We got fired by our veterinary clinic, Coldwater Animal Hospital.
This is the end result of my having completed a survey that I was sent — a survey in which I was very candid and left my real name on (rather than do it anonymously).
In 1991, when we moved into our house, I was pleased to find a veterinary clinic just a mile or so away from the house. We had a beautiful all white cat (with BLUE eyes!) and I began my relationship with this facility at that time. About 12 or 13 years ago, back when Lisa and I first got together, Dr. Christina Nemcheck joined the practice (it might have even been before that). We fell in love with her immediately. She’s a very vivacious, outgoing, caring individual who was always sensitive to not only the needs of our pets, but to our needs as well. She knows that sometimes people’s circumstances change and that they don’t always have the money for some things, and she always tried to work with us in a way that we could afford.
Almost seven years ago we had to put our beloved Tigga down. She had masses in her insides that it was determined was most likely cancer. We made the agonizing decision to not extend her life with cancer treatments because we felt the QUALITY of her life would be seriously degraded. Dr. Nemcheck agreed that it was the most humane and loving thing we could do for Tigga. When she gave our old girl that injection, there were tears in her own eyes. This is why we entrusted the care of all of our animals to her — she clearly loved all animals, and they didn’t have to be her own in order for her to feel the sting of their death.
Although we didn’t intend it, Idgie came into our lives just a short month later. Dr. Nemcheck was obviously excited about Idgie — she loved the name we had given this new little creature, and was clearly delighted with the little ball of super-soft fur that came out of that carrying case.
Four years ago our youngest cat, Sadie, was in real trouble and ended up needing surgery. We had to take her to Animal Emergency Services because it was 4th of July weekend and Coldwater wasn’t open. We had a horrible experience at AES and whisked Sadie away from there immediately, entrusting her to Dr. Nemcheck for post-operative care and follow up. We could not have asked for better care for our little fur baby.
Two years ago, we began to think that Simba was diabetic. We were concerned enough about some things that had been happening that we called to have him seen as soon as possible. Dr. Nemcheck was on vacation and we agreed to see Dr. Korte. Dr. Korte was rough, gruff, and initially argued with us about the possibility of Simba being diabetic. In his defense, Dr. Korte said that Simba “…presents as a normal, healthy cat.” But we insisted that the urinary accidents he was having, along with the sweet smell of the urine were cause for concerns. Dr. Korte finally agreed, and took Simba “in the back” to check his blood glucose levels, which returned at around 400. He was diabetic. Not knowing much about feline diabetes, we allowed ourselves to be talked into some specialized food for diabetic cats that was, of course, highly priced but our later research showed that it was nutritionally inappropriate for a cat with diabetes.
We did some research on “the protocol” for feline diabetes and followed that for a short period of time (a couple of months). Dr. Nemcheck wasn’t really happy with that but she patiently explained to us how the pancreas works and that she felt that what we were doing was not forcing his pancreas to work properly. We listened to her and it made a lot of sense even though “the protocol” made sense, as well. We decided that our vet was the source to which we needed to listen and so we discontinued “the protocol.” We’re happy to say that, after a rocky start, Simba is a different cat today than the one that saw Dr. Korte two years ago, all due to Dr. Nemcheck. Dr. Nemcheck didn’t take it personally when we started buying Simba’s Arthrogen online. She knew, and understood that it was way cheaper that way.
I learned to do Simba’s blood sugar curves myself, and emailed them to Coldwater when I had done them. We gave him his insulin, his Arthrogen, watched his blood sugar levels, and did everything Dr. Nemcheck asked of us.
Back in September or October I called for a refill on Simba’s prescription for insulin. It had been a year since he had last seen Dr. Nemcheck, so they asked that I make an appointment for him and, in the meantime, they would fill the prescription. I picked up the insulin, which I noted had increased in cost by about $50. When I called them back and asked them about it, they said that there was currently a “shortage” of Prozinc and that was why it was so much more expensive. I don’t believe in so-called “shortages” of medications — I believe the manufacturers “manufacture” these shortages. But, what could we do? I looked around online and found the pricing to be just as the vet’s office had charged us (within about $10). A week later, something came up (I don’t remember what), and I called to reschedule the appointment I had made for Simba. As Dr. Nemcheck wasn’t going to be available when I was available later that week, I told them I would call back when I was able to determine when one of us could break loose and take him to the vet. It totally slipped my mind (irresponsible, I know).
When I called last week to ask them to ready a new vial for us, the girl on the phone told me that Simba’s prescription had expired and that he would need to be seen before they could issue another vial. Dr. Nemcheck was booked up for that week, and was not going to be in this week. They offered to book the appointment with Dr. Korte and I told them “No, I’d rather wait for Dr. Nemcheck — I’d take him someplace else before I take him back to Dr. Korte.” After all, Dr. Korte is, in my opinion, an arrogant dick. I was scheduled for an appointment 3/18 at 5:10 with Dr. Nemcheck and she was supposed to call me the next day to tell me if she would grant another vial of insulin before that.
As promised, Dr. Nemcheck called at noon last Tuesday. Instead of the warm, bubbly person I was used to speaking to, I found myself feeling like a child being scolded for being naughty. I was reminded that I missed the last appointment and I gave my word that I would be there next week.
Monday I stopped by to pick up the insulin. I needed syringes as well, so I expected that I would be paying about $220 or so for the whole shebang. I learned that the insulin had risen in cost AGAIN and was now $193. What else could I do? I needed the insulin, and I had given my word. I paid and left. When I got home, I opened my laptop and started doing some pricing research.
