Competence as Valium

So I’ve been having a spot of depression here. I very rarely get depressed because, let’s face it, I’m not deep, and I’m easily distracted, but for the past couple of days, I have not been my cheery, obnoxious self. Even my therapist got exasperated with me. “You intellectualize everything,” she said. What did she expect me to do, talk about my emotions? Jeez. Then Krissie wrote me and said she was depressed, and I pointed out that our deal was that only one of us could down at a time, and then I wrote her what I thought was a cheering post except in retrospect I probably shouldn’t have quoted Tennyson and Coleridge. Not exactly cheery guys, those two. But it did make me think about emotions (blech) and what makes me not depressed (yarn! food! great t-shirts! dogs!) and then I read the Washington Post this morning and realized there was another thing that cheered me up.


We’ve talked about competence porn in storytelling, but this was the first time I realized that competence porn exists in reality, too. Like the state department people testifying in the impeachment hearings, steadfastly telling the truth, explaining how things work in diplomacy, so clearly and calmly competent. It was the most boring thrill I’ve ever had. Good people are at work. We’re gonna be okay.

Then I read Jennifer Rubin’s column in the Post. Rubin and I do not share many political views, but we are both anti-Trump, so her column today made me laugh out loud. It’s just brilliant, a careful, calm, well-thought-out explanation of why it would be so much better for the President if he resigned for health reasons based on his recent trip to the hospital. Resignation would stop the impeachment hearings cold, VP Pence would inherit the diplomatic nightmares Trump has created and the possible recession his trade wars have caused, and he could retire not in disgrace. Not once does Rubin crack a smile, but the column is so well reasoned, so obviously designed for a readership of one, so competent, that I laughed for the first time in days.

Then I saw the Ann Telnaes cartoon below and laughed again. Telnaes may be my favorite political cartoonist ever, and that’s saying something because I love cartoonists. I love this one in particular for the meticulous use of line and color, for the brilliant use of white space, for the gorgeous caricatures, for the sense of humor, but most of all for the confidence and competence that meant that she didn’t stoop to putting a line of explanatory text under the cartoon. It’s flattering to have an artist (or a writer) show something without telling you what it means because, hey, you’re smart enough to get it on your own. I needed a little flattering and I definitely needed a laugh and this gave it to me:

So I’m doing a lot better because after what seems like years (oh, wait, it has been three years) of watching the clowns to the left of me and the jokers to the right make the world a worse place, today I woke up to competence. And laughter. And my neighbor Kathleen leaned out her window and yelled that she liked my pink pajamas when I took the dogs out (I live on a one-lane road that’s behind Kathleen’s house, I wasn’t flaunting my jammies to anybody who didn’t know me) and that made me laugh. And then Milton tore into an entirely empty side yard and went nuts barking because evidently something had been in there since the last time he’d been in there (the day before) and that was NOT ACCEPTABLE, and I laughed again. Then Krissie wrote and she’s feeling better, and Mollie wrote and made me feel better, and I remembered I had a kitchen full of food and a house full of yarn and books and dogs and a life full of great people, and I made lunch.

Nothing but competence and good times ahead.

Here, have some more Telnaes.

(Look at that line and color and the gorgeous use of white space. Sigh.)

25 thoughts on “Competence as Valium

  1. I am not in the best mood myself these days. Y’all can guess why, probably, I just don’t want to get into it. Suffice it to say that while I am getting lots of signs along the lines of “hold on” (I expect “Hold On” from Wilson Phillips to serenade me in the car any moment now) from the universe, including a very good one last night at the gas station that still made me want to swear at the same time… I’m also hopping mad and about to asplode and it’s gonna be a long week dealing with what makes me asplodey.
    I’m tired of waiting around, y’all. I have a deadline for this (until Christmas vacation, basically) and after that passes, I’m officially Moving On if nothing has changed/improved. I still feel like it will, mind you, but I’m also kicking myself for hoping too. Any Sane Woman would be all “Move on already, this is dumb,” but it’s more complicated than usual and that makes it a fun limbo time.

    Though I can say that while I was wide awake in the middle of the night, I got my download of “Catfished by Catnet” and that was delightfully distracting for a few hours and put me in a better mood until I had to remember reality again. Distraction, my oldest, bestest, and most effective friend in the world.

  2. Love the cartoons.

    My favorite cousin and his wife (who is from Bulgaria) have been in the foreign service for years, often stationed in tricky spots. Right now they’re in Jerusalem. They are two of the most competent people I know, and they’re raising two seriously competent boys of above average intelligence. They know some of the people involved, and while they have to be EXTREMELY discreet, they have made some comments on Facebook about how proud they are.

    Glad you’re feeling better, Jenny. And maybe Trump will take that very good advice. A girl can hope.

  3. What brought a chuckle (out loud) today was his Quote from his wife…”Darling…” Somehow, I just can’t see that woman calling him darling. I mean seriously?

