Sunday, October 28, 2007

Purposeful Misinterpretation

I told my brother-in-law today I didn't appreciate it when he purposefully misinterpreted my statements. This was after "Single people can still relate with married friends, on some level, decently well--as long as said friends are still both in school" was translated to "So Katie says that single people are boring." (Thanks, Joe. Thanks a lot.)

But then I had to eat humble pie. "This coming from the girl," Joe said, "who cornered me yesterday and said 'So I'm unmarriageable?' after your sister told you that I thought you'd be the last sibling to get married."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Confuzzled's Sense of Gravity

Smilla had a sense of snow. I have a sense of gravity--that is, I fall a lot. I didn't really think about this until I visited a chiropractor for a consultation this week. He's the first person who has seemed like he could offer some helpful suggestions as to how I can feel better. Anyway, he's positive I'm one of the most mis-aligned people he knows (possibly also one of the most maligned, but I kept my puns to myself).

He asked if I had every had any kind of traumatic fall. The first thing that leaped to mind, of course, was my experience gracefully plummeting off the Trax train this summer. The short answer, obviously, was yes. But then my mom and I started talking about all of the times I've fallen.

Age 5: I was innocently walking to kindergarten, accompanied by my older sister and her best friend, when the sidewalk suddenly decided it hated me. Really, that's the only explanation I have. An unevenness I never noticed before caught my foot, and my face collided with the cement. If any of you know me, you'd be greatly amused by how distraught I was--that I wasn't going to school that day.

Age 6: My parents had a pole structure that held a porch swing--the same structure as a regular swing set, we just rarely bothered to hang the seat on it. It became, my default, our monkey bars. My older sister and I decided to chicken fight. (Actually, she decided and then bullied me into participation) In the course of the fight, she yanked too hard on my legs--I lost my grip, tumbled to the ground, and broke my arm for the first time.

Ages 7 thru 13: All of the usual falling, if a little bit more than usual. It never helped that my balance has always been awful.

Age 14: So I'm out in the front yard, playing Horse with my dad. We're bonding. It's good. But then he overshoots the ball and it bounces into the street. As I was standing nearer to the street at the moment, I was told to get it. What I didn't realize: I was standing next to the not-even-two-foot retaining wall. I didn't see it, because it was on my blind side. I turned to take a running step and . . . you guessed it, tripped and fell over the wall.

Fast forward to age 23: The Trax train incident. How embarrassing. And then today. Today I came to my parents' house in Centerville because my sister and brother-in-law are here for the weekend and because a girl I grew up with is going to speak in church tomorrow before leaving on her mission. This is, I freely admit, also a Stake Conference avoidance tactic.

Anyway, when I came inside, I was carrying all essentials: a backpack with church clothes, my purse, and my very full laundry basket. I set the purse in the living room and ditched the backpack, but then needed to proceed downstairs with the laundry basket. Let me emphasize again--that laundry basket was very full. Making it very heavy. And skewing my already practically-non-existent center of balance forward. In my defense, I made it halfway down the staircase. Well, I actually made it all the way down the staircase--I just made it down the second half by missing a step, losing my balance, and sliding the rest of the way down.

I believe I made a graceful noise at the bottom--"oof" as I recall--and listened as I heard my dad fighting the urge to laugh. "I'm fine!" I yelled. "Just a little banged up." Out-loud laughing now. I got up, picked up my laundry, and started dragging my now-sore body to the washer and dryer.

So yes, chiropractor, it could be said that I've experienced some traumatic falls. And my one regret about the most recent is that all of the sweet bruises I'll get from that fall (I bruise ridiculously easily) will be in places where I can't show anyone.

What I Love People For

Or rather, the reasons people think I love and see them.

My Mother:
Her cooking
Her washer and dryer
Her willingness to play Scrabble with me
Her literary bent, which she passed on

My Dad:
His sense of humor
His willingness to take me out to lunch every two weeks
Ditto on taking me out for frozen yogurt
My place on his insurance card

My Older Brother:
His ability to argue
His sense of humor

My Older and Younger Sisters:
Their impeccable taste in clothes and shoes
Their ability to make me laugh

My Younger Brother:
His mad musical skills
His ability to laugh at his own bad grammar. And spelling. And writing skills. (But at least he writes)

My Roommate:
Her Stargate SG-1 DVD collection.
Her randomness.
Her willingness to drive.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Here's some irony for you

I now work in Human Resources, and it's leading me to believe people less. I don't necessarily like people less, but I'm becoming more heartless. Then again, perhaps this is unsurprising. After all, my professions refers to actual people as "resources," so maybe it is only naturally that I de-personalize people. Also, when it comes to most excuses and whining and anything in that family, I don't believe people anymore. I've heard it all.

