Thursday, October 14, 2010

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being HatedConfessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim

nellie is my new hero. who doesn't want to channel more inner bitch? alison reveals all in this brave and emotional memoir... and the quirky part - her journey to france for the first time changes her life; the french adore la garce nellie! a quick read, dishy, filled with interesting anecdotes - a must for LHOTP fans!

View all my reviews

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Giant Ice Island Breaks Off from Greenland

A Giant Ice island has broken off from Petermann glacier in northern Greenland. It is 100 square miles - more than four times the size of Manhattan.

Cracks were noticed early in the year. Not since 1962 has such a large chunk of ice broken off in the Arctic. This scares me as much as killing civilians in Afghanistan or Iraq. It has a major effect on our future, yet no one is paying attention.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Combat Troops Not Leaving Iraq

Firedoglake has a good post on what exactly Obama means by Combat troops. The press has been reporting that all combat troops are leaving Iraq. Obama has never said this, though surely he has insinuated it. The units in Iraq will be "fully functional combat" units. The only difference is that we will now be calling them a different name. They are now termed Advise and Assist brigades by the Obama administration. The word Combat has been taken out.

As Firedoglake puts it, "no wonder the press missed it...they can't be expected to take dictation and fact-check it too." We are now left with the impression that we have troops over there, but they are filling up water jugs for kids or something. Not so. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Oh and by the way: July, 2010 was the deadliest month in Iraq since May, 2008.

Monday, July 26, 2010


I just turned on CNBC and was reminded they are a bunch of money grubbing suck holes.

"You're Terminated": The First Time I was Fired

I graduated from college in May, but I didn’t do what most college graduates do, like journey to Europe or grab a job in their chosen field, no I took the “road less travelled.” I went to work in a sandwich shop. My girlfriend wanted to get married, my Professor wanted me to go work for Bill Clinton, but I thought one more summer with my friends, just one more summer of idiocy made sense.

Mike and Chris worked at a D’Angelo’s sub shop. Since I lived with them I thought what the hell, an easy ride to work. Several of us lived together extending our youth into our mid-twenties. My $200 of rent should be easy to come by there, I thought. As it turned my fancy college degree didn’t hold much merit in this world, nor should it. Delivering sandwiches to the Merrimack Valley required a car, which I borrowed and a map which I continuously read wrong.

“Hey son, when I eat my sandwich there is never enough ham on it.” a customer told my friend Chris, who had been promoted to shift supervisor.

“Sir, we put three pieces of ham on every sandwich” he repeated to him. “Just put some ham on it!” The man demanded.

This was high stakes drama.

The problem remained, however I couldn’t save any money. I drank and partied away all of my proceeds like the responsible 25 year old I had become. Alas I decided to apply for another job at Hess gas station. I pictured it. I would sit behind the window and take money for the gas all the while reading Thoreau and Emerson, contemplate my next move and pocket a whopping $5.00 per hour. Opportunities like this didn’t grow on trees.

The summer continued exactly as planned until I woke up one morning, dastardly hung over and needed to be at D’Angelo’s for the day shift and then off to Hess for the night shift.I dragged myself in for 10:00 am for lunch prep. Lunch began at 11:00 am and my head throbbed. The entire lunch shift I dreamed of my bed. Then, Rob, our boss asked me to stay late passed the lunch shift.

“I can’t. I have to work at Hess tonight. Unless you want to call in sick for me?” I smirked.

“Ok,” he said. “I’ll call for you if you stay until five.” “Deal.” Leaving at five sounding infinitely better than 11:00 pm. I was dreaming of my bed.

“What are you gonna say?” I asked. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “Give me the phone number.”

Rob, our boss was just like us, except he was a real human. He had a full-time job, a wife, a child, a mortgage, the whole kit and Kaboodle. He liked to live vicariously through us and we pretended we wanted what he had. I guess most did want what he had, a beautiful wife and child and a manager position. It sounded like death to me, but I kept that to myself.

“Hi,” I hear Rob say. “Yeah, ah, John Salois can’t come into work today.” A long pause. I start to become a little nervous. “Well, because he’s ahh…well, he’s in Canada.”

“What the fuck, Rob?” I bark. “Canada?”

