Friday, December 02, 2022

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Broken-Hearted Girl (2009)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) In this song, Beyonce admits her feelings for a man she doesn't want to love. Do you believe we can choose who we love? Or does the heart go its own way? I'm not 100% in either camp, but I lean toward the latter.

2) In the video for this song, Beyonce plays with a red rose. Florists report that the most popular colors of roses are: red, white or ivory, yellow, pink, peach or orange, and lavender or purple. Do you have a favorite? I admit it: I'm not crazy about roses. They cost too much and don't last very long. What's sadder to see in a vase than a dying rose? Now that I'm over my rant, I'll go with red or white.

3) The video was filmed in Malibu. Southern California is a popular vacation destination. Have you ever visited there? Have you ever lived there? I've been there on vacation at least four times and will be back this April for the TCM Classic Film Festival.
4) When Beyonce was just 12, she appeared on the show Star Search as part of a vocal group called Girls Tyme. The girls lost, but Beyonce said the experience taught her that she wanted to be a performer for the rest of her life. Share a memory from your own junior high years. I remember my posse, four of us who went everywhere together while we were in 7th and 8th grade. It was my first taste of freedom. I could go to Jack-in-the-Box (within walking distance) if I paid for it myself and I went with them. One of our moms would drive us to the movies and drop us off (instead of coming in with us). I especially remember the annual fun fair, a fundraiser for the nearby Catholic church where we bought little round pins to wear on our denim jackets. I'm still in touch with one of the girls. I refer to her on this blog as my oldest friend (because she is!).
5) As a girl, she helped her hairstylist mom by sweeping hair at the salon. Do you have a hair appointment coming up? Yes. Saturday I will be cut and colored. I guess my hair is kinda my thing. Last week, one of my young neighbors was riding in the elevator with me while talking to her mom on the phone. Her mom asked who she was talking to and she responded with my first name, which didn't seem to ring any bells. My young neighbor elaborated: "You know her! The white lady with the highlights and all the Cubs shirts!" There are worse ways to describe me. I'll take it.
6) In 2009, when this song was popular, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg unsuccessfully tried to buy Twitter. Elon Musk acquired Twitter last month. What social media sites do you spend the most time on? Facebook and Twitter. I try to limit my Twitter exposure to baseball news. Everyone else seems to have forgotten their manners since Mr. Musk took over. I'm also not excited by the scantily-clad women who suddenly have appeared on my feed. I guess Elon has to make money somehow since more conventional advertisers are jumping ship. Oh well, I can scroll past what I don't like. I predict Musk will soon either blow it up or sell it.
7) Also in 2009, Sony sold floppy disks at most retailers. But things change fast in the world of tech and by 2011, Sony quit producing floppy disks altogether. Floppies were replaced by flash drives, which have been replaced by cloud storage services ... Do you still have any floppy disks? I may. I'm such a pack rat, I don't really know what all this overstuffed apartment contains.

8) In 2009, Michael Jackson died. Do you have a favorite Michael Jackson song? Man in the Mirror.

9) Random question -- We're having a Saturday 9 potluck lunch! What will you bring? Fruit salad. No one else seems to bring it, and it's easy.

I chilled out

I've been tightly wound lately. So when today I found myself with nothing I needed to do -- no doctor's appointments, no calls about insurance -- I did what comes most naturally.

I went to the movies.

The Fabelmans is a movie about movies. It's Steven Spielberg's onscreen autobiography, and it's affecting and tender. 

I also had a nice big gooey bowl of pasta. Snarkypants sent me a gift card for my birthday and specified it be used for lunch. I respond to direct commands, so I did. (Thanks, Snarkela.)

While I have discussed with my shrink that my natural tendency toward alone time may not always be the best option for me, and consequently have gone out of my way to be social (separate birthday celebrations with one of my former coworkers and with Joanna, road trip with Elaine, weekly movie group), days like this have their place, too. 

A word about Constance MacKenzie

Like me, my Connie Cat has bad teeth.
She began her life with a hoarder, one of 26 cats in an apartment. When I adopted her, I was warned that her eyes and her gums were a mess because of poor diet. Look how wide those eyes are now. The photo below, taken when she first moved in here, shows how incredibly light sensitive her eyes were. Just keeping them open was a struggle.

The teeth are an ongoing issue, though. She's already had two teeth pulled and now we're looking at a third. This isn't surprising, really. At 11, she's approximately 60 years old in human years. Plus she had chronic gum disease for her first two years. 

Right now she's on an anti-inflammatory to combat a sore in her mouth. It might be an allergic reaction to her ceramic bowl -- since replaced with stainless steel. Next we have to have some bloodwork done. If she's in good shape, we'll schedule the extraction.

She is a sweet girl. She depends on me. As much as she hates the vet, I hate thinking of her being in any discomfort.

Stop, Gal, breathe

I admit it: I'm not doing very well as I adjust to this new period of my life.

A lot of it is because I'm navigating unfamiliar seas. I've never been this old before. I've never dealt with bureaucracies this often before. No, this is not going to become one of those tiresome "government fucks everything up" screeds. The issue that I had (now resolved) with the State of Illinois unemployment service was part my fault and part my former employer's. But it did take hours online, hours on the phone, and two separate in-person trips to iron out.

