KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Said my 4-year-old son, Jared, doing some playacting while a Star Wars movie played in the background: "I'll be Darth Bush. He has the worstest light saber ever—it's black."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Mending the State of Disunion

Here's a memo to Bush from the Fellowship of Reconciliation that I wish I'd written:

Urgent memo
To: George W. Bush
From: Fellowship of Reconciliation
Subject: State of the Union

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for asking the Fellowship of Reconciliation to prepare State of the Union talking points for you. We share your deep concern for the state of this nation and the world, and are pleased to help you shape a forward-thinking vision at this critical time.

Mr. President, now is the time to address the conditions of decay, distrust, and deception that will otherwise become the legacy of this administration and Congress. Our nation needs to be able to trust its elected leaders again. As a person of faith, you surely recognize that for the American people to move forward to a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation, the way to begin this process is to speak the truth.

This will be painful. You will have to acknowledge the lies and mismanagement that have been a hallmark of the past four years. You must take responsibility for the manipulated evidence that led to the war in Iraq and the terribly inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina; forswear the policies and practices of torture and illegal surveillance; and take concrete steps to distance yourself from the corruption and scandal that is implicating members of your administration and old business associates.

You must announce an exit strategy from Iraq and Afghanistan. This should encompass the withdrawal of our soldiers by the end of 2006, leaving the region clean of U.S. military bases. The growth of bases in the two countries is a key reason why Iran has
increased its militant rhetoric.

A moral presidency demands a firm commitment to the peoples of the world that their lives will be free of foreign aggression and occupation. Let us seize the momentum from the recent democratic elections in Iraq to show the Middle East and the world that the United States is not an occupying empire or a bullying superpower.

On the domestic front, the nation’s economic health should be a top priority. The gap between rich and poor Americans has grown to historic levels, with the richest five percent making almost 1,500% more than the poorest 20 percent, and CEOs making 431 times more than the average worker. Couple this with the skyrocketing cost of energy—the price of oil is now approaching $70 a barrel—and you will understand why many people are getting desperate.

What can you do? Start by doubling the national minimum wage from $5.15 to $10.30, which will at least approach a living wage. Then acknowledge that your tax cut policies don’t help anyone except the wealthy. Last year, two million jobs were created, but this was less than 40% of what your Council of Economic Advisors had predicted, and only half what a normal job growth figure would have been without the tax cuts. Specifically, you should call for a reinstatement of the Estate Tax, which even many rich Americans (like Bill Gates) have acknowledged was a fair tax on their wealth.

We know that health care is a major concern for you. Seize the moment! Now is the time to call for a universal health care policy for the United States. There is no good reason why we, the wealthiest nation in the world, are also the only industrialized democracy that doesn't have health coverage for all its citizens. We are very concerned by reports that you seek to further privatize the system, rather than creating more governmental support for the least of us—those who cannot afford what is currently offered.

Are you worried about the budget implications? This recommitment to health care, the reconstruction of the region around New Orleans, a strong environmental program, and a balanced education policy (like a fully funded No Child Left Behind Act) are all eminently possible. Once you steer the nation away from wars of aggression abroad, some of our bloated, $400 billion–plus military budget can be reallocated towards education, renewable energy, and economic development. Creating a strong social safety net and a healthy population must be a top priority, since we cannot afford to be "Left Behind" in the the competitive global skills market.

Mr. President, as a man of faith, you are certainly aware of the words of the prophet Micah, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God?” This nation and the world could use some justice, mercy and humility right now. We look forward to your State of the Union address tomorrow as an opportunity to help our country respond to Micah’s challenge and regain our spiritual compass.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Rough Time

So many things to do, so little time.

The Bush administration's doing the usual outrageous things, yet I have no time to comment on them. I'm doing on a rush project and trying to finish another (nonrush) project, both for the same client, so I've been working 7 days a week lately. On top of that, I'm not so happy with my Presbyterian church because I've gradually come to see that many of its members are a lot more conservative and reluctant to take action (talk the talk, but don't walk the walk) than I'd thought. It's so hard being one of the very few progressive voices there.

Rough time.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Big Brother George

Keep the hell out of my job and my personal life, George Bush.

