So Last Year

by Yule Heibel on November 22, 2017

[Note: For the time being, I’ve made this Nov. 22 2017 Thanksgiving Eve post, which begins the year-long So Last Year project (Thanksgiving 2016 to Thanksgiving Eve 2017), “sticky.”]

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.

While initially not intended for public consumption, I realized after a few months of writing longhand that some of what I wrote wasn’t bad, if perhaps a tad surreal – or slow, or ponderous, or just different. Best of all I realized that while I, along with every other media-inundated American, was living through a period of upheaval and change (the bottom – or top, depending on your perspective – still isn’t in clear view), I could write my Morning Pages without looking over my shoulder or to the side, without measuring (comparing!) in some kind of social media metric (or regime) how my thoughts were perceived (or, horrors!, how they weren’t – because of course the absence of resonance in media is death). Frankly, in the Morning Pages I didn’t care: it didn’t matter. This was for me.

Then I realized that what I was doing had another effect. Not only did it calm me, but it slowed down time. I was spending a lot of time surfing on the relentlessly pounding waves of “news,” and every nano-second seemed to demand that I should be here!, no,  there!, no, that way!, then, this way! But here, in the Morning Pages, I could write about the clouds in the sky, not politics or trends or anything related to current affairs. Paradoxically, the former could at times take me to more interesting places than the latter.

That’s when I thought, Hmm, I wonder if I could post these Morning Pages with an exact one-year-to-the-day-of-the-week lag, and call the project “So Last Year”? The name, So Last Year (which curiously enough has SLY as an acronym) points to the value of not being current with whatever is rushing down today’s media sluice. I was still being informed by the world around me, obviously, but in publicly (insofar as anyone at all reads this) slowing my interaction with it down by exactly one year, could I make something else visible? I was also inspired by a book I read a few years ago, Heidi Julavits’s The Folded Clock, a book of quirky diary notations. I’m no Heidi Julavits – her book is quite unique and fun to read – but it seemed like some kind of model, if not for a book, then at least for a series of blog posts. Maybe they could become a book, but that’s another project not currently on the horizon.

I missed the actual beginning of when I set out on my Morning Pages as the beginning date of the “So Last Year” project I’m now starting, not least because I’m afraid of posting these entries. Then I thought, Well, SLY: you can pick your own start date, not the actual date you started writing Morning Pages, and you don’t have to tell anyone you’re even doing this. Everything I post here, while not exactly in stealth mode, doesn’t have to be announced anywhere. If someone finds and reads it, so be it. I don’t need to drive people here, though, and if no one reads it, so be it, too. In a year, if I persist, I might have an interesting map of something, though.

I bucked up and decided to pick Thanksgiving Eve to start, with this introductory post. Tomorrow, Thanksgiving 2017, I’ll post my Thanksgiving 2016 entry, and go from there. Of course the very second entry after that, as I discovered when I began rereading my Morning Pages entries yesterday, is highly personal. I immediately thought of abandoning the project right there. Then I thought otherwise. Then back to abandoning. Then back to staying the course. If I’m going to avoid washing mindlessly along an other-created current of information, I have to see this counter-project through: my dam, my goddamn, my sluice, my clear pool of water, my tiny bit of peace of mind amid the turmoil.

This will be rocky. I’m still not sure of how to title the entries, nor how to deal with writing about living people, or to what extent I should edit myself. It’s a work in progress, it’s sly, it’s So Last Year.

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