Vacation Shaming

Five am is an ungodly hour to wake up for the daily grind, but here I am, nonetheless. I make my morning oatmeal, which I am eating for “health reasons”. Does anyone really like oatmeal? I follow the microwave cooking instructions to a tee, and this happens…

OATMEAL

I don’t have time for this BS because I hit the snooze button a few too many times this morning. The sticky mess is now stuck to everything, the mug, the microwave, and me!

Is this really my life?

I accidentally touch my hair before washing my hands, and am now frantically searching myself for any remnants of oatmeal. I think about Billy Schwartz from the second grade. He showed up to school with a speck of “oatmeal” on his chin. Someone shouted, “Ewww! Billy has a booger!” Poor Billy was forever after labeled “Billy Booger”. Lucky for Billy, his Dad was transferred before third grade, and his family moved to South Carolina.

I toss a bunch of food items into a bag and call it “lunch” before sprinting to my car. I cannot be late for work. My boss has a thing about tardiness. I’m an Office Manager for a medical practice. It is not my dream job, but I was lucky to find it. I gave up my Sales and Marketing career years ago to stay home, and raise my two children; a decision I don’t ever regret until I look at my bank statement.

I look down at the gas gage and see that I am on “E”. I shout a few curse words to no one, and speed off to the gas station. Now I will definitely be late, and that means the entire day will go downhill from there.

My job is OK. I get wear scrubs. This is a big plus. But, I also get to listen to patients complain, and sometimes get agitated about the limits of their insurance plan, demanding to know why it doesn’t cover hardly anything. I agree. It is a problem. Most patients forget everything I tell them prior to their procedure. I see their eyes glaze over while I explain how insurance benefits work. There are limitations, and in-network versus out of network coverage amounts. There are percentages, deductibles and maximums. It’s confusing. Despite the fact that money is extracted from our paychecks every week to pay for insurance, insurance really does not cover a whole heck of a lot. The average person is terrified, and overwhelmed by the whole thing. I want to say, “You should write to your Congressman and let him know how you feel. Maybe then Congress would then get off of their butts, and fix our broken system.” Instead I say, “I am so sorry that your service was not covered. How would you like to pay for this?” I am also the collections department.

On the way to work I am stuck behind a minivan with an OBX sticker on the back. This makes me think of Billy Booger again. I wonder what Billy is doing now? I wonder if he still lives in the Carolina’s. Why don’t I live in the Carolina’s? I find myself suddenly jealous of Billy. I’ve spent the summer avoiding everyone I know just so I don’t have to listen to their fabulous vacation stories. I am also ducking social media to avoid seeing their happy vacation photos with palm trees and captions like “Best vacation ever!” Vacation shaming should be illegal. My hot, sweaty “vacation” week was spent moving my eighty-six-year-old mother into assisted living for the second time. She WAS living with me, AND she has dementia (more on this next time), so her new living arrangement is a blessing. Plus, I spent my vacation money paying a bunch of medical bills.

OBX (code for obnoxious)

I want to pass the van with OBX sticker, because I’m sick of looking at it, but I’m trapped in the endless Northern Virginia traffic!!! What is with the sticker shaming? I don’t care how many stick people, stick dogs, and stick cats you have in your family! And now the runner’s mileage stickers are all the rage: 13.1 and, 26.2!!! So what? If I don’t run marathons I’m not good enough???

I need a bumper sticker that says: “ You win! You’re better than me! Can we please move on now?”

I consider rear-ending the minivan just to crumple that OBX sticker a little bit. Some small, sane, section of my brain tells me that these thoughts are not normal. I decide that Northern Virginia is full of people who are full of themselves, and vow to move to another state as soon as possible!

I get to work, and my first patient has a billing question. No one ever wants to pay their medical bills. I get this. I push them to back of my bill pile as well. Mind you, not five minutes earlier, this same patient was going on and on about the two weeks he spent with his family in Machu Picchu over the summer. Now he’s telling me he that he wasn’t “prepared” to pay his bill, and we will have to send him a statement.

I try a little medical bill shaming and say, “You’ll have to bring your vacation pictures next time.”

“Oh, I will!” he says, no shame, “Peru was amazing!”

I give up!

I ask my next patient if she had a nice summer, and she tells me it was a lot of work, and that she and her husband stayed in Virginia.

“Really?” I ask, suddenly hopeful. Someone else’s summer sucked as much as mine!

“Yes, we had to go down to Virginia Beach. We’re updating our beach house there, and we had to supervise the contractors. Renovating is such a nightmare! Oh, buy the way I think you have something on your shirt,” she says.

I make a mental note to stop asking patients about summer, and go to the bathroom to look in the mirror. There’s a glob of something on my scrub top. It looks like a wad of boogers. Freaking oatmeal! I wash it off to the best of my ability, and now I have a big wet mark on the front of my shirt above my left breast. I think of Billy Booger again. I should really look him up on Facebook. I just need to wait until October when the vacation shaming has fully run its course. I’m thinking I’ll have some time then before it all begins again on winter break.

Happy Monday all! I hope reading about my life makes your life seem a little better!

 

 

Farm Stand Fresh is Best

www.eileenslovak.com
http://www.eileenslovak.com

If you look carefully, you’ll see signs of summertime, as local farm stands and farmers markets begin a new season. This year, I’ve decided to buy local more often and enjoy fresh, seasonal favorites. The first stop, a quaint little place I’ve driven by countless times on my way to the soccer fields: Spider Hall Farm. I even love the name!

Here are some of the bountiful, delicious treats discovered and sampled: organic meats, all natural ice cream, fresh salad greens, produce, baked goods, butter, yogurt, jams, breads, rolls, cheeses, salad dressings and craft items.

www.eileenslovak.com
http://www.eileenslovak.com

Among the large assortment of natural ice cream by Prigel Family Creamery in Glen Arm, MD, available, I can personally vouch for the cookies & cream and the caramel pretzel.

www.eileenslovak.com
http://www.eileenslovak.com

This weekend, our family will enjoy free range eggs with natural Pork Sausage from Fairfield Farm, Park Hall, MD; just one of the many organic meats from the Spider Hall freezer.

www.eileenslovak.com
http://www.eileenslovak.com

And for a special decadent treat, handmade chocolates by Schafer’s Candy, Meyersdale, PA.

www.eileenslovak.com
http://www.eileenslovak.com

Oh, yes, they are every bit as good as they look. Off you go then, find yourself a local farm and take a stand, or at least sit awhile.

Fresh summer all!

Holy Places: Assisi

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Assisi at Dawn, http://www.eileenslovak.com

Of all of the places I traveled during a three year expanse living in Italy, Assisi stands out as one of the most holy.  I expected to feel this way about Rome and I did up to a point, but tourism, vendors and the overall commercialization of Vatican City left me feeling a bit deflated, which is not to say I didn’t appreciate the wonders of it all. 

Assisi on the other hand, remains unspoiled, perhaps because you need to work harder to get there and those seeking out this serene, peaceful place, generally go for holy reasons.  I am thrilled to have been blessed with the opportunity to visit some of the lesser traveled cities and towns in this exquisite country and was never disappointed by the beauty I found. 

This is a photographic journey.  Since I rarely sleep, I was able to capture the silence of dawn. 

I hope you enjoy it!    

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Red Scooter, Assisi, http://www.eileenslovak.com
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Fresco, Assisi, http://www.eileenslovak.com
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Assisi, http://www.eileenslovak.com
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Dove, Assisi, http://www.eileenslovak.com
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Assisi, http://www.eileenslovak.com