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Teeth are optional in the USA

22 Feb

Warning I am in a pissy mood…so if you aren’t in a pissy mood, feel free to catch me some other day. I woke up Sunday morning, still reeling from the great relocate Dad to Maine project that ended abruptly and without resolution. After all my Dad leaving while it’s nice in the short run to have my house back still doesn’t solve any of the problems that we/me was hoping to solve. While lying in my bed letting the thoughts run through my mind, I realized that my mouth didn’t quite feel right, not quite pain but definitely uncomfortable. So I ran to the bathroom and grabbed a mirror and flashlight to look in my mouth and sure enough noticed that my back gums seemed inflamed. Initially I didn’t worry too much but by Monday morning, it was clear whatever the issue was, needed the care of a dentist.

Uh-oh…like millions of Americans I don’t have dental insurance. Shit, I was only just at the dentist in November and while my visit did reveal a few things that needed to be done, the truth is I simply didn’t have all the money at once to pay and explained that I would need to do the work one procedure at a time spread out over time. The office staff and dentist said they understood but the vibe I got was that to be honest they didn’t get it. Oh, the very helpful office lady told me I could apply for credit via Care Credit to finance my dental work. Yeah that was real helpful. Considering that we are still digging out from the 18 months of unemployment I had back in 07-08 and the Spousal Unit’s decreased client load, our credit has more holes that a hunk of Swiss Cheese and I already knew that Care Credit wasn’t an option because they turned me down a few days before I went in for my exam. I had sorta sensed I was going to need a bit of work and was trying to be proactive but I didn’t share this with the office manager. Instead I smiled sweetly and said, I will be in touch.

The treatment plan has been sitting on my desk in the inbox since November and I have been trying to work the various procedures into our budget…eh, it’s been a mixed bag. Oh I only need a few fillings which alone aren’t too bad but I also need a new crown which with a whopping price tag of $1034 simply is not going to happen until after houses taxes and insurance are paid in a few weeks and the tax man gets his money on April 15. I was pretty okay with waiting until this new issue came up.

Well yesterday after waking up in great discomfort…who am I kidding, shit I barely slept. I realized fuck let me call the dentist. Turns out the dental office was closed for President’s Day so I left a message and after an hour decided to call their emergency number. The on call dentist called me back and while gracious enough to call in a prescription for antibiotics was adamant that I needed to come in this week. No, shit Sherlock! By the way what is it with these people speaking to folks like you are all of two years old?

Nope, the real fun started this morning when the office staff called me back to schedule that appointment and I brought up the matter of what was this little visit going to cost. I guess they aren’t used to folks asking that question but this is already the office that charged me more than I was quoted earlier for a visit and didn’t include the cleaning I was told would be included. So I will admit I am already on the fence about them, but since this is all coming out of pocket the idea of starting with yet another dentist and paying yet another couple hundred for an initial visit doesn’t make sense to my wallet.

While on the phone the office gal stressed that depending on what the good dentist finds when I go in later today they will have to get started today. I calmly explained that while I understood, I was concerned with matters of paying for this emergency work…I could hear the blank face look through the phone. I do have a few hundred that I can use today but the truth is if the good doc tells me whatever work he needs to do exceeds my ability to pay, either we need to look for a cheaper option (extraction) or I will have to delay this a week or so until I have some more money. As I nicely told the lady I can’t manufacture money…I suspect there is a notation in my file now that reads bitchy patient.

However this whole situation got me to thinking about the millions of folks that have dental issues who really lack the ability to pay at any point. While I don’t have a great deal of funds, I know I can move some stuff around and more importantly once I get a few things off my financial plate, it will free up some cash but some people are in situations where there is never enough money to do that…ever.  Based off some of my Google searching that seems to be a lot of people. I was on one site where people were looking for home made remedies for dealing with dental abscesses. Yikes! One of my former staff folks had really bad teeth, broken teeth, missing teeth and at one point an abscess but in the two years he worked for me he never went to a dentist. Why? Because he couldn’t afford it. I remember when the abscess got bad he went to the ER for treatment. I wish I could say he was an isolated case but in my line of work I see plenty of people who are in this shape, even in my center I have some teens that have bad dental issues.

