Play on, dreamers

yrmama and JM biked to brunch. Identical meals – hardened, folded-over egg lay on our plates, inside the fold was chilly pico de gallo, rubbery once-melted cheese and a TON of big ‘ol cubes of pork belly (aka bacon). No home fries. No toast. So what did we do with those repulsive “omelets?” We cleaned our plates and paid. Then outside we said, “omg, that was so bad!” I still feel sick when I think of what I ate that day.

Maryland Science Center

Now you might say, “But yrmama, surely you noticed the omelet was not your cup of tea before you ate the WHOLE THING.” And I would reply, “We were talking about Pete! Maybe I didn’t notice.” Then you might say, “yes, but this was egregiously bad food. You still feel sick from it.”

Fine, but JM and I were taught to clean our plates NO MATTER WHAT by genuine Great Depression survivors, including congealing disgusting meat bits. If there’s a little mold, trim it off. Sure the texture may have gotten strange, but there’s still flavor in it. JM so terrorized our own children with this ethic that I still regularly find thimble-sized plastic containers holding one or two bites of long ago dinners stashed in the refrigerator for “later.” These are bites they have no intention of eating but are afraid to scrape directly into the compost bucket.

Now with my dotage on the far horizon a crazy idea has dawned: when there is a decision to be made or a plate to clean I can ask myself, “what is in my best interest right now?” I fell out laughing when I first tried that question on for size. Ludicrous! What’s best for me? Without considering all of you? The interesting thing is that my own best interest in any given moment leads to pretty good decisions.

I know you are shocked by this. yrmama is so full of good advice. She appears oddly youthful and shiny. She is beyond reproach, omniscient and omnipotent. How can she have been walking around for decades with such a log in her eye? She doesn’t seem like a doormat.

It’s hard to know how to prepare for life as a human. Is yrmama a ruse? Are we in a waking dream? Could we pretend to be as well as we wish to be? Play on, dreamers. Onward and upward.

Amy, the Young Boomer

The other day a dear friend of yrmama’s turned 84, not 64, 84. Before we spent his entire birthday dinner talking about Pete, he told me he’d like yrmama to say more about Amy.

Well, Amy has the best of all the campaign colors – bright green – hopeful, down to earth, intense and yrmama’s favorite color.

Star Tribune

Amy has a robust Angela Merkel vibe, and a bit of Jimmy Carter.

Amy looks like yrmama and that’s a very good thing. The first time I saw her in person she walked right up to me as she entered the room, even though I was sitting in a stupid folding chair, shook my hand and introduced herself. 10 points!

Amy has the upper midwestern pragmatic, no-frills, nails for breakfast approach to politics layered over formidable intelligence, experience and leadership that any politician would pay a bundle for if they could sit down in a salon chair and say, “just give me an Amy.”

I would be thrilled to have Amy as president, but I think better yet, as Pete’s vice president for eight years and then president.

Amy’s commendable youthfulness is worth another 20 points. She was born in in 1960, which keeps her from being one of the “old yelling white guys” that has dominated our country for too long.

Our friend Elizabeth (1949) totally counts as an “old yelling white guy.” She jogs down the runway to the stage, pumping her gloved fists in the air to demonstrate her vigor and focus on fighting. I love Elizabeth, but if she won even she would be the oldest president ever elected to office. And she’s an old yelling white guy and it’s time to be done with that.

Joe, six years older than Elizabeth, also jogs around the stage bouncing as though he’s entered a boxing ring. He pauses to do wave-and-points into the crowd, as if he could see that far.

Donald, W, and Bill were all born in 1946. Barack (1961) gave us a tantalizing taste of generational change, but with Donald’s electoral-college-only victory we were back to the 1946ers. They are old enough to be Amy’s father. They are old enough to be Pete’s grandfathers. I think the old guard boomers have had their turn and we are ready for leadership that looks into the future. Beating Donald isn’t enough if we don’t want to just swing back to another 1946er in another four years and we shouldn’t settle for that. We need leadership that will help us start building out what comes next.

Onward!

