SSDGM

1) Look. Listen. Listen! After the recent dearth of attention paid to yrmama by the candidates, things are picking up! It may be just a blip, but if not, buckle up.

Tonight Political Party Live is taping an interview with Bernie in Cedar Rapids. Tomorrow the podcast is interviewing Cory in Iowa City. Sunday 19 candidates will be speaking at the Democratic Party Hall of Fame event at the Hilton in Cedar Rapids. A bunch of them will be roaming around doing smaller appearances too, so yrmama intends to roam as well and make it like Pokemon Go. Options include morning Crossfit with Kirsten, marching around and yelling with Bernie and a group of McDonald’s workers who would like to be paid fairly, trailing Kirsten on downtown sidewalks while her schedule lists ‘visibility,’ letting John Delaney buy you lunch, meeting up with Marianne at a yoga studio, and playing cornhole with Pete at a picnic/party in Greene Square.

2) Donald. Why do you say he’s a ‘straight shooter’ who ‘tells it like it is’? Why do you ever believe him? Why on god’s green earth do you like him? Sit up and listen:

My new best friends, Karen and Georgia’s joint memoir Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered The Definitive How-To Guide is #1 on the NYT bestsellers list and that didn’t happen by accident. Their podcast listeners are the sexiest un-murdered folks around and we each have bought a few copies. Their book is organized around key principles, like Stay Out of the Woods, and Buy Your Own Shit. Much of their popularity is attributable to all the swearing – we Murderinos find it very empowering.

In the first chapter Georgia asks Karen why she thinks the primary principle, Fuck Politeness speaks so strongly to their followers. Karen says, (book 1, verse 3) “it’s what everyone wants to do but has been led to believe they’re not allowed to do. We’re giving you the permission to act in your own best interests before considering anyone else’s.”

So. Is that what you believe Donald is doing? Fucking politeness? He certainly doesn’t consider anyone’s interests above his own. He’s sticking up for you by sticking up for himself? Maybe.

Howsomever, in book 1, verse 74, Karen says, “The idea of fucking politeness isn’t about standing on a street corner shouting “Fuck You!” to anyone passing by. It’s a strategy for when someone tries to invade your space somehow. They started it. They’re the dick here.” Donald errs a bit towards yelling at everyone on the street corner, at everything he sees actually. He’s like an anxious dog barking into the dark woods, “I’m a dog! Don’t you dare! Fuck you! I’m a dog!”

The thing is, fucking politeness does not remove your moral obligation to be kind. You can absolutely consider your own best interest and use bad words and still be kind. yrmama knows for certain that if you are truly kind your manners matter in the long run. That’s where Donald falls the shortest. He lies (which is in itself unkind) and he’s a mean old man. Steer clear. Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered.

American Descendants of Slave Owners

*prologue: yrmama’s daughter, Serena Williams said, “But yrmama I thought you were just going to write about candidates.” yrmama shrugged and answered, “well everything is connected to everything so it will all come around.”

Half of my children were born in Iowa and are descendants of humans who enslaved other humans for over a hundred years. Seriously, yrmama’s people got on that stick immediately. I think the first direct-line ancestor of mine who was part of all that came to Virginia in 1713. William Clopton. From there he and his pals just went nuts enslaving people, buying land, marrying each other and spreading their plantations across the south. It looks to me like it was the youngest sons in those generations (who probably inherited less) who gradually moved westward and took their slaves along. A lot of times it might have been illegal to buy and sell slaves in a particular state, but if they brought their own along when they moved it was just fine. So they did! Case in point, my great great great grandfather, David, listed 18 slaves on the 1820 Virginia census. Then his little family moved west, through Kentucky to Illinois. By 1830 the family had zero slaves and had figured out how to farm for their own damn selves. Some of David’s siblings kept people in bondage all the way to the bitter end in 1865.

This legacy gave me undeniable privilege because no matter what, poor white people have fewer obstacles and more unearned power than poor people of color. It gave my immediate family just enough of a leg up to be aloof, intellectual poor people. I think the harm done to my ancestor’s souls by all those generations of mistreating people, prospering while their unpaid workers built everything and cleaned everything and did the farm work was ultimately completely crushing. It trickles down too, into a mushy, ever widening and very, very slowly diluting delta of unhappiness and resentment.

