Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Healthcare, Hotels, and Horse Racing...

Well.  I’m done with everything!!! And by everything, I mean,  I’m not taking classes for a couple of months.  I’m JUST working, and planning a summer conference!  Hooray!

Before I jump back into real time, of all that’s been going on, which frankly, you don’t want to hear about, or is just me figuring out how to have “down time.”  Mostly me playing Farm Hero Saga, and talking about all the things I feel like I SHOULD be doing, then realizing the world won’t end if I don’t do them.  It’s thrilling.

So let’s jump back to Mid-May, when Owen and I were going to present at a conference in Baltimore.  We were moderately excited for the quick trip, and made a point to stay the extra night to make it a mini get away, since it’s a lot for us just to fly somewhere for one night (or in and out the same day. ugh.)

As fate would have it, Scootie took her last scooter breath the DAY before we were supposed to leave.  This whole process will be another blog post, but basically, as I was heading to work, she stalled in the middle of the road (she had struggles with intersections), I pushed her the four blocks home and then even after giving her a full charge, there was just nothing.  A day we all knew was coming, but OF COURSE it would happen before we needed to get on a plane.

Traveling with AND without a scooter is a blessed curse.  Traveling WITH a scooter, is easier for me.  Well, easier for my legs.  We can zip through airports, explore cities with less limitation, and it doubles as a luggage carrier.  But it also means we need to hunt for accessible cabs, be more aware of curbs, elevators, etc, and just, have a giant motorized beast to account for.

Without a scooter, I can jump into cabs, sit anywhere in a restaurant, dart through crowds with reckless abandon.  but that’s about where the joy ends.  When I don’t have a scooter, I realize how much difficulty I really have getting around.  My legs are TEENY.  And I move slow, and everything is high, and I get tired.


but alas, there was no choice, and we left for Baltimore with no scootie (may she R.I.P.)

Of course, as our “vacation” luck would have it, the weather was terrible, and upon check in we elected to do my favorite travel activity, the “Post check in nap.”  This serves many purposes!  Not only to rest up before the events of the evening, but to properly assess the quality of the bed and compare it to other places of hospitality that may be superior.

I had stayed at this hotel before, and as soon as we checked in, I remembered all the not so wonderful things about it- how I could hear everything the family did and said in the room next to me, and how I had to call the front desk every time I wanted my thermostat adjusted because I couldn’t reach it myself.  

So back in the moment- we take our nap (awesome, btw).  And as we are waking up we hear what sounds like someone DESTROYING the ice machine. I honestly thought we were going to exit our room to a hallway of ice, since it was right next to our room.  Soon, we realized the people in the room next to us- courtesy of the paper thin walls, were indeed filling a COOLER with ice, for shenanigans that were to occur that evening.  We thought nothing of it at the time.

Being pretty hungry at this point we began perusing Yelp to find somewhere to eat dinner, since we had already eaten at the affordable restaurant in the hotel.  Within minutes, Owen came across a place called MAISY’S!  So duh.  We had to go there!!!

We knew it would be an adventure, getting anywhere without Scootie, but I refused to spend the night sitting in the hotel when the day had turned out to be pretty nice, and we had designated this a weekend of recreation, in addition to the conference.

What we learned was that- if you are someone who values your time and and energy- do NOT use Google maps.  for the love of Steve Jobs, just use Mapquest.  We killed about an hour trudging in the wrong direction before we realized, Maisy’s was actually like four blocks, a straight shot from our hotel.  Up a hill, of course.
So we trudged.  There were a couple of times that I began to doubt myself and thought “Why don’t we just swing in to Subway… cause it’s right here.”  But we didn’t.  On this journey to Maisy’s, I also realized a couple of things, some of which will be saved for another blog.   The biggest was that- I NEED scootie.   I often over-estimate my own ability, and since I went so long without using any mobility equipment but my car when I graduated college, I had sort of convinced myself that it was a luxury- that it simply increased safety, and saved time.

After a much needed rest and dinner at Maisy’s, we trekked back to the hotel, for what we THOUGHT would be a restful evening.

We settled in for the night and after laughing to the point of tears at the ridiculous billionaires on House Hunters International:

Home Buyer: *sigh* I just don’t know if I want to have to pay a staff.  Is it really Spanish enough?
Owen:  Spanish ENOUGH is a must have? I just want to use the bathroom without having to crawl!!

...if you can’t laugh about it, just go home.  now.

Even though the party was over for us, the cooler filling boys next door were just getting started.

Mind you- I do not consider myself a prude.  I have had my Vegas nights, and I like a night of cocktails as much as the next girl.  But I was over it, come 2:30 a.m.  I have never in my life called the front desk in the middle of the night before, but I guess there is a first time for everything.

Thanks to the paper thin walls, we heard everything from endless drunken obscenities, to an actual beer inventory being taken, to slamming into walls and talking about doing illegal substances.  It was when there was an actual attempt to come into our room thinking it was someone else’s that I lost my cool.

I also was exhausted and we both had to present the next day.  I called the front desk and explained we were not feeling safe, and I had never in my life experienced such disrespectful debauchery.   HOOLIGANS.

I was promised that security would address it, they never came, and we somehow fell asleep to Iggy Azalea’s Fancy on loop.

Needless to say, the next morning, when it was ONCE AGAIN put on loop at 8 a.m. sharp, I was already feeling less than enthused about sitting in a conference all day.  I have done this long enough however, where I just went through the motions and inhaled all the caffeinated beverages necessary to put on a good show.

