Well this is awkward. The World is supposed to be about closure but we don’t have that right now. So, I have created this tool for your shelter-in-place survival kit, portable and fully reusable any time you’re craving the feeling of closure and not getting it from the actual world. I know it by heart because it’s what my dad always sang as a lullaby. We thought he’d made it up, of course, until he told us it was the last song the band would always play at every high school dance circa 1957. In hindsight I think it’s possible that he sang it not so much for us, but to remind himself of a time in his life when he wasn’t responsible for calming down a houseful restless girls, he was just a kid who didn’t want the dance to end yet.
Goodnight, Sweetheart (Ray Noble, 1931)
Good night sweetheart, till we meet tomorrow Good night sweetheart, sleep will banish sorrowTears and parting may make us forlornBut with the dawn, a new day is born(so I'll say) Good night sweetheart, tho' I'm not beside youGood night sweetheart, still my love will guide youDreams enfold you, in each one I'll hold youGood night sweetheart, good night
It feels soooo good to know I’m not alone over here engaging in high-risk style experiments, because usually I’m doing that anyway, so WELCOME TO MY WORLD. You are free to leave it once we’re no longer sheltering in place, but for now, I implore you to stay the course. If you’ve cut wispy bangs with a disposable razor, keep at it, maybe add some wisps along the perimeter. Don’t even use a different razor and I’m not kidding. If you’ve quit wearing eye makeup, or quit curling your hair or quit caring about any other thing that used to seem like a necessary trapping of your look but now ONLY NOW are you realizing it was exactly that, a trapping that kept you trapped, please keep not-doing what you’re newly not-doing. If you’ve launched a quest-beard then I know you already get this because you’re calling it a “quest beard” and I could not be happier that that’s a trending term. “Quest” is exactly what we’re on, style-wise. A quest only ends when you learn whatever the inner voice that demanded it wants you to learn, and if you stop now you simply won’t have enough data at the end of this to figure that out. And then you’ll be doomed to repeat the same experiment next time life gets weird.
This is definitely a law of nature and I got a sobering reminder of it when I switched up my #StayHomeMN uniform by wearing the one other pair of jeans I own, and a long-sleeved instead of a short-sleeved t-shirt. Sure enough, a few hours into the day I was vaguely pissy like you get when everybody said they’d go along with a thing but now nobody’s going along with it. I felt worried, despite that nothing personally worrisome was actually happening. I was weepy (as noted in a previous blog series I no longer have the benefit of PMS to legitimize routine weepiness). I was bored and cranky and the worst version of myself.
The mood plummet wasn’t about how I looked. I looked pretty much the same as in the original getup, i.e., absolutely exotic because jeans and t-shirts are not a thing I wear in regular life. But these different-than-the-previous-14-days-jeans and different-fitting t-shirt felt just different enough to signal my whole system for a gear-shift. It was as if I’d gotten my body and therefore my brain all ready for an all-new agenda, which turned out to be a cruel cruel joke, because it was day 14 of same-same-sameness. Fortunately I recognized this disparity and wrested myself from the liar-jeans and stupid long-sleeved t-shirt which honestly I’d never loved in the first place.
Back inside my unlaundered #StayHomeMN jeans and a now-standard short-sleeved t-shirt, the rest of the day went fine.
If you’re new to the thrill of staging a production in your living room, using only household items as costumery, and then nailing it, and then your whole mind/body gets flooded with joy regardless of the fact that only a handful of people liked it, welcome. I officially welcome all quarantine-inspired online performers to the joyous joyful most joy-inducing feeling of putting on a show. Here is me inventing that in 1971.
Here is a recreation of the even-more-stunning photo I spent last night trying to find, of my April 1972 living room production of “Jesus Died on the Cross” (original lyrics to the tune of “The Bear Went Over The Mountain” which Amy sung while I wore a bathrobe and taped-on paper beard and solemnly held the space of Jesus the Christ) (same jump rope as above):
I love this photo, and this memory, so much. My search for it, last night, was maddening. And I mean that literally, like at one point after going through every album in every plastic bin in the basement I sat down on the damp shitty crumbling floor and cried.
And then shortly after that I wondered if there could be any way the absence of this particular photo, from where I KNOW it existed the LAST time I went looking for it, could possibly be my husband’s fault.
The Sun, in tarot, is about uninhibited joy. Right now it’s also a cautionary tale about tantrums, and your own personal edge, and knowing when to let go of a vision that can’t be realized despite how good it was.
Yes I DID just now send an audition video to the Dreadlock Artist Collective and no you CANNOT see it because I am not about to break the rules of The Star.
The rules of The Star are that not only must you nurture any brand-new-baby-dreams that float to the surface in the wake of weirdness, you also have to hold them close. Private, for now. The more outrageous the idea, the better, except you don’t even have to use a word like “outrageous” in your own private brain which is where to keep anything that’s right-now rising up as a glimmer of a thing you might want to try/do/be. A thing upon which you only stumbled due to a billion hours per day on Instagram, thanks to the stay-home order, thanks to a pandemic. Ultimately, when your new thing comes to fruition in a way that may or may not resemble how it looks in your dreamydreams right now, you don’t have to feel grateful for the disaster. You do, though, have to admit that disaster has a way of hacking up some unlikely gifts.
The Star says, all dreamydreams are ordered to shelter in place.
By now we’re all experiencing some mind-blowing outcomes of social distancing right smack in the transition of winter to spring, like sidewalk-chalk-art all along your street, or happy noises from neighbor kids on homeschool recess, or a sex trafficker mistaking you for a vulnerable homeless teenager.
The streets were post-apocalypse-empty, and quiet, so when a guy darted out from behind a building into the park at Second and Jackson hollering hey, HEY, you couldn’t miss him, this person clearly needing something, clearly in need, clearly relieved to find someone to ask for directions or a lighter or whatever. I’m like, hey yes, you need something, hey?
For a few seconds it felt like fate, like I’d been put in the path of this needy person to do some heroics only I could do. This was the one single #StayHomeMN day when instead of walking in the woods, I’d walked through Old Town to Autotronics where my beloved Ford Bronco II had been towed for service right before this whole thing hit. My mission was to pay the Bronco a quick loving visit and reclaim the essentials I’d stashed there, namely, my case of Tarot cards and my Converse Chuck Taylor low-tops so I’d have something other than snow boots to wear out walking.
I’d also left a bunch of shopping totes in my truck, so I stuffed them full of each other plus the Tarot plus the Chucks, leaving no room for my coat once temperatures peaked on my walk back home. By the time I got to Jackson Street Park, I was dragging, and sweating, bags banging against an unnecessary amount of padding.
But the guy clearly needed help so I took a few steps forward to allow us to speak at normal volumes while still keeping pandemic-appropriate distance. There we were, strangers in a park at a time when strangers everywhere are making connections from a distance, trying to do some good however we can, and he’s like, do you want to make some money?
You just gotta open your mouth. Do you want to make some money.
I’m like, what exactly are you saying. What are you asking, exactly. He said, I’ll give you a hundred dollars to get with me, in there.
“There” was the U.S. Bank parking ramp, which, as noted, was empty. He was really put-together, in a tailored coat and dark jeans, and his tone was confident like a hero helping out a girl in need.
“No, nope,” I said. “I’m gonna go.” I took a couple steps back to start the process of walking away.
“Are you sure. Are you sure? You want to take my number in case you change your mind.”
That phrase drained the whole thing of any context that might have felt familiar. This wasn’t small talk turned flirty. This was a business proposition. We were so far away from each other, there’s no way he could have seen how pretty I look with my quarantine-inspired makeup-free face, or how fit I am from walking every day, or how good my dreadlocks look from all the constant palm-rolling. All he could have seen, from that distance, was a small-framed female walking empty streets with matted hair, out-of-season snow boots, a sagging coat, and a lot of overstuffed shopping bags. Possibly in need of help in the form of quick cash. Possibly needy enough to change her mind, later, and give him a call.
The Mankato Public Safety personnel who took my report were wonderful, just really human and patient and great, despite that this was probably their least-urgent matter of the day. Officer McClintock closed out our conversation by asking if there was anything I needed. I’m like, no, I don’t personally need anything, I just need it on record that sex work was solicited in broad daylight at the corner of Second and Jackson.
The Tower is about disaster. Prior to my walk yesterday, I had an adorably clever post planned, about this card. What I’m gonna say instead, is that The Tower suggests now is a good time to keep watch.
The Temperance card is about moderation which you might think isn’t happening right now BUT IT IS. You can see it if you zoom out far enough. Think this is too much time in too-close quarters? Your personal claustrophobia is an equal-and-opposite reaction to the frenetic global zig-zagging of germs. Think fresh bangs cut with shitty kitchen shears is tooooo dramatic? It’s probably not dramatic enough. DIY haircuts will definitely destroy your pride, but in these times we need to think beyond ourselves, and if you want to take some action to really help level things out you will charge up the trimmer and mow down your whole head with the guard off. For my own part, quitting eye makeup was an appropriate baby step but probably the way to make a dent of a difference is to fully erase my face.
Clearly this was going great as a spiritual exercise and an art project which consumed most of the afternoon, and the bathroom, until a reporter called to ask what the Arts Center was doing during the shutdown.
I’m like, well, what we’re NOT doing is trying to become a virtual gallery or anything else we’re not already good at, because there’s enough noise online at the moment and now is not the time to bust out anything half-assed. We’re doing what we do well, reaching out to the artists who rely on us to help them stay grounded and connected and inspired. Which obviously looks different on different people.
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.
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.
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.
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.