Looking for Insurance

Denied for Spoils
If a claim for damages
If a claim is denied
Denied out of hand
Denied with prejudice
Prejudice against illness
Prejudice against poverty
Poverty of mind
Poverty of spirit
Spirit of justice
Spirit of compassion
Compassion is sought
Compassion is lacking
Lacking from corporations
Lacking in government
Government without a conscience
Government like a business
Business about the money
Business by and for the rich
Rich get richer
Rich make everyone else poor
Poor get poorer
Poor find no justice
Justice in the law
Justice in courts
Courts run by government
Courts controlled by money
Money for bail
Money for lawyers
Lawyers looking for prestige
Lawyers representing causes
Causes that are noble
Causes that line their pockets
Pockets of corruption
Pockets that are deep
Deep enough to hold judges
Deep like the ocean
Ocean of despair
Ocean that swallows hope
Hope that is lost
Hope against all odds
Odds on favorite
Odds are the house wins
Wins against the little man
Wins the jackpot
Jackpot he shouts in victory
Jackpot contains the spoils
Spoils ill-gotten gains
Spoils go to the wealthy

The above is a Blitz poem. It is a form I’ve used before that was created by Robert Keim. It consists of 50 lines where the first word of the first line becomes the 1st word of the second line. The last word of the 2nd line becomes the 1st word in the next two (line 3 & 4) lines. This pattern is repeated until line 49. Line 49 is a single word which is the last word of line 48 and line 50 is a single word, the last word of line 47. There is no punctuation. The title is the first word in line 3 followed by a preposition or conjunction and the first word from line 47.
The inspiration for this poem is a letter I received in the mail from my insurance company. In short it said that they were cutting benefits. Granted the items being cut don’t particularly affect me. They are reducing the coverage for childbirth, and mental health coverage, and mammograms. They are completely eliminating birth control. But the thing that really got me going was the little section titled “If A Claim is Denied” wherein they describe your recourse when the plan administrator denies a claim. Basically you have a snowball’s chance in Hades. After an informal meeting, a 90 day wait and then a mediation session, if your situation isn’t resolved you can seek a legal remedy. Of course it would be you and your puny lawyer against a cadre of sharks paid to do one thing and one thing only – make sure you don’t get any thing. I am fearful that the insurance industry is poised to ensure most of the working poor are uninsured!


Looking at Thunderstorms

We had rain again. We’ve had lots of rain this spring and summer. Yet not many thunderstorms to accompany the rain. It seems strange to have rain in the summer without the crackling of lightening and the claps of thunder. I will confess that thunderstorms cause me a little anxiety. I really don’t like to be alone during a big storm. With Sparky’s unpredictable work schedule I am home alone in the evenings more often than I’d like. So I’m not complaining. I am however curious as to the reason why there haven’t been any big thunder boomers. A week and a half ago the sky turned black as I was leaving work. The temperature went from 87 degrees to a balmy 65 degrees and the wind picked up. By the time I reached my car the wind was blowing hard and pelting my bare legs with bits of sand and gravel. I was certain there was going to be a huge storm. I was wrong. It sprinkled enough to wet the driveway and chase Sparky inside. He had managed to mow the yard but not trim or edge. Meanwhile I decided to make dinner – a Pot Pie. It was really good!

I decorated it in anticipation of a super thunderstorm but the storm never materialized. It was just some rain and a little blowing wind… Not even enough to make my wind chimes tangle! I suppose this is just another symptom of our global health. Growing up we had lots of summer thunderstorms. Seems we were headed to Grandma’s basement all the time. There would be tornado sirens and the wind would make the telephone wires hum and whistle. I haven’t heard that in a long time… Still we’ve had torrential rains but not the usual light show and drum circle to go with it.

Looking at Friday

Today I am going on a retreat for work. It is sort of mandatory. The “invitation” suggested the following:
1. Get there early since parking is limited.
2. Carpool if at all possible (see above).
3. Bring a water bottle or coffee mug to reduce the amount of paper waste generated.
4. Wear comfortable casual clothes because:
A. We will be “playing games”
B. You can go for a walk at lunch
C. There will be “learning activities” which may involve sitting on the floor
5. There will be a light breakfast if you get there before 8:00 AM
6. They will provide lunch, beverages, and snacks.
7. You need to bring an “open mind” and a “spirit of cooperation”.
8. The retreat will conclude by 5:00 PM.

