26 March 2014
25 March 2014
Of course, this snippet only explains why the participation of all helps the greater good. (The greater Good!) While that may be enough to get part of the young and healthy population signed up, it ignores the fundamental barriers to getting (in broad strokes) young, healthy, single and underemployed people to participate: the notion of invincibility. It is easy to look at the numbers and think that the tax penalty is less than the premiums for the year and decide to gamble on staying healthy.* What the ACA enrollment campaign really needed to focus on, and to some extent this has happened in the last few weeks of push before open enrollment closes, is the cost of unanticipated injuries or accidents. No matter how young and healthy you may be, one trip to the ER for a broken ankle and you have well exceeded your premium costs, often by several orders of magnitude.
As a cautionary tale I present my little sister. She has a master's degree (at all of like 23), was working full time plus (often 60+ hours a week) and even had the good graces to be born middle-class and white (basically a conservative bootstraps dream come true). However, even though she was employed, she did not have health insurance offered through her job. She would have fallen into the gap of making too much for state subsidized insurance, but was not making enough to reasonably cover the cost of a private plan in the pre-ACA open market. Thanks to the ACA provision allowing children to stay on family insurance until age 26 she was still on my parents' plan. That turned out to be a great thing when she came off a horse and broke her hip. Several days in the hospital, several hours of surgery and months of physical therapy later, my mum estimates the cash price of her care at well into six figures. My sister could have had a small starter-home's worth of medical debt before her career even got off the ground. Add that to the education debt most in her peer group carry, the lost wages from the 4 months of time she could not have worked and the possibility that there wouldn't even be a job for her at the far end ... it would have been game over. TKO. No amount of anti-socialist bootstraps rhetoric could erase the damage that would have done to her entire life.
I think this is the message that is the hardest to explain to people who think that health insurance is too expensive month to month, or that dang-it we are not going to be forced to buy anything by some socialist usurper. It doesn't take much to bankrupt yourself with medical expenses and all those unpaid medial bills cause rising costs for everyone. If my sister had not been able to pay those bills, the hospitals in question would have to raise prices next year to cover the services provided "in the red." Thus the cost to insurers goes up, and in the end, premiums go up and we all indirectly pay for those who cannot afford their own medical care. Hospitals also get those bills paid by outside sources including charities that run on federal/state/local grants and tax benefits provided for running such institutions. So, spoiler alert, your tax dollars already fund unpaid medical bills. While I personally have no problem with paying a little more so everyone can get their hip fixed, overall that is not a sustainable system.
As the video explains, when everyone pays in, the costs go down for everyone. Same reason that states require car insurance and your bank requires homeowners insurance. When everyone pays into the pool, everyone can have their cash when they need it with no one having to go broke. Insurance pools can be considered inherently socialist in their simplest form, but the same can be said for how we build roads, run schools and have a police force...things that most people seem to like just fine. Basically, many concerns and fears associated with the ACA are because people don't fully understand how health insurance and the payment for medical care works. This is understandable because it is really complicated. None the less, it seems a shame to me that much ACA-induced anxiety could be remedied with some simple education as to how the system works and what it means on the individual level. Of course, for those who have chosen to be willfully ignorant due to political philosophy, I have no idea how to remedy that. I merely hope that not too many people take a pass on a really great deal just to prove a point about how much they love Fox News.
Out of curiosity, and since for the first time ever I had all the data, I took a look at our healthcare costs for 2013. Needless to say I learned a lot about the relative worth of insurance, the relative value of ACA provisions and the profit margin enjoyed by most insurance companies. That will be tomorrow's special treat.
*As a side note, I think there is a gender disparity here. I suspect that young, healthy, single and underemployed men are more likely to fall prey to this fallacy since contraception needs and yearly screening "requirements" are less prevalent among men than women. As a young, healthy, single and underemployed woman, the benefits of contraception coverage alone might inspire participation since having an unplanned pregnancy sure shoots up the cost of your healthcare. The flip side being that injuries and accidents are more prevalent in young males, but it is much easier to make that "Future Steve's" problem than the immediacy of needing hormonal contraceptives for any number of reasons. Just a theory for future exploration...
