Remember me? No? I’m Back!

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Things move quickly in the world of blog, and I suspect it’s going to take me a while to get back up to speed (although I’m not even sure what I mean by ‘up to speed’, I’ll figure it out later). Many moons have passed since I last posted (actually 3) and I’ve missed hanging out here, so I’ll be trekking WordPress over the next few weeks to find out what you’ve all been up to.

Me, I’ve been up to stuff also. In a fit of frustration at my job, I quit. It was the worst time of year for a gardener to leave a job, but after only a week of frantic wailing at my own recklessness, I got re-employed. I need to point out that the speedy turnaround was nothing to do with the state of our economy, and everything to do with the lack of people who want to be gardeners. Anyway, my new job is great, but exhausting, and in a different field to the one I’ve specialised in for the last three years, so it’s been a struggle.

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Hibiscus – taken on my last day in my old job

I’ve had to learn how to drive a van very quickly because nobody at my new job knew I’d not really driven one before, plus remember how to start a hedgecutter.

More importantly, I’ve been visited by a fox

 

and a cat,

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sadly the two aren’t friends yet.

Anyway, waffle over, stories and commentary on the world will start again soon. I hope you come back soon, and have a beautiful day.

Questions from the Shameful Narcissist

So I’ve been a blog-abandonner for a while now, keeping to the craggy mountains of the Internet, only striding into town when I need a sip of whiskey. Then one of my favourite bloggers The Shameful Narcissist referenced a post of mine, and that got me all inspired. I’m not even sure I’m supposed to answer these questions according to the rules of the blogging award, but then TSN broke the rules too, so we are well into renegade territory, anything could happen. If anyone else also feels inspired to flout the rules of convention and answer the questions, then go ahead, make my day.

The Questions:

  1. When you read do you visualize characters and settings?  As in do the words create images in your mind?
  2. What’s your favorite kind of tea?
  3. What’s the best game you’ve played or watched this year so far?
  4. What’s the best book you’ve read this year so far?
  5. Do you prefer to watch a show one episode at a time or binge watch?
  6. Do you prefer “people” names for pets or “non-people” names (I’m genuinely surprised at how many people are annoyed by the former)?
  7. What would you change your eye color to if you could?
  8. Do you tan or burn (FYI don’t tan.  It’s terrible for you – PSA)?
  9. What’s your fictional/fantasy job, as in, what your job be if you lived in a fictional/fantasy world (I’d be a lounge singer assassin)?
  10. What’s your favorite dystopian city (thanks TWRM for putting this idea into my head!)?
  11. How close is your blogger persona to your IRL one?

 

The Answers

1.When you read do you visualize characters and settings?  As in do the words create images in your mind?

I always assumed I was good at visualising things, but I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I’m not at all, I can imagine details, but whole pictures are beyond me. I think when I read I imagine sensations and emotions, but the actual images are vague.

2. What’s your favorite kind of tea?

I dislike almost all tea, which makes me an outcast in England. I like the idea, and the smell, of herbal teas, but the reality is always way too insipid. I used to live somewhere where we had Anis (it may not have been Anis, but it smelt of liquorice) growing wild, and I’d brew up a few leaves, which created the only nice tea I’ve ever had. I’ve never been able to recreate it. I’m still holding out hope though. There must be another tea out there for me.

3.  What’s the best game you’ve played or watched this year so far?

I’m not a gamer, although games look great, I just don’t have enough spare time at the moment for a new thing. It’s my retirement plan though, I figure when I’m not so mobile, being able to go to some apocalyptic landscape and fight zombies or fly planes will be fantastic.

4. What’s the best book you’ve read this year so far?

I’m reading the Fifteen Lives of Harry August, it’s very entertaining so that could be the best, but the time travel logic is dubious. I’m also listening to the Stand (see below). I don’t think I’d have the patience to read it in book-form (he describes every last detail, he can spend five minutes talking about a character cutting some vegetables) but listening to it when I’m driving makes it feel like I’m living in two parallel worlds: one with traffic, and one with a devil and lots of corpses.

