Thursday, June 22, 2017

Another Serious Post

Today I will break, for the 2nd time, my rule against writing about politics.

As we near the final conclusion of one of the most secretive, haphazard, and controversial legislative processes that I've been privy to in my entire life, I wanted to take a step back and use this space as a place for me to explain how one of the most significant and all-encompassing legislative passages of the last 10 years has changed my life. What follows is a personal story. I don't necessarily view it as an attempt to convince (I call my legislators for that), but given the teetering existence of such an influential piece of legislation, I would like to share how, in many ways, Obamacare is one reason I am here today.

By all measurements I was a healthy kid growing up. No broken bones or sprains even though I played sports, perfect blood pressure, not even any allergies to talk about. While I didn't know it at the time, however, my parents were paying 10k a year for our family of 4 to have health insurance, something they came perilously close to dropping until a good friend told them that to do so would be madness.

But in May of 2008, at age 19, after I had moved out, I ended up in the ER and then, for a week, a hospital for the mentally ill. The last thing on my mind at the time was money. In fact, I can't even recall for one second thinking of anything related to money or cost, considering that I was a mere 12 inches from death.

About three weeks after my release, I stumbled upon a pile of bills that my parents had tucked away in a shelf in their living room. They were the bills for my hospitalization. They were almost 15 thousand dollars. The sinking feeling in my stomach at the time was eminently real. I knew that my parents could afford it; 60-70 hour work weeks when I was young managed to help them to a place of middle-upper class comfort by this time in our lives, but I was stunningly aghast at how that meant that, for most people, it would be unaffordable.

A month later, my mother and I sat down with an insurance salesperson (this was before Obamacare and marketplaces and all that) and started hashing out getting health insurance for me in case something happened, God forbid. For reference, I lived and still do in Michigan. Everything was going fine, we had narrowed in on a reasonable plan with coverage I needed, when the salesperson started asking me some questions. One of the questions was if I had been hospitalized for mental illness recently. Seeing as how I had, I replied yes.

I was then informed that nobody would cover me until it had been more than 6 months since I had been hospitalized. I walked away that day without insurance.

I shudder to think, looking back, what would have happened if I had to be hospitalized again before the 6 month period was over. My parents may have been comfortable but they were not made of money, and I was right out of my freshman year of college and its concurrent debt.

I am 28 now. I work a boring job and earn about 21-22k pre-tax. Thanks to Obamacare, I pay a still ridiculous but at least manageable $105 dollars a month to make sure my 4 prescriptions and regular doctor's appointments do not completely drain me. I own a house, and between that and the subsidies that allow me to afford my own health expenses, I am happy at the independence that is afforded me. Being that I have no college degree, the reality is I probably will never make a ton of money. I have a safety net in my parents, but if certain pre-existing condition protections are waived, and the number of plans that cover what I need drastically decrease in amount and increase in price, I, at almost 30 years old, will probably be forced to ask my parents to help me pay for my own health.

I am not pretending that Obamacare is perfect. But I truly can not exist without it, unless my parents would foot the bill, and honestly, I can barely imagine asking them for help at my age without feeling incredibly embarrassed. I've been working since I was 16 and I feel like I should at least be afforded a chance, by my own country, to have individual control and stability over my own health care, and to manage a disease I have no control over and did not choose to be born with.

If you are as worried as I am about the future of your wellbeing, or the wellbeing of your countrymen, I beg of you to call your legislator. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Today is the longest day - in English nomenclature - in the northern hemisphere; or, essentially, the summer solstice, as it is named. Day, in the former phrase, not meaning the actual 24 hour cycle of one Earthly rotation, but instead referring to the amount of daylight those in the northern hemisphere receive. Indeed, from this point on, the northern hemisphere will begin a six month metaphor for existence - that is, it gets darker and darker and gloomier and gloomier. Indeed, if one were to observe the planetary cycles, one could easily come to the realization that the earth is always metaphorically rendering the meaninglessness and futility of existence. For example, while one might be inclined after winter solstice to think that things are looking up, said optimism is quickly dashed by the fact that January and February, statistically, for much of the northern hemisphere, are snowier and colder months. And while one then might be inclined to a second wave of optimism in, perhaps, March or April, one finds then that the prevalence of tornadoes, hurricanes, and other maladies are on the upswing, and that the act of greater sunlight is now reduced to a mere two month period before it starts waning. In summer, firefly season may briefly inspire a bit of Earthly wonder and amazement, until one realizes that the lifespan of a firefly is about two weeks, and that like all things, the goodness in their existence is a brief temporary respite against the continual onslaught of suffering.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


