Blog

Someone Get Me a Damn Map to Mordor

Considering the last post, and now with this one, I might have to rename this blog image ranted.  Yep. This is another rant.

This time it’s about some health care issues I’ve had to tangle with in the last week.  What I am about to lay out isn’t even centered around my physical or mental health issues. It’s entirely because the health care industry, in the United States, is structured against people.  I don’t want to call us patients, because if things worked differently, so many of us wouldn’t be considered active patients.

I have to preface, that I was diagnosed with lupus about 10 years ago, and with fibromyalgia about 7 years ago. I have spent years hitting the high deductible on my insurance, just to keep a status quo. I have been on gabapentin (neurotin), which is a nerve blocker. I was up to 1,500mg a day at the height of my prescription. I have also been on cyclobenzaprine (flexeril), which is a muscle relaxer. Since I was diagnosed, I have been searching and looking for anything that can help me address the pain, so I can get off these pills.  

This year, I made a decision that instead of hitting my deductible, on maintaining this shitty status quo, I would invest in different therapies and methods to attempt to address my chronic pain and fatigue in more natural ways.  I started by going to an upper cervical chiropractor. A friend contacted me on facebook, telling me that one had drastically helped her with pain issues.  I researched the science behind it, and decided to give it a try.  Most ucc’s don’t take insurance because they are such a niche practice and fighting with insurance companies is too costly for them.  I tried to submit a bill, on their recommendation that my insurance might still accept it. I found out that I have an out-of-network deductible, which is independent of my in-network deductible, and it is slightly more. This means I would need to submit expense receipts for that amount, and have them denied, before they might kick something in. I’ve spent $1,300 on this so far.

I started stepping down to gabapentin.  I had previously pulled back from the 1,500mg to 900mg, because it was making me dizzy all the time.  I am now down to 300mg.  I have a massive stash waiting to go to a drug drop off, because they gave me so many. Yes I have more pain, more of the day, but I was in pain no matter what.  I want off these meds.

I also wanted to find a nutritionist. I went to my insurance website, to look up my plan and see if a nutritionist was covered under my plan. It seemed they were, but only for certain things.  I called my insurance and asked them if I could get a pre-estimate. They said no. They said I would need to go to a nutritionist, incur a bill, and then they would see based on the code the nutritionist put in.  I asked which code was covered. Shockingly, they wouldn’t tell me. (yes, that’s sarcasm)

I finally decided to throw the dice and go.  In our first session, she told me I was going to be covered. Apparently, she came prepared and knew the answer.  I liked her already! I would be covered for one, 1 hour visit, once a month for a year. Opioids, they hand out like candy. Nutritionists are what they are stingy on.  Don’t want us too healthy!  This would still be an out of pocket cost, but at the price negotiated by my insurance.

My new nutritionist had gone over my forwarded medical records and found my doctors neglected to order 9 different blood tests that she thought might either rule out or explain some of my issues. She said she would request that my primary doctor submit the order for those tests, and that I should get a pre-estimate, so I know how much they will cost.  We discussed some other things, and planned to reconvene in a month, hopefully after I’ve taken these tests.  

Tuesday morning, I saw in my online medical chart, that the tests had been ordered. I copied out all the names of the tests, and signed into my health insurance website.  I started a chat and asked if they could help me identify an estimate of the cost.  The customer service rep informed me that they could look up a range of the costs, but that it would depend on where I went. I responded that I would appreciate any info they could give.  In the end, they were able to give me a range for 5 of the 9.  They also gave me a link to Fair Health Consumer, a website where I could look up this stuff, and hopefully get some information. 

They also recommended that I contact the lab, so I did that next.  I called the specific lab, within the network of labs that I could go to. The person I spoke with said they couldn’t help me with costs, but gave me 3 different numbers that were the lab network’s billing or billing type departments. I called the first one, and they gave me another number, but also offered to transfer me to them. They informed me that I needed to give them the 5 digit billing codes.

Related image

Do I look like someone who works for your labs? What 5 digit codes? They said I needed to contact my doctor or… my health insurance.  Awesome.  I then message my doctor. “Thanks for ordering the tests. Can you please give me the 5 digit codes? I need them so I can get a pre-estimate for the cost, so that I can budget the expense.”  I always get a response from the Doctor, himself.  Understandably, a nurse or support staff responded.  She told me that I should ask my nutritionist.

I’m getting a little done now. I’ve spent way too long on something that should have been provided without me even asking. I told my boss about all of this, and he likened it to grocery shopping. It’s not like you go through the store, fill up your cart, and then find out the cost when you ring out. You know going in, what the cost will be. It’s actually law, that they have to have the cost listed. This prevents them from charging one person a different price, than another person. Fair pricing. What a novel idea.

Nevertheless, I message my nutritionist, even though I’m guessing she won’t know them.  As I predict, she responds that she doesn’t have any access, and the doctor’s office certainly should.  The nutritionist couldn’t even order the tests. My doctor had to. So I respond back to the nurse or support staff and convey that I confirmed my nutritionist can not help. I mention that since the doctor can order the tests, I would hope they would know what codes they are, and to please help me identify them.

I have not heard back.

I then check out that aforementioned website.  It looks like this site has codes!!!! I start looking up each test.  Problem is some of the don’t match the exact name. They are these super sciency names. If you can’t tell by now, my heart is liberal arts. I love and respect science, but it’s like speaking another language.  I had no way to know which code was the right one, for multiple of the tests. I guess I’m waiting.

This morning, I decided to call my doctor’s office and see if I might get somewhere talking to someone, instead of waiting to see if I would get a response to my 2nd request for the codes. They informed me that this isn’t something they are familiar with either.  They were researching, but said there was another number I could call.  It was one of the extra numbers I was given yesterday, but had been told it was just another lab network billing number.  The person I spoke with, at my doctor’s office, explained that this number was a mailbox. No one would answer the phone. You leave a message with what you want a cost estimate for, and they apparently call you back.

Related image

Yeah, I’m back there again.  You’re telling me, I call this number, leave a long ass message with my name, my phone number, and a list of all 9 tests (at least 1 of which I don’t know how to pronounce) and someone will magically call me with all my info, in some indeterminate amount of time? Seriously?  You sure I don’t need to write a wish on a piece of paper, leave it under a rock, sacrifice a chicken under a full moon, and wait for my cat to tell me the codes, so I can get the keys to the kingdom?

I proceed to google the phone number, because this seemed ridiculous. I end up finding a website explaining that you can call that number or send an email.  I opt to send the email, so I don’t have to wonder if my voice mail was audible or garbled or whatever.  I could copy the exact names of the tests into the email.  I sent that off this morning.

