News Flash: You’re Not Bored

“I’m so bored,” a friend said.

“How about guest writing a post for my daily blog? Give me a day off. Please. I’m begging you.”

“I don’t think I’d be compatible with your viewing audience,” was his reply.

That instantly gave me a flashback to my childhood.

“Ma… I’m so bored!” I used to say when I was little. (Especially during the Watergate Hearings. I thought I’d lose my mind.)

“Read a book,” she’d say, “Or go ride your bike. Or write a letter.” Or any of a million other valid suggestions, up to and including, “Clean your room.”

But I usually didn’t want to do those things.

Well, congratulations to my friend, and to the me of my childhood. That means you’re not bored after all. Because if you are truly bored, then you’d jump at the chance to do just about anything. Boredom is for people with no options.

No. What you are is a person who wants to be entertained. That’s a completely different animal. Entertain me! I want it NOW!

What did I expect my mother to say? “Oh, you’re bored? I’m so sorry! Let’s run out and buy you a pony!”

When did we become so eaten up by our own sense of exceptionalism? What makes us so special, that we expect to be entertained every waking minute? Is it because entertainment is usually so readily available these days?

I fear that in this world of instant gratification, we are losing our ability to use our imaginations. While traveling in some of the poorer parts of Turkey, I watched the children there amuse themselves with soda straws and bottle caps, for crying out loud. Can you imagine an American child doing that?

I think we should read more books, write more letters, and ride more bikes. Maybe if we had a chance to experience true boredom, we’d do those things. Maybe we should lock ourselves in empty rooms with a soda straw and a bottle cap, and see what we come up with. It might do us good.

And for the love of GOD, if you have an idea for a guest post, or even just a topic, for this blog, speak up. You’d be amazed at how open I’d be to that idea. I’m not bored. I’m overwhelmed.

Calvin Boring

Read any good books lately? Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

A Modest Bucket List

An interesting text conversation with a dear friend, shared with her permission.

Friend: Did something on my bucket list that I hope won’t shock you too much.

          Me: Been trying to call. WHAT DID YOU DO?

Expect the worst and it won’t be so bad.

           Last time you did a bucket list thing, you bungee jumped out of a perfectly good hot air balloon.

You can guess and I promise I will tell you if you get it right. It’s nothing like the balloon stunt.

          Ran off to join the circus? Posed nude with a boa constrictor?

Neither of those. And not fond of tight hugs.

          Not fond of tight hugs… Boob job? Something medical?

Still braless. Nothing medical.

           Nothing medical. Nothing death-defying or snake-related. Are you a blonde?

No way.

          Tattoo? Some alteration of appearance? A new purchase of some sort? An experience?

Very slight alteration in appearance. (This is soooo much fun.)

          Nails? Teeth? Something above the waist or below? Did you shave your hoo hoo?

One of those. Darn you are good.

          YOU SHAVED YOUR HOO HOO?

Guess again.

          Teeth? Details.

It’s not teeth.

          Nails?

Yes. They are blue.

          Child, please. Why would that shock me?

Hey, it’s the most exciting thing on my bucket list. Maybe I will do my coochie pop next.

          I bet it would itch.

I got nothin’.

          And having a boring bucket list means you are satisfied with life. That’s enviable.

Do you have anything on yours?

          Mine is 5 pages long. Mostly travel related. Remind me to show you.

Sounds exciting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Doing the Boring Parts First

True confessions: I’m addicted to Magic Jigsaw Puzzles on my computer. (Don’t get too excited. I’ve confessed this on my blog before.)

I tend to do them while watching Youtube or Hulu or DVDs. Gone are the days when I can be completely engrossed by moving pictures. I need to be doing something with my hands at the same time. With age, I seem to be losing focus. Or patience. Or maybe I’m just losing it. (Whatever “it” is.) I’d take up knitting, but I’m trying to reduce the amount of “stuff” in my life.

But I’ve noticed a pattern of late. I always seem to do the “boring part” of the puzzle first. If the puzzle includes a huge swath of plain blue sky, for example, I get that out of the way before doing the colorful city skyline. I’d never given it much thought. It just has always been thus. Come to think of it, that’s how I break down work tasks and home chores as well.

