Currently…

I am having so much trouble finding things to write about in this space.  I think the problem is because I started this blog telling stories about big events, that I look at it in that vein.  There just aren’t a lot of big things (except for my impending grandmotherhood, which is still impending and not here yet) going on day to day for me these days.  I still haven’t gotten the knack of transitioning this space into a stream of consciousness, write about daily life, whatever strikes my fancy type of place.

But in my fitness blogging, I came across a blogger who had put some writing prompts out.  Maybe that’s what I’ll try for now, until I get my footing of writing about my current days, even when nothing seems like a big enough deal to write about.

So, thanks to Running with Spoons for this blog prompt.  🙂

Current book:  None.  I’ve been so terrible about reading anymore.  I am in a book club, of sorts, but we hardly ever choose books to read and we get together, if we’re lucky, twice a year.  The real readers who were the impetus behind the group forming have all moved away, and now it’s really just a social thing.  I don’t have a lot of time to read these days either, so most of what I am reading amounts to blogs on the internet.  And reading is one of the things I love!  OY!  Must find a book and time to read it.

Current music: I just downloaded a few new tunes for my race playlist:  Peace by OAR, Glowing by The Script, Classic by MKTO and Ain’t it Fun by Paramore.  I’m actually paying more attention to current music because of my bootcamp classes.  Before I was filling my playlist with slow, angsty music that really didn’t do much to get me moving.

Current guilty pleasure:  Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  I liked me my OC girls and my NYC ones but never got into the truly over the top BH ladies until this season.  Now I’m freakin’ hooked.  Dammit.

Current nail color:  clear and chipping.  With the amount of work I do on the computer my nails never really can get very long; they’re right on the edge at this point.  I go in phases with the nails.  I bite, they get short, I get a manicure, I like the way they look and feel, they grow.  Rinse, repeat.

Current drink:  fruit flavored tea.  I’m back on the weight loss train and trying to fill my belly in the afternoons with something other than plain water.  Also helps with the bone chilling cold here in the northeast.  Peach is really my favorite right now.  🙂

Current food:  my newest favorite thing that I’m eating is tortilla pizza for lunch.  It’s easy, you can put anything on it, and it’s healthy.  Feels somehow more filling than a salad, but that could be my salad bias.  Somehow salads just make me mentally go blech.  I eat them but they are never my first choice.

Current obsession:  started my half marathon training today.  Yes, you read that right.  Me, who has never been athletic in her life, has signed up for a half marathon after two and a half years of dragging my slow self through 5Ks and 10Ks.  It’s the next logical step for me.  I know I’ll never be a fast runner, but for me it’s about completion.  Not many people run, and even fewer complete much more than 5 miles on a regular basis, so I really want to reach this milestone.  I am sure the next three months will be spent researching, talking about it, reading about it, and generally annoying the crap out of everyone about it.

Current wish:  that my grandbaby would get here!  My daughter in law is due on Friday and the waiting is killing me!  I’d like to travel to be there if at all possible, and the logistics of that get dicier every day with having my two younger kids involved in all sorts of activities.  So I’m hoping for a safe, healthy delivery sooner rather than later.

Current triumph:  seriously cutting back on my wine habit.  I was drinking 2+ glasses a night, more on the weekends.  I managed last week to drink only 2 glasses on two days out of the seven.  That was a big deal!

Current bane of my existence:  teenage girl drama.  My daughter is truly testing my patience.  I want to love her and share things with her and she is truly unpleasant to be around these days.  It’s so hard to figure out how you can love someone so much and still dislike their behavior so intensely.

Current indulgence:  new iPhone.  Best Buy was having a deal where you basically turned in your 4s and they gave you a 5s for free.  I wasn’t sure I needed one but now I’m very glad to have a spiffy new phone.  🙂

Current procrastination:  finalizing sponsors for the 5K I plan.  We have to close them out asap and I haaaaaaaate approaching people for money.  Hate it.  But it’s so necessary to making the race successful.  I have two more to deal with and six days to do it.  Must not put off any longer.

