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19 posts from November 2007

November 30, 2007

Diabetes Videos: Good, Bad, Ugly

Okay, to finish up National Diabetes Awareness Month, here are two videos from YouTube:

This first one, which you don't need to watch more than a few seconds of to get the idea, reveals that only white kids get diabetes, and tries to make you feel sorry for the precious souls. The beeyotch who made it doesn't seem to get that "no one deserves this" isn't really an argument, and that diabetes research should be funded not just because cute, fluffy, white kids get it.

This second one is from a cool series called Cooking Up A Story:

Stories about real people and their special connections to food and sustainable living.

No on-air talent, no scripted programming, and no studio environments, just authentic stories filmed in native surroundings.

And, it features a hapa kid with diabetes! Yay hapa diabetics! He's cute, too, although no particularly fine point is put on that. Rather than trying to make you feel sorry for the poor cutie, the video just shows you the rollercoaster of blood sugar values that is a typical diabetic kid's day.

Note here: this is a not-so-good example of what life is like on the pump. The kid's BGs (blood glucose values) are really terrible and he can't seem to stay on top of them. This might just be a bad day for him. Or it might just be that he's a kid; kid's don't always handle diabetes that well. It's complicated and relentless.

Come to think of it, that right there is a much better argument for donation funds to diabetes research. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is the typical place to do it, although their slogan about "saving childhoods" makes me gag. My childhood was technically more complicated than everyone else's, but it was still a childhood.

November 29, 2007

Why I Am Going on the Insulin Pump

Bakc when I first got diagnosed with diabetes---and this is twenty-five years ago now---I took two injections with a syringe a day, at the same time every day, got up at the same time every day, peed into a plastic tub and tested it at the same time every day, wrote that down, ate the same amount of food at the same times every day, went to bed ... yeah, you get the picture.

Back then, there were no home blood testing kits, so we had to check urine, which could tell you what your blood sugar levels were an hour or two ago, but not right that second. So I wrote down my urine test results (about five a day) and took them to the doctor every three months, who looked at the overall picture of when my blood sugar was high and when low, and adjusted my 24-hour-7-days-a-week schedule to try to even it out more. Sometimes I'd have to take more, or less, insulin for a few months, or take it at a slightly different time.

If my blood sugar went up back then, I just had to wait for it to come back down. If it didn't, eventually I'd have to call the doctor.

Nowadays, this type of treatment is mostly not used anymore, because it's so inflexible, and wears on the body. The goal is to get your treatment to mirror a healthy body's self-regulation as much as possible. So you test your blood sugar throughout the day to see where you are, and you "correct" your blood sugar values by taking insulin if it's too high, or taking sugar if it's too low. There's a science to it: a certain number of units of insulin will manage a certain value of milligrams per deciliter (I think) of sugar in your bloodstream; and a certain amount of sugar will bring your low bloodsugar level (mg/Dl) back up a certain number of points.

There's an art to it, too. If you've exercised, your insulin will be more effective so you'll want to take less. If you're sick, or PMSing, or just tired, or even just stressed out, your insulin might be less effective so you'll have to take more. The kinds of foods you eat affect how much insulin you'll need to take and whether you want to take it all right away; with some complex carbs it's better (for me) to take some insulin before the meal and some after, because it takes the body so long to digest the food.

Point is, you control the whole thing yourself now, not your doctor.

This is now possible because: a) we can test our blood sugar and know where it is right this second, and b) we now have artificial insulins that can work much faster than the more naturally produced insulins I used to have to take. When I was first diagnosed, I took cow insulin. Those allergic to cow took pig insulin. You can probably imagine how much this did NOT mirror a healthy body's self-regulation. It wasn't until my college years that human insulin could be reproduced. A few years later they came out with Humalog, a human analog product that starts working much faster.

So the treatment I'm on now, and have been on for far too long, involves taking a basal insulin, a long-acting type of insulin that releases in my body over the course of 24 hours so that I always have insulin working, and then taking bolus insulin, a short acting type of insulin that responds immediately, so that I can take it right before I eat, or when I've discovered that my blood sugar is too high. The bolus I take with a pen, which is an injection device that looks and works a lot like a pen, only with a syringe cap instead of a nib, and an insulin instead of an ink cartridge. You can carry this around easily and shoot up in front of other people without them noticing half the time.

