Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Took My Daughters to Work

Take Your Daughters to Work Day was a novel concept when it started about 20 years ago here in the United States. The idea was to show our daughters the limitless opportunities available to them in the workforce. But over time it has sort of devolved into somewhat of an annoyance, somewhat of a joke, with no one ever being completely happy with the premise and/or the administration of it. Most of the experience now surrounds lots of paper, crayons and the awkward, politically correct title of “Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day”. Some professionals have outright denounced it, such as Julie Drizin of the Journalism Center on Children and Families (I know, who knew there was such a thing anyway?). Since many of our poorest and lowest level workers never have the opportunity to bring their kids to work, unless they don’t have a baby sitter, she considers the day to be “…largely a feel-good exercise for the privileged.”

I started out with enthusiasm, but eventually found it to be more of a headache than anything. And my now grown daughters were not always enthusiastic participants in Take Your Daughter to Work Day, as it was then.

When I was the company nurse at our local newspaper, they loved playing with the equipment in the health office. But when I moved up professionally and joined management at a health insurance company, they pronounced the job that supported them as “boring”.

Our final foray was a bad idea from the start. I was the manager of the Appeals Department for Health Net of the Northeast and TYDTWD (even the initials are awkward) fell on a day involving a regional management meeting at our corporate headquarters in Connecticut, a two hour drive from our home on the Jersey Shore. Our department’s senior executives were all there, including our Senior VP, an obnoxious woman who believed in the Brutal Dictator approach to management. I was a lot more insecure in those days and, wanting to impress, I expected the girls (who were typically really good, nice children) to be on their best behavior while having nothing to do throughout a dull, day-long meeting. In other words, I had totally ridiculous, unreasonable expectations.

During the meeting, my bored then-eleven-year old fidgeted and fooled around, ramping up my anxiety and embarrassment, until she finally knocked over a can of soda that poured down right between her legs, soaking her khaki pants.

With a frozen smile, I ran her to the bathroom. Once there, I started frantically trying to sponge off the embarrassing stain. Mortified, I was about to launch into a furious tirade, but someone else came in to use the rest room. So I bit my lip.

On the way home I had calmed down to a semblance of sanity and she spoke up that she had feared for her life when I dragged her into the Ladies Room. Laughing, my other daughter said “What did you think Mom was going to do, flush you down the toilet?” Elizabeth solemnly replied “At that moment, I think she was capable of anything.”

I was the one who ended up learning a lesson. My kids were more important than trying to impress people who meant nothing to me at the end of the day. People who, unbeknownst to us sitting ducks, at the very time of that meeting were already planning to close the New Jersey office, putting me and several hundred other people out of work.

Perhaps they should have been paying more attention to their claims processing. In 2009 Health Net had to pay $1.3 in fines because of violations of state laws regarding payment of claims. In 2010, Health Net of the Northeast ceased to exist completely, absorbed by United Healthcare. An ultra-modern corporate complex that once housed thousands of employees, and where my daughter gave herself a bath in Dr. Pepper, now stands empty.

Another chapter of Corporate Greed. Take that to work, girls.


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Friday, April 13, 2012

Just a Housewife?

Just when I thought I had nothing to write about, along comes another campaign faux pas. I am so grateful for people who say stupid things.

I cannot believe in 2012 this is still a hot button issue.

A Democratic ‘strategist’ named Hilary Rosen made the off-handed remark that Ann Romney was not qualified to discuss the economy because she had “never worked a day in her life”.

Even I, someone notorious for putting my foot in my mouth, would be hard pressed to come up with a more idiotic statement than that.

The firestorm began right away. When I started to type the word “Hilary” into Google to determine her actual title, the full name Hilary Rosen popped up before I even finished her first name, with page after page of references to the incident. An article on the subject generated over 1000 comments in the New York Times.

I thought the whole point of the women’s movement was to support choice in what a woman decided to do with her life. And I thought it was generally acknowledged that your brain did not cease to function because you worked in the house rather than outside of it. It is outrageous that there are still people who are ignorant enough to give lip service to the old “just a housewife” myth.

