Thursday, October 29, 2009

when shoes matter, part 2

My first three meetings with Sam took place beside lakes.

The first was Lake Travis outside of Austin at a camping weekend called Breast Fest (don't ask). Sam was wearing flip flops. But as I've said before, you can't really judge a guy's footwear by his flip flops. And besides, I was there with someone else. It was a brief introduction.

The second meeting was many months later in late spring, beside a pitiful excuse for a lake. My friend, Mindy, set us up on a blind meeting, I guess you'd call it. I searched for a lakeside parking spot, while, unbeknownst to me, Mindy searched for the white pick up truck Sam was driving.

I had been led to believe it would be an afternoon of girl talk. Instead she was playing matchmaker. I had long believed her boyfriend Rowdy was trouble. His brother, Sam, she informed me, had recently moved back to town, divorced. Made perfect sense to me. Bad seed.
Sam showed up wearing shorts and a pair of these

No socks. Me no like.

Besides being underwhelmed by his shoes, I thought he was old. He was seven years older and graying (though his hair was long and I did dig me some long hair). I wasn't into older guys. Almost all of my former boyfriends were the same age as me. And more recently, being a graduate student studying at a snail's pace at a school full of undergrads, I was dating younger guys. Call me a 20-something cougar.

So here we sat at the lake. Sam and Mindy caught up on their shared history of long lost friends. Me giving Mindy disapproving looks. Thinking Sam was arrogant. Begrudging the fact that we didn't pick up any beer. Him thinking I was a grouchy bitch (his words, I learned later). And likely a flake.

You see, he wasn't terribly interested in meeting me, either. He questioned Mindy's judgement for dating Rowdy, the ne're do well.

So, it turns out, I wasn't the only person by the lake pre-judging. We were a regular ole Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy, minus the English gardens and regency costumes.

So no sparks on this meeting. Nada.

Or the next. Mindy didn't give up. She surprised me one afternoon, Let's go for a ride in my new car! Off we drove. She headed for the lake again. She mentioned having talked to Sam earlier. I smelled a gray haired rat. I asked her to stop at the convenience store. This time I would be fortified.

And as I suspected, there was Sam. I was no more interested this time than the last. I drank my beer, fuming and glaring.

It might have come to nothing altogether if it hadn't been for Mindy turning her attentions to Sam's friend, Austin, whose name, it now turns out, was a foreshadowing. The four of us got together for tennis on a regular basis.

Sam showed up on the courts wearing these:

Hmm. Stan Smith Adidas. Possibilities. Especially since I was wearing the same shoes. Another omen. This time of a match made in shoe heaven.

But we still weren't generating any sparks.

I do remember, one spark of intellectual interest, or maybe spiritual interest is a better word for it. The four of us were eating pizza in Sam's living room after a cold night of tennis. Austin and Mindy were having an enthusiastic discussion about life-after-death. Mindy shared her near death experience. Austin wanted to know all the details. Sam? I think when you die, they put you in the ground and you turn to dirt. Like a dog. And that's it. I snapped my head in his direction and looked hard at him. Who is this guy who dares to speak such an unpopular belief? Not as romantic as Mr. Darcy's declaration of secret love, maybe, but it took my notice.

Several tennis meet ups later Sam asked me out on a date. I didn't have the heart to turn him down. And then, as if to remind me why, he showed up on my doorstep wearing these

Desert Boots. Ugg, as my daughter likes to say. All I could think, and it's still daylight.

To add insult to fashion injury, he was also wearing these


Not such a terrible choice, in and of themselves. Wranglers were THE blue jean of choice for long, tall Texans scootin' the boot at the dance halls. And I can remember drooling on admiring many a cowboy in this get up. But it was the cowboy boot at the end of the leg that justified the Wrangler label. Otherwise give me Levis or give me dudsville.

So we leave my living room, my date in Desert Boots and Wranglers. He escorted me to what I thought would be the white pick up truck I saw by the lake. What awaited us at the end of my driveway was this

A white El Camino.

Great. An old man car to match the old gray-haired divorced man and his old man fruit boots. He may as well have been leading me down the nursing home hallway to the social room.

I braced for a long night.

