Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Broccoli Insurance

The incessant coverage of the Supreme Court oral arguments about the affordable healthcare law have been fascinating, even without the broccoli fetish.  But it has been really annoying when interviewers and reporters talk about the "fact" that the uninsured are going to use these services and not pay for them (therefore insurance companies/the law/lots of people want everyone to pay in to the system, which I think is a fine idea, by the way).  They always just gloss over that part about how "the uninsured are going to go to the emergency room and receive care."  Well, yes, anyone who is in an emergency will have their condition stabilized; the paramedics at the car accident aren't going to watch you bleed to death or refuse to pry you from the car until you show your health insurance card. But the talking heads keep talking as if that's the end of the story. Have you people ever been to an emergency room, or doctor's office for that matter?  You still get billed for the services. It's not like the uninsured just waltz in with their broken leg or ruptured spleen or whatever and get in the Uninsured-So-I'm-Not-Paying line.  What planet do these people live on that they don't think uninsured get billed for services rendered?   Besides, insured people get billed, too. The most recent health insurance I had in the U.S. was so laughably far from covering things at 100% that of course I got billed after the fact.

The inaccurate, incomplete way people have been talking about getting free healthcare when you are uninsured is a fantasy! I know - because I'm uninsured right now, having returned from my job in Korea (fabulous cheap health care!) and not yet able to cough up the $500/month the companies want to insure a single freelancer.  I would love to have some free health care just by showing up at a hospital! I wish!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Toto, I don't think we're in Korea anymore

Wednesday was a banner day, and one that made me think about the fact that I am back in the U.S.  I would say that overall, our re-entry this month has been seamless. Perhaps it's because we've been bouncing around so many different places in Asia over the last few months that coming to Arizona to chill out for a spell has been easy-peasy in comparison.  At any rate, I haven't given it that much mind-boggling "Wow-so-weird-to-be-back" thought this time around, but on Wednesday it hit me differently.  Brian and I headed to downtown Phoenix for two events: first, the MSU Spartans pep rally in anticipation of the next day's Sweet Sixteen game of the NCAA basketball tournament, played in downtown Phoenix, and second, the Amy Ray (plus other musicians) show at the Crescent Ballroom, a FABULOUS new (ish?) little venue on 2nd Avenue and Van Buren. A great time was had by all, but after the show I remarked to Brian that in the preceding couple of hours I had enjoyed:

1.  A bean and cheese burrito
2.  Microbrews
3.  Live music featuring multiple acoustic guitars

Obviously, I was not in Korea anymore.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Was Country...and sometimes I still am

I consider it my duty when I spend time in Phoenix to catch up a little on my country music.  (I also consider it my duty when galavanting about the world to tell people from other places who are all "I-listen-to-every-kind-of-music-except-country" that they don't know what they're missing, but that's another story.) This is not solely about geography of course; it's also about transportation lifestyle. I have spent the last decade living in Boston, New York, Chicago, Daegu, etc., in crowded urban walking/subway/bus cities without a car, so I have necessarily done less car radio listening than I do when in Arizona, and car radio listening is something I very much enjoy. I am a seeker, a scanner, a button pusher...I like finding some tunes! (Or some talk. I'm flexible, but I definitely enjoy cruising through the dial.)

Actually, the reason I pretty much gave up on country music about a decade ago is that it turned into a giant pile of songs about "God told me to be a Republican and go fight a war in Iraq" and it was a truly atrocious few years. But, that has eased a bit, and I love visiting Phoenix and borrowing my mother's car and cruising around the Valley catching up on what I've missed while out there in the world living my non-Arizona life.

Of course, sometimes I am so far out of the loop that I entirely miss songs until several years after they come out, which is apparently the case with today's discovery, "American Saturday Night," which is apparently by Brad Paisley and apparently from 2009 or 2010. (Where have I been? Eeek!)  Anyway, in the upbeat song he sings about all these "foreign" things that are part of the U.S.A., a typical American Saturday night, including everything from a German car and Canadian bacon to French kissing and toga parties. It's mildly clever, in that cheeky country song way, and when it gets to the end with the obligatory last verse twist that Makes a Point (man, I love country music) he sings rather kindly about the immigrants who long ago came to our shores and could never have pictured this, and so forth.

What struck me about it was how it was light-hearted and positive and didn't have to veer off in some "Buy American or the terrorists win" direction. I certainly hope we have turned a corner and can get back to country music just being goofy fun and/or honky-tonk tear-in-my-beer depressing, as it should be.