And now I wait.

Let’s be clear. My new nutritionist requested those tests last Friday. It’s now the end of the day on Wednesday, and I still can’t get the codes or a price estimate for these 9 tests. My real frustration is that this system is fighting me. It’s not just against me, or for those profiting off it. They are fighting to keep in the dark, even on being able to budget these expenses.

I have been fighting for my quality of life, and for my health, for a long time.  I am overweight and I have a lot to work on, but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve quality care. I also should be able to budget for this cost. I shouldn’t have to fight to be able to budget the massively expensive health care, that I’m paying for, out of pocket.

Some might wonder why I’m going through all of this, instead of just going. I need the tests, so “it is what it is”, right?  Yes and no.  Lupus and fibromyalgia comes with an onslaught of symptoms that can come and go. That means seeing different doctors for different reasons.  Years ago, I was having issues where my legs felt like something was biting them or shocking them, particularly late at night when I was trying to sleep. I called my Rheumatologist, and saw the Nurse practitioner.  She wanted me to see a Neurologist.  I already had one.

Once there, they wanted to order some blood tests and do a series of shock tests.  I got the blood tests done, and then went for the shock tests.  When I finished the tests, they told me at check out that the bill for the shock tests (not including the blood tests) would be $1,600. I was floored. No one thought to warn me??!?!?! I had to open a care credit card (I loathe them) as I forgot to bring my bags and bags of money with me. As long as I paid it off in the year, I would have 0% interest. If I went 1 day over the term, all the interest (something like 20%) would be tacked on.

I just want to prevent being caught in a situation like that again. Even if I can’t prevent the cost, I’d rather know up front, so I can prepare as much as possible. I don’t know why the health care industry wouldn’t want me to be able to do that. Oh wait. I do. They don’t work for me. They work for their CEOs and investors.

It’s often said that our health care industry is built to serve the providers. It benefits insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, private hospitals, and certain areas of medical practice (some more than others).  What we don’t explicitly say, is that they are actively working against the people. They make the process a boondoggle, so there is no transparency, and so that we can’t see the whole picture.  They are working against our health and our quality of life. They are also working against our financial health.

Not for nothing, but this isn’t exactly a stress reliever.

I’ll post back when I get some answers.

Update:

I got a response from the email I found on that site, saying the tests would only cost $140, so I am good to go!  Now, was that so hard?

The Small Issue of My Mail Delivery

As the title suggests, this is not an issue of much consequence, relative to big world issues.  It’s just been in the background, the periphery, of my life recently.  I live in the city, in a neighborhood that I love.  I have been here 9 years, and I am grateful I’ve been so fortunate to be able to own this home.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but to me it is.  I am a woman who bought a home with no one else. I didn’t have a partner, or help from wealthy parents.  I saved up the down payment, looked at houses, and signed every paper, with the pen my firm gave me, for my 5 work anniversary working for them.

It’s been an unexpected sense of pride, that I bought this house and own it. I pay the mortgage and property taxes.  I do the required maintenance on the gutters, furnace, etc. I try to take care of my lawn and garden (Unfortunately, I do not have my Grandma’s green thumb.). It’s been a labor of love, upgrading this house, making it my own, and budgeting to take care of it, which is not always easy.

Every once in a while, I get mail for the person who lived here before me, who is now deceased.  Once in a great while, I get mail that might be for someone else or a name similar to the previous owner. I generally write on the envelope “deceased” or “does not live here”. It always gets taken away.  At least it used to.  Recently, I wrote on a piece of mail ” Does not live here”.  The next day, I was shocked to see the envelope was left in my mailbox and more writing was added.  It said, “Who Does? Put name/s on box.”

(addressee blocked out for privacy)

I was dumbfounded. I loved my mail carriers. They were always nice, delivered well, and they waved even when they were 1/2 down the block and I was driving by or walking. This guy had to be new.  Who did he think he was, telling me I had to put my name on my house? This is my home! I decide whether my name is plastered on it, for any passersby to see, or not to deface my property.

This pissed me off, but I put it aside. He comes by, before I come home. I see him on my Ring monitor, but I’m working, so that’s not ideal for discussing this with him.  Eventually, I decided I would write him a quick note to express my disappointment and explain that this was inappropriate. This is what the note said:

This is entirely inappropriate. I have owned this home for 9 years. I am not required to advertise my name on my house. I have never had an issue marking incorrect maii in this manner. Please send this back.
Thank you.

 

I put it on top of the envelope, and hope he realizes this is not cool.  I certainly did not expect that he would write an entire note back to me, on the back of the note I left him.

This is that reply: 

Hi, I can see your are confused as to why I asked for your mailbox to be labeled. I’m new to this route and I’m trying to learn the names. When people kick back a letter I simply request the box be labeled so we don’t waste each others time w/ mail thats not yours. I have asked dozens of people and you are the only one pushing back on this. Sorry to offend you.

Now I am just infuriated.  Are you kidding me? I’m confused? I don’t think so. You’ve done this to dozens of people and that’s a good thing? What do I have to do, to put this seemingly nothing of an issue, to rest? I considered filing a complaint with the post office, but I was hesitant. Postal workers have tough jobs and I don’t want to give him a hard time.  In the same respect, I don’t deserve this, and I’m getting frustrated because this is my home. No one should be able to tell me what to put on it.

I even looked up postal regulations.  https://www.mailboss.com/guide-usps-mailbox-regulations. I doesn’t say anything about putting your name, and for the record, the number of my address is on a pillar on my porch, in line with my mailbox, in big numbers. You could make the argument that it’s not on my mailbox, as my mailbox is an old fashioned milk door, on the side of my house. This is not the argument he is making.

Then, I check my mailbox and he f%^king put a label on the top of my mailbox door, with my motherf$%king name on it.  Are you kidding me, right now?

 

(my name blocked out)

This is my house! I 1/2 wanted to report him to the police for defacing my property. How dare he? What does he not get about this being my home, my property, and him being so out of line?

I decided I needed to report this to the USPS.  It’s a bit cumbersome filling out the form for this report, and I couldn’t attach any pictures, to document the situation, which is what made me want to write this completely random post about these unexpected troubles I’m having with my new letter carrier.

This is what I wrote in the box for describing the issue:

I’ve owned my home for 9 years, and always had great letter carriers. Recently I wrote on an envelope that the recipient didn’t live here.  The new carrier wrote on the envelope asking who did live here and that I should label my mailbox. He left the envelope. I wrote a note back that this was unprofessional and I am not required to put my name on my house. This is a privacy concern. He wrote back that he’s new to the route and that I needed to help him by telling him who lived here. Then he stuck a label with my name on my mailbox. I need someone to explain to him that this is unacceptable behavior and to knock it off. I can accept mail for anyone at my home, even if they don’t live here. I am not required to put a sign saying who I take mail for. I am allowed to put a note on mail that is not accepted at my address, to return to sender.  Clearly he does not respect this.

