Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lost In Stagnation

I'm bored. Not just right now, but terminally. It's as though I've been chosen as a test subject for boredom studies and everyone is in on the joke but me. My office has become a capitalist Petri dish. An experiment in how the life force can be slowly drained from a single human being is what I have become.

Here's how you start: promises. Then break them. I was bored in my last job and the one before that, which all happened to be other jobs within the same company. The same company for which I've worked the past twelve and one-half years. I should let you know that I am 31 years old, from which the mathematically acute will have deduced that I was 19 years old when I started, not knowing that I was about to tell you that fact and save the problem of having to to all that second grade math.

Anyway, back to the promises. There is really no single entity at fault for the broken promises. I'm at fault. Several bosses are at fault. A high school counselor is at fault. A college professor is at fault. I could probably come up with a way to fault others, but you get the point.

I started working here after my freshman year of college, a summer internship in a career path in which I failed. Not immediately, but rather some years later as I still enjoyed my intern position, which I actually did enjoy and wasn't bored doing. Looking back I know I enjoyed that because it was cut and dry. Come in, be told what to accomplish on that given day, finish it, go home, ignore homework, have a few beers, play some video games, go to bed, wake up, skip the first class, sleepwalk through the others, come back to work, be told what to...ad infinitum.

It worked, though. I'm a goal driven person. If I have a single task, or even a group of tasks that move towards a single goal, I am intensely dedicated and capable. I work until its done and move on to the next single task. It's the ongoing tasks that give me trouble. Every week, read this and copy that into a binder for reference. Take these envelopes and make sure the files are updated every day. Make sure that all the proper forms are being submitted routinely. I've frequently diagnosed myself with Attention Deficit Disorder, which I hastily dismiss as a crutch for people who can't cope with real responsibilities.

Of course I am one of those people. Only, however, as it regards to my job. I have a wife and two well-adjusted children, not that my wife isn't well-adjusted!. I don't mind, and in fact enjoy, the responsibilities of family life. When I leave the office it's like a shroud is pulled from around me. I'm happy and I'm ready to do things with my family. We generally have good nights, filled with homework and reading and playing and household chores. In other words, easily definable tasks that have a clear-cut objective: make dinner...check the third-grader's homework...read a book to the five-year-old...watch a television show...take out the trash...do the dishes. There are no abstracts in my home life, rather just an amalgam of small tasks which make up the whole task of being domesticated. Dedicated and capable am I.

The free-spirits among you no doubt are shouting 'Quit your job!', to which the corporate drones will retort 'It pays good, the benefits are good, the economy is bad for job-seekers right now'. I am unequivocally in the latter group at this moment. I'm not proud of this. I wish I had the testicular fortitude to walk away. The reason I can't is simple: I'm providing for that domesticated bliss by being here (you're not surprised these words are theft, are you?) all day, every day. I'm not walking out on my familial responsibilities just because I'm a little under-motivated.

I'm bored at a job that is different from what I was promised when I accepted the move. I'm bored doing things that have no finish, those infinite tasks of the working world. Some people thrive in jobs like mine, they thrive on knowing that they're just punching a clock or pushing paper. I don't. I thrive on completion. On knowing I've done something that someone else needs, all the better if they needed it right away and I was able to deliver.

I'm hoping this space lets me escape when I find the boredom settling over me. I enjoy writing, which has become my own personal juxtaposition. As I said, I enjoy finishing things. I've started any number of novels/long stories and can't manage to complete any of them. I have one goal in life that isn't associated with my family: to finish a novel-length story. I've finished many short stories, only one of which is even under submission for publication at the current time -- remember, I don't do well with the minutiae of things like filling out envelopes that could potentially be addressed to an editor.

I've got good ideas, I think. I'm not a guy who sits down and writes brilliant sentences that leave you in awe of the author's command of the English language. What I think I can do is write stories that can engage you and create characters you will find interesting. In addition to combating my boredom, this space (can you tell the word blog scares me for some reason?) will be about me trying to convince myself I can string enough of those less-than-brilliant sentences together to create a work that I can be proud to say that I wrote. Something that I can stand behind and say, for better or worse, I finished that, and it was worth it.