Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Green Christmas

The months and weeks leading up to Christmas this year had left me feeling a little jaded about the entire holiday. I saw so many people wandering aimlessly down aisles filled with crap, looking for whatever random object fit into their budget, their wish list and their cart. I saw kids making their Christmas wish lists by walking down the aisle at Wal-Mart and pointing, "I want this! And I want that!" It really made me feel ill. We were shorter on money this year than we have been in the past what with baby coming and me leaving work so it was even harder to find nice things for the people that we love. I did a lot of baking and gave that away which worked well and we managed to find something special for each person on our list but it did make me think a lot about Christmas and what it all means. I made a promise to myself that next year I would make a point of buying things made in Canada, with less packaging and using recycled wrapping paper. Christmas doesn't have to be such a huge waste of energy, spirit and money.

As it turns out, I didn't really have to worry. We did well by our family and we all, without discussing it amongst ourselves, obviously made an effort to keep Christmas reasonable and green. My brother had the best wrapping idea ever and gave each of us our Christmas presents in a green, re-usable shopping bag - a gift in itself! I got dryer balls, all natural laundry soap and cleaners, books and organic clothes for the baby. (I also got the most beautiful diamond earrings from Brian - I'm so lucky!) There were bamboo socks, organic, fair trade chocolates and coffee...it was good. Nobody went crazy and everyone had obviously put a lot of thought and consideration into their gifts - it made for a wonderful Christmas.

I have decided to go off line for the next little while. The internet has started to take up a lot of time in my life and for the next little while I will allow myself to be consumed entirely by sleeping, spending time with family and friends and eating whenever and whatever I can.

Also, to those of you who traditionally might receive Christmas cards from me? Ummm...I've written up about 25 cards and even addressed them but to be perfectly honest, I probably won't mail them. My apologies. If it makes you feel any better I promise I will recycle them.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Departure

Yesterday was my last day of work...what a week. I honestly don't think I've ever been so close to having a mental breakdown as I was last night. With Christmas coming, the fact that I'm not sleeping well (could be related to the 20 pound bulge in my stomach and the peeing 6x a night) and the things I needed to finish before work was over I was completely in over my head. I walked in the door last night with an hour to spare before family arrived and a bomb site of a house and my chest caved in. I felt like I couldn't breathe and the room started spinning. My only thought was "Oh good...I'm going to be put in the hospital and they'll give me something so I can sleep and take care of me...this will be wonderful." but I stayed conscious and vertical and very much disappointed.

This morning I feel much better and I managed to sleep last night. Today we (my brother Craig is visiting) are going to ice Christmas cookies and meet my Mum at the Farmer's Market for coffee.

Leaving work has been a far more emotional event that I originally anticipated. I thought that at this point I would be overjoyed to be done with the daily commute and all the office politics that drove me wild for so many months. But wouldn't you know it? Work has been better in the last 4-5 months than it had ever been and I was really starting to feel good about my position and the organization and where it was all heading. I had a new team in place who I adored and have found myself feeling sad about the prospect of not seeing those people every day. I'm hoping this will be just like high school - where it all feels so monumental and sad until you realize that really, it's neither and that there are better things waiting for you.

Either way, I'm off for Christmas, I'm about to make waffles for breakfast and my husband who had disappeared as of late is back and finished exams and best of all? It's nearly Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Upper Crusty

This baby thing is weird. It's obviously not something I've done before and at times I feel completely overwhelmed by the options and gadgets and decisions and things that have to be bought or planned. I decided a long time ago that I was going to take a very minimalist approach to baby and so far have done just that. I've always gotten a kick out of saving money and finding a deal and this has extended, maybe even become exaggerated, with baby items. What has surprised me is the reaction I have encountered from other people and other mothers-to-be.

So far I have bought almost every item of clothing from EBay or a similar local site called usedcalgary.com. I've found fantastic deals on mostly new clothes and some gently used ones and they are all so cute! Why on earth would I pay 3 or 4 times the price for something that the baby will only wear a handful of times and most likely vomit on? I bought a stroller this past weekend for a huge discount as well as a bassinet/play pen combo. Everything is in great condition and clean and did I mention WAY CHEAPER!? The other thing I've tried to do is really stop and think about what the baby will need. Does it need to vibrate and swing to the sounds of dolphins and waves crashing against the sand? Probably not. You wouldn't believe how much stuff is out there for babies...prenatal education systems, brain gyms, activity mats, swingers, rockers, bouncers and jumpers, chairs that stay erect, chairs that recline, pillows to keep them on their backs, pillows to keep them on their tummys, strollers with piped in music, double cup holders and thermometers, even computers to help you record what time your baby last ate, slept, was changed, or made a sound. In my opinion it's nuts...so Brian and I have made every effort to keep it to a minimum and only buy what we think we'll need. If we find that we're missing something we can always buy it later. (Besides, once all the Chinese recalls are made on this stuff they'll be even more affordable!)

You wouldn't believe some of the reactions I've encountered about our approach. "Oh...you mean, they're used? Like, another baby already wore that dress?" Yup, a dirty baby...who may even have been from another country." Many of the women I've spoken too, both in person and online in the "baby cults", are obsessed with getting the newest, most expensive items. A lot of them already have things from their last kid but still want to buy everything new for this kid. I've asked a few mothers-to-be about strollers and what they recommend and without fail I have been told to buy a Bugaboo. "The stroller that looks like it was made by NASA and costs over $700?" "Yeah, but they are really good and can go over anything and they come in cute colours." For $700 they would have to breastfeed the baby, not just hold it.

I guess I owe my ever-expanding collection of really cute, really cheap baby necessities to the very women I don't understand. If they weren't over-purchasing really expensive items and selling them to me for half the cost than I wouldn't have the nice things that I do. So thank you to the consumer-driven women of this city. Thanks for always having to have the best and newest and trendiest...I salute you. (And am especially grateful that you've recently decided to flood the market with used Bumbo chairs just in the nick of time).

Monday, December 03, 2007

Advice from a pregnant lady...

Never, ever, underestimate the importance of wearing underwear that fits.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Magi

I find Calgary a soulless place at times...everyone seems in a rush to be somewhere (someone) else and they don't seem to stop for one another. I've heard that it didn't used to be this way and I know that for many long time Calgarians they have found the change difficult and frustrating. Today I was in the mall and an older woman was standing in front of me. The minute I got behind her in line (with an awesome new Christmas dress in my hands incidentally) she struck up a conversation. This struck me as odd because typically I find malls to be an exaggerated version of all things wrong with the world and that day in particularly had confirmed it for me. Three people had cut me off in the parking lot while I was trying to park. At one point two people in front of me got out of their cars and started yelling at each other violently over who had started signaling first. So, when this lovely little lady was so warm and kind I guess it sort of caught me off guard. The little lady was holding a beautiful pair of red velvet pyjamas with gold trim (Jones New York $75...I'm such a snoop) and was telling me that her brother in law was in hospital with heart problems. The woman was from India and I had to laugh as I imagined some little Indian man wearing these women's red pyjamas in his hospital bed. I started telling her about the Heart & Stroke Foundation and how she could get further information on pacemakers and heart surgery and she seemed very happy to be talking. That is when she pulled a crumpled page from her coat pocket and unfolded it to show me the very pyjamas she was holding. "My brother-in-law saw these beautiful pyjamas in the flyer and before he went to the hospital he made me promise to get them" she said. "These exact ones. That is why I am here." I smiled and nodded and told her that it was nice of her to do that for him. "He was very worried that I would not be able to find them," she said, "and he wanted to make sure that his wife got these exact pyjamas in case he does not make it through his surgery." The moment she said this, my heart sort of stopped. Tears sprang to my eyes immediately - I thought it was the most romantic thing I had ever heard. This man, who is in his late 70's, is facing major surgery and worried he might die and his greatest concern is that his wife be left with the most beautiful, expensive velvet pyjamas.

These are the stories we miss when we stop listening...when we stop stopping. These little pieces of lives and loves, the very things that make it all worthwhile. Meeting this woman in the line up and hearing the story of an older couple who I do not know was the highlight of my day. Her story filled my heart with love and hope for the little man, who I hope gets better, and his wife who will be wearing her beautiful red pyjamas.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Power of the Belly

I've heard a lot of pregnant women complain about people touching their belly and I must admit that I myself have marveled at the audacity at some people but I have to say that I feel differently now that I am here and it is happening. I think it's wonderful. After having traveled and lived in other countries around the world I have witnessed time and time again how socially isolated we are in North America. We are protective of our personal space to the point of compulsion and it always makes me feel a little sad. There was a part of me that loved standing shoulder to shoulder with someone on the bus in Korea, feeling the warmth of their body and knowing that the other person wasn't the least bit uncomfortable. I've seen people here calculate, methodically, how to best separate themselves from the other passengers on a train or a bus. Why? What have we gained by having no contact with strangers, no human intersections beyond those we seek out?

