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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February 19, 2017 (Sunday)

by Yule Heibel on February 18, 2018

An occasional and frankly unpleasant side effect of having E. here is being reminded of all the failures in my own relationship with my mother. E’s “shortcomings” I re-live as my shortcomings as a daughter. My (current) “shortcomings” as a mother to E. I perceive and re-live as my mother’s shortcomings as a mother (except, now it’s me). In other words, I’m the bad guy in each scenario. And I put “shortcomings” in scare-quotes when referring to the present because, whatever is going on, it’s not actually a coming short or anything tragic (unlike my own history with my mother), but it “gets” me that way.

Yesterday over dinner we got on to politics – and all three of us had voted for Clinton in 2016 – with E. continuing to defend Clinton (and Obama), while I was on a tear (sort of) of explaining how much I blame them for giving us Trump. (I.e., I hate the Democrats because they also still haven’t owned this mess.) E. repeated a couple of typical New York Times talking points (defenses) of the Democrats, and I began to demolish them, at which point she practically shrieked, “Why are you attacking me?” I was taken aback, and replied I wasn’t attacking her, but that position, which is one that’s given the Democrats a free pass so far. “But you were looking at me!” she insisted.

I was dumbfounded. Of course I was looking at her – we were talking, and I was replying to something she had just said. It was frankly one of the worst and also weirdest interactions I’ve ever had with her, and really stunned me. Is this victimhood? Is it femaleness? Is it oversensitivity? Am I just a bitch? Am I my father? Is she my mother?

Once, decades ago, I “plotted” with W. to get my mother to be more “real,” more open about her motivations and feelings. We were having dinner together in Vancouver, my father was away somewhere, and the plan was for W. to support my questions to her. Well, she became in effect hysterical, broke down over our “attack” – really, they were just questions about some life choices she had made, how things had developed for her, never a single accusation – blubbered and couldn’t swallow her food, let the food drop from her mouth back on to the plate… My god, it was horrendous. And over as soon as I (or we) “desisted,” stopped asking her anything. Was her fit ever real? E.’s reaction yesterday, to my forcefully stated position on politics, seemed to me like my mother’s reaction to being asked about her life and about what she wanted to get out of it. She – my mother – shut herself and me down, simply by losing it. Emotions are dangerous, she said in effect. Look at how you’re forcing me to cut myself to ribbons. …Ouch. Anyone who gets that from mother thinks twice about re-engaging.

Another very unpleasant thought I had yesterday, or this morning, but kind of in the wake of this and of my noticing that I’m noticing, far too critically, E.’s “faults,” is this: her love [bf] might love her more than I do. Is that possible? Could he do that? It would speak to the distance in time and space between her and us (here, in B.), which has opened up and grown in the years since she’s been with [bf]. What is this quality of love, anyway, that I feel that my slight quibbles about her habits could diminish it, or make his seem the more enduring? More durable? Again, it returns me to my personal history: my love for W., reciprocated, I suppose seemed more real and durable than what I got from my own mother. What kind of daughter says that? Feels that? On the other hand, it must be natural – otherwise, we’d all never marry, move out, move on, eventually reproduce. We’d die out as a species. But in each generation, that drama has new players and a slightly new script.

In other news: yesterday, W. and I went to another meeting for the “Local Vision” group. Too much kumbaya, bro.

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February 18, 2017 (Saturday)

February 17, 2018

Just because W. very casually threw out the name of Chelsea, the city abutting Boston’s north edge (a city into which the Silver Line extension will move), something he did as an “for example” off-hand comment, as in “If I did work for that company located near South Station, we’d have to move in closer […]

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February 17, 2017 (Friday)

February 16, 2018

Today we’re driving to Portland to pick up E. I’m looking forward to it, obviously, to seeing her, and at the same time I’m strangely aware that she is now always just a visitor. This makes me sad. Happy-sad: happy to have her here for a few days, sad that she’ll be “split” while here, […]

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February 16, 2017 (Thursday)

February 15, 2018

I am stunned by the sight beyond my window: a plush, velvety expanse of whiteness, of fresh fat snow covers every surface, from the tiniest branches of leaf-bare trees – now magnified by their enrobement to thrice their size – to the comparatively vast square footage of roofs below me. And this plushness fills the […]

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February 15, 2018 (Wednesday)

February 14, 2018

Sometime during the night I developed a headache. It stayed with me all night, and now it’s morning and still gnawing at my skull, setting off sharp bursts of IEDs hither and yon. I seriously think it started with my teeth. I put some whitening / bleaching agent in my retainers last night, and the […]

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February 14, 2017 (Tuesday)

February 13, 2018

It’s Valentine’s Day on a Tuesday-god-of-war-day. But so far nothing untoward (except a very loud “crack!” sound coming from somewhere in the house’s framing, early, while we were still drowsing in bed): the sun is out, everything is brilliantly and sharply lit, the snow is a picture of innocence. I have pulled the blind down […]

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February 13, 2017 (Monday)

February 12, 2018

Snow, snow, snow… so much snow. I asked A. yesterday how much he has to shovel when it snows in Montreal, and he replied, just the walkway. What about the sidewalk, I asked. Oh, the city does that, he answered. Imagine… It’s 8:20am, and down below me on [state route] I see what for a […]

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February 12, 2017 (Sunday)

February 11, 2018

Feeling less “squirrel-y” this morning, in part I think because of some things in David Moldawer’s Maven Game newsletter yesterday (which I also forwarded to B.). He writes about hard work, lots of work – as a writer – but that, essentially, you’re writing the same story over and over and over again until it […]

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February 11, 2017 (Saturday)

February 10, 2018

What a squirrel mind I have this morning… There might be brand new chimney caps on my roof, keeping actual squirrels (and birds) out of my house, but my mind is home to seemingly endless invasions of disconnected-and-yet-oh-so-connected (all of a genus) thoughts, which, as the real squirrels did when they reached, through hollow walls, […]

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February 10, 2017 (Friday)

February 9, 2018

Yesterday. Lots of snow, lots and lots. Lots of wind, lots of storm. A battening down of the hatches, enforced quietude, but so much turbulence outside – and inside the mind, too. I finished listening to Tim Ferris’s interview with Debbie Millman yesterday afternoon, early, as the storm outside really picked up, and I was […]

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