Friday, October 24, 2014

Irrational & Improbable

I have always been a little bit prone to fits of... let's call it imagination. In addition to having the same dream since I was five years old (so, let's see, 31 years now), I tend to worry overmuch about things that're either completely irrational or which I cannot possibly begin to control. Rather than those things being small or tangential they tend to be pretty serious.

Sometime during my teen years, I began to worry over and fear axe murderers. More than that, I was completely consumed with a fascination about them, even though I could freely acknowledge that I was horribly afraid I'd be axe murdered--and, frankly, still am. Though it makes no sense, I'm captivated with stories about such people as Lizzie Borden or situations as the Villisca Axe Murderers. While most people are afraid to drown or be burned to death, my greatest fear about dying unnaturally revolves around being chopped up with a hatchet.

For a while, the fear was so extreme that I couldn't even watch movies where this sort of scenario plays out. Matt once tricked me into watching a cheesy Sylvester Stallone action flick, Cobra, about a cop surviving and tracking down an axe murdering cult. For days, I was plagued with dreams about being hacked up while I was still alive.

Even now, at night, when I'm laying in my bed alone listening to the house settle I worry about this completely improbable scenario. While I should be worrying about being robbed, raped, or shot to death, I'm worrying that someone with an axe might break in and chop me up. There's just something so visceral about the idea of being hacked at, over and over, with a sharp (or not so sharp) tool that makes my skin crawl. A scenario my somewhat vivid imagination plays through with or without my consent.

It's ridiculous, and fascinating, and my friends sometimes take the opportunity to poke fun at this particularly foolish quirk. Even Matt finds humor in it, though he understands how serious a problem this really is for me. Perhaps making light of it will make it better, but it doesn't seem to work. Not really. And the truth is that even I can find humor in the absurdity of the idea. That doesn't make it less a fear. Still, everyone agrees that the probability of me, or anyone else, being axe killed in the USA in the 21st century is slim.

So this morning, while browsing my Facebook feed, I was particularly horrified to learn that some nut job a man attacked several cops in Queens with a hatchet. Every single fear I have about being axe murdered came screaming back into my conscious mind. The attacked cops were both hurt, the one struck in the head still in critical condition, and the hatchet wielding attacker is dead. While this man could hardly be considered an axe murderer, the act of attacking someone with an axe is nonetheless too terrible.

It's always this way with my fears and anxieties. When I begin to believe these scenarios are improbable and, therefore, so too are others of my anxieties when something happens to prove my irrational fears rational. Every single time this happens all of my fears are renewed. Everything comes back and are not only renewed but fortified. I'm starting to understand, and perhaps accept, that these sorts of anxieties will always be a part of my life. They're not actually going anywhere, even as I try to master them.

At this point, I just hope self-fulfilling prophesy isn't a real thing--or at least doesn't act on these sorts of improbabilities. Otherwise, I'm in some pretty serious trouble.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Pain in the Foot is a Pain in the Ass*

So, Matt managed to do something to hurt his foot. We're not sure what, yet, but after a week of walking on it, he decided he should go to the doctor. The thing is, our doctor is both out of town and quite difficult to get in to see. So, I made him an appointment with a local doctor (same medical group--Cross Timbers Health Clinic) and then changed his primary care doctor so that he could be seen. Since he's not completely fond of his previous doctor, he was fine with the change, especially so since he seems to like his new doctor.

They saw him a week ago today, he had an X-ray (We had to do out of town for that, too) last Friday, and we still haven't heard about what's wrong with his foot. They think he might have a stress fracture, so the fact that they haven't gotten back to us yet is pretty annoying. He works on his feet and can't take time off, so he's been wrapping it with ace bandage and self-adhesive wrap (which seems to be helping some).

But the fact that we still haven't heard anything isn't the worst part. Not by far, actually, because the experience we had with their office staff was absolutely the worst customer experience I've ever had. The girls who work the front desk in that office are rude to the point of being abusive. While the doctor was awesome and so were all the nurses, the office ladies made the experience atrocious.

When we arrived (15 minutes before appointment time, at 2:15) they were immediately rude to my husband. She abruptly demanded his insurance information, which is okay except that our cards have the wrong primary listed for Matt because I had just changed it. Then she shoved a clipboard at him so he could fill out the very long sign-in sheet (SOP for this clinic) and told him she was going to have to call to confirm his primary doctor because we were negligent in bringing her a confirmation number proving we had changed it.

