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Grout for the count - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
Grout for the count
me:     "I feel like I'm just filling in time. I mean... I suppose it's all just filling in time, but I feel like I'm filling in time between filling in time, if you see what I mean."
mum:   "Sort of metaphysical grouting."


Thank god I don't actually have to do any grouting. I remember my dad cursing his way through the tiny splashback of tiles in the kitchen, unable to prevent the gritty brown stuff from spilling over the smooth beige surface of the tiles. Of course, I do have to get a plasterer in to plaster the room that you can't get into because it's full of stuff, but I can't do that until we've stripped the wallpaper, and I can't do that until the room isn't full of stuff, and neither I nor sion_a has the energy to move the stuff into some other nonexistent space in the house, much less strip the wallpaper or even phone a plasterer. The idea was that I was going to help getting the house decorated in lieu of paying back some of the millions of pounds' worth of backdated rent that I owe, but in reality my energy account is as overdrawn as my current account and with even more crippling rates of (dis)interest.

I spend about 9 hours a day at work. That's including my lunch-hour, which I sometimes try to separate out from the rest of the day, and sometimes just let it blend in, slide into the stagnant waters. I go through phases of trying to do more useful or interesting things in the lunch-hour -- teaching myself things, reading, walking -- but none of it ever sticks, and eventually I always end up slumped in front of the computer trying to convince myself to eat some of the food in front of me. It's usually some combination of potatoes, tuna, sweetcorn, chick peas, tomatoes, bread. Pick any two and stick them in a bowl and pretend it's a meal. Some days I think I could be happy if I never saw another potato.

Assuming a lunch-hour that's actually an hour long, that's still 8 hours of the day spent "working". Not that I spend all that time working. There isn't enough to do here for that to be possible unless it took me an hour to open a file. Instead I spend a lot of that time posting stuff like this, or reading email, or reading other people's LiveJournals, or playing wordgames, or just generally wandering around on the web. So I'm spending 8 hours a day filling in time, killing time, between waking and sleeping. Some days there are enough minor clerical tasks to do that I can almost feel like I'm killing time between work rather than vice versa. Other days the closest I get to doing any work is deleting the spam that trickles into my work inbox. "Imagine there`s no fat." "Relieve the pain webmaster."

If I got a sensible amount of sleep, those 8 or 9 hours of time-killing would constitute fully half of my waking existence. As it is, I stay up late, ending up with barely 5-6 hours' sleep in a desperate attempt to have some kind of life that doesn't involve just staring hopelessly at a screen. It doesn't work. More time doesn't add up to more energy, and neither adds up to actually making me the sort of person who is interesting enough or talented enough to do anything with that time. So I kill time at home, often just ending up staring at the screen there instead. On the days when I'm full of ideas I vacillate between them, unable to start anything, paralysed by the inevitability of failure, until I run out of time; on the days when I'm not, I just vegetate. I haven't decided which is better. Eventually I fall asleep, exhausted from doing nothing.

Sometimes I dream, because I haven't yet found a way to prevent it.
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Comments
caramel_betty From: caramel_betty Date: April 26th, 2005 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
As it is, I stay up late, ending up with barely 5-6 hours' sleep in a desperate attempt to have some kind of life that doesn't involve just staring hopelessly at a screen.

WHAT? Frankly, I'm shocked and appalled by even the merest mention of such a possibility. (Does it show that I spend too much time on computers, either my own or at work?) This is made worse by the fact that almost all of the people I enjoy spending time with are miles away. Aside from a couple of local people, the nearest I can think of is the Docklands, then probably Reading and Cambridge. Mutter.
j4 From: j4 Date: April 26th, 2005 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Okay, I have to ask, who are you? We seem to have a lot of flist in common but I have absolutely no idea who you are.
caramel_betty From: caramel_betty Date: April 26th, 2005 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm your own handy dandy stalker. Only without the lurking outside your house or sending you letters cut up from newspapers bit. Actually, there's a thought. Does it count as stalking if I cut and paste only letters that have appeared in other people's livejournals and write sinister notes in your LJ?

More importantly, DID YOU SAY BRA SHOPPING? I'M A TRIFLE DEAF.
j4 From: j4 Date: April 26th, 2005 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
NO I DIDN'T SAY BRA SHOPPING I SAID BADGER HOPPING, you mad bugger.
minnesattva From: minnesattva Date: April 26th, 2005 01:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Surely this is no help at all, but you've managed to very clearly and wonderfully explain a state of mind I know well. And if it wasn't such gloominess you were describing, I'd feel happy for us and existence in general, but even so, you certainly still get the admiration I give all people who manage to say something just right.

On a semi-related note, I wish I had the kind of mother who said phrases like "metaphysical grouting." Don't get me wrong; my mom's all right and everything, but that's just cool.
karen2205 From: karen2205 Date: April 26th, 2005 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
but in reality my energy account is as overdrawn as my current account and with even more crippling rates of (dis)interest.

