Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Reform- Bill Passes

Most of my friends and at least 75% of my family think the Health Care Reform bill is socialist Obamaism. Well- okay.

Here is how I see it.

Pronunciation: \ˈsō-shə-ˌli-zəm\
Function: noun
Date: 1837
1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.

Social Security is socialistic (check out that name)
Disability is socialistic
Unemployment Insurance- Socialistic
The Military is a socialistic society.

I don’t see anyone giving back their SS checks, disability checks, unemployment checks or condemning the military (for that reason anyway).

I know- We need to take responsibility for our own lives... right?

Well – I work. It’s a little job that doesn’t pay enough but it’s something. I have always worked- sometimes 3 jobs. But I have had some very lean years too. The last few- have kicked my butt. If it were not for a more than generous family, I would be living in my car… no wait- I wouldn’t have a car. I would be under a bridge with my 2 dogs. I wouldn’t have Smokie- he would be dead. No money for his meds. Well Maybe I would be dead too. One cold night under the bridge- pneumonia in my already compromised lungs… no insurance. Or, maybe just so depressed I would take that big dive off the Golden Gate. Yeah- I would be dead.

Fortunately – my family has been able to help me. But if something catastrophic were to happen- no one in my family could take that on. I wouldn’t want them to.

I am 58 and single. I guess it’s my fault I’m single- and that I would not marry or live with someone just to have some financial security. I would not compromise my belief that people should get married because they are in love- not because there is a social security check or pension in the future. So yes- I guess I am responsible for that decision. I don’t think I am responsible for the economy though. The lack of jobs, the sky rocketing insurance rates, my pre-existing conditions which I have had since I was 4 years old. No- I don’t believe I am. I have paid taxes all my life too. Well except for the past couple of years since I didn’t make enough to worry about it.

Now I do not begrudge the people for whom my tax dollars paid their disability payments or their social security payments. I do not call them names or berate them for not being responsible people. Actually- I am always glad I still have my health and I can work. I am grateful for this.

What I don’t understand is the refusal of some people to actually understand what socialism is and what it isn’t. Having a government run medical reform in the United States will not make us a socialist country- just like having capitalism in China will not make them democratic.

I am not a wing nut. I am neither a liberal nor a conservative. This is not about politics for me. This is about life. The quality of life. We live in the United States of America and we can’t afford health insurance unless we get it through our job- if we are lucky enough to have them offer it. If we are lucky enough to have a job. More than 14.9 MILLION people are currently without jobs.

Harvard just released a study that says 45,000 people die in the United States a year in because they have no health insurance. I just don’t understand how that could happen in a country with our assets. This is not a 3rd world country.

Anyway. I know at least half the country is PO’d because this bill passed. But I’m okay with it. And will I still be okay when it comes time to pay some taxes? Yes- I will. I will think of it as helping some other 58-year-old woman who lives alone with her dogs and would rather not have to live under a bridge or go over one if she gets sick.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Old Dog Wisdom- from Smokie

When you’re as old as I am you will find that life offers certain privileges. Of course, it takes away a few too.

When I was very young, someone hurt me. I had nightmares for a long time. I was afraid of many things- until my people adopted me. They made me feel safe.

When I look back now I realize they had great patience with me. Sitting up at night with me while I howled from nightmares, and letting me sleep on their bed while they pet me back to sleep. It’s no wonder now how I have lived so long.

I was insane for a short time. But the patience and love they showed me helped me heal. Then later when I was depressed, my people got me my own dog-my life-long companion, Mac.

I used to be able to run like the wind. No one could catch me. Everyone tried. I ran the football field when my boy was at practice. I ran after the birds until I was so tired and hot I would lie in the mud to cool off. I could see where the ball landed no matter how far off you threw it and I could smell anyone coming a mile away. I could climb trees. My memory was outstanding. I never forgot a face, a smell or a place. If I could have driven a car- I would have known how to drive to Auntie Pound Cake’s house, or Boys’ Dad’s house, or Dr. Millers or all the way back to California. One of my favorite things was riding in the car with my lady.

My teeth were sharp and strong and I could rip meat apart or gnaw a bone for hours.I could sit in the hot sun or the snow, it didn’t matter. As long as I was with my people, I was happy.

We used to walk around a lake all the time and went to parks where I played and chased and ran after balls. People would stop my lady and say how handsome I was. And I was. My coat was black and shiny. They would ask her what she did to get it so shiny. And she would tell them, baths, olive oil, eggs. I have to admit I was the best smelling dog in the neighborhood.

When my boy went away, I was very sad. It didn’t help that everyone else was sad too. I stayed strong for my lady- but it was hard. And then when we moved I was sad. I’m ashamed to admit I whined all the way to North Carolina. And Boy’s dad was so nice to me-and stopped the car a lot so I could walk and smell things. But I guess I was afraid I wouldn’t see my boy again.

I liked our new home; it was an adventure -I will never forget. There were more squirrels than I could chase in a lifetime; possum, raccoons, deer, and every bird known to animal-kind. One raccoon tried to trespass to my territory and I killed him. Then later another came and I wounded him but my faithful friend Mac finished him off when I got tired.

Our boy came to see us. And brought a puppy and his lady. I admit I was jealous. It was petty I know. But my boy was great- he took time to be with just me. He sat on the floor and we just talked. Just like old times. I remembered his lady and was happy to see her. We all seemed happy for a few days-but I was getting sick then and didn’t have much energy.

When I got sick I tried to tell my lady- but she didn’t understand me. Under normal circumstances, she would have- but boy was in something called war and she was not thinking very clearly.

We went to see Dr. Miller and he gave me some medicine. My lady had to give me shots twice a day. I was brave though. I only whined a few times while she was learning.

