Saturday, March 24, 2007

On boredom

I’m rather bored of my routes through the neighborhood on my morning walks with the dog. She manages to find places to sniff and explore, but I’ve seen what’s there. The houses, the flowers, the pretty lake in the distance. It’s all very nice, but, well, it’s been done. Day after day after day, I retrace my steps on one of the five or six options I’ve developed. There are short routes and longer ones. We can go left or right when leaving the house. If we go right, there’s another selection of directions – I’m familiar with streets if we turn either direction. If we go left, we always head toward the lake.

But I’m bored.

When I hurried from the house this morning, eager to walk before the day warmed to the insane degree of heat that required me to turn on my air conditioning yesterday, I wondered why I never go north then east. (Or east-ish. Not so good with directions, but I do know where the sun is each morning.) Chienne pulled left and I followed along, knowing where the crowing rooster lived, wondering how the daffodils looked in one particular yard, musing that if the pit bull pair was out in their fenced area, I’d force Chienne to cross the street rather than allowing her to pee in their yard just to irritate them.

Then I decided we’d make a sharp left turn on the first street that came along. I didn’t know what was up there, exactly, and have never consulted my map to figure it out. But I assumed that if I became hopelessly lost, I could always turn around and retrace my steps. The dog was, as always, pleased to explore new territory and I found myself tugging her along with increasing annoyance as we moved through a new section of neighborhood. The houses were larger, I decided. Too large, perhaps, for the families that lived there. Though my house is a bit tiny – and would certainly shrink even more if stuffed with another adult and 2 children – I don’t know that I would require two large floors full of living space.

Eh, I decided, no reason to worry about it. I’m going through that unpleasant phase where I’m quite certain that love isn’t going to find me at all. No husband. I continue to hold the thought that I may someday adopt a child though. Time will tell. (I find it nearly excruciatingly depressing sometimes that my best shot at a relationship that I found lovely and promising was based upon a somewhat ludicrous hope. But those thoughts go on a different blog. So let’s move on.)

So, I’m walking along, looking at big houses, feeling a little sorry for myself, untangling the freaking leash from around mailboxes when my genius of a canine companion becomes engrossed in chasing down a particular scent, and I turned a corner to behold a rather steep hill with some surprise. The topography in my particular neck of the woods is a bit confusing. Hills and valleys spring up regularly, then ease into flat land. So while I often drive less than a mile (I guessed – again, not good with directions or distances) from where I thought I currently stood, I was rather shocked that a hill of such magnitude was before me.

I climbed it, hoping that an increased elevation would give me some clue as to where I was. My neighborhood is huge, frankly, and rather than gridding the area so that navigating the streets would be rather straightforward, the lanes and drives meander – curve with varying degrees, allow space for courts in which more houses are placed, change direction completely, alter their names. After huffing and puffing my way up the hill, I stopped to view a busy scene. I’m aware of the signs that advertise new construction, but thought it to be contained to a whole other area. This was new – many houses in various stages of completion. But my inhaled breath brought scents of wood and fresh concrete rather than carpet and paint, so this section was in the early stages yet. Men yelled over the roar of tractors that were busily pushing earth around. I felt momentary pity for the machines. Having joined Friend in digging in my small flowerbed last weekend, I’m aware that the dirt is composed of heavy clay and many, many rocks. Not easy to move that crap around.

I glanced at the street sign and turned right, thinking that eventually I might find a way to complete a loop and head back to my house. After all, I hadn’t yet had coffee and a new Pralines and Cream variety of Coffeemate awaited me at the modest structure I call home. I wandered along, wondering how long the families had lived in the houses that still sparkled with newness. Grass was growing nicely, but flowers had yet to be planted in carefully sectioned beds. I wondered if there were stacks of cardboard from broken down boxes inside the houses or if the non-crucial items still resided in dark corners, remaining neatly packed away until someone found the time and energy to unearth them. I smiled at someone who was getting his paper from the end of his drive, both of us still in pajamas, lazily starting the morning.

I sighed at the view from the crest of this particular hill. The land here is pretty – littered with houses, yes, but when you get up high enough, there are still rolling hills, and trees burdened with clusters of white flowers, just beginning to fall to the ground so the budding leaves can emerge. I moved my gaze from the trees in the distance to what was nearer to me. On the way, I noticed the lake. I frowned when considering my route so far – I face the lake upon leaving my house. Had turned left, left again, then right. It seemed as though I had one more right turn to go before such a landmark was visible. “Freaking curving streets.” I muttered. “It’s no wonder my lot is shaped like some trapezoid on steroids. Makes it hard to mow because it’s not a rectangle. There’s always some weird triangle at the end – both in the big part of the front yard and the little part of the front yard and the fenced backyard. Stupid neighborhood planners.”

