Category Archives: Thought Catalog

If You Meet Someone With Type 1 Diabetes, This Is What You Should Know

image - Flickr / sriram bala
image – Flickr / sriram bala

Picture this. He’s just started his freshman year in college. He is out every night, meeting new friends by the minute. He is young, bright-eyed, kind-hearted, a dreamer, an optimist. Life is full of freedom and free of responsibility. It’s fun, it’s chaotic, it’s being 19.

And then he wakes up one morning and he knows something isn’t right. He’s weak and beyond exhausted. He tries to brush it aside and goes about his days until he starts losing weight and the insatiable thirst kicks in. Soon it’s impossible to ignore.

He walks in to a doctor’s appointment free and he leaves with a monster that he will have to carry with him for the rest of his life. For reasons no one fully understands, his immune system has attacked the beta cells in his pancreas and this vital organ has stopped producing life-saving insulin. He has done nothing wrong. He is young, fit and the picture of health but his body has failed him.

This monster is called type 1 diabetes (T1D). And he is my big brother, my hero. On that day he was just one of hundreds of children, young adults and adults that had to take on that very same monster. He was shattered, lost, facing a life with an unforgiving and terrifying illness. He was no longer just 19. Instead of having the world at his feet he had a huge burden on his shoulders. His everyday freedom ripped from him. None of us knew where to turn next.

That day he lost a free-spirited part of himself that I fear will never return, but he also found within him a strength, determination and inspiring nature more powerful then ever before.

Now, 14 years on, he still fights hard to dream and to stay optimistic. He mentors teenagers newly diagnosed with T1D, and he constantly shows his two little boys what it means to be courageous. He has to wake up every morning on a strict schedule that he can’t dictate.

Instead of jumping out of bed and going about his day without consideration, he reaches for his blood sugar tester, he pricks his finger and waits for the reading that will determine his morning. Then he has breakfast and injects himself with the insulin that keeps him alive. And as he goes about his day he repeats the same routine, injecting himself another three times, balancing his meals, his blood sugar levels, his activity, his life. And then before he goes to sleep at night he checks his blood, eats again if he has to and hopes his levels don’t drop so low through the night that he slips into a hypoglycemic coma. And these are just the daily challenges, in the future he’ll face other associated health challenges too scary to consider.

Yet despite all this, we know this disease will never define him. He won’t allow it to.

So to my big bro, and to everyone with T1D, I want to say this. You are braver than brave. You face each challenge filled with courage, while we stand by filled with admiration. Every day there are amazing researchers out there who have your back, they are working to fight this monster. And we won’t stop giving them the vital support they need to find a cure for you.

So if you meet someone with T1D, this is what you should know:

  • There is nothing they could have done to prevent it. T1D is not the same thing as type 2 diabetes.
  • They may have just been diagnosed or they may have had it for years. T1D can strike at any age.
  • If they are a child, their parents would have spent last night, and every night before that, waking up every couple of hours to test their blood sugar levels. And if they are older, their parents are probably still waking up every couple of hours worried about their blood sugar levels.
  • If you see them stumbling, confused or finding it hard to speak, please help. They haven’t been drinking, they are experiencing serious and life-threatening hypoglycemia, and they need urgent medical attention.
  • The insulin they inject up to four times a day is not a cure, it keeps them alive but it doesn’t mean an end to the disease and it doesn’t prevent the possibility of the disease’s serious side effects.
  • They are one of three million Americans and millions more around the world who face T1D every day.
  • They can’t have a holiday from T1D, it’s there every second of every day.
  • They have to become mathematicians, dieticians, nurses and always be super organized, life is a constant balancing act.
  • They really are braver than brave.

Each year, more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults – approximately 80 people per day – are diagnosed with T1D in the U.S. You can donate to this vital cause and support the fight for a cure by heading here. TC mark

A Higher Power Doesn’t Close Doors — We Do

It is said that when God closes a door, He opens a window. What often goes unsaid is that the window is usually opened up on the 16th floor of an office building overlooking the north side of Ventura Boulevard just off the 405 freeway during rush hour traffic. The window metaphor is designed to give hope in a seemingly hopeless situation, but rarely does anyone think about how the open window represents a wholly separate kind of hopelessness. In my 30+ years of existence, I’ve seen more doors close than I care to count. But rarely are the windows of new opportunity or future promise worth venturing through. It may be easier to trust, have faith, when one believes in a God or benevolent creator.

