“Forced healthcare”, “socialism”, and other myths about PPACA

I have seen a number of people criticising the healthcare bill PPACA (or derisively known as ‘Obamacare’) and stipulating that they’re “moving to Canada” and that it’s “socialist”; I’ve even seen people go as far as to term it “communist”. Which just goes to show you how much these people even know about socialism or communism; or even Canada! The problem here is not the healthcare bill at all. And in fact, from my end, this bill is a lot of good, with a few iffy bits and then a couple bits that make me literally quake in my shoes.

I have to admit some amount of ignorance on my part in the beginning because I know bills of this kind are generally multi-faceted and complex structures and with this one in particular, I had no concrete knowledge of all it’s faces until now. All I had heard up to a point was the sheep bleating about being forced to buy healthcare insurance; which in my boat can’t be a bad thing considering how expensive I know medical care to be.

Once, on a business visit to the US, I had occasion to visit a critical care clinic to seek medical attention. I had to fork out in excess of US$300 for the visit and another hundred or so dollars for medication. That was one visit. I can’t stress this enough – one visit. And oh yes, this was at least 10 years ago. I could afford it then because the people I worked with understood that life is not cheap and I had enough money to pay for care.

Now that I am living in the country and working here, I am realising that kind of corporate intelligence isn’t very common in this country. I know that were it not for healthcare insurance, I would be fatally ill or even dead already. (Some conditions can escalate fatally if not treated – did you know that a simple urinary tract infection can climb into your kidneys and shut them down? Do you know what happens when your kidneys shut down?) So when I hear the President is proposing a bill that will ensure that everybody can afford and get healthcare insurance, that makes me happy.

Not so most other people who so despise the Democratic party members and the President himself that they would stand up and de-cry his efforts not on the basis of the efforts but on the basis of his face, name, race, parentage, birth … you name it. I liken this nonsense to me standing up and saying “Breakfast is an important meal” and you standing in front of me saying I am socialist and forcing people to eat breakfast. Talk about biting off your nose to spite your face!

What’s more, most of the naysayers already have health insurance, have possibly always had health insurance, and therefore have never known the difficulty in getting medical care without being covered by health insurance. To all the naysayers, I say this: shut up, read, comprehend, and then I’ll listen to you. Until then, I am tuning you out as so much white noise.

You want something to be worried about? Then worry about that bit of the bill that says that in 2015, doctor remuneration from the government will depend on quality of care and not quantity of patients. Now that bit is what has me worried. Although, 2015 is a long way off and there is many a debate on how this will be seen, implemented, etc., it still worries me.

Look … political ignorance is not a new concept to me. There’s plenty of it in Jamaica. Tons. As I am sure there is in every single country in the world. It’s not new and it’s not limited to the United States . But I have been living here for 4 years and debatably within the arms of one of the most political groups that exist and I am sick of the political ignorance. Everybody has something to say, and almost none of it makes any sense when it gets down to brass tacks. Really … I am disgusted by it. I really wish everyone could shut up for just a minute and think.

The weekend plan that wasn’t

Well, Seattle was a bit of a bust this weekend. Aside from nearly being driven off the interstate a few times by stupid people (they are all around me, I swear!), the rain made driving this side of hellacious and the weekend ended with me fighting yet another cold. The one bright spot was socializing with my friend and her neighbours on Saturday afternoon.

Apparently, the guy who lives across the street from her makes beer as a hobby (they also drink a lot of it – no surprise there). He introduced me to one of the bitterest beers I have ever encountered. Well, that’s not really saying much because I don’t drink a lot of beer. All I know is Red Stripe and every beer out there must live up to that standard or I ain’t drinking it. Mostly, American beers make me want to just drink water instead – far more tasty. This beer was flavour-a-mighty. Even with the bitterness that makes you think you’d just sprayed your mouth with something nasty. The bitterness kind of grew on me and I realised that after the initial bitterness, the flavour kind of just settled in.

