Friday, July 30, 2010

So Bad I Won't Give You The Title

I'm happy to say I finally finished the boring book I've been dragging through for the last week.  I don't know why I insisted on finishing the damn thing.  I'm getting better about setting aside books that don't grab my attention.  Life is too short for dull books.  But old bad habits die hard.

The biggest problem with this one was there was no conflict, no ratcheting up of the tension as the book progressed.  Which is kind of weird considering it was about a small band of friends trying to stop a demon horde from invading their small town.  Seems like there'd be plenty of conflict and tension there, doesn't it?  But it didn't play out on the page.  The two main characters meet and are instantly in love.  No internal conflict for either of them, nothing external to prevent them getting together.  Well, they can't be together forever because he's only on Earth for a week, but that doesn't stop either of them from taking the plunge.  It leads to lots of internal dialog, but not much actual tension.  The time lock- he only has a week to stop the demon invasion- should have amped things up, but it didn't.  The only consequence if he fails is that he goes back to limbo, where it's eternally boring.  His prize for defeating the demons is to go on to heaven, where he doesn't show any great desire to be, either.  He pays lip service to wanting to win, but there's no sense of urgency, no life or death consequences.

Another major problem is that until the final battle they never really succeed or fail.  There are a half dozen battles with the demons leading up to the climax.  In each one the good guys get weaker and the lead bad guy gets stronger, and yet each time the battle comes to a draw.  The swordsman keeps freaking missing every time he swings.  The hero keeps running out of magical powers half way through the fight.  And yet they never try a new strategy.  They go to where the demons are, they fight for a while, they all go home.  Rinse, repeat.  The stakes are never increased, although I guess when you start off with the fate of the world hanging in the balance, it's hard to go up from there.  The whole thing was just very blah and flat.  If demon invasions are boring you know the author is doing something wrong.  And then in the final battle scene they still do pretty much exactly what they've done all along, except the heroine grabs the sword (which she was told not to do because anyone but the swordsman would die from handling it) and she kills the demon.  The dude who has centuries of training can't kill the demon, but the girl who's never touched a sword manages it with one swing.  And the magic sword doesn't kill her.  If I weren't reading on my Kindle I would have been forced to fling the book against the wall at that point.  I hate it when an author sets up rules for their world and then violates them when they get inconvenient.  At that point everyone but the heroine is dead, except SURPRISE! they aren't.  And then she wraps up with something so magnificently cheese-tastic that I'm pretty sure I've seen it on at least half a dozen different cartoons.

Really, it was that terrible.  I'm so glad I get to read something else now!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

10 More Good Things

The 10 Good Things post was such a nice, positive change of pace that I decided to do it again.  It's taken me even longer to come up with ten things this time ("today" means the day I wrote it, not necessarily the day this was posted), but I finally found them all!

1.  I bought two books today!  Fictionwise tweeted a discount code, and using that I was able to buy two books with my micropay account- Made to Be Broken by Kelley Armstrong and Rules Were Made to Be Broken by Lenore Black.  You'll notice that the two titles are similar.  I've had my eye on Made to Be Broken for a while now, and every time I looked it up, Rules poped up, too.  The cover caught my eye because it reminds me a lot of the cover for Mine to Take by Dara Joy.  So I read the sample, and it looked pretty good.  A m/m romcom about friends turned lovers (one of my favorite tropes), possibly with some bondage.  Works for me!  And now I've used up all but $.03 of my micropay.  It's such a relief.  I know it's weird, but that credit just sitting there was stressing me out.

2.  I drove to the Med Center for a doctor's appointment today, and although it sprinkled a bit off and on, there was no flooding or heavy rain.  That trip easily takes me 45 minutes in good weather with light traffic.  Bad weather, heavy traffic, or flooding can double or triple it.

3.  My appointment went well.  I had to tell my GI about my insurance situation, and that I'm moving.  It's silly, but I was kind of worried that she might blow me off since I'm not going to be her patient for much longer.  But she was totally understanding.  She's working with me to be sure that I'm in the best condition possible before leaving the practice, and she's going to look through her directory to find a good GI for me up north.  She's going to check Indianapolis, but she's also looking into Cleveland Clinic, which is a bit of a drive, but possibly worth it for their excellent IBD program.  (Inflammatory Bowel Disease- ie Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis)

4.  I went to the grocery store when I got back to my side of town and bought some Summer Berry ice cream from Blue Bell.  I've been making ice cream floats with that and Sprite.  It's wrong how good they are.  Lemon ice cream with raspberry swirls and chunks of strawberry and blueberry, floating in lemon/lime soda.  I think I may have one now.

