This is a list of the things I’ve learned and the things I’m learning to accept in the 16 months since my diagnosis as a type-one diabetic. Updates will be added as new moments of clarity present themselves.
- My diabetes (and that of the 1.25 million others who shoulder the burden of type one diabetes) is no fault of my own. My immune system has misfired and is killing any insulin I produce. Without synthetic insulin, I will die. There is no middle ground.
- Insulin prices are criminal. This is the best elucidation of why this is happening.
- I repeat: without insulin I will die. Painfully. I have come back from that other side – when I was diagnosed in the emergency room, my blood sugar was 877; I never want to return. Everything I do, all of the rigor and discipline I’ve added to my life, is to prevent this from ever happening again.
- (In so doing, I can empathize with movie criminals who repeatedly say that they’re never going back inside.)
- Learning to accept the pervasive thanklessness of this fucking disease is essential to survival.
- Mason jars are more than hipster glassware: their built-in measuring system makes them perfect for beverage portion control.
- I can still handle bourbon with aplomb; peppermint tea, on the other hand, will lay me out flat.
- Exercise is the best path towards sanity.
- Do what you have to do to not die.
- It’s easier to not miss something if you don’t allow yourself to think about it or have it.
- While not easy, it is far simpler to make each day the same repetitive sequence. There’s a joy in losing oneself in the sameness of the day, a sense of calm that emerges in delineating a day, a week, a month through simple sequences of repeating daily events.
- “I am not a number, I am a free man!”: Patrick McGoohan’s defiant yell from THE PRISONER is my battle cry each time I bestow upon my glucometer her four-times-daily blood sacrifice.
- I forget where I read it but it helped: you have to think of the glucometer not as an absolute statement of your failure or success in disease management but as a speedometer, a tool for minescule adjustment and perpetual honing.
- You will have to adjust your insulin intake frequently. Again, it is not a measure of success but a statement of the truth of the moment. (“It is what it is.”)
- When I first dared venture into a restaurant following the advent of the new normal, I was terrified of displaying my bloodletting ablutions in public. I first used the bathroom but got tired of feeling like a drug addict with my kit and have since made myself check and administer at the table. I’ve come far enough that I was able to do it in an open restaurant by a window with Christmas shoppers walking outside. Long way of saying that eventually, the self-consciousness does abate and your insulin pen does become an extension of your middle finger to a less-than-understanding world.
- While I have faith that there will be a cure in my lifetime, I have little faith that I or the majority of the 1.25 million other members of the blood drop club will be able to access that cure; this is, sadly, no longer the same country, the same world, that cured polio.
That particular anxiety when what passes for a moment of inspiration strikes and, while recognizable as what it might be, is neverthless impossible to believe. Cue the second-guessing and the dive into unrelated though possibly related problems (is it wise to use the journal in which you write to forget as a tool to capture aforementioned moments you wish to remember? is your system hopelessly broken?) as a means of avoidance while simultaneously wanting to embrace and be embraced by it.
Maybe it’s the caffeine interacting with the blood sugar or somesuch alchemy. The question, then: have I been looking through the rearview mirror for so long that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to drive while looking through the windshield?
“One voice speaking truth is a greater force than fleets and armies, given time.” — Ursula K. Le Guin, THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS
Ursula K. Le Guin spoke truth as though it were water: nurturing, essential, relentless, at times overwhelming. To those seeking it, truth, her words are a bastion of reason and of hope; to those avoiding it, they are swept away by the tides of their own ignorance. Truth, water, permeates every word, every rhythm, of THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS; it is the current and she the boatman.
THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS is as prescient a vision of another world and time as one could hope for: in a book written nearly half a century ago and brimming with deeply-drawn and moving characters, Le Guin presages the times we face today, the timeless truths of power wielded by the unworthy and the fearful and the arduous journey to restore balance and sanity; it is a speculative triumph of similar — if not greater — magnitude as that of Bradbury’s FAHRENHEIT 451 and Orwell’s 1984.
I was halfway through THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS (by which point it had joined the list of my favorite books) when news of her death hit; to say it came as a shock is an understatement. Now that LEFT HAND has joined its alphabetized brethren among the bookshelves, I find solace in the poetry of her words and in her vision of worlds beyond our own, a roadmap that lights the way through the desolate landscape of our foibles and our weaknesses and our prejudices towards a more truthful tomorrow.
In THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, the late Ursula K. Le Guin said that, “To oppose something is to maintain it… to oppose vulgarity is inevitably to be vulgar. You must go somewhere else; you must have another goal; then you walk a different road.”
Am I opposed to Twitter? Not in the slightest, at least not to the idea(l) of Twitter — to give voice to all through a platform of succinct communication. What I am opposed to is whatever that idea(l) has been bastardized and weaponized into, first by the shareholder-think of post-IPO Twitter and then by the bile of the Orange Malignancy and its cadre of deplorables and bots.