His company, on this first date, was pleasant enough. But spooked as I was by the old man trifecta, I was hugging the passenger door all the way home. Afraid he would go for the good night kiss, I practically flew out the door the moment he put it in park. I ran up the steps to my front door, taking them two at a time, never looking back.

He asked me out one more time, a couple weeks later, to a college football game. I already had tickets and plans to go with a younger guy friend. I figured that refusal would be the last time he asked me out.

And it was.

So how did Sam finally generate some much needed shoe spark?

Click here for the conclusion.

And Happy Halloween, everyone! May your evening be filled with fun and frivolous shoes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

edward swooners, hearken

If you are, or ever were, a fan of Edward, of Twilight fame, and are in need of a fix, pay heed.

Just recently we joined Netflix. ('bout time, right?)

My son quickly put in his picks:

Survivor: Season Two, Disc 1
Survivor: Season Two, Disc 2
Survivor: Season Two, Disc 3
Survivor: Season Two, Disc 4
Survivor: Season Two, Disc 5
Survivor: Season Two, Disc 6

Not a big Survivor fan, I realized I'd better get in queue or throttle my son, one.

Going through the ratings, Netflix generated Mira Nair's film adaptation of Vanity Fair. Reese Witherspoon as the formidable Becky Sharp.

There's nothing I love more in life on screen than classic period films.

Vanity Fair arrived in my mailbox two days later.

Only after it was playing did I realize I had already seen it. Argh. This middle-aged memory loss is a mo-fo. But I enjoyed every minute of it. Watched most of it Friday night. Turned it off midway due to a camping trip next day. Watched the remainder Sunday evening.

Yeah, that's right. A camping trip bookended by Vanity Fair. Life is fucking awesome good.

So fucking awesome good was the movie, this second time around, I didn't want it to end. I closed my bedroom door and indulged in post movie play the director-narrated version. All the way baby through.

And when that wasn't enough, I selected Deleted Scenes.

The Alternate Ending clip delivered quite the unexpected denouement: Master Edward.

And here it is. (I just love youtube, don't you?)

Potential spoiler alert, sort of, if you haven't seen Vanity Fair. This scene reveals previous plot developments.

For the sad lot those of you looking for a quickie, fast forward to 48 seconds; 3:07; 4:27.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

new friend for mom


My tween daughters started junior high this year. Lots of new faces. Recently, one of them spent the day with a new friend.

When she got home, she volunteered, "I think you would like Stacie's mom."

"Oh really?"

"Yeah. You're both a lot alike."

I took the bait.

"How are we alike?"

"You both get mad easy."

Ah. I'll be sure to hook up with her, then.


Friday, October 16, 2009

health reform from a provider's perspective

Here's what I'm seeing in my practice. I've been doing this for ten years now. Long enough to declare a trend.

And no, stodgy research types, I don't need to conduct a double blind placebo trial in order to render opinions of substance. This is my peer reviewed blog.

Copays are going up. When I first started, the $15 copay was routine. Maybe the copay of highest frequency. I even saw a few $10 copays. Copays of $20 and $25 were the next most routine. But now? The most frequent copay has inched up (and by that I mean, nearly doubled) to $30 and $35. I have a few people who pay $50 per visit. And yes, that's a copay. And I haven't seen a $10 copay in years.

Deductables are higher. And I'm seeing them more often, too. When someone comes in for psychotherapy, especially for the first time, they mistakenly believe their mental health copays and deductables will be the same as a visit to the medical doctor. But the reality is that most of the time? As in, 90% of the time? The mental health benefit requires more cha-ching. (90% was derived from my unscientific, morning cup of coffee to jostle the memory, study).

Usually the most jarring shock is delivered in the form of the mental health deductable. It is not unusual, these days, for me to see $1500 and $2500 before their copay kicks in. Of course, for most, this is a no-getter. No getter therapy. No getter better.

Score one for the insurance industry. They got their premiums. Now you don't get your therapy.

Number of sessions authorized? Going down. It isn't at all unusual, these days, to see "20 visits per year" maximum. Or, lifetime maximum, 60 visits. That's lifetime, people. Which means, if you are diagnosed bipolar you can count on 20 visits per year for three years. Or it might be a dollar amount maximum. $3000 lifetime max. That doesn't cover very much therapy over the adult lifespan, which could be 60 years, easy.

Fees paid to providers? Not going up. Much. Or at all.