You are all that

Falling Safely – AARP

Do you remember the feeling of falling? There is a moment when you’re running downhill gleefully, thrilled at the sensation of your feel moving faster than you ever expected yet keeping everything balanced over them. Then a falter, either your feet can no longer keep up and don’t lift in time to match the momentum of your body, or the crystals of your inner ear are sloshing so hard that they can’t tell you where you are in space anymore. There’s a moment when when a voice that sounds like yours says, “I’m going down,” and then you surrender and fall and it feels just like falling in a dream.

Gravity is incredible. Your body, which normally teeters giddily upright meets the ground with incredible force. You and the earth that you are normally dancing lightly atop, slam together, like monster magnets.

How to not fall: Sit very very still in a bomb-proof chair. Do not bend over and then straighten back up. Do not lean back casually against anything solid-seeming, like a bookcase. Do not think about what you will be doing a few seconds from now or how to answer a companion’s question – STAY IN THE MOMENT! Sit on the top step and bump your way slowly down on your butt. If you must leave the house hang on tight to your friend’s arm until you are back to the bomb-proof chair. Meanwhile, undertake a precise, strenuous program of corrective exercise and DO NOT STOP until you are in peak physical form. Simultaneously and systematically optimize your balance and coordination. Get your act together! Meditate more. Regulate your emotions. Modulate your blood pressure and liver enzymes with Brain Power. I know you can do it. You can succeed. You are all that. And More.

Pete, the Slippery Bamboozler

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Pete has a secret power. Remember Donald stalking Hillary on the debate stage? She could smell his breath, and she chose to ignore him. Solid choice. I love to picture Debate Pete in that position – I don’t know the details, but he wouldn’t take any shit, and in such an unassailable way there would be nothing for Donald to grab. His unflappability would both enrage and bamboozle Donald.

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Pete’s like my feral cat, Dr. Norris, sleek and adorable. Last winter I had to pick Dr. Norris up to save their* life. (I’m not even kidding, they would have died.) They initially allowed the contact, but soon tried to slither loose. Because I was wearing thick gloves and an impenetrable Carhartt barn jacket I decided to hang on for their own good. In a flash Dr. Norris began biting my arm and hand over and over until one of those needle-like fangs pierced a vulnerable seam in my glove and into my hand. Dr. Norris disappeared into the woods but my hand blew up like the infected flesh balloon it was. Dr. Norris was correct in their actions (you don’t try to pick up feral cats), efficient, and remarkably calm. I had no recourse. I did set a live trap and took them in to be neutered, but that’s not exactly recourse. That was me, serving them, with a humble acknowledgement of the superiority of their teeth over my hubristic attempt to catch them with my hands.

How are you grateful to Donald? Let us count the ways. What are you looking forward to as the campaign progresses?

*Dr. Norris uses they/them pronouns. Dogs and cats do not possess our human construct of gender. They are not sexless, but they are genderless. Stop apologizing to each other for misgendering each other’s dogs at the dog park. It’s really okay.

photo credits: voanews.com, walmart.com

How to motivate Iowans and what yrmama really wants

After the Liberty and Justice Celebration we stayed on in DesMoines for a couple of days to attend the Pete Summit. It was “leadership training” for core campaign volunteers from across the state and if yrmama is a “core campaign volunteer” … they should look for people who are less cynical than yrmama.

The Battle of #LJ19 Hill
Plus, yrmama would like to be awarded all the style points for her patriotic outfit. The JCrew clearance jeans are spangled with little blue stars, while the TJMaxx clearance red cotton sweater and moisture-wicking gray hooded sweatshirt underneath take the adorable ensemble all the way from cute and festive to dressed-for-the-weather. Photography credit – JM And thanks to Amy for all the green signs to pose with.

I like Pete, but despite my signed Commit to Caucus (a “CTC” to the real insiders) and the t shirts and yard signs I’m still my old deeply skeptical non-joiner self. If it weren’t for this doggone blog (thanks Sharon) I would probably not be doing any of this, but there I was, in a junior high school gym with 175 fellow core campaign volunteers from all over Iowa and a lot of extremely bouncy, youthful campaign staffers. The first morning we were treated to a bonus visit from Pete himself and we even sat next to the nice sixteen year old girl who has become Chasten’s new best friend. I’m not even kidding – when she was sick he called her. JM said, with a healthy mix of jealousy and awe, “She’s going to get invited to the inauguration.”

