State of Disarray

I can’t believe I’m going to say this but….. my apartment is in a state of disarray and I’m happy about that!

Last year about this same time, I was suffering a dislocated shoulder. Complications meant I ended up needing physical therapy, and I didn’t gain full motion of my shoulder and arm, without pain, until the end of November. That meant that any ‘serious’ cleaning, more than a “lick and a promise” (my mom used to say that, not sure where she got it from, though) happened for many, many months.

Let me assure you that this doesn’t mean I’ve got dirty dishes overflowing the kitchen sink or a toilet that hasn’t been cleaned in so long it’s brown with stains. But anything that caused a lot of use of my arm was not done.

I know a lot of people do ‘deep’ cleaning twice a year – a “spring” cleaning and a “fall” cleaning. My “fall” cleaning is about cleaning out, removing through recycle, reuse or donate things that I’m just holding on to often “in case”.

Well, obviously, I didn’t do any of that last fall, so I’m doing it now as my “spring” cleaning. Each year, in addition to the scads of stuff I realize I can donate to our local charity thrift store and never miss, I’m also working on, however slowly, things I have that have sentimental meaning only to me. 99% of these things were items passed down after my mom passed away in 1999. It took me several years to part with passed-down things I wasn’t even attached to in an emotional way, but this is a bit more difficult. I’m starting with things which I am only attached to because they were my mom’s but not otherwise enjoying. Plus, I’m finding homes with people I know will appreciate and cherish the items, and that makes it a world easier.

But, there is this disarray – – I seem to get a shorter attention span/focus the older I get. I pick some things up to put in another place, then, when I put them there, I see things there that belong in another place, so I pick them up to put them in another place, and I see things there… and so the cycle continues and one room never actually gets finished.

And yet, I’m okay with that! I can see the improvement as more and more things find their way to a new home and the rest is being reorganized to create more space. And seeing that, and how good it feels when I see it, makes it easier for me to let go of more.

It may take me a while, especially as warmer weather is finally finding its way here and I’ll want to stay in rooms that have air conditioners. But I have two very major projects I need to work on that are ‘table’ projects, so my card table (do they still call them that?) can share that space with me.

So let me say it again in this blog, because I may never say it again… my apartment is in a state of disarray and I’m happy about that!

Time for Some Road Miles!

I opened an email yesterday morning that gave me two words I was desperate to hear. Those words were, “Hell, yes!”

I have seen my beloved brother just once since the announcement of the pandemic over a year ago. It was on December 12, 2020, a too short visit (they all always are!) with masks and/or social distancing between us. Yes, we snuck in a quick both-masked hug at his arrival and again when he left, and it was better than nothing, but he is one of the best huggers I have ever known and it does my psyche such a world of good when I can linger in that hug for more than 2 seconds.

Now that restrictions are being modified, and because I have some goodies in my freezer for him (yet again), I asked him if I could make a visit to him, since he came here last time. I know that nice weather brings out his itchiness to climb on his motorcycle on the weekends, but recently I learned that he uses his Sundays for grocery shopping and laundry and other chores before returning to work on Monday. And since our Memorial Day falls on a Monday and he has that day off, I suggested my visit be Sunday, May 30th, and told him I was desperate for him to say, “Hell, yes!” And he did!!!!

My car had less than 1200 miles on it between inspection in March of 2020 and inspection in March of 2021. I don’t travel anywhere anymore, except to see him, so I was actually surprised I’d put on that many miles with trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, chiropractor and, once open again, hair and nail salon. My chiropractor is 18 miles round-trip, but everything else I’ve been to averages about 2 miles round-trip.

My car may not know how to handle/remember what it feels like to drive a speed limit of 55 or 65 mph. Heck, I’m not sure I remember how to drive at those speeds! With my energy level per day always seeming less and less most days, this visit won’t be nearly long enough, but I know my brother will appreciate the time together as much as I do, and my car’s engine will appreciate getting some higher speed mileage running through its mechanics!

I was just telling someone from Australia that here, in my neck of the world, we have two seasons: winter and road construction. And even that truth isn’t diminishing my excitement about this road trip!

