Friday, May 19, 2017

Diabetes Blog Week 2017 Day 5: More than Diabetes

I am much more than diabetes.

It’s fitting that this topic is the last of the week, because it basically bookends Monday’s topic, where I talked about all the different things I’m part of.

  1. I’m a professor of English and theatre.
  2. I’m a writer and reviewer.
  3. I’m a dramaturg. 
  4. I’m a singer (classical, a cappella, musical theatre). 
  5. I’m a massive nerd and I write a lot of song parodies. If I go to musical theatre, Buffy, or Star Trek trivia, I’m going to win. (If you want to hear some really dumb Star Trek parody songs, you can takea look at my occasionally-updated Soundcloud). I have performed a few times at a Star Trek improv show, and won a rap battle against “Black Riker” as Beverly Crusher, the Bae from Sickbay.

I thought I might focus on one of my “weirder” interests (you know, because being a dramaturg isn’t weird enough), and amuse you with some videos. 

Maybe my weirdest interest? I’m a handbell player.

I’ve never played in a church handbell group, which is where 90%+ of handbell ringers come from. Instead, my friend Victoria, who did play in a church group in high school, decided that she wanted to found her own group (despite not being religious, she found the church to have a great youth group and theatre and music programs; heck, even I joined the youth group in high school and I’m Jewish. I just wanted to hang out with my friends, and there actually wasn’t any religion as part of it - one of the leaders was Pagan. Anyway.)

This handbell group was to be small, all-female, and, unlike most handbell groups, definitely not your grandmother’s bell group. It would be sexy and nerdy and funny (to exemplify this, Victoria has a full-arm tattoo of the inner workings of a handbell). We would play at comedy shows, variety shows, and a whole heck of a lot of burlesque shows. We would play Queen and Adele, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Fleet Foxes, MGMT and OK GO, the Star Warstheme, and Nintendo medleys.

I give you “Pavlov’s Dogs Handbell Ensemble.” I’ve played with my ladies for seven years. We’ve opened for Canadian rock stars and played the song from Scott Pilgrim on the same stage as the band plays it in the movie. We’ve played Disney songs in theatres, art gallery shows, and yes, even the occasional church gig. We’ve played a circus show and a carnival rave. It’s been a blast.

Playing handbells is hard, especially when you’re only six women playing three octaves. Each note is a different bell, and we play up to six or eight notes each. If there’s a key change, you have to potentially change every singing bell that you play. I play lower bells, but the smaller bells can, if you’re good, be played two in each hand (“four in hand”). It’s especially hard to play handbells if you have a broken elbow, but I’ve done it, as you can see in that video (with help). After I got married, my recessional was a recording of us playing my favourite bells piece (from the embedded video up top): Under Pressure.

I hope this brings some amusement to your day! We are all more than diabetes, and, fellow people with diabetes, I’d just like to say that you all ring my bell.

Prompt: Let's wrap up the week by sharing a little more about ourselves, beyond the chronic illness we or our loved ones live with.  Share an interest, hobby, passion, something that is YOU.  If you want to explore how it relates to or helps with diabetes you can.   Or let it be a part of you that is completely separate from diabetes, because there is more to life than just diabetes!  (This topic is a suggestion from the 2016 #DBlogWeek survey.)


  1. "...definitely not your grandmother’s bell group."

    Definitely not! So much more wonderful than I could every imagine. Brought a smile to my face. Thanks.

  2. I adore the name of the group and the song is wonderful. Bravo