I am definitely not a fan of the ‘burbs. Too much sprawl, too much pollution, too cramped. If I want a yard, then I want to live in the country. I am either all urban or all country with no in-between.
Now to go off topic, or rather change the topic entirely. Jon and I have talked about moving back to Crossville now that Ellison is here, but we’ve hesitated for a lot of reasons. We love living in downtown Knoxville and we’re not sure Crossville is moving in a direction we approve of. They’re having a KKK rally in downtown Crossville in the near future and as far as I know, there are no planned protests like there were when the Nazi’s came to Knoxville a few years ago. Crime is up, especially around my family’s place, and there are too many ignorant conservatives for my liking. (It’s not rare to hear racist and sexist remarks being spoken in the same breath as “praise the Lord!”) I love Crossville and always have and I always wanted to stay there. But it’s definitely not the same place it was. And it seems to be moving more and more toward suburb rather than farms and forests and lovely country. Our family has mostly died off and the old families in the area have as well. A lot of Northerners are coming in and recreating the suburbs they enjoyed in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, putting a strain on the infrastructure that can’t support them. There are no jobs to be had unless you’re a geriatric nurse and so a lot of people who’ve stayed have turned to drugs and stealing to get by.
Knoxville feels like a wonderful haven. Particularly downtown, which is the only section I care to live in. I feel safe here in our building. There are lots of like-minded individuals around, as well as a university. Lots to see and do. Not as much crazy religion being forced down your throat. Not as much racism and sexism as there is in Crossville. It’s not perfect, but it fits with the lifestyle we live and want to live much better than Crossville currently does. And there are jobs here.
Maybe as I purge material items from my life, it is time to think about letting go of Crossville as well. That is a hard pill to swallow and not one I’m quite ready to deal with yet. But I have been thinking about it.
On sexism in the publishing industry.
The first link started an interesting conversation on my FB wall about sexism in book cover art.
You know, I always wanted to have a girl because I wanted to teach her how to be a strong woman, a feminist. However, now I realize it’s actually much more challenging to have a boy in this day and age. It is easy to teach a girl to be a feminist. It’s going to be much more challenging to teach a boy to be a feminist and to realize that just because he was born in the most privileged class there is (white, American, and male), it doesn’t mean he deserves his circumstances more than anyone else. Already the problems with gender inequality have started with people telling us that his name sounds feminine and that we don’t want to give him “sissy” toys. And so many little outfits with footballs and cars and other sports. One with little hammer and saws all over it, saying “I like to help my dad fix things” or something along those lines. Ridiculous. As though Jon fixes things. We live in a building with a lovely maintenance man for a reason. (To be fair, Jon does fix a few things, but no more than I fix. And neither of us fixes anything very big or important.) And hearing that he likes to watch the cars on the street because he is a boy. Umm, no, he is a baby who is fascinated by bright, shiny things that move. And we’ve found ourselves getting sucked into that gender stereotype nonsense. Thinking he can’t have a pink toy because he is a boy. Hoping people don’t think he is a girl if I dress him in a particular onesie that has a monkey on it and might look a little feminine. So what if someone thinks he is a girl? Being a girl is awesome and I would know.
I’m going to have to work on keeping myself balanced as I navigate this whole new spectrum.
Jon and I have been eating out a lot less and scrimping in various ways in an effort to save more money to pay off all the medical bills that have been coming in. I did manage to get insurance that covered Ellison’s birth, but we had a high deductible and still had to pay co-pays and about 20% of the medical cost. That adds up to quite a lot of money from quite a lot of different hospitals and doctors. Ordinarily I might shy away from talking about my finances on a public forum such as this, but I feel that the medical situation in our country is completely ridiculous and the more information and conversation that is out there the better so people can realize what a mess it really is. When all is said and done, Jon and I will have paid, out of pocket, around $8,000 for Ellison’s birth. That is a lot of money for us and for most people. Did you know you can get an abortion for around $1,000? If certain people in our country are serious about stopping abortion, then maybe they should look into making birth a more affordable option. And looking at the itemized lists from the hospital and doctor’s offices, we were paying ridiculous amounts for mundane things. Our UT Medical bill:
Inpatient room: $836.00 (You can stay at fancy hotels for less than this and get better sleep without doctors and nurses coming in every hour to poke at you.)
Lab: $1,535.00 (This is mostly because some graduate student decided to put us through the ringer and call for all these tests to Ellison’s kidneys for no apparent reason other than one of his hormone levels was a little high. The head doctor came in and even told us that no one should have called for these tests because his body hadn’t finished stabilizing hormones after being born. It had us terrified that something was wrong with his kidneys, but after multiple tests and ultrasounds, it turns out he was fine. We still have to pay for it, even though it was basically a student’s mistake.)
Audiology: $188.00 (This is the hearing test they give babies. It takes about 5 minutes and the just play different noises and make sure the baby acknowledges them.)
I’m very glad we were at the hospital for Ellison’s birth because there were some complications that could have made a home birth or even birthing center birth very dangerous for the two of us. However, those prices are completely ridiculous. Hospitals shouldn’t exist to make a profit. When they do, you get prices like those. The lovely thing about UT Medical, though, is that they have a program that will either forgive all of your debt or knock about 75% of it off, and we qualify for the 75% off. Unfortunately, that is only for UT Medical, and not all of the other doctor bills.
