andersonville, gallows hill, texas school book depository

These are the mantras that Sarah Vowell, brilliantly wry observer of American life and politics, whispers to herself as a reminder that bad as things are, they can always be worse.

“Andersonville” is a code word for “You could be one of the prisoners of war dying of disease and malnutrition in the worst Confederate prison, so just calm down about the movie you wanted to go to being sold out.” “Texas School Book Depository” means that having the delivery guy forget the guacamole isn’t nearly as bad as being assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald as the blood from your head stains your wife’s pink suit. Though, ever since I went to Salem, I’m keen on “Gallows Hill.” As in, being stuck in the Boise airport for ten hours while getting hit on by a divorced man with “major financial problems” on his way to his twentieth high school reunion is irksome, but not as dire as swinging by the neck on Salem’s Gallows Hill.

[from The Partly Cloudy Patriot, the wonderful book I’m reading at the moment, borrowed from Jeff]

So today I’ve been trying to find my own mantras as I deal with another day from hell, from the really petty missing guacamole-level things, like the fact that my hosting provider’s servers would choke anytime I’d submit any HTML-based form–to edit a comment, add a new blog entry, or change a template, say–if it had HTML code in it until just a few minutes ago, to the really scary messy stuff, like finding out while I was at the doctor’s office–after sitting waiting for 45 minutes before they got to me at all–that despite the presence of completed forms in my file, the annual receipt of renewed welcome materials from the insurance company, and even the reality in my hot-little-hand of a membership card from them that says I’m covered through December 31, 2004, apparently I do not, in fact, have health insurance nor have I actually been covered for the past two years. So I didn’t end up seeing the doctor after all–the office offered to let her see me for a lot of extra money and a ton of additional paperwork including a request to record my complete medical history again, even though it’s already in my file, but I was so tired, angry and frustrated by that time that I finally just walked out in disgust. I’d only decided to go to her because I thought the paperwork and hassle would be minimized; I don’t actually like her or prefer her care.

My HR and payroll staff are still trying to figure out what happened, and why I apparently have no health insurance, but tell me they won’t have any answers before Monday. Here’s hoping I stay healthy and safe at least through the weekend. I’ll say one thing for this experience, though: Right now I feel nothing but a warm hypertensive flush in my face, and blood pounding in my neck, temple and ears, all of which at least has taken my attention away from the pain and pressure in my balls and gut, for now.

Andersonville. Gallows Hill. “Fallujah,” I whisper to myself. Things could be worse.

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