If he defaces my property again, I will file a report with the police. He doesn’t pay my mortgage or property taxes. He has no right to put labels on my mailbox, and it is frustrating that he did not just take the mail and move on.  Please deal with this. I have loved the mail carriers I had before, and they never had trouble with this.  Please re-train this carrier, or take him off my route.

So, now I’m wondering. Should I report this to the police, in case he takes it further? Am I making this more than it is?  I am looking for input.  Part of me feels this is a non-issue, but I removed the label he left, and now I don’t know what he might do next. I’m frustrated, and wondering if I even should be.  I’m hoping I will get some feedback, from anyone who thinks I am right to be upset, and those who think I am not. Should I have left the note, and taken the steps I have taken? Is reporting him to the police necessary?

Thanks for your input.

————-

Update: I got a call from the Station Manager, for the station where my mail goes through. He asked me to describe what had happened. He then said it was completely inappropriate, from the moment the letter carrier wrote on the envelope. He also let me know that this letter carrier is no longer working for the station and is now at another station. I recommended that the new station might want to submit him for some re-training. The manager said it was just completely inappropriate and should never have happened. He also thanked me for reporting it. I thanked him for calling me. 

I really appreciated that they didn’t just email me, but he called and personally addressed my issues.  Postal workers are incredibly busy and I have the highest respect for their work.  My regular carrier is back on my route, and she is fantastic. I hope the new carrier, will learn to respect the right of home owners to decide how their mail is delivered, and how their house is or is not marked. 

Owning a home is a pride I never realized I would feel. I just thought it would be a matter of fact thing.  I quickly saw that the effort of caring for a home, beyond just paying the mortgage, builds a sense of pride in the owner, at least for me.  We have our arguments, me and my personified abode, but overall I am proud that I saved up, and bought this house all on my home. 

I recall that when I was nearing the closing, I was terrified I would somehow end up over my head and lose the house in like 2 years. Having just passed 9 years of home ownership, I feel like I know myself more.  I have figured out solutions, learned to budget, learned what I like and don’t like, and I keep learning.  I love the quirks of my house, including my mailbox, which happens to be an old fashioned milk door.  I look forward to receiving mail, from awesome letter carriers, for years to come.

The end!

 

It Wasn’t Meant to Be a Choose Your Own Adventure

I know people are up in arms about the Game of Thrones finale.  I am sure I will be flayed for my opinions.  The thing is, unless you wrote the story, it’s not really up for debate. The idea that people circulated and signed a petition to redo the last season is preposterous.  This isn’t a “Choose Your Own Adventure”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you missed out.  In the 80’s, there were these books that were “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. You would read for so many pages, and then you would get a choice. To choose that the character will do abc, go to page x, to choose that the character will do def, go to page y.

When we watch a big epic show like Game of Thrones, I think it’s a disservice to the 8 seasons, for fans to lament the ending. I think it’s fine to be disappointed in the ending, and I wished it had gone another way, but that doesn’t negate the amazing show we all got to enjoy for 8 seasons.  The cast, crew and creative team deserve more respect than that.  This story was massive, and it had so many intertwined stories, I think it’s arrogant for us to all assume we would have done it better.

With that being said, let me lay out where I thought it was going to go, at least in the abstract. I won’t say it would have been better, just different.

Going into the finale season, it really seemed to me that there was an over-arching theme.  These “children” had created the night king and the army of the dead. They also wanted to undo what they had done.

Centuries later, and we start off seeing these groups of parents and their kids.  The pattern we see is the mistakes the parents make, and their kids trying to do better than their parents.  It seemed to me, that there was a delineation between the kids who learned to do what is right and moral, who sought to do better than their parents, while others sought to repeat their parent’s “sins” and continue/perpetuate their craven and power hungry ways.

So we see that the Starks were good. So was Asha Yara Greyjoy, even if Theon wasn’t. He takes the long road there. So does Jaime Lannister, it seems. That’s the path I thought he was taking, and I didn’t think it was just so he could throw it away at the end to stand by his sister, who hadn’t learned anything. My thought was the council at the end, should have been all the kids who learned the lesson of their parents, and the ones who were gone, would be the ones who didn’t learn that lesson.

Where does that leave Daenerys?  That’s a good question. It really felt like they were going back and forth between having her learn the lessons and then not, and then yes, and then no.  Because she gave that speech about breaking the wheel, it seemed to be that she needed to make good on that. She should have been at the head of that council, and all the kids, now the heads of their homes should have taken a piece of the iron throne, in essence having them break the throne, into 7 equal kingdoms, free from 1 potentially tyrannical ruler.

I know that may sound too nice and sweet, but Arya would still be able to have that Frodo-esque “I can’t just live a normal life, I need to sail off into the unknown” ending. Sansa would still be able to preserve the north as a free kingdom. Asha would be named queen of her kingdom, and so on. There could be major loss, without it being the equivalent of click-bait. A flashy murder, for the shock and awe. Like Missandei. She was a strong character, who had more of a story to tell, and she was sacrificed, so we could have a reason for Dany to lose it. She deserved a better story, and a better ending.

Even Cersei deserved a better ending. She already had that massive walk of shame, so how would you have her executed in a way that would make sense? Let’s say Dany didn’t snap, after the bells rang. Instead maybe Dany just goes to the tower Cersei was in, and has Drogon burn that one, so it starts crumbling around Cersei. Maybe she would still try to escape with the Mountain, and then the Hound gets his revenge on the Mountain.

Instead of her just slipping by like “this seems like an A and B convo, I’ll C my way out…”, she could have been met by Dany and Drogon at the bottom. From there, keeping her alive, would keep the sins of the past alive. She will have to be executed, but is by fire the right way? I think so, in the instance that she would be the last execution that would ever take place at that level. There would be no more top of the 7 kingdoms. King’s Landing would be transformed into a place where the leaders of the 7 kingdoms conducted joint affairs, and the citizens would be from any 1 of the 7 kingdoms.

I get this is all very loose. It’s certainly not a script. I don’t want to disrespect the creators and script writers with trying to attempt that. I’m sure many will find plenty of flaws with what I outline.