Mike and Chris howl in the background as they ready to leave their shifts at 3PM. I waive them away from the phone. He hangs up the phone, guilty.

“I panicked” he says. “I didn’t really think much beyond telling her you weren’t coming in.” “Did she buy it?” I asked. “I think so.” I shrug, “whatever.”

Fifteen minutes later, my boss at Hess comes streaming through the double doors of D’Angelo’s sub shop. Hess gas station is one mile down route 28 from D’Angelo’s. Same street, same town. This, somehow never occurred to me while hatching the perfect plan. Rob, Mike and Chris scramble to the back room . I have never seen three grown men run so fast. They ran scared from a tiny woman in a Hess uniform. Suddenly, I become indignant at the intrusion into my privacy.

“What are you doing here?!” I say in front of a shop full of customers. Everyone turns to look.
“What am I doing here?” she says as she cuts the line. “What are you doing here? I thought you were in Canada!” Voracious laughter from the back startles everyone.

“Listen, I have customers” I tell her.” Suddenly loyal to the job I have.

“What is going on? Are you coming into work tonight?”

I can’t believe my ears. She still wants me to work.

“Well, I am working here until five. You know, I-I can’t.”Describing the situation as if somehow by accident I can’t make the shift.

She looked at me, and then turned to look at the customers behind her, all of us staring at her. She turns back to me in anger with disdain covering her face and emphatically says:

“You’re terminated!”

I realize my post-college dream life needs some work.

Shirley Sherrod

Race debate - create & infiltrate-reverse the hate - we take the bait-castrate-bifurcate-abrogate- wait -apostate-courage is innate mate

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Democracy Now! American Massacre in Iraq

Important discussion on the American massacre in Iraq.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Virginia Declares April Confederate History Month

Governor McDonnell of Virginia declares April, 2010 Confederate History month. Both his two predecessors, Kaine and Warner abandoned the proclamation. Would this not be akin to celebrating Nazi month? I mean was not slavery a holocaust, but instead of four years it lasted two centuries. And then after this terrible war that emancipated slaves in this country the American South engaged in an all out rebellion against the rule of law, murder, mayhem, denying black americans true citizenship until the 1960's. Is this something to be proud? Apparently, in Virginia it is:

WHEREAS, April is the month in which the people of Virginia joined the Confederate States of America in a four year war between the states for independence that concluded at Appomattox Courthouse; and

WHEREAS, Virginia has long recognized her Confederate history, the numerous civil war battlefields that mark every region of the state, the leaders and individuals in the Army, Navy and at home who fought for their homes and communities and Commonwealth in a time very different than ours today; and

WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our Commonwealth’s shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present

Video Reveals US Air Crew Gunning Down Civilians, Journalists and Children

This is a sickening display of cowardice. The video shows American soldiers high above hovering in a helicopter shooting and killing civilians and journalists. The story was that they encountered a firefight and engaged. As you can see by this video they shot unnarmed journalists and civilians and then laughed about, joking about dead children. This chilling video needs to be seen by everyone so we can bring this war and the Afghanistan war to a speedy end.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Obama's War

Now, that healthcare is over, let us dedicate our energy to ending these wars.


I watched Morning Stooge this morning, brewed by fucking Starbucks and for some reason became enraged at the fact that Mika Brezinski refers to herself as a liberal. She is about as liberal as Joe Scarborough. She rails against anyone who has the audacity to call Sarah Palin, what she is, scary. Sexism, she calls it. Setting aside the fact that it diminishes sexism to use it in such vein, any self-respecting liberal is flabbergasted at what comes out of Sarah Palin's mouth, the hate and vile she spews on a daily basis. Mika is from a long line of clintocrats that accept anything that is thrown at them, no matter what the consequences. Cozy up to the corporate scum just to be included in the room. And don't criticize too much, "everyone is trying really hard!" Too bad, her father is a genius.

The conversation on the show drifted with Pat Buchanan, who is as far right and as racist a commentator on television, to the Tea Party activists and compared these protests to Watts, Detroit and Newark in the 60's. There was as much intellectual dishonesty on the television as I have seen in quite sometime. They were about to have Gene Robinson come on and knock some sense into them, but the cable went out because of the monsoon outside. Noah, please save me. It is probably a good thing I didn't really want to throw my coffee at the television anyway. I needed it with the rain.

