Tag Archives: politics

We Need To Make A Change (or I Just Don’t Have The Words)

I’ve started and deleted this post dozens of times. This week there was another school shooting. I’ve written about gun violence on here before, and since that most recent post over 2 years ago we’ve had dozens of school shootings and nothing has changed. Honestly, I don’t know what I could write that hasn’t been said every single time there is a shooting.

It’s nice that politicians want to offer thoughts and prayers, but since they believe in supporting the NRA more than supporting what citizens want as far as gun control I really don’t care about their thoughts and prayers. A majority of Americans believe in universal background checks, not allowing those on the Do Not Fly list to have weapons, banning assault rifles, not allowing people with a history of domestic violence or mental illness to have guns, and to stop the sales of high quantity ammunition. But even though a majority of Americans want those things to happen, certain politicians feel like it would be wrong to prevent anyone (no matter their violent or mental health history) from owning how ever many guns they want.

Since the rights and ideas of the NRA are more important than the rights and ideas of citizens right now, I doubt anything will change. If having children shot in an elementary school couldn’t convince politicians that change needs to happen, I don’t know what will. And I understand that having some gun control regulations won’t stop all mass shootings, but they will stop many of them. The shooter this week had a history of mental illness and even posted on YouTube that he was going to become a school shooter. Yet he was still allowed to get a gun and the FBI did nothing about the warning they got from someone alerting them to the comment.

There are also some politicians who say that we need to respect the victims and survivors and not politicize this tragedy and at a later date mental health and gun violence can be discussed. But the students who survived this shooting are telling people to politicize this because they know change needs to happen. They know that if it doesn’t happen now, it will be forgotten and nothing will be accomplished. That’s what happened after Sandy Hook and Las Vegas. We were called rude and heartless for saying something needs to be changed after those tragedies. The Las Vegas shooting wasn’t even 5 months ago and people have forgotten about it because so many other horrible things have happened.

This is not ok. All shootings are horrible, but school shootings are just heart wrenching. I remember after Columbine (which happened when I was in high school) how scary it was and that was the only school shooting I was aware of. I was scared, but I also believed that it couldn’t happen to me because it was so rare. But now it seems like there are school shootings every week. There are some inflated numbers by how many shootings there have been in 2018, but the low number that even conservative news is using is that this is the 5th school shooting in 2018. There have only been 5 or 6 weeks of school in 2018 so far so that is about 1 school shooting a week. Why do some politicians think this is ok?

So many of my friends with kids have had to bring them to school after a shooting when their kid was terrified that they would be shot at school. I can’t imagine how horrible that would be. I remember after Sandy Hook being at a friend’s house and watching the news while her kids were playing. Watching them play while knowing that kids the same age were killed while at school that day broke my heart. I don’t know how you could have the strength to explain to a kid that they should be safe at school when you have no clue what will happen. Or how terrified you would be if you heard that there was a shooting in your city and you weren’t sure if your kid was ok. I wish no parent had to have that feeling anymore, but sadly I know that won’t be true.

I really don’t know what else I can say about this situation. And while I feel helpless, there are ways to help. The group Everytown has shared ideas of what to do to make sure we have politicians that will honor what the majority of the country wants in terms of gun control.

No matter what your political viewpoint is, hopefully you agree that gun violence is out of control. There are steps that can help reduce it that are not being implemented because the NRA doesn’t want them to happen. We cannot let the NRA determine what is best for everyone when a majority disagrees. And we cannot allow politicians to get away with claiming how gun control is getting rid of all guns. I know responsible gun owners and they agree that gun control is needed. It shouldn’t be easier to get a gun than it is to drive a car. If you are deemed a violent risk to be on an airplane, you shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun to use on the ground. If you have a history of hitting your spouse or partner, you shouldn’t have a gun so the next time you get violent you can kill them.

I agree with Everytown when they said we don’t have to live like this and we don’t have to die like this. We have the power to make a change if we are willing to take it.

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I Have To Be Political (or Hoping My Healthcare Stays The Same)

If you follow me on social media, you probably have seen that I tweet a lot about politics. I’m a Democrat, and I don’t always agree 100% with what Democrats say. But in a political climate like what we are in now, I feel more in line with my political party than ever.

It seems like politics are in the news more than ever now. That may be because things seem to be crazier than they ever have been. Also, the president seems to like to tweet out ridiculous things every now and then to make sure that he’s still in the news. Some of these tweets I feel are just to cover up something else that isn’t going to be reported, but I also feel like he just wants to make sure that there isn’t a lag in his press coverage.

