April 26th, 2005


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.