It’s just what I was hoping for.  I know I didn’t mention Jon Snow.  By the end I decided he was a pretty boy, who had a good heart, but boy was he dumb. I mean, just not a smart guy. He usually had a blank look on his face, when other characters were discussing complex political issues. I just couldn’t see fit to put him at the top, just because he was good.  I really wanted the ending he got.  Despite his heritage, and despite his upbringing, his heart belonged north of the wall, with the wildings. That’s what fit his character (and his direwolf).

So that’s my alternate ending, but that doesn’t mean I wish they would re-do the season. That’s just silly. I will say this.

It’s infuriating that Lena Headey got online hate, for her portrayal of Cersei.  She did an amazing job in that role, and she deserves praise for how well she played this villain.  The entire cast was fabulous, from the lead characters, to those with smaller parts, like Joe Dempsie (Gendry), Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei), and Rory McCann (The Hound).

The writers, directors, producers, costume designers, set designers, makeup people, etc. They did such an incredible job of putting all these stories together.  By season 3, I had to google a map of all the characters, so I could keep them straight. I think the team that pulled all this off, deserves our gratitude, considering all we had to do was sit on our butts and watch.  It’s easy to sit in judgement of someone else’s work. Doing the work takes a lot more.

Constructive criticism is good, but let’s make sure it that and not just tearing people down, because we like feeling like we should sit in judgement. And anyone who sent crappy mean online comments to any of the cast or crew, owes them an apology. They are people and I doubt you would be so rude to their face, so there is no excuse for doing it online.

Who is Going to Fix the Potholes?

Early this year, candidates started announcing their intentions to run for the Democratic nomination for President, in the 2020 election. At first, I rolled my eyes. It’s that reflexive disdain for politics, that people often feel. The thing is, I have a B.S. in political science. I love this stuff. Nevertheless, I was annoyed that people were announcing so early. It’s like when the grocery store has Halloween candy in August. Do we have to start so early?

Then I started seeing what a stellar list of candidates there were, and the level of debate that was forming. Elizabeth Warren is a huge reason for this, and she’s not even my first pick. She’s put forward so much policy, she has made her candidacy the one to beat, on merit. She is the gold standard candidate, as far as I’m concern. She has plans and a platform, for her Presidency. Every candidate should be aiming for that bar.

The reason I rolled my eyes, at first, wasn’t the candidates. They weren’t the problem. It was because I don’t want the 2020 Democratic primary to drown out the election we have before that. If anyone is confused at what I’m talking about, I mean the 2019 election. If anyone is wondering what freaking election there is in 2019, you are not alone.

According to this – In the U.S., Almost No One Votes in Local Elections only about 15% – 30% vote in local elections. I live in Rochester, NY, and I usually see returns around 31% in a good year. 

Understand that this is a percentage of registered voters. There is a significant amount of our population, that is eligible to vote and are not registered. People complain about potholes, and they complain about corruption, but when we look to blame the politicians, we might want to save some blame for ourselves.

This country is a baby, compared to a lot of other countries. When we talk about the promise of our country, our potential, we are really talking about proving our democracy can work. We have yet to do that. We have yet to successfully guarantee that our democracy protects our citizens equally, and cares for the common good in a measured and real way. Part of that is because we are not doing our jobs as citizens. The entire idea of representation, when our forefathers were forming this nation, was to ensure that the people would tell the representatives how to represent their interests. It was never meant to run on auto-pilot.

Last year, we got a really good bump in turnout. We elected a record number of women to Congress and we made strides in state elections. I’m not just talking about Democrats. I’m talking about the country. We made strides in getting people to turn out and vote; to participate in our democracy.

Despite that, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Democracy is not a one-time thing, and we can’t just think we did pretty good showing up for that one vote, and now things should get better. Democracy is incumbent upon a participating citizenry. It is our civic duty, to ensure that laws are upheld It is also our job to ensure that representatives are accountable, transparent, and working for us, the people. 

There is a good check list of things, every citizen should be doing, if they are to be upholding their personal civic duty: 

1. Be Registered to Vote 

    • This includes periodically checking and confirming that you registration is in good standing.
    • If you need any information about registering, checking your registration, polling place, or to see who is on your ballot, google your county’s Board of Elections (BOE). For instance, I live in Monroe County, New York. I would google “Monroe County Board of Elections, New York” and I would get their website. From there I can call them or just search the site for what I need. 
    • Election laws are different in each state. It is important to register as early as possible, because some states have deadlines. Some might require ID. Look this stuff up now, so you know it and can plan accordingly. 
    • If you’re a super nerd (like me) you can go here on election night to see the returns, as they come in. They will be unofficial until the BOE certifies the results, which happens after election night. 

2. Identify Your Representatives 

    • President and Congress is good, but this is important at all levels of government. Put their contact info in your phone, if you want to be super dialed in 
    • Some apps will looks this stuff up for you, like https://www.countable.us/ and https://ballotpedia.org 
    • Local officials you can look up by going to your county, city and town websites, or calling them and asking them to tell you. Remember they work for you. Remember, they are good people and be nice to them. (Sincerely, someone who used to work for the BOE) 

3. Pay Attention to Your Representatives 

    • Pay attention to the news, or check the appropriate government sites, to see how your officials are voting on legislation. 
    • If you want your rep to propose legislation or vote a certain way, contact them. Otherwise, the only people talking to them, will be lobbyists, and the lobbyists will write them checks to get them re-elected. The only way to combat that, is a bunch of citizens calling them, to respectfully state, that they will vote them out, if they do not vote in the interest of the community. 
    • Use apps like https://resist.bot/ and https://www.countable.us/ to stay in touch, by sending them emails on issues that are important to you. 
    • If you really need their help on something, call their office and ask if you can make an appointment. If they are in Congress, remember that they split their time with being local and in DC, so it might be some time before you can get an appointment. Remember that whether you like your rep or not, their aides are government workers. Be kind to them, and remember they are just doing their job. 

4. Vote 

    • This should be number 1, but it comes after you do 1-3. 
    • Go with friends, volunteer to help elderly get to the polls, encourage fellow citizens to remember to vote. 
    • Support every citizen’s inalienable right to vote. Fight any voter suppression in your state. Every vote should count, and every vote should count equal to every other vote. 

5. Rinse and Repeat, All Year, Every Year 

I’m actually excited about the 2020 Democratic candidates (most of them). I think debate is good and challenging each other to be better is good. I think hearing different ideas is good. I think diverse plans and people, are good. 

I still want us to focus on the election at hand, and right now, that is the 2019 local election. The wins we have, in 2019, will build local coalitions across this country, for the 2020 election. Every year, we end up stronger or weaker, by the outcome of the previous year’s election. This is true for each political party, and it’s true for the country. 

