Unless I Change My Mind

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 10: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announces her presidential bid in front of a crowd gathered at Boom Island Park on February 10, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Klobuchar joins a crowded field of Democrats vying for the 2020 nomination. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

During this long period of silence I have been very annoyed by the campaign in general, sad about the impeachment and yet allowing the nattering political media constantly in my ears.

Of course Donald should have been impeached and should be removed from office. Bill should have been removed too. Listen to Season 2 of the Slate podcast Slow Burn while you walk the dog if you need convincing.

In the meantime the flipping Iowa Caucus is in a few days and you need to know what to do. Of the remaining candidates I like Andrew, and Amy. I’m left only kind of liking Pete.* This has not led to actual discord in my family but lots of discussion. Our Pete yard signs are sagging out there in the snow and JM canvasses for him every weekend and goes to team meetings and wears the regalia. I think that’s great and helps move things forward even if I won’t do it. The youth of America affiliated with yrmama are all over the place. Some are downright socialist and some are confused and tempted to bail on the caucus altogether.

What to Do: You should obviously choose Andrew or Amy for the first alignment, and then get behind the other one or Pete if you need to realign. (I’m not going to rehash the rules of play for the caucus. There will be plenty of people at your precinct site telling you how to do it if you don’t already know.) Iowans take the caucus incredibly seriously and many Hawkeyes are exacerbating their IBS just from the long sleepless nights of worrying over getting this right. Monday it’s finally time to vote with our feet and hearts in the gymnasium corner where the banner of our true love flies. We’ve thought enough and we now need to follow our hearts. That’s how we get it right.

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But really, Amy is the one. I’ve kind of liked her all along but recently I feel a surge of warmth and sureness in my heart whenever I think about her. If yrmama were a politician she would be Amy. She is rock solid, incredibly tough and pragmatic and can sway Republican voters her way. Because she is a lawyer and a very successful and powerful senator she already knows how to get things done. I believe she really would get things done too. Amy has been flying under the radar all this time because she is tater-tot casserole. She is that ideal German Shepherd mix that will quietly kill raccoons. She is a sensible haircut. She is weatherproof. She will not flinch when Donald gets in her face because she probably had to wear a horrible gym suit in junior high. When she plays dodge ball with him she’ll aim for his face at close range. He’ll go down hard and see stars. He’ll have to sit out the rest of the class period holding a towel up to his bloody nose, muttering about revenge and conspiracy theories.

*Bernie, Joe and Elizabeth are too old. There is no reason for the baby boomers to keep running things. They’ve always insisted on running things. That said, any of these would make an ok president.https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/times-up-baby-boomers-its-gen-xs-turn-now/2019/04/25/4e6593e4-6768-11e9-a1b6-b29b90efa879_story.html

The Pose

Dorothy, my maternal grandmother, knew what to do when someone was taking her picture. This was not due to the Gladwellian 10,000 hours of practice put in by modern girls, but because her uncle was a professional photographer. There are lovely portraits of her from the time she could stand where she’s popping out some version of this: face the camera, line your left heel up with the instep of your right foot, tip your head just a hair towards the outstretched toe, then find an arm position and facial expression to match the occasion. Here, that being some boy about to give her a corsage. The bob! The shoes! The gorgeous dresses they got to wear in the 1920s!

This mirror selfie approximation of the pose took about 30 tries and I’m not even kidding. It’s the best I could do. Grandmother’s foot trick is subtle, brilliant and surprisingly hard to not over play. Turns out the rest of it requires standing up very straight and then relaxing your shoulders and neck so that your head just sits there. Who knew. Today’s fashion statement involves second hand, black Old Navy jeans, the same brown belt I wear every day, a scoop-neck Patagonia t shirt and a DIY cardigan. If you have a tightly knit sweater you are tired of, or that makes you sweat too much, you can find a pair of scissors, slice it up the front and voila; a cardigan. No, it does not unravel into a big mess. I’ve committed this wanton act of creativity many times and your should too.

yrmama’s New Leaf

In the photo above, taken in the late 1960’s perhaps by my father, we have the adorable baby yrmama surrounded by her grandma, mother, brother and grandpa. Grandma was a figure larger than life – affectionate, bossy, and very hardworking. No one in this photo is very comfortable in front of a camera except, it appears, Grandpa. Baby yrmama doesn’t care much either way about the camera but hates the way her mother and brother are holding on to her lest she bust out in unruliness. Ha. Little did they know about who they were dealing with, literally.

In the photo to the right we have full-grown yrmama. Today’s hairstyle was achieved with a big old handful of mousse and a nice long wall squat under the hand drier in the pool locker room. yrmama was blessed with teflon hair that rarely needs combing and I’m not even kidding. A secondhand magenta madras shirt is layered under a rust sweater that yrmama actually bought off the rack at Target when she went to a genealogy conference and found she had not packed warm enough clothes for scouring the nearby graveyards for familiar names. That strategic clashing creates a nice glow, don’t you think?

I’m now more or less the same age Grandma was in the first photo and I think I look something like her. My life is very different than Grandma’s but like her I am very hard-working and very bossy. I’d like to say I’m as affectionate as she was but I’m not sure it’s true.

I have three daughters who always look terrific in photos whereas I usually look apologetic. I remember a time when I could not stand to look in a mirror with someone. I just didn’t have the confidence to see what I looked like while someone else was looking at me too. My daughters all spent a good portion of their adolesences practicing what to do when a camera shows up. They can effortlessly “find their light,” strike the pose, flip the hair, tilt the head, jut the hip, tip the chin and exude confidence.

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I don’t really know what I look like. I’m always surprised by mirrors and photos and unpredictable reflections. Photos confuse me because I look like I’m trapped inside an unfamiliar voluptuous mound of flesh. That effect is especially highlighted if I’m caught sitting in a chair, trying desperately to look tall, thin and blond and perhaps not even there. My son, who was born looking like a super model and never even had to practice, recently took a brilliant photo of himself on the beach with me in my bikini, sitting in one of those painful cloth folding chairs. Good God. In some photos my face sags, like a gravity burst is sucking the joy out of me. I look like one of those droopy-eyed dogs. Sometimes I look like my mother. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the photo is of me or my oldest daughter.

In the past few years illness has messed dramatically with my size, from normal (the way I’ve always been, the size and shape I was from high school through my late 40’s) to way too skinny, to normal again and then shooting past that to mildly plump. Every time my clothes don’t fit I give them away and restock in my new size at Crowded Closet and Goodwill. Resultingly, there’s hardly anything I’ve worn for years like I think most people have, clothes in which I might feel nostalgia, or like my same old self. I pull a hanger from the stuffed rack at Goodwill and think, “omg, that’s huge,” when it’s actually my size. When I was too skinny the shorts my size seemed impossible so I tried to make slightly larger, reasonable sizes, work and they literally fell off my narrow butt.

So, I’m practicing. Maybe I’ll watch some instructional videos on how to look like myself in a photo. Meanwhile, I’m becoming very clear on the fact that this corporeal form of energy pressed into matter that is my vehicle through this lifetime is just that. It’s doing a fine job of helping me hurtle through space and time. I like it! Now, if I can just learn to see myself in it as the molecules get switched out for new ones and the pattern continues to break down (aka aging) I will have won.

You’re welcome.