Thursday, July 10, 2008

past few days

My lifelong quest for a decent photo of the male ruby-throated hummingbird continues. Above, he is poised strategically before dipping into the feeder.

And here, the light is suddenly and inexplicably more suitable, a split second later. But his head is now bobbing for ambrosia.

Following my hummingbird photography session, The child and I walked through the park on our way to the community July Fourth breakfast held in the park shelter house. This rose brightened our walk on a dreary day.

Look at all the people converging on our park before breakfast.

Inside, the community breakfast featured pancakes, sausage links, cinnamon buns, orange juice, coffee and patriotic decorations.

The Child appears more tolerant of all this than he actually is- take my word for it. He didn't eat a bite, and was generally disgruntled. Old-fashioned events like this don't impress him much.

A surprise greeted us back home in the driveway.

For size perspective, here's our guest near The Child's feet. But not too close.

Later, from right outside of our house, one of the best fireworks displays in town entertained us before bedtime.

This one looked like a burst of sunshine in the nighttime sky

The next day, our friend Garnet and I drove The Child to computer camp at a faraway university at which the Child will learn to design 3-D computer games. This is the Child's dorm room for the week.

The Child perches on his bed, taking in his new environment, complete with roommate and parents. The camp is expensive, but I consider it an opportunity for the Child to gather information in his ongoing search for his life's calling. Besides, I had already paid for it before I lost my job.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Jerked Around

Do you know what it's like to be jerked around? If you don't, then you probably have a strong and healthy sense of self, which is what I seek.

This morning I was officially Jerked Around, although until recently I would not have recognized it as such. I drove The Child to his playdate, and upon returning home I found a message on my answering machine. (Yes, I prefer to use an old-fashioned answering machine, because I can add music to my outgoing message.)

The message was from a neutral-sounding woman from American Community Health Insurance, whose underwriters are reviewing my application for catastrophic insurance, which is no-frills health insurance with an extremely high deductible. For the first time in my life, I am uninsured because the organization I worked for has shut down. I now lack income, health insurance, disability insurance, dental insurance, life insurance. I am seeking catastrophic insurance not really to pay for medical expenses, but to protect my assets. All of us have heard horror stories of families forced into bankruptcy by astronomical medical expenses, and I seek to avoid that. I can't afford the premiums for traditional medical insurance for myself and The Child- the monthly expense would be close to $1,000- so catastrophic insurance, with its cheaper premiums, is my only viable option.

Well, the message on the answering machine stopped my heart from beating. I had been worried, because I submitted my application quite a while ago and never heard anything. I was beginning to suspect that my application would be rejected. I was also disappointed, because I had been looking forward to spending some time on my patio interacting with the squirrels, chipmunks, hummingbirds, blue jays and red-bellied woodpeckers. Now, instead, I had a potential crisis to deal with.

I called the number the insurance woman left on the answering machine, and of course I was sent to voice mail. Trying to sound cheerful and nonchalant, I told her voice mail that I was now reachable at the phone number she had called.

Then I waited. And waited. My serenity was out the window, of course, as was my hope of spending the remainder of the morning enjoying nature on my patio. I tried to sit outside and read the newspaper (yes, I'm old-fashioned regarding my newspapers too), but I couldn't concentrate.

Time stopped. I sat there. I paced. I fretted. And eventually the phone rang, an eternity later. My heart raced, yet I let it ring a couple of times so she wouldn't think I was too eager, and therefore suspicious.

She probably wondered why I was out of breath- I tried to mask it, because her insurance company wouldn't want to take me on if they thought I had breathing problems. My breathing accelerated when she informed me that the conversation was being recorded. I covered the mouthpiece of the phone so she wouldn't hear my breathing.

She started her questioning about blood pressure, physical exams and the like. I told her I've never been the type to run to the doctor for every little cough or sore throat- I'm the opposite of a hypochondriac. I didn't even remember the name of the doctor who had done my one and only physical exam 5 years ago, but I did remember that my bloodwork was stellar, and that doctor, whoever he was, surely had glowing reports of me in his records.

After a few brief questions, she was ready to hang up. I wouldn't let her go, though- I felt it necessary to convince her of my worthiness- I wanted her to know that the reason I had applied for the catastrophic policy is because I never needed doctors, never had health problems, never had any accidents, never even broke a bone, and I knew I didn't really even need any insurance, etc. I probably sounded like a lawyer desperately trying to plead my case. She undoubtedly thought I was some kind of nut and wondered how I'd get by without the mental health coverage I used to have.

Finally the ordeal ended. I hung up the phone, vastly relieved. Now I could get back to the life I wanted to live.

That's when I realized that I had just been Jerked Around.

This is a big theme in my life. And it's not about the Jerkers. It's about me. The insurance woman, unwittingly functioning as a Jerker, was simply doing her job and was not intending to harm me in any way. But her phone message had sent me into a tailspin, temporarily turning my life upside down and inside out. I had decided, upon hearing the woman's phone message, that suddenly things were not OK and I was not OK. My life had been ruined. I tossed away my plans for the morning, I became nonfunctional, and gloom prevailed.

During the time between receiving her message and hanging up the phone after talking with her, I was totally immersed in Jerked Around state. And I couldn't see it until it was over.

My goal is to strengthen my sense of self to the point where I am unaltered by people, places, things, or events. When sh** does happen, I want to be the eye of the hurricane. I want to be strong within myself, to the point where I will always be OK, knowing that all is well at all times.