People who don’t know better often say well can’t folks go to a sliding scale clinic? Good luck with that one. I know in my state, it takes months to get an appointment and frankly these appointments are never conducive to folks who work. Ask me how I know? Yep, I tried that last summer before breaking down and saying fuck it, I’ll just have to deal with full dental prices. In many states adults on Medicaid are not covered for dental care unless it’s a major medical emergency. So by the time you have teeth rotting out of your head and you have multiple abscesses then you can see a dentist and at that point you are saying bye bye teeth. Its extraction for you! You didn’t need those teeth, eat mashed potatoes and oatmeal.

So is it better for kids? Depends. Due to low reimbursement rates many dentists just pass on accepting Medicaid patients even with the tykes or the wait is so long…well you get the picture. The not so funny thing is the fact that good oral health is needed for overall health yet we live in a nation that does not make that connection as more and more employers simply don’t offer dental insurance. For many families struggling to survive, teeth and dental health are seen as expendable in the family budget and who the hell can blame them. If dental cleanings and exams average $135 (what we pay for my kid) to $200 (what I pay) and you have 2-3 kids plus the adults, that’s a lot of extra cheddar. That says nothing for if cavities are discovered or heaven forbid more work is needed. To the few Americans that are more or less still financially solvent that may not be a big deal but to many it is, if the choice is the mortgage or dental work…most folks will take the mortgage. Can’t live in them teeth.

Yet the issues with dental care in this country and make no mistake it is an issue, after all remember this case. Kid in the US of A died due to a lack of access to dental care. The issues with access to dental care are simply part of the other things that are broken in our system. We the people at some point have gotten confused; we have all started buying into a dream that is just that…a fucking dream. Instead of demanding that we all have access to good schools, good healthcare, etc we instead see it as moral issue and spin it as those without are simply lazy bastards. We see the folks who will still take a stand as leeches on the system, maybe what we need to do is examine ourselves after all in these turbulent times, our fate can change with the wind. As for me, fingers crossed the dental issue is minor or else I might have to put on my Spanx and look for some side work if ya catch my drift.

When a phone was just a phone

15 Feb

I suspect that the bulk of my readers are old enough to remember a time when every home had a land-line telephone, when call waiting was a new and exciting feature and when cellular phones first arrived on the scene. Back in about 1993 I had a job working for a market research firm that did work for the movie industry. In some ways it was a glamorous job especially because when we were in the field, we were given a cell phone to use to report our findings back to the office. Ahhhh, my first time using a cell phone and it was unbelievable, big, clunky and in a bag. If memory serves me correctly the connection and sound quality wasn’t great but damn we were talking on a mobile phone!

A few short years later in about 1996 or so I recall getting my own cellular phone and it seemed so sleek compared to my earlier experiences. I think it might have been a bronze colored Nokia, I remember how neat it was to call someone just for the hell of it. Of course my poor husband was still walking around with beeper back then, granted pay phones were still fairly plentiful so normally if I paged him he could call me back within 20 minutes or so.

I think back now what seems to me just a few short years ago when I moved up to the Motorola Razr and how cool that phone seemed, not only could I make calls but dammit I could take pictures and send a simple text message! However back in 2009 I made the leap to a Smartphone at that time getting a Blackberry because they were hot. Oh it was love at first sight, my goodness I had a gadget that was pretty much a computer that I could put in my bag!! I was hooked.

But technology is steadily progressing and not even a year after getting that Blackberry, it started feeling dated compared to my son’s Droid and my other friend’s i Phones, but I am loyal. Besides I hate having to start all over and trying to be frugal I figured I would just stick with my trusty old Blackberry. Yeah, sometimes she gave me a hard time and of course there was the issue of the track ball that occasionally got stuck making it hard to use the damn thing.

Yet all good things must come to an end and about two weeks ago, the poor track ball got stuck and none of my usual tricks worked. I realized old Bessie the Blackberry was going to have to be replaced when I couldn’t access my address book and payroll needed to be called in. I didn’t think my staff would be too happy about not getting paid because I couldn’t get the number of the person I needed to call.

So at the beginning of a large snow storm, the Spousal Unit and I braved the snow to go to the local Verizon shop to see if Bessie could be repaired or for a simple replacement. Upon getting to the store the staff announced that Bessie was no more…her ball had gone off the track one last time. I had known that might be the case so I was fully prepared to get another Blackberry since they are economical also I like… no need a keyboard. Since gaining possession of an iPad during the holidays I have learned there are limits as far as me and touch screens especially when doing work related stuff.

