Archive for March, 2010

Published by PaintingChef on 25 Mar 2010

And on the heels of religion? Politics. Why the hell not?

It’s no secret around these parts that I’m a left-leaning individual. A VERY left-leaning individual. Also not a secret? I don’t like to talk politics or religion or uber-controversial stuff like that too often. Why would I when instead I can dazzle your mind with the state of my uterus or a deodorant diatribe? And so why, mere days after forcing you to wade through a stream of consciousness hot mess of an entry about religion would I then be so ambitious as to tackle politics?

Recent events have made it necessary for Patrick and me to investigate the scary market of individual health coverage. No worries, we both still have jobs, daddy hasn’t fired us. It’s just that the construction industry, like every other industry (oh! Except for health care!!) is in the shitter and covering a portion of the premiums for our employees is no longer an option. At least for the time being…

Patrick is, of course, healthy as a horse. He’s been to the doctor a grand total of 3 times in the past 5 years. Once for a sinus infection (and that was under threat of sleep-smothering from me), once for the flu and once for a physical. Each time he visited a walk-in clinic because he doesn’t even HAVE a doctor.

But… those of you playing along at home know that my health care expenditures over the past year have been significant. Infertility treatments? Not so cheap. Also? Not so much covered by insurance. So when we started applying for individual health insurance, I was not worried. Yes, I have PCOS but surely that is a common enough condition that underwriters wouldn’t blink an eye. And why would they care about the infertility treatments I’ve had if they aren’t going to cover them anyway?

Yes… you may all laugh loudly at me now. Go ahead… I’ll wait. I need to warm up my caps lock key anyway…

One week later and I had been denied coverage by FOUR major health insurance companies. My infertility was a pre-existing condition. I was denied health insurance because of a condition that they wouldn’t cover ANYWAY. So I applied for a FIFTH policy leaving out all mention of infertility treatments and only mentioning my Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome on the questionnaire. And my PCOS? A condition that millions and millions of women suffer? Qualified me for an IMMEDIATE and NON-NEGOTIABLE 90-100% mark-up on the policy. Guess what else INDIVIDUAL health insurance doesn’t cover? MATERNITY CARE. Oh yes. Maternity care can be an extra two hundred dollars a month. And you can’t add it once you get pregnant. You have to have it ahead of time AND it has a nine month waiting period! (How convenient) But if you are pregnant when you are applying for health insurance? Oh yes friends… THAT is a pre-existing condition and it isn’t going to be covered.

At this point, for the record, we would be spending over $900 a month for just MY health insurance. And for that amount of money, it wasn’t going to give me a baby with a fully stocked nursery and a team of dedicated, round-the-clock caretakers. I checked…

Needless to say, the decision we made was to keep me on the current employee health care and shell out the money for it while Patrick shopped around for his own policy.

But what I’ve learned is that reform IS necessary. Health care companies are out of control. I don’t necessarily think that the reform passed on Sunday will do the trick but I’m pleased that steps were taken to remove the pre-existing conditions and lifetime maximum coverage clauses, even if the penalties for denying coverage are laughable. And why 4 years? Why not tomorrow?

I DO think infertility coverage should be mandated in all 50 states, not just the 10 or 12 that have already made that decision. It is a medical condition. As for the people who have said to me (and to the millions of women struggling with infertility (because we’ve ALL heard it) “why don’t you just adopt and not spend all this money?” Guess what. Adoption is expensive too. Usually MORE expensive than infertility treatments and there are tax credits for adoption. Aside from which… as I’ve said before… adoption is not solely the cross of the infertile community to bear.

I did the math. And right now, my barren uterus carries the approximate cash value of a lightly used Honda. I’m thinking of getting t-shirts printed…

Published by PaintingChef on 21 Mar 2010

Oh look. Naval-gazing. How fun. For EVERYONE.

When you sit down in front of the computer with something heavy on your mind, or at least when I sit down here with something heavy on my mind, I never really know where to start. Do I start with the word vomit? Just let my mind wander and hope my fingers can catch up? Should I attempt to organize my thoughts into some kind of well crafted essay with a plot and a topic sentence? Probably not as this isn’t Comp 101 and I flunked out of college YEARS ago.

