Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Man Who Has Everything

INT. Bedroom – Middle of the Night

The camera is zoomed in overhead the bed on OLIVER’s face, deep in sleep.

His eyes open with a start. There is a look of shock and pain upon his face. Beads of sweat roll down his face. He rises from his bed, breathing deep, rapid breathes.

 

The camera cuts to the side of the bed, the moon is clearly shining in the background, its light illuminating OLIVER sitting upon his bed. He is hunched over, looking across the room as if in deep thought. His breathing begins to slow. The camera cuts to an upward angle of OLIVER sitting in bed.

 

                    OLIVER (V.O)

          The same nightmare. I’ve been having it for weeks now.

                    (Shakes his head and pulls off the covers from atop him)

 

The camera again cuts to OLIVERS’s face, which turns to look to his right. The camera shifts to a downward angle from OLIVER’s point of view, looking down upon a woman as she peacefully sleeps in bed. She is bathed in moonlight, her blonde hair gleaming beneath it. She slowly turns the other way, only the back of her head and her back visible. The camera cuts to OLIVER’s face, his eyes still looking down.

 

He turns away, letting out a sigh as he does. The camera angle shifts again to the side of the bed. OLIVER slowly gets up from the bed, his movements labored and inefficient. He walks across the room to his closet, the camera following him as he does so. His feet land with a soft thud with each step he takes. OLIVER reaches down and picks up a shirt, pulling it over himself.

 

INT. Bathroom – Early Morning

 

The scene shifts, a sink faucet is visible. A hand appears from out of view and turns the handle. Water rushes out from the faucet, the noise of the water can be clearly heard. The camera shifts to an angled view behind OLIVER’s head, the left side of his face can be seen as can his reflection in the mirror. There are bags beneath his eyes. His face appears worn down and his expression seems defeated. He washes his face and stares intently at his reflection, the camera focusing in on his disheveled appearance. He closes his eyes. He opens them, appearing more tired than ever.

 

OLIVER walks out of the bathroom, the house is completely silent save for the soft thud of his footsteps. He ventures back to his bedroom, the camera shifts to show him walking through the door. He walks across the room, camera following, and opens the screen door leading to the balcony. He sets on his arms on the side of the ledge, the camera shifting to show his left side. OLIVER leans on the ledge and peers into the distance.

 

The camera shifts to show the backyard of the house. The yellow glow of the sunrise can be seen behind the vast canopy of trees surrounding the house. There is a pool beneath the balcony, its gentle waters bathed gold by the rising sun. The faint whistle of wind can be heard.

 

The camera swings around back to OLIVER. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a package of cigarettes and a lighter. He rests the end of the cigarette in his mouth and lights it. The white puff of smoke travels with the wind across OLIVER’s face. He stands on the balcony and smokes for another 15 seconds. The camera shifts closer to OLIVER, showing him looking down at his cigarette. The faint red glow of the tip can be seen as the cigarette slowly turns to ash. He closes his eyes and shake his head. With a flick of his wrist, he tosses the remains of his cigarette into the pool beneath him.

 

The camera shifts to an upward view of the balcony, OLIVER can be seen exiting back into the house. The view slowly pans downward until it reaches the cigarette resting in the pool. The scene is completely silent. Only the hiss of the cigarette in the water can be heard. The camera rests on it for a few more moments, then the scene fades out.

 

INT. Kitchen – Morning

 

The scene shifts. OLIVER is sitting at the dining table in his home, perusing through the sports section of a newspaper. The rustle of the turning of pages can be heard, there is a sink running in the background as well.

 

The sink is turned off. A figure appears from behind OLIVER. It is the same blonde woman from earlier. She quickly leans over and places a plate of pancakes in front of OLIVER.

 

The camera follows her as she takes the seat opposite OLIVER at the table, her own plate of food in hand. The sharp sound of the plate being put on the table rings through the air. She immediately begins to go to work on the pancakes, not bothering to glance up at OLIVER. The lighting in the scene is dim, there is a somber, dull mood overhanging the couple.

 

The camera pans back over to OLIVER as he continues to flip through his newspaper. He reaches the last page and quickly folds the paper, the crisp sound of papers crunching travels through the scene as he does so. He picks up of his fork and knife, and the camera shifts to a view of the pancakes.

 

The fork comes from out of view and stabs into the pancakes, the knife following suit. The knife slowly cuts into the pancakes, ripping apart the fluffy interior.

 

The view shifts to show the couple sitting across from each other. Both are fully engrossed in their food, paying little mind to the other. The sound of food being cut and soft sound of the chewing are the only sounds present in the scene.

 

                    OLIVER

          Sarah, you know the pancakes are kind of dry today?

                    (chews food with a labored look upon his face)

 

                    SARAH

          We didn’t have enough butter.

(still focused intensely on her food, doesn’t look up to acknowledge OLIVER)

 

OLIVER nods his head in acceptance of her answer and abruptly picks up his newspaper back up, his half eaten plate of pancakes resting upon the table. The two continue to sit at the table without acknowledging each other. The scene fades out.

 

INT. Office – Afternoon

 

The scene changes. OLIVER is sitting at desk, staring intently at his computer. He fixes his tie and clears his throat. There is large window in view behind him. The sky is dark and cloudy outside and rain can be seen pouring down. The constant pitter patter of rain against the window echoes throughout the scene. The scene is dimly lit, there is a greyish overtone enveloping the office. A flash of lightning strikes in the background, the sound of thunder soon following.

 

The constant tap of fingers on a keyboard can be heard as OLIVER types an email at his computer. There are stacks of paper scattered across his desk.

 

The camera zooms in on OLIVER’s face. Tiny movements across the musculature of his face are visible. They display a look of exhaustion and emptiness.

 

The camera pans over to door of the office. A short, frumpy man enters the scene.

 

                    WILSON

          Oliver! Good to see you man, it’s been too long.

 

                    OLIVER

          Hi Wilson. It really has, how was the trip?

                    (Oliver continues to type his email)

 

                   

 

WILSON

Fantastic! Hawaii really is something special. You and Sarah need to head down there some time, you’ve never experienced anything quite like it. How’s she doing by the way?

          (sits down in the chair across from OLIVER)

 

                    OLIVER

She’s fine. Same as usual really. You know how it is, nothing really ever happens around here. Glad the trip went well.

 

                    WILSON

I am glad to hear buddy. You know, you really lucked out with that girl. God knows how your ugly mug managed land a woman like that. It amazes me to this day.

          (lets out a hearty chuckle, clearly amused with himself)

 

          OLIVER

Yeah, definitely.

          (gives a weak smile while still typing away at the email)

 

WILSON grins from ear to ear, leans over the desk, and pats OLIVER on the back.

 

                    WILSON

Don’t be shy! Everyone in this office is jealous of ya. Anyway, how have you been? A man like yourself must be keeping pretty busy.

 

          OLIVER

Like I said, it’s pretty much been the same as usual around here. Just been working and staying at home. But Wilson, I really need to catch up on my work here, maybe we can do this another time?

          (his eyebrows furrow, a look of annoyance appears on his face as he continues typing the email)

 

          WILSON

Of course of course, I’ll let you get to it. But this weekend at my place, I’m having a bit of a get together, I expect to see you there.

                    (Gets out of the chair, points at Oliver and winks)

 

                    OLIVER

          Sure thing

                    (rolls his eyes)

 

WILSON exits the room, the door shuts behind him. The camera shifts to show OLIVER sinking back into his chair, letting out a sigh of relief.

 

                   

OLIVER (V.O.)

God damn what’s wrong with me. As much as it pains to me to say it, Wilson’s right. I have a beautiful wife, money, everything. Why don’t I feel anything? Why can’t I bring myself to care? I just… I don’t even know anymore.

 

The camera shifts to an overhead view of OLIVER’s face. He is staring up at the ceiling. The lighting in the scene casts a shadow over part of his face. He tiredly closes his eyes. OLIVER sits there in silence for a moment.

 

The view shifts to one of the drawers in the desk. OLIVER’s hand reaches down and opens it. From it, he pulls out a bottle of Gin. OLIVER holds the bottle in front of his face; his reflection can be seen in the glass.