- 1800PetMeds $130/vial plus $20 shipping — Total Cost: $150
- VetDepot $105/vial plus $20 shipping — Total Cost: $125
- Drs. Foster and Smith $95/vial plus $25 shipping — Total Cost $120
- VetRXDirect $110/vial plus $20 shipping — Total Cost $130
- Allivet Pet Pharmacy $95/vial plus $25 shipping — Total Cost $120
- Heartland Vet Supply $100/vial plus $25 shipping — Total Cost $125
There are more, but I think you get the idea. I also called another local veterinary clinic and found it for $140. It was explained to me that the online pharmacies buy in greater bulk quantities and therefore get better pricing than a smaller vet clinic. I get that — truly I do. But Coldwater Animal Hospital was clearly gouging on the price of insulin.
Either Monday or Tuesday night I got an email asking me to rate my experience with Coldwater Animal Hospital. So I did. I basically called “bullshit” on their pricing of insulin and said that MY PERCEPTION was that they had lost sight of their mission and that money was their first priority.
When I got home yesterday, there was a pink slip in the mailbox. The USPS had unsuccessfully tried to deliver registered mail — nobody was home to sign for it. Lisa got it this morning — it was a packet from Coldwater Animal Hospital telling us that, effectively, they were “firing us” as clients because, as they put it, I had indicated that I didn’t trust the decisions of the doctors.
So, a few things here:
- Why send out a survey to your clients if you’re not willing to hear what they have to say?
- Dr. Korte’s termination of our professional relationship (he’s the owner) was clearly a childish knee-jerk reaction to what I said in the survey.
- Dr. Korte reinforced my perception that he’s an arrogant dick in taking this action.
- Dr. Korte merely cemented, in my mind, that he couldn’t defend the outrageous pricing of the Prozinc and, rather than discuss it like an adult, he gets rid of his clients.
- This has made me realize that maybe I didn’t “forget” to reschedule Simba’s appointment last Fall — maybe it was Freudian that it slipped my mind. The difference between Dr. Korte’s pricing and everyone else’s is an office visit for Simba. We only have a set amount of money that we have budgeted for the year for our pets. We spend every dime we have available in that budgeted amount. If I had an extra $50, I would take Simba in twice a year instead of once. Isn’t that better for the animal rather than better for the vet clinic’s bottom line?
We’ll miss Dr. Nemcheck, to be sure. Other than that, it’s no skin off our nose. There are a slew of veterinary clinics in this area. Today I called a couple in Henrietta and one in Livonia. The one in Livonia doesn’t sell the Prozinc but issues a prescription and a list of reputable places that sell it. One Henrietta clinic is considerably lower than Coldwater with the Prozinc but indicated that they don’t stock a lot of it so we would have to give them an extraordinarily good lead time to procure it, otherwise it would be costly for them to order and have it delivered overnight. They advised it would be cheaper for us to get it online and they would be happy to provide us with the names of reputable online dealers.
See? How hard is that? And why does Coldwater Animal Hospital need to charge $193 per vial?
Because they think their clients are stupid?
Because it seems that they have, in fact, lost focus on what their original mission was? If you look at their web page, their tag line is “Caring makes all the difference.”
I don’t believe it. I think money makes all the difference for them.
Last Tuesday I got fitted for two hearing aids. I’m not deaf as a stump or anything like that but I do have a mild to moderate hearing loss in the upper pitch ranges.
Forty years ago (Oh.My.GOD!) I joined the Army and became a Morse Code Radio Intercept Operator. What that means is that I sat for 8 hours each day with headphones on, listening to Morse Code. In the first place, a person would need a brain made out of oatmeal to be able to do that job and do it well — I fit that bill quite nicely back then (and probably still do). The job involved tuning a radio receiver, not unlike those used by ham radio enthusiasts, to find the Morse code signal, fine tuning it, and then copying what was being sent onto a teletypewriter. Often the signals were surrounded by natural or man-made interference and, if it couldn’t be “dug” out of that mess, the operator just had to sit and listen to the signal amid all the extraneous noise. It really was an interesting job and I enjoyed doing it — I was good at it, and I knew it. I saw others around me fall victim to the hearing loss monster, and was keenly aware that my time would come if I stayed in the field for too long, but it was an interesting job that offered pretty decent overseas assignments so I stuck with it.
I don’t remember when I noticed the ringing in my ears. It might have been 10 years ago. It could have been 20. It’s just been with me for so long that my brain has likely accepted it as normal. This incessant ringing (known as tinnitus) is a major part of my hearing deficit. While undergoing a hearing evaluation in a soundproof booth with tones being transmitted into my ears, I’m very aware of the ringing and find that it blocks out those tones that match the same pitch as the ringing sound. Add to that the fact that, with the natural aging process, I have a slight hearing loss without the ringing and that pretty much describes my hearing issues.
We have had the closed captions activated on the television for a number of years now. The family got tired of me asking “What did he say?” during a movie or one of our favorite programs. We found that, by the time they were through telling me what was said, they had missed other things. Lose-lose all around. Another disadvantage of the closed captions is the placement of the captions on the screen. Why they aren’t “coded” to just display at the bottom of the screen is beyond any logical explanation. They “float” around on the screen, sometimes taking residence right in the middle of the screen forcing the viewer to choose between understanding the dialogue, or seeing the picture. This is especially true of sporting events. Embedded captions all stay at the bottom of the screen (embedded captions are usually found on DVDs or BluRay disks) so why can’t over-the-air closed captioning?
