Fighting the Fight

No, I’m not dead. I’m so alive and ready to move, it seems unreal, and I’m going to share as briefly as I’m able why I have not been present for some of the fun.

Since SO received his kidney transplant, we get up everyday, look at each other and grin. It is wonderful and humbling to be in this place, and I mean humbling in the best way possible. Recently it occurred to me that I regained the SO of ten years ago. There were things I had grown accustomed to doing without namely his very quick mind, and now he’s back and the force I had encountered as a young woman in college and never having seen his like. I really thought I had remembered this clearly and have even written about it on this blog, but I was wrong. My memory did not hold a candle to what he really is, and it’s so wonderful to have him return that I’m almost like a babbling idiot when I look at him.

But there’s a dark side to what has been going on. We’re in a crucible. When he became a transplant recipient, he became eligible for Medicare. Considering the exorbitant cost of insurance that we have been paying the last several years, it made total sense for him to go on Medicare for the three years he’s allotted, and we did all we were supposed to do to bring this about. Dotted all the i’s. Crossed all the t’s. But something got screwed up on the government’s end. We have begged and pleaded to get it fixed, and we had to retain a lawyer. It is still not fixed, and the problem is the mistake they made cost us SO’s health insurance as well as potentially costing well over $100K. But most important, it may cost SO’s ability to get his immuno-suppressant drugs. He went to get just one drug and found out the insurance was canceled and was told he would have to pay $3,800 for a month’s supply. Without it, his transplant is effectively useless. All of his drugs cost over $8,000 a month out-of-pocket without insurance or Medicare coverage.

We could buy a policy, but it will cost a few thousand a month. With everything going on, it’s not prudent to commit to that. In the meantime, we did get some temporary assistance from a program that helped us pay for the drugs at a reasonable cost and were treated like we were mooching when we went to the office to apply. Unbelievable when we have never taken advantage of assistance. Our thinking has been that we’re able-bodied and need to take care of ourselves and leave programs for others who are not able. Since we were really in need this time, we availed ourselves. But what a demeaning process. I feel for those who have been through it. And please know we did not enter that office with haughtiness. We were grateful to be there but were still treated awfully as were others we witnessed and most of those terribly sick. That was the hardest thing — to see people who were not really able to manage the process be treated as if they were lowlifes.

Anyway, this thing has already almost beggared us at times, and we hesitate to completely wipe out our retirement, but if we have to do that, we will, and we have already been depleting it to deal with these staggering costs. And that with the knowledge it will be difficult to replenish. And why is all of this happening? Because a lady at one of the Social Security offices completely fouled up SO’s application,and I’m thankful that I don’t feel compelled to use the ‘f’ word I would have used a month ago. A particular meltdown in the middle of a neighboring town might have helped. Something happened about a week or so ago, and I literally was sitting in my vehicle alone yelling my head off over and over and over again. I’m sure if anyone happened to see me that they thought I was insane. After I calmed down and my heart rate slowed down, I let go of feeling that SO and I were almost completely alone in this fight and realized God is with us. In the midst of this realization, I began to be thankful that we have quite a paper trail to prove the government’s error, and now we just need to prove it. We have filed an appeal. But before we were able to do that or learned we could do that, the time and money spent on pursuing Social Security has been enormous. I won’t bore you with all of that. Just trust me that it has run us ragged hence the keening like a banshee. Certainly this place was not priority in the midst of that, and this is not an apology.

I said in another post that everything that is happening is making me into a crusader. I meant that about the insurance industry, and now I am becoming zealous about the government’s role as well. And my friends, I am a bulldog, but I don’t mean to imply that I’m rude. I abhor rudeness. But I have been accused a few times in my life of being tenacious and mostly from people paying it as a compliment with a couple of times meant as a criticism. Sadly, I’ve mostly recalled the criticism. Isn’t that how it always happens in our minds? But today, I’m glad I’m a bulldog. I’m glad I’m a fighter. I’m glad I’m not someone who easily gives up on something, and I thank God for that ability. He gets the credit.

Frankly, sometimes I like to think of God like Chuck Norris. No offense to the Lord, but I figure He can take on anything. Even Social Security. :D And yeah, the SS office can feel like thousands of cars barreling in on you:


Earlier today when SO and I were speaking to a government investigator and the investigator said we have been through a lot, SO said, “I appreciate you saying that,” and later in the conversation said to the man, “I want to say again I appreciate you acknowledging our situation, but I keep thinking of all the people who are elderly or infirm or insolvent enough they cannot pursue a government error. What do those people do? I can’t stop wondering about them.” Yep, that is what keeps coming back to our minds. When this is over for us, we plan on doing something to help. I’m not sure what yet, but whatever it is this hard won knowledge we’re acquiring daily can’t simply stop with us. It’s just too dear to keep for ourselves alone.

