the liberal mind - an epiphany - no, this is not satire


May 16, 2003, 12:32 PM
A ham from God:
On my 49th birthday, my back hurt and my soul hurt. But solace came in an
unexpected form.
By Anne Lamott

April 25, 2003 Last week on my 49th birthday, I decided we should all kill
ourselves; that it's all hopeless. These are desert days. Better to go out
by our own hands than to endure slow death by scolding. However, after I had
a second cup of coffee, I realized that I couldn't kill myself that morning
-- not because it was my birthday but because I'd promised to get arrested
the next day. I had been arrested three weeks earlier with an ecumenical
bunch of religious peaceniks; people who still believe in Dr. King and
Gandhi. Also, my back was out. I didn't want to die in crone mode. So I took
a long hot shower instead and began another day of being gloated to death.

Everyone I know is devastated by our heroic military activities overseas. A
lot of us thought things were desperate after the 2002 midterm elections,
but those turn out to have been the good old days. I can usually manage a
crabby hope that there is meaning in mess and pain, that more will be
revealed, and that truth and beauty will somehow win out in the end. But I'd
been struggling as my birthday approached. So much had been stolen from us
by Bush, from the very beginning of his reign, and especially now. I wake up
some mornings pinned to the bed by centrifugal sadness and frustration. A
friend called to wish me happy birthday, and I remembered something she'd
said many years ago, while reading a Vanity Fair article about Hitler's
affair with his niece. "I have had it with Hitler," Peggy said vehemently,
throwing the magazine to the floor. And I have had it with Bush.

I think the United States has done a horrible thing. We crossed a country's
borders with ferocious military might, to impose our form of government on a
poverty-stricken nation, without any international agreement or legal
justification. Now we're instructed, like naughty teenagers, to refrain from
saying that it was an immoral war that set a disastrous precedent. You hear
dozens of times a day on the news that life is better for the Iraqi people
now. But will it be in six months? Will it be for my son's generation?

While I was thinking about all this, my priest friend Tom called to wish me
happy birthday.

"How are we going to get through this craziness?" I asked. There was silence
for a moment.

"Left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe," he said. "Right foot, left
foot, right foot, breathe."

Tom loves the desert. A number of my friends do. They love the skies that
pull you into infinity, like the ocean. They love the silence and how if you
listen long enough, the pulse of the desert begins to sound like the noise
your finger makes when you run it around the rim of a crystal glass. They
love the scary beauty -- snakes, lizards, scorpions, the kestrels and hawks.
They love the mosaics of water-washed pebbles on the desert floor, small
rocks that cast huge shadows, a shoot of vegetation here, a wild flower

I like the desert for short periods of time, from inside a car, with the
windows rolled up, and the doors locked. I prefer beach resorts with room
service. But liberals are going to be in the desert awhile.

So the morning of my birthday, because I couldn't pray, I did what Matisse
said once: "I don't know if I believe in God or not, but the essential thing
is to put oneself in a frame of mind which is close to that of prayer." I
closed my eyes, and got quiet. I tried to look like Mother Mary, with
dreadlocks and a bad back.

But within seconds, I was frantic to turn on the TV. It was like a craving
for nicotine. I was in withdrawal -- I needed more scolding. Henny Penny!
Henny Penny! I needed more malignant celebration. All the news anchors seem
to agree that Bush has pulled off a great victory, even though we couldn't
find Saddam, or those rascally weapons of mass destruction. But I didn't
turn on TV. I kept my eyes closed, and breathed. I started to feel crazy,
and knew that all I needed was five minutes of Wolf Blitzer. If I could hold
out a few hours, I could get a hit of Lou Dobbs' ecstasy of moral rightness.
I listened to the birds sing outside; and it was like Chinese water torture.
Then I remembered the weekend when 11 million people marched for peace, how
joyful it was to be part of the stirrings of a great movement. My pastor
says that peace is joy at rest, and joy is peace on its feet, and I felt
both that weekend. It didn't matter that Bush said we were just a focus

I lay down the floor with my eyes closed so long that the dog came over and
worriedly licked me back to life. That cheered me up. "What did you get me
for my birthday?" I asked. She started to chew on my head. It helped. Maybe
the old left is dead, but after we've rested awhile, we can prepare for
something new. I don't know if Howard Dean can lead us, or John Kerry or
Dennis Kucinich : I'm very confused right now. But I know that in the
desert, you stay out of the blistering sun. You go out in the early
morning, and in cool of the evening. You seek oasis, shade, safety,
refreshment. There's every shade of green, and every shade of gold. But I'm
only pretending to think it's beautiful; I find it terribly scary. I walk on
eggshells, and hold my breath awhile.

