Health Care

I am well aware at this moment in time that this is a very touchy subject for most people.  If you are reading this analysis, I appreciate it and I hope that it will not make you angry or upset, but that it will simply help you to see a point of view.

Earlier on in the year, I had great confidence that this health care reform bill would pass quickly and with little problem (yes, naive).  At this point, I am not so sure.  I do not generally find myself saying prayers about politics but now I am – about this, at least.  I am afraid that we will not get what this country so badly needs.  The government does have a tendency to mess things up, but we are not  speaking here of a system that is not already messed up.  How much worse does this have to get before we finally let them intervene?

I am writing this as a person who is currently insured and insured very well.  My husband and child are also insured and we do not have many problems with our insurance company.  BUT this is because I happen to work for the state (another government entity by the way) and my employer contributions for my health insurance are amazing.  I am fairly certain that I was born on the Medicaid system, which was little burdensome to my mother.  And my father was in the military so I had great insurance up until I turned 22 and was out of college.

I went for 2 years without any type of insurance and thankfully did not have many illnesses during that time period but when I did, I could not see a doctor.  I got pink eye for the first and only time then.  And well, do you know what it’s like having pink eye and not getting treatment?  It sucked – it sucked REALLY bad.  Basically I had to wait it out while I tried a bout a million of my mom’s home remedies.  Thankfully the body can eventually recover itself from most things.  That was probably the worst that happened to me and it was minor in comparison.

Now I am watching many of my siblings with the same problem.  One of my sisters is a pre-school teacher trying to get through school.  She is uninsured because she can’t afford to buy health insurance from her employer.  She suffers from chronic tonsil problems (much like I did before I had my tonsils removed last winter), which leaves her sick and feeling pretty crappy most of the time.  This past time she caught strept throat and pink eye also and was forced to visit one of those stop n’ go clinics at Walgreens.  It cost her nearly $70 to be seen and receive medications that she needed.  Thank God the antibiotic was free at Publix.  But, for a single woman trying to get through school that $70 is crippling to her budget.  Whenever she has had emergencies, it’s a 12 hour trip to the emergency room because she is not required to pay.  However, those gracious hospitals will treat but ensure that she is billed for it later.  So the medical bills pile up.  I’m scared that she will be forced into bankruptcy like many other Americans have been.

I could go on and on for days about the uninsured, but what about those who are not insured very well?  Like me, Jose also faced a long time after college being uninsured.  When he got his new position at Zabatt, a small private company, he got insurance.  The first trip to the doctor proved that he was wasting a pretty big chunk of money on a bi-weekly basis.  The specialist saw him for a co-pay of $50 and scheduled a procedure.  Before that procedure was to be performed, on top of the co-pay, an additional cost would need to be paid for the procedure somewhere in the ballpark of $500.  For a couple just out of college with a child, again that $500 is not worth it for preventative care.  Now, of course, a $500 bill for what I guess you would call, reactive care, would leave us with no choice but to be “worth it”.  Again, personal story, but NOTHING in comparison to what others have had to go through with their insurance companies.

Back to my uncertainty.  Will we be able to do this?  Will people agree that this is what our country needs?  You know – all the ones who do have nice health insurance and think that anyone can get it if they want it (sorry for the undercut, I feel myself getting a little emotional as I type).

I have been reading MLK’s Strength to Love and I came across a very good excerpt about fear and the civil rights movement.  I’d like to cite that here because I think it really applies to this situation.  In this particular part, Dr. King is discussing a good Samaritan story that Jesus once told.  Basically a man was walking along a dangerous road and was robbed and a priest and a Levite both passed him by before the Samaritan.  He says this:

I imagine that the first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”  But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” The good Samaritan engaged in a dangerous altruism.

Dr. King further goes on to say:

Abraham Lincoln did not ask, “What will happen to me if I issue the Emancipation Proclamation and bring an end to chattel slavery?” but he asked, “What will happen to the Union and to millions of Negro people, if I fail to do it?”…The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.

