Processing medical claims

I was at the office today after over 2.5 weeks of not being around, either due to vacation, being in San Francisco, or being sick. It felt really good to be around my colleagues again, listening to what everyone has been up to in the last few weeks, and listening to stupid jokes and sarcasm again… and being sarcastic myself.

What was not fun was figuring out how to file my claim for my medical treatment while being in New Zealand. It’s like health insurance companies want to make everything so difficult for you when trying to get your money back that they make the entire process more and more cumbersome. No, you cannot just file the claim online. You actually have to copy every single form the doctor gave you outlining the treatment and your condition, plus any prescriptions or medication recommendations, plus all your receipts, and snail mail it to their designated PO box. And even that will not guarantee that you get your money back because they need about 15 different things explicitly called out and highlighted in the documentation they give you.

I feel like I am putting these documents together blindly, and putting them in the mail is like a gamble. Am I going to hear a response? Will they actually pay me back? Who knows.

Personal history

Tonight, in the midst of cleaning the apartment and doing laundry, I sat down to do one of my original favorite pastimes of coming home from work while living in New York City: reading the New Yorker. Some of my all-time favorite articles and spotlights on quirky famous individuals have come from this magazine. Nora Ephron is one of them. And she just happens to be a Wellesley alum. In this Personal History piece originally published in this publication back in 2010, she wrote:

“I always hoped that he (my dad) would show some interest in my kids, Max and Jacob, but he didn’t even remember their names. One day, Jacob answered the phone and my father said, “Is this Abraham or the other one?” I consider it a testament to Jacob that, at the age of seven, he knew it was funny. Still, it made me sad. You always think that a bolt of lightning is going to strike and your parents will magically change into the people you wish they were or back into the people they used to be. But they’re never going to. And even though you know they’re never going to, you still hope they will.”

You know what’s so funny about this? This is kind of how I imagine my dad will be with my future children, his grandchildren. I imagine that my mom will remind him of their existence by her endless obsessing over them, but that without her, he’d be clueless and not really outwardly care. Like Ephron, I also still imagine my parents will be something else they aren’t, think about things they don’t think about, and want to do things they have zero desire to do. These thoughts come into my head at the most random times: when I am running on a treadmill, perusing books at a bookstore, or even hiking in Cape Breton. It’s like hopeless undying hope.

Sightings

I woke up this morning at around 5:30am after thinking that I saw my brother. What’s really frustrating is when you have very vivid dreams, and you wake up thinking that what you dreamt really happened.

In my dream, I was at our parents’ house standing at the top stairs of the back porch. I heard a familiar voice which sounded like my Ed’s, and I peered down the stairwell to see him there.

“Hey!” he called up to me, smiling. “You’re back!”

My heart almost stopped. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. “Don’t move! I’m coming right down!” I yelled back down to him.

I ran down the stairs to meet him, but he wasn’t there anymore. My eyes welled up in tears. Fucking hell. He’s really not here.

Minutes later, Chris arrived at the house with his roller bag, and he gave me a big hug. I immediately started sobbing. He had no idea what was going on.

“I saw him,” I wailed between sobs. “I know I saw him. He’s definitely here somewhere, but I can’t see him anymore.”

Chris said nothing. He just held me tighter. There was nothing to say. There’s nothing any of us can do anymore.

This may be the first time I can recall dreaming about Ed while being home. Usually when I’m back at our parents’ house, he doesn’t visit me in dreams. This time, he has. Perhaps a tide has turned.

Forgotten

We finally received the results for Chris’s parents and brother’s DNA via 23andMe, and we shared their logins and information today. The funniest thing from these results is that there is actually Northwestern European and Jewish lineage on his parents’ side. The Jewish lineage comes from his mother, while the Northwestern European lineage comes from his dad’s side. It’s really amazing what a vial full of your spit can reveal to you.

The lineage goes back over four to six generations, too far for any of us to know of any of these people or have photos or any types of mementos of them. But this actually makes me quite sad. People oftentimes say when they procreate that they want their name or their blood line to carry on, but does that really matter at the end of the day when you yourself are long forgotten? Why does that matter when you are long gone and forgotten, and your photo albums have either been destroyed, recycled, or simply diminished because as we all know, paper doesn’t last forever?

This reminded me of Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite writers, and a quote he once had in a book that my friend recently shared with me again: “If you remember me, then I don’t care if everyone else forgets.” But the depressing thing here is, the “you” in this quote will eventually die, which means, everyone at the end will be dead and forgotten. We will all be forgotten.

“10 pounds”

After dinner at the Standard tonight, I went to use the restroom, and while washing my hands, I overheard a conversation between two women, one of whom was planning her wedding. She was telling her friend a dilemma she had: she wanted to ask one of her friends to be her bridesmaid, but she felt conflicted because apparently, said friend had gained over ten pounds in the last year, and therefore she would not look very good in the bridesmaid dress she picked out for all her bridesmaids. So, she decided she would confront this friend and basically say, hey, so… I really want you to be in my bridal party, but only if you can lose ten pounds between now and the wedding. The friend she was telling this to, trying to be supportive (yet, she was just as stupid as her friend), simply expressed shock that said friend would have gained that much weight in the last year and that she was sure if she really wanted to be a bridesmaid, she would lose ten pounds for her. And really, it wouldn’t be for the woman getting married; it would be for herself because who wants to weigh more?!

This is one of the reasons I oftentimes cannot stand women, and also the reason I pretty much never, ever want to be a bridesmaid ever again. The chance that I will ever be asked to be one again is quite slim since my close girlfriends who are unmarried are fairly unconventional, but just hearing this story made me so mad at the entire wedding industry and women who think that their wedding is the time when they can demand whatever they please and get away with it, even if that means completely disregarding the feelings of everyone who is supposedly important to them.