I called Tom back.

He listened to me, gently. Usually he just starts calling out to anyone
nearby that I am mentally ill beyond all imagining, and probably drunk and
showing all my lady parts to the neighbors, but on my birthday, he listened.
I asked him for some good news.

He thought awhile. "Well," he said finally. "My cactuses are blooming. Last
week they were ugly and reptilian, and now they are bursting with red and
pink blossoms. They don't bloom every year, so you have to love them while
they're here."

"I hate cactuses," I said. "I want to know what to do. Where we even start."

"We start by being kind to ourselves. We breathe, we eat. We remember that
God is present wherever people suffer. God's here with us when we're
miserable, and God is there in Iraq. The suffering of innocent people draws
God close to them. Kids hit by US bombs are not abandoned by God."

"Well, it sure looks like they were," I said. "It sure looks that way to
their parents."

"It also looked like Christ had been abandoned on the cross; It looked like
a win for the Romans."

"How do we help? How do we not go crazy?"

"You take care of the suffering."

"I can't get to Iraq."

"There are folks who are miserable here."

After we got off the phone, I ate a few birthday chocolates. Then I asked
God to help me be helpful. It was the first time that day that I felt my
prayers were sent, and then received -- like e-mail. I tried to cooperate
with grace, which is to say, I did not turn on the TV. Instead, I drove to
the market in silence, to buy my birthday dinner. I asked God to help me,
again. The problem with God -- or at any rate, one of the top five most
annoying things about God -- is that he or she rarely answers right away. It
can be days, weeks. Some people seem to understand this -- that life and
change take time -- but I am not one of those people. I'm an Instant Message
type. It took decades for Bush to destroy the Iraqi army in three weeks.
Chou En-Lai, when asked, "What do you think of the French Revolution,"
paused for a minute, smoking incessantly, and replied, "Too soon to tell."

But I prayed: help me.

I flirted with everyone in the store, especially the old people, and I
lightened up. When the checker finished ringing up my items, she looked at
my receipt and cried, "Hey! You've won a ham!"

I felt blind sided by the news. I had asked for help, not a ham. It was very
disturbing. What on earth was I going to do with ten pounds of salty pink
eraser? I rarely eat it. It makes you bloat.

"Wow," I said. The checker was so excited about giving it to me that I
pretended I was, too .

Wow! How great! Henny Penny! Henny Penny!

A bagger was dispatched to back of the store to get my ham. I stood waiting
anxiously. I wanted to get home, so I could start caring for suffering
people, or turn on CNN. I almost suggested that the checker award it to the
next family who paid with food stamps. But for some reason, I waited. If God
was giving me a ham, I'd be crazy not to receive it. Maybe it was the ham of
God, who takes away the sins of the world.

I waited ten minutes for what I began to think of as "that ????ing ham."
Finally the bag boy handed me a parcel the size of a cat. I put it with
feigned cheer into my grocery cart, and walked to the car, trying to figure
out who might need it. I thought about chucking it out the window near a
field. I was so distracted that I crashed my cart smack into a slow-moving
car in the parking lot.

I started to apologize, when I noticed that the car was a rusty wreck, and
that an old friend was at the wheel. We got sober together a long time ago,
and each had a son at the same time. She has dark black skin and processed
hair the color of cooled tar.

She opened her window. "Hey," I said, "How are you -- it's my birthday!"

"Happy birthday," she said, and started crying. She looked drained and
pinched, and after a moment, she pointed to the gas gauge of her car."I
don't have money for gas, or food. I've never asked for help from a friend
since I got sober, but I'm asking you to help me."

"I've got money you can have," I said.

"No, no, I just need gas," she said. "I've never asked someone for a

"It's not a handout," I told her."It's my birthday present." I thrust a
bunch of money into her hand, all the money I had. Then I reached into my
shopping cart and held out the ham to her like a clown doffing flowers.
"Hey!" I said. "Do you and your kids like ham?"

"We love it," she said. "We love it for every meal."

She put it in the seat beside her, firmly, lovingly, as if she was about to
strap it in. And she cried some more.

