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.


My dear dog Lupine was perfect. He was a perfect dog in every way. He could kill any raccoon no matter how big or how much it tore him up, but he was docile with us and eager to please. He followed me from room to room all day, my silent adoring shadow. We had an old wing back chair bought for 5 dollars at a yard sale thirty years ago. The worn arms were already patched with purple corduroy when we got it. My oldest daughter asked if she could take it with her to her new place because it is so homey – the perfect definition of a perfect family heirloom.

Lupine was not allowed on the furniture but he understood that rule only applied when we we could see him and the seat of that chair was the perfect size for him to curl up in. When he got old and deaf he would think we were all gone when we weren’t, or not hear us when we got back and I we’d find him sound asleep in his chair. I’m telling you this because Lupine was perfect, like Donald’s phone call with Volodymyr. And because Donald’s understanding of the law is as simple minded as Lupine’s. But not perfect. Lupine was entirely pure of heart.

Donald eagerly released the transcript of that phone call with the comedian president of Ukraine that his people had striven to hide away for eternity. Donald said that once we the American People read it we would recognize, “that phone call was perfect.” He kept calling it a perfect phone call.

What is astonishing is that I think he really is so fundamentally amoral that he honestly doesn’t understand. The phone call was perfect in that he accomplished what he wanted without saying any of the words he was not supposed to say. He understands that the law prohibits him from saying certain things, and he didn’t, therefore the transaction was legal and perfect. If he can get what he wants done by circumlocution is all good.


Warren/Buttigieg? Warren/Harris? Winfrey/Obama?

Clearly yrmama has stopped going to every show that comes to town – she’s heard all the stump speeches, experienced all the first impressions. She’s amused and pleased to see that all the pronouncements she made based on those first impressions are proving true. She’s waiting for the next stage to really kick in. What is the next stage? I guess we’ll find out.

yrmama has 3 political t-shirts now. The first bears an American flag with the stars replaced by a qr code for a website where you can register to vote. She bought it from the Parkland kids. The second says Elizabeth Warren 2020 and the third is a rainbow Pete logo. Elizabeth and Pete are still running neck in neck for my heart and I am so so so sorry that we let it get to this point, where kids are likely to get shot at school and any crowd that forms anywhere instantly feels like a minefield

Do you remember how Barack made us feel? Way back when? His deep voice oozed with intelligence and compassion and when he was done talking yrmama wanted so badly to invite him and Michelle and the girls over for dinner because we were all going to be best friends. I planned for my son to go to college with Sasha so maybe, just maybe, we could be inlaws too.

Sigh. That’s how he got elected. His slow-jam made me feel safe and loved. But that’s also how Donald got elected. He stood there and bellowed in a way that somehow exhilarated people.

Beto’s punk-rock, “Hell yes,” side has potential. Kamala is starting to seem too smug. IDK.

Pete is incredibly talented and could be the guy. His speaking soothes the savage beast. He makes everything feel manageable if we buckle down and trust the fundamentals of democracy. He’s adorable. Everyone loves him.

And Elizabeth. There is something indescribable about her that is most evident when you see her in person. She’s really pulling something amazing together. Listen this podcast about her rallies – The thing that really convinces me about her ability to pull this off is imagining her onstage with Donald. Remember how he menacingly followed Hillary around while she talked? Now picture him trying that with Elizabeth. She would swing around and lay him out flat without missing a beat.