I think our country will deliver on the promise of our democracy, when we can consistently get real turnout. I want to say 100% but I know people will call me naïve and a dreamer. If I say 90% some will say that is still too high to expect, but I think it’s necessary. Let’s at least try to improve on the last election at the same level. If 30% is the best we do for local elections, let’s shoot for 40% this year. Is that a lot? I would argue it’s not, but I also want 100%. Let’s say it would be a huge improvement. 

I commit to getting out the vote this year, and encouraging better voter turnout, even though is a local election year. I hope you will too. At least commit to the basics of civic duty, if you agree with me. Be registered, know your state’s election laws, know the candidates, and vote. 

Then maybe we can fix some of these damn pot holes, literally and proverbially.

Why Bring Race Into This?

I shared a post on Facebook, to this article:

In a moment of sarcasm I wrote the post as “Man, oh man. That sounds about white.”

Someone on my facebook friends list (who will remain nameless in this post) commented the following: “Why bring race into this? You are white btw.”

I wanted to respond to that, but thought it merited more than a facebook comment.  My post was a sarcastic commentary not just on the race of the individual, but the gender.

I bring them both up, because they are part of “this”.  Justice in this country, is not delivered consistently. White men often get more lenient sentences than men of color. 

In cases of rape and sexual assault, the man usually gets the benefit of the doubt, and their future is often of more concern, than the justice or welfare of the woman. 

It’s such a prevalent issue, for so many women, someone started a post a while back about all the things they would do, if they could walk around with the freedom that men do. It went viral with women posting all the things that they would do, if they didn’t have to worry about being attacked by a man. At the same time men were reeling from all the #MeToo allegations and there was this collective outrage of how hard it is for guys to know how to hit on women etc. 

The reality is that men are often aggressive and entitled, when it comes to women. No, not all men. We are sure that you, reading this, are an angel. But many are. We are talking about a majority of the population. This really ends up being received by women as ridiculous, considering all the advice we get, to prevent being attacked or raped.  Don’t stay out late, carry pepper spray, wear a ring on your left finger, wear modest clothing, never leave a drink unattended, don’t drink too much. 

Men aren’t told to do any of this. Just women. The ring on the finger really gets to me. You have to pretend to be “owned” by a man, to prevent a man from feeling entitled to your time or your body.

Well, all of that online conversing, resulted in this fantastic ode, to what a scary time it is for guys, who don’t know how to relate to women, in comparison to what women go through.


To summarize this post…

Why bring up race? Because if that man had been a black man, he more than likely never would have been given home incarceration. He would have been put in jail with an exorbitant bail set, or no bail.

Why bring up gender? Because men have privilege and entitlement in our society, that women just do not get.

 

I highly recommend watching the documentary 13th (on Netflix), to learn about how racist our justice system is. Knowing the history, is important to improving things now and in the future.

Just to end this on a note of levity, I wanted to share this clip, in reference to the comment “you are white btw”, like I don’t know that.  I’ll leave it to the genius of Richard Pryor:

  1. Do my parents know???? 😂 Do I have to change my name to Becky? Dammit.
  2. According to white supremacists, since I’m Jewish, I’m not “really” white.
  3. My whiteness means I have undue privilege, and I choose to use that to highlight this stuff. I don’t want more than what others have. I want my friends of color to get the same treatment I get, in our justice system.A good example of this just popped up recently. A woman of color called 911, for help. When the police got there, they ended up forcing her to the ground and arresting her. We all know that if I had called, that never would have happened to me. Florida Cop Relieved of Duty After Video Emerges of Police Violently Arresting Black Woman Who Called for Help (~ The Root)
  4. White supremacy is crap. We are not superior. I don’t want race superiority. I want equality and equity, across race and gender.
  5. Being white doesn’t mean I shouldn’t criticize white people getting better treatment in our judicial system. It means I should. That’s called being an ally.

Thank you, for your time.

In Duty to Public Service

Governor Northam,

I get that desire to put the past in the past, but this isn’t something that can just be forgiven and forgotten. A truly responsible candidate should be expected to disclose this kind of abhorrent behavior, and find some way to explain it to the public. Anyone seeking to serve the public, cannot dodge hard stuff like this. They must lead by example and do the hard things.

It being exposed, shows you hoped it wouldn’t come out, or you didn’t think it required any explanation or amends. You betrayed the trust of the people.
I am not from Virginia.
I am an American.
I am a lifelong Democrat.
I am not a person of color.
I am Jewish.
I am an ally to people of color.
It’s not enough to just apologize. A willingness to embrace hate, comes with consequences. It hurts real people. It encourages prejudiced people to attack minorities, to lie & marginalize them. If this country will ever live up to its potential, we must agree on a few things.
Our country has a core constitutional ideal, that every citizen has a right to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Our founding fathers stated that in our Declaration of Independence, & it was the framework for our Constitution & Bill of Rights. This is our promise.
We have yet to live up to it. We can, and that is our great promise, but we have yet to live up to it. Our founding fathers came up with this ideal, but they were also flawed men. We need not glorify them, as much as we need to tell their truth. We can’t rewrite the past.
Our founding fathers were white men, who massacred, kidnapped, tortured, and enslaved Africans and Native Americans. We slaughtered Mexicans, and interred Japanese. We continue to damage, threaten and attack people of color, Muslims, people of Islamic faith, Jewish, LGBT….

I cannot support someone as a candidate or elected official, who spreads hate, nor one who would fail to disclose past acts of hate & prejudice. It is a failing of the oath our officials swear, to defend the equal rights of every citizen.

Governor Northam, you must resign. If you are committed to repairing the damage, you must accept these consequences and work to repair the damage, as a private citizen.