Why can’t we do this?  Why is this so hard for people to agree on?  I wouldn’t think that this should require an act of dangerous altruism to get done but it seems that it will.  People are dying everyday because of resistance and hesitation.  Just because they don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happen.  But what if Lincoln never signed the Emancipation Proclamation because he was too overcome by his first question of what will happen to him?  Without change, we cannot achieve excellence.  I wish that more were concerned about what will happen if we don’t fix what’s broken for others.  I will end here so I can leave you with MLK’s great words:

“They know not what they do,” said Jesus.  Blindness was their besetting trouble.  And the crux of the matter lies here: we do need to be blind.  Unlike physical blindness that is usually inflicted upon individuals as a result of natural forces beyond their control, intellectual and moral blindness is a dilemma which man inflicts upon himself by his tragic misuse of freedom and his failure to use his mind to its fullest capacity.

Thank you for allowing me to share.

What happened?

This will be a quick one.  Just wanted to write something down so I can remember it later.

I started working for UNF as a work study student in Spring of 2002.  It’s now Fall of 2009, and while I’m no longer a work study student, I’m still working there.  In 2006, I graduated and became a benefited employee.  Before I graduated, I had visions of using my Criminal Justice degree to work in corrections.  I strongly believed (and still do) in the power of the correctional system if it is done right and I wanted to be a part of that.  Shortly after graduation, I realized that unless I wanted to move out of Jacksonville, the chances were slim of getting the kind of work that I wanted.  I did an internship at the Hubbard House and was fairly certain that I could have gotten a job there but the pay was not enough given my student loan and credit card debt that I had accumulated in college.  So I stayed at UNF and got a wonderful job in Enrollment Services.  UNF owns a fairly large piece of real estate in my heart so the last 3 years I have really enjoyed.  But lately I have been wondering what happened to my dreams from college?

I wanted to help people and while my job now is to support staff and “help” them in a technical fashion, my job is not to help people with their lives.  I used to fill that void with volunteering but then after Quincy and now my grandmother, it’s gotten next to impossible to find the time.  So I find myself asking today “what happened, Annie?”  Did I sell out for money?  Did I just take the easy road?  While some of those answers may be yes, I am comforted by the fact that I do love UNF very much.  I always say I’m “UNF home-grown.”  But as I go on, I am beginning to feel that what I do doesn’t matter.  I don’t want to feel that way…

So I volunteered myself last week to translate a child assesment packet for Hubbard House.  It’s supposed to be translated to Spanish, needless to say my husband was upset about that…lol.  It will take me quite a while to finish this project BUT that’s what I can do for now until I can find more time to give of myself the way that I used to.  🙂

P.S.  Let me reiterate that I love working at UNF.  I don’t intend to leave anytime soon.  lol

Man diets are hard!

Annie decided that before we had a baby she wanted to loose some weight. Over the past few weeks she has been doing a diet to accomplish this. She has reduced her calorie intake while still eating everything she likes. It sounded like a great idea but I didn’t know if it was going to work.

Well it turns out she has made excellent progress and she makes it look so easy that I decided to try it too. Afterall I need to loose several pounds, and what a better time than the present.

I started the diet a few days ago and I must say that I am very proud of Annie, this is not eas easy has she makes it look. I am constantly looking around for something to snack on. I am amazed at how many calories are in the simplest little things. I am sooo hungry, but I am sticking with it. If Annie can do it, so can I.


First impressions are NOT everything

A party for an 80 year old woman receiving her high school diploma…this is where we were this evening.  A teacher at my son’s daycare, Ms. Agnes.  She finally did it, proving to the world that it’s never too late to do something to better yourself and your livelihood.

When I first met Ms. Agnes, my first thought of her was pleasant.  Although my younger sister had spoken of her many times, what I found was not completely what I was expecting.  She told me of how much she respected Ms. Agnes and how much this woman did to pull her weight around the job.  I thought my son was going to be in that daycare just temporarily so I didn’t give much thought to the situation.  I never thought I would meet such a remarkable person – a person who is a true inspiration to the people who know her.