Knowing

My cousin in Sunnyvale texted me to ask what my dates home will be in September. I figured my aunt, his mom, had told him I was coming home. I don’t really proactively tell any of my cousins back in the Bay Area I’m coming home now because I don’t really care that much. This cousin’s brother and wife would probably only come to the city if it were my funeral, so why even bother making the effort?

This cousin is probably the most loyal to my aunt, though. He tells my aunt everything, all the time, and he calls her pretty much every day. I get that every family is different, but I can tell you that if I were dating someone who called his mom willingly every single day just to exchange meaningless information regarding the weather and what I ate, I’d be worried. Yes, I’m aware I used to call my mom every day. But part of me, like you, is sexist, and so I give girls the benefit of the doubt versus boys.

Oddly, I found out today that my cousin may tell my aunt everything, but my aunt certainly doesn’t tell my cousin everything. I told him via text that his mom told me she’d be back in San Francisco on September 6th. He didn’t know she’d be away, and so he asked me where she was going. Strange, I thought. She would tell me she’d be going to Oregon for over a month and not tell her own son? So I told him, and he seemed surprised.

I love finding out information before other people do. It makes them feel like they don’t have as much power.

Pokemon Go craze

When I was in Seoul, my friend texted me to suggest that maybe I should consider downloading Pokemon Go and playing it in Seoul, where she heard this game was huge. I didn’t really know what she was talking about until I came back to the U.S. and heard many conversations at my office and on the street about it, not to mention my entire Facebook and Twitter feeds full of people “catching” things via Pokemon Go, as well as news stories of people getting robbed due to location targeting in quieter places due to playing this game.

My colleagues have complained about people running into them while having their phone up looking for the next thing to catch, as well as people walking into oncoming traffic because of this ridiculous game. Two people have reportedly fallen off a cliff from playing Pokemon Go and not paying any attention.

These are the moments when I think that technology is making a lot of us a lot, lot stupider and less aware of the real world around us.

Gay pride bake sale

This week, my company is doing a gay pride bake sale, and all proceeds will go to a non profit that supports underprivileged, at-risk LGBT youth. I baked chocolate chip cookies for the bake sale, and this afternoon, I helped man the table in our building lobby to help the cause.

The bake sale is pretty generous: for a $5 donation, you can pretty much take anything you want and as much as you want. We tell this to everyone who comes to the table, and when we told one woman, she was a bit outlandish and said, “Five dollars? That’s a lot of money to ask! I was just going to give a dollar. Forget this!” and left in a huff to the elevator.

A $5 donation, especially when you can take as many baked goods as you please, doesn’t seem like that much to me, especially when you know that 100 percent of the proceeds are going to a good cause. It’s not like we’re charging $5 per cookie.

Tahitian

I met up with my friend tonight over ramen and tsukemen, and we chatted about everything that has happened since the wedding, which is really the last time I spend a good amount of time with her. She showed me this bag that she had bought from a thrift shop and how she customized it to reflect who she was. One patch she sewed on was a cut out of the state of California, with a earthquake marker over San Francisco, which is where she’s from. The second patch was from Air Tahiti Nui, the airline she flew when she went to Tahiti for Tahitian dance with her friend a year and a half ago. She was very proud of her customized bag and declared, “This bag represents me.”

I get how the thrift store bag represents her since she loves used clothing stores and used goods, and she is obsessed with getting good deals. I understand San Francisco, obviously since she was born and raised there and always misses the burritos there. But the Tahiti thing? She’s been there once, and one of her close friends who she traveled with is from there. But how does Tahiti, a place she visited once, represent her? I guess I can make sense of it since there hasn’t been a single time since that trip when she has not mentioned Tahiti or waxed on and on about it, whether it’s the food, the water, the culture, or the languages spoken there. But to say that it represents her seems a little far fetched?

Zucchini “noodles” need to die

Living in a city full of very privileged people, I always hear a lot of judgment when it comes to foods that are “good” and “bad” for you, or even products and ingredients in bodycare that supposedly aren’t good for you. I know I am a judgmental person (and you probably are, too, whether you realize it or not), but one thing I never, ever do is judge what people are eating to their face — ever, unless I have something positive to say. I’m very aware of how food shaming can be hurtful because judging what someone is eating to their face is like judging their weight to their face. No one wants that.

I heard someone in the office saying a few months ago how toxic sodium fluoride is (yes, that active ingredient in most of your toothpastes that prevents cavities and plaque? Yeah, that). All breads, rices, and grains seem to be getting a bad rap because they are so full of carbs (it’s as though we’ve all forgotten that meat and fruit and vegetables also have carbs, too?). Someone recently said to me, and I had to try really, really hard to bite my tongue, “I just feel like a vegetable is always going to be healthier than a grain,” when letting me know proudly that she doesn’t have any bread, rice, or grain of any sort in her entire apartment. High protein grains like sprouted wheat and quinoa are on the holy grail list of what are “power” foods. And then there are these stupid things being done where people want to try to fake wheat and rice by making things like zucchini “noodles” and cauliflower “rice”… and then they complain that these things just aren’t as satisfying, or the result isn’t the same as having real spaghetti or real rice. Have they thought that maybe they aren’t the same because… they are not the same thing?!

I’m happy to do things like try raw kale chopped up in salads, green juices, quinoa in my porridge, or test out squash or sweet potato flour occasionally in a baking recipe, but I don’t think I can ever accept the demonization of things like wheat flour, rice, grains, or even fat. We’d all be a lot healthier and happier if we just ate a little bit of everything in moderation and stopped making it seem like carbs or fat will be the death of us. The constant neuroses that I am surrounded by in this city around “good” and “bad” foods will annoy me to no end.