In Case of Emergency...

Monday, August 19, 2019

I was in Baltimore last week for a conference. This is not unusual - I travel on business once or twice a month. What was unusual was that I chose to fly back on the last day of the conference, rather than spending another night and flying home the following day. I did this for a couple of reasons having to do with my fiduciary responsibility to my company and a desire to get home a day early. But now I remember why flying home the next day is my custom.

By the time my plane landed I was exhausted. And by the time I got to my car to drive home I realized I had lost my phone somewhere between the plane and the car.

Well, that sucks balls, I thought. I'm sure I'll never see it again, and tomorrow will now include a visit to the Verizon store to replace it with $1,000 that is NOT in the budget for this month.

But then a strange thing happened.

While I was driving home, someone at the airport found my phone, used the emergency contact function of the iPhone to get Terry's number, and texted him to let him know they had found my phone and then brought it to security. They even sent a photograph of the location of the office for our reference. The next morning, the lost and found staff contacted my emergency contacts again, letting them know the airport had my phone. We picked the phone up on Friday, no harm, no foul.

The woman at the lost and found mentioned to us, however, that in her role, she has to try and find the owners of lost phones every day, and that people who put emergency contacts in their devices have a much higher rate of return than those who don't. Seems obvious, yes? I only put in emergency contacts because of my medication allergies, but enjoyed the unexpected consequence of not having to buy a new phone.

Once I got my phone back I texted the person who turned it in and thanked them for their kindness and effort.

Achievement unlocked: Faith in humanity, restored. At least for a while.


And so it begins

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

It's official. I'm old.

I went to my GP today because I've been experiencing a limited range of motion in my left hip, plus it hurts when I stand for a long time, or am too active.

Yeah. I have osteoarthritis in my hip.

So far it's not that bad. It only hurts when I sit cross-legged, when I overdo the physical activity, or when I have to stand for hours on end (hello, trade shows!). Sister Amy suggested that I get it looked at the last time I was in San Diego, so that I could start Physical Therapy, which was wise of her. She had one of her own hips replaced at a very young age, so she knows whereof she speaks.

So I'll be doing PT, as well as taking some anti-inflammatory medications to keep things under control.

But the real issue is, when the hell did I get old enough to develop arthritis in my damn hip? I already need bifocals and a hearing aid, for Christ's sake. What's next? Incontinence? Glaucoma? Cataracts? Osteoporosis? It feels like just yesterday that my body was strong, pain-free, and basically did whatever I asked of it without a lot of fuss. Fucking aging, man. Shit.

On the Anniversary of Your Death

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Today is the anniversary of your death. You would have been 28 this year, had you lived. Sometimes I wonder what your life would have been like at this age, if you would have started a career, found a partner, continued your education. But that way lies madness, since you'll never do any of those things, and there's nothing I can do about it.

Poppa, Aunt Stacey, Uncle J.R. and me joined the AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk again this year. Last year our team - named after you - were the 3rd highest fundraising team in the Denver event, and this year it looks like we're on pace to do it again. A testament to your lost light, and to those who grieved with us and for us when you left this world. I don't think I'll ever be emotionally capable of directly helping the AFSP in their work, but I'll continue to walk in your honor for as long as I'm able. It still breaks my heart to think of your silent suffering, and I'd really like to spare other young people and their families from this tragedy.

This year I attended my first Denver Pridefest with a group called "Free Mom Hugs." Aunt Stacey and I stood on a street corner offering hugs to anyone who wanted them, and it seemed like everyone wanted them. I cried a little inside every time I gave a hug, wishing I was there with you.

I'm also volunteering this year with the "Parasol Patrol." This group provides escort and shielding services to LGBTQ+ youth who are attending events in their community. In my mind's eye, I can just see you beside me, in your tutu, holding up your umbrella so the kids won't have to see the hateful protesters who think it's their job to tell other people how to live. The social justice warrior in you would not have let that pass, and so I'm trying to emulate your dedication and sense of righteous indignation.

I don't volunteer at the library anymore. The stupidity and douchiness of local politics finally got to me, and I resigned from both Boards. Poppa and I still maintain the naming rights for your memorial garden at the Parker Library, though. As long as we're able, we'll keep that garden in memory of you.