 

                    OLIVER (V.O)

          At least you’re here for me.

                    (opens the bottle)

 

OLIVER takes a swig from the bottle and slams it down onto the desk, letting out a sigh of satisfaction. The camera angle changes to show the bottle of Gin resting on the desk. The level of Gin in the bottle slowly goes down, showing the passage of time through OLIVER’s drinking.

 

OLIVER, still leaning in his chair, peers over to the clock on the wall. The camera shifts to it, showing the time to be 11pm.

 

The view shifts back to OLIVER who rises from his chair and stumbles toward the door.

 

He accidently knocks the bottle over as he does so, the shattering of glass rings throughout the room.

 

He doesn’t turn his head and walks onward.

 

INT Parking Garage – Evening

 

The scene changes. OLIVER is making his way through the empty parking garage to his car, nearly falling over as he does so. His footsteps come down with a resounding thud each time he takes a step. His movements are erratic.

 

OLIVER makes it to his car and steps into the driver’s seat.

 

The camera shifts to outside the car looking at OLIVER through the front windshield. The lighting highlights his eyes, they look dark and empty. The view shifts to show OILVER turning on the ignition. He begins to the turn the steering wheel and drives out of the parking garage. The scene fades out.

 

INT OLIVER’s bedroom – Evening.

 

          Sarah is lying asleep in the bed. The flickering of light emanating from the TV can be seen dancing across her.

 

The camera slowly pans over to the TV screen. There is a news report on it. There has been an accident on the I-5. A car is visible on the screen. It is on fire, black plumes of smoke rising from it. There is no sound, Sarah had muted the TV before falling asleep. A reporter appears on the screen. Still there is utter silence. The scene fades out.

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Flight 6075

“The time is now 5:10 am, we will be departing in five minutes. All passengers should make sure their carry on is stored in the compartments above them or underneath the seat in front of them”, I say.  I walk through the aisle to make sure everyone has done so; someone always forgets.  “As a reminder, please fasten your seatbelt and remain in the upright position.  Also, there is no smoking in the cabin”, I say as I close the overhead compartments, shoving in a few misshapen bags.  A few people already seem to be falling asleep.  I look outside to see that it was still pitch black and the only thing that is visible are the raindrops of the intensifying storm on the small circular windows.  I walk back up to the front and begin the mandatory seatbelt and air mask demonstrations, as if it was really that difficult to figure out.  Rarely does any passenger pay attention to the demonstrations anyway. I continue with the airline’s emergency protocol and typical departing spiel, “note that the emergency exits can be found at the front and back of the plane and that your seat cushion can be used as a floatation device in the event of a crisis.  Thank you for flying Delta airlines, we hope you enjoy your flight.”

I turn off the lights in the cabin, seeing as just about everyone had their heads tilted back or propped on a fist.  I took my seat at the front behind the pilot’s door with a small light directly over me.  I could barely see down the cabin, except for one overhead light at the far end.  Out of all the flights I have been on, there always seems to be one workaholic or avid reader who turns on the overhead light and continues working or reading with disregard to others.  I could not help but to feel disdain towards the passenger; he is ruining the opportunity to sleep.  It is an opportunity I would love to have at this moment, however it is my job to sit and survey every passenger until the plane departs.  As the pilot steers onto the runway, I fasten my seatbelt and await the impending boredom of the flight.  I feel the rush down the runway and pull in my seat as the ascension begins into a two and a half hour flight from Detroit to Memphis.

When I feel I can no longer stay seated, I decide to grab the intercom and say, “Attention all passengers, I will be coming through the aisle to offer complementary beverages and snacks.” The only time when I do not have to sit is when I am required to offer water and stale pretzel packages to every passenger.  Surprisingly most passengers accept them with gratitude and devour them.  It’s interesting how altitude can make a boring snack seem phenomenal to eat.  Think of the last time you consumed pretzels and water with such delight.  Trust me, it wasn’t at sea level.  There is something about being confined to a small space for so long that makes any variation, such as receiving old pretzels, seem pleasurable.  However, I am numb to such delicacies.  I only hand them out to complete another mind numbing task of mine.  Flight after flight, my movements become routine and I am the robot conducting them.  I am less of a person and more of an appendage to the plane.  I just direct people on and off while accommodating their needs.  I am a temporary servant to others and that is it.

After a while, I realized that my boredom was no different than the person who goes to work in a cubicle for eight hours during the week.  The only thing that differs is that I happen to be roughly twelve thousand feet up in the air.  The cubicle worker and I are both confined to one area drenched in boredom.  We both lack stimulation and the means to change it.  Is the pay worth it? Sure.  Is my time worth it? No, not at all.  Even though my occupation entails traveling, I don’t actually get to ‘travel’.  My extent of traveling is simply being in a terminal of whatever city or country I was assigned to fly to.  I have been all around the world, but I haven’t seen a thing.  I’ll go through several terminals a day all over the country and never see anything of the cities.  This job is the most deceiving of all.  What seems like an interesting occupation is hardly interesting at all.  No one realizes this except for other flight attendants.  The act of flying on a plane is truly boring when you have no destination or purpose for flying.  I used to take pride in telling people that I had been to England twelve times until they asked what I did while I was there.  The extent of my visits was spent trying to navigate the terminal and make it to my next assigned flight, which is nothing to brag about.  I have traveled from city to city and all over the world but I only know each city by its terminal.

The eight year old child flying in first class who is playing candy crush on his mother’s Ipad, gets to see all of Memphis when the plane lands. But all I get from this trip is an aerial view.  I help people on and off but I never get the reward of flying by truly reaching a destination.  There is no finality to each flight, just a return to a terminal.  The passenger has a destination; he has something to look forward to when he flies.  The flight attendant does not.  Every flight is just a set amount of time that I am required to stay seated in a metal cabin and assist in case of emergency.  After a while the flights all become the same.  Each time, I sit in alert solitude listening to the hum of the plane.  As the drone of the engine goes on, I sit anxiously waiting for the time to end.  Boredom is a parasite to time, feeding off of it as time persists in repetition or pure nothingness.  This parasitic creature feeds on our time and directly affects us.  I cannot seem to make it go away, it plagues me and so I have found that my life has become about how to either not be bored or wallow in my boredom.  Boredom controls everything I do.  It is force conducting every decision I make and it alters my emotional state.   Boredom brings about frustration and anxiety, along with the irrefutable desire to have a purpose where there is no purpose to be had.

No one notices the silent sufferings of a flight attendant.  I innately let out a long sigh without receiving even glance from any passenger.  It is as I if I am nonexistent, except when I am handing out snacks to people.  But even then, the passengers are more focused on what I am giving them than my presence.

The plane suddenly shakes, as if it were driving over a gravel road; the wind howls outside and thunder is heard in the distance.  I hear the nervous whispers of a few passengers along the aisle.  My only source of excitement is turbulence during a flight; it is the only unpredictable event that can occur.  For half a second, the plane falls and I feel an irrefutable sinking inside myself as inertia pulls me down with the plane.  My heart races as adrenaline explodes through my veins and I am alive again.  That half of a second is all there is to break from the constant boredom that I am subjected to.  But within that second, the plane stabilizes itself again and boredom returns.  The same steady drone continues on for almost ten minutes when the entire cabin becomes flooded with light followed by a loud crash.  What was just a moment, felt like an eternity; white light seeped through from one of the back left windows and illuminated the walls only to be sucked back out again leaving us in darkness.

A hollow metal sound haunts us with dreaded thoughts only to follow through with a final snap.  The wing had broken off. I hear the pilot’s startled voice over the intercom and the screaming of passengers as a collective hum.  The plane begins losing altitude and I can feel myself falling with it.  My adrenaline kicks in again and I begin running down the aisle to help people with their masks and parachutes.  My conscious mind is not a part of my actions; my mental and physical reactions are so disconnected that it is as though I am watching a movie.  I perform the emergency protocol with robotic efficiency.  With the help of a passenger, I pry open the emergency door and begin aiding others out of the aircraft. The wind whips through the cabin and back out, tugging at us as it leaves.  One after another each passenger jumps wailing and crying as they go.  They all appear as shadowy figures in the blackness that surrounds us, quickly disappearing into the dark abyss below.