  4. The first thing you said was “a spot of depression” and before I went any further, I looked this up: Depression TED Talk. Nothing to add in this post – maybe separately. (In case you want to avoid TED Talks, this one is Ted Baxter on the MTM Show.)

  5. I was home Friday waiting for a FedEx package and watched the hearings with Amb. Vovonovich. I didn’t miss the part when she was portrayed as an HR problem or when her testimony was interrupted by a tweet. But I did miss the part when she was applauded by the audience as she left the room. A glimmer of hope for us.

  6. Hoping there’s more sunshine and laughter on its way to you, Jenny! This time of year when the days get shorter and shorter and it is still weeks before they are going to get longer can be less than uplifting.

    1. I’m sitting in front of a “sad” lamp to get me some sense of sunshine. It claims to affect the seasonal disorder. I’m less depressed and more grumpy, so it kinda works.

        1. Take vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin.

          Have the light for February, the dreaded grey and wet month in Vancouver. Next Feb we are going away for some sun. Depressing when I come back home to cooking and cleaning.

          1. Oh, god, February. The month of the dead. That’s always the month I give up hope it will ever be spring.
            We’ve been having decent weather here, in the forties during the days which is entirely do-able. I need to find within me that invincible summer people are always going on about.

  7. I received my copy of Strange Planet by Nathan Pyle today. It was fun & is comics. I found him on Instagram which I joined for working Wednesday pix. Google it for some wholesome alien sweetness. I have finished reading the book, which may be why my speech pattern is odd.

  8. There is a lot happening in our world right now that could really depress me but am keeping things simple to stay sane and happy and this has been helping me for about two weeks now. Keep working on my knitting project the Beekeepers Quilt,( am excited about all the pie that I get to eat and that I can drink a crazy amazing concoction called a birthday cake Chai which is my favorite way to start out the holiday winter cheer. I move on to eggnog everything closer to Winter Solstice, I love seasonal change and I am ready for winter!

  9. I think I’m in a November funk. I hate it being dark at 5. It’s cold. I went to see Ford vs Ferrari. The previews took forever, then Kristen Stewart started playing footsie with a guy. I didn’t know she was in this movie. We were in Charlie’s Angels. WTH? It was dark we’re already there so we just watched it. November in a nutshell-dark, cold and meh. The house is a mess and Thanksgiving looming like an attack turkey, too early to make anything and if I clean I’ll just have to start over in 3 days. Nuts…

  10. It’s after midnight, so it’s Wednesday morning. That means that after I posted yesterday, I went for a routine checkup at the Ivor Medical Center with FNP Lois B. A1c 6.3, up a tenth from last visit. BP 110/78. HR 80 (my monitor said 63). Next visit, next March, so they think I’ll last a while longer 😉

    On the way back from Ivor (I hate driving 30 miles one way for a checkup), I stopped at the Wakefield Peanut Company to pick up delicious Gourmet Virginia Peanuts. I won’t be eating them, they’re for the grandkinder. Cajun flavored, dark chocolate covered, and jumbo cashews. They didn’t have the salt-free ones, so bah. Humbug.

    I still arrived at work an hour early and just hung around. We told horrible jokes. We’re guys – we do that. Many of them ended with “Epstein didn’t commit suicide.” But work is a bastion of Trump supporters, so sometimes I just leave the room.

    1. It always does. It’s not the terrible depressions that some people get, I just have a bad day every now and then and I’ve had a series of them lately. Today was good. I got a large box of yarn. That’s never bad. The dogs are happy. I have a new shower caddy and plenty of bok choy, not to mention three snuggly dogs. Nothing but good times ahead.

  11. But if Trump is impeached and Pence is also implicated in wrong-doing wouldn’t Nancy Pelosi become President?

    1. If Trump is impeached and convicted, Pence will become president. Then, under the 25th amendment, “Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.” That’s how Ford became VP under Nixon after Agnew resigned, and how Rockefeller became VP under Ford. I suspect the Repubs would act quickly to put someone between the white house and Pelosi.

      But with a Republican Senate, I think conviction is unlikely. I do wish the man would resign. I’ve been wishing Twitter would revoke his account for years.

    2. Yep. But the Senate is full of Republicans who can’t see the cliff they’re heading off of. They won’t convict him, and the impeachment will haunt the last of his presidency.

      1. Drawing on what i learn in my day job:
        The chance that 2/3 of this Senate voting to remove Trump is pretty remote. The chance that the House would approve a VP named by Pence is nil. And that means the chance that this senate would remove Pence and make Pelosi President is also nil.
        But good things can still come from the impeachment process including making Trump lose the election in swing states, making Republican senators lose so the Dems take back the Senate, and creating a record of sworn testimony that can be used to send Trump to prison. And quite possibly the stress giving Trump s medical condition that removes him from office.
        There is an enormous amount of speculation in the DC área about what medical tests Trump had to go to the hospital for when there is a doctor and medical clinic in the White House.

        Ok putting the policy wonk back to sleep now.

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