I just noticed that one of the searches that apparently led some poor soul to my blog is “what do i call my ex step father’s wife.”  While that is a valid concern, given my personal history and current feelings on the subject of ex-step-fathers, the very first thing that popped into my head when I read that was “A STRANGER!!!” Hahahahaha!  I love it when I’m the only one who finds my jokes funny.  At least I’m having a good time, eh?  But if we are indeed leaving the hypothetical realm and referring to my specific ex-step-father’s girlfriend, I’ve gotta go with “ignorant slut.”  That’s probably not entirely fair to the woman, but… I think I deserve some slack in this instance.

I used to be a member of a message board that went from a meeting place for knowledgeable horsepeople and equestrians to a motley collection of ignorant rednecks all wanting a place to constantly pat each other on the back.   I kept up with it long after I should have thrown in the towel, but that’s how it goes.  Toward the end, I used to scan down the pages of thread topics and amuse myself by blurting out the very first thing that came to mind when I read their asinine questions.  Allow me to provide you with a few examples: (please note that I have copied the thread titles exactly as they exist on the message board, to give you with the full effect)

Tape worms – do you worm for them? – Oh my god, you own animals and don’t know this?

Riding program for underprivilidged kids???? – yeah, that sounds like a fantastic idea.  you know they don’t always get balanced meals, so why don’t you finish the day with a snack of brie and caviar?

Sitting Trot is tough! – no shit, sherlock.

Does Color play a part in Temperament? – hehehe, equine racism!  do blonds really have more fun?

Laws for buyer of Lame Horse? – um, ever heard of “buyer beware?”  and I’d bet fifty bucks right now that you didn’t have a full prepurchase vet exam done on this horse.*  quit your whining.

Rider weight percentage? – if you have to ask, then you’re definitely too fat for that poor little horse you want to ride.  how ’bout you take a few rides on the stationary bike first?

rider weight spinoff – oh for crying out loud, KEEP THE FATTIES OFF THE PONIES!

Can i tell if my mare is pregnant? UPDATE! – not on the internet you can’t.  there are people who can help you with this though… they’re called veterinarians.  and I’m really scared about what that UPDATE may turn out to be.

Any Images Of Waxing Teets? – wonder what she saw when she googled that?!?!?

What would you get? Crossbreeding… – an unregisterable mutt.

Well we got hitched on Saturday… but – I don’t even want to read this one.  and why is this on a horse message board??

Believe it or not, I did not ever actually post anything like these responses (but it wasn’t because I didn’t want to, or because I wasn’t often right).  Despite my exemplary self-control, they eventually banned me from the damn board.  I did get a little riled up when the owner of the site didn’t deliver an ad I’d paid for and wouldn’t ever process the paypal refund he promised me.  I did eventually get a partial refund with a lovely email informing me that I was a pain in his ass.  Then when he started screwing other people on the board in similar ways, I got kicked off because I refused to follow the new rule that we couldn’t say any “bad” things about the owner on the board.  Ah, the drama.  But it’s all good.  I can say whatever the hell I want about them here.

NC Horse News – screw you, bitches!

*I was right.  Didn’t even get a bill of sale on the horse.  Are you f’ing kidding me?

I have been horribly negligent of you, dearest blog.  Please forgive me.  It will definitely happen again, probably right after this post, but I hope you will still love me.

I once emailed a teacher when I had to miss class… I told her that I had lots of good excuses I would be happy to provide her with, and to let me know if she wanted to hear them.  I think it must have gotten at least a chuckle because I was totally excused and she even took my assignment that was due that day late with no penalties.  So, dear blog, I would be happy to give you my list of excuses if you would like.  Yes?  Ok, sure… um…

1 – Exam time.  All my free time (and by free time I mean the time that is not taken up with sleeping, classes, or my nightly tv schedule) is devoted to schoolwork.  Or facebook.

2 – I’ve been reading a lot of other blogs and using up my creative juices writing witty comments.

3 – TreasureIsle.  You know, one of those zynga games on facebook?  I’m totally, hopelessly addicted.  But do not fear, like all of my fixations (like farmville), I will reach a point soon where I am OVER it and will never play it again.  Not sure how much longer that will take, though.

4 – I got a new bike… and lost my mind.

