|Wooly Bugger in January|
|Murky Like Mine Tailings|
|Silver and Gold|
|Not Yet Spring|
Elmira Pond is milky with melt. It is mid-January and the pond is the color of Idaho's mining heritage--silver and gold. Reeds shimmer like golden sticks, standing broken and bent in icy pools of murky silver. The water is the color of tailings from a silver mine, the thin muddy leavings of ore. If only my pond were truly full of silver and gold. I start humming the Barenaked Ladies tune, "If I had a Million Dollars."
Despite the pools and presence of a wooly bear caterpillar, it is not spring. The wind most likely blew this not-yet-an-Isabella-Tiger-Moth out of its hibernating hidy-hole in a rock or pine bark. I feel like this little creature and want to curl up in a ball of my own, ignoring the winds and winter birds that might want to dine on my flesh. I don't have a million dollars.
Neither do I have insurance.
Writing doesn't pay well enough to afford monthly premiums--yet. Not to stand at the edge of Elmira Pond and wash my feet in delusions, but writing can pay off. All my career I have used the skill to benefit employers. Now it's my turn, trying to balance paying clients, writing $25 articles, building a platform, connecting with readers and crafting stories out of words as they bubble up from the well. I make almost-enough. Almost. So close to the peak I can sense the vista beyond.
Life is simple for a wooly bugger. Eat, hole up, sleep, cocoon and emerge as created to be.
Foolish to be a writer, I suppose, but I always was stubborn. Defiant to what one "should" do, I birthed babies at home, graduated from college after turning 30, moved to tight-rope places without a safety net, left high-paying jobs to work at lower-paying jobs just because the latter was more meaningful. I eat raw garlic to ward off vampires, werewolves and high-blood pressure. My husband doesn't mind my breath; I make him eat the pungent shards, too.
Come to think of it, if I were that wooly worm I would not be balled up on pavement, waiting for a predator to devour me. No, I'd be shaking a wooly fist at ravens and shuffling off to find a better way to live. That's why I'm here in no-town Elmira--to write, dig in the dirt, stalk blue herons and whistle to osprey. It's a better way to live and I will make it work.
So, I don't have insurance. I can remedy that.
Five times now I've attempted to navigate the government site and five times I've been kicked out of the system with a reference ID. Okay, insanity says I try a sixth time. There are other companies signing up people for insurance, but I'm super-skeptical of being scammed. Been there before. Lost a house. Won't trust again. Yet, as one of those blessings-when-you-need-it, a Mills cousin from Tennessee sent Todd a link. Now, fingers crossed that we can get insured by February 3 and increase some writing income to cover the premiums.
February 3 makes me want to rethink the wooly bugger position. Last night I was denied the appointment because I admitted to the office administrator that I have no insurance. Despite an urgent referral from my nurse-practitioner, this medical center informed me that I would have to pay cash the first visit. I explained if I had that kind of cash, I'd have insurance. Her response was, "Call us back when you are ready to make the appointment." Click went the line.
Of course, defiance surged and I was ready to run around the entire perimeter of Elmira Pond, shouting, "I'm free, I'm free! I'm cancer-free!" After all, I couldn't possibly be in the midst of a health crisis if I can get denied required procedures. It makes me laugh at the pink-slip in my purse, the free certificate for a mammogram that the clinic gave me. While I was puzzling over why my breasts need to be plated, squished and dosed with radiation when the "c-scare" involves my uterus, it occurred to me that the detection test is unnecessary. After all, it's merely detection. So what if it's free; I can't afford to have any form of cancer now that I know treatment can be denied.
There is dignity in being who you were meant to be. Not all wooly buggers get to emerge from the cocoon. I can feel mine still sticky and wet, gripping me like silk constraints. Maybe the wooly bugger prefers to be on the menu for birds rather than to face the hardships to come and that's why he's balled up; given up. To achieve purpose, sometimes it feels like you have to struggle against the cocoon. Or maybe we never get that far, avoiding the difficult phase, avoiding the gaze of others who might misunderstand why we would ever wrap up in constraints, avoiding the explanations why writing satiates my soul, my dreams, my restless fingertips.
Because if I struggle to be who I was meant to be, I'll fly out of this sticky mess and flutter the gossamer wings of a writer. With a million dollars.