I am not so sure I am going to enjoy this retreat. I have pried the door open on my mind and have wedged some serious reservations into the door jam to keep it open. If they serve salads for lunch my “spirit of cooperation” just might dive into the open mind door and kick it closed from the inside. Just saying. I like vegetables but I want them cooked. I am not a rawist. I am closer to an obligate carnivore than most. In fact I don’t think I’ve met a meat I didn’t like. I am going to carpool with a coworker thus we are meeting at 7:30 AM and hopefully make it to the retreat (the Boat House) in time for breakfast and to score a parking spot! The rest of the day will be what it is. I’m hopping against all odds that it is a painless event…

Looking at Wednesday

This is a tough week. Wednesday is often referred to a “hump day” meaning it is in the middle and everything is downhill from here. However for me and many of you growing up in the 1960s, hump meant sitting in the middle of the back seat on the hump which was by far the most uncomfortable place. You didn’t have a window and depending on the car you didn’t have much cushion. That translated to a tail bone bruising ride over railroad tracks and heaven help your backside if potholes were encountered. But the worst part was in the winter, when that same lack of padding allowed the heat from the exhaust to heat the seat. At first it was cozy but if the ride was extended you were literally “in the hot seat”. Today I’m enduring a Wednesday that is akin to riding in the middle of the backseat in my mothers Corvair – in the winter. The heating was designed to blow hot air from under the middle of the backseat. It was one of those things where the back of your legs would be scorched.
For your reading pleasure I have provided the following poem, a quatrain (4 lines per stanza with the line 2 & 4 rhyming). In light of the way things are going I made this a little more difficult by chaining the stanzas and using the same rhymes repeatedly…

What prayer do I intone?
Do I pray for self-preservation
Or to look outward in scope
Send up a plea for the nation?

I humbly ask to save our nation
A grand request of global scope
Please grant my desperate supplication
Omniscient God, grant us hope!

Some name it a crutch – that hope
A crippled country bows in supplication
Begs for mercy and for justice moans
Prays our tears become worthy oblation

Work of human hands offers oblation
To God’s ear the heart’s loud moans
We chant – save us from damnation
This sacred chant intones

Looking At Monday

Mondays have a bad reputation. There are lots of comic strips that bemoan the appearance of Monday.

Ask any employee their least favorite day of the week and you will be deafened by the shout of “MONDAY!” There has to be something behind the nearly universal dislike of Monday. From personal experience I can point out a couple problems with Mondays:
1. Monday is the point which you will be required to deal with all the problems that sprang up over the weekend.
2. Mondays are the preferred day for meetings, especially boring ones.
3. On Monday the workforce is least perky and in some instances still retain some of the weekend alcohol in their bloodstreams.
4. More injuries happen on Monday (see #3 above).
5. Monday is “Murphy’s Day” when whatever can go wrong will.
6. Monday is second only to Friday for the most number of call offs (see #3 above).

In honor of Monday and all the people who suffer through them, I give you a Monday haiku.
NO NO NO Dammit
NO NO NO I won’t NO NO
For the last time NO

Looking Nostalgic

I cleaned up and organized my craft closet. It brought back some memories. When the boys were young there were always art projects required as homework. In kindergarten I had to come up with shirts for the letter of the alphabet they were assigned. Son#2 was given “R”. He had to have 100 of something. I opted for rubberbands. I drew a large R on the front of a sweatshirt and he counted out bundles of rubberbands as I sewed them on inside the block R. He sang “Rubberband Man”. He was too cute! That memory was provoked by finding a box (unmarked) of crumbling rubberbands. I opened a bin containing an odd assortment of beads, white fake fur, cellophane gift wrap and some Styrofoam balls and a large paper mache egg. Son#1 had to create an animal cell for science class.

We used a clear garbage bag covered in fake fur on half. We used the egg for the cell nucleus, the balls were different sizes and colors for lysosomes and peroxisomes, reticulum was orange beads and there were oval blocks for mitochondria. He spent lots of time gluing and labeling that “cell” and I spent way too much money on craft supplies to just toss it when he was done. Thus I have a bin with weird stuff. I suppose if I ever need to build a cell I’m all set!
I also was organizing beads since I came into a possession of some nifty round plastic pill containers. Actually I got 36 of them for twenty-five cents! Anyway, I sorted beads that brought back memories of the pony bead craze that both boys participated in (along with the entire Elm Road Elementary School)! They made key chains, bookmarks, Christmas ornaments, zipper pulls for backpacks, etc.