Over the course of the past few years, I found myself asking people to repeat themselves, sometimes more than once. I stopped saying “Huh?” and started saying “Say that again?” I think that, in addition to the mild hearing loss, I may actually have some sort of deficit that causes me to process the spoken word a bit slower. Sometimes I will say “Say that again?” and, by the time I get that out, I realize what has been said. I think I also have tremendous difficulty filtering out “background noise.” In a crowded restaurant, I am unable, for the most part, to carry on conversation with anyone at my table, if the conversation level in the room is loud enough. It doesn’t have to be a roaring crowd, just a crowded room with normal conversation emanating from all around. In one-on-one conversation with others, I find that if they speak to me while facing away from me, I can hear their voice but am unable to understand what has been said.
I took yet another hearing test last year in April. Up until that point I had been told that, while I did have a mild to moderate hearing loss, I was “…not a candidate for amplification.” Last April I was written a prescription to go out into the world and find hearing aids. I have listened to my Aunt Wanda complain that her husband’s hearing aids cost $2,000 per ear. We don’t have that kind of cash just lying around so Lisa and I decided to increase the withholding of flexible spending money out of her paycheck, and we set our sights on getting one ear done this year, and the other next year.
As it turns out, it’s really not a good idea to do one ear at a time because that marvelous computer inside our heads makes rapid adjustments to almost everything life throws at it. If I had bad hearing in just one ear, getting just one hearing aid wouldn’t be a problem but, as I have bad hearing in both ears, had I done just one ear the brain would have compensated for that and put more energy into that hearing ear and could stop sending signals to the bad one. It’s just not recommended to do it the way we had originally planned.
I now have two hearing aids – at a cost of $2,700 per ear. You would think that, for almost $6,000 the stupid things would sing and dance and tell jokes. For that kind of money, they should have an act. But, I suppose the “miracle” of hearing is enough for now.
I have an Over the Ear device, with the receiver in the canal. As you can see by the picture, they’re not noticeable at all. They also come in a variety of bright and subdued colors. On Lisa’s suggestion, I took brown because she felt it better to try to match my hair rather than try to match my skin, which would likely be impossible and would make the hearing aid stand out that much more.
The problem now is that I hear E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.
- I can hear my pantlegs “swooshing” together when I walk.
- I can hear my keyboard when I type (and it’s a “silent key” keyboard).
- A co-worker wadded up a piece of paper and I jumped about 3 feet out of my chair because it startled me so badly.
- I can hear the tick-tick-tick of the cats’ claws on the laminate floor when they walk around.
- I can hear the fan in the air conditioning duct inside the ceiling over my head.
- I can hear the buttons on the phone being pressed when I dial another extension.
- I can hear the whine of the tires on my vehicle as they turn furiously on the highway.
- I can actually hear the “whoosh” of air when someone walks by me quickly.
- I can hear the echos of sounds in the hallways at work.
- I can hear the noise of toilet paper as I wad it up in the toilet (I know, TMI).
- The volume on the TV has gone from an average level of 35+ to about 12.
My hearing aids are not yet programmed to allow me to adjust the volume. I’m supposed to get used to hearing what I’m hearing and not making my ears and/or brain lazy by turning them down if life seems a bit too loud for me at the moment. I may get that ability today, although I’m doubtful I’m only at 85% of my prescription and, if this is only 85%, it terrifies me to hear what 100% is!
I find that my ears itch a lot now but there isn’t any good way to scratch that itch with the hearing aids inhabiting the ear. Also, the little “dome” at the end of the tube eventually causes discomfort after having had them in my ears for a lengthy amount of time. By around 2:00 in the afternoon I end up taking them out while I go for my 15 minute walk, just to give everything a break. They go back in and I wear them home but then, again, by around 6:00 I find I’m taking them out for the night because the inside of my ear feels bruised from having those little domes inside of them all day.
It’s an adjustment, but I’m hoping that this $5,700 investment was an investment in improved quality of life, not just for myself, but for my family and those I encounter on a day-to-day basis.
And now, for your viewing, I’m going to bring back some blog posts from the past. This first one relates to the new diet plan we’re on right now.
In my younger years, I was an athlete. I played every intramural sport there was for girls at our high school – field hockey, soccer, basketball, softball, tennis, track and field. There was nothing I wouldn’t try and it seemed as if I could just never sit still.
At the completion of my senior year in high school, I was 5’3” and weighed a whopping 88 lbs. (with clothes on). If I stood sideways and stuck out my tongue, people mistook me for a zipper. Breasts? Is that what those little pimply-looking things on my chest were supposed to be called? Honestly, I longed for the day that I could grow enough boob to fit into a 32A bra.
I joined the Army right out of high school. The least I could weigh on enlistment was 103 lbs., waiverable down to 97 lbs. The doctor that performed my physical said “You’re in excellent physical condition and will do fine in basic training” when he read those pitifully small numbers on the scale, so he entered those two digits I needed on the physical form. 97. What he didn’t know what that I’d had 4 bananas for breakfast and had ten rolls of quarters in my pockets.
In basic training, we were weighed weekly. My drill sergeant, a very butch woman with a considerable caboose was horrified the first time I stepped on the scales in front of her. She took to accompanying me through the chow line, heaping my tray with every high calorie food she could reach, and then some. I ate it all, and didn’t gain an ounce. I saw the seething hatred boiling just below her eyelids every time she saw me.