Another irony: English major. Creative writing, to be exact. And I'm the worst regular correspondent in the world. My brother has been on a mission for more than a year, and I think I've written him three e-mails. (For the record, this is the younger brother I've always gotten along with, and not the older brother--I only sent him two letters) My average turnaround time for most regular e-mail correspondents is somewhere in the neighborhood of a month. I'm surprisingly communicative in other ways and in other arenas.

It's also ironic that I should study so long and not do as well as I wanted on the GRE. In the end, I think the studying is what hampered my progress. Now THAT'S irony . . .

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Work and such

Sometimes I stop and think: if I stopped working, would my world move forward?  The obvious answer is yes.  The world would move forward.  Roll recklessly, perhaps.  It would move forward more quickly than I wanted it to, with its bills and its demands, and the moving forward would involve me starting to work again.
I'm afraid I'm beginning to be a workaholic.  I stay home sick--and still end up putting in five hours of work.  (Granted, it wasn't the full eight, but doesn't it say something that I had work at home with me that I could actually do that?)  When I come into the office, I feel an instant energy drain.
To what can a girl attribute something like this?  Looking back to January, I remember a perky girl, all excited to buy dress pants and dress shoes and button-up shirts and "play professional."  That girl was excited about playing dress-up.  The girl sitting here right now, typing, wants to go home and find a book.  Drink some cocoa.  Curl up on the couch and not have to go anywhere for days and days if she doesn't want to.
Responsibility is a gift, I guess, but it's also a burden.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Empathy vs. Sympathy

Wind your clock back--far back.  To the year 1998.  In my ninth grade Honors English class, all of us are complaining about the assigned reading we had completed the night before: "The Lottery," we have decided, is twisted and creepy and just a few steps short of just plain evil.  I mean--sacrificing a woman so your crops go?  Come on.  Did people ever do anything like that?  Our teacher comes in, bearing a box full of slips of paper.
"Our lesson today," she says, "is on empathy.  And here's the deal--someone is going to get stoned so they understand what the protagonist of the story felt like.  I'm going to divide you into families, and then each family will get a scrap of paper.  The family who gets the paper with a black dot will have to draw papers again.  And whoever gets the black dot will, at that point, be stoned."
I've always had abominable luck.  I got stoned that day.  (Ha, that statement is even more funny taken completely out of context)  Anyway, I felt horribly ashamed.  And that is when my teacher started discussing the difference between sympathy and empathy.  "All of you, when you read the story, felt sympathy," she told us.  "But Katie feels empathy.  She knows how the protagonist felt.  How do you feel, Katie?"
My response, I believe, was something along the lines of "Hmm mumble grumble."  Interpretation: I feel humiliated, obviously.  At that point, my fourteen-year-old self decided something: she did not want to feel empathy.  Being able to be empathetic was no fun at all, because empathy seemed to be decidedly involved with intimately knowing how bad other people felt.
Fast forward a few years.  Okay, nine years.  As an HR professional, I deal with a lot of cranky people in the course of the week.  They are frustrated with the company, with the insurance vendors, and with the situations they are in.  I try to maintain a nice demeanor on the phone (so much easier, by the way, than maintaining a nice demeanor in person), even when I think that they have pitifully small concerns.
Well, fate has seen fit to teach me again what it means to have empathy.  I now get to jump through some insurance hoops of my own, and I am beginning to understand why people are often anxious, agitated, whiny, and just plain stressed by the time thye talk to me.  Some of these issues can be a pain, and many of the people on the other end of the customer service line have next to no clue about what they're talking about.  (Also, many have them have no personality and no sense of humor, but that's beside the point)
I have a new resolve: though they cannot hear me after I hang up the phone, I will not laugh at the (metaphoric) stones being cast at them.  After all, I should know: stoning hurts.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Americans Unhealthy--Not When We're Doubly Insured

When I got my first real-life, 8 to 5, corporate-world job with benefits, you have no idea how excited I was. I felt like an adult (till I looked down at my feet, at least, and remembered the whimsical monkey-and-banana socks I had donned in the morning--after all, they were going to be more than covered by my work pants). So responsible. And as I reviewed the information, I thought of how wonderful it would be to be doubly insured--under my father's insurance and my own. No more medical bills ever!

Ha! Bills came when I sprained my foot, and now my father's insurance company has decided they were mis-billed for insurance, since the insurance provided through my place of work should CLEARLY have been billed as primary.

Except here's the thing: when my work insurance became active, we checked and double-checked and triple-checked the guidelines for both companies to see which should be primary. Neither of them had any guidelines that specified when they should or should not be secondary. How evil is that?

So today I came home to find an itemized list from Daddy's insurance company, demanding payment from my other carrier. This is why I'm tempted to use the medical insurance plan Shawn Spencer talks about in Pysch: "Don't get sick." Seems much easier than dealing with a bunch of bureacratic crappy, crappy red tape.

This, I have decided, is why medical costs skyrocket--taking care of the costs causes unmitigated levels of stress, and we all know where those lead . . .