It also seems, on the right wing scaryville Hannity has gotten himself into some hot water. They (Hannity and Oliver North) are exploiting american veterans for personal and partisan gain. Go figure.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Obama Lauds the Mass Firing of Rhode Island Teachers

On February 23, 2010 the Central Falls, Rhode Island school trustees fired over 90 teachers, the entire teaching staff. The decision was done supposedly because of declining test scores. Central Falls is near Providence, the smallest city in the state and also the poorest. In the greatest jobs crises since the Great Depression the city put out of work the entire school. In all 93 people were put out on the street, the school psychologist, nurses, reading specialist, etc. What actually happened was the school wanted to add duties without pay to teachers, the union objected and they retaliated. This is union busting, plain and simple.

The Obama administration applauded the decision emphatically. He said the firings were justified. His education Secretary, Arne Duncan applauded them for their "courage." Ok, so if bad test were only the teachers fault I think they might have a point. But, it happens to be about poverty, racism, classism, inner city crime, etc. and blaming it on the teachers might make everyone feel better, but it will do nothing for whether these kids in Central Falls actually learn. Firing all 93 teachers is an outrage.

I guess, Obama thinks the same about all industries right? I mean this happened during the financial crisis right? Ahh. Wrong. Nine of 10 executives in the bailouts still remain in their jobs. Thank you to firedoglake for pointing this out. And all of these people were allowed to keep their pay and their bonuses. I mean after all they only caused the greatest financial crisis in 80 years it isn't like they teach children or anything.

Good to be consistent Obama. Sign the petition for the Rhode Island Teachers fired.

Monday, March 1, 2010

So, Glenn Beck Really is that Stupid

Far be it from me to be quoting CNN for a study, but I found this and thought it quite interesting. Political, religious and sexual behaviors may be reflections of intelligence. Now, this isn't news to us, the northeast, liberal, elitist, commie, terror loving, gay bastards.

The study finds, however on average that people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQ's. And men (not women) who were monogamous also had higher IQ's. Go figure. We aren't busy chasing our little thing around all day. The findings are even more interesting and all kidding aside. It is what Daniel Goleman would call the new brain. The findings, atheism, liberalism and sexual exclusivity all go against our evolutionary past. In other words, none of these traits would have benefited our ancestors. Thank God (no pun intended) I am alive today.

Participants who said they were religious had an average IQ of 97 and those who said they were not religious had an average IQ of 103. Very conservative people had an average IQ of 95 and very liberal had an average IQ of 106. Now, the study does not say to extrapolate about other people, but it did get me to thinking about Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. Hmmm...Read the rest of the article here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The 12 Best Movies of 2009

This year's film class (as opposed to last year) was so viably good I needed to include a 2+ category and thought an extra two films deserved acclaim. Last year I could have done a top five and ended it at that. Not this year. The films were plentiful, full of wonder in some cases. I think film, in the end represents the times in which we live and at their best hold a mirror up to us. These 12 films I think did that best. Other films of interest that I liked are An Education, 500 Days of Summer, the Hangover (hilarious) and Adventureland. But, these are the best.

#12 Precious

Precious is a wonderful film. When I heard Oprah and Tyler Perry were producing I sought to avoid it at all costs. But, then I read the reviews and they were good. I saw it and was quite frankly blown away. Gabourney Sidibe gives a remarkable performance and is highly deserving of an Oscar nomination. Mariah Carey also stars in her role as the social worker. The teacher, I think gives the weakest performance. Mo'Nique gives one of the most emotionally charged performances on film I have ever seen. Amazing film.

#11 Crazy Heart

Jeff Bridges gives the performance of a lifetime, in what has been a remarkable career. I don't believe he has any competition for Best Actor this year. It is a great film, though Maggie Gyllenhall aggravated me. I am not sure why. She is usually wonderful on screen. It is a movie of hope, in a pretty hopeless and depressing situation with a completely unsentimental ending.