When I assured her we had changed it, she said, "We'll see," and then told me she would confirm it. Okay, I'm sure people have lied about it before, that's fine. So we sit and wait while he appointment time comes and goes. The girl is on the phone with BCBS the whole time, but she's yelling at them telling them she's been on the phone with them for 45 minutes. This is a lie, we had only been there 30 minutes at this point. We hadn't even been out of the house for 45 minutes. 

Another ten minutes passes before she slams the window open and demands (loudly) that I give her my information because I'm the insurance holder and he's technically my dependent. I give her my birthdate and then wait at the window while she yells at some more people at BCBS. In the mean time, while we were waiting, I had called BCBS myself to confirm that his PCP had been changed. I got on and off the phone with them in less than 10 minutes, yet this girl had been on the phone with them for what she claimed, by this point, had been an hour (while we had only been there 45 minutes). 

While she's talking to BCBS the other desk girl turns to me and tells me Matt'll just have to reschedule because it's been 15 minutes past our appointment time. Okay, remember we had arrived 15 minutes early. Also, it had actually been 30 minutes past his appointment time. I told them it wasn't happening, that it was their fault it had taken so long, not ours. Which is true, they were the ones being so rude to BCBS that they couldn't get anywhere.

After another five minutes the first girl gets her confirmation number, slams the phone down, and says "NOW it's changed." I informed her again that I had changed it the day before. She flat out calls me a liar, then tells me if I was telling the truth I should have come with a confirmation number (how was I supposed to know that?!), and then she literally slams the window in my face WHILE I'M TALKING to her.

Aside from the fact that I'm pretty sure some office girl can't actually change our PCP without our authorization, BCBS had confirmed to me that it had previously been changed. All of this over a damn confirmation number. Now I'm not sure what I should do about it. It's been eating at me for a week, I feel like I should say something, because we're not the only people she was abusive with. I just don't know who to talk to, especially since the office manager there in that office was sitting around giggling with these girls when we were leaving. Clearly, complaining to her about it isn't going to do any damn good.

I've considered writing to the board of directors at that clinic group, the head of which is my primary doctor, but I don't know how far that's going to get either. I feel like complaining would be pointless. So this girl just gets away with treating patients, who're often there because they're not feeling well already, like total shit. 

Thankfully, we've gotten Matt's new insurance cards (BCBS sent us FOUR of them, for whatever reason) so this shouldn't be a problem again. Finger's crossed. The one thing I know for sure is that when open enrollment comes I'm changing our insurance plan so I can go back to my old doctor, whom I absolutely love. But now Matt's saying that he wants to find a plan that both his new doctor and my old doctor take. Which, honestly, I find pretty annoying considering the treatment we've gotten from these people. 

I mean, aside from the fact that they're nasty rude, we still haven't heard anything about his foot. Thankfully, they gave us a referral to an orthopedist, which he'll see tomorrow. Hopefully they'll get something done and be nice about it!

* Matt's been making this joke for a week, so he'd be amused I used it as a title.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Harvest Moon Festival

I've been pretty cooped up lately, but this last Saturday I had the opportunity to go to Granbury's Harvest Moon Festival with my new gal pal Robin. Before she told me, I didn't even know Granbury did this, though they have been for decades. So we headed out there around mid-day (it's about a half an hour drive) and spent the whole day.

The weather was gorgeous mid-80s, so it was warm but not hot. The town square in Granbury is adorable, lots of little boutiques and shops. I expected parking to be difficult, but we found a space easily. It was a really lovely day, the best I've had in a long time, in fact.

We hit the town square boutiques first thing. Some of them are adorable and affordable, others are pretty expensive--VERY pretty expensive. I browsed around and came away with only two things the whole day. A pair of earrings, and this cute little bell skeleton that I got at the shop in a historic B&B on the square...

The variety of things available was massive, everything between trinkets and jewelry, to clothing and expensive handbags, to paintings and artwork.

After that, we hit the festival and browsed around the booths. Lots of artists and local artisans. Food, woodcraft, photographers and painters, a street musician playing flutes, that sort of thing. Once we'd done that, we had lunch at Babe's Chicken Dinner House. A really neat restaurant where you pick the meat and they bring you all the sides of the day (mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green beans, and biscuits were what they were serving that afternoon). The food was awesome, the atmosphere was awesome...