However, I am a little worried: I heard a different song a few days ago in which a different man sings about driving in the car with his son, who is eating a Happy Meal and "knows he can't play with his toy 'til the nuggets are gone." I was pretty much horrified: this is how we relate to Middle America now, I suppose, by singing about feeding McDonald's to our children. In the car. Yikes! And, that song's later verse Makes a Point about the Lord, sure enough, as the son learns to pray by watching his dad and blah blah blah. Although the whole thing was pretty awful, and had reeeeeally cringe-inducing lyrics, I take it as a good sign that it's not a song about a boy who wants to be like dad by heading off to some violence and death in a country where there's a lot of oil.

I think we're making progress!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

"North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe..."

Yesterday we saw My Week With Marilyn.  I thought it was a fine film, with very good acting, and overall I enjoyed it. However, it got me thinking about something I have never understood: Marilyn Monroe.

I don't mean someone I have never understood, because I'm not really referring to the person. I mean the whole Marilyn Monroe thing. I have never been able to relate to the fascination with this woman, and it has always mystified me. I feel like when it comes to the Marilyn-Monroe-magic-spell, there's everyone in the world and then there's me.

It might start with the hair, quite frankly. I mean, here's this woman who is supposed to be the ultimate sex symbol, the most beautiful, alluring, recklessly charming, perfect encapsulation of all that is sexy, and I just can't get past the hair. It's a hideous shade of fake blonde that I'm not entirely sure would look nice on anybody, and secondly, it's short. I don't care for short hair and I generally don't find that it makes a woman sexier, or more beautiful, let alone the sexiest or the most beautiful. In fact, I can't think of anyone with short hair that I would consider to be ultimately sexy. Long hair just looks better. (And prettier, for sure.) So I suppose the idea of Marilyn Monroe being a supremely beautiful woman was always lost on me, for this and other reasons.

So then, OK, so she acts in movies and is charming, but by all accounts is a total pain in the ass, racked with insecurities and a fragility act. And she manipulates people and acts this whole persona so that no one ever really knows the whole person and then - surprise, surprise - she takes all these pills, and dies early and tragically. I mean, really? She's a walking cliche, so it's interesting that she is considered so very special. I mean, just objectively speaking.

Anyway, the movie My Week With Marilyn contemplates a few of these issues, not that it ever stands up and screams "Get over yourself" and/or "Get over her" to everyone around herself. But it is very interesting and I totally and completely see why Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh were nominated for Oscars. Branagh was great as Laurence Olivier. The interaction of the cast of great actors in this film was wonderful and fun to watch.

Brian and I desperately need to catch up on all the 2011 movies we missed while living in Andong, and so I declared a goal of watching 40 movies in March. We have watched three so far since March 1st: Hugo, My Week With Marilyn, and The Descendants.  (We launched our catch-up project when we watched The Artist, but that was on February 29. Should I count it?)  It may seem like I'm off to a slow start, but we will be back in Phoenix for a while, and I am going to be a theater-goin', Netflixin' fiend. I will totally get to see 40 movies this month. Just you watch!

Monday, March 05, 2012

It's goodbye again

Well, here I am, leaving Korea. Again. Linda Without Borders is going to once more wend her way across the Pacific Ocean to the U.S. and an unknown future. And while it is so different from the last time, it somehow  manages to be very much the same in some ways. Life is sneaky like that.

One way it was very much the same and also oh so very different was last night when I once again had my final commune trip. My favorite bar in the world is still the lovely Commune's lonely hearts club in Junangno, Daegu, and one of my greatest thrills in 2011 was returning to that place, my old haunt of haunts, the locale of so much of what I experienced when I lived in Daegu 2005-06. I never thought I would go back there (or to Daegu at all) and being able to revisit it multiple times while we lived in Andong brought me pure joy. I know that a lot of people don't understand; they think, "What? It's just a bar, and a smoky one at that. How great could it be?" But that's OK; they can stay upstairs on the harsh neon streets and I will experience the truest souls I've yet found on the planet in the beautiful basement darkness below.

Only - I won't. Not for a while, anyway. Because now Brian and I are headed out of the country, so last night was our final night in Daegu, and our last stop had to be our last Commune trip for at least a little while, if not a long while. It was so interesting to be there though, because this time I know that you can never say never. This weekend I sat where I sat almost six years ago, and I conversed with the two special people I conversed with six years ago, and took shots with them like we did six years ago...and I was filled with a quite beautiful melancholy. I know it will be a long time before I can go back there, but I was still marveling at the fact that over the past year I was able to go back there at all. When I left in 2006 there were tears and there was anger and there were so many things I didn't understand about what I was leaving behind. I like to think I have a deeper understanding now, but I suspect there are still many things I need to figure out, too many to count.

I kind of miss my solitary journeys and the moments I used to spend in deep, pensive solitude. I thought about that this weekend, and I think that part of the Commune magic, for me, is that it lets me glimpse and remember that part of myself.

There's more, of course, but not all of it can be blogged at this time in this space.