Mayoral Recall

The mayor of Cedar Rapids, Iowa is a recently-retired lawyer who also is husband to a woman who worked for me many years ago. The now-mayor and his wife, when the two of them lived in Houston, Texas, visited my late wife and me at our home occasionally, where we hosted them for weekend brunches that sometimes included our versions of Orange Julius. The ingredients in our version, my fading memory tells me, included egg whites and orange juice and ice and a bit of alcohol—maybe Amaretto.

My contacts with the now-mayor and his wife have been relatively rare over the years. Every year, I send her birthday greetings (because of the date of her birthday, it’s extremely easy to remember) and, much more rarely, exchange email updates with her. The only time I recall speaking directly with her husband was during a business event in Cedar Rapids sometime between 1990 and 1997. They had me over for dinner at their house one evening. She picked me up at my hotel, took me to their house, and gave me a ride back to my hotel after dinner.

To the best of my recollection, we rarely if ever spoke of politics. It has only been sometime during the last four years that I learned that the now-mayor identifies as Republican; I do not know how my former employee classifies herself. But I suspect both of them, regardless of their political affiliations, would say they are rather moderate in their political viewpoints; I have no real evidence to support that contention, but I feel pretty confident I am right, nonetheless.

My thoughts this morning about my ex-employee and her mayor husband were triggered, I suspect, by my explorations of various towns in Iowa: Fairfield, Decorah, and a few others. There’s nothing prompting my interest, other than ancient curiosity and recent coincidental explorations. And a recent email exchange with my former employee (inquiring into what she might be able to tell me about Fairfield) revealed that her husband is planning to run for a second term; the nonpartisan election is in November.

I have changed—in massive and fundamental ways—since I left the job where I met and hired the now-mayor’s wife. When I left Houston, the two of them remained there. I do not recall when they moved from Houston, returning to their native Iowa to rear their children. During the intervening years, between my departure from Houston and now, I have evolved into a completely different person. I’ve learned to better control my impulses and my anger and I’ve bounced from politically progressive to conservative to more progressive and then further to extremely progressive; I might even consider myself radically progressive now. My personality, aside from its political manifestations, has changed dramatically since those early days of young adulthood, too. I suspect my former employee has changed quite a lot since then, too, as has the now-mayor. But that’s pure conjecture. I know little of them. I know only slightly more of myself. I’d like to think I am a better person now than I was way back then, but how much do we really change—at our core—simply with the passage of time? Do we just learn to stifle and control ourselves more as the years go by, or do we actually mature and improve (or degrade) over time?

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I said it yesterday, but I’ll say it again: Happy Birthday to my brother, whose birthday is today. This morning, I’ll head in to Hot Springs for a Mohs procedure, a process whereby a dermatologist will carve away tissue from an identified squamous cell carcinoma and examine it microscopically. Once the pieces of carved tissue reveal no cancer, the dermatologist will conclude that he has removed all cancerous cells and I will be patched and sent home, hopefully never again to return for further treatment. Nothing is assured, of course, but this skin cancer is not one of the aggressive, dangerous forms. I have nothing to worry about, other than an unpleasant thought process involving the idea of carving away at my flesh. Presumably, a good anesthetic will be used; perhaps I should take tequila and gummies with me…but I’d probably better not.

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Later today, one of the beautiful women I sometimes write about will visit my IC and me, when we’ll talk about writing and where we’ll salivate over a chicken pot pie, courtesy of the visiting beautiful woman (differentiated from the beautiful woman who is one and the same as my IC). In the intervening hours between carvery and poetry, I will continue to organize files, one of my favorite pastimes. Oh, boy.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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