Now, I just need to stop looking at the calendar, seeing how long it is until this exciting event, and wishing time to go faster (at my age, that’s not a smart wish!). But soon, dearest brother, I will arrive at your door with food goodies and another surprise you don’t know about!

What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet.” Thus are the words that Juliet speaks about Romeo in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. This quotation is a profound one that suggests that names themselves do not hold worth nor meaning, and they simply act as labels to distinguish one thing or person from another. Juliet is applying this metaphor of a rose to Romeo: even if he had a different name, he would still be the man she loves. 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, as a friend enters her 8th month of pregnancy with a little girl. We have been given a clue only of that the two she has whittled down to include one that starts with the letter “C” and one that starts with the letter “M”. My votes have been cast as Cassandra or Charlotte if she chooses the letter “C” and Meredith, McKenna or Mackenzie if she chooses the letter “M”.

Although I have never had the pleasure of naming a child of my own, a part of me thinks that a parent can’t really know what a child’s name should be without first looking at their baby. I think it’s good to have some preferred choices, but I also think that you will only truly know what your baby’s name should be once you’ve gazed upon his/her face for the first time.

What’s interesting about this topic for me is that I have, as far back as I can remember, never liked my name for two specific reasons. I was born in 1956 and my parent(s) chose to name me Jody Lynn. At that time in our world, “Jody” was predominantly a boy’s name, and when the few people who chose it as a girl’s name, they at least changed the spelling to “Jodi” or “Jodie”. In fact, there was a popular country star of some years ago now whose name was JoDee. But I got stuck with the boy spelling for a predominantly boy’s name and I got my fair share of teasing and bullying from that.

Additionally, in my immediate family, every other person had a ‘nickname’ except me. My dad, Clifton, went by Cliff. My mom, Margaret, was nicknamed Margie Mae (he middle name) by her parents and siblings, though later in life she became known to everyone as Peg. My older brother was named after our biological father, Robert, and so he went by his middle name, Mark. My younger brother was named after our dad, so he went by his abbreviated middle name, Brad. And then there was me. I was always just Jody. Well, not always – when my mom was furious with me about something I was Jody Lynn. But for all purposes, I was the only one without a nickname of any kind, and that didn’t seem fair.

I’ve gone through periods in my life where I’ve thought about what I would have chosen for me if I’d have chosen my own name. For a while, way back when, it was “Gwendolyn” primarily because I liked the nickname of Gwen. After a while, however, I realized I didn’t want to carry such a long proper moniker, so I dropped that idea.

I’ve had a few nicknames bestowed upon me that, unfortunately, never stuck eternally. I had a group of friends I hung out with a lot who were all a minimum of 10 years old than me, and they’d tell stories about which I’d have to ask questions over things I didn’t know or understand, and it got to be a joke when the answer became, “Oh, that was Before Jody”. However, the initials to that phrase weren’t ones I wanted to have (although I knew a Barbara Jean who went as BJ but that was 40 years ago!). A boyfriend at one time nicknamed me Jellybean, which I liked and kind of still do. And I do have a nickname now that is between my bestie and me. She calls me Dweeb at my suggestion because I’m known to occasionally do some really dweeb-like things. But those are all nicknames that really don’t have anything to do with my given name.

Eventually, I’ve gravitated towards Sarah. I know – no nickname for it – but I feel like it’s a definitely feminine name while not being at all frilly. I don’t feel like that name conjures up any sort of preconceived notion of who I am or who I should be according to the name, it simply assures that it is a feminine name. A few years after my mother passed away, I mentioned to my dad (who had nothing to do with naming me at birth) that I was considering changing my legal name and wondered how he felt about it. His response was that I could do anything about my name I wanted to, followed by the assurance that any birthday or Christmas gifts (always in the form of a check) would be made out to ‘Jody’ and if there was a problem cashing it, that was MY problem!

