Happy freakin’ retrograde

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Continued! My mechanic just locked my keys in my car last night with the ignition running. (Fortunately, he didn’t lock the hatch and crawled in through the back.)

Oh, and there was the flat tire that kept me from meeting this weekend with a dear old friend visiting here from Nashville. (It was the spare I put on two weeks ago from yet another flat, so I was screwed. That same flat tire kept me from getting to physical therapy yesterday.

Yesterday, I spent more than 2 hours trying to get the HP printer from hell to print out a current copy of my insurance card so I can get my car inspected, and over an hour trying to figure out with the Comcast guy why my laptop stopped connecting to the wifi. (That was after spending almost 4 hours — four separate calls –Friday night with them trying to fix it over the phone.)

I can’t wait to see what happens next.

The house I used to live in

I keep staring at the ad, over and over. It’s the apartment I used to live in. I look at it, and I feel happy — because while I had some hard times there, I have so many happy memories of the place.

It’s also the apartment where my ex-husband moved right after our divorce. At the time, I stumbled across the ad while looking for a new place; I recognized the address, but I never thought it would be the same apartment.

When I used to drop off the kids, I’d look around and think, “This is such a cute place. I could really fix this up.” And then I did. I ended up living there for ten years; I wrote a lot of good songs in that living room.

This is the same living room I painted teal after my unemployment benefits ran out. It was my last $25, and I was sobbing over the phone as I described the shade to my friend Charlie. I was crying because I couldn’t rationalize spending the money but it did cheer me up and here I am, all these years later. That $25 wasn’t the end of the world.

When I lived there, it was the first time a doctor told me I had cancer. I’d been coughing up blood a while, and by the time I finally got to an ENT, he told me I most likely had malignant tumors in my sinuses that would kill me in a gruesome way. He even patted my hand and told me to “get your affairs in order.” That was right before Thanksgiving (for some reason, dramatic things always happen to me in the fall), and I didn’t tell anyone. Why ruin everyone’s holiday?

I’d just gotten a small insurance settlement, and decided to buy a comfortable sofa if that’s where I was going to play Camille for the rest of my days. But the delivery people couldn’t get it past the second floor landing, and it sat there upended for days until my neighbor got really pissed. I called my brother-in-law, who was a carpenter, and he, um, sawed off enough of the railing that we could finally angle my new couch around the landing and into the apartment.

By the time I found out all I had were plain old fungus tumors (actually, one sinus had a fungus tumor and the other what the sheepish surgeon described as “a giant petrified booger”), I was already deeply in love with my new sofa. It was covered in a deep blue denim velveteen and it was the best thing I ever slept on.

Photo by JAFAR AHMED on Unsplash

I do remember why I finally moved. Although I mostly loved living on the third floor (the panorama of passing storms was spectacular), the place looked out over a major street, and for most of ten years, I’d magically transmogrified traffic noise into the roar of ocean waves. Suddenly, one day, that stopped working and the noise started to drive me quietly crazy.

It didn’t help that I lived so close to a firehouse — a firehouse that, even then, insisted on preserving the ear-shattering high-decibel siren, even though all the volunteers had beepers and cell phones.

Photo by Tyler Gardon on Unsplash

The other thing is, my bedroom faced an auto body shop and even though they had one of those painting rooms built to contain the toxic fumes, the mechanics couldn’t resist opening the garage doors on a sunny day and letting micro bursts of paint drift upward.

Plus, third floor. And I still had two working knees then! So when I was offered a job some distance away, I took it. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t.

Life is all about accepting that there are no time machines and you can’t go back. I know it. But I’m so, so tempted to try.

Hospital world

Photo by Jung Ho Park on Unsplash

I had an early appointment with a neurosurgeon yesterday, so I got up early to make sure I had plenty of time. The hospital is maybe 30 minutes away under regular conditions, but it took me an hour and a half to get there. There was so many cars in front of the entrance, they had maybe a dozen people directing traffic.

These big new facilities are really overwhelming; I felt like I was on a TV set. (Or in a busy train station.) It was too much stimulation for an Aspie like me. And you know how many consulting rooms were in the neuroscience department? At least 80. Jesus, no wonder health care is so expensive.

But the doctor was warm and friendly, and listened intently. It was a very pleasant experience.

When I was checking out, I said to the clerk I’d seen more doctors in the past few months than I had in the past five years, thanks to Medicare. She started laughing: “My grandmother said the same thing when I drove her to an appointment last week.”