As an editor, I'm on Google constantly to verify tidbits of information my clients' authors put into their manuscripts.

As a self-employed woman trying to provide financial security for her family, I'm on Google day and night in a fruitless search for affordable health care insurance (part 1 and part 2).

As a supporter of gay rights, I'm on Google every single day to keep abreast of news affecting GLBT people everywhere.

As an active Presbyterian and progressive Christian, I'm often on Google to research ways to counteract the cultural insanity perpetrated by conservative religious zealots of every stripe.

As a parent and wife, I'm frequently on Google to research education and medical issues affecting my children and husband.

As a liberal American, I'm on Google constantly to keep abreast of all the ways you seek to curtail my freedom, destroy my country, and foment hatred among nations.

I'm a very open person, George, but I won't stand for your fascist invasions of my privacy. Back the hell off, or sooner than you can rationalize invading Iran, you'll be impeached.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Angels in the Morning

Neil (Anakin) and Jared (Robin)6:40 am: Time to wake Neil, 11. This takes some doing because he always has trouble getting to sleep in the first place. A gentle shake, shake. Nothing. "Neil! School day. Time to get up," said sotto voce, because he shares a bedroom with Jared, 4. Jared's allowed to sleep until he's ready to get up, which is usually between 8 and 8:30, because he's always home with me unless it's time for preschool, which runs 12 to 2:30 pm Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

6:50 am: A lot more of the shaking and whispering later, Neil stumbles into the kitchen and sits down. He stuffs his vitamin gummies into his mouth, his eyes still closed. He swallows, and his eyelids drag themselves open long enough for him to look at me with liquid-blue puppy eyes while he says, "Mommy, can I have a snuggle?" He drapes his long, bony body across my lap and tucks his face against my neck, so soft and warm and trusting. I tell him how, of my three children, he was the one at whose birth I felt the physical sensation of the world tilting on its axis, and how I now take that to mean that he will change the world, maybe by inventing something amazing, maybe by being kind and gentle.

7:20 am: Finally having finished his breakfast, Neil stumbles off to dress for school, while I read my e-mail.

7:40 am: His backpack waiting near the steps down to the front door, Neil comes over for one last snuggle, fortification for a day at school. A few minutes later, a clock seems to sound an alarm in his head, and he straightens, says, "Have a good day, Mommy," and heads for the landing to watch out the front-door window for his school bus.

8:15 am: I hear fast footfalls as Jared, after awakening, runs from the bedroom and straight to me at the computer. Neil's bus has come and gone. Jared throws his solid little body at me, tucking his head and his arms into my embrace. He nuzzles me as I kiss the soft, sweet-smelling back of his neck. A few moments later, he lifts his head to kiss my cheek and throw his arms around my neck. Then, all preschooler urgency, Jared breaks off our hug and trots to the living room, picking up the blanket Neil left behind. He throws himself into an overstuffed chair and buries himself in the blanket. "Mommy, can I see cartoons?" I agree, after rubbing his soft baby belly. Weekdays, he gets a little TV while he eats breakfast; he'll play later.

I know that several times during the day, Jared will suddenly stop what he's doing and run up to say something like "Mommy, I love you," and hug and kiss me. And I will track him down several other times to return the favor.

I know that when Neil comes home from school, he'll zoom in for a quick hug and a recital of the days' events before he heads off for the computer/Game Boy/PlayStation time he's allowed before homework.

And I know that I will happily do it all again tomorrow, especially for the chance to hold soft boy bodies and soft boy hearts. I cannot resist hugs from my children. Their skin is so smooth and warm and their enjoyment of affection is so visceral.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Joys of Freelancing

AP photo of today's wind and rain on Long IslandGeez! It's days like today that really make me glad to be a freelancer. Here on Long Island, the rain's coming down sideways and the wind's gusting up to 60 miles per hour. I didn't have to get dressed for an audience of officemates and go outside to drive to work, only to be immediately soaked. I'm sitting here at my computer in a T-shirt, casual pants, and clogs, dry and happy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Laugh or Cry?

If I weren't so damned depressed over this whole health insurance crap, I'd laugh hysterically at the fact that the particular Google ads that have taken up residence on this blog lately are from companies that hunt down health insurance quotes for people.