I had always thought that beer is supposed to be a melding of flavours, but apparently, bitterness is a key feature of beer. This explains why people think Heineken is better than Red Stripe because Heineken has a far more bitter taste. Despite what the truth of the matter is, I still think Red Stripe is a beautiful blend of all the flavours – at least when you get the one that isn’t watered down for exportation. In any case, Heineken and Red Stripe are lager beers. That sets them apart from the beer family automatically, apparently. I don’t know much about the subject, and I don’t much care to – I just found these little bits of information fascinating.

The biggest thing about this beer, though, wasn’t so much the taste as how it crept up on me and smacked me upside the head. Traditionally, I nurse my drinks especially if I think I might be drinking for a while. I know my limits and I try to stick within them. This means, an evening that looks like it’s going to last a few hours requires me to spread 2 to 3 drinks over the duration. In the long run, it didn’t matter because just at the point when the bartender usually asks if I want a refill, the beer slammed into me with a vengeance. One minute I was fine, the next minute I was tipsy. That has never happened to me before, at least not without some guzzling on my part.

I took my hint and stopped drinking immediately. If just one glass of beer spread out over the course of an hour or two could do that, then there was no telling what else would happen had I continued. The impromptu party was beginning to wind down anyway. Which reminds me – these people gather for impromptu parties all the time, my friend tells me. It’s like the neighbours look out their windows and see one family out and they all come out to chat. Something Americans probably find fascinating, but something that we Jamaicans are perfectly well aware of – aren’t we my fellow yaadies?

Well, it’s Monday and I’ve got a ton of work to get through today – so I’m off. Have a productive Monday all.

Who’s a little more crazy gonna hurt?

Even after discovering the research that said that depression and creativity come from the same place, I still had a day of utter non-productivity. I don’t want to use the term depression just yet lest I associate my feelings with a clinical condition in my head. Positive thinking and all that… maybe if I tell myself it’s temporary and going to pass via language, I’ll convince myself that it is so.

Friday morning, I just could not get up out of bed. The incessant whispering of hubby (“Honey! I love you!”) in that space between wakefulness and sleep was beginning to wear on me. It is as if I was the glue and the bed was the paper. If I tried to get up, the sheets would tear apart leaving strips of cloth hanging from my skin. Crazy things start to happen when you remain alone for too long – like hearing your husband whisper to you from a few hundred miles away.

Even when presented with information you need to progress, sometimes it is still hard to do the work. Yesterday, my faculties failed me completely. I spent the first half of the day drowsing to some unknown storylines in ‘Lie To Me‘ on Netflix. (Yes, I renewed my Netflix account. Mainly because I wanted access to Law & Order and a few other shows.) The second half of the day was spent drowning my sorrows at my inactivity and general low feeling in episodes of In Plain Sight.

The bad part about it that I have homework to finish, on top of work-work and a little creative project that I ought to be working on because today I drive to Seattle for the night. Tomorrow is Pride and I can tell you that that parade is going to drain every bit of energy I amassed this week and even since the last time I was out in public for an event such as this one. Why? Because as I am reiterating to myself with the help of a book called The Introvert Advantage:

“Introverts are like a rechargeable battery. They need to stop expending energy and rest in order to recharge”

And I am the very definition of an introvert. Put me in a room full of people and I guaranteed to be exhausted within an hour or two.   Put me in a crowd, say at a parade, and I am going to be exhausted for days.

That said, I look forward to the experience. My parents would be horrified, but I think that it’s important to expand my horizons and experience as much as I can. Knowledge and experience can only enrich, it can never cripple of corrupt. It is what you choose to do with the sum of your experience and knowledge that makes for corruption. Besides, getting out of the house will hopefully cure that craziness that has borne those whispers in my head. (I love you, honey, but that whispering can drive a girl mad.)

The good news is I finally got to talk to hubby last night. The crazy part of that news is that when I told him about the whispers, he laughed and said he whispered to me as he went to sleep and when he woke up everyday. Like I said, crazy shit happens when you stay alone for too long.

Procrastination is the thief of time.