When I was at the store getting her card, I ran into an old friend and we stopped and chatted for a bit.  He was someone that I met my first year in college.  We had an Honors class together (one of my most difficult courses in college).  I thought he was a funny guy n547999214_1507475_567685in class and a girl who I got really close to befriended him.  Now this is the part where you have to pay close attention.  Years passed and that girlfriend of mine (Jen), we saw less and less of each other.  However, her roommate (Melissa) and I became closer as a result of it.  She also happened to be friends with the guy from class (Matt).  As I spoke to him in the greeting card aisle of Target, I thought back to when we all first met.  That moment seemed so insignificant and if someone were to have whispered over my shoulder “hey, this will be the guy who will play the piano at your wedding and make you shed tears from the first note through the last note and hey, this will also be the guy who helps you paint your red accent wall in the living room of the first house you buy”…I would have laughed and called that person crazy.  And if later when I met Melissa and was having the first impression thoughts of “wow, this girl is kind of boring and obviously doesn’t like me,” if someone said to me “this will be your best friend, this will be the first person you call in hysteria when you find out that your pregnant, this will be the girl whom you will make trip after trip to Orlando for while she’s there trying to make a relationship work”….well, I would have called them crazy again.

Then I got to thinking about the first impression I had of Jose.  The first time I ever saw him was on the job and he came walking out from behind a wall of computers.  Was a nice guy but the only thing I was interested in was him telling me where my boss was on my first day at work.  And later when we became good work buddies and were laughing across the room at each other, I never knew I would love him.  How could I?  It seemed like we came from 2 very different worlds.  Then good ole father time stepped in and showed me that we were almost the same person, almost as if someone had broken us apart from each other in another life and the seam where we were ripped apart would fit back together perfectly.

And now as I sit here in BABY_2my bedroom (I kicked everyone out), I think about the first time I knew of my little Quincy’s existence.  A pregnancy test…ha!  And the notorious first thought “this can’t be happening now, I’m not ready, I’m too young, what will I do, how will I survive?”  And I did and I developed a relationship over the course of 9 months with someone I never even met (really that was 10 months but who’s counting, eh?).  The first time I ever saw his little heart beating on the ultrasound, he was 6 weeks old.  I was so connected to him, my heart flooded with feelings I never knew I could have and my eyes flooded with tears and I cried (the ugly cry almost…the shaking cry that you get when your mom leaves you on the first day of school).  And I loved him from that moment and from that moment my first impression of “NO!” went out the door and I knew that I had been lying to myself.

So, yeah, I guess the point is that first impressions aren’t everything.  I think we should treat the folks we meet a little better.  Just because, who knows – that might be the 80 year old woman who inspires you, or the friend of a lifetime who puts you back together again when you’ve fallen apart, or the baby who changes your life, or maybe even the man of your dreams?  None of them recognizable at first.  Thank you Jesus for giving us love.  I don’t want to know a life without it.

Listen to your heart

famTonight when we went to put the baby to bed he was restless. He didn’t want to go to bed poor thing, had his lip out and was screaming at the top of his lungs. Annie put on Delilah for some soothing music while we tried to calm him down.

Annie was holding Quincy and then the song “Listen to your heart” performed by Kelly Clarkson started playing. I joined them as they danced and for the whole time the music was playing we just stared at each other. The baby leaned his head on my chest as we hugged and danced.

This was the sweetest moment we’ve had in a while, the three of us cuddled up danced away through the night. For those short 3 minutes there were no problems, no fights, and no stress. Everything was perfect, no one interrupted us with a request, no one required attention. We danced and stared, we kissed and snugled.

Sitting here I wonder how in the world I lived before? What was Annie doing before I met her? How did I get around without them? And Quincy such a little defenseless creature, how can something so small cause you so much happiness and joy? So many questions without answer… but who needs them. I’ve got them, they are mine; mine for ever! I don’t care what happens or where life takes us I will never leave them, they need me and more importantly, I need them.