Well the handy dandy staff showed me the Droid Pro, the latest Droid apparently designed to entice faithful Blackberry users…the holdouts clinging to the candy bar design and the keyboard yet who want more out of their gadgets. Fuck it, I said. Turns out it was upgrade time so they offered me a deal (yo, remember when they used to give us free phones every 2 years for being faithful customers?) so I walked out the door with my pockets $160 lighter and a fucking beast in my bag.

Let me tell you it’s two weeks later and I still don’t know what the fuck I am doing with this thing, someone told me they were Tivo’ing with their Droid…I’m like hey how the hell can I assign ringtones to select folks so I know when to answer the phone? Don’t get me wrong, I have decided to keep the phone and while I agree with elder boy that the navigation system is lovely, lately I find myself longing for the days when a phone was a phone. Nowadays you must have apps to maximize your enjoyment of your gadgets…all I want is a simple internet connection, email and a phone.

For some reason I am remembering Star Trek…space the final frontier. Lately it feels like phones are the final frontier.

Week in review or a world gone mad

20 Nov

Well hello dear readers! Long time no write. To say the past week has been hectic would be an understatement, my personal world was going crazy at the same time the world in general seems to be losing it’s mind. Got plans to fly this upcoming week to share some turkey and trimmings? It seems before you get on the plane you will have to decide whether you want to be scanned and have your whole body on display to some unseen TSA worker or get the more personal treatment and get felt up by some wanna be Robocop in a bad uniform wearing gloves. Of you can go the John Tyner route and raise a little hell and insure that you won’t be eating turkey with loved ones and then face investigation and a possible fine. I gotta be honest as someone who only flies when it’s absolutely necessary, these changes are making it even less likely I will be flying anytime soon. You want to touch my junk then we need to know each other or you better be hot as hell.

What is it with Sarah Palin and her progeny? Good gravy, for a woman with no job, she gets around like a blunt at a stoner party. We have Bristol on Dancing with the Stars and the other Palin girl tossing gay slurs around like farts after too much fiber intake. Someone please make these women go away…far the fuck away.

In my world, I have learned a valuable lesson…hiring a bad employee is a real time suck. If you recall a few months ago I had to hire some folks for the agency I run. Well after 6 weeks of training someone who I admit was a questionable hire, the bottom fell out. The worker was not a good fit and I found myself this week planning on firing her but she did me a solid and quit with no notice. Integrity….does it even exist anymore?

I know we live in a time and day when everyone is looking out for self and maybe it’s a sign of my getting old, I can’t fault anyone for taking a position that pays more…been there myself more than once in my career. On the other hand it’s not what we do, it’s often how we do things that speaks to our character and who we are. In my case the former employee rather than being upfront, drug things out by calling in at the last minute for several days. Considering I work with at risk kids who need stability such behavior has a shitty effect on the kids also the former employee due to lackluster performance came close to jeopardizing several projects. Thankfully I realized ahead of time and planned ahead but it’s come at the cost to my own family and putting in way more hours over the past week to play catch up. Anyway vent over…wish her well.

In other news, my Dad is officially moving in with me, we have confirmed dates and I admit I am getting nervous. Yet as the Spousal Unit reminded me this move is the right thing…damn, being a grown up is hard as hell. I won’t lie right about now I long for the days when I could just be free to do me but there are times as an adult when we simply have to do what’s right. It’s like the Cod Liver oil I take daily, the shit is nasty yet it’s good for me.

So that’s all that is shaking in my world. Catch ya on the flipside and here is hoping next week there will be a little more time for blogging.

ETA:  It seems my links are being a tad wonky I will try to fix these as soon as possible.

Sick Days

21 Oct

Excuse the lack of postings, I seem to be battling a nasty bug and combined with a packed work schedule simply am too tired to post. I hope to be back  in a few days with some new musings .  I will also be unveiling my new Tumblr page where I will have daily shots as seen around Maine. I am also toying with the idea of adding some fashion shots to the Tumblr page. Have no fear though this blog is my baby and I will not be abandoning her.

Have a great week!

Computer Beg-a-thon Needs You!

