It Might be Time for a Reboot

This is a writing blog. I haven’t written (much) in the past few years, so this blog has fallen by the wayside. And I’m about to pick it back up. It only makes sense that I don’t load a new pic for the post, since it’s a writing blog and not a mullet (Business in the front. Party in the back). I want it all to be a party, and bangs would just look emo.

I’ll start by greasing my rusty writing hinges; Hello, World! I’m ready to shaaare myself again!

The primary focus for this blog is professional updates on how I understand writing to be, in all its forms: literary and artistic reviews, updates on my work, and helpful hints along the way. I grew away from this professional blog due to (excuses) and now that I’m able to focus more on the often complex and changing needs of novel writing, I can also step back into this place.

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Writing as a Diabetic (and Why it Pertains to Non-Diabetics)

Be different. Like that leaf.

Be different. Like that leaf. (MY PHOTO. THANKS)

I’m Type 2 Diabetic. One of the fortunate side effects of being diabetic is, it makes my skin very glisteny-clean, and I am a wonder to behold.

This is a lie.

While some people consider me quite handsome, diabetes has no direct pros. In fact, there’s nothing redeeming whatsoever about diabetes. Right? Wrong. While it effects literally every aspect of my life, oftentimes throwing wrenches into my day while simultaneously hindering my “drunk coolness” factor, it also makes me a stronger, better person. It was adversity. It is now a benefit. Usually.

(And now, all you non-diabetic writers are wondering: why is this important to me?) Continue reading

Diabetic Writer

In January 2011 I was diagnosed as having Diabetes. It came as a slow death, where I had no idea what was going on beyond having excessive exhaustion. Like a relapse of Mono without the swollen throat. Like sleep apnea without the snoring. I went to work and slept in a corner. At night I slept as if beneath a film instead of a thick blanket, waking six or seven times a night. I lost my capacity to dream.

This isn’t about that experience. This is about finding energy.

I took a year before I considered myself recovered enough to be confident in my energy; I started writing stronger prose, I became more active with my fiancee, and I grasped complex thought much easier.

It took a year and a half before I wrote passionately again. I will be honest with myself when I say it was a terrifying ordeal. I was trapped in my body, a shell of a person, a fraction of what I was, and people didn’t get it. I looked worse AFTER I started treating for diabetes due to my intake of calories, gaining about 30 lbs in the process. Alternative sugar sources like Splenda, Aspartame, and a pursuit of the elusive Stevia created farther setbacks with memory loss, shakes, and ravaging hunger. I started eating potato chips. I never liked potato chips before.

Needless to say my writing suffered. I wrote most of a book in that year and a half. I tried rewriting a book in that time. To feel energized and unable to write what I think is a true prison for a man who has placed most of his eggs in the creativity basket. I haven’t written anything new in over a year.

Nowadays I get most energy from a good night’s sleep. I minimize soda and food intake. Most of the time I eat very little–and my body appreciates it. I’m perpetually hungry, yes, but I am also streamlined. Losing weight. Energized. Dreaming again. Glorious dreaming.

I still haven’t fully recovered. Perhaps I never will. When my immune system was shot every opportunistic disease in the book hit me at once. I’m still recovering from all of it. Some days I wake in a cloud haze, swimming about in a sea of mental purgatory, wanting nothing more than to sit in front of the TV and veg out. Again, it’s terrifying. I have no motivation. I have no energy. Other days I wake with so much energy I’m practically crying in happiness.

I don’t know if this is the same for everyone, if diabetes hits hard and fast and debilitating, or like a slow fog from the horizon. The nurses told me I was a special case, still am. I suspect I got hit with a virus before my insulin resistance rose, and diabetes came after. Regardless, being a creative writer isn’t just a thing I have forever, without limits or restrictions. Two years ago I’d say it was an ability, an educational tool I honed over the years. Today? It is an egg, fragile and easily broken.

Dreams shouldn’t be fragile. Dreams should be vibrant and constant. Any other diabetic writers out there, you’re not alone.

Vitalization after a year and a half

I’m swimming in a sea of energy. No, this isn’t a metaphysical statement. After nearly a year and a half of being diabetic, I have finally recovered from the initial attack to feel like my old self again. This means vibrant, abundant energy from the moment I wake, regardless of carbs or sedentary lifestyle (I’d like to say I’m not sedentary, but given my “poor folk” status and stress of not being able to pay bills, I’ve been mostly hiding, writing, and applying to jobs). This means inspired writing and the ability to have a complex, and complete, thought.

I’m Type 2. I’m an “oddity,” to my doctors. I’ve apparently built up a resistance to insulin my body releases normally and I’ve become insulin dependent.

I don’t think it normally takes a diabetic a year to recover. Even with my reaction–which was an amalgamation of violent symptoms beginning with extreme fatigue and lack of sleep and ending with 103 temp and vomiting. Even with my fasting Blood Sugar around 100 (which is healthy, safe, and normal), I still had little energy, little vim.

