News from HCDSM HQ

Saturday, May 26, 2018
Hey there. Long time, no see.

Which is entirely my fault, of course. I haven't been a very conscientious writer for some time, nor have I been a very conscientious reader, having given up on my RSS feed and most sources of news except the Washington Post.

The reasons for this should be obvious, and I'll leave it as an exercise for the class.

So what's been going on here at Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men HQ?

One of my volunteer gigs has devolved into something of a political shit-show, and I've been stressing over it. I'm unsure how much longer I'll be interested in serving in this particular role, because crap on a cracker, politics make my teeth hurt. And I can't see losing sleep (literally) over a volunteer gig.
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I joined my local Rotary Club for about six months. I ended up resigning due to a cultural misfit, i.e., Rotary Clubs tend to reflect the communities in which they reside, and we all know I, as an individual, represent about 10% of all liberals in Douglas County. Which isn't a problem in and of itself, except when the majority assumes you hold the same views as they do and some of them feel free to express their opinions without discernment. Or kindness.
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I started a new assignment in my day job in April. The move was non-optional as there was another team who needed a skill set I happened to have, but the change has been good, and I believe I'll have a greater chance for sales success in the new role. Go, me.
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It's Spring! You know what that means: GARDENING. While I thought I was about done last Fall in terms of getting things growing and where I want them, I was wrong. So it's been back to Lowe's and Gardner's Supply Co. for new containers, plants, etc. Growing things when you live on a hill and the soil is basically 100% clay is a pain in the ass, but I also suspect that gardening is like laundry in that it never, ever ends.
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I've been reading a lot. I've finished 80 books since January 1st, and while I expect I'll be slowing down a bit for the summer, that's a pretty good clip. 
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I've decided to go back to school (again). Once I graduated, I stopped going and started to listen to the Great Courses so I could continue to learn new things, but that hasn't worked out the way I wanted it to. I enjoy the lectures, but it's a pretty passive activity, and so doesn't engage my brain in an active, focused way the way actual coursework does. So I've enrolled in the local Community College to take enrichment courses starting after Memorial Day. First on the agenda: Database Design and Development. Chronic school attendance is good for my brain, and the longer I go without it, the more I feel my IQ points dribbling out of my ears. Bonus: I can acquire skills that might be valuable in my current day job as well as future volunteer gigs.
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That's about it here at HCDSM. I'm trying to re-engage in my on-line communities, but on my terms, rather than being victim to the time-suck.

Nobody Told Me

Monday, March 12, 2018

I'm in my 50's now.

When I was in my 30's, I couldn't even conceive of being "middle-aged," in spite of the warnings provided to me by older friends and relatives regarding weight gain, wrinkles, gravity, superfluous hair, memory loss, etc., ad naseum.

And yet, here I am, in my fifties, and all of those physical outcomes are happening to me. I have bags under the circles under the wrinkles under my eyes. I struggle with my weight all the time. Various body parts are losing their battle with gravity in alarming ways, and I can't remember shit. All of that is irksome, of course, and mildly horrifying in the "I'm still 30 in my mind, what the hell is going on here?" kind of way. But the physical deterioration of my body is far from the worst thing about getting older.

Nobody told me the absolute shittiest thing about getting older would be burying those I love.

First it was my dad, who died when I was 26. Last year I realized he's been gone more than half my life, which freaks me out a little. He died when he was 55, only 2+ years away from my current age, which freaks me out more.

Then my Gram Winky, followed by one of my Aunties, then the Smart Man's Grandma and one of his Aunties. All of these were hard enough, but then we lost our Moe-Moe, which stopped my heart and my world, and introduced a level of fragility to my well-being that I'll never get over.

Then we lost the Smart Man's mother, which was devastating for entirely different reasons, and then last year, my beloved Auntie Kris, both from the scourge that is cancer.

All of this sucks, and there have been times when we've been so overwhelmed with grief that we can't help asking the universe to give us a fucking break, already.

And then yesterday, I found out that we had lost a friend and colleague whom I've known for over twenty years. Over the years, we helped each other through some rough patches, both personally and professionally. He was funny, smart, generous to a fault, and loved his kids more than anything. I'll miss him in this world, and my heart is breaking for his kids, one of whom is a minor, and the other who is barely into adulthood.

And he was my age, a member of my cohort. And he died of natural causes, a cardiovascular event.

So now I'm not only burying my older relatives (which, while painful, is still the natural order of things), and my daughter (which is as far from the "natural order of things" as you can get), but also my friends and peers.

Even though I have no choice, this change in my status is something that I'm not really emotionally prepared to accept. Perhaps it's the the fact that I have to face my own mortality. Perhaps it's the fact that every time someone I care for dies, I lose a little piece of my heart, and I don't know how much more I can afford to lose. Perhaps it's just that the last ten years we've had more than our fair share of grief, and I'm just tired.

And honestly, even if someone had told me about the accelerating pain of burying the people I love, I don't know how I would have prepared myself. In my mind I'm still in my 30's, and my emotions just don't understand how the hell all these people keep leaving the world when I'm still here.

Getting older blows.

Random Thoughts and Words to Live By, Part 24

Friday, March 2, 2018

If someone claims their First Amendment rights are being abrogated by a corporation, then I must assume that all of their arguments are equally specious and I can confidently disregard them.

The Great Social Media Experiment

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

I've been on hiatus since December 18th.

Not just from Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men, but from Facebook, Twitter, my RSS feed, pretty much everything on-line with the exception of e:mail, SMS, my reading apps, and Google.