I still have a huge tin of pony beads. I started to sort them but gave up. I did however discover a half finished turtle key chain in the bottom of the tin. I thought about finishing it but couldn’t find the bead needle…
Anyway my day was productive and I discovered some memories I had misplaced. Hope when you clean you find only good memories and no dead bugs! (That’s another post)

Looking Detached

Sever the ties
Between emotion and intellect
To allow space
Between knowing and feeling
Creating a buffer
When pains inflicted by living
And the certainty of dying
Are held at arm’s length
So the soul can breathe
Take in one last gulp of air
Against being swallowed by the tide

I said I wasn’t going to write about depression. God has a way of making me eat my words. Just when I decided I was not going to dwell on depression it gets dropped on my head in a ton of bricks fashion. Depression has occurred in people close to me. I was concerned about someone last week who has a history of self-harm. New medications resulted in an uneven keel and that devolved into the need to seek medical attention. It hurts to see someone struggling so hard to keep their head above water. Depression can be transient and other times it can linger. Everyone has had a brush with depression even me. It seems to be a universal part of adolescence – the peer pressure, the budding independence, the raging hormones, the hesitation, and of course the underdeveloped frontal cortex all leading to a regular psychological short circuit. It is during those formative years that many of us developed coping skills against depression. Some were healthy and others gravitated to less beneficial coping mechanisms. In today’s society, children are being given mood elevators and anti-psychotic medications for what would have been described in earlier times as normal teen angst. My point is that depression is real and is more widespread that I ever considered. And as a society we’ve lost many coping skills and are now reliant on pills. I cope by becoming detached and looking at the “bigger picture” to put things into perspective. How do you cope?

Looking at a Book List

One of the people I subscribe to on WordPress (Greta Renee – When Almonds Bloom) just posted her A to Z book list. She made a list of books she wants to read. And I hope she does read them. When I was in high school and college I kept a list of every book I read. I filled a small note pad. Then I switched to a 3-ring binder with loose leaf notebook paper. It was a huge undertaking since it wasn’t just moving the titles to a new page. I chose to organize it by author instead of by book title. (I think my OCD was beginning to show up). Anyway her list jogged my memory. I went to the basement to see if I still had that binder. And the short answer is no. The longer answer is that I found it but it had been damaged during one of the more recent basement water events. It was moldy and I pitched it. However I was able to pull together a list of books I’ve already read. Now granted there are some books that are from a long time ago when I was in my “Must read all the classics so I can get into college” phase. And there are some that are from the backpacks of my children (because every parent wants to know what their kids are filling their brains with). So here is my A to Z list!
A – Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy) – one of my favorites
B – The Book Thief (Markus Zusak) – my current most favorite non-series book
C – Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer) – still makes me laugh
D – Doctor Doolittle (Hugh Lofting) – the series that made me want to be a veterinarian
E – Ella Enchanted (Gail Carson Levine) – fluff that my niece was reading but still fun
F – Frankenstein (Mary Shelley) – a classic that is so much better than any movie adaptation
G – Galapagos (Kurt Vonnegut) – all his stuff is good and this is a gem
H – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J. K. Rowling) – this series is one I can reread again and again
I – I Sing the Body Electric (Ray Bradbury) – this story was in a compilation and so very thought provoking reminded me of the Velveteen Rabbit (another favorite story that makes me tear up)
J – John Carter of Mars (Edgar Rice Burroughs) – my father gave me this and I was hooked
K – Kon-Tiki (Thor Heyerdahl) – had to read it in school and was mesmerized
L – Love’s Labour’s Lost (William Shakespeare) – one of the lesser known but so good
M – Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert) – at one time a scandalous read, still was for a 13 year old…
N – Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell) – terrifying for me
O – Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck) – probably the only Steinbeck novel I’d ever recommend
P – The Picture of Dorian Grey (Oscar Wilde) – like a train wreck that I couldn’t put down
Q – QB VII (Leon Uris) – horrifying account (part fiction and lots of truth)
R – Robot Dreams (Isaac Asimov) – yes you need to read this
S – Stranger in a Strange Land (Robert Heinlein) – I read this as a precocious 12 yr old my parents were not happy
T – Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (Marjorie Kellogg) – I cried
U – Ulysses (James Joyce) – in my classical phase Joyce is not an easy read
V – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (C. S. Lewis) – lapped this up like milk out of a saucer
W – Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett) – read this in college and then saw the play
X – Xenocide (Orson Scott Card) – I like all the Ender series
Y – The Yearling (Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings) – another school assignment that I really enjoyed (surprisingly)
Z – Zorba the Greek (Nikos Kazantzakis) – The book was better than the movie

