Inertia…or action?

By Caitlin Kelly


Sidewalk closed, use other sidewalk…


From The New York Times:

Habits are powerful. We persist with many of them because we tend to give undue emphasis to the present. Trying something new can be painful: I might not like what I get and must forgo something I already enjoy. That cost is immediate, while any benefits — even if they are large — will be enjoyed in a future that feels abstract and distant. Yes, I want to know what else my favorite restaurant does well, but today I just want my favorite dish.

Overconfidence also holds us back. I am unduly certain in my guesses of what the alternatives will be like, even though I haven’t tried them.

Finally, many so-called choices are not really choices at all.

I finally hit bottom on two issues this week, and finally acted to try and deal with them, instead of just stewing and whining.

I live in a town north of New York City, whose main street is increasingly jammed with traffic, including 18-wheel trucks. Pedestrians have been struck and injured while in the crosswalks, which is illegal.

It’s getting worse and worse and worse.

The other day, I watched, enraged, as two drivers, in broad daylight, once more drove right through the crosswalk as I was crossing — and saw me looking right at them.

I gave them both the middle finger and went directly to the police station where I filed an official request for how many summons they issued in 2017 for this violation. (My guess? Fewer than a dozen.)

To my delighted surprise, the chief of police called me the next day and we discussed the 60 (!) summons they’d issued and how to potentially reduce the problem. I was so glad I’d done something.

I also called a friend in Canada to ask his advice and help potentially finding me and my husband full-time staff jobs there — because Canadian residents don’t have to pay for healthcare.

That alone would save us $2,000 every month.

I left Canada in 1988 and have no burning desire to re-patriate; we don’t want to sell our New York apartment and can’t rent it under co-op rules, which is a huge deterrent.

We love our town and region and would miss our life here.

I can return to Canada as a citizen, and we have yet to discover whether Jose has the right to live there with me, let alone work.

But we’re now so burdened with health insurance costs that are rising and rising and rising, and despite all our hard work, we feel increasingly frustrated and angry with our financial struggle.

We’re both full-time freelancers, living in a one bedroom apartment.

There’s no fat to cut.


Even if we choose to stay in New York, and we might, (and might have to), I already feel better for:

1) admitting these issues are driving me to my wits’ end rather than just bottling it up, as usual;

2) asking for help, which I’m always reluctant to do;

3) talking frankly with my husband about how badly this stress is affecting us individually and our marriage.


I was inspired by a New York Times column with the wise words:


Fury isn’t strategy


For me, 2018 is going to be a year of strategy and action.


How about you?

36 thoughts on “Inertia…or action?

  1. I love that theme strategy and action. You’re right for me just today I wrote down pros and cons about a decision that I made a few days ago. At the end I felt good about my decision. I may of done that backwards probably supposed to make the list first. I confronted the stress by writing getting it all out in the open. I feel good about my decision and it’s time for me to move forward. Again, I love strategy and action. I’ll dwell over something and that takes up time that we don’t get back.

  2. I wish you luck with your problem Caitlin since I imagine health insurance costs will be set to rise again now Trump and Co have finally managed to abandon Obamacare. If that means a return to Canada then I’m sure the quality of life will get better even if you can’t quite replace the loss of the NY apartment. Finding work for the particular skills you and your husband have may not be too hard fingers crossed.
    I wish you both a very Happy New Year.
    Huge Hugs

    1. Thanks…

      We are waiting to see if I qualify for one of the Obamacare plans and if it’s cheaper and if the coverage is any good. His plan will be $600 a month for 2018 — but rising every year a lot after that — then his former employer dumps us both at age 63, two years before we qualify for Medicare. It’s appalling that they’ve reneged on the deal they made with those who took their buyout.

      The fallback we are trying for is for one of us to get hired into a FT job that offers decent benefits — i.e. our health insurance costs would be much lower. But at our age, that’s a real challenge.

      Our only other option is to just make more, more and more money. I wish it were easier.

  3. Juliet in Paris

    Here in France, drivers do not – and never have – stopped at crosswalks to let the pedestrian pass, so I’m used to that. You have to literally wade out into the street and glare defiantly at the incoming vehicle in the hope that it will stop. Road incivility here is outrageous. (Luckily, I don’t have a car.) I walk or take public transport.

    I read your words, mind-boggled, that you pay so much in health insurance. That is just wrong, Caitlin. I couldn’t even afford to pay that! Canada really is the “kinder, gentler nation”. We are both lucky to be Canadian citizens with the option to move back whenever we want.

    For me, 2018 is going to be a year of (finally!) self-publishing the memoir I’ve been working on for ten years, redecorating my small flat, travelling to Italy in June, and the rest, just maintaining the status quo.

    Good luck with your resolutions.

    1. Oh, I remember Paris crosswalks…I used to hit cars with my umbrella!

      The costs ARE Insane. It means we have no ability to save now (thank God we saved so hard for retirement when we could.) We are very lucky to have our Canadian citizenship, indeed.

      No resolutions — but hopefully a stiffer spine.

      Have a great 2018!!! ONWARD.

  4. i like that you took action on what was bothering you. even if you do not get the outcomes you are hoping for, the action helps you to gain some measure of control, rather than feeling like a helpless victim in the situation. i can understand your frustration in each situation and hope that both are resolved in a way that is positive for you.

    1. I’m not into tattoos but this would be my 1st choice. It’s my new motto. I have wasted so much time being angry at…a lot of things. Anger is a start, but it can’t be where we just sit, stewing.

      Happy 2018, David — and thanks (fellow Canadian in the land of…insanity) for being here.

  5. “Fury isn’t strategy.” Oh, how I love this. So much wisdom in such a pithy, tiny sentence. I think it’s the niggling things we deal with every day that sap our energy. Your action shows acceptance of what is–with a resolution that something must give in your living situation. I think sometimes just the facing it head on is the relief. Wishing the best outcome for you and Jose–you certainly both have earned it!

  6. My most sincere best wishes as you figure this out, Caitlyn. This time last year I was in turmoil as well (not the same type as yours but pretty serious nevertheless) and so I understand the difficulties, especially the age-related ones. My feeling is that you’ll land on your feet, either in NY or Canada. Easy for me to say though. You still have to go through the process.

    Happy New Year to you – I wish good things for you in 2018. 🙂

  7. I wish I could help you and your husband, but unfortunately the most I could do is office jobs, which I’m sure is not what you’re looking for. There are writing jobs, but they may require you to move, so…

    As for 2018, I have a good feeling about this coming year, and I’m taking steps to make sure all I hope to accomplish is accomplished. Hopefully it all pans out.

    1. Thanks.

      We’re adults with good skills and huge networks — just have to keep blasting through the bedrock of age discrimination. Were we 20 years younger, even 10, I’d be more optimistic.

      Have a great 2018!

      1. Ain’t that the truth. My struggles these days tend to be keeping the weight off, which is hard during the holidays. Hopefully once January starts, I can stop snacking.

        And I try to help out if I can. After all, I know the struggle of needing work to get by. It’s not a fate I would wish on anyone.

      2. NO SNACKING! 🙂

        Pretend you’re French. They don’t eat between meals.

        I do my 750 cals Tues and Thurs which teaches you very fast not to snack because you have no “extra” calories..even 3 250-cal. meals are a challenge.

        Our costs are high. That’s the price of living in the U.S. and self-employment.

      3. I am a big fan of Macron and macarons. But I like the system are use, which is have two big sugary Suites per week. It’s how I lost about 30 pounds over 8 months.

        The good news is, the US is the land of opportunity. Hopefully one or two will come your way.

  8. Love that line – ‘fury isn’t strategy’. Very true. And when there is no fat left to cut – which is true for many of us (including me) here in New Zealand as well, it’s time to look at other options. I mean this in a general sense – and for me, 2018 is also going to be a year of strategy and action.

    On the healthcare issues you’re facing, I cannot understand the attitude US administrations have to healthcare, systemically. I think I’ve mentioned this before – here in NZ we’ve had a fully funded state healthcare system since 1938 – it’s survived multiple changes of government, including the ‘neoliberal’ period (here dubbed ‘Rogernomics’, ‘Ruthenasia’ and ‘Jennicide’ after its main architects in the 1985-99 period, which pretty much sums up how it was received). Society hasn’t collapsed because of that health system and a lot of people have had a far better life than they could otherwise have enjoyed. The fact that so many other nations do the same points to the US as outlier rather than trend-setter, and for me that outcome underscores the depth to which the cultural concepts that frame US society and thinking are held, and have survived often radical shifts in thinking worldwide.

    1. The United States — having lived here since 1989 (!) — has deeply entrenched attitudes that underpin their “policy” on healthcare.

      You, the historian, might appreciate a book by a Florida prof, Jill Quadagno, who wrote a book about the attempts — going back to the earliest 20th century — to in fact create a health care system for all. It’s sadly instructive; even at the point of it happening, some political mayhem derailed it.

      1) individualism reigns. If other people need help, they are expected to bootstrap it or be deeply ashamed of needing “gummint” help

      2) anything created by and run by government (oh, yeah, Social Security and Medicare) is deemed deeply un-American and a terrible waste of taxes (unlike spending BILLIONS on defense)

      3) racism. People are happy taking care of “their own” —- with severe limits on caring for others (i.e. strangers) who “don’t deserve it.”

      4) this system gives corporate employers tremendous power to underpay and behave badly — and yet many people will cling to a job for their subsidized health insurance

      5) the so-called “gig economy” has left millions of us vulnerable to these insane costs because…no one gives a shit and we have no one representing our interests on Capitol Hill. Without a million-dollar-a-year lobbyist fighting HARD for our needs, nothing will change. (see point 1; individualism.) Collective action here is seen as largely something to be avoided.

      6) population size — with 300 m people, it’s damn had to make anything stick!

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