The Astonishing Number

Like every other American woman I’ve ever heard of yrmama spent almost all of her life trying to lose weight. Probably unrelatedly, most of my adult life I was approximately the same size I was in high school. Three times I did lose weight; when I was deathly ill with malaria, when I obsessively counted “points” to obey Weight Watchers, and when some combination of rheumatoid arthritis drugs and severe depression rendered me unable to eat for a very long time. All three times I returned to my normal size when my body (yr brain is part of yr body) came to it’s senses and regained equilibrium.

In the depth of my scrawniness people said, “yrmama, you look great!” Which meant, “Hey yrmama, congratulations! You finally managed to get smaller!” Did I need to be smaller? Not really. It’s just what we do.

let this play while you finish reading

After that last episode of skinniness I quit. I have a lot more free time now and my poor brain is much more relaxed. My resolve to rebel was bolstered by the first second and third books you need to read on the topic:

Lindy West
The New York Times

I stubbornly do not know how much I weigh. No numbers. I’ve gotten a bit softer and rounder of late but that’s more of an awareness, not a problem. Middle aged ladies get soft around the middle. Recently a nurse wanted to weigh me so I stepped on her scale backwards as always and rebelliously declined to take off my shoes and belt and empty all my pockets to minimize the result. She announced the number to me. Out loud! (Usually stepping on backwards with my bag still on my shoulder is their cue to not tell me. She kinda missed that.) And it was an astonishing number, a bigger number than you can even fathom! Monumental. Gargantuan. Never been achieved before.*1

Megan Rapine
New York Times

Then I looked at my gorgeous self and thought, “So THIS is what I was so afraid of?” Damn. So much wasted time and energy, America.

New York Times

One antidote to the all the evil messages of dietland is to watch the USWNT – what badasses those young ladies are. Then, watch a few Lizzo videos and top it all off with admiring the glorious Serena Williams.*2

*1 Turns out the nurse actually made a mistake, translating from kgs to lbs., which was a relief – evidence of remnants of the old stinkin’ thinkin’. Plus further evidence is that I feel compelled to set the record straight. So you’ll think I’m only this fat, not that fat.)

*2 I need a role model my age though.

yrmama sprained her ankle and was given the boot

the Pro Care XcelTrax Air Ankle Walker
a very nice boot


In addition to spraining her ankle yrmama also watched the second debate, which was more thrilling than the first. I predicted Kamala would break from the pack, and she did. I also saw her standing there – and long before she shushed the bickering children and eviscerated Joe – thought she looked like she was in charge of the event. Joe, Bernie and Bill all relied on the tried-tired-and-true method of being white men who yell and looked stupid for it.

  • Tomorrow Marianne will be speaking at a church service in Cedar Rapids and then holding a town hall there at noon. Should be an interesting scene.
  • Bernie will be in town Tuesday to open his Iowa City office and to have an ice cream social at College Green Park. Ice cream! Yelling!
  • July 14 is the Progress Iowa Corn Feed at NewBo Market. So far 10 of the candidates plan to be there.

The Ankle

On Tuesday yrmama strode across the deck in her especially stable New Balance shoes after walking a couple of miles at the dog park, completing her foot and ankle strengthening exercises and her balance improving exercises to pick some luscious organic arugula for her lunch. She wobbled a bit and her ankle tipped over in such a way that all of her considerable weight was on the top of her foot instead of the bottom. Something cracked, she screamed a little from the intense pain, then lowered herself into the grass to cry and say bad words for a while. No dogs to blame this time, no ice, marbles or banana peels, just gravity. Doctors and PTs always try to blame those things for yrmama’s falls and say, “yrmama, that happens to everyone.” To which yrmama replies, “I don’t know anyone at the advanced age of 55 who wipes out, falls down, goes arse over tits as frequently as I do. I’m not imagining this.” It’s not like there’s anything they can do about it, it just sucks. A few years ago a doctor who was checking yrmama for fractures was concerned by the immense, ghastly bruises across my chest and upper arm and wondered if JM had pushed me down the steps or something. He’s no danger to me, quite the opposite, but she was right to check. Another time I cut my shin whilst falling up the stairs at the public library. When I reached the top a kind young reference librarian, alarmed by the blood trickling down my leg, asked if I was okay and if I would like a band aid. I proudly declined.

Do nothing to compromise your dignity. Admitting to a reference librarian that one’s leg is bleeding is just weak.

Fun and Useful Facts: Hypermobility makes one’s joints loose which leaves the whole chain of command wobbly. It also impairs one’s sense of where one’s body is in space aka clumsiness. As a child yrmama was so clumsy as to be sent to a remedial Saturday morning PE class that the school district provided for the clumsy kids. It was a long time ago so Ehlers Danlos hadn’t been invented yet. But that’s just as well because considering the anciency of times and my parents I would have been discouraged from exercising which would have been very counterproductive.