Current blessing:  work!  I have more and more website jobs which i am truly excited about.  I love the work and I’m learning something new with each project.  Also, money.

Current excitement:  grandbaby!!!!!  Can’t wait to know if it is a boy or a girl, what its name is, what he/she looks like, and hold the baby!  I can’t wait!

Current mood:  content.  Other than the teenage girl drama, things are going well right now for us.

Current link:  MyFitnessPal.  With me trying to lose weight again, this is my most used link these days.

So that’s where I am currently.  🙂

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A Bit of a Rant

I hate calling the doctor.  I hate going to the doctor.  I hate making the appointment, the time spent on hold, the time spent in the waiting room, the verification of my health insurance.  I hate the whole thing, which is why I don’t go nearly as often as I should.  I made my appointment for my annual exam yesterday, and it has been nearly two years since I have been.  Before that, it was five.  And before that, I pretty much only went when I either suspected I was pregnant, was pregnant or wanted to ensure that I didn’t become pregnant.

And it’s silly, really, because I have no trouble at the doctor.  Hardly ever.  I am exceptionally healthy, despite still being overweight.  I exercise often.  I eat healthy food.  I have always had very few problems gynecologically.  I don’t smoke.  I do drink, but rumor has it a glass of wine a day isn’t a bad thing. And I am exceedingly fortunate to have health insurance.

The insurance card I carry when I go to these multi hour long, mind numbing doctor visits is like the golden ticket.  If I want to enter those hallowed halls, I better have that little rectangle of plastic to gain admittance.  We had a major change to our policy two years ago, and it was amazing how profound the effect was.  Our primary care doctor would no longer accept us.  We had to pay out of pocket if we wanted to still use their services.  Fortunately the kids’ doctor still accepted the insurance.

We were given what is known as a high deductible plan.  Basically, we pay out of pocket for everything except for preventative care until we hit our deductible.  Kid running a fever?  $80 if I want a doctor to tell me why.  My daughter’s ADHD meds?  $144 a month until we hit that deductible.  MRI?  There’s a thousand bucks down the drain.  Last year we hit our deductible very quickly because my husband had to have an outpatient procedure done at a hospital.  Several thousand dollars had to be paid, all at once.

This year, things are a little better.  We’ve had time to adjust and save up money in our Health Savings Account, so now we have funds built up in there in case something happens again.  The HSA helps us plan out and budget for those pricey meds or the x rays the kids might need after that spill at summer camp.  And we are very, very fortunate that we are so far able to meet these costs, and that the preventative stuff is covered entirely.

I mention this because as flawed as our insurance feels like on the consumer end, it’s better than nothing.  My sister’s family will be losing their health insurance next month and will be forced to buy a private policy.  A policy that likely will make ours look like a Cadillac to their Hyundai.  A policy that will likely be very hard to find due to her daughter’s physical and mental health issues, which will become known as the dreaded PreExisting Condition.  My husband’s cousin has a PreExisting condition and has found herself virtually insurable under any private policy.  What they’ll do when she needs to be hospitalized or needs an MRI or any of the inevitabilities that come with her condition (she has Multiple Sclerosis), I have no idea.  Go bankrupt, I suppose.

It just seems astounding to me that in our country we can let this happen.  Let people starve or lose their homes rather than protect their health.  I don’t know if the current law being debated by the Supreme Court now is the answer, either.  It seems like a cobbled mess put together with the compromise of political interests in mind, rather than a true system that universally offers care.   Everyone must know someone, or have had experience themselves with how flawed this system is.

So I will go to my doctor visit in a few weeks.  I will complain about the wait, the tedium and the seemingly uselessness of having another clean bill of health granted to me.  But this time, I will stop myself before I get too far into it, and remind myself how truly lucky I am to have inconvenience be the only negative outcome of that visit.

 

Philosophical Differences

“What the heck is this?” I said, handing over our town’s local paper to the person sitting next to me.