I don’t know if its just because its Sunday or because Easter is coming or just because I’m not solely focused on what shot Patrick will be sticking into my ass fat this evening (once that shit isn’t on the table, you wouldn’t BELIEVE how much free time I have to just think about random shit… as evidenced by my previous diatribe on the personal care industry) but today I find my mind preoccupied with the whole conundrum of religion.

I think, not necessarily my own personal confusion with it, because that’s mostly a thing of the past. I’d like to call myself agnostic but sometimes I wonder if that’s even accurate. I do have total confidence and an unwavering faith that SOMETHING is out there. There has to be. And I’m completely fine with not knowing more than that; totally good with just saying… you know what? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone has it figured out. Maybe there’s one guy in the remote jungle of some isolated island who anoints his big toe with ladybug sweat and he’s the one guy who has got it all figured out. I don’t know. Neither do you. And I’m good with that.

But I think my hesitation comes in being honest with OTHER people about this. When my mother asks me if Patrick and I are looking for a church and instead of saying “No, not yet”, why can’t I be honest and say “No. We are not and we don’t intend to. I don’t find it necessary and Patrick doesn’t find it necessary enough to argue about it.” Despite my total confidence in the belief path that I’ve chosen, I can’t find it in myself to just answer my parents honestly when they ask me about it.

When my mother tells me she is praying for me and Patrick and our fertility journey, I tell her thank you. Because I know it comes from a place of love and faith and hope and I don’t think any of those words are bad things. And when she says to me, “Say a prayer for me” I tell her I will without telling her that, well, no, I won’t be praying for you, I don’t really pray. I talk to the universe. Is that different? It feels different. It doesn’t begin with reverence or worship, I’m not addressing my concerns to anyone in specific. I’m just… talking. Sometimes it feels more like therapy than anything else. But I feel that, in at least its purpose and intentions, it’s the same as prayer and don’t find it necessary to explain otherwise.

So what’s the deal? My beliefs are my own and I’m proud of the way I’ve come to them. On my own and through my own life experiences. (Which are not exactly dull my friends, I’ve been through some shit.) But rather than speaking up when my mother questions my non-search for a church, I just shrug and change the topic. Am I afraid of disappointing her? It’s not like that’s not familiar ground… it just seems like less of a hassle. But what about when we have kids? I know that the questions are going to start. When is the baptism? Christening? Whatever its called. And I don’t believe in that. What’s the right thing to do? Shut up and stand up in front of some church we know nothing about and have no intention of ever stepping foot in again just to make my parents and his parents happy? Isn’t that worse than doing nothing? If there IS a god, I would think he or she would be a lot more irritated by someone standing up there like a hypocrite just to keep family peace than by someone who wasn’t sure but had every intention of raising their child to be a good person.

I have no doubts about how I want to raise our child(ren). I want them to always trust their instincts, ask questions, hunger to learn and never be afraid of their own opinions and ideas. I want to teach them to be good and kind and fair and honest. I want them to respect the world and find beauty in unexpected places. I want them to be unafraid to follow their heart and to not be deterred by people who try and cast doubt in their minds. And I want them to love themselves. Wholly and unabashedly. And I’m not going to lie… none of those are ideals that were instilled in me from a church.

My dilemma is two-fold. Patrick’s sister and her husband have named us the guardian of their children should anything ever happen to them. And they are a very religious family. That is a huge part of their lives and the way they raise their children. We’ve never talked about religion or beliefs. I don’t think they know that ours aren’t the same. I love those children and should anything ever happen, Patrick and I would take them in and love them and remind them everyday that they had wonderful parents who adored them with ever fiber of their beings. But we wouldn’t change our belief system. Is that something we need to bring up?

And why in the world is all this on my mind so heavily today? What’s the deal? Why do I suddenly feel the need to come out of my agnostic closet with my family? I think the whole baptism thing is what is weighing heavily on my (non-pregnant) mind right now and that just spirals into the rest of it.

