HOLLY MIRANDA SMALE

Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.







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Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Gremlins

Well, I`ve worked out why I`m arguing with gremlins and fighting tigers in my sleep. It took me nine hours, but I`ve worked it out. Largely because - in the entire nine hours between now and then - I`ve had absolutely nothing to do but work it out. Which is, ironically, both the discovery of the problem and the cause of it.

I`m seeing gremlins in my sleep because I am bored: unbearably, mind-numbingly, bottom achingly bored. Thanks to exams, strange schedules and I don`t know what else - a general hatred of my teaching abilities, possibly - I`ve participated in two classes since Friday morning. Two classes, and the rest of the 27 hours have been spent at my desk, trying to occupy myself; preparing for lessons in November (which is boring, but at least useful), finding pictures of carrots and laminating them, rearranging my desk and playing with paper clips. And my imagination and brain are so utterly switched off that the only thing they can do to protest is issue me with all sorts of nonsense at night-time instead.

There are levels of boredom at work. There`s the level of boredom that can be quite productive; where you do things that you would otherwise be forced to do in your spare time, and therefore feel quite smug about it. At this level of boredom, I write my blog, sort out my bills, calculate my savings, Google all sorts of unecessary and yet productive sites - tips on writing, places to travel, BBC news, ways to change the world and so on and so forth - and feel like I`m vaguely achieving something. I write notes on my books, and I look up quotes I can use, and I feel like I`m getting somewhere and getting paid for it at the same time (well, not for it, but for something anyway).

Then there`s the level of boredom just higher that, where I start refreshing my inbox to see if any of my friends or family have emailed me; and the level slightly higher than that where I don`t care who has emailed me and start getting excited even when it`s my employer contacting me about tax forms.

Then - on the next stage up - there`s the level where I start reading every humorous website I can find, and standing up at ten minute intervals to wander around the staff kitchen in the hope that somebody has left some biscuits. I`ve stopped looking up useful things on Google, and I`ve started plugging in random words and seeing what comes up in the images file. I`ve stopped making notes for my book because I no longer care whether I live or die, and instead I`m making preparatory material for lessons that will be happening at some stage next April and don`t even strictly need to be made then.

I am now at the final stage of boredom: the stage where all I want to do is cry, where I don`t care about anything anymore (biscuits, a numb bottom, the fact that my elbows are bruised from resting on the table for so long) and where my brain has switched off completely. No creativity is possible - the only thing coming from the brain is a low, monotone pitch that indicates that it`s flatlining - and no productivity is possible: if I am forced by myself to laminate another picture of a carrot, I`m going to cover my head in plastic as well. What`s worse, by the time I get home the spirit and fire have been so crushed out of me that the prospect of sitting in front of another computer is unbearable, and so my writing in the evenings has decreased as well.

I`ve known boredom at work - I spent many years working in receptions and offices, secretly using Hotmail - but I`ve never known anything quite so unrelenting: at least then there was work I was supposed to do, and was avoiding, whereas now there is literally nothing apart from sitting here like a sullen teenager.
It`s not really a surprise, therefore, that my nights have become hard work: my brain and imagination, switched off during the day, are waking up and screaming HELP US as loudly as they can as soon as they can. And the more bored I get during the day, the more ridiculous my dreams are going to get at night. That much I can be certain of.

I`m not sure what my options are, other than waiting for my schedule to pick back up again, but if I have another day like today I may change my mind about dreaming after all. Another 9 hour period of boredom as heavy as this one, and I`ll be waiting for the gremlins and the tiger with open, eager arms.

At the very least it will give me something to do.