Sincerely,
A Citizen Committed to Equality for People of Color

What a Pain

Governor Cuomo,
I need to ask you and the NY State Legislature to address the prohibitive laws on medical marijuana in our state. This is my experience, as a New York state resident, who has a current prescription for medical marijuana.
First off, I have fibromyalgia and lupus. These are the diseases that include widespread neuropathy and make me a candidate for a medical marijuana prescription. I had to see a doctor, separate from all the doctors I already see, because doctors have to jump through hoops just to be able to prescribe the medication.  It’s not being treated like any other medical prescription in so many ways, and the result is that the burden is being put on patients.
It took me about a month to get the card, having had to send all my records to this new doctor, just to get approved. The 1 visit to see that doctor cost me $200.  I have a $2,600 high deductible for my insurance, and that’s important to note. Every expense I undertake will either go toward that, or it will end up going against my $2,850 out of network deductible, or not count toward anything. My prescription card is only valid for 1 year, so I have to do this again every year. I don’t have to do this for any other medication I take. Not for gabapentin, which has many bad side effects. Not for flexil, prilosec; none of them.
Once I could finally get this prescription, I had to make an appointment online, with the only dispensary in my entire city, across the county. They are only open at times I am at work, and I can only go to them. They will deliver the prescription, but they charge $20 more for that service. I believe they have a monopoly in our state, and is the only option for New York residents, to get medical marijuana.
When I went to the dispensary, I had to put my prescription card, certificate and license, up to a camera, to even get let in the door. That let me into a double doorway. From here, I had to slide all the aforementioned identification and cards into a bank tellers slot, before I would be let into the waiting room.  Once in the waiting room, I am given a laminated list of things I cannot do at the dispensary, including recording anything on your phone. An armed guard takes your identification and cards, and escorts you into another room with the pharmacists, where you can get your prescription filled.
This isn’t oxycontin, it’s not an opioid. It doesn’t even get you high. It’s mostly an anti-inflammatory remedy and is completely mild. If there were commercials for medical marijuana the side effects would be so few, most wouldn’t think it was a commercial for prescription medicine.
There are 3 blends, and that is it. The pharmacists will recommend you try all 3, to find the one that helps you the most, and that’s it. I opted for the tincture version and a 50/50 blend to start.  The tincture is the dropper that you put under your tongue. There is a pill form, but that is more expensive and takes longer to take effect.  There is also a vape pen, but the pain relief doesn’t last as long, so you may end up using it more often.  The suggested (max) dose is .5 ml 2 x a day.  The tincture bottle is 7 ml and that means 1 bottle will last 1 week.  A bottle is around $50. That means costs around $200 a month.
Of course, I have insurance and I’m responsible, so I contribute $2,000 a year to my HSA. But none of that makes a difference.  At this only dispensary, this only choice I have to get my prescription filled, I can only pay cash or debit card. I can’t use my HSA.  They just started allowing users to use their care credit card, which is great. Now I can get a credit card, and rack up debt.  Thanks for that. But I can’t use my HSA card, and the cost doesn’t get processed through my insurance and it won’t count against my $2,600 deductible.
The reason I’m bringing this to your attention, is that the medical marijuana does help a lot.  I have taken to only using it sparingly, because the cost and the process to refill is so prohibitive. I use it on the weekends, or when I want to get some house work done.  I used it yesterday, to re-arrange my bedroom. After about 4 or so hours, my pain started to creep back in, and I knew the meds had worn off. If the medicine was more affordable, and easier to refill, I would have taken another dose, so that the residual pain from living a quality life, didn’t have to be so bad.
This is not an addictive drug. It doesn’t even alter your mind. It eases pain and allows people with chronic pain to live a fuller life. Yet for some reason, it is treated like a dangerous narcotic. I had surgery last year, and was given a script of 40 opioid pills. I still have more than 35 of them.  No doctor took any steps to make sure I didn’t over use them. They were handed out like candy.
Medicine is being prescribed and controlled in a backwards fashion in this country, and this state.  I’m bringing this to you, because you can improve this at the state level. You can make it so that the burden and expense isn’t being placed on the patient. You can make it so that this is more affordable, gets processed through my insurance, can be processed through HSA, that more dispensaries and more competition are allowed and encouraged in our state, and that people like me don’t have to ration what is primarily a completely non-addictive, anti-pain and anti-inflammatory med.
Please make this a priority. Cut the red tape, and help New Yorkers with chronic pain.

Let it Be Resolved: Resolutions Have Merit

Since it’s New Year’s Eve, some people will be making New Year’s resolutions. There will also be a number of “think pieces” telling people resolutions are bad. I think those pieces are bad, but that’s just me.  I have no interest in telling people what they “should do”. I also don’t like when these types of articles try to encourage people not to try.  In that vein, I thought I would break down the idea of making New Year’s resolutions, and why I revel in making them.

First off, yes resolutions can be broken. It happens, and it doesn’t make you a failure. New Year’s isn’t the only time resolutions can be made, but it is an opportunity. Resolutions are basically a commitment to change a habit, or to achieve a goal. Putting that into perspective means we can make them, whenever we want. We can do that tonight, or when it makes sense to start them. I love making New Year’s resolutions.  I also set various goals throughout the year. I like taking the opportunity to set resolutions for the New Year, because it’s a way to start the year off on a positive note of working towards positive changes in my life. We can always hope to change, evolve and do better. Why not use every chance we can get, to make that happen?

When I make resolutions or goals, be it for New Years or throughout the year, I do so with a couple of general rules, which I thought I would share:

    1. Don’t be hard on yourself. No resolution will be helpful to you, if all the resolution does is stress you out. It should be defined in a way that motivates you.It should be a positive goal, and one that lifts you up.

 

  • Make the resolution something reasonable. If it’s too steep of a challenge, it will just set you up to fail, and that kind of self-sabotage is not healthy or helpful. If you have a really big goal, break it down into sub-goals, and let each sub-goal be individual resolution/goals. Do one at a time.

 

 

  • Map out a plan. If your plan is to bring lunches into work, but you don’t shop for the groceries, or schedule time to prep those meals, it will be hard to achieve that goal. If your plan is exercise 3 times a week, consider putting 3 times in your calendar. Setting that time aside can help ensure you don’t subconsciously put it off, and end up at the end of the week, with 3 days of exercise still outstanding.

 

 

  • Give a reasonable timeline. If your goal is to lose 50 lbs, 1 month is not a reasonable timeline, and that wouldn’t be healthy. If it’s a health related goal, before your resolution start date (i.e. New Year’s Day), consult with your doctor to determine a healthy timeline. The other end of this, is to say that a timeline should exist. Having one, will encourage making milestones or phases of the goal/resolution, that should take place before the goal will be reached. Maybe that includes making an appointment to see your doctor, going to the appointment, and implementing the plan.

 

Having a deadline, can encourage you to get the ball rolling and keep it rolling. Not having some sort of goal completion date, can encourage procrastination, which I myself, am often having to battle. Just keep in mind, that as long as you are making progress, it’s ok to re-evaluate that goal date, and it’s absolutely ok to adjust it.  If your resolution timeline is 6 months, and at 4 months in, you see it’s going to take another 3 months, set a new completion date and accept that you are still working hard to achieve it.  It’s just a goal date, to encourage completion. That’s all.

 

  • Don’t start too many resolutions/goals at once. Having goals is great, but too many will be like adding ornaments to a Christmas tree. Eventually you weigh down the tree, and it will topple over. You’ll likely find more success with a few small goals, instead of a ton of big ones. A lot of small steps can take you far. Life is a journey, so a lifetime of small steps, can take you around the world. On the other hand, trying to take giant leaps, can result in injuries and set backs, and end up with you going no where.

