Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I'm Performing Something I Wrote

I'm nervous, excited and my tummy is aflutter. I'm performing an original piece that I wrote at testify ATX this Thursday, April 28. If you're in Austin, the show is only $5 at the Spiderhouse Ballroom. Doors open at 7:00 and the show starts promptly at 7:30. Including myself, five storytellers will conquer (the theme of) death and taxes.


I love to write, and I love to perform. Performing something I've written seems overly intimate. Depending on how Thursday night goes, this may be your only chance EVER to see me perform my own work. Just sayin'...



Friday, April 01, 2016

Health Insurance is Hard & Makes Me Cry

My hunky husband, Chad, closed his business this past summer after a successful six year run. (That is not my story to tell here.) One of the consequences of closing his business was that we needed to find new health insurance, since his business would no longer provide that for us. Chad did all of the tedious research to find a health care plan that fit our healthy lifestyle and hardly-ever-visit-the-doctor needs. We got the (not at all) illustrious bronze plan, which is basically just catastrophic coverage that helps keep us out of bankruptcy if something awful happens health-wise. Bronze coverage should be cheap, but it is not, as I'm sure many of you are painfully aware.

We hardly ever go to the doctor, but I recently spent three weeks with itchy hives on my chest, arms, ears and shins. I thought it was an allergic reaction to soap. I threw out the soap, but the hives stayed. 

I decided I should go see my new Primary Care Physician on my new health insurance plan about these bothersome hives.  

I tried to call my new Primary Care Physician listed on my insurance card. The phone number on the card was incorrect. I did an internet search to find the correct phone number for Dr. A, and called.

 *************

Receptionist: Hello, Dr. A's desk.

Me: Hi. I'm a new patient for Dr. A. I'd like to make an appointment to see her.

Receptionist: Dr. A is a hospital-only doctor. She doesn't see patients who aren't in the hospital.

Me: Oh. Umm, she's listed as my Primary Care Physician on my insurance card.

Receptionist: Let me guess. You have BCBS?

Me: Yes.

Receptionist: You're like the hundredth person to call. We called them several times to correct this, but they keep sending patients.

Me: Oh. Oops. Thanks for the information.

Receptionist: Sure. Have a good day. Bye.

 *************

I called BCBS. I got the royal runaround from an unhelpful "health advocate" who told me that I had to wait sixteen days to see a new Primary Care Physician, even though it was BCBS's fault that I'd been paying for months to effectively have no Primary Care Physician. My "health advocate" told me to take some Benadryl for the hives, and to find a new Primary Care Physician on the BCBS website. I explained that Benadryl wasn't working. (I took the pills and applied the ointment to no avail.) Then I cried. The phone call was recorded for security and quality control purposes. Fortunately I was very nice to my health advocate even while I cried, in case someone reviews that recording.

I filed a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance. For a government agency, they have a very user-friendly website! (I am not one to sit idle in the face of injustice. I start ripping red tape, filling out forms in triplicate and raising a stink.)

During this debacle, still having no Primary Care Physician, I was enjoying my usual breakfast of peanut butter on a flax waffle with sliced banana. This has been my personal breakfast of champions for years. That morning, my chest hives suddenly flared up even worse. My lips got puffy like Goldie Hawn's fresh from collagen injections. My ears got itchy. My throat tickled a bit, causing me to cough. My face flushed. It hit me like a mean wallop that my beloved peanut butter might be to blame. 

I didn't eat peanuts or peanut butter for two weeks. The hives cleared and my self-inflicted scratch marks healed. (So itchy!)

Two weeks later, I told myself it was ludicrous to suddenly become allergic to peanuts, and ate three small bites of peanut butter. My chest and face flushed red. My face got itchy. My throat tingled in a bad way. My lips swelled. DANGIT!

During the two weeks I refrained from peanuts, I also found a new Primary Care Physician on the BCBS website. According to the BCBS website, Dr. H accepts bronze coverage and is currently accepting new patients. I called BCBS again, and got a much more helpful health advocate who immediately changed my Primary Care Physician to Dr. H, and made the change retroactive. I did not cry this time. I sincerely thanked my health advocate for her help.

The new health insurance card with my new Primary Care Physician listed on it arrived in the mail. I called the phone number on my card to make an appointment with my new Primary Care Physician. Again, the phone number printed on my insurance card was incorrect. I did an internet search to find the correct phone number for Dr. H, and called.