It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.  ~Johann Schiller

Feel like fallin’ in love…

I’m sure by now it’s public that Jose bought me front row seats to Anthony Hamilton.  I just got home from the concert and I am mesmerized. 
Sylvia and Annie
My sister, Sylvia, went with me.  We got there early to make sure we didn’t miss even a second.  The show started with a comedian and then out came the band and Anthony.  The first song he sang “Fallin in Love” is right now my favorite song.  I thought to myself, wow, awesome, my favorite song to start the night out.  Then a little later, I convinced myself that he looked at me, later that he smiled at me, and eventually that he winked at me.  Of course, since I’m from the South, I will say things like that because as Blanche Devereaux says “you know us southerners have to spice up our stories a little bit” – somethin’ like that, whatever.  Anyway, back to the point.

When the “Sista Big Bones” song was getting started, Anthony was doin’ a little intro pointing at the women he was talking about, you know big thighs, bright eyes, etc, etc, etc.  Well this time, he did point at me and not only did he point at me he did a double take and pointed at me again.  I thought to myself, oh my God, if this is it, if this is all I get, I could leave the happiest woman on earth.

And you’re not going to believe me when I tell you this but as the song went on, he actually called me up on stage.  And if you know me, you know I ’bout lost my mind, child.  So I went on up.  Let me just take a minute to tell you that I’ve always wanted to be a performer because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to dance.  Trouble is I can’t sing a lick so that completely murders that dream…lol.  So, picture this, I’m up there on the stage, bright lights shining in my face and I am just movin’ it!!!  All of a sudden my sister is next to me and I’m like “hmm, where’d you come from?”

We were up there with about 8 or so other girls, all of us just dancing our booties off and then Anthony makes his way over to me (ok, I know you think I’m tellin’ tall tales but I SWEAR I am NOT lying to you).  He is dancing in front of me.  Of course I’m shaking cause it’s like I’m in a fantasy world.  THEN he turns around and says “hey girl, hold my leg!”  So he lifts up his bum leg (I’m not sure what happened but he got hurt and he’s using a cane right now) and I hold on to his leg while he is dancing with me…lol.  The only words I could manage to get out were “An-t-h-on-y Hami-l-to-n, ok”.

At this point, I am absolutely in another world.  I cannot believe what is happening and the crowd is clapping and whistling and going crazy.  Of course as the song ends and we go to exit the stage, I’m saying prayers so that I don’t fall off my shoes into a big thud on the floor.  Sylvia and I manage to get safely back to our seats, giggling all the way like little girls.

This is the truth.  There are no lies, no southern embellishments.  Raw truth and honestly if you told me the same thing, I’d tell you to get out of here!!!

I’m posting a video of a song because since the concert date has gotten closer, more and more folks have asked me who this man is.  And here is me – WHAT, are you kidding?  This is the man who helped me fall in love with Jose.  Every word he sings is from his soul.  If you close your eyes and listen, he can take you to another place.  I did this tonight and as I was sitting in a room of crowded people, that beautiful voice took me straight to the arms of my husband.  And I felt that I would burst if I didn’t get home right away.  Music does that for me.  It takes me away.  I need it.  I need it everyday to get me started and to make memories.  All of my memories have a song associated with them.  When I was a little girl, it could help me leave behind the deepest of pain when I needed to.  I can’t picture my life without it. 

I am on cloud nine right now.  I might get off tomorrow but at least I have an awesome story to tell my grandkids.

Thanks for listening.  🙂

Life goes on

I don’t know what came over us this weekend, but Annie the baby and I where all sick with some sort of stomach bug. Thankfully we are for the most part better now and we can get on with our daily routine.

Quincy is advancing a lot in potty training, he now asks to go to the potty (sometimes) and other times he goes and grabs the potty himself. The other day I was playing with him in the room and all of the sudden he disappeared. I set out look for him and found him potty on hand at the bathroom door.  It is so amazing to see him grow and become so independent.