But the treatment is still vulnerable to human error ... or in my case, human laziness. If you don't FEEL like getting up to go take a blood test or take your shot, then sometimes you don't. Or sometimes you just get it wrong.

The pump takes a lot of that error away. Like the body, the pump's basal insulin output is done with the same sort of short-acting insulin that the bolus output is made with. But the pump gives you a little basal insulin every hour or half hour. You program it to give you the right amounts. Then, when you eat, you type in a bolus and it gives it to you right away.

It's a little hard to understand why this is better without knowing all the ins and outs of diabetic treatments, and I'm not gonna bore you further. Suffice it to say: it's a LOT better because it gives you more control.

The rub? You have to wear a hypodermic tube at all times so that the insulin gets delivered into your body. I could have gotten a pump ten or twelve years ago, but it's taken me this long to get over the psychological block against wearing a disease machine sticking out of my body. I'm over it now, but it's still pretty trippy.

Anyway, I'm set to get a pump before the year is out. We'll see how it works out.

November 26, 2007

An Admission

I am not ready to commit to a blog post at this time.

November 22, 2007

In Prague

I'm in Prague, for the umpteenth time. Happy Thanksgiving all!

I've done all the usual touristy things. Any suggestions?

November 19, 2007

Jennifer Beals at GLAAD awards

Jennifer Beals is way too awesome.


This is so wrong in so many ways, but at the same time, it just feels harmless, you know? It made me laugh.

You know how some things---films, tv, books---just have this negative power that drives you to comment on how horrible it is in your blog ... and some things just don't have that power at all? Usually, the power-free things are just sad. But this one isn't even sad! It's happy! And silly! And wrong!

I dunno, maybe I'm becoming post-race.

Oh, well, no not quite:

  1. The black dude is wearing a pendant chain

  2. The Indian dude has a headfeather and arrow

  3. The Arab dude has a beard and a turban

  4. The white dude has a beret and a baguette, I guess 'cause being white isn't hint enough

  5. The Asian dude appears to be the only woman

  6. It's a biracial isle with five distinct monoraces.

  7. Contrary to my expectations, the Asian dudette didn't fuck each of the guys and produce biracial offspring of every intermediate hue. This was my biggest disappointment. That would have made this filim.

But who am I to argh with a racial cornucopia of joy?

November 18, 2007


If you're the noticing kind, you'll notice that I took my categorized, annotated blogroll down because it was out of date and already too long.

I'm going to be revamping. It will probably still be categorized. It will probably no longer be annotated. Please consider this an opportunity to send me a link to add to my blogroll. Do it in the comments to this post, or send it to my email address, which you can access in my about page.


  1. My friends' and family members' blogs and websites. Please send!

  2. Blogs on topics of interest to me on this particular blog. This means that if you are not a regular reader of this blog, don't presume to know what would interest me.

  3. Blogs of organizations I have had something to do with, or organizations I would be interested in based on the regular content of this blog. This means that if you are not a regular reader of this blog, don't presume to know what would interest me.


  1. Random personal blogs of people I don't know. I might not remember that I know you, so please remind me of how I know you ;).

  2. Corporate blogs of any kind.

  3. Blogs of organizations I don't know that don't have anything to do with my interests.

  4. Anything commercial.

  5. Any kind of randomness.

Seriously now, DO NOT SPAM ME! I will TAKE STEPS!

Chronic Disease and Doctor Phobia

Despite the grand title for this post, I've done no research and have not even anecdotal evidence to support my assertion that chronic disease will give you doctor phobia.

No, not everybody. But seriously, think about it. The reason that most people aren't afraid of doctors or don't hate them might be that most people, most of the time, for most of their lives, are fairly healthy. Or, if they're not, their poor health is a result of lifestyle, and manifests in frequent bouts with colds and flus and things of that sort, i.e. not doctor-ready disease. So most people just plain don't see doctors very often, very long, or very intensively.

People with chronic disease associate doctors with bad things: the time you got so sick you almost died and went to the doc/hospital and they told you you had a disease which would constantly threaten, and in the long run shorten, and on a daily basis completely alter your life. And thereafter, going to an office to get frequent updates of bad news.

And this is the best case scenario. I mean, this is what happens when you have good doctors. When you have bad doctors, you can add to the above:

  1. The time/s something really bad happened that didn't seem to have anything to do with your disease and your doctor blew it off and you ended up in the hospital, and it was a fellow chronic disease patient who explained to you what was wrong.