Suffice to say this conference, was one that just left me shaking my head and wanting to quit everything.  It was disorganized from beginning to end (I still am not done getting all my paperwork in to get reimbursed…), and was one of those times where we just left going, “some people will never get it.”  I felt offended as a presenter when my words were twisted and others were put in my mouth, supplementing answers the audience WANTED to hear, versus the reality that needs to be spoken.

It was just rough.

But it also went hand in hand with a lot of the rough realizations I’ve had recently, that I am done reading the script.  I am done saying the words of others, and preaching the good intentions of all these “programs,” and “resources.”  If I am going to stay in any of this murky health care nonsense, it is going to be to speak the truth.  My truth, and the truths of others, even if it’s not pretty, and from what I’m gathering…. a lot of people and organizations are not ready for that.

So be it.

But now I was fired up.  I may not be good at the script anymore, but you know what I am good at? HOTELS.

So I marched my little angry advocate self down to the front desk in my little coral sundress, and kindly explained how I am not sure what horse racing shenanigans are going on, but what we experienced the previous evening was absolutely unacceptable.

The woman nodded, and knew exactly who I was talking about, as apparently they had already been rowdy when they checked in.  She confirmed they were not checking out that evening, which happened to be the evening that we had dubbed as “vacation,” and after the day we had, after getting only 2 hours sleep, I refused to let it be a repeat of the night before.

“Then we need to move, or we’re leaving.”

Within moments I was investigating a hospitality suite on the club floor.  “I’m pretty sure this will do,” I said, trying to hide my giddiness that it was a room about 3 times the size of our apartment with a full kitchen and gorgeous dining room table.   “However, we had an ADA room, so let me confirm that this will work for both of us.”  And I had Owen come and check it out, SINCE, in order to be provided with proper customer service and a pleasant lodging experience, we had to sacrifice our ADA accommodations (which were far from luxurious, but helpful).  Since we were exhausted, and only there for one night, we dubbed it workable and moved in.

harbor pic.jpg

That night was much better.  We had a sushi dinner and debriefed about the day’s events, and just let ourselves relax.   The bed was comfortable, and we had a great breakfast before flying back to our own little Element in the city.


but there was one other piece that cannot go unmentioned.  As you all know, it is sort of a theme in this blog, and in my life when the universe just provides irony that makes us go “haha…. very funny.”   And I’ve grown to appreciate it, and Owen recognizes it pretty frequently as well.

In addition to our swank suite we achieved, we also were granted access to the Sheraton Club!  A top secret hide away that you build up so much in your head, but is really an over air conditioned lounge with a buffet with fruit and some chicken dip.   But there was free bottled water, and a view of the harbor.

The reason for all the Baltimore Shenanigans, for those who may not know, was that the “Preakness” was also that weekend, which is the 2nd race of the triple crown.  I have absolutely no affinity for horse racing, nor have I ever attended or paid attention to any sort of derby.

But as we were snacking, and enjoying the harbor view in our “exclusive” Club Room, that we had achieved through a mission of advocacy, I overheard that one of the horses was named “Social Inclusion.”

We looked at each other and just shook our heads and laughed.  It was the perfect way to end the weekend.  Owen and Mal, with a view of the harbor, rooting for Social Inclusion.


I couldn’t have written a better punch line myself!

(for the record… it did not win).

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

A weird thing happened today....

A weird thing happened today.

For the past couple of weeks I have been feeling... Out of sorts with everything.

I just have reached a level of frustration  and apathy I can't even describe. I know it's not good, and it's almost summer... So I'll be ok. 

But today I had a call that just left me feeling frustrated, useless, jaded and anxious. I made the executive decision to just take lunch and go get some sunshine since it was a beautiful day and I am also tragically seasonally affected.

I had barely entered Downtown Crossing when a woman approached me.  I am not one to stop and chat especially in that area, but for some reason I stopped and listened to her. She was trying to find the Mass Rehab Commission and her computer had died and nobody would help her. I told her I didn't know where it was and she kept apologizing and telling me her life story but I offered to GPS it on my phone.  
....she also was terrified to even be Downtown (and probably had additional issues that would make her eligible for our programs...) she kept saying she would "watch my back" while I googled for her.  But I took my time and still couldn't find the number.

I'm not sure what came over me but after a recent interaction the first thing to pop into my head was the Boston Center for Independent Living which was one street over. I quickly googled their number, dialed and spoke to the receptionist. Without skipping a beat I explained who I was and where I worked and I was trying to help someone find their way around downtown.  She gave me the address and I told the lady as she kept apologizing for keeping me from my lunch break (which was not really my mission anyway) 

She thanked me profusely and asked if there was anything she could do for me. I said no I just hoped she had a good day and made it to her appointment ok.

As I was getting ready to leave she said. "I hope it comes back to you!"

After that, I circled the common too many times on Scootzilla, venting to some of my dearest mentors who know where I am at with everything and convinced me it's not time to throw in the towel just yet. 

I made myself eat lunch and went back to the office. 

Upon which I was super productive on the task I was working on, and then I got an email asking me to staff an event at the end of the month, to represent us and the One Care Program. 

Then I had a very important meeting that I had been anticipating for some time and that made me realize that i think it's gonna be ok.  

Maybe it is coming back to me.

In that moment, I felt like maybe I'm not the ice queen I felt like perhaps I was becoming.  Maybe I do sometimes "like helping people." 

 I can't help them all, nor do I want to, but today, at the end of it all, I felt valuable, helpful, smart, and once again, like I'm where I need to be, even just for the moment.

I guess we'll see :)