Fast forward ten years and three kids later, I was up to 130 lbs. I had gained 67 lbs. with my third pregnancy and had managed to lose close to 40 of those pounds. I wasn’t terribly upset at weighing 130 lbs. as I thought I looked pretty good and, as an added bonus, I had real, honest-to-God boobs – the kind that move and jiggle when you jump up and down. Compared to my younger years, I woke up mornings feeling as though I was in the Pyrenees Mountains.
Fast forward again to September of 1998 when I quit smoking. I weighed 137 lbs. and, afraid I’d gain a lot of weight following my smoking cessation program, I began working out compulsively. I lost about 8 pounds in three months but, once the holidays set in, so did those lost 8 pounds. I became lethargic. My idea of working out was clearing the snow off my vehicle in the morning. Aerobics? That was walking in and out of work. I worked up a sweat pulling the lever on the recliner to lean back. Two years later, Lisa moved in and, somewhere in that U-Haul was another forty pounds that I ended up carrying. Thirty five years after high school, I have gained the equivalent of another whole me.
This extra “me” doesn’t have a job, doesn’t help pay bills, and doesn’t help out around the house. She drags me down when I try to climb stairs, sits in my lap, wears my jeans (with me already in them) and peers out from under most shirts that I wear. When I walk, the view from behind reminds a person of two little kids playing under a blanket. I’m nearing a time when I have to begin shopping for clothing from Omar the Tentmaker rather than JC Penney. I have to keep my inner thighs shaved so that the hair doesn’t ignite from the friction of the two thighs rubbing together. I am, in two words, physically PFFFFFFFFFFT.
And, just when I thought I couldn’t feel any worse about myself, we bought a Wii.
Not just a Wii, Wii Active, complete with 30 day challenge and a “trainer” to motivate me.
I started right in with the 30 day challenge. Being the arrogant ass that I am, I selected “medium” intensity, thinking that “light” intensity wouldn’t give me as much of a challenge as I needed. The next day my legs felt shakier than Larry Craig’s “wide stance” explanation. I find myself cursing regularly at the “trainer,” dropping the “eff bomb” whenever she tells me how good I’m looking and what a great job I’m doing. But if I went too slowly and she’d tell me “You can do better than that,” the expletives exploded from my mouth, causing all four cats to scatter and, in the distant upstairs, I heard laughter.
I clicked on “start over” and opted for the “light workout” to begin a new 30 day challenge. The cursing hasn’t stopped yet, and I’m already into my second week of “light” workouts.
Did I mention the leg strap that is supposed to go around the upper thigh, so that the system knows you are moving? Did I mention that the strap barely goes around my enormous thigh and, because it seemed to want to slip down my thigh at the slightest movement, I had to keep cinching the Velcro closure tighter and tighter until it was no longer an exercise strap, but a tourniquet? Every flex of my right thigh muscle caused a deep throb from within, and I found that I had no blood flow to my leg and my right foot would no longer cooperate with the messages sent from the brain. I exercised as I imagined Igor must have looked in Count Dracula’s castle, with one leg trailing uselessly behind. It took a few days but I finally found a happy ground for that darned leg tourniquet – one where my foot stayed pink instead of turning bright purple.
Now, let’s talk about fat for just a minute. Fat jiggles. There’s a reason why “The Night Before Christmas” describes Santa’s belly as a “bowl full of jelly.” When fat people jump, run or otherwise move quickly, the fat moves against them. As I jogged in place (on the jogging trampoline so my knees and ankles didn’t snap off on that hard floor), I felt the cheeks of my butt jumping up and down and, on the down, I felt pain. To add to the humiliation, my boobs were doing the same thing and, at one point, I feared I’d black my eyes. I now wear underwear that is three sizes too small and run with my arms over my boobs, for safety. How on earth am I supposed to feel good about myself by working out when I have to suffer this type of humiliation?
I decided that every exercise I have to do needs to benefit me some way to enhance my relationship with Lisa, or to better my life in some way other than making me hurt– it’s the only way I can motivate myself to continue this insanity.
Side Lunges: One foot stationary, the other stretched halfway across the room. OK, there’s a sexual visual there that I probably shouldn’t mention, so we’ll move on.
Running: Okay, stamina and endurance. This is good. I can do this. This should give me the performance in bed that I want, and will allow me to walk up those six stairs without feeling like I ran a marathon, making me too tired for lovemaking.
High Kicks: While walking or running, you kick back high enough to look like you’re kicking yourself in the behind. Well, I did a lot of that after that last relationship I had, so I don’t feel I need any practice doing this, nor do I see any benefit to this in the current relationship. Lisa, on the other hand, probably wonders why she doesn’t get to do forward kicks of my behind, as that seems necessary from time to time.
Then there are all those resistance band exercises. Looking like a large orange rubber band with handles, you stand on the band and do bicep curls or shoulder lifts or other such nonsense. The secret here is to stand firmly on the band, lest it break free with a loud SNNN-AAAAP and whack your seriously over-padded behind stuffed inside that too-small underwear that keeps it from jiggling.
Finally, the workout ends.
I’m now free to go back upstairs, pour a large glass of wine, and eat a large plate of pasta, half a cake for dessert, and a sleeve of Ritz crackers for a snack an hour later.
I don’t think this Wii Active is doing me much good.
One of the many features WordPress offers its bloggers is stats on the site. I can see how many people visited my blog on any given day, and I can see how many “views” they made (how many pages they visited). I can track the general location from where my visitors come and, if they leave comments, I can even track their IP address to the specific town in which they live. I can also see how they got to my site — that is, if they clicked a link to get here or if they used a search engine and ended up here. The interesting part of that is that I can also see what search terms they used that got them here.