A pregnant belly breaks through all those barriers and social rules and penetrates the invisible social bubble that we all live under. The idea that the baby is coming into a world where complete strangers want to look at it and touch it and care for it brings me comfort because that's exactly how it should be. Babies should be welcomed into a community that extends beyond their immediate family and loved and cared for by the village, so to speak.

When people, even strangers, touch my tummy it feels nice. Their hand is warm and they are almost always smiling...waiting to feel her move. And when they do they are excited and happy and I feel like I'm a part of something bigger. I find it amazing that babies and more specifically, the baby in my tummy, has the incredibly powerful ability to break down social barriers, make friends out of strangers and connect people in time who otherwise would have walked right past each other.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Reasons Why Leaving Work Won't be So Bad #4...

After watching my colleagues routinely throw out paper cups and envelopes rather than recycling them I volunteered at the last office meeting to develop some recycling guidelines so everyone would know what they could and couldn't recycle. The intent was also to give a little pep-talk on living green in the workplace...less printing, using go-cups and basically reducing waste.

This morning my CEO asked me to print out one copy of my green guidelines for each employee. Instead of say, emailing it. Jesus Christ.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

OM

I am taking a prenatal yoga class and I have really been enjoying it (it probably doesn't hurt that the yoga studio is located right above a Dairy Queen). I've taken yoga before and I always liked the way it made me feel and the opportunity to take some time just for myself. The same is true for this class and if anything I've enjoyed it even more being pregnant. It's very peaceful and at the end I not only feel relaxed and calm but I also feel like I got a decent workout. My teacher, Carolyn, is really sweet and has avoided any of the fluffier yogi philosophy that has always bugged me about yoga. That is, until tonight.

I am not a Doctor, nor do I claim to know and understand everything about the human body. But I do have a degree in Neuroscience and I can say after working on many brains that there are certain things I am absolutely certain of. Like that the lungs do not operate on the same crossed neural pathways as say, the eyes. And that despite the "thousands of years of yogi studies", breathing through one nostril at a time will not balance the brain. Nothing can balance the brain...because it doesn't need to be balanced. It's hard for me to sit and relax and breathe while someone is spewing absolute garbage. Tell me it clears the nasal passages and forces you to concentrate on your breath. Tell me that stretching the ligaments and muscles of the neck can alleviate pressure and tightness and lessen headaches. But please, do not tell me that breathing predominantly through one nostril can cause psychosis and schizophrenia and that we need to balance our breathing so that each lung (which in case nobody notices, DO NOT function independently) is equally innervated and cleansed. Cleansed of what? Air? And what the hell has innervation got to do with breathing in the first place?

I worked very hard tonight to stay calm and not let this get to me. I want to take the good away from this class and not worry myself over the silly little things...let people believe what they want right? My problem is that when something is a matter of opinion, say the existence of God, I'm far more content to have a debate about it but still respect that at the end of the day either one of us could be wrong. But this? This is not a matter of opinion. This was just craziness masking itself as science and that is one of my biggest pet peeves...the same people who turn away from science seem to have no problem using it to disguise and validate their nutty ideas.

And now I am here, unraveling all the calmness I worked so hard to achieve.

Namaste and good night.

And we rest...

This week's breakthrough in stem cell research was a fascinating one for me. It brought with is a spiritual experience (if you could call it that) that made me feel peaceful and even more secure in my beliefs about the world and the existence of God. As a scientist you have to accept that there are things we do not yet understand and that cannot be explained. Religious people will often insert God is this knowledge gap and call it evidence of a higher power. Atheists merely acknowledge there is still more to learn and continue to look for the answers.

Pluripotency (the ability to become any kind of cell) has always intrigued me. Knowing that life begins with two cells joining together and believing that as magical as it is it does not require supernatural interjection, leads one to conclude that all cells at some point in their life must be stem cells. If this weren't the case it would mean that somehow, two cells that came from the same parent cells would have had to have become fundamentally different in their structure. It just never made sense.

This week two separate groups of scientists confirmed that by turning on a specific (actually two distinct but related) genetic pathway, any cell could become pluripotent. It made me feel happy - like a piece of the puzzle that I knew was missing but still hadn't found just dropped into place.

That is what we are all looking for in the end I suppose. For the world around us to make sense. I'm just happy that I can find my answers in the world I actually live in without having to conjure up an imaginary being to help me.

Friday, November 16, 2007

November is Diabetes Awareness Month



I will avoid another rant on the abuse of ribbons and say I merely chose this image because I could find a good "Diabetes" image - I suppose the disease does not lend itself to visual artistry.

This month is Diabetes Awareness Month and so I thought I would talk about my diabetes and how it has changed my life. I remember when I was first diagnosed I was shocked because I didn't know that people my age could get Type 1 Diabetes. Turns out we can and it's not as rare as I thought. The Canadian Diabetes Association is currently running a whole campaign on young adults and diabetes. I was angry that this had happened to me and scared that my life had changed forever and it was all out of my control. Since then I have worked hard to learn about the disease and how to best manage it and so, I thought I would pass on some information:

1. First of all, Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes are not the same thing. Not even close. It's nice that your Grandma has diabetes and so you totally know what I'm going through but guess what, you don't. Type 2 diabetics have a functioning pancreas (for the most part) but they have developed a resistance to the insulin that their body is making. Those with Type 1 have a crappy pancreas that no longer makes enough, or any, insulin. Type 1 diabetes has nothing to do with obesity, exercise or drinking too much pop. It is an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system has attacked the cells that produce insulin...this means it is in the same family as Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus or Crohn's Disease. My disease cannot be cured by exercising any more than someone can think their way out of Parkinson's disease.

2. Please do not offer to give me insulin when my sugars are low...this is the wrong thing to do. In fact it could kill me or at the very least, make things a lot worse. If my sugars are too low it is because I need sugar and have either taken too much insulin or have not eaten enough. I will not pass out from having high sugars unless they have been very high for a long time. My job is to try and balance the sugars in my body by using insulin and food intake (carbohydrates specifically) as counterweights to keep it all in balance. The more carbs I take it, the more insulin I need to balance the sugars and keep them in the right range. This balance can be thrown off by many things - hormones, illness, stress and how tired I am.

3. Please do not dismiss diabetes by saying it is manageable or that it's not a big deal. I've never heard a Diabetic say that so you probably shouldn't either. Yes, diabetes is not going to kill you in the next 6 months but is still a very big deal and a shock when it happens to you.

4. I can eat pretty much whatever I want so please do not make comments about the piece of cake I just ate. As long as I account for the carbs I can eat it. Having said that, there are certain things that are pretty much out...pop and juice (unless my sugars are crashing in which case I need sugar fast) and Slurpees. Which, trust me, I don't miss.

5. The injections do not hurt too badly but I will admit they are annoying. This is my routine on any given day:

First thing in the morning I test my blood sugar which must be under 5.3 mmol/L. Then I count the carbs I am going to have for breakfast, calculate the insulin I will need and shoot up into my tummy. Two hours after breakfast I test my sugar again. These tests involve a lancet into the finger - just enough to draw a drop of blood. This blood get sucked up on a test strip that costs about 80 cents and can only be used once. Before lunch I test again to see where I'm at, shoot up my insulin again and then two hours later, test again. Same thing with dinner. If I exercise during the day I have to take that into account and adjust my insulin accordingly. When I exercise I have to make sure I don't go too low and always have candy or juice nearby. Before bed I test again and then inject a different long-lasting insulin into my thigh. This one hurts a little bit because the dose is usually much bigger. By the end of the day I will have injected 4-6 times and tested about 8-10 times (a cost of more than $7.00/day not including the needles or insulin). And there you have it...every single day, weekend or not, sick or not, weather be damned.

6. If you see candy in my car or a juice box in my bag/desk drawer/glove box etc. please do not eat or drink it. That is there for emergencies. I go low usually 3-5 times a week and I need that sugar to get me back up. Going low is a horrible feeling. I feel woozy, dizzy, shaky, sick and sweaty. Even after I've taken my juice it can take 15 minutes for it to come up again so please give me some time. When I'm low I have a hard time hearing properly. processing things and feel like I'm not really in the same world as everyone else. I feel vulnerable and self-conscious. I just need some time and a snack and I'll be fine.

7. My diabetes is probably not going to go away unless there is some big medical breakthrough. I am not entirely okay with this but I guess I don't have a choice. I am scared of what the future holds and am afraid of ending up in the hospital, having heart disease or losing control of my diabetes. These are all things I work on now to prevent but can never guarantee.

So, there you, go...consider yourself more diabetically aware. If you have any other questions, please just ask. And if someone you know tells you one day that they have just found out they have diabetes, do not down play it or dismiss it. Recognize that it is a life long illness that will change their life but that with a lot of work and commitment, they will be okay.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reasons Why Leaving Work Won't Be So Bad...#3

The knowledge that about a week after I leave someone is going to realize that nobody knows how to edit or update the website and that despite all my efforts to explain how things work over the past few years, nobody bothered to listen.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bad Boys Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?