  2. The time something really bad happened that DID have to do with your disease, and you ran around the doc's office/laboratory/hospital, freaking out and telling everyone what was happening to you and what you needed and nobody would listen to you or give it to you until you'd had a meltdown/seizure/fainting fit.

  3. The time you were in shock, a condition which is a common side effect of your treatment, and your doctor let you walk out of his office into traffic because he didn't like how you were behaving.

  4. The time/s your doctor didn't know something that you did know, but wouldn't admit it and made you feel like an idiot, even though you KNEW you were right and an article came out years later that proved you right.

  5. The times you went to your disease doctor for common problems and s/he told you s/he wasn't a primary care physician, so you asked for a referral and they wouldn't give you one, then you picked one out of the phone book and they were so clueless about how your chronic disease behaved with common problems that you (see a theme developing here?) ended up in the hospital.

  6. The time/s you started with a new doc and during the intake interview the doc came up against the fact that your symptoms are atypical, so s/he just plain wrote down what s/he expected your symptoms to be, rather than what you had just told them they were, and you only found out later when you got the ten-page DMV form back from them that they had to fill out for you to get your drivers license, that they had sold you out to the DMV for the typical, and more dangerous, symptoms that you didn't have.

Yes, all of these have happened to me.

And, on top of all of this, I had the ultimate bad experience: during a common, out-patient surgery in 1999, my anesthesia began to wear off halfway through the surgery, and during the last fifteen minutes I felt what was going on. (It was eye surgery.) It hurt, but the anesthesia hadn't worn off entirely, so it was really more about fear and loss of control than anything else.

After that I didn't go back to that opthamologist for three years. Sure, I made appointments, but then, when the day for the appointment came, I'd just ... forget. Then I'd remember when it was too late and make another appointment and then ... forget. Again and again. For three years. Finally, it occurred to me that I didn't actually have to go back to that doctor and I found a new one. Two years later, I finally got my butt into a seat in his office.

From there things went to worse. I was absolutely awful to the staff in his office. Of course, they put me through an obstacle course which was worse than usual: a clipboard for my info, a nurse to take more info, a tech to do the tests, an underling doc to do an initial examination ... all of this before I got to see the real doc. The underling doc asked me some questions which made it clear that he wasn't too familiar with diabetes ... and I told him so. By the time the real doc came, I was persona non grata. Even after I burst into tears and commenced to sob in his office for half an hour, it didn't seem to occur to anyone to ask if I was alright. All that mattered was how I was treating them, how they felt about me.

I finally explained what had happened to the doc and he got a lot nicer ... but not before he had defended the bad doc to me. What an asshole. Yeah, both of them.

Now understand: I realized that I was avoiding the eye doc, but I didn't actually feel any fear per se. I didn't feel anything, not even the desire to avoid the doc. It was all happening under the surface, and manifesting in a very simple inability to remember my doctor's appointments. After my crying jag at the eye doc's, I realized that I had been hiding a leetle bit of trauma, but I still didn't realize that I might be doctor phobic until this past week.

See, I'm trying to get in to see a new doc, who works together with a primary care doc (my current doc doesn't do that, but it's important for chronic patients whose common flus and infections are complicated by the chronic disease). I made an appointment, forgot it, made another one, and forgot that, too.

It was weird. The second appointment, I put it into three different calendars and reminded myself mentally of the appointment three or four times a day for a week. Then, the day of the appointment, I forgot about it from nine in the morning until 5 in the evening--exactly as long as needed to prevent me from doing anything about it.

It was bizarre being able to observe my own neurosis in operation. So obvious! So unsubtle! So effective! I decided to nip it in the full-blown bloom and went straight into the doc's office the next day, without an appointment, and asked to be allowed to introduce myself to the doc, just for a sec. He seems like a nice young man, the first doc I've had who was very obviously younger than I. Let's hope that does the trick.

People who know me consider me independent in the extreme, and it's true, I insist on my independence. But what no one realizes is that my life is lived in a state of the most abject dependence: on doctors. The pharmaceutical products that literally keep me alive--insulin and thyroid--aren't available over the counter, why exactly, I don't know. I can't get a lifelong prescription for them. I can get, at most, a year's prescription for the stuff I've been using for twenty-six years. I need a doctor to get them for me.