All of that aside, I have so many things lined up to post here that are on the subject, and I am not giving up on those either. They’re fun and make me laugh or at least feel good, and I plan to share them. So bear with me as I deal with the crucible and am erratic in sharing my Richard Armitage grins. That’s how I think of them — even the things that are sometimes uncomfortable. Maybe I’m warped in that thinking, but I don’t believe so. I think (arrogantly perhaps) that my vision of life is becoming crystal clear, and I’m thankful to God for that and that I am not angry at the lady at the Social Security office, whose head I could have wrung off her shoulders at one point. I’m passed that now and glad because that kind of anger just clouds the mind, and I need it clear to continue.

Thanks for listening, and I’m skipping on a Richard picture today. Go over and look at Pinterest. :D

“Merry Christmas”

Last night I went to a Christmas Eve service at the church house, and it was one of the best I’ve ever attended. It wasn’t that there was beautiful pomp to embrace. There was no pomp. It was people coming through the doors as themselves and feeling they were meeting friends because they were! Oh, it was a motley crew to be sure, but all the more special because of it. God doesn’t make cookie cutters.

When I was a kid, I had visions of church being like this and especially a place where the brokenhearted could come and know there was peace, joy and love because God was there. I saw it last night in a way that made even my dreams pale.

All of this has me wondering once again what others think about the phrase “Merry Christmas.” Of course it can mean the fun of the holiday, or the kindness that’s often shown in lavish amounts more than the rest of the year, or it’s an amenity. But too often it’s associated with something stilted and dare I say, religious. I heard Richard Armitage say he’s not religious. I’m not either, and I mean that in the sense I rarely feel compelled to observe rituals in my relationship with the Lord. His magnificence is simply there and He’s not going away. Hallelujah! It makes me want to share it and say Merry Christmas everyday!

If you have trouble watching this video from my site, click on the YouTube icon in the lower right corner to watch it on YT.

NOTE: for some reason unknown to me, the singer of this song followed me on Twitter this week. Maybe she’s a Richard Armitage fan. Whatever the case, I chuckled when I saw her twitter come up. Maybe she’ll figure out what a crazy place this is and quit following me (may have already), but I’m glad she’s done it long enough to remind me of the greatest gift I’ve received or ever will.

A New Addiction?

This is a follow on to my previous post.

I have been on Twitter for over three years, and it has opened up the world in a way that other social media or forums or any number of other online dynamics has never done for me. Just so you understand the magnitude of that statement from my perspective, I have had an internet id in one form or another since 1986 — several years before the Web was born and certainly before the general public even knew what the Internet was and maybe a couple of years before Al Gore invented it ;-). These were the days when the nice graphical user interface (GUI; pronounced gooey) that allows point and click existed. We could only hand key ping commands (which still run the Net under the covers today) into a command line, and the most sophisticated graphic was made with letters and symbols and viewed on a monochrome display. Eighty byte files we manually appended were used to create community, and those later became forums.

At that time, the only people on the Internet were the U.S. Military, a few other departments of the U.S. government, a few foreign groups, some universities doing R&D, and a handful of IT companies. We had a blast talking to each other about life and love and the future of technology, and I still have some of the bulletin board topics preserved in hard copy. They are precious to me because the interactions with those very thoughtful people literally and very dramatically changed my life. My views were expanded exponentially — in a way that reading thousands of books could probably never do. I was an avid reader at the time and still am, but the immense exchange of not only ideas but also of cultural perspectives had an energy to it that was like tapping into God. I believe in God, so my saying this is in no way making light of that. The Lord already knew all of this was going to happen with technology, and I love that He allows us to explore His creation.

There was also an awareness of God among that early online community. One of the topics often discussed was the pie in the sky of everyone talking to everyone else with immediate communications and how that could be construed as rebuilding the Tower of Babel and what all of that might really mean. Thankfully, I realized very quickly that I have no desire to be God or to play Him with the use of a tool like the Net but rather to enjoy what God has facilitated and let it benefit mankind. For those of you who don’t believe there is a God, obviously, you can disregard, but I would be remiss in not giving tribute where I feel it is deserved.

All of these experiences insured that I would forever have a passion for IT and the Net. So it is my pleasure to try to stay up on what is happening with respect to technical advances and especially with regard to communications. I don’t really have the view that I have to keep up with my kids. They usually have to keep up with me! LOL!

Fast forward 26 years, and Twitter is the realization of decades of dreaming and planning and building of a foundation for communications that is even better than I thought it would be. Does it have some problems? Are people involved? :D Yet it’s fantastic because relationships are integral to it. Isn’t that the point ultimately?

And for the recent moves by Twitter to do some censorship, I don’t sweat that because people have become inured to easy access to each other, and techies are the most rabid about preserving it. There’s no going back. So even if Twitter really starts clamping down, something else will spring up to take its place. But for now, this is the thing.

edit: oooh, lots of typos and bad sentences in this. That’s what I get for posting without editing. Ouch! LOL! I’ve fixed the typos I saw. You’ll have to live with the bad sentences. :D

Following My Bliss

Spoilers for Robin Hood Series 2 & 3

Two days ago someone posted this video on Twitter:

Pompeii by E.S. Posthumus from their Unearthed CD.