This morning we were heading out early to drive to Edmonton to meet up with my parents and brothers for lunch. As we were pulling out of the parking lot we noticed that our Passat was dented and scratched and that our neighbour had apparently run into it when he came home last night (at 5:30 am, only to crank the tunes but that's another story). Brian started banging on the neighbours door but there was no answer.

We knew, based on things we've seen with our neighbours (like the time they needed to borrow our electricity or came to the house so high they wanted to use our phone to call their lost cell phone and then listened intently like somehow it might be in our house) that if we left and tried to follow up later they would have no recollection of hitting our car and that in fact they may even have disappeared entirely. As Brian was knocking he noticed a guy walk out from behind the houses across the street, towards us and then sort of veer off behind our house. He knew right away that this guy probably lived at this house and was likely our culprit, (as opposed to his wife who smiled at the guy in an attempt to distract him from the fact that we were banging on our neighbor's door) so Brian followed him to the back of the house. By the time Brian got around the back the guy had one leg in the basement window and was caught a little off-guard when Brian asked, "Do you live here?" A negative answer would mean he was breaking and entering and admitting that he did indeed live there would necessitate a conversation with Brian...he clearly didn't know what to do. "Uhhh...yah" he said after a long pause. Brian got him to come around the front to inspect the damage and proceeded to ask him what had happened. The exchange was priceless:

Brian: Is this your car?
Guy: No, it's my roomates.
Brian: Where is your roomate? What's his name?
Guy: Uhhh, he's Donnie. He went to Edmonton yesterday afternoon on the bus.
Brian: Okay, so who else lives here?
Guy: Nobody. Just me.
Brian: And you are?
Guy: Clayton
Brian: Okay Clayton. So tell me, were you driving the car?
Clayton: No way man, I can't drive, I have a suspended license. I don't know who drove the car.
Brian: So let me get this straight. You're the only one here but you don't know who drove the car last night?
Clayton: Yah man.

It went on like this for awhile...I left at this point to go and call the police because obviously Clayton (who was still drunk) wasn't going to be very helpful.

The cops showed up and heard the same story Brian had but were a little less patient that we had been. Clayton disappeared in the house at some point and the cops were unable to retrieve him. They banged on the door and called the house. He eventually emerged, shoeless, about 10 minutes later claiming he had fallen asleep. The cops called the registered owners of the vehicle who turned out to be Donnie's parents. They told the cops that they would come and sort it out. We were about to be unwilling witnesses to a white trash reunion.

The parents pulled up at about the same time that Donnie, who supposedly was in Edmonton, appeared from nowhere. They started yelling at the two boys, "Which one of you drove the car" and then to Clayton, "And who the hell are you anyway?! Do you live here!?" Brian and I slowly but steadily backed up into our house, behind the door while this spilled out onto our front lawn. I felt like I was in an episode of Cops and I was waiting for someone to be cuffed and thrown into the cruiser. I didn't have to wait too long.

Before we really knew what was happening Donnie was being patted down and cuffed while Clayton was being given a sobriety test. There was more yelling and then tears. By the time Donnie was taken away the Mom was crying, the sister was crying and Clayton was sitting on the front stoop, head in hands, crying. The parents were throwing garbage out of the car and repossessing it and were yelling about selling the house from underneath them. Donnie was charged with a hit and run (even though the cops were convinced it was Clayton who had been driving) along with who knows what else and it looks like we're getting new neighbours.

What drama! A small dent on our car and a call to the police and this kid's life fell apart in front of our eyes. I felt pretty bad but at the same time I knew there must have been a lot more going on than just a scratched car and a drunken mistake.

It sucks that our car, which we were supposed to sell this week is now going to have to be fixed and could take weeks to sell. But to keep it in perspective...at least we aren't those guys.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Reasons Why Leaving Work Won't Be So Bad...#2

Today my boss told me that particles are electricity (which was somehow supposed to explain why she was so hyper). When I tried to correct her she insisted that she was correct and that this was based on simple string theory. She actually said this with a straight face, "simple string theory"...from a woman who can't tell an electron from an endoplasmic reticulum. Again I tried to gently correct her and he became very condescending until she realized that she didn't mean electricity, she meant energy! Silly her...energy is made of particles. She saw it in the movie "Starman". Who can argue with that?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Our Newest Addition...



I am so excited...we just bought a Honda Element! Now, I know that this vehicle is extremely polarizing and many people really hate it but for me, and for Brian, this car has been on our radar since we first saw it. I always said that if I won the lottery I would buy a green Honda Element which of course, made people laugh at me. Not a Jaguar or a Lamborghini but a Honda? The Element was my "I've made it" car and I guess that means I've made it.

So laugh all you want you Bentley-aspiring dreamers because it looks like I just won my lottery. :)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Beginnings...

With each week that passes my pregnant state becomes more and more obvious to myself as well as the rest of the world, and I am often left feeling overwhelmed and like this isn't real. There isn't really a person growing inside me is there? When you stop and think about it, about the cells dividing and the nutrients moving from my body into hers it becomes too much to comprehend. Too big, and yet, so normal.

I have felt so many emotions over the past few months and I often find myself checking in with my own head, "How are we doing?" You still okay with this?" Mostly, the answer is yes but I would be lying if I said there weren't days where I am panicked and terrified and want to hit the eject button. I feel fat and vulnerable and totally unprepared to become a mother. I liked the life that Brian and I had made for ourselves. I liked going for drinks on Friday's and sleeping in and going out for late-night meals. I liked knowing that we had a team of two to take on the world and planning our next vacation to a far away place. I'm scared to lose all of that.

At some level I know that we will gain so much more and that Brian and I will always be a team. It's the awkward stage in between where you can imagine all the things you love being gone but it is still too abstract to really envision what is to come. I know I'm pregnant, I feel the baby kicking and I am steadily preparing for her arrival but I still cannot really picture her or what my days will consist of. I am taking a giant leap into the unknown. I suppose, if she could, our baby would feel very much the same way.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Reasons Why Leaving Work Won't Be So Bad...#1

Today my boss asked me if I could teach her HTML before I leave. Sure, no problem...how about we get you fluent in Russian next week as well?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Response to Freestar Media

My recent letter to this guy who is making a movie about the horrors of the Canadian health care system. He requested true Canadian health stories...how much do you want to bet that mine won't make the cut?

Hi,

I recently received an email about the movie you are making (Sick and Sicker) and wanted to write in with my true Canadian health care story. I am an otherwise healthy 29-year-old woman and was recently found to have Type 1 diabetes. It was a real shock and I was scared for my health and of course, for the quality of my life in the future. Within weeks of my diagnosis I was seen by an endocrinologist. When I mentioned to her that my husband and I were interested in starting a family I was moved to the Diabetes in Pregnancy clinic here in Calgary. I had an appointment within a week and was given my own nutritionist to help teach me about food choices, carbohydrate counting and prenatal nutrition. I had a diabetes education nurse who helped to get me on insulin and supplied me, free of charge, with my insulin pens. She calls me every week to go over my blood sugar numbers. I also see an endocrinologist who has been absolutely phenomenal and who is very up to date on what is going on around the world in diabetes research. When we struggled to get pregnant we were referred to a fertility specialist and I had an appointment in less than a week. They provided me with hormone supplements and free ultrasounds to monitor my pregnancy.

I am now over 5 months pregnant, educated about diabetes and healthy. My sugars have been well controlled - through my efforts and through the efforts of my "team". Aside from prescriptions I haven't paid for a thing...I have spoken with friends in America who have paid thousands of dollars for the kind of care I received. I did not wait and I have received world-class care.

The only other experience I've had was when I had a miscarriage two years ago. I went to the Emergency room and did have to wait a few hours, although I was not bleeding heavily. When I did get in I was treated with compassion and kindness and felt very much taken care of. Again I saw a doctor and had an ultrasound and only paid for the parking stall at the hospital.

While I recognize that some people have had an entirely different experience with the Canadian health care system, I do not thinking it is fair to demonize the system as a whole. My husband and I have lived in Africa, Asia, Europe, America and Canada and as someone with a chronic health care concern such as diabetes there is nowhere I would rather be than Canada. Working on the system to improve and fix its flaws is one thing but misrepresenting it as a failure on all counts is not only unfair it is inaccurate.

I am not a leftist Michael Moore fan, nor do I believe that the Canadian health care system is perfect...but it has certainly been good to me...and to my bank account.

Sincerely,
Caroline Knox
Calgary, Alberta


Sometimes I just get so mad about this issue...our system is not perfect but just last week I had a flu shot, a blood test, a visit to my ob/gyn, a visit to the endocrinologist and an electrocardiogram of my baby's heart - all for free. And you know the best part? Anyone living in this country would have access to the same thing - and that just feels right.