5.  When I was at the grocery store I discovered that my favorite toilet paper is on special!  I got 24 double rolls of aloe and E tp for $9.98.  As a toilet paper connoisseur, let me assure you, that's a deal.  If I weren't moving in 6 weeks or so I'd go back and stock up some more.

6.  I finally finished the baby hat I started a week or so ago.  There's a Girl Scout here in Houston who is knitting and collecting 100 baby hats for an area hospital.  I have a ton of baby yarn, and they don't take long to knit (as long as you're actually, you know, knitting on it), plus most hat patterns are pretty mindless, so I said I'd do a few.  I've already started a second hat.  (And now a couple days later I've finished the second and third hats, and I'm working on a fourth.)

7.  I emptied 2 boxes today!  A small pile of clothes get to move to the sell/donate pile, and a big bag of trash is now at the front door waiting to be hauled out.  I'm getting better at this letting go stuff.  Most of that bag of trash is stuff I would have kept a month ago, like old high school literary magazines and class pictures from elementary school.  Good bye!

8.  Here's another slightly weird one, but I'm truly grateful for it: Crystal deodorant stick.  This stuff is like a miracle.  A combination of the miserable heat and changed body chemistry from all my meds has made finding a deodorant problematic for me in the last few years.  Not only do I get smelly easily, but something in the deodorants I'd been using was causing rashes and miserable itching.  With Crystal?  No itching, no odor.  And no flowery perfume smells, either.  (Which may have been part of the problem with the itching.)  My arm pits now smell like nothing but clean arm pits for up to 24 hours.  It's amazing.  And the product itself is kind of interesting.  Basically, it's a smooth hunk of crystal (hence the name).  You have to dampen it, and then you rub it under your arms just like you would any other deodorant.  The company website says it runs $6.99 and lasts up to a year.  I can believe it!  I grabbed mine on sale at Walgreens for $2.99 a couple weeks ago.  After being burned by another pricey product I wasn't interested in spending a bundle for another experiment. (Tom's of Maine.  Terrible stuff.  Not only did my pits still stink, but each pit was producing it's own distinct odor, both of them vile.)  But Crystal really works for me, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone, especially anyone with sensitivities or health issues.

9.  I'm really enjoying the new season of The Closer.  And since they have the new episodes available on the TNT website, I'll still be able to watch it when I cancel my cable tomorrow.  (I was going to cancel today, but I decided to wait a few more hours so I could catch the new episode.)

10.  My critique group!  Knowing that we're all brainstorming for future stories, and that I won't be around much longer, we've switched from every other or every third week meetings to every week.  It's so great to get out of the house for a couple hours and chat with friends, even if I'm totally worn out afterwards.  And there is always much laughing and telling of stories.  I'm amazed how much stuff we manage to accomplish in between the off-topic chatter.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Very Sad

I know with all the stuff going on in my life that this is very minor, but I'm still sad.  I just canceled my cable service.  *sniffle*  I really can't afford it any more.  I only held on this long to catch the season finale of Doctor Who.  But it's still a sad day for me.  My TV is old and crappy, definitely not digital, so no local channels either.  I'll be a strictly Netflix and internet girl for the next month.

And now if you'll excuse me, I need to quick watch this week's episodes of The Closer, Leverage, and Drop Dead Diva before the DVR is deactivated.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The One

The impossible has finally happened.  I'm in love.  Check out this beautiful, beautiful house!

Isn't it darling?  It's one of the tiny houses designed by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.  I've been intrigued by their houses since I saw a story about them on TV a week or two ago.  The one profiled on TV was really tiny, around 100 square feet.  The itty bitty ones are on wheels and can be hauled anywhere.  The one above, called The Whidbey, is quite a bit bigger at 461 to 557 square feet, depending on the exact model, and is stationary.  But the principles of tiny house living are still applied.  What I like about this design is that it's clean and compact, but still has a lot of old fashioned charm.  And on the practical side, the bedroom is on the first floor instead of a sleeping loft accessed by a ladder or a full bedroom up a flight of stairs.  (A ladder or stairs aren't the best choices for me.)  The larger, two bedroom model would be absolutely perfect.  The windows on the front surround bedroom number one, which would be an ideal office.  The second bedroom, on the back of the house, has a small bench seat under a window between two closets, and I've always wanted a window seat.