Although my heart is racing just as quickly and as intensely as everyone else, I cannot deny that I am satisfied.  Boredom cannot reach me here.  In the midst of a crisis I am immune to boredom.  I have a purpose in the impending danger, others need me in order to survive.  Boredom cannot prevail in utter chaos, but I can.  I direct the last passenger out of the plane and I climb through the aisle in search of a parachute as the wind races through the cabin.  The red emergency lights flash above me in the bold letters “EXIT”.  As I make my way back to the front of the plane, I search the shelves.  All of them are empty.  I know I should feel defeat and panic for the sake of my life, but I cannot bring myself to do so.  I stumble back through the aisle and collapse on a seat with my oxygen mask still on.  The speed and the force of the wind keep me pressed to the seat as the plane falls faster.  Once again, I am in alert solitude.  Boredom slowly trails in with the wind; it is inescapable and all consuming.  Everything the human race does is in an attempt to avoid boredom.  It is our only purpose, a purpose I do not want.  “EXIT” continues to flash on and off above me.  I close my eyes tightly and clench my fists.  Exiting is the only choice I have to truly escape boredom and so I exit along with the plane.  An infinite dark abyss becomes my final destination.

 

 

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Daydreams

It was a dreary day. The sky was covered with clouds, making it seem like it was going to rain soon. Even though it was winter, people were walking around with no jacket on. It was one of those day where the weather looked horrible, but once you go outside, it’s really nice. 

It was a quiet day. Everyone was either sleeping, or finishing assignments. Kyle was one of the people who had to start their assignments. He was sitting at his desk, turned towards the window. He placed his elbows on the window sill, and rested his head on his hands. He sighed. He couldn’t believe that, once again, he left this for the last minute. Kyle knew he was trapped inside until he finished his assignment. He could only leave his room to pee. His roommate told him that if he sees him socializing, he will kick his ass.

Kyle dropped his head to his arms and groaned. “Why did I tell Mike about this?” Kyle said to himself. In the beginning of the year, they made a pact. Whoever has an assignment due, they can’t let that person do anything until it is done. Their punishment for breaking the pact is to punch the person five times. The pact has only been broken three times. Twice by himself, and once by Mike. After the second time, he knew not to break it again. 

He turned and faced his desk. He looked at the paper with the assignment requirements. He groaned, “God damn it, I don’t know what to do!” He started tapping the pen he was holding. He didn’t know what to write about. He knew nothing about the topic. How is he supposed to write a paper about a topic he knows nothing about. 

Mike walks into the room, drenched. He gets his towel and walks over to his dresser. 

“How’s the paper going?” Mike asked while he was picking out dry clothes. 

Kyle shrugged and said, “I don’t know what to write.”

“What’s your paper suppose to be about?” Mike asked.

“I don’t know. Something about history and how it affected people.” Kyle said. 

Mike walked over the Kyle’s desk and grabbed the paper. He read over it. “It’s not that hard to write. Just look up some stuff and write.” Mike gave the paper back to Kyle. 

“You might want to get this paper done soon.” Mike stated. “We’re gonna go out tonight and you don’t wanna miss this.” 

Kyle looked at him and asked, “Why? It’ll probably be like any other night we go out.” 

“Dude, Seth is visiting! And you know with that little fucker, tonight will be great.” Mike shouted while walking out the door. “So, I advise you to finish that as soon as possible cause he’s only here for two nights.”

Mike shut the door. Kyle groaned and put head on his desk. He looked at the essay requirements again. “Alright, my paper needs to be an editorial, anti-Jackson, and Whigs party. It needs to discuss the issues of the nullification crisis, bank wars, and Indian removals.” Kyle picked up his history book and began researching about the topics he has to discuss. He got his highlighter and started reading the pages about them. He highlighted the things he thought were important. As he was reading, he started to nod off so he placed his head on his head. His eyelids became heavier. His arm became weaker. The words on the paper started to blur and jumble together. He closed his eyes and dropped his head on his desk.

Thud. Kyle moved his head and opened his eyes. He wiped the drool off his face and lifted his head off the table. He looked around seeing that it got significantly dark. “Ugh, how long was I asleep for?” He rubbed his eyes. He got out of his chair and stretched. His whole body was sore for sleeping in that position for a while. He walked out of his room and went to the bathroom. While washing his hands, he realized that it is quiet, unusually quiet. He began asking himself where his floor mates are. “Oh, they’re out with Seth.” He walked back into his room and sat at his desk. He picked up his pen and continued where he left off in the book. 

Suddenly, there was a gigantic explosion. He jumped out of his chair and looked out the window. Kyle spotted the fire down the street. He grabbed his jacket and ran out of his room. He ran down the stairs and out of the building until he reached the location of the explosion. He realized that it was a car on fire. He vaguely saw someone one in there. He couldn’t figure out what to do. He couldn’t go into the car and help, it was on fire. So he called for help. No one answered him. The only sound he heard was the fire crackling as it burned everything away. 

He kept calling for help. Still, no one was coming to help, no one was listening. Tears were falling from his eyes as he tried to call 911. Once again, there was only silence. There was no dial tone, no one on the other line, just pure silence. This made Kyle cry even harder. He fell to the ground. “Why isn’t anyone fucking here?” 

A jeep full of people, stopped near him and a couple of people went up to him. Kyle heard the people asking him questions. He didn’t care. No one answered him, so he’s not going to answer them. One of the guys kicked him to the ground. 

“Who the fuck are you?” the guy asked. He was wearing a soldiers uniform just like the rest of the guys. Only one of them was holding a gun, and it was pointed at him. 

“We asked you a question,” the guy shouted. “Who the fuck are you? Where did you come from?”

The guy holding the gun stated, “This is a no civilian zone. Why are you here?”

Kyle stayed still, mouth shut, not knowing what to say. 

“Search him,” the first guy told the guy with no gun. The guy went up to him and lifted Kyle up. He searched through his pockets and pulled something out. He handed them to the first guy. He took it and opened in up. 

“So you’re transferring to our base. Why didn’t you say so?” The first guy said. “We thought you were some dumbass trespasser who wanted to see some of the action.”

He put out his hand and Kyle shook it. “The name’s Finn. The guy with the gun is Jay and the other one is Alfie. What’s your name?” 

“Kyle,” He answered.

Finn started walking toward the car and told the rest to follow. “You too Kyle, we need to take you back to the base.” Kyle ran up to them and sat in the only available seat. The Jeep started and was heading back to base. During the car ride, Kyle looked out the window and saw ruins. Everything that he remembered seeing during the day was destroyed. There were collapse buildings, flipped cars, and cracks in the sides of the roads. The sky looked like it was on fire. All Kyle could think of was what the hell happened. How did he sleep through all this? 

“You okay?” Alfie asked. “You look frightened” 

Finn interrupted, “He’s probably just hasn’t been in any action yet.”

“So what are we fighting?” Kyle asked. “I’ve been at a desk all day, so I don’t know anything that has happened.” 

“You’ll see,” Finn answered. 

The car pulled up to a gate. A guy walked towards the car to check something. He shined the light on Kyle and looked at Finn. “He’s a transfer.” The guy walked back and the gate moved aside to let them in. The guys got out of the car and walked their separate ways. Jay looked back at Kyle and motioned him to follow. “We’re talking you to see what has happened. Cause I’m pretty sure that the news has fucked it.” They continued walking until they were in front of steel doors. Finn took out his ID and put it up to the screen. The doors opened. They walked into the room. They walked by something gigantic. Something that was brownish green. This something scale-like skin. 

“This is what has happened,” Alfie said pointing to the monster. 

“What is it?” 

Finn answered, “We don’t know what it is, but it deadly. All we know for sure is that our enemy is behind this.” 

A guy with white hair called for them. They walked up to him and he told them about the new mission. “The four of you will go to the enemy’s base and plant these there. Once it is done, turn on the signal.” 