At that point I realized my grumpiness has not yet eased completely and took mincing steps down a rather steep hill. When a road sign came into view, I squinted at it to read the name of my street. “Huh.” I told Chienne. “We made a loop without even trying!” She was less than impressed at my navigational skill (smart dog) and we made one last right turn and walked easily back home.

I tell this story because this is a blog and where else can I ramble for 2 pages about my morning walk? But also because it addresses a problem I’ve noticed with increasing frequency.
I’m bored. I find my daily routine tiresome. People are painfully predictable, and I’m likely the worst of the bunch. I know where things are in my house. I moved a canvas chair from one corner and bought a new canvas drawer set to take its place and I’m fascinated by the change. I traded a chair in neutral colors for a different structure in the same palette and it’s where I look in my living room because it’s just blessedly different. Maybe I should move furniture around – shake things up a bit. But things fit where they are. And I have writing to do this weekend – grant and book chapter and, um, novel. There’s really no reason to procrastinate by insisting the couch and loveseat trade places.

I’ll go to Little Cousin’s birthday party today, but I could tell you how it went already. It’ll be much the same as last year. A prediction of how next year will go as well. I met with Boss about my grant. He said the same things he’s been saying. I’ll try to alter my own routine of ignoring the document completely and make some progress. Chienne’s asleep on the couch; Sprout in the window. Later, he’ll curl up on the bed in his room – between where the fluffy, down comforter meets the row of gray pillows. Chienne will stay in the living room so she has easy access to the yard if there is reason for barking. When she wants in, she’ll cry at the door to see if I’ll come open it for her. I don’t know why – just this morning, I told her, “It’s a dog door. You’re a dog. Figure it out!” When I don’t come, she’ll eventually barrel through, leaving it to swing noisily behind her.

The book chapter (for work) is interesting to me because it delves into areas that are unfamiliar. I was terrified when I realized I had to do it – it was the beginning of my terrible mood of late. I don’t know how to do the analyses I proposed! I have no idea of the theory behind them! I can’t write a chapter on something that I don’t know! There’s too much reading! Decades of research on this topic that I can’t begin to understand! I don’t know the software, or what works, or what makes sense! It’s scary.

But new. Unfamiliar topography. A chance to climb a new hill and see the world from a slightly different angle. And, like anything, once I started exploring, it wasn’t so bad. There are review articles that lay out the possibilities in a logical manner. I can understand the simple ones, and can muddle my way through those with more technical details. I’ve found software that can deal with my data, and when I look at the processed results, I find the theory more manageable. If I can see an example, certain things click for me. And so it’s slowly coming together in my mind. And I’m pleased.

To push myself is scary. It might get in the way of the napping I so enjoy. But I’m finding there’s little to dream about when I curl into my pillows. Honestly? I miss being infatuated. At this time last year, I was completely obsessed with a particular man and when I write about it for my novel, I find myself wistful. It was thrilling to try to figure him out. Wondering if he liked me, trying to determine to what degree I liked him. Blushing over compliments and giggling over jokes and sighing over what I hoped might be. I miss it. Is that odd? That I miss the feelings that led me to such a bad place? That I grieve because I don’t think I’ll get to feel them again? It was new and special and really quite wonderful. And I miss it. Because I wasn’t bored at all.

But. I should pick up the clutter that surrounds me, put items back in their proper places that have long been determined, shower with the same soap and shampoo I always use, put on lotion that smells more familiar than anything. I’ll vacuum, then take out garbage so I can empty the vacuum canister in the bin outside. Email from Friend just arrived – I’ll bet she didn’t sleep well last night. Then I’ll work at my chapter and perhaps write a bit more of the novel. And wonder when something exciting might happen.

Because I’m really quite bored.


Seeking Solace said...

It's amazing how we become creature of habit. I take my dog on the same walking route too. I never thought to change it, even to go in the opposite direction. It's funny because my dog knows where all his dog friends and enemies live!

TitleTroubles said...

You're wrong. On occasion, things do change, if ever so slightly and temporarily. Friend actually slept fairly well last night. Just so you know.

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