D d d d bate – June 26

With much sighing yrmama hearby surrenders to the fact that it’s time to watch twenty Democrats stand podium by podium on the debate stage.

Last night Elizabeth held her own and Bill was a tad aggressive. Cory’s face was a glorious open book. Julian stood out! He was substantive, decisive and strong. I think Elizabeth might be making a big mistake with the intention to eradicate private health insurance. Or maybe she’s a genius.

Pete Wins Greene Square Park, June 8

Greene Square Park is the main green space in downtown Cedar Rapids, right between the art museum and beautiful public library. On the weekend where 20 candidates were scrambling around holding pre and pre-pre-Hall of Fame Events, I think the fact that Pete’s staff scored the primo location says a lot.

lil puppies for Pete

It was one of those nothing so rare as a day in June days with low humidity, warm sun and no bugs.Several hundred of us got lunch from food trucks, played corn hole and frisbee, listened to a local band, Relaxed Fit, dogspotted and held focus groups while waiting the customary hour for Pete to arrive. It was very pleasant.

Pete took the stage and did a five minute version of his stump speech – Freedom, Security and Democracy – then circulated a little, ate some ice cream, played corn hole with someone and then got back onstage to play keyboard with the band. He’s a real good sport.

yrmama’s daughter Serena Williams gave her summary assessment, “He’s so little and cute. He seems really friendly. And he speaks well.” She has clearly inherited hermama’s ability to judge a person’s character quickly and succinctly.

Hope!Hype!Hustle! – Cory Booker, June 8, Iowa City

Summer in Iowa City….ahhh….park where you want, for the children have all gone home! Every weekend we have a festival! Sand! Art! Jazz! Pride! Every Friday there’s a band playing by the fountain! Streets are closed for food trucks and porta potties and beer pens! Movies are projected on the side of McBride! While they are gone we Live It Up.

June 18, 2016. Zak Neumann Freelance for The Gazette.

Back from Jay’s event in Cedar Rapids (As a preschooler, daughter #17 called it See the Rabbits.) JM and I hustle downtown to see if we can catch the end of Cory’s Political Party Live taping. We skillfully dodge salsa dancers by the fountain and enter a room that smells like pencils. Hah hah, the walls are covered with sharpened pencils. Very clever decor, hotel in Unesco City of Literature. Cory is just arriving as we get oriented, nice and late. We find a spot to stand with a few hundred of our closest friends closely packed around us.

adorable and a Senator

JM brings me a very cold beer. I’m hungry. It’s hot. Cory is passionate and gives me chills, talking about race and guns and stuff. He’s amazing. My excessive sweatiness intensifies until there is a steady trickle from the back of my head, down my neck, down my back, between the boobs, splashing on my shoulders – splish splash. I tell JM I’m stepping out to cool off and aim my face towards the lobby and hope everything else follows. In the blast of air I meet on the other side of the door is a very nice young man with a nametag and a clipboard. He asks if we are ready to caucus for Cory, then assesses reality and gets me a chair and a glass of ice water. He still wants me to caucus for Cory though and tries to get my phone number. I tell him I don’t know my phone number because I actually don’t remember it.

At our favorite air conditioned speakeasy fifteen minutes later JM and I order solid food, light icy cocktails and many glasses of ice water. It’s very nice but I don’t really fully recover – my autonomic nervous system is still on the blink so I continue sweating like a fool and very much look forward to reclining at home.

The server comes around to take our empty dishes, looks me in the eye and says, “so, are we done drinking for the evening?” She’s taken my dishevelment and obvious desire to recline as signs of extreme inebriation. That’s a new one; plumpish, perpetually damp, middle aged yrmama suspected of being overly soused. I guess it’s rather sweet of her to look out for me, but sousededness is truly not part of yrmama’s brand. Explaining to her, “so, yrmama, that’s me, has this genetic collagen defect that can lead to blah blah blah and stretchy blood vessels blah blah,” seemed counterproductive though so I graciously agreed with her, paid up and went home to recline.

Next: PETE!

***Late Edit – yrmama, in all her self-absorption neglected something. Cory is RADIANT. On top of being smart, charming, experienced in politics and a very fine orator, it turns out Cory is spiritually evolved. Which I know because yrmama can sense that kind of thing. This vegan, AME and rather Jewish man who is friends with Gayle (Oprah’s friend) is running on a platform of love, with a capital L which makes it Love. Watch him glow.