I can't even order tests for myself. I'm supposed to get a certain set of tests done quarterly, my entire life, but I can't order them myself, or read them myself. A doctor has to order them for me and gets them sent directly to her/him. I can't even go and look at my medical files at will. I have to request them and go through red tape.

My health, my quality of life, even my mobility (like my ability to get a driver's license) hang by a doctor's whim, mood, ability to understand, or free time to keep up with their medical journals. No healthy adult has a life so affected by another adult's quality of mind--not even an employee of a bad boss. It's impossible to understand what this is like if you are not a chronic patient yourself.

The "good" diabetics I know (of), the ones with good control, manage a sort of doublethink that I can't maintain: while they educate themselves thoroughly and relentlessly, they also maintain a plausibly deniable subservient relationship to their doctors. If you read their blogs or listen in on their boards, they never make a move without checking with their docs first. They'll even use language that fits more with a parent/child relationship or a military hierarchy: getting "the go-ahead" and such like. Permission granting.

I'm not sure this isn't the healthiest way to deal with doctors who are trained to unconsciously despise patients, and to consider themselves--and not the patients--the hero of the story. Until our medical system evolves further and doctors get less adulation from patients kept ignorant by the appalling state of our pubic science and health education, and more understanding from well-informed, empowered clients (which is what we are), to stay healthy you probably do have to behave like a good child.

Which means I'm fucked.

By the way, this is all by way of saying that I won't be getting the pump in November. My next attempt at an appointment with the doc isn't until early December.

November 17, 2007

Betty Ugly

I know there's Wilhelmina Slater, but other than her (and she's rich and light-skinned), all the black women in Ugly Betty are stupid. And fat. There's a definite strain of fat, stupid, sexually desperate black women who make fools of themselves for the male characters. And the nonfat, black escapee companion of Mrs. Meade is a huge stereotype. Making the stereotype a joke doesn't make it less of a stereotype, people.

Why, Ugly Betty, why? This season hasn't been great, but you were so refreshingly knowledgeable about race and power. What's up with hating on poor or middle class black women?


November 15, 2007

reading Update

... And This Is Laura by Ellen Conford.

A re-read from childhood. I mixed this book up in my memory with another one, A Gift of Magic, and got a really terrific book out of the two. But Laura isn't really a very good book. A girl from an eccentric family feels left out because she has no particular talent. Then, she discovers that she's psychic. Yawn. All she does is predict silly things like her bff taking the lead in the school play, and her little brother getting lost.

I'm going to read A Gift of Magic next, to see if it holds up.

Siberia by Ann Halam

A girl and her mother are sent to a wintry prison camp with no fences for her father's political crime. Turns out the mother is a scientist who keeps the last set of "seeds" for all the mammal species in a small box. When the mother is arrested, the girl must protect the animal "seeds" and make her way to a politically safe city on the other side of the ocean of ice.

A good book--i.e. it flows and is suspenseful and exciting and the characterization of the protag is good--but it feels a lot like a rip-off of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, especially the first one, The Golden Compass. There's the winter scenes, and the magical and useful animal companions with whom the protag lives in symbiosis. And there's the same bleak view of the world of adulthood as being one full of betrayal for kids.

I highly recommend it, but definitely consider it a more sophisticated act of literary theft.

November 14, 2007

A Serving of Love

Decorative_letters_here's a brief clip from Robynn Takayama's RJ Lozada's newly released documentary, A Serving of Love, about the recently passed community leader Bill Sorro. My friend Robynn Takayama was intrinsic to the project as well. Check out the website for more clips and information about Bill.

(cross-posted at atlas(t): Galleon Trade.)

November 12, 2007

reading Update

Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce.

Fun. I love Tamora Pierce.

November 10, 2007


I was horrified to read this article in Salon about Diabulimia, a new eating disorder that affects only Type 1 diabetics like myself.

As I wrote in the previous post, when you have full blown diabetes, you'll eat carbs but not be able to use them, so you'll be essentially starving to death. And yes, you'll lose a lot of weight. The four big symptoms of diabetes are: excessive thirst, excessive urination, extreme weight loss, and blurred vision.

This article talks about young girls and women who are Type 1 diabetics who use diabetes to lose weight. Yep, that's right, they starve themselves while eating tons of food. As long as they don' t eat fat or protein, they'll lose weight quickly.