I’m curious to know who else has never really cared for the moniker that was given to them, and what they would change it to – and why – if they could change it. A part of me still thinks about changing my name from time to time, but the work it would involve to change it on every document (social security, driver’s license, car registration, all financial matters, things like car, home and life insurance, etc., etc., etc.) just doesn’t seem as worth the effort at this ‘older’ age of my life. Every person in my life has always known me as Jody and would probably use it because it’s natural and a habit.

I’m also curious to know how parents out there chose the name(s) for children. Do you 4-legged children lovers have an equally tough task when naming an pet who hasn’t already been pre-named?

When People Rant about Ranters

I have many, many acquaintances. I have a good handful of friends, though the levels of friendship vary among them. There are but naught two of them whom I will be comfortable sharing my true ugly moments with, a few with whom I measure every word with thought before uttering, and everyone else falls somewhere in the middle.

A good friend of mine is very adamant about being nice and kind, convincing us through social media of the adage that “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. And I don’t disagree with the adage. Nonetheless, it often reminds me of my self-quote (to myself, occasionally to others) about not giving out advice that you, yourself, are not willing to take.

This includes saying it on public social media (of any kind).

A recent example of my having to “bite my tongue” after trying first to make my point in a kind way is… During Super Bowl Sunday, someone commented on social media a negative comment about the half-time show. I did not watch any of it, so I have no perception. This person then went on a 10-minute rant about someone thinking it was okay to make that remark. The rant, part of a YouTube video, wasn’t vicious, but it certainly wasn’t positive. I tried to explain, again, in a way I thought was kind, that it’s not logical for one person NOT to be allowed to express an opinion via social media, but it is allowable for THIS person to make several minutes of negative comments about someone, also via a social media platform?

Personally, I have nothing against people who rant – heck, I have my moments of needing to rant and I’m willing to understand that others need those moments as well. But it gripes me that anyone could possibly think that only they are permitted to voice a differing opinion.

This friend’s son, who is the one who makes the YouTube videos, has, for the past several videos, gone on a rant about how other people drive, as far as to call them stupid. These rants happen well after the fact of the actual moments that caused the negativity in the first place. This son is also one who encourages us to be kind and compassionate towards others. Needless to say, I’m really irked by this double standard, and further irked by the fact that these folks don’t even see it in themselves! If I had the technological understanding to do so, I swear I’d make a video of various clips, alternating between the “be kind” statements and the “rants”. Again, I have my moments of ‘road rage’, but they are contained in my vehicle and kept to myself.

In the world today, there are plenty of things that can push our buttons towards anger and frustration. And different people experience different events with different amounts of anger/frustration. I’m not one for saying to hold it in (trust me, I know from experience how traumatic that can be to oneself), but spew it out and let it go! Stop and think about whether this thing that’s caused you to be angry is worth the energy and time to hold onto and continue to complain about well after the moment has passed.

And please, please…. practice what you preach – or just don’t preach it!

…if you aren’t listening to yourself!

And with that, MY rant is over!

And the Hits Keep Coming…

I don’t know if it is because I spent all of my professional life more or less tied to a telephone line, but I have come to resist talking on the telephone – to anyone! With technology having grown into what it has become, telephones should be extinct, even the ability to speak live to a person on a cell phone! Now, I get it – there are still among us those who did not grow up and grow into the benefits of technology – and I give those few a free pass, but I also know people well into their 70s who use a cell phone these days. And, obviously, cell phone coverage has changed as well – no longer are their such things as ‘roaming fees’ or paying for long-distance calls.

As someone who almost over-respects a person’s privacy, I prefer texts and emails outgoing. We’re all busy hurrying around doing nothing, and we all have different hours of going to bed and getting up. I can’t tell you when I’ve last actually spoken on the phone to a loved one, but I suspect it’s not since right after my dad passed away, and that was more than 5 years ago!

I also know that I had to learn how to multi-task being on the phone with other things while at work, and my attention was always divided when listening to someone speak. As a result, these days when I do need to speak on the telephone for a professional reason (customer service, making medical appointments, etc.) I end up making notes about what’s being said so that I don’t forget minutes later.

