Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Perhaps it's a pattern

Someone who uses her sick days … or feigns she has them to use, what a disgrace.

I do not like being closely questioned about what doctor or not I did or not consult during my mid-week illness. Would someone like to hear disturbing things that can't be responded to about my uterus, perhaps?

Looking back, my first jobs disintegrated on their own. Babysitting: the couple moved to California. Taco Bell during college: they knew my time-terms … and on the last day the A/C was out (hanging from the ceiling), and my drawer at the end of the no-electricity day [all human-based math] was at an exact $20 over. Did I take it — I who had been lectured on a few cents' difference by a manager who could not seem to keep our napkin supply adequate? No, of course, I did not steal that stupid money. What I learned was much more valuable.

I learned that I am terrible at live triple-multi-tasking, though, since then I have acquired many skills in that area; most have been while on my ass, but I trust my body could do just as well interfacing with my brain while standing. Also, no Facebook risk!

Once I quit a job with a letter. I found a replacement, though. Don't ask me why watering plants in coolers, placing pipette-tips into pipette-trays that went into the autoclave (steam sterilizer) and washing lab dishes afterhours was painful.

In many ways, I enjoyed it. Keys to a whole University Building. Flexibilty to come in whenever. Nothing difficult to do …

Then I had a job for 16 hours over one weekend during Finals (I had asked not to be put on until x-date, following Finals and a visit to my mom for Mother's Day, but …) and then I put a three-page letter in to the manager. When I went to collect my paycheck, she said something about my being an English major, but she did not note how much courage I had then to come there at all.

Having gone through the CPR and other "here are the government-approved binders of 'everyone can get this'" material at a few days' training for an overnight position at a home for developmentally disabled adtuls, I freaked out about not being able to sleep all night until my arrival at midnight, must have fallen asleep, certainly put someone's life and others' at risk and annoyance, and put the training binder into their street-side mailbox along with a letter in the morning.

When I worked at a Methodist-based social services agency, itself about 80 years old, I found myself one night upset at the computer trying to make lessons and instead crafted a six-page resignation letter. Parts of older letters were used.

I drove to the site, waited in my car until the day-care staff arrived and then put the letter clipped upright to a standing folder that was labeled "Oh no" on the cramped desk in our planning basement room. Seriously.

Then I drove to Columbia, Missouri, when I still knew how to get to the parks; I hiked around the pines. I read, in its entirety, "The Bell Jar."

My holiday season job at Bath and Body Works started one November. It crashed and burned the following April (they said it was not guaranteed to last, so I guess I was done) when, one Sunday during "change all the decorations around after hours per the hand-out from corporate (never mind that your store did not receive all the props depicted)," I happened to be painting at my other FT+ job.

We all know that Killz oil-based is a bear.

And I drove home, having overstayed, hoping we had turpintine. This place has at least three cans of paint thinner in it now.

Then, no. I freaked out and could not even bear to call and say what was going on. When you work in Beauty, you can get obsessed with how your forearms are covered in white paint.

One of my memories is of driving to Home Depot for solvents. I may or may not have found them, but either way, I was discouraged and gave up.

I sent a letter a few days later through the mail. I never did get the four books back I had lent to a fellow "associate." But I did not have the courage to go and try.

The last job I had I quit all properly, with my eyes off-focus and my rhetoric spilling out.

Before that, I was not so much fired as lied to and not paid.

The IRS experiences are varied:

first time: quit during slowing down season, and legally;

later: quit by calling in a bunch and saying I was ill / I was in school and then using my ID to get in between shifts and leave notice in my "in box" folder file on the desk outside supervisor's office by the "25¢ coffee" pot;

last time: quit by calling in and never hearing back and so being labeled a.w.o.l:

The fact that they keep sending the generic postcard to sign up for next season is charming.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Not-a-Bill Received

I would say, on the whole, that so far Aetna's 6-page missives are more explanatory than my United/American Medical Security ones ever were.

So far, it looks like nothing is going toward the annual deductible (?) and that I owe an ER-copay and a doctor's fee.

In other news, the house is getting me down. I don't know what happened to the "to do" list that was posted on the refrigerator for the first three years we were here, but I have a solid sense that very little that was on it was accomplished.

Mostly things have reached a crisis of accumulation, an accretion that threatens to bury me.

No, there are not giant stacks of newspapers everywhere, with little paths between and infested with rodents. There are small stacks of things, however, some even in proper storage containers. The problem is that they represent objects at rest upon which no force is predicted to act in the forseeable future.

There are dust bunnies that, when collected, add up to regular lapine size – and with such frequency that my ardent Swiffer-ing cannot be faulted as the cause.