The Loring, with it's sweet little porch, is also cute enough to stick in your pocket.  It's quite a bit smaller than The Whidbey at 261 to 356 square feet.  But the larger model would still be a practical choice for me, with the bump out bedroom on the first floor.  The only drawback for this style is that there is no separate space for an office- I'd have to set up a desk either in the main room or bedroom.  But it still has the window seat in the bedroom.

This is all just a fantasy, of course.  I have no money to build a house, tiny or otherwise.  Although at an estimated materials cost of $31,000 for the larger Loring and $41,500 for the larger Whidbey, these homes would be very economical to build.  And while I'm dreaming, I'd check into adding solar panels.  The company advertises utility costs of as little as $65 per year, although I'm sure that is for the smaller wheeled houses.  (Can you imagine?  My electric bill due next week is $168, and that's for one month!) 

I might be the only person in the world who, if she won the lottery, would rush out and build a smaller house.  But can you blame me when the designs are so adorable and perfect?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Manic Panic

Today I had a bit of a freak out.  I think everything just backed up on me a bit.  I'm reminded of how I'd feel sometimes in the high drama college years.  Back in those days I had a way of dealing with the high stress moments and let off steam: I'd do something to my hair.

Sometimes it involved scissors, but usually it was hair dye.  My hair has been every color found in nature and a few God never intended.  For a while I gravitated to the reds, mostly a natural-ish auburn that actually really worked with my skin tone.  And then there was that one experiment with henna that left me with Ronald McDonald red hair.  It also left my head smelling like over cooked spinach for at least a week.  When I needed a funky little pick me up it was a stripe of Manic Panic.  A vibrant lime green and an electric blue were two favorites.

As I got older and into the working world, radical hair colors weren't something I could get away with anymore.  So instead of the color I started playing with the cut.  I was always either growing it out or whacking it off.  Usually it looked like hell.

With my new, curly hair I'm reluctant to take scissors to it.  I'm afraid I'll end up looking like a graying Little Orphan Annie.  There for a while I was getting it professionally highlighted, and although it looked good, like I had a real, grown-up hair style (and about damn time according to my mother), it didn't give me the same stress relief that the old "buy a box of hair color and strap on the latex gloves" did.  Plus, it's insanely expensive, and I just can't afford it anymore.  But a bottle of Manic Panic should be less than $10, I can apply it myself without help, and there is a Hot Topic conveniently down the street where I can buy some.

So here's my question.  If you saw a 300 lbs, mid-thirties woman with a streak of purple or green or blue mixed in with the gray and the half-grown-out highlights, what would you think?  "You go girl" or "give it up already"?  I'm in a weird, in between stage of my life right now.  I'm not in the corporate world anymore, so I don't have a boss to please.  My personal style floats somewhere between modern hippie and slob.  I aspire to an earth mother vibe, but I'm not sure I achieve it.  I'd really like to throw a stripe in, but I just don't know if I can pull it off anymore.

What do you think- radical color, yes or no?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

10 Good Things

I've been a bit of a Debbie Downer lately.  I'm even starting to bore myself.  So I decided to do something positive- a list of 10 Good Things.  I'm sorry to say it took me two whole days to come up with this list, but I finally thought of ten of them!

