Doldrums

I’m (un)Bored

I have forgotten how to feel bored.

With the endless source of entertainment at my fingertips, on my TV, and even on this thing that I’m currently typing on, it’s become nearly impossible to feel it. And we’re not doing anything creative with that lack of boredom. We’re just filling up the voids in conversation with minor chuckles to memes.

I typed the original draft of this post early in the day. A frenzy sort of typing because the temptation to check Twitter raged on. Even now, I combat the urge to open TikTok. Or see if anyone of my subscribed YouTubers have posted something creepy or interesting.

Boredom led me to writing. Led me to reading. A fraction of which is done on a screen. It’s why I chose something simple like a Kindle Paperwhite rather than the Kindle Fire. None of those flashy apps to rob my attention away. However, with a Kindle Unlimited subscription, other problems arise.

What’s worse: Owning several books and not finding anything to read, or having this unlimited number of stories at my fingertips and still not finding something to read. And don’t get me started on the amount of books priced under $5.

I tried writing something every day since COVID-19 has taken over the world. With nothing else to do, it seemed the most reasonable. But every time I start, it’s backspaced into oblivion. (Writing to complain about not being able to write is still writing, right? The mental gymnastics on that thought. I would have won the gold trying to suss that out.)

I’m off work for a week. I still get paid, which is more than I can say for others right now. Several people are out of work as business shutter their doors until further notice, leaving workers furloughed—which is something I still don’t quite understand, so let me take a break from my typing to look it up on the dictionary app on my phone.

Once upon a time, I wrote long hand on a whim. I crafted stories out blank pages with a phrase like shoulder meat echoing through my head. I wrote about people I passed on the streets, in hallways, at stores. People I’ve never met. I wrote about the world outside my window, something impossible considering the artificial night constructed within my bedroom.

Boredom led me to clean, which my bedroom desperately needs. It led me to explore things in my own thoughts. Draft characters. Create scenes. Influenced my wildest imaginations because I’d rather be there than whatever dull situations I found myself. I explored the horror, the beautiful, and the grotesque.

But every Super Mario coin chime robs me away from that. Every notification telling me so-and-so liked my Instagram picture or you-got-mail or my favorite creator just posted a new video plunges me deeper into a state of un-boredom. Where my thoughts aren’t being preoccupied with figuring out a solution to a problem, drafting dialogue. A state that leaves my thirst for attention unsated.

Stream of Consciousness

“my own world of make-believe”

“You ever get tired of being this way kid?” his voice mocks me. “You ever just want to quit?”

“Why quit? We’re just getting started.”

The smoke of burning rubber fogs the empty street. In the distance, their taillights are swallowed by the void. They’ll come back. They always do.

“Yes, whenever you need them most. Other times, you have me.”

“I don’t believe in you,” I say.

“And yet, here I am.”

“Where do we go from here?” I almost expect an answer.

“Where do any of us go?”

I close my eyes and I can hear the Billie Ellish song playing somewhere in the night. When we fall asleep, where do we go?

“I like this song,” he says. “C’mon, kid, let’s go get a drink.”

With a snap of his fingers, we’re standing in a tavern. Barmaids bustle drinks about. Women in stilettos strut on a catwalk. Hooting and howling men, chomping on cigars, cackle at obscenities whisper-shouted over the cacophony of music and glasses clinking.

“Tell me about it, kid,” he says, holding up two fingers to the bartender. “What brings you back to me? What sort of – what did you call it? – crisis of disbelief bring you back to me?”

“I’m still trying to make sense of it.”

“It’s rudderless, kid. Without plan. Without consequence.”

The roar of a 1960 Cadillac convertible turns into the parking lot outside. He nods his head, as if noting that they’re right on time. He continues, “Here’s point where the moment of truth comes, kid. Outside, your demons wait for you. Inside, you talk to a fictional character you personified whenever you’re confused.”

“I think he’s inside, Anderson,” Mackie shouts. “He ain’t out here that’s for sure.”

“Leave him be,” replies Chrysanthemum. “He’ll come out whenever he’s ready.”

“The verdict,” I begin, but he cuts off my words.

“Rudderless, kid.” He shakes his head, downs the two shots set before him. “You have to move on.”

“And what about…” I trail off.

“Kid, if you’re unsure how she feels, how the fuck am I supposed to know?”

