Note: This Thanksgiving Eve November 22, 2017 sticky post starts the year-long “So Last Year” project, which begins with Thanksgiving 2016, November 24, 2016.

For many months now I’ve kept to a journaling routine called #MorningPages, popularized by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way. Writing longhand, avoiding pixels and screens, the routine has helped me get back to writing, an activity I love, but which got badly damaged and smashed to bits by the floods of social media.
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April 27, 2017 (Thursday)

by Yule Heibel on April 26, 2018

I read an article by a woman who grew up on a dairy farm and wanted to become a dairy farmer herself. But when she was 17, her father laid down the law and told her to go to university and become something other than a dairy farmer. This was in Wisconsin. All the dairy farms were overproducing and also going out of business. She became a journalist instead and now works for the Wisconsin dairy union or board or something. But – she recently bought, with her husband, her family’s old farm and plans to work it again as a dairy farm (even though her father sold off all his cows years ago). She also has two young boys in addition to her job.

When she was growing up, with that burning desire to be a farmer, she would help out her dad in the predawn hours, i.e., before the sun even came up, before the school bus arrived, which it probably did at the crack of dawn. When the bus brought her back, she’d run to the barn(s) to continue working. At first I thought that was youthful enthusiasm, but her middle-aged father also worked a full-time job in addition to farming dairy cows. He did this for the health insurance and to make ends meet. In Wisconsin. Where the winters are serious and cows still need milking, regardless.

I was struck again by this appetite for work some people have – noticed it also among the farmers profiled in the film about New England dairy farms, which W. and I saw at the Cabot a while back. How does this work, I wonder. How is it not everyone is squashed by the chicanery of the old Biblical “by the sweat of your brows” thing? I was thinking about how impossible I’m finding things right now, with this early rising BS – which also means early-to-bed, because otherwise we would be truly comatose – and how out of sync it makes me feel. How I’m having a hard time not getting depressed when I think about this stretching on for another 24, another 36 or more months. (And, like the farmer, doing it at least in part for the health insurance…) One hundred fifty-six weeks… How is it possible that some people like getting up so early …and actually rushing off to work, real physical work, labor, sweat-of-your-brow kind of thing? They must be a minority, or else why would people have written about work as everyday chicanery thousands of years ago already? Agriculture is probably the oldest harassment of humanity there is. Yokes on animals, yokes on humans.

It is the case that I’m feeling especially glum these days. We’re having crappy weather, it rained awfully hard again yesterday, this in addition to the descent of one of the worst fogs I’ve ever seen. At one point it was rolling, not just descending and thickening, and the rolling parts seemed sulfuric yellow in color. There was no sun. It must have been different atmospheric particulates brought in by ocean currents. Whatever it was, it looked disgusting, actually.

Z. called, we got to catch up a bit. She recommends moving to Boston itself, but I told her that at this age I don’t want to move again and again and again. So, next time I move, I want it to be more or less the “last” time – or at least not just a temporary move. I have something like 1,500 books (we culled a lot when we left Victoria), and I want my library, organized, accessible, and not in storage. I want a room of my own. Boston rents for a 2-bedroom apartments are out of this world, close to Bay Area levels. Unless we managed to find a rental as a sabbatical / academic year exchange (and did the same with our house here), the expense and upheaval wouldn’t be worth it (never mind that Boston doesn’t actually attract me).

Conundrum.

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April 26, 2017 (Wednesday)

April 25, 2018

Big rain storm yesterday. It was described as a Nor’easter, but no snow. I’d say “of course [no snow, it is April 26th],” but here it seems anything is possible, including snow in late April. Would have been possible. Except for me to live in a city I actually like. Yesterday I started reading Lauren […]

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April 25, 2017 (Tuesday)

April 24, 2018

You know, it’s funny. A while back – probably because I was really getting into the rhythm of writing these Morning Pages – I had this idea of using them as the basis for blog posts I would call “So, last year.” It would have been – the title, I mean – a pun: with […]

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April 24, 2017 (Monday)

April 23, 2018

Good lord, it’s early. Back to the grindstone…? Should I call it that? I’m not the one who’s grinding anything, I’m just along for the ride. I don’t know which ride this is, or where it’s going. The sun is up, still low on the horizon, very low, but rising. Every damn thing out there […]

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April 23, 2017 (Sunday)

April 22, 2018

So, yesterday people were “marching for science” – in the rain, mostly. It looked like the weather was raw and ghastly not just here, but also to the south of us. There obviously were areas of the country that had milder, kinder conditions. Not us, though. Mother Nature’s switch was whacking us good these past […]

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April 22, 2017 (Saturday)

April 21, 2018

It’s the weekend, this session of Morning Pages is coming along after the old (usual) routine (meditation first). I almost didn’t get out of the house yesterday – the weather was so shitty and felt so confining. Finally, in the afternoon I hied myself to the Y, in a relentless drizzle that refused to shift […]

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April 21, 2017 (Friday)

April 20, 2018

I’m looking through rain-spattered window glass at a barely illumined rainy day. The sky is low and yet transparent, the rain merely steady and boring. Nothing portentous to see – can’t see the sea, either. Covered by mist, the parts of rain aerosolized in the atmosphere. The man from the house on E.-St., across the […]

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April 20, 2017 (Thursday)

April 19, 2018

Yesterday the wind blew so cold and fierce, it felt like winter. I went for a walk in the afternoon, looking for glass (i.e., I visited two glass supply shops in town) and then walked to D.-Street Beach. I was close to unpleasant. At the stores, I struck out. The first one basically said, “Nothin’ […]

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April 19, 2017 (Wednesday)

April 18, 2018

It’s chilly. It’s just after 6a.m., and I turned the heat back on. The man who lives in the house on E.-Street opposite to the one right below me just returned to his front door and entered. One assumes it’s him – the man who lives there – although I first assumed he was a […]

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April 18, 2017 (Tuesday)

April 17, 2018

And so it begins. Another attempt at routine, this time a 6:15am first-thing-in-the-morning sit-down, attempting morning pages. Semi-comatose. Of course the irony (if that’s the right word) is that this morning everything looks different because seemingly overnight it all leafed out everywhere and I feel like I’m falling falling, falling into a sea of green. […]

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