You are all that

Falling Safely – AARP

Do you remember the feeling of falling? There is a moment when you’re running downhill gleefully, thrilled at the sensation of your feel moving faster than you ever expected yet keeping everything balanced over them. Then a falter, either your feet can no longer keep up and don’t lift in time to match the momentum of your body, or the crystals of your inner ear are sloshing so hard that they can’t tell you where you are in space anymore. There’s a moment when when a voice that sounds like yours says, “I’m going down,” and then you surrender and fall and it feels just like falling in a dream.

Gravity is incredible. Your body, which normally teeters giddily upright meets the ground with incredible force. You and the earth that you are normally dancing lightly atop, slam together, like monster magnets.

How to not fall: Sit very very still in a bomb-proof chair. Do not bend over and then straighten back up. Do not lean back casually against anything solid-seeming, like a bookcase. Do not think about what you will be doing a few seconds from now or how to answer a companion’s question – STAY IN THE MOMENT! Sit on the top step and bump your way slowly down on your butt. If you must leave the house hang on tight to your friend’s arm until you are back to the bomb-proof chair. Meanwhile, undertake a precise, strenuous program of corrective exercise and DO NOT STOP until you are in peak physical form. Simultaneously and systematically optimize your balance and coordination. Get your act together! Meditate more. Regulate your emotions. Modulate your blood pressure and liver enzymes with Brain Power. I know you can do it. You can succeed. You are all that. And More.

Pete, the Slippery Bamboozler

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Pete has a secret power. Remember Donald stalking Hillary on the debate stage? She could smell his breath, and she chose to ignore him. Solid choice. I love to picture Debate Pete in that position – I don’t know the details, but he wouldn’t take any shit, and in such an unassailable way there would be nothing for Donald to grab. His unflappability would both enrage and bamboozle Donald.

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Pete’s like my feral cat, Dr. Norris, sleek and adorable. Last winter I had to pick Dr. Norris up to save their* life. (I’m not even kidding, they would have died.) They initially allowed the contact, but soon tried to slither loose. Because I was wearing thick gloves and an impenetrable Carhartt barn jacket I decided to hang on for their own good. In a flash Dr. Norris began biting my arm and hand over and over until one of those needle-like fangs pierced a vulnerable seam in my glove and into my hand. Dr. Norris disappeared into the woods but my hand blew up like the infected flesh balloon it was. Dr. Norris was correct in their actions (you don’t try to pick up feral cats), efficient, and remarkably calm. I had no recourse. I did set a live trap and took them in to be neutered, but that’s not exactly recourse. That was me, serving them, with a humble acknowledgement of the superiority of their teeth over my hubristic attempt to catch them with my hands.

How are you grateful to Donald? Let us count the ways. What are you looking forward to as the campaign progresses?

*Dr. Norris uses they/them pronouns. Dogs and cats do not possess our human construct of gender. They are not sexless, but they are genderless. Stop apologizing to each other for misgendering each other’s dogs at the dog park. It’s really okay.

photo credits: voanews.com, walmart.com

How to motivate Iowans and what yrmama really wants

After the Liberty and Justice Celebration we stayed on in DesMoines for a couple of days to attend the Pete Summit. It was “leadership training” for core campaign volunteers from across the state and if yrmama is a “core campaign volunteer” … they should look for people who are less cynical than yrmama.

The Battle of #LJ19 Hill
Plus, yrmama would like to be awarded all the style points for her patriotic outfit. The JCrew clearance jeans are spangled with little blue stars, while the TJMaxx clearance red cotton sweater and moisture-wicking gray hooded sweatshirt underneath take the adorable ensemble all the way from cute and festive to dressed-for-the-weather. Photography credit – JM And thanks to Amy for all the green signs to pose with.