I’ve become more politically active in the past year. Partially this is due to the last election, but I also feel more involved to the issues that are being discussed. I think some of feeling more involved is just being more educated by listening to a lot of political podcasts. But also it seems like so many things are personally affecting me in a way that they haven’t before.

When Republicans tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, I was terrified. It’s because of the ACA that I have health insurance that is 1/3 of the cost that it was before. Before the ACA, I was only eligible for insurance that was created for people with pre-existed conditions. Now that pre-existing conditions can’t be used to turn you away from insurance, I’m getting normal insurance that has better benefits and lower monthly premiums. I do still miss when I was on my dad’s insurance because everything was free then, but what I have now is much better than what I had when I started to have to pay for it.

I was so relieved when the repeal of the ACA didn’t pass. I know how important my health insurance is for me. I don’t have the simplest health issues and I need insurance. If I didn’t have insurance, I can’t imagine where I’d be now. If I hadn’t found out about my tumors and continued to take hormonal birth control, the tumors would have continued to grow and they could have ruptured. And I know I wouldn’t have gone to the doctor when I did if I had to pay thousands of dollars to be seen. But because I had insurance, it was $50 for that appointment.

I’m aware that there are problems in the healthcare system and I’m not denying it. But so many problems were solved when the ACA passed and I’m so grateful for that. But with the recent tax bill that will likely be signed by the president, the ACA might not exist the way it has. The president seemed pretty pleased to announce that the tax bill pretty much ended the ACA. And that’s not false. They removed the mandate that required people to have health insurance in this bill. And if people aren’t required to have insurance, healthy people won’t necessarily get it. And that only leaves sicker people (like me) using it and that makes everything more expensive. If there aren’t people paying monthly premiums who don’t use their insurance that often, there’s nobody to offset the costs of those who use it a lot.

As far as healthcare goes for next year, I think I should be ok. I already have the letter from my insurance saying what my monthly premium will be and my benefits are pretty similar as they were this year. Some of my benefits are actually going to be better. But I’m worried about what will happen in 2019 when there is a chance that fewer people will have insurance. I don’t want to think about how expensive things can get. I’m lucky because my parents help me pay my insurance (it’s still too expensive for me to afford on my own right now) so if the price goes up they will still help me. But it still is making me think about trying to prepare for having worse insurance again.

Fortunately, my IUD is still good for another 9 years so I don’t have to worry about that for a while. And hopefully my tumors will continue to shrink so I don’t need surgery. But the idea of having bad insurance again has made me wonder if I should have surgery to remove the tumors next year. I don’t think I would do that because I’d rather not have surgery, but it’s still a thought in my head. If I needed it no matter what, I would do it without thinking too much about it. But since it’s still a gray area, I don’t know what the right move would be for me. I won’t be making a decision until I see my surgeon again in October unless something crazy happens to me, but I know I’ll be thinking about it until then.

I’m really hoping that my fears about my health insurance don’t come true. Maybe a lot of people are going to be so happy that they have any insurance when they didn’t have it before that they will keep it. The enrollment numbers are showing that healthcare enrollment is close to what it was last time despite the enrollment period being cut in half and almost all the advertising money to tell people to sign up was taken away. People have been pretty good about sharing online to remind others to sign up and that seems to be working. I don’t know if the president really wanted people to forget to sign up so he could say that people don’t like insurance or what, but if the numbers are almost the same as the last year they won’t be able to say that people are unhappy.

I know that this is a bit of a rambling post. I think I’m still in shock about a lot of what is happening in politics now. There are some people who didn’t understand that there was something in the new tax bill designed to take down the ACA until the president was sharing how happy he was about that. The new tax bill hasn’t been signed by the president so maybe there is still hope that things can change. But no matter what happens, I know that I have to continue to be political and to share my voice. If someone wants to tell me that healthcare doesn’t matter, I want them to know my story and why it matters to me. I won’t stay silent on an issue that I feel is important. I know I have done that for far too long and I can’t keep doing it.

An Amazing Photo Shoot (or Dress Like A Woman)

I know I’ve talked before about trying to not be too political, but I think we are in a time where you can’t just sit back and hope for the best. We need to make sure that our voices are heard by our elected representatives and that we are involved. I’ve been guilty of not doing that much in the past but I’ve realized over the past year how I cannot do that anymore. So I’ve been slowly getting more and more involved in things. I’ve joined Facebook groups and other online communities, I’ve been sending emails/snail mail and calling politicians, and I’ve been more vocal about issues that mean a lot to me.