“But aren’t you…”

He’s gone. The bar. The barmaids. The stiletto girls. Just dark. Quiet. Except for the roar of the engine.

“You coming?” Anderson asks.

“C’mon,” Cassie adds impatiently.

“I always wondered why I created you four.” Always wondered what parts of me each of them represents. Mackie and Anderson, the violence and anger buried deep inside me. But what role do the girls play? Chrysanthemum, the lustful? Cassie, the impatient?

“Not every thing has to be psychoanalyzed,” says Chrysanthemum. “We’re just who you turn to when you need to make sense of something. You grew us from nothing. Just fictional characters you embodied demons in. We used to be just a thing you did, until you made us into something more. All this is you.”

Mackie? Gone. Anderson? Gone. Cassie? Gone. It’s just me and Chrysanthemum in all her nakedness. She walks circles around me, her hand brushing my shoulder ever so often. She lifts her long, polished nail – red, of course – against my cheek and leans in close, her lips closing in on mine.

“I am the person you once thought you were. The person who only looked out for himself. But you were never that hard. Never that cold. You shut off the world because you thought it was the only way to keep yourself safe. Letting others in made you vulnerable. And,” she laughs, “I guess you were right. You shouldn’t never had opened yourself to that pain. Because what has it gotten you? Where has it gotten you?”

“Hush,” I say.

She moves back, the Cadillac door opens and she gets into the car.

“You’re wrong about me.”

“Am I?” And she too has gone.

Doldrums

“You don’t have to feel this emptiness”

How does one get back into writing? I’ve taken such a long break from the task that anything longer than a blog post is just too much. And even these posts are sometimes muddied with the lack of…words that I can’t think of at this moment.

Like most of you, I’m in a state of self-isolation. While social distancing was considered my trade, much like writing, I’m not very good at it these days.

Last weekend was the start of social distancing. It was also my birthday weekend. What a way to ring in my 37th year on this planet. Global pandemic. Mid-age crisis has nothing on this.

I normally don’t celebrate my birthday, and it’s been some time since the old friends and I have celebrated birthday weekend (as three of our birthdays happen, usually, during the same week). But I do spend the weekends with Virginia watching movies or TV shows. However, her parents were down for her birthday (the day after mine) so those plans were already canceled.

When COVID-19 cases started popping up a long the area, we knew it was only a matter of time before things changed. During birthday week, restaurants were making changes to their dine in areas before closing completely. The library where Virginia and I both work announced it would be closed to the public.

The plan was to continue working until it closed completely. That all changed with the anxieties of others feeding mine. I requested a week off. And here’s the start of it.

It’s just me and my laptop and my writing skills. Which have remain dormant for some time, because I can’t remember the last time I wrote anything outside of PR and these blog posts.

How do I get back into the habit? There’s a lot of voices in my head craving for my attention, but I can’t get them onto the page. Is this all that I have to offer them? This morsel of attention by recognizing they’re there but not doing anything with them?

There’s so much going on. Not just outside, but in my head. All these thoughts just run chaotically. Because there’s something in the way she reacted that keeps playing in my head. And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe that chapter of my life isn’t over just yet.

Or maybe I’m just a fool and need to learn to let things go.

Doldrums

Social Distancing is My Trade

There’s a lot on my mind these days; I don’t need the Covid-19 to muddy the waters. Yet here we are. It’s my birthday and instead of spending it the way I had planned to, I’m here at home typing out this post.

There’s panic in the street. People are overbuying, while others are suffering. We can’t all afford to stock up toilet paper and bottle waters. And even if I could, I wouldn’t want to be part of the problem. Much like the Texas gas crisis, this is a self-fulling prophecy. The shortage of goods didn’t exist until people started to hoard. And this shitty thing is, they’re still still stocking up.

Despite our chest-beating, my place of employment has taken the higher road and shut our doors at 5 p.m. We won’t be open to the public, but we will trying to work on virtual programming. Several authors and publishers are working with public school teachers and librarians and allowed us to host online story times for the public. Others are reading their own stories for public consumption.

While the library isn’t open to the public, there is still some worry that lingers around our staff. Namely our part-time staff as they are without all the benefits of full-time. There is talk about plans to ensure everyone continues getting paid if we fully shut down. Be it being transferred to call center if that becomes operational. In the meanwhile, we’re working on fixing spine labels, cleaning, answering patrons questions over the phone and online.