#10 UP

(Sorry for the terrible trailer for some reason Disney unembedded them). Up is a great film, though so visually beautiful it is hard to focus. Unlike any animated film you have seen. It follows Carl Fredrickson to his dream vacation, one that he has wanted to take for 75 years.

#9 The Fantastic Mr. Fox

The Fantastic Mr. Fox was Wes Anderson's latest brain child and he delivers. George Clooney stars as the lead who likes to steal and Jason Schwarzman as Ash, his young overlooked son. The Village Voice summed this film up delightfully, "in the end this film is entirely human." When animation does that you have something special. The Fantastic Mr. Fox steals from some nasty farmers and we root like crazy for them.

#8 Sugar

This film, Sugar is like bizarro Bull Durham. And it is an entirely American film. We follow Miguel "Sugar" Santos through the travails of the Dominican camps to play in the major leagues. He comes to the states with a rocket for an arm and what he finds here is wholly surprising and the story becomes a story of survival, of immigration, hard work and of what dreams are really made of. Amazing film.

#7 Up in the Air

I loved "Up in the Air." I didn't expect to like so many movies more than this one. But, it is a great film. We watch Clooney and his new employee, Anna Kendrick completely derail everything they know about themselves and their world. Phenomenal performances from everyone involved. But, we watch a highly believable Clooney who has organized his life so as not to get hurt, so as not to have any surprises. But, it falls apart in the hands of Kendrick and then Vera Farmiga. Many surprises along the way wield crises for all involved. It is entirely about our society, what we hold dear, strong, together, organized, when none of us are that way at all. We are a hopeless lot, but we try anyway.

#6 The Messenger

The Messenger is the most provocative film of the year. It was startling to watch. Th emotional trauma of war has never been captured like it has here. Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson and Samantha Morton give beautiful performances, all worthy of an Oscar. The fact that the Messenger isn't nominated and trash, like the Blind Side tells you everything you need to know about the Oscars.

#5 The Cove

"The Cove" is the rare film that is both brilliant and a social commentary. It acts as a caper, like the Brinks Job, but it is so much more. Because there is also something the viewer can do to stop the inhumane treatment of animals, that also corrodes the food supply and is helping to destroy the planet. The film follows the lead, who was a trainer on the show "Flipper" who is now the premier activist to shut down a Japanese cove known for massacring dolphins. Best documentary of the year.

#4 Sin Nombre

I didn't think I would see a better film this year when I saw this in early 2009. It is both terrifying and heartbreaking. A young Honduran girl travels a trail of horror to attempt emigration to the United States through the Mexican/Texas border. What she has to do to get there is chilling. It is a story of beauty and the triumph of the human spirit.

#3 The Hurt Locker

This is the best American film of the year (only trailer I could find). Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackey give startling performances. Technically difficult, a great script and Katherine Bigelow's direction is astonishing. Like the great "Stop Loss" and "the Messenger" it is provocative and it feels as if we are there with them. An uncanny piece of filmmaking.

#2 White Ribbon

This masterwork may be the most memorable of all films of 2009. It won the palm d'or at Cannes last year. It is about a German village just before the onset of World War I. It has been misconstrued as a film about German fascism. What it actually is about is terrorism and our treatment of people who have no recourse, but to resort to their own savagery to survive. Haneke has made many a provocative film, Cache comes to mind, but none like this one. He pushes the envelope and never lets on exactly what is happening leaving the viewer to imagine their own secrets. This film is scarier than any horror film I have ever seen. Wonderfully acted and directed. Wow.

#1 Fish Tank

This film actually came in 2nd at Cannes to "White Ribbon." I think it is better, however. It is like "Precious" in that it exposes horrendous childhood trauma and like "An Education" with an older man in the mix, but it goes far deeper than both films, exposing a raw emotional charge rarely seen on film. Newcomer Katie Jarvis gives a performance 30 year veterans wish they gave. Nothing about this film is predictable and it left me searing afterwards unable to leave the conjured images of children as unwanted victims in a world gone mad.

