Yes, I’ve actually progressed to jogging close to a couple miles of what was formerly my beach walk. Calling it “running” would sound cooler, but would imply I am moving faster than the slightly-better-than-walking pace I am capable of keeping. Still, not too shabby for someone who has often said the only reason to run is because you’re being chased.

Some friends of mine who are actual runners turned me on to this credo: Dead Fucking Last is better than Did Not Finish is better than Did Not Start. It’s expressed thus: DFL>DNF>DNS. Obviously it translates to a number of life situations other than being in a footrace – I like it.

So I jogged along water’s edge, enjoying the minus tide, the way the withdrawing of the ocean leaves streams and rivulets snaking along the beach. Sandy trotted and ran, swam after a seal, sure it was something that wanted to play with her. The swell’s too small and the wind’s too northwest for any surf, but a decent offshore smoothed the ocean out prettier than expected. Life felt pretty sweet.

And it is, absolutely. But as I walked back from the 2-mile marker, I couldn’t help but fret over the health insurance situation again. I’m just stuck. I can’t figure out a solution other than make slightly less money or suddenly make about 10 times more.

Especially frustrating has been the whole Healthy Families debacle. First, I mistakenly thought a program named “Healthy Families” would actually, you know, cover families. Wrong. But at least the transition to Healthy Families for the children would be easy, according to Social Services, the HF website, the commercials running on the radio. Wrong again.

After mailing in the paperwork, a number of calls arrived requesting more information: i.e., “Is this ‘Robert Wright’ the biological father of your children? Does he live with you? We’ll need a signed statement faxed to us before we can proceed.”

They said I couldn’t apply for Chelsea because she doesn’t live with us any longer, so, at their specific instruction, I sent a statement saying, “Chelsea Savage-Wright no longer lives at home; please disregard her application.” They told me to do that. But when I called to check on the status, I was informed that my application had been disregarded “at my request,” due to that statement. The entire application. So I had to start over.

Meanwhile, Kaylee lost her glasses when knocked down by a wave at the beach ($160 and boy, did she hear about it), Nick ran out of syringes ($80) and Bobby had to go to the ER because he sliced off his pinky tip ($12 for Vicodan, the rest to be determined). I was worried the UCSF clinic would say something, but they saw him as usual, so I’m hoping that’s still somehow covered by Children’s Services.

But without coverage, working my second job will, at best, just barely cover Nick’s supplies and an occasional check up for him or Kaylee. Even with Healthy Families – which should, eventually, come through – Bobby and I have no options other than striving for good health and a hoping for a quick death when the time comes. Usually I can figure out a way to make everything work out, but in this situation, the rock and hard place have me pinned.

An evolved society should ensure food, shelter, education and health care to all the folks who make it up. That does not seem like a radical idea to me, especially in a country with as much wealth and, at our best, innovation and compassion as we have. Rugged individualism is great to an extent, but what society has ever prospered through lack of cooperation?

I despair that so many people still go hungry and homeless, struggle with childcare, can’t afford to go to school either at all or only through incurring massive debt, and run the gamut from simply not going to the doctor to dying in the street from lack of options. I continue to walk the tightrope best I can, but the sudden loss of a safety net continues to throw me off balance, may have the effect of sending me tumbling.

Being broke and scared puts me on the defensive – makes me want to repeat my litany of how I’ve worked since I was a teenager, how I’ve only taken time off post-babies or during college. I know people look at my life and dismiss my concerns as the problems of one who has plenty, but the facts are I have worked hard, still work hard, and ultimately the nice parts of my life – the well-lit house and walks on the beach and rewarding jobs – aren’t going to be enough when the pharmacy needs $200 before handing over Nick’s test strips or Novolog – or when I’m negotiating with the ER about the costs the latest emergency racked up. This was stressful 15 years ago; as I’m sliding toward 39, looming financial insolvency feels soul-crushing.

But I’ll keep moving forward. That’s what I’ve been doing when I jog. Acknowledge the discomfort and keep going along nonetheless, certain if I don’t give up, I will reach my goal. Although in this case, I am striving for something more than DFL.

And, to end on something other than a sour note, a nugget for those who made it this far: yesterday, as Monica and I readied for the Slug Scene, a pickup truck pulled up in front of the studio and stopped in the middle of the road; Dennis Mayo and friend climbed out. I asked Monica, “What is he doing?” because it looked like Dennis was undoing his pants and then, sure enough, Dennis Mayo hung a big ol’B.A. at the studio. Now, he didn’t know Monica and I were there – at least not till we started hooting and hollering – and he did call KSLG later to joke about it. I’m assuming he meant to moon KHUM’s Mike Dronkers, making Monica and I, in his words, “collateral damage.” But I’d say that’s a bit too negative – an unexpected moment of levity is a wondrous thing. Certainly improved my mood. As Monica said, “Dennis is the kind of guy that’ll drop everything to help out.” Yesterday, he certainly proved that to be the case!