Monday, October 29, 2007

First Words: Radio Canada

On Friday when I came home there was a package in our mailbox. I saw that it had come for Brian and that it was from CBC. Nothing bad ever comes from CBC so I was excited to see what he had bought...I was not dissapointed:



And the indoctrination begins.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I Support Responsible Ribbon Use

There has been a lot of controversy in the city lately about ribbons in support of Canadian troops. A city alderman has proposed that all City of Calgary vehicles display the ribbon sticker as a sign of support. The city council voted down the motion saying that there were political connotations to the ribbon that went beyond merely supporting the troop and while they would allow individuals working for the city to sport the stickers if they wished they would not mandate it. I have seen a lot of those ribbons lately, some in yellow, some in camouflage and although I personally have never understood how putting a sticker on your car would support anyone, let alone a soldier on the other side of the world, I can understand why someone might want to feel like they are doing something.

Now here is where it gets weird. Among all the ribbons I have seen I have also seen a lot of these:



Some with baseball, some saying "I love Ringette" and others with different types of dog breeds written on them. When did this happen? When did a universally accepted sign of something very serious (whether it be wars or breast cancer) become just another sticker? Do these people not think that using the ribbon to support baseball, which is clearly not threatened or in need of financial help or support, is a little bit ..well, stupid?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Making Lemonade

It snowed today. Which in itself, being the ominous first day of snow and everything, is a sad thing. It is a foreshadowing of the cold, wet and grey days to come and the complete lack of flip-flops in my life. But...and there is a but. The first day of snow is also the day I go out and buy brand new pyjamas (aside: do you know that Americans spell this word "pajama"!? How grotesquely phonetic of them.)...usually flannel ones. So, as the snow falls, I can sit at my window, with a cup of tea and know that despite all the white harshness Mother Nature throws my way I will be protected in my warm, flannel force field.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gender Identity

So...our little boy? The one we have struggled to name (only to emerge from our house successful on Sunday afternoon) and bought clothes for and nicknamed Kanye? He's a girl.

We went for an ultrasound this morning for an echo cardiogram, part of the being pregnant with diabetes protocol. We knew the main reason for this appointment was not to ogle over our baby and count his fingers and toes but still, we were excited to "see" him. The technician asked, like they always do, whether we knew the sex or whether we wanted her to keep it a secret. "Oh yeah, we know" we said, "It's a boy." There was this awkward pause as the young girl looked at us, back at the image in front of us and then said, "Ummm, no, it's a girl." Honestly, I didn't really know what to say. we both said "What!?" a few times and insisted that she point it out and basically convince us of the anatomical evidence in front of us. She was absolutely positive it was girl and assumed that the last ultrasound was a bit too early to tell. "But you did tell us!" I said, "You said with 80 to 90% accuracy that it was a boy. You showed us his penis!" "I was wrong, it's definitely a girl."

I looked at Brian and he had this stunned expression on his face like he had just sat in something either very cold or very sticky. I started to laugh maniacally...clearly a crazy woman on the ultrasound table. Neither one of us could really snap our brains into place long enough for any of it to make immediate sense.

When I first found out that the baby was a boy I was upset (so you like I used that nice mild word to describe a totally insane reaction?) but I managed to get my head around it pretty quickly. It helped when I started buying little boy's clothes and thinking of little boy's names. I started to think of all the good things that come with a boy and I know that Brian started to do the same. Now, we're sort of back to square one. I am excited either way and really, a healthy baby is our first priority. It's funny how the human mind works though - even though it's completely silly, at some level I was sad because I felt like I'd lost my little boy.

So, there we have it. A girl. Maybe despite all of Brian's recent (and admittedly sexist) protests I will have a little Irish dancer after all.

Any suggestions for nicknames? No need to keep with the rapper theme but feel free.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Le Chateau Old and Delicious

Last night we went to La Chaumiere - it was sort of a surprise date for Brian who knew enough to know we were going somewhere and that he needed to wear a suit. I had never been there before but I knew it would be an authentic French experience when I called to make reservations and the man on the phone was quite rude.

The meal was fantastic. I had lobster bisque (cooked just behind me by a man with a French accent who obviously knew what he was doing)...it was divine. Brian had an avacado salad and then we had beef tenderloin (him) and duck (me - always with the duck) and Bri has chocolate mousse for dessert. I had the most perfect creme brulee I have ever cracked open. Creme Brulee is a finicky dessert but it's pure heaven when it's done right, and this one was.

The restaurant itself was unlike any restaurant Brian and I had ever been in. Mostly because we were the youngest people there by 30 years easily. It was like a very fancy French old folks home with killer food.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

You know what sucks?

I have been reading Ian McEwan's Atonement for several months now. I haven't taken that long with it because I wasn't enjoying it but because it's been my bath book. I only read it in the bath. As of late I have really started getting into it and it managed to find itself transported from the tub and next to the bed. Then Brian and I went to a movie and they showed the preview for the new Atonement movie. And ruined the entire damn story. The two young people that I was just starting to think might hook up? They fall in love and there is betrayal and lies and a war and family tragedy. End of story. I now have absolutely no desire whatsoever to finish the book. Out of the bath and into the toilet.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Minor Considerations

I promised myself I would not complain about any aspect of this pregnancy. Not after I wanted it so bad and tried for so long. So, please do not consider the following as complaints, merely detached observations made for the purpose of posterity:

1. I am so tired of feeling so tired. Every night I have to get up and pee at least once and the hours I do spend asleep are riddled with lucid, strange, tipsy dreams that invade my waking hours with a feeling of strangeness.

2. I am starting to feel a little bit like a hippo. Or maybe just like a warthog. When I bend over there is this impermeable lump between me and whatever it is I'm reaching for. I feel ungainly, fat and self-conscious.

3. I feel like my wardrobe is very limited and although I have been lucky enough to be the recipient of a maternity donation, I still feel like I'm wearing the same clothes everyday. Despite my earnest decree that I would stay cool while expecting, I still catch a glimpse of myself every once and awhile and I do not see cool - I see pregnant.

4. Every time I sneeze, I pee a little bit. And my underwear doesn't fit properly.

On the upside, my hair is freaking awesome lately. I don't have to do anything but wash it, go to sleep and in the morning, maybe run a comb through it.

And the world is in balance once again.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Thoughts in pairs...

I've been thinking about relationships a lot lately. About boyfriends and girlfriends, newly married couples and couples of who have been together so long that they have merged into a singularity of sorts. I've always sort of taken them for granted and never given the relationships of the people around me all that much thought. It sounds selfish but I guess a lot of people are mostly concerned about their own relationship and how they feel about it. If it's bad you worry about it and if it's good you lose yourself in it.

A few of the relationships in my life have become a little rocky as of late and I guess it has forced me to sit up and pay more attention to what is going on. I have friends who are working through an affair and have only been married a couple of years, I have a friend who has found a new love and is negotiating what their life together will look like, I know a couple with a brand new baby who are now trying to establish a new rhythm in their life, and I know people in marriages that do not fulfill them or nourish them and who have been pretending for most of their marriage that they are still in love. I know people who are most definitely in love and are fighting like hell to make sure it stays that way.

Relationships, no matter how perfect at first, have rough spots and are not always easy. There are also days where you feel like you could just hold that person and stay that way for the rest of your life...without food, or work, or money, surviving on that overwhelming feeling of oneness that can make you feel so full you could explode. And there are days where you are tired and you take the person for granted or even worse, are mean to them. It's a complicated dance and ideally, it lasts for a very long time. A conversation that you can't necessarily remember starting and hopefully will never really finish.

Love is not something that should exist on a back burner. It needs to be fed and recognized and fostered. I feel really lucky in my life that I have found someone who I love so much and who truly is my best friend. I also know, from watching the people around me, that things can change quickly and that if you leave it too long and things get cold it is not easy to warm them back up. I feel a sense of re-commitment as of late - a commitment to make sure my marriage and life is as good as I can make it, a determination to never let life take over living and a promise to myself and to my husband that I will never underestimate how important it is to be kind and good to the person you love.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Kanye...last name West

The baby kicked me! Four times...like he was beating on a drum. I was sitting in my Mum's kitchen in Okotoks, having a cup of tea when it happened. Thump. I just stopped because I knew right away what it was.

Wow.

Also, as a side note, we have decided to temporarily name the baby Kanye until we can find a real name. We thought it was funny. Apparently, so far, nobody else does. Let's hope Kanye inherits our sense of humour, otherwise this is going to be a very long 18 years.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Great Expectations



We went to our 18 week ultrasound today and I'm happy to say that everything looked healthy and exactly as it should. It's always a funny feeling to lie on the bed , looking up at the fancy monitor, and see this wriggling alien think looking back at you from behind your abdominal wall. It's actually really weird.

Originally I really didn't want to find out what sex the baby was because I thought it would be nice to keep it a surprise. Brian wanted to know because he thought it would help him get his head around the whole idea and so, after discussing it we decided to find out. And I'm so glad I did. So, do you want to know? Well, either way you;re probably going to find out if you read my blog, so here it goes....it's a BOY!!