5. Do you prefer to watch a show one episode at a time or binge watch?

Binge, otherwise I forget what I’ve been watching. Although recently I watched the Handmaid’s Tale and found it too disturbing to watch all at once, so I kept delaying. I still need to watch the last episode.

6. Do you prefer “people” names for pets or “non-people” names (I’m genuinely surprised at how many people are annoyed by the former)?

I’m happy with both. I guess if all pets had people-names that would get boring, but variety is good.

6. What would you change your eye color to if you could?

Something very pale or very dark.

7. Do you tan or burn (FYI don’t tan.  It’s terrible for you – PSA)?

I need to live somewhere else in order to tan, in England I reflect the rain and the white skies.

8. What’s your fictional/fantasy job, as in, what your job be if you lived in a fictional/fantasy world (I’d be a lounge singer assassin)?

Great job. I’d live wild in the woods, and drop out of trees when I wanted to impart some wisdom. That’s not really a job, is it? I could probably survive off foraging, wild boar and thievery.

9. What’s your favorite dystopian city (thanks TWRM for putting this idea into my head!)?

The Stand (Stephen King), while I’m not entirely sure I’d want to live in the book, escaping the commute into that intense, seething world is spectacular, and I love it.

10. How close is your blogger persona to your IRL one?

I don’t consciously change, but I’ve noticed most people shift behaviour when they use a different method of communication, so presumably I do. I’m probably more careful online, partly because I’m able to edit and partly because sarcasm tends to go wrong without facial expressions to explain it, IRL I’m more of a loud-faced oaf.

 

A Blogging Award and me mumbling on

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The lovely and inspiring Lynne Fisher has nominated me for an award, thank you Lynne! Below, I’ve answered the 11 questions she set me;  and then below that I’ve set 11 of my own that I’d love you (yes YOU) to answer. I’m not going to nominate anyone specific, but it would be great if any of you you felt inspired add your four penneth in the comments.

1.What do you feel is your greatest personal accomplishment?

I guess the thing I’m proudest of, that makes me happiest right now, is just that I am living life in the way that I want: doing a job I care about, spending my free time on things that are important to me, and friends only with people I love and respect.

2. What makes you feel joyful?

Writing, painting, time with people I care about, joking or connecting with just about anyone, walking fast with music playing, driving when the road is clear, when my job goes well, sushi, ice cream, gooey cake.

3.What makes you angry?

Cruelty and bullying, when people use intimidation to win an argument or get their way. On the more trivial side: my laptop has the CD drawer open button on the side just where I hold it to pick it up, so the CD drawer keeps on opening needlessly.

4.What is one law you could change if you could?

I’d legalise all drugs, but control the most dangerous ones – which I believe to be crack, heroin, coke, cigarettes and alcohol. I appreciate this would cause some ructions.

5.Where is your favourite place in the world to be?

The rainforest! The constant chirruping and calling sounds, the bizarre bugs, fungi and plants, the rain, the stars; the urgent clash and competition of life – so much energy, determination and innovation. I lived in one for a while, miss it constantly and visit whenever I can, but I’m a wuss these days and find the heat a struggle and the isolation a bit disturbing. I work with tropical plants to calm the need to go back.

6.What is it about your ‘favourite’ coffee shop that makes it your favourite?

I’m from the past, I’m afraid, and coffee shops don’t interest me. I like coffee and I like cake, so if someone takes me to a coffee shop and gives me these things I am happy, but the actual building I forget as soon as I leave.

7.If your house was on fire (God, forbid) what five objects/items would you just have to save?

Assuming all people get out? My laptop (annoying CD drawer and all), the art/writing project I’m working on, I guess some shoes and a coat would be useful. I have a load of photos/old diaries I would be heartbroken to leave, but it would take a few trips to get them out of the flat, so probably best to leave them.

8.Who would you prefer to play you in a movie?

I think, nobody famous. A homely, unknown actress with a spark in her eye and a sarcastic tone to her voice.

9.What are your strengths?