Maybe I need to just watch a mindless movie full of cute boys and explosions (Hello, Star Trek) and lighten up, man.

But instead of all this confused drivel… here’s a guy who summed it up better than I EVER could…

Published by PaintingChef on 10 Mar 2010

Probably 800 more words than anyone ever needs to read about beauty products. Also? With apologies to the people of Madagascar.

As my credit card history will plainly tell you… I’m a beauty product junkie. For someone with a degree in marketing and a background in advertising, I’m WOEFULLY susceptible to commercials, magazine glossies and Sephora emails. It’s a tragedy and will eventually bankrupt me. (Patrick assures me that even as a joke, this is most definitely NOT funny.)

But there are a few areas in which I am steadfastly loyal and don’t handle change all that well. By which I mean that I can be reduced to a quivering puddle in the middle of the aisle at a grocery or drug store at any given moment. My areas of brand-loyalty are specifically and in no particular order: deodorant, razors, toothpaste (which I feel no need to discuss as it hasn’t yet broken my heart) and tampons.

I used to add face cleanser to this list until I hit the age of 30 and realized that it might be time for my skin care regimen to include more words like “anti-aging” and “moisturizing” and “exfoliating” and less words like “Noxema” and “rubbing alcohol”. For about 18 months I was a skin care slut but then I met Dr. Brandt and have since begun another long term relationship.

As for the rest of you assholes…

Never before have the razors given me trouble but recently my standard, no-frills pink razors have been overrun with those of the distinctly frilly variety. Most troubling? The mass presence of the dreaded pivoting head. I may as well just filet myself open and bleed out because in my less than capable hands, a pivoting razor is a deadly weapon to everything except actual hair. It’s a phenomenon I can’t even begin to explain. I’ve found that I can use the men’s version but they are blue and far too boyish for me to embrace with anything more than a grudging and pouting forced acceptance.

Tampons have recently undergone some sort of evolution that necessitates a monthly package redesign thus ensuring that I’m incapable of buying the same thing twice. Whatever happened to my nice normal cardboard applicators and lack of anything with pearls or scents? Usually a small archeological expedition to the back of the bottom shelf will supply me with the blue crate of cotton I’m in search of but my rampant optimism will not allow me to stock up with more than my current need. I blame infertility. And OBVIOUSLY… Brenda Walsh.

But can we PLEASE talk about the number one bane of my health and beauty shopping existence? The one item that will cause me to convulse in public and send me screaming through the aisles on a regular basis? I’m convinced. The friendly assholes at Secret are trying to kill me. Shopping for deodorant has become such a fucking chore that just thinking about it right now is making me dry heave a little. For forever and a day, I was a Secret Platinum Protection Soft Solid Powder Fresh girl. And it was NEVER an issue. It was always available and whether I was at Walmart, Walgreens, Kroger’s, CVS or Target, it didn’t matter… I could get deodorant. And perhaps since I was never looking for anything other than my one true love, I failed to notice that the aisle was becoming more and more crowded with the most ridiculous products you’ve ever seen in your entire life.

I didn’t notice because I was in a monogamous deodorant relationship. Secret because that’s what I’ve always used. Platinum Protection because it can’t be ignored… I’m a bit of a sweat-er in the warmer months. Soft Solid because I like the clickity-click and sometimes that hard solid is a wee bit painful. And Powder Fresh because nobody’s pits need to smell anything other than clean.

But lately, and by lately I mean over the past 8 months or so, finding my one true love has been a hit or miss kind of situation. I’ve been forced to learn new terms. Deal with new packaging. And the worst part of all? I’ve come face to face with what some of you are smearing under your arms. Sparkle? Gel? Vanilla Chai Latte? Coco Butter? Really? Do you want to lift your arm and suddenly wonder if a Starbucks opened up in your sleeve? A SPARKLY Starbucks? Madagascar Bazaar? Granted I may have no idea just what a bazaar in Madagascar is like and perhaps its a perfectly lovely experience. But I’m quite certain that I don’t want the olfactory essence of that event wafting out from under my arms.

