In Our Head

Musings, thoughts, experiences…

Good things October 25, 2009

Filed under: hard times — heidi @ 2:00 am

I’m holding on, with every fiber of my being, to the notion that good things come to good people. My heart clings to this antiquated idea while my brains scoffs. It’s a load of bull, I know. A fantasy. But I’m desperate for something to believe in. I’m searching for a sapling of hope in a charred forest.

Hope. Hope that in the end, everything will be Okay. Copasetic. Just. When the neurons responsible for gloom and darkness, those that live in the rational part of my brain, begin to fire, my irrational brain responds with dogged repetition of that familiar old refrain: good things come to good people.

Every day, in nursing homes, in assisted living facilities, in any nook and cranny of this city where the aged loll, I meet genuinely good people. They tell of pasts filled with backbreaking work, or with nothing to eat, or of surviving unspeakable horrors, or battling illnesses that no longer exist, that ravaged their bodies and left them forever scarred. But these very same people, whose bellies ached from hunger, shared what meager morsels they had with anyone in need. Those same people sacrificed what little they had, without giving it a second thought, and they did so only because helping their fellow man was the “right thing to do.”

I’m fortunate. For brief moments, I immerse myself in stories of kindness, of goodness, of caring and selfless acts that came so naturally, they were almost reflexive. But things are different now. Younger people, people my age, people who should have gathered enough life experience by now, don’t seem to care about others. They turn a blind eye, walk away, change the channel, tune out.

You know what bums me the most? When that guy who fiddled while Rome burned, when that guy walked away from the smoldering ashes, he found a brand-spanking new violin waiting for him. And the little man below, he just kept getting burned.

Still, I cling to the notion…


H1N1 October 22, 2009

Filed under: hard times — harriettnelson @ 6:11 am
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So my partner  caught the virus at work and, predictably, I got it from her.

Day 1: I think I’m coming down with something.

Day 2: I’m sick.

Day 3: I’m sicker. Fever and aches. No energy. Cough.

Day 4: I’m really sick and I’m not getting out of bed.  Fever, aches, bad cough.  Energy?  What’s that?  Rolling over is a project.  Watching TV is too much work.

Day 5:  Slept (not rested, slept.) until 4:00 pm, then laid on sofa.  Fever gone.  Cough worse. Back to bed at 10:00.

Day 6: Slept until noon. Feel ok as long as I don’t move. Cough a little better.  Watched the news this evening.  Schools are closed because half the kids are out sick.  Pictures of children in hospital beds.  Interview with a man whose life was saved only by use of an experimental antiviral drug.  All the reporters are shocked and amazed. They seem stunned that people are dying from influenza.

Hello?   Has the world forgotten 1918?  Was anyone at all listening last year when public health officials told us that there was going to be a dangerous outbreak?  Am I living in some kind of alternate reality?  Yes, influenza kills people.  This has been going on for centuries.  Why are we shocked that it’s happening yet again?

Then came the news that really was shocking: reported, of course, very matter-of-factly.  70% of people in my state say they do not plan to get the H1N1 vaccine.  70% oblivious to the danger!  70% putting their children at great risk.  Now I was the one who was stunned.

Looks like we’re in for a doozy of an epidemic.  Hope I’m wrong.


Catch 22 September 25, 2009

So, here I am, unemployed, chronic health problems, no income, no health insurance.  What to do?  Look for a job obviously!

As an indigent, I receive basic health care through the county.  It’s not a lot, but it keeps me alive, and that’s a good thing.

Jobs are very scarce around here.  Our state’s economy is 50th in a nation that’s not doing so well.  A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to get an interview for a job in my field.  The work sounds interesting.  They seemed to like me.  They called me back for a second interview.  Looks like they’re going to offer me the job.  What a relief!  It’s only part-time, but it will be great to be working and to have a little money coming in.

But wait, part-time means no benefits.  I won’t be able to get health insurance through this job.  Once I start working, I won’t be eligible for care from the county.  Because of my health status, individual health insurance is only available from the “insurer of last resort.”  It costs much more than I would be making.