Now that I’m examining this behavior, I’ve figured out that this is a combination of delayed gratification and rewards. If I “suffer” through the blue sky part, then I’ll feel like I “deserve” the skyline part. I’ve earned it through sacrifice. (How utterly White Anglo-Saxon Protestant of me.)

And, too, if I were to do the skyline first, I might lose interest and not finish the sky, and that would feel bad to me on some level. I like to finish things. Case in point, a book has to be really, really awful for me to stop reading it midway through. It’s the same with a movie. I always hold out hope that it will get better. Because of this, I’ve been subjected to a lot of really sub-par media in my lifetime.

Maybe, just once, I should allow myself to eat the frosting and not the cake. Maybe I should see what it feels like to color outside the lines. Maybe I should let someone else worry about the boring bits for a change. At the age of 52, perhaps it’s high time I start being a little more selfish. After all, I’m all I’ve got. For that I deserve a cookie, don’t I?

Magic Puzzles. March 20

There’s nothing boring about my book. I promise! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

The Book in You

I find humans to be fascinating creatures. No two are completely alike, even if they’re identical twins. Each one is shaped by different life experience. Every single one dresses differently, looks unique, reacts to things in his or her own special way. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, people are like boxes of chocolate. You never know what you’re gonna get.

I have a theory that if I’m finding someone to be boring, either they have an overactive sense of privacy, or I’m not being properly inquisitive. I’m convinced that everyone has at least one story within them. In that way people seem like gifts to me, just waiting to be unwrapped.

More than once in my life I’ve discovered that I had been working closely with someone who had quite an amazing private life, but that fact was only revealed to me after they had left the job or passed away. After getting over the shock of the information, I’m usually left with a sense of profound disappointment and a boatload of unanswered questions. I’ve always had a hard time accepting the fact that not everything is my business.

Writers should be grateful that their talent isn’t universal, or the world would be inundated with autobiographies and they’d be out of a job. But having a story and being able to tell it are two very different things. Then again, I have to remind myself that not everyone wants to tell their story. That’s so foreign to my nature as to be incomprehensible. I suppose that’s why I’m a blogger.

your-story

Other Dimensions

I used to know a guy who was really, really into fishing. Good on him. It’s great to have a passion. But what made me feel sorry for him was that it was his only passion.

He was really hard to talk to, because fishing was his only topic, and if you weren’t into it (and I’m not), conversations with him quickly became extremely dull. If you tried to discuss current events, he had nothing to contribute. If you tried to be playful or in any way abstract or imaginative, he would give you a blank stare. Talking to this guy was a study in awkward silences. I used to think, “I know you’re in there… somewhere.”

I much prefer the company of more well-rounded individuals; people who are curious about the wider world. I enjoy not being able to predict the direction a chat will take. I like to banter. In that context, I might even enjoy talking about your piscatorial pursuits.

If you want more people to delight in your company, make an effort to expand your horizons. Become a bit more three-dimensional. Depth is important, as well as length and width.

[Image credit: jeb.biologists.org]
[Image credit: jeb.biologists.org]

Random Articles

I’m bored, bored, bored. Uninspired. Unmotivated. Disinterested. In an attempt to stimulate my brain, I check out my blog. Respond to any comments. See what countries have come to visit. Then I hop over to Facebook. See if anyone is on line and wants to chat. Nope. Respond to comments. Put my two cents in on my friends’ posts. Check out the news feed. Become temporarily mesmerized by one spider devouring another outside my window.

Bored. I do the physical therapy exercises for my wrist. Ouch. I watch people walking and jogging and biking across my bridge. I break out the binoculars and check out the peregrine falcon nest for activity. Wrong time of year.

I try to think of something to write in my blog. I got nothin’. I should read a book. Not in the mood. I dance around the room to the music inside my head, until I feel a little silly.

So I do my last resort thing. I go to Wikipedia and click on the “random articles” tab. Sometimes this is quite entertaining. Other times it simply makes me more bored. Here’s what I got today.

  • Paul Couvret was the 34th Shire President of Warringah in New South Wales.
  • De Beque Canyon is a 15 mile long canyon in Colorado.
  • Naptown is a nickname for both Annapolis, Maryland and Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Frank McGuinness is an Irish writer who wrote, among other things, Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme.
  • Orthogonius monolophus is a species of ground beetle.

While these things might help me win at trivia, they aren’t particularly entertaining.

