Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Things that make you go "AGHGHGHGH"!!

Now that it has been made official (and by "made official", I mean that the announcement has been posted on Facebook...what a world we live in) I can share the news with my blog readers. I seem to be with child. Well, I seem to be with something that is the approximate size of a kumquat. Every week, I receive an email that gives me the size of growing baby in terms of fruit. Last week it was "grape". So, my family spent the entire week asking me what "grape" wanted for dinner, whether "grape" wanted to go to the beach, if "grape" was going to shower after the pool. I have a feeling this fruit-baby is going to continue until birth as we will not be finding out what we're having. Anyway, with any great change in one's medical condition comes the possibility of having to deal with health insurance companies. I can honestly name 5 things I would rather do than try to reason with a health insurance representative:

1. Stick a fork in my eye and twist counter-clockwise.
2. Have someone clean my ears with ear-candles and accidentally use the flaming end.
3. Allow Neal to run over my foot repeatedly with the Prius (but not the Pathfinder).
4. Sit in my OBGYN's waiting room.
5. Use the restroom at a truckstop.
And so many more.... But alas there was a discrepancy over a claim made a couple of weeks ago so I had to call. To make it worse, it's Tricare, health insurance to the military and employer of the mentally retarded. So, the conversation went roughly like this:
Me: I need to make sure this claim is paid. So, what do I need to do to ensure that?
Captain of the HMS Rude (we'll just call her Cap'n): Well, this claim is not coded as medically necessary so it will be denied.
Me: OK well, it was medically necessary (and I proceed to tell her why, which I will spare you all).
Cap'n: Then you need to call your doctor's office and have them re-code it as medically necessary.
Me: OK. No problem. Can you tell me what is covered by our plan regarding pregnancy?
Cap'n: Anything that is medically necessary.
Me: Alright...what about my monthly doctor's visits that I'm booked for?
Cap'n: If they're medically necessary.
Me: And how many ultrasounds are covered by our plan?
Cap'n: As many as are medically necessary.
(Seriously??? She is getting paid to do this and it takes both hands to count the number of people I know who are out of a job and have a larger vocabulary than 2 words).
Me: OK. Well if you can send me the handbook for our insurance plan, that would be great.
Cap'n: If you go to our website, then all of your benefits are listed there.
Me: Well, I would still like a handbook. Can you go ahead and send me one?
Cap'n: (audible sigh, followed by what I could swear was wiping the grease off of her hands from her sausage and egg mcmuffin so that she can actually do a little work this morning). I will have to make a request for it.
Me: (Jeffrey Donovan-smile) That would be grrreeaattt...(Kiss this, Pollyanna!)
Cap'n: Alright it will be there in 8-10 days. Anything else?
Me: No, you have been SSSSOOOOO helpful (and my mother said my sarcasm would never get me anywhere.). Thank you sssoooo much.
Cap'n: Goodbye.
Me: Goodbye now, have a great...(click). day.

Either she found a hair in her McMuffin...or health care reform should start from the bottom, up...beginning with the representatives. Normally, it would be the kind of conversation that would drive me to mix a Bloody Mary. But I had a bag of M&Ms instead and thought about how her blood pressure is WAY higher than mine. Just remember, lady, you can be a bitch but you will have to cut back on your salt intake. Is it really worth it?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Exploiting the Young and Beautiful

This week, the women-folk in my family are on a mother-daughter + one token male (who's only 6 so he really doesn't even count since his voice hasn't changed yet) trip to Blue Mountain Beach, FL. (If you're reading this, do not attempt to rob my house as Neal is manning the fort...however, if you would like to bring over a pan of lasagna or a casserole, I'm sure it would be much appreciated. Man cannot live on oatmeal alone). The co-matriarchs of the family, my mother and her slightly older sister (yes Auntie, I said slightly, so quit bitchin') decided to host this 1st Annual Mother-Daughter trip to, presumably, keep the family from falling to ruins. It would be a 1st Annual Mother-Child trip, except that we seem to be a little short on men...not that they could handle the constant conversation and chaos around us anyway. The next in age is my cousin (we'll just refer to her as The Dancing Queen), then me, then The Dancing Queen's daughter (we shall call her Scarlett, minus the hoop skirt, plus a couple of well-placed tattoos and a string bikini), then Scarlett's daughter. The token male is my aunt's grandson, whom we'll just call SpongeBob because if he could legally change his name at this point, that's what his little social security card would read.