24 March 2014
The afternoon after that post I got a call from the school that Charlie had thrown up all over the classroom and needed to be picked up. Soon we were eyeballs deep in a Norovirus outbreak that may go down in RI history. The school had the health department in for guided cleanings, attendance was bordering on too low to bother keeping school open and everyone was so sick. Just so sick. Charlie gave it to Liz, who gave it to me, then I passed it on to Chris and just when all that was clearing up...Liz woke up from her nap screaming in pain from her ear. The cherry on top of my week was her having lost a tube and immediately developing an ear infection. A trip to the pediatrician and the ENT later we are all cleared up and hoping that we don't need a new set of tubes, but we probably will, so there is that to which I can look forward. Add in the continued stress (though it is the good kind) of installing the bathroom and the stress (the not-so-good kind) of getting the garage fixed and yet again, my life was in shambles and we are finally coming out of that.
Today we got back on track with chores and routines. Chris did all the vacuuming this weekend and I feel like my life is back under control. The bathroom has walls and the giant hole in my garage is gone. I can finish my birthday shopping for Charlie online today (ma babeh! She will be 7! What!?!). We have survived the next round of life's little challenges and maybe I can even get back to blogging and other recreational things like showering every day and reading the four new comics that are calling to me from the shelf in the study.
A woman can dream anyway...
07 March 2014
Having been absent a month I am here to say: "in short, not dead."
February was a long hard month for us. Chris traveled like 80% of the month and when he wasn't traveling he was at work late (like,12 hour days late). While this is nothing with which I have not been challenged before, it did not go well. Long story short, I was very tired, very stressed and feeling very put-upon by the fact that Chris took no responsibility for maintaining his personal life, thus leaving the bulk of that up to me. I understand that he has to work, but when I can't even shower alone, it is hard for me to remain calm when he has missed dinner, without calling, for the third time this week. Needless to say it threw into sharp contrast the fact that for me even doing something as simple as getting on the treadmill takes hours of planning and prep, yet if he has to fly half-way around the world for a week, all he does is call travel and book a ticket. When it was 3 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon and Chris needed to pack for no less than three back-to-back trips with no clue that he only had two clean dress shirts in his closet....well, something in me snapped. This situation was bad for me (not to mention completely disprespectful of all I do for this family), bad for the kids who were spiraling into intolerable behavoir patterns and bad for Chris whose life outside of work was basically in shambles. There is now a new Sheriff in town. The kids have chores and AM/PM routines so I dont have to make myself crazy. Chris has a scheduled check-in at 15:00 to tell me when he will be home. Everyone is expected to do their part as a member of this family and as a unit we are no longer assuming that all those pesky little details of life "just happen."
On the upside (which quickly became a tragic downside) we got the bathroom install project started. Things went great! In a matter of days the unfinished space went from open studs and capped drains to a fully framed, fully wired, fully plumbed space with an entire shower it in it. So amazing! Then, due to a series of events which I do not have the emotional fortitude to get into right now, things were not so amazing. This is what my garage looks like now, and while it will get fixed, and better yet fixing it is 100% "not my division," it feels more than a little overwhelming.
Needless to say, today is going to be a chilling out day. Liz and I will just relax, read books and watch movies until our brains leak out our ears. Chris has invited a bunch of people over for dinner tomorrow, assuring me that it will be "no big deal" to get the house ready when 30% of it is basically a war zone. Good news for him, he will be making sure it is "no problem" by doing his fair share of the cleaning tomorrow morning, so hey, I can table that work until I have the full participaton of my partner. It is almost like everyone will be taking responsibility for their choices! That is an idea I can get behind.
28 January 2014
Lately I have been reading a lot of comic books and generally getting into the genre. Now I certainly have so much to say about that whole experience (as a fangirl and a feminist), but it all is getting tabled due to this little related Twitter gem:
“@thatkylemcmanus: any advice on writing strong female leads in a comic?”
"@josswhedon: Must value #strength but also #community & not have peeny/balls"
So yeah, that happend. Oh Mr. Whedon, did you learn nothing from the Penny Arcade debacle(s)? Are you now so secure in your position because you said you thought "women are people*" that you no longer need to consider exclusionary language? Or maybe you, just like many of us who enjoy cis-privilege, did not think it through when making a "joke"?
Now here is the deal. I genuinely believe that he did not mean for this to be offensive or exclusionary. I don't think he is genuinely transphobic, but I do think he sees no problem furthering entrenched bias through "jokes" like this one. As we all try and grow into better people, we all slip up. As a die-hard feminist I sometime find myself engaging in anti-feminist (or cis-centered) rhetoric and then catching myself. As cultural norms of inclusion grow and change, we often find ourselves in seas of vernacular and concepts that take some effort to navigate. We all slip up, we all learn, we all try and do better.
Most of all, we aplogize when necessary.
