you can’t get this far
without climbing some mountains
oh, but the aspens.
you can’t get this far
without climbing some mountains
oh, but the aspens.
a family birthday
every year is a blessing
that we’re on this Earth
on a bed of basmati
and my garden peas
even the heart shape
couldn’t win me their favor
though i tried. i tried.
I went to the grocery store today, and I don’t want to write about the nightmare I had last night where no one was wearing a mask.
Could you imagine, three months ago, having a nightmare about people not wearing masks in Target?
Actually, King Soopers was well-stocked today. Everyone I saw had a mask on. People at 8:30am obeyed the one-way aisle rules, and best of all? I stayed within my budget.
I made a budget for my post-work husband, starting at the beginning of May. $200 a week. It may sound extraordinarily excessive, but we’ve got six mouths to feed, and these are American prices, after all.
But I bought extras today. This bugleweed. A roll of packaging tape. And sushi because fuck Wednesday cooking.
And, my nightmares should end soon.
Because my post-work husband got a job, a non-union, non-seniority-screws-you job, doing exactly what he’s great at and wants to do forever, in the midst of a pandemic.
And you can call it what you want. White privilege. True. Luck. Absolutely. Divine intervention. Maybe.
Or just… fate. The fate that led him through the Air Force to me, that led the boy to our doorstep, that led three beautiful daughters into our home, that led his previous experience to him becoming the best candidate out of all the others being laid off.
Coronatine, day sixty-one. It’s a beautiful image filled with pets, hope, and love.
And I want to hold on to this non-nightmare feeling for as long as I can.
This cat was born to be a model. Good night.
can you imagine
that after twenty-two-years
i could still panic?
panic at the thought
of what my life would be like
without his presence?
five hours today.
five hours with no contact.
(he had lost service)
he always answers.
he is that reliable.
committed for life.
if that is not love,
that a dead zone break scares me,
i don’t know what is.
and from this soil
from blustery spring breezes
good news can blossom
Should I continue to measure quarantine in days, or should this new life be measured in weeks now? Weeks since we’ve been to work. To school. Weeks since I went to the grocery store without spending $300-$500 trying to stock up for when we’re really going to need it.
Weeks since I made it through one day without crying.
Let’s try a countdown of weeks. Weeks until his job ends: three. Weeks until I have to spend 24% of my take-home pay on health insurance: four. Weeks until we run out of money based on this: twenty. Weeks until I will feel safe about seeing and kissing my husband, as he will no longer be an essential worker and risking his life every day: five.
Weeks until I make it one day without crying: zero.
But I thought I was done crying! I was writing gratitude posts, 10×10, one hundred goddamn things to be grateful for! On the final day, I spent hours reviewing our budget, stupidly thinking we could manage for up to a year on our savings, our tenant money, and my salary.
And what is $260×2, the bottom left plan, the only one we could afford? It’s $520. And add in dental and vision, it was going to be $650 a month, and we could just. Barely. Manage.
But it was a lie, a lie to myself, a bait-and-switch chart from the school district, a slap in the face at 5:00am this morning when I decided to open enroll. No, not $260 per paycheck. Here is the real price:
For the cheapest plan for my family. The plan with a $7000 deductible. So… other than a singular wellness-check visit to the doctor (should I be grateful this is included?), we will pay $12,000 a year in monthly premiums and then another $7000 if anything happens, and then 30% of the rest until we reach the out-of-pocket max of $12,700. Ummmm… shouldn’t the out-of-pocket max INCLUDE the $12,000 a year already spent on monthly premiums? (Asking for a friend).
What could I do? What could I possibly do? I looked on the Colorado Marketplace website. On the initial page, I experienced another bait-and-switch: Let me tell you, we’re between tiers 2 and 3, and we have a family of five, not 3-4 like in the picture. Yay! It was looking good! We could get a premium tax credit!
So I started to fill out the application. And guess what?
Do I need to tell you? Or have you lived in the Land of the Free for all of your life and already know what a FUCKING LIE THAT IS?
$1409 per month with an $8200 deductible. I couldn’t even make up these prices if I tried!
Dear Colorado and Billionaire Health Insurance CEOs: Would I be ON THIS FUCKING PAGE if I were shopping for health insurance for MYSELF ONLY? Because of COURSE it’s affordable for myself only! And of course, for myself only, according to my beautiful school district blue and green chart, I would be MAKING $11 a month, so yeah, it meets your goddamn threshold of “9.78%.” (But don’t you love how, even on their website, they put the word “Affordable” in quotes because they know it’s a fucking joke?)
Let’s return to the beautiful school district chart that shows “DPS Contributions” and I STUPIDLY thought that meant that DPS was footing part of the bill, but what they REALLY mean is the $422/month on my paycheck labeled “Cash for Benefits” which is unofficially part of my take-home salary. So their contribution is really MY contribution, or, in laymen’s terms, MY FUCKING MONEY.
And if we don’t pay? If we don’t give in to this bullshit in the midst of a pandemic?
You guessed it. We’d lose everything. Because we all know that in the Land of the Free, all it takes is one emergency room visit, one contraction of a deadly virus, one broken bone, to lead the uninsured straight to bankruptcy.
So, after seventeen years of teaching, two degrees, one advanced certification, and having seriously ONE form of debt (a mortgage, not a single student loan, not even a car payment), after working my way and paying my way through those degrees, after keeping my children out of daycare and living on a way-less teacher’s salary for eight years, after EVERYTHING…
We still can’t live on my salary.
How many weeks has it been that we’ve been trapped at home? That my husband has been going to work, entering businesses and homes and fucking medical clinics without a mask (because his company doesn’t provide masks) or any form of PPE, risking his and all of our lives before being laid off?
How many more fucking weeks will it be before he can find a job in this market?
Coronatine, Day Forty-seven. Week 7, almost 8.
Why does it feel like day one thousand, week ninety?
Because we live in the Land of the Free, where every life costs a fortune.
i’m back to haikus
(they suit the whole me better)
they’re written on bikes
the Denver sunshine
wins this quarantined Sunday
for those who listen
it seems so simple
to follow the rules. stay home.
be careful outside.
and at home? snuggle.
love the soft spaces of life.
soft spaces of love.
I’ve made it to the final day of gratitude! The ten last bits of gratitude for the Coronatine.
This will make 90 things I’ve managed to muster for gratitude during the quarantine. Today is not hard. I am going to try to make this easier day by day, but today is unique.
Be grateful. Be yourselves. Make the best of this shit. That’s all for today.