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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August 20, 2017 (Sunday)

by Yule Heibel on August 19, 2018

The “regret” theme continues, miserably tinting this entry.

Feelings of worthlessness, not feeling loved by the most important person in a baby’s and a child’s and a young girl’s life; being alone and trying to prove something (my own viability?) …and failing. And then feeling guilty about failing, about trying in the first place. Did I ask to be born – to a woman who couldn’t show affection, a father who was a choleric? I don’t recall asking for it. Why feel guilty then? Why not feel outraged? Or smug, to boot (as in, “Hey, I’m still alive, but you mofos are dead!”)? Because neither emotion fills the hole, makes me whole. Neither replaces the missing love.

I suppose it can only be replaced by love I give.

I get tired, though. Which is what I think (being tired) when I think that maybe I should add another “to-do” item, like keeping a gratefulness journal. Would I tap a well of self-love? Maybe.

Gratefulness. My family and what it taught on that subject, aiaiai… Always, always, always as a child, when I was a child, I recall that gratefulness was disdained at home as something for the (supposedly) weak. My mother mocked it, ridiculed it, made my sisters mock and ridicule it, too. Both parents did. My parents walked around with Empire State Building-sized chips on their shoulders. Both shoulders. Each. “Grateful? Ha. For what,” they’d sneer.

…Oh, I don’t know. How about that you’re alive, that all of your seven daughters are healthy and well-formed and reasonably sound in mind and doing well – despite your regular abuse, abuse both physical and emotional? Is that a good enough reason to be grateful, just a little bit? How about that you’re not in jail, that you’re healthy, too? Is that a good reason? Oh, but gratefulness is for the weak, for the Christians, too – and there was no love lost on anything religious in my house, either. Well, I’m not Christian, but I am weak. So maybe gratefulness is something to take for a whirl. I don’t want to suggest I haven’t already just because I haven’t codified it into some kind of journaling routine. I am immensely grateful for all the things that are good in my life (my kids, spouse, e.g.), and I have a remarkable (I feel) resilience toward adversity; it’s more than fatalism, it’s a sense of comfort around transience, too. However, I do fall into these pits of despair, feeling weak and bereft of any kind of power, super or not.

And while I’m not uncomfortable with transience, I don’t like drifting, either. It would be tremendous if W. and I could articulate goals, but if we can’t, that’s not the end of the world – as long as we at least have systems, frameworks for action, daily action which adds up to a long-term plan. Long-term, ha. How much time do we have? Well, all the time in the world, in a sense…

I had an interesting exchange with K., who’s a real “glass half-empty” kind of person. Compared to K., I’m Pollyanna. She liked a video I also saw and liked, but not for the reasons I did. She liked it because it confirmed her worst expectations and fears (a sort of “the end is nigh” stance, which is her usual attitude toward the world). Me, I liked it because it gave me hope to see someone intelligently describing a situation (a bad situation of escalating violence, say, and where it might lead if it’s not reined in). When I see intelligence, I see love. And when I see love, I see that nothing is inevitable. I guess that’s an underlying “engine” for me (never really thought of it exactly like that before). When I see stupid, I despair. When I see smart (real insight, empathy, brainpower), I feel heartened. <3-ened. I feel (and see) love. And therefore hope. That makes me feel grateful.

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August 19, 2017 (Saturday)

August 18, 2018

Evenly gray clouds, thick and solid-looking up high, modulating into an even veil of transparent mist as they fall toward the ground, touching trees and roofs. So much of this country looks like an accident. Yesterday, briefly, I looked at Brooklyn on Google Street View, specifically the intersection of Myrtle Ave. and Nostrand Ave. where […]

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August 18, 2017 (Friday)

August 17, 2018

While A. was still here, I opened an account on Ancestry, and we played around with it for some time. I can trace some lines back to the later 16th century – my Belgian (and French, it turns out) ancestors were obsessive about keeping records, much more so than the Germans, whose records are sketchy […]

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August 17, 2017 (Thursday)

August 16, 2018

I overheard a 40-something tattooist tell a client about moving house recently, and that his library contains ~3,000 books or so. That’s huge. Were I to meet him at a party and the typically lame topic, “what do you do?” came up and he answered, “I’m a tattooist,” I’m not sure I wouldn’t be bored. […]

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August 16, 2017 (Wednesday)

August 15, 2018

Yesterday morning, walking back from the Depot, I decided to take a closer look at the “We love Deb” poster on the C.-Diner’s exterior wall. The poster included photos, and I realized with some considerable shock that Deb was the owner of the C.-Diner, and that she was someone I knew. The shock had a […]

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August 15, 2017 (Tuesday)

August 14, 2018

A deeply clouded day …in many ways. I woke to this dimness after sleeping fitfully. A plane, just a tiny toy-sized shape, has rounded north from Logan and, already high on the high high horizon, has just turned toward the west. It’s already out of sight now; they are fast, even though they look slow. […]

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August 14, 2017 (Monday)

August 13, 2018

It was hot, a bit too hot, for the first time in a while yesterday. And it made me think, again – after days if not weeks of home improvement had me fantasizing about staying in B. after all – about these life “choices” which seem, really, so choice-less. Like it’s something you just careen […]

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August 13, 2017 (Sunday)

August 12, 2018

How appropriate that I should start a new meditation pack today called “Regret.” First, I do have regrets which pull me into the past and deflect my future, and second, they’re a big part of feeling stuck. I want to get unstuck – to vroom, as the cartoons would have it. I want to accelerate […]

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August 12, 2017 (Saturday)

August 11, 2018

A couple of days ago, A. and I went on an afternoon outing in the general direction of Gloucester. At the first rotary on Rt.128 we decided on Lanesville, or rather Annisquam. It was a picture-perfect afternoon, some summer heat but nothing intolerable, a bit of haze over distant views, but not enough to impact […]

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August 11, 2017 (Friday)

August 10, 2018

I read a blog post about the BBC cartoon and Mary Beard’s erroneous defense of it. The author pointed out the ridiculousness of claiming “typicality” for a Roman British family headed up by a very dark-skinned sub-Saharan African, and pointed to several primary sources which describe, nonplussed, the barbarous and irrational prejudice of Romans toward […]

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