The post I made about the roving bands of lesbians with pink Glocks seems to be one of the most popular ones not because of the roving bands of lesbians, but because of the pink Glocks — seems there are a lot of folks out there searing the web for “pink guns,” or “pink Glocks.”
Inevitably, at least once a day, someone will land here because they have done a search on Wegmans (the grocery store chain in the northeast part of the country started right here in Rochester). I see a lot of searches about whether Danny Wegman is a coke-head or not (and the only reason I have any inkling that he might be is because of the numerous searches on this particular topic). I see a lot of searches on “I hate Wegmans.” I did a rant on Wegmans back in 2007 and I recently had to turn comments off for that particular post because they just don’t stop coming in — and they’re really, REALLY nasty sometimes. Wegmans — either you love them or you hate them. Me, I’m a hater.
However, the point of this particular blog post isn’t about who hates Wegmans and who doesn’t — it’s on today’s search phrase. “Why are Wegmans customers so rude?”
One of the many reasons I hate going to Wegmans is because of the other people there. I’m not anti-people by any means — I’m very outgoing. But I find that the rudeness isn’t confined to Wegmans. It is prevalent in every retail store in America.
I try really hard to stay out of the way of other shoppers at the grocery store. When I need to “study” a selection of items, I stand across the aisle and scan the shelves, so as not to block the items I’m looking over. Inevitably, someone will come and stand right in front of me to look at the same products. I know they’ve seen me standing there looking, but they’re so oblivious that they don’t really process that information.
Just a few days ago there was a woman in the “Ethnic foods” section standing with her cart pointing SIDEWAYS in the aisle, and she was looking over products. Nobody could get by her, and everyone seemed too polite or inhibited to say “Excuse me.”
This is where my “rudeness” kicks in. “Seriously?” I said, loudly. The woman looked at me without the slightest flicker of comprehension in her eyes. “Seriously? You have the whole aisle blocked?” She looked down at her cart, still seeming to not comprehend what the problem was, and looked back at me stupidly. I nodded to the two people on the other side of her that were, by that time, smirking at her, probably wishing they had my balls, and suddenly it got just a bit brighter in that store because the light bulb finally went on over that woman’s head. As she moved her cart out of the way, she said to me “You didn’t have to be so rude!” “You didn’t have to be so oblivious to your surroundings, either” I shot back.
One other time I was in BJs wholesale club, and I was eyeballing all the different types of tea they had, trying to decide what sounded good. I had a HOT PINK shirt on (point being that I wasn’t inconspicuous by any means). Two women came by — the older of the two looked right into my eyes and then they turned, stopped, and proceeded to stand there, fight in front of where I was looking. So, I copped attitude — I crossed my arms across my chest and stood there glaring at them. After a couple of minutes, the younger woman seemed to realize I was standing there glaring at their backs, and she said “Is something wrong?” “Yes, I was standing here looking at that tea, when two women who were totally oblivious to their surroundings came and stood right in front of me so I couldn’t see any more.”
“You don’t have to be so RUDE” she said. “You don’t have to be so oblivious,” I countered. “Come on, let’s just leave!” the older woman urged.
There was a time when I might not have said or done a thing in these situations. But these days, it seems that EVERYBODY is completely oblivious to the world around them. They walk with their heads down, focused only on their cell phones. Or they stand in the middle of the aisles having a gab fest with friends they haven’t seen in ages.
My point is that it’s not just Wegmans customers that are rude — it’s all of us. Wegmans stores don’t have the corner on rude customers. They are the rule, not the exception these days. And why is that? My belief is that, with each generation coming up, parents are more and more and more permissive and they hold their offspring less and less and less accountable for themselves.
At work, we have parents calling the tech support line asking for help getting into their son’s or daughter’s accounts. They get pissed when we tell them we can’t help them because we view their offspring as an adult and value their privacy. They actually get pissed because they can’t hand carry their child through college the way they have done up to that point. They accompany their child to advisement. They accompany them to the book store. They make phone calls to the Registrar or the Financial Aid office. I’m amazed they don’t accompany them to class as well.
And those college students? They’re tomorrow’s Wegmans shoppers.
Oh, and by the way, I’ve turned comments off for this post as well because, well, it’s just not worth starting that shit all over again.
With the dawn of the new year came the dawn of yet another promise to do better for ourselves. Lisa and I want to lose weight, and so we set ourselves a goal of just one pound per week. Certainly this is an attainable goal and it represents safe weight loss (meaning we’re doing it smartly rather than starving ourselves or taking crazy “fad” supplements). And we were both doing well, staying right on target, until we both got sick in early February. We were each sick for almost two weeks. I had lost 7 lbs. already but gained them all back in those 2 weeks, so I had to start over.
As a family, the three of us have decided to try to go the entire month of March without any red meat. Not an easy feat for avowed carnivores who love a big ol’ slab of steak. Surprisingly, Joe is pushing for a vegan diet — no meats, dairy products, eggs or anything else that is animal based. Joe, who would have starved to death as a toddler were it not for hamburgers. Joe, who goes through a gallon of milk a week all by himself. Joe, who loves tuna melts and egg sandwiches.
I recently watched the film “Forks Over Knives.” It really changed the way I look at food. But it also made me do more than change the way I LOOK at food — I am motivated to DO something about it. now (if you click on the title of the film, it’ll take you right to the hulu page where you can watch it for free).
This graphic is amazing:
At the beginning of the 20th century, Americans consumed on average 120 lbs. of meat each year. By 2007 that figure had risen to 222 lbs (that equates to roughly 5 oz. per day up to almost 10 oz. per day).
