Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Facebook Poems: The Beginning

In the past couple of weeks, I've begun a series of poems on Facebook, creatively titled "Facebook Poems." The idea is that I post a prompt such as "what tattoo would you get and why" or "respond to the word reminder." Throughout the next 24 hours, Facebook friends post their immediate responses, whatever comes into their heads first. At the end of that period, I take the posts and try to pull ideas or phrases from as many of them as possible, link them together, and I turn them into a poem. This process has been as fun as it has been enlightening. While writers always get their ideas from their experiences in the world and their interactions with other people, the end results are usually filtered only through the writer. In other words, the gathering together of ideas is usually not a public process.

By its nature, writing is a solitary art. I have at least one hundred poems on pages that may only ever be read by me. If a poet expects to publish in a journal, he or she must not publish his or her poems in any way because no journal will accept a poem that has already been published. I have long lamented this, since, as a painter, I can post pictures of my art all day long and still have the work accepted into shows. Posting on Facebook give an artist free publicity and, on many occasions, revenue. While I realize that poetry does not sell like paintings, it is disheartening that we feel we cannot share our work on Facebook, get our names and our writing abilities "out there," for fear of never publishing. Poetry is meant to be read, heard, taken in and rolled around, and shared. It is not meant to sit in a drawer or on a flash drive.

Writing these poems, there are five drafts now, has been a wonderful, freeing experience for me. I am getting out of my head and writing about subjects I would have never thought about in just that way without the Facebook friends who posted their thoughts. Yesterday, I wrote a poem based on the prompt "respond to abandoned places" called "Concept of Time" (any suggestions for a better title?) that examines the idea that every moment in time exists at every other moment in time. I've tried to write about this idea before, but I have been largely unsuccessful. I like the draft I got, and I like it because Kathleen said who she was yesterday was abandoned, Brent wrote a fascinating bit about walking on the remains of a flooded town near the Hudson (he even sent a map!), and Joe mentioned cities he himself had abandoned. I love the fact that I feel connected to these poems because of the people who contributed their thoughts and experiences, and I love that I am sharing my poetry with them.

Check out the Facebook poems, and better yet, take the posts 24 hours later and write your own! Wouldn't it be cool to read what we all come up with? Poem, flash fiction, photo; whatever your medium, I'd love to see it happen. Perhaps some publisher somewhere will accept my Facebook poems someday, but until then, I am enjoying my writing, and I am enjoying the community we create, poem by poem.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Repost: Living with Type I Diabetes

Living with Type 1 Diabetes

Top eight things PWDI (people with diabetes Type I) wish everyone knew:
  1. Type 1 diabetes, aka juvenile diabetes, cannot be controlled through diet and exercise.  That is type 2, aka adult onset diabetes. 
  2. Type 1 diabetics can eat food that contains sugar.  Please see #1 above.
  3. Type 1 diabetics will die without their insulin.
  4. Insulin does not cure type 1 diabetes.  The disease is for life.
  5. Type 1 diabetics will not "grow out of" the disease.  See #4 above.
  6. Insulin is a hormone that helps break down carbohydrates into sugars/glucose so the body can use them.  Type 1 diabetics produce little to no insulin.
  7. Sugar-free does not equal carb-free.  
  8. Type 1 diabetics cannot take a day off from their insulin.  Please see #3 above.
While I tried not to be sarcastic in this list, it may come off that way.  That is not my intention.

Imagine going to a restaurant with your three-year-old and asking the waitress to see the nutrition information for the items on the menu.  Now imagine said waitress eyeballing you when you say you need to know how many carbs are in their macaroni and cheese with fries and a chocolate milk kids' meal.  No matter what the waitress is actually thinking, this is what many moms of diabetic children think they are thinking.  "Why is she making that cute little kid diet/ so conscious of what she's eating?  She's not fat."  And then you open your mouth to explain, and then you close your mouth because it's not the waitress's business.  And then you open it again because you might be able to educate the waitress about Type 1.  Then you close it again because half the chocolate milk is gone and you forgot to take your kid's pre-meal sugar. 

Imagine, after this carb-filled meal, that the waitress happens to return to your table to ask if you want anything else, and you are sticking a needle into your kid's behind, the syringe cap clenched between your lips.  Again, the diabetic mom's thoughts run in the direction of "Is that a look of pity?  It better not be."  And your inner mom lion roars, but you give it a steak and tell it to go settle down for a while.  You chose to give shots in public so your child would not feel "different" or feel that her diabetes is something she should hide or be ashamed of. 

This is a disease that, quite simply, most Americans know little to nothing about.  They do know about Type 2 diabetes because obesity and health care are in the news just about every day.  But these are two very different diseases.  For more information, please go to the JDRF, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, website at JDRF