My compulsion to document this part of my destructive family tree is like picking at a scab. I want to see what’s under there because I know it’s not good. My therapist gently suggested that if I continue doing genealogy I consider looking for where the streams of love and spiritual goodness run. Easy for her to say. I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for, except maybe more explanation and documentation of those festering undercurrents of dysfunction and unhappiness. I kind of want to see the deluge that isn’t coming through the dike because I’ve got my thumb stuck in it. I want to see it evaporating because I’ve stopped it up good.

53

yrmama is starting to get upset about the ridiculous constant downpour from the heavens. Her AccuWeather arthritis forecast keeps saying she is at Extreme Risk of pain and she seriously wants to move to New Mexico. It feels out of control. It always rains. No corn gets planted. It’s just gross. Last night 53 tornadoes touched down in the midwest and in Dayton they were using snowplows to remove debris from the highways.

a sly one from Wikipedia

Remember early on yrmama said that climate change is the central issue? Well, it is, from human society and human species points of view. Mother Nature, however you conceive of her is going to continue to be just fine. Nature and quantum physics have no morality attached to them and I think that may be what makes them scary to humans. They are this big (ahem, understatement) amoral force that we exist within. Sure, when a butterfly flaps it’s wings in Mozambique a celery stalk wilts in the crisper in Toronto and when we burn fossil fuels like they’re the best thing since sliced bread, shit gets crazy for meteorologists, but that’s all WITHIN this balanced system. Balance is dynamic, like having wagon legs, it shifts around, it’s not rigid sameness.

Mother Nature insists on balance and balance she will. Not wrathfully, but with the flinty-eyed dedication of my late doggo Lupine who was compelled to Kill All Raccoons. It has to be done and it will be done. All us hoomans as a species can do, if we want to, is try to behave in a way that takes our own best interest into account. Mother Nature will take care of herself.

Chronic

it’s very hard to accept that yrmama won’t get well.* Evidence of that difficulty is that I really do think I will get well soon, but genetic collagen defects are forever, man. Plus my advanced age is kicking it in. For example, yrmama was limping like a zombie yesterday, swaying stiffly side to side and constantly on the verge of losing her balance. My foot hurt, but I wanted to keep working, so I did. It was 70F, sunny and I was planting things, clearing brush at the edge of the woods and filling the car with mulch. I like to do stuff. I hate sitting. But finally I had to stop because it was painfully ridiculous to be wobbling around like that and dragging my leg while trying to use heavy tools. Giving in to the big pain in my foot led immediately to feeling bad about myself: I thought I had this foot thing fixed, I thought I had this under control. Maybe I haven’t been doing the exercises the PT prescribed dutifully enough, maybe I should have worn different shoes. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I do this when everyone else can? 

Until about a year ago I always said, “It’s going to hurt no matter what so I might as well be doing something I like.” Then I began a summery descent into a whole new realm of pain that led to spine surgery. During that un-belayed descent my doctor advised, “This isn’t the time to power through, yrmama,” and “this kind of pain is humbling.”

You’ll be glad to hear that yesterday I surrendered relatively early in the pain spiral. I washed off the poison ivy, took a big slug of CBD and some gabapentin, taped the bottom of my foot within an inch of it’s life and settled my butt down to work on my Etsy shop. I practiced saying to myself, “yrmama? You are doing a good job. The pain comes, the pain goes, some days you can do this, some days you can do that. It’s not about you. It’s not something you can fix or will away. Be humble.”

Meanwhile, my ego had it’s fists all balled up; “So now I’m supposed to obey pain?”

I replied firmly but compassionately, “yrmama, it’s not about obeying or not obeying. This isn’t about effort.” So Buddhist.

I always believed that I was the weak one, the weak willed and weak-bodied, because everyone else seemed to be accepting ~the way this feels~ (aka life in a human body) so much more gracefully. (Or being a huge pain in the ass and complaining all the time. It’s binary. Either/Or.) They must be better at tolerating the pain, they must be better at exercising/choosing shoes/carrying things/running/throwing balls for the dog. What stamina they have. They’ve clearly done enough push-ups, or something, that their elbow doesn’t pop out of joint when they push a full wheelbarrow. Since the solution to my inadequacy was clearly to be stronger I went to fitness classes at the gym five days a week and lifted more weights afterwards. But when I turned fifty everything that was circling my whole life came home to roost.

