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Meaning of life

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." ~ Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, October 31, 2012



I have been through 4 hurricanes and 2 major earthquakes. Always an ominous experience to be humbled by nature. A time when even the biggest control freaks lose their ability to maintain order. On January 15, 1994, I was in a suite high atop of the Mondiran Hotel in West Hollywood to attend a special event. I was a regular patron of the hotel as this is where I often home based  when filming our national commercials. But this trip was not for business. I was a VIP guest of a benefit show that raised money to aid the homeless in America. The show; Comic Relief VI.

As a large donor, I was given two premium seats to attend the show. Feeling like a big shot I have to say, I found myself laughing with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and Billy Crystal. With all access passes for the evening, I was having the time of my life with a long list of stars and comics who shared their laughter for a wonderful cause while attending the private after party. I will never forget being backstage and staring into Kirstie Alley's mesmerizing, yet eerie hazel green eyes. They're like one of the many wonders of the world...all aglow, but nobody was home that night. She was on another planet having a great time.

We were seated next to Kurt Cobain and a friend of his (I think a base player?) in a VIP section of the Shrine Auditorium. My buddy Eric who was working with Fran Drescher at the time on "The Nanny" was with me and is normally very low key around celebrities, but this time was rather excited about the guests seated next to us. I leaned over the friend seated next to me to introduce myself to Kurt, "My buddy tells me you're a pretty good musician, I'm sorry I haven't heard of you before, but my bud is a big fan." He just chuckled and said with a puzzled smile, "How refreshing. Very nice to meet you." Sometimes I don't always think before I open my mouth around strangers in a relaxed environment. I'm just me. I don't do pretense well. It was an odd way to introduce myself, but it was the truth. I think that disarmed him and he was quite cordial and a bit flirty afterwards. I had so much fun that night.

We chatted a bit between acts and later hung out at the after party. It seemed so strange that only a few months later the man would be dead from an apparent suicide. That whole meeting and weekend still haunts me. I don't think he killed himself, not the man I met that night. This was a man full of life and enjoying every minute of it. I have many moments in my life I question, "Why was I there? Was there a reason? Am I to learn something from all this?" But, I never find an answer to, "Why?" This was only two days before the most profound event of my life that would overshadow all that was happening at this event. I would soon realize we are nothing but a small speck of dust in the vast cosmos of space.

January 17, 4:31 AM, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck the Northridge area of LA causing over $25 billion in damages, ranking it the 4th most expensive natural disaster of all time. (Northridge Economic and Social Impact) I was sound a asleep in my suite as it began to tremble and shake. I was literally jolted out of my comfortable bed. Stumbling to the window I grabbed the drapes to steady myself as the panel ripped away from my grasp and I stared at the panoramic view of the city below in awe.

I thought we were being attacked as there were bright flashes of light bursting in front of me like I have never seen. Bombs of brilliant white exploded before me like a war zone. A flash of light and a section of the city went dark, like pieces of a lit puzzle being plucked out one by one. BOOM-FLASH another piece went missing. I would later learn the electrical transformers that fed the city its power were blowing as the ground rattled beneath them. Then I heard a crash of glass. The mirrored sliding doors of the closet had just fallen across my bed and shards of mirror fell at my feet. Holy SHIT! This is serious!

I heard a sound on the roof above. I was on the top floor and I could hear a loud click, then a hum, and then silence. This would repeat over and over. I was unaware that the emergency generators were trying to kick on unsuccessfully leaving the hotel in total darkness.

Then came a frantic knock on my door from a woman next door screaming, "Help me! Please help me." I was sure someone was hurt, in serious trouble, probably bleeding to death. The panic in this woman's cry was blood curdling. I made my way through the living room naked with shattered glass beneath my feet answering the door in total darkness. As I opened the door, trying to hide behind out of sight from the crazed woman, a bright light flashed into my face attached to a uncontrollably shaking arm. I told the woman if she let me use her flashlight for a moment to get dressed I would gladly help her.

I pried the light from the shaking woman and found an XXL T-shirt in a grab bag that had been given to guests with gifts from Comic Relief next to the door along with my shoes. Thank God the shirt was long enough to cover my knees and hide naughty bits!!! After that I never travel without a flashlight.