We were at our First Selectman’s home on a Saturday morning in April.  He’d invited my group of education advocates over plus a few of his political allies in town to discuss the budget defeat the previous week.

It had been a full court press again, just like last year.  Except more, much more.  Many more people became involved in the leadup to the vote, on both sides.  Our success last year in spreading the word that sometimes you have to raise taxes to keep solid infrastructure and educational systems in place had been noticed, all over town.  People I didn’t know came up to me and thanked me for my letters to the editor, my website, my emails.  Our small band of six became a larger group as more and more people asked what they could do the following year to help stave off a protracted budget battle.

But we also earned the kind of animosity that comes from a sudden success.  In our tiny New England town, there were a great many people who didn’t appreciate our little band of “newcomers” (not one of us had been born here, and several of us hadn’t even grown up in the Northeast) coming into their town and shaking things up.  They were frugal New Englanders who didn’t like to spend money on nearly anything, much less property tax increases.  The buzz started slowly around the start of school in September; that we were a bunch of lazy parents who wanted the schools to do our parenting jobs for us and that we wanted the whole town to pay for it.  In January, when our First Selectman held a townwide forum on education, the comments were bitter, and forceful.  We were accused of being a PAC and warned that if we stepped outside of the law, we would find ourselves in trouble.  It only made us more willing to go to the mattresses.

We met on Saturday mornings all winter; sometimes with our newly hired Superintendent, sometimes with the First Selectman, sometimes at one of our private homes.  We carved out a get out the vote strategy that included all of what we’d done last year but more. We ordered lawn signs, car magnets, flyers.  We studied election law and filed the necessary paperwork.  We created a budget and made sure we stayed under the amount allotted to not be considered a PAC.  We essentially amounted a full on political campaign to pass a budget with a tax increase around 3%.

It failed.

But even in our failure, there was success.  The vote margin was small, less than 200 votes.  This was unheard of in our town.  Normally the first budget vote failed by a thousand votes; last year it had been nine hundred.  To get that vote margin down that low meant we had done something right.  We were determined to regroup and get the budget passed on the second try, as we had done the previous year.

And so we met again, this warm spring morning, at our First Selectman’s home.

“I saw that,” he answered, looking at the small ad.  It was an odd poem, cryptic, that poked fun at the name of our budget advocacy group, and congratulated our town for not passing a tax increase.  It was mean spirited and angry, and unsigned.  “Who do you think would do that?”

My friend Alan piped up from across the room.  “You know that old guy who comes to the budget meetings and always talks?  He used to be the president of the taxpayers group in town.  I’ve talked to friends who have lived here a while and they said it looks like something he put in the paper before.”

“I don’t get this, though.  If you don’t want your taxes to go up, why would you spend money on an ad that says nothing, other than neener neener neener, you didn’t get your tax increase?”

Our first selectman, Tom, looked at me.  “Don’t you get it?  This isn’t about money to them.  This is about principle.  They want to spend their money they way they want to spend it.  They don’t want to have to pay for your kids, or my road, or anything other than what they choose to.  They might come to these meetings and go on about all the people going to the food pantry or losing their jobs, but that’s not them.  This is philosophical for them.  They just don’t want anyone telling them how to spend their money.  They want to keep their money.  And they are perfectly willing to spend thousands of dollars, more than what they would have paid in taxes, to do it.”

I shook my head, taking back the newspaper from him and looking around the room.  “Well guys,” I said.  “We don’t have thousands of dollars, but we have passion on our side.  What are we going to do this time to make it happen?  Let’s get busy.”

“The general has spoken,” chuckled Tom, winking at me.

What We Did

Thursday, September 1, 2005:

I can’t tell you all how amazed I am at the response to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Project. I am sure you’re all watching the news as much as I am, and what I’m seeing makes me feel even more strongly than ever that we must do whatever it is each of us has in our hearts and talents to help these people as soon as we can. The stories we’re seeing look like they come from somewhere else, but they’re here, in our backyards, they’re our brothers, neighbors, family members…and I only wish that the tides turn soon on the hopelessness and chaos that has followed this devastating event.