We are very fortunate that we can pay these bills just by cutting back on things that are luxuries for us. For a lot of other people, they are not that fortunate. I don’t see how someone with a serious illness, like cancer, can make it if they don’t have insurance. Hell, I know that they can’t. When my mother had cancer the hospital bills nearly buried my family. I was too young to know that at the time, but now I do. My Dad was able to pay them off after she died because of benefits and donations kind people made to help us. Maybe Obamacare isn’t the best option for this country, but it is at least a step in addressing the problem. Because you are fooling yourself if you think it isn’t a problem.
-I was walking the dogs at about 2:30/3 AM this morning (because that’s how we roll, yo) when all of a sudden I took off running with them. They were like “What?!” and so was my body, because I never run. I haven’t run even a step in years for fear of general catastrophe and havoc. But I’ve been thinking about running to help get my weight under control and bounce my body back from pregnancy (which it mostly has, actually, but I still have some muscle weakness in important areas) and so last night I stopped thinking and just did it. I can’t run very far or fast or long, but it’s a pretty big step for someone like me who despises physical exertion and is super self-conscious about my body and running. There were almost no people around at 2:30 AM on a Friday morning, so that made it easier. So maybe from now on that is how I will start running. In the middle of the night with two surprised dogs. If I keep this up I might eventually get really crazy and start taking advantage of lululemon’s free Saturday yoga classes that are located directly across the street from our apartment. But I better not get ahead of myself.
-Speaking of the dogs, Ellison and I have been watching The Dog Whisperer on Hulu and Netflix while he nurses. It’s made me think more about my dogs and myself. They tend to be very excited around other dogs and not want to listen while out on walks and such. Before I tried to address their issues by doing Cesar’s techniques. I had limited success. They are much better dogs, actually, but not completely where I want them to be. They’re still excited and prone to disobedience while out on a walk. This time while watching I’ve been thinking more about myself as pack leader and what energy I’ve been bringing to them while out on walks. A few things I discovered about myself: I tend to approach our walks with irritation, impatience, and a bit of anxiety. I hate walking them when I think they will act up while we’re out on leash, so I tense up. They know all of that because you can’t hide your state of mind from a dog, and they react accordingly with over excitement, dominance in the Professor, and anxiety and aggression in KiKi. I see another dog and I immediately react to pull them closer to me (especially KiKi) and lock them on short leashes. That just pushes them over the edge and makes them lunge and bark and act obnoxious. So now I am trying to address myself more on our walks and so far it seems to be helping.
-A couple different friends have talked about making fried rice, so last night I decided to give it a try with some leftover white rice. Or, actually, it was Wednesday night. Anyway, it turned out great! I hate fried rice with carrots and peas and corn or whatever, so I made mine with green onion and bell pepper. I only use bell pepper for the flavor, because I hate the texture. But it turned out so good and I think I will definitely make it again.
-I started to write about how Jon and I have been eating out less, but it turned into a much longer post about medical bills, so I decided to make it a new post that will publish on Monday. But, yes, Jon and I are eating out a lot less these days. It’s really a wonderful thing for saving money and better health. So, yay!
-Our apartment is slowly getting cleaner with all the decluttering we’ve managed to do. I have books to go to McKay, some glasses to go to Goodwill, and some clothes to go to the YWCA. And a huge box of stuff to go somewhere. Probably Angel Ministries (hope I got that name right) instead of KARM because a good friend whose father-in-law volunteered there told me that KARM often throws a lot of donated items away instead of selling them in their thrift store. Mostly electronics because they don’t know if they work or not, and they don’t bother to take the time to find out. That irritates me a lot and I don’t care to continue to donate anything to them until they address that problem. People gave them those items thinking they were helping the less fortunate and instead it’s just going to clutter up the landfill. Not cool, KARM.
-The Market Square Farmer’s Market opened on Wednesday and the Saturday market (which is the biggest and best) is tomorrow. I’m very excited to go and see old friends and introduce Ellison and maybe pick up some produce if there is much there yet.
These days my life has been about getting myself to where I can breathe easier. Decluttering, working on my mental and physical state, and generally just being healthier. I feel a lot better about where I am and where I’m going. I want Ellison to live in a healthier home, so he has been inspirational on that front. I seem him starting to look around our place more and I don’t want him to grow up with hoarding tendencies or any of my other unhealthy habits.
I’ve had this awesome* link open for a few weeks now. I love that apartment so much! I wish we could take our awesome* front windows and do something similar. Maybe just huge sliding windows you could open up. Then it’d be like our entire apartment was outside. I think in order for that to work for us, we’d have to get smarter cats. El would be OK, but Sensei gets very excited about open windows so I worry he’d fall out. And it’d make our building look a little weird, because the current windows look pretty awesome* in the facade.
I could see that renovation working on a building like the TVA Towers. I think it would be so awesome* if those towers were renovated into apartments. It’d bring so many new residents downtown, which would result in many more businesses and restaurants. And maybe even in lower rents, which would be great. Because downtown definitely has high rents. Ahh, daydreams!
*repeated use of the word ‘awesome’ probably because I got a grand total of less than 3 hours of sleep last night due to a teething baby boy. I could always go back and change some of those ‘awesomes’ to other adjectives, but meh.