Jay Inslee – Ellis Park, Cedar Rapids June 8

Mother Mosque in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
the oldest existing mosque in the United States

A solid 150 folk clumped up at the picnic tables in a park pavilion overlooking the Cedar River. The route there is through the Northwest and Time Check neighborhood – visually dominated by acres of flat, mowed green space populated by a few flocks of Canada geese. Here and there are a small house, and the small white Mother Mosque of America. It was a human neighborhood until the big ole flood of 2008 covered ten square miles of the city. The air was soft and warm with just enough breeze to blow the gnats off.

State Senator Rob Hogg introduced the other dignitaries in the crowd; other state senators, climate action group leaders etc, and Jay, long-serving Governor of Washington state. Jay says the only thing any of us should be discussing right now is climate change. It’s now or never, there’s no time left. We have the technology and ready workforce to make the necessary infrastructure changes in the next several years, the sticking point is political will. If we can’t get over ourselves it’s gonna get hot in here.

Putting folks to work on those changes will restructure the economy, add 47 bajillion jobs and in the wake provide the opportunity to fix everything else meaning immigration, education, justice, health care and gender pay equity. Jay says Donald “can’t run a two car funeral,” so there is no hope of leadership in the right direction with him around.

Jay thinks we are nearing a tipping point where the urgency wave will intersect with the promise-of-jobs-wave. Already the green jobs sector (solar installation, EVs, wind turbines etc) is growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy.

Donald bloviates about tariffs and coal mines and tries to scare the bejeezus out of you while the world and human consciousness grow and evolve all around us.

NEXT! Cory in Iowa City the very same night, and a server tells yrmama it’s time to stop drinking.

Oh Bernie – Bernie Sanders – Cedar Rapids June 7

Common Dreams, INC

Friday afternoon JM and yrmama parked one of our many Teslas in a hospital ramp and hightailed it over to Sinclair Auditorium. It was a ticketed event, a taping of Political Party Live, but since Bernie is famous we wanted to be early enough to claim good seats. One hour before the door opens was not early enough for Pete or Elizabeth so we felt we were cutting it close. But no, three people stood by the door at 5.

The only people who eat supper before six live in institutions (Hi Martha!), so we were waiting until after even though I was hungry. It was starting to look like a long haul especially since the earliness was wasted. yrmama reclined on a shady bench nearby and waited for a decent line to form. ——–> fast forward ——-> the auditorium was half full if I’m being generous; a couple hundred people. Elizabeth Moen and her band played a great opening set, two guests spoke, and then Bernie appeared.

He’s tall, but stooped. He’s got a very powerful voice and when people start applauding before he’s done making his point he waves his irritated hand to shush them. He’s less of his caricature in person and I can see why people like him. Everything is about economic justice.

Bernie made it sound like he’s not feeling the idea of reparations for ADOS. Instead, he wants to invest a lot in disadvantaged neighborhoods which he says would end up doing the same thing and help other folks simultaneously.

yrama says, “hmph. That’s evasive and doesn’t even acknowledge the issue.”

You might say, “but yrmama, isn’t money the issue?”

yrmama would then reply, “Money isn’t an apology and it’s certainly not 40 acres and a mule which in today’s money would be at least $700,000 and a Ford F150 or two.” The big dum dum, what’s he thinking? Even if you don’t want to do reparations you have to make it sound like you understand.

I don’t know what Bernie did all day Saturday, but on Sunday he was walking and yelling with a group of protesting McDonald’s workers in Cedar Rapids. I watched them moving down the street from an upper level of the hotel they were aiming for. Bernie’s head and neck were bright red and he didn’t look very to hearty to me.

The Focus Groups

Cedar Rapids (or Peter Rapids as one sign declared) was the center of the Democratic world there for a minute while 19 candidates attended the Democratic Hall of Fame Celebration on Sunday. The day before a whole lot of them were in Des Moines for Pride Fest, and most made a weekend of it with multiple events all over the place.

from The Gazette: Bernie, Kamala, Elizabeth, Cory, Amy, Kirsten, ?, ?, Beto, Tulsi, ?, Eric, ?, ?, Julian, Joe, Pete, ?, ?, Andrew, Marianne, ??, Jay?, Bill?
?=indistinguishable white guy candidate
??=unknown black guy candidate

yrmama’s Friday night was all about Bernie and hunger, Saturday was for Jay and Cory, Sunday was Pete, more Cory, and sightings of Bernie again and Kamala and certain hearing loss from the yelling TYT Army. Why were they angry at us? Were they angry at us or just…yelling? In between all those events yrmama held focus groups.