The woman dragged me back to her room and into the bathroom saying, "Hurry! In here!" Then she said in a panic, "Hold the flashlight so I can put on my make-up!" WHAT????? YOU WANT ME TO WHAT??? Where is the bleeding husband or the small dog stuck in a toilet? Where the hell is the emergency??? MAKE-UP?? OMG! This poor woman was in full panic mode.

She was a fight attendant demanding me to hold a light so she could put on her make-up and get to the airport so she could get the hell out of town! I tried to explain that during emergencies like this they would be shutting the airports down until inspections could be made, but she wanted nothing to do with it. So I held the light until a loud bang came on her door. It was security telling everyone to evacuate their rooms and go down to the lobby using the stairs. The power was still out and dark is pretty darn...well...dark! Later I found out that the emergency generators failed because they were out of fuel. Yeah for maintenance!

The woman was in full uniform, make-up, hair, and packed ready to go as we crept into the hallway with a crowd of other hotel guests. One man had a large candle in his grasp. I yelled at him and blew the candle out. He screamed at me, "What the f*ck do you think your doing asshole?" I screamed back, "I don't want my ass scattered across the hotel in the event of a gas leak you Dipshit! Don't you know what to do in the event of an earthquake???" I learned most are clueless during emergencies because they are too thick to even imagine anything could ever happen to them!

At that point I was thrust to the front of the group and somebody said, "So what do we do?" We follow the direction of the security guard who was nowhere to be found nor was the flight attendant with the flashlight. In the commotion she fled to the lobby in a just get me the hell out of here kinda way. I have to admit, that was one woman who knew how to fly. A few people had cell phones and I asked who had the one that cast the brightest light. We crept our way down the cascading stairwell aided only by the light of a few phones.

In the lobby were all the hotel guests that followed orders. There were still some so afraid they refused to leave their rooms. The lobby was filled with sobs and trembling people clinging to each other grateful to be alive. I was surrounded by maybe a hundred people in various states of dress and undress. Yes, there were even some naked who bolted from their rooms with only the thought of safety. They were generously given clothes by those over dressed for the occasion.

The only one fully dressed was of course good ole Mary Kay, the flight attendant from hell, who was ready for her flight, just not getting it at all. Even after her superior, who was still in her nightgown, tried to explain there would be no flight today. She did not want to listen. She was leaving LA and headed to the street to hail a cab for the airport. She was going home! She was in charge! She didn't stop to think that even if she made it to the airport, she needed a pilot who was still in the lobby with the rest of us. Yes, of course she was back a short while later still having a hard time with it all. There were no cabs to hail, not even a crosstown bus. EVERYTHING had ground to a halt.

Cell phones were dying around me and I remembered mine was in my rental car in the parking structure. I was told by the car attendant that we were not allowed to go there, but he would get my phone for me. When he returned, he had some bad news. A portion of the parking structure shook some concrete loose and damaged the Porsche I had rented for the weekend. That was the furthest thing I could worry about right now.

I called my personal assistant to explain I didn't know when I would be back in the office as this might take several days. I called my mom to let her know I was safe to avoid worry. Then I passed the phone around the lobby until the battery died to let others notify their families. It was a surreal moment. You don't know how you will react in the event of an emergency until you are actually in one. I was as calm and level headed as could be until I saw the damage in my room.

The sun had risen as the staff was inspecting the hotel for structural damage. We were told we could go back to our rooms and if there was a major mess that needed cleaning to inform housekeeping. Clean-up was going to take a long time. If structural damage was found we were to report it to the front desk to be moved to another room. When I entered my suite there was glass everywhere. The TV had fallen onto a glass coffee table in the living room. The full bar and broken drinking glasses scattered the floor. The refrigerator door was open and the contents lay with the glass along with a broken jar of salsa that began to permeate the carpet.

It was many hours after the catastrophic event and for the first time I felt my chest tighten. The reality of the situation set in as I looked upon the damaged suite as though it were the set of The War of the Roses. I left this behind unseen in total darkness to help a panicked woman put on her f*cking make-up and now it's real, visual, and seriously happened. I learned that day I have a delayed reaction when facing emergencies. The panic will come after the event has past. Not really sure why that is. I'm wired wrong I guess.

The phone rang and some guy (another hotel guest I didn't know or maybe even a hotel staff member trying to get guests out of the way of the clean up) said, "Grab all the liquor bottles from your bar and meet down by the pool in an hour. We are having an After Shock Party!" I called housekeeping, gathered all the unbroken liquor bottles and headed to the pool ready to shake all this off. That afternoon a majority of the hotel partied poolside and exchanged their war stories of the great earthquake. All the tables that surrounded the pool were filled with hundreds of empty mini liquor bottles and very happy to be alive guests mingling with strangers from all walks of life oddly enjoying the tragedy.

As night fell I was growing hungry. We were all a captive audience with the same problem and nowhere to go. Everything was shut down and we all had to eat. That evening we were forced have dinner with total strangers to fill all tables in the dining room with little choice of meal. The only food available was what was already in the hotel before the earthquake as all deliveries had ceased after.

The room was filled to capacity and yet there was a hush that engulfed us. We spoke softly almost in a whisper learning about each other, grateful to be alive. Peace be with you, and also with you. Like the way you speak in a place of worship with honor and reverence for all. It was something in my whole life I had never witnessed. It was humbling.

I met record producers, writers who were in LA pitching scripts, a few Hollywood elite and their managers. I was even taught a few words of Chinese, by a young male model sitting at our table who traveled between LA and Beijing for work. But that night we were all the same. None greater, none less. Just a collective of peaceful happy (probably from all the alcohol) people humbled by mother nature and all her majesty. It was the most profound event of my life as we were one big family, soft spoken, grateful, and humbled beyond belief with respect for all. Comic Relief with its cast of spectacular stars should have been my highlight for that weekend, but the Academy Award goes to Mother Nature, hands down!.

When I went back to my suite now cleaned up, I looked out over LA once again with some of her dazzling city lights ablaze, something was ominously different. It was so peaceful and beautifully surreal. There wasn't a soul nor car on the street. The stoplights changed from green to yellow to red for no one. The only sound was a wistful breath of wind dancing across my balcony. That night there was peace on earth. A night I will never forget.

Nature has a way of humbling even the biggest of control freaks, the high and mighty, the prim and proper, the holier than thou. You are educated by that fact that as much as you think you have control...you do not. This is the whole premise of the book of my life. This modified excerpt from my book I never intended to post here and has nothing to do with cancer, but it seemed fitting given the current events. My prayers to all those on the East coast dealing with the aftermath of Sandy. I understand your mixed emotions. Be strong. You will be better for it.

Peace B (with you)



I'm staying in tonight. I wanted to go as Romney, but nobody would let me borrow their dog to strap to the roof of my car :/

Why does Halloween only have to be about kids asking for candy? I think I'll start a new tradition and go door to door with a giant flask asking for liquor. By the time I get to the next house, I'll be ready for another drink. I'll call it a Halloween Crawl and show those little bitches how to really celebrate Halloween! :-)~

I'm not handing out candy this year. I'm passing out all my unpaid bills. I read we will be leaving all our debt to the next generation. I figure why wait, I'll start now and give it to them while they are really young and can appreciate it more! :-)~


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Insurance Woes and Understanding Coverage

The last few months have been pure HELL! So much is going on and I'm exhausted, depressed and maybe even a little bitchy! (Alright...A LOT BITCHY...SO THERE!) My blood pressure has been a roller coaster. I had this cyst on my cheek that has come and gone for years and the doctor at MD Anderson just throws antibiotics (Bactrim) at it which tears up my stomach. It finally blew up last week and my face looks horrid. I've been trying to grow out my hair to donate it to Locks of Love but I CAN'T STAND THE LONG HAIR...adding to my misery. I now have a new health insurance plan and frankly with all my research I'm still a little worried about. I had to drop my private health insurance when the premiums reached over $800 a month and I'm still paying MD Anderson for last year's medical bills! Oh...and there might be a little stress involved here.

During this time I had a roof leak and I was told it was not covered on my homeowners insurance, but the damage to the interior is, subject to my deductible. So I paid the full cost of the roof repair while they have issued a payment for interior damage that is about $1,400 shy of the estimates and nobody will return emails or phone calls from the insurance company! I could affect repairs with the money given if I do the paint myself, but that's not why I have insurance and I'm not really well enough to do all that. AND if you remember last time I climbed a latter I fell and spent over 6 weeks in bed recovering from a pulled groin muscle and had to use a walker for several weeks after, but then that was with a chainsaw not a paint brush. Dare I??? Hum...The whole thing just sucks!