Oh, #4 not clear enough for you?  Ok.  Here’s what happened.  I got a cool new bike and felt like a kid on Christmas morning.  It’s soooo preeetttyy!  :-D  A few days after said bike arrived and had taken me on some super-fun spins around the neighborhood, I was talking to my mom.  She mentioned an organized bike ride for the MS Society that she was interested in riding, but she didn’t have anyone to ride with her.  A good friend is the organizer and after this year she will be handing it off to the MS Society to run as one of the training rides for their huge fall Bike MS ride.  So of course I said, “I’d love to ride with you!”  And it was is the truth.  I am very excited.  It’s a really cool ride that is based at a vineyard and we get to slog down a bunch of wine when we’re done .  Endorphins + alcohol.  Oh yeah!  Only one problem.  The shortest distance for the ride is 25 miles (in the rolling NC piedmont) and I have been riding for a week.  Before that it had been nine long years since my ass had graced a bicycle saddle.  The ride is on May 22.  Oh. God.  What. Have. I. Done.

I’ve been riding for a week, did 10 miles yesterday and 8 today.  It’s going well… but I foresee much more physical activity over the next few weeks than I normally engage in unless under duress.  But then again, maybe this counts as duress…

I will keep you updated, dearest blog.  And now, for my final excuse:

5 – my entire body hurts so much from bicycle boot camp that I can’t even move my fingers enough to type a blog post.  Pass the ibuprofen?

PS – the ride is Gears and Cheers, all profits go to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and fantastic organization.  They have rides nationwide, if anyone is interested.  Many of them are beginner-friendly.  And you will get a full report once I’ve survived my own first MS ride!

You guys aren’t here yet,  but as I contemplate actively trying to bring you into being, I realized that I have some things to say to you, some promises to make before you even come into this world.  Every day I see or hear of parents making catastrophic mistakes that will harm their children for the rest of their lives, and that is my greatest fear.  So with that in mind, I have made a list of the things that I am determined not to mess up for you.

I promise…

  • …to change your diapers, take you to the park, take you to practices, help with your homework and make your breakfasts, lunches and dinners myself (except for when your father is available)
  • …to kiss and hug you so that you know you are loved, even in front of your friends
  • …to be your advocate in all things, until you don’t need me anymore, and to teach you to value yourself so that you can find the strength and voice to advocate for yourself
  • …to grin, whoop, holler, applaud and whistle for every recital, drawing, craft project, play or game, every time
  • …to never dole out punishments when I’m angry
  • …to make an unconditional home and loving family for you, even if that turns out to be just the two of us in a tiny apartment, it will always be there for you
  • …to never make you feel like there is something you can’t talk to me about – unless it’s something just gross for the sake of being gross, like mixing cat vomit and mayonnaise
  • …to visit you at least once a year at college and  in every place you ever live (as long as you want me to)
  • …to take time for myself and be an individual throughout your lives, so you can learn the value of sustaining your own individuality and so you can have a whole, complete person for a mother
  • …to let you crawl into my bed when you’ve had a nightmare… and to kick you back out again so you can learn to face your fears
  • …to help you find who you are, without pressuring you to be who anyone else thinks you should be
  • …to feed you pizza on Fridays, ice cream on Saturdays, and healthy food food the rest of the time
  • …to always value your ideas and opinions, and to respect your will, even when I must override it

There is so much more to say, and so much that goes without saying, but these things I can and will do for you, my future little monsters darling children.

Update: A friend of mine (who I know personally IRL) just posted a bunch of stuff on facebook… apparently his daughter is stuck in a less than ideal relationship with a manipulative man whom she married and had asked her dad to keep some of her stuff in his safety deposit box.  But now it seems she called the police when she wanted her stuff back… the problem with this situation is that he has now posted all over facebook (FACEBOOK!) that he’s done with his daughter, that she’s dug herself a hole with him that she can’t get out of.  I’m shocked to hear this coming from this particular person, and even more upset that he doesn’t see that now is when his daughter needs him the most.  Everyone needs one person in this world who will never write them off, (especially if they get stuck in a relationship with a manipulative person – that can skew your entire view of reality) and that falls squarely into a parent’s job description.  To my babies: if you call the cops on me, it’s ok.  I’ll be pissed, but more than anything I’ll still love you, and I’ll still want you to come to me the moment you realize how bad you screwed up, and we will work it out.  Always.

