November, 2011 Archives

Shredder Cheese

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November 18th, 2011

photo by Rodney Curtis Well, there goes my past. Shredded like my career. But like with my career, I was conscientious and made sure to recycle. These old check stubs that I’ve saved since 2003 — for no reason whatsoever — serve as a reminder that the past is only useful as a delivery mechanism […]

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcShredded.jpgphoto by Rodney Curtis

Well, there goes my past. Shredded like my career. But like with my career, I was conscientious and made sure to recycle. These old check stubs that I’ve saved since 2003 — for no reason whatsoever — serve as a reminder that the past is only useful as a delivery mechanism to this exact moment.

I’ve dwelt in the past many times. One time it felt like I set up permanent residence there. But it gets old really fast. Reruns, pre-recorded messages, past participles. You have to move forward but, as a friend said on facebook, “People who ignore history are bound to re-tweet it.”

I don’t ever want to forget my personal history. God knows I’d like to block out certain parts though, and no, I don’t mean the unemployment and cancer thingy. The stupid things I’ve said to people or the hurtful things I’ve done are the real ghosts that haunt me.

Shredding old documents because we bought some new-used file cabinets is a way to stumble down memory lane from the comfort of today. The great notes our daughters shared with us when they were young make us laugh. “Dear mom, I cwit gymnastics. Nver evr sin me up agen.”

It also helps us let go. Hoarding past paperwork slowly becomes a burden. Consigning it to the recycle bin immediately repurposes it for the future. One simple transformation turns then into when. Letting go doesn’t always happen though. I can’t say whether it was a good idea or a bad idea to keep the trimmings of hair from our late dog just in case, as the note read on the Ziploc baggie, “cloning of pets becomes mainstream.”

By the time we get new new-used file cabinets, maybe we’ll be able to make that call.

We get to our Spring cleaning, it appears, sometime around mid-November. But purging the past helps lighten the now. I’m not suggesting a full scale shucking of anything older than a minute. Today I had lunch with some old college pals and was reminded of the adage, “The more things change, the more they change.” Sitting at the table was our three-man radio team that went by the name Steppin’ Out. I brought them a disc full of my favorite songs since school let out back in April of 1985. Had those songs been around, we would’ve played any of them on our 10:00 pm Sunday night show, (yeah, we got the primo slot).

Saving old music is wonderful. Old friendships are worth keeping in your file cabinet as well. Saving fun and silly memories is obviously important too. Those check stubs though, and a boatload of other dumb things, can happily float away.

Note to myself in the past, or future: Cwit hoarding usless krap.

These Poor Corporations

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November 9th, 2011

Haven’t we learned over the years that insurance companies know best? Why, just today I received a phone call from my doctor saying Blue Cross wasn’t allowing me to take a drug she prescribed. I’m glad that a faceless person in a call center somewhere denied me my medicine. Obviously they have access to all […]

Haven’t we learned over the years that insurance companies know best? Why, just today I received a phone call from my doctor saying Blue Cross wasn’t allowing me to take a drug she prescribed. I’m glad that a faceless person in a call center somewhere denied me my medicine. Obviously they have access to all the most advanced medical technology in the world and can judge, far better than my doctor, what’s best for me.

Those poor insurance companies. I heard recently that some of their million-dollar executives are having problems sleeping at night. That’s unfortunate. Apparently they’re worried about what will happen when the Supreme Court tackles a challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

Since being laid off by Craig Dubow, a CEO who made 37 million dollars earlier this year, I luckily get to fund my own health insurance and get denied by companies like the appropriately named Humana. A company with such a pleasant, populace-oriented name can’t be all that bad. The guy that rejected my application happily told me over the phone that they don’t have to insure people like me until 2014 when the health care act becomes law. Even though he sounded gleeful to inform me, it must have hurt him inside. I feel bad for him too. Terribly.

Insurance companies have more important worries than accepting people’s claims and paying for their coverage. Like how they can best not comply with the health care act affectionately known as Obamacare. It must take teams of specialists and lobbyists to think up arguments against giving Americans proper coverage. That would keep me up at night for sure.

Thankfully insurance companies have advanced far beyond their original intent, to pool risk and spread out the possible harm of something going awry. In those early days, insurance wasn’t a for-profit business. Thank God they are today since they need to employ all those people in call centers who know more than me and my doctor combined.

A man I know in the insurance business told me recently that affordable health care for everybody is just plain un-American. I whole-heartedly agreed. America shouldn’t be going around providing care for the homeless or the wretched refuse who can’t get a job or are sick. If it was America’s job, this phrase would be written on a monument somewhere: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.”

