Ann’s Fashion Tarot, Isolation Edition: Death.

Welcome to the happiest card in this whole reading right now, because in tarot, when Death shows up it means you’re fiiiinally able to let go of a thing you know damn well you should have quit/lost/forgotten some time ago. For me, that’s six (6) layers of eye makeup before I can walk out the door. I’ve tried this breakup before but always drifted back and then felt trapped and lately also betrayed by the trend of cat-eye wingedness, which I cannot master. I’m so seriously done this time. My Tarte Double Liquid/Pencil in Dark Brown just now texted “u up” and I did not reply.

This is how you know the Death card does not foretell your actual human death. If you’ve ever had the privilege of being up-close to that, you know that an actively dying person’s thoughts aren’t about letting go. They’re about travel. When I learned this in my training to be a hospice volunteer, I thought it was a sweet metaphor made up to make onlookers feel better. But actually no. On one of my first assignments, the woman asked me to clean her tub. She was bedridden and unable to sit up, let alone walk to her bathroom and bathe. But a clean tub made perfect sense, because she had a wicked-good shoe collection spilling out of her closet and a dresser-top full of fragrances, and obviously a clean tub is a thing you need if your brain believes it’s time to fancy-up and head out for the trip of trips. I cleaned the tub and also the rest of the bathroom, thinking the more Comet the better so the smell would reach her down the hall and she’d know her prep space was fresh and ready.

Another woman asked me to go get her wallet. She’d ceased eating or drinking, had been unable to sit up for days, her extremities had begun to swell. But I will be damned if she didn’t strain to whisper “wallet, wallet, wallet” until I went and got it from her purse and tucked it under her hand, at which point she relaxed and I realized everything in that training that had seemed mystical or exaggerated or flaky was, in fact, basic factual fact.

What the hospice trainers didn’t cover was what causes this, like, what exactly makes a clean tub or a wallet feel imperative when a body is shutting down for good. My husband is the most expert traveler I know so I asked him what that feeling is, when he’s in the throes of packing for a long time far away. I’m like, what IS that, what’s the feeling at midnight before a 6:00 a.m. flight and you’re triple-checking to be sure you have your wallet. He said it’s the feeling of gathering yourself together. Your essentials. It’s a restlessness that feels so good you almost can’t stand it. It’s like, no offense, everyone, but I have somewhere to be.

Death says, time to let go of the thing you know is done. Essentials are easier to find, after that.

Ann’s Fashion Tarot, Isolation Edition: The Hanging Man.

This is definitely a time for soul-searching and I am definitely devoting the rest of my isolation to finding my most authentic place on the recently developed Ann’s Fashion Tarot Gross Aesthetic Product Index.

This came about after I went the whole first week without eye makeup, and then slabbed on my usual amount expecting to be happy about looking and feeling like my regular self, but instead I looked and felt like a circus harlot. I don’t know if this means I’ve been walking around like a clownwhore all this time and none of you said anything, or, it might mean none of us are coming out of this with the same sensibilities we had before.

The Hanging Man says sure, an uninvited change of perspective is uncomfortable. But don’t get so whiny that you miss the chance to see things anew.

Ann’s Fashion Tarot, Isolation Edition: Strength.

Isolation really magnifies any ideological conflicts you’ve got going on, because you can’t put them on the back burner any more, just there you are with your conflicts. Because you can step back from the mirror and quit looking at your pores but you cannot step back from your brain right now and I can’t go one more day without speaking up about my recent embracing of shimmer powder. Here is an infographic to school you the same way Ejay at Nova Academy of Beauty schooled me.

I’d booked an hour with Ejay because I wanted to support my young friend’s pursuit of a profession I consider absofuckinglutely essential. I was ready for a dramatic update, like maybe a matte lip or a metallic eye. However. Nothing in my extensive makeup-wearing curriculum vitae prepared me for the application of shimmer to places not considered, by women of my generation, to be places you make up.

Inner conflict arose immediately, because I knew it looked great but didn’t know why. It was equal parts “mermaid” and “power.” It made me feel like a boss but also like a suggestively frosted cupcake.

I’m like, this is so bizarre and specific, it has to be one of those things like how white people in the 16th Century made their faces even whiter to signal that they were upper-class I-do-not-labor-in-the-sun people. Or how the blushy lips and cheeks of the 1950s suggested the physiology of arousal. A quick search yielded zero dissertations on the topic, presumably because this is all too new and analyses are still underway. To fill that void, I suggest that whereas the red-lippy pink-cheeky faces of the 1950s essentially signaled readiness for penetration, the shimmer-powder-wearing ladyfaces of today signal afterglow. Allll done. Good to go so you might as well get up and make me a sandwich.