In 1913 the average American consumed 40 lbs. of sugar each year but by 1999 that number increased by more than 100 lbs., for a whopping 147 lbs. per year. (1.6 oz per day up to 6.4 oz. per day)
In 1909 the average American consumed 294 lbs. of dairy items, but by 2006 that number shot up to 605 lbs. (12.8 oz per day up to 26.5 oz. per day)
Lisa and I both agree that we don’t want to go vegan and that we don’t want to become strict vegetarians, but we also agreed that we can eat vegetarian style MOSTLY and still derive tremendous health benefits in doing so.
Both of Lisa’s maternal grandparents had diabetes. Lisa’s mother is an insulin dependent diabetic. There’s a case to be made here for being genetically predisposed to diabetes for Lisa. My maternal grandmother was diabetic, although hers was controlled by diet. I don’t know of any of my mother’s siblings that were diabetic — I do have an aunt that lives in an alcoholic fugue and, who knows, she could be too, but I don’t know and couldn’t care less.
The two of us each need to lose around 50 pounds. There’s no getting around that. And the loss of 50 lbs, for each of us, puts us at the upper range of our “ideal” weight range so we’re not thinking ridiculously low numbers that are unattainable. This is our reality.
So, for the remainder of this month (at least), it’s fruits and veggies, greens, eggs, fish, and lean chicken breast. Trying to use less butter (or, as Lisa calls it, “butter-like substance”) and more olive oil and different flavored balsamics for flavor. Some tofu here and there. Mushrooms. Sprouts. Reduction in the amount of processed foods.
But, don’t think for one minute I’m giving up my wine.
Pat – ↓ 3.5
Lisa – ↓11.5
The last season of Dexter is upon us. I heard on the news that this will definitely be its last season.
For those who haven’t ever seen it, Dexter is a blood spatter analyst for Miami Metro Homicide by day, and by night (or otherwise) is a serial killer with a “code.”
At the age of three, Dexter’s mother was horribly and brutally murdered in front of him and, he feels, it has made him into the man he is. Blood sets his teeth on edge. He feels a NEED to kill. Adopted by a cop (Harry), Dexter is raised with his adoptive sister Debra but away from his biological brother Brian. Harry recognizes the darkness in Dexter and helps him to develop the code by which he lives and kills. Only those killers who have slipped through the cracks of the legal system, or who were acquitted only because of loopholes in the system are targeted by Dexter. He must properly “vet” the victim and be absolutely certain of that person’s guilt before he puts them on his kill table.
For as sinister as it may sound, Dexter is a likeable lab geek. He’s a bit odd. He is clearly obsessive-compulsive. He is neat. He is often funny in his geekiness. His self-talk is the most endearing part of him.
Dexter’s sister, Debra, is a foul-mouthed Miami cop working in vice, angling for a way to move over to Homicide. Debra-isms make her absolutely loveable for Dexter and for the viewing audience. When asked if she would “do” a certain cop she responds with “I’d rather put out a camp fire with my face.” When Dexter tells her his girlfriend is pregnant, Deb responds with “A baby? A motherfucking rolly-poly, chubby, cheeked, shit machine? Are you kidding me?” I believe that Debra’s purpose in the show is to provide comic relief to keep the viewer from going too deep into Dexter’s darkness.
I also believe that Dexter embodies some of our deepest, darkest thoughts. We find ourselves disliking characters in the show and thinking (or saying aloud), “Oh Dexter, you really need to put that asshole on your killing table!” But Dexter doesn’t kill just for the sake of killing and, as much as the viewers might want to see another character die by Dexter’s hand, we learn that maybe Dexter is a better human being than we are after all.
I have always likened Dexter to a modern day Pinocchio — he yearns to be human and, in the past 7 seasons we have watched him finally try to break the surface of humanity. He loves his son. At one point, he breaks down and prays (out of desperation) when his son has a bad case of appendicitis. We love Dexter — we can’t help ourselves.
My favorite season by far was the fourth — with the Trinity Killer (excellently played by John Lithgow) — in order of favorites, why and key protagonist:
- Season 4 — best developed plot and characters. We begin to see the humanity in Dexter (Arthur Mitchell, The Trinity Killer)
- Season 5 — Dexter finds more humanity in himself while helping Lumen. Lumen “sees” him and is not repulsed by him (Jordan Chase, Stan Liddy, Joey Quinn)
- Season 1 — we first meet Dexter and grow to love him quickly (Ice Truck Killer/Brian Moser)
- Season 2 — the manhunt is on for the Bay Harbor Butcher who is really Dexter (Sgt. Doakes, Lila “pardon my tits”Tournay)
- Season 3 — Dexter finds he is capable of a close friendship and opens himself up a little to his friend (The Skinner/George King, Miguel Prado)
- Season 6 — Dexter is picking up the pieces of his lost love after Lumen leaves, and keeping himself busy. (Doomsday Killer/Travis Marshall)
- Season 7 — Really didn’t like the direction this story has taken in this season. Debra finds out about Dexter and somehow the “innocence” of their brother/sister relationship seems irreparably harmed. BIG surprise at the end, though. (Isaak Sirko, Maria LaGuerta) Note: Isaak Sirko is a protagonist throughout the season but ends up not being a protagonist to Dexter.