 

 

  • If you want to be able to reward yourself for hard work, when a resolution or goal is met, make sure the reward is healthy. i.e. if your goal was to lose weight and the reward is cake, that might be a little counterproductive. Lost weight? How about a new piece of clothing? Quit smoking? How about a new piece of workout equipment, or making plans to go on a hike with friends and your cleaned out lungs?

 

 

  • Determine the best level of accountability. Some people think you have to share every time you go to the gym, or every resolution you are planning, with the entire world. Others don’t want to share any of it with anyone, until they succeed at the goal.  Both can be traps. I know, right?

 

Making everything public, can end up making you feel like there are so many people watching, it’s too much pressure. Not telling any one can make it easier to abandon the goal, because there is no accountability. Instead of having to do what those “think piece” articles say “everyone” should do, do what works for you. It’s ok if one way doesn’t work, but be aware of that, as you learn it. There are different levels of helping yourself be accountable.

  1. Journal your journey, from start to finish of your resolution or goal.
    1. This can be a hand written journal, typed, or video journal.
    2. There is no rule that you have to post this online or ever share it with anyone.
    3. Do what feels good, but not what will make you anxious or nervous.
  2. Share the goal/resolution with a therapist
  3. Share it with 1 or more close friends
  4. Share it with your facebook family
  5. Share it with the world, in a public forum of your choosing

The bottom line is this. Any chance to set goals, for bettering your life, is good. Just be sure you make it a positive experience. Set reasonable goals, reasonable timelines, and ensure the resolution, and who you share it with, are being planned in a positive framework, so they will be ones you want to embrace and not something you loath.

Good luck, and may the coming year be one of setting and achieving all you desire.

My Tale of a Holiday Etsy Scammer

I am sharing what happened to me, so that others might be spared this particular scam. Before I get into what happened, I want to make sure it’s clear that Etsy was not at fault, and they ensured I got a refund immediately. Just by filing a dispute, it was enough to scare the scammer into refunding the money in full.

So, my story.

I asked my sister-in-law, what to get her (and my brother’s) 3 amazing kids, for Christmas this year. They grow so fast, their interests change, and sometimes my sister-in-law would prefer I get something functional over fun, or not reward recent bad behavior (that happened one year. Story for another time, on another blog).

This year, the 14 year old is in to calligraphy, the 11 year old is in to (among other things) Pokemon, and the 10 year old is all about astronomy. I looked on Etsy, for something special, and not just a toy they would use for a couple of weeks and then forget about.

For the 14 year old, I wanted to find a nice calligraphy set, and a sketchbook. I compared a few different sets, and settled on this one. Handcrafted Calligraphy Kit Pen Set Feather Quill Writing Antique Dip With 5 Nibs, Ink, Luxury Case For Beginners 

It looked so nice.

It had a feather calligraphy pen, tips, an ink well and some other stuff. I thought it would be special, and it was reasonably priced ($34).

Well, it was supposed to be delivered by Tuesday, December 18th. Since it’s the holiday season, I gave a couple of extra days, but got nervous, by Thursday, December 20th. I looked in the original Etsy order email which said it was “Shipped with AMZL, With the following message:

As you can see, they say there is a tracking number, but there isn’t one. So, I went to the order, on Etsy, and contacted the seller “Ali” A.K.A.    7bayhmaj

Below is the conversation, between me and “7bayhmaj”:

Please give me a tracking number:

 

No tracking number, claims it was delivered:

A pic of what looks like a tracking history with some sort of tracking ID

Here is a close up of that:

Now, I’m getting a bit annoyed. I really want the freaking tracking number. Why won’t they give it to me?

Little known fact. If you google “tracking number” Google will pop up a tracking input. You can put any type of tracking number. It determines the carrier, by the format (amount of and sequence of letters and numbers).

when I put in  “TBA542868879000” (what was in the image) no carrier was found. It’s not a valid tracking number for any carrier.  IT’S A FAKE TRACKING NUMBER!!!

 

This douche nozzle has the audacity to try to blame the many delivery PEOPLE (not just men, you asshat), for the problem, and porch thieves.  Thanks “Ali”, we know who the thief is.

More bullshit, including some crap about using a “different logistics service”.

I again re-iterate that they have yet to tell me which carrier they used, and a legitimate tracking number.

They claim they can refund, but since I opened a dispute their hands are totally tied. It’s now my fault, for want this shit dealt with.

I’m done. Give me the damn tracking number you horrible garbage human.

You offered to get me off your back. You play the odds, that I’m the 10% that won’t let you scam them. How many others have you scammed? How many did you convince the item was delivered, and got them to just let you keep their hard earned money? (They sell other stuff. I don’t think there’s a massive market for calligraphy sets).

Now I lost my composure, and swore. I’m not fucking proud of it, but they really pissed me off. A senior citizen might not think to verify the fake tracking number. They might believe what they are told.

WHY WON’T YOU GIVE ME A TRACKING NUMBER, YOU HORRIBLE SCAMMER????

 

Now, they are insisting on their purity. They are magnanimous, and I dared to be an unpleasant person, to a scammer. I’m the horrible garbage human, but they are so wonderful, they apologize, paid their 10% gambling loss back to me, and wish me the best of holidays. Oh, and the item was totally delivered to my place of work.

Side note, I’ve been at my job 14 years. I only sent the package here, instead of home, because of the ink well. I didn’t want it to get ruined in the cold weather. I have never had a package delivered to my work, and had it “mysteriously” not get to me. This was just getting pathetic.

 

 

Last message, I promise. I acknowledged that I lost my cool with the swearing but took one last opportunity to point out that if they weren’t a scammer, then they should “show me the [tracking number].” They have not responded, since this last message.

 

It’s not about the gift. My niece is not a materialistic kid. She’s awesome and would be happy with 100 hugs. It’s about the principle of the thing. It’s taking advantage of someone spending the money they earned, and instead of earning it by selling a legitimate good or service, this person is scamming people.  I would love for this person to get caught an prosecuted, but I’m not holding my breath.

I’d like the uzystore on Etsy to get shut down too. But mostly, I want to warn other shoppers.

I love sites like Etsy. My sister-in-law has a shop CathyCreatesStuff, and she’s not a scammer. I am guessing most are not. From my experience, most are like her. Talented, thoughtful people, who create something beautiful and share it with people who might appreciate a handmade gift.