After realizing I might be a bit under insured, I called my homeowners insurance to increase parts of my coverage. I was told, "You have an open claim. We cannot make changes to your policy with an open claim. Would you like to close that claim out?" Ah...NO! Not until somebody calls me back to discuss the inadequate payment that was made for those damages!!! The rep told me she would forward the message to the adjuster and his supervisor so someone would call me back...TWO MONTHS...NADA!

Now let's talk Health Insurance! I know many of you have had trouble attaining or maintaining your health coverage and there are so many options out there if you are well, but it's harder at the moment if you end up with a preexisting condition. I don't want to get too detailed here because there are so many variables that affect your choices and availabilities. You need to do plenty of research before you decide to drop or modify your coverage.

You might have coverage from your employer or continue to pay your own privately. Perhaps you are disabled or over 65 and on Medicare. With Medicare comes many choices. If you are healthy you can get a supplemental plan (at an added cost to you) to cover things Medicare doesn't pay for. I had this setup for my mother after General Motors canceled health benefits to all retired salaried employees. It worked out well with the exception of having to enroll her in Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) which left her to payout thousands of dollars after hitting the infamous "donut hole" after her first order of scripts.

Some only have the option of staying solely on "traditional" Medicare or choosing a Medicare "Advantage" plan (Part C.) Some of these plans throw in the Medicare Part D drug coverage while you must continue to pay your Part B. This can get very complicated and expensive if you are a cancer patient taking a lot of medications, but remember some medications might be covered under your Part  B. For a better understanding of Medicare Part D from the American Cancer Society click (HERE)

One thing you cannot do is have a supplemental plan with the Advantage plan, that's only reserved for tradition Medicare. Advantage plans try to keep you "in network" allowing lower co-pays for using doctors or hospitals that accept this plan. These plans also put a cap on your yearly out of pocket whereas with traditional Medicare you are subject to a 20% co-pay on almost all services. Have your eyes glazed over yet from trying to comprehend this little bit of information? There are a few different Advantage HMO. PPO, POS, and Regional plans offered making it even more confusing and if you get an agent involve to try and help you, they will most likely guide you towards a company they get a referral fee from.

Just hit up AARP and they will fit you into a United Health Group plan that might lead you to believe you are fully covered. But that wasn't the case when in 2008 Lisa Kelly walked into MD Anderson in Houston (my understanding is, they are "out of network" or don't accept this plan at all) for treatment of leukemia and she was told she was grossly under insured and they asked for $45,000 up front to care for her. Full Story HERE

READ and understand everything about any changes to your policies as they seem to change yearly and you only have a short window of opportunity to exchange plans or go back to traditional Medicare. There are many companies out there offering these plans and they all seemed to be different yet still labeled "Medicare Advantage." Also make sure your doctor's and hospitals accept your plan BEFORE signing up for it. Providers can leave the network even if you still carry the plan, so stay on top of that and review everything each October when you have the chance to change plans.

What seems to make this even more complicated is that even the providers don't seem to know the differences. I went to a new doctor last week, one I waited months to see and researched extensively. He quit and walked out days before my appointment leaving me with a new, new doctor I know nothing about (that's a whole other story! AND NO, it wasn't my fault...I had nothing to do with it!!!)

I was charged $40 for the office visit and since this was the very first time using my new insurance I didn't think much of it. Then I read I was entitled to one free yearly "wellness visit." So I called the insurance company to ask exactly what that was, mostly because the doctor wanted to see me again for a full physical since I was a new patient. In conversation I learned that a standard office visit is subject to a $10 co-pay if the provider is "in network." Since they were in network, I realized the doctor's office overcharged me by $30.

At this point I have to give major credit to my health insurance rep on the phone who has promised to call the doctor's office and straighten it all out and inform them my next visit should be classified as my yearly wellness visit and there should be no charge. We'll see how it goes. Pardon me if I think it won't be as simple as all that.

Dealing with insurance companies (or people for that matter) has never been more difficult due to how complicated the policies are. I think they should limit ALL available plans to THREE: Bronze, for young and healthy, Silver for people with some reoccurring problems, and Gold of the disabled, over 65, or severely ill. Make it that simple! I think it's criminal to make this so complicated!!!

Peace B


Words To Live By:

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others." -Mahatma Gandhi