 *************

Receptionist: Hello. Dr. H's office. How may I help you?

Me: Hi. I'm a new patient for Dr. H. I'd like to make an appointment.

Receptionist: Dr. H is full for patients this year. You might try and check back with us in like... September?

Me: Oh, sorry. I thought he was accepting new patients. You might want to tell BCBS that Dr. H isn't accepting new patients. They referred me to Dr. H.

Receptionist: Oh we are accepting new patients, we're just full for this year.

Me: Okay... I'll check back in September. *big eye roll*

Receptionist: Oh, also, there is an annual fee if you want to be Dr. H's patient.

Me: How much is the annual fee?

Receptionist: Sixteen hundred and fifty dollars... per year.

Me: Thank you for the information. Good bye.

 *************

What? What do you mean Dr. H is accepting new patients, but not until September? What do you mean there is an annual fee to have a doctor? What? 

Now I will wade back into the BCBS website and try to find a new Primary Care Physician amongst their sketchy data. Before changing my Primary Care Physician with BCBS yet again, I will call and thoroughly vet the doctor's office. I will make sure they are actually a Primary Care Physician. I will make sure they are currently accepting new patients. (Now. Not in September. Now.) I will make sure there is no annual fee for them to be my doctor. (Because how is that even legal?) I will make sure they actually take my lame bronze BCBS insurance. (For which I will likely never meet the high annual deductible anyway. *knock on wood*) 

In the meantime, I made an appointment with my doctor of nearly twenty years, who unfortunately doesn't accept my new health insurance. He's retiring very soon which is why I thought it would be best to get a new doctor on my new health insurance plan. I'm going to pay out of pocket. I will not be able to apply the cost of my medical care to my high annual deductible. I'm doing this because I don't want itchy red hives, or to possibly die from something supremely ridiculous like anaphylactic shock due to an allergic reaction. 

The takeaways from this mess are: Health insurance makes me cry. I miss peanut butter.









Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My New Favorite Song

Now that we share an office, Chad has been subjected to this song playing on repeat. He's not mad about it. Enjoy!



Disclaimer: I'm not sure if this is the "official" video for this song, but I like it.





Monday, March 21, 2016

Smellz

I'm reading a great book currently that conveys vivid smells as keys to deep sensory memories. With that as inspiration, I present to you my top five favorite smells and top five least favorite smells.

Least Favorite Smells:

5. Anything pine scented including fresh Christmas trees *gag* *sneeze*
4.  Garlic: note to all chefs, go easy on this mess.
3.  Port-o-potty: not even a freshly cleaned one can inspire enough confidence for my shy bladder.
2.  Hot tar: does anyone like this smell?
1.  New car smell: I know I am in the minority here, but I hate it. I have a few sachets of lavender hidden around my car to ward off the new car smell.

Favorite Smells:

5.  Lavender: I visited a lavender farm once. It was heavenly.
4.  Freshly baked cookies: a classic
3.  Peaches/nectarines: I lump them together, because they are cousins, and smell similar.
2.  Tangelos/oranges: see note above.
1.  Freshly brewed Earl Grey tea

Smell ya later, Gentle Readers.

Friday, March 11, 2016

My (Totally Fake) Agenda for the Day

Chad often asks what is on my agenda for the next day. I know he is only asking to be polite, and to make sure there is nothing that conflicts with his agenda. Yesterday when he asked about today's agenda, this was my response:

6:30 AM I will rise and consume four blueberries and ten almonds with some coconut water for breakfast. I will ready myself for my sweaty bikram yoga class.

7:00 AM Because there will be zero traffic I arrive at the bikram yoga class.

8:00 AM I leave the car parked where it is, and run half a mile down to the lake, then run four miles of gloriously beautiful trails at Ladybird Lake. I am not at all deterred by bugs or allergies.

9:30 AM I go for a blow-out to get my hair just so.

10:30 AM Mani-pedi where I am not at all embarrassed at the state of my retail-hobbled-feet and the nail technician does not gasp at the bunion on my left foot.

11:45 AM I meet the Ladies Who (Don't Eat) Lunch for a leisurely date. We chat cordially as we push food around our plates and pretend to take bites.

2:00 PM I pop into Lululemon for some yoga clothes that perfectly fit my Kardashian-esque curves, and are not at all sheer.

3:00 PM I report for my court-ordered community service hours. Don't ask.