“Yes Sir,” they answered. 

They drove toward the base and snuck in. Everything was fine, until Alfie tripped over a wire. One by one, they were being hunted. Kyle ran. He climbed up a tree and hid there. He heard the leaves rustling besides him. He turned only to see red eyes, sharp teeth, and scale-like skin. It lunged towards him, tackling him to the ground. It clawed him and it opened its mouth and went for Kyle’s throat.

Kyle woke up in a frenzy state. He was hyperventilating. He was sweating. He looked around. He was back in his room. He got up to get his water bottle. He drank some water, and sat back down.  “Ok, I have to focus.” He picked up his book and started reading again. Once again, he started to fall asleep. 

Kyle got up off the floor. He saw a device in his hand, and all he could remember was that he needed to plant it at the base. He walked towards the base and completes his mission. He turned on the signal, but nothing happened.

He looked around. It was dark and cold. There was no one in sight. Everything was quiet. He looked through his bag and took out a flashlight. He turned it on and started walking. For a while, he couldn’t find anyone. His flashlight started to dim. He tapped it against his hand and it was back to normal. He pointed the light forward and he spotted someone. “Hey!” The person didn’t answer him. “Hey!” He runs up to the person. “What’s going on? Is the war over?” The person was still ignoring him. Frustrated, Kyle turned the person over. “Hey! I asked you a-” He screamed and dropped his flashlight. The person had a deformed face. His flesh was melted, he had and empty eye socket, deep gashes, and his mouth was hanging. The person fell to the ground. Kyle went to pick up his flashlight and the person leaped at him. He screamed and kicked it off. Kyle got up and started running. The person followed. It started off slow, but started running after Kyle. Kyle kept running and running, until he heard a gun shot.  He stopped and looked back. He saw the person on the ground, laying in it’s own blood. He sees someone pointing a gun at him. 

“Don’t shoot!” Kyle shouted. 

The guy was the gun walked up to him. “Kyle?”

“Mike!” 

Mike started pointing him. “We thought you were dead. Where were you?” 

“I don’t know, but what’s happening? What was that thing?” Kyle asked. 

Mike told him to come with him. They headed off to a house. Mike knocked on it three times and it opened. Mike closed the door and bolted it shut. Kyle turned and saw his friends. “Se-” Mike covered his mouth and shushed him. “You need to stop shouting. That gun shot probably attracted more, so shut the fuck up.” 

“Attracted more of what?” Kyle whispered.

Seth shrugged, “We don’t know, but they look like zombies.”

“How did this happen?” Kyle asked. 

“We were out for the night, and then there was this huge explosion.When we woke up, this stuff happened.” Seth said. 

“Guys, we should see now. We need to move tomorrow morning.” Mike said. 

Everyone took their place and drifted off to sleep. 

“Wake up!” Mike shouted.

Kyle turned and he felt a punch. “They’re surrounding the house! Kyle, get up now!” 

  Kye got up and mike dragged him up the stairs. He closed the door behind them and bolted it shut. “What about the others?” 

“Don’t worry about it.” Mike shouted. “They probably did the same thing.” 

He heard a crash and people started screaming. Something was trying to open the door from the outside. Mike tossed him a gun and told him to shot if anything comes in. They pressed the backs against the window and the door flung open. Zombies came and Mike started shooting. Kyle did the same. Kyle turned to shoot the zombie next to Mike, one of them lunged towards him and they both went out the window into a pool. 

Kyle woke up coughing. He was drenched from head to toe. He turned and saw that Mike and Seth dumped a bucket of water on him. 

“You knew this would happen if you got distracted.” Mike laughed. 

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What Does Boredom Mean to You?

Throughout the semester we have been exploring the fascinating phenomenon called boredom.  We read countless numbers of perspectives from some very influential philosophers, all of whom stated something different and creative about boredom.  Some describe it as a social necessity while others believe to avoid it all costs.  The first perspective that jumped out to me was that of David Foster Wallace.  In his book The Pale King, he made the statement that in order to overcome boredom, you have “to be in one word, unborable”.  He believes that you have to have to be able to find the meaning in the things that you find repetitive or meaningless.  To Wallace, being unborable is to key to achieving success. He says you have to become immune to boredom and realize that what is making you bored could make you prosperous.  The next perspective that stuck with me throughout the semester was that of Soren Kierkegaard.  In his journal The Rotation of Crops he explains how men can overcome the boredom that arises in a relationship with a woman.  He claims that being with one person for an extended period of time creates a lack of physical and mental stimulation because of how repetitive it becomes.  He believes that to avoid boredom in a relationship that a man must experience “eroticism without commitment”.  In other words, he believes that that only way to avoid boredom in a relationship is to have sexual relations with as many women as possible without making commitments to any of them.  These two perspectives are very original and convincing, but I find flaws in both of their so called keys to overcoming boredom.  They just do not convince me.  I want to take these theories and test them with some of the major problems that boredom is causing in today’s society to show just how weak of arguments Wallace and Kierkegaard made.

 

The Race Connection

http://educationnext.org/the-race-connection/

When I first starting applying Wallace’s theory to real life situations it made me think of how boredom affects young children in the classroom.  Today many children are performing poorly in the classroom due to boredom.  This boredom can be drawn from a lack of excitement in the classroom or from simply wanting to do something else other than sitting in a classroom.  No matter where the boredom in stemming from the academic results are in decline.  Many say that any boredom present in the classroom derives directly from the teacher though.  If the students are unable to successfully interact and relate to the teacher, they find themselves lost and feel there is no need to try.  This is very evident with minority students across the country.  Ever since the integration of schools in 1954, more and more schools are being filled with minority students.  Most of the minorities in the schools are African American, but the Hispanic and Asian American population in schools has been growing.  Minority students are falling victim to becoming bored in class because of the lack of minority teachers.

A study was done by the United States Department of Education in the state of Tennessee in 2000 that compared students who were taught by teachers of the same race as them and students who were not. A simple standardized test was given to students by their teachers as if it was a regular test.  This kept different variables from affecting the data. The numbers they found were troubling, but as expected, students who were taught by a teacher of the same race performed 9 percentile points better than those who were taught by a teacher of a different race.  Black students with black teachers scored 6 % higher than the black students with white teachers.  On the other hand, white students with black teachers scored 9% lower than the white students with white teachers.

If you were to tell these students to use David Foster Wallace’s theory of being unborable, it would do little in improving their academic success.  It is difficult to tell someone to find interest in something being taught to them by someone they have almost nothing in common with no matter how old they are.  Children find comfort and trust in people who have similar characteristics to them.  Since some minority students do not trust their teachers they become bored.  The lack of comfort ends all effort to build a relationship with the teacher, causing them to feel that class is a waste of time.  These students feel like they have nothing to do.  They cannot relate to the teacher so they do not want to learn.  They are stuck in a classroom so they cannot freely do what they want. This cycle repeats itself every day and prohibits these students from making any type of progress. 

You may say that the reason why these children cannot apply Wallace’s theory because of how young they are, but applying his theory is hard for anyone to do.  Taking a boring situation and finding something interesting about it is simple.  Many children cope with their boredom in class by using their cell phones because it interests them.  Realizing that boredom can lead you to finding the key to your success in life is the difficult part. This is where I find a flaw in Wallace’s theory.  If a certain task is boring someone, that person is most likely going to get fed up with whatever they have to do and quit.  They will leave the task at hand without any intentions of returning to it.  In most cases, a person will remember how boring a situation was a will avoid experiencing it again. So getting someone to apply Wallace’s theory of exploring the significance of their boredom is just too hard.  Even if a person has grasped the concept, it is still hard to apply it to their lives.  People have been avoiding boredom for so long that it has become second nature, and changing it is nearly impossible.  

 

Just Commit Already

Out of all of the different perspectives we have read this year, I find the biggest flaw with Kierkegaard’s theory.  I believe that his theory of eroticism without commitment is just a generalization.  Having multiple sexual relations with different women is not the way to avoid boredom in a relationship.  His view is making it seem that every marriage is torn apart by unhappiness and boredom, which is not true.  Of course going to sleep and waking up with the same person every day and night can become repetitive and boring, but that is not the point of relationship.  A relationship is all about how much effort is put in by both the woman and the man.  If there is no effort, then boredom will surely arise. 

