January 1, 2017 (Sunday)

by Yule Heibel on December 31, 2017

I’m glad of the fact – is that an acceptable turn of phrase? – that my first instance of writing the date 2017 is here, in the morning pages. I can be consistent, I can stick with something. And it’s always up to me to stay consistent, to keep on, in spite of a lifelong, underlying and fundamental disbelief in the reality of support, the kind of support a mentally healthy mother can provide. But I’m sick of this subject, too – the pain, the endless labor – and remind myself that I’m old (so grow up already!) and that for decades I’ve been “next” at death’s turnstile. And yet, the sort of support I’m talking about is crucial, especially in childhood (obviously), and when it’s never there, was never there, then there will be pain. There will be an acuity, sometimes like a sharp edge, a hidden knife-like projection on a pathway, which you trip over or fall into, cutting yourself slightly,… or to ribbons, depending on your velocity.

I’ve been thinking about this consistency issue: Do I write? If so, why? For whom or what? Is there a body of work at some point, or just a wreckage of body parts? How tidy do you want this life to be?

Yesterday I spent far too much time on housework, chiefly in the kitchen. My friend G. over in Europe has a woman come in daily to do all the cleanup. She, or one of the kids, cooks occasionally, but there’s no attempt to put the kitchen back together. What-s-Her-Name does that the next morning. This subject of housework also came up at the party, where A. spoke about genius friend of hers who will occasionally drop off a pet for a six-week bout of cat-sitting while she goes off on another research expedition. A. said her friend’s place is pure chaos, totally messy, and that she (A.) is the opposite, preferring things “clean.” Her word. The implication being, I suppose, that “messy = dirty” and that “clean” presupposes an almost antiseptic tidiness. A.’s house is certainly a lot cleaner than mine. I think I might prefer the messy (and I’m sure not dirty) genius. My friend G.’s house is often a wreck of a mess, but she has the resources to have a woman come in the morning to put things right again. (I suppose it could be a man, too, if one were interested in the job. You just need to be able to pay them.) I struggle with an intolerance of complete messes and a resentment about being the one who has to do the tidying all the time. As for that “so-clean-you could eat off the floor” standard? Well, it’s not a standard, it’s a tic, quite an annoying one.

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