It's been a while since I checked in on your blog and I'm so sorry to hear you are having such a hard time. Hang in there, Annie, try to stay positive. Things have a way of working out. I know you have a healthy family, a paid-for house, and a best-selling book and a feature film in your future!

July 19, 2007 5:53 PM  
Julie said...

Hi, Annie, and everyone...I've taken a couple of classes with Annie here in Rochester, NY, and she is worth waiting for!

Regarding health care, I believe everyone should consider it their patriotic duty to go see Sicko, Michael Moore's new movie.

We have to demand better!

July 19, 2007 7:10 PM  
earthday said...

It's not really a conspiracy theory, Annie. Systemic problems are often waved away using that term. What it is, is the reality of existing power relations and a somewhat peculiar political system. And as for the safety net that is possible, just think about the US defence budget. You could absolutely have universal health care and free post-secondary education if the political will was there. If only people could understand how living in fear and anxiety destroys your health and your sense of community. It really is the most important thing there is. I think you're absolutely right about what makes people happy. There have been studies that show that absolute levels of wealth/poverty do not determine happiness. Equality does. The more things seem unequal and unfair, the more unhappy people are.

July 20, 2007 11:05 AM  
Gingersnaps with Tea... said...

One of the many things that makes me proud to be Canadian is our Health Care.
A nurse friend of mine did a stint at a State Hospital in California. Some of the stuff she e-mailed me about how the predominantly low-income patients at this hospital were treated and the comments being made by the Dr's & Staff was awful. I understand that if you work in a sick system you grow a tough shell but it shocked her. She hasn't been back.
Still thinking of you and sending hugs.

July 20, 2007 7:38 PM  
Gingersnaps with Tea... said...

Thought I'd add. I'm so sorry that Yarn Store bailed on you. It reflects poorly on them.

I am booked at a retreat you are teaching at in November. If my LYS bailed on you I would be so disappointed in them. But I know they won't. I also know that they would give you every opportunity to be there but if for some reason you couldn't they would have a back-up in place and there wouldn't be one person who wouldn't understand. You would be missed, of course you would be, but every person would understand. Hugs.

July 20, 2007 7:45 PM  
Cissy said...

I am an unabashed conspiracy theorist--just too many occurrences harm ordinary people to be mere coincidence. Have been thinking for several years now every time some new outrage is brought to light that surely this time people will be shaken out of their collective stupor, pay attention to what's being done to us, our country and our world, turn off the mind-numbing sitcoms and take to the streets.

Sending my most hopeful thoughts to you and your family, Annie. You are wonderful; your imagination and work are amazing. May the sun shine on you all.

July 22, 2007 11:16 AM  
Lynne said...

WRT healthcare, we've just moved to the states. No SSN (for DH, yet, I am not allowed one). No SSN = no way for the health insurance we've chosen to be set up = problem. It is sorta odd to be a non-entity.
As an outside, I see things that make me wonder about what has happened to the USA - I still have that 1950s superman view of it.

July 22, 2007 2:03 PM  
Pat said...

Little late on this entry, but wanted to say that I think you've a good chance at SSD for Gerry (assuming he's worked under SS long enough). We applied when my husband was first diagnosed, and while it took awhile, he was approved with no appeal and - sshh - has not had a review of his case in 7 years! Also once he was approved, it was retroactive to when he first couldn't work. Hang in there!

July 23, 2007 12:50 PM  

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