Thursday, July 24, 2008

the pump.

Ever since I was diagnosed four plus years ago, my grandma has made it her mission to send me every diabetes-related piece of information she can get her hands on. She's sent me emails about "exciting new developments in stem cell research!" (they never actually come to be), and newsletters from the Canadian Diabetes Association explaining the difference between type 1 and type 2 (sorry, grandma, but I already know), and carefully snipped newspaper articles about the disease's rising rate (I know I know I know). Her information for me has never been particular informative to me-- save, of course, for the time I read an article in one of her old Canadian Living magazines about a woman with type 1 who didn't control her blood sugars carefully enough as a teenager (ergh) and then drank too much as a university student (oh, fuck me) and then, due to resulting complications, ended up completely blind before the age of 30. That little bit of information did hit home, actually. I started bawling on my grandma's couch out of sheer fear.

So, I was surprised when this news release came out yesterday and my grandma wasn't automatically the first person to alert me about it. My mom, actually, was the one who called and woke me up and frantically told me to googlenews my disease. And there it was. And it changed everything.

I became a completely different person the moment I was diagnosed with type 1 on that June day four years ago. The switch was instanteous. My biggest accomplishments up to that point-- most likely my good marks or high school running career-- suddenly paled, and in time they meant even less. Managing this disease requires effort and attention every day, minute, second of my life. It's my full-time job, and my forever burden, and the most important thing I'll ever do, but it's also the thing most easily forgotten. I've had friends who took years to realize that I have diabetes, and some friends who probably still don't know. I'm always hiding just in the background, pricking my finger and wiping away the blood, stabbing my bare stomach with a needle beneath the veil of a table, frantically drinking down a bottle of orange juice in the checkout line at ValuMart to make sure my blood-sugar low passes before I reach the cashier. It's a full time job that I'm not allowed to take even one second away from, because everything I do right now determines what will happen to me later: if I don't keep my blood sugars under control now, there will complications waiting for me down the line. They'll be there. Just waiting.

I've always known that there was a potential solution out there, but I always discounted it. Well, not a "solution" as such, but a means to help keep my blood sugar levels under tighter control with the push of a button. The pump is an ugly, boxy little device that looks like a perma-pager and constantly delivers a dose of insulin to the individual via a needle inserted under the skin. Did I mention that it looks like a pager from the '90s? I know that this little beast can significantly improve one's ability to manage their blood sugar, but the fact that it has to be attached to the body at all times seemed a little off-putting to me. That, and the fact that a pump costs upwards of $5000, along with $200 for monthly supplies (none of it covered by my mom's drug plan). Being a poor undergrad student and future starving grad student, the pump has never even been a possibility for me. I was happy to dismiss its ugly appearance because I knew I wouldn't be able to consider it, at least not until I was a grown-up with a good job and benefits. But know, everything is different. Money is no longer an issue. Good health is the only thing that matters. I know that I'll always give my disease the care and attention it requires, but it's so wonderful to know that there are options out there to make it easier for me. The provincial government has sent down this wonderful (free) piece of equipment from heaven, and it is going to change everything.

This is my deus ex machina.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

An amendment to my last post.

I have a feeling that my love for "Asking For Flowers" will soon be supplanted by a few new releases heading our way come fall: the new Okkervil River and the new Karl Blau. These recent leaked tracks are giving me some warm and funny feelings. This could be it. These could just be the great albums of 08 that I've been waiting so patiently (actually, not all that patiently) for.

Monday, July 21, 2008

An ode to the only album I've truly liked so far this year

I have a very unabashed love of folk singers with throaty voices, scribbled lyrics, and guitars. I've crushed on many different musical genres over the years, but the only one I've ever been able to firmly dig my hooks into is folk (I'm using "folk" here as an umbrella term, only-- I guess I'm trying to pin down a feeling rather than a style). Maybe it has something to do with the cassettes my dad used to bring along on every cottage trip while I was growing up. I'm sure it has a lot to do with my tendency to attach myself to particular places, and the type of music that seems to surround them: urban is more exciting, urban is where I'm heading and what I need to learn to love, but I will always be a bit more rural at the core.

I have this clear memory of waking up at three in morning one snowy February day when I was fifteen. Rather than forcing myself back to sleep, I decided to waste the few hours I had left before school by nesting in the couch and blearily watching the MuchMoreMusic video flow. Nothing about it was memorable, but then there was this video by Kathleen Edwards on the screen ("Six O'Clock News", her first single off her first album, was the one), and for some reason it became a moment I would continue to remember. I remember that I was wrapped in at least two blankets at the time, one of them likely being the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sleeping-bag that technically belonged to the dog, but I was still cold. I remember that I had the TV volume down really low to keep from waking up the rest of my family, and that the snow heaps outside were turning slowly Tropicana as the sun began to rise. And the backyard was pretty, and the day was pretty, and the song fit even if her voice didn't sound all that polished. It was a moment where I suddenly forget that I was living in a filthy Toronto suburb, and truly believed that I was inside some beautiful rural morning. I desperately hate country music, but this wasn't that: this was just the country, in song-form. Everything fell together in a really delicate way, and it felt like I was home.