The thing the article doesn't mention in much detail, presumably because the writer isn't diabetic, is how awful hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) feels. When you don't take your insulin but still eat, you have tons of unused sugar running around your system. It doesn't just run innocently around, though. It collects where it shouldn't.

Like in your eyes, for example. The blurred vision? That's you going blind. It takes a few years, but unchecked hyperglycemia deposits destructive sugar in the blood vessels in your eyes, which then burst from the pressure, damaging your retina.

Or in your kidneys, putting pressure on them. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure. Why? Because your body tries to flush out this destructive loose sugar and you have to pee, literally, every fifteen minutes, and are thirsty all the time. Processing all that sugar destroys your kidneys.

Your eyes feel swollen and you can't see properly, even with glasses. You're thirsty and can't quench your thirst no matter how much you drink. It's like a Greek version of Hell. You can't move far away from a bathroom or you'll pee your pants. Your joints feel like they're swollen, your head feels like it's swollen, and gravity is stronger. You're so tired you can't walk very far without having to sit down and rest. Your heart races all the time and you're breathless with any exertion. You just feel sick. Constantly, so that, although you're tired all the time, you can't sleep.

It's horrible.

And that's just the direct effects. Secondarily, yeast and fungi loooove sugar, remember? So you get yeast infections. Yes, even the guys. Guys, did you know you could get yeast infections in any warm, moist body crease? Ladies, imagine a yeast infection that just. won't. go. away. Also, itchy skin infections.

Cuts don't heal and get infected easily. Tattoos are clearly out. And you're more susceptible to other diseases, especially bacterial ones.

It's gross, it feels terrible, and your quality of life is shit.

This is why it horrifies me that girls can hate their bodies so much that they'd put themselves through this hell just to look thin.

What is this world coming to?

November 09, 2007

National Diabetes Awareness Month

220pxinsulincrystalsNovember is National Diabetes Awareness Month and I'm going to observe it this year.

I'm going to post a little bit about diabetes, and I'm also going to--this month--finally get on the insulin pump. I have an appointment with a new doctor on Monday and I'm going to get the ball rolling. Yay!

But first, what IS diabetes? I find that most people don't know, and don't realize that they don't know because it never occurs to them to think about it. It has something to do with not eating sugar, they think. You can't eat sugar.

Frankly, I've heard some really stupid things about diabetes, and seen even stupider things on TV and in the movies (there was a scene from Night Court where someone went into insulin shock, so they cured her by giving her more insulin. Nice logic there.)

Okay, here goes: you know how when you eat, your food is broken down in your mouth, stomach, and intestines? The protein is broken down into amino acids and you get vitamings and mingerals, and all that good stuff? Plus fat?

Well the most biggest part of your food is carbohydrates. Bread, pasta, corn and beans, taters and roots. Fruits. All of these things deliver carbs. And sugars are also carbs, of course. Sugar is a kind of carb. Everybody knows this, after Atkins and South Beach.

What a lot of people don't seem to know is that ALL carbs either get broken down into sugar (glucose) or get passed through your system and out the other end (fiber). The glucose that was your sandwich or your mac 'n' cheese is absorbed from your intestine into your bloodstream, and circulates around your body as ... blood sugar! (or blood glucose, "BG".)

The BG is taken up by the body's cells out of the bloodstream and burned for fuel (or stored in the liver and muscles for fuel later.) That's the simple version, anyway. But this doesn't happen automatically. For the cells to receive and use the blood glucose, the hormone insulin has to be present. Insulin binds to the cells and activates their receptors so that they can use sugar. Without insulin, the BG just circulates and circulates without being used, until it is eventually excreted out the usual channels (urine, sweat, tears). Without insulin, no matter how much you eat, you starve to death.

Diabetes is, quite simply, a disease that keeps insulin from triggering your cells to receive sugar.

There are three ways this can happen, and therefore, three kinds of diabetes:

  1. Type 1: the body's immune system identifies the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin as foreign, and release antibodies to attack them. Over time, they destroy all or part of the body's ability to produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the lack or insufficiency of insulin.

    Type 1 requires insulin injections for treatment and is therefore often called "insulin-dependent diabetes."

    Also, Type 1 tends to occur in children or younger adults who are otherwise healthy, is genetic, and is probably triggered by a standard viral disease like a flu. Type 1 is not preventable with lifestyle changes. (There are some experimental treatments that can be given to people at great risk for Type 1 diabetes, but this involves compromising your immune system and/or taking preventive insulin shots.)