Don't let the all-caps and exclamation points confuse you - that is not how I felt when I first found out. I went in there telling myself that no matter what is was, I just wanted it to be healthy. I was leaning towards a girl but I thought I would be fine either way. Or so I thought. As soon as the nurse told us it was a boy my heart dropped into my chest and I felt my eyes fill up with tears. I managed to hold it in until the technician left the room and then I started to cry. Maybe it was hormones, maybe it was some deep-seeded psychological desire to see myself in miniature but either way, I was crushed. I was surprised at the strength of my disappointment which of course, then led to guilt about how I was feeling. This was my baby! How could I feel this way!? More tears ensued, followed my an inner monologue, held in warp speed that went something like this:

It's a boy. Not, it can't be a boy...it's supposed to be a girl. I wanted to do its hair and name it after my Grandma. What if I never have a girl and every single video, diary, letter and song I've ever written with the intention of passing onto my daughter is wasted. A son won't care about how I felt when I was 16! Oh my god, a son! What do you do with a son? He's going to grow and I'll have spent my whole life trying to protect him only to receive a midnight phone call that he's been in an accident and was killed going 150 km/hour with his best friend on the roof rack! Calm down, calm down...think about your brothers. They weren't driving like maniacs with their friends on the roof - you were! How could you feel this way - you are a horrible person. Why don't you just wish him into a club foot while you're at it. Names - oh my god! You don't have any names! You have a ton of girl names and no boy names...this kid is going to end up like the Pheonix brothers and have to name themselves and end up as a Rainbow or Superman or worse, as a Warren! Why did you think it was a girl in the first place, you should know better than that. You know about genetics, you knew it was a fifty-fifty shot all along. And Brian, at least biologically, is the one who determined the sex anyway. That's right it's HIS fault! He wanted a boy and he got one. When do I get what I want!?!? Oh right, I wanted a baby, I guess this is what I want. See, look how selfish you are. A healthy, active baby and all you can think about is pink tights and hair ribbons. It's okay, it will be okay, you're going to love this baby more than anything in the whole world and by tomorrow you won't even mind it's a boy. Okay, maybe by next week. Definitely by the time it's born. This will all be okay. I can't believe it's a boy. And I'm going to be a MOM.

And I was right...I am okay with it and it only took a day or so. I bought a little blue sleeper last night and as I held it in my hands and put it away in what will soon become the baby's room I sat on the bed and allowed myself to imagine. A tiny baby, completely dependent on us for food, protection and love. A part of myself and a part of Brian, joined into a new person who I would get to know and watch grow and be there to cheer on. Who will call me (gulp) Mom and reach for me when he falls and who will go to school and draw me pictures and go on dates and borrow my car and I started to cry for an entirely different reason. This baby, whether it's a boy or a girl, will be a person and best of all, he will be our little person. And as I sat there looking at the booties and the sleepers and the mobile I fell head over heels in love, and I haven't even met him yet.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

There's a Disco Jive Superstar sleeping in the spare room!

Justin came to stay with us this weekend and I have to say that although it was pretty uneventful, I really enjoyed it. I knew I would, Justin is a very easy guy to be around and just sitting and talking with him is bound to both make you think and keep you entertained. We met up with Suzanne, an old friend from j-schoool (funny how j-school has been relegated to the "old" category even though I finished in 2004...so geographically distant and less relevant I suppose. The school that is, not the people.) I realized how much I missed sitting and talking with intelligent people about books and religion and current events. I've never been one to really get off on the whole mental masturbation thing but I appreciate a nimble mind and always feel enlightened and energized when I've had a particularly interesting conversation.

Justin makes me laugh in the best way possible. He is genuinely funny and I don't know that he even knows it. It's nice when people who you grow to really care about, through distance, time and internet connections, ends up being even better in real life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Vancouver...and assorted ramblings


Vancouver, as always, was wonderful. We ate every type of Asian food you can think of (best Korean food since Korea), walked until our bodies ached and managed to squeeze in the art gallery, the aquarium, Granville Island, Stanley Park and Robson Street into a handful of days. Not too shabby. We stayed with my Aunt and Uncle (who are two of the most relaxed, fun and wonderful people in the world) at their B&B. It's pretty neat to be able to fly to Vancouver and stay with great people in a beautiful place and put it all on the "family" tab.

While walking the many streets we walked this weekend, Brian and I got to talking about living in Vancouver. I'm pretty finished with Calgary, I have to be honest but I've been leaning towards Victoria as opposed to Vancouver. I love Vancouver - but I don't like the rain or the crazy house prices. Having said that, I was able to get my head around it this past weekend and it seemed like a more viable option that it has in the past. It wouldn't be for awhile either way but it's good to have plans in the back of your mind.

We told my Aunt and Uncle about baby and they were pretty excited. It's fun that our families are so into this because it makes it so much bigger than just us. Sure, we're going to be parents but my brothers will be first time Uncles, my parents first time Grandparents and this is the first baby of this generation in my whole extended family. It's pretty neat.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Anti-anti

Have you ever caught yourself having a thought that contrasted drastically with what you think you should think or with what you have thought about the same thought before? I realize that due to my horrible sentence structure, you might need an example:

I have always been a big believer in Canadian human rights. I think gay-bashers and anti-Semites and racist white supremacist groups, well, suck. I've thought that they pretty much have no right to breathe let alone spread their crap to other people and today, without any warning, I think I changed my mind.

I mean, they still suck. But I was listening to the CBC (that thing will make you think I tell you) and they had a lawyer on who makes his living defending the rights of these sucky people to say what they think in a public way. The counter argument to why they should not be allowed to do that is that we (as in the Canadian federation of peoples) must stop them before their rhetoric evolves/mutates into violence. Hmmm. That was sort of weak. And the whole thing started me thinking about the freedom of speech.

Even if the speech is appalling, it remains speech...or HTML depending on the specifics of the case. And speech shouldn't be silenced just because it's socially subversive. Now, it's not that I think any of these people are going to change the course of history or actually have anything convincing to say, but just imagine all the people who would have been muzzled over the last 100 years. Martin Luther King, Kevorkian, Malcolm X, Atheist groups, right to die advocates...Dave Rutherford. (One can only hope.) Who gets to determine what is hateful and what is not? What is socially acceptable and what needs to be hidden from the arena of social discourse.

The idea that advocating these beliefs is illegal because of human rights laws made me a little uncomfortable. (As uncomfortable as the recent proposal to ban smoking on film...Jesus, next thing you know, we'll be wearing knee highs and sharing a Thanksgiving turkey with the Indians.) At the same time, the ideas of these crazy people also make me uncomfortable...the question is, which one is most concerning? Do we truly have a democratic country if the social outliers do not have the liberty to say what they think?

In the end, I would rather hear a thousand stupid ideas voiced than witness a single valuable one silenced.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Operation Baby...target in sight

I'm pregnant! I'm actually going to be a Mom...still can't really get my head around the idea but I suppose I have plenty of time. Let's get the questions out of the way (in the order they have been most commonly asked):

1. Due March 1st but because I'm diabetic they'll definitely induce me early (or so they tell me) so we're looking at mid to late February.
2. We don't know what the sex is. Brian wants to find out but I don't so we have three weeks until our next ultrasound to fight it out.
3. Yes, we are incredibly excited.
4. Yes, it was hard to keep it a secret for so long. After having three previous miscarriages and the complicating factor of diabetes thrown into the mix we decided to not make anything public until we were 100% sure that this would be successful. After I passed 12 weeks and saw the ultrasound with the little heart beat and the baby kicking and jumping all over the place I knew this was very, very real.
5. We don't have any names yet. And we aren't really looking for suggestions.

So there we go. I really do think that the hardest part of this was not being able to write about it. I felt like a liar every time I signed into blogger and wrote about something that wasn't related to the animal growing in my abdomen. It was sort of all-consuming and to ignore it here seemed so wrong. Anyway, now we have it.

I was very nervous throughout and we found out very early (about 4-5 weeks) which meant we have a veeeerrrryyy long wait until we were in the clear. Every week felt like a month and since I was spotting throughout I honestly thought I was about to miscarry at least 3 or 4 times. It was a roller coaster of hopes and fear and disappointment and elation and I'm glad it's behind me. When we saw that 12 week ultrasound I kept it together long enough to thank the doctor and act like a normal person until we left the clinic. As soon as we were outside the sterile glass doors, I collapsed into Brian's arms and cried. I felt a sense of relief and wonder and like a thousand pound weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Inside, despite every week that passed, there was a part of me that never thought this would happen. But it did.