This is where Penny Arcade, Whedon and countless others can't seem to get it together. The whole PA debacle could have been remedied with an apology, some indication that there was a lesson learned and promises that in the future sensitivity would be applied. But no. Middle-aged-cis-white-hetero-dude who firmly believes that being bullied as a child entitles him to bully others, had to deliver frothing screeches about "censorship" and escalate the whole situation by designing a line of merchandise that effectively mocked sexual assault survivors. (Consider that a brief summary, there is a wealth of writing on this topic if more nuance is desired.) See also: PA comments on transexuals, poor handling of harrasment at PAXcons and so on. This is like PR Fail 101 stuff, not to mention How Not To Be A Jerk 101. Really people, focus up here.
Whedon took effectively the same approach, though he thankfully did not embrace public escalation with PA levels of fervor. Instead of apologizing he made a snarky remark implying that anyone who couldn't take the joke, or who was too stupid to see it as a joke, could take a hike. For a man who claims to be telling us all how to be feminists, he sure likes that "don't be so sensitive, it was just a joke, you silly things" gaslighting strategy. Sorry, but we all expect better of him. We all know that Whedon is capable of greatness in this specific regard, so show us that. It is not only demeaning to all the people he othered with this comment, but it is also demeaning to his own (albeit not perfect) track record of inclusionary art.
So, for your perusal and use whenever needed I present a basic template for getting your act together and being a full-on humanist adult.
I apologize for my earlied comment (fill in examples if needed). My position of (cis/heteo/white/affluent/whatever) privilege led me to believe that my comments were (harmless jokes/ironic/satirical/whatever) and now I understand that this was not the case. I never intended to (marginalize/erase/trigger/deny lived experiences/etc) of (relevant populations). I now understand that these comments are not funny or clever, but merely reflect entrenched views of exclusion that I do not desire to further. I appreciate this chance to learn and grow as a humanist and, as always, admire my fans' dedication to (inclusion/equality/freedom) in all things.
Then actually do it. Actually make those changes to how you talk, write and act. If someone responded to the criticisms in this way, you can see that it was a genuine mistake that came from a place of ignorance, privileged or laziness, not a place of hate. When a person immediately goes into "defend my entitlement" mode, it is hard to see that. People can change, people can learn, ignorance can be fixed when not willful, people can make mistakes and most importantly, people can apologize and work to do better.
*This is a tricky area for me. On the one hand "woman are just people" is a perfect humanist view. It implies that gender is not the defining characteristic of one's characters and that one sees little need to stick with strict gender roles/sexual identities/stereotypes in creating one's art. However, this is also an effective tool for silencing anyone who ever implies that something one has done/said/written is sexist/transphobic/homophobic/racist/eliminationist. Like Stephen Colbert announcing (satirically) that he "doesn't see color," Whedon saying he "doesn't see gender" serves to shut down any discourse to the contrary. It is a cover-all clause saying "I treat everyone one way (via cultural guidelines that are entrenched in cis-hetero-white-norms) so you can't be offended if I treat you that way." It ignores the fundamental experience of being a woman while allowing hearty round of self-praise on being so progressive. </humorlessfeministrant>
02 January 2014
Here we are firing up for a new calendar year. Last year was pretty good to us. We finally own a house, paid off the Honda (no car payments FTW!), and Chris is still in love with his new job. It was not all rainbows and unicorns, but despite two ENT surgeries, lots of work travel, changing Charlie's school and the general malarky that accompanies having a kid in the 3.5-4 range...we have all emerged more or less unscathed and better for it all.
I am already over the idea of resolutions, I cant even be bothered to look up last year's and lament/celebrate. I do, however, want to set some goals to serve as guidance for my year. Not so much hard and fast success/fail declarations, but just some touchpoints to remind me of the big picture when faced with the increasingly common feeling of just being adrift in this world of SAHM-dom.
Health and Fitness
- Mostly I just want to keep at the running and working out. I feel better physically and mentally when I take that time and work my body. There is a trio of St. Patrick's Day 5Ks I would love to run. Not a huge challenge, but a good motivaton to keep going even when winter is coming (and the nights are dark and full of terrors.)
- No more dieting. No Weight Watchers, no food journals, no cave-man/tribal bullshit. I will feed my body healthy foods because they taste good and are good for me. In a convoluted tale for another day, I have found that there is no way to make my fat (but healthy) body thin without making myself unhealthy, both mentally and physically. D.O.N.E.
