No Habla …
10 January 10, 2013
I fear I may be messing up my uber-fab super Diva French Mani by punching these words out on this blasted old keyboard. Thanks to Lily and D for the treat, btw: they not only sprung for me to get my nails did, Lilz also insisted on a Pedi. A FRENCH pedi – love the look. Wish I could afford to keep it up. Ah. Ever the cynic, me. I sound ungrateful; I know it, but man, c’mon! In a long list of I “usta’s,” I used to be able to maintain a certain level of personal regular ‘maintenance.’ The occasional massage or facial. A cut and color.
Ah, color… I’ve been all kinds of red white and blue.
And while as a guitar player, long nails weren’t my thing? I liked keeping them looking nice.
They look lovely today.
In the era of the Macbook Air, I am lugging around a third-time-hand-me-down PC that weighs –no joke – over 10 pounds. But it’s not just the fact that it’s, well, old, and big or unsexy. It’s HARD TO USE and it needs attention from an expert. As an (esrstwhile) record producer and (current) writer of prose and song, you just don’t use IBM. You don’t use PC, unless you use CuBase, and even then, like the PC, it’s just so much less intuitive than, say, Logic or Protools. So aside from the fact that I am limited by my machine in terms of my ability to even record a simple “scratch track” (a pre-production version of a song – the demo before the demo, if you will), I find it hard to even get down to writing a bloody BLOG! Or an EMAIL.
But let’s be pragmatic. I am broke. BUH-ROKE. My situation is off the chart bad. It’s bigger and badder than I can get into here. It’s beyond hitting a food pantry to get through the week without OD-ing on Ramen.
It’s ugly and scary and not exactly why I am writing.
– So, barring an Angel donating the 15” Macbook Pro of my dreams from the fluffy white clouds at which I stare from this very seat on days such as these, I am STUCK, for today, with this clunker. And yes – I am aware that I am blessed to have a computer at all! But let’s get to the nuts and bolts of my problem: I am a writer. Yes? So, how do I keep working with a machine that hates me?
What exactly is wrong????
The keys stick. It’s not comfortable to use in any way – from the operating system to the hardware. But alas – not even my vanity can keep me from getting this michegas out of my system today. I need to get honest and fast. I am three deep breaths away from a panic attack. My life is an Opera-cum-rom-com/dramedy gone wrong. Too many facets of it are out of control, out of my control, and escalating rapidly.
Lord — I need help. But first, I need to talk. (or type, as it were.)
Back to the computer. Oy. When I wake it up, it greets me with a wheeze and a groan – noises with which I am becoming all too familiar, for these are the sounds I, myself, make, unconsciously, just about every time I get up, these days.
The noises are familiar, too, I have recently realized. They are on their way to mimicking exactly ones I haven’t heard in years; the sounds my old behemoth of a desktop PC used to make upon startup. I feel like I should have been a regular caller into the seminal NPR show, “Cartalk,” with Click and Clack, the Tappert Brothers, so bemused am I about the sounds my tech has made through my teens and beyond.
– In my undergrad years, it was the confounding cacophony, a kind of new-age classical piece with code built into it. The alarm came in the guise of this odd grunting and huffing which quickly escalated into a screech that was code for “back up your hard drive now – she’s gonna BLOW!!!!!!!”
This baby had gotten me through four years of college. I had a love-hate affair with it. Granted, I wasn’t big on maintenance, and thank god for my Dad, who lived close by and took it upon himself to come by my apartment to install regular software updates, complete virus scans, upgrade hardware and initiate backups of my writing. (It’s no coincidence that his move out of state coincided with the demise of my relationship with that computer.)
I could really use some Father-Daughter time these days, to be quite frank —and not just because I need an intervention from throwing it out the window. If I want to have a chance of keeping this ugly black galumph running, I need to be reinstructed on its care and feeding. I used to be on top of my laptop maintenance –I DID grow up somewhere along the way – but along with so many other things, the job of upkeep of the computers in my life and my life in GENERAL fell by the wayside as my health declined. The nerve of me —going and getting paralyzed and all; GOD – I am so selfish and LAZY!
As it is, I have to go to him to get those backups, because I left all of mine in a safe deposit box the size of a small walk-in closet back in Vermont. (Gotta put that on the ever-growing to do list – Note To Self: close out SDB. oy veh.)