I guess this year I decided that I needed to change the work that I do to honor your life. I'm leaning more toward activities that directly support and defend your community, in a way that I would have defended your life, had I been given the chance. I don't think I was capable, until now. I won't lie and act like it doesn't hurt me to do these things, because it does. But you're worth it, so, so worth it, and I comfort myself with the idea that you would approve of the things I do in your memory. You were always, always a defender of those who could not defend themselves, and I like to think I've taken up a small portion of that burden on your behalf.

I still miss you terribly, so terribly. It's not like the first year, where every hour brought a new torment of grief and pain. But I think of you with love and loss each and every day, wishing beyond hope that you were still here with me, making fun of political hypocrites and geeking out about Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel.

So I'll continue to stand up in your memory, no matter what. You deserve no less. And neither do I.

Treat Your Children Well

Monday, June 17, 2019

Denver had their Pridefest celebration this last weekend. As usual, there were a TON of people there, enjoying the (marginally) good weather and the welcoming culture of the event.

And this year, Sister Stacey and I decided to join the local chapter of a non-profit called "Free Mom Hugs" who work the event. The idea is to provide some level of affirmation and caring to those who need it during this celebration of gender and sexual diversity.

So Stacey and I donned our "Free Mom Hugs" t-shirts, walked to the Civic Center, and found a street corner to stand on.


We stood on that corner for two hours with our hands in the air calling out "Free Mom Hugs! High fives, fist bumps! Get a hug from a Mom!"

I was not really emotionally prepared for the this experience, which was equal parts heartbreaking and affirming, and filled my heart in so many ways.

We gave out hundreds of hugs. Many of the young adults (and it was 90% young adults) just wanted a hug, someone to celebrate their festival with them. Others wanted to thank us for being there, and told us how much it meant to them that their community was supported in this way. Still others literally ran into our arms, caught up in the spirit of the event. A small group said their own moms had passed on, and they just wanted a Mom Hug, one more time. One man literally lifted us off our feet. Many wanted pictures with us, and one couple called us "adorable."

For most of these young people, I made an effort to look each one of them in the eye and tell them how very happy I was to see them. Not just see them, but to really see them, for who they are and all that that entails. Some of my huggees looked a little bewildered, and then either teared up or smiled broadly and said thank you. Others didn't need that level of interaction, and trotted off after their hug, as happy as they were before.

And then there were the others.

One of my first hugs was a young man who came up to to me and said, "I want a Mom Hug because my mom doesn't like me much." A young woman of color who couldn't look Stacey or me in the eye was wiping tears from her eyes as she moved on. We got glitter and makeup all over our shirts, and couldn't have cared less.

But the most profound interaction of my day was a young couple who came in for hugs. The first clearly identified as a woman, and her partner's gender was indeterminate, so I'll use the they/their pronouns.

I hugged both of them, and told them both how happy I was to see them, and then moved to the next person in line (yes, there was a line). But when I turned my head, I noticed the girl hugging her partner, who was crying on her shoulder. On impulse, I put my arms around them both, and I heard the girl say, "See? She's come back for more!" I hugged them both, and then the girl moved away, so I hugged them tight until they moved away. I then looked them in the eye and said, "I don't know what is causing you this pain, but I am so sorry you're going through this." They wiped their eyes and said, "It's okay" in the way people do when they're far from okay. And I responded with "It's really, really not. You matter, and there are people in this world who care about you." That started another round of tears, with me joining in this time, until they felt comfortable going back to their girlfriend.



I have feelings about this.

On the one hand, I was so happy and grateful to have been there at the right place at the right time to provide some level of comfort for this child. They clearly needed some affirmation of their value, and I think my choices in this interaction were the right ones.

And then I got angry. Really, really angry. How starved for parental affection did they have to be that a hug and a few kind words from a total stranger brought them to tears? How alone, how desperate, how bereft? Don't their parents know how incredibly lucky they are, to have the opportunity to lift up this child and support them while they struggle to be themselves in a world that often doesn't understand? My heart broke for this child, and then broke again, knowing that they are at risk, real risk, of suicide, just because of who they are and who they got stuck with for a birth family.