Her latest, "Asking For Flowers", gives me exactly the same feeling. The only difference this time around (apart from the fact that the the vocals are much less rough around the edges) is that she's moved on from waxing about rural rot and she's started singing about life experiences that ring even more true. It's always comforting to find an artist who seems to be moving at the same pace as you are-- in time, their songs become artifacts for you to claim. I'm lucky that Kathleen Edwards has yet to be picked up as a poster-child for mainstream Canadian folk. Sure, there was one song on the last album that got played on Mix 99.9 for a time, and then there's this new Polaris nomination-- but really, she's still an untouched resource. Good thing. That means these songs can still be mine to dust, polish, and hold dear.

"Six O'Clock News" meant something back then because it transported me to some rural place where I felt I belonged. The first time I heard "Sure As Shit" off this newest album, it also felt suddenly meaningful-- not because it took me somewhere else, but because it hit so close to home: while she was singing about "lounging around all day in a hot pink chenille housecoat", I was still wearing the wet terry-cloth towel I had been too lazy to change out of hours after my shower.

It's good, guys. I really mean that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Sadly, I think I've given up words this summer in favor of video. But seriously: a Scrabble game show? Chuck Woolery* in his prime? This contestant who is completely unstoppable? It's a good watch, most definitely.

But wait! There's more!

*I used to have a mild crush on Chuck Woolery while he was hosting "Greed" during the post "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" era. It was a terrible game show, and he was such an asshole to every contestant, and he constantly screwed up his lines and stumbled around the set drunk. How adorable.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Absolutely Flabulous

"It's bad."
"It's not bad, is it?"
"It is."
"No, no. Bad suggests that, you know, it's evil or something. You know it's not.. It's poor. It's rubbish. It's shit. It's a shitcom!"
"It's a shitcom? Well, we've sorted that out then."

Who is this skinny lad with the heavily lined lids and the cellophane-d hair? Trust me, it's not hard :

Still not sure? :

Much better.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

you'll know, you'll know

I think I have a serious problem with the couple. You know exactly who I'm talking about--"go with the flow" Anne Marie and "not so much" Lee. These folks right here:

My problem isn't with the watered-down soulful background music, or with the slow motion scene of him spinning her in the street cribbed straight from Love Story. I don't mind the excessive footage of Anne Marie's hair bouncing to prove her carefree nature (look how shiny!), or the obligatory bits of heterosexual machismo (soccer! bowling!). I can't even find fault with the weird sound of Lee's voice-- it's almost endearing.

My problem is that this commercial doesn't feel at all like a commercial. These people aren't playing their parts. They aren't pumping out phony tears to ensure cash in hand at the end of the day. No, miraculously, somehow, these are real tears. I'm sure is a total sham, but I truly do believe that these two overly-groomed people are actually in love. And that's a problem because every time Anne Marie and Lee materialize on my tv screen (once a commercial break, a million times a day), I'm reminded of the fact that my own flesh-and-blood boyfriend is currently 7 hours away. A province away, an entire language away. Anne Marie and Lee are holding hands every ten minutes, but he and I aren't even connected by tv signals: even if he were watching the same commercial as me at the same time, it would still be in French. Something something lost in translation...

Every time I time I turn the tv on it makes me miss you more. I miss you to pieces. At least we didn't meet on a dating website, though. That would just be embarrassing.

Also good:

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Potentially Bad Things That End Up Being Good, Somehow -Vol. 1

This shitty movie:

Despite my well-known love of romantic comedies (their bones, not always the final packaging), lately I've been finding myself universally unimpressed by what Hollywood has been handing me. I mean, 27 Dresses?? 27 Dresses was practically unwatchable. They attempted to turn Katherine Heigl into the dowdy uggo sister simply through a brunette dye job and some cardigans. I mean, really. I just couldn't suspend my romcom disbelief.

I was prepared to dislike this movie for that reason above, but also based on the presence of Abigail Breslin (where's Dakota when you need her? Answer: deep inside puberty). But, by the end, I had to concede that it actually was pretty good. It didn't get too laggy or maudlin, and it ran a steady race. The legs held up. The bones were pretty strong. Plus, any movie that celebrates irritatingly sassy redheads earns an automatic extra half-star in my books.

This godawful tv show:

Yeah, it's The Bachelorette. Shut up. Shut your face. I'm fully aware of how overly-edited and cloying and rehearsed these shows can be (lord knows I've watched enough to judge [my reality tv binge is going on eight years and strong!!]). Still, the one thing that can make a reality show great rather than terrible is the "casting", and this season of this terrible show has really benefited from fantastic casting. Her final two dudes include the one in that photo above, who is a mildly unattractive pro snowboarder, and a guy who has about thirty pounds of baggage (a three year old son, to be exact). And, if that isn't great enough, one of her other guys looked a hell of a lot like a dumpy Jason Bateman:

Don't you agree?

this disgusting craphole: The flea market in the basement of the Dixie Outlet Mall

A wonderful labyrinth of thrift junk that I happily wandered one afternoon, right up until the point when the mean old hag who runs Rosemary's Antiques...Rosemary, I think her name was...until Rosemary yelled at me to stop touching her precious gaudy baubles before I knocked them all over the floor. Thanks for the warning, Rosemary. You're right. I am five years old.