I’m almost done grading mid-term papers….
It’s like I didn’t teach them anything…
I’m almost done grading mid-term papers….
It’s like I didn’t teach them anything…
Ooof. We had a two day work/school week; Monday was a holiday (thank you, Brother Martin), Tuesday was a snow day, we had a two hour delay on Wednesday, a full day on Thursday, and another snow day today.
At this rate, my girls will be in school until the Fourth of July (CHS runs virtual classes online during snow days, so our summer will start on time! I love you, Bob! MWAH!).
The Accuweather long-range forecast guy is saying that we’d better get used to it, too. Check this shit out:
The Accuweather long-range forecast guy isn’t my favorite person right now (note that his name is “Bastardi.” How fitting. Love to David Mixner for the heads-up and the graphic, which he boosted from accuweather.com). Alan, can I come and live with YOU for a while? Please…?
Anyway, I’m trying to get some things done, both for work and around the house. I have thus far managed to put some stuff away and do some general tidying; the dishwasher is running, the humidifiers are filled, and there’s laundry in the machines. I want to vacuum downstairs and give the kitchen a once-over before the day is done. On my work list are a syllabus for the new poetry class starting on Wednesday, a modified curriculum for a special needs freshman, and a recommendation form for one of my seniors. That ought to keep me busy today.
What are YOU doing?
Okay, let’s get something straight and settled, once and for all, shall we? We DO NOT live in Nazi Germany. Comparing anyone to Hitler or Goebbels is wrong, and as soon as you do it, you’ve lost any credibility you may have had, so STOP IT, ALL of you! Make your point – if, indeed, you have one – without invoking the Third Reich or the Holocaust. Dazzle thinking people with your ability to be nuanced and articulate and to back your shit up with facts, not with false comparisons and fear mongering.
Among all the finger-pointing that’s been going on politically for the last few weeks (months, years, whatever; it’s been going on for a while, really, but it’s gotten a lot more fun (not!) over the last few weeks), I’ve decided to point a finger, too.
One of the things I’ve promised myself is that I’m going to be better informed about things that matter to me. I don’t know that it’s going to matter a bit to the people who’ve already decided that I don’t know anything because I’m a bleeding-heart, lefty, pinko, frothing, hysterical, (and my favorite) evil progressive, but I don’t give a shit about those people anymore; I’ve come to accept that there are some people who are never going to be able to come to the table, and that it’s not my job to try to reason with them. MY job is to educate myself, and I’m working pretty hard to do that.
One thing that I have always understood – ALWAYS – is that it is the very rare incident that is this or that, black or white, right or wrong. There are precious few occasions where something is ALL good or ALL bad; most of our lives are lived in the spaces in between, and I think that may be where we’re falling short (though I suspect that’s another musing about our collective failure to think critically that’s best left for the teacher blog; watch that space). I think we’ve forgotten how to accept a little bit of downside for a larger – or eventual – gain, and I don’t think that this is anywhere better illustrated than with the new health care law.
I’ve done some research, and I’m not at all surprised by what I’ve learned. I tried to go to places where the information I’m getting is non-partisan, mostly because I am sick unto death of people telling me that my facts (which they put air quotes around) are left-biased. Facts are facts. Wrong information – that is, information which doesn’t square with the facts – is wrong. Here’s what I’ve found:
According to the non-profit, non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, here are five things that have already happened under the new Affordable Care Act:
1. Insurance coverage for young adults. The Affordable Care Act requires insurers and employers that offer dependent coverage to allow parents to include children up to age 26 on their insurance plans. This year alone, 1.25 million young adults are expected to benefit (Chili says ONE POINT TWO FIVE MILLION, People!). In the past, most insurance companies dropped children once they turned 19 or if they weren’t students. That’s one reason why a third of all young adults lack insurance — a larger share than any other age group.
2. Free preventive care. Forty-two million seniors in Medicare and another roughly 41 million Americans with private insurance can now get free preventive health care services because the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to provide it. Preventive care includes screenings for chronic illnesses like diabetes and cancer, vaccinations, and regular doctor visits. Better access to preventive care will help millions of families with their budgets and likely produce other benefits, such as fewer unnecessary deaths from disease, less spending on costly and avoidable illnesses, and a healthier population overall (Chili says if my mom had had access to preventive care, I’m certain she’d still be alive today. She wasn’t able to afford screenings and regular preventive care, so by the time she was sick enough to suck it up and go to a doctor, she was already terminal, and that’s the truth. Just sayin’.).