I however do not know what to believe. In truth, all I know is that I do not know. To place faith in something whose existence cannot be proven beyond a doubt, some mythical puppeteer who pulls our strings and closes our doors and opens our windows in the background under the guise of some elaborate plan… This almost seems like a ruse to control or remove blame from our own decision making processes.

A door or a window, it doesn’t matter. Both of these provide two essential functions: They open to let things in or out, and they close to prevent that passage. A door or window can only be manipulated by (for the most part) a human. Unless an earthquake or hurricane has forcibly made your doors stay closed and only your windows can be manipulated, I’d suggest leaving invisible spiritual forces out of the equation. Acts of “God” aren’t really within our purview.

Every relationship you have, whether platonic, romantic, or fraternal is framed around a doorway. Keeping the door opened or closed is based on how you interact with other human beings. Sometimes you will close the door. Sometimes they will. Sometimes you’ll both agree to close the door and leave it closed. Sometimes people change their mind, and find the door locked, or unlocked, by the other party. Some close doors gently, while others slam it closed. Some leave a door cracked open out of hope, while others close the door and seal it up like an ancient Egyptian tomb.

Imagine for a moment that your life is a circular room. You are surrounded by unmarked doors. There are no windows. There is hardly even enough light to make out the door frames. As you make your way through the room, examining the doors one by one, you can make out different lights coming from each door, different sounds, different smells. Each of these lights, sounds, smells, conjure up memories within you. Some doors force you to recoil out of fear and anger and pain, while other doors seem so exciting that resisting the temptation to fling them open takes all of your strength. Some doors are crusted in dust and cobwebs, while others look like they’ve been opened far too frequently.

The only similarity between each door is this: The doorknobs are all available to you and you alone.

You will never know what is behind each door until you take the chance to open it. It may lead to pain or sorrow or anger. It may lead to abundant success or the love of your life or a path that leads away from the doors you are scared to touch. Trust your heart. It knows which doors are worth opening and which aren’t worth the effort.

And for the love of “God,” leave the windows alone. The only type of people who enter or exit through windows are misbehaving children and criminals.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been lamenting a door closing. Yes, I helped to close the door. So did the other person. It was a painfully mutual decision; one that I wish did not have to be made. Every day when I make my rounds through my windowless room, I pass this door. I consider knocking. I consider opening the door. I know that behind this door lies one of two things: either a brick wall or a guillotine. Behind this door is nothing positive. There is no benefit to opening this door. My brain is convinced that opening this door will miraculously cure the sorrow that is directly associated with what is behind it. My heart knows better.

It’s a constant battle between my heart and mind. No morning or evening transpires without considering this door. I’ve piled mountains of shit in front of the door just so I don’t have to acknowledge that it exists. In the meantime, I’ve been opening every other door as a means of finding a cure. A few doors have been fun and distracting, but none have had substance.

Last week, I was wandering through my windowless room and found a very old door. This door hadn’t been opened in so long that I had nearly forgotten its existence. As I wiped away the layers of decay, the feelings of fear, pain, sorrow, and anger associated with this door leapt to life. I had to give pause and think about what I was doing. To the untrained eye, it would be easy to confuse the door I’ve been lamenting with this uncovered door. Opening this door would lead to an eerily similar room as the other, one that possesses both a brick wall and a guillotine, one that is filled with just as much hopelessness as the other.

I didn’t knock. I didn’t try the door knob.

Instead, I wrote a letter and slipped it under the door. To the recipient on the other side, I wrote the truth. The truth was something that had remained unspoken, almost forbidden, for nearly a decade. I didn’t write the truth to get this door open again or to serve my own selfish wants. I wrote the truth so that the recipient could gain closure, closure that I had denied them.

Ask any 12 stepper and they will tell you that the most difficult steps are step 8 and 9.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

To this recipient, I had written my list of step 8 years ago. But I never took the chance on step 9. Making amends to this person would not injure them or others. Making amends to this person would grant them freedom, and freedom to myself in due course. What they tell you, in a 12 step program, is that step 9 is where your own healing really starts.

I needed to heal. The recipient needed to heal. And now that the healing has started, the door has cracked open and I’ve been able to reconnect with someone I’d thought I’d lost forever. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.