There must be a drug out there that can help the insurance executives sleep better. And if they’re lucky, their minions will approve it so they can begin self-medicating. They shouldn’t have to go through all this rigamarole in order to fight a national law that benefits the poor and huddled masses.

The executive’s worries don’t stop at how to destroy national health care, they have to figure out how to make more money for themselves. They are so underpaid compared to the guy who laid me off. Michael McCallister, the poor Humana CEO’s accumulated wealth is only slightly over 35 million. He’s gotta find some way to make up that two million deficit if he wants to look respectable around the clubhouse.

There is hope, though, for America’s destitute insurance execs. When Aetna’s former CEO Ronald Williams left his job this year, he netted 72 million bucks. That could soften his worries of an unthinkable doomsday where everyone in this country is insured.

The World Health Organization ranked America’s health care system 37th overall. We’re right behind the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. Maybe if we band together and pay the insurers more money we can raise that standing a notch or two.

Frankly, I see no other way to get better health care for the huddled masses or increase our ranking.

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcstatue_of_liberty.jpgStatue of Liberty photo by Rodney Curtis

Here’s To A Year

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November 2nd, 2011

Yet another year’s gone by and I still haven’t learned the difference between buffalo and bison, bisque and chowder, the EU and the EC, or Rimsky-Korsakov and a Sikorsky or Kalashnikov. But I can certainly tell the difference between the me, now and the me who left the hospital 365 days ago as a new […]

Yet another year’s gone by and I still haven’t learned the difference between buffalo and bison, bisque and chowder, the EU and the EC, or Rimsky-Korsakov and a Sikorsky or Kalashnikov.

But I can certainly tell the difference between the me, now and the me who left the hospital 365 days ago as a new man, literally. My marrow wasn’t my own nor was my blood type the same. I used to be A positive, now I’m O positive. Or vice versa, I’m not positive. I’ll text my brother and ask what type we are. It’s his marrow and blood after all. He should keep track of this stuff.

“Budweiser,” is his answer.

When I made it home last year I was hooked up to an IV in our living room for four hours a day. My wife and daughters had to steel themselves over to connect and disconnect me from the tubes. I took a zillion drugs, felt crappy and wasn’t looking forward to a winter of discontent. I’m still not looking forward to winter, but I thankfully am looking at a lot of that previous life in the rearview mirror.

Sure, I’m still on nine different pills per day and that wacky fight between my brother’s marrow and my own still rages on, (battlegrounds currently include, in no particular order; my fingernails, my mouth, my eyes and my hair — or lack thereof). I’m told this is a good sign. I have pluck, they say. I’d prefer a Cold War personally, one without Sikorsky-Kalashnikovs.

But I’m looking forward to the future, as opposed to fearing it just a little. Yes, Eckhart Tolle would probably sucker punch me if he knew I wasn’t living in the Now. One of my many doctors told me yesterday that I’ve been through so much, the least she could do was alter my medicine a bit to make it easier. I responded that others have had it much worse than me, trying to sound cavalier. When she softly replied, “yes, but your struggle has been amazingly tough,” I thought the dam was going to burst.

I like to forget the insanity I went through. I like to play make-believe and imagine myself as an ordinary, albeit unemployed, citizen of Metro Detroit. Then I look at Mr. Puffy Face in the mirror and do my best not to cringe. That too shall pass.

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcSiri.jpgphoto illustration with apologies by Rodney CurtisWhen I originally entered the hospital a year and a half ago, I used my incarceration as an excuse to buy an iPad. Now for my re-birth day, I’ve snapped up one of those fancy new iPhones. I’ve used it to find out that bison doesn’t work in a bisque and that Buffalo isn’t part of the EU.

But we have a steep learning curve, Siri and I. For those of you who don’t know, Siri is my phone’s voice assistant with attitude. Instead of using my proper email address, thatrodneyguy@gmail.com, Siri called me That Rodney Gut. I guess she thinks I should work on my weight.

But she did get something right. She called me the Spiritual Wonderbar, bastardizing German and English in one fell swoop. I like it. I think she’s on to something. I’m lucky; she could have just as easily referred to me as the Spiritual Wonderbra.

I probably couldn’t get away with blaming my brother’s blood for that. And I’ll bet Queen Victoria’s secret wasn’t that she was a dude with a small chest. I’ll see what Siri has to say on the matter.