Boredom Kills

I am bored. Insanely so. So bored, that I have been watching episodes of Brooklyn 99 on my tablet at work. Work, you see, is the reason for my boredom. There is very little to do out here, and I spend my days perusing internet sites and leaving my shop to go get chai and chat with my friends working in other stores in the centre. We’re particularly quiet at the moment, because there are two staff members on and that means not enough work to share between the two of us.

I get nothing out of my job. I have worked in this company on and off for five years, and any interest I ever had in my work has long since dissipated. Customer service drains you after a while, and my retail career has gone on for far too long to be enjoyable or remotely interesting. Days are dragging at the moment, both because I have nothing to do and because I have gone back to being in the shop five days a week instead of two. Winter should be one of our busier times, as everyone comes in to repair their boots, but so far it’s been rather lacklustre.

Retail has been steadily decreasing with each passing year. More and more people – myself included – are choosing the convenience of shopping online, and so face to face customer interaction is falling by the wayside. For those of us who work in a retail field, this doesn’t bode well for the future of our jobs. My case is slightly different, as I am providing a service rather than just selling things, but nevertheless, it’s hardly a fast paced environment. Hence the boredom.

I don’t really know yet what I want to do. Sure, I have a couple of vague ideas and dream jobs, but none of them are necessarily attainable right now. At this stage, it’s not even about what I want to do, it’s just about getting a job that challenges me in some way. Or at the very least, has enough work to actually get me through a day without having to resort to watching television on my tablet to kill time. I mean, is it actually possible for someone to die of boredom? Because I think I might be on my death bed.

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Nothing of Me

I have a quote tattooed on my ribs, by Chuck Palahniuk, back when his writing was cutting and edgy, and full of vitriol, and good. His more recent novels have been amongst the worst books I’ve ever read, but there was a time when he was at the peak of nihilism and barely contained rage. Those books are amongst the best books I’ve ever read, so I guess it balances out in the end. Regardless of his waning talent, there was a quote I read in one of his earlier novels, titled Invisible Monsters. The quote reads “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everybody I’ve ever known.” I liked it so much that I went out and got it inked into my skin forever.

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Like much of Palahniuk’s earlier works, Invisible Monsters brought forth questions that teenage Amy was determined to seek answers for. Certainly, I wondered how I would have been different if it were not for the people around me, and their ultimate influence. I still think about it today, which I suppose is why I got tattooed in the first place. I often wonder how my life would have been altered had I never met my best friends. Or if my bookshop had never closed down. Or if I had have moved away and not ever come back. I think about the bands I like, the movies I’ve seen, the books I’ve read. And I wonder whether I would have had those same interest if I had have been born in another time, in another country, or even to different parents.

It’s easy to ignore the influence of other people, or pretend that it doesn’t exist when you’re determined to come across as independent. But even the most self certain people in the world have taken some measure of influence from the people around them. It’s impossible not to. Every discussion you ever have with another person is an opportunity for them to introduce you to a new way of thinking, or a new interest that you may not have previously had. And you hold that same power when you talk to other people. Maybe you make a statement and the person you’re talking to suddenly had their eyes opened to a new idea that they had never considered before.

I grew up listening to music from when my parents were teenagers, the music that they brought with them into adulthood, and parenthood. Would I have loved music from the 70’s and 80’s if I had not had that particular influence from the very moment I was born? Would I have come to find a liking for it entirely on my own, if it was not something I had developed an interest in as a direct result of my parents? These are the questions I find myself thinking at least semi regularly, when I wonder if my life would be better if. Admittedly that whole grass being greener thing is just a matter of perception, but it doesn’t stop me from wondering how I got to this point as the person I am. Who influenced me, who made me? The answer is probably everyone, myself included. I am not a person made of nothing, I am a person made from every experience, every interaction, every thing.

Fractured (and a Little Bit Lost)

I’m not going to pretend I’m writing my second blog post in as many days because I have anything particularly interesting to say. The truth of the matter is that I have nothing to do at work, and I am kind of grumpy, and I am angry at myself for doing something last night that I told myself I wasn’t going to do anymore. Plus, in typical Amy fashion, I am wallowing in existential angst and wondering what the hell I am supposed to be doing with this life of mine, that seems to be casually passing me by.

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Right now I feel about as fragile as a piece of glass, and the smallest amount of pressure is going to be enough to fracture me into a billion tiny pieces. My emotions feel like a raw, exposed wound and I am struggling to keep it all together, even though all I really want to do is explode out of my skin.