I wanted to give everyone a little update and overview of what we have accomplished so far:
Nearly $6,000 donated already to various relief organizations
Many pints of blood already donated
Clothing and food drive organized for the Lake Charles, LA shows on 9/9 and 9/10
Donations of food, water, clothing to various relief organizations all over the country
I am amazed at overwhelming response. Thank you very much to everyone.

I have also gotten emails about children organizing car washes, donating their toys, organizing bake sales at their schools, water drives at their schools, working with their employers for donor matching and all sorts of great things. There are so many great ways to help. Thanks to everyone who is doing something, no matter how big or small, to make a difference. Nothing is small to someone who has lost everything.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Well it’s been an amazing two weeks to watch the Hurricane Katrina devastation, loss and glimmers of hope and recovery. If you’ve followed the journey on the news you have seen first hand the amazing images that I’m told don’t even touch the surface. The RS community has once again stepped in to try and help and we are amazed at the results.

The donation drive that has been ongoing since Wednesday, August 30 has raised $27,391.41 so far. Those that participated in the raffle drive to win RS related prizes, thank you. Thank you to everyone who donated prizes and to everyone who donated to the cause. We have stories of lemonade stands, car washes, blood donations (nearly 30 that we’ve been told about and we’re sure there are many more that we haven’t), volunteering at the Astrodome and many, many people who donated time, money and goods to help those who really need it right now.

Later press releases from Rick’s management touted the fan efforts for Katrina Relief which eventually topped over $40,000 in goods and monetary donations.  Fans worldwide donated blood, adopted families, pets and even helped fund the reconstruction of the Ronald McDonald House in New Orleans.  It was an all hands on deck effort that helped us not feel totally helpless in those dark days after Katrina hit.  My work on the Katrina relief efforts was by far the proudest I have ever been of any work I did in Rick Springfield’s name. The webpage I used to corral efforts (minus the .css file which seems to have been misplaced and gives the page an odd, amateur look) is still online at www.rickspringfield.net/katrina.htm.

Hey Jealousy

“What did you think?” I asked my photographer friend on the phone about our Rockford trip.  We’d been home two days and I was still basking in the glow of a job well done and a party well enjoyed.

“You know, I think that the new people in Rick’s camp were all pretty impressed by the luncheon.  I saw the new manager listening as you answered the reporters’ questions for Rick, and he was nodding and smiling.  He looked really impressed with you.”

I gasped, a little.  “Really?” I squealed.  But I was glad to hear confirmation of what I had thought as well. I’d had several conversations with the new manager, both during the luncheon and again backstage after the show, and I had felt like we’d had a good first impression with each other.

“Oh definitely.  And the amount of attention you got during the show was insane.”

“Oh stop.  He was coming over to you because he knew you’d be snapping all of those amazing photos.”

Renata laughed out loud.  “Seriously?  It wasn’t me he kissed on the forehead at the end of the show.”

That was true.  I had been standing in the front row, off to the right hand side during Rick’s performance.  I’d loved the show because it was very polished, very rehearsed; some of his live shows felt like he wasn’t trying as hard.  And at the end, he’d come over to where we were standing, and placed a sweaty kiss on my hairline, right there in front of the cameras and everyone.  It had been one of my favorite moments since I’d started working for him, hands down. In that moment, I felt sure it was the vote of confidence towards me, that I would be a part of the time during this time of transition in his camp.  “You’re funny,” I said, not wanting to discuss it further.  “Still, though, there’s something that has felt a little off since Rockford.  Not with Rick,” I added quickly.

“Let me guess.  You mean with the new web guy, right?”

“You felt it too?”

“Oh definitely. I’ve been trying to figure it out ever since.  And unfortunately, the only thing that I can come up with is that now that he’s seen the power of the fans, he’s a little more concerned about his position.”