1.  I sold a cooler full of books at Half Price today and earned $14.  Yay!
2.  While I was waiting for my offer I picked up a book and read a few pages of Lois McMaster Bujold.  That's always a happy thing.
3.  I took a 2 hour nap this morning and woke up feeling better, more refreshed.
4.  The actual temperature was cooler today (although the humidity was high, so it was still pretty miserable outside), which means the apartment stayed cooler and the a/c didn't have to run as much.  Hooray for saving a buck!
5.  I had Arby's for dinner.  Yum!
6.  There are NO DIRTY DISHES IN THE KITCHEN.  I'm not sure that's ever happened before.  It's a miracle!
7.  I made jello for tomorrow.  Now not only do I get yummy, yummy jello, but I've removed 2 things from the pantry- a box of jello and a can of peaches.  And I've used up part of a third item- the bag of mini marshmallows.
8.  Last night before bed I wrote a short final scene for the new book that's been knocking around in my head.  I still don't know what the mystery is about, or what the characters' names are, or even much about what they look like.  But it felt good to get those few first (last) words on the page.
9.  It's taken me almost a week, but I've finally committed to letting my yearbooks go.  I really don't want them, have no interest in looking at them again, so why keep them?  I'm half tempted to pull them out now that I've decided to let them go, but I won't.  When my friend's son comes over to haul stuff around for me I'm going to have him carry the box straight out to the car and take them to Half Price Books with everything else.
10.  After much flailing around I decided to try contacting my senator to see if they can help me with my Social Security situation.  (It's impossible to sum it up briefly if you haven't been following along.  But bottom line, I'm on a 12 month waiting list for the next level of appeal, and my current insurance will run out at midnight August 31st if I haven't been approved.)  I did a little bit of research and discovered that one of my senators is on the Finance committee, which is responsible for the Social Security Act and also on the Health Care subcommittee.  Yay!  I don't expect his office to step in and make anyone approve my application.  But if I could get bumped up the queue because of the urgency of my insurance situation, that would be amazingly fantastic.  I just want a fighting chance to get approved before time runs out.  Right now I'm actually considering no insurance at all as being a smarter health and financial choice than an insanely expensive plan that may cover nothing for the first 12 months and little after that.  The fact that someone with two chronic health problems, one of which could become fatal without proper treatment, is possibly considering no coverage at all as the smart option is completely insane.  It's the reality of health care in this country.

Well, I got a little off track there with item #10.  I can ride that hobby horse for days if no one stops me.  (Anyone who's read more than a post or two is nodding right now.  "Yes, Becky, we've noticed.")  But overall I'm very happy to have found ten good things.  I think I'm going to have to make this a regular feature.  Lately it's been hard to see any good things as I've crashed from one disaster to another.  But they're out there.  They're out there.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I don't want it but...

Why do we get so attached to stuff?  I started off strong, but in the last 24 hours or so I've started having doubts.  Do I really want to get rid of this?  I haven't looked at/used/remembered I even had this for who knows how long, but now that it comes down to it, I'm having second thoughts.  Some of it I'm wondering about for myself, and some of it is more about my mother.  Or maybe she's just the excuse.

The first place I started second guessing myself is my DVD collection.  I've been racking up the Amazon gift cards quickly with their trade in program.  But then I start to think, "But Mom gave this to me.  She's going to want to know where it is.  What if she wants to watch it?"  Why would she know or care what movies I have?  But still I waffle.  Other items I've worried about getting rid of because of Mom are my security blanket (I'm 35 for cripes sake!  Why do I still have my security blanket?), a couple of cameras, and a bunch of Candle-lite stuff that she gave me.  The smart, mature thing to do if I'm so worried about how she's going to feel about me getting rid of this stuff would be to ask her.  But I'm afraid if I remind her of this stuff, which I'm 99% sure she hasn't even thought of in years, she'll have a fit and want me to keep it all.  And then I have to deal with it.  If I just get rid of it she'll probably never even notice.  But that feels cowardly or dishonest or something, even though it's all my stuff and I should be able to do anything I want with it.

The other things that I feel stupid about waffling over are my high school year books.  I haven't looked at them in probably 10 years.  I have no desire to look at them now.  Plus they're heavy as hell, and I don't want to haul them out to the car and then from the car into the new house.  To be honest, I'm fairly sure I couldn't pick up the box even if I wanted to.  That ought to make it easier to let them go.  And yet, I still feel weird about not keeping them.

I think maybe I'm just feeling a little overwhelmed by all the decisions.  I've gotten to the point where I actually kind of like the idea of trashing it all and starting fresh.  But it's a lot of work.  And the pain and fatigue caused by the increased activity make it harder to deal with rationally, too.  I'm not sleeping well AT ALL, and the pain is bad.  I can't wait for this all to be over and done with.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Time For a Break

The news of the moving front is too depressing for words, so I'm not going to talk about that tonight.  Instead I want to talk about books.

Books, glorious books!  They're my happy place all the time, but especially when someone else's fictional world is a better place to be than my real one.