No idea really. I always try to do the right thing, until I forget or get distracted by cake. I’m good at arguing, although I suspect some would see that as a flaw. I don’t flinch when a cockroach runs up my arm (useful in my job). I have no interest in shoes (some definitely see that as a flaw.)

10.What do you wish you were better at?

Not getting lost, swimming, singing, knowing when to stay quiet, martial arts, tying knots, baking, remembering names, parallel parking, not panicking, paying attention, remembering birthdays.

11.What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned about blogging?

That you don’t blog in a vacuum, it’s more fun to connect with people than to just splurge out your thoughts and hope someone’s reading. And people on here are just surprisingly lovely.

My 11 questions for anyone who fancies answering them:

  1. When was the last time you laughed? What at?
  2. What’s the weather like where you are? How does it affect you? (In the UK we’re having a heatwave, everyone is half dead)
  3. What thoughts keep you awake at night?
  4. What conversations do you avoid?
  5. If you were invisible for a week, what would you do?
  6. What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever seen? (Things on the internet don’t count)
  7. If you could live the life of any character in a novel, who would it be?
  8. When do you feel most alive?
  9. You can have a penfriend from any time in history, who would it be? What kind of letters would you write?
  10. Do you ever feel like you haven’t a clue what you’re doing and you’re about to be found out? What makes you feel like that?
  11. Would you like your home country to introduce basic income (everybody gets paid enough to live on whether they work or not)? How would it change your life?

 

I’ve nearly finished the first draft of rewriting my book, so hopefully I’ll start blogging properly again soon. I’ve missed being on here, and many of you out there, I hope you are all doing great and life is beautiful. Even if you don’t feel in the mood to answer my questions, I’d love to just hear how you’re doing. 🙂

 

 

Riddled With Senses by Petra Jacob

I’ve been squirrelled away and not visited my blog in a while, so I completely missed this review of my book Riddled with Senses by the truly delightful Shameful Narcissist. It’s such a beautiful piece of writing and totally captures the spirit of the book, so I wanted to share.

The Shameful Narcissist Speaks

Title: Riddled With Senses
Author: Petra Jacob
Date Added: January 28, 2017
Date Started: March 19, 2017
Date Finished: May 14, 2017
Reading Duration: 56 days
Genre: Young Adult (YA), Magical Realism, LGBT

Pages: 248
Publication Date: January 22, 2017
Publisher: Dr. Cicero Books
Media: Paperback

Shares Paradigms With: The Slow Regard of Silent Things

A tale of love, drugs, cynicism and magic set in the late nineties. It is told from the perspective of two seventeen-year-old girls, Jitty and Hazel; in the style of magic realism, where the grime of real life can be morphed by the characters’ imaginations.

Jitty is a recluse who has created a world of magic to keep herself company. She secretly interferes in the life of the townspeople, including Hazel’s friend, Vurt. Hazel is a wild cynic on a course of self-destruction.

One stormy night their paths cross as the lightning flashes. Their brief…

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Thank you for all your help…

…after canvassing for views my book is now called The Clockwork Cult. I would have dithered to eternity without your input, so a massive thank you to everyone who gave a view.

The pictures below are from Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, one of the most bizarre and beautiful churches ever built; that seemed appropriate – or maybe I’m just making excuses to post them.

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Have a beautiful day everyone!

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I need YOUR opinion!

Hello lovely bloggers, I need your help. I am terrible at coming up with good titles, I think it may be an ancient curse put on me. Up until recently, I called my new book The Good Cult, but I don’t like that anymore. Now after weeks of floundering I have come up with some possible options, but I have no idea if they’re actually any good or not; so knowing that you all have the writing smarts, I am turning to you for help.

Whether you’re a regular reader or just passing by, I’d like to know what you think of them. They all contain the words The …Cult, because the book is about a cult and I like to state the obvious, but I want a complete title that grabs your attention, makes you wonder and want to read more. Any additional information about what you think the book would be like from these titles, whether they make you want to read on, would also be extremely helpful.

