Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rocking, Rolling, Running, & Curing

This weekend I plan to run my first ever half-marathon. I've been training for the past ten weeks with a running group here in Davis. Grad school started this week, as did my new job, and somehow this race has crept up on me. I will be running on the same day as the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes, which is no small coincidence. In these last few days before the event, I can't help thinking what a tremendous symbol this has all become.

Running has always been my catharsis, my time to zone out and turn off my brain, to challenge my body while nobody else is looking. There's no way to be "good" at running; the most successful runners I've met are the ones with a keen understanding of how to push themselves, and when it is appropriate to. I'm still working on that second part.

When I run in a group, I sense gears shifting in my body, and suddenly there is something to prove. The person just in front of me becomes the person I most desperately want to beat, and once I beat them, there is always someone else. I run with a little fanny pack with my blood sugar monitor, insulin pump, and three or four packs of GU. The part of the run I relish the most happens after we're all done, after the other runners have stopped to chat or refill their water bottles, when I sit down and whip out my glucose monitor to test my sugar. I take great pride -- probably (definitely) more pride than I truly deserve -- in watching the recognition register on someone else's face that, holy shit, she beat me, AND she's diabetic?

Hell yeah.

I might be feeling differently on Sunday afternoon, after 13.1 miles in this late summer heat. But no matter what, I can't wait for that feeling of satisfaction that I will have done something I've never done before, and done it on a day when my team and I are committed to finding a cure.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Adventures of the Bookmaiden

If I owned my own bookstore, all clerks would be called bookmaidens and book lords. Or maybe book queens. Tomorrow is my last day at the independent bookstore the Avid Reader, my favorite place to go as a child growing up in Davis. I've been lucky enough to work there in the summer interim, assembling press scrapbooks, selling and shelving books, assisting at events. There is something to be said for the loyalty and chutzpa that independent businesses attract.

That, and I learned this summer not to operate a cash register with my hair in two braids, less I feel like fending off comments such as "You're sure you're old enough to operate that?"

Bookmaidens can do a hell whole of a lot more than just operate cash registers.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Team Malibu Pumpers Wants YOU

School is starting, the wind is picking up, and there is a heightened electricity in the air: that's right, it's the season for fundraising. This is the ninth year that my family and I are gearing up to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), a nonprofit organization founded by the parents of children with type 1 diabetes in 1970. In the past 40 years, JDRF has raised $1.4 billion, and nearly every penny of that is devoted to research.

Why should people care? Here's why:

-More than 23 million Americans live with diabetes, and of that number, about 5-10% live with type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes. This less common form of diabetes was formerly known as juvenile diabetes, because the majority of people who live with it are diagnosed as young children or adolescents. This means that type 1 kids and teens are badasses because they have to learn how to test their blood sugar and give themselves injections while learning how to tie their shoes, ride bikes, compete at sports, apply for college, etc.

-Diabetes is considered a pre-existing condition, which, as we all know, makes applying for health insurance especially frustrating.

-Because Halle Berry, Nick Jonas, Mary Tyler Moore, and certain twentysomething bloggers take insulin every day, and still make time to make movies, sing songs, write books, and in my case, go to grad school and work two jobs.

This year, while my uber-supportive Team Malibu Pumpers represents at the 5K walk at the State Capitol on Sunday, October 3, I will be running my first-ever half marathon. This is something I've wanted to do for three years, ever since I got my worst blood test results as a diabetic and felt the need to prove I was still healthy. I've been training over the past few months and am excited to finally put myself to the test. And while other people might run this race for time or place, I'll be running it to prove I can do it and not get low.

So, what can you do? You can make a tax-deductible donation for our team here. You can visit JDRF online and sign up for a corresponding walk in another city. Or, if you don't have the money this time but really want to show support, you can learn the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes and explain it to the next person who asks. Believe you me, it'll be a relief for the rest of us who grow tired when unsuspecting strangers relate long stories about their grandparents with gangrene feet.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What You Can Get for Four Quarters in Meridian, Mississippi

This was my one and only impression of Mississippi this summer: condom dispensers in gas station bathrooms. The text on the machines read "Hygeia helps protect against AIDS and other sexually-transmitted infections. However, the best way to avoid AIDS is to practice abstinence, and to remain in monogamous relationships until marriage."

I added the "sexless" part. The sign seemed to hope that gas station patrons were virgins.

Below the text were arrows and explicit instructions reading put all four quarters into the appropriate slot.

I'll never forget emerging from that bathroom with a sense of glee, not sure whether Mississippi was beating the system or creating it. Ryan reported that the same sign and machine was posted in the men's bathroom.

Needless to say, we did not spend the night in Mississippi.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In Honor of My Other Love, San Francisco

Hipster Parking Only
Remember when a bicycle was just a bike? A means of transportation? Not sure I do either, but these days the streets of big cities are paved with fancy fixed-gear bicycles, a.k.a. the Maseratis of the cycling world. Or maybe the Ferraris? I know my speedy cars about as well as I know my speedy bikes, and perhaps that says something.

Don't get me wrong: My preferred transit method is my bike. I was a diligent San Francisco bike commuter for three years, a beach bum Santa Barbara biker in college, and a perpetually-late-for-class cycling high schooler back in the day. I respect the two wheels. I rely on them. I admire the pelotons that whoosh past me when I go running in West Davis, the ones who yell "Incoming!" loud enough to overpower any functional woman's iPod, and then squeeze by you with thighs that seem to laugh at you with their sheer force. I, at one time, wove blue streamers through my bike wheels so I could participate in the Picnic Day Parade. I joined the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and volunteered at the summertime Phat Tire event. I've done my fair share of critical masses, and boy, there are few things more exhilarating then tearing through the Sutter tunnel at rush hour on a Friday, surrounded by a few hundred likewise giddy cyclists who, on a normal day, would never dream of zipping through MUNI and commute traffic for that kind of adrenaline rush.

The real issue I see with cycling today isn't the bicycle itself, nor really the people who use it to commute or to exercise, but the general aura of ennui that it seems to breed among the young and oh-so-hip. That really annoying way that fixie riders tend to jerk abruptly from side to side to effect a brake. And, finally, the fashion choices that cycling sometimes inspires. I've got no problem with spandex and padded shorts--if anything, the world needs more of both--but what I'm referring to here is the skinny jeans phenomena. Skinny jeans and skinny mustaches.

I'd like to close this on a happy note, so I'm enclosing a picture of two bicycles dear to my heart. I'd like to think that this picture captures the reasons I bike: to get somewhere, to exercise, and to bike with people who likewise like to bike.