- No more obsession with the scale or the number on my clothing tags. As long as I am fit and healthy, the fact that my pants say 8, 18, 28 or whatever has no meaning.
- Read. Last year I totally did not keep track of my books and now I really wish I had. Not only do I want to read at least 52 books, I hope to actually keep track.
- Work through the yarn stash. If I knit a skein a week, I would still not use more than 75% of the yarn I own. I feel no shame about this, people spend way more on hobbies that are far more idiotic (fishing and lawn maintenance come to mind), but the yarn should be used, enjoyed and turned into items that will make friends and family happy.
- Do more charity crafting. I didn't do as much of that last year, and I miss doing those projects. I dont have gobs of cash, but I do have time and some skills to make things that charities need.
- I will get this bathroom put in if it kills me.
- Sort out the kitchen cabinets, a year later it is about time to overhaul the organization and maybe get rid of some stuff.
- Fix the twidly stuff: repace some trim, paint a few walls, regrout the shower...little things that are not hard, or immediately required for safe daily living, but sure do make the place look better.
- Either get Lizzie in kindergarten in the fall, or plan a homechooling curriculum that put her in first grade for school year 2015/16. She is 100% ready for school and, not to be that parent, she will be bored to tears as a second child/girl/physically large child/kid that is much older than her proposed peers, so we need to get organized about that.
- Ditch the training wheels, it is time, it will make life way easier.
- Try and be more patient with them. Too many years of organizing my life around the endless and unpredictable whims of my family has left me a bit...touchy...about things that are just kids being kids.
OK. Let's do this. Despte 2014 kicking off with a broken down car (while in NY on vacation, car still in NY getting fixed and me driving my parents' Hummer H3 like a deranged person), a snowstorm and a To-Do List that is already growing 3x as fast as I can cross stuff off, I think it will be a great year.
05 December 2013
I am still very much considering running the trio of half-marathons next year. I think that the only way to do something big with the running is to commit to something big. However, I still cannot fathom how I will train for it. I mean I know how to train, there are no less than 2.56 million guides available, but I have no idea how to actually get the runs done. I resolved to marking double digit mileage ever week in December as a kind of litmus test for the possibility of completing a training plan. So far it is Thursday and I have run 3 miles. I also have not showered or slept more than 2 consecutive hours in almost 48 hours, so the running may be the least of my problems right now....but anyway, the point stands. Even applying the disclaimer that the week my kid had surgery and my partner is traveling and we are knee deep in holiday planning and trying to get a bathroom installation off the ground might not have been the best benchmark week for working out, this is pretty on par for my life. That is the fundamental stumbling block for undertaking this had-a marathon thing: I do not have a lifestyle or support system that makes training feasible.
I can't rely on Chris to be home on time for me to get out and run, or leave late enough for me to get up early and run, or even be here at all pending his travel schedule. While my life now is basically an entirely different universe from my life a year ago, this fact remains the same. Chris' job comes first (and rightly so since it pays the bills) and everything else just has to work around that. Add in that since Chris works outside the house in a traditional manner, his time doing so, and his time not doing so, are sacred. Underlying my frustrations regarding carving out some time to run are my frustrations with the fact that my home is my work. When I am home, I am at work. When Chris is home, he is not at work. If he is tired when the laundry needs folding, he goes to bed. If he wants to relax when there are dishes to do, he plays a video game. If the kids are up at night, that is my problem because he has to be rested for his "real work." For him being in this house is time away from the bustle of work and real life while for me, being in this house is just a 24 hour Groundhog Day style repetition of all the menial, yet entirely necessary, tasks that must get done. So no, I can't just run after the kids go to bed/before Chris leaves/while the kids play because that time is also when I have to take care of the housekeeping/cooking/bill paying/life administration in addition to my more or less full time job of caring for kids. I know there is a lot of overlap between all those tasks, but ask yourself how much you pay for child care and is it worth it? That will give you an idea of what it takes to be on kid duty 40 hours a week as your primary task, never mind doing it 24/7 for almost 7 years. Basically I do all the work of a credentialed preschool plus all the work of someone who is solo-parenting for basically "free." It is the right choice for us, but it isn't without its downsides.
So basically, this inability to just freaking work out a few times a week has put a glaring spotlight on how, for someone who is not considered a functioning member of society since I don't log my hours for pay, I certainly don't have a goddamn minute to call my own. The only reason I am blogging right now I becaus I happen to be between loads of laundry/medication delivery/dishwasher cycles and the kids, for the first time in months, are both napping. Of course, doing this means I am not running, paying the bills or finishing my holiday gifts, but hey, it's not like I am working or something. Right?