My dental hygienist got all worked up Friday afternoon with her hands in my mouth. It was hard to hold my own. She said, “well…I like Pete,” and a lot of other political things. She does not like Donald but knows a lot of folks who do. I do not know anybody who likes him. Another member of the Friday focus group told yrmama all about vanloads of diverted ballots, the hackers who vote remotely from nursing homes and, for some reason, the Whale Cycle. It’s kind of like the water cycle, but whales.

The large Saturday noon group determined that it is time to prohibit baby boomers from running for office. That means anyone older than yrmama because 1964 can count as a transitional year, right? The cusp. yrmama swings both ways. Donald, W and Bill were all born the same summer in 1946, Joe is four years older than them and Bernie is six years older than them. Kamala is 55, so in by a hair, and Cory is only 50. According to this metric, Elizabeth, a peppy 70, needs to step away from the microphone as well.

Towards the end of this session it got really real. “so, yrmama,” he said with sneaky menace, “which of the candidates has the best plan for completely disenfranchising all Trumpers? We’ve got all the evidence we need that representative democracy is a failure, so if someone is going to be in charge it better be us.”

To which yrmama calmly replied, “I love you, dude. I raised you to be this passionate and I’m proud of you. Who indeed?” Well, that didn’t get us anywhere, but the bile pressure was thereby reduced a bit. It brought the righteous anger of the good that is ominously burbling under the crust of society into focus and that’s valuable.

Sunday morning was, as usual, a confab of sweet middle aged ladies who think Pete is adorable, waiting for him to appear like a sprite from the mist. They said things like, “This is the first time I’ve been to any kind of political thing in years.” And “Well…I like Pete, but Elizabeth is good too. And I hope this doesn’t offend you, yrmama, but Joe is just too damn old.” At which point yrmama mentions Bernie and they go off. “Bernie’s even older! Oh no. I hope he’s not the one you like. I don’t want to hurt your feelings.” Look, if yrmama’s feelings were gunna be hurt by sweet Iowan ladies cautiously stating their opinions there’d be nothing left in here but scar tissue.

Coming Next! Bernie at Sinclair Auditorium for a taping of Political Party Live.


1) Look. Listen. Listen! After the recent dearth of attention paid to yrmama by the candidates, things are picking up! It may be just a blip, but if not, buckle up.

Tonight Political Party Live is taping an interview with Bernie in Cedar Rapids. Tomorrow the podcast is interviewing Cory in Iowa City. Sunday 19 candidates will be speaking at the Democratic Party Hall of Fame event at the Hilton in Cedar Rapids. A bunch of them will be roaming around doing smaller appearances too, so yrmama intends to roam as well and make it like Pokemon Go. Options include morning Crossfit with Kirsten, marching around and yelling with Bernie and a group of McDonald’s workers who would like to be paid fairly, trailing Kirsten on downtown sidewalks while her schedule lists ‘visibility,’ letting John Delaney buy you lunch, meeting up with Marianne at a yoga studio, and playing cornhole with Pete at a picnic/party in Greene Square.

2) Donald. Why do you say he’s a ‘straight shooter’ who ‘tells it like it is’? Why do you ever believe him? Why on god’s green earth do you like him? Sit up and listen:

My new best friends, Karen and Georgia’s joint memoir Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered The Definitive How-To Guide is #1 on the NYT bestsellers list and that didn’t happen by accident. Their podcast listeners are the sexiest un-murdered folks around and we each have bought a few copies. Their book is organized around key principles, like Stay Out of the Woods, and Buy Your Own Shit. Much of their popularity is attributable to all the swearing – we Murderinos find it very empowering.

In the first chapter Georgia asks Karen why she thinks the primary principle, Fuck Politeness speaks so strongly to their followers. Karen says, (book 1, verse 3) “it’s what everyone wants to do but has been led to believe they’re not allowed to do. We’re giving you the permission to act in your own best interests before considering anyone else’s.”

So. Is that what you believe Donald is doing? Fucking politeness? He certainly doesn’t consider anyone’s interests above his own. He’s sticking up for you by sticking up for himself? Maybe.

Howsomever, in book 1, verse 74, Karen says, “The idea of fucking politeness isn’t about standing on a street corner shouting “Fuck You!” to anyone passing by. It’s a strategy for when someone tries to invade your space somehow. They started it. They’re the dick here.” Donald errs a bit towards yelling at everyone on the street corner, at everything he sees actually. He’s like an anxious dog barking into the dark woods, “I’m a dog! Don’t you dare! Fuck you! I’m a dog!”

The thing is, fucking politeness does not remove your moral obligation to be kind. You can absolutely consider your own best interest and use bad words and still be kind. yrmama knows for certain that if you are truly kind your manners matter in the long run. That’s where Donald falls the shortest. He lies (which is in itself unkind) and he’s a mean old man. Steer clear. Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered.