"I am sorry, I can't help", she says sliding my tax forms across the table.
I don't remember if she wore glasses, but if she, did she would have been looking at me above the rims. "What is it that you do again?"
I wince and opt to believe that the condescending tone was only in my imagination.
Sylvan is sitting on my lap.
"I am a mom", I say embarrassed. Was I blushing? I scrape a bit of dried clay off of my fleece, " I do lots of things."
I am between day one and two of three days in the kindergarten classrooms at my daughter's elementary school. I had spent the last two nights in the studio rolling out clay slabs until the wee hours of the morning.
What do I do?
I am a non-entity on a tax return. I don't exist. I am invisible.
I do things. The thoughts run through my head. I am productive. I consider myself a valued member of my community. Really.
I smile. "Well. Thanks for taking time out of your day to meet with me." I gather up my papers, slide them back in my purse, scoop up Sylvan, talk knitting with the secretary on my way out and get in the car.
I stare at the clock on the dashboard. That went faster than I thought it would.
We don't qualify for the Affordable Healthcare Act. Period. The end.
I turn the key, I have a few extra hours and Sylvan and I go to the library.
Ivory has one art class once every five or six weeks. She has never once mentioned her art class at home. Has she had an art class? I can't figure out where the divisions between art, beauty, function and learning are in my daily life and I can't fathom the lack of "art education" in kindergarten. Isn't all day, every day art in kindergarten? Isn't life art in kindergarten? Isn't art learning? Isn't learning art? Isn't math all pattern and science beautiful and reading away of giving pictures words?
I hold up my example of a plate made on a slump mold.
We go over the steps. We talk about shape, color and texture.
And soon I am carrying twenty plates to the car to be bisqued, glazed, fired and brought back to school before the winter break so each one of these students has something surprising and lasting and all of their own they can take home.
What do I do?
It echoes in my head and I'm angry.
I do lots of things and these things have value.
I spend another late night in the studio. I wash brushes. I cut twenty-some slabs into squares and stack them up in a cooler to be taken back to the school. I make sure all my supplies are packed.
I had been looking forward to enrolling in the Affordable Care Act. I rescheduled my meeting for weeks hoping for a day that the enrollment system was functioning. It hadn't occurred to me that we were the "poorest of the poor" that Amy Goodman had been speaking about on Democracy Now - those people that were excluded from the Affordable Care Act because the their state legislatures voted against Medicaid expansion. We fall into what our local NPR reporters more kindly call the coverage gap. We belong to a group of people that are at once invisible and faceless and yet defined and redefined, batted from once side of the isle to the other - an euphemism at the center of arguments over fiscal policy.
The labeling and bickering and legislative decision making that has no impact on those deciding - the raised eyebrows looking over rims of glasses - What is it that do you do again?
I am one of 40,000 Montanans who remains uninsured.
I do lots of things.
I am a mom.