And then I grieved anew, because my Moe-Moe did have supportive parents, parents that would have done anything for her, anything to save her, and we lost her anyway.

Giving out Free Mom Hugs at Pridefest was hard for me. Really hard. But I'll go back next year, and the year after that, and every year until I'm no longer able to do so or until our LGBTQ+ young people aren't at such a high risk of suicide. These kids deserve more, so much more, than their birth families are willing to give. If my presence can give them even the slightest comfort, then I'm willing to pay the emotional price, over and over and over.

You matter. There are people in this world who care about you. Please stay.

ETA: The Colorado Chapter of Free Mom Hugs has no money left in our budget for future activities - the cost of the booth at Denver Pridefest tapped us out. If you wish to contribute to our Chapter, you can send money via PayPal to freemomhugscolorado at gmail dot com. Funds are used to support our presence at LGBTQ+ events and educational materials. Thank you!

Link Me Up, Scotty - Hate and Fear Edition

Monday, April 15, 2019

Is empathy eroding in the United States? This journalist sure thinks so, and I am hard pressed to gainsay researchers' conclusions. I see this not only on-line, but in people I know and care about. Hell, I saw it in me for a while, when I was routinely "discussing" politics on Facebook and found myself liking myself less and less. Which is why I (typically) don't discuss anything more important than why the Night's Watch in Game of Thrones don't wear hats when it's snowing. It actually pains me to see people I feel like I used to know disregard the pain and suffering of others. But I'll be damned if I know how to fix it.
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Morehouse College is America's only all male traditionally black college, and they have decided to change their policies to admit transgender men. This story makes my heart happy, as this type of inclusiveness goes a long way toward changing attitudes about transgender folk in communities where they've long been looked upon with suspicion.  Nicely done, Morehouse Trustees. Nicely done, indeed.
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My favorite Christian Pastor has something to say about MAGA Christians and their God. As an Atheist, I typically leave criticism of specific groups of the faithful to other persons of faith, since the entire social construct of religion is a complete fucking mystery to me. Luckily there are people in the world whose basic religious teaching boils down to kindness and compassion (two of my own core values), and who are courageous enough to call out those who don't comply with their own professed belief system.
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It's Peep season! And each year, Peep art becomes more and more elaborate. I myself am particularly fond of RGPeep.
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Tiger's back! I have to say I'm happy for him, coming back after so many years of physical and emotional struggle. Please note I am in no way excusing his personal shortcomings as they relate to his poor choices. But I can't help admiring his grit.
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There's a lot I don't like about Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But I'll give credit where credit is due, and give her props for being an extremely adept political operator. Especially when dealing with 45, she comports herself in a way that makes it obvious that she's the one in the room who is adulting, and refuses to let him drag her down to her level.
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Anti-Vaxxers make me apoplectic with rage. Their Dunning-Kruger attitude and disregard for public health spits in the eye of the greatest medical achievement in the history of the world, and they seem not to care about the consequences of their stupidity. APOPLECTIC WITH RAGE, Y'ALL.
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The link between cancer and obesity. I've been struggling with my weight since I hit 40, and these types of analyses motivate me to try and keep it in the healthy range. Yikes.
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Video of the Week: This gave me a terrible ear-worm, so of course I'm sharing. A charming version of the Beatles' Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da by young  Gabriela Bee.