A couple days ago my daughter, TwinB, who is at a new school and meeting lots of new friends, approached me, wide eyed. That day she had told a new friend that her mom (me) is a psychologist. "Wow." The girl replied. "You must be rich." TwinB tilted her head at me, as if to say, "What the heck?!?"

This is the same daughter I took to the thrift store earlier in the week to shop for "new" jeans. She looked at me that way because she sees nothing of the rich lifestyle at our house.

We therapy shrinks, the ones paid by health insurance companies, are not making money hand over fist (what does that saying even mean?). Therapy shrinks as opposed to medical shrinks, that is. You know, those real doctors.

But, last I checked the business page, the insurance companies are making it hand over fist. How do we think they have become one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington? Their good looks?

One example. For ten years a certain health insurance company, whose name rhymes with poo-knighted wealth bear, has not increased my fee. Ten years. This lack of regard for inflation means many providers drop off the network. When a poo-knighted client of mine requires psychiatric care, I wince. Good luck finding a quality psychiatry doc who can see you before the next Perseid meteor shower arrives.

Which brings me my next point:

Provider networks are shrinking. No pun intended. I recall when my family doctor posted a sign that they no longer accepted, guess which one? Poo-knighted wealth bear. I knew why. But I asked anyway. The doc, looking none too comfortable discussing his bid-ness with a patient, said he was "having trouble getting payments." I wanted to ask, "Trouble getting a raise, you mean?" But didn't. I had a sick child before him. And I understood his decision. And endorse it even, from the hope that if enough doctors drop off the networks, people will see that insurance companies are dropping the ball.

It's common knowledge that when psychiatrists get a big enough clientele, or patientele, they drop off insurance networks. Private pay only. Those are some pretty discouraging words to hear when you're suffering from major depression because your husband has left you for a younger woman and you have no job because you've been raising his kids for the past twelve years and all you've really got left of your marriage is the fact that he still claims you as his dependent on his health insurance and that will only last until the divorce goes through so you need help now.

And there's more. There's HMO forms and authorization requests and stalled payments and denied payments and being on hold for fricking forever when you call the claims department. But that's about all I have time to go into right now because it's time to head into the office, and you know, be the provider.

But here's my end of the rant summation: The health insurance system, from my view, has tilted into the direction of the wealthy get healthy but the middle class get screwed. And dropped coverage. And depressed. And in need of mental health services but can't afford it.

Ok, after all of that, I'm depressed. I need to make an appointment with a shrink. Oh, but wait. That's right. I can't. I'm self-employed. I don't have mental health coverage. Can't afford it.

So I guess we providers on the networks are shrinking in more ways than one. Or we want to. But we can't afford the coverage.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

when shoes matter

I have a long history of shoes mattering.

When the 8th grade Basketball Boy wore these

I wasn't interested. This was the mid-70's. Chuck Taylor's were not high fashion. They were just what boys wore. On the right shaped feet these shoes looked okay. Wide feet, high instep. Basketball Boy's feet were long and skinny. Made his toes curl up in front, like elf shoes.

But the next year, when Basketball Boy wore these

I was all over that. It was heartthrob city for five years.

After Basketball Boy came Bartender Man. I don't think I ever saw bartender man in a bad pair of shoes. Bartender man lasted five years. We did not end because of his shoes. We ended because he took off his shoes under the wrong bed.

After Bartender Man, came Mechanical Engineer Man. ME Man had decent enough shoes when I met him. But one evening he picked me up for a date wearing shoes such as these
For the record, this is not the exact shoe. This is a brand name shoe. ME Man's shoes were generic. The type of shoe the boys in high school wore who hung out in the smoking corral. Rust brown suede. Dark brown laces. Gum rubber sole. And Members Only jackets. The exact shoes I'm thinking of are not for sale on the internet. And I'll tell you why: Men who bought these shoes did not reproduce in great numbers.

But I continued to go out with ME Man. I was not going to reject him based on his shoes alone. I was better than that. Besides, we were in graduate school. Money did not flow freely.

At least that's what I thought initially. Soon I learned that money did flow freely in his world. He pulled up the carpet in his spare bedroom closet to reveal this
I knew he liked to partake of the ganja. I now knew he was putting himself through school with it. This was even less cool than his brown suede shoes. But at least there was hope. For better shoes.