I was a stay at home mother by choice because I believed raising my children was the most important work possible. It was the happiest, hardest job I ever did. I never for one second did not appreciate how lucky I was to be able to afford to do so. I don’t know much about Ann Romney, but I figure there is a good chance she has felt the exact same way. Well, at least a few times.

When I was 39, with four kids under 16, my husband died and I had to go back to work. It's pretty tough being a single working mother too. But there is no way I would even imply I was superior to a mother who was not working outside the home. Making it a contest as to what constitutes an authentic American woman diminishes all of us.

Is Ann Romney qualified to speak about the American economy? Well, for one thing, it is a free country and she is entitled to speak about anything she wants. As the wife of a kabillionaire, she probably does not have the exact same perspective as your average mom, working or not. But more power to her.

The women in this country have a myriad of issues to deal with. Discrimination is still rampant in the workplace. There is no infrastructure of safe, reliable child care for women who do work. Gun violence is killing our children at a rate of one child daily. The education system is inequitable. American women, working, non-working, mothers, childless, Democrat, Republican, are all in this together. The last thing we need is a divisive, sneering ‘strategist’ denigrating the life choices of any woman.


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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Four Years!

There has been some serious Blog Neglect going on here.   I have to do something about that.

I missed my own fourth blogiversary, which was in February. Four years of writing this blog. Four years of no weight loss. Several occurrences of royally pissing people off. Primarily family members. Who now no longer speak to me.

 But four years of meeting the MOST marvelous people! And incredible, wonderful feedback on my writing. So, even though the title I originally thought was so perfect now makes me gag with embarrassment, and even though I can count on one hand the number of family members who still speak to me, writing this blog has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

I thought it would be easy for me fun to repost some of my early work. Here is one from March of 2008, complete with Bleak Photo To Make a Point In Case You Didn't Get It:



In addition to being old and fat, I have MS. Most of my brain is in complete denial about this. Because it is ridiculous to think of myself, a normal, ordinary person with here-to-fore peasant-like good health, as having a serious chronic disease. 

Every time I go to the neurologist, I futilely ask if perhaps there has been some mistake. But he doesn’t mince words: “Oh, you definitely have MS” he says cheerfully in his cute English accent. 

There is nothing good about having MS. Absolutely nothing. Some people say, “I have MS, but MS doesn’t have me”. This is rationalization that borders on the delusional. The MS tentacles insinuate themselves into every aspect of your life: mobility, thinking, elimination, stamina, sexuality, everything. When you have MS, your life of doing things without a thought is over. 

Pain is part of the MS package. Pain from damaged nerves that does not respond to conventional analgesics. I have been crippled with neck, back, hip and leg pain for weeks. Nothing was helping. My neurologist just prescribed Neurontin, which is to treat neurogenic pain. I finally began to get some relief. 

But wait, there’s more!! Because what do I find in the drug information about Neurontin? It causes WEIGHT GAIN. That is what every info sheet says: weight gain. Weight gain, weight gain, WEIGHT GAIN AND WE DO MEAN YOU MARIE YOU BIG FAT PIG!!!!!! 

And according to those who know, we’re not just talking a few pounds. We’re talking up to 30 pounds!

God help me, I would rather be in pain than continue to be fat. How sick is that? But I will give the med a try and see what happens.


Well, I did give Neurontin a try and it helped a little, but not enough to make it worth continuing.  Now this was before I broke my shoulder.  Two years after my fall, a pain super-specialist from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York prescribed a combination of percocet and neurontin every four hours for the chronic pain I had in my arm and shoulder that nothing else would relieve.  So I gave it a try.  It barely touched the pain.  But it did make me high as a kite.  Woo hoo!  And it caused me to gain not thirty, but a whopping 50 pounds.

I quit taking the neurontin before I ended up trapped in my house because I couldn't fit through the doorways.

So I still have the pain.  I still have the fat.  And I am still glad I started this blog!!

Thank you so much, my wonderful readers!!


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