A dining room table where no one dines. Upon its cloth are a few broken bowls, one containing feathers, some candlesticks, an oil lamp and a stack of postcards that represent 25¢ each were they to be processed as data entry "work at home" work.

A living room in which nothing lives. Magazines are splayed open along the sides of the couches to deter the resident feline from shredding at them. Charming decor.

The deacon's bench has not been a place anyone could sit for perhaps two years. Mostly it has items that were given to us and unwanted. I am too conservative, though, to recycle into oblivion the potentially hazardous (look up aluminum and Alzheimer's) ice-cube trays, for example. They maintain such a pleasing mid-century design and a quaint hint at engineering that I simply can't discard them willingly. There is a lidded soup-pot in the back of our car, a more recent unsolicited give-quisition … along with a few other odds and ends that obliterated the Wow, The Car Is Free Of Both Clutter And Trash that I accomplished a mere month ago.


I don't mind the forces of nature bringing things around in cycles of birth, decay and rebirth – what I struggle with is the human construct that it's Noble to struggle against them. A house is a place of false security. It was made once by human hands only to be ever-needy of their continual intervention.

Would I be happier replastering a hut annually with mud? I don't know. But this hut is so huge by comparison that I can't think of where to begin. I remember when, so long ago in micro-domestic geological ages, the basement was clear, its floor sweepable, its only drawback a few crickets which moved out soon after we moved in.

The basement stairs are still insecure. The stairs leading from the back door are approaching a hazardous state. The hot water pressure is laughable. Think of how depressing it is to take a shower in America like that. Good morning! I wonder that the showers in prison aren't of better quality. I might as well hoist up kettle-water and dump it from a bucket. I might not mind that if other things were not also troubling.

How about this one-year plan:

• paint the rooms that have always wanted painting; plaster up the weird holes and paint — it will improve the mental environment in at least two ways
• scrounge up $10k and get someone to replace the roof … (keeping in mind that the IRS is waiting for approx. $5,000 presently)
• take a real vacation from work that is several days longer than a standard keep-up weekend and haul away or store off-site in plastic tubs all the items that are pre-art-projects (clothes, frames, metals, material, etc.)
• make making things something that happens in a studio of deliberate intention
• see what happens when there is more free space around
• see if someone won't buy it as-is for perhaps the size of the loan it holds
• leave anyway

When I was growing up, I saw twice and for many years the way a house can tear down a life if the life is not financially large enough to support it. I suppose I wonder most about how I did not learn a thing from this long observation. I even had the lesson repeated to me as an adult. What folly the American Dream, that it is strong enough to insinuate itself behind one's own logic and training.

It may have been easier to have just had children.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Health Care Logic

This is not a bill: $15 for EKG.

Second correspondence, a few days later, and 17 days following incident:

Amount billed: $0
Member rate: $0
Pending or not payable, "A claim that needs more review by us or an amount we did not pay. You may or may not have to pay this. Read the 'Your Claim Remarks' to learn more": $232
Deductible: $0
Coinsurance: $0
Copay: $0

… moving on to Your Claims Up Close:

Emergency Services on ____ [#random code] Amy M. Stubbs [Don't you remember meeting her? Really? Wow.] Refer to Remarks Section, $232.


General Remarks:
(1) You or your spouse may have other insurance that would cover this claim [which is silly because we are your only insurance, and you don't know what the claim is]. Please call or write us to confirm. If you or they [incorrect grammar] have other insurance, please send us:

1. Name, birth date, and member ID of the insured
2. Group name
3. The date coverage began
4. Name, address, and phone number of the other insurance company [because we want this to be on your Google-time, not ours — and what makes you think that our industry has some kind of handy database at its disposal? Sheesh …]
5. Employment status of the insured — actively employed, retired, or on COBRA benefits

This information may be found on the ID card for the other health plan [which does not exist].

We will make our decision within 15 days of getting the information. We'll deny the claim if we do not get this information within 45 days from the day you receive this form [a date which cannot be proven but unless you blog about it, but we have no money to look into that; also, it's confusing, isn't it, 15 days or 30 days after that — or is it really 15 days? Business days or calendar? Ah-ha, you are confused now, aren't you? You are not at all sure how you may or may not preserve your rights!].

For claims sent from Texas: Your claim may remain open if we do not get the information. [Please, do not wonder why that is … we can't just succintly say, "Laws vary by state, you know, the United States of states' rights and non-nationalization of anything means exactly this fact, because that would be inefficient and cause loss of freedom (to move to another state that has slightly different and better regulations)."]