That said, I recognize that it, Twitter, is what I let it be, what I make it, a reflection upon my own expectations and judgements. Perhaps, then, I am opposed not to what it has become, but to what I’ve let it become in my mind, to what I’ve let it do to me.
Or perhaps, as I careen towards the anniversary of my first Twitter-decade (jesushchrist), I simply lack that something something it takes to make Twitter enjoyable and useful and, as I toil away on this next book and the next phase of my career, my interest in expending the mental energy necessary to get that unnamed something something back (if I ever had it in the first place) is near zilch.
Or perhaps it’s all of the above. Or none of the above.
Regardless, here I am, scribbling in the dirt on the shoulder of this different(ish) road. Now that this thought has been exorcised, I must share it to Twitter.
As someone who not only considers the original DEUS EX to be a cornerstone of his gaming and storytelling life but also as someone who let his enthusiasm for the potential of a transmedia universe get the better of him and blow up in his face, the news that Square Enix’s DEUS EX franchise and intended transmedia universe is being consigned to the backburner after MANKIND DIVIDED’s disappointing sales is painful; it would seem that DEUS EX is now the latest victim of unrealistic expectations in which anything but total domination is inevitably viewed as a failure.
To ascribe failure to any part of the DEUS EX series is a tragedy; to consider MANKIND DIVIDED one is particularly so: while it feels and is undeniably incomplete, a component to a larger story, it may be the best game (setting aside the visionary original) in the series.
The key to franchise improvement lies not in expansion but in the deepening of world and the tightening of focus: MANKIND DIVIDED takes everything that it’s predecessor, the great though self-consciously epic HUMAN REVOLUTION did right, and, with the exception of missed characters, (mostly) underwhelming new ones, and initially confusing controls, takes the franchise to a whole new level through tighter storytelling (unresolved setups notwithstanding), a more consequential focus on both choice and on stealth, and the effective utilization of the processing power of next-gen systems — from blinding sandstorms in the ruins of a Dubai hotel to back alley crime scene investigation and basement secrets to the raindrops that linger on Jensen’s cybernetic body after the nighttime downpour of a rain-soaked Prague under martial law — to craft an heir worthy of the mantle of its revolutionary namesake.
In a perfect world, we would get not only the final installment of the Jensen trilogy, but a remastered, new version of the original featuring the gameplay advancements of the Jensen iteration and the full power of next gen systems; it’d be spectacular. But, alas, the standards by which we judge success are hopelessly skewed and by putting the cart before the horse in service of grand designs and plans that may never come to fruition, a peerless franchise seems to have reached its end.
An illegible scrawl nestled somewhere between hieroglyphic and anxiety-ridden chicken, my handwriting is, for better or worse, the truest, most elemental manifestation of the rhythm of the work at hand; it is exorcism devoid of judgement, a clearing house to conjure that mythic true sentence out of a haze of dried-out ink and word vomit.
With non-fiction, I find it best to type – I write these words on the Macbook Air, in full appreciation of the irony attendant in typing an ode to handwriting; with fiction, however, it is only through the tactile rhythm of writing by hand that I am most capable of entering that necessary state of lost time.
The results are a matter for another day – assuming, of course, that I can read them.
Reading: THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, by Ursula K. Le Guin
As we careen towards the first government shutdown during a single-party majority in all branches of this decaying tree that constitutes the present state of our republic and the inevitable blame game to follow – or in this case, precede – a question arises:
Had the Orange Malignancy not based his entire governing “style” (for want of a better word) upon the destruction of the legacy of a president he neither liked nor viewed as legitimate, would we even be here?
“Some men,” Alfred Pennyworth said, “just want to watch the world burn.” The Orange Malignancy not only wants to watch the world burn, but is pathetic enough to light his entire life by its embers.
This is where we are.
Though Democrats are justifiably confident as the midterms draw near, my worry is growing that reports of a wave election are a set-up for bitter failure. Roy Moore thankfully lost Alabama, yes, but not by much: we cannot turn a single victory (or even several, as in the past year’s elections) — no matter how sweet — into a panacea for the brutal fight ahead, a fight that will be relentless until the very last vote is counted. The assumption of victory is, after all, what got us into this mess in the first place.
Writing this lark at a standing desk composed of an antique footboard perched upon two three-foot tall Dollar Store bookshelves, a Magnavox 22″ television as an external monitor standing even higher upon a stack of unsold / undistributed copies of my first book (finally, they have a purpose) to assuage the eye strain wrought by staring at an 11″ Macbook Air screen. TWIN PEAKS Funko Pop vinyls stare at the back of my head from their place atop the bookshelves behind me, the precipitous to-read stack, still engorged from a five-dollar-a-bag library book sale that hides my framed first comic book purchase (thank you, Grandma), GREEN HORNET #3, looming behind them; to my right, Marley, the whippet-lab mix, snores on
the his couch.
Brain is empty(ish); to work.
Listening: RECOMPOSED BY MAX RICHTER: VIVALDI, THE FOUR SEASONS
Reading: 1876, by Gore Vidal