I am back at square #1 – again – with Medicare. I thought things were finally moving forward after my agent and I communicated by telephone the last time in order to fill out the application for me to enroll in a Part B plan through Aetna. Huh! Even though this plan came up as available to me, it turns out that it isn’t – and now I have to go searching through all of the allegedly available plans to me again.

So that will be my plan for this weekend, followed by making a list of questions, followed by phone calls (UGH! – again!) on Monday and then followed by another telephone consult with my agent once I have answers. My agent says he’ll gladly go through the telephone calls with me, but to be honest, it feels like that’s a waste of his time; I also find that I can be a little more direct with my tone of voice when no one is listening in. Right now my agent thinks I’m a nice person – why should I change that opinion??

I’ve got a few typical rants I feel like sharing, but I need to remind myself to focus on this one thing that keeps popping its ugly head up at me and get smashed down and conquered. Honestly, I look at the people I know who have already conquered All Things Medicare and wonder why I’ve never heard a single complaint? I’ve successfully navigated auto insurance for over 40 years, life insurance for 35 years, medical insurance all of my adult life – until now. So why is this causing me so much trouble?

Anybody have any wise words of wisdom on navigating this path to success??? It’s now become a source of anxiety – on different levels depending on what I’m dealing with – but at some level all the time, even just thinking about what the next steps are.

I just want to read

As an avid reader, this blog article really hit home with me! I hope you enjoy it as well!

Suziecreamcheese Sings the Blues

I learned to read before I went to kindergarten. (Trust me, this will piss off a teacher no end) My oldest sister – aka Satan – was in college, learning to be a teacher, and she practiced on me. Actually, all the kids did, I was the youngest so when we played “school,” I was the one who learned something while they were just being bossy. 🙂

When I got to first grade and was totally bored with See Jack Run (yes, I’m old, as my friend Kristy says “shutty.” ), the teacher was equally bored with me and didn’t exactly encourage my prowess. It didn’t matter. My parents were both readers, and all of us in my family share a love of books to this day.

I read everything that looked like a good story, and some that were not so great. It didn’t matter, really, it was a…

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The Luck in Life

A good friend commented on my last blog about the way she handles those creepy crawlers, and after reading her response, I haven’t seen one again. So I go around knocking on wood that things will stay that way.

But what is the purpose of knocking on wood? Ancient folklore says that we knock on wood to make a sound that prevents the evil spirits from listening in when we boast about our luck, thereby preventing a reversal of fortune.

There are so many different things we think will bring us luck. Why is a four-leaf clover considered lucky? The four-leaf clover has always been considered a symbol of good luck in the Irish culture. According to the legend, the leaves of a four-leaf clover represent hope, faith, love, and a fourth for good luck.

Ever carried a rabbit’s foot? (They were a big hit as key-chains a long, long time ago.) Why? Because In some cultures, the foot of a rabbit is carried as an amulet believed to bring good luck. 

Many people who play the lottery use a mix of numbers that are significant to them – birthdays, anniversaries, ages, etc. They truly believe that using these numbers will eventually bring them luck, and they never change them no matter how often they don’t win.

And apparently, we can also bring bad luck upon ourselves. Walk under a ladder, have a black cat cross your path, break a mirror.

Then there are all of those things that, if we did them, would cause bad circumstances. Sit too close to the TV and you’ll go cross-eyed. Step on a crack (in the sidewalk) and you’ll break your mother’s back. Swallow watermelon seeds and they’ll grow into new watermelons in your stomach. And always said to the boys, “If you play with yourself it will cause blindness”.

The thing is, luck is described as: success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.

The logical part of our brains tells us that these are just old folk tales or wives tales. (Neither of my brothers ever went blind!) And yet, to perhaps incur good luck or to side-step bad luck, we still practice many of them. I still knock on wood (although fiberboard and metal are around me more than actual wood). I very seldom play the lottery, but when I did, however sporadic, I always had numbers that were significant to me that I used, and probably would still use.