Fact is, though, I've actually followed the URLs from those ads (being careful to write them down and go to the sites without clicking on my own Google ads, which Google forbids). Lots of 'em have given me outrageous quotes or told me that some of the companies they represent don't even write policies in New York State, which is where I am. Talk about the cruelty of putting a glass of water just out of reach of a parched desert traveler ...

insurance, part 1 insurance, part 2

Health Insurance Update

Well, folks, I think I've searched all corners of the country to dig up insurance companies offering affordable health insurance, and I can't find anything. (See earlier posts in this saga here and here.) I'm stressed and worn out from my hunt. If any miracle drops down from the sky, I'll let you know.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Health Care: My Financial Choices and Lessons Learned

My readers having no insights for me, I've been doing intense research for the last couple of days on ways to avoid going without health insurance. I've found that there aren't affordable insurance plans in the state of New York for sole proprietors like me (see why I'm in this fix).

Other possible financial solutions for my family would include

  1. Moving to another U.S. state: Now that our oldest son's individualized education plan and medications for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) are as stabilized as they can be and he's blossoming academically (presidential scholar!), we won't move till he's out of high school—and he's in sixth grade now. Our school district is, unlike us, wealthy, so there are plenty of tax dollars for what our son needs. He and society deserve his getting the best academic and life foundation that we can get for him.

  2. My becoming an employee of a publishing house again so that I could obtain employer-subsidized health care insurance: But with the monthly railroad commuter ticket now costing $315 and annual child care costs for only one of my two sons being in excess of $15,000, we'd be in vastly worse financial shape. For most of my 11 years of self-employment, we haven't used child care and thus have saved loads of money. I'm a multitasker; I parent and edit.

  3. Creating a partnership with other freelancers so that we all qualify for group insurance: This is the hardest option for me to wrap my mind around; I went solo for freedom from bureaucracy, and I don't think I'd deal well with having to supervise others or to do mountains of nonediting paperwork.

  4. Moving to Canada: Once our son with AD/HD is out of the public school system, we will look more closely into this if nothing has changed regarding health care in the United States.

  5. Hiring my mother-in-law, who lives with us, as an employee, so that my company qualifies as a group with two employees, her and me: But she is 70 and retired and uses Medicare, so she wouldn't use any health insurance whose premiums my company were to pay, and the insurer would require that if I pay the premiums, all employees use the insurance.

I have learned several lessons from this hunt:
  1. If you live in the United States and must carry your own health insurance, do not live in New York State. Though state law requires that insurance companies offer insurance to all comers, they can charge premiums as high as they wish, thus making insurance unaffordable to most individuals and sole proprietors.

  2. Do not develop any chronic health conditions, even if their genesis has roots in your genes.

  3. Do not be self-employed; owe your life to an employer so as to have health insurance.

  4. Do not have children.

These lessons impoverish me and the rest of the country. George "Rich Boy" W. Bush, get your butt over here and trade places with me for six months. Bet you'd encourage Congress to revamp our health care system faster than your "let them eat cake" mama can count the pearls on her necklace.

April 1 update: We now have insurance.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Reader Consultation on U.S. Health Care Insurance

Dear readers:

If you live in the United States, are self-employed, have children, and aren't married to someone whose employer subsidizes health care insurance premiums, do you have health care coverage? If so, please answer the following questions, in the order presented, in your comments to this post:

  1. What state do you live in?

  2. How many people, including you, are in your family?

  3. How much are your monthly premiums?

  4. What is your copay for a visit to a health care provider?

  5. What is your copay for medications?

  6. What is the name of your health care insurer, and what is its web site URL?

  7. If you are without health care, do you put aside money toward future health care costs? If so, how much each month?
I have done quite a bit of research, over the 11 years I've been self-employed, to find the best and most affordable health care insurance. Insurers are dropping the self-employed—not overtly but covertly, by discontinuing the existing coverage and offering new, much more costly coverage—at an alarming rate. I don't want to be fiscally irresponsible, but I may have no choice but to go without insurance; it's coming down to choosing between having a home and having health care coverage. Maybe some of you have found solutions that I'm missing.

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