This is inexcusable. Unconscionable.  A seriously dick-ish thing to publish.  Really CNN?  You are already becoming a joke of a network rivaling Fox “News.”  Is this what you really want to go with?

I am a GRITS – Girl Raised In The South.  I am also politically pretty darn liberal, when you get right to it.  And for the most part I have no problem reconciling these two aspects of myself.  I luuuuv sweet tea, apple pie and country music (except for the ridiculous “patriotic” songs).  The seasons I’m accustomed to are Summer and Not-Summer, and I dig my southern drawl that gets more pronounced as I get sleepy or drunk.  I am also an ardent supporter of gay marriage, healthcare reform, and responsible diplomacy with foreign states.  I believe slavery is a horrible part of our heritage, but I also recognize how and why it developed.  I also understand exactly why the southern states chose to secede and formed the Confederacy.  You can go through my family tree and cross out a significant portion of a generation that died in the Civil War (even on the side of my family that I like) and you can bet your britches that they weren’t fighting to keep the right to torture black people.

There is a statue in memorial to the Confederate soldiers who gave their lives on the campus of my former college.  It seems like every few years someone gets riled up and campaigns to get it taken down.  But thus far the university hasn’t budged, and I’m thankful.  The Civil War was fought because the agrarian South feared being subjugated to the industrial North.  The main issues that caused this war are very much alive and hotly debated today.  And I do mean TODAY, April 12, 2010.  It was a conflict between federal power and the rights of individual states to legislate for their population.  Right now at least 5 states have filed lawsuits to have the healthcare law overturned based on this very idea.  Need I even bring up gay marriage?  And as contentious as the political climate is right now, in my mind it isn’t at all a stretch to see how, faced with the loss of the engine that drove their entire economic system, the Confederate states felt that remaining a part of the Union had become unacceptable.

This article is ridiculous and shameful.  Mr. Martin has strayed far from the realm of facts and journalism; CNN should have the sense to keep this sort of rubbish off of their newsreel.  Yet we see the same shift toward radical, inflammatory reporting that has been exemplified by Fox “News.”  (I refuse to refer to them with any name that would imply that they are, in fact, a real news outlet)  Where integrity in journalism was once a goal of utmost pride, now we find that news is purposefully and horrifyingly partisan and biased, yet packaged as objective reporting.  What may be the most disturbing of all is that American society has, by and large, accepted this and drives it to new extremes.  Even in this blatantly fictitious, inflammatory article there were a significant number of comments that supported the author’s point of view, that Confederate soldiers were, in every way excluding technology, identical to radical Muslim terrorists.

Just as in any war, the “right” and “wrong” is determined by the winners.  Had the Confederacy prevailed, we wouldn’t even refer to this particular conflict as a Civil war.  Instead, it would have been the war of Confederate independence, the triumph of states’ rights over an exploitative federal system.  And I personally do not believe that slavery would have lasted much longer in the south, even given this alternate outcome.  I also believe that we are a stronger nation due to our federal union.  I am glad that we are fifty United States of America, and that slavery was ended sooner than would have happened otherwise.

But that does not detract from the fact that these Confederate soldiers were not fighting to harm the citizens of the Union.  They were not trying to destroy, rather they were fighting to protect their families and their way of life.  It is not difficult to argue that the South has yet to fully recover from the Civil War and the economic changes that were implemented afterward.  How can we fault anyone for fighting for such a cause?

So the diet is going ok… my hubby’s birthday was wednesday which meant there was a lot of bad stuff in the house.  I did take a day more or less off of the diet that day and did fairly well getting back on the wagon the next day.  As of thursday I had lost about 2 lbs, but I will weigh again either today or tomorrow.  I do typically drop several pounds very quickly the first week, but they my second week plateau is KILLER.  If I can manage push through the second week and manage to get another few pounds off after that, I very well may have some level of success.  *sigh*

I have been doing VERY badly on working out.  On monday I tried doing the first 30 day shred workout.  I have done these before and I guess I like them… as much as I am capable of liking a sadistic trainer yelling out of my tv how she has 400-pounders who do these workouts, while two skinny bitches bounce around in the background without even a glistening of sweat on them.  But as I was going into the second set of squats I felt my right quad say “Hell NO, lady!”  It started cramping very painfully and I called an end to the workout right there.  It has been very sore almost all week, and I think I narrowly avoided some kind of injury there.  I finally made it back to the gym on thursday for 30 minutes of light work on the elliptical.  Both legs were finally feeling healed again Saturday, so I’ve got two days of good healthy workouts in store for this weekend.