My heart sank, a little.  It didn’t make any sense, but it was exactly what I had been thinking too.

She continued.  “I think that before he wasn’t too concerned about his new job and all that, but after seeing what you did with all of the fans?  You’re definitely not fading off into the sunset.”

I sighed.  It wasn’t good that she was picking up on it too.  The new web guy hadn’t come to the luncheon even though I’d made a point of extending an invitation to him.  And when I finally did get to introduce myself at the soundcheck afterwards, after months of friendly banter about the website I used to work on, he was aloof and cold. By the end of the night, in the small dressing room area where Rick was greeting fans, it felt as if he was almost trying to avoid me.  But I also knew that I was hypersensitive about the whole situation, so I had talked myself into believing that it was all in my head.

“Well, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of.  I have my hands way too full at home to ever be able to work on the site again.  All I did was exactly what everyone keeps saying my new job is; fan liaison.  I marketed this event to the fans and created an add on to make it worth their while to come.”

“Well, we’ll see how it shakes out.  Maybe we’re wrong; it could be that we’re both misreading the signs the same way; after all, we’re both a lot alike.  I guess for now you should just try to enjoy the good feeling and ignore the possible signs of impending doom.”

“Will do,” I said, already obsessing.

Crazy Charity Luncheon

Rick drew his dog, Gomer, and we used it in the logo with his autograph.

“Hi, I’d like to welcome all of you to the Shock Street Team Luncheon to benefit the American Red Cross,” I said into the microphone.  I wasn’t nervous; now that I’d been teaching adults at the university, public speaking amongst other peers had gotten easier.

Plus, everything was fabulous.  My friend Helen, who had planned the luncheon with me, had done an amazing job of working with the hotel.  There were shiny balloons everywhere, there was a cake with the logo I had designed, there was a lovely display of sandwiches and luncheon food.  The auction items had indeed appeared and two walls of our conference room were jammed with tables covered with items to bid on.  Rare items, old items, and lovely items from fan collections that they were willing to part with for the American Red Cross.  We were going to be able to raffle off soundcheck passes too, and one of the fans had taken on the job of walking around the room with the scroll of tickets, stuffing twenties in her tote in exchange for a few tickets.  Everything was going off without a hitch, and my sense of relief was kicking in.

The fans slowly stopped their conversations and started putting their attention on me.  I waited a second, and then once I had most of them with me, I continued.  “We’ll have lunch a little later, but for now, please feel free to check out the auction items on the tables up front.  We have some really amazing, unique items–” I stopped short.  I could feel my cell phone vibrating in my pocket.  I would have normally ignored it; likely this fan or that calling to ask me a question.  But just to be sure, I pulled it out to see who was calling first.

I saw the words “Rick Cell” blinking at me.

Shit!

Rick had offered to donate a guitar for auction, and we had been supposed to retrieve it from his hotel last night.  But between delayed flights and the fatigue factor, we hadn’t been able to meet up.  He had said he would have it brought by this morning, but I hadn’t heard from him.  Since I hadn’t advertised the guitar as one of the potential auction items, it hadn’t been something I would need to fix or save face on; just a lost opportunity.

Rick with the cake that sported the Rick Rocks Rockford logo.

“Um…I’m really sorry everyone, but I have to take this call.  I promise you won’t be upset about it.”  My voice was shaking all of the sudden, I could hear it.  Again with the sweaty palms.  I stepped away from the mike and turned my back to the crowd.  “Rick?” I asked into the mouthpiece.

“Yeah, hey, I’m trying to find the room so I can bring the guitar personally into the luncheon…can you send someone out to help me get in there?”  I gulped.  As perfect as everything had turned out, this would be icing on the cake.  I could feel my cheeks glowing red as fans to either side of me tried to listen in.

“Sure, I’ll send Helen out to find a security guard.  Tell me exactly where you are and don’t move.”