Over the last few weeks his vocabulary has expanded tremendously, he now fully understands almost everything you tell him and most of the time is able to reply. Although I must make note that his reply 90% percent of the time is “NO”. He is adorable, you can ask him pretty much any question whether it is positive or negative the answer is always the same.

                Quincy do you want juice? “No”

                Quincy do you love me? “No”

For some reason he hasn’t gotten that concept down yet, some people have told me that maybe we tell him no way too often, but what can we do. He is 2 years old and runs around the house like a crazy person getting into and touching everything. Sometimes I get so scared that he may get hurt.

Last week was particularly hot and in order to survive the heat we brought in an old stand up fan and set it up on the living room. Well, last night I had to frantically yell “NO QUINCY NO!” as he was inching towards the fan with his little fingers to touch the blade.

Work has been pretty good although because I was sick I had to miss 2 days, this week is short to begin with because of the 4th so I only get to work 2 days. I would say it’s a perk but since the first 2 days of the week I was sick I don’t think it’s much of an advantage.

Oh and I can’t leave this post without making mention that on Thursday June 25th 2009 we lost of the greatest performers of all times.  

Michael Jacksonmj

On June 25, 2009, Jackson collapsed at his rented mansion at 100 North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles. Attempts at resuscitating him by his personal physician were unsuccessful.[161] Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics received a 911 call at 12:22 p.m. (PDT), arriving three minutes and seventeen seconds later at Jackson’s location.[162][163] He was reportedly not breathing and CPR was performed.[164] Resuscitation efforts continued both en route to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and for an hour further after arriving at approximately 1:13 p.m. (20:13 UTC).[161] He was noted to have been in cardiac arrest by the paramedics who attended him at his house.[164] Jackson was pronounced dead at approximately 2:25 p.m. local time (21:25 UTC).[165][166] Rumors and news of Jackson’s death broke web records, triggering a cyberspace traffic jam[167] and creating severe traffic spikes to websites such as Google,[168] Facebook,[169], Twitter[170] and Wikipedia.[171] Vigils were held by members of the general public after the death.[172]


Sweet Home Jacksonville

dames point

Dames Point Bridge


Late this afternoon as I was driving home from work, I began thinking about our city. My drive home takes me from the southside of town to the northside of town following SR-9A. Most afternoons I roll down my windows just long enough to let some of the heat out and the air conditioning to get to pumpin’. Normally I roll the windows up shortly after and turn on some of my guilty pleasure jams. Mommies can only listen to Tupac when their babies are not yet in the car!

Anyway, this afternoon I was feeling particularly mellow so I let the windows stay down. As I drove over the Dames Point, my nose found an ever so faint yet familiar smell. It was the aroma from the Maxwell House Plant blowing across the river. I breathed it in deeply just before it left me and a million memories washed over me. I recalled internships in which I drove next to the Plant everyday for months. I thought of MLK parades, volunteer work at countless downtown organizations, all things prefaced by that smell. It made me smile. Where did the time go? I need that smell to get me motivated. Maybe I should take the I-95 way to work. I would never miss it again.

But I-95 also made me think of a different smell. If you’re from Jacksonville, you remember the paper mills well. Don’t quote me on this but I am assuming the smell along I-95 through downtown had a little something to do with the paper mills. I always associated that smell to “oh no, is it time to leave Grandma’s house again?” As a young child, before my dad shipped the family off to St. Louis, I would stay every weekend with my grandmother. On Sunday nights, my mom would spend at least an hour trying to get me into the car to go home. Results were always the same. I would cry so much that I would almost make myself throw up. At the precise moment that I would settle down and be reduced to minor sniffling, we would pass through downtown. And the smell started in and then my stomach turned again and I thought I really would vomit! Yes, I was a sucker for my granny. But that smell is for the most part gone now. Occasionally I can smell a little somethin’ somethin’ along that route but I’m not sure what that is (if you know, please comment).