I’m certainly happy that a door opened, and not a window. TC mark

featured image – HJL

7 Awkward Situations That Occur Far Too Often On Public Transportation And How to Avoid (Some Of) Them


1. Odor Unknown: A Space Time Mystery

Whenever you step on the subway, there is usually a 50/50 chance your nose is going to be overwhelmed with some foul stench that mystifies the senses and can keep you guessing as to its origin for the duration of your ride.  It will take all of the willpower you can muster, but you must resist scrunching your nose and frowning upon odor impact, as some people may deem this action offensive.  You can only hope the unidentified smell is merely a strange concoction that a fellow passenger has prepared for lunch or, heaven forbid, a neighbor’s body odor.  Just do your best to ignore this one and act like it’s a regular Tuesday and hopefully you can manage to exit without the scent latching on to your clothing for the remainder of the day.

2. Asking What Stops the Train Will Be Making

This seemingly easy task can be a great deal more difficult when new to a city and learning basic navigation.  Generally, (and this will sound like common sense) your best bet is to seek out the friendliest (most normal) person in the vicinity.  It sounds simple, but just taking that extra minute to find a normal person to ask can be the deciding factor between having a pleasant conversation with a stranger and getting the fabled “death stare” and/or being cursed at (sometimes in several languages).

3. The Crying Child Scenario

Far and away, this is one of the most awkward situations as a bystander on the bus or subway.  The method the parent chooses to handle it ultimately decides how uncomfortable the rest of the passengers should feel.  The favored scenario is that the parent does his/her best to calm the child, in which case you have no reason to feel awkward, and even less reason to be annoyed (it isn’t easy traveling with children- show some damn compassion!). Nothing builds more tension on a packed train than a mother yelling at her four-year-old to “stop yapping, or you’re not getting a Happy Meal later!”  It’s remarks like these that can make the seemingly quick jaunt from Penn Station to Times Square feel like one and a half eternities.  Of course this situation is only beaten out by…

4. The Happy Child Scenario

Sometimes all it takes to brighten up an otherwise dreary morning is the smile of a child laughing and playing with their parent on the train; it’s a truly nice moment, and most parents will smile back at passengers who get to enjoy their adorable child for those few minutes during the commute to work.  However, some parents are not nearly as understanding, and an innocent smile at the child could yield a very sour expression from the parent like you’re some kind of baby-snatcher.  It doesn’t matter that you’ve never snatched a baby before, and it definitely does not ease the situation to tell them that you have no intention of working “baby-snatching” into your daily schedule, but you can tell that’s what they’re thinking and there’s nothing you can do about it.

5. Passenger Loses Balance

Countless times, standing passengers will stumble as the train or bus lurches forward to continue on the route.  When a passenger begins tipping, my reflex is to extend an arm and stop his/her fall, as I’m sure many others would do.  This caring gesture can occasionally be misperceived as someone trying to perform a pick-pocket or perhaps even grope a passenger, which is a shame.  There’s no advice for this one- just keep being a good person and people will appreciate it. ☺

6. Making Eye Contact in the Window Reflections

“Woah, was that guy just staring at me? No I’m imagining things, I need to unwind and keep gazing idly out the window. Hmm… I’d rather double-check, though.  Let me take a second to look back in the direction of that windowpane over there just to ensure he wasn’t—yep, he is totally staring me down with heavy eye contact in the reflection of the window. This might be the most uncomfortable I’ve felt since that lady thought I wanted to snatch her baby out of the stroller this morning.”  This will happen way, way WAY too often- the only advice I can give is to stop looking in the window reflections all together, and get used to looking at your feet (side note: don’t polish your shoes to a fine sheen anymore).