The thing of it is, if we believe that these things will be what brings us luck, why do we WORK at bringing good things into our lives? It’s because we know that, as charming as these symbols of good or bad luck are, they aren’t going to really fix anything for us that matters. Sure, maybe someone WILL win the lottery with special numbers, but then again, people who had the machines pick the numbers for them have also won the lottery. The PA Dutch have a tradition of eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day to bring them a year of good luck. I’ve had pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day plenty of times, but there are also just as many times I’ve not had it on New Year’s Day. And to be honest, I haven’t seen a change in my luck with or without!

Good luck on your travels! Good luck on your test! Good luck on your new married life! Good luck with your surgery! There isn’t a thing I’ve just mentioned that can be achieved with just luck. Why do we bother saying these things when we know, rationally, that it’s going to take something other than luck to bring success?

By definition, luck is something that happens randomly. It is nothing that results from anything we do or say to bring it about. All that rubbing of that rabbit’s foot didn’t change anything for me, nor the pork and sauerkraut eaten on New Year’s Day. I may participate in some of the rituals for good luck, because they cause no one, including me, any harm. As long as we practice them with that understanding – that our luck will NOT change because of them – then no harm, no foul. May God be kind on the soul who truly believes that s/he just needs luck to change his/her life!

Random Stuff

They’re back: When I first moved here, I found that spring and autumn brought out something I was later told were ‘water bugs’ and that they were harmless. Sorry, I know that insects have some necessary reason to exist, but I don’t like them…. from the smallest gnat and up. Water bugs are uglier than ugly and come from the roach family. I went to the local hardware store to look for something to help kill them. While they may be from the roach family, roach traps didn’t help. Bug sprays killed them if I drowned the suckers in it, but it didn’t keep them away. When the neighbor upstairs started getting them too, the landlord had someone come out and spray around the outside borders of the building. I bought one of those pest repellants that you plug in, which stays plugged in 365 days a year. This spring, they seem to be returning en masse. The first two I found, one each day, were already dead or almost dead, lying on their backs. I scooped them up on my trusty flyswatter and flushed them down the toilet. The third day, I found one sitting just as proud as can be on the floor. I stomped that bugger hard and it also got flushed. The next day, I found one inside my bathroom trash can. Luckily for me, it was empty of trash so I just turned it upside down over the toilet, shook it until the bug fell into the bowl and flushed. Now I’m going to go another season unwilling to walk anywhere without sturdy shoes on my feet so I can squish them!

Uglier than ugly, right?

They’re here: I forget from year to year how much I like malted milk balls until Robin Eggs come out as part of the Easter candy line-up. I stumbled across them in a big-box store and grabbed two bags. I had plans to make small Easter baskets for my five neighbors in my building, and thought they’d be a great addition to what I’d already pulled together. And they would have been…. if they hadn’t gotten consumed by me before it was time to put together the baskets. No problem, though – I found some at my grocery store and picked them up as a replacement. They didn’t last until it was time to put the baskets together, either. Fortunately, I had plenty of goodies for the baskets and no one but me (and now you) knows that something was missing. I decided to go out to the big-box store when it opened the day after Easter to see if I could score more Robin Eggs, determined I was buying all they had whether they had been marked down or not. All of the Easter candy had been removed from the section where it had been displayed and I didn’t find it anywhere else in the store. Again, no problem – I’d go to the grocery store and get more. The employee was putting all of the leftover candy on a table up front marked at 50% off, but there were no Robin eggs! He said they’d sold out of them before Easter!

What’s a girl to do? Come home and go onto the Amazon web site, of course! (DUH!). Plenty of options there. I looked at ounces versus cost. In the end – DON’T JUDGE ME HERE! – I ended up buying a bulk package of 5 pounds of Robin eggs! When it comes to things to snack on, I go through spells – I buy something and then end up losing my desire for it and giving what I don’t eat away. I’ve chomped down at least a pound of these things already, so I don’t know if that’s going to happen here! Meanwhile, my mouth is a happy camper noshing away!

5 delicious pounds and they’re mine, all mine!

