Friday, March 30, 2007


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


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


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.