A Letter to Anu Partanen

Dear Anu,

I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I picked up your book The Nordic Theory of Everything.  Yet once I got started, I couldn’t put it down.  Then I got to the end and my reaction was: why did you stay?  Love?  Wouldn’t you both be better off if you followed the Nordic System of Love?

Some days I would give up everything to have unquestioned access to healthcare and free college and a system that values education and learning.

Yesterday a friend told me that a 10 year-old family member wants to kill themselves after being bullied for an entire school year by a teacher.  The teacher is not being disciplined.  Would this happen in Norway or are teachers as strongly vetted as they here in the US?  You mention about teachers not being able to teach but not about how they treat their students.

Recently I had to pay $125 in order to get a prescription for a $5 bottle of amoxicillin.  And I had to tell the doctor what I had.  I find this is the experience of most people here in the US.  They have to go in prepared and already done their research when talking to a doctor.  Does this happen in Norway?

In college the choice was pay for college or have health insurance.  I was furious when I received the insurance company packets and they said because I’m a woman, my premiums were four times that as a man the same age as myself.  (Never mind that male teenagers and young adults pay higher car insurance but I don’t think the insurance would have been as high as those premiums I was quoted.  My car insurance was a drop in the bucket compared to the health insurance.)  All of those packets went into the recycling.

I was also working full-time while going to college and my employer paid me out of three separate accounts so that it would look like I was part-time and they didn’t have ot give me benefits. And these were local politicians.

Speaking of politicians, they use the word “reform” for healthcare here in the US.  Does this strike you as strange or weird?  They should turn away the lobbyists and bling and set limits on drug costs and a whole other host of items.  Yes, I know equipment costs money but sometimes….Yet all they do is talk, talk, talk and no action.  Well, usually it consists of bucking and fighting whatever is being presented and then knocking it out when new people are elected.  Price setting in the current way of being and thinking would never work here out of pure greed.

Have a job after many months after having a baby?  What concept is that?  I know people who have gone back to work 4 days after giving birth.  Again, large corporations cry and complain, yet as you point out, it’s a boon for new entrants into the workforce.  Just a huge “WOW” is all I can say.  Even if most women don’t express it directly, I’m sure they would give anything to have this after having  a baby.  And money to boot?  I’d work three jobs to get that money back when I need it.

Your work dredged up a lot of not-so-pleasant memories and reactions, my own personal reactions, mainly being upset about how this system is available and it works yet out of greed people and corporations claw at it and fight it every chance they get.

People here in the U.S. are split in different directions regarding healthcare.  However, I’m seeing more and more people on social media venting their frustrations and people are wiling to have “socialized” medicine because our system of care sucks and as one woman pointed out, due to the lack of specialists, she already has to wait six months for an appointment anyway.  I’m glad to see that you brought up medical bankruptcy.  One woman I know, and her husband died, is now $1 million in debt for his cancer treatments and she has small children.   I can’t imagine.  This is another “taboo” topic.  Why?  Why can’t we have conversations about this and make changes?  Nobody wants to talk about it.  Is it the stigma that going through bankruptcy means that you have failed?

One item you referred to but didn’t mention is that going on individual State benefits opens the door to the individual State to freeze your assets and/or take the money from your estate before your heirs receive it.  Does this happen in Norway?  I’ve heard stories of families in probate court have a State official show up at the probate hearing and submit the documentation for the State to take the amount in benefits that the person used for food stamps et al. while they were alive.  The State gets the money first and then the family can split the rest.  Some people don’t know this and I know some people just don’t care.

I don’t know how it is in New York.

I’m glad you wrote this book and I hope everything is working out for you here.

Sincerely,

Angela

 

 

 

 

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The Tenderness of Wolves

I’m going to answer one of the questions from the reader’s guide.  (Something different).

Parker describes the “sickness if long thinking” as a state where a wild animal cannot be tamed by a human or humans because it always remembers where it is from and desires to go back.  Even though Parker relates it to a wolf cub he told Mrs. Ross he took care of, most of the humans in the book have some sort of sickness of long thinking.