    About 10% or less of chronic diabetics are Type 1.

  2. Type 2: for a variety of reasons, the body becomes desensitized to insulin, and can't use it effectively. This is often accompanied, later, by some impairment of ability to produce insulin. Type 2 is caused by the inability to use insulin.

    Type 2 can be treated with, in order of severity: diet and exercise, drugs to stimulate insulin production, insulin injections to supplement insulin production.

    Type 2 is also genetically influenced. Type 2 is the kind of diabetes that we are seeing a surge in as a result of the obesity epidemic, and can be influenced or even caused by lifestyle. "Can be," I said, though. Some people have such a strong predisposition to Type 2 that they can be doing everything right and still get it. And some people can be obese, and do everything wrong, and NOT get it. So there are no guarantees.

    90% or more of chronic diabetics are Type 2.

  3. Gestational: experienced by pregnant women with a genetic tendency to Type 2 diabetes. Hormones present during pregnancy cause them to become desensitized to insulin, as in Type 2. Usually resolves after birth.

There's a huge confusion between Type 1 and Type 2, and people are starting to shame diabetics because of misperceptions. So let me repeat: TYPE 1 DIABETES HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LIFESTYLE AND IS NOT PREVENTABLE.


The other big misconception is that insulin is a cure for diabetes. If you've read the above, you'll have noticed that taking an insulin shot doesn't seem like something that'll cure anything. The cures would have to involve: for Type 1 some way to keep the immune system from destroying the beta cells, and for Type 2 and Gestational some way to make the body sensitive to insulin again.

All injected insulin does is mimic the natural action of the body ... mimic it badly, I might add. It's much easier for your body to regulate itself automatically than for you to do it by hand, consciously.

Okay, I'm bored with this topic now. Will write more later.

By the way, I'm a Type 1. Have been since I was 11.

Oh, and the image at the top is of insulin crystals. Pretty, no?

November 08, 2007

REading Update

The Grey King Susan Cooper

The second best book of the five, but isn't as good as The Dark is Rising b/c it's sloppier, and is really starting to raise questions that the series doesn't answer. It was fine in TDIR, which was so much more of a mood and pageantry piece. So is Grey King, but, perhaps b/c she was less versed in the ritual and pageantry of Wales, it feels a little thin on top. There's much more atmosphere, much less layering.

The human drama that underlies the magical conflict in this book is more ambitious and melodramatic, and therefore doesn't entirely succeed the same way it did in TDIR. Frankly, TDIR is a smaller book, and therefore more perfect. With the greater ambition and scope of Grey King, there was more chances to screw up.

On a political level, Grey King is disappointing. It's that stupid thing all over again where someone has a heroic personality because he is born to it, and does things because they are foretold. In this case, it's a function of royalty--magical royalty--and Will is suddenly given a subordinate role to Bran because Bran SPOILER! is the son of King Arthur, not because Bran has done anything special. This didn't matter as much in TDIR because Will was shown making mistakes and struggling to accept his role. This isn't as successful in Grey King.

Silver on the Tree Susan Cooper

A frankly rather boring book. This is the one where all the characters were brought together for the one and only time. But Cooper couldn't keep them together for very long. They fought too much. The fighting felt real, but was pointless to the story. So she split them up and sent them on their various ways.

It becomes terribly apparent in Silver on the Tree that the Drew children don't really have a role in this series, although they appear in two other books of it. They're there for the readers to identify with. Basta. Jane, again, plays The Girl, whose only role is to pass a message to Will and Bran from The Lady, who, for some reason, can only give a message to a girl, and not one of the boys. Argh. It's so condescending, almost as if Cooper said to herself, well, they're here, better give them something to do.

So the Drews go off and get into trouble, and Will and Bran go off to the Lost Land and get other stuff, and then they all end up somehow on a train and cut off some mistletoe and ... God, this book was a mess. There were so many settings and so many times, and so many rituals of unknown provenance. TDIR was successful because all of the magic that happened was based in real and well-known myths and rituals: the hunting of the wren, caroling on Christmas Eve, the myth of the Wild Hunt, etc. So all the unexplained weird and magical moments had a grounding in some sort of reality, or continuity outside the book.

But SOTT, felt like Cooper was just making it up as she went along. It was random, and lightweight.

