Monday, November 29, 2010

Bamboozled by Health Care

–verb (used with object) 1. to deceive or get the better of (someone) by trickery, flattery, or the like; humbug; hoodwink (often fol. by into)

1.  gyp, dupe, trick, cheat, swindle.  
It's so easy for all you people out there with good jobs and cheap health insurance to hate on the idea of universal health care. Well let me tell you, have a little empathy!

We don't have employee health insurance so we pay almost $500 each a quarter for Aetna Student health. Since I finally paid for it I thought it was far time to have a physical. I just got a "this is not a bill" bill that says I owe almost $400!!! Excuse me? Apparently there is a $300 deductible and routine tests, immunizations or exams are not covered. Why the beep do I have this insurance then?

What really gets me is that doctors never give you an itemized list of what they're going to do to you and how much it is going to cost with your health insurance before they do it. If they told me getting blood drawn and lab work was going to be $150 out of pocket would I have stuck my arm out for them to put a needle in me? Heck no!

How is the medical field the one place where it is acceptable to deliver services to someone without telling them how much it is going to cost and giving the choice to opt out? How is that ok? How is there not legislation about that? When you go out to eat you order off a menu and can see the price and pick accordingly. At the end they don't bring you a bill for $150 for the bread and water they assumed you wanted and put on the table without asking.

I was trying to do the right thing by buying the student health insurance instead of going to a community health clinic and leaching off social services. I am pretty sure I could have gotten a physical and pap smear at a women health clinic for less than $900!!!! I am pretty highly educated compared to the rest of the US population. If I can't navigate insurance, doctors, bills, etc. how can those with a middle school education? How can those who aren't employed, have families, and poor health access health care? If they don't have the personal resources to receive proper care until it's an emergency how can we blame them for driving up the cost of health care for everyone. Why isn't preventative care covered by my $1,800/year policy?!

I'm not asking for anything for free. I'm not saying poor people should have free health care. I do think that health care should be transparent. Health care should be accessible. The system should not be so confusing, frustrating, such a hostile place that even a person with a near masters degree feels completely bamboozled. 

To top off the whole thing, I was told I needed a physical for the new job and when I went to have my paperwork processed I didn't need it after all. Now I have real health insurance and won't need another physical til next year, right about when I'm not working for CPS anymore and will be right back in the same place. One thing is for sure, I will not be purchasing the worthless Aetna Student Health. You can find me at Chicago Women's Health Center.

If, heaven forbid, I lose rolling the dice and get deathly ill, let me die and when I die put this blog post in the paper instead of an obituary.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Turkey Dance

Last night we went bowling with friends and were hoping to do the turkey dance. When we bowl, if you get a turkey you have to do a celebratory turkey dance, you can imagine for yourself what this looks like.

After my first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I think a celebratory turkey dance was in order because it went surprisingly well! We had turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, stove top stuffing, cressent rolls, cranberry jello stuff, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and homemade whipped cream. Pam brought the pies and made the sweet potato casserole. She also helped with the turkey and gravy. Everything was delicious and came out at the same time. It was perfect! Of course, there were a few things I would change, but oh well! The turkey finished in 3 hours and was beautifully brown and moist. I am not sure if its success can be attributed to the recipe or the brined TJ's turkey, so I'll just take all the credit myself!

We used my grandmother's china for the first time in the year and a half we've had it. There never seems to be a special enough time to get it down from the top shelf in the pantry. I am going to print and send a picture to her so she can see it's being used and appreciated.

Picture recap:
The bird

Table set and ready for the food!

Ready to dig in

Ready to eat! Yum!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lord Have Mercy on My Turkey

I have only cooked a whole bird once in my life. It was a chicken and it was wildly unsuccessful. We were living at Villa Sienna in Irvine and had Kelly, James' mom, on the speaker phone giving instructions as I was screaming. It was gross with the neck and other bits. Today is my second attempt at roasting a bird. I am using Ina Garten's recipe. Jame's step-mom, Pam, is here and she helped get the yucky parts out of the bird. Thank goodness.