Then we got another puppy. I can’t say I was happy about this although I have learned to love him. Not as much as I love Mac though.

When our boy came back from war- we all got to go back to California. Boy’s Dad came and drove with us. I have always loved him because he pets me best. He never misses a spot. And- he buys us cheese burgers.

I did not whine all the way home. It was a hard trip though. I had to be lifted in and out of the car- it was demoralizing. I was stiff and sore and I could tell my lady and Boy’s Dad were worried about me.

So now I am back in California. I see my boy often and nothing could make me happier. Well I can’t see him- but I hear him and smell him,. I am blind, but that’s okay. I get around pretty well still.

And those privileges that I have now? Well let’s just say I can do no wrong. I don’t get yelled at-no matter what. I have had some accidents- but they just say it’s okay and clean it up quick. No one is allowed to bother me including the puppy. I get to lie where I want, when I want for however long I want. I am not forced to stay outside for hours (although I never was) and I get extra blankets when it’s cold. Last week I found a tennis ball and played with it for a few minutes. I knew it belonged to the puppy but I didn’t care. I remembered when I used to run after tennis balls and loved running so much I would just keep going and not bring them back. That was the good old days.

Oh- and I still go for walks sometimes. They are short- but that is fine.

I walked to the Dr. today. I stayed there all day. I miss Dr. Miller – but they were nice to me and even gave me some treats. Then my lady picked me up in the car- and that was great. It was a short ride but a nice ride.

I’m home tonight- I’ll sleep on the floor next to my lady- like I do every night. I’m still watching over her- even though I am old and blind and can’t run- I will protect her.

If I have any advise to give you young dogs it would be this. Be patient with your people. And let them know you love them. And don't over eat- you'll be sorry for that later.

I am 82 years old. That’s very old for a German Shepherd. The Dr. said I am doing well. My medication needing adjusting but otherwise she said, “He’s pretty sharp still!

Yes I am.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What is your best thing?

In a recent interview I was asked, “What do you do best?” And what is your worst thing? And -What is the hardest thing you have ever done?”

When I was in 2nd grade and went to my first holy communion, I made up sins… because at 6-7 years old I had yet to really have a sin- but since we were ALL SINNERS I decided I better tell them what they want to hear. Apparently, I was a quick study of human nature. So- I said I lied to my parents. I had yet to lie to my parents; I was still a good little girl then. I think I said some other “sin” too- like saying a cuss word or hating my sister or brother.

So when presented with the question now- what is my best thing- I know I have to give them an answer that will make me sound good.

My best thing: I can think of a few… and depending on the needs of the employer, I will toss one out there. I like myself a lot. I have forgiven myself almost all my faults. I know that sounds crazy but it’s true. I am 58 I have learned to love myself after all these years. It’s hard to look at myself objectively anymore and say- well my best thing is… communication. (Some folks would argue that) or my best thing is fixing whatever needs fixing. My best thing is taking the worst possible situation and finding a solution or hope. My best thing is creating teams when there is dissention. (Maybe I should join the senate or congress). My best thing is telling the truth or my best thing is being a mom, baking, cooking, or taking care of my dogs. Maybe it’s my sense of humor or writing or napping. Empathy, compassion… the Heimlich maneuver.

Then -what is my worst thing- and here is where I struggle- not because I don’t have a worst thing, I surely do. But because I hate shooting myself in the foot. So, I try to think of something that is a little bad, but not so bad a human being would hold it against me.

“I hate to file.” I say, or “my desk gets messy” Or “ I can never say no when asked to stay late.” I can’t really say my worst thing is answering stupid questions, can I? My worst things are lack of tolerance for stupidity, mostly; lack of patience sometimes. I hate the phone- I prefer email because it’s concise.

I usually just say: I’m not fond of filing. It’s a significant understatement, yet not a lie. It’s what they want to hear. They really don’t want you to say- I can’t prioritize very well. (I can)

What’s the hardest thing you have ever done as a manager?” They ask. And here is where I always tell the truth. If for no other reason maybe, just maybe they will never ask another poor soul this question.

I give them one of two answers- unless the first one didn’t seem to sink in- then they get both.

The hardest thing I ever did as a manager was at Corporate Express when I had to walk Patricia to the door- knowing her husband was on the other side and he was going to tell her their 15-year-old son had been shot and killed. That was the longest walk I ever took- and the hardest hug I ever gave an employee. My own son was 16 at the time and Patricia had been training him.

The other one was even more personal. While working at my Dad’s restaurant- when the theater crowd had just lined up halfway down the block, I received a call from my 27 year old brother’s Dr., letting me know he had pneumonia and asking me if he should treat him or not. My brother was in an irreversible coma and I was his custodian. I was 30 years old- and I was carving sandwiches for customers while the Dr. spoke.

I asked. “Will he be in pain?”

“No.” he said.

“I’ll have an open-faced Turkey on whole wheat.” The customer shouted out as I stood holding my finger up- wait just a second please.

“When I hung up the phone, my eyes were burning from holding back the tears but I carved the turkey and scooped up the mashed potatoes.

“Gravy?” I asked.

I don’t remember the rest of the day after I walked Patricia to that door- or the rest of the evening after I carved that one turkey sandwich. In both cases, I know I stayed at work and did what I had to do.

I recently had 3 interviews- the one I did the best in was the one I was the most honest with. “I hate interviewing.” I told them. I liked them most because they didn’t ask me one dumb ass question. They didn’t delve into my psyche and try to figure me out. They wanted to know if I could do the job and if they could get along with me. I didn’t get the job- but I came close- and will keep bugging them- because they have what I want. And they liked me.

But all this leaves me thinking what do I do best? What is my gift?

I have no real answer for that.

I guess maybe my gift is just doing whatever needs to be done- no matter what.