I hate that Showtime runs these series for such short durations. Their most popular series are almost always the shortest lived. Queer as Folk lasted all of 5 seasons (it had “run its course” and they had touched on all the issues that they could). The L Word lasted 5 full seasons and then 6 episodes’ worth of a sixth season. A promised spinoff never surfaced. By the end of season 6 of Dexter, Showtime was threatening to pull the plug because they didn’t want to pay the major characters what they were worth but fan outrage, I believe, played a huge role in settling that little drama.
Of course, we can’t blame Showtime entirely. It’s possible that Michael C. Hall and his cast mates may need to move on, and out of the darkness in which they live while they’re working on Dexter.
I won’t make any predictions because my sister hasn’t finished watching seasons 5-7 (hurry up, will ya Tam?) other than to say that I think one of two things will happen:
1) Dexter will either get caught or killed and Deb will be left to raise Harrison; or
2) Dexter will finally rid himself of his Dark Passenger, realizing he had the power to do so all along.
My daughter hates me.
It’s not that openly hostile I-hate-you-and-never-want-to-speak-to-you kind of hating. It’s more low-keyed, more subtle than that. It’s buried somewhere below the surface.
There’s a part in the movie On Golden Pond where Jane and Henry Fonda confront their relationship as father and daughter. Jane says “It’s just that we’ve been mad at each other for so long…” Henry responds with “I didn’t think we were mad; I just thought we didn’t like each other.”
It’s a relationship that was bad, and stayed bad throughout their lives. And it stayed so bad for so long, neither of them really even knew why any more. And when relationships are bad, it’s easy to find a comfortable place within that bad relationship — in fact, we may even embrace the bad because it’s all we’ve ever known. We’re uncomfortable when the bad relationship becomes better or good. We don’t know how to act.
When I was much younger, a teen, I always sensed that it would take next to nothing to destroy my relationship with my mother. For most of my childhood I fearfully and carefully walked on eggshells trying to avoid the anger, conflict and demonic wrath that my mother could so easily put forth. There came a point when I began acting out and rebelling, figuring I could just get it over with and stop tip-toeing around my life. It was emotionally and spiritually draining.
As an adult, I went back to the eggshells for about as long as I could stand it, until I could stand it no more and shut myself down and away from her, insulating myself from the constant hurt and rejection I felt.
I realized that I have come back to that same kind of relationship with my own daughter.
I feel compelled to preface this whole assertion by saying that, even as a newborn infant, Linda was fiercely independent. She was never snuggly or cuddly as a toddler and, by the time she started school, she was already more independent than many kids twice her age. Perhaps her aloofness is born of that independence.
My ex and I divorced when she was 8. There were 3 kids — Michelle was 11, Linda was 8, and Joe was 4. I told my children that I had asked their father to leave, that he hadn’t abandoned them, that they didn’t do anything wrong and that, if they needed to be mad at someone because of the divorce, to be mad at me. Big mistake there.
By the time Linda was 11, Michelle was giving me so many problems that most of my energies each day were focused on the bad behavior of one child instead of the good behavior of two. Michelle had taken me up on my invitation to be mad at me because of the divorce. Michelle’s acting out got so out of control, I sent her to live with her father. My mindset was that I had two other kids I was going to lose if I didn’t do something. Was it the right decision? In hindsight, I would say that, for Michelle, it was not. For Linda and Joe, it was.
We moved into the house we’re in now in 1991 — Linda had just turned 12 and was going into the 7th grade. I was working as a temporary at the time and, even though a morning off work meant a morning off without pay, I took the morning of the first day of school off so I could drive her to school and get her settled in. She was terrified and, I believe, needed me to take her to help her calm herself and so that she didn’t have to walk into that school not knowing where to go and looking (in her mind) foolish.
This was the same age when she began taking off whenever we went into a store. She would quickly find some other part of the store to occupy — any part of the store that did not have her mother or brother in it. And KMart? The worse! She once said she was afraid her friends might see her there. I asked her “But, if your friends see you there, doesn’t that mean THEY shop there too?” No amount of reasoning made her feel any better about being seen in public in the company of her mother.
I worked full-time hours as a temporary, had the Reserves one weekend every month, and worked a part-time job doing medical transcription out of the home. I worked my ass off, often into the wee small hours of the morning, so that Linda and Joe could have something that resembled a normal life. I was able to pay for Linda to be a cheerleader, for her uniform requirements, shoes, and everything else that came with it. I was able to pay for Joe to play football, along with all of those additional expenses. I never missed a home game for Linda and rarely missed away games. I was at all of Joe’s football games. I did all that I could, and as much as I could, and sometimes more. When Joe received a national academic award through the Pop Warner football program, I borrowed money for the trip to Disney for the award ceremony. I invested as much as I could in Linda’s senior year, in order for her to get as much enjoyment out of that experience as she could. I took time off from work to stay home and hug my daughter when her best friend was killed in an automobile accident. I helped make four proms happen for her. I made a car happen for her and, later, when she wanted a newer car, I co-signed the loan. I robbed Peter to pay Paul in order to pay Linda’s tuition at college. I stayed home so that my kids had a mother, and not someone who looked like their mother that flew in the door from work and back out the door heading for the next party or the next date. My kids were my priority. I knew my time would come later.
I don’t feel I did anything extraordinary. I have never looked at those years as having made any huge sacrifices. I did what a mother should do — and I would do it again.