It turns out a lot of people actually go about their days and activities with ZERO painful body parts and think that’s entirely normal. When they complain about something hurting it’s because it didn’t hurt at all before, not because it’s worse than normal everyday baseline pain. Who knew?

yrmama says, “get yourself some equanimity.”

*But seriously, none of us will. We will not survive life. Except – Great news! Quantum physics!

p.s. my brain is still saying, “yrmama exaggerates. yrmama is a whiner.”

The least I can do

It’s another dry stretch for candidates, and simultaneously a chilly, wet stretch down here on the farm. I especially want to hear from Cory, Jay and Stacy. I want to invite Kamala for a second interview. I want to invite Barack and Michelle over for dinner.

Speaking of Jay Inslee, he’s the only one who’s all about climate change, and he’s right to be. —–> From here yrmama could veer into religion, science, raptors, poison ivy, catastrophic weather events, how it is taking well over ten years to move the UI’s art campus uphill (after the the last giant flood) and to raise Dubuque Street enough that people can reliably get in and out of town. Eleven years ago I watched a woman scooping up large fish with a net in City Park, in the grass, as the water rose and rose and rose. She was filling a big bucket with writhing fish, like 10 inches long, and planned to share them with whoever wanted to help eat them. It was bewildering.

Or we can discuss yrmama’s favorite way to address the epidemic of plastic consumerism we’re all about to choke on. At the Mennonite thrift store where I volunteer sorting through other people’s huge bags of crap, we divert 10 bajillion units of solid waste A DAY from being dumped in the formerly pretty little crick nearby or sent to the steaming, reeking landfill a little farther off. The sale-able stuff is sold for cash money to support international relief projects many of which, you guessed it, are probably triggered or at least complicated by fucking climate change. 

*yrmama used to buy everything second hand because she was poor. Now that yrmama is rich she prefers to buy things second hand because it’s more fun and way more interesting. Plus it helps divert a bit of that aforementioned mountain of other people’s crap from the crick.

https://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/business/crowded-closet-in-fourth-home-in-41-years-20190330
Volunteers sort your great aunt’s apple-sauce jars of buttons and sew them onto cards. It’s the best variety of buttons you’re ever going to find.

Some donors to the shop are Marie Kondo-ing, some just will lose their minds of they don’t do something to get that mountain of outgrown soccer shoes out from behind the couch. Some middle-aged siblings who live far away come with pickup trucks full of warped tupperware, doilies, stained vintage clothes, National Geographics, footstools, peanut butter jars full of screws, and a few dozen boxes of Q-tips from when they were on sale in 1984 and someone stocked up. They look stunned because their last parent just died and they have to clean out the house and they don’t want to cry until later. I LOVE sorting that stuff. It’s the least I can do.

– crickets –

So yes, no.

No candidates have visited here and none are scheduled to before the end of the April. I’m confused after the flurry of activity the first week I decided to attend every event in town…Maybe this is normal? Or do they just schedule things willy nilly with short notice? And again, is yrmama being intentionally left out?

Nonetheless, soldiering on, yrmama convened a focus group the other night. (A focus group about yrmama, not presidential candidates.) Participants included a relatively new U.S. citizen who is EXCITED about being able to vote, a wise green card holder who has never voted in this country and one with dual citizenship in Canada and the U.S. who has also never voted. The latter is not disinterested in the welfare of the country but rather has chosen so far to engage through prayer rather than politics. This Latter is also considering voting this time around. Pray AND vote, I say, like pray AND call an ambulance. All teasing aside, I respect the Latter’s choice to keep it real and keep it spiritual. The Latter is not wrong. More on yrmama’s religious tendencies another time.

Any-wayz, the results came in quickly and the focus group agreed that yrmama’s relatively know-nothing approach to the caucuses is fine and in fact more than fine. It makes yrmama’s coverage of the race more interesting by virtue of being personal and less intimidating by not being remotely journalistic. If you disagree feel free to unsubscribe.

I will see and perhaps take a selfie with Elizabeth Warren on Friday by driving either to Tipton or Clinton. She is going to be closer, in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, but is charging $20 and I’m too cheap for that.

  • yrmama joined a book club devoted to reading all of the political autobiographies of current democratic candidates before caucus day on 2/3/20. We are currently reading Pete’s book, The Shortest Way Home.