Link Me Up, Scotty - Change on the Rise

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Scientists are getting their first real look at black holes, which, when you think about it, are just the most bizarre fucking things ever.
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The field of Democrats pursuing the Presidential nomination just keeps growing and growing. For those of us who tend toward liberalism (or, to be fair, those who tend away from the dumpster fire that is our current administration), it's an embarrassment of riches. For myself, I will not be considering any candidate over 60 this year. The old white dudes have had their chance for the last 243 years, and I am Not Impressed. I want some new blood in there, with flexible minds and fresh ideas. Also: The first 45 fan-boi who tries to disparage any Democratic candidate for their lack of experience is going to get a crash course in the dangers of hypocrisy, as well as the point and laugh treatment for their lack of critical thinking skills.
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Have any of my readers used Groupon for travel? I'm digging the options and prices, but am hesitant to relinquish that much of the planning process to someone I don't know. And if you call me a control freak, I will say, "Yes. Yes, I am."
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Speaking of young Democrat Presidential candidates, I love the way Pete Buttigieg addresses his sexual orientation as an aspect of who he is, without making it ALL that he is. Aside from being a mayor, a war veteran, a Harvard graduate, and a Rhodes scholar, Buttigieg is a deeply faithful man, and it informs his positions, policies, and life. And strangely enough, I find it does not offend me or make me nervous. He doesn't want to legislate his faith on anyone else, he simply wants our country to behave in ways that are decent and kind (the fundamental message of Jesus, if I'm not mistaken), rather than otherwise. I can get behind that.
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And out of Texas (because of course it is), there is a state law under consideration which would "criminalize abortion without exception, and make it possible to convict women who undergo the procedure of homicide, which can carry the death penalty in Texas." I can't fucking believe we're still having this conversation. Margaret Sanger must be rolling over in her grave.
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In other news, 45 is losing his shit over his self-created "crisis at the border." I swear to Cthulhu, if there's a way for a leader of the free world to shoot himself in the foot, this chuckle-head will find it.
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New Zealand has passed a law banning most semiautomatic weapons less than a month after the mosque massacre. Because apparently the rest of the world doesn't rely on "thoughts and prayers" when violent events occur within their borders.
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From the "I love the universe" files: 21 of the year's best photos of our solar system and beyond.
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Video of the Week: My celebrity platonic boyfriend, Avi Kaplan, sings Change on the Rise.

Midnight Ramblings

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

As most of my readers know, I have chronic, anxiety driven insomnia for which I take medication. Sometimes it's great, and I'll go weeks without an incident, and sometimes it's bad, and I'll have several bad nights in a week, for several weeks in a row.

Right now I'm living in the second category because reasons, and crap on a cracker, my brain is such an asshole. You want to know what kind of crap runs through my head while I'm laying there not sleeping? Here's a sample.
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I wonder whatever happened to that youngest Osmand kid...Jimmy? I always felt bad for him. He always seemed like the "also ran" in that family.*
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I cannot believe white people don't realize how much they're telling on themselves when they post dog whistle commentary on social media. Such blatant racism makes me feel like I'm living in an episode of Dear White People. They might as well start each proclamation with, "I'm not a racist, but..."

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Once again, Colorado has been named a top ten state for well-being in the United States. Makes me feel bad for other communities, especially in the deep South, where poverty, crappy education, and minimal health care puts them in the bottom ten.
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How come my left leg hurts when I wake up? It's a deep pain, like it's in the bone. I'll bet it's bone cancer, and my leg's going to explode from the inside out, like that episode of House where the soccer athlete broke her leg.

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Do Christian conservatives realize how very hypocritical they are when it comes to 45's behavior? When it was Clinton engaging in non-biblical congress with his intern and lying about it, it was worth impeachment, but when 45 does that and more and also lies like a dog about every fucking thing, then "it's not for them to judge" his personal life. Yeah, right.
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Man, crowds suck the big one. They make me feel like I'm being squeezed, and not in a good way.
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Seems like most of the countries with very high well-being all use a form of Democratic Socialism or Social Democracy. Must be a coincidence. Has to be.
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Turns out Douglas County [where I live] is the healthiest county in America according to U.S. News. Amazing how lots of money, access to fresh, healthy foods, and plenty of open space will affect populations.
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Dude, the "Fountain of Youth" attraction in St. Augustine is like the poster child for pro colonial white washing. The exhibits make it look like Ponce de Leon flounced into Florida and held Kum-Ba-Yah sessions with the native population rather than killing them with disease, kidnapping and raping their women, and forcing them to convert to Christianity. I guess the actual truth wouldn't attract many visitors at $15.00 a pop for admission.

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*He's not, for those interested. His musical career was pretty successful, he's still working in the entertainment industry, and is apparently happily married with four kids.