You’d think it would be cheaper to take care of people before they’re old and falling apart, huh?

Guess who has cancer?

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

Me! The stress of covering Trump may have sent some of my cells into overdrive and now there’s a tumor. A rare tumor! A malignant tumor!

It’s still small, and it’s still early. I have a lot of things to do before surgery next month and I’m not going to (pardon the expression) kill myself to keep up the same blogging pace (which, to readers, probably looks more like a leisurely stroll, but whatever).

In the meantime, I’ve asked a couple of friends to pitch in. I’ll still post, just not as much.

I may not even need will most likely need radiation. My future also involves some medications that are a pain in the ass, but I expect to be around for a while. (Thank you, baby Jesus, for Medicare!)

If you want to chip in to help cover all the extra gas, tolls, and miscellaneous expenses this enterprise is costing me, why, that would be just swell. Because my anxiety levels are through the roof — it all adds up. Thanks!

The best healthcare in the world

Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash

Back in May, I tried to schedule a mammogram. I had a prescription from my then-primary physician, so I called the hospital that was in my shitty then-insurance network to make an appointment.

The person doing the scheduling told me the prescription didn’t have enough information on it for them to know what to do. I suggested they call the doctor and ask. She told me no, I had to go back to the doctor and get the right prescription.

“Then what is the right information?” I asked. She told me I’d have to ask the doctor.

Now, this doctor doesn’t really believe in being helpful. She charged me a $40 co-pay just to some in and ask a question, so I said, “Fuck that,” and figured I could wait another five years.

Yesterday morning, I got a call from the same hospital, saying they wanted to help me schedule the mammogram.

“You mean the one I tried to schedule five months ago?” I said. “I already have another primary care doctor and an appointment for a mammogram.”

Now, I have a friend who had breast cancer, and she told me she has the exact same problem: If it doesn’t have exactly the right code, they won’t do it. Then my sister told me the same thing. Am I the only person who didn’t know this?

Car update

My mechanic replaced the thermostat. Now I have the nerve-wracking task of driving the car around to see if it overheats again. I’ve had leaky head gaskets for over a year, but it seemed stable. Now I have to wait and see if the thermostat gets stuck again because if it does, that means it’s probably the head gaskets. (Because Subie thermostats are famously reliable.)

He said it’s not worth spending the money on the repair, that I should just replace the engine if it comes to that.

I’m so tired. Once, before I die, I want a reliable car.

How I spent my Sunday night

Photo by Jairu Ollennu on Unsplash

It’s midnight, and I just got home.

Earlier, the power went out in my entire neighborhood. And since it was still in the muggy 90s, I decided to drive across the bridge to an airconditioned Starbucks and wait it out. About 20 minutes after I got there, the electric company website reported that the power was back on, so I headed home.

I drove about a quarter mile when suddenly, the temperature gauge was in the red zone and steam was pouring out under the hood. I pulled over, opened the hood, waited until everything cooled down, and poured in some antifreeze.

I got about an eighth of a mile this time before it happened again. I called my mechanic. He told me to let it cool down again and try putting in more antifreeze while it was still running. Did that, same result.

At this point, I called AAA Roadside to tow me across the bridge to my house. (Dealing with AAA is always an iffy thing.) I wasn’t going to risk getting stuck on the bridge like the trauma I went through 12 years ago.

First they told me 40 minutes. Then they called me back and said I was in the wrong town, I had to get South Jersey AAA! Again, they told me 40 minutes. An hour and a half later, the truck still wasn’t there and I really, really had to pee. I ended up going in the woods at the back of the business where I was parked, and there were security cameras everywhere. (At that point, I didn’t care. Enjoy!)

Now I’m home, but I had to write it all down so I could let go of it and get to sleep.

Buddy, can you spare a dime?

full house cash GIF

Because I had to get the car’s AC compressor replaced (the heat index yesterday was 120 degrees, it’s not a luxury anymore), I’m in the hole this month. Also, my utilities used to be included, the landlord raised my rent, and the electric bill was really high (thanks, global heating!). So I have a bunch of expenses that backed up, and I’m short of enough money to pay my first month’s Medicare premium. Which is kind of a big deal, because it means for the first time in a year, I’ll have insurance that is actually usable.

Can you please help? I’d be grateful. Thanks!