Over the weekend I started Naked Dragon by Annette Blair.  I was really looking forward to this one because 1) the premise sounded cool, and 2) I liked the cover.  (Forgive me, I'm shallow.)  Major disappointment.  There are some authors whose style I just don't like, and it looks like Blair is one of them.  I read something else of hers a couple years ago, and that one didn't do it for me, either.  I got about 60 pages in on this one and quit.  Weird, silly stuff was happening, and I'm just not into that.  I like silly sometimes, but not random, unmotivated silly.  There has to be a point to the joke, some motivation to the action, no matter how obscure, or it's a waste of story space.  (Like when the hero crash lands into modern Salem, and he's laying on the ground, stunned and blinking, and a skunk climbs up on his chest and sprays him in the  face.  Really?  Why was that necessary?  It wasn't even funny!)

My second problem with the book is harder to explain.  Every once in a while I come across an author whose writing doesn't connect with my brain.  It's like I'm looking through a window smeared with vaseline.  Everything is distorted and out of focus, and nothing makes sense.  It's all unclear.  Other people seem to like these authors, even though I find myself scratching my head and wondering why.  If I spent some time dissecting these books when they come along I could probably figure out why they don't work for me, but the truth is I don't care that much.  I just throw them back and move on.

So, moving on.  The next book I started was Stranded With a Spy by Merline Lovelace.  This was one of the first freebies I grabbed for my Kindle, and a year later I'm finally getting around to it.  It's all a little glam for my tastes, but otherwise an unobjectionable way to spend a few hours.  (At least, so far.  I haven't finished it yet.)  I have come across one problem, though.  The hero is telling the heroine about his time in the army, and he mentions IEDs.  When she doesn't know what that is (which is a pretty serious stretch for anyone these days, let alone someone who worked for a senator and ought to be plugged in to current events), the hero explains that it's an Individual Explosive Device.  Whoops.  That boing! sound you heard was me getting bounced out of the story.  I went back later and read a little more, and I'm still... well, enjoying might be too strong a word, but I'm still interested enough to see what happens next.  I can't guarantee this one won't get thrown back too, though, if any more egregious mistakes pop up.

I'm also reading The Vorkosigan Companion, which is quite entertaining so far.  But I'm a Bujold geek, and a writing geek, and a behind-the-scenes geek, so this hits a lot of buttons for me.  Also, completely unrelated to the quality of the material, this is one of the books I'm considering sending in for the Amazon trade-in program (I've already made a pretty penny in gift certificates sending off all the books I'm not going to have room for in another month), and the trade-in price keeps ping ponging back and forth between something in the $4 range and $.25.  I'll send it to them for $4, once I'm done reading it.  But if all they want to give me is $.25 for it, I'll take my chances at Half Price Books.  At least with them you're getting cash, so I can spend my $.25 anywhere I want.  (Although I'm hoarding these gift certificates like a dragon hoards gold.  It's the only way I'm going to be able to buy the new Crusie coming out at the end of August, and the new Raybourn coming out in October, and the new Bujold coming out in November!)

And because that's just not enough books, and because I've been reading about Miles (my literary boyfriend) in the Companion anyway, I'm also listening to the audio version of A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold, read by Grover Gardner.  He does such a great job with this series.

So, that's how I'm dealing with reality right now.  One book at a time.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Well Hell

I just spent some time getting quotes for one of those portable moving cubes.  Bad news, folks.  (At this point, did anyone really expect anything else?)  The quotes ranged from $1,700 to over $2,000 to move from Houston to Indiana plus one month storage.  I'm pretty sure I could replace anything I really want to bring with me for less than that.  Sigh.  It's particularly irritating since I just bought myself a new couch in March.  This thing is beautiful.  It's comfy and reclining, and after delivery I spent about $650 on it.  I could have sat on the old, non-reclining couch for another 4 1/2 months and saved myself a lot of money.  So frustrating.

In other fantastic news, I was working on the closet this afternoon and discovered a lovely, hairy patch of mold where I had my first outcropping last winter.  That might explain the itchy eyes and nose and scratchy throat I've been dealing with lately.

On the positive side, there are now 6 bags of trash and a handful of beat up boxes sitting at the front door, waiting to be hauled to the dumpster.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

De-Cluttering Progress Report

Yesterday, to inspire me while clearing out, I started listening to an audiobook called Throw Out Fifty Things by Gail Blanke.  She gives her clients the assignment of getting rid of 50 things (sell, donate, or trash) in two weeks.  But there's one catch- multiples only count as 1.  So you can't just throw out 50 magazines and be done.  That's one.  Now find 49 more things to clear out.