I know it can be scary to put yourself out there like that, but I was inspired by others do it so I hope that I can inspire others to do the same. Sometimes I don’t know what to do, but I’m lucky that I know people who I can turn to that can give me ideas. And I’m very fortunate that I have friends who come up with amazing ideas that I am able to participate in. And recently, I got to participate in a great photo shoot with Adam Emperor Southard , who did my most recent headshots.

Adam posted on Facebook that he needed some women to participate in the next photo series he wanted to do and it had a political twist to it. That’s all he posted, but I said that I was in and was really excited to hear what it was all about! When he finally shared the idea with all of us who wanted to participate, I was so happy that I took the chance to be a part of it. The idea came from the statement about how President Trump likes women to dress like women when they worked for him. There had been so many posts about what dressing like a woman means since there are so many ways women dress for work. And that’s exactly that this photo series was about.

It was tough for me to think of an outfit that I wanted to wear that represented to me dressing like a woman. I tried on some of my favorite dresses that I don’t get to wear that often, but it didn’t seem right to me to wear something that I only wear on special occasions. I also thought about wearing my working clothes since I feel so empowered while wearing them. But in the end, I wore comfortable clothes that I wear when I’m working (if I’m not wearing workout clothes) including the new hoodie I got that showed to me that my work toward weight loss was paying off.

When I got to Adam’s house for the photo shoot, I was pretty ready to go. I was in the outfit I wanted to wear and had done my hair and makeup at home before going over there. But I wanted to add one more thing to my look which was the new lipstick that I’m in love with. I’ve never been a bit lipstick person, but the first time I tried this color on I felt so beautiful. So I wanted that in my photos.

The first photo was without the pink hat (which Adam had there since I didn’t have one of my own) and it was interesting taking photos that I knew weren’t going to be headshots. I experimented more with my facial expressions and poses and didn’t worry about looking pretty or thin. And the second set of photos was with the hat and I knew it would be a close up. So I thought about all the things I wanted to say to President Trump and let my expression speak for itself.

After I was done with the shoot (it only took a few minutes), Adam let me take peek at some of the photos that he took and I was shocked by how I looked!

I never feel like I can look fierce, but I felt like I really did in these photos! I looked tough and not sweet (like I normally do in photos) and I was so happy with how they looked. I had to wait a few days to see the finished image, but I could not have asked for anything better to be my photo in this series.

I shared this online right away and if you want to see all the photos in this series you can see them on Facebook. And if you are in LA and want to be a part of the series, Adam is still doing more photos so please reach out to him on Facebook!

I know that me doing one photo shoot isn’t going to change the world. But between all the women participating in the series plus all the other work they and I are doing, hopefully we can make some noise and get some people to listen to us.

Adventures In Healthcare (or Trying Not To Be Too Political)

Today is the inauguration of President Trump. Those of you who follow me on social media probably know how I feel about this, but I don’t want this post to be all about political parties. But with a new president coming in, there are some things that do concern me as a citizen of this country.

Almost all of the things that concern me are related to healthcare. Mainly, the idea that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed (and potentially replaced with something to be determined later). While I always have had healthcare, it wasn’t easy for me before the Affordable Care Act. And now with the threats that it will be taken away, I’m worried for me and the millions of other people who are in a better situation because of it. And so on inauguration day, I want to share my story of why the ACA matters to me. Maybe you don’t care if it goes away, but hopefully you can at least understand why it is something that scares me.

I was born into having amazing health insurance. Thanks to my dad, I had great coverage through Kaiser growing up. My insurance was covered under his job and we didn’t have to pay a monthly bill and almost everything I needed was covered under my insurance. I was totally spoiled with my awesome insurance and didn’t realize it wasn’t like that for everyone. I just assumed everyone could go to the doctor and it would be taken care of. Even with my hip surgery and all the craziness around that, it was completely covered and all of my bills said that the patient responsibility was $0.

When I aged out of my dad’s insurance coverage (which fortunately was right after my hip surgery), I applied for regular Kaiser insurance. All of my doctors are with Kaiser so there was no question to me that I would continue using them for my healthcare. I applied and assumed that while it wouldn’t be free anymore, I would get insurance and everything would be fine. But it wasn’t.