When diagnosing Kierkegaard’s theory, I tried to apply it to my own relationship that I have with my girlfriend.  I felt that my relationship was perfect to try to apply his theory to because my girlfriend and I have been dating for three years.  My girlfriend also goes to school in Maryland, so we also have to deal with the issue of distance.  Not seeing my girlfriend everyday creates what I think can be the most profound boredom at times.  There are days when all I want is just a hug or do something as simple as getting something to eat with her, but cannot because we are apart.  This causes me to have to do a lot of those things by myself.  We try to cope with not seeing each other every day by making sure that we talk every night so we can catch up each other.  As you can see I have experienced a fair amount of boredom over the past few years, but telling me to deal with it by just talking to a bunch of different girls will never end the boredom that arises in my relationship.  Although eating alone and talking to her every night gets repetitive at times, the amount of love I have for her keeps me from getting bored with our relationship.  I care about her so much that the conversations we have every night are always exciting to me.  I will listen to her complain about how stressful her day was, not because I want to, but because I know it makes her feel better.  This is one thing that I believe men struggle with in relationships.  Most of the time a man does not want to hear his wife complaining so they just tune her out or ask her to stop.  They do not take the time to listen.  Once a woman feels that her husband is not paying attention to her, she then stops paying attention to him.  The lack of attention then leads to a lack of communication which causes the relationship to become dull and seemingly pointless.  If both the man and woman care about each other there will never be enough dull moments to make the entire relationship boring.  Caring causes each one to always want to do something special for the other.  When affection is constantly being shown excitement remains a constant in the relationship causing their love for one another to never fade away.

Kierkegaard’s alternative to marriage can be more boring than marriage itself.  Having sexual relations with someone and not having any feelings for them is dull.  You feel empty inside because no emotions are involved.  Since there is no emotion in these types of relations, your actions lack purpose.  Of course there are some that say the physical stimulation makes these non-committing relationships worth it, but the physical stimulation is only momentary. Feeling love and affection stimulates for an infinite amount of time.  I would rather be in a repetitive relationship where I feel appreciated and loved than one that offers no reward at the end.

            Although both David Foster Wallace and Soren Kierkegaard make very creative and unique arguments, their theories do not work in all cases.  If Wallace’s approach was simpler it would be more effective. This way people could understand his theory and be able apply it to their lives.  Kierkegaard has a negative outlook on relationships and fails to realize that a lot of people are happy and satisfied with their partner.  This class has taught me that no one theory will ever solve boredom’s mystery. Even though boredom is seen in a negative light, we may need it after all.   If philosophers keep trying to create different theories to avoid it, why do loopholes always exist?  Boredom has remained present for so many years, so it must be a necessity.  One idea that Wallace and Kierkegaard do seem to hit on is that boredom may just be the indication that people deserve better and more exciting things in their life.  For Wallace, he believes the things that bore you can lead you to success if recognized properly.  Although Kierkegaard has a jaded view of relationships, his theory helped me realize that boredom in a relationship is a vice that helps indicate when men need show their partner they care more.  This could be true or it could be completely wrong, but it is what boredom means to me.  Boredom is so unique because it can mean different things to different people.  I find flaws in Wallace and Kierkegaard’s theories because boredom serves a different purpose for them.  Even though boredom is a vice for me, Kierkegaard finds it to be a social evil.  From studying these two theories I learned that boredom, whether embraced or avoided, helps show people what things will and will not help them thrive.  It is up the person to decide what purpose boredom serves for them.     

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“If Not for RiteAid”

               “Let’s break up.”

               I didn’t look up from my textbook, but I assumed he was reading aloud from his novel again. “Sorry, don’t read out loud right now. I’m almost done with these notes.”

               “No,” he replied. I finally looked up from and saw him looking directly at me. “I want to break up with you.”

               That day, what he said really caught me off-guard, y’know? But I can’t really pinpoint whether it was the timing or the fact that he wanted to break up. Sometimes, when I look back, I think everything was going just fine. Sometimes, I think I saw it coming, that the end of our relationship was inevitable.

               David and I, we were both new to relationships. Didn’t really know what the hell we were doing, but we kept on going and pretending like we knew. There was nothing really between us, and when our friends pointed it out, we always said, “You just don’t understand.” In the end, it was us who never really saw past our own lies. In the end, we should have listened. Maybe we could have been good friends instead of how we are now, estranged.

               I’m starting from the end, but I should be telling you about the beginning, shouldn’t I? It was when I started my part-time job at RiteAid that I first noticed him, I think. I was a sophomore at the time, not really caring about my job since I just needed something to do in my spare time. I regretted it as soon as I started it. I worked in the dingy, smaller RiteAid a few streets down, where no one usually went. I swear, it’s the worse job in the world. I was forced to sit on a stool for hours, and I wasn’t even allowed to look at my phone. Stuff like that does a number on your back, and your mental health. There were barely any customers, so time crawled by. There would be a few regulars like Reggie who swears “the deals in this RiteAid are way better than the one down the block,” and the lady who always came in with sweats and bought a bag of cat food each week (my theory is that she either has a ton of cats or she eats it all herself). Otherwise, the job mainly consisted of me flipping through the store’s catalog, looking at the deals of the week.

               About a month into the job, when working there had hit the peak of dullness, I noticed him. He was maybe the only customer around my age. He would always come in, buying the weirdest combination of things. Once, he bought a container of bleach and duct tape. I was concerned for a couple days that he was covering up a murder (I never did remember to ask why he bought those). Another time, he bought tampons (“They were for a friend!” he cried every time I teased him about it). Soon enough I realized that my eyes would follow him throughout the store as he sped from aisle to aisle. He wasn’t my type—he had glasses, was a bit short and a bit skinny—but I was constantly amused by his perplexed expression when he examined the items in the store.

               I was surprised when my friend Eliza introduced me to him. David Lee. Freshman. International student from Taipei, Taiwan. I could tell he was an international student from his slight accent when he said “Thank you” after paying at the register, but I wouldn’t have guessed that he was a freshman. He had a strong jawline and a deep voice, and he didn’t give off that freshman-y vibe that most have, do you know what I mean? They were in the same dance club and I started seeing him outside of the store more and more frequently. It wasn’t until a week later that he realized that I was the person who always rang him up at RiteAid.

               Eliza and I shared a couple classes, so I would join her study group often. David seemed to be a recurring member, I noticed. Once, by chance, he and I ended up studying alone together late into the night. We didn’t speak to one another. But I think we had both recognized that we could share a comfortable silence with one another. Then Eliza started dating the other boy in the study group, so they hardly showed up anymore. So David and I just started studying together more and more, just the two of us. I guess that led to us getting meals together and talking a bit more. We started hanging out together more and more often. Eventually, it became routine.

               The story of how we got together was strange. Not strange. More like… uninteresting. It was not your typical romantic “I met him in my English class and we got paired up for a project and we just clicked” kind of story. Nothing like “we were in the same club and he surprised me with flowers one day and asked me out.” We declared ourselves as a couple because “study partners” wasn’t a good enough excuse since we weren’t in any of the same classes. People demand a reason for a girl and a boy to spend excessive amounts of time with one another. I don’t think we ever really thought about our genuine feelings about one another. It was sudden and spontaneous, it just happened over dinner one day at the usual Vietnamese restaurant down the street.

               “Don’t you think it’s annoying when people keep teasing us and saying that we’re dating?” I asked, stirring the noodles in my bowl of pho.

               “Sometimes I feel that way. But I’m not usually bothered by it.” He always spoke like that. Always had a touch of formality in his every day speech, the way he was taught back in Taiwan. “Why? Does it bother you?”

               “It’s so annoying! Why can’t a guy and a girl just hang out together? Why do they always have to be dating for that to be acceptable?

               “Would you like to?”

               “Would I like to what?”

               “Would you like to be my girlfriend?”

               “What?”

