Monday, February 23, 2015

Why Blog?

For the last four years, I have blogged once a week, every Monday at 6 am.
1.    Discipline.  It started as an exercise, forcing me to come up with a topic, forcing me to write it with economy, and forcing me to break out of my introverted shell. Once I promised a weekly blog, I had to keep my word for those who have come to expect my Monday ramblings.
2.    To test my voice.  I love to write.  It is what I do.  Writing is my “creative thing,” my dance, my song, my form of expression, so I write to test and practice my voice.
3.    To create an interest in my writing.  I blog to communicate with others, to chat, laugh, and comfort those who look forward to my weekly blogs. I sometimes write about the craft of writing.  Sometimes I journal, sharing memories or beliefs in hopes that they resonate the same in the reader’s thoughts. 
Sometimes I just want to offer comfort or a good laugh. It is what I do. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

My Fifty Shades of . . . No

Things in life are never just black or white; sometimes they are grey. Because I am a firm believer of judging things on my own, I bought the Fifty Shades trilogy last year and set out to see what made it so successful.  From all the raves, maybe it had some redeeming qualities that would moot all the controversy
I saw nothing spectacular about Book I.  The writing was weak and eager to please. The characters were boring and uninteresting, but then – Bam! – I got to page 97.  In a matter of seconds, Ms. James took me from a maudlin PG-13 story into a Rated X anatomy lesson. I kept expecting one or both of the characters to show less skin and more character, any character at all, but I winced my way to the end of the book without much hope. 
Since there were two more books in the set, it was obvious Ana’s resolve at the end of Book I wasn’t going to hold, so I picked up Book II and made it as far as Chapter One before I had enough.  I even cheated and read the last chapter in Book III before I pitched “the set” into my trash pile.
Things are never just black or white; they are sometimes grey, but this is one of those times where I need to take a stand.  I need to choose a side.  If you don’t stand for something, you can easily be swayed into believing and doing anything popular that comes along.
I did not like Fifty Shades because it did not edify the type of person I struggle everyday to become.  It had a lot of graphic sex but lacked all of the following fifty characteristics that I hold dear, and for that reason I am saddened that the Fifty Shades books are so popular. What does it say of our culture?
I like my books with a good dose of the following:
           1.    Respect  2. Honor 3.  Kindness.  4.  Affection   5.  Regard  6.  Trust 
7.  Devotion 8. Fidelity 9.  Dignity 10. Decency 11.  Integrity 12.  Gallantry
13. Unselfishness 14.  Consideration 15.  Companionship 16.  Compassion 
17.  Morals   18.  Mores 19.  Ethics  20.  Self-assuredness 21.  Thoughtfulness
22.  Refinement   23.  Tenderness 24.  Charity 25.  Nobility 26.  Commitment
27.  Self-worth 28. Empathy 29.  Honesty 30.  Courtesy 31. Family 
32.  Character 33.  Intimacy 34.  Classiness 35.  Choice 36.  Courage 
37.  Goodness 38.  Compromise 39.  Grace 40.  Sanctity 41. Sincerity
42.  Culture/manners 43.  Faith/beliefs 44. Happiness 45.  Beloved-ness
46. Esteem 47. Appreciation 48.  Devotion 49. Harmony 
50.  One’s Good name/reputation  

Monday, February 9, 2015

My Funny Valentines

“My funny valentine. . . “
My father has been gone over nine years, but my love for him still exists. He was among the best of fathers and I admired and respected him for that. He had a knack of making each one of his children, sons and daughters, feel as if he or she was his favorite. He loved to laugh and joke and tell us how much he loved us, something a child never tires of hearing.  
“You make me smile with my heart.”
HoneyBunch came along at a time in my life when everyone around me had decided I was Mom, Grandma, and Senior Citizen. Nothing more. There wasn’t any room for anything or anyone else. They weren’t being selfish; they were protective of my feelings and of theirs.  Along came HoneyBunch and he upset the status quo.  He found me youthful and wanted me for his wife. A day does not go by that he does not make me smile.
“. . . you’re my favorite work of art.”
My arms and heart ache for the years when my grown children were little.  They would squirm when I squeezed them too tight. They would squeal if I kissed them too raucously. They ran for their lives when I announced I was having a “kissy attack.” Of everything I accomplished in my life, I take greatest pride in being their mommy. They have grown into wonderful adults, people I not only love but like as well.  
“Stay little valentine stay.”
My grandbabies’ faces, smiles, and conversations melt my heart. They are my grand “beauties.” In their faces lies my future. Like my father lives on in me, I will live on in my grandchildren. Love is family.

“Each day is valentine’s day.” 

Monday, February 2, 2015

My Medicare A Snipe Hunt

I turned sixty-five recently, Medicare age. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I often confused Medicare with Medicaid, so being a retired teacher, I started my quest in July by informing myself about my options.
I learned that I had a seven month window to enlist in Medicare without acquiring a penalty; I learned there were several parts to Medicare – the most important being A, B, C, and D; I learned I could do it easily online without having to go to the nearest Social Security Office. If I started in October or November, I could get this over and done with by the start of my “birthday month” – January.
This is the story of my snipe hunt:
First week in November – The Texas Teacher Retirement System (TRS) called and demanded my Medicare number ASAP! (So much for my seven-month window!)  My current health insurance with them had enrolled me in a new prescription program but they needed my number by early December!!!!  I also received a packet from TRS. If I wanted to stay with my TRS insurer, I had to enroll in Medicare A and B ASAP. It prompted me to act.
The Social Security Administration (SS) website red flagged me when I tried to enroll online, so I went to the local office. After a two and a half hour wait, I saw a SS representative who sent me home to find “important documents” and scheduled my next appointment for December 30th.
TRS called again insisting on a Medicare number.  It prompted me to go back to the SS office before my December appointment.
Mid-November – A different SS representative refused my “important documents.”  They were useless and I did not have sufficient “quarters,” but if I insisted on Medicare A, I would have to pay an exorbitant premium.  I went home without enrolling.
I called TRS. Three different representatives insisted that as a retired Texas teacher, I only needed to enroll in and pay for Medicare B. The rest would be covered by my TRS Medicare insurance.
My third SS representative argued that I could not sign up for Part B only; a fourth representative intervened and did as I requested.  
I called, faxed, and mailed my Medicare number to TRS. I thought I was through enrolling and with time to spare.  
December – I received ID cards for Medicare Plan B and TRS Plan D.
Early January – I called TRS about my missing insurance card (the one that replaced Medicare Plan A and C) and learned that I was not insured.  I argued with the representative but she insisted I go back to the SS office and purchase Medicare A.
The SS office closed at noon that day, so I returned home, tried to sign up online, and got through.  It prompted me to wait 5 business days for an answer.
Ten days later - A SS representative called.  She promised to send me a form ASAP which she suggested I fill, sign, and take to the local office in person.
Ten days after that -I got the SS form.  I returned to the SS office the next day, and after a two-hour wait, I see a representative who informed me that as a retired Texas teacher I did not need Medicare A. I never did, but since I insisted he referred me to their Medicare expert. She told me the same thing, but before I left the building, I called TRS one more time.  
The TRS representative stated I never needed Medicare A.  I made her repeat it twice.
I thanked the SS representative, retrieved my two-inch thick file folder, and left.

My snipe hunt for Medicare A wasted three full months of my life - on the phone, in waiting areas, and talking to fifteen different customer representatives.