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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Just a few things and then I will let you get back to life...

I like stories with a good's a few finishers and a few finishers with a struggle.

My younger son is finished with college, my daughter is finished with her junior year of college, my other son finished his movie, my older daughter finishes everything, and my husband finished 5 seasons of Mad Men.

Are we finishers, or what?  Well, here's a few more finishers...

When we met last my bank account had been ravaged by an over zealous health insurance provider.  Here is how it went down in case something like this happens to you.

My first move was to the way, this is only helpful if you are on fire.

Second move was to call the bank and ask for their help, they started an investigation, it will take 10 days.  Yikes!

Then I called the health insurance company.  They immediately disabused themselves of any responsibility, I agreed that of course it was my fault.  I always pay an enormous bill that really isn't my bill.  After all I am still paying $6.95 a month on the off chance I may need to watch a football game from the South Dakota Jackrabbits.  My son's football team played there once and I signed up for a one time only opportunity to watch - silly me, I thought one time only meant one time only.  Bottom line from the note taker at Sierra Health?  30 days.   And If you just want to cause confusion, ask them why.  They don't know why, they only know to say 30 days.

After several more excruciating calls I did finally get the name of the woman who would be issuing the refund.  But she never answered my phone calls, messages or email.  I even faxed her.  Crickets....
I asked the notetaker if I could come by and pick up the check...they won't give out their address.  Is that what I want from my health care provider?  Complete cover?  I am renaming Sierra Health, Stealth Health.

Then a miracle, two days later my money magically reappeared in my account.  I called to thank Sierra Health, they had acted promptly and I was so appreciative I didn't have to go through a whole protracted thing.  But I was only allowed to leave a actual people were involved.
No one called back because they had nothing to do with the money magically reappearing.  It was my bank, they investigated for 4 days instead of 10 realized Sierra Health was wrong and reimbursed my account.  Hooray Wells Fargo!  It was magic....and wonderful that it was finished.

Update on my knee...I have an appointment with an actual doctor May 13th.  I report at 2:30 with the MRI in my hand.  Hoping for a quick fix, a quicker recovery and then back to training for the tough mudder, or 5K, or just walking across a room without pain.

I am looking for the finish line on this knee fun.  But then who am I kidding?  Every time I finish anything they move the line, I will never be finished.

And that's just fine....

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Rapper and the MRI

Isn't life a kick?  It astounds me the twists and turns it takes.  

For instance my rapper friend.  What?

It was last christmas and I received a text...just a simple greeting, "Merry Christmas"  I didn't recognize the number but I responded back, "Merry Christmas, I hope Santa was good to you."  The texter sounded a bit sad and said something like his music was going better not great, and hoped 2014 would be a better year.  Money was bad, no gigs.....So I told him to expect miracles and they would happen and didn't think another thing about it.  He sent another text at New Years, just sweet "gangsta" love.   Since then he will text to tell me all the places he is performing, the record contract he signed and when his record would "drop".

Then he said, "Thank you Yoshi, you have been such a good friend.  Everything you said would happen did...thank you, I believe in miracles!"

uh oh......

I felt so guilty I came clean immediately.  I explained I wasn't Yoshi but was very excited for his success and that I meant everything I said about miracles.  I told him I loved hearing about his career and music (how else would I ever know about rappers?)  He was so confused, but then he just said,

"It's all good, who is this anyway?"

I told him I was just a random wrong number that must have been put in his life to remind him miracles occur.  Since then he has sent the link to his concert, showed me the jacket cover for his record and shared his girlfriend problems.  He believes in miracles....and all I did was wish someone a Merry Christmas.....

Which brings me to last Friday when I finally went in for my MRI.  Did I tell you I hurt my knee?  How could you miss that information, I suffer by committee.  If I am in pain everyone is in pain with me.  My threshold for pain is right about here......want to guess how high my hand is above the ground?

The most adorable woman is my MRI master.  Her name is Carla and I liked her immediately.  She explained the procedure and gave me some great earphones.  I requested Billy Joel, she didn't even blink and said she would do her best.  The next 20 minutes sailed by as I rocked out to Billy Joel, Three Dog Night, James Taylor and Fleetwood Mac in my MRI machine!  Fabulous.
When it was over I asked her a million questions about MRI's and  how she came to be the Jedi Master of the radiology department.  Evidently the machine costs 3 million dollars and it takes a long time to learn everything.  The MRI I received was a level 3 so they will be able to tell all my secrets from that scan.  I so hope whatever is wrong with my knee will be easy to fix.  Carla asked me how I hurt my knee and I am embarrassed that I do not have a fun story.  It just hurt, and then it hurt a little more and then a little more and when it got to "Oh s**t" I decided to go to the doctor...she said that was probable a good barometer for seeking medical help.  When you get to "oh s**t" you should go the doctor.

The best part of the whole adventure was after I changed and came back to get a picture with Carla and her magical machine.  We traded some life stories and she told me about a business she had recently started in her spare time.  The total purpose was to make as much money as she could to help her family...especially her mother.  They were financially struggling and she just wanted to help them.  This woman, this adorable woman, was doing everything she could to help other people all the time.  Carla said her favorite thing was buying pancakes at McDonald's in the morning and then buying breakfast for the car behind her!  We found out tons about each other in about 5 minutes, chatted as though we were long lost friends and exchanged phone numbers.  