I may be a bit OCD, but I wanted to make sure everything got done so below are the rest of the day's tasks. We're already ahead by 1 hour. If the recipe is correct with the bird only cooking 3 hours we'll be eating at noon! I am not sure why I didn't trust my gut and wait to put the darn thing in. My biggest fear is that it will be done too soon. So please Lord, have mercy on my turkey!

More recaps to follow after dinner!

James just walked out of the bedroom. I've been up for 2 hours with his parents. Thanks a lot, bf. (Just kidding, I don't really mind a bit)

UPDATE: The turkey came out perfect and that is what I am thankful for today! Happy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

On Mawwage, Part V

A long time ago I read a review for this book: One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding and it looked kinda provocative. From what I can tell, the author is a bit cynical about weddings, perhaps it's somewhat appropriate. It talks about how the $161 billion wedding industry is convincing brides they need to have a minimum $30k wedding. The author seems to feel that both brides (or bridezillas) and weddings are out of control with the save the dates, invites, extensive gift registries, showers, bach/bachelorette parties, luncheons, rehearsal dinner, plated and open bar reception, favors, flowers, matching hair and shoes, honeymoon, and the list goes on. When I think about it, she does have a point. Many have been brainwashed to believe they are entitled to this type of wedding and will stop at nothing to get their one perfect day.

But I think weddings are so much fun. I think marriage is sacred, after all, it's one of the sacraments. Sometimes it's true though, out of no where weddings take on a life of their own. We've all seen it. People get stressed, feelings get hurt, and lots of money gets spent (or wasted, depending on how you see it). I know I want to get married. I am not sure if I want a big to do wedding. Some days I think seven bridesmaids; all aunts, uncles, cousins; friends from California, Michigan, Chicago, filet mignon and open bar. Other days I think a small ceremony under a big willow tree would be better. I do know that when my day does come, I want to maintain some sort of outside perspective and remain grounded. Hopefully we remember Teyber and successfully transfer loyalties from our parents to each other. I think we're almost there.

And...I can't end Mawwage week without making a plug for marriage equality. Everyone should have the right to tie the KNOT! Visit for ways to support the struggle for marriage equality. The wedding industry should start lobbying for marriage equity. Think how much more money they could be making if everyone could get married!

(I sure hope we don't break up tomorrow after this is posted! lol)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On Mawwage, Part IV

Still talking about marriage, but more about weddings. And, in case you forgot, today is Thankful Thursday! Today I am thankful for such amazing parents who have been together for 42? years. WHAT?? 42 years! I don't want to make them seem like saints; no one is perfect, but from what I can see, they are pretty much perfect. While I am sure they have had their ups and downs and disagreements I have never once heard them fight or talk to each other in a mean, degrading, unkind tone. This is something I need to work on. I also don't hear them say, "I love you" or show much affection, but that doesn't mean they don't love each other. How humbling it must be for my father to work his entire life to support his wife and children. I hate to share my hard earned money and yet, fathers around the world sign paychecks over to their wives who run the household. Saying "I love you" isn't the only way to show someone how you care for them. Every week my mom makes the same old cookies and cooks them nice and dark just how my dad likes it. She cleans and cooks and makes him be somewhat social. My dad takes on the typical socialized male role of being the main breadwinner and other duties like trash, fixing, yard maintenance, etc.

I do wish we had seen them "fight" while growing up. I think it is important for children and adolescents to have examples of respectful disagreements. It is equally important to see healthy conflict resolution modeled.

I am also thankful that they care enough to want to see me married, and happy, and secure. I am thankful they are willing to help with a wedding, should that day ever come.