Moving on…

I had just one more olfactory reflection during my drive home – the brewery. One of the neighborhoods I lived in as a child, and ironically now as an adult, was right down the street from the Anheuser-Busch brewery. It was the place where I came to hate roasted peanuts with every inch of my being. But as I got older and the military forced our family out of Jacksonville, the brewery was how I knew I was home. After a long road trip, it did everything just short of holding a sign out that read “You’ve finally made it back!”

I let the wind blow through my hair and I turned my music up just a little louder. Funny how the most seemingly insignificant things can take us back to another place in time. Then when I felt my arm getting sunburned, I remembered that I am still in Jacksonville. And I said to myself, “Girl, it’s June and it’s 97 degrees!” So I turned on the air and rolled those windows up with the quickness. Enough reminiscing for one day. After all I was almost at the daycare to pick up Quincy and the best part of every day is the smell of his sweet skin when he hugs me and says “Hi, mama”.

Quincy = 2

2nd Birthday Party

2nd Birthday Party

Today we celebrated Quincy’s second birthday. As I think back on the last year it’s hard to imagine all of the things that have happened since his first birthday. He’s started walking, even running. He’s cut 12 teeth (each one accompanied by their very own sleepless night). He’s gained about 8 pounds this year alone, which is drastically different from the first year’s 14 pound weight gain. Last year this time we were taking him off the bottle and now this year we are trying to transition from the sippy cup to the regular cup. Over the last 6 months he has had a vocabulary explosion and is just recently beginning to form complete sentences. For instance before we went into the grocery store yesterday he told me “Mommy, my name is Quincy.” And just recently we embarked on the potty training adventure. Wow, it’s amazing how quickly they grow in just one year.

Today at his party, all he wanted to do was play on the swing. He was not interested in party hats, balloons, cake, or presents. Once he was more interested in eating a hot dog but for the most part he just wanted to swing. I thought back to him as a newborn and how much he loved the swing until he simply outgrew it. It makes me just a tad bit sad that he can’t just swing in our living room like he used to do. Everything is passing too quickly. I want to savor every moment but the day-to-day tasks seem to prevent that from happening as often as I’d like.

1st Birthday Party

1st Birthday Party

He looks like a two year old. His unruly curls have been replaced by a little boy haircut and he wears little boy clothes. He used to wear clothes and shoes that said things like “Little Prince” and now “Cars” characters and Sketchers adorn his feet. His room last year was decorated with jungle animals in soft pastels and now it’s “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” in vibrant colors. I want to hang on to this time but it slips away from me. I’m excited for the new things in life to come but I’m nervous for a time when I will not be able to control what he does. Will I trust him enough to allow him to make the mistakes he needs to learn? How will I cope when he begs me not to kiss him in front of his friends? Will I be sad when he leaves us to start his own family? And when will the time come that he doesn’t let me hold him anymore?

So tonight I held him just a little bit longer and kissed him just a few more times than usual. And for now I pray that God protects him and gives me the strength I need to nurture him into the man he will someday be.

Annie is the Winner

It's too bad Jose lost...

It's too bad Jose lost...

Well, today I finally beat my husband in his Cuban version of rummy.  Yes, it looks like I’m the winner by 340 points.  Finally he decided to stop cheating and play fairly.  Of course, after I serenated him with my rendition of “I am the champion,” I proudly opened the front door and announced “ATTENTION NEIGHBORHOOD, I HAVE BEAT HIM TODAY AND I AM THE WINNER.”

Yes, I know it is quite the shocker that I would be such a sore winner but you have to understand how many times I have played this game and came in dead last.  Therefore today I will rub it in for this one last time before we go to bed.  Buuuuuut, I am thankful for such a wonderful husband because no one else would put up with this crap…lol.  I love you, dear.

Today was nice.  Jose taught me how to build a computer (Kathy’s to be specific…it’s coming, girl!).  Quincy used the potty, we had a lovely Panera breakfast in our pajamas, I won the game and basically nothing else was significant because I am not going to allow the bad things to be just that.  I’m looking forward to a great day tomorrow with Melissa, some laundry and more potty-training.  Goodnight.