26 Aug

OK, I have realized that quite of few of my regular readers were definitely put off by my recent announcement of the BGIM computer beg-a-thon in the wake of my workhorse computer catching a nasty virus that turned it from a machine I can work on to basically being able to only surf the web with. Even that is janky at times.

I understand that here in America, talk of money or lack thereof is viewed as tacky and frankly makes folks feel uncomfortable and that most certainly was not my intent. On the other hand, I like to think if you are a regular reader, well we are friends and well friends share the things that are going on in each others’ lives and might even say can ya help a homie out!

In a little over two years, I have built up a comfortable readership and loved interacting with those who take the time to either email, comment on the blog or follow me on Twitter. I have actually even had the chance to meet a few of ya’ll in real life and there are definitely a few more than I hope to meet in the near future. You guys rock!

Which is why when I realized that my computer was fucked, I thought I would take the bold move of running an online beg-a-thon to see if anyone could or would help out. I chose to make my blog’s home here at WordPress because I think they run a lovely user friendly operation, also rarely do you see ads. In fact I can’t have ads and frankly that is fine by me. In the blog world, its big business to monetize your blog and sure I’d like to earn a few extra shekels…who wouldn’t? But the fact is I blog because I enjoy it and I am just into it for the fun of it. I’m a big mouth who likes to talk and the blog affords me that opportunity.

However it does mean that since I work in the non-profit sector, am married to a freelance writer, got a kid in college and am not monetizing this blog, when stuff happens like my laptop dies…well I need a little help from my friends. (or in this case readers, though real life friends who want to donate to the cause, please do…I’ll bake my famous banana chocolate chip muffins for you)

I am not the first blogger to pass the hat around and I won’t be the last but in light of the fact that while the beg-a-thon started off good, it seems to have fizzled but my need for a computer has not. So while I don’t want to turn off any readers, I do want to say that hey, if you got a few bucks to spare, think of me. 🙂

PS: While I would like to move away from PC’s based off my incredibly bad luck with them (4PC’s…3 of them laptops in the past 8 years) I am not married to the idea of a Mac, its just my first choice, though at the this point a good dependable laptop is my priority. The reason that I am adding this is I have had several folks contact me on why I want a Mac rather than a PC since PC’s are cheaper. Also while Linux may be groovy, after doing some research, I think I am not quite tech savvy enough to be messing with Linux, so while using Linux would be the cheapest option, I know my limitations.

It’s okay to be mediocre

12 Aug

We are living in crazy times here in the US, many of our fellow country men and women are struggling to survive to the point where just keeping food on the table is a struggle. Yet at the same time many of us are still playing our role as the ultimate consumers. Fancy meals, coffee drinks (yeah, I am guilty of this one), standing in line to get the newest and latest iGadget, all the outward signs of success. I often wonder how many of us can really afford these things? Make no mistake, I know not everyone is struggling but most of us are living in denial. If we lost our jobs and didn’t find one in six months or so our world would collapse.

Yet despite the grim statistics that in this new America a permanent underclass is being created where a good 10% of us at any given time will be jobless and many more are underemployed. We still cling to the dream that we must achieve success and that well… success will include climbing the corporate ladder or maybe the non-profit ladder or owning our own business. Success is often defined by what we have rather than by who we are and frankly I think that is fucked up.

Social media allows me to stay connected enough to remind me that the second reason why I chose to move to Maine was that I wanted to get off the hamster wheel. Prior to our move to Maine and the eventual downsizing of our life, the Spousal Unit and I worked hard to the point early on we had a patch where work was fucking with our marriage. A boss who does not give a damn that your wife is sick has a funny way of creating tension in a marriage especially when your presence is requested on a Sunday just so you can sit in the office and be on call for a client. When the Spousal Unit was fired from his lovely well paid position at a Big 4 firm, it was the beginning of a turning point in our marriage that turned out to be preparation for life in Maine. Yet because we made the conscious decision that our marriage and family was more important than anything else I suspect its one of the biggest reasons that we have weathered the financial storms of life.

In many ways we have reached the point where we are okay having less, that as long as our basic needs (and I admit we are defining basic a bit broadly), are met that we are fine. In a world that says mediocrity and settling is bad we are at the place where we are ok with settling professionally and even financially when our personal life is so rich. It’s funny because the past few months have been some of the best times personally for us as the kidlet has gotten older and a bit more predictable (i.e. regular bedtime).