I like Pete, but despite my signed Commit to Caucus (a “CTC” to the real insiders) and the t shirts and yard signs I’m still my old deeply skeptical non-joiner self. If it weren’t for this doggone blog (thanks Sharon) I would probably not be doing any of this, but there I was, in a junior high school gym with 175 fellow core campaign volunteers from all over Iowa and a lot of extremely bouncy, youthful campaign staffers. The first morning we were treated to a bonus visit from Pete himself and we even sat next to the nice sixteen year old girl who has become Chasten’s new best friend. I’m not even kidding – when she was sick he called her. JM said, with a healthy mix of jealousy and awe, “She’s going to get invited to the inauguration.”

Despite now being well-trained in interpersonal persuasion tactics meant to be used on the Pete-curious (they actually call you that), what I really want out of this is a little different. I really want people to caucus and vote for whoever they want. I want them to be able to talk about their “values” (wth. Talk about a mushy concept.) and political ideas, which in itself is kind of revolutionary. I want them to feel like their ideas matter and that their vote will ultimately make a difference.*

This training skipped over the fact that Iowans, for the most part, consider talking about politics bad manners. I was explicitly taught to not talk about politics, religion or money except in special circumstances. I think there should have been a session on how to create “safe spaces” where Iowans would feel like talking about their “values.”

I know that the way to motivate Iowans is not to talk them into things, or jump up and down and yell zestfully, or set expectations for them, but to tell them that their work and ideas are valuable and appreciated. I was at a volunteer appreciation dinner the other night for a different organization whose army of volunteers brought in $100,000 of revenue in September, one price tag on a used pair of socks at a time. That’s what they tell us all the time there – your work and ideas are valuable and appreciated.

In the comments – were you taught that there was a set of topics unsuited to common civil discourse? Have you ever been persuaded to take a position?

*Hey! Let’s do a thing where the presidential candidate with the most votes wins!

yrmama attends #LJ19

Democratic presidential candidate, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party Liberty & Justice Celebration on November 1, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Decoder Ring : The LJ is what the cool kids call the Liberty and Justice Celebration, formerly the Iowa Democrat party’s Jefferson Jackson Dinner. It is the state’s last big blow-out for the candidates before the caucus on February 3rd, and it is famously where Barack made a head-turning speech in 2007.

We arrived in downtown Des Moines in the late afternoon on Friday, where each campaign had been partying hard in the 35F rain ALL DAY, yelling and dancing, before entering the Wells Fargo Arena at 4:30 pm. Kamala was led in by the Isiserettes – the same local drum corps and drill team Barack had at the then-JJ in 2007 and in his inauguration parade. You should also be sad you missed an early chance to see Team Pete doing the High Hopes dance. Soon you will all be doing it.

Inside, on the main floor, were round tables for dining Democratic high rollers in their dress-up clothes. The arena seats were divided up into blocks for the various campaigns. For perspective, most of Joe’s seats were empty, Bernie had no allotted seats because they opted for an off-site watch party and Andrew had one section. We were in the Pete region, a very full twelve sections, about 1/4 of the total seats. We were exceptionally loud, too, but well-rivaled in decibels by Elizabeth’s folks in their sea-foam green gear.

This was yrmama’s first chance to see Andrew speak in person, and he was my second favorite-est. I loved his supporter’s glow-stick Y’s and he’s just smart, funny, and iconoclastic. I hope he takes some kind of influential job in government – in the cabinet maybe. He talked about how Iowans have a truly outsized influence in the presidential election that we should wield and wield wisely. He said he’s done the math and one Iowan is worth a thousand Californians, influence-wise, which means that the fourteen thousand Iowans in the arena that night are the equivalent of fourteen million California voters.

Tom Steyer was the only other one I’d not seen in person. He said good things and has a role to play but he probably is not going to be the nominee.

What do you mean you don’t feel like caucussing? I’ll make sure you have a ride there and back AND buy you a pizza. Seriously,

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

trueamericanrules.com

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.

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the founding fathers played True American too
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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.