“Procrastination is the thief of time” – Edward Young

I’m reading procrastination quotes RT’d by #lifehackorg this evening:

And the one that really struck home was this one:

Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” ~ Christopher Parker

 I have got to stop procrastinating ‘cos the bill I’m gonna get for it is going to be humongous.

I’m that much less afraid of the dark now

Thanks to a dear friend and an impromptu Twitter DM conversation, I discovered that depression is something a lot of writers struggle with and that there is research that shows that there is direct correlation between depression and the problem-solving process.

 “If depression lives in the same place as creative thought, when you block out one, you’re going to interfere with the other.”

I think this just might be the first step I needed to find my way to understanding this process better now.

Maybe those Angel re-runs screened solely for my personal viewing pleasure was not the best idea I’ve ever had in dealing with my latest bout with despondency. The television is my medication and I think I’ve over-medicated enough.

One of things that used to give me great relief was a written journal. Maybe that’s what I need to do again – write the shit out of my head so it can stop stinking the air up there. Chances are seeing it on paper, in my own handwriting will help the process too. Who knows? It’s a start.

The gender debate

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” — Mahatma Gandhi 

A friend of mine said to me today that people are weird. Without getting into details with her, it became clear that the “people” she was referring to was a woman. At least I think it was. The conversation turned towards the fact that it seems to often be the women in our lives who befriend us, establish a rapport, and then turn around and stomp all over that rapport… and us.

I’ve been through it so many times that I often ask myself why I continue to make the effort and make friends among women. This is especially hard for me being a woman because I don’t relate to this kind of behaviour… I can’t. I don’t understand the concept of maintaining two faces. I do understand the concept of having to suppress my real face around most people. Most people won’t understand me. But I don’t understand the concept of becoming someone entirely new. Suppressing my real face just means I come across subdued and reclusive. That’s fine with me. I am somewhat of an introvert anyway.

My mother used to tell me over and over that I needed to learn to be diplomatic; that people won’t appreciate my candour and that I need to perfect the art of being tactful. I guess that when I’m talking to the people who see my suppressed face, diplomacy is not a bad thing because then at least they aren’t likely to be shocked silly when I speak my mind. But I’ll tell you this – if the suppressed me is unlikely to find you to be someone with whom I can relate to, then the unsuppressed me is just as unlikely to find you otherwise. I will be civil and polite, but I won’t be friendly – at the end of the day, there is no doubt that we cannot be bosom buddies. The reverse is also true – if we have things in common then you will know it immediately.

The more I learn about life, people, and myself is the more I have realised that nothing is gained by beating around the bush. Life is so much simpler when you say what you think and mean. ‘Honesty is the best policy.’ I forget who said that or where I’ve heard it, though I’ve heard my mother recite often enough. That ‘the truth hurts’ is one I’ve heard lots too. When you are brutally honest about your opinions, feelings, and observations someone is likely to feel hurt – that is a given. The trick is to deal with the fact of the matter before dealing with the emotions of it.

Ever been accused of “leading him on”? This is what is meant: you give off “let’s be friends” vibes and then when it gets down to brass tacks, you leave. It’s deceptive; untruthful; dishonest; two-faced; hypocritical. It’s not worth it. Find out who you are. Be that person. Be honest with yourself and those around you. Life is way too short to do otherwise. Diplomacy is all well and good until it gives the wrong impression of your true intentions, because in the end you’re the only one who loses.

Of body jewellery

I got a new nose ring over the weekend. The old one had a gem and it looks like I lost part or all of the gem some where. It was beginning to look pretty crappy and hubby has even said to me on a couple of occasions to “please get a new nose ring” because “it looks pretty bad”. Normally hubby does not weigh in on my jewellery or otherwise in such a definitive way. So this weekend, as I went to gas up the SX4, I passed a tattoo parlour that I kind of liked the look of. It seems that the only place to get the kind of nose ring I want is to go to a piercing place because the ones I can get in the mall is just silly and flimsy.