               “If it bothers you so much,” he answered with composure, “we can just be boyfriend and girlfriend. And then everyone will leave us alone.”

               “And you’re okay with that? With me?” I didn’t know he felt that way. I mean, I was kind of hoping but I was also kind of afraid to find out. I was definitely interested in him at the time but I didn’t think that it was a feeling that was reciprocated. “Are you sure?”

               “Yeah.” Maybe he wasn’t so composed after all. I noticed his ears were turning red and he stopped making eye contact with me. In that moment, I thought he looked really cute.

               “Fine,” I stuttered. “Let’s do it.”

               We didn’t talk for the remainder of our meal, but we held hands on our way back to campus.

               The beginning of our romantic relationship was unorthodox, but I was used to unusual moments with David. If anything, it made things memorable. I remember one day, when we started hanging out together more often, we were walking together—I forget where—and he suddenly turned to me and said, “Fuck you.”

               “Huh?”

               “That’s how you say it, right?” His eyes were absolutely gleaming, like a puppy’s.

               “Yes,” I laughed. That’s how you say it. He was like a child, testing out the new swear words he’d learned. It was the first time I have heard the words “fuck you” without any malicious undertones; it was so strange, hearing it spoken with such pure intentions. Looking back on it, that may have been the moment I first fell for him. The first glance through the unusual lens through which he viewed my too-typical world. I think it was that, his strange actions but genuine purpose that attracted me. It was so different, so refreshing from my cynical cycle of thought. I wanted to learn more, explore more of the world with him and his naïve perspective.

               He really made me reflect on what I thought was commonplace, and I thought that was the most incredible thing. I mean, not every day do you meet someone who makes you feel like you’re living in a whole new country without ever getting on a plane. There was a similar moment around Thanksgiving; it was about a week before break and right around when we started dating. I knew he wouldn’t be flying home for the long weekend and I was having a small get-together in my apartment, I figured he might be lonely.

               “What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Want to come over for dinner?”

               “Thanksgiving dinner? With a whole turkey? Will you have stuffing? And glazed ham?”

               “What?” I didn’t expect such an enthusiastic response. “Uh, a whole turkey might be tough to get, but my suitemates and I might pick up a rotisserie chicken from Pathmark or something. I guess stuffing doesn’t sound too hard to make.”

               “Really? Yes! Please!” Every word was punctuated with excitement, and I gave him a weird face until I realized: “Oh, you’ve never had a Thanksgiving dinner, have you?”

               “Never,” he said, breathless with excitement. “It sounds amazing.”

               It was exciting like that at the start. But as time passed, his lens became clouded for me. I lost the ability to see through them. I realized that nothing we did together was very exciting. We went to museums, we went to conservatories—we didn’t have intellectual discussions about them or anything, we just went and “ooh”-ed and “ahh”-ed. We always did things that required our attention—we never really did anything alone. We were always at movies, restaurants, stores—we never really just sat down and got to know each other closely. But I never addressed that problem, and neither did he. Even after our relationship lost its initial shine and was stripped down to what it truly was—a boy and a girl with nothing in common, spending meaningless, absurd amounts of time together—we kept ignoring it.

               In all honesty, I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. We didn’t share any similar interests, even. He read a lot and really liked poetry and realistic fiction novels and listening to Bastille. I was always on the internet and messing around on social media sites and freaking out over Korean pop groups. When David and I talked about things, it seemed so meaningless. We talked just for the sake of talking.

               “The weather’s really nice today. I wish I didn’t have class.”

               “My teacher was a jerk today. I hate him.”

               “How was your day today? You saw Eliza? That’s nice. How is she?”

               It was even worse during winter break. He went home to Taiwan and I was home. We talked over Skype, but about more meaningless stuff. A long-distance relationship that lacked any longing. If anything, I was relieved to have time to be completely alone for the first time in a while. But I just thought, “This is natural. This is normal.” I feel so dumb now. I couldn’t even see how sick I was of the relationship.

               Everything turned into a monotonous mush. But it’s weird, because we still spent so much time together. Now that it’s over, I just don’t get it. Why? Maybe we only stayed together because we needed the company. Because it was easier reaching out to one rather than racking your brains over which friend to take, and how many.

               One is simple. One is easy.

               Well, it’s over now. Easy as that. I find myself looking back on it so often, though. I think I only noticed him because I was bored. Have you ever experienced that? Falling in love for a moment, because you’re experiencing such a lackluster life that your mind unconsciously finds something to obsess over? And of course, nothing promises more thrill than a first romance. It felt so liberating, to feel my heart race for the first time in months. To think about something other than work, to have someone special on my mind.

Something new occupies your mind when you fall in love. I’m sure you’ve noticed. You begin checking your reflection more often. You begin planning your outfit for the next day while you prepare for bed. Instead of focusing on class, you’re doodling in the margins of your notebook. You can’t sit still. Your mind is concentrated on this fascinating new person in your life.

You can’t fight it. It just happens. And it is merciless.

When you’re bored, admiration is all the more likely. Some cruel replica of infatuation strikes quickly—and if you’re bored enough, to the point of hopelessness, you mindlessly begin following that feeling. And I’m guilty of that. I can see why.

All of my friends were finding their own boyfriends. Eliza, Christina, Connie—it seemed like everyone had someone. And there was me, stuck in my little crappy RiteAid job. But here comes a boy around my age—intriguing, naïve, charming. Of course I would fall hard.

And David? Well, it turns out David was going through a rough time, too. So bored out of his mind that all he did was visit the library like twenty times a day and eat away his boredom with fattening snacks from the convenience store. Plus, there were few international students that spoke his language. I was one of the only people who could converse with him in his native speech, and that was comforting to him.

I think it’s true to say that, if not for RiteAid, we would have never gotten together. If not for my shitty, boring job. If not for the ridiculous amounts of junk food that David bought week after week. I would have never noticed him “like that.” We would have never ended up in that relationship that was so mind-numbingly boring that David had to end it after four months. I wonder how things could have been different. The conversation in the Vietnamese restaurant would have never happened. Maybe we would have just remained platonic friends in the same study group.

In the end, it just turned out to be a boring love story. 

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How Adults View Boredom

Everyone experiences boredom throughout their life: children, teenagers, adults.  Children face this feeling the most.  With all the free time they possess during the day, they have to be entertained constantly to deal with feeling bored.  Once they become teenagers, they gain more responsibilities.  While they have less free time, they still experience periods of boredom.  They have to discover new ways to entertain themselves.  Once they become adults, they gain more responsibility: taking care of their own home, working at a new job, taking care of themselves, etc.  They lose the little free time they possessed as teenagers.  Now they do not have the chance to sit down, relax, and do nothing.  They are busy the entire day.  With all these new tasks, adults desire the chance at experiencing boredom.  As children and teenagers, they hated this feeling.  After growing older and losing time for relaxation, they come to appreciate feeling bored.

Work

Adults are always busy at work.  Upon stepping into the building, you immediately start working.  You check the calendar, filled with the month’s deadlines, and decide which needs to be done first.  You have stacks of paper on the desk that need finished.  You also have lists of tasks to be completed that day.  You become absorbed in your work, not stopping until your lunch break.  Even then, your mind is consumed with what needs to be done.  After the lunch break, you continue to check off each bullet on the checklist.  You do not stop until you reach the end.  Although you finish your tasks, there is still more to be done for the next few weeks.  With the constant paperwork and bustle of the office, you have no time to stop and relax.  If you earn a promotion, you gain a bigger workload.  You have to work harder and longer.

Home

After a long day at the office, all you want to do is relax.  Unfortunately, there are still things to accomplish at home.  Bills need to be paid.  Laundry needs to be done.  You also have to sort the clothes and empty all the hampers.  The house needs to be cleaned.  Errands need to be done.  Dinner needs to be made.  Children need help with various things.  Homework needs completed.  Studying needs finished.  They also have sports, dance, afterschool activities, etc.  You drive them from place to place.  In between waiting for their activity to end, you run more errands.  You are constantly on the move.  If you have a pet, you have to fill the food and water dishes up, take it for a walk, put the toys away, etc.  The house also need to be maintained. You have to mow the lawn, pile the leaves onto the street, shovel the snow and salt the sidewalks, etc.  New things continue to come up, adding to your daily housework.  There is never time to sit down and relax.