And aside from a mild itchiness of habit for the first week or two, I've been surprised at how little I've missed it. So here are the pros and cons of my two month experiment:

Pros
  1. Reduced the "noise" in my life.
  2. I feel more present in my life. 
  3. I feel more generally focused.
  4. I'm angry or upset a lot less.
  5. The time suck is gone.
  6. I read more. A LOT more. 
  7. I'm no longer exposed to people who will say the most hateful shit imaginable in order to make some sort of point against me in an on-line disagreement. 
 Cons
  1. I'm missing news from my friends and family.
  2. I'm not staying abreast of the news, which I consider my civic duty.
  3. I've had some interesting things to share or write about the last two months, and no where to put them. 

The Verdict

Obviously there are far more "pros" to giving up social media than there are "cons." But they bear similar weight within my own value system. The "pros" relate to my mental health and sense of balance, but the "cons" relate to my duty to people I care about and to myself.

What I've decided is that I need to find a balance between both. I want to spend some time on Facebook and such, but not much. I want to spend some time reading the news, but only once a day, and from only reputable sources (rather than links through FB, blog entries, etc.). To help with my peace of mind, I need to MAKE time to engage in meditation, as advised by Sister Stacey and the 10% Happier folks.

I'm going to try and reintegrate some of these things into my daily life. I'll be hiding, unfriending, or outright blocking people with reckless abandon (see pros #1, #4 and #7). I'll be limiting my FB time by not reinstalling the app on my phone (see pro #5). And if if social media starts infiltrating my new serenity with its redunkulousness, polarization, nasty-ass people, and lying liers of lies, I'm fully prepared to force it out the airlock with few regrets.

So I'll see you on Facebook or Twitter. Occasionally. In short doses. 

My Reasons for Gratitude, 2017

Monday, January 1, 2018

1. I got the opportunity to serve as the President of the Douglas County Libraries Board of Trustees. Having a meaningful service project is very important to me, and this position allowed me to continue to exercise my leadership muscles.

2. Sister Stacey and Brother J.R. moved back to Colorado this year after a four year hiatus to New York City for professional reasons. They're always in my heart, but now they're in my house, too, and my cup runneth over.

3. We lost my Auntie to cancer in May. I am so grateful to have had her in my life for over 50 years. My Auntie was one of the best people I've ever known, and her loss pains me every day. But I was able to tell her what she's meant to me before she passed, and her presence changed my life, and me, in ways that are only for the good.

4. I was able to spend time this year with the Smart Man's father and stepmom. It was shortly after we lost Auntie Kris, and their presence was a soothing anodyne to a stressful and grief-stricken time.

5. This year my garden began to take shape in the way I want. I still have a number of projects to do, as well the interminable wait for things to reach their full growth, but I'm on my way.

6. I mentor two young women who live in different states, and this year I was given the opportunity to be the mentor they deserve.

7. The Smart Man and I checked off another baseball park from the list this year. We want to visit them all, but some years we don't get to it due to other commitments or emergent disasters.

8. For the first time since we lost Moe, I was able to participate in activism related to suicide prevention by joining the Maureen's Marchers team in the annual "Out of the Darkness Walk" to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. There was a time when I thought I would never be capable of doing this, and I'm grateful to have reached a point in my grief journey where I can do work that may help other families who have been touched by this tragedy, even if I did cry through most of it.

9. I decided to join the Rotary this year. While being part of the Library Board is satisfying and speaks directly to my heart, I'm also interested in service projects that aren't so political in nature. It's tough to find an opportunity to serve without having to deal with petty people and their petty egos, and I hope I have found that opportunity with Rotary.

10. I had a very good year financially, which allowed us to make significant progress on some of our financial goals. Money doesn't buy happiness, but it sure gives you the freedom to make choices that can lead you there, and I'm fully aware of how much of our good fortune can be attributed to luck and privilege. 

Holiday Break

Monday, December 18, 2017
I know I just came back from hiatus, but I need to take a break from social media, y’all.

Between the news, polarizing content, and getting myself wrapped around the axle, I have found that I’m less than present in my daily life.

I need to take a break, and practice being present. I need to read more. I need to watch less TV. I need to start excercising with some discipline. I need to start eating healthy food. I need to start practicing some disciplined self-care.

And social media and our terrible world are interfering with all these things, the things I need to do to for my own benefit and for the benefit of the people around me.

See you all after the holidays. Maybe.

It's Lady Gaga's world - I just live in it

Friday, December 15, 2017

On Tuesday evening, I went to see Lady Gaga live at the Pepsi Center with three of my nearest and dearest.

This was the best concert I've ever been to. And that's saying a lot, because the Pepsi Center is probably my least favorite music venue in the Denver metro area, the show started an hour and fifteen minutes late, which bugs the crap out of me, and it was very loud, in spite of removing my hearing aid for the duration.

So why was Lady Gaga's the best show evah?

Because she is a consummate show-woman.


Because she made six costume changes.


Because in spite of the altitude and her constant dancing, her breath control, musical phrasing and pitch were spot on. 


Because she's authentic in her creative expression.


Because she takes her craft seriously, and clearly works her ass off to ensure she has the stamina and physical strength to put on an amazing show, every time she takes the stage.

 

And because she appears to be a genuinely decent human being, who values kindness, individuality, equality, and self-determination.

Totally worth the money. Totally.

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I also found out Doug Jones won the Alabama Senate seat at the show, so, you know - BONUS.