So THANK YOU mom and dad for sticking together and being a great example of a loving, caring relationship. And thank you for loving all 4 of us!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On Mawwage, Part III

What I have been trying to get at when citing Teyber's text is the importance and symbolism of the wedding. "its central purpose is to publicly mark a transition in loyalty bonds from the parents and family of origin to the new spouse." (Teyber, 2006, p. 203). Now, I am not married, and I have never had premarital counseling, so I don't know if they touch on this. I do know I never would have viewed marriage in that specific way. He goes on to describe the Christian ceremony:

"the father walks the bride down the center aisle to the front of the church...symbolically gives the bride away by placing her hand in the hand of the waiting groom...then leaves the couple by stepping back...and sitting down beside his own wife. The bride and groom, who have now been demarcated physically from the parental geneartion, turn away and step forward to be married...publicly defin[ing] themselves to family and friends as an enduring marital couple."  (Teyber, 2006, p. 204)

Pretty special when you think about it, huh? I always thought this symbolized the father saying, "She's your problem now! Good luck with her shopping habits!" 

Teyber next talks about how the before mentioned parental coalition that has gone wrong plays out in the wedding planning process. The cross-generational alliances find their way into the wedding. These loyalties that have been there since birth, so it's easy to understand why it is so difficult to transfer loyalties from parent to partner. According to Teyber, the conflict over the shift of loyalties is "played out in arguments over who will be invited to the wedding, where it will be held, how it will be conducted, who is financially responsible and so on."(p. 204). Sound familiar anyone? Who doesn't have these issues? Marriage is full of unknowns while you know what to expect from family.

Teyber, E. (2006). Interpersonal process in therapy: An integrative model. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On Mawwage, Part II

Let me preface this by saying these are just my thoughts, obviously, and interpretations of this book. I could read it tomorrow and have a totally different understanding of it. 

Back to Teyber's book. When I was reading for class I came to this passage and highlighted, starred, and flagged it. I am dead serious too. It really spoke to me. The passage was discussing the parental coalition, which is a fancy way of describing how parents should have a primary bond with each other and secondary bonds with their children. Issues arise when the primary bond is between the parent and a child instead of parent and parent and this will continue into the child's adult life. So all you parents out there think about that.

According to the book, the primary parental coalition develops appropriately when both people in the marriage first were able to "individuate" within their own families of origin, i.e. achieved an authentic sense of own personal identity. Teyber says when in a love relationship both people need to find a new balance of family loyalties. You have to maintain ties and responsibilities towards the previous generation (your parents) and shift primary loyalties and emotional commitment to your partner. You mama's boys out there better suck it up and tell her "no" every now and then. Pick your wife first! And ladies, when you're having a bad day and pick up the phone, call your man, not your mom.

If a both people can't overcome this developmental step then a "primary marital coalition will not develop." (p. 203) and you have a cross-generational alliance. And it gets better! (not!) this alliance is typically passed on to the child of the new couple which results in needing Teyber's help.

This is all just background information for tomorrow's post, and of course, some food for thought! 

Teyber, E. (2006). Interpersonal process in therapy: An integrative model. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.

Monday, November 15, 2010

On Mawwage, Part I

I have been meaning to blog about this for some time now and have been thinking about it since I was in my Counseling Skills class reading Interpersonal Process in Therapy by Edward Teyber. Yes, the book was expensive, yes the text was difficult to understand, and the whole aspect of "process" was difficult to grasp the first time around.

So, what have I been wanting to blog about? Mawwage, or as others not from the Princess Bride might pronounce it, marriage.

It's no secret that I have been wanting to get married for a while. There is a secret though; occasionally I think marriage is stupid and weddings are a bunch of bologna. Then other days I am dying for us to have a wedding with all our friends and family together making memories. My biggest fear is that we will blow a crapload of our parents' money on one night and turn into people we don't even like during the planning process. I have the potential to go waay overboard with details, stationary, flowers, and all things DIY. And the older I get, the more expensive taste I develop. I get scared of what a wedding might do to us, which is ridiculous becasue it should be about the mawwage!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Scared to Death!