7.  Unsolicited Death Stares from the Depths of Hell

Obviously, you won’t be instigating all the series of awkward affairs while riding public transportation (although you will unknowingly start a healthy 80% of them).  Some situations are totally out of your control and thus beyond your scope of preparedness.  Yes, I am referring to the formidable death stare that will find you one fateful day.  It’s not a curious stare either, like one might give you thinking they met you at a work function or that you are their friend Carol’s nephew from that BBQ- it’s an intense speculation on your soul.  You have never met this person in your life.  You haven’t spoken to them, and up until two moments ago you were unaware of their existence, but they are staring you straight in the face- unblinking, emotionless, and without motive, making them the most terrifying person to sit near on public transportation.  I suggest you first perfect your poker face and immediately remove yourself from the area as soon as possible due to the varying nature of people who ride public transportation (this is a nicer way of saying there can be a lot of creeps on the train!).  I apologize if that last line offends you, but in fairness I too use public transportation, so for all you know I could be one of these creeps as well, and you should be just as suspicious of me, seeing as we’ve never met.  Well, nice talking to you…maybe I’ll see you on the train sometime. TC mark

An Open Letter To All Patrons Of Starbucks

weedezign /
weedezign /

I currently work for Starbucks on the front lines. I’m the one making your coffee, trying to brighten your day, and offering suggestions on drinks. These are some notes I have compiled for your reference. Although this is not true for all baristas out there, it definitely is for the vast majority of us.

1. Utilize the staff. We don’t go through hours of training and retraining and constant supervision for no reason! We want to deliver you the most rewarding experience in our stores that we can. Don’t know what you want? Ask us to help you. One of the best parts of the job is talking to you to find your drink. Don’t know what coffee beans are a good fit for you? Ask us. Most of us have tried every single one. Don’t know how to take care of your coffee or want to try a new brewing method? Ask us.

2. You don’t have to tip, but we notice when you do. A lot of you dump your change into our tip cups, which is something we definitely appreciate, but some of you don’t. That’s okay.

3. We won’t spit in your drink. Okay so your drink that you get every day just doesn’t taste right or you tried something new and it isn’t really for you. Bring it back! Let me repeat myself: bring back a drink that you aren’t happy with. We won’t spit in it or otherwise contaminate it.

4. We will, however, give you decaf. In my six years as a barista, I can admit that I have done this, but only one time. I gave decaf espresso to a customer who was excessively rude to myself and my coworkers, both in my place of work at the time and at a job I previously held. In other words: don’t be a dick. You don’t have to be the picture of charm or happiness, but we expect basic human niceties such as manners. If you don’t have anything nice to say or communicate (talk to us about the weather, that’s cool), just stay silent.

5. Flirt with us but use tact when you do. Remember that this is our place of work. We know that it is very easy to become friends with a barista, especially if you come to see us on the daily, but if you want to hit on us, please be subtle and respectful with your advances. We are at work, where you are probably headed right now.

6. If you are a fellow barista, don’t be that guy! We, as baristas, have special access to play around with ingredients and come up with crazy concoctions. I have my share of annoying drinks that I could order, a couple of which would make you cringe if you read them. Here’s the thing: I don’t order them from other stores. If I want an annoying drink, I make it myself! I won’t push your buttons if you won’t push mine.

7. Yes, we are always busy. We do our best to control lines and move people through as fast as possible but sometimes sheer volume is overwhelming. We understand that you want your drink as fast as possible at the highest quality. We would like you to understand that drinks can only be made so fast, even by the best baristas, and that your patience is appreciated beyond words.

8. If you want your name spelled correctly, tell me how to spell it. TC mark

I Think I Know Why New Yorkers Won’t Move To New Jersey And Elsewhere For Cheaper Rent

image - Flickr / Photographer
image – Flickr / Photographer

Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: Why do people pay expensive rents in Manhattan when there are far cheaper apartments a short subway ride away? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.

As far as I can see, the true answer is based on cultural norms and thepsychology of Manhattan as an island.

I also think, unlike most cities, New York almost projects a certain lifestyle or “rite de passage” that should be followed. There is almost this route that you are supposed to live where you are expected to live in Manhattan, in a shitty apartment with curtains as walls, with drug addict roomies, with crazy parties, and with no air conditioning. And that one day you move up, out and look back on those days with fondness. It’s almost like the hardship and ridiculousness is part of the charm and a datum to measure progress from.

I live in central Manhattan and having lived in several cities, what strikes me is the incredible snobbery and judgement that New Yorkers have about where each other live. I have no idea where this came from and how it prevails but there is absolutely a quantifiable sense that you should seek nothing other than to be around people like you, and choose a place that reflects how you want to  present yourself.

There is a curious sense of psychology to New York living.

1. New Yorkers use incredible precision to describe their neighborhood.

This may seem to be true for many cities, but the precision of the area and the strength of opinion have no equal.