I left there a better person for having spent time with her.  Inspired to live life better, and grateful to have met her.  

Thanks, life...that one is on you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

You Cannot Get There From Here..... or Can We?

This morning I was faced with a banking/health insurance dilemma.  Just one of those problems would have me running into the dark Nevada night...but both of them?  I wanted to approach my computer with camouflage fatigues ready for battle.  But then I spent a few moments trying to finding a calm and peaceful place to deal with a pretty big problem. Our world can be a loud and rancorous place making peace hard to come by.  We can't just opt out, we have to deal with the world. And that is where the choice comes.  Do we stay in the light where we can see solutions, or do we let go of all control and just let the world have it?

Long, long story short.  My health insurance premium automatically came out of my bank account on the tenth of every month.  Two different policies, two different accounts.  Starting April 1 I have a new health insurance policy and the others were cancelled along with the automatic withdrawal.  Or so I thought.

But only one policy was cancelled.  Which means the other policy, the really costly one, was automatically withdrawn.

Oh no....

I called the bank immediately and opened a dispute.  They said it will take at least 10 business days for them to resolve it.  In the mean time fees are mounting and our money is floating around somewhere....somewhere in the nether world.

I spoke with my insurance broker and they assured me it had been cancelled.

I called the health insurance company and they said it will take 30 days to resolve it.  I was only allowed to speak with a note taker, no one with any authority and no information really given.  After an hour and half on the phone, some of that time just on hold, and no real information or direction given, the note taker asked if there was anything else she could help me with.


Maybe help get my money back before 30 days which was the reason for my call.....

We have created a world of confusion that no one really understands, a land of "you cannot get there from here".  A place where folks calmly tell you they cannot help you and there is no solution.  They firmly believe and accept you cannot get there from here.

I refuse to accept that.  Simply stop trying when people tell us to stop trying? There is always a solution if we peacefully search for it.  We can do what appears to be impossible.....I know we can.

I know because of something I saw this morning.  A woman stood in front of a group of people from her church and thanked them for praying for her family.  She calmly said that two of the people shot and killed outside a Jewish Community Center in Kansas City were her father and son.
They were just living life when it happened.   She was at a lacrosse game with one son so her father agreed to drive her other son to a singing competition try out.  That's all, just living normal life.....maybe innocently dealing with insurance companies or cholesterol one minute and gone the next.

The mother standing in front of her congregants was peaceful and obviously it was the peace  sustaining her.  When we choose to hate and use anger we are left on our own to deal with problems.  Which fills us with darkness and that leads to hopelessness.  When we chose peace we are filled with light and can "see" solutions we never would have before.

My bank/insurance problem, while annoying, will be resolved.  In 30 days or 10 days or 10 minutes...but they will find the problem and fix it.

The mother in Kansas City reminded me to honor peace under all circumstances and I am grateful for that.  I have seen grace under pressure before and it always inspires me to do better, be better. While hatred and anger, even seemingly justified, only leaves me sad and confused and certainly without peace.  There is something to light and darkness, no matter what your belief system is.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Waiting for Stevie Nicks and my secret tennis life

I was just waiting for Stevie Nicks to come on the American Country Awards and started thinking about life a long time ago.  I wore out the album Rumours when I was in my early twenties.  All I did was listen to Fleetwood Mac and play tennis.
The other day my daughter told me she had a tennis match.  I am thrilled for her because I used to love to play tennis, it is so much fun.  I was dang good at it....but I stopped playing when I had my first child and never went back.


Maybe, but there is a back story to the abdication of my tennis really got me in trouble....  When I played tennis I didn't just play tennis, I played all the time.  I got up in the morning and cleaned tennis courts at Caesar's in exchange for lessons.  And played tennis,  I did anything I could to just stay around tennis.  I hit with hotel guests and helped out with filling the drink machines, stocking shelves and pretending to string rackets.  I stayed there until I had to go to work at an indoor tennis facility where I scheduled court times and separated warring housewives playing on doubles teams.  They were nuts...

When the Alan King Tournament came to town the last week of every April I did everything to help.  Including watching incredible tennis from the best players in the world at the time.

I still cannot believe the carefree life I led, we went from the Frontier to the Stardust to the Riviera to the Desert Inn back to Caesar's and then over to the MGM just playing and playing.  I had tennis friends from bellhops to show girls....dealers and bosses, a crazy neurosurgeon and lots of regular people too.  The tennis world revolved around how good you were.  If you were good at the game you could move in any circle, with anyone.  I hit often with a woman named Mirha from yugoslavia who was the principle dancer for the Folies Bergere at the Tropicana.  She was a great tennis player, very strong with great strokes and because she was so beautiful she always attracted a crowd.  Court one at the Tropicana every Monday.