Anyway, I walked in and he had exactly what I needed – which is to say a stainless steel, plain ball nose ring that can be bent to a customised shape. The catch? It’s a slightly higher gauge than the one I had before. As a result, I’ve had a pretty sore nose since Saturday morning. At first I thought the space between the top and the inside was too small because the ball was disappearing into the hole … but last night I realised that the same thing was happening with my old ring and decided to try the new one again this morning. Chances are, swelling was what was causing the ball to disappear.

Lo and behold! No disappearing ball this morning and less painful swelling. Hence … I have a new nose ring. Yay. It kinda looks like this:

Happy Father’s Day, 2012

It’s Father’s Day today. I have been so wrapped up in my own world that I lost track of time. In the early days, I’d be scrambling trying to figure out what to get my Father for Dad’s day. In truth, I think I unconsciously gave up a few years ago. My father has everything he needs and is not particularly materialistic. Physical gifts are less about the gifts and more about the thought behind them. Both he and my mother instilled in me the value that if there is something that I need, then I should be equipped to get it for myself. That I ought not to depend on others to gift it to me. Gifts are supposed to be tokens of appreciation or the extras in life.

When I’ve given him a gift in the past, wrapped or not, he’ll get this smile on his face – it speaks of pride, love, belonging … and now that I am older, I get what that it means that it’s not about what he got, it’s about the fact that I remembered and thought about him enough to show him that I thought about him. Some people say that when asked what they want to be gifted for their birthday or Christmas. In fact, I say that. I’m not that big on gift giving either – surprise surprise – and I guess that’s a clear indication that the apple does not fall far from the tree. I am usually just touched that I am remembered enough that the person wants to give me something.

This morning, while I wait for my parents to return home from church so I can call and wish my father Happy Dad’s Day, I remember him in this way. He’s the man who helped mould my character and my personality – my values and my ethics. He’s half of the team that made me who I am today and I am eternally grateful for them and how they raised me. I wonder if a lifetime is enough time to repay them? Doubt it.

As I watch other teens wrestle with their parents and personality clash, I recall how it was when I was in that phase with my own parents. My father and I especially fought almost constantly for years. We almost never agreed on anything. There were days when we would not speak.

Once, I was on the phone with a boy late one night, and Dad was chasing me off the phone within the first 2 minutes of the phone call yelling that a telephone was not for conversation but for transmission of facts and that any constructive phone call ought not to take more than 2 minutes. It sounded so stupid and old-fashioned to me then and made me embarrassed that the boy could hear him yelling like that. Hell, it sounds stupid and old-fashioned now, but also now I realise what it was that got his panties in a bunch like that. It was likely the expression on my face and that protective thing that father’s get when the boys start to circle their daughters. He was angry and scared and he said the first thing that came to mind.

Of course, now that I am 3 time zones away from him, his tune in relation to me and telephone conversations has changed drastically. When you can’t sit face to face and have a conversation, the telephone is the next best thing. Now we both live for those telephone conversations that sometimes end up being longer than an hour. How’s that for ironic?

My father may not be perfect, and in fact no father is. Emotions always seem to get the better of us humans and when father’s see their precious daughters growing up before their very eyes, it can sometimes make them stir-crazy. I know this – I lived through my father’s strange behaviour. But now that I am much older and understand this world we live in a little bit more than I did back then, I can see that strange, neurotic, stupid, emotional outbursts such as yelling that phone conversations ought not to last as long as 2 minutes are simply the reaction to that parental spirit and protective urge that all parents have.

I love you, Dad – with all your weird quirks and completely nonsensical claims and I love that you risked being labeled as quirky and strange and stupid so that you could protect me. It worked. I feel as if I have been blessed with absolute best father a girl could have.

Phantom limb syndrome… With a tooth?

So, if phantom limb syndrome is defined as “the sensation that an amputated or missing limb (even an organ, like the appendix) is still attached to the body and is moving appropriately with other body parts” (from Wikipedia), then can this sensation that my left lower wisdom tooth is still in my mouth, hurting and falling out be described as ‘phantom tooth syndrome’?

Inquiring minds want to know.