Here is a picture from that day:



Can you believe it!? Arms and a head and legs...all tiny and real and working? It truly is an amazing thing, and even if it happens a billion times a month across a million species, I still feel pretty lucky.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Overheard in the Cineplex Bathroom:

16 year old girl #1: "Did you know that you can buy recycled toilet paper now?
16 year old girl #2: "Ewwww!"
#1: "No, it's not like recycled toilet paper, it's made from recycled paper."
#2: Oh good, because I wouldn't want toilet paper that has already been on someone else's ass."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

World Premiere

We went to see Brian's celluloid debut this past weekend and although it was thrilling to know I might see his face splashed up next to Christian Bale's at any moment, it was a bit of a disappointment. If you're not familiar with Verner Herzog's work then it might be difficult to explain my reservations about the final product, but if you are? 'Nuff said. He's not my favourite writer or director and although I think he has great cinematic vision, he is still, at the end of the day, German in his approach to humour and dialogue. Brian had told me in Thailand when he came home from the set that the dialogue was poor but we had hoped that with a little bit of "hollywoodizing" it would come off better than what he had witnessed on set. It didn't. The story itself was Herzog's pet project and so the film was fairly low budget to begin with. The acting was good but like any Herzog film I've ever seen (with Grizzly Man being the best/worst example) this film was always just a little bit off. The character development was inconsistent and incomplete and I didn't understand the motivations of the main characters let alone the minor ones and I left feeling extremely frustrated that many of their stories were left untold. For all I know they could still be living in the jungle.

Brian didn't really make the cut although you could make him out if you knew where to look. And I saw the back of his head loom large at one point.

I'm glad I went though and at the end of the day I can't lose sight that the reason we did was to see Bri's movie and to remember what a kick it was for him to be in Thailand on the set of a Hollywood movie, no matter how weird it turned out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

LinkedIn

Golf. Who knew that it could be so fun? It's always been Brian's thing and although I had flirted with it I had never actually played a round - until this weekend. And now? Now I am thinking about it all the time and plotting when I can get on a course again. I'm a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed playing this weekend in Athabasca and thankful to Brian and the Calder's who took me out for the first time...I wonder if they know what they've started?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Travel Alberta


We're back from our mini-vacation in Southern Alberta. When Brian and I first decided to stay close to home for this years' holiday I was a little bit disappointed that we wouldn't be going somewhere new and exciting. I have to say though that I had a fantastic time. We relaxed, ate good food, talked a lot, laughed a lot, slept a lot and had wonderful weather. We camped in Waterton, fished, saw lots of wildlife and I got a chance to pursue the greatest of all summer activities - skinny dipping in a mountain lake. Pure bliss.

It was nice to have no real schedule and no place we had to be. It was just Brian and I and whatever we chose to do. I needed the break and the time with my hubby and I got both.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sicko

Last night Brian and I went to see Sicko, Michael Moore's new movie. Now, as much as I agree with Moore's political leanings, I am not really his biggest fan in a theatrical sense. I think if he could tone it down just a tad and make less obviously leftist statements like calling Hillary Clinton "smart, sassy and sexy" he'd have a larger influence on his audience and probably on his country. That having been said, I am always very impressed with the amount of research that goes into his films. He must go through thousands of hours of tape to find just the right moment on C-Span when some congressman makes exactly the comment Moore needs to sew up his case. It's got to be pretty boring work.

Sicko didn't teach me anything about the state of American health care...I already knew it was pretty bad. Most Canadians, no matter from which end of the spectrum they adhere, will usually defend socialized medicine to the hilt. We are very attached to our health care system, despite all the complaining we do about it. I did learn a lot about European health care though and seeing how Europe and even Cuba do things made America's approach seems even more backwards and regressive. I have spoken with many friends from the States who have had bad experiences with health care and I've noticed that often, they don't even know that they're bad experiences. It's just life. Not being able to afford to have a baby? Like, literally not being able to afford to pay the hospital to keep you while you give birth? Not normal. Not good health care. Having to beg and plead and write a million and one documents to get insurance coverage for your obviously injured back? Not good health care. It's frustrating to me that Americans don't demand more. The country was built on forward-thinking, (for the most part) revolutionary ideas and it seems to have come to a grinding halt as of late. A French woman in the movie last night made a comment that I found very interesting and insightful, "In France, the government is afraid of the people, in America, the people are afraid of the government." How did things get that way? In America, the government and the people are supposed to be one in the same. Instead you have huge multi-nationals and lobby groups essentially dictating to the masses, and they don't even know it! It's beyond frustrating, it's sad.

I hope a lot of people see this movie and that it makes them think. Not that France, or Canada have it all figured out but that there is a better way, a way to make sure that everyone has equal access to health care and that the people who will benefit will be them, instead of the government. Does it come down to a fundamental disagreement about whose job it is to take care of the less fortunate? Americans are generous and kind...how they can they also leave their most vulnerable without basic necessities?

I'm glad Michael Moore is making the movies he does. I just wish the people who were watching them were the people who need to, rather than those who already know there's a problem.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bret Hart

Yesterday I spent the day with Bret "The Hitman" Hart. It was my first PR gig and I was responsible for working with his publicist, writing intros and speaking notes and then escorting him around for the day while he acted as our guest speaker for the Foundation golf tournament. While I enjoyed the work I would be lying if I sad I was really expecting much from him. He's a wrestler and I know nothing about wrestling. I didn't think he would be b=very interesting to talk to and I was approaching it as an event I just needed to get through before I could go on vacation. Once again, Caroline re-learns one of life's basic lessons; Don't judge a book by its cover. (Another basic lesson which I apparently have not yet learned? Don't cut your own bangs. Not ever.)

Most of you will have heard all about the Benoit tragedy by now and when I first learned of it I was concerned that Bret wouldn't be able to attend our event. He and Benoit were very close and he was being hounded by media from across Canada and the U. But he still showed which I thought was a testament to the kind of person he is. He was obviously devastated but he came and he spoke about his own experience with stroke and he did an incredible job. I found him articulate, bright, interesting and above all, kind and gentle. He wasn't gruff like I thought he would be and he was a pleasure to meet and spend time with. (On a side note I got to be his publicist when Global National showed up with a live satellite feed with Kevin Newman and I managed the interview which was pretty good experience for me...)

I don't feel like I run around judging people on their appearance, their career or their status in life but I guess there is also always some room to learn that maybe you do it more than you think. I'll also try to refrain from judging wrestling fans from now on...because I sort of just became one. :)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Update on Project: Tell It Like It is

I haven't forgotten about my Project emails and I don't want anyone to think that they're not coming. They are. They are just a little slower than I first anticipated.

I have been writing them for a week now and my plan is get them all done and send them out en masse. It's harder than I thought it would be. I want to give each person an earnest evaluation and don't want to write some pat email about how nice they are and how they are good at sharing. Its been hard to sit and really think about each person in my life and not let me emotions get too out of control and in the way of a fair analysis. I feel, so far, like this is a very valuable exercise...to sit down and really think about each person and what they have brought to my life. It's humbling in a way and it makes me feel very lucky.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Another Cliche Gets a Makeover...

I did a post about this a few weeks ago but just discovered two more dandies that I had to mention:

1. My friend the IT guy says he must hear "Silicone Valley" used more often than the original and more accurate Silicon Valley. I think Silicone Valley is a little more South.

2. Just read on a blog:
"Ugh, I hate how I look...my skin is just so pastry white."
(Maybe white like apple pie? Or an ├ęclair?)

Love it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

PROJECT: Tell It Like It Is (or at least how I think it is...)

Here it is folks, the launch of my very first project. Well, my first public project anyway...I've been working on getting into the splits but nobody needs to be privy to those kinds of agonizing contortions.

Here is the premise: I am a big believer in letting the people in your life know that they are valued and why. Life is too short for anyone to wonder if they are appreciated. Most people don't really do this and although I've always made a point of trying I am sure there are many people who might be surprised to hear how I feel. So, I'm going to tell you...each and every one of you.

Here is how it will work: In the next week or so I will be sending out Project emails so that you know you've been included in the project. (If for some reason you don't get one and you feel like you should be included...let me know.) Don't worry, this will be a positive experience ...except for a certain person who lives in Sudbury. (But I probably won't email her because, what's the point?) Anyway, I have no idea how long this will take so I ask that you bear with me. (You could also bare with me I suppose but that might be a little awkward.) I currently have a list of over 50 people including such web-icons (Hah, get it? Web? Icon?) as Heather Armstrong as well as friends, family, work colleagues, politicians and a whole bunch of people at CBC radio.

Now, I am not naive enough to think that everyone will actually care what I think. But that's okay. I will have told them and that's the point. I should mention too that any responses I receive might end up on this blog...so consider yourself forewarned.

And we're off!

Monday, June 11, 2007

My New T-Shirt

...courtesy of dyoapparel. Note the small syringe on the back. Awesome.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Small but Simple Ways to Improve the World...