This is what bank holiday weekends are for. Stripping the wall paper won't take long/much effort once the room is empty. If you don't have access to a steamer it may be worth hiring one (try the large DIY shops). Though if the room needs plastering anyway, neatness of finish of the stripped walls won't be all that important.

Emptying the room of stuff - if it's only going to be emptied on a temporary basis then it doesn't really matter where you put the stuff - just find somewhere and put it there - if it's really in the way you'll move it again, otherwise you'll just work round it till you've finished sorting the room out. Don't worry about sorting through the stuff at this stage, aim for getting the room empty so you can strip the wall paper etc 'cos then you'll feel like you've achieved something. Leave the sorting out until you're ready to put it all back into the room.

Have a DIY party - offer food in exchange for help with the DIY (not sure that'd necessarily appeal to me, I prefer doing this kind of stuff on my own, but it's a way of getting some help/moral support).

Some days there are enough minor clerical tasks to do that I can almost feel like I'm killing time between work rather than vice versa.

I get this too - I reclaim time from work where I can to do bits of life admin/LPC prep/CV writing (though I'm careful about that kind of stuff).
j4 From: j4 Date: April 26th, 2005 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is what bank holiday weekends are for.

The absolute last thing I want to do on the few occasions when I get to see my boyfriend for more than 2 days at a time is spend the whole weekend ripping my hands to shreds on somebody else's woodchip. :-( Also, it'd be no use stripping the wallpaper over a BH weekend unless we could guarantee getting a plasterer in on the Tuesday immediately after, otherwise the house would just be in a hopeless state for Too Long.

Emptying the room of stuff - if it's only going to be emptied on a temporary basis then it doesn't really matter where you put the stuff

It matters in the sense that there isn't anywhere to put it. There's just no room. We'd be sticking one box in the way in one room, another box in the way in another room, etc. I could probably cope with "working around" that sort of situation because I'm used to living in messy houses & climbing over boxes to get to the bed etc., but sion_a gets really upset if it's difficult to move around, and then I just feel hopelessly guilty because he's too miserable to eat or do anything. So basically I either have to be able to guarantee that the extra stuff will only be in the way for a day or so at most, or else all the extra stuff would have to go in my room because it's the only room he doesn't get cross and upset about the mess in, and my room's already full -- there just physically isn't room for any more boxes of stuff in there unless I put them on the bed and curl around them to sleep.
juggzy From: juggzy Date: April 26th, 2005 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Jan, I don't know if you've thought about it, or if my memory of the prices is wrong. But you can get fairly cheap storage facilities for about £20-£30 quid a month - when our stuff came back from South Africa, and we were living in rented accomodation, we used one for about six months, and it wasn't a break the bank deal.

Putting the stuff into one of those for a month would free up the space to get the job done, and keep Sion upright and eating. I'm not sure where you would start looking for one - the yellow pages, maybe, under storage.

There are different types - there's the type where you pay slightly more, and have free access anytime, and then there's the type where they charge you less, but charge you if you want to go into it and get something (because those usually involve putting everything into a huge container which is lofted high).
j4 From: j4 Date: April 26th, 2005 06:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hadn't thought of that... looking around for something in the area suggests that it's a wee bit more expensive than that but there may be cheaper things out there. Thanks for the suggestion.

Thinking about it, though, would they, like, notice if you slept in one of those storage things? Only it's so much cheaper than rented accommodation.
juggzy From: juggzy Date: April 26th, 2005 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thinking about it, though, would they, like, notice if you slept in one of those storage things? Only it's so much cheaper than rented accommodation.

:))
addedentry From: addedentry Date: April 26th, 2005 07:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I realise there is a community aspect to all this, people coming and going, treating it like an extension of their house, albeit split over a slightly inconvenient distance. "We certainly like people to think of their storage space in that way, but there was an incident recently where our reports showed a guy regularly clocking in at 1am and clocking out again at 8am, just before we arrived in the office. We had to have a word with him. You can't have people living here."
- rhodri on self-storage
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: April 27th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not that I spend all that time working.

That's not unusual and there's nothing wrong with the state of affairs. A significant number of jobs employ people to be there to respond to events on the understanding that these events will not occupy all your time; it may be that, at least at some points, yours is one of them. Trying to find things to do to fill this unfilled time is a real challenge. Some people I know do university work to fill the gaps, others freelance; I read our training materials, BBC News in tremendous depth, all of the online version of The Times and Slashdot. All this remains within our IT permitted use policy. I'd like to read web sites about poker as well, but that's not allowed.

I hope that you can find something to do during your waiting-to-respond-to-events time that provides you with some sort of fulfilment. However much you find it to believe it, you are a substantially-better-than-average writer and your writing talents might well be exercised during such times; perhaps you might feel that you don't write amazingly wonderfully well enough to profit from them, but you can certainly do things which need to be written just competently and write them far better than most without putting particular effort into trying to write as well as you possibly can.
anat0010 From: anat0010 Date: May 4th, 2005 09:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Striping the Wallpaper

Get a pack of felt-tip pens, lie on top of the rubbish and stripe the wallpaper.
Its a lot more amusing.
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