The Babble Cult

The Clockwork Cult

Last Chance to Escape the Babble Cult

The Cult of Juda

If you have any other useful tips on how to come up with titles, that would be great also. Thank you!

I’ve not been so chatty…

I know I’ve not been very chatty recently, I don’t want anyone to think that I’m ignoring them, or not interested in blogging anymore. Like I’ve said before, I’m working on an all-consuming project at the moment and it’s difficult to drag myself out of that and focus on something else. Also, I just realised a big flaw in the book I wrote, so I’m trying to rework that too. Give it a few weeks, and it should all be back to normal.

It’s probably a bit daft to write a post like this, but while I’ve not met any of the posters whose blogs I follow, some of you I feel I know well enough to think of as friends, and I don’t want you to feel ignored or unappreciated.

Anyway, I will try and keep up reading and posting, but if I get a bit slack please be patient.

And here is a picture of a praying mantis.

 

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Praying Mantis

 

The Blue Sky Tag

I’ve been nominated for an award by delightful writer The Otherhood of One, it’s well worth checking out her blog if you’ve got some time…

I won’t do the nominating other people thing, because I know what busy bees you all are. Instead, here are the questions The Otherhood put to me, and they are gooduns, so if any of you feel like joining in, then I’d love to hear what you have to say.

  1. Name one life event that dramatically altered your life…
  2. Dreams: do you have them or chase them?
  3. What is your “favorite” feeling/emotion?
  4. Soon, we as a species may be colonizing in space.  Would you prefer to remain here on Earth, or go exploring with the pioneers?
  5. What other creative pursuits do you enjoy besides writing/blogging?
  6. Movies are expensive if you go to the theater.  What kind of movie are you most likely willing to pay for to see – drama, comedy, sci-fi/fantasy, docu-drama, etc?
  7. What animal “speaks” to you most these days?  (Can be wild or domesticated, real or imaginary.)
  8. Would you prefer to be happy, fulfilled or content in life?
  9. Are you any, or all, of the above?  Or none?
  10. If your “future” self could reveal one detail about what’s ahead for you, what would you want to know?
  11. What one thing would you like to tell those of us reading this post today

 

Name one life event that dramatically altered your life

Moving to Mexico in 2001. It was done in the most haphazard way possible. I went with someone I barely knew, we had almost no money, and no planned job or any contacts. I bought the cheapest tickets in Mexico that I could find (returns to Cancun) and then we spent the next month moving from place to place trying to find work. We finally settled in Mexico City, which is an intense, creative, polluted, brilliant, complex, hyperactive, scary explosion of a city. I think what I learnt from the whole experience was how it’s possible to do seemingly impossible things with a little cunning and a lot of blind stupidity. The person I went with that I barely knew ended up my best friend and we still live together, so that was also pretty important.

Dreams: do you have them or chase them?

Both. I’m definitely a dreamer, but I like the chase too. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I ever caught up with my dreams and they came true, I wouldn’t like it and I would then be stuck for something new to do, but the chances are that won’t happen, so I’m not worrying.

What is your “favourite” feeling/emotion?

Euphoria. I get it quite often, that feeling of Yes! This is it! This is the best idea ever! Unfortunately, while the feeling may be great, the actual ideas are often nonsense and the intensity of the feeling is no reflection on quality; there have been a few I’ve liked though.

Soon, we as a species may be colonizing in space. Would you prefer to remain here on Earth, or go exploring with the pioneers?

I’m fine here, I think. There are so, so many places on this planet that we’ve barely started on that I desperately want to see – the bottom of the sea, deep underground, further inside particles – I’d rather concentrate on them before I move off to outer space. I also have this feeling that going to outer space wouldn’t be as brilliant as it should be; I think it might be more like a cruise, where you spend ages trapped inside a big ship just waiting to get somewhere far away and when you do land you’re very restricted and can’t properly explore. If I could have a little buggy ship that I zip around the star systems in, that would be fun; but still, most other planets are likely to be less filled with bizarre life than our oceans.

What other creative pursuits do you enjoy besides writing/blogging?

 

I draw and paint, and my work partly involves putting plants together in a way that is hopefully beautiful.