I’ve talked about this one before as it’s been one of my favorites since I first saw it almost a year ago. From its finely done editing to its music, this is one of the best Strike Back videos and all around fan videos. There is nothing awkward in it. No moments when the music sounds incidental to the scenes. Just a tightly knit casting of John Porter’s life coming at you. But mostly what draws me is the feeling he has a much greater destiny than the machinations of an MI-6 agent. The sounds of a celestial choir no doubt contribute to this sense.

After I was done watching that one, I moved onto some others that for two to three years I’ve gone back to again and again. Most of them were set to background or theme music and most of them had a sense of the epic, which is what first drew me to fan videos and eventually led me to discovering Richard Armitage. I’ve had an affinity for this musical genre since I was a little kid and dreamed of writing movie scores for a living. One of my fondest childhood memories is spending hours and hours at the piano picking out expansive tunes and trying to perfect them. It’s still one of my favorite pastimes, and I can spend considerable time doing it.

For years after I was grown, I thought this was something entirely frivolous and hoped I would eventually snap out of it. And I did for a couple of years. But I’m coming to understand in a way I didn’t even come close to doing before that this sense of the epic is part of who I am and part of everyone else, and we are all part of it. We’re all part of something epic going on. We were formed to be eternal people with a destiny, and I find myself reveling in this more and more. Although at some points in my life I have considered the antithesis — that we’re a pale mosaic of organisms which has no purpose other than forming some random picture, but I’m not tempted by that any longer and haven’t been for many years. It’s unsatisfying and frankly, boring. Whenever I did feel myself beginning to take the yoke of that thinking, the cells in my body would go into rebellion, and when I examined what was so disturbing, I realized the random picture doesn’t square with the need to seek out my story, our stories, the story.

And how interesting that stories are so important to most of us, and quite a few reading this blog are especially attuned to them. It’s what holds us together as people and more specifically what holds many of us together in our fascination with Richard Armitage. There are plenty of very good looking actors. Plenty of tall actors. Plenty with a wonderful timbre to their voices. Plenty with pleasing personalities. What sets him apart is his determination to get at the story. Of course just like most of us, he’s done things to ensure he didn’t starve, but it seems he’s trying to get at the story as much possible. Or perhaps I’m putting my own views on all of you and should say that I’m fascinated with dear ol’ Richard chiefly because of his infatuation with the story, and certainly by what it is that motivates him so much to get at it and in a way that’s true. I’ll talk more about this later. For now this will have to continue as one of those loose ends along with the others laying around this blog.

So I’ve spent a couple of days rewatching videos that have a sense of the epic, and of all the videographers I’ve watched, none does a better job of putting a finger on the pulse of the story and bringing it to life for others than Angela (aka Spikesbint or Angelfish69).

One of the first that comes to mind:

“Ashielf Pi” by E.S. Posthumus from Cartographer

One of the first I saw of hers:

“Intro” by Caliban from Small Boy and a Grey Heaven

One that does not involve Richard Armitage:

“Central Park” by James Newton Howard from King Kong Soundtrack

One of her birthday tributes to Richard. Be sure to check out her others, and I hope she does one this year. This one made me cry the first several times I saw it:

“Generations” by Immediate from Trailerhead and “The Loss of Yours” by Adrian Johnston from Becoming Jane Soundtrack

And a masterpiece, which I can wax on and on and on about:

“End Music from Atonement” by X Ray Dog from The Vision

Here are some others who have done a superb job of capturing the story with epic music, but I’m only posting one video from each of them in the interest of not having this post go on and on.


“The Wolsey Commits Suicide / Finale” by Trevor Morris on The Tudors Soundtrack

One of the first North and South videos that was my favorite, and I still love it. By PoleStar00:

“Lake Constance” by Mike Oldfield from Millennium Bell

One by PhoenixLupin, who has some wonderful Richard Armitage videos, but this happens to be about “The Fall”:

“Summoning of the Muse” by the Dead Can Dance from Within the Realm Of A Dying Sun

I’ve labeled all of the videos with their musical pieces, but unfortunately, not all of that music is easily available to the public. That is slowly changing. Some other theme composers who are used by quite a few videographers are Craig Armstrong, Dario Marianelli, Howard Shore of LOTR fame, Ennio Morricone, Jerry Goldsmith, Martin Phipps and Andy Price. There are also artists who frequently can sound epic but do not technically fall into the background or theme music genre. Some of those are Within Temptation, Secret Garden, Tarja, Linkin Park, Muse, and Coldplay.

Oh, and I swear James Newton Howard and Thomas Newman are the same guy, or is it just me who thinks they sound exactly alike? :D

And my mood is expectant as I’m listening to “Unbreakable” by James Newton Howard from the Unbreakable Soundtrack.