One of them is  Jammet, the murder victim.  Even though there is never any narration or point-of-view from Jammet, what is subsequently revealed about him is that he suffers from this and this may have been the cause of his murder.  Jammet is who he is, he adapts for the person, the people, the circumstance that he is in.  Francis reveals that he and Jammet were lovers while it is also revealed Jammet had a family and children.  Jammet is the prime example of a human that acts like a wild animal; Jammet cannot be tamed and cannot and does not change his character for anyone.  By staying on his own and living in Dove River, a type of outpost, Jammet fulfills his desires to be out in nature and be free of any obligation.

Pot by the Road (A Client Story)

I saw the pot on the side of the road.  Just sitting, all alone.  It looked as if someone had taken it out of a car and forgotten it.  It was March, too early for leaves or flowers if there were to be any on its’ branches.

I was back a few days later.  That pot was still sitting there.  I drove over and swung the car around so my passenger side door was next to it, parked, got out, opened the passenger door and tossed the pot it.  I drove home carefully that day, trying not to knock it around.

When I got home I found a shovel and planted the plant in there.  A few weeks later pretty dark pink blossoms appeared.  In the two years since, it gives me the same blossoms each spring for a few days.

Those blossoms remind me of the client I was seeing when I found that pot.

The client was a third party referral and third party payer, something I appreciate because I know once the contract is signed and then I turn in my hours, I get paid.  Yet by the end this one brought more of a story than I was expecting.

My client lived in a condo complex off of a main artery that had a gated parking lot.  They didn’t drive so they didn’t have the pass code to the gate.  No problem, I waited for someone to come in and park in the unmarked spots.  No one bothered me until one day a man started following me from the building to my car and was threatening to call the police.  I thought it was because of the gate but I quickly realized he thought I was pimping.

I had the municipality’s non-emergency police dispatch number in my phone less than five minutes after I was home that day.

A bit of background: due to the third party arrangements, the client’s guardian squeezed every minute out of me they could get and refused to take less than an hour and a half at one time so I just made the sessions two hours to lessen the amount of times I would have to go.

The next time I just parked on the street and wedged myself through an opening in the gate.

Driving home I would have the windows rolled down.  The condo had a very interesting smell and my significant other would comment when I walked in the door.  Those clothes were immediately stripped off and in the washing machine.

The longer I was with my client the more I found out that helped some things I had observed make sense.

When I talk about my 85% to 90% success rate, this client was one of those I don’t know the outcome or outcomes.  I was summoned after they had failed their licensing test the first time and met the usual resistance.  They had certain expectations and their guardian had others.  The meticulous notes I found in the book and paperwork were not my client’s.  The second time their score went up yet it was still under what the State was requesting.  We used up the hours right before they were scheduled to take the test a third time. I left my client with a detailed, written instruction list of study tips, review tips, piles of organized flashcards, a notebook with notes, and a message of it is up to you to study for this.

I called the third party for a followup but never received any.

To this day I still don’t know what happened with them.  I wonder when I go by the area where they live, if they are still there.

I hope life has treated them well and they passed on their third try.  I think of that when I see the pink blossoms in the spring.

Underappreciated Day

November 3 has been marked as “Housewife’s Day”.  It really should be called “Underappreciated Day” or something similar.

The site where I was reading about it, called “Days of the Year” (www.daysoftheyear.com) talks about how the origins are unknown.  What is this, a treat yourself day before the winter holidays break loose?

Again, again, and again there are statistics about the uncounted for hours and monetary value of house work.  Notice that the day is not “House Keeper’s Day”, that would mean something totally different.  Also, this excludes the men who stay home to care for their families as well as LGBT families.  Additionally, it leaves out the people who take care of ailing or sick family members.

House care and house work is a boring, tedious part of life.  Ask any child or adult who does chores.  Yes, some people thrive on chores and laundry yet most people cannot deal with the chaos that uncleaned houses brings.

As an EMT, walking in the front door of someone’s house immediately tells you what kind of person you are going to be dealing with.  I’ve seen plenty of houses where the person has given up and they don’t care.  There are also many, many people in less affluent areas where the houses are sparkling clean inside and you want to tip toe across their floors so as not to dirty them.

Also, my clients who are in transition come to me with the societal bias that their caregiving work means nothing towards their paid work and/ or professional skills, especially on a resume.  I spend a lot of time talking with them about what they have done and in most cases do.  People undervalue caregiving and daily maintenance work and what it takes to do this kind of work.  People are running households on budgets comparable with those of a small business.  People are leading civic groups and raising money for community projects that otherwise would not be funded.  People are running small little mom and pop enterprises.  All of this at the same time as being labeled a “housewife”.

So, the next time someone asks you “What do you do all day?” the answer should be “Let me show you my list”.

Life Hack: Don’t Fluff Your Resume

I spent three well-spent hours with a client today putting together their resume.  Fluff came up in our conversation more than once.

My client is currently working for a student recruiter and is screening applicants.  They told me how people like to fluff their resumes, especially for certain industries that require a certain amount of experience.

Don’t fluff your resume.  You will be found out.

Would you like me to bore you with the details of how I’ve been helping people with resumes for over 20 years now?  I told my client how tutoring English turned into this.  I need help with English.  Oh, and, can you help me with my resume?

People like to fluff themselves up.  It’s a human trait we don’t discuss that often or don’t care to discuss.  Yet that is why applying for work takes weeks and very drop of blood in your body.  Your future employer wants to make sure you are not fluffing yourself up.

Yes, I have heard stories from clients about the coworker who is the stripper cum banker and my client is like: How did this stripper cum banker get the job?

They fluffed and got lucky.  Or maybe their references lied.  Or maybe…..I don’t want to think about it here.

Fluff your pillows, your sheets, your hair, your cat, your dog.  Don’t fluff yourself.  Everyone has war stories to be shared while swigging a cocktail or smoking a cigarette outside with your coworkers.  Share those.  We’ve all had our share of the experience from hell.  Heck, fluff that story yet don’t lie.  Fluff won’t ease your landing in other piles you are going to find yourself landing in.

 

Daily Prompt: Tether

via Daily Prompt: Tether

This has been sitting in my hold pile for a while.

Tether.  This word always make me think of tethering a horse and not being able to go anywhere.

Currently the State of Connecticut, where I live, and the Town I live in, have both (as of my writing this) as of yet to pass a budget.  There is a lot of talk where the money that is needed will eventually come from.  Not one person wants more taxes and the politicians are really digging around to find ways to tax, like on cell phone bills and usage, within the State.  (One proposal I read.)

The taxes may come from things we are tethered to whether we want to be or not.  I can’t have my business, run it, without my cell phone.  I know I speak for others as well.

I know we all feel tethered at times.  Life is responsibility and responsibility is life.  Responsibility tethers us, there is no way around it.

Are we horses?  No.  Can we untether ourselves?  Yet then the question is at what cost and at what cost to ourselves and others?

All the Single Ladies (The Extra Woman)

Before picking up this book, I had never heard the name Marjorie Willis and after reading the book, I understood why.  Ms. Hillis is one of those “hidden” historical people that unless you study a particular area and era inside and out, you will never hear of.

I’ve read plenty about the Roaring 20s and the pre-World War II era.  Plenty.  This era of American history fascinates me and in some ways our society today is a lot like it as much as things have changed.  For example, Prohibition is still here except now it is with items such as marijuana and not alcohol.  The effects are similar and at the same time but farther reaching.  This is for another time.  Another example is Wall Street and society was shaken to it’s core again in 2008.  Yet sometimes the question bed, did we really learn?  How much of what we have is still only on paper?

Marjorie Hillis wrote several books, her best known at that time being Live Alone and Like It. Ms. Hillis wrote for the single woman of the 1920’s and managed to sell products, known today as cross-promotion, for major retailers at the same time.  Ms. Hillis managed to ride out the Great Depression and continued writing for many years, even after she married at an older age for the first time.  The author, Joanna Scutts, paraphrases the book and goes into the historical context surrounding Ms. Hillis and her works.

10/10 for helping your mind to bloom.  A must for feminists, Women’s Studies, Jazz Age enthusiasts, and history buffs.