I am so, so very sick of feeling this way. I feel like I post about it periodically, which I’m sure you’re all tired of reading about. But no matter what I do, I can’t seem to shake this feeling. I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am, and how I think who I am is being shaped by my circumstance, and my location. I said to a friend of mine on the weekend that I feel like I can’t really become the person I am meant to be until I get out of this state.

I don’t think it’s an uncommon thing, particularly amongst people in their 20’s, to feel like they’re still becoming. I think as a general rule, we have this notion that we’re not who we’re supposed to be yet, and that we have to spend the next however many years figuring that out. That’s certainly how I’ve been feeling lately. I feel like I’m not able to be authentically me yet, because I don’t have the freedom to reinvent myself into who I want to become. I feel as though I am living in this shell of myself, and that I need something explosive to break it open and reveal the real Amy underneath. Logically, I know that moving away isn’t going to change who I am. I know this, because I’ve moved away a few times, and I’ve always come back to my home town more or less the same person. But it doesn’t stop me from dreaming of the day I can finally have my own house. And when I think about that house, I think of it as being as far away from my home town as I can get without moving to another country.

What I think I need, is to move so far away that it isn’t easy to just come back home. I need something completely new and fresh, and different. Yes, wherever I go there will still be people who annoy me (thanks, customer service) and I know that wherever I go, my mental health is going to come along for the ride. I know that I will still have doubts, and states of depression, and fears and probably a lot of sleepless nights. I am not naive enough to think that moving away is going to change my life so drastically that I’ll wonder why I never did it sooner. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to believe that a fresh start can be cathartic, therapeutic even. At any rate, I have to believe that there is something better for me than what I have now.

I wrote this post today, because I needed to create something. I am stuck at work until 5:30 and every particle of my being is screaming out to make art, in one form or another. I feel trapped here, stuck in this godforsaken shopping centre, and this small square shop, and I am battling my very emotions, as well as my very irresponsible desire to just leave and never come back. But, as yesterday’s post will attest, I have a stupid adult obligation to stay where I am, at least until I have enough of a financial buffer behind to allow for the kind of freedom I so desperately crave.

Life is hard, and I’m angry and I kind of just want someone to bring me their dog so I can cuddle it.

Responsibility Sucks

There is nothing fun about being responsible. Being responsible means you stay at home when you really want to go to see a movie with your friend, because you know you can’t afford it. Being responsible means getting up and going to work every day, even though it makes you want to drive a fork through your eye. Being responsible means staying firm about decisions you make, when all you really want to do is give in with reckless abandon, and indulge in forbidden pleasures.

Whoever decided that it was up to us, as adults, to bear the weight of responsibility must have been a pretty uptight kinda dude. It certainly makes me miss aspects of my childhood, when hard decisions were up to other people to make. What I need is for someone else, someone smarter than me, to make my decisions and then deal with the aftermath and the responsibility of those decisions. Or, alternatively, I need to just be more carefree, and throw away responsibility altogether. To be fair, neither one of those options are sustainable in the long term, but right now I’m having a lover’s tiff with responsibility, and at this rate, one of us is going to end up sleeping on the couch.

In a perfect world, I would have everything I wanted. In a perfect world, having to choose between my sanity or a paycheck wouldn’t even be an issue. Nor would choosing between fun things, and adult things. In a perfect world I wouldn’t have to sacrifice one thing for another, or give up on things altogether. But alas, we don’t live in a perfect world, and being a responsible adult is about the only thing I am able to do, even when I hate it.

A Strange Kind of Luck

I have a strange kind of luck. I have never won the lottery, and I never win any of the competitions I occasionally enter. I haven’t had much luck with jobs, or romance, or any of the things that are a general measure of success (whatever that means). I am frightfully clumsy, and will generally find a way to embarrass myself in any situation. So I wouldn’t at all consider myself a particularly lucky person. But what I do have, is a curious ability to avoid serious injury by the very tiniest of margins. It’s my superpower, if you will. Which, as it turns out, is quite a super power to have.

Take a couple of years ago. I was driving my car around a corner on a wet road, when my tyres gave way and suddenly I was hydroplaning. I spun into oncoming traffic, was narrowly missed by a car coming in the other direction, and ended up on the gutter. It was a quick accident, over in a matter of seconds, though it felt infinitely longer to me at the time. My car was written off after the accident, but I was unscathed. Similarly, a few years ago I fell asleep behind the wheel of my car whilst my brother was in the passenger seat. Again, it would have been for no more than a few seconds, but I awoke as I was drifting slowly off the road. I righted myself, and my brother took over driving.