5:00 PM After such a stressful day, I head to my favorite massage therapist for an hour long Swedish.

6:15 PM I arrive home just in time to prepare a tantalizing vegan meal from scratch. We dine by candle-light at the dining table with proper linens.

8:00 PM I take the dog for a stroll.

8:30 PM I load the dishwasher and tidy the kitchen before watching something culturally enriching on PBS.

10:00 PM I remove my makeup and ready for blissful sleep. Our street is so quiet and our pets are so well behaved that I have no need for earplugs.

                       *********************************************************

How it really went down:

6:06 AM I awakened to a cat fight in the bedroom. I had to sequester the kitten in the dressing room for his own safety and for the safety of Sonic (cat) & Marigold (really old cat). I got back in bed and despite wearing earplugs, could not get back to sleep due to street noise.

7:15 AM I heard Chad's alarm go off again after he hit the snooze bar once, maybe twice already. After a quick cuddle and one more snooze cycle, I forcibly pushed Chad out of the bed. Kenji (cat) pinned me down and gave me scary kisses on my chin. One never knows when the kisses will turn to needle-teeth nibbles with her. Mercifully, I fall back to sleep.

1:15 PM I awakened from a deep slumber. Chad poked his head into the bedroom and asked if I wanted a grilled cheese sandwich with fig spread and walnuts. Yes, please. I needed a lot of sleep as I am recovering from some difficult TRX classes at my gym. Also I currently am afflicted with itchy hives of unknown origin. Plus I didn't get to bed until 2:30 AM due to storms and a nervous Janie (dog).

1:20 PM While Chad made lunch, I greeted all the pets, brushed my teeth and tried to find my favorite socks.

1:30 PM I lunched with my hunky husband who works from home. We both cleaned our plates.

2:00 PM I stared at twitter, instagram and emails for a while.

2:45 PM I did some grooming including plucking my overgrown eyebrows. I put together an outfit for the gym. I cleaned litter boxes, swept and took out the trash.

3:35 PM Janie (dog) knows the difference between heels and cross-trainers. Upon seeing I wore gym shoes, she demanded a walk. It was a very productive walk for her. Eww.

4:00 PM I finally made it out of the house to the post office, and then to my gym. After a full 60 minute workout, I saw that a Zumba class was about to start, so I stayed for that too. I am not the most coordinated person, but I love me some Zumba.

6:35 PM I finally left the gym, and hightailed it to Central Market for much-needed groceries.

7:30 PM I made it home and put away groceries. Chad arrived home shortly after that from his gym.

7:50 PM We dined in front of the TV. We watched The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. What a good show and a guilty pleasure.

9:30 PM Chad and I walked Janie (dog) again. This walk was not so productive, but she enjoyed sniffing stuff.

9:50 PM I forced Chad to prepare for his bedtime. He is reading a book that I just finished before he falls asleep each night. I want him to finish this book so we can discuss it.

10:00 PM I washed the dishes by hand (no auto dishwasher in the 1952 House) and wiped down the stove and counters.

10:45 PM I kissed Chad goodnight and took a much-needed shower.

11:30 PM I stared at the Internet some more, punctuated with letting our indoor-outdoor cat inside and outside about six times. He's a mess of anxiety. We bought him a little house that is waterproof and has a heated bed in it for the back deck, so he can take his anxiety outside even in cruddy weather.

1:02 AM I realized I still haven't sent my sister's birthday gift and decided to order that post-haste.

1:30 AM I faced the big decision of whether to read a lengthy magazine article or start a new book before bedtime.

2:30 AM It was raining again, but so far no thunder. I prayed, "Please let the dog sleep through this, so I can get some sleep."


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Out of Practice

I am out of practice interacting with my fellow humans. I worked too long in retail. It made me wary of people. Working retail often meant long hectic hours of multitasking with cranky crowds. I left retail employment last April. Even amongst old friends, I find it difficult to string words together in a way that makes sense, much less with any charm, sparkle or humor. I get so tired shopping, talking to strangers, driving around in traffic and generally living in a congested boomtown city full of lost newcomers who are unfamiliar with the drill. I know this is not a good, or necessarily healthy, attitude to have. 

I am out of practice updating the blog. Apologies to my eleven (!) loyal readers. 