But this asshat is not cool, and I’m just not ok with them gambling on the 10% demanding a refund and keeping 90% of the money, from people they convinced, that the package was delivered, and “oh well”.

When you buy, from any site like Etsy, it’s important to be skeptical. I should have paid more attention to not just the store’s rating (4 1/2 stars!) but how many people rated it. There are only 28 ratings, which could be from all bogus accounts. When there are more like 200 or 2,000, you are likely to get a real sense of the store’s legitimate rating.

When you order from a vendor, on Etsy, Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, always insist on getting a tracking number, once the item has shipped. Test it out in the Google tracking number input, and make sure it’s a valid tracking number, particularly if they claim it was delivered.  Don’t let them blame the hard working delivery people, who work for FedEx, UPS, DHL, and USPS. The problem is rarely on their end.

And, don’t give in to spending money, without getting what you paid for. If they can’t get it to you, get your full amount refunded, and find a better seller. If they won’t fix the problem in a timely manner, open a ticket, on the order in question, with the site. When I opened a ticket on this order, with Etsy, Etsy didn’t even have to do anything. The seller got notified, and it scared them into refunding the money. Let the site handle a bad seller, if they are giving you the run around, and don’t let them spin their wheels. Give them a time limit, and if they claim it’s not enough, tell them you will ask the site (ie Etsy) to handle it if they won’t.

Good luck an safe shopping!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go hit a brick and mortar store to get some cool ass calligraphy pens, for my amazing niece.

I Wish People Would

I wish people would leave Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande alone. That doesn’t mean I don’t want his friends and family to be there for him, or hers to be there for her. I just wish the public would respect their privacy. I wish the media would. On my way home from work, last night, I heard the radio DJ say that Ariana was turned away from SNL, during their set, Saturday night. The DJ said, “Stay tuned to get the dets!” I don’t get it. It’s not healthy to be voyeurs in the private challenges people face, just because they are celebrities. It’s also not helpful to them.

If you claim to be a fan, do your celebrity crushes and icons a favor. Pay attention to their body of work. Their acting, singing, etc. Pay attention to the parts they choose to make public, like charitable work and political/social advocacy. But please, for the love of their health and yours, let their private life be private. If you can imagine your life under a microscope, and you private life all of the sudden being plastered all over the internet, imagine how much harder that would make your life. It’s not healthy, for anyone in our society, least of all the people who are subjected to this social act of mobe mentality barbarism.

By now, everyone knows that Pete Davidson is struggling with depression. My heart breaks for him, and I just keep hoping those close to him can help him get help.  On the off chance he might read this, I would like to make sure he knows the following.

Pete,

You and I both know, that depression is a crippling disease. You also know it’s not your fault. I have fibromyalgia and lupus. I know people who have had breast cancer. It’s not their fault. It’s not my fault. It’s not your fault. You have to keep that in check. Write it down. Put it on your fridge. Say it out loud, any time it’s getting hard, and you are feeling like it is somehow your fault.

Here’s the thing, though. Part of depression, can be suicidal thoughts. The depression tricks your mind into thinking there is no way out. The depression thrives on getting you to believe that. The depression convinces you to isolate yourself. That is how it gets stronger. With no other voices, to drown it out. Once you acknowledge that you have depression, you also have to be on guard for your mind trying to trick you.

When your depression is pushing you in that direction, you aren’t allowed to trust your mind. You just aren’t. You have to have reminders, that tell you not to trust you mind. I know that’s counter-intuitive, but I know, that you know it’s true.

I know it sucks, because when can you trust your mind and when can’t you? How can you know? If your mind is telling you to isolate yourself, that is always the trick. Friends, family, counselors. They are the support we all need. They are what being in this world is all about, even when it’s hard. The “funny” thing about depression, is that it gets weaker, when we talk about it, when we express it, when we reach out for help and tell people that our mind is going in that direction.

Please keep your friends, family, and counselors/therapists close. I see a therapist, and I think of it like any other health measure I take. I go to a chiropractor. I see the dentist twice a year. I check in with a therapist, to discuss the things I might not want to share with other people in my life. Sometimes it’s stuff I don’t mind sharing. Other times, it’s stuff I’m trying to process. Trying to get straight in my mind.

Allow yourself that imperfection. Remind yourself, that you aren’t perfect. Remember that I’m not perfect either (no where close). No one is. Those who seem it, are working to present that. Whenever I look at someone who seems to have their life incredibly together, I try to keep in mind how much of their life I know.  For example, Michelle Obama. She’s pretty close to perfection, right? I mean, come on. But here’s the thing. I probably don’t know 1% of her life. That doesn’t mean it’s all a veneer. She’s got brilliance, grace, and so much more. But that doesn’t make her perfect, and she shouldn’t have to be. My point is, that I have to keep in mind that I know very little about her life, and I only know what she chose to share. That’s how it should be, but that means I can’t really just assume she’s perfect.

Apply that to any person in the world. No one is perfect, and anyone who looks perfect to us, we probably only see a small amount of. We see as slice of who they are. That’s ok, but that means we can’t just judge that they are better able to make sense of this world, than we are. Everyone has their own struggles. We shouldn’t judge theirs and honestly, people aren’t really judging ours.  Yes, I know. Trolls online, the media, fans in the streets. I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a celebrity bubble. But I can convey what my mom taught me.

She’s a nurse, and for a few years, she was volunteering at a crisis hotline. She said she sometimes talked to people who were clearly paranoid schizophrenic. They were sure people were judging them, and constantly watching them. She would say, “what do you spend most of your time worrying about?” The person would answer, that they can’t stop thinking about what other people are thinking of them. My mom would respond that honestly, that is what most people were thinking. The person would respond either with “What???” or “I told you so!” My mom would clarify. Most people are just like you. They mostly worry about what everyone else is thinking about them. She would put that to them, and ask, “Do you think other people spend time worrying what people are thinking of them?” The person would respond with some variation of “I guess”.

And that’s when she had the argument. People may comment online and discuss the lives of celebrities, but that is a distraction from their own lives. Most people spend most of their time, worry about what other people are thinking about them. They aren’t judging us, as much as judging themselves. When we start obsessing about what others think of us, it does us no good. As my mom told me, it’s none of your business what anyone else thinks of you. Why? Because it has more to do with what they are worrying about, in regards to themselves, than it does have anything to do with you. Your reflection on their life, is just a mirror for them to try on different parts of themselves. We all do the same thing. It’s an unhealthy trap, and a waste of our energy.

Anyway, keep your friends, family and counselors close. Keep the media and troll far away. Only let in what is healthy and helpful to your life. What will build you up. The rest is not meant for you.

Much love,

Courtney