On Monday's post about Donald Hall's Essays at Eighty, Crabby Old Lady made particular note of a couple of readers who picked up and ran with the poet's thought about what bores him:
”You know what I find boring?” commented Jane. “Bathing and brushing my teeth.”
“What I find boring is cutting my nails,” said janinsanfran. “Why do they grow so fast?”
Exactly. Those same three things, in recent years, have come to bore the crap out of Crabby too. But then, she has a long relationship with boredom, most particularly with exactly those types of necessary details in life.
In her 30s and 40s, Crabby suffered periodic bouts of black depression. Because she had no one to fall back on, she managed to get to her job each day and do just enough work to keep from being fired during the several weeks they lasted.
Other than that, Crabby stayed in bed. She accepted (and certainly instigated) no social engagements. She did not answer the telephone. She couldn't even consider her usual pastimes – books, TV, movies, walks in Manhattan, etc. She hardly even ate.
What Crabby did do when not at work was pull the bed quilt over her head. Since no one can sleep around the clock, that left a lot of empty brain time and how she filled it was with mental calculations of how many times she would need to do the boring things in life.
How many more rolls of toilet paper will she need to buy if Crabby lives to be 70?
How often will she need to drag the bag of dirty clothing, bed linen, towels, etc. down the block to the laundry if she lives to be 80?
My god, how many more dental appointments will she need to suffer through if she lives to be 90?
And then she would go back to recalculate each one (and plenty of others) with different ages at death.
This was, then, and probably is now not the established protocol to battle depression but it's what Crabby did and eventually the depressions lifted, the last visitation being sometime in her late 40s.
However, the number of personal and household chores that try Crabby Old Lady's soul seems to increase now with each passing year. Add to the above, in no order:
• Taking out trash
• Sorting for the recycle bins
• Hair cuts
• Cleaning the cat litter box
• Changing beds
• Folding clean laundry
• Oh, and cleaning the vacuum afterwards
• Sorting through email detritus for the good stuff
• Charging phone, Kindle, tablet, power packs, etc.
There are certainly more that don't readily come to mind at the moment and in time, new ones will be added to the list of boring stuff that eats up whatever time Crabby has left on earth.
And why do these chores become boring? BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE DONE THEM TENS OF THOUSANDS OF TIMES BY THE TIME WE REACH OLD AGE, THEY STILL WON'T GO AWAY. Even though we have practiced them all our lives and there is noting left to learn about them, we still will never, ever finish.
As she was writing this, Crabby saw a comment arrive by TomSightings on yesterday's TGB blog post. Although he was discussing the day's topic, forgetfulness, it seems to be at least tangentially related to boredom in old age.
First noting that when we were younger, we could leave the house with just a wallet and keys. But nowadays,
”We have keys and a wallet; plus a phone and a camera. Plus glasses - reading glasses, distance glasses, maybe sunglasses too. We likely carry an iPad or a kindle, and an extra sweater in case it gets cold. We go out of the house like we're pack mules setting out across the desert.
“We have so much to keep track of, it's no wonder we forget things!”
And another thing: Crabby is pretty sure the phenomenon of speeded up time in old age contributes to the boredom factor. On Monday, Donald Hall noted precisely this:
”Days are the same, generic and speedy,” he said. “I seem to remove my teeth shortly after I glue them in – and weeks are no more tedious than lunch. They elapse and I scarcely notice.:
So there you have it: boredom from decades of repetition, too much stuff to keep track of and the increased speed of time eating up more and more personal time as years go by.
Crabby Old Lady is pretty sure that if old age doesn't kill her, boredom with the maintenance of daily life will.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: Negative News