I am out of practice being artistic. I used to paint backdrops, build displays, artfully arrange things and "style" outfits or spaces as part of my job. I miss the "styling" part of being a retail stylist. I am taking a weekly drawing class currently, but it's not enough to keep the ennui at bay. I am not one to sketch, sculpt and schlep out the acrylics for the sake of being creative. I am task-driven. I want to make it pretty while checking off to-do items. Again, this may not be a good or healthy attitude to have in regards to creativity.

I am out of practice going to the gym regularly. I am currently taking a TRX class (visualize resistance bands and tortuous looking strap-contraptions) at my gym. The first three weeks of that class, I could barely walk without pain and whimpering for days afterwards. This past week, I gave it my all in class, kept good form, and I am not sore. Maybe my atrophied muscles are recovering some of their memory, and growing stronger. This is certainly good and healthy. Gold star.

I am out of practice being thin. I no longer forget to eat due to stress or hectic schedules. I eat when I feel like it. Many of my clothes are tight, or too small to the point of being unwearable now. I remember at the height of stress during a former job, I had hives, hemorrhoids and was down to my middle school weight, wearing a size 4. My hair was long with neglect and not colored in ages. People kept telling me how great I looked while I felt like the floor was slipping out from beneath me. A close friend squeezed my thigh grinning with gleeful admiration and told me, "You're so skinny! You look perfect!" No one is telling me how great I look right now except for my awesome husband. In my humble opinion, it is not a good or healthy thing to admire someone with a stress-riddled, sickly, starved physique. I own these curves I have now. They are not perfect, but they are literally part of me. 

I am out of practice being an insomniac. No longer do I toss and turn restlessly in bed. No longer do I bolt upright from slumber suddenly wondering where I am supposed to be at that moment. No longer do I resist naps, or resist going back to sleep midmorning. I love sleep. Sleep and I got a thing going on right now. It's good stuff. Twinkly silver stars for both of us.

I am out of practice improvising. Scripted acting? No problem. I got this. But when that fourth wall comes down and I am expected to interact with the audience, or when I am expected to create a scene and situation on the fly, right now, not so much. I once excelled at improvisational acting, but those muscles are weak. My "yes, and..." got up and went.

I am out of practice pretending like I want to climb any kind of career ladder. I was never great at aspiring to advance in the workplace. Currently, I think I should find a new gig, but I am directionless and uninspired. I like housewife-ing and caring for my menagerie of pets. It's kind of time consuming.

Some of the things I am out of practice with can stay out of practice. Some of the things I am out of practice with should make a practiced, triumphant return. I'll keep you, Loyal Readers, apprised of the situations.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Foster Fail

L.B. makes himself at home with Marigold as Janie observes.

Yes, everyone saw it coming. No, that doesn't make any of you psychic. We are keeping L.B., previously known as our foster kitten, now to be known as a resident of the 1952 House. "Foster fail" is the term given when a person thinks they will find a home elsewhere for a pet, but that person ends up adopting/keeping said pet. I accept most of the blame for not working harder to find an appropriate home for L.B. with another household. I thought it would be easy to find a good home for a healthy, socialized kitten who excels at playing, purring and cuteness. Lesson learned: if I find another kitten or socialized cat with no discernible home, I immediately get them into an adoption program at Austin Humane Society. Without the support of a proven no-kill shelter, trying to find a home for a pet (even a super-cute, healthy, baby pet) is difficult and daunting. 

Sonic, our fifteen-pound male cat, plays with L.B., and has not done any bodily harm to him. Janie, our wonder-mutt dog, is less interested in trying to make friends with L.B., so I think we'll be okay. Kenji and Marigold can't be bothered to react to L.B. other than a bit of hissing and one half-hearted cuddle session. (By the way, Marigold is now eighteen-and-a-half years old. Persian cats and other exotic breeds of cats typically don't live this long. She may break some longevity record for her breed.)

In other great news: we caught L.B.'s mama cat, and successfully had her spayed and vaccinated at Austin Humane Society as part of their feral cat program. After a few days of rest, healthy food and central heat at the 1952 House, we released Mama Cat back to our neighbor's yard. Mama Cat seemed ecstatic to go back to her life as a roaming outdoor feline. Our neighbor made a little bed for Mama Cat in her favorite spot in his woodshed.

If I keep the house super-clean and all the pets healthy, then it's not pet hoarding. Right? I solemnly promise not to bring more pets home until the number of resident pets is back down to two through natural attrition. I should probably start volunteering for a pet rescue group again, but clearly not as a foster.