I yelled a lot. I grounded Linda when she missed curfew. I sent her to her room sometimes because she made me so damned mad, I seriously thought I could just smack the shit out of her. I slapped her once when she said something so disrespectful that my mind just went blank. I remember hearing the crack and realized it came from me, from my hand, when it slapped her cheek. I don’t know who was more stunned. One other time I was so GD mad at her (she had a real mouth on her), that as I turned to leave her room I tripped over her stereo (why was it sitting in the middle of the floor, anyway?) and, in my anger, I kicked it several times. I may have lost my cool badly more times than these two (and likely did), but these two stand out in my mind. My point is, I did what I could. I did the best I could. And sometimes, my strength faltered.
After high school, Linda planned a trip out to Colorado to visit her father. I learned two weeks before she was to travel that she had no plans to return home. I heard it from Joe. Linda was going to fly to Colorado, and not come home, and had no intentions of telling me about her plans. I was devastated.
Conflict arose after Linda moved to Colorado and she wouldn’t speak to me — didn’t speak to me for at least a year. After 9/11 happened, I called my ex-husband’s house and asked his wife to have Linda call, to let me know she was okay. Linda called. I walked eggshells around her after that. She and her (now husband) boyfriend came out to visit in June of 2002. We had a good visit. But the eggshells were there. Along with some very thin ice. Not long after they returned back to Colorado, Linda informed me that she was pregnant. The morning little Brandon was born, she called me and I could hear the little guy in the background, indignant at having been pulled from his warm, moist hibernation. I cried. Happy tears. I flew out to see my new grandson and stayed with the kids for 2 weeks. Eggshells. (I feel compelled to note that I kept Linda on my health insurance throughout all this time because she was still in college — and were it not for that, she would have had some serious expenses. As it was, my health insurance covered her pregnancy and delivery in its entirety, as well as the first 6 weeks of the baby’s life.)
As time went by, we talked on the phone a lot. And always, as the conversation would turn to Joe, Linda would badmouth him. “That kid is as dumb as a box of rocks.” “He’s such a dork — that’s why he doesn’t have any girlfriends, they all think he’s an idiot.” It hurt me to have her tear him down like that at every opportunity. Linda and her fiancee were planning a wedding in June of 2004. That year, on Easter morning, I’d had all of that I could take of her badmouthing her brother and told her that, if all she could say about him was to tear him down, I’d appreciate it if she just didn’t say anything. It infuriated her.
She yelled at me, and I quote, “I hate you and never want to see you again.” Even now, in retelling this, I can feel the piercing pain in my heart that I felt at that moment. She later told me that I had never done anything for her, and that I was a lousy mother. And, the icing on the cake was when she told me that I was not welcome at her wedding — that i hadn’t earned the right to be there. The knife had not only pierced my heart, but had been twisted and twisted and twisted.
A few days later, Brandon (her fiancee) called to ask me to reconsider the wedding. He said that Linda felt really bad about what she had said and that she was sorry. I asked him “Then why am I talking to you instead of her?” He also said that she said “I hate you” a lot to him. And that makes it okay? When is it EVER okay to tell someone you love that you hate them, even if you don’t mean it. Those are three words that can never, EVER be unsaid and the effects of those words last a long time. So, we didn’t go to the wedding. How could we?
It took a year or two before things got smoothed over that time, but always the eggshells. On again, off again, on again, off again. Always the eggshells.
As it turns out, I have to stay well within Linda’s very carefully drawn boundaries and live up to the standards she sets for people and, if I do not, our delicate relationship is easily damaged for a long period of time.
Last summer, Lisa and I got married on the farm. Linda and Brandon and the boys drove here from Colorado. When they arrived, they stopped at the house and the kids had lunch, we chatted a bit, and they were off. And we didn’t see them for more than a week. It seems two of Linda’s friends had sent them money to help finance their trip, so Linda felt beholden to them. I was hurt. I was angry. I was furious that Linda hadn’t yet decided that her family was important to her. And I cried a lot. I got all of two days worth of time with them out of the nearly two weeks they were here. Linda recounts it as “…we split our time with you guys…” but we got the lowest possible percentage of that split.
Now, they’re coming again in June for her friend’s wedding. They won’t be staying with us because, as Linda put it, her other friend has more room, and besides the kids have a blast with their kids. (Translation, we don’t like your sleeping arrangements and it’s more important that the kids have fun.) She figures they’ll spend time with us over the weekend at the farm — when we have the least amount of free time. Frankly, I’m hurt that I’m an “obligation.” I cried a lot last night. Again. Sure, maybe I just need to get over myself, but I’m hurt. And Linda has always been very, very good at making me feel bad about me. I can admit that I don’t take rejection very well, especially by those who supposedly love me, and whom I love.
I had a really shitty childhood. I suffered abuse at the hands of my mother. I suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of my step-father. I suffered abuse at the hands of my brother. Eventually, I suffered abuse at my own hands, until I was able to see what I was doing to myself. As Katharine Hepburn said to Jane Fonda in On Golden Pond,”Don’t you think that everyone looks back on their childhood with a certain amount of bitterness and regret about something? It doesn’t have to ruin your life.”
And she’s right. It only ruins your life if you let it ruin your life.
I didn’t speak to my own mother for fourteen years. I had to insulate myself from the hurt and rejection. But I had the opportunity to make my peace with her, and I did that. For the last 3 years that she was alive, I had her in my life. Eggshells. But she was there. Along the way we found a place where we could both be comfortable and still have the other in our lives. She had no expectations of me and I had none of her.
I feel that Linda has set some standard so high that I will never be able to live up to it. Her friends are fiercely important to her but, my perception, her family — not so much. She judges us because we can’t meet that standard. And if she is always judging us, she is pushing us away. And if she pushes enough, at what point will she no longer be able to find her way back to us?
I fear that time is closer than anyone could realize.