Later, thinking about her, I remembered the seasonal showers in the desert,
how potholes in the rocks fill up with rain. When you look sometime later,
there are already frogs in the water, and brine shrimp reproducing, like
commas doing the Macarena; and it seems, but only seems, like you went from
parched to overflow all in the blink of an eye.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

About the writer
Anne Lamott is the author of "Blue Shoe" and "Traveling Mercies: Some
Thoughts on Faith," and also a contributor to "Mothers Who Think: Tales of
Real-Life Parenthood" (Villard), edited by Kate Moses and Camille Peri.

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Don Gwinn
May 16, 2003, 12:38 PM
So, she's a bit of a female Forrest Gump, but with severe depression and dreadlocks.


May 16, 2003, 12:52 PM

I wonder what it's like to drift through life in a fuzzy delusional state like that, where everything is driven by depression, helplessness and distorted feelings that can't be quantified.

I suppose that it's minds like that that give us art, but ugh, what a price to pay (for them and us).

Oleg Volk
May 16, 2003, 01:02 PM
I want 20KB of my brain space back!

Baba Louie
May 16, 2003, 01:02 PM

An interesting read. (I think?)


Life can suck at times.

Don't trust everything you read or hear from the news or gov't.

Cactus' flowering in the desert is cool. Catch beauty where you can, when you can.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Life is full of little surprises.

Get off the pity potty, honey. Now and then.


May 16, 2003, 01:07 PM
She's confusing her depressed perception with the cause of her depression. Her delusioned perception of Bush as an overbearing evil is due to her depression, but she thinks Bush's (supposed) overbearing evil is the cause of her depression.

That's a bad self-justifying cycle she's put herself into. It's similar (though a different manifestation) to a wife beater who thinks his wife "causes" his anger.

Get her some St. John's Wort pronto!

May 16, 2003, 01:22 PM
I know that this is sexist, so called...

She's female, and they think like that, on the average. Nothing to be done about it; they are as they are, take it or leave it, or them, as the case may be.

We work best as couples for a reason, and merely having and raising children isn't it.

Now, I gotta head off for a mountain hike for a few days/months/years, so, have at it!

May 16, 2003, 01:34 PM
I suspect there are loads of people out there very much like her! The explicit craving to be led, the abhorrance of self-motivation and self-discipline, the justified ego-concentric depression - yep, these folks voted for Clinton & Gore.

benewton - careful honey, :scrutiny: there're lots and lots of good girls in the great big world who are the living antithesis of your opinion!


The gal (BOT) is definately not someone you'd want at your back when the balloon goes up!


May 16, 2003, 01:42 PM
That was a satire piece, right? I was assuming it was until I got to the bottom and started reading the posts.

- Gabe

May 16, 2003, 01:44 PM

I already know all about that, and love the woman I'm married to more than I can ever express, and I'd be totally lost without her. In truth, there couldn't be a replacement as far as I'm concerned.

That said, there are differences between the sexes, including her, and what I'd consider idiotic in a male is simply normal for the female subspecies.

On the other hand, I can consider the dishes done if I've plates and silver on hand for the next feed and can turn my back on the full sink.
The male subspecies has its own problems.

Like I said, we work better in pairs.

Marko Kloos
May 16, 2003, 01:49 PM
Ask your doctor about Paxil.

May 16, 2003, 02:19 PM
I want 20KB of my brain space back!

That and about five minutes of my time.

May 16, 2003, 03:00 PM
Why is this self-important, narcissistic, bliss-ninny, "I'm so artsy-fartsy" I must be special, "we are the world", braindead, ignorant, manic-depressive moron, actually paid to air her rambling glob of literary nonsense?

Somebody shoot me now. I think I just lost 50 billion brain cells ready that tripe.

May 16, 2003, 03:23 PM
She needs to start drinking. Heavily.

Gordon Fink
May 16, 2003, 03:27 PM
Actually, that was her original problem.

“We got sober together a long time ago …”

~G. Fink

May 16, 2003, 06:05 PM
In the immortal words of the late, great, Frank Zappa...

"Broken hearts are for A**HOLES!"

God, I hate liberals!!!!!

May 16, 2003, 06:14 PM
"I like the desert for short periods of time, from inside a car, with the
windows rolled up, and the doors locked."

Let's take that one step further and put her in a padded room with the doors locked.