Altogether, though, I'm glad I read the series again. TDIR really held up, and made me shiver, and love it again. I'd still recommend the series, although I wouldn't recommend that anyone write such things now. We've moved past most of the content, and can only learn from her style.

My Sister's Keeper Jodi Picoult

This is the YA about a 13-year-old girl in the near future who was conceived in vitro to be a placental beta-cell donor for her sister with leukemia. As she grew older and her sister got sick again and again, her parents started having her donate more and more material from her body. The book starts when the sick sister, now sixteen, is about to die of kidney failure. The hospital ethics committee can't even decide if she's strong enough to risk a transplant surgery on, but the protag's mother wants the protag to give up a kidney anyway. And the protag gets a lawyer to sue her parents for medical emancipation so that she can't be made to undergo the surgery.

It was good. Solid. It kept me reading. The conflicts inherent in this situation are devastatingly interesting.

BUT, there were two major problems with it. The lesser one was that Picoult chose to write in first person from the alternating points of view of the protag, the mother, father, older brother, lawyer, AND the court appointed guardian ad litem, who also happens to be the lawyer's long-lost love. Everyone, in fact, except the sick sister.

The PsOV don't alter AT ALL from character to character. They all have the same voice, the same wit, the same tone, the same concerns. The competing concerns of these different characters don't come into play at all.

The greater problem is that Picoult is simply a coward. She didn't dare to give any of her characters a bad moment. Not one of them did anything unforgiveable or said anything unjustified. Even the older brother, who is an arsonist and nearly kills a homeless man by accident, is only acting out. Deep down, he's full of love. All of them act only out of love. There's no selfishness, there's no blindness, there's no partiality. Nobody loses their cool because they're so tired.

And, worst of all, after setting up an impossible situation--a damned if you do, damned if you don't--she chickens out TWICE and backs away from the impossibility of it. SPOILER ALERT!!! First, she reveals at the very end, during the courtroom scene, in fact, that the sick sister instigated the lawsuit in the first place. Tired of her poor quality of life, but unable (out of love, natch) to let down her parents, who had been fighting so hard for so long, she convinced the protag (who would give up the kidney without a second thought, natch) to refuse. Retch!

Secondly, even after this revelation, when a decision would still have to be made, Picoult has the protag get into a fatal car accident and wind up brain dead! Argh! Pathetic. I'd let pass even the former bad decision, but forcing the protag into brain dead donorhood is unforgiveable! It's not irony, it's lead-y! As in balloon!

And if that weren't bad enough, the sick sister then gets well! Argh!

Picoult understands the shape of narrative, the pacing, and how to string you along from situation to situation, so that you must keep reading. But she doesn't reward your coerced attention, and in fact, slaps you in the face at the end. I'd recommend this because of the questions it raises, but warn you that it doesn't even attempt any answers.

Briar Rose Jane Yolen

A retelling of "Sleeping Beauty" into a Nazi death camp. This came out around the same time as Schindler's List, Hitler's Willing Executioners, and that whole nineties Holocaust revisitation, so reading it now it seems a bit pale. I think it would have have more of an impact in 1992.

It also had that have-to-know-what-happened drive, but the characters weren't terribly strong. I'd recommend it as a good read, but not a wonderful one.

November 06, 2007

Today is Meme Personality Test Day

Your results:
You are Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman
Iron Man
Green Lantern
The Flash
You are a beautiful princess
with great strength of character.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

yah ... that's what i thought ...

Which Hero I Am

Which Heroes Hero are You?
Your Result: Matt Parkman

You're insecure, not just about your ability, but about your entire life. You're not going crazy; the voices in your head are real. And they want donuts.

Peter Petrelli
Isaac Mendez
Hiro Nakamura
Claire Bennett
Nathan Petrelli
Nikki Sanders
Which Heroes Hero are You?
Create a Quiz

I lied on a coupla'em the first time around and got Sylar. The second time I was my own geek self and got Parkman. Oh well.

via Wendy.

November 05, 2007

Romance Update

I think my iPod is trying to woo me back. I've been off it for a couple of weeks because of dizziness and hearing sensitivity (virus? migraine? brain tumor? inquiring minds want to know!) I'm now back on and it's been throwing out great mixes for the past two days. It's on a roll and I'm afraid to sync it, although we're almost out of juice, in case it decides that we're okay again and it can go back to picking its nose and hogging the remote.

November 04, 2007

Frozen in Mild Terror

Can't write. Trying to Unlock.

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