Then there’s the social distancing. Something that I figured would be easy for me. I enjoy the company of myself. I like the quiet, empty moments of being home. Except, I’m a different animal than I was a decade or two ago. Now I’ve come to realize that I actually care about people. And not the obvious people like my son, his mom, my mom, etc. But I genuinely care about others.

Even before the whole social distancing and self quarantining, Virginia’s parents were coming down for her birthday (tomorrow). That meant that we wouldn’t be hanging out and that bugged me. Our weekends had become commonplace, ritual.

Even when I’m upset, being in someone else’s company is preferred over my own. A lot has left me in the throes of depression. So much that I’m not willing to put out just now. Having a coworker meekly ask to join me for lunch one day, even though I had planned on stewing in my depression, helped. By the time we walked back to work, I’d forgotten what was bothering me in the first place.

And this is the part that gets me. Social distancing is important. If you can avoid going out, just stay home. We live in a wonderful world of technology where everyone is at the tips of our fingers. I understand that not everyone has access to this technology, but even picking up a phone and talking to someone – not texting, talking – can do wonders.

When I’m not at work, I’ll be home. Probably going stir crazy, but it’s something we all have to do in order to keep this thing from spreading further.

I’ll try to post more now that my schedule has changed for the next two weeks. Hopefully, the posts will be filled with funny anecdotes.

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Personal

“it won’t make sense right now but you’re still her friend”

Is it natural? With every heartbreak, there’s a need to reflect? Maybe it’s just me.

A few years ago, I met this woman on an dating app.* We hit it off well. Our first conversation involved a case of mistaken identity. The perfect meetcute for the modern age. Of course, there was a problem. I wasn’t looking for anything serious. I wasn’t even looking for anything casual.

I exhausted myself by then. Even I had grown tired of my complaints about Jenny. I wanted to get into a new headspace. I need to talk to someone who I hadn’t tired out.

At that point, I had never considered using a dating app of any sort. But I was tired of the anonymous conversations Whisper provided. A longing for something of substance had taken over. Sure, Whisper provided some companionship. It had also provided problematic people. The girls who needed to fill the void. The bad marriages. The eventual divorces. The girl who perfected the vanishing act.

No, I wanted a face to the stranger on the screen. I downloaded the app and filled out the requirements. I didn’t want to mislead anyone, so I explicitly stated that nothing romantic would come from this encounter. I wasn’t looking for casual sex, but I wasn’t looking for a relationship, either.

The second or third swipe, I matched with her. Her profile held a humor that matched my own. And we got to talking. Later, we exchanged numbers. Of course, stupidly, I switched two digits in mine and her text went to the wrong person. Some poor schmuck got a text reading, “Hey, it’s Joanne** from Tinder.”

“To be the fly on that wall,” I joked. “Poor bastard.”

Our friendship lasted less than two months and ended in ultimatum. Because as much as I liked Joanne, the scar was still fresh. I asked her not to go down this road as it wouldn’t end well for either of us. Of course, when an unstoppable force and unmovable object meet, there’s only one ending.

“I like being your friend. And unfortunately that’s all I have to offer.”

“It’s your ex, isn’t it? You’re still in love with her. Why else are you still friends with her?”

I haven’t heard from her since.

We get careless, I suppose. It’s easy to mistaken platonic companionship for something more. Easy to fall into unrequited love. Especially when you connect so well with someone. When you mistake those stolen glances as something more.

I aimed to not fall for anyone. In the process, I plummeted. We’re great friends. Unfortunately, that’s all she can offer me.

I nodded. “It’s ok. I just needed to know.”

* Tinder. It was Tinder, ok? Tinder.
** Not really her name.
Stream of Consciousness

“I miss the comfort in being sad”

So this is how the story ends, how the curtain falls on our performance. We’re standing on stage, standing ovation. Looking among the audience, panicked, we search for familiar faces. Curtsy. Take a bow. Offered the bouquet of roses and hold them high above our heads.

Depression is more than just feeling sad. It’s drowning on dry land. A never ending fall. Gravity pushing against itself. The dreamscape with no ending. Minutes spent staring at a screen. Blinking cursor. Skipped meals.

A torn page carried by the wind. The spine split in the middle. A ghost book left in the cart. A state of existence and nonexistence. A process, a thought, unfinished.