Last night before I drifted off to bed, I told the Spousal Unit that I was content with our life and he replied that he wished he could do more for us, like rehab this 127 year old dungeon we call a home. I won’t lie, it would be lovely to just hire contractors to fix this place but I am happy to just have a home and more importantly a home that is paid off, the rest will come in time.

To my young readers and maybe not so young readers, I guess what I am trying to say is life is too fucking short to spend your time chasing shit that won’t really make you happy. Sometimes we set goals of things we think will change our life and guess what? Those things often aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Instead happiness must come from inside, true its hard to be happy when your belly is empty and you are sleeping on a park bench but the fact is if you got a place to lay your head, food, and more importantly you have good people in your life that is the shit that matters.

I guess in some ways this may seem strange coming from someone who is holding a beg-a-thon to get a new computer after all if I had a better job I could just go out and buy the damn thing. But while that would be nice, the fact is even this blog is a labor of love that I could not do if I were tethered to some high paying gig, thus not having the chance to meet all you fabulous folks who read my ramblings. So don’t let others define who you are by what you have or don’t have, know that you are fabulous no matter what!

Can you help a sista out?

11 Aug

If you read my last post,or follow me on Twitter you are aware that my main computer (i.e. the one I use for my day job as well as stuff like… oh writing this blog) is dying a fast death. Over the weekend I got hit with a virus that while the virus appears to be gone has made my already janky computer damn near unusable. If my computer was just for pleasure it would be sad but I could limp through using my mini netbook and the broken down computer. However I work for a very small non-profit and my flex schedule allows me to do a great deal of work from home but in order to do that work I must have a functioning computer. Sadly our organization is small and convincing  the board of directors to buy me a computer is not going to happen since as the person who puts together the budget I know the cash ain’t there.

Now I could do all my work at work but then I would end up spending a lot more hours in the office and frankly as a working parent that would suck. So I looked over my budget and the truth is with house taxes coming due in less than a month and college boy starting college in 2 weeks, running out and buying a computer right at this moment is just not happening. The Spousal Unit and I are working hard to dig out of debt and as much as I need a working laptop (computer travels with me from home to office so it needs to be a laptop) running out and using credit is just not the responsible thing to do.

Once upon a time I would have thought nothing of charging it but after years of living beyond my means and dealing with the aftermath I am trying to be responsible so I am holding a help BGIM get a computer beg-a-thon. Oh I already know there are some who will say and have already told me they find such things tacky and hey that’s cool. Yet over the years I have heard of too many folks who have asked for help online in some cases to dig out of debt and guess what? Folks helped out. So I created a page at Chip In where if the spirit moves you, you can help a sista get a computer.

I am hoping to get a Mac, I realize that sounds luxurious but after having 4 computers in 8 years I am getting a little tired of PC’s. Seriously in the past 8 years I have had 3 laptops and 1 desktop, all either were infected with viruses that rendered them unusable or they simply died. My ole desktop got me through grad school and after realizing the hard drive was literally smoking it was replaced with the laptop that is now headed to computer heaven.

I would have a widget on the side but since I use a hosted WordPress account I am not allowed to put a begging widget on the sidebar though it looks like it may be possible to get a paypal donation button up.

Seriously though any and all help would be greatly appreciated. Got $2-3 in your paypal account, every little but helps and if for whatever reason you are just not down with helping a sista out, well send some good vibes this way. Better yet you got a good usable laptop sitting around collecting dust, I would be happy to take it off your hands.

So if you can here is the place to go for the help a sista get a computer fund. Thank you dear readers.

I have so much to say but…..

9 Aug

Hello dear readers! I am actually anxious to get back to a regular blogging schedule, it seems this blogging thing actually helps me to clear out the bits and pieces of shit I hold in my mind. However a few nights ago I was doing some surfing, actually I was on twitter, clicked on a link and….fuck, I caught a virus! My primary computer which I might prize more than anything aside from my kids and the Spousal Unit is fucked the fuck up.

Looks like I caught something called Ativir, anyway it basically fucked up my browser so it no longer works and long story short it’s going to be a moment before I have my computer back to normal. Thankfully I have a backup netbook but I must say that bitch is fucking tiny and its hard to use or maybe it’s that my ass is getting old. Anyhoo, I hope to be back up and running soon, however if you just need to know what’s happening in my world, follow me on Twitter.