Thursday, October 22, 2009

This is Not My Beautiful Life...

I first noticed this phenomenon in the photos of folks I have on my Yahoo IM chat list. More often than not, women with young children would use the photo of their children as their avatar photo. The first couple times, you figure, hey, they're just really proud of their kids. Then I saw my mom use a photo of my neice and nephew as her user pic on Facebook and I thought... huh?

On the one hand, as the author points out, it's almost refreshing to see a focus other than me-me-me on traditionally me-centric social media sites. On the other hand... um? I'm proud of a good many things in my life, and no doubt if I ever have a child, I'll be proud of them too, but why use the photo as a stand in for... me?

There are plenty of photos of folks with their best friends, mothers *with* their kids, fathers with their kids, and of course, whole families together that sit in as user pics. So it's not like this is as huge a trend as the author points out. But it does come up often enough for me to go "hm," too. I haven't seen any fathers use pics of their children as their user photo, for instance. But I may just not be looking, or I don't note them as much when I see them?

I wonder if it's a mix of pride and guilt? Are you more likely to see working mothers using photos of their kids as avatars? I don't buy that it's about creating anonymity, as there are plenty of folks who just use objects/random scenery shots to hide behind. Is it really a flight from aging, like the author suggests? I don't buy into that so much. I'd be interested to find the commonalities and differences among men and women alike (because there must be some guy, somewhere) who use their children's photos for their social media pics.

I'd be interested, for instance, if it's more likely working moms or stay at home moms who do it. Or is there a class distinction? Is it really an age difference? Do over-30s just view the web differently, and shy away from its me-centric nature more than 20-somethings? Or has our culture really shifted... now that we all have less children, we invest more in them... and more of ourselves in them, and carry them close the same way we would anything else we'd invested so much of our youth in?

Children have always been a source of pride. I just can't ever see my grandmother posting a photo of her children as her user pic, if I could ever get her to join FB...

Batten Down the Hatches

I've spent some time tightening up our budget this week, which is rough to say the least. Monday morning I'll be sending J. in to Sinclair community college with a credit card authorization giving UHC $1145 to cover the two of us through J's account since they're no longer honoring my work account.

As noted elsewhere, I can't go more than 60 days without coverage, and tho once this whole debacle is sorted out they'll retroactively cover me for the gap... well, let's just say I don't want any paperwork in exsitence anywhere that says I went more than 60 days without coverage. I have to live my whole life as a t1, and trust me - insurance companies will find every crazy way possible to shunt the most expensive folks from their ranks. And I'm one of them. And tho I could fight them when they pulled out that "no coverage since Sep 1st" letter... it would take 6 months to sort out, and I would be fighting it my whole life. Every time I changed insurance providers or J. or I had a big medical bill, they'd root through our account. We'd never escape it.

So Monday morning we're out $1154. It's an 80/20 plan, so we've started stuffing money toward paying for expenses. He's got an MRI every 6 months that runs $3,000. My drugs, if I drop my pump and get real lean, may "only" run $350 if I'm careful. Add that to regular endo appointments for me and port flushes for him (J.'s a cancer survivor. There's another year of follow-up before he's insurable again outside a major employer-sponsored group plan), and we're looking at about $11-12,000 a year in bare bones medical expenses. You figure we'll need to come up with, what, $2400-3000 of that out of pocket in addition to the $1145.

Hopefully we'll only be out coverage for 3-6 months. So let's say $1500 out of pocket over the next 3 months in addition to the $1145.

That's an extra $500 a month we need to pull from thin air (not counting the $1145, which is going on the credit card I had nearly paid off).

Sorry this has become the "all shitty health insurance, all the time blog," the last couple of weeks, but these issues weigh pretty heavily on me, and getting all the facts and numbers down on paper actually helps me cope and process the whole thing.

I've shaved about $150 from the budget right now by tossing out netflix and severely cutting our "misc./fun" budget from $200 a month to $100 a month (we already live pretty lean. You don't go from having $17,000 in credit card debt to $2,800 in 3 years if you aren't already living lean). We'll be making up the rest by paying a little less toward that fucking credit card bill (did I mention I was just $2,800 and 5 months away from paying it off completely?), and relying on J's new part-time job. I'm also working on hunting down a few freelance gigs. One of the roughest things going on right now is that my student loans have come due this month. That was fine when the credit card was going to be paid off. Now I have to juggle those with the CC payments and medical costs.

We'll make it through this. But it doesn't make me any happier about it. The most frustrating part is that it's totally out of my hands. At least when UHC was only fucking *me* over, I had some control over it. I could spend hours and hours yelling at them and get the issue resolved. Now I'm totally powerless to do anything but pay for a second policy. That's incredibly, brutally frustrating. Because ya'll know me: I'm a fighter. I fight to the end. Being on the passive end of this whole fiasco drives me crazy.

So, I'm doing what I can. Cutting back, paying bills, eating a lot of soup and beanless chili... Recipes to come! Because when it looks like everything is crap, it's good to remember that you can still afford to eat. And with how rough it is out there right now, that's nothing to sniff at.