I got a rejection letter from Kaiser saying that they would not cover me because of my pre-existing conditions. Among my pre-existing conditions were my hip issues, my eating disorder, my weight, having a history of strep throat/tonsil issues, and having a history of gallstones. I was not a desirable person to insure and Kaiser didn’t want to cover me. Being rejected for pre-existing conditions sucked. I had an option to get COBRA for a year or so, but it would have been something like $3,000 a month to be covered.

Fortunately, I talked to someone at member services at Kaiser who explained that there was something called conversion insurance. Basically it was insurance for patients with pre-existing conditions that are considered too high risk to insure but previously had Kaiser insurance so Kaiser didn’t want to reject them completely. I was eligible for conversion, but instead of being about $100 a month (which is what it would cost for a woman to have regular Kaiser insurance), it was over $500 a month. That’s a lot of money, but because I needed health insurance my parents helped me out so I could get insurance.

I didn’t have as amazing of insurance as I did before, but it covered most of the things I needed. When I had my tonsils out, it cost $250. When I needed birth control refills, it was $30 a month. The out-of-pocket costs without insurance would have been insane, so having expensive insurance with higher deductibles and costs was worth it.

Then the ACA passed and I became eligible for regular insurance again! Not only that, Kaiser could no longer charge me more because I am a woman so things would be even cheaper than I thought. My new insurance is about $250 a month (I’m also eligible for subsidies because my income level is below the limit) because I got a silver level plan knowing that I would have more doctor appointments than the standard patient. And this was before the liver tumors so I’m more grateful now that I’m covered.

When I recently had my breast MRI, there was a debate if it would be fully covered by Kaiser. With my dad’s insurance, it would have been totally free. With my conversion insurance, MRIs were not a covered benefit so I would have paid full price. With my ACA coverage, MRIs are $250 but cancer screenings are free so it wasn’t known what my MRI would be classified under. I didn’t pay that day, but the other day I got a bill.

I got charged the $250 that is my standard MRI deductible. But you can see that if I had my old conversion insurance, it would have cost almost $2,700 to get this cancer screening that my mom’s geneticist recommended that I do. To know that a test that doctors felt I needed could cost more than my rent is ridiculous. I don’t know how people could afford that if they had to pay the full rate. That’s so expensive and it made me even more grateful for my ACA coverage.

With my upcoming liver surgery, I know I’ll hit my out-of-pocket maximum for the year. That maximum is about $8,000 (much lower than the $50,000 maximum my conversion insurance had) and while that is still a lot of money, it is a necessary cost and a fraction of what it would cost if I wasn’t insured. I’m not going to worry about the money now because I know I will get help to pay for it and my health is more important than money. Plus, on the positive side, I believe that once I hit my out-of-pocket maximum that I won’t have to pay for doctor appointments for the rest of the year!

I know I will be ok for 2017, but I’m scared what will happen to me after the year is done. If the ACA is gone, can Kaiser tell me that they don’t want to insure me anymore? I’m even more high risk with my pre-existing conditions now. If an insurance company could reject me, I totally understand why they would want to. But for me, I know I need to have insurance because of my pre-existing conditions. I will always have my hip issues, I will be considered high risk if I ever get pregnant because of the tumors (even if they are taken out, there is a risk of them coming back with pregnancy), until I stop getting treatment for my eating disorder that will always work against me if an insurance company can reject me, and I’m assuming that having to have part of my liver removed will make me even more high risk.

I know a lot of people get insurance through their employers and they are mad that their premiums have been going up. But that doesn’t have anything to do with the ACA. Premiums have been going up for decades every single year because health insurance companies can do that. It’s the same as car insurance premiums going up or home or renters insurance going up. And for those people who will have nothing change with their health insurance if the ACA is repealed, I can understand why they don’t care too much either way. But for me and millions of other people, losing the ACA can be horrible. For me I know it won’t be a death sentence, but I have friends who could have their lives at risk if they can’t get insurance to help pay for life-saving medication. Hoping that you can afford to live shouldn’t be something that people think about.

I know that there has been a lot of backlash from the threat of repealing the ACA, especially with no replacement in mind yet. I’m hoping that politicians will listen to how scared their constituents are about this. Maybe President Trump will worry about being popular and liked and realize the majority of people do not want the ACA to go away (or go away before we know what the replacement will be so we know we won’t be uninsured). I can only hope that next year, I will not be worried about this and I will still be able to get the healthcare that I need to stay healthy.