Now on to the topic that has ruffled my feathers for today.  Since both hubby and I are students at the same large state university, we get the same school-wide emails and individually arrived at the same level of shock and horror at a standard practice here.  It seems that every time there is any student death, the university sends a school-wide email ANNOUNCING THE DEATH!  On one level I get that this is somewhat pragmatic – it does stop the rumor mill, speculation, etc that is bound to run rampant in a population of teenagers and early-20-somethings all cooped up in dorms.  But then I thought of how I would feel if I was the one who bit it… and they sent my obit around the same way they announce a new vice associate chancellor dean of student academic program life or whatever.  It’s a freakin’ form email!  They give the student’s year, program of study, dorm, interests, parents names and method of croaking!  SERIOUSLY?!?!?

I am taking a class in Roman Religion this semester that is wicked cool, and one of the topics into which we delved is death and a comparison of Roman thought regarding death with contemporary western thought.  There are actually a lot of similarities in the way we seem to believe in treating the dead and everything regarding funeral rites with a certain level of reverence.  Desecration of the dead is felt to be one of the greatest insults we can give.  Everything about death was and still is highly ritualized and we work very hard to keep it separate from the mundane or the daily norm.  Maybe this is why the practice of Death Emails strikes me as so… wrong.  It seems to belittle the person’s life, condensing it into a few keystrokes and shooting out this very one-sided interpretation of who this person was to more than twenty thousand people.  Maybe part of what bothers me as well is that this took only about 7 minutes of some admin assistant’s time to type out, and this is the university’s public response to a death.  I guess I just feel that a well-written obituary in the school newspaper or a similarly respectful notice placed on the school’s website is more appropriate and more respectful.

Whether most people agree with me or not I know that, should I kick the bucket any time soon, I certainly don’t want the stinkin’ U to send out a Death Email for me.  Wonder if I should put that in my will, or if there is some kind of form I should fill out…

This one’s for you, AB, because deep down I know we both can’t wait to wrap our hands around these breasts…

Ladies and Gentlemen, IT IS REAL.  God help us.

I remember when the low-carb craze really hit a few years back and burger joints started offering their ginormous beef patties slathered in cheese and ketchup… wrapped in a leaf of lettuce.  Because the BUN was the unhealthy part of that equation.  Riiiiiiiight.  SNL did some parodies of this sort of thing (taco town!) and when I first saw an ad KFC’s new “Double Down,” I didn’t believe it.

But Lo and Behold, it is true.  KFC has made a sandwich featuring bacon, two cheeses, and “colonol’s sauce.”  But instead of bread, this glorious concoction is served between TWO ORIGINAL RECIPE FILETS!!!

I bring this to your attention today because, as of today, I have begun a (nother) diet.  Dammit.  I lost about 35 lbs. several years ago, and though  I have managed to keep all but about 2 of those pounds off, I never reached my goal weight.  I got comfortable about 10 lbs short of it, but have recently begun frustrated with my flabby belly and thunder thighs once more.  So the goal is ten pounds before I have to bare my fluorescent-white flesh in a bathing suit.  If I made it to 15 or 20, all the better.

I struggle between thinking that I need to be more secure with my body and feeling like I am letting myself down by not sucking it up and getting the weight off.  I’m not badly overweight – I think about a 25.5 on the BMI chart, so losing even 20 lbs would still put me in the healthy range – but right now I’m firmly in the land of pudge.  My husband is happy with the way I look, but I’ve oscillated back to the point of view that I am not happy with how I look and that I need to do this for myself.  I may need someone to remind me of that in a few weeks.  I have done this before, usually making it about two weeks before I conclude that this torture really isn’t worth the 3 pounds that I’ve managed to wrestle off of my frame, and say “aw, f*** it,” and reach for the Ben & Jerry’s.  I love my junk food, but at the moment my desire to have sun touch my stomach without feeling the need to purchase a private beach upon which to uncloak said tummy outweighs my craving for pizza and Coke Icees.