My conflict at this point isn’t about whether or not we should be conveying that, because for sure, it’s progress. My conflict is that since eye corners/nose bridge/top-of-lip don’t feel like normal places for makeup, I’m afraid I’ll forget the rules and put it somewhere arbitrary, signaling something weird. Like my earlobes which under no healthy circumstances are supposed to glow. Chaotic situations are best navigated by noting and following the rules, at first, until the proper steps are committed to muscle memory. So I guess that’s my plan in these times when we need illumination wherever we can get it.

The Strength card says, if it feels right, wear it.

Ann’s Fashion Tarot, Isolation Edition: The Wheel of Fortune.

There’s a lot of talk right now about gratitude for what we have, and staying grounded amidst uncertainty, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am for my small but solid collection of meaningful t-shirts which are presently serving as my downward-facing-dog of style.

I organized them like this the first day we realized we’d be staying put a while. At the time, when I fished them out of whatever closet-floor wads they were in and put them on hangers, I thought I was doing it the same way I go to thrift shops when I need some soothing. That quick-fix orderly experience of shopping according to color. But no, nope, turns out it was some serious fashion prescience. Turns out I was setting myself up for a per diem dose of sureness that this IS a new day and I WILL be wearing one of these, along with the same jeans since last Monday and also boots for when I take my now-daily constitutional in the woods. Been walking at sunset but the boots go on first thing in the morning because why not wear them all damn day, eliminating one more variable in these uniquely chaotic times.

The Wheel of Fortune says chaos will never have your back, or back down because you’re freaking out, or check in with you like “hey are you OK do you need a minute.” Best to know that sooner rather than later, and dress accordingly.

Ann’s Fashion Tarot, Isolation Edition: The Hermit.

Well this is just redundant. It’s not even funny. If you see a tarot reader with any regularity, you know that the same card tends to show up over and over until you GET IT, until you wake up to a particular lesson. In Ann’s Fashion Tarot: Isolation Edition, the lesson apparently getting banged over our heads right now is that the obstacle preventing us from completing every single item on our tactical/educational/spiritual to-do list has not been “time.” The obstacle has been “giving a shit.” In the interest of public health, I say that the sooner we all box up/trash/subcontract/flat-out forget about projects we’re never actually going to take pleasure in completing, the swifter and more safely The Hermit will pass.

The Hermit says, you are soooo welcome for this stark new clarity about what actually adds to the quality of your life and what drains it. Clarity about the difference between feeling inspired by an idea of a thing, vs. actually wanting to do the thing. You can still love the thought of hand-made clothes, without buying the sewing machine and the fabric and the shears and the how-to book. You can savor the dreamy feeling of envisioning a different kitchen, without busting up the tile. You can be un-crazy-busy and just be.

Ann's Fashion Tarot, Isolation Edition: Justice.

NO YOU DO NOT need dreadlocks to join today’s Pandemic Palmrolling Party, which I’m co-hosting with the wonderful Mnikelo Majestic Nojoko who gave me what turns out to the the best possible look for right-now.

Join the virtual party! Here.

Fidget spinner? Check. Source of comfort when you roll them with smellgood oils, turning your head into a giant diffuser? Check. Extra warmth for walks outside, which have become the peak adventure of the day every day? CHECK. You can still join the party if you have nothing to roll, you just have to 1) believe stamina might be a good to muscle to work right now, and 2) feel grateful for the stylists you’re missing, who are also missing you, as well as income, and stability, and the chance to practice their craft.

Justice says, sink into the long game. Operate as if you can envision some wrongs righted, some fuzz smoothed, some beautiful eventualities.

Ann's Fashion Tarot, Isolation Edition: The Chariot.

If you’re literally in the driver’s seat of all the driving, my question is, what are you doing right now when the roads are mostly empty and it would SEEM like now’s a good time for otherwise-disruptive construction projects, but that’s probably a stupid idea if you know anything about public health which I don’t. So the question is, how is Minnesota Commissioner of Transportation Margaret Anderson Kelliher spending her time?

The Commissioner is sewing, specifically masks, specifically during her break if she gets it from a workday devoted to keeping roads and bridges and public transit drivers and pedestrians safe during unprecedented public works weirdness. She’s got mad sewing skills which is a beautiful counterpart to her dayjob, which, as noted, is intense right now.

The Chariot is about owning the fact that you’ve got a lot going on right now, A LOT, none of it harmonious or synergy-ish unless you take serious charge and take serious time to balance the weighty with the frivolous, the daunting with the darning of a sock. It’d be awesome, today, if you’d stay off the roads. Because then maybe Margaret could get a hot minute to sew and get some peace and then return to work keeping Minnesota safe and uncongested and lovely.