Movies are expensive if you go to the theater. What kind of movie are you most likely willing to pay for to see – drama, comedy, sci-fi/fantasy, docu-drama, etc?

I don’t know what my perfect genre would be, but I thought Dr Strange was fun, if a bit nonsensical. (I loved the buildings collapsing in on themselves, but what happened to all the people inside? Wouldn’t they be crushed?) And I really enjoyed Trainspotting 2, although it was sad. I like films that give me a sense of bigness, like looking out at a horizon beneath a huge sky.

What animal “speaks” to you most these days? (Can be wild or domesticated, real or imaginary.)

Hmm, not sure. Birds chat to me quite a lot, but they’re quite repetitive. Me and various small many-legged pests often have a few words, although rarely friendly ones. It’s getting to that time of year when nature likes to invade; so birds start nesting in my plant pots, tiny frogs start appearing everywhere and we keep having to chase ducks outside.

Would you prefer to be happy, fulfilled or content in life?

And

Are you any, or all, of the above? Or none?

I’ve been thinking about this question all day, trying to work out exactly what the difference is and how I feel about them. These are my conclusions.

Happiness is more of a joyful excited feeling, while I think contentment is a peaceful acceptance in the mind. I guess fulfilled is achieving things you want to achieve (either personally or professionally) – but if there aren’t many things you actually want to achieve, then presumably you can feel permanently fulfilled.

I think contentment is a very nice idea, but my brain isn’t wired that way. The less my brain has to think about and the calmer life is, the more anxious and antsy I get. There have been very few delicious moments of total peace in my life, when I needed nothing, worried about nothing and felt blissfully peaceful; and those moments I had didn’t last for long. Given the option, I would have a contentment switch in my neck, so that I could experience a few pleasant hours once a week maybe – but then, would I ever want to switch it back?

I think I feel happy and fulfilled quite often, I love the sensation of my brain whirring away, so I tend to do creative things, learn whenever I can, have speculative rambles through my imagination or have ridiculous conversations about daft ideas. All those things make me happy. However, it’s a never-ending demand, so not exactly like filling something full, more like pouring stuff into a tube, while it pours out the bottom, so that the need is constant.

If your “future” self could reveal one detail about what’s ahead for you, what would you want to know?

I’d like to know if the book I wrote recently is going to get published, just so I know whether to keep making an effort.

What one thing would you like to tell those of us reading this post today?

Everything is going to be just fine, trust me; it may not feel like it at the moment, but it’ll all fall into place soon enough.

The Last Tuesday Society

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Dolls, stuffed animals and skeletons

On Saturday I went with a friend to explore The Last Tuesday Society, a very curious museum tucked away in Mile End. It’s a dark, mysterious pit of a place, so I couldn’t get any photos inside, but some exhibits were:

Beautifully carved skulls, giant crab shells, dildos, mummified mermaid corpses, stuffed two-headed cats (and two-headed teddy bears on sale in the shop), skeletons of many animals, books of porn, broken dolls, tropical butterflies, many dead moles in a jar and some strange sculptures. It was very much the personal collection of a rich, artistic and slightly twisted eccentric. That eccentric is the still-living, party throwing artist called Victor Wynd. Wynd is a lecturer at the London Institute of Pataphysics (Pataphysics is what happens when artists get hold of science.)

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Spot the zebra unicorn and the blurry peacock

We also got to meet a number of living animals, such as chameleons, water dragons and snakes. I got to walk around the museum with a Nicaraguan Boa curled around my arm. I’ve not held a snake before, he was reassuringly heavy and mellow, and his skin felt pleasantly shiny and smooth; a beautiful animal.

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Insect Menu

Upstairs in the cafe, we spotted they sold insects to eat. This is something I’ve been curious about for a while – after all, if our global troubles with population with continue, we may have to start eating insects soon. We got the insect platter and chocolate worms. I have to be honest, I didn’t like the insects much, the flavour was ok, but I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was eating a load of insects, the texture was too papery and crispy, and just too much like I would expect a dead insect to be like. I also felt sort of guilty, there were so many of them, all those tiny lives snuffed out so that I could crunch on them feeling a bit sick. The chocolate was nice though.