Making a list and keeping track as I worked yesterday felt good, but I think I also got bogged down as I have before in focusing on what to get rid of instead of what to keep.  I feel like I'm making pretty good progress all things considered, although I didn't do much today.  (Wore myself out yesterday, and pain levels were too high.)  Here's everything that made it onto my list yesterday.  None of this stuff is actually out of the apartment yet- there's a lot of stuff to sell or donate on the list.  But this is a firm commitment to lose it all before moving.  I'm not using it, don't need it, and don't care to haul it around any longer.  And the trash is in bags, but hasn't been taken to the dumpster yet.

1. old bills, receipts, and junk mail
2. books
3. DVDs
4. yarn
5. gift boxes
6. shipping boxes/packaging
7. unused linens
8. decorative crap
9. juicer
10. wrapping paper
11. Alpha Smart
12. purses
13. dehumidifier
14. crap from a former friend
15. can of dirt (why?) stored in hall closet
16. sticks of deodorant I can't use any more because they give me a rash
17. exercise equipment- treadmill, exercise bike, weights, step
18. thingies- stuff that I don't know what it is, what it does, or why I have it

I feel pretty good about this list.  It's only a drop in the bucket of what needs to be done, but it's a nice start.  Tonight I plan to post some ads for the stuff I want to sell, and hopefully I'll get a few bucks to help with moving expenses.  Or credit card bills.  Or meds.  Or just a few extra dollars in the Incredible Shrinking Savings Account.

One thing I'm particularly excited about is the pile of books and DVDs I've traded back through Amazon for gift cards.  I shipped a smallish box last week, and I have another one ready to go for tomorrow.  Between the two I've earned over $80 in Amazon gift cards.  That's gonna keep me in ebooks for a little while.  (I've already bought one with my first gc- Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey.  Finished it before bed last night.  Highly recommended.)  If I sold them at Half Price Books I probably wouldn't have gotten more than $15 or so for the lot.  There's something to be said for cash over gift certificates.  But with that kind of discrepancy I'll take the gift certificates.  I still have my wheeled cooler completely filled (and then some) with books and DVDs to sell at Half Price, and I hope to get a couple of bucks for them.  I figure I've got at least one, maybe two more HP runs to go after this one.  But I'm not going to kill myself trying to haul it all in at once.

Something else I intend to get a little creative with is the pantry.  I have A LOT of crap in there.  I don't mind donating what I can.  But I'd like to eat up as much as possible, too.  That means that meals will be getting a little... interesting around here.  I have a boat load of jello and canned fruit in there, which is always good this time of year anyway, so I'm going to make up some of that tonight.  There's Bisquick and pancake syrup, so pancakes here I come.  There's a ton of pasta, which is never a problem for me to eat.  The canned pumpkin and bottles of salad dressing?  Gotta go.

The hardest thing I've attempted to deal with so far has been the yarn.  There is an amazing amount of yarn in this apartment.  But I think that will be the subject of my next post, because I'm not quite sure where I stand on all of it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Clearing Out

There have been further developments, many further developments, and bottom line is that I'm going to land somewhere soon, I'm just not sure where or when.  It is very possible that it's going to be in someone's spare bedroom, with no place to store the apartment's worth of stuff I've collected over the last 15 years.  That means I'm going to have to get rid of a lot of stuff.

Instead of looking at all of it and deciding what to get rid of, which I've done a million times and I still have closets full of stuff, I've decided to turn my thinking around.  Which items do I really, truly want to keep?  That's a simpler question to answer.  Anything that isn't on the "want to keep" list goes- selling, donating, or trashing depending on what it is and what kind of condition it's in.  I'd like to be able to keep my bed and my new couch.  The washer and dryer are a slightly less rational keep, but I'd really like to hang on to them, too.  But those big pieces will be expensive to move and expensive to store while I wait for the day when I have space for them again.  So if my new situation, whatever it might be, doesn't have room for them right away, then I'll have to let them go.  I'll just pack up the car with as much of my "keep" pile as fits (hopefully all of it or I'll have to re-evaluate my pile), buckle the cat into his carrier, and hit the road for parts unknown.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


I called Social Security this morning to see if they'd scheduled my hearing yet.  The woman on the phone told me that there's currently a 12 month waiting list for a hearing date.  The earliest I'm likely to hear something is next May.  My insurance runs out in less than 60 days, and without an approval from Social Security I'm going to have at least a 6 month gap in coverage.  SHIT.  Shit, shit, shit.  (Literally and figuratively.)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Money and My Health Insurance Crisis

There's a lot of stuff backing up on me at the moment, and I'm beginning to wonder how much longer it'll be before I end up wearing a laundry basket on my head and barking Jingle Bells. (That really happened once.) (Don't ask.) This whole thing is a train wreck, but an amazingly boring, drama-free train wreck, so continue reading at your own risk.