A year later, the doctors told me that, simultaneous to the diabetes, my liver was giving off enzymes. Dangerous, “your stuff’s broken” enzymes. I could wail and gnash my teeth but I didn’t. I reacted by losing weight (I was 185 before diagnosis. I gained 30 pounds when I stopped eating sugar and other carbs), becoming more physically active (I walked a mile a day), and trying to suss out the reasons.

Docs said I had more tests to take, but, back to the po’ broke area, I couldn’t afford them without doing lots of research and/or begging family members. Wasn’t going to happen.

So now, miraculously, my blood sugar is low (120 on a regular day) even when I eat carbs. I’m not talking a gallon of soda or a quart of ice cream, but eating a burrito for a meal, or more than two slices of pizza. It’s still preventative, but it’s also quite exciting.

I can write again. I can absorb again. I can spacially study a series of events and actually explain it. I can truly rewrite two chapters in a row without having to pick it up the next day.

And, I can stay away from Aspartame, my writing nemesis. That stuff makes me as dumb as a rock. Two rocks, even.

I feel vitalized; I’ve rewritten work in two days that has, until now, taken me nearly six months to do. I’ve found my ability to think separately from the work I’m studying.

Hopefully my liver is back to normal. Hopefully my insulin dependence will be short-lived. If not, I’m fine with it. Take my junk food options away from me, but don’t take my creativity. As of now, it’s all I have.

Along with my fiancee.

 

 

A Diabetic’s Perfect Candy

What might that be? Nerds.

If you live in America, you’ll know how carb-packed everything seems to be. Especially if you’re poor (which I am). I liked the statement, “We’re morbidly obese while starving to death,” to enforce our carb culture. It’s true.

I like sugar, though. In fact, sugar is easier for me to handle than other kinds of carbs like rice and pasta. The complex stuff stays in my system forever, constantly pushing up my blood sugar level. It’s like eating garlic at lunch with a date at dinner. Unless you want her to enjoy the puff of gross, you’re in trouble if you don’t plan ahead.

Same with the carbohydrates.

Yet, I’ve been recently experimenting with some of the candies/sugars that extinguishes the sweet tooth flame, and I have to say Nerds is perfect for the diabetic with candy needs. Reeses’ Pieces, M&Ms, and Skittles probably work, too, I guess, but Nerds are so small that you can suck a piece at a time and get so little actual sugar in your body, you can go at it for a while.

Anyway, anyone looking at the carb counts on the back of boxes (which I do religiously: I worship the serving size number almost as much, those tricky little devils) will know even the smallest cookie packs a punch. Ice cream, coupled with that whole lactose stupidity my body has decided to develop, leaves me dumbfounded and sleepy even with the tiny 4 oz cups. And cookies go stale, ice cream comes in tubs, you feel obligated to eat it all.

Personally, same with the M&Ms. I don’t know why. I eat one and I’m wanting a handful.

Not so with Nerds. It has a harsh sweetness to it, a sour that makes you pucker your lips, and it slows that craving to nothing, especially if you’re being conscious about eating the pieces one at a time. It’s not good for the major cravings, of course. For those I recommend a heavy helping of Moose Tracks and lose your blood sugar monitor for the night.

I’ve decided it’s my perfect candy. Just wanted to share.

 

~x

Aspartame in My Hatorade

I’m diabetic. I weigh a little over 200 pounds. I don’t gain weight easily, and I don’t lose it easily either. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes last January (2011) I was told to remove all soda (my kryptonite) from my diet. I was 185 lbs. Diet soda was fine, since it had no sugar, but sugar (high fructose corn syrup) was bad, bad, bad for me.

Being diabetic is a love-hate relationship. My body needs carbs to be efficient, but it can’t handle the sugar in those carbs so eating them drags me down to zero energy. It’s a complicated “eat only 40 grams of carbs a day” scenario where 10 over or 10 under might screw up the rest of my day.

Aspartame is in everything. Apparently, before my time, sucralose was in everything, and the big companies switched to Aspartame to properly substitute corn syrup. Why? Cheaper. Bottom dollar at work again. Cheaper, processed and therefore patented artificial sweetner some big company can corner the market on. So “diet” usually means aspartame.

“Diet soda” is a misnomer. It’s not a diet soda. It’s not a dieter’s soda. It makes you RAVENOUSLY hungry. Savage like a wild animal. It eats your stomach up until you have a gnawing black hole devouring the universe inside you. You salivate over donuts, daydream about Doritos. And, of course, that’s what the Krispy Kreme and Doritos companies want. Some technical term like Cross-Marketing comes to mind.

Aspartame is the devil for a dieter. It’s like little Bailey’s-filled chocolates for an alcoholic on the mend. It’s better to drink cane sugar than to drink an ounce of that stuff, because it destroys your dieting resolve.

But I’m not a dieter, so it’s gravy. Right? No… It in fact made me so hungry for sugary, candy things I was doing worse in the insulin department than I was before I went off it. Let’s get this straight: soda’s nasty. 49 grams of corn syrup in each 12 oz can is downright dangerous. But I gained 20 pounds simply by getting into an otherwise “healthier” lifestyle of removing soda and other high-carb drinks (like sweet tea).

