I was so much older then.

I think everything you need to know about my 40th high school reunion last weekend can be summed up in this scene from its final moments, when I was invited to judge the quality of my oldest friend’s boob job with a friendly squeeze.

Also, this: The boob job was a restoration following a double mastectomy, which itself followed a second bout of the big C in a decade. Because of the previous treatment, the restoration was no simple matter, requiring skin stretchers and all sorts of gruesome-sounding shit. But my friend, Cindy, and her husband Mark, are amazingly upbeat about it all. I think the reason I was invited to handle the goods was because, she said, they didn’t really feel like breasts anymore, with all their sensitivity and tingliness, which I guess stands to reason.

Reader, I cannot deny it: I honked the horns. They felt fine.

“Now all we have to do is shop for nipples!” Mark reported. Evidently that’s the final step.

So that’s life in the late 50s, I guess: Boob jobs, but not for the typical reasons. Grandchildren. Older but wiser. There was a memorial video for the ones who are permanently off the mailing list, so to speak. One word: AIDS. A little more kindness all around. The head cheerleader, apparently the only member of the class with a child younger than mine, explained the circumstances of his debut — 40s, no man on the horizon, sperm bank. A guy I’d always assumed was a drug casualty was finally revealed as an obvious psychiatric case. The funny pot dealers were there, still funny, still probably holding. (I didn’t ask.) At least one pill refused to wear the event T-shirt because the theme was “Forty Shades of Gray” and wearing that on your chest would be counter to God’s law. If he’d said, “Because God disapproves of lousy fiction,” I could get behind that, but I don’t think that’s what he meant.

My class reunites every five years, which always struck me as way too often. It was also a group of nearly 800 souls, which is way too big. You’re lucky to have known a quarter of them, and if 10 percent of them show up at a reunion, you’re lucky. I went to the five, 10, 15, 20 and 25-year events, and said after the last one that I was done forever. So did Cindy; she said that after battling cancer she was in no mood to waste time with vague acquaintances. But this year they roped her onto the committee, and she roped me into going.

Another thing that happened as I was making my way to the door, after the boob squeeze: I was drafted to work on the next committee. There’s a price for everything, I guess.

And that was most of my holiday weekend. How was yours? I’m writing this a few hours before leaving for a backyard barbecue. I was kind of thinking I’d see “Magic Mike XXL” today, but give it a few more days and another all-day rain will roll in, and that’ll be much better weather for it. Barbecue while you can, because you can’t do that via Netflix.

Not much bloggage today, but there’s this:

BASTROP, Texas — The office of the Bastrop County Republican Party is in an old lumber mill on Main Street, with peeling brown paint and a sign out front that captures the party’s feelings about the Obama administration: “WISE UP AMERICA!”

Inside, county Chairman Albert Ellison pulled out a yellow legal pad on which he had written page after page of reasons why many Texans distrust President Obama, including the fact that, “in the minds of some, he was raised by communists and mentored by terrorists.”

So it should come as no surprise, Ellison said, that as the U.S. military prepares to launch one of the largest training exercises in history later this month, many Bastrop residents might suspect a secret Obama plot to spy on them, confiscate their guns and ultimately establish martial law in one of America’s proudly free conservative states.

I wouldn’t live in Texas for all the money in the world.

Also this, Neil Sternberg’s valedictory for the open-outcry system at the Chicago Board of Trade, which I’m glad I got to see before it went away, because it was something to see.

And finally this, Frank Bruni’s backhand to the Kennedy spawn spreading vaccine alarmism:

If you had told me a while back that I’d someday dread, dodge and elect not to return phone calls from a prominent member of the Kennedy dynasty, I would have said you were nuts.

Then Robert Kennedy Jr. started reaching out.

Not just reaching out, mind you, but volunteering to educate me. To illuminate me. That was his tone of voice, somewhat pitying and vaguely patronizing, the one time we talked at length, after he’d left messages and before he left more.

Midsummer starts now.

Posted at 12:25 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

40 responses to “I was so much older then.”

  1. Brandon said on July 6, 2015 at 6:33 am

    “I wouldn’t live in Texas for all the money in the world.”

    I’ve never been to Texas but understand there are some nice towns. So I’d like to visit but not necessarily live there.