I will post updates on how things are going, and if anyone else is embarking on a similar quest to rid themselves of a nagging flat tire, feel free to share.  It’s always a bumpy road.  That Double Down looks pretty nasty today, but in two weeks I very well may be licking the computer screen.

Oh, and I’d love to win that Target Gift Card my Aunt Becky is giving away over on her blog, so per the rules of the contest, here’s her button.  AB, we should totally chat while we eat our Double Downs and watch 30 Day Shred.  Just because we can.  And so we can say mean things about those skinny bitches that make it look way too easy.
Mommy Wants Vodka

I don’t share well.   I have very few memories of my preschool and kindergarten years, but it couldn’t have been pretty.  Because when it comes to sharing, how can I word this… I’m a BITCH.  And I am A-OK with that.

One of the classes that I am taking this semester uses course packs, which are basically articles pulled out of books, magazines, etc that are copied and bound into a “course pack.”  They cost an assload because they actually pay royalties, and are non-returnable.  So most students pretty much hate them, although in this class I will admit that it would have cost far more to buy all the zillion books that we are reading passages from.  It’s so much that the professor split the course pack into two volumes.  Total cost: $75.  FOR COPIES!  But, whatever.

On Tuesday we were scheduled to switch to the second volume.  I decided to bring both volumes just in case, and sure enough, we used the the first one through the whole lecture.  Guess who didn’t bring both course packs?  About half the class.  This is a 500-level course, folks!  Everyone in there has had a bare minimum of 2 previous semesters in college.  So the professor (who is sooo enthusiastic about the subject material and is totally adorable – I love her!) says, “If you didn’t bring the coursepack be sure to look on with someone!”  So some girl automatically shoves her desk right up against mine.  Doesn’t ask, just assumes that of COURSE I’ll happily share.

I was not pleased.  Have I mentioned that I also have personal space issues?  As in, everyone else better keep the hell OUT of my personal space?  But, believe it or not, I sucked it up and shared my freakin’ coursepack.  Now it’s not just that I’m stingy, but I usually write all over my coursepack, shuffling between it and my notebook.  Hard to do when some chick is hanging over the page.  But I dealt with it.  I was so proud of myself.

Today, we did switch to volume 2.  It has been available at the bookstore for over 2 weeks and the prof has been reminding us every single class that we need to purchase it.  You’ll never guess what happened.  As soon as we begin class 4 or 5 students (out of 20, so that’s like 25% of the class) start whining that they don’t have the money for the coursepack blahblahblah.  It’s $31 people, and you knew this at the beginning of the semester!  So what happens when we start class?  Some guy scoots right on over toward me and says “Can I look on with you?”

AAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!  The look on my face must have been priceless.  I have no poker face, even when I try (which is not often).  I tried to suck the evil laser beams back behind my eyeballs as soon as I could, but I think he got singed.  I very begrudgingly said “Yes,” and he kept more distance than Tuesday’s sharer all class period. I don’t know how he managed to read the type from that far away, but, not my problem.

Maybe that makes me a bitch, but I don’t care.  It’s not like I have tons of cash lying around – my husband is a grad student and I’m unemployed working on a second BA.  We NEVER go out and mostly buy only the necessities.  If we go to a movie (always a matinee), it’s a big deal.  And you know what? I paid for my damn coursepack and NO I DON’T WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU!!!!  GET AWAY FROM ME!!!!!!!!!!!

On another note, my Tar Heels are playing in the NIT championship game tonight.  If they lose, I might cry.  If they win, it will officially be the weirdest season ever.  Please Heels, please…

“For I’m a Tar Heel born and a Tar Heel bred and when I die I’m a Tar Heel dead!  So it’s rah rah Carolina-lina, rah rah Carolina-lina, rah rah Carolina, GO TO HELL DUKE!

I am not on speaking terms with someone who was once an integral part of my family and my life.  Someone I used to say “I love you” to.  And it’s so strange, and difficult.

Ah, my ex-step-father… where do I even begin?

I know, I’ll start here: that is altogether too many prefixes to be used in polite conversation.  I mean, really… it feels like a double negative.  But, what the heck do I call him?  My-mother’s-former-husband-who-is-not-my-father-and-who-I-am-not-interested-in-talking-to-or-seeing?  It’s just so much easier to say EX-step-father and waggle my eyebrows so someone knows just what I mean.  But I digress.

I’m not the type of person to just sever relationships like this.  I have serious issues shaking that annoying friend who thinks you’re BFFs and will not go away, because I can’t stand hurting her feelings.  I lie awake at night worrying about such things.

Every time I think about him, I get a huge wave of emotion.  Often it is anger, anger that he screwed up my, my mother’s and my brother’s lives the way he did.  Furious that he kept us under his thumb, controlling everything just for the sake of control all while wrapping it up all pretty for everyone to see.  But mostly livid that he fooled me for so long.  I was willing to put up with it, because I thought he made my mom happy.  And then to find out even half the stuff that was happening where I didn’t see it…  Yet more and more often I just want to cry when he pops into my head.  I feel a sense of loss, and a certain level of guilt for being the one to finally draw the line.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was really more of a 2×4, in my eyes.  Last summer he invited my husband and I to a party at his lake house (that my mom let him keep in the divorce… she got far less than half the shared assets, but again, I digress).  He also invited my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and my cousins.  On my mom’s side.  He invited my mother’s entire family to her old house to have a party with him, the husband who drove her away with his manipulative and obsessively controlling behavior.  When I expressed that I didn’t feel that was appropriate and that I felt very uncomfortable with that arrangement (yes, in those words. i was trying to be diplomatic, and not hurt his feelings) he started weaving one of his classic guilt trips on me while also calling different members of my family and telling each one a different story.  I told him that I just couldn’t have a familial relationship with someone who couldn’t show any sort of regard for my feelings or respect for my mother’s family.  He just continued in the same vein of guilt and manipulation, and that was it.  The End.  After 12 years of his crap, even though he lost his wife, nothing had changed, and I was D O N E.

My mom has some limited contact with him, my baby brother (who is in his 20s, but will always be my baby brother) went to see him at Christmas.  He sent gifts back with my bro for us.  My husband opened mine, I think it was a watch.  I don’t know what he ended up doing with it.  I have a nightmare about once every 3 weeks of him getting my mom and my brother back somehow, and I’m always trying to get them out.  And I never can – they always want to stay, and I wake up in a cold sweat.

He has made several more attempts to weasel his way into my mom’s family.  He has called me twice since Thanksgiving, once he left a message sounding all cheery, saying he was just calling to “say Hi,” the second on my birthday and left no message.  No acknowledgment of anything that happened or that I would in any way feel less than perfectly amiable toward him.  Nothing even hinting at an apology.  And I feel so guilty.  And somehow, heartbroken.

I think of myself as a strong woman… he started playing his games when I was still a preteen, and I really didn’t have a choice.  But now that I see everything that has happened and what he is still doing, despite knowing that he is the problem, the aggressor, I can’t stop the emotion.  So am I still a strong woman if I lie awake in bed some nights feeling guilty for cutting him out of my life, and feeling sorry for him living alone in that big house, and then later waking up in a panic after another nightmare of him stealing my most precious loved ones?  I like to think so.  I hope so.  I do believe that empathy and compassion are what make a person strong, not just exterior toughness.  But finding the balance is one of the hardest things I’ve faced.

But there is one thing at least that I can say with absolute certainty:  If he ever screws with my mother or my brother again, he’d better watch out.

Me: So, what do you want to do today? (the same thing one of us asks every Saturday morning)

My Husband: I dunno.  What are the options?

Me: *sigh*  You know the options as well as I do.  It’s cold outside, so I guess something indoors.

Husband: …

Me: We could go see a movie.  And get a Coke Icee.

The Hubby: Is there anything decent on?  Like, anything worth paying money to go see?

Me: Dragons is on in 3D!

Hubs: and it’ll be crawling with kids.

Me: True… that new Matt Damon movie where Jason Bourne goes to Iraq is on, and we can get the early bird matinee price.

Hubs: Eh.

Me: Ok then, what do you suggest?

Hubs, searching the internet: There’s an art show of local paintings at the hospital.

Me: The hospital???

Hubs: It looks like they have a gallery there.

Me: Ugh, even so.  It’s flat art  (smacking hands together)  – so boring.

Hubs: You are quite possibly the weirdest liberal arts person I have ever met.

