How I Deal With Crippling Boredom

There are certain things you do when boredom overwhelms your spirit, you have already worked out and you’ve tried unsuccessfully to get some shots up because the gym was locked. (Quick aside. Even though I haven’t even started yet. Whatever, I wanted to tell this story and had no where else to fit it in. Sue me.  Also, I don’t know why I use parentheses in situations like this, but it just feels right.  Anyway, it was a Sunday before a Tuesday game and all I wanted to do was get some practice shots up.  I spoke with the manager the practice before, and he assured me that I would have a key waiting for me so I could actually access the gym, because the previous two times I tried to go it was locked.  So I show up, and as I am looking for the key I notice a little girl and woman probably around my age standing at the front door trying to get in.  Sensing something was up that could potentially disrupt my precious alone time in the gym, I found the key and snuck in through the side door.  Thinking I was so slick, I proceeded to start my workout.

About 5 minutes in I start to hear slamming on the door and voices yelling.  A minute later a flock of 10-12 year old girls had maneuvered their way over to the side of the gym, and were yelling at me through a window.  I pretended to ignore them for a little, but it was no use, they were not going away.  I felt obligated to acknowledge their presence. I shouted that I don’t speak Hebrew.  This cause a stir amongst the girls.  They huddled together and discussed strategy.  Eventually someone stepped up and kindly asked “You let us in?” Gahhhhh what kind of ogre would just let these girls sit outside. And they had even made efforts to speak my language.  I agreed to let them in, and they let out a huge cheer.  About 15 girls flooded in when I opened the doors, and I went back to shooting.  Almost immediately the instructor lady came up to me and said:
“Umm, sorry, we need the gym.”
I was thinking : Alright, ok, ok. Let me get this straight.  I just let you and your whole little group in out of the kindness of my heart, and you instantly tell me I have to leave?  What the hell?
I told her: “Cmon! You wouldn’t even be in here if it wasn’t for me? Can’t I shoot for 10 more minutes?”

She acquiesced, but she was strict, and after my 10 minutes I was told she “really needed me to move now.” For what did I move, you might ask? So a bunch of girls in dancing outfits could run sprints the length of the basketball court.  Since when do dancers run sprints? I don’t know, all I know is my shooting was done for the day.   I might have protested more had the coach not been super hot and engaging, asking all sorts of questions about my journey to Israel and what not.  I must say, that eased the pain a little.

I really didn’t know how good I had it at Harvard.  One day I have unlimited access to a well-lit gym and a rebounding machine, the next thing I know I can’t get 50 shots up before I am ousted by an Israeli pre-teen dance troupe.  If you ever hear me complaining about Lavietes Pavillion again please punch me in the face.

Back to the point of the post, which is what I do when I am bored.  Sometimes I will spend 4-5 hours out shopping for food.  Whenever I would be forced to go shopping in the states I would try and get in and out as quick as possible.  Out here, it’s a whole new ballgame.  The alternative to the long shopping trip is the long afternoon listening to my i pod, staring at the wall and wondering what would happen if I took one of the stray cats from downstairs and put it in the tree outside my window.  Would the cat slay the birds, leaving me some peace and quiet, or would the birds manage to band together and nudge the cat off the branch to its death?  Only so much time can be spent contemplating such scenarios, so for pretty much any reason (Good lord I’m running low on beets!!) I will head to the market to restock my fridge.

In my extensive grocery store searching these 4 months, I have found exactly one store that sells relatively inexpensive preservative free cheese in an area of the store where I can just go grab it.  Otherwise there has to be an interaction between me and some frail 40 something lady at the deli counter who only speaks Hebrew, and I end up paying 20 dollars for a hunk of cheddar. Bad times.  So, I usually head out to the cheese store first, then hit another market on my way back. The second market is good because it has the best prices on orange juice.  I don’t know if it has gone bad or what, but 5 days a week the brand orange juice that I like is more than a dollar cheaper at this market than the other stores. But, this strategy has been known to backfire at times.  There is no worse feeling than passing up cheap orange juice at one store expecting to find even cheaper orange juice at the next store, only to stare down the barrel of a price tag that is 5 more shekels than you were expecting.  I’m not saying its worse than someone taking a baseball bat to your kneecaps, but it’s right up there.

As far as finding reasons to waste time goes, the grocery store is a great place to be.  I will price check every cereal box. I will find the sweet potato that is just the right size. I will hunt specifically for brands that have packaging in english, then happily read the ingredients, carefully making a choice based partly on nutrition and partly on supporting companies that put out labels in my language.  That I just spent 25 minutes choosing a tomato paste is beside the point. I knew I had hit an all time low when I was choosing between pears and apples, going back and forth thinking of the merits of each fruit.  I eventually thought about how I was paralyzed with indecision.  Then I thought about how apropos it was that I was “pear-a-lyzed” trying to buy pears.  I spent a good minute feeling really clever, then really, really pathetic.

Another thing that happens when you are bored to tears is you will decide to try and nap whenever you get a chance.  What better way to kill time than to not even be conscious? In mean, I can’t fly or kill monsters in real life (yet), so why not enter the wonderful world of dreamland.  If I have an afternoon with nothing to do and I even sense a yawn coming on, its time to grab the earplugs and hit the sack.  Oftentimes I end up lying in bed for 20 minutes and giving up, realizing that if you sleep until 11:30 AM it’s probably gonna be hard to fall asleep again at 3:30 PM.
The other day I spent over 3 hours learning how to type using all 10 fingers and not looking at the keyboard.  I did all sorts of practice exercises on the website that I found.  The culmination was copying an entire paragraph while on the clock.  I did not cheat and revert to my old, use 5-ish fingers and look at the keyboard a lot ways.  I pecked out an ungodly 6 words per minute. As to be expected, I abandoned all my training the second I had to really type something.  Three hours not well spent.

I even find ways to waste serious chunks of time looking for ways to waste time.  Wrap your head around that.  For example, I like making money, and I know a ton about sports, so what am I doing not sports betting online?  What better way to pass the time than checking out sports scores and making money at the same time.  No longer would my afternoons be just the dreaded hours between breakfast and practice.  I would have a purpose!  After literally 5 hours spent scouring the web for a site that would accept my Visa, I had to give up.  I even spoke to a nice Jamaican lady on the phone who offered to help me link my bank account to the bookies, but I figured that was probably not the best idea. Problem is, it seems the US passed some law in 2007 that outlaws online gambling.  What a crock of crap.  They claimed that terrorist organizations were using it to launder money.  Give me a break. Even if they were, does anyone really think that outlawing online gambling is gonna have any impact on terrorism? Like they are just gonna say “The US outlawed online gambling? No! How will we ever survive. The jig is up. Better throw down our weapons, turn in Osama, buy some blue jeans, and embrace the red white and blue. Somebody turn on a baseball game and put on Lynyrd Skynyrd.”  These groups have money from everywhere.  Keeping me from easy millions betting on the NBA is not making this country a safer place.  (Note: All claims made in previous paragraph have absolutely no basis in fact. Online money laundering could be the most dangerous thing since anthrax.)

Luckily when there is time to be wasted there are always my old reliables, Facebook and Twitter.  Although I have to say, I am pretty disappointed in all the pro athletes I follow on twitter.  As a group they have to be some of the most un-interesting people on the planet.  Here are the 3 main tweets a basketball player puts out a day.  It’s almost like they follow a madlib type formula.

1. Morning- What up world, bout to go (eat/workout/see my family/ play video games)
2. Afternoon- Sup everybody, headed to the (weightroom/ arena/ restaurant of choice)
3. Night- (Tough loss/