I am adding white water rafting to the 30 Before 30 list. Thinking about it makes me really scared and creates anxiety, but on the other hand, it looks fun and adventurous. In my counseling classes we are learning that a certain level of anxiety and frustration are essential for growth. Anxiety about white water rafting is not going to bring about the same growth as anxiety in a therapeutic session, but it will lead to growth in a different aspect. I am adding it to the list because it is something I am somewhat fearful of, yet don't want to miss out on. Our friends in California, Brenna and Mikey, have a brother who runs a rafting company in Colorado. If I ever go, we're going to go through his company. I was just talking to Brenna about meeting there this summer for a fun trip.

As I grow older I am becoming more cautious and scared of things. For example, I am horrible with needles. My new job required a TB test and I also need a yearly physical. I had to deal with needles twice in one week! I used some self-talk and tried to regulate my breathing to keep from having a semi-fit like the one when I got my tetanus shot earlier this year. Thankfully, those techniques calmed me down, but I just keep thinking how foolish it is. Another example is how I hate to cross the street at busy intersections if the light is blinking or if I think it is about to go yellow. There are many times whoever I am with darts across the street and I am left on the corner waiting for the light to cycle through again. What's up with that?? Is this what 1/4 life is going to be like? Will it get worse?

In order to prevent myself from becoming a boring, unadventurous 30 something I am going to try and push myself in anxiety provoking situations. I am so blessed to only have slight anxiety about silly things. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have intense anxiety about everyday things.

Just remember: breathe!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What Does it Mean to be Called?

I woke up at 6:45 today even though I have the day off in honor of veterans Day. I couldn't sleep anymore so now I am watching Invictus. I am so thankful to have today off from work becasue I am feeling very run down with a cold or sinus infection. I only wish I could have slept longer. So this Thursday, I am thankful for my new job, the day off, and most importantly the Veterans who serve and protect our country.

Veterans have been called to serve and so have those doing God's work. What does it mean to be called to do something?

I love my new job. I am not a person who really believes in fate, but if I were, this job would be fate. When I got the offer I had one month's rent left, I was beginning to feel desperate for classroom experience, and feeling unfulfilled at my retail job. I have been working for a week now, and absolutely believe I am meant to be here. Even though I won't get my first check until mid-December becasue of the pay periods I feel a sense of peace in my less than favorable financial situation. Did I mention I am making close to what I made at my previous job? I think I may have. When I think about the responsibilities and stress of my old job compared to my job at the school I would gladly take a pay cut in exchange for quality of life. But I didn't really, how awesome is that?

Moving on, I am so thankful for the men and women who have, or currently are, serving in the armed forces. While war, conflicts, and policies are often controversial, I cannot disregard the daily sacrifices made by these men, women, and their families. I have mentioned before how I have been feeling called to help the military families. [Side note- I am not really that religious and using the phrase, "feeling called to help" to me implies being called by God to do this work. Like I said, I don't believe in fate, but there really is no other way to describe this feeling. I guess maybe I am feeling compelled to do it instead, but is phrasing it that way discrediting the feeling? Is it denying that God may truly be calling me to do this? And if he is, what does that mean? How can you ignore it then?] I don't really know how I can help, but here are some ideas; work at a school on a military base or one that serves military children, finding a job as a counselor with the VA or other family services, volunteer with non-profits that serve military families. I don't know what this means or where it will take me...that's what's so exciting about life, right? 

Watching Invictus, it is clear Nelson Mandela was called by someone or something to be a great leader and unite and heal South Africa.

What have you been called to do?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Miss Asia [Insert My University Name Here]

