The Fathomless Depths That Beckon Cruelly

What do you do when unfathomable, meaningless sadness, lands on you; a sagging, wet weight on your chest? As though one of those giant slabs of old snow slides down from a steep roof in a way that knocks you off your feet and pins you there on the salty sidewalk. Or if you have dragged yourself into town to run some errands and while you are waiting for permission to cross the intersection a delivery truck drops a tire into the huge pothole of black slush that has nowhere to go because the storm drains are clogged with ice and the vomit of undergrads, and it drenches you from neck to knees.

Move to Arizona and cry near a sunny golf course? Go see your therapist so you can whimper without dignity in that big puffy chair? Go about your business, stumbling and weepy and when kind people ask if you are okay you whisper, “no?” Do you remember that alcohol with ultimately make you sadder (but will it?) and is comprised of ruinous but otherwise empty calories, but you drink a little too much anyway? Do you take up smoking? Or maybe you are the type who can express yourself through your artwork. Geez. Go for a run? Again, geez. If that works for you, fine.

Tell the truth.

The Shallow Truth About Depth

It’s kind of nobody’s business how anyone does their makeup, and it’s a super duper shallow thing to comment on. There is nothing remotely Quaker about it. At the same time, since it is so fundamentally shallow, does it really matter if yrmama has something to say about it? She was going to compare the appearance of Nancy’s eyes to Donald’s but that’s dumb so instead we will will focus on her own:

As a white person ages the hair and skin all even out into a sad, dull beige. The flesh that has not melted into bloated blobbishness creases, leaving one with the face one deserves, based on the accumulated ratio of smiling to sneering or lip-pursing.

You might say, “But yrmama, that is a remarkably fresh, plump and colorful eye socket-region there in that photo. What the heck are you talking about? Certainly not personal experience.”

Aha. This is a photographic record of my eye-socket region as an art project. In my youth I had visible eye lids. I had honey-kissed tresses. Were you to see the before shot you would register a nice chunk of silly-putty with a blue circle in the center, very one-dimensional, and a colorless, straw-like fringe of “hair” above.

The rich hue of yrmama’s hair is now from henna. That’s easy. But the three-dimensional eye-socket area shown above required a Google how-to and a shopping trip. This effortless, natural appearance involved deft application of primer (not even kidding), three shades of brown eye-shadow, brown mascara, brown liquid eyeliner and “moonbeam” colored highlighter.

When I was teaching myself how to paint faces with oils I marveled at the way I could sculpt something that appeared three-dimensional on a flat surface with color alone. Then I began to notice the eye-socket areas of ladies on television when they blinked – it looked like there was a dark line drawn in an arch between the crease of the eye and the eyebrow, like a drawn on second eyebrow. I also read that studies have found that humans find faces of other humans most attractive when there is a lot of contrast between the features and the more featureless expanses of skin. These revelations led to today’s art project.

Now it’s your turn. Was it worth it? Is makeup a sign of spiritual bankruptcy?

True American 2.0

yrmama was raised to be cynical – if to be cynical means to by default mistrust other’s motives. And to by default mistrust others in general. It is an offshoot of pathological independence – one can only trust one’s self. To an extent this personality trait is very American – very cowboy. It won the West and all that, but it is also at it’s core purely isolating.

Cynicism is an important part of yrmama’s power but also her greatest weakness. The holy man said, “…and pray for the cynical for they do not trust God’s love…” Pray away friends, pray away my mistrust if you can. And if you succeed yrmama may well dissolve into a gelatinous blob.

the founding fathers played True American too

yrmama argues that the man we elected to be president in 2016 is not a cynic. He can’t be cynical without natural curiosity about other people or any moral sense. However, it was cynicism that allowed him to win. At the beginning of his campaign he bellowed, “they’re out to get you and I fight dirty.” Cynicism said, “Yes! I’ve always felt everything is rigged against me and Donald verifies it. I admire his pugnacity so I’ll vote for him.” He has fulfilled his proclamation. Something is out to get us – Greed, graft, grift, (pussy)grabbing, generals, grievance, (oli)garchy, gangrene, greased palms, gracelessness, gerrymandering, gross malfesance, gringo-supremacy, and he does fight dirty.

