March 1, 2017 (Wednesday)

by Yule Heibel on February 28, 2018

The meditation thing has been difficult the last little while. The focus, the intention – it’s all very amorphous-seeming, not focused, not especially intentional.

It could be a phase, it could be all the things going on, external and not-so-external to my immediate life. W.’s job search is on-going, so far not turning up the “right” one, and it’s a source of worry, but at the same time a kind of relief that we don’t, in what’s typically (if not this year) the worst time of year in New England, have to get out of the house at some ungodly hour. Instead, the mornings are calm and measured, and this is wonderful.

And yet, it feels “off” because we know it can’t last and something’s gotta give. I feel badly about not having a career of my own, and at the same time have a sense of petulant grudgyness about it, as in, “Well, what did you expect, never encouraging me or strategizing with me about how I could have a career after hitting the adjunct wall, and after putting all the child rearing, education, and home-making on me, while you pursued your career, safe in the knowledge of having domestic security at home?” It’s a variant on the old Berlin joke about a kid who says, “It serves my old man right that my fingers are freezing. Why didn’t he buy me any gloves?” Petulant, even resentful, yes. But still true, if not true. And now I’m [x-years old], and it’s all kind of too late, in a way. It’s not like I’m encouraged or sat down to strategize now about what I might do as a “third act.” Instead, as usual, I’m helping someone else figure out what his “encore” might look like.

In other words, it’s on me, I need to helm this, my little, ship …and there’s the rub. During meditation, an image-feeling arose of me as a little girl, and how profoundly alone I was. I have some memories (pitifully few) of being with my much older sisters – notably S.U., already dating her Japanese soon-to-be husband, taking me along to a swank salon where she got a pedicure. But I don’t recall the outings, oft told to me, with F.H. and A.I. (in truth I think they must have occurred less often than advertised, and definitely while I was very young, under two years old), nor do I recall anything about my appendectomy and recovery when I was eighteen months old, and I have not a single, not one, memory of my mother during these years (till age three). My memories of her in [xyz-village],, are equally scant; when I had measles, she tended to me, and ditto when I had mumps. Cold compresses on the throat, that sort of thing. Chest rubs with ointments. She did have this Spartan attitude, I think, that childhood diseases were an unavoidable rite of passage one got through and survived, and that anyone who failed to do so was likely themselves at fault. Even scarlet fever (which H.E. had) was just another minor hiccup. S.U. didn’t move with us to [xyz-village]; U.E. must have been there but briefly. F.H. went to Stockholm to au pair. She came back for a short spell (before leaving again as soon as possible), looking quite sophisticated. My father, acting the puritan, put a stop to that and made her trim her long, red-painted fingernails. I remember that: she sat, stony and unhappy, at the kitchen window, throwing the long clippings (which I probably wanted to preserve, but didn’t) out the window into a rangy, invasive patch of mint. A.I. would have been there only briefly, after her stay in London. I remember her wedding, to B. of the RAF. That left B. and H.E. The former was the punching ball for all the personal frustrations experienced by my now twice-bankrupt and unreconstructed father who worked night- and day shifts to pay off the debts, and H.E. just hated me as the late-arriving interloper who’d dislodged her from the baby perch. My mother was a largely absent figure who worked non-stop in an OCD kind of way, cleaning the house, growing food in the garden outside, and canning and preserving fruits and other comestibles like mad. She hated being out in the backwards country, though, and once broke down crying because she didn’t have the money to buy shoelaces. Not to mention the breakdown when it was clear that my father meant business about emigrating to Canada. It wasn’t a fun or relaxed or stable environment, nor an especially kind or loving one. And it was insanely nuclear once we were in Canada, as H.E. left “home” shortly after emigrating.

God, how I hate these gripe-y entries…

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