Advice for dieters and diabetics alike: buy unsweet tea and administer stevia to taste if you have to. Or coffee. Stevia is a NATURAL, UNPROCESSED sweetner that accomplishes the same pros Aspartame does but can’t be trademarked or developed by Big Business, so you won’t hear a lot of advertisement about it. Furthermore, Dr. Pepper won’t be replacing Aspartame anytime soon. It’s bad business, and I understand why they wouldn’t change something that isn’t broken (again, they aren’t in the business to help you lose weight or live healthier. They’re in the business to make money).

SoBe has some low-carb alternatives full of caffine, too, if that’s what you’re looking for. Lifewater. Look for the Truvia label, and look for the lids with purple or green. They are awesome.

Finally, Aspartame reacts with me strangely. It turns me into a blubbering idiot. I forget focus every five minutes, after drinking some, and run around wondering why I can’t remember anything. My creativity dies. It is literally a dangerous drug with damaging side-effects. For me. Reactions do vary, of course.

 

~x

Test Results, Jung’s Red Book

Quick note: I had intended the Dreamcatcher blog to be a how-to, complete with lots of pictures (clove hitch isn’t exactly common knowledge), and cool links, but for some reason I couldn’t figure out how to properly link the photos. Apologies.

For the first time in a very, very long time, I had an incredible birthday.

Mom was available, which was huge. Everyone got along even if they disagreed. The family felt whole.

That being said, my parents bought me a present I have been drooling over for the past six months. Ever since a psychology-minded (read: manic-depressive, well-educated) friend of mine told me about the publication of Carl Jung’s Red Book (see? I’m getting better), I’ve pursued owning a copy. Given my love for psychology, philosophy, and spirituality, I figured it’d fit into the psychological niche of my bookshelf.

First off, this baby doesn’t fit in any bookshelf. It’s two feet long by a foot wide. It’s a monster beast. Second, it’s psychological because it comes from Jung’s head, but it’s about as psychological as the Bible: this is rife with vision, inspiration, and broad-sense cryptic.

“Cryptic” isn’t a term that’s readily understandable. It’s a language of symbol, and unique to the individual. To delve into the complications of symbol-set is to delve into the language of the core of a person. I guess, archetypal symbolism, from Jung’s lens. If I were to say, “I am a sand castle,” I would be speaking in a form of cryptic: a symbol attached to an aspect of me. It could mean I’m easily swept away, I am child-like in construction, I’m a terrible shelter, etc–or even something that has nothing to do with this. I am dreaming of–and pursuing–a childhood memory of a peaceful place. It’s like mental Tarot. A person who knows cryptic well enough, and understands the symbol-set of the individual well enough, doesn’t need Tarot cards to understand what the person is going through, what the person’s dealing with, etc.

Here I am, writing a blog about “Keeping it Simple,” and talking about something as deep and complicated as “cryptic.” Well, it’s not deep. It’s not complicated. Not for the self. It’s something all children understand. It’s where we first learn how to understand the world. A mother’s face, a soft bed, a baby chair at the table. It’s simple for the inner self–dare I say soul?–to understand, complex for the logic to follow. Science has no grasp with this. America tends to marginalize this understanding as Occult, hoodoo, or Alternative Medicine. A lot of people try to say they speak it, and swindle a lot of people out of honest money.

Anyway, Jung’s Red Book reads like the bible. “My soul is a child and the God that is inside my soul is also a child.” “On my fifth day in my tower a supernatural creature came to me. ‘What are you?’ I asked. ‘I am not a demon,’ it replied. ‘How dare you automatically assume I am a demon just because I come to you?'”

All cryptic. Brilliant, induced dreaming/cryptic. It’s filled with paintings Jung drew, reaching from Vikings to Egyptic scarab beetles and Hindu god-trees. And world-trees, and Christian symbolism, and all kinds of exploration. He travled very far to write such a book.

It’s incredible. I imagine whole classes will be taught on this book in college, and those classes are clearly cross-referencial. In fact, it could even go into Bible study due to its cryptic.

I also got some blood tests back: triglycerides are up 100%, LDL is low-to-normal, A1C is 8.2 (when I’ve only ever seen my Blood Sugar below 130), and the strange change is a trace enzyme in my liver: 82 instead of 75. The nurse, a snappy tired woman, said over the phone that it’s high, and I won’t get health insurance if it’s not brought back down. Then I told her to check my last two tests last year. It was 135 in January, 91 in March. It’s improving. She changed her short-yip tone to less “you don’t know anything” and more “oh you’re doing much better.” Yes. I know I am. But not well enough.

So I have a meeting with some GI. I’m so poor it’s scary, so this whole “unexpected hospital bills” idea is really gnawing on me. After coming down with Diabetes, I’ve spent a lot of time studying up on it–all the nurses call me a special case because they don’t know where the Diabetes came from–and I’ve learned all I could about it. Now I have to study up on my liver function. It’s really angering and a little frightening. I hope it’s not something bigger than I thought…

~x