Miss Scarlett is in her early 20's and has a rockin little body, despite the fact that she has, indeed, birthed a baby. The rest of us are approaching or already speeding down the freeway of middle-age, and beginning to show the family genes in our Woman-sized jeans. This means that size-7 Scarlett has been an invaluable member of Team Florida. Keeping in mind that we have only been beached for about four days, thus far she has:
1. gotten the fine young men of Big Daddy's Bike rental to air up our human-size turtle float (but, of course, only after Auntie had gone pale and weak from lack of appropriate O2/CO2 ratio. Note to self: even if one is not traveling with a turtle float the size of a refrigerator, it is still best to pack a small foot pump for vacation...especially if one is not vacationing with Scarlett.)
2. scored us a personal invitation to hear Classic Addict, a self-proclaimed 70s and 80 rock band. As it turns out, the "band" is actually four boys who most likely rely heavily on their parents and Google to know what 70s and 80s sound like. But they did work out every morning in their driveway - which I only know because they stayed in the house right next to our beach access. They were not, however, sweating to the 70s and 80s.
3. and it's entirely possible that we have gotten better restaurant service. Although, I do have a pretty face and when seated and hidden under a layer of tablecloth, can be quite charming myself. So, I'm calling that one a draw.

It's no secret that the 20's girls have it good. If 60 is the new 50 and 30 is the new 20, then 20 is the new 17...tempting but not quite legal. But they are legal and that makes it all the sweeter for those 20-something boys who only have one thing on their mind...playing with their special purpose. The best we can do is barter with the young and beautiful. Will provide free vacation for a lil' bit o' leg and a whole lotta cleavage.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A King's Obsession

Dear Larry King,
I heart you. I heart your little matching ties and suspenders. I heart your gray hair greased within an inch of its life with Brylcreem. I even heart the way you sort of look like John McCain with your arms all stuck out to the sides of your impossibly broad shoulders (although since you don't have a war injury, perhaps you should stretch more at the gym). What I do not heart is 3, going on 4, weeks of continuous Michael Jackson coverage on your show. Don Lemon has found other topics worthy of reporting, Anderson Cooper now considers the singer's death an afterthought, even Campbell Brown has moved on. Perhaps it's time that you did, too. And since you seem to be having a hard time covering any other national or world event, it begs the question: How much did you cry over Elvis and Marilyn Monroe's deaths? How has it shaped you into the reporter you are today? I ask this because you seem to be stuck in repeat-mode over the whole drug overdose aspect. If you want to go all Nancy Grace on us and delve head-first into this international problem of celebrities and their addictions because you think you can change the world, that's one thing. But I really think you are just trying to justify the death of idols from your formative years. And we really don't want to be dragged along as you work through that. In case you were unaware, several other newsworthy events have occurred since MJ's death. If you are interested in covering any of them, here's a short list. I'm sure a quick Google search will give you all the info you need to report them intelligently.

1. Apparently Iran had an election that yielded questionable results. There was a lot of rioting in the streets and the youth of Iran have gone to great and dangerous extremes to get their views out via Twitter and Youtube. Perhaps you should give it a listen.
2. Farrah Fawcett died. I'm sure you remember her. Red bathing suit pin-up, fantastic hair, killer smile....
3. A couple of saints were killed in Pensacola. Why anyone would want to kill a couple that adopted 16 kids, most of them special needs, is beyond me. And why it took 7 of them is way beyond me. Maybe you would like to look into it?
4. There's a supreme court justice being a former SNL cast member. WHY isn't that at the top of your newscast?
5. The president went to Africa and faced down his slave-past. And he met with some important people and they talked about some important stuff. And apparently he went to Russia, too. Huh.
6. Honduras kicked their president out of the country. Simultaneously, on HGTV, a couple on International Househunters is searching for a vacation home in Honduras. They probably wouldn't be if you had mentioned it...maybe once...or twice...
7. Harry Potter strikes again. No, strike that...I'm tired of hearing about that, too.
8. Sarah Palin taught an important lesson to her young son, Trig...sometimes it's all about being shown the money.
9. That crazy Congress is re-writing our healthcare system. Important? Maybe...
10. And...we still seem to be in a recession. That never gets old.

Good luck with your future broadcasts..but a warning...I will give you exactly one week to get over this. If, when I return from vacation next week, you are still hammering on doctors and former publicists and heaven forbid, LaToya Jackson, you are SO fired. I would rather watch re-runs of M.A.S.H. or Golden Girls.
A faithful a point...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What doesn't make me all warm and fuzzy inside

Today was the 10th anniversary of "The Today Show Throws a Wedding." I don't usually watch these but I was in bed and that's what channel was on and the remote was waaaayyyy over was as beautiful as a wedding in the plaza of Rockefeller Center can be, with people walking by and the homeless peeing in the background. Finally, the officiant said "you may now kiss the bride." And the groom leans over to kiss his new bride, at which point the camera zooms into two interlocked lips and television viewers nationwide say "eww...too close." And, incidentally, that is why I would never agree to even be a contestant for this event - I do not want our bedroom kiss on the television screens of every Gertrude, Joan and Evelyn across America. But maybe that's just me. During the replay of said kiss, Matt Lauer says "there's the kiss. That's it, the money shot!" I'm pretty sure that Matt Lauer knows what a money shot is. And I'm pretty sure there are women across America who are cursing him right now because their teenage sons are sitting around eating Cocoa Pebbles and watching this because their mothers happen to be watching it. And the mothers are watching it because it never crossed their minds that Mr. Lauer would say money shot on national television. But that's where they would be wrong. Matt and Meredith often exchange semi-inappropriate sexual innuendos between segments (and if I was Matt's wife I would corner Ms. Viera in her precious little green room and hold a hot flat iron to her face until she understood what "appropriate" meant, not that I would be in the LEAST bit threatened by Meredith and her 1970's waistless shifts). Just because it's 9:00 am doesn't make it "daytime television", folks.