Will I have to turn down a job offer in order to have access to health care?   I’ll try to negotiate, but it’s not looking good right now.


More Signs of the Times March 24, 2009

Filed under: hard times — harriettnelson @ 9:46 pm
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I unfolded the Sunday paper and pulled out the inserts — gotta check those coupons!  An unusual looking ad drifted off the pile onto the floor.  Curious, I picked it up.  It was an advertisement for the Salvation Army thrift store. To lure new customers, they’re raffleing off two cars and offering a crack at the “treasure chest” of prizes just for walking through the door. Since when does the Salvation Army store advertise?? Apparently since now.

Monday morning, as I was feeding my pets, the phone rang. “Hello…” silence. “Hello!…”
“Hello, this is Major Davis of the Salvation Army inviting you to customer appreciation day at our store on 426 W Jones Ave. …”
I hung up. Since when does the Salvation Army make automated phone calls to advertise their thrift store? Since now, I guess.

What will be next?


Signs of the Times February 2, 2009

Filed under: hard times — harriettnelson @ 3:18 am
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As we slide into Depression, the pundits cite grim statistics daily: 100,000 jobs lost last week, new unemployment claims at an all-time high, Gross National Product down 3.8%.  But I notice more personal signs of the times.

The latest LL Bean catalog mentions what a great value their products are on almost every page, and points out numerous items whose price has not changed since 19xx.  Our jeweler, a family business where we have gotten our watches repaired for many years, has closed.  On television, Rachel Ray is plugging a new program about budget-conscious cooking.  For the first time I can remember, almost every new car advertisement is focused on gas mileage, and dealers hasten to assure the public, “We’ll be here for you, now and in the future.”  Our local public radio station added an extra week of fundraising in January to make up for the shortfall in their usual fall campaign.

Most telling of all;  our local grocery store chain has begun advertising low prices on potatoes, onions, and milk. In Michigan, the Depression appears to have arrived.


The Gap January 20, 2009

What is your reaction to an adult with missing teeth?

It’s not positive, is it?

Homeless people, drug addicts and alcoholics, people who don’t practice appropriate self-care, people who smell bad, battered wives and barroom brawlers, people who are irresponsible and careless and on welfare – those are the ones who don’t have all their teeth.

Respectable, well-educated, hard-working, middle-class, normal people have full sets of teeth.  If some have been removed by a dentist, it doesn’t show because they have been neatly replaced by dentures or implants.

Recently my complacent assumptions, my tidy categorizations, were disturbed.  All bets are off now while I readjust my thinking.  I am missing a tooth.

About 25 years ago, I had some work done on my tooth #11.  That’s the third one on the upper left.  The procedure went smoothly and I thought no more about it – until a couple of months ago when, biting down on a piece of toast, I heard and felt a CRACK.  I tasted blood, spat out my toast, and began to investigate.  Tooth # 11 had broken off and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.  Examination of the evidence revealed that the internal parts of the tooth were mostly gone.  Apparently there is a phenomenon known as internal resorption that can do that.  Nobody knows why.

Once the bleeding stopped, I reached for the phone to call the dentist and arrange to have things taken care of at the dentist’s earliest convenience.  Just in time, I stopped.  I am unemployed and can’t afford to pay my dentist.  What to do?

I remembered that our county has a dental clinic for low-income residents.  That certainly includes me right now, so I called.  They do extractions.  Only extractions.  Got a problem?  Yank it out.  Medieval dentistry in the 21st century.  I didn’t think I needed an extraction since the tooth was already gone.  Thanks anyway.

What to do?  I got on the web.  Aha!  A charity clinic for low-income residents of my county.  Perfect.  According to their website, they offer quite a variety of services.  Feeling hopeful once again, I called.  They were very sorry, but their waiting list was over a year long and they weren’t accepting any new patients.

So here I am, having exhausted all available resources, with a gap in my smile and not a thing I can do about it, wondering what affect it will have on my job search.