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Crickets, worms and beetles. The middle object is a slice of banana with worms on.

 

Questions to Ponder – Final

Questions…yada yada…all very profound and thoughtful…tum te tum…really figured out some meaningful things all about mememe….ta-de-da-de-ta…be great to hear your answers too…dooby-dooby-doo…

  1. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
  2. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
  3. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
  4. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
  5. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
  6. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
  7. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
  8. What do you love?
  9. Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
  10. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?

 

My Answers

  1. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?

My best friend. Family.

  1. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?

I don’t think I want to be attractive, I see why it’s a nice idea and it would lead to opportunities, but I’m quite fond of my nonsense old face, and people who know me know it. As for famous, it would be useful, I might be able to make changes in the world – but realistically, I’m no better at fixing the problems of the world than anyone else, yet nothing gets fixed. And being famous looks fucking terrifying, like being in a car that’s skidding out of control while thousands of people look in at your stricken face and take photos. If I could trade those ten years for excellent health, constant energy, endless inspiration and maybe some money, then yep.

  1. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

No idea. ‘Truly living’ seems like one of those judgement phrases people come up with to put down others for living all wrong. Life is tough, a lot of it is dull and difficult. Most of us will never be heroes, kings, film stars or geniuses. However, our lives are still relevant; contain love, laughter, learning and delight. So however we choose to do it, we are truly living.

  1. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?

As a spontaneous person who has in the past repeatedly leapt into situations without calculating anything, I’m always doing what I think is a good idea at the time and then regretting it afterwards. Therefore I’m in a good position to know: ON THE WHOLE, CALCULATING RISKS, REWARDS AND OUTCOMES IS QUITE A GOOD THING. I’m not saying it’s good to spend so long calculating that you never actually do anything, but a certain amount of planning and contemplation is ideal. It’s what I try to do now.

  1. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?

Making a mistake feels horrible. The most extreme mistakes I’ve made have led to the most brilliant outcomes, but I’ve had to wade through a lot of badness first, so much so I could never knowingly walk into those mistakes. The small mistakes often don’t lead to learning anyway. The number of times I’ve accidentally kicked my laptop across the floor, or forgotten to lock the car, or accidentally said something rude to my boss – every time I tell myself never again, but I still do it.

  1. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

Be more antisocial. Wash my hair less.

  1. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?

I meditate, so I do this quite often. It’s a good thing to do though.

  1. What do you love?

People (both specific people and people in general), food, sleep, walking, writing, drawing, imagination, plants, studying. Not in that order.

  1. Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?

Yup. Not saying I appreciate all those things everyday, but most days and most things.

  1. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?

I guess this is a: Your life is ending one minute at a time! Live everyday day as if it’s your last! Are you living enough right now? ARE you? type question, and I object to those. There are usually a few exciting things going on in my life (exciting to me, that is, pretty much nobody gets excited about the same things I do) but if life is constantly exciting, filled with new experiences all the time, one big hyperactive adventure, then the following things happen:

  • You get stressed and exhausted and it’s impossible to really reflect on anything, you’re too busy experiencing.
  • You need to keep upping the stakes, because your boredom threshhold shrinks.
  • You keep zipping about from one place to another, so it’s difficult to form lasting relationships and the ones you have are based in excitement which means they can end up being shallow.
  • You don’t get to properly focus on one thing. Studying, being successful in a career, raising a family, writing a book – any possible major achievement in life takes time, and involves many days of repetitious boredom. This isn’t negative.
  • Because you are constantly focusing on the next big event/exciting adventure, it means you don’t get to appreciate the good, small and meaningful things in your life. In fact it causes you to remove and dismiss them.
  • Life just isn’t like that, boredom is a part of life; telling people that boredom is bad doesn’t enable people to instantly live exciting lives, just to feel that their perfectly normal lives are inadequate – which is a fucking tragedy.

Now over to you, what do you all think?