So there you have it. Can you make an A to Z book list? Have we read any of the same books??

Looking Blue

I’m not going to discuss depression. There I got that out of the way. Nor am I going to discuss my somewhat blue nail beds (especially in the winter) due to very poor circulation in my hands. I’m going to discuss eye shadow, specifically blue eye shadow. When I was first experimenting with make-up, the hip look included frosted white lips and baboon blue eye shadow. My mother didn’t subscribe to that fashion so she didn’t own any white lipstick. Her eye shadow palate was in greens and earth tones. My friend Anita’s mother bought make-up for her. You see Anita had a problem – trichotillomania. It is an irresistible urge to pull out their hair, usually from their scalp, eyelashes, and eyebrows. Trichotillomania is a type of impulse control disorder and Anita had it bad. She had pulled out all her eyelashes and had started on her eyebrows. In an effort to persuade her to leave them alone she was given the make-up. It is really hard to apply mascara if you don’t have lashes. Anyway, we would spend lots of time attempting to apply eye make-up to look like the pictures in the magazines. At first we would both end up looking like Mimi from the Drew Carey Show.

We both gravitated to blue since it was the in color. Anita was blond so she didn’t look too bad in blue. With my bright red hair, I looked frightful. What we wanted to look like was Twiggy.

We never did get it right. Instead we discovered what didn’t look good and what did – with a little help from Anita’s mother and to a greater extent from her little brother who was unmerciful in his critiques! So for many years I refused to wear blue eye shadow. It just wasn’t in my repertoire. Times change and I now own 2 different blues – a frosted turquoise blue that leans to aqua and a light blue from Clinique.

Just when I start to get comfortable wearing blue eyeshadow, the game changes and everyone is wearing navy blue shadow. The young girls look like they were socked in the eye. I don’t think I’m going to join this trend in blue!

Looking White

I would make a good vampire. I shy away from direct sunlight. It burns me. I am an expert at drawing blood and I enjoy it. And I’m very pale – a deathly white color in the winter. I blend into the scenery in a snowy landscape. I wear sandals and people sneer at me and comment, “Why are you wearing white socks with sandals? It isn’t fashionable!” Sadly I am not wearing socks. It is just my normal skin tone. Being as it is summer, I broke out the white Capri pants. I put on a sleeveless tunic top and stepped into the day. As I trudged across the parking lot headed into work, a coworker intercepted me. She was looking concerned. She had thought I wasn’t wearing any pants! Of course as she got closer she realized I did have clothes on but felt compelled to let me know that from a distance I appeared to be wearing a micro-mini dress. I laughed but it made me think. Is there such a thing as being too pale? As a youth I had fervently hoped that my freckles would run together and make me look tanned. I tried, I really did, to tan. I slathered myself in suntan oil and stretched out on a towel with my best friend. She got a tan and I got burned. Fried bacon crispy burnt. I have always questioned the health benefits of tanning beds and I have been vindicated with all the dire warnings of skin cancer risks.

I think I was born too late. If I’d been born in the early 1800s, I’d have been considered a real beauty. I wouldn’t have had to take arsenic to become pale. I would have been right in style wearing a wide brimmed hat and long sleeves in the summer. Alas I was born into a time when being tan indicates health and vigor instead of shouting that you are poor and a common laborer. So to recap I have the ability to turn 2 colors, red and white. I suppose that’s pretty talented. So here is a limerick (not my favorite form but I’m forcing myself to stretch).

I’m as pale as they come
Until booze I’ve had some
Then I turn red
Pass out like I’m dead
And wake feeling real dumb