If you know anything about me, or even bothered to read the subtitle of this blog, you know that I have Crohn's disease and Fibromyalgia. It's not fun. I haven't been able to work since August of 2008. First I was on short term disability, and when that ran out I shifted over to long term disability. At that point I should have started applying for Social Security disability (from here on referred to as SSDI), but the denial- I haz it. I started the SSDI application process in November 2009, I think. I've been denied twice so far. A couple weeks ago I filled out the paperwork for my second appeal, and sometime soon (hopefully) I should be getting an appointment to go before a judge. In the meantime, I still get my LTD (long term disability) check, and that covers the bills. Sort of. If I'm very careful.

The only reason this works for me financially at all is that I am still covered by COBRA, and my medical insurance is very, very good. The one medication that has done more to control my Crohn's than anything else, and it still can't completely control it, is Remicade. That's an IV drug that I get every 6 weeks. (The typical interval is every 8 weeks, but I need it more frequently than that.) Without my insurance, those infusions would cost me over $9,000 a pop. $9,000 every six weeks. That's over $80,000 a year. That's more than twice my entire salary when I was working, and LTD pays 60%. So clearly, there's no way I can afford this medication without insurance or significant help from the drug company.

Now here's where the scary part comes in: COBRA runs out for me on August 28th. In less than 2 months I will no longer have this fantastic medical insurance. And there's no way on God's green earth that any other insurance company is going to cover me with my medical history.

I thought I had it covered, though. Texas has a high risk insurance pool, specifically designed for people in my situation. And now because of recent legislation there is a federal high risk pool, too. Hooray! Right? Uh, maybe not so much. With my insurance expiring in only 8 weeks, I decided to do a little more research into these plans and find out what I needed to do to apply. It turns out that you have to go without insurance for 6 months before you're eligible for the federal pool. That's more than $36,000 worth of Remicade. The Texas pool is even worse- they won't cover pre-existing conditions (you know, the whole reason I need the pool in the first place) for the first twelve months you're on the plan.

This is not good, folks. I'm just going to lay it out now, pride be damned. I was only just limping along financially as it was, with regular assistance at the end of every month from my credit cards. I can't afford to pay for one month of medication and doctor visits without insurance, let alone 6 or 12 months. (The numbers I've laid out for you so far are just for Remicade. Without prescription drug coverage I'll have at least $1,000 worth of pills to pay for every month, too.) I was already planning to move in with my parents in November when my current lease runs out, because I'm sinking just a little bit deeper every month. ($4,000 worth of credit card debt and counting.) 35 and living in my parents' basement. This is so not the life I signed up for.

Now I'm seriously questioning if I can even make it to November. Without at least the Crohn's medications I could die. (Without the Fibro meds life would be miserably painful and not worth living, but it wouldn't actually kill me.) I came close to death three years ago, and without Remicade and methotrexate the Crohn's will rage out of control again. Just the interruption in those meds caused by infections and surgery earlier this year has caused a flare. I'm terrified to think what might happen if I totally lose access to my meds and doctors.

At this point there is only one thing that could save me: SSDI. If I'm approved two things will happen. COBRA can be extended for another 11 months, and I'll become eligible for Medicare. Medicare probably won't kick in right away. They don't give you that until 2 years after your disability date (and they have some flexibility in deciding what that date will be), but COBRA should cover me until that time. But only if the SSDI is approved between now and August 28th, while I'm still covered. If I'm approved on August 29th, I'm shit out of luck. So anyone who's reading this, do whatever you do. Pray, cast a circle, think good thoughts, send mojo, vibes or whatever you call it. Put it out to the Universe that I need SSDI, and I need it now.

It won't solve all my problems. In a few months I'm still going to end up 35 and living in my parents' basement. But at least I won't be 35 and dying in my parents' basement.