3. Protections for children and adults with serious illnesses. The Affordable Care Act bars insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing health conditions like cancer, autism, or diabetes. As a result, for the first time in most states, families with children with serious illnesses, chronic conditions, or special health care needs can buy coverage for their children in the individual health insurance market.
Also, insurers can no longer cut off care for people with serious illnesses who need expensive medical care. The Affordable Care Act bars insurers from imposing “lifetime limits” on benefits. Now, people who get cancer or another illness that requires expensive treatments won’t have to worry that their benefits will run out or that the expensive treatments will push them into bankruptcy — or worse, that coverage limits will prevent them from getting lifesaving care. (Chili says I work with kids. I know a lot of families who have kids with special health care needs; one of students has a heart condition for which she needs a pacemaker, and she’s had several surgeries. My point is that we ALL know people for whom this law is making a significant difference).
4. More affordable prescriptions for seniors. The Affordable Care Act has begun to close the “doughnut hole,” the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage that many seniors experience for drug costs beyond their first $2,840 but before additional coverage kicks in when their costs hit $6,448.
Before the Affordable Care Act, seniors paid 100 percent of prescription drug costs within the doughnut hole. Last year, seniors received a $250 payment under the Affordable Care Act to help with these costs. This year, seniors are getting even more help — a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs and a 7 percent discount on generic prescription drugs while they are in the coverage gap. The law will close the entire doughnut hole by 2020. (Chili says I’ve got a grandma. Do you have a grandma? If not, do you know one? ARE you one? These are provisions that are going to affect everyone, directly or indirectly, and just because this particular benefit may not matter to you now, I wish you a life sufficiently long enough that, someday, it will.)
5. Tax credits to help small businesses buy coverage for their employees. Starting last year, an estimated 4 million small businesses, covering as many as 16.6 million employees, became eligible for a tax credit under the Affordable Care Act to help offset the cost of buying health coverage. It costs small businesses much more than larger firms to provide health insurance with comparable benefits, both because they have higher administrative costs and because small businesses with older or sicker workers pay higher premiums. The tax credit will help small businesses that are struggling to provide coverage to their workers and encourage more small businesses to offer coverage. (Chili says I work for a small business. Right now, we have no health care provisions. None. The only way literally ANY of us is able to have health care is because we already had it (and the boss – the director of the frickin’ school – is entirely uninsured… and so are her two teenaged children). While I’ll continue to access my health care through my husband’s employer, it may well be that someday, I’ll need my small business to provide health care for me. This matters.)
I heard this on my local NPR station today, and I’m pretty convinced that the noise that we’re hearing about this onerous and destructive this bill is so much bullshit. Is it perfect? No; nothing is. Is it better than what we had before this bill was passed? Even if no other good comes from it than the five things that I listed above, I give it a resounding YES.
So many of us are one accident or one illness away from bankruptcy. I have some personal experience with chronic (and fatal) diseases with no health care, and I have seen how little time it takes for someone to be completely devastated – really, a couple of rounds of chemo and a few MRIs are enough to do it, and forget long-term, skilled care; unless you’ve got some serious coverage, that ain’t happening, and you’d better have some loving family with flexible schedules if you expect to have any comfort at all as you end your life.
Sorry. Got a little bitter there.
I’d like to end with this. I know it’s not non-partisan, but I think that Anthony Weiner of New York is spot-on with this. Some things are true. Some things are not true. Let’s all stop making stuff up.
….well, someone else’s words. I found these, from Cornel West, that struck a sharply resonant chord in me. That’s exactly it, Brother West; thank you for saying it out loud.
Justice is what love looks like in public.
I almost forgot that it’s Tuesday, you guys! We had a snow day today, and I’m ALL off my game. Sorry about that.
Here, in no particular order (other than the first one, of course) are ten people who help me be the best Chili I can be:
1. My husband. Duh, right? The fact of the matter is that a large part of who I am is influenced by this man’s constant presence in my life. He is always challenging and supporting me to strive for my highest and best; he laughs with me, he picks up responsibilities that free me to pursue my goals and interests, and he respects that those things are important. I truly couldn’t do any of what I do without him.