Best Actor - Jeff Bridges
Best Actress - Carey Mulligan
Supporting Actor - Woody Harrelson (I haven't seen inglorious basterds)
Supporting Actress - Mo'nique
Director - Katherine Bigelow
Screenplay - The Hurt Locker
Adapted screenplay - Up in the Air
Song - The weary Kind
Film - The Hurt Locker

Prediction: Sandra Bullock wins. They will give her an Oscar for giving an ok performance in what has been a disastrous career. That is how they roll.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dick Durbin on Tort Reform

I have long tried to argue the merits of not enacting Medical Malpractice reform the way the nasty Republicans want to do it. They act like it is a savior to our system when what it is - is actually a giveaway to Doctors and hospitals who screw up. Dick Durbin makes the case dramatically and beautifully.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Where Did Anti-Trust Enforcement Go?

An interesting article on Washington Monthly this morning (that I found on Firedoglake) is asking where did all the jobs go? Many believe that unemployment is the greatest threat to our economy and that job growth will be weak for up to a decade. Job growth fell off at the end of the Bush administration and now is non-existent. Why? Why are there no jobs to be created?

This Washington Monthly article points to an issue I have been screaming about for a decade. The real reason there are no jobs is corporate consolidation brought on by "weak anti-trust enforcement in Washington. They say that industries from banking to retail to microchips are now so dominated by a few firms that small businesses (the source of most jobs) cannot thrive and challenge the behemoths. The result is a less innovative and dynamic economy.

If this argument is right then as an American government we need to start enforcing anti-trust laws, something that vanished beginning under Reagan, but Clinton even more so in my opinion, brought on by globalization. It is going to be a long road.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stimulus save jobs? You decide.

So, when Republicans say the stimulus didn't work, what the f*** are they talking about? This is pretty obvious. It is true, the stimulus should have been bigger, should have focused on infrastructure more, re-building a green economy and our transportation system. But, to say this thing didn't create one job defies credibility.

And then these morons actually take credit for it, when it suits them. Just awful.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Corporate States of America

Listen to Grayson talk about the Citizens United decision. It is the equivalent of the Dred Scott decision from 1857. Those are might words.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Corporate Coakley and the Corporate Democrats

Another reason the dems are losing in Massachusetts is that well, Democrats are a bunch of corporate hacks. Proof positive below:

Coakley in the political fight of her life took time out to attend a Washington, DC fundraiser at $10,000 a plate. See the list for yourself. It is quite disgusting that Democrats are in bed with the likes of Pfizer, Merck, Brystol Myers, etc. Is there any wonder that Democrats cut a deal with Big Pharma about the reimportation of drugs to the United States that keeps their deal in tact and Americans out of the loop.

Is there any wonder really that Massachusetts might elect a Republican to Ted Kennedy's seat? Really, what is the difference between Martha Coakley and Scott Brown? One tells you he hates healthcare reform and that we should protect the lobbyists. The other one tells you we should pass healthcare reform and then gets in bed with all the lobbyists who want to kill it. It is truly disgusting and I could care less anymore whether Martha Coakley wins or not. There is no party that protects and represents the people anymore. Who can tell the difference between corporate parties?

The Massachusetts Senate Race: Shame on the Democrats

All of a sudden there is a groundswell of Republicanism in Massachusetts seems to be the media slogan. This liberal bastion of Massachusetts is going to vote in a Republican. Oh, my God!!! This is of course, a pile of shit. Yes, it is true the position of Senator has been dominated by Kennedy and Kerry for quite a while and democrats actually since 1979. But, what most of the pundits fail to understand, Massachusetts is not a so-called liberal state. Boston is quite liberal and Cambridge is a bastion of left wingedness (a beautiful place, like Portland, Oregon and San Francisco). It is not etched in stone, however that Ma. will elect a statewide Democrat.

Ted Kennedy had the fight of his life in 1994 against Mitt Romney and nearly lost. Ted Kennedy had a conflicted relationship with Massachusetts, he was our favored son, but one we rebuked often and scorned, but always we decided he should represent us, instead of that fortunate son, Mitt Romney, the guy who was partly from Michigan and Utah, but certainly not Massachusetts. He is after all a carpetbagger, through and through. But, we accept that too, that is part of the political landscape. Even Kerry had a tough fight in his first re-election bid against Miles Rappaport and against Weld.