Despite now being well-trained in interpersonal persuasion tactics meant to be used on the Pete-curious (they actually call you that), what I really want out of this is a little different. I really want people to caucus and vote for whoever they want. I want them to be able to talk about their “values” (wth. Talk about a mushy concept.) and political ideas, which in itself is kind of revolutionary. I want them to feel like their ideas matter and that their vote will ultimately make a difference.*

This training skipped over the fact that Iowans, for the most part, consider talking about politics bad manners. I was explicitly taught to not talk about politics, religion or money except in special circumstances. I think there should have been a session on how to create “safe spaces” where Iowans would feel like talking about their “values.”

I know that the way to motivate Iowans is not to talk them into things, or jump up and down and yell zestfully, or set expectations for them, but to tell them that their work and ideas are valuable and appreciated. I was at a volunteer appreciation dinner the other night for a different organization whose army of volunteers brought in $100,000 of revenue in September, one price tag on a used pair of socks at a time. That’s what they tell us all the time there – your work and ideas are valuable and appreciated.

In the comments – were you taught that there was a set of topics unsuited to common civil discourse? Have you ever been persuaded to take a position?

*Hey! Let’s do a thing where the presidential candidate with the most votes wins!

yrmama attends #LJ19

Democratic presidential candidate, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party Liberty & Justice Celebration on November 1, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Decoder Ring : The LJ is what the cool kids call the Liberty and Justice Celebration, formerly the Iowa Democrat party’s Jefferson Jackson Dinner. It is the state’s last big blow-out for the candidates before the caucus on February 3rd, and it is famously where Barack made a head-turning speech in 2007.

We arrived in downtown Des Moines in the late afternoon on Friday, where each campaign had been partying hard in the 35F rain ALL DAY, yelling and dancing, before entering the Wells Fargo Arena at 4:30 pm. Kamala was led in by the Isiserettes – the same local drum corps and drill team Barack had at the then-JJ in 2007 and in his inauguration parade. You should also be sad you missed an early chance to see Team Pete doing the High Hopes dance. Soon you will all be doing it.

Inside, on the main floor, were round tables for dining Democratic high rollers in their dress-up clothes. The arena seats were divided up into blocks for the various campaigns. For perspective, most of Joe’s seats were empty, Bernie had no allotted seats because they opted for an off-site watch party and Andrew had one section. We were in the Pete region, a very full twelve sections, about 1/4 of the total seats. We were exceptionally loud, too, but well-rivaled in decibels by Elizabeth’s folks in their sea-foam green gear.

This was yrmama’s first chance to see Andrew speak in person, and he was my second favorite-est. I loved his supporter’s glow-stick Y’s and he’s just smart, funny, and iconoclastic. I hope he takes some kind of influential job in government – in the cabinet maybe. He talked about how Iowans have a truly outsized influence in the presidential election that we should wield and wield wisely. He said he’s done the math and one Iowan is worth a thousand Californians, influence-wise, which means that the fourteen thousand Iowans in the arena that night are the equivalent of fourteen million California voters.

Tom Steyer was the only other one I’d not seen in person. He said good things and has a role to play but he probably is not going to be the nominee.

What do you mean you don’t feel like caucussing? I’ll make sure you have a ride there and back AND buy you a pizza. Seriously,

The Fathomless Depths That Beckon Cruelly

What do you do when unfathomable, meaningless sadness, lands on you; a sagging, wet weight on your chest? As though one of those giant slabs of old snow slides down from a steep roof in a way that knocks you off your feet and pins you there on the salty sidewalk. Or if you have dragged yourself into town to run some errands and while you are waiting for permission to cross the intersection a delivery truck drops a tire into the huge pothole of black slush that has nowhere to go because the storm drains are clogged with ice and the vomit of undergrads, and it drenches you from neck to knees.

Move to Arizona and cry near a sunny golf course? Go see your therapist so you can whimper without dignity in that big puffy chair? Go about your business, stumbling and weepy and when kind people ask if you are okay you whisper, “no?” Do you remember that alcohol with ultimately make you sadder (but will it?) and is comprised of ruinous but otherwise empty calories, but you drink a little too much anyway? Do you take up smoking? Or maybe you are the type who can express yourself through your artwork. Geez. Go for a run? Again, geez. If that works for you, fine.

Tell the truth.