Me: Yep.

This will be my first post in which the title of this blog will really ring true… my opinions on most things actually are quite humble, as I am more than willing to admit when I don’t know enough about an issue to try to influence anyone else.  But in the case of the healthcare debate, I do have a somewhat unique perspective, and I have no intention of faking humility.

I am, alas, a poor student.  My mother always said that choosing to go to college was akin to voluntary poverty.  I had no idea how right she was until this past year.  My darling (brilliant, fantastic, adorable, smokin’ hot) hubby is a little over a year away from finishing his Ph.D.  THANK THE SWEET LORD ABOVE.  I relocated a few months after he started his Master’s work to be close to him (we got married 6 months later), and in the interim between leaving my job in one city and finding a new one in the new city, I was without employer-provided health insurance.  And guess what?  I couldn’t even remotely afford COBRA, nor could I afford even a bare-bones individual plan.  So I went with no health insurance for about 5 months, and those were 5 uncomfortable months.  I am on daily prescription medications, have been since I was a teenager, and I managed to get in an appt. with my Dr. just before losing my coverage.  I think I had to pay out of pocket for one visit to get some refills, but I timed everything so that I didn’t have any other medical expenses during that time.  And by some miracle, because I had been covered nonstop up until just a few months earlier, when I did get heath insurance again, it covered my preexisting condition.  I consider myself to have been unbelievably lucky.

A year and a half ago, hubby and I moved to Massachusetts, which you may know as the land-of-government-mandated-health-coverage.  Which legislation was enacted under a Republican governor, with his full support, I must add.  I was a tad nervous, because once again I was facing loss of coverage when I lost my job (no WAY I could afford almost $400/month for COBRA) and was unsure when I would be able to find a new job (this was Sept. ’08 – I never found that new job).  We were also nervous about facing penalties if I went without the insurance that we weren’t sure we could afford.  Rock and a hard place, huh?  Strangely, the graduate students at hubby’s university are unionized… I’m not a huge fan of unions in general.  Conceptually they are great, in practice I think in this country they have tended to do more harm than good in the past few decades (UAW, teachers…).  However, one of the concessions that the Graduate Student Union had negotiated with the university and the state of Mass. was the price of healthcare coverage.  We gazed at each other in astonishment, eyes the size of saucers and mouths gaping open before breaking into joyful dancing, when we saw that the GSO family health plan was $800 per year.  No, I didn’t leave a zero out.  We pay EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS PER YEAR for what has turned out to be the best health coverage I have ever had.

It gets better.  “No way!” you say?  Way.  Student health services here are pretty good.  Much better than the last school I attended.  And they provide service for all family members on the student health plan.  I have been sick several times since we arrived, as has my hubby, and I have also had to seek continuing treatment for my preexisting condition (covered! hallelujah!!!).  I have seen a GP 3 times, I think, my specialist at least 6 -7 times, an optometrist once, had a blood panel run, a flu test, and received 4 vaccinations in the last 18 months.  WE HAVE NOT PAID A PENNY.  I walk in, they say,  “We have your insurance information, right?”  I say, “Yep.  I’m on the student health plan.”  I see the doctor, and I walk out.  I can use this plan at other physicians, should I choose to do so, and pay a copay/deductible.  If student health gives me a referral, I generally pay NOTHING.  I had several (like, 3) thousand dollars worth of physical therapy while we’ve been here… we ended up paying maybe $200.  I won’t go into the larger issue of 8 physical therapy sessions costing three grand; I’d be rambling on for another thousand words.

I am sold on universal health coverage.  I’ve had good employer coverage, I’ve had bad employer coverage, I’ve had NO coverage.  But the absolute best AND least expensive coverage I’ve ever had has been here in the land of submit-proof-of-coverage-with-your-taxes-or-face-a-fine.  If we didn’t have this, I don’t know that it would have been possible for me to go back to college this past fall.

So, In My Never Humble Opinion, it is high time for Republican leaders to SUCK IT UP and start advocating for legislation that will improve the lives of Americans.  Health care reform is desperately needed.  We are lagging pathetically far behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to providing health care to our citizens.  Mandated health coverage has had a 100% positive impact on my life.  I want it to stay that way, and I want to see the rest of our nation have the opportunity to experience what I have been lucky enough to enjoy.

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