Monday, January 24, 2011


"So what if all my heroes were the losing kind?"--Lucero

I have gotten to the stage in life where I don't really mind being a loser.

This is a big change since high school. I used to be obsessed with why I didn't have more friends, why I wasn't popular, why I couldn't get in a band, why I couldn't get a date, why I felt like such a failure. But one can only worry about such matters so long, and eventually, instead of just saying "I don't really care about being popular/cool/whatever," I actually became able to not care. When I finally found myself at the stage where I actually didn't care what people thought of me, I started to more be myself...and everything came a lot easier. I ended up in a career I love, with the world's most perfect women (who, eight years ago today, became the world's most perfect spousal unit), and in a fairly awesome band.

This is all, I guess, part of growing up.

However, coming to terms with where I am and who I am does not mean that I always succeed...or even come close. Yes, I'm in a band, but although we are (of course) awesome, we don't exactly sell out the local stadiums. Yes, I love my job, but it's by no means where I thought I would be (non-tenure in a different field). I think I write good scholarship (albeit completely unrewarded), but I have a terrible time getting the pieces I like best published. Let's not even talk about how long it's been since my job application material elicited even the slightest response from last interview was (I think) about three years ago.

These are all fine, though, because they all are the result of me doing my best, me really trying, and things just not working out. Maybe I'm simply not good enough, lucky enough, hip enough, or timely enough. But I can live with being out of step with expectations...because I'm trying. I'm pushing. I'm doing everything I can to who cares if I fail?

What I cannot deal all that well with is the type of failure which has no logic...which has no cause...which hits out of the blue, without warning, without precursor, without justice.

Friday afternoon, I was finishing my workout when the spousal unit came home. She had picked up the mail (she's a little obsessed with mail delivery) and handed my share, saying "here's one from your Human Resources department."

I opened it. It said that said Spousal Unit's health care had been canceled.

I cursed. I yelled. I more or less collapsed on the couch. Losing her health care would be bad enough, but of course, the spousal unit is now the pregnancy unit...and the idea of paying for a pregnancy and delivery out of our own pockets was horrific. It would've, quite simply, finished any hope of us ever recovering financially. Hell, we both have a painful amount of student loans, and I'm still trying to recover from the fiscal devastation that was my two years as an adjunct. Throw on the potential pregnancy health care charges, and I could easily picture Financial Disaster.

I began to plan for the fiscal apocalypse. How would we survive? I came up with a multi-pronged attack:

  • canceling the tv programming
  • canceling the internet
  • quitting drinking
  • never going to Howard's again (which would've saved money yet cost me my soul)
  • selling my plasma
  • changing my cuisine to a cat food base
  • having the delivery in our bath tub
  • charging admission to said delivery

The spousal unit took to researching lower-cost ways of delivery, clinics, pregnancy insurance, and so forth. All I could really think of was having the urchin, struggling until the spousal unit's insurance was reinstated, and then declaring bankruptcy. Earlier, a friend suggested auctioning off naming rights, and there was a part of me which soon began to give it serious consideration.

The financial doom was, though, only a part of it. I really had a problem with the random "out of the blue" nature of this particular terror. This had nothing to do with missed expectations, with personal failings, with any logic or order. It just was a giant ball of misery pelted my direction for no apparent reason.

This morning, after a weekend of agony, I dropped off the spousal unit and stopped by my university's HR department. I put on my best pleading/pathetic/panicking look (which was not an act in the slightest), stated my case, used the word "pregnant" about ten times, and threw myself on their mercy. After frightening me for a little bit, they decided to clear up the paperwork snafu and insure my spousal unit after all.

I cannot begin to describe the level of relief and elation I felt (and still feel). I can think about leading something close to a normal life again. The biggest lesson from this experience? As much as I don't expect logic/mercy/pity, it's amazing how much I can be shaken when the lack of any coherent order is rubbed in my face.

I guess when it comes down to it, I can handle being a loser. Being a victim? I'm not so good with that.


Anonymous said...

Victim of the healthcare system, you say? Join the club... over 50 Million Strong!

MikeP said...

That same thing happened to me. Since when have we had to enroll in the health insurance every year?

themikedubose said...

I cannot begin to describe how freaked out this made me.

Could be worse, though. A similar thing happened to a friend who teaches at BGSU, and their HR wouldn't budge...and now his spousal unit is insurance-free.