Overwhelmed By The Election (or Politics Time)

I don’t usually post about politics on here. If you follow me on twitter, you probably have seen my tweets during the debates and other election coverage. I’m pretty open with the fact that I’m a Democrat, but that does not mean I don’t have friends on the other side of the political spectrum.

I have some friends and family members who are Republicans and while we do get into debates and heated discussions about things from time to time, it is always respectful and we both know that we will probably never change the other person’s opinion. That’s fine with me and having political discussions is one of the great things about this country. People can have differing opinions but still be friends. I like hearing why someone believes something that I disagree with and it really makes my view of the world more well-rounded.

I have not been a fan of some Republican politicians for a long time. A lot of the reasons have been because of their political viewpoints. And even though I am not a fan I always have respect for them. They are the elected officials chosen to represent us and I have to respect that fact. Just because I was not a part of the group that elected them doesn’t mean that they don’t represent me. So I listen to what they have to say, and if I feel my voice isn’t being heard I try to do what I can to make sure someone is listening.

But with all the recent developments with Trump lately, I can’t stay quiet. I’m aware that this may lose me readers, but please read this before you decide not to follow my blog anymore.

I’ve disagreed with a lot of Trump’s stuff since the beginning of this election cycle. I don’t believe that all Muslims are bad since I have several Muslim friends who are the most amazing people. I believe that if we are going to lump all Muslims with the few bad people who claim to follow that religion, then we have to lump all Christians with the few bad people who claim to be Christians and are evil people. I don’t know anyone who really wants to consider all Christians terrorists, so in the same idea I don’t believe in considering all Muslims terrorists either.

With the tape that was released last weekend, I cannot let that type of speech be considered “locker room talk”. Even if Trump never did what he was saying that he did (and there are stories claiming that his bragging is based on real events), that type of talk is not ok. Laughing and joking about sexual assault is part of the reason that rape culture is the way it is. When a rapist gets an extremely short sentence because they don’t want to ruin the rapist’s life because they only raped the victim for a few short minutes, that’s rape culture. When it is more important to the police to find out if a victim was drinking or what they were wearing instead of why criminal chose to rape someone, that’s rape culture. Laughing about grabbing women without permission and getting away with it because you are famous is rape culture. That’s not ok for anyone to talk like that but especially for someone who wants to be President.

And then yesterday, I read a story about how there was an article that compared how many electoral votes each candidate would get if only women voted or if only men voted. If you read the article, it’s pretty interesting in how the breakdown goes and how it compares the breakdown for the last election. It was a new take on how the gender split goes on this election and I found it something informative.

But of course some people had to take that article to a new level. Because Trump was predicted to win if only men could vote, there are people saying that the 19th Amendment (which gave women the right to vote) should be repealed. This is not funny to me at all. While now there are more tweets and articles making fun of the idea that some people think women should no longer be allowed to vote, the fact that many people thought it was a great idea to take away voting rights makes me ill.

People are claiming that women having the right to vote is ruining the country. They are claiming that women have no place in politics and should leave all decisions to men because only men know what is right. People say that feminists (and I consider myself to be a feminist) are trying to make the country only work for them and make all the men do “women work”. This is not ok at all.

There are young girls who are hearing this and may be thinking that they don’t have a right to speak their mind or should try to do new things. There are young boys who are hearing this who think that this is ok to say and that women are lesser than. The things that kids are hearing will be the things that they will be saying and believing as they grow up. Do you want the next generation of women to feel like they can’t speak up or do anything with politics? Do you want the next generation of boys to believe that they can get away with anything they want because they are a boy?

I don’t want to see this as our future. While I don’t have kids, I expect that I will have them in the future. This is not the future I want for them. I have friends with kids (and there are lots of kids I babysit) and I don’t want them to feel this way about their lives or others. We need to set an example for our generation and the next one, and I doubt that most of you want this to be the example we use.

If you want to vote for Trump, I am not going to try to convince you otherwise. My friends who are Trump supporters do not think that any of this is wrong and while I disagree, I have to respect that they think this is how the country should be. But if anything that has come out has upset you, you need to vote. I’m not telling you who to vote for because that is not my place or my business. But I do want to make sure everyone will be voting. The voter registration deadline has passed for some states, but it’s not too late for others. Please make sure that you are registered to vote before it’s too late.