Following is a list of things I swear to you, my readers, that I will never do:

1. I will never spit out of my car window. Not unless a bee flies in my mouth or I happen to drive past the guy responsible for breeding the first miniature-poodle.
2. I will never insist I can sing, even though it's painfully obvious I can't, and then audition for some idol television show. If I audition it will be because I know damn well I cannot sing.
3. I won't pick a hairstyle and then use it everyday for the rest of my life. My hair will grow and change with the times.
4. I won't ever put on makeup while driving my car.
5. If I have kids I will never put them on a leash. Unless it's very long and tied to the front of a sled.
6. I won't blame other people if I never make something of myself.
7. I won't become morbidly (or even cheerfully) obese.
8. I will do my damnedest to never make an elderly person feel unwanted, bothersome or unimportant. Unless that elderly person is a Bush.
9. I will never reject new technology (or music, or fashion trends) simply because it is new. One armed blouses aren't new and they have always been stupid.
10. I won't ever let my blog just die without saying good-bye. Unless I myself die suddenly.

Okay, that's it for now. Now it's your turn? What do you promise to never do?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Fender Bender Leaves Calgary Couple Jaded and Bent

Special Report
Karoline Nox - Reporter

A minor fender bender left a Calgary couple late for work and feeling shaken up, Monday morning. While traveling south bound on 14th Street NW, the couple, who were driving a white VW Passat were rear-ended by a white 1990 Dodge Colt. "I saw her coming in my rear-view mirror, " says the driver of the Passat, Caroline Knox, 29. "She wasn't even looking, she just seemed to be digging around in the car and never looked up. I braced for the impact...it was pretty hard." Shaken and annoyed by the avoidable collision Knox and her husband, Brian West, 31, who was sitting in the passenger side pulled over to avoid another accident. "I told her (Knox) to call 9-1-1 because there was fluid and glass all over the road" said West, "When I looked over she was calling 9-1-1 and then, the next thing I knew, she was on the phone with CBC's traffic reporter, giving them them all the details of the accident. She really loves CBC radio."

The other occupant of the car, who was still wearing her gigantic sun hat after exiting her car, was slightly injured by her seat belt but was otherwise unharmed. "My foot slipped and I hit the gas instead of the brake" said the woman, who refused to give her name, "It was an accident." "Yah right." said Knox, while rolling her eyes.

Firetrucks and police arrived at the scene but took longer than Knox or West expected, "I have four job interviews today." said West, who looked dashing in his navy blue pinstriped suit. The fireman were quick to clean up the glass and were very attractive and well-bronzed from their daily workouts. Knox commented on the excellent service they received at the scene, "One of the hot ones asked me if I needed an ambulance. Mouth-to-mouth I might have accepted, but an ambulance? Not necessary."

Damage estimates for the Passat sit at $4,000 while the Dodge Colt was totaled and needed to be towed from the scene. Police issued a ticket for careless driving to the occupant of the Colt. "I knew her foot didn't slip, " said Knox, "Do they hand out tickets for retarded driving too?"

Approximately 45 minutes after the initial collision, both Knox and West were able to leave the scene. While both occupants sustained minor injuries, Knox seemed the worst off and was unable to attend work for several days after the incident, "Whiplash is a bitch," said Knox, "I could hardly even move. But I'm okay...nothing too serious." "I'm just happy that we're both okay, " said West, who appeared to be the more rational of the two, "It makes you realize how quickly things can go wrong." "Especially when you're a moron driving a car." added Knox.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Warbled Gords

I don't know what you would call these misused words but they're pretty funny and increasingly common:

On a personal blog:
"I didn't want him to think I took him for granite..."
(Or concrete or heaven forbid, even brick...)

In a THIS Magazine story:
"And it's healthy - hemp seed is a high source of protein and contains essential fatty assets."
(Fatty assets? Is that what happens when saddle-bags meets money bag?)

In a conversation yesterday...repeatedly used by everyone at the table except me:
"If money were no option...""If I could go anywhere and money were no option I would go to Tuscany."
(Really? If money were no object I would send you back to high school English.)

And the one I hear literally everyday at work:
"The idea just needs to be flushed out..." "Good point Caroline, can you flush it out for us a little bit?"
(I can flesh it out if you would prefer. Or hey, even better, I could get another job.)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

This Morning

Oprah would call it a "lightbulb" moment, Dr.Phil an "Aha!" experience. To me, it was a gentle reminder of a lesson I've learned but had forgotten.

This morning it snowed. A lot. I looked out the window and my heart sank. All my beautiful flowers planted (prematurely, I'll admit) in the front garden were covered in 10cm of thick, heavy snow. And I had slept in. I rushed around the house, dragging out the sweaters I packed away two weeks ago and packed a lunch. I was feeling irritable and stressed and annoyed...at nothing and at everything.

Brian was driving me to work today and so he headed outside to brush off the car while I finished putting my lunch together. I went to the door to put on my shoes and saw him across the street. "What the hell is he doing over there?" I thought, "Doesn't he know I'm late!" I felt grumpy and a little annoyed that he wasn't doing what needed to be done so I could get to work on time.

Brian was across the street talking to the old woman whose townhouse faces ours. When I saw him take the broom out of her hand and proceed to brush all the snow from her sidewalk, I stopped and watched. She stood there looking old and frail and happy as he cleared the snow and then beat the broom against the tall tree in her front yard, releasing it from the weight of the heavy snow. A big branch had already fallen from the tree and he picked that up too and took it away to the dumpster.

As I stood there on this January/May day I not only fell in love with Brian all over again, I realized how quickly and easily we fall into selfish behaviour. I wasn't late for work this morning, I still had my coffee and a little old lady has a renewed sense of community and a back that doesn't hurt.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Office

I've been working at my job now for 15 months. In my time here I have helped write the organizations first research brochure, become the web editor for the province, taken on the duty of provincial photographer, developed and maintained relationships with key researchers, organized media interviews, organized parties, team building lunches, chili cook-offs, brought the writing standards up by several notches, remained positive and optimistic in the face of major organizational upheavals and staffing changes, never made a spelling mistake, kept my boss organized and informed of what was going on, where we were meeting and why, given valuable input on strategy, come up with unique and creative marketing strategies and I have been undervalued and overlooked and drastically underestimated...and all for far less money than I should be making given my performance, capability, education and the job market I am working in.

But today made it all worth while. Today, as a reward, I was given a cubicle near the window.

So when I finally decide to jump I won't have to run as far.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Life in a Revolving Restaurant...

This past weekend we went to Edmonton for my Dad's surprise party. He's been staying up and working on the house for the past few weeks and I was really missing him. His birthday actually isn't until June but since my brothers and their ladies are all headed off for various countries very soon, we decided to celebrate a little early. Dad had no idea what was coming. As far as he knew, he was going for a nice dinner with Mum and Craig and Bobbi and when he showed up there were 15 other people there. My Aunt and Uncle and cousins, some of our oldest and dearest family friends, my other brother and his girlfriend and of course, Brian and I. The look on his face when he saw us was pure magic.

I have found over the past few years that how I look at my parents has really changed. When I was younger they were "Mum and Dad" - older, wiser, funny but at the end of the day, my parents. Now that I am an adult I see them as more than just my parents. I see them as complete individuals, as a couple but also independent of each other. I recognize myself in them and I see their lives with greater clarity and a sense of recognition. I am able to see myself in them in a way I never could before. This has been a wonderful gift for me and I feel like I have a far deeper understanding of how they must have felt at different points along their life, because I have experienced a lot of the same things in my life now. With this greater connection also comes a greater understanding of pain and how difficult and complicated life can be. I see them struggle with growing older and know that I will have the same struggle. I see them making adjustments as they move to a new stage of their life and I watch and learn.

My Dad really is an amazing man. I watched him on Saturday night as he went to every single person in the room and made them feel valued and special. He had kind words for each person and they were personal and genuine. He has an energy that lights up a room and makes every one in it feel like they are the most important person there. He has a vulnerability that he does not try to hide and it makes people feel like they can be vulnerable too...like they can just relax and be who they are. I was so happy to see him there surrounded by people who love him and respect him and I hope he knew, at that moment, how truly loved he is.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

In Defense of the Indefenceable

Damn Facebook.

I feel like my web-based life has become completely one-dimensional. I recently bought a domain with the full intention of building an entire site. It sits idle and ugly (two very bad things to be if you can help it). I haven't blogged since our Mr. Vonnegut's demise and although I'd like to flub that off as self-imposed mourning time, it wasn't. I was buried neck-deep in Facebook.

I often feel the need to defend this new kid on the block because its increasing popularity and subsequent vulnerability to naysayers. I've heard things about how people just add friends to make themselves look popular (So? Maybe I really do have 159 close, personal friends - did you ever think of that!?) and that it is a total time-sucker and well, that's true. But so is breathing and nobody complains about that.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. 1922-2007


Kurt Vonnegut has died and I don't know what I'm more surprised about; the fact that he lived as long as he did or the deep sense of loss and sadness I feel.

Kurt Vonnegut was my favourite writer and has been since I first read Cat's Cradle in 1995. I think what impressed me most at that young age was how witty and completely irreverent he was. He had opinions that were flagrantly anti-social but he came across as insightful and wise instead of cranky and ill-adjusted. I wanted to be him.