Back when the “kkkkkkksssssshhhhhhh—eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee—cccchhhhhrrrrrrrr—tttttttttttt”ccchhhhhhh” melody made by dial-up modems making sweet music whilst connecting to the “world wide web” weren’t an anomaly, I used to have a life. It wasn’t as glamorous or lucrative as it would later become, nor should it have been given that I was a freaking child, but it was sweet and real and I was putting myself into my work every day, building up a tiny empire from the strands of a long long dream. I gardened. A lot. I went to Yoga. A lot. I saw my friends. A lot. And I worked – as a teacher, and a songwriter and recording artist.
I worked at it and worked at it and it paid off. Slowly – so slowly at first – and then faster as I moved to LA and the pace of things picked up. I had built momentum and a career. I was on the precipice of something so huge – it was all closing, the gaps, the details, like a puzzle with only a few pieces left to put into place. — I had national Magazines featuring my work, the support of the kinds of people you only hear about in movies, and as I have said … I was HAPPY. I had students I loved teaching, a production partner who was the working equivalent of my soul-mate, a fan base, representation. I had great songs. A voice I’d discovered was bigger than I thought it could be. I was hip without trying to be – because I was being myself, which is cool. (“Bowties are cool.” Sorry – Dr Who again!)
Sometimes, I got the best sound of old acoustic guitars that had been used for so long, the name was erased from the wood. And they became studio faves. Sometimes, I discovered, it was about being authentic, rather than “in”.
But we live in an age when one literally cannot keep up with the “coolest” new devices (unless they are the prototype creators, super duper Big Shots, beta testers, or just WAY ‘in the know’) because they are being outdone by their own manufacturers at the speed of sound. The iPad Mini competes with the Kindle Fire HD – The iPhone 4s has SIRI and lots of nice stuff, but the 5 is just bigger and better. The iPad 2 and it’s Android sister, the Samsung Galaxy are sexy and who doesn’t want a Tablet? But then there’s the new iPad with the RETINAL display and 64 gigs AND cellular connectivity. Or the Netbooks. Or the Samsung Galaxy Note – a bigger, sexier version of the Stratosphere. (I’m excluding so many tech details here that would qualify and perhaps annihilate the words I proffer, but work with me —this is on the fly, people.)
I guess my point is this: sometimes it can be hard to tell whether your dislike of your “thing” – be it your nails, or your breasts, or song, your job or your bank account – is about being cool or being “right” or being “where you’re supposed to be.” I KILL myself over that one.
“This is not where I am supposed to be!!!!!”
But what does that serve? It serves me in that I become aware of my wants and needs, perhaps, or my goals. And that is a good thing because it gives me a place to start – a feeling of worth, of usefulness, when so much of the time I feel useless and old and broken down – like that old desktop PC that was always on the verge of finally giving out. I DO feel that way. Like a SLOW COMPUTER –my RAM is lame and I’ve got MBs of memory instead of GIGs. But see? While that may be partly true – YES – I am SLOWER right now. My mind is slower and my brain is DAMAGED, I have to start from where I AM AND WORK WITH WHAT I HAVE GOT.
Sometmes, we realize that we covet a particular piece of “kit” or tech because it has to do with prestige, self-image or the like …. But sometimes, it’s just a matter of knowng that your life would be so much easier if you had the RIGHT thing for your needs.
And let’s face it guys – I am pretty needy these days. I try to front like it’s okay, but the facts are, “it” is so clearly NOT okay.
So I’m getting honest.
It’s a start.
So even though I’ve alleged that it hates me, I am using it. My computer that is.
Even though it the noises it makes are starting to sound an asthmatic, wheezy and sick, like the “Tardis” coming in for a landing at the hands of the loveable and clumsy “Doctor,” from the fam’s fave TV show, “Dr. Who.” Even though each stroke sounds like I literally am PUNCHING the keys… and I swear, no one has ever dropped honey on them, but still, it is so bloody contrary, I am sticking it out. (no pun intended…)
The deal is, if I want to write, I have two choices. It’s either this, or my cellphone. And I am DONE losing documents on it. It breaks my heart. And this heart can’t take much more ache, I gotta say…
My dear friend (with whom I am currently out of touch – meh), David, once sent me a text message that had one sentence in the form of a question:
“Woman, did you really just write me a 10 page email on your Blackberry?”
