GFree Tax Day

Happy Federal and State Tax-Paying Day! It’s not a real holiday but it’s a big day for many folks. Like last year, this year I paid a professional to compute my tax bill and file my 1040. For the first time in two decades, I have no standard employer income this year. Instead, I have 1099 income from Write Engle, my writing and consulting company, plus the $450 in gift cards for participating in the clinical research trial, plus some investment dividends, plus paltry interest from meager savings.

Things got really interesting on the itemized deductions side. I had to file the new ACA Insurance form for my outrageously expensive insurance through the Health Insurance Exchange (I didn’t file for any federal subsidy so I paid full freight). I had more than 10% of income in health-related expenses: two surgeries plus those monthly health insurance premiums plus prescriptions plus several urgent care visits at more than $100 a pop. Continue reading GFree Tax Day


The Right to Reproduce

Confession: I love higher education. I love the drive for discovery and explanation, the push for more people to know more about the way more things work or don’t work. That may be why I worked for four universities. I earned degrees from three of them, although I didn’t mix work with education.

I have a Masters of Health Sciences in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Florida. Now, before you excoriate me for procuring parchment from your alma mater’s arch rival, know that I went for the education, not the sports. I own nothing with a Gator on it. I spent college football season cursing the early-arriving tailgaters for hogging so much pavement I couldn’t get out of the parking lot and go home on Friday afternoons. A classmate of mine who used a chair–and competed in the 1996 Paralympics in women’s basketball–once called campus police because an RV not only illegally sprawled across three handicapped parking spaces, it also usurped the striped space next to her car, which was legally parked in the fourth handicapped space, so she couldn’t get into her car. Continue reading The Right to Reproduce

A Touchy Subject: Intimacy

Here’s a touchy subject: intimacy. Intimacy as a person with one or more chronic diseases/conditions/illnesses is a challenge, at least it’s been for me. It requires hefty doses of humility and humor, both of which chronic pain can deplete even in the most positive person.

I have fibromyalgia and celiac disease, which means fits and flares of debilitating symptoms that contribute to a rolling landscape of pain. With celiac disease, the pain comes from being accidentally glutened. There’s the crampy pain, the inflammation pain, and the stabbing pain inside the intestinal tract that can frog-hop for several days. The accompanying GI disturbances–first, there’s no movement and then a few days later, there’s way too much movement in said intestines–are anything but sexy. I also get the DH rash and not just on my arms and legs. It pops up on the orbs with which I might moon someone if I was inclined toward such behavior. That rash creates an itch that must be scratched: not the kind of self-touch that excites one’s date, let’s just say. Continue reading A Touchy Subject: Intimacy