(Pete says, of Donald’s campaign, “The things he said that aren’t true rhyme with things that are and that tapped into people’s desire to burn the house down.” That’s pretty doggone insightful.)

Something the same shape allowed Barack to serve eight years. He said, “Yes we can!” Cynicism said, “Damn, this is a heavy load, and maybe that deep soothing voice is right! I want to lay my aggrievement down and let this guy make me feel hopeful.” I think those of us who fell hard for that message did feel better for a while. His presidency was far from perfect and the duopoly didn’t dissolve into a more unified democracy with an appreciation of shared American values. But it was a good eight years.

How can a cynic, an empowered true American who wants to believe and be able to throw herself into a cause that may save democracy and fair capitalism from evil, indeed throw herself in? Anyone who votes throws in at least at the last minute, when you feed your ballot into that machine watch it get sucked in. Throwing in now is probably the same thing, just earlier.

Ioweenians: Are you going to caucus? If the caucus was tonight whose corner of the gym would you stand in? Non-Iowans – pretend you are and answer the same questions below, in the comments.

yes, there was granola at Woodstock

yrmama “watched” the debate last night from the floor, right under the television. As I let gravity try to coax my wonky joints into alignment I closed my eyes and allowed the sweet, smart voices to swirl around my head and mix in with the deep breaths intended to aid gravity and perhaps alleviate the ongoing pain of an upper spine made of corn flakes and Elmers glue.

Observed: Corey and Pete’s voices are a lot alike. And Amy, oh Amy, her accent just sounds like home to me.

While I would still be happy for any of them to serve in the white house (ugh. Joe.) I have a new vision. Amy and Pete. Pete and Amy. Arguably the two smartest candidates on the stage who both make me feel safe and secure. Lets see what it’s like for the country to be led by the idealistic pragmatism that typifies what I love about the upper midwest! What if the president and/or the vice president (talking about Amy here) looked and sounded that much like yrmama? Wouldn’t that be something?

Everyone pushing 80 needs to go home and sign up for a Silver Sneakers exercise class and I’m not even kidding. They think they’re all that, but they have to get over their arrogance about being young in the 1960’s or whatever it is. There’s nothing wrong with that, but they aren’t the only worthwhile humans.

Unicorns and Outlaws

yrmama nearly captured a unicorn today. A nice young man spoke of Donald in an unexpectedly admiring way, betraying himself with a bit of scoff at “the progressives.” I was slow though, I should have pounced on the opportunity with a casual, “Oh, you like Donald? What do you like about him?” Don’t know when we’ll have another chance like that. So rare around here.

Domechino 1602

Back to outlaws. I’ve been thinking a lot about what distinguishes an “outlaw” from someone who breaks the law for evil/greedy purposes. Or, as I remember my Grandma saying, “there are the in-laws and then there are the out-laws.”

I needed only re-consult Still Life With Woodpecker : Tom Robbins (via the Woodpecker, Bernard Mickey Wrangle) says the difference between an outlaw and a criminal is that an outlaw is never a victim. Outlaws obey no rules and they don’t turn around and impose rules of their own. They exist and operate on a rarified plane beyond the law. Tom says that love is the ultimate outlaw. It never plays by the rules.

I think victimhood is something that happens in your head. It’s like suffering – there is an important difference between acknowledging pain and suffering pain. You can acknowledge pain’s existence and respond appropriately without making it part of your identity. Someone can tie a dead chicken around your neck in an attempt to humiliate you, but you can say, “Hey, I hate having this dead chicken on my neck,” without lying down and saying “oooo I’m a victim”

Donald complains about being a victim all the time. And not to get all Christian and heavy-handed on you because that is not yrmama’s brand, Jesus never complained about being victimized.

So yes, I think we can retain our admiration for the outlaws – John Brown, my great great grandfather Samuel McCollough, Robin Hood, Mohandas Ghandi, Harriet Tubman, Jesus, Rosa Parks etc etc without completely exonerating them of any concomitant assholery. It’s not about being and asshole or not or about the breaking of laws, it’s about purity of intention, even in narrow instances.

