Sunday, December 09, 2007

Warning: Dangerous Product

I was in the grocery store a week or two ago and saw this product on the shelf:

My mouth dropped open. The only other time I have ever been so offended by the mere existence of a product was the time I saw a tee shirt that said, in really big letters, "Shut Up, Bitch."

I was by myself but I asked, out loud, "Don't they know how fat we already are in this country?"

I like how they show it being put in a crust in this little ad, and wonder how much of what has been sold has actually ever made contact with a crust. I would probably just open it in the car on the way home from the store and start scooping it into my mouth with my fingers. Which is why I'm not going to buy any.

This stuff is in the deli section of the supermarket and comes in something similar to a Cool Whip container, only larger. If you do not want to also become larger, I highly recommend avoiding it.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Random Blogging

I've been neglecting this space again -- maybe that's just how it's going to go. I'd like to write more and am hoping to do so. Anyway, here is some stuff that is happening or going through my head recently:

- I did not finish NaNoWriMo this year, but by design. I am still working on my novel and have every intention of finishing it it -- in fact, I am very happy with it. It's the first time since I was in my mid-20s that I have written about a character my age, and the first time ever that my main character is a mother, and it really pleases me to have really enjoyed writing a story about a mom in her 30s where the romantic storyline feels just as magical as anything I've written about teens or college-aged characters.

I am at about 45,000 words, and probably could have hit 50,000 by November 30 if I had wanted to, but here's what I realized about the whole NaNo experience: it's become a crutch for me. I came up with the idea for this novel last June and was excited about it. I wrote some of it and then allowed every other thing in the world to get in the way of getting any of it done till NaNo was in swing and I could work toward the goal of completing 50,000 words along with all the other NaNo participants. Well, I've done NaNo before -- four times, in fact -- and I know I can do that.

What I haven't been able to do so far is maintain any sort of momentum in my writing in any other month of the year, and that is my new goal. I will finish the project and then set it aside and get to work on another project that I started a few years ago and have wanted to return to. When I feel myself reaching the end of that one, I'll start brainstorming and hopefully start coming up with a new idea for the next project. Maybe I can even rescue/rewrite/finish the novel I wrote about half of in November 2006. In any case, the goal for now is to write consistently in any other month of the year but November. Wish me luck.

- I am glad to hear that health care is supposed to be a big issue in the presidential election next year. I feel my family is very fortunate in this particular area, but it’s an issue I’ve been very interested in since I did a project about health coverage for a political science class back in college. And this week, something arrived in the mail that really brought the current state of things into focus for me.

I don’t think I blogged about my daughter’s health crisis this summer. In a nutshell, during the last week of July, Mermaid started having abdominal pains and was nauseated for several days, and eventually she underwent emergency surgery to remove an ovarian cyst the size of a cantaloupe. Both the cyst and the shriveled little ovary attached to it were necrotic and could have caused her to become septic if they’d stayed inside her much longer. It was a very scary couple of days, but fortunately it all went well and she has made a full recovery.

This week we received her hospital bill. Let me first say that we have good insurance through Reasonable Man’s work, and our portion of the bill is just $600 – not a small amount of money, but probably not enough to bankrupt most people either. The bill is not itemized, but I assume it covers the 7-8 hours Mermaid spent in the ER the first day, the CT scan done of her abdomen, the time she spent in the OR and recovery, and the two days she spent in a private room after that. The total is $36,463.50.

Here’s the thing: if this could happen to Mermaid, it could happen to anyone. Unlike many autistic children, Mermaid has been blessed with optimal physical health. She is truly one of the hardiest children I have ever known. She went through all the usual colds and such when she was in preschool, but by the time she hit elementary, her amazing immune system was fully formed. She had perfect attendance in kindergarten and missed one day in first grade, only because I had her take a mental health day. Each winter during cold season, she may have a few stuffy-nosed days, and only if Reasonable Man, Enthusio and I are first felled by some particularly nasty germ does she usually suffer anything that would cause her to actually miss a day of school. Yet she, of all of us, suffered a health crisis resulting in a hospital bill equal to the price of a nice car or a year of study at a private university.

That number -- $36,463.50 – would amount to a financial crisis for the average family in this country. Reasonable Man and I could take out a mortgage on our home to cover it, and I certainly hope that most hospitals know that a person without insurance also doesn’t have $36,000 squirreled away for a rainy day and will arrange some kind of a payment plan. Still, that amount is staggering, and it’s no wonder to me that health crises have the power to bankrupt people without insurance, or with insurance that refuses to pay. Something has to change here.

- As you can see, our Christmas tree is in the kitchen this year, because that's where it fits!

I am surviving the holiday season. I am one of the many who grew up loving Christmas but as an adult developed so many expectations for myself that each December became a slog. Every year I try to work on making preparations a little simpler. This year I was excited about decorating our new house for Christmas, but of course I built it up in my mind to a point where I felt paralyzed once I actually got started. But I was able to pull back a bit and get it done, and then I spent about a week with some things still sitting out, ready to be put up, before I faced the fact that some of them just needed to be put back in the garage. Now the house is all decorated, the cards are printed, much of the shopping and some of the wrapping is done, and with two weeks to go, I think I’m doing just fine.

- School is under control for the kids. Mermaid is plugging along in her classes, and we have come to a place of agreement (I think, I hope!) with her social studies teacher. Enthusio continues to have a great year, and this past week one of his two teachers told me they are giving him some very challenging math. He struggles a bit emotionally, but she said they are pushing him because they know he can do it. I trust these two teachers, who both just adore him, to handle the situation sensitively, and I know he feels confident in math, which makes me very proud. He has also been reading some books – the Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing series and The Mouse and the Motorcycle – that I loved as a kid, and that’s great.

That’s about it here. Happy Holidays!