Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The best July 4th

About a month before my birthday I start to get in a bad mood. I think it must be a consequence of something that happened when I was young. Like I didn’t get the Tiny Tears doll I wanted or the day of the only surprise party anyone ever gave me, John Kennedy was shot. Yes, it’s all about me. The President died and screwed up my birthday. At 59 I refuse to believe that I am an old person. And I never even considered myself a middle aged person until my mother's friend Matty reminded me that, despite the Jewish prayer for long life, people usually do not live to be one hundred and twenty eight. Still I have the good fortune to be able to look back on my life with some sense of accomplishment. In fact, when I list my career credits, There are even some places where I get to say, "I was the youngest person to... or "I was the first woman to." "I was the first” could always be used in my vocabulary of future achievements. "I was the youngest" can only be used in the past tense. Suffice to say now when I think about my age and impending career possibilities I think of Judith Viorsts poem called, Facing the Facts, and remember the last two lines :
They'll never be able to say
" And she did it so young."

Then, of course, I get really depressed so I kid myself into believing that age doesn't matter. What matters is that in my somewhat condensed years I have had incredible opportunities which provided me with all these wonderful memories, a few terrific stories and a lot of information to share with anyone who is curious about or wants to be involved in politics. It’s July 4th. I am not yet in a bad mood about my birthday so I can happily reflect about the Presidency and Presidential politics... with big stakes and lots of perks that money might by but only sometimes and usually because of some big contribution to a Presidential campaign. There are many reasons a person wants to be president as well as many reasons people work on Presidential campaigns. You can bet they are good reasons because the sacrifices campaign candidates and staff people make are enormous. My guess is that right there on the top of the list is power. This is a special kind of power. The kind which enables the person who wins to change history or society or maybe the world. Obviously, this is no fooling around power... any involvement, even remote, brings excitement, prestige and tremendous challenges. It also brings the opportunity to be in charge. I don't want to overstate but being the top echelon staff of a winning Presidential candidates. is like being in the Mel Brooks movie where, while kicking a servant, he says, "Gee, It's great to be king". I was never one of the people who got to kick a servant but there were a number of volunteers who still have marks on their behinds.

Sound intriguing? "O.K." you say. "How does a person get to play Presidential politics?" Since I only know how it happened with me, let's begin with me. You need to have a perspective so you can understand that if I could do what I've done, you can do it too. I'm a fairly clever person who has always been reluctant to admit that there is anything I can't do. I attribute these qualities to my father, who was also clever and constantly told me that I could do anything. I believed him. Luckily he failed to mention that there were areas where females were not readily acceptable so I never let the idea of being unacceptable interfere with my goals. Was my approach to life Machievellian? No. I did not necessarily believe that the end justified the means. I would call my approach to life directional. I thought I knew where I wanted to go and even though I had to take algebra one three times, I knew that that the shortest distance between two points was a straight line. I walked in the straightest possible line to the place I thought I wanted to be. The place often changed but I never let this interfere with my walk. Why? Because along with being a clever and an obedient child, I also was always determined to get somewhere. The "determined" part of my personality is directly attributable to my extended family, which is Jewish, large, and extraordinarily loud. If you were not a determined person in my family you didn't get noticed, heard or fed. But I didn’t want to blob about politics, or my beginning. And you needn’t understand my middle and you probably don’t want to predict my end. So enough of this cryptic life description. Let’s blob about my favorite July 4th. And it wasn’t in the White House.

The Democratic Convention was held on July 10th 1972. I had worked for George McGovern and we expected that through some miracle he would get the nomination for President over a few interesting and some much more mainline candidates like; Shirley Chisholm, of New York,; Hubert H. Humphrey, of Minnesota; Henry M. Jackson, of Washington; John V. Lindsay, of New York; Eugene J. McCarthy, of Minnesota; Wilbur D. Mills, of Arkansas; Edmund S. Muskie, of Maine; Terry Sanford, of North Carolina; and George C. Wallace, of Alabama. I was pregnant with Seth and was three weeks overdue. I was not in a good mood because I thought that I would deliver at the beginning of June, strap Seth to my back and take off for Miami. So on Monday July 3rd, I marched myself into the doctors office and announced that I would not be leaving the office unless it was to go to the hospital to deliver the baby because the next day was a holiday and there was no way I could live even one more day as a pregnant person.

The doctor agreed and I went right to the hospital where they induced labor. I was in excruciating pain for the next 12 hours. While we had gone to Lamaze classes and I had learned to breathe, Seth was posterior so the breathing did nothing and it was like having a Mack truck run over me every 30 seconds. It was the 70’s so I had an unmediated birth and by the time I was offered any pain relief I told the doctor to kill me or leave me alone—I was not in a good mood. Seth was born before midnight and I wanted to celebrate with an ice cream sundae- if you’re unmediated (which was part of my modus operandi) you can do that. But my cousins were in such a tizzy that they brought me mint chocolate chip instead of chocolate chip, ice cream. I despise mint chocolate chip. I still wasn’t smiling.

Right after midnight they brought me a clean and wonderful baby that looked a little like a mushroom, but I didn’t care. Being a novice to motherhood, I did ask the nurse if I could practice on someone else’s baby but she said that wasn’t a good idea and I needed to do whatever with my own kid. We sat staring at each other for quite sometime until I got comfortable and he seemed less frightened by my lack of confidence. We clearly were in love. I was smiling. It was July 4th. The best one I ever had. We’re just sayin…


Walt said...

Happy Birthday Seth.

Thank goodness we don't retain pain, not that we forget what it was like.

Congratulations Iris.

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