Kinda Loud

A youthful and markedly reserved household member today shared, “yrmama. Three signs might be too much. It’s kind of loud. I’m not really a sign dude.” To which yrmama replied, “Dude. I know. If it was entirely up to me I might have no signs at all.” It feels very flamboyant, three of them out there, stretched along a long curve in the road. But for Pete’s sake (see what I did there?), here on the verdant left edge of academic suburbia no one will get too riled. This is a demonstration of a strong marriage, of bending ourselves to make up for each other’s eccentricities. The youth of America need to see how that works.

I’m mostly sobered and worried by Don, and have cut my news consumption by a lot in the past couple of weeks and am not thinking about the campaign all that much either. Since that vertiginous morning three years ago I have been taking the news straight up in large quantities, trying to crack the Code of Donald before my liver gives out. And now, with the end in sight one way or another I am losing the heart to watch us crash and burn in slo-mo.

Yet another household member remarked, “I watched a ‘what does he eat in a day video’ about Donny. He cracks a pop first thing in the morning and then drinks them all day. Plus he’s old and fat and eats a lot of steak.” The subtext being – Bernie is also an old white guy with rage issues too and he had a heart attack. Why is any of this okay?

Why is it okay to have a lower limit on presidential age but not an upper limit? Why do we need an age limit at all? Shouldn’t the right to vote and the right to run for office go together? Are not the youth of America and the aged of America not all inherently wise enough to probably not elect a ninety-nine year old on a ventilator or a gangly high school senior who cannot yet have a glass of champagne to celebrate their victory? Yet we elected Donald and now have to lie in that rancid bed of well-buttered bread. Are there any laws we could make up that would make any of this okay?

It’s All True – yrmama has allied

Three members of yrmama‘s immediate household, including yrmama, now sport Pete shirts in public. The baldest among us has a Boot Edge Edge hat as well and is an official campaign volunteer. We have three Pete 2020 yard signs in place.


The first night the signs were up our most mentally healthy dog barked and barked and barked at one of them, there all ghostly and white in the twilight. He was alerting me to a strange new object in the landscape. I let him sniff it and now he is going to caucus for Pete too.

It is no longer too early for an Iowan to think seriously about who to caucus for. It’s only a few weeks until the Democratic Party holds the Liberty and Justice Celebration at the Wells Fargo Arena in DesMoines. It used to be called the Jefferson Jackson Dinner and is the event where young Barack made an impression as a genuine contender. So if you are there, as yrmama intends to be, and are supporting someone in particular it can really make a pre-caucus difference.

I’ll still support whichever Democrat gets the nomination, especially if it’s Elizabeth and not Joe, even if it is Joe. But Pete has won yrmama‘s jaded old battered middle-aged heart.


Tom Robbins taught me to love outlaws. If you haven’t read Still Life With Woodpecker you should now. It might be painfully dated, since I last read it in the 80’s, but there’s only one way to find out. Outlaws are very American.

A year or two ago while I was hopped up on post-surgical pain killers I read American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin, “The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst.” I remember seeing the grainy, iconic bank security-footage photo of her with the giant gun that shocked everybody, including my mother, on tv. Patty’s kidnappers were outlaws and temporarily turned her into one too. The early 1970’s were nuts! Counterculture outlaws were routinely making bombs in their bathrooms and detonating them in places that would either disable or at least disturb The Man. Even though Patty’s experience with the Symbionese Liberation Army was a lot darker than a Tom Robbins novel, some of the 70’s-ish motives were the same.

This morning I figured out Donald’s appeal and the reason for our confusion. He’s just another outlaw! He’s all about sticking it to The Man, no matter who the man is. (That’s where his amorality comes in handy.) Some of his supporters are like Patty joining the Symbionese Liberation Army. She wasn’t exactly happy before they kidnapped her, and definitely not in control of her own life. She didn’t know exactly what the problem was but they told her. They told her over and over and over what reality was (well, with some rape and starvation and LSD) until she was convinced it was in her best interest to be a soldier for their cause.

So we’ve got an outlaw (Donald, in case you aren’t paying attention), who by definition does not operate within normal boundaries, and he’s hell-bent on destroying the way things normally work around here. The confusing thing is that we, the lefties who used to be the counterculture, are now The Man, deserving of all the homemade bombs (ummm, NRA, guns and more guns, domestic terrorism etc.) he can get his soldiers to stockpile and detonate.

I’m at a loss for advice on this so you’ll have to just digest the insight raw.