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.

The Sorrow of War: Bao Ninh

I found this book in a thrift store and don’t usually buy books yet I am glad I did.

I caught most of Ken Burn’s recent documentary on the Vietnam War.  The documentary was eye-opening.  I had a professor in college who was a Vietnam Veteran and most of what we read in the class was literature from Americans who served in Vietnam.  As the years have gone by, I have realized that there was a lot in those books that I missed.  I saw this book and I grabbed it.

Kien is lucky.  The book just begs to be read and read and read.  The heartbreak is there and raw from the first page.  The images Ninh shares, the raw emotions, the humanity comes through every word.

The Jungle of Screaming Souls.

No matter where you stand on war, the Vietnam War, politics, this book is a must read.  Bro Ninh captures and the translator beautifully brings into English Kien’s world.

Station Eleven

Reading this book was forgetting where you were sitting reading it.  Everything dropped away.

It was an official book selection for a local library’s One Book, One Town.  That’s how I found it.

This is a reminder of how we are all connected and don’t remind it.  This is a reminder of how fragile society can be, yet rebuild at the same time if given the will of people to survive.

 

All About the Quetzal

The book is by the late journalist and author Jonathan Evan Maslow and it is titled Bird of Life, Bird of Death.

Mr. Maslow documents his travels for a month through Guatemala during the 1980’s.  I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about this book as Mr. Maslow talks about Guatemala’s past, present up to the 1980’s, and history as well and how all of these relate to the quetzal.

I’ve seen pictures of the quetzal and the quetzal is endangered.  They are beautiful birds and symbols of Guatemala’s past and a symbol for freedom because they cannot live in captivity.  Guatemala also has a very fascinating past as a country.

This book can be for a variety of people and interests.

Hidden Figures

This book is written by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Ms. Shetterly writes a book not only about women but local and national history combined together: how if it weren’t for the geography and history the women she writes about in the book may have never landed where they landed.  Ms. Shetterly writes about four women and their journeys as “human computers” for both NASA’s predecessor and then NASA itself.

All four women had to overcome racial and sexist bias as well as their own personal struggles.  The woman who computed John Glenn’s orbit was referred to as “the girl”.  Her name is Dorothy Vaughn and she helped to keep him alive.

Their strength and determination comes through in the pages and they serve as role models for all young women and women reading their biographies.

This book also gives a lot of “hidden” and unknown US history for those interested,

 

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.