Graduation day came. His masters degree. His mother and stepfather came to see him cross the stage. We met for lunch afterwards. I liked his parents. A lot. Nice looking, friendly, smart, well mannered, well dressed people. Everything was coming together. Maybe this guy could be the guy. And then I glanced down at his feet under the table. He was wearing these

Bedroom slippers. Vinyl bedroom Romeos. ME Man walked the stage of a major university with vinyl Romeos on his feet.

No, this would not be the guy. He would no longer be A guy.

After ME Man I moved up to doctoral-candidate-Chemistry Man. When we started hanging out, it was summer time. Everyday attire was shorts and flip flops. You can't really judge a guy's footwear by his flip flops.

As the fall came into full swing, I noticed Chem Man didn't have any tennis shoes. You know, the white leather sneaker standbys that nearly all guys wore in the 80's. But in Texas you don't say sneakers. You say tennis shoes.

Eventually I asked Chem Man about his lack of tennis shoes. He didn't own any, he said. Why? I asked. Because everybody wears them, he said.

He also did not own a pair of jeans. That's right. Because everybody wears them.

Now, if there's one thing I absolutely love on a guy, it's blue jeans. Preferably Levi's. I lurrve me some nice man ass in a pair Levi's.

That was for the ladies.

And the guys who are also into man ass.

But back to Chem Man. We were both in the poor-graduate-student boat. Chem Man lived on a teaching assistant stipend. No cash stash in his spare closet. I wasn't going to fire a guy because he didn't have the right shoes. Or pants.

But then he showed up at my job. Wearing something that resembled these

Only instead of green stripes, his tennis shoes had a light blue knock off Puma swoosh that looked like a dolphin silhouette.

I couldn't resist asking him why he bought the dolphin shoes, why the sudden change of heart.

I didn't buy them, he said. I found them.

Found them?

Found them on the beach in Galveston. Abandoned. Not a soul around for miles. So I took them.

Oh so, shoes that everybody wears are okay as long as they are found and not bought.

Chem Man told me about his found shoes while sitting across from my desk. I was working at a private psychiatric hospital. The admissions clinician. Chem Man sat in the very spot where severely disturbed individuals signed their psychiatric admission paperwork. Psychotics. Paranoids. Schizo-affectives. Chem Man with his abandoned dolphin shoes and twisted fashion philosophy.

The irony did not escape me. Chem Man was soon history.

So what of the shoes of the man I married? What manly footwear captured my matrimonial M.O.?

To be continued.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

time flies

at no faster rate than when I'm reading blogs.

It's Jen @ you know that blog's

Silly Haiku Wednesday

rescuing me from my usual mid-week blog infarction.

Jen's theme today is "Time."

Ah, time. That fickle mistress. She slows down when I want her to fast forward past the bad stuff, the tedious waiting, the checkout lines, the lady who doesn't get out her checkbook until the checker gives her the final amount, the long days at the office when I'm counting the number of sessions, hours, until I can pack up and head home.

But when I want her to s...l...o...w down, when I'm hurrying to get myself ready for work, when the ticking of the clock whispers, look at me, please, pay attention to me..., time is not my faithful friend. Oh no. She abandons me.

minutes fly, reading
blogs and comments and pictures
late for work, again

Be sure to check out Jen's haiku. A different, deeper level of how time flies.

Friday, October 02, 2009

the big O's

I don't know about any of y'all, but I'm actually relieved to learn that Chicago wasn't chosen as the host city for the 2016 summer Olympics.

It settles something I've been worried about for more than a year, now:

Obama is not the anti-Christ.


Ok, so can we all switch back to the important mission of health care reform? And that means you, too, Mr. President. Ahem. The ball does appear to be dropping.

And not in a swoosh-nothing-but-net kinda way.

Rather, in a $13K-annual-premiums-plus-$4500-deductable kinda way. As in, I'd like to help stimulate this economy back to good health but I can't because I'm drowning in health care expenses.

So pardon me if I'm not altogether blown away with excitement that a South American country, for the first time in history, will be hosting the Olympics. Or blown away with disappointment that Chicago won't be hosting.

But I will be blown away if this great country of ours can't figure out how to legislate a public option.

As always, it's about choice. And I am all about choice. All ways.