I live near Penn station, I have an incredible apartment on the 47th floor with 180 degree views of all of Manhattan (I see both rivers). I love my apartment. I live about 5 mins walk to central Chelsea, about 13 mins walk to the Meatpacking district and I can be in any single trendy part of this island in less than 5 mins and $7 in a taxi.

I never cease to get incredible grief about my choice of location (until people see it).

In London, if you lived 13 mins walk to a local tube station, the name of that station would most likely be the name of your neighborhood. 10 mins walk from Brixton means you live in Brixton, a 14 min walk to Parsons Green means you probably live in Parsons Green. While London is an incredible collection of different villages, it would be absurd to say that anyone a 10 min walk away from an area, is somehow missing out by not living in that area.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are significant differences in areas, the type of people, the quality of services, the time it takes to get to certain places, but New York is very unlike other cities and it makes no sense to me.

2. New Yorkers somehow expect easy fast commutes, and for some reason the faster commuter train lines are particularly ignored.

Most Global cities dwellers have terrible commutes, if you live in Madrid, London, Paris, Berlin, Los Angeles etc, you pretty much expect that in order to have a decent mixture of quality of live and quality of accommodation and money left over, that a commute of 2 trains and 45 mins is about average.

My experience of London is that the entire 80 mile radius outside London is a commuter belt and just look of this map that features only the most frequent rail services.

In London, it’s unheard of to walk to work, and even an hour commute with 3 changes is not remotely notable.

In New York it seems unusual to commute for more than 30 mins unless you have chosen to live outside the city and in a big house.

Commuting in New York is way different too.

Whereas New York seems to have way way fewer lines, but also a very limited service.

And whereas a typical commuter train line in London has perhaps a train every 5 mins, most New York commuter lines seem to at the very best have one train every 30 mins.

Somehow the folks of New York have different expectations.

– Anything outside of Manhattan or trendy parts of Brooklyn is awful.

– Unless you have a family and live in a huge house in Connecticut or Long Island.

It creates some  a VERY curious situations to me (as a Londoner).

3. There are loads of stations less than 20 mins away from central NYC terminus that are not developed.

Take for example:

Secaucus, this is less than 10 mins away from New York on 6 train lines, with 10 trains per hour and 24 hours a day, it’s near major freeway.

Yet this is the area around? How is it that somewhere that you can get to Times Square in less than 20 mins, door to door and the station not crowned with massive blocks of accommodation.

By contrast, Reading, is a 30 mins journey to Paddington, which is then a 15 min journey to the center of London. There are a similar number of trains but the cost is about 5 times greater than in New York. But yet the area around the station is massively dense with loads of accommodation based on the fact that the station is a really good commute.

4. This is not a freak example- New York is full of them.

How is Newark, 20 mins from Penn Station (and great for Newark Airport), not a thriving commuting hub with trendy flats above it?

How is Jamaica, perfectly located 20 mins from Penn Station and great for JFK not a great choice for those looking for good access to the world and to New York?

How are not all the towns on Metro North up the Hudson Valley not very prosperous commuter towns with people enjoying both the space and beauty of the river and a pleasant train journey to Grand Central?

In fact the only parts of New York metro that seem desirable for commuters would be a handful of towns on Long Island and New Jersey.

5. In London it is simply impossible to find parallels.

Anywhere in the IMMEDIATE ENVIRONMENT less than 20 mins from a central London station will be very very desirable.

Add in proximate to Heathrow and the land is even more special.

Add in any natural beauty (like the Thames or Greenspace) and the area again becomes super nice.

In short, there are virtually no towns or villages within 45 mins of London that are not super desirable commuting locations.

I think there is a curious snobbery to Manhattanites and a sense of herd mentality. Maybe it’s being afraid to be the first to make the move.

I’d love nothing more than to find a billionaire friend and develop an incredible new town on the Hastings or in the Newark marshes and show the joy of semi-urban living. But somehow I just don’t think New Yorkers could ever do it.

BTW – I am not saying “How is it that people don’t want to live in Newark?” —  I have been there, it’s a shithole. What I am saying is, how is it that nobody over the last few decades has changed Newark such that it has become a desirable place to live? In other countries Newark would have been considered ripe for exploitation many many years ago. TC mark

This comment originally appeared at Quora.