Like a dutiful child, Rick did as he was told.  I finished the conversation and pocketed the phone, turning back to the crowd.  One glance at my red face and shaky hands and they all knew who I’d been talking to.

“If I could ask everyone to take their seats,” I said into the mike.  “We’re going to have an auction item delivered to the room in a few minutes and they need a clear path.”  I smiled, I couldn’t help myself.  “Like I said, I don’t think you’ll be too upset about who the delivery guy is,” I said, dropping the hint as subtly as I could.

The Lesser of the Two

Zachary was in tears.  To see my fourteen year old son crying, my son who was so quiet and hardly showed any extreme emotion, was heartbreaking.

“But we just were starting to get settled here.  I can’t believe you want to take me away from everything I know, again.”

Z had seemed to bounce back quickly when we’d moved the first time, when he’d been in fourth grade.  He’d quickly found friends, loved our new house and our new neighborhood.  That said, we knew he missed his cousins, so moving out only a year later, when he was then in fifth grade, hadn’t seemed to bother him that much.  He’d been excited to get back closer to Michigan, and have the opportunity to see family on a regular basis.

“I know, and I’m sorry, Zach,” I told him, trying to cover up my own frustration and sadness at the prospect of moving.  “But your dad’s job…it will be an amazing opportunity for us.  There are so many great things about living out there; the schools are great, and a lot of them work with local universities to offer high schoolers classes.”

Z looked bitterly at me.  He knew his high school was a good one, one of the best in the Cincinnati area.   It wasn’t as if the schools were exactly lacking here.  “What about the band?  Are there good band programs there?”  Z was an avid musician, just as I had been in high school.  His high school boasted the largest marching band in the state of Ohio.  The training was rigorous, but meant that they had an award winning program.  Two years ago this band had played in the Rose Bowl.  He had been hoping for a big opportunity like that at some point during his own high school band career.

“I don’t know,” I said truthfully.  “I know I read that some in the area are very good.  We’ll do everything we can to land in a place where you will be happy, and find friends.”   Which was going to be no small feat.  Everything was so expensive.  I’d put the word out to a few Rick Springfield fans that I knew in Connecticut, to get a feel of where the good areas and what we could afford.  Sadly, we were discovering that Connecticut, at least the area we needed to be in, was just as expensive as Los Angeles.  The only benefit would be the shorter commute.  I’d found an award winning school district, but it was insanely out of our price range; median home prices there were $800,000.  I couldn’t even imagine what a house priced like that would look like in our current area.

“I don’t want to move.  I’m just getting started here.  There are so many things going on with my friends this summer.”

I nodded.  “I’ve told your dad that we will definitely not leave here until after marching band season is over in November. You can be sure that we will keep that promise.  I thinking moving mid year will be a better choice, so you will meet people there.” With Zach being fourteen, it wasn’t like he was going to meet kids outside playing anymore; he needed the social aspect of school to help his adjustment.

Z looked at me, only slightly mollified.  “There’s no way around this?”

I sighed.  I hated delivering edicts that were not of my own choosing; I felt like a helpless passenger on stormy seas.  “We could wait, sure.  We could just stick it out and let your dad see what else comes down the pike.  But we’ll have to move eventually, it’s the nature of the company he works for.  And if we wait, then the move could come at a much more inconvenient time; say, summer of junior year.  This way we at least have a little control over it and have time enough to get you settled and friends.”

His face smoothed a bit, the anguish fading slightly, the bright red of his anger evening out.  “I see,” he said, unwilling to concede anything further.  But the point was made.  He understood the situation, and he was grudgingly going to accept that of the two bad choices in front of him, this was the lesser of the two.

“I’m sorry,” I said to him, my voice cracking.  “I’m so, so sorry.”  I reached out to touch his shoulder, but he stood up without a word and walked out of the room.

I sat in silence on the sofa, listening to the sound of him bounding up the stairs two at a time, and then the sound of his slammed bedroom door.

This was not going to be easy.

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