Next week is a new week, hopefully Charlie will be doing better, Chris' work schedule will settle down and I might even get to run like twice. Looks like I may be rescheduling my race dreams until Liz goes to school. When I should be going back to work, as opposed to my current days of leisure. Assuming of course that work still allows me to be primary caregiver/homemaker/administrator since, as a woman, that is still expected of me. I can totally see how adding 30 hours of traditional work to my already massive litany of tasks will totally free up all the time I need for this goal.
Some days are just a little harder. Some days this all seems just a little more futile. Some days I wonder if I will ever get to do my thing, even for an hour a day...
27 November 2013
I managed to not complete NaBloPoMo, though I am not feeling too badly about it. I did blog a lot this month and now feel like I am back in the groove. For me the exercise served its purpose. As for the rest of my non-blogging week...well, sometimes parenting is like 120% hard.
Today I had to pull the doorknob off Liz's bedroom door in a grand gesture re:not locking mommy and daddy out of your room because that makes it really hard for us to help you when you have a nightmare. I absolutely hate to start regulating the doors on bedrooms, it is kind of a squicky area for me, but safety and all that. In short, I grew up very much aware that I had no space that was "mine." Not to sound like I had some tragically restricted childhood, my parents were very permissive and supportive in so many ways, but I always knew that while it might be my room, it was my parents property. It was kept clean and styled to their standard and my mother made no bones about the fact that she would, and did, go in that room and rummage in the drawers/desk/closet whenever she felt like it. Privacy was something you got when you paid your own rent. So yeah, I hate to start telling the girls they can't lock their doors and regulate traffic in their own areas, but as a 4 year old there are too many times I do need to get in there right now. We settled on no locked doors, but we all need to knock and ask to enter when going in someone else's room. Seems like heavy material for 4 and 6.5.
These kids really will be the death of me. Today it was super rainy and when they were sent to the car so we could drive the tenth of a mile to the bus stop and avoid the wall of water, I come out to find them standing ankle deep in a puddle, umbrellas upside down collecting rain and the two of them staring at the car like the monkeys with the monolith in 2001: A Space Oddesey. Jesus H. Jones, is this what my helicopter parenting has created? Kids who will literally stand in the rain until they drown? With all that I have taught them, how is It that they have failed to learn to take a goddamn step to help themselves? Of course, Chris at 31 is often also completely unable to figure out the next step, like when faced with a dishwasher full of clean dishes and a meal's worth of dirty ones, and he does just fine. Maybe I just need to let this play itself out.
Add in Liz's sudden refusal to go to her previously enjoyed story time and organizing our upcoming tonsillectomy...I am knackered. I am sure this too shall pass, but goddess have mercy, this job can wear you down. Sometimes I wonder how is it that I have know these tiny people all their lives, yet everything about them is such a mystery to me.
22 November 2013
21 November 2013
Today was a bit hectic. Early dismissal, riding lesson, cleaning for an IL visit and trying to explain to the ENT surgical center the online paperwork is done. Like no really, for real, it is done. The whole debacle had me saying "yes, I filled in the medical passport" and the receptionist saying "you have to do the paperwork on our website" and then me saying "what do I click to do this paperwork?" And her saying "the tab that says 'medical passport'" then my head exploding. Only counting to like a trillion kept from yelling "oh just call me when you figure out how to use your own website, until then fuck off." There may be some hormonal-related hostility here, but honestly, this would be well beyond my coping skills even on my best day.
Anyway, today I have a few news items and blog posts that you might like.
- Anna Mardoll wrote some great posts on the Goldiblox thing. Her initial post talks about women and STEM retention rates, while the follow up discusses GoldieBlox specifically. Both are great reads with even better comments. These do a way better job of explaining what I was trying to get at with my recent post on the matter.
- My other article is just some follow up on Senator Gillibrand's bill to remove sexual assault investigations from the chain of command. As usual Republicans are doing whatever they can to not let a vote happen. Because of course they are. Apparently Jesus only said "support the troops" with the disclaimer of "unless they are gay, or slutty enough to get raped." I also really resent the fact that the reporting of this news had to mention that the senators involved have suffered a personal rift as a result of the debate. I suspect that we wouldn't have to hear the implication of emotional flare-ups if this was a pair of male senators. It is the little things that just wear down my feminist soul.
That is probably plenty of negativity for one day. Now for a Angry Orchard Shake and some TV. Serenity now!