Now it's Medicare. I signed up for Part A (free Hospital Insurance) on September 1, more than 80 days in advance of my 65th birthday, and it was easy peasy. Got my card in no time. I didn't apply at that time for Part B (Medical Insurance). There's a premium for Part B, and it was redundant with the Blue Cross/Blue Shield I had through work. I didn't know on September 1 that I was going to lose my job.

Well, I lost my job on October 27. I applied for Medicare Part B on November 1, still in advance of my November 22 birthday, for coverage to begin on December 1. I was sure it was going to go smoothly. The insurance broker I've been using* wasn't as sanguine. He said that while he was certain I would eventually be covered beginning December 1, he didn't think I'd get my card by then. Too many other Americans are applying this time of year (December 7 is the open enrollment end date) and the system is overburdened.

He was right. I've been on the phone with Medicare three times, and these are marathon calls. (The shortest one was 40 minutes.) Why, I keep asking, if I have a email receipt saying my Part B form was received, can't I find online status of my application? Finally yesterday (December 1) I learned that my application was being reviewed.

Both the federal employee I spoke to on the phone and the broker seem confident that my coverage will be retroactive to December 1. After all, I qualify and I applied within the prescribed window. I have spoken to both my shrink and my chiropractor about this and they're both very, "Yeah, we get it." Both will continue to treat me without proof of insurance since I have that email receipt. And let's not forget that I've had Medicare hospital insurance for a while, so if something BIG goes wrong I can still confidently go to the ER for care.

And it's always my teeth. Forever my teeth. I feel like I've been going to the dentist every week for years now! While I was in the chair Tuesday (a 90 minute session), I was told that I had reached my 2022 maximum. I wasn't surprised. I've had a lot of work done.

When I said, "Ok, I'll see you all in 2023," this seemed very reasonable. After all, Tuesday was November 29. We're talking about skipping a month. ONE MONTH!

The hygienist, who was doing double duty because the billing specialist has the week off, was telling me that, since I'll probably blow past the deductible and hit the 2023 max pretty quickly next year anyway, I should just schedule work for December. I appreciate that she is concerned about how the temp crowns will hold up, but she shouldn't have brought it up when I was in the chair.

Here I am, with ten fingers in my mouth, staring at the ceiling, thinking, "Oh my God! I'll never be able to pay for all this!" It was depressing and stressful.

When I was able to take a break, I said to both her and my dentist, "I am paying for medical procedures on my liver and kidneys. That has to come first. If my GP was here, she'd say that my teeth can be replaced but my organs can't, so they have to come first."

My dentist said he agreed, and that January would be fine. The hygienist was still very "but the crowns!" And I understand her concern. They are temporaries and are only intended for use for a short time (hence the name). But there are realities of time and finance here.

My dentist said, "If these pop off, come in. Unless it's Christmas Day, come in. I'll replace them." He reiterated that as I was paying my bill on the way out. (By the way, I paid $800 that day.)

I'll be OK. When I got home -- away from the drilling and as the medication began to wear off -- I considered the cash I haven't budgeted for. Remember the unemployment I mentioned way back at the beginning of this post? I never included that in my financial calculations so I can use that for my medical bills. I had hoped to wait until November 2023 to begin receiving Social Security, but I'm eligible for those funds right now, too. I can use my "social safety net" money to pay these BIG bills without depleting my retirement funds.

But retiring is hard. Harder than I expected. Too many variables. Too many things I can't control. I wasn't expecting not working to be so much work.

*I suggest everyone contact an independent broker before you begin the Medicare journey. The amount of materials you will receive is dizzying, and it's hard to do on your own.


Reg is sad and I don't care

Apparently my friend Henry is still in the hospital. I gleaned that from Reg's 220+ word Facebook post. Mostly what I got from it is Reg visited Henry. The rest of it is Reg ruminating about how he has failed Henry. 

I agree with every syllable, but when I got to the end I wanted to comment, "Yeah, but when is Henry coming home? How is Henry feeling?" 

I didn't, of course. I'm angry, but I'm not cruel.

Besides, I don't know that Reg would even notice my comment. He's all about the emojis -- the cares, the sads, the loves. Most of the people who reacted don't even live in Key West and haven't seen Henry since the accident. Some haven't even met him. These are the people Reg wants to hear from. Not people who know the truth.

One woman -- unique in that she actually cares about Henry, knows him from church -- responded with: Now, while Henry is in the hospital might be a good time for you to talk with a therapist, a good time to just take care of you.

Yeah, like that's going to happen. 

We're now in December. I had made my peace with the idea that this Christmas will be the last time I'll ever see Henry. I'd kinda like to know if he will be out of the hospital, at home, or maybe in some kind of assisted living facility next time I see him. Or will I even be going to Key West for Christmas?

I will miss Henry. I love him.

Reg loves him, too. When I'm not mad, I'm sad that Reg's attitude precludes us comforting one another over what we have lost.