It won’t go away: I thought I was on my way to making the final decision about Medicare. I looked at every single plan my advisor said I was eligible for, and narrowed it down to just two. During my conversation with him over those two, I chose one. Unfortunately, it was a small company, one that only serves customers in my state, and one he doesn’t work with. So, he gave me the web site link and wished me luck. First red flag – the web site was as plain and simple as could be, offering only the phone numbers for Medicare and Medicaid with which to sign up. (In other words, no agents working on their behalf.) I’ve always preferred to work one-on-one whenever possible, because I’ve dealt with customer service stuff where I call, talk to a person, get information, call back, talk to another person, tell them that person #1 said such-and-such, and get an apology that person #1 was incorrect and what person #2 is telling me is the correct information. That’s the same reason I don’t go to big hair and/or nail salons – I want the same person to work with me each time so that they know what I want/need without having to guess and not give me what I want/need.

I decided to look at my original option #2 for Medicare plan B, and thought I’d also look at its web site ahead of time. Well, as it turns out, the web site tells me different information about premiums, co-pays, etc. than what the material my advisor sent to me has. So, now I’ve had to set up yet another phone appointment (my advisor does work with this company, at least) to discuss this. Meanwhile, I feel like I’m starting back at the beginning…

I feel like I’m starting over!

What makes it worse: My Medicare advisor asked me when we first started working together about using Zoom to interact. I told him that my technology understanding was nothing more than an engine sputtering and stuck in first gear, and that I had no idea how to make it go zoom. Now, with this latest situation, he wants our next meeting to be done via Zoom so he can get someone on the line with us from the actual insurance company to answer my questions.

First off, I always despise being in front of a camera at any time (I get sweaty palms just having my driver’s license photo taken!). Secondly, I’ve heard my voice recorded and how other people hear it, and it sounds so much worse than how I hear it inside my head. Third, I don’t know how much the camera will capture of my surroundings, so I feel like the entire area around me should be neat and clean and tidy. All of that is in addition to my having to study tutorials on how to actually use this thing called Zoom and hope I don’t look more stupid than I feel about it when the time comes!

Say NO to Zoom!

Can’t stop the clock: And, of course, on top of all of this, I can’t stop the clock from ticking away the seconds and the minutes to push me closer to that number 65 in chronological age.

Argggghhhh!

Now that I’m saddened by recounting all of this again, I think I’ll go stuff my mouth with some Robin eggs!

If I had a dollar….

If I had a dollar for every new draft of a post I’ve started in the past 60 days that I ended up trashing before getting them finished, I could, at the very least, buy a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

Well, I could, except that the local McDonald’s, the only fast food restaurant in our little borough, is taking down the building in their current location and building a new one. When I say take down, we are not talking a wrecking ball. Each and every section of material is being removed methodically, and sorted into piles based on what the material is. So, there won’t be any Happy Meal in my near future.

Of course, at the rate I’m going, I may have enough ‘dollars’ stacked up to buy an adult meal before the new one is built and open for business. Rumor has it that the target date is July 30th.

I’ve had two major stressors in my life lately. One is wandering my way through all things Medicare without pulling out my hair or going back to starting to drink again. I am finally about 95% of the way through. Just one more call (I hope) with my Medicare agent, one call directly to make certain that I’m reading the letter from my current insurance to make sure I understand how to cancel it, and one to Medicare to opt out of Plan D for prescriptions since I’m choosing a plan that includes prescription coverage. I’ve already located a family medicine practice that accepts Medicare, since my current one does not. I’ve been unhappy with my services at the current facility but I didn’t want to create waves over complaining about it, especially when I was pretty sure it wouldn’t change anything. So now I have an “excuse” to leave, and I’m happy about that!

My second stressor is much more personal and has to do with someone who treated me very rudely. I said nothing but a few other people called him out on it, and he agreed with them that it was a mistake on his part. This is something I’ve tried to write about here twice since it happened about 10 days ago and ended up trashing. My position is that the person who did it needs to offer me an apology. He continues to let other people speak on his behalf about it, but hasn’t said a thing about it to me directly, and I’m miffed!

Oh crap, and now Word Press is being funky! I have no idea why that capital M is super big and I can’t change it back. Actually, I like it and would like to use it in every paragraph!

And now it feels like this is another post that belongs in the trash can. Apologies to those of you who bothered to read it!