During the break at class a friend and I were walking back from the vending machine when I spotted this out of the corner of my eye. I instantly found it funny when I read qualification #1. Take a look for yourself.
After reading the qualifications more closely I have the following questions:
  1. I am of Asian origin, can I be Miss Asia [insert my university name here]? My family is of European descent (as we say in CSL), my culture is primarily white. What are they trying to say with qualification #1?
  2. you DO NOT have to be full-- full from dinner? Full figured? Full in mental capacity? Is there a better way to phrase this? My multicultural class tells me yes. 
  3. You must be female-- if someone of Asian origin who is somewhat of a "full" phony, like myself, can qualify to represent the Asian community at [insert my university name here] why can't a male also be included? A male who is imersed in Asian culture would be much more appropriate than someone like myself who is "full".
  4. You must be a student (No, you DO NOT have to be a [insert my university name here] student)--huh? Miss Asian [insert my university name here] doesn't have to be a [insert my university name here] student? Did I miss something? 
  5. And what makes this all the more confusing is it is presented as a pageant! I know some Asian women who already feel objectified, and feel some men have Asian fetishes. Does the context of a pageant continue to promote this? Why not have both a male and female and call them [insert my university name here] Asian Ambassadors? It's a bit more inclusive and progressive don't you think? 
While I understand the group is trying to educate others and increase the Asian community's visibility on campus, I question if this is the most effective way to combat stereotypes and raise awareness. What caught my eye as being comical turned out to be much more provocative that I anticipated. 

I didn't put my school name in the post because I am somewhat embarrassed and question if I would want it associated with this type of flier. However, I realize most of my friends know where I go to school :) 

Thoughts? Funny? Strange? Over analyzing? For my classmates out there, what would Tovarr-Murray think? lols

Friday, November 5, 2010

For Your Entertainment!

Today wrapped up my first two days at the new job and I have to say I love it! I will share more about that later. Right now, I have broccoli roasting in the oven and already made Giada's potato salad for dinner. No meat again, sorry James! The salad was so-so. I didn't have the lemon zest so instead I added red wine vinegar and threw in some artichokes we had in the fridge. Not sure I'd make it again, but I wanted to use up the tomatoes.

Anyhoo, I sat down to quick blog and share this with you!!

Muuuahhaha!! What in the world is this you may ask? Well, let me tell you. A stranger on the EL (Red Line, what else?) took the liberty of sketching the bf on his way home from law school! How creeped out would you be if someone handed you a sketch of yourself? As soon as James showed me I asked if he tipped the guy. If you know James, you know he did not tip him. My feelings are that he shouldn't have accepted the drawing if he didn't give a tip, but how do you politely say no thank you to a drawing of yourself?

What do you think? Did the guy deserve a tip?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Makeshift Office Space

This Thursday I am thankful for our apartment. More specifically, the separate dining room that in a crunch becomes our office. When I was working full time I was lucky to have a decent sized monitor, laptop with a dock, printer, phone, headset, foot thingy, and keyboard tray. I was the  poster child for workplace ergonomics and I LOVED it. Fast forward a to 2010 and I am a year deep into a masters program, the bf in his first year of law school with no office, no keyboard tray, no foot rest, etc. Instead we have a second bedroom that barely, rarely, never gets used that I have to vigilantly protect from becoming the dumping ground. But I love the guest room. I love that it is always clean and we have a comfortable private place for our parents/guests to stay in when they visit this fabulous city.

Don't you just love my wallpaper?
So today, I am thankful to have a separate dining room that allows me to create a makeshift office when I am in the thick of a quarter that is winding down. It's not fancy; my laptop is on a vintage TV tray bought at a church sale in Winnetka, I have a non-wireless keyboard, extra monitor from undergrad that is super pixelated by today's standards, James' wireless mouse and cords going every direction to every wall outlet. I am also thankful to have a boyfriend who put's up with the mess. Come Monday at 5:30 pm this will all be over and we'll be on to winter break! Until then, the makeshift office will be my home as I finish a 20 page group counseling proposal.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm Funny, Right?

Sometimes I think I am funny and I am forced to consider if I really am.

Yesterday I went to get my work papers processed in the west loop. The process was fairly easy considering I had already had my TB test, drug test, fingerprinting, etc. complete. One of the last things I had to do was get my work ID picture taken. I sat in the chair and the girl took the picture. She looked at the picture, noticing my eyes were closed and said, "Are you a blinker?", to which I replied, "No, I just have small eyes!" and laughed at my own joke. Well, I am pretty sure she either didn't think it was funny or I made her feel really uncomfortable. I think it was funny! What do you think?