And up until Deval Patrick was elected the Governor of Massachusetts, it was dominated by Republicans, from 1990 to 2007. Campaigning statewide has never been a given for Democrats, even in Senate races. I grew up in Massachusetts and actually lived there for the majority of my first 28 years of life. I have viewed politics as an observer and as an activist. Massachusetts is not liberal, at all. Where I grew up, it is full of working class people who as Jimmy Barnes said: "Working hard to make a living...They believe in God and Elvis...have denim in their veins." Northeastern Massachusetts is similar to parts of the midwest, patriotic (which means "we fight and the limousine liberals complain"), socially conservative (abortion, divorce, gay marriage very much frowned upon), not many college graduates ("those lily livered, latte drinking Ivy leaguers won't tell me what to do!") and conventionally economically liberal (pro-union, think the rich get away with murder, etc.).

These voters voted heavily for Obama on his populist message, but also voted for Bush twice, probably voted for Clinton and gave Reagan his mandate, though the state decidedly went Democrat in those elections. But, these voters sway. And these voters get more conservative as you go out West toward New York. They also don't like when you lie to them as it is easily argued Obama lied about healthcare, Wall St, etc. These voters are weary of government, but also believe it is government's job to help, unlike say in Texas where the same voters would probably call this socialism. In Ma., it is not like that, the working class folks want relief from the government and healthcare reform (as in a public option, not the current bill that is designed to piss everyone off). So, they are pissed and in my opinion, rightly so. The democrats, though I hope win don't deserve this, at all.

Martha Coakley seems to be a bad candidate. She thought the seat was hers, didn't really want to work hard and Brown populism took over. He just may have enough in his tank. He is a good looking candidate, who doesn't have to say much, can contradict himself all over the place and not have to answer for it because he is riding a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment. But, Brown also has a ceiling. The democratic registration far outweighs a lot of the anti-incumbency. If the Dems get the vote out , they can win, period. If they don't it is going to be a nail biter.

I would have predicted Coakley a day or so ago, but it seems like a perfect storm and if I were a guessing man, I might lean Brown right now. Shame on the Democrats.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Healthcare Crisis Part II: The "Benefits" of Health Insurance

On Thursday, St. Vincent’s who “accepts” both insurances requested Juliette bring the films as soon as possible. Since I work from home I volunteered. The UMDNJ is a typical hospital, white floors, white walls and white ceilings, however friendly medical staff dressed in blue pajamas smile at you and ask, “can I help you find something?” This is the same hospital I attended Physical and Occupational therapy for my hip and elbow. Memories. I picked up Juliette’s films from UMDNJ, paid a bored cashier and waited for the films. Directed to a waiting room, I sat and watched Rachel Ray as she made eggplant balls for Thanksgiving. “Do people actually watch this?” I said out loud. Seven pairs of eyes stared at me as my name was called. Clemency.

I arrived in the city at St. Vincent’s, a beautiful facility on the west side not far from the structure on Seventh Avenue. The first thing I noticed as I walked in was a cappuccino maker, various teas and thousands of magazines. Not bad I thought. I can wait here in peace. The walls were bright, the office neat, it felt like a children’s hospital. A beautiful young looking Chinese American woman, nervous stood before me, Juliette’s age, waiting to speak to a Secretary. We both hemmed and hawed for 10 minutes as they stood just outside our vision talking. Not a good sign, I thought. Though, quickly after we caught their attention, they attended to us and I was on my way back to Jersey City. They gave me a date of November 17th for an appointment. Everything we could possibly do done, we took a sigh of relief and settled in for the week’s wait.

Juliette and I spoke about the procedure, what this means. Everyone we spoke to seemed to know some relative, aunt, mother, sister who had a similar procedure. “It will be fine” we were told. Except sometimes it wasn’t fine, which scared us a bit and our luck ran with the Irish. Non-existent. We decided to not discuss it and muddle through until the 17th, after all this is something thousands of Americans are experiencing at the same time, right? We need to wait and see and breathe.