Holidays

The times of the year where you should be relaxing, you keep busy with work.  For Thanksgiving, you are planning the dinner, buying all the ingredients, and cooking non-stop.  You prepare for all the incoming relatives and make the home warm and inviting.  You clean the house until it’s spotless.  For Christmas, you buy all the presents for the family and cover them in different wrapping paper.  You put out all the decorations: inside and outside.  You gather the family and plan a day to buy the tree and hang all the ornaments and lights.  You take a picture for the Christmas card and send to all your friends and family.  On Christmas Eve, you wait for the children to fall asleep.  Then you quietly take all the presents and place them under the tree.  You also fill the stockings up and finish all the cookies and milk left for Santa.  For Easter, you buy the eggs to color with the kids.  You buy all the presents and candy.  The night before, you wait till the children fall asleep.  Then you hide the colored eggs around the house and find a place to put the baskets.  Not only that, you have a dinner to prepare.  For New Year’s Eve, you plan the party.  You write out invitations for all the guests, and buy all the food to serve.  On the day of the party, you set out the tables and put all the food out.  You also take out the hats, shakers, and noise makers for the guests.  You are constantly bustling about during this time, trying to make everything go smoothly for an enjoyable holiday.  After the festivities are over, you still have many things to do.  You have to wash the dishes, put away the left-over food, and clean up after the mess left by the party, the opening of the presents, etc.  You also have to juggle this while completing the daily housework.

Vacation

Vacation is a time for relaxation and fun.  Unfortunately, for adults, it involves work.  You have to plan the vacation, book a hotel and a means of transportation, and pack all the necessary clothes and toiletries for the whole family.  You also have to let the neighbors, the security system company, and the mail company when and how long you will be gone.  On the day you leave, you wake up all the kids and drive to the airport.  You watch the time constantly to make sure you arrive with plenty of time.  Once you arrive at your destination, you find a taxi and head to the hotel.  There you plan the rest of the day: where to go, where to eat, etc.  Afterwards, you find activities for the family.  If you go to Disney World, even more work is involved.  You plan which parks to go to.  You plan what restaurants to eat at.  On the day you hit a park, you gather the tickets, make sure everyone puts sunscreen on, and find transportation.  At the park, you constantly watch the kids, push the stroller, hold onto the prizes, and walk around.  You buy the tickets for the rides, wait in line, and entertain the children.  You continuously move about during vacation, with no time to rest and enjoy.

Reflecting on Childhood and Boredom

With no time for relaxation, adults often reflect back on their childhood.  They remember constantly complaining about having nothing to do because they have an abundant amount of free time at their disposal.  In order to fight of periods of boredom, they require constant entertainment.  They play sports, watch movies, play games, etc.  These are all the things adults do for children to prevent boredom.  At one time, they provided fun and enjoyment for them at a young age.  Now, as an adult, it means work.  After recalling moments from their childhood, they realize how things changed.  Before, as children, they wanted to go out and play with their friends.  They did not want to read books, relax outside, or go on walking.  All those things brought boredom.  Now, they wish they could sit and relax out on the deck, put their feet up, read a new book, or get some exercise.  They welcome the chance at experiencing boredom.  It means free time.  No work.  No driving.  No housework.  Nothing.  Just your thoughts and the peace and quiet.

Daily Life

After waking up, getting dressed, and grabbing a cup of coffee, you head out the door and towards your car.  Sliding into the front seat, you put the key into the ignition and start the engine.  As you head into work, your mind focuses on all the paperwork that needs done for the day.  Sighing, you glance at the clock.  It reads 7:00 A.M.  Another sigh leaves your mouth as you realize how long you will be at the office.  Upon reaching your desk, you quickly slump into the chair and close your eyes.  Counting the seconds that pass, you slowly open your eyes.  After glancing at the stacks of paper littering the desk, you start to work.  As the piles decrease, you find yourself constantly looking at the clock.  Time seems to pass slower with the amount of work that increases.  All you want is a few moments of relaxation.  You start to even want a moment of boredom.  At least that means you have some free time.  Knowing that work will not end for a while, you concentrate on the paperwork in front of you.  Finally, you reach the last piece of paper.  You check the clock and discover work is over.  A sigh of relief passes through your lips as you gather your things and head out the door.  Upon coming home, you quickly head inside and change.  Realizing there is a list of things needed done around the house, you grumble in frustration.  How you wish to experience a moment of boredom, a moment of free time.  Your wish seems only like a dream as work keeps piling up at the office and at home.  The evening goes by quickly as you run around the house doing laundry, cleaning, etc.  The children need help with their homework, so you spend an hour solving the problems.  Afterwards, you spend another hour cooking dinner.  Once you finish dinner and wash the dishes, it is time for the children to go to bed.  After getting ready for bed and kissing the children good night, you head downstairs and get last minute things ready for tomorrow.  Looking at the clock, you realize it is time to go to sleep.  The day passed by without a chance of experiencing boredom.  If only you could have a moment of free time.  Sadly, you will have to wait till tomorrow.  After heading into your bedroom and climbing under the covers, you shut your eyes and wish for boredom to strike tomorrow.  This thought continues to echo in your mind as you fall asleep.

As an adult, you deal with the daily workload at your job and house.  The holidays and vacations involve constant work as well.  There is no time to sit down and take a breath.  As you continue to deal with no relaxation time, you start to appreciate the moments of boredom you faced during childhood.  As a child, you needed to be constantly entertained with sports and different activities.  Whenever you did not have these things to keep busy with, you felt bored.  You didn’t want to sit outside, read a book, take a walk, etc.  Growing up changes your perspective on things.  Now, you look forward to sitting on the deck, reading a novel, or taking a slow, refreshing walk by yourself.  You welcome the chance to experience boredom.  It means you finally have free time.  You can sit, relax, and do nothing.  No work to finish.  No places to go.  No housework to deal with.  You can enjoy the peace and quiet.

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Crisis [Not] Averted: The Effects of MidCrisom

Carl Weathers sits at his desk in his average-sized office. He stares at the neutral-tone walls as his average-sized frame rests in an average-sized desk chair of average comfort. He sighs once, and swivels his attention to the 3×5 picture of his family sitting on his desk in a plain brown frame. An average family, with the husband and wife smiling, one arm around their son and daughter and one around each other. The daughter, the eldest, looks slightly less enthused to be there: her smile is strained, as if thinking, “I can only stand to be with these people for the amount of time it takes to take one more picture. Then I’m out of here.” The son, too young to be able to focus on a single activity for any drawn-out period of time, stares off in a different direction than that of the camera lens, captivated by something out of the frame.

Carl Weathers stares intently at the picture for a long time, until the people blur into one large mass in the middle of the frame. He wonders, not for the first time, how he arrived at this specific point in time. How did he end up with a family, with this family? Not that he didn’t want a family. He loved them dearly. It was just…he hadn’t accomplished what he thought he would have with his life by now. At 20, he had believed he would one day be a youthful yet respected gentleman, revered by colleagues and direct reports for his accomplishments at the ripe old age of 40. Now, at 45, he was yet to reach that caliber in his field. He was beginning to wonder, would he ever? He had always felt like his life would stretch on indefinitely, and only when he had finally been as successful as he’d wanted to be, when he’d finally made an impact on the world, would it end peacefully, while he was sleeping. Instead, he was still being passed over for promotions; it was like he didn’t even matter—like if he didn’t exist, the world would be the same place it was today.

This was not the first time Carl Weathers had thought about this. In fact, he had been thinking about the purpose of his life rather frequently ever since his mother had passed away two months ago. He wondered if anyone else felt this way; if he had anyone who felt the same way he did. His wife, Mary, didn’t seem to be much happier with her life—but then again, she seemed to be more exhausted than unhappy. Between her job, managing the kids’ lives, and running the household, she ran on little sleep and was often extremely stressed by the amount she needed to accomplish in the 20 short hours she was awake every day. Carl knew this because Mary did not hesitate to vocalize her feelings. Still, at the end of the day she seemed satisfied with her life, and found what she did to be fulfilling, even if it was the source of extreme stress in the moment. What he felt wasn’t stress—it was as if he was trying to hold onto something that was slipping out of his hands faster than he could think grasp at it.