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  2. David C. said on July 6, 2015 at 6:37 am

    My 40th is coming in two years. I don’t think I’ll be going to that one either. I started not going at the 5th. I stumbled out of the gate after high school and was embarrassed by my lack of any accomplishments. After that, not going became habit. I’ve reconnected with a couple via Facebook. Others, probably completeists who want to friend everyone they’ve ever known, I’ve accepted as friends and regretted it afterwards. After all these years, I’m so beyond high school. I didn’t much enjoy it then and don’t feel any need to relive it now.

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  3. coozledad said on July 6, 2015 at 6:46 am

    Here’s another license plate slogan for Texas: Fuck that alligator.

    No wonder these people don’t believe in evolution. The mesozoic is still kicking their ass.

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  4. Wim said on July 6, 2015 at 7:10 am

    Many years ago, as I made one of my grudging visits Home, my sister–herself fulfilling familial obligation by her presence–read aloud to me from an issue of Redbook the following question: “If your high school reunion were tomorrow, would you go?”

    “My high school reunion *is* tomorrow,” I said. “And I’m not going.” I had gotten the invitation a few weeks before. ‘It’s That Time Again! Five-Year Reunion!’ Leading me to wonder how many five-year anniversaries we were to have. After the Twenty-Year Reunion I never received another invitation, when I had resolved to go to the Thirty-Year if asked. I figured by then we’d all be too feeble to throw hands and too forgetful to carry grudges.

    I spent a couple of summers in Northeast Texas cutting pulpwood, and it was another country with its own language. Imagine my initial astonishment when crusty good old boys spoke of their intention to go out out Friday night to “get me some cock.” It didn’t mean what I thought it did. Nor was “nigger pot” marijuana. They did speak the common language of racial hatred, though, loud and clear, just like home. Anytime you went to a barber shop there was always going to be one Gomer-looking motherfucker talking about getting him a case of shoe polish and getting on the welfare. Or so I heard in Tyler, Texas, and Lufkin, too.

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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 6, 2015 at 7:40 am

    God disapproves of lousy fiction.

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  6. Deggjr said on July 6, 2015 at 7:43 am

    I got “roped” onto the reunion committee after 30 years and it has led to great experiences. I’ve gotten to know people I otherwise only knew from across the room. Something I discovered during job hunt networking also holds true for high school reunions: if you had a positive feeling about someone you didn’t really know, they probably had a positive feeling about you.

    All of us didn’t have much in common many years ago but with the fragmentation of life, we all have much more in common now.

    Prior to working on the reunion committee I went to reunions with the game face on. Now I go to the reunion with ten good up-to-date friends.

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  7. ROGirl said on July 6, 2015 at 7:58 am

    I wonder how the rest of the extended Kennedy clan REALLY feels about Robert’s anit-vax stance. Not a single public word about their brother/father/uncle/cousin’s crusade.

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  8. beb said on July 6, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Why would anyone schedule a class reunion for 4th of July weekend? The one weekend of the summer when people already have other plans? I never had anyone I’d call a friend in High School so I’ve never felt the urge to go see people I never really knew. I sometimes get the impression that women who get boob jobs often have an desire to show off the goods. I wonder, when she had her breast reconstruction, did she go up a size?

    The world seemed to be to full of Darwin Award nominees and winners lately. Besides, fuck the alligator, there was a man in Walled Lake, MI who decided to launch a skyrocket off his head. and now a man in Maine decided to try the same stunt. The world seems in short supply of common sense.

    We spent our 4th dogsitting a stray until the Humane Society opened and we could take him in. Really friendly little fellow but I think our cats would disagree.

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  9. Suzanne said on July 6, 2015 at 9:07 am

    I’ve attended many reunions & usually find them enjoyable. Age brings an evening out of the social strata. The cool kids are now fat & balding, or some of them are, and nobody really cares anymore who you used to be. Some people end up where you expect, many not. At my 30th, I walked into the room and my first thought was that I was in the wrong place because it was full of old people. I was interested to discover that a girl I never thought of as super smart was now an MD, the long haired stoner dude now owns a dry cleaner chain (or something like that) & is very well off & very well dressed, the couple whose marriage everyone said was a bad idea was a bad idea because the husband was very gay (who knew? I didn’t), and the super religious high school sweethearts have split and he’s on wife #3 who is half his age. You read the list of those who have passed & you feel gratitude for the life you have. Or at least I usually do.

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  10. coozledad said on July 6, 2015 at 9:10 am



    Love’s tab A
    Love’s slot B
    When you’re married
    Love is free.
    Love’s a hole
    In a sheet
    Love’s a handjob
    With the feet.
    Love’s a contract
    Love’s a scam
    Jergens lotion
    Can of Spam.
    Love is bro
    love is sis
    Ask the Duggars.
    They like this.

    Huckabee, Huckabone
    Huckabetter left alone.

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  11. Judybusy said on July 6, 2015 at 9:22 am

    My hometown, population 2,500 or so is having an all-class high school reunion later this month. My mom was disappointed I’m not going; all 3 of my siblings apparently are. I’m at a point now I’d rather spend the time with my spouse and friends I have. The hometown is very pretty, surrounded by lakes.

    Speaking of Texas, I bought flights to visit Maggie Jochild! She is celebrating a momentous birthday in August. Another out of town friend is flying in as well and we are rooming together, hopefully at the Austin Motel. There is a group of us brought together by the graphic artist and lesbian heroine, Alison Bechdel’s blog. I am very excited to meet Maggie, her partner, and others in person. We’ve all been virtual friends for nearly a decade now.

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  12. Julie Robinson said on July 6, 2015 at 9:27 am

    My experience at high school reunions has been like Suzanne’s and Deggjr’s; no one cares what you were back then and I’ve both rekindled friendships and made new ones. Growing old heals a lot of wounds.

    We had a family reunion over the three day weekend and were able to amaze the oldsters by skyping with out of town family on a big screen. Pretty fun.

    Our daughter, who finds good everywhere, did not like anything about Texas, save for San Antonio.

    I know some folk in California who have not vaccinated and will be following closely to see what they decide. I can’t imagine them home-schooling.

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  13. Deborah said on July 6, 2015 at 10:03 am

    I lived in Houston the year after I graduated from college and Dallas for 7 years after that. Houston was hot and smelly. Dallas was hot and creepy, Little Bird was actually born in Dallas, something she doesn’t share much. Austin and some of the surrounding area is nice, the best place in Texas.

    I’ve not been to any of my high school reunions. As I’ve said here many times, I hated my high school years and have no desire to relive them.

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  14. Connie said on July 6, 2015 at 10:24 am

    And Beb, Walled Lake fireworks guy had two kids, so not eligible for Darwin award. Also, no life insurance so a fund raising campaign is going on for burial expenses.

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  15. MichaelG said on July 6, 2015 at 10:42 am

    I went to my Fiftieth Anniversary reunion a couple of years ago. It was OK but not great. Same cliques same looking for same status. Bunch of old people. It was interesting to see the old town. I hadn’t been there in almost fifty years.

    Judybusy, please convey my (our) greetings to Maggie.

    Maggie, I just wish you would post more often. I miss your wisdom and quiet strength and hope you are healthy and prospering.

    I had to go to Google Maps after Nance quoted that idjut in Bastrop, TX. Check out this happy insurance office that proudly sells “Liabiliy”. What a hoot. Sorry for the world record link.


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  16. brian stouder said on July 6, 2015 at 10:47 am

    We had a very nice 4th at Pam’s folks’ place; in fact, the girls stayed an extra day, while Grant and I returned to the Fort last night, for work today. SO last night at around 11:00 pm, I popped on the tv and was astonished to see that the NASCAR boys were just getting ready to start their race! Needless to say, I went to bed shortly after they went green, but not before seeing the first crash – which really does seem to be what they market. And then we see this morning’s headlines, and see that they broke Rule Number One in any crash-fest, which is: Do Not Injure the Spectators.

    Anyway, I’ve been to one class re-union, and it was mildly interesting. I suspect that present-day realities such as FaceBook (et al) are rendering the pot-luck nature of class reunions somewhat obsolete. In fact, I was somewhat amazed to learn (earlier this year) that high school yearbooks are very “yesterday”; maybe only one kid in four buys them – which I still find hard to believe.

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  17. Charlotte said on July 6, 2015 at 10:54 am

    I went to my 20th and 30th high school reunions. 20 was weird and everyone was still busy showing off what they’d accomplished — 30 was really fun. Everyone was over their shit, and it was a terrific time.

    I’m currently glued to the news out of Greece. So exciting …

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  18. Deborah said on July 6, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Well, at least Scott Walker’s kids are human http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/scott-walker-family-same-sex-marriage

    Judy Busy, I recently read “Fun Home” and on mother’s day this year I reread “Are You My Mother”. I love Alison Bechdel, I saw her walking down Michigan Ave one day before I retired, after that I read that she had been teaching at the U of Chicago. I didn’t know she had a blog, since you mentioned it in your comment I decided to look it up, now I’ve bookmarked it.

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  19. Icarus said on July 6, 2015 at 11:52 am

    In Heaven and at HS reunions, most of the interesting people are missing.*

    * Quote modified with respect to Friedrich Nietzsche

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  20. Peter said on July 6, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Neil’s article was something – The agricultural pit floor is – or I should say was – my claim to fame.

    While a lot of traders could be abusive towards each other, the people who got the brunt of the abuse were the pit reporters. A trade wasn’t official until it was reported; the large electronic boards you see in the background would show the last ten executed trades so you could see the volume and price activity. Well, you can’t get a trade reported until you got the attention of the pit reporter, so traders could get REALLY angry if the reporter didn’t acknowledge them fast enough. It will come as no surprise that they had a turnover problem there.

    Even so, the CBOT was better than other exchanges. When I worked on MATIF in Paris, we had to design plexiglas shields around the reporters because the traders would spit on them to get their attention. But one problem solved only creates another; once the shields went up the traders resorted to throwing rocks at the shields to get their attention.

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  21. Judybusy said on July 6, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Deborah, Alison Bechdel has sat in my car! She was in town to lecture, and I picked her up and brought her to the U of MN. This was March, 2009. I was really nervous, and she’s shy, so I just bitched about the -15 windchill the whole time, I swear! I think you’ll love the blog–lots of very, very smart conversations typically take place there. I was usually lost in the swim of it, and once many people from the blog joined FB, I just interact with folks there. I check the blog perhaps twice a year now….Fun Home was made into a Broadway musical, and won the Tony for best musical.

    MichaelG, I will certainly pass along greetings on behalf of all here to Maggie.

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  22. beb said on July 6, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    JC Burns, This isn’t normal, each paragraph in comments is a single, very long line.

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  23. Julie Robinson said on July 6, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Fun Home the musical is currently the toast of Broadway. It took them many difficult years to develop and find funding, then it seems it opened at an optimal time. It not only won best musical, but its two female composers also won best score, a first. The pivotal song, Ring of Keys, brought the house down: https://youtu.be/Y4bV3IP_Zww?t=15s.

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  24. Sue said on July 6, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Deborah@18, whether Walker’s kids have an opinion or Tonette’s cousin is a lesbian is not relevant here. Tonette was coached, you can be sure of it. Everything she said, she was given permission to say. This is the same as Walker’s bogus sorta pro choice ad prior to the last election – it serves a purpose until it’s no longer needed.
    He’s running for president and at the moment he needs to have it all ways.

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  25. jcburns said on July 6, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Not on all browsers, I suspect, beb. I think it might have been Michael’s really long link, which I converted into a plain old jpeg image. Better now, I hope?

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  26. Deborah said on July 6, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Sue, good to know. Wow, these guys are weasels.

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  27. MichaelG said on July 6, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks, JC. That was a huge link.

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  28. David C. said on July 6, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    100% right Sue. His little assault on the open records law is exactly the same ruse. Oh, dear me. How did that get in there. Please remove it (and never mind the 20 other shit sandwiches included in Motion 999).

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  29. Scout said on July 6, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    “I wouldn’t live in Texas for all the money in the world.”

    Texas: Doing Our Part To Help Arizona Look Less Crazy

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  30. Dexter said on July 6, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    I lived in Texas, right in the middle of San Antonio, but just to be trained as an army medic. I was so damned miserable , it was the only time in my life when I may have been clinically depressed. After a few months or so, I was sent to Monterey, California. How’s that for a great spin by Fortuna’s wheel? I loved that bay and that entire Central California so well I vowed to live there when IO returned from the war, but when I tried to do that, it was a bad recession and I ran out of dough trying to find a job. I then took my last cash and flew home, and have only been back a few times since then. I keep itchin’ to go back just one more time, one more drive across the good ol’ USA, northern route, summertime, no southern route; that would entail driving through a little bit of Texas.
    Yeah, my first taste of Texas was arriving at Love Field at 9:00 PM, and spending a wonderful night sleeping on hard tile flooring as our flight to San Antone was not until 7:00 PM, 22 hours later. That’s the army way. Who gave a fuck? Not anyone. My back killed me, and I was all of 20 years old. Usually I can recall events from my life with great clarity and detail..that night was a damned nightmare.

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  31. Dexter said on July 6, 2015 at 4:33 pm


    Today’s title track

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  32. Brandon said on July 6, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    I wouldn’t live in Texas for all the money in the world.

    Certainly not Austin.

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  33. Deborah said on July 6, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Really? Not Austin, Brandon? What is wrong with Austin, besides being the seat of the state government? Which is a wreck now but wasn’t when Ann Richards was governor. I only visited there awhile back, but thought it was so much better than the rest of Texas. The reason I lived in Texas at all was because of my husband’s job (my ex), he graduated a year ahead of me and got a job there.

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  34. Dorothy said on July 6, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    So something really amazing happened today and it was on the TODAY show. My husband took the day off to extend his holiday weekend. He sent me a text saying something like “John Lawson was just on the TODAY show during the segment about how to be happy. I recorded it so you can see it later.”

    John Lawson is a guy I met when we first moved away from Pittsburgh 13 years ago. We were living north of Cincinnati and I auditioned for “The Wizard of Oz” that the Fairborn Players were putting on summer of ’02. John was cast as the wizard. I knew no one there but that was why I auditioned – to meet other actors. John had no arms from the elbow down. I found out he’d had some kind of industrial accident where he lost his arms. He used the metal hooks for his hands. When we were in tech week he started using some hands that would be less scary to children in the audience – they looked like hands but they had no movement to them. I also found out he’d done some opera singing in New Mexico. He lost his wife to breast cancer, somewhere along the line there was a fire at their house (can’t recall if it was before or after his wife died), and he was raising their daughter alone. He had at least one older son, maybe more (can’t remember). His daughter was the ‘minder’ of our Toto. I have pictures in an album somewhere from that time – it was a great production and I was in the chorus and well, John was impressive as hell. Before we moved to South Carolina he got married to someone who was also in the theater group, a woman he’d known for a long time. We were invited to the wedding and it was such a happy day. But I heard not long after they got married (8 or 9 months?) she decided to leave him. I tell you all of this because I am just astonished that a guy who has been through so much turmoil and misery was profiled briefly on the TODAY show when they did a segment about how to be happy. They’re doing segments all week. And I heard somewhere that starting today, the TODAY show is available on demand. In case anyone wants to watch that segment. It starts around 8:18 AM.

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  35. BethB said on July 6, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Dexter, I lived in Monterey in the late 80s. I was the librarian at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, part of the Monterey Peninsula USD. I loved living there–interesting mix of people, wonderful fruit/veggie markets and restaurants, beautiful views, great job, but awfully expensive housing costs. I especially loved the drive once a month to Carmel to get my hair cut by a stylist named Roy Rogers–that’s his real name, no lie! He decorated his shop with all sorts of memorabilia of the real guy. Thanks for sparking my Monterey memory.

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  36. alex said on July 6, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    I give Hillary a lot of credit. At least she isn’t dispatching Bill and Chelsea to publicize how much they love fetuses and guns and decry the War on Christmas.

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  37. coozledad said on July 6, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    Alex: Hillary is making the right shit their pants. That’s why the rightwing commenters here are pretending to be interested in Sanders. It’s always amazing to me how such obvious shit snorklers think they can run game.

    I remember when they thought Romney’s Gish Gallop would net him the presidency.


    I wish these people were merely fuckups. They’re dangerous.

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  38. Wim said on July 7, 2015 at 2:23 am

    Coozledad, where and who are these rightwing commenters here pretending an interest in Sanders?

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  39. Brandon said on July 7, 2015 at 4:25 am

    @Deborah, I take that back. Austin is a cool town, but gets hectic with SXSW.

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  40. Maggie Jochild said on July 7, 2015 at 10:14 am

    I live in Austin, moved back here from the SF Bay Area and love it here. Racial diversity, strong wimmins, bleedmg heart liberals (as well as running dog types), and NO SNOW. Texas government went to shit after Dubya lied his way past Ann Richards, and our population was flooded by folks from California and the Rust Belt fleeing the results of Republican control in their own states, only to come vote Republican here. I am sixth generation Texas and every generation of us has fought for progressivism, some more successfully than others. I am proud to call Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Tish Hinojosa, Ann Richards, and Sissy Farenthold my role models.

    And the upcoming 60th birthday bash is almost overwhelming to my bedbound, introverted self. But I am thrilled for this reunion of those of us who bonded at the DTWOF thread. I found the love of my life there, as well as serious friendships and community. I see similar community here at NN. I do read every day, even if I am too sick to fire up the keyboard. At the moment, knock wood, I am infection free and breathing as well as I ever do. Bless you for keeping the door open here.

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