I often go on about how bored I am. And I am. It’s overwhelming, sometimes. Every single aspect of my life is predictable. Like a show you’ve watched a million times. My entire life is Star Trek II on mute while I sprawl on the couch with a midday gin and tonic and mumble the dialogue, not even bothering to watch the screen. Let them eat static.
I try to put in little interesting things to keep me on my toes. Woman, publishing, the occasional irrational battle against office nebbishes. Nothing really catches, though. Women are the most predictable creatures of all, whether they are insane or well balanced. It seems that the modern woman has only been given a limited tree of events in her life, no matter how she goes about experiencing them.
Publishing is more an act of tedium than adventure. By the time the roughly nine months of grueling pre-production is done and it’s time to enjoy the limelight, you can barely look sideways at the book without wanting to scream. Nine months of rewrites, edits, corralling cats, and digging through every sentence again…and again…and again. It becomes a passion, yes, but, after the first time, it’s all muscle memory.
Picking fights is no fun either because there are never any results. Half the spectators don’t care enough to participate and the other half are so afraid of rocking the boat that they’ll curl up into little armadillo balls, shivering, waiting for the storm to pass over. Hell, those folks are legion. The masses of idiots who rule us by sheer numbers and who fear everything. Those who have lost their souls. Those who are not awake.
Worse still, they think they are awake. They think they’re clever. I hate that. How much more boring and predictable can you possibly be? The out of control simpleton who thinks they’ve claimed some small square of life.
The whole day – every day – plays out in front of me as I sit with my morning coffee. I know what I’m going to see, horrible or otherwise. I know what’s going to happen. I know I’ll be bedeviled by bosses and idiots, and I’ll do a little bedeviling myself of landlords and publishing folks, and I’ll spend endless hours twiddling my thumbs, or trying to get Netflix to load on my office computer so, once again, I can kill time marathoning every single episode of the Stargate franchise.
Even when something exciting happens, it seems strangely predictable. There I was, on 9/11, ejected onto the streets by my typically panic-mongering company. There was an exciting moment there before the towers came down. Everyone was together, traffic was stopped, police were (literally) running in circles, jet planes screamed low overhead. I dared to get my hopes up – an invasion. Just like Red Dawn! I was ready to run for the hills and start the new world order. I dreamed that it was all coming down. The new world was upon us…and I would be God-King, of course.
Watching the towers come down was sobering. Not in the sense that so much innocent life had been lost, but merely because, by then, it had become apparent that the terrorists had blown their wad. There was no invasion. No massive shake-up of society would result. No change. It would be business as usual on 9/12. The day – even the rest of 9/11 – played out before me in the usual, dull, predictable way. Even with the smoke of the Pentagon on the horizon, 9/11 felt as remote and removed as some faraway disaster. Who cares about the Boxing Day Tsunami? Who cares about the Japanese tsunami? What color were Sally Ride’s eyes?
This intolerable, soul-devouring boredom I complain about probably settled in on 9/12, as we all marched back to work under the muzzles of machine guns. Perhaps my outlook would have changed if we had just fucking gotten a day off. But, no. There we were, at my office, on the phones with customers – most of who didn’t even know that 9/11 happened. We have the worst customers in the world. I still have the email from the lady who sent a complaint about me when our phones were disconnected minutes before we were sent out on the street on 9/11. She wrote the email to my bosses as the first tower was collapsing. Her parting comment was that she hoped, for me, that “tomorrow would be a better day,” in reference to my attitude on the line as our offices devolved into every one for themselves panic.
On the morning of 9/12, I had to face the music and was chastised by my bosses. What was wrong, they asked, that I treated that customer so poorly?
Business as usual. Not even the greatest shake-up of our generation could alter the path of dull predictability. And I knew it, too. As soon as Bush said we all should go back to work on 9/12 to show that America stands strong, there I was again. The morning coffee in hand, and the day playing out before me.
I knew, when I went home on 9/12, that nothing would ever change again. That every day would be the same, every idiot would be immortal, every job would be shit, and every action I took would be met with a wall of inaction and ignorance no matter the circumstances.
That’s been true for a decade. Sometimes, I do find a rare nugget of life. I keep publishing books – this one linked here is the latest – because I like the sense of accomplishment. Of course, they don’t sell well. I go into debt. I become consumed by that debt. I lose the thread. But the idea that I can navigate the waters of boredom and complete a monumental task is rewarding. I may want to die by the time the books hit the shelves but, in the name of the God of Fuck, they will hit those shelves.
For 12 years, I suffered intolerable pain and was able to (somewhat) ignore the boredom of life because I could not live life. Now that I’m out of pain, the true horror of our lives screams around me every day. Technically, I stopped publishing in 2009. I consult for other publishers, but publishing was more of a pain thing, really. With this latest book, though, I wanted to see if I could get back in the saddle and recover that little nugget of not-quite-boredom. Proof of life, if you will. Because there is no other proof, really. Everything feels like some terrible dream, way out of my control. The books say that, yes, despite that, I am alive.
But, of course, when they fail to sell, that’s just so sadly predictable.