The other amusing aspect of the wedding was the honeymoon destination, chosen by the viewers. I don't know about most viewers, but I know that when it's our summer, it's Australia's winter. And that's where they're sending them - to the land of kangaroos and cozy sweaters. Maybe they're ready to escape the heat. But then it's New York hot could it possibly be up there??

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Summer's Leisure

It's not that I'm any less busy during the summer or any busier in the winter, life just seems to slow to a crawl in the summertime. It could be the oppressive heat and humidity that just makes the weight of daily life seem so much heavier to carry. Or perhaps we all harken back to the childhood summers with no school, long days, and endless games of basketball in the driveway. Either way, summer always moves at a slower pace for me. It's like one big Country Time commercial (and by the way, if the narrator of that commercial doesn't just make you want to sit on the front porch until the cows come home, nothing will). So, I make a pitcher of lemonade and settle in with my books and movies and music and watch summertime just drift on by.

I started this summer by reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, simply for the fact that I've never read it. It continues to pop up on all of the "classics" lists and even though I've only read a 1/4 of what appears on those lists, I thought perhaps I would give it a whirl. It's not bad. The idea that there is only one tree that actually thrives in an urban atmosphere is both hopeful and mildly depressing. And it serves as a wonderful representation of the main character. So, I'm about half-way through and continue to read a few pages as time allows (or as I allow time).

Next would be A Thousand Splendid Suns, which I read in a week because I kept waiting for something good to happen. And little "good" things happen all the way through, but I'm not sure Afghanistan has ever been the land of milk and honey. And if you are an Afghan with a vagina, you are SO screwed, in so many more ways than one. God bless the USA, is all I can say about that.

I found an Anne Rivers Siddons book on several weeks ago. And I thought I had read everything she had written (with the exception of John Chancellor Makes Me Cry because a) I don't know who John Chancellor is and b) I don't think fiction writers should write memoirs or memoir writers should write fiction. It's just a personal rule I have. Probably goes hand-in-hand with my Virgo-ism). But I found Sweetwater Creek. It was a coming-of-age story with a sweet, albeit not entirely satisfying ending. A nice, easy pool read where you can hold the book with one hand and a mojito in the other.

And lastly because I felt like I needed a mind-engaging novel to follow that one, I started The Tropic of Cancer again for about the 5th time. I know that the last time I tried to read that book was 1995 because I found a ticket stub from a Chicago theater stuck in chapter 1. This time I made it half-way to chapter 2. I will not give up but it's such a complex and twisting book that I really need the Kindle to get background on most of the paragraphs. And then there's the sex. Oh, there's the sex. This book was banned in something like 70 countries..and if it was not being sold with the Playboys, I can see why. It's not like the Kama Sutra where you open it and know that you're going to get pictures and positions and diagrams with sells under a completely innocent profile..until you realize that they are expatriates in Paris and you are in for an entire book of feast and orgy. Several times I've had to put the book down and turn on Animal Planet...which sometimes, admittedly, made it worse. Henry Miller, you are one populating individual.

So, as I bounce back and forth between A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Tropic of Cancer, I will be adding Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs. I loved Running with Scissors even before they ruined it with a full-length feature film so I think this will be just as promising. And my sister absolutely adored his next book, Dry. It is shaping up to be a very busy, slow summer, exactly as it should.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Amidst all of the media coverage...

Comes a little wisdom from the real Michael Jackson. I only had to watch the death investigation coverage for...about...a week non-stop to catch it. Matt Lauer is reporting from within Neverland Ranch today, taking the cameras through his abandoned estate and pointing out where the towels used to hang, where the fountains used to be, what room housed his sequin-covered bedspread and the cedar closet with the secret compartment. When they started talking about his long-questioned relationship with Diana Ross, Matt read from an interview from Ebony magazine. Ebony magazine asked him about the age difference and MJ said:
How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?
And that pretty much sums up Neverland Ranch and how his mind worked, I think. It brings me back to my 10-year age difference between me and my husband. It has never been an issue because I don't feel like I'm 30 and he doesn't feel like he's 40. It just works. We would be the same age if we didn't know how old we were. It's nice to finally have some thought-provoking coverage on the King of Pop, instead of the rantings of Deepak Chopra (who, I'm sorry but really does better when he just parks his butt on his yoga mat and stays off Larry King. No one thinks you're a guru when you hit the talk show circuit just to announce MJ's most likely drug addiction. I'm officially ashamed to own one of your books, dude). Michael: you were admired by many, misunderstood by many, and will be missed by many. Sequins will never be the same.