2. My daughters. Though the challenges they present sometimes seem like more than I can handle, I’m coming to terms with the idea that I’m never less than the task. Without being conscious of it, they’re pushing me to reconcile my past, to clearly define my boundaries, and to solidify my values. They’re giving me opportunities to practice true compassion (and compassionate detachment) and they constantly remind me that true love is unconditional.
3. Gerry and Honey. Though our contact during the wintertime is far less than I think any of us would like, there is great comfort for me in just knowing that they’re on the other end of the phone line, or on the other side of my computer screen. The affection I feel for this genuinely good man and his wife fuels my self-confidence and makes me feel much less of an orphan.
4. Falcon. He and I have been having an email conversation that has almost single-handedly reassured me that all is not lost when it comes to our national dialogue, and that despite our own ideological or political differences, what’s most important is our humanity and our genuine respect and affection for each other. I’m not sure he’s aware of how much I needed to hear that (well… I guess he is now…).
5. O’Mama. Despite the fact that we get to see each other much less now that we’re both working full time (and in different disciplines), I don’t feel as though our friendship has lessened one bit. The time I do get to see her is always intellectually exciting, and I feel like we can pick up wherever we left off, regardless of how long it’s been since the last time we were together.
6. My sister and her wife. If I had my way, I’d be able to spend much more time with Auntie and The Girl, but like my friendship with O’Mama, time and distance don’t really seem to matter to my relationship with my sisters. I’m particularly grateful for Auntie because we EARNED our love for each other under really tough conditions, and there’s a kind of sublime, unspoken understanding that we share that defies my capacity to describe it. I say that I count my worth by the number of people I could call at four in the morning and expect them to get into the car (or on a plane) in their pajamas, no questions asked, if I needed them. I know absolutely that Auntie is one of those people.
7. Carrie. Carrie is my boss, and more than that, she’s my friend. We met under unlikely circumstances and came to work together under even stranger conditions – it feels now, looking back on it, like the Universe ordered that it be so. We have, if I can call it such, a healthfully schizophrenic relationship; we are both very clear of where the line between “director/teacher” and “girlfriends” is, and we navigate it with a kind of ease that sometimes brings me up short. I think that balance can be explained by the deep and mutual respect we have for one another as both professionals and as human beings. (oh, and I’m also awfully fond of Bob, who is both a friend and a colleague and who happens to be Carrie’s man. He makes me laugh, he makes me think, and I like him an awful lot).
8. My grandparents. These people took me in when I had been absolutely convinced I was completely unlovable, and they showed me how good families function. Without them and the lessons they taught me, I’m pretty sure I would never have had the life I enjoy now. The fact that we share no genetic bond doesn’t diminish our love for one another one tiny bit, and the relationship that we continue to share and nurture reminds me of one of my favorite Richard Bach quotes: The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.
9. Terry. Terry is my mentor. She was my junior English teacher in high school, and I remember having to read The Grapes of Wrath under her tutelage. I hated just about EVERY page of that blasted tome, but I caught a spark from my teacher; she showed me that I could really think, and that the effort I expended to do so was more than worth it for the incredible the benefits it brought me. I had the amazing good fortune to be able to intern with her (the Universe totally orchestrated that!), and she has ever since been my professional cheerleader. I had supper with her a few weeks ago; when I picked her up, I was disheartened and worried because the kids just weren’t getting it and nothing seemed to be going well. By the time I dropped her off, she’d managed to remind me that it doesn’t all have to happen at once, and that the work that I’m doing with these kids is good and challenging and interesting and important. It is my dearest wish that, after she retires, Terry will consent to teach a class or two part-time at CHS; nothing would thrill me more than to be able to work with her.
10. Sphrynatude. I learned how much this man loves me when my mother was dying. He was there – just there – for anything I needed, no matter what, no matter when. I have a deep and abiding affection for him, but not because he made me feel so safe and well-cared for while I was trying to care for my mother. Sphyrnatude makes me think, he makes me laugh (often despite myself – he has a particular and peculiar affinity for the decidedly off-color humor) and, in a roundabout way, he boosts my self-respect. Here is a man who is incredibly smart and astoundingly pragmatic, and I admire and respect him. He, in turn, counts me as one of his few good friends. There’s something big in that.
There are so many more people who make up my tribe and who encourage and teach and help and challenge and love and support me. I ascribe to the idea that I cannot exist as who I am without the other people in my life – I am because you are – and I am always grateful for the wonderful, amazing, good people the Universe puts in my path.
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