On the Saturday before the procedure we received a letter in the mail from St. Vincent’s. “No need to come in for an appointment.” Juliette continued to read. “Wait six months. Probably benign, come back for a new mammogram in six months,” with a bill for $50 tucked in for all the work the medical staff perfromed. “We’re still going to the appointment I announced to Juliette.” “What are you talking about? They just cancelled the appointment!” “They can’t do that” I argued. “Well, they just fucking did!” Juliette said angrily. We pumped ourselves up for the appointment and now it is not to be. “Fuck!” I yelled. “What do we do?” I asked. “Is this reliable? Is this a good thing?”

The fifty dollars was a bill for their services. Juliette called them and said her insurance should cover it. “Well, you didn’t meet your deductible.” “What deductible? I have insurance.” “Right, but this is 'an out of network' claim.” Perplexed Juliette asked them “what the fuck are you talking about. I thought you said you accept healthnet?” “Technically we do “accept” healthnet, but only out of network benefits.” She connivingly said. In "out of network benefits" she explained, “You pay.” So, basically as long as they get their money? No need to tell the patient they will be paying the first $500 or $1000 in deductible instead of simply a “co-pay,” or “in network benefits.” Thank god, we didn't have them perform the procedure, I said.

We weighed our options. Some told us to wait the six months. Juliette would receive another mammogram, and eventually have the biopsy anyway” was the advice. What is the point of that? Juliette asked her personal physician, “what should I do?” “If it were me,” she said. “I just don’t know.” Helpful. Juliette did not want to have her boobs shoved in a machine again, just to be told you need to have a biopsy, “what is the point of that?” she repeated. I agreed and encouraged her to seek a second opinion, though she was not happy about it.

Like controversy was made for us, new mammogram guidelines were released on November 17th, the day we were supposed to be attending an appointment with St. Vincent’s. These new guidelines sparked immediate controversy. A government advisory board made up of medical professionals said women should not be receiving mammograms until the age of 50. Our eyes perked. The guidelines written by a government panel essentially said that getting screened for breast cancerso early and so often leads to too many false alarms and unneeded biopsies without substantially improving women's odds of survival.” That sounds about right actually. They sparked outrageous controversy and fear, the media talked about them for a while especially the Rethuglicans who thought it was a good way to derail healthcare reform.

Still, what if? What if Juliette is in that category of women that have no warning signs, could she afford to wait until she was 50? We decided that because she was already screened we would receive a second opinion. We wanted to see what an actual surgeon who examined her would indicate.

We arrived at the doctor’s office at 5:00 PM, right on time. We needed to be buzzed in, "come on this is Hoboken, are we afraid of robberies now?" I said. Not a seat in the house as Juliette checked in with the receptionist. Also, not a white face in the room, all low-income, primarily Latino clientèle. “What is this guy doing,” I thought to myself and intimated to Juliette. "Scheduling everyone he can before healthcare reform passes?" Juliette rolled her eyes with abandon and scoffed the first seat available. After about an hour of waiting and several chapters read in “the Last of her kind” I looked at Juliette and said, “what the fuck?” He comes recommended Juliette said. Dr. B, her personal physician that operates as a community clinic recommended him.

We were called in, he was young, our age actually, he just turned 40. Is that still young? He was Latino, good looking and competent, and calming. He immediately told us “you should have the procedure done.” He explained the procedure and why he thought Juliette might benefit. "Most likely, in six months you will be right back here anyway." he said. "Plus, it is probably benign, but there is no way of telling unless the procedure is actually done." Juliette felt comfortable with him, so we scheduled the procedure for December 23rd. Done. The scheduler seemed nice, but she told us “I can’t schedule you at Hoboken Medical Center. I am having problems there and the Radiologist there is not on the schedule.” So, she scheduled us for an "ambulatory center" in North Bergen. Only two weeks to wait.

A week flashed by and we still hadn’t heard from the office, she informed us she would call to approve the procedure with Oxford, Juliette’s insurance company and then call us back. We started to worry. Five days before the procedure we started to panic. Juliette called her insurance company. “You are not covered at the ambulatory facility” she was told. "You will pay upwards of 2,000 dollars if the procedure is performed there." "You have not been approved, nor will you be approved.” "No one has called you from Dr. Costa’s office?” Nicole asked. “Nope.” And she intimated, "It sounds like they want you to use "out of network benefits."