Why yes, Homie, I did. What, with “talk to text” and Swype, it truly has been easier in SO many ways to write blogs on my various Smartphones than it has to write them on my computers. And seeing as I was without a computer for three years of my convalescence …. I had no choice BUT to use whatever means necessary to keep up with the outside world. Blogging was it. (If only you knew how many have still gone unposted. Someday – Someday. My BOOK is on the way.)
But given the number of documents I have lost to the blasted cellphone technique, such as my recent NEW YEARS BLOG, which was brilliant (pat self on back, Bee, really), I am finally forcing myself to do it the hard way. Or what is, for me, that hard way.
And so here I am. Me and my PC.
MY OWN PERSONAL PAPER TRAIL OF TEARS
So here’s what’s really up.
–I don’t speak Insurance today.
I am confused. Emotional. Frustrated. It’s been like this all week.
I have a form of Aphasia which has been plaguing me terribly. I feel useless. Aphasia is, like my condition in general, not always visible and therefore difficult to identify as a problem between the sufferer and the other. (Aphasia: aka speaking words in “order” in one’s mind but having them come out as “word salad” —jumbled up — or, depending on the day, having problems identifying objects, or making up words (see my “Aphasia Dictionary,” here and on Facebook. I have lots of words I’ve made up =and they actually make sense! I have real trouble expressing myself (for real), and often, understanding what is being said to me. The list goes on.)
Sometimes, I just don’t speak. (For real. No. really. I can’t. Speak. I get all jumbled and confused and words come out wonky.) Believe it or not. Aphasia is so complicated!
—-Ach –look it up. You’ve got SIRI, right?
I don’t speak co pays or deductibles or co-insurance – all this, despite six and one half years of (not) making a living ‘working’ as a Professional Patient.
I have been on the phone with Blue Cross Blue Shield SHP of NC – my current PRIMARY insurance. Medicare is secondary. I have part A – just for hospital coverage and limited at that. I have been on with Medicare. I have been on with the company that provides me with my Oxygen. I have spoken to the Pharmacy. My new Pain Management MD. I’ve faxed and emailed. I have 37 messages on my landline – blinking red.
I just had to get off the phone because I started weeping quietly –again –because I didn’t understand what was being said to me. The words didn’t make sense.
Look. Anyone who’s ever had an illness that required serious medical attention, or has had someone close to them who has suffered through this will agree: the complexities of the medical system elude even the brightest of us on our good days.
Here are a list of words and terms which –while perhaps familiar to some, or even most at some level – only begin to touch the surface of my everyday life and the “language” I have had to learn and master: coverage, benefits, coordination of care, copays, coinsurance, deductibles, premiums, annual enrollment periods, eligibility factors, durable medical equipment, prescriptions, “out of pocket,” “100% of approved services,” tiering, maximum “allowed” billable amount, in-network, out of network, prior authorizations, medications, plain old Doctor’s visits being billed through a third party as “Physician’s Billing Services” and essentially, paying their rent, too – aka “Professional/Hospital Fees.”
To compound my anxiety and fear, all this will change in a matter of weeks, when I will reenroll in part B Medicare and BCBS SHP of NC will SWAP and become my secondary insurance. (Thanks to my Dad for keeping me on the Retiree policy – without it, I would not be able to receive treatment for any of the three surgeries which I face in the coming year or so. His decision to keep me on is magnanimous. Plus he is splitting the actual monthly premium with me, which will help save me $100.00 per month.)
The good news is the good news.
The bad news is the bad.
I KNOW everybody has moments (unless you’re, say, the Dalai Lama?) where they have these feelings:
“I’m overwhelmed.” “Too much to do, not enough time.” “Nobody understands.” “I am such a drag.”
There’s just too much on my bloody plate and I swear: my life is crazy enough to merit its own reality show.
I can speak about the past all I want and it won’t get me forward.
…..Or will it?
Foresight – a lost art.
Thank you for bearing with me.
I needed to clear my head. This helped.
Now, I’m going to go get my shoes on and go for a walk. Cane, limp and all.
–I’ll see you when I see you.