The Chariot says, yeah you ARE the boss of whatever you’re the boss of right now, no passing of the buck cuz literally nobody’s open, but you DO get to call for breaks and you’ll be a better leader/driver/human if you can seek and strike that balance.

Ann's Fashion Tarot, Isolation Edition: The Lovers.

Last night my partner of 32 years and I tried pulling each other off the couch using just one hand. I started it. I did not announce the game because I didn’t know what was happening until it was well underway. I just reached out my hand and he reached out his and I’m like “no go like this,” making a c-clamp shape, and then I locked on and pulled. He pulled back and I fell off the couch. He’s like “that’s your strong hand and this is my weak hand” and I’m like “no it’s not,” and I looked down and declared “this is my LEFT hand,” and he said “no it’s not,” and goddammit he was right. We tried it with the other set of hands and he won again. We have a child together, we’ve shared vows and toothbrushes and mortgages, we’ve hurled obscenities at each other for crimes such as breathing too loud, we have loved each other well and let each other down. But not until now have we had occasion to treat each other like siblings on a too-long car trip.

Fortunately both our jobs are do-able from home, so we have unlimited time and mental bandwidth for this new modus operandi. Next up my sleeve is “stop hitting yourself,” as I grab his wrist and smack his face with his own hand. Obviously BONUS if I can do it while he’s in a very professional virtual meeting.

Pre-enactment.

Also on my bucket list is “I’m not touching you,” as I hold a finger near but not touching his face. Actually that’s the better one for during a virtual meeting, because then he’ll have someone to complain to that I’m touching him, which, clearly, I am NOT.

The Lovers say, hey wait, our vows said nothing about this. But then they’re like, oh waaaait, perhaps this is why all the old people were holding hands and also choking up at the wedding? Perhaps the vows said everything there is to say, about a time like this.

Ann's Fashion Tarot, Isolation Edition: The Emperor.

If you’re even THINKING about spackling or repairing a screen or even deep cleaning, STOP IT, because if The Emperor senses your shame we are all doomed and nobody needs that right now.

The Emperor is about our sense of place. When he’s in a good mood, you feel it in the form of security, stability, comfort, contentment with what you have and where you are. When he’s pissed, whether it’s your fault or not, you feel that too: Insecurity. Instability. Discomfort. Restlessness that verges on losing your wits.

You think it makes him feel good, when you flit around with a touch-up brush, squawking at his flaws? When some wall or windowsill that’s been perfectly livable as-is up until now, is all of a sudden unsightly, an embarrassment, a thing to fix? It does not. Nobody needs that. The Emperor does not want your criticism all up in his business, trying to make it look like people don’t live lives, here.

What he needs, right now, is for you to thank him for everything thus far. Thank him for still standing, for keeping you warm, for bearing witness to the best and worst of the life you’ve lived sheltered by these cracked, possibly dirty, perfectly lovely walls. He would not mind if you sat your ass on the couch right now. Maybe read one of your billion bookshelf books you’ve never actually read. The Emperor would not mind, at all, if you lovingly, gratefully, took shelter in your particular sense of place.

The Emperor says, be still and know that I am fine without you being all fixy fix-it right now.

Ann's Fashion Tarot, Isolation Edition: The High Priest.

Honestly I don’t know which he wore better, the daffodil/robin’s egg contrast of the tie with the shirt, or the thoughtful ownership of having said one thing one day and then announcing its opposite the next. The bookish-but-not-boring glasses, or the clear and graspable explanation of how historical data about pandemics is what’s behind decisions that might otherwise come across as irrational or excessive.

Actually I think Governor Walz wore a brick-red tie/white shirt at Friday’s briefing with the Minnesota Department of Health, but it doesn’t matter, because the guy’s style is consistent. Fresh yet classic. Seasonal, yet enduring. Compassionate, strategic, transparent, superfun pops of color.

In tarot, the High Priest is about doctrine, and a lot of what gets called doctrine is crap. Exploitive, negligent, not-helpful. But there’s a way to do it right, and you know it when you hear it, like when he says empathy is central to decision-making. And, “If I fall down, I expect to be called on it.” And, “Let’s do this in a way that others can look at and say, that’s the way out of this.”


ARTIST’S NOTE: Forgot to draw a High Priest when I made the original deck, and I can’t draw one now because I burned the remaining scraps of the 7Up carton and I cannot have nonmatching cards. But making do is all the rage right now so we are going with this.

The High Priest says, integrity becomes you.