Lunch was so good that I plan to take Matt there soon (as soon as I can convince him to make the short drive). After that, completely stuffed, we went over to the small theater on the square that does live music shows, Granbury Live. Our luck, they were having a show and the groups that had booked the seats had two no-shows. So for $25 each, we saw a live classic country show. Well worth the money for two hours of entertainment and especially good after having eaten so much.

When the show was over, we hit the booths again. Had some terrible $5 per cup lemonade and got some homemade fudge for Matt--he loves it. Then headed out to see Lake Granbury's beach--the water is 18 feet low, so the pier out there is hovering well above the ground. The lake was gorgeous, though, even low.

We had plans to go to the balloon festival, we even went out to the Granbury airport, but when we got there it was really windy and the balloons weren't even out yet. So, rather than waiting, we headed home. It was getting late anyway and I don't see well in the dark.

On Sunday, I felt like I'd walked miles, and maybe I did. I also felt pretty happy for the first time in a while. I really needed it, especially after the week I had prior. They're doing a walk around the square for Halloween (though we'll skip that since Matt hurt his foot, a story for another time). They also do a Christmas festival in December, which I'm hoping to get to. I only wish I'd learned about these events years ago!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

On Pick-Up Trucks & Personal Growth

I was on my way to get my haircut today, sitting beside a duly pick-up truck and behind another at a red light. They were so loud, one taking up his share of both lanes, that I could hear them inside the car with the radio on and windows up. My usual angry ire at the irresponsibility of people who drive trucks crept up, my inner dialogue grumbling about the environment and how these people think the road belongs solely to them.

This isn't a new problem, mind you. I have a serious problem with people who buy large pick-up trucks when they don't need them. Meaning, they're not using them as farm vehicles, not towing anything, clearly not a work truck. People who buy the biggest most irresponsible vehicles they can afford--or in the case of this tiny college town, their daddy's can afford--to inflate their egos. They make me mad.

I care about the environment, but more than that I care about the use of resources. These monsters use more resources than do small trucks, crossovers, SUVs, and coupes. But, honestly, my biggest problem comes down to courtesy. If your vehicle is so big you don't fit on the road or in parking spaces, that doesn't give you the right to take up more than your share of public space. But, the people who drive these vehicles (at least here in Texas) do. Driving a larger vehicle doesn't give you the right to bully you way into the other lane, or cut people off, or pull out into traffic where you don't belong or shouldn't be.

I have a big ol' problem with trucks. So much so that I feel like people who want one should have to show need (yes, I'm aware that will never ever happen).

Then something struck me and I literally laughed out loud like a maniac--thank God I was alone. The guy in the pickup beside me grinned at me and winked (he actually winked at me like a creeper) and I was dragged back to a time when I was less socially and environmentally conscious, when I was much more selfish. I actually used to find men who drove these irresponsible monsters attractive. As a matter of fact, I was more likely to find a man attractive if he drove a pick-up.

At 18, when I was young and lacked any reasonable common sense, I worked with a man who drove a big blue Chevy pick-up. One of the things I found attractive about him was that he drove this blue truck and that he was so protective of it--in the several years we were acquainted, he actually let me drive it once. It was absolutely absurd and when I think back now I laugh, but not because it's funny. Because I feel like I was as much a jerk about these stupid trucks as the guys around town who take up two spaces at Wal-Mart and ding your car doors with theirs because they're careless.

It's pretty amazing how these sorts of things can creep up on you. How one little thing--a sight, a scent--can drag you back (sometimes mentally kicking and screaming). It's also pretty humbling when it happens, at least to me, to see how far I've come since then. In this case it's the idea that I've grown, or at least changed, as a person. In the 18 years since I met the guy with the blue Chevy, I've become less insensitive, less selfish, and more aware of those who are. Change happens so gradually that sometimes it takes something silly like this to make you see it.

Does that mean I don't like all people who drive trucks? Not necessarily--I know plenty of people who drive pick-ups, but most of them need them for work or towing. I'd say, instead, that I'm less inclined to be friendly with people who're careless enough to need one of these ego-inflating, resource-guzzling hunks of glass and steel. At least I know now why I feel the way I do--the environment, resources, noise, and a lack of regard for publicly shared spaces. Years ago, when I was attracted to these things, there was no quantifiable reason. If nothing else, that's growth.