His writing was sharp and edgy and extremely demanding. He was obviously intelligent and subtly sad and I sometimes felt frustrated on his behalf. To have witnessed the war, to feel a natural connection with all mankind and to communicate it so vividly and then...to be ignored. Never as a writer, but as a social critic. The people who listened already knew. How angry he must have been at times. Him and Noam Chomsky would have had a lot to say over beers.

Kurt was on my list of things to do before I died. I wanted to meet him. I have written him several letters over the years and sent none of them. They were never good enough, never worthy of being read by him. Did I learn a lesson now that he's gone and I'll never meet him or even have the chance to thank him? You bet I did.

I feel like the world has lost an important voice. A hysterically prodding and achingly accurate, in your face, peace-loving and at times, desperate, voice. I feel like I've lost a very good friend and the only thing that brings me comfort is that I knew him at all.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Breathing...

Throughout my life I've often felt a little culturally disconnected - I always wanted to be able to identify myself as one thing or another and never really could. My parents grew up in Africa but my mother's roots are Scottish. My father is South African but his parents were originally from Scotland and the Isle of Man. Then they moved to Canada and I grew up in Alberta. I took Scottish dancing when I was young and identified strongly with Scotland through my Grandma and the time I spent there. But I always felt like a bit of a fake. I grew up eating South African food and hearing African stories and visited there many times as a child and then as an adult. Africa is in my blood and I feel a love for South Africa that runs deep and makes no rational sense. There have been times where I think I should move there and live the life that is rightfully mine and fight with the Africans to reclaim a country of power and beauty and justice. But I'd get killed doing it and I have to face the fact that I don't belong. At the end of the day I'm a Canadian. There is nothing wrong with being a Canadian, in fact it's wonderful. But sometimes I feel envious of people who wear their ethnic clothes and eat their food and know, without a doubt, where they come from and who they are.

Last night we went to see the Soweto Gospel Choir, more for the Soweto aspect than for the Gospel. They were everything I expected and more - colourful, vibrant and achingly beautiful. Their voices, singing in Zulu, Xhosa and some English told the story of South Africa and the struggles of the blacks. They were songs and sounds that are familiar to me because I have heard them being sung by many Africans in Africa. I felt like such an outsider watching them dance and sing and I ached to feel a part of it. I watched my Mum and Dad who were sitting next to me and I imagined they must have felt some similar feelings - Africa is their homeland, the place where they grew up and yet, white people are depicted often as Africa's conquerors and tyrants. It makes me sad to think that my parents might feel as isolated and uprooted as I sometimes do.

I did a lot of thinking while listening to the choir - about people and communities and how we work better as a group than as individuals. I thought about Africa and the future of that continent and how many horrible things it has experienced. I thought about white people and how rigid and pursed we often are. I thought about life and what connects me to the people who are living on the same planet at the same time as me and for a fleeting moment that feeling of disconnect disappeared. For one beautiful second I felt a sense of communion with every person on that stage, in that room and on this earth. It was good.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Soaking Wet

Some days you just need something good to happen. A lot of times it doesn't and you just sort of make do with the day-to-day niceties that can be amplified into day-improving events with a vivid imagination. Today I didn't need to rely on such hyperbole, I had a good thing happen right out of the blue.

I dropped Brian off at Rona this morning because he is working on his first job of the fencing season. (It starts.) The day was more white than gray and my heart was more gray than light so I did what any self-respecting semi-sad woman would do; I headed to the shoe store. I walked right past the regularly priced shoes and directly to the clearance section (where the shoes don't fit but the prices do) where I proceeded to man handle the 12 pairs of affordable shoes available to me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw two young girls staring at me. I sort of smiled their way and went back to a particularly ugly pair of purple pumps. "It's your lucky day!" the two girls started screaming. "We're going to spend $100 on you!" The next thing I knew, radio station pamphlets were being shoved into my hands, the purple pumps were dropped to the floor and I was being dragged around the store by two pretty and very excited promotions girls. I bought shoes I would never have really even looked at. I bought Sketchers. Sketchers that weren't even on sale. By the end of the hour I had three new pairs of shoes and all I paid was $30.

It was a cloudy day...but it was raining shoes.

Monday, March 19, 2007

What TV is good at...

Last night Brian and I did CBC's Test the Nation. It was a two-hour long television special - essentially an IQ test for the whole country. It was awesome. I've never been a huge fan of TV. I like the medium and I love its potential but I find that it is largely wasted. I enjoy the brain-softening escapes from reality as much as the next person but I feel like its usually all the box has to offer. Last night made me feel excited about TV again. It was interactive, it was smart, hip and fun. It paired the internet with the TV special so that people could take the test either online or along with the people in the studio. I don't know who dreamed that concept up but I hope it catches on because I sat in front of the TV for two hours and I left feeling smarter, not dumber.

Monday, March 12, 2007

In sickness and in health...

It's easy to take things for granted when there is so much to take for granted. It's easy to stop thanking people or for the beauties of everyday life to become nothing but the backdrop. When things don't end up the way you want or you get thrown a curve-ball it's easy to miss how lucky you still are.

I've always prided myself on being able to find good in everyone and everything. It's a trait I learned/inherited from my Grandma. Bombs could be falling all around her and she would remark on the blueness of the sky. She didn't have an easy life but her attitude helped to make it a good one.

Throughout this diabetes thing there have been fleeting moments of self pity and of anger. The unfairness of it all and the incense that it could be me. Then I think of the people in the world who are born in abject poverty or who have had far, far worse things happen to them and I feel sheepish.

The one thing I have come to appreciate even more than I already did is the Canadian health care system. You hear people complaining about it (which confirms my ever-strengthening theory that Canadians love to complain - it's part of our self-deprecating psyches) but when you need it, it just swoops in there like a net. I have seen doctors, dietitians and nurses and I have seen them within weeks of my diagnosis and hours at a time. There is a whole clinic set up in Calgary just for diabetic women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. They set up lab tests, ultrasounds and specialist appointments with warmth, speed and efficiency. And it doesn't cost a thing. I feel like I have had better care than I probably would anywhere else in the world and I draw real comfort from that knowledge that it isn't in any way related to my race or income. It feels good to know that any woman who found herself in this position would receive good care. Because after all, those who cannot pay for it usually need it most.

It's not perfect and like anything in life, our health-care system could use some improvements. It could also use some of our gratitude.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Odds

The needles aren't that bad. They are very tiny and since the injections just go under the skin I don't have to bother with finding a vein or anything. In fact, it's more like playing a game of darts on my own tummy. Huck it and hope it sticks.

The math involved with calculating how many grams of carbohydrates I'm about to eat and then from that figuring out how many units of insulin are required to cover said grams is a little more complicated. This is one of life's little ironies - I'm horrible at math and have done my best to avoid it and now my life depends on my ability to cross-multiply. Nice. Next thing you know I'll be held hostage by a crazed-gunman who will shoot me in the head if I can't name the last ten Stanley Cup winners.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Parasailing...

I realize it's a bit on the long side...didn't know how to edit it down.

Monday, March 05, 2007

On pins and needles...

I'm going to my appointment today for my insulin start. I'm scared and I don't even know why. It's not just the needles or the regimen that the needles will require. It's the reality of it all. The idea that this is real, and serious and permanent. And it's the needles.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

!Hola! Amigos...



We're back from Mexico!
I can't even begin to describe what a great time we had in Puerto Vallarta. The weather was hot (28-30 degrees) and sunny everyday and our resort was perfection. We laid by the pool, drank pina coladas, swam and relaxed every day. I can't remember the last time I felt so relaxed and chilled. The food was great and there was something really calming about being able to wake up, eat, nap and go to bed whenever you felt like it. No alarm clocks or rules. The old Caroline emerged from her cocoon of urban stress and I don't know who appreciated it more, me or Brian. :-)

We managed to strike a good balance between doing things and well, not doing anything. We walked around the old town and went on a pub crawl one night. I danced my little tooshie off at all the big clubs in PV - it was a blast. We went para-sailing which was incredible. It was a bit scary at first but as soon as you're up high and looking out over the water it was peaceful, calm and beautiful. My only wish is that we could have done it together. Brian went sea kayaking, we went boogie boarding and we met some really cool people.

On Friday night we celebrated our 2nd anniversary. Some days I can't believe how quickly the time has gone and at the same time I can't really remember a time before Brian. It feels like he has always been there. We walked along the ocean from our resort into town and we held hands and talked about life, relationships and our future. We ate dinner at a small little restaurant overlooking the malecon (basically the boardwalk) and the ocean and drank wine as we listened to the Mexican band in the background. The people were nice and I couldn't have asked for a more romantic, special place to spend our anniversary. I loved having Brian all to myself and being able to spend so much time with him...it was perfect.

We fell in love with Mexico and with the Mexican people. Every one of them was nicer than the next. I liked the pace, loved the food and felt safe and welcome every where we went. More importantly, and this isn't something I ever thought was really possible, I fell even more in love with Brian.