Pear? Cherries? Peaches? Cucumbers? Oranges? Are we making a fruit salad or dealing with wetness and odor? Oh… both… really? Well aren’t you just a fucking multi-tasker? And all the florals? Really? Jasmine and Sweet Mint? Gardenia Blossom? Rockstar Rose? Bella Blossom Bouquet? Now you’re just making shit up. There is an entire generation of women walking around among us and when they lift their arms, they smell like a flower shop or the produce aisle. Why does that disturb me so much?

But this situation isn’t just irritating… it’s becoming expensive. I’ve bought four different types of deodorant in the past three days. Finding a new one true love is looking more and more impossible. Dove? Secret? Mitchum? I can’t trust anyone anymore. So if you are grocery shopping in the greater Knoxville area and trip on someone in the deodorant aisle going slowly insane… say hi, okay?

Published by PaintingChef on 04 Mar 2010

But it will probably make for damn fine television.

It’s official. You knew it would happen, that it was only a matter of time but it has finally fulfilled its destiny.

“Dancing with the Stars” is the new “The Real World.” (Does MTV still film “The Real World”? Are they now filming like “The Real World: Bucksnort, TN” or did they just give up and replace it with Jersey Shore and The Hills? You know… since THOSE people are SO real…)

But I digress. “Dancing with the Stars” is the new “Real World”. They are no longer looking for people who are just a few slightly has-been celebs or daytime stars. Oh no. They are now casting for… DRAMA. I’m sure of it.

Why? Brenda. Walsh. You do not invite Brenda Walsh to a party unless you want drama. She has been cast as the troublemaker. Which, let’s be honest, is going to piss off Kate Gosselin AND her hamster hair extensions. (It troubles me to no end that Microsoft Word recognized Gosselin as a word.)

Jake the Bachelor? Doesn’t he have enough on his plate right now? Didn’t he just get engaged or dumped or married or divorced or something? To some girl named Sausage? Or like… a Disney princess? Erin Andrews looks an awful lot like those girls, hope he doesn’t get confused… that would be awkward for everyone.

And Evan Lysacek? Did I even spell that right? Must we really fall so far so fast my dear? You just won a gold medal. Go to Disneyworld or something. Make a Wheaties box. Isn’t there another pretty important competition right after the Olympics? But for the love of god man, whatever you do, stop slicking back that hair. It’s NOT a good look for you.

At least between Evan (with NON slicked back hair) and Aiden who plays a guy named Aiden on a soap opera, there will be plenty of eye candy. Those two will get arrested for bar fighting by the third episode. That’s what the cute boys do on reality shows, right?

Add to that mix Pamela Anderson and a guy who LEGALLY changed his name to “OchoCinco” because he has the mental capacity of a highlighter. I predict those two will be married and divorced before the show ends. The Pussycat Doll will be VERY jealous and between the antics of her and Pammy A, the show will no longer be broadcast live to allow for ample time to blur wardrobe malfunctions.

Buzz Aldrin and Niecy Nash? Archie and his adorable new haircut think you are too good for this shit…

Published by PaintingChef on 01 Mar 2010

Asking the Serious Questions.

Can we talk about curling? And how it is just drunken frozen horseshoes with some shuffleboard thrown in for good measure?

Then can we talk about how RIVETED I’ve been by curling? And how I can now play curling on the Wii?

And after we’ve talked about that can we talk about how it is the BEST Olympic sport because you can get all dolled up with earrings and lipstick and still be an OLYMPIC ATHLETE? (Although when the summer games roll around, be forewarned that I will reserve the right to point out how much faster those girls would run without the giant earrings and necklaces weighing them down).

Now can we talk about how I can picture the origin of very few sports but that curling is TOTALLY one of them? The other? Skeleton sledding. And I believe that both of these sports originated from large quantities of alcohol. We’re only a few years away from a US Beer Pong team, aren’t we?