Flash forward six months, and Carl appears to be a completely different person. The conservative, relaxed-fit suits and sensible loafers have been replaced with trendier attire. Now, Carl is only seen in skinny ties, pointy brogues, and trendier, fitted pants and jackets better suited for the body of a 25-year-old model than a slightly overweight middle-aged father. He’s changed jobs twice, claiming to be searching for ‘a career he is passionate about and finds fulfilling’. He often comes home well after midnight, claiming to be swamped with work but smelling like booze and women’s perfume. If she had the energy, his wife, Mary, would say something. She would worry more about their relationship and the future of their family. But she doesn’t. She hopes that it’s just a phase, and that he’ll come back to his senses and go back to being his old self.

What Carl Weathers exhibits is a classic example of MidCrisom. MidCrisom is a type of boredom that can lay dormant in a person for years, silently developing until one day it rears its ugly head in the form of what society deems a ‘midlife crisis’. There are specific criteria that must be met in order to classify a type of boredom ‘MidCrisom’ or an event or series of events a result of MidCrisom, and there is a very specific process that those afflicted with it go through.  

  • MidCrisom is the type of boredom one feels before entering the stage of one’s life called the ‘midlife crisis.’ It is a type of profound boredom, which is defined by Heidegger, a German philosopher, as “being bored by boredom itself.” MidCrisom is the specific type of profound boredom that leads to the onset of a midlife crisis. A midlife crisis is when adults come to realize their own mortality and how much time is left in their lives (Elliott Jaques, 1965). Midlife crises occur because one wants to go back to a time when his or her life was full of possibility and meaning, instead of coming to terms with the realization that his or her life has been unproductive and pointless. This realization is catalyzed by the boredom that the individual feels with being bored by the events in his or her life thus far. The feeling that one’s existence is pointless is a large part of profound boredom, so dealing with MidCrisom is ultimately dealing with this ‘problem of boredom’ in one’s life.
  • MidCrisom affects individuals between the ages of 40-60, or when one’s life is about halfway over. It tends to last longer in men than in women, from 4-10 years in men compared to 2-5 years in women. This is because men tend to vocalize their feelings less frequently than women do. Not addressing the problem of MidCrisom only makes its effects worse. Since women talk about their problems more, they are more likely to come to terms with MidCrisom and find a coping mechanism.
  • In order for MidCrisom to manifest itself in the form of a midlife crisis, a specific trigger event must occur. First, the individual becomes aware of his or her mortality. This could happen when one finds him- or herself bored by the boredom caused by his or her routine, due to the repetition of activities that one is not interested in, nor caring about the outcome of said activities. This is an important distinction, because activities where its outcome is more important than the boredom caused by that activity do not lead to MidCrisom. MidCrisom starts to develop into a midlife crisis when the individual is more affected by the boredom caused by the activity than its result, or gets nothing out of the activity and its result. This leads the individual to question why he or she continues to participate in these activities and reflect on what he or she has accomplished during his or life so far. The aging of those around the individual, such as his or her children or even the death of a parent or loved one, can also trigger MidCrisom. Either one of these events lead to the individual’s awareness of his or her’s mortality and the realization that one has not accomplished what he or she wanted to during his or her youth, leading to the questioning of one’s purpose in life.
  • Next, the individual experiences the side effects of MidCrisom. The most prevalent side effects are adultery, the Aesthetic Revolution, and living vicariously through children or the youths in the individual’s life. All of these side effects of MidCrisom are only temporary, shallow escapes from the thought of one’s life being meaningless. Adultery provides a temporary escape from the mundane married life in which the individual afflicted with MidCrisom can feel some new type of emotion, or feel anything at all. The Aesthetic Revolution is when one completely changes his or her appearance, usually to a trendier image to feel more youthful. It involves complete wardrobe, hair, and accessory makeovers. It often also involves the individual trying to incorporate contemporary slang into every day conversation. The Aesthetic Revolution, too, is a temporary fix, and can easily be changed or reverted back to the individual’s presentation pre-MidCrisom. The individual may even put pressure on the youth closest to them to act in a certain way or participate in certain activities in order to live vicariously through them. All of these side effects are due to the individual’s denial that his or her life is meaningless, and are attempts to feel like he or she has regained the youthful ignorance of life’s meaninglessness.
  • MidCrisom is a fairly new concept. It has only been recently defined, dating back only to the 1950s. There is not much research that has been conducted on MidCrisom, so there are many false conclusions that have made their way into society. The most common misconception is that it mainly afflicts western countries, due to their “culture of youth”.  This is the mentality of valuing the aesthetics of youth more than the wisdom that most often comes with age. Instead of embracing the process of aging and viewing it as a sign of maturity and greater wisdom, many westerners panic at the first sight of any wrinkles around their eyes. Even though this culture of youth is more prevalent in western countries, it is not the cause of MidCrisom. MidCrisom may seem shallow due to its shallow side effects, but underneath the Aesthetic Revolution lies a deeper, more existentialistic problem: it is one’s struggle to come to terms with the meaninglessness of one’s life.
  • MidCrisom is not to be confused with MidStressom. MidStressom is a boredom that arises around the same time as MidCrisom in one’s life, which is why the two are often confused. However, MidStressom is not a feeling of a lack of something, but rather a feeling of being overwhelmed by one’s responsibilities. For example, Carl Weather’s wife Mary was feeling MidStressom. She experienced feelings of unhappiness similar to those of Carl’s, but instead of questioning her life’s purpose, she accepted the tasks that she needed to accomplish and, in the end, was satisfied by the outcomes. Midstressom is anxiety or boredom during the activities, and may lead to some questioning of why one is participating in the stress-causing activities, but ultimately feels satisfied with their results. With MidCrisom, the individual just feels empty and pointless.
  • MidCrisom does not lead to a self-realization. The side effects of MidCrisom lead to a fake one that is simply a cry for help. A true self-realization is when one finds a specific problem with one aspect of his or her life and changes it once. A fake self-realization, which is caused by MidCrisom, is when people half-heartedly change many different aspects of their lives—for example, trying many different occupations rather than switching jobs once, getting a divorce as opposed to having one or more affairs, or even getting a haircut versus going through an Aesthetic Revolution.  A MidCrisomistic fake-realization is more akin to aimless wandering, stopping to dabble in many different things, whereas a true self-realization is a purposeful movement towards a specific destination with a clear goal. It is as if a revolution inside the individual has started and cannot be stopped until the objective is reached. The aimless aspect of MidCrisom is due to desperation the individual feels for any type of feeling that his or life has meaning or purpose.
  • The consequences of MidCrisom could lead to very dire situations in an individual’s life. The questioning of one’s existence could lead to negative or even destructive outcomes, many of which could end in self-ruination (either of mind or body, or both). However, all hope is not lost for an afflicted individual. Most people come back to their lives pre-MidCrisom after coming to terms with the fact that they will not accomplish everything.

There is no known cure for MidCrisom. Not much research has been done on MidCrisom, as it is a fairly new concept. It took many years for researchers to even identify and categorize MidCrisom, so it could be many years before any there are any breakthroughs in MidCrisom research. As of now, it just needs to be waited out. One must go through the complete MidCrisomistic cycle, from the realization of mortality to the Aesthetic Revolution, and then must decide where to go from there. The best coping mechanism known to man is the acceptance that one’s life is meaningless, and that one will not necessarily accomplish everything he or she set out to accomplish at a young age. The worst way that an individual could attempt to rid him- or herself of MidCrisom is to fight it. Like tar, the harder one tries to fight it, the more it pulls him or her in, and the more detrimental the effects will be on the individual. There is only one factor that dictates the ultimate outcome of MidCrisom: the mentality of the individual. One must decide how to let it affect him or her, and, consequently, the rest of his or her life.

 

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