In my dream I am running. I am running along a beach that I have seen 100s of times in real life and dozens of times in my dreams, where it is recreated with seemingly loving detail and realism. I can see the shape of the shore, the condos that speckle the landscape where Chicago tourists pay out huge sums of money for a chance to watch the sunsets over the never ending stretch of water.

I am running and it is the evening, the sun is only about 20 minutes from reaching the horizon. I can smell algae and fish, faintly, as a breeze coasts along the water and up and over my shoulders, tousling my hair and providing brief respite against the warm summer humidity. My feet make thudding noises on the sand that is just barely wet from the occasional wave that makes it as far as where my path is taking me.

I am running south, the water and sun to my right. The beach, surprisingly, is empty. It shouldn't be. There should be families, teens, college students, a mix of swimmers and volleyballers and tanners. But it's just me, rhythmic sound of my heavy, flat-footed footsteps, and the sound of the tide.

I am running more than I have in years. More than I have since school, when I used to run alongside the busiest street in town and up the steepest hill we had for basketball practice. But in my dream my breathing is not labored like it would be nowadays, instead each stride is smooth and athletic like it once was, my body seemingly recreating what it had as a child.

I don't know where I am running to. The end of this specific spot of public land is not far now, but I know I will keep at it; there is a long way to go before the shore curves west and heads north starting at Chicago, I could run for days and days before I got to that point. Maybe I am running from something, like I used to as a kid and nightmares involving horrifying creatures were a regular occurrence, me trying to run inside but body in slow-mo like the air was molasses. I am older now. There is no horrifying creature tonight on the beach.

I am running now, I remember, because it is all I have to do. Because the sunset is perfect and the beach is perfect and the speed is freeing, and running is all I ever have known. I am running from a past I can't forget and a future I can't escape. I am running from winter, from work, from people. I am running until I collapse in pain and out of breath, and then I will simply get up, and run some more. I will keep running. Perhaps I will go south for months, until I reach the ocean along the Gulf, and am forced to turn east or west.

I hear a noise, a blaring, alto screech.

I am awake now. A ceiling fan spins above me. My room drowns me in 90 degree heat and I lazily look at the clock. It is almost time to get out of bed and begin the day. I reach over and put on my glasses.

I walk out of my room. I wonder if I will ever run again.

Friday, June 9, 2017


It has been widely reported that many people around the world are seeing an uptake in their sense and feeling of dread. Such feeling could be entirely developed out of interpersonal, intrapersonal, international, financial, political, or a seemingly endless host of other possible reasons and contributors. That said sense of dread is new to some people, is, remarkably, a very real thing. The present author would suggest that, in order to lessen the severity of sudden and inescapable dread brought on by highly specific circumstances, one would be better served living in a constant, all-consuming state of dread, such as is that nothing could, conceivably, make it worse, and instead the never-ending state of existential fear simply becomes one's normal state of being.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


A common saying to suggest one's inability to live up to the previous established standards of their parents is "the apple has fallen far from the tree." However, this would suggest, if taken literally, a certain ability to rectify the situation. After all, while the apple may have fallen, there's nothing to suggest it could not be carefully washed and then consumed, at which point, given an apple's relative tastiness, one may be inclined to suggest that, while the extra work required to salvage said apple took time and effort, the end result was still, ultimately, satisfying.

Also given that the present author could very easily be described by other's as said apple, and that such description would, however, be wholly inaccurate - as it suggests the present author's situation in life could be redeemed - it would appear a newer, more gravely despair inducing version of the saying is needed. Such as "the apple fell far from the tree, and onto the busy street nearby, where it was promptly run over by a truck, and smashed to bits." That would, in the present author's case, seem to be more accurate.