Every once in a while the traveling pro from Caesar's would stop by.  Everyone was terrified of him.  I didn't know better so I tried to learn everything I could from him.  I knew 2 people in my life that were the absolute best at what they did.  Charles Miller and Pancho Gonzales.
Pancho grew up in East Los Angeles, he wasn't allowed on the regular tennis courts because he was hispanic so he would climb over the fence to practice.  He overcame almost insurmountable discrimination to become one of the greatest tennis players to ever play.  He was also one of the most mercurial people to ever live.  A story that followed him everywhere was when he was playing at Wimbledon and threw his racket.  One you don't throw your racket at Wimbledon and if you play with steel rackets and throw your racket it could be deadly.  He missed the net judge (there was a time someone sat on the side of court with their hand on the net to check to see if it was hit during the serve) by inches....they said he would have decapitated her.  One of my worst afternoons was on a court at Caesar's.  I was hitting with a friend and since I considered myself all that as a tennis player I felt I could act like a spoiled child.  I missed a shot and threw my racket....since I got rackets for free ruining them wasn't on my mind, however where my racket landed gives me chills to this day.  Right at Pancho's feet.  I didn't know he was in town, didn't know he was there and certainly didn't know he had come looking for me.  There was the racket, there I was and there was his temper.  He was basically charm free when provoked and throwing a racket on his tennis courts was beyond unacceptable.  I was terrified, I could see him banishing me forever.  But he didn't, we had a very long conversation about tempers and how destructive they were, how unattractive they were and how that was never going to happen again.  I picked up balls for the rest of the day from lessons the pros gave and didn't say a word for hours.  Needless to say I never threw my racket again.

I never put tennis in perspective, I just played all the time to the detriment of everything else.  It was a lot of fun and I met a lot of very famous people.  I found out most of them had clay feet (never get me started on Bill Cosby - I played with him every time he came to town which was very often)  But it wasn't a real life.  I eventually got a job, met my husband and tennis was just a fond memory. But while I played it was a trip.  I had an enormous crush on Guillermo Vilas who was from Argentina, he was a great tennis player but considered himself a poet first.  Women considered him the best looking man in the world.  He would go on a back court and take off his shirt to practice.  His fans would be 12 deep.  And then of course what life with tennis would be complete without an Ilie Nastase story?  He needed a ride to the MGM so we piled into my ridiculous Datsun B210.  I listened to him for 20 minutes tell me what a piece of crap my car was.  With that accent it didn't seem as insulting as it really was.  He was playing Rod Laver the next day and I secretly hoped he would be wiped off the court but he wasn't.  The most elegant tennis player I ever watched was from Ensenada Mexico, his name was Raul Ramirez...he attended USC and eventually married Miss Universe.  Everyone talked about him in hushed tones, his family had huge money and he was just simply elegant and kind.  Then there was Peter Fleming who was doubles partner with John McEnroe.  Peter was a great friend and we had a lot of fun, but McEnroe was just quiet, a complete conundrum, because he was a horse's ass on the court.  Jimmy Conners was a happy, nice guy.  His best friend was the pro at the MGM so we saw him a lot, I remember running into him at the airport.  He was getting on a plane with just his racket, not another thing...not a bag, not a cover for his racket...just a racket.  I asked him what he was doing because it was just so odd...he just stared at me and said, "I'm going to LA, play a match and go home." and off he went.  He thought it was all completely normal.  I watched Andre Agassi play on center court as a 5 year old.....5 years old.  Amazing.
 I had the experience of getting to know the Amritraj brothers, Anand, Vijay and Ashok.  They were the first top flight tennis players from India.  Anand was my friend and the first thing I noticed about him was a 5 carat diamond ring he wore.  I don't know what his family really did in India, but he grew up with incredible wealth, even when he practiced he had ball boys.  After tennis one of his brothers Vijay was in several movies from Star Trek to Octopussy, his other brother Ashook was a producer making movies from Walking Tall to Bringing Down The House
Another great part of the time were the fights at Caesar's.  We would be playing tennis and here would come the fighter and his entourage.  One guy in the front with the boom box and then about 30 people after that.  Beautiful women, sparring partners, trainers, childhood friends, relatives, promoters and then the fighter.  It was the best!!  It was mostly Larry Holmes who trained there all the time.  I would go and watch him train because fighters truly fascinated me....who would do that?  All fighters were great at jumping rope and Holmes was no exception, he taught me how to jump rope and it was the best shape I was ever in.  Going to the fights was an experience in and of itself.  You dressed up in your best and just counted the celebrities.  Everyone who was anyone went to the fights.  I will never forget one night the whole place just stood up, it took me a minute to realize Mohammed Ali had arrived.  I don't think I saw another celebrity treated the way he was.  It was beyond awe...

So that was my little trip down memory was a lot of fun, but not real life.  I found out that folks can be amazing and difficult but mostly just regular people trying to be happy.  Meeting people from so many different places was what started me on a lifelong fascination with the nuts and bolts of people.   Now that my daughter is playing I really wish I had kept playing.  But I didn't  After my knee stops hurting I might be able to get a ball over the net.

No one will know but me that I really could play at one time in my life.

Except Bill Cosby, he knew I could play.....but that is a whole other story.