For claims sent from North Carolina: You have 90 days to send us the information. If we don't get it [note, this is regardless of whether you send it or not], the claim will be denied. You will have one year from the date of the denial to give us the information. We will then reconsider your claim. [In other words, we often wait YEARS to get paid, and we seem to be o.k. with that. But, no, that has nothing whatsoever to do with the cost of providing healthcare.]

For NY plans [the state of New York does not need to be spelled out like the other ones]: If we do not get this information in 45 days, we will process the claim with the information we have on file

(2) Your provider may have sent diagnosis codes with your claim. [Soooo, why don't we have them — unclear! Why do you need them — unclear!] You may obtain these codes [again, your time, not ours] and their meanings [b/c such things are by no means standardized — you think this is an organized country or something?] by contacting us [not the hospital — remember we don't  really know what happened to you at the ER, and they can't tell you, either (until later in this letter)] at the number listed at the top of the first page. We will also provide your treatment codes and their meanings, if they do not appear on this statement [which you and I both know, they DON'T]. If you have questions about your diagnosis or your treatment [please, no requests about this statment itself], please contact your provider [not us, even though we just told you to call us to get the codes].


Any suggestions? Obviously, I have to make phone calls. Obviously, I'm not sure it's worth $230 to try.

I didn't mention the two pages after that with each state's Consumer Assistance Program numbers. Are those to help me decipher the bill or to help me pay it?

Also, my policy says I have a co-pay and a deductible. As usual, I just don't understand this system.

And I am pretty sure no one was meant to.

A friend of ours who is about 50 but seems at least a decade younger (and hence is uninsured; a very fit man, mentally and physically) just busted up his ankle on a job site. Going to ER was imperitive, unless he wanted to end up like Jurgis Rudkis and so many others 100 years ago. Perhaps I can provide this poor dear's medical statements for our collective enlightenment at a later date.

Veterinary bills — those make sense!

Monday, October 08, 2012

What Your Amazon On-Demand Movie List Says About You

In no particular order. If I had an editor, this would be more engaging.

Casablanca: you have a thing for inevitability, impossible romances and cheesy one-liners tossed about where folks are drinking.

A Streetcar Named Desire: you have a thing for inevitability, middle-age-reaching women who have a drinking problem and like teenagers; of course, you have read the play and then read it again, while watching the movie and taking notes.

Jaws: you have a thing for inevitability, "realism," mechanized sharks (and the sea); you were so inspired as a young kid seeing this on TV that you drew at least eight scenes, from memory, with Crayola on computer paper.

: you like inevitability, thwarted genius, and costumes; the director's cut is not so bad.

Jaws II: you are an optimist who wishes she hadn't paid $10 for a sleepy sequel (also you like inevitability and you thought it would be as good as the first one).

Cabaret: you like politics, inevitability, green fingernail polish and people whose lives are colorful and tied to things Fosse-esque. You lived with one of his descendants, who was crazy but brought a lot of cable-recorded VHS tapes into your life.

Mary Poppins: you are a whole other type of optimist, who relishes voice-over singing, cardboard sets and one of the earliest attempts at live-actor+animation; you remember that some kids you babysat watched this so many times, you thought you'd explode.

Dazed and Confused: you watched this in college a few times and think it's a fun faux-nostalgic look at the America of your two-year-old youth.

The Graduate: you like watching rich LA people from the '60s be bored with the status quo, set to the soundtrack of something you listened to at least 345 times as a high schooler after you found the record (and taped it on a tape for your Walkman) at the house.

Lost in Translation: you can't get over Billy Murray movies, and this one includes not only that lovely girl but also outdated (when you were there) references to Japan.

America: World Police: you love puppets, especially the irreverent type; you respect the Sesame Street you grew up on, but this is just as good at your age.

Office Space: you like outdated scenes of drudgery that you are old enough to find humor in — a 3.5-inch floppy with a virus? Hilarious!

The Triplets of Belleville: you like animation and dark humor.

Jesus Christ Superstar:  you enjoy the costumes, the sincerity and the extreme danceability of all the tracks; you sing them in your sleep; this reminds you of when you would sit in the basement, reading the booklet that came with the four-record set your mom had; even though she now votes Republican, the fact that she used to sing this, too, along with Elton John, Boy George, and the Who, provides a different kind of nostalgia.

The fact that you have no films that are any newer than 1990 (this is a guess): you also read late-18th to early 20th-century novels no fewer than 20 times each.

The majority of these movies have brought me to tears more times than I have bothered to count. (Not Office Space nor Jaws II).