Maybe I’ll have better luck with StumbleUpon.

Whoa. Now we’re talking! I could eat up a few hours with this. Gotta go.

[image credit: theendinmind.net]
[image credit: theendinmind.net]

Trapped in Seat 19A

Whenever I have to fly somewhere, I always struggle with what is the proper amount of social interaction with the stranger who is jammed into the seat next to me. I don’t want to be rude and aloof and thus make the trip uncomfortable, but neither do I want to invite a running commentary that leaves me a captive victim for an interminable flight of hellish boredom.

Case in point, the woman who was sitting behind me on my most recent flight. She made the mistake of saying, “How are you doing?” to the woman next to her. For the next two hours, she was treated to a running commentary, occasionally peppered with her defeated uh huh’s and one brief shining respite when the flight attendants came through with the beverage cart and threw the single peanut into the aisle for all of us to fight over.

The rest of the time, all of us in earshot were subjected to the following:

  • Every job she had since she was 17 years old.
  • Every place she lived her entire life.
  • Full details of when, how, and why her mother died in 2005.
  • Every detail of her job as an architectural consultant.
  • Even more detail about her current project.
  • The fact that she decorates wedding cakes as a hobby.
  • A photograph of every single wedding cake she has ever decorated, with details about how the flavors and colors were chosen, and how each cake was constructed. Oh, and did I mention she had done the grooms cakes, too?
  • The entire plot of the current book she was reading.
  • Details of a political scandal in her town in which someone was murdered, everyone knew who did it, and yet no one would ever be brought to justice.
  • Her nephew’s rise to stardom in the soccer championships.

If I had been caught in a bear trap next to this woman, I’d have gladly chewed off my own arm just to get away. Since I was sitting a row ahead of her, fortunately I didn’t have to pretend to be interested. I could attempt to read my book and block out her babble. But that woman next to her was trapped. I felt very sorry for her. She was clearly suffering. Her uh-huh’s became more feeble as the flight droned on.

The thing is, boring people have no idea how boring they are. If they did, they’d stop. Obviously. But that makes me wonder if I bore people. There are a few telltale signs, of course.

  • If you are doing all the talking, odds are the other person does not want to participate.
  • If you come away from the conversation having learned nothing new yourself, it was clearly not a two way street in terms of communication.
  • If you are pelting a total stranger with intimate details, you might want to dial it back.
  • If people you know see you coming and cross the street to avoid you, that might be a red flag.

If you really feel like telling the world every intimate detail about yourself, here’s a concept: start a blog. Then you can say whatever you want, and all your friends and family can pretend to read it without ever really reading it. Win/win.

boredom clock

[Image credit: icareifyoulisten.com]

If People Came With Warning Labels

On the drive in to work tonight, I was thinking that if people came with warning labels, life would be so much easier. But then, maybe not, because mine would be 10 miles long. It would probably include the following:

Does not suffer fools gladly. Tends to be grumpy if woken up abruptly. Prone to farting. Will become reflexively violent if her navel is touched without warning. Grossed out by tea bags, which she views as floating garbage in her beverage. Will frequently side with the underdog. Will likely become aggressive if she witnesses animal abuse. Will treat you with respect if you treat her with respect, but can curse you out in two languages if treated adversely. Passes out at the sight of blood. Prone to forgetting names. Will not do drugs or get intoxicated, so may be perceived as boring by those who are disinclined to more creative pursuits. Befuddled by conservatives. Not comfortable at parties. Often amused at inappropriate moments. Virtually incapable of insincerity. Quite willing to pay her own way, but usually lacks the funds. Actually likes reality shows. Won’t fold your clothes so don’t bother asking. Frequently accused of having an incomprehensible sense of humor. Apt to drag you to foreign countries. Can be influenced by new ideas. Works horrible hours. Subscribes to the philosophy, “Love me, love my dogs.” Keeps forgetting that one should always be fully clothed when frying bacon. Tends to avoid children. No longer has the cute behind she had at age 19. Hates to cook. Cleans only when absolutely necessary. Enjoys peace and quiet entirely too much. Practically blind without her glasses. Often loses her glasses. Hates to waste money. Not easily embarrassed. Has an annoying tendency to have no filter.

Really, what’s not to love?

warning

Image credit: http://www.outonlimbs.com