The only upside to that drivel is that it made me feel positively normal. :uhoh:

May 16, 2003, 10:28 PM
As for her priest friend, methinks I must track down that sorry excuse for a pastor and have long and meaningful discussions with him...

:fire: :cuss: :banghead: :scrutiny: :mad:

May 16, 2003, 11:46 PM
"I like the desert for short periods of time, from inside a car, with the windows rolled up, and the doors locked."

Lengthen her stay a bit and turn off the A/C and I think that's a wonderful idea. :evil:

May 16, 2003, 11:56 PM
I read until I got to the second sentence where "it" said something about its soul hurting or whatever. I then knew it was time to spare myself and skip to the reviews.

Good reviews. Thanks for keeping me from wasting my time.

If your soul hurts, put a splint on it and drive on.

May 17, 2003, 12:10 AM
Get down off the cross, darlin'; these kids over here need the wood to build a treehouse. :scrutiny:

May 17, 2003, 04:07 AM
However, after I had a second cup of coffee, I realized that I couldn't kill myself that morning

Interesting bit of truth here. There is a scientific study which came to the conclusion that women who drink coffee are much less prone to suicide. It's a mood elevator. Another study indicates a strong correlation between suicide and genetics. Many depression prone people resist the temptation yet others are weak. It's claimed this weakness is inherited.

Those whacky liberals, always self-medicating themselves. ;)

May 17, 2003, 09:13 AM
They've done it!
Written the perfect anti-depression medication commercial.
Either that or Jose Cuervo.
Tag line:
Nothin' a little salt and lime couldn't cure!

May 17, 2003, 01:16 PM
That people like this who live like this have experienced nothing yet speak or write as if they have. A better example of living in a dream state I cannot find. "I've never done it or even seen it but it's just awful and shouldn't be done by anyone."

Oh well, as long as people like this remain in the minority we're safe. If they ever become the majority we're in a world of hurt.

Take care folks and always look on the bright side of life.


May 17, 2003, 02:13 PM
Wow, Clinton in office 2 terms, Hillary! in the senate, waco, ruby ridge, vast right wing conspiracy responsible for everything bad etc. etc. and I never felt the way this person does. Life sucks sometimes - deal with it. Sounds like she has a medical condition and needs to see a doctor. Then again I suppose we could debate which came first - the mental problems which led her to adopt extreme leftist views or the extreme leftist views led to mental problems. I hope she recovers.


May 17, 2003, 04:02 PM
I'm only going to touch on one thing here. Depression. Get up, stop feeling sorry for yourself and get on with life. You only get one ride on this roller coaster and if you spend all your time being depressed then it's gonna be a crappy ride. And if you can't stop being depressed go get some happy drugs. That's the answer to everything now anyways. More drugs.

May 17, 2003, 04:24 PM
If I live to be 100 I will never understand the liberal mindset.

May 17, 2003, 05:47 PM
Feanaro, I've suffered from depression on and off for much of my life, and there's a good deal of truth in what you said. You can wallow in it, turn it inside out and examine it, and spend your whole life consumed by it. Or you can just say "I'm not going to let this run my life," and go do something. Anything.

May 18, 2003, 12:25 PM
Ms. Lamott is required reading. Yesterday, during one of my shifts on the reference desk, there were two students from the local college who came to the library looking for Lamott's Traveling Mercies. All copies were already checked out. Those who have the care and keeping of young minds don't have a problem with Lamott's point of view.

Monte Harrison
May 19, 2003, 11:41 AM
This calls a saying to mind: "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."
Though I have to admit, on that November evening in 2000, when all the media hacks had already declared algore the winner, I was pretty bummed myself, "last time I ever bother to vote", "The morons simply have us outnumbered", etc. etc.

May 19, 2003, 12:28 PM

You sure know how to hurt a guy. :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:

Help me God!

May 19, 2003, 03:52 PM
The beauty of America as we all seem to co exist here in relative peace, those of us from the wacked out extreme right clear on over the the wacked out extreme left. That is the beauty of America that seems to be lost on the angry, religious zealots of basicaly any religion (as zealots from all wings of religion seem to believe killing people is the way to go)
Seems like many folks who whine, need to, as Walter Hagen used to say...."Don't hurry, don't worry, and don't forget to smell the roses along the way" Or as grampster says....."Live fast, die young, have a good lookin' corpse and don't trust anybody". :neener: :D

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