When I use those examples, it sounds like my close calls are all car related. I promise you, I’m actually a very good driver! And I’ve had more than a few close calls that didn’t occur behind the wheel of a vehicle! Today, I had another flirtation with injury. One of the things I do at my job is cutting keys. I’ve been quite ill the last few days, and so I was wearing a cardigan to work to keep warm. As I was cutting a key for a customer this afternoon, the sleeve of said cardigan got caught in the machine and jammed. The super sharp cutter was millimetres away from the delicate skin on the inside of my wrist just before I turned the power off. Fortunately the only thing that got damaged was my sleeve. No trips to the hospital for me (touch wood).

I have countless stories of how I have managed to, by either my own foolishness or by universal design, end up in a situation that could be potentially harmful, and somehow managed to escape said situation without so much as a scratch. I am constantly amazed by the sheer number of close calls I have had in my life. Certainly more than the average person, I’m sure! Somehow, this strange super power of mine manages to save the day (and my life more than once).

I realise as I’m writing this, that I’m probably tempting fate. My next close call could be the one that results in severed fingers, or broken bones, or some kind of hideous injury that will take months to recover from. But for now, at least, I can say that I am quite alright and completely uninjured!

Anger

I find myself getting unexpectedly angry about little things. Things that I should expect. Things that take me by surprise. Things that I have absolutely no way to control, and therefore no way to change.

I try not to let myself get angry. I tell myself, quite rationally, that I’m being silly and that I need to stop allowing myself to give into anger when it is largely useless. But the emotional part of me argues aggressively against the logic, and usually wins. I am often led by emotion, often to my detriment.

It’s difficult to stop letting your emotions guide you, when you rely so heavily on them. But giving in to little rages is usually a sure fire way to end up caught in a giant one.

I will try my hardest to let go, to move on, and to accept that there are some things beyond my control. I will try harder not to let my anger drive me. I will try to remember that I control my anger, not the other way around. I will try.

The Dumb

I used to be intelligent. When I was in primary school, I was praised for advancing quicker than everyone else in the reading levels. Into high school, I got consistently good grades in all classes but maths…words I could handle, numbers confuse me. As I got older, I was often considered the nerdy one, and words like smart and intelligent were often used to describe me. These days, I feel like I mostly just come across as angry and spacey. It’s like somewhere along the line, my brain contracted a serious case of The Dumb, and now I often feel like I’m the most stupid person in the room.

I was thinking today, about the books I’ve read this year. I track my reading habits through Goodreads, so I know what I’ve read, and can set a reading goal each year. I checked today, since it’s been a while since I last picked up a book, and something struck me. I’m a sucker for a good fiction novel, and everything I’ve read this year has been in that category. But then, scrolling through, I saw all these really intellectual sounding titles read by a woman I went to school with, and suddenly the books I have read this year sounded juvenile by comparison. If anyone were to guess who I was based on this year’s books, I imagine they would picture a 17 year old girl. Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, a handful of YA fiction, and a couple of Michael Connolly books. Not a single book amongst them about real life people, or current issues, or essays on women and motherhood, or…anything to spark thought or conversation.

It sounds silly, perhaps. After all, you like what you like and I don’t think anyone should ever judge another person’s taste in literature. But this comes off the back of a conversation I had with my brother’s fiance a couple of weeks ago. Apparently she had a conversation with a mutual acquaintance, where the other girl said “Amy is so intellectual. I feel like I could learn a lot from her” and I had a moment of feeling chuffed, before my future sister-in-law said “yeah, she could almost give me a run for my money!” Cue a heart sinking feeling of inadequacy, a flush of embarrassment in my cheeks, and the nasty voice inside my head hissing that once again, I wasn’t good enough. I know she didn’t mean anything by it, and she certainly didn’t mean it unkindly. I think it was a compliment, actually. But she’s a nurse, and was studying to be a lawyer, and knows a lot about a lot. And here’s me; working in a shitty retail job, living at home, and struggling to convince people that I’m not a complete idiot because I don’t go to university, or because I don’t read thought provoking non fiction.

Part of my problem, is that I have an inability to clearly and eloquently put thoughts into spoken words. I can write pages and pages on a subject without a problem, but when it comes to explaining things in a face to face setting, I get tongue tied and end up sounding stupid. The other part comes from having a terrible memory, and getting overwhelmed when presented with a big block of information. I don’t know much about political issues, I can’t tell you dates of the wars, and I wouldn’t know how to have a conversation about intersectional feminism without probably offending people with my lack of understanding. Most of the time, I just kind of stumble through talking to people and hope that they don’t focus on me too much.

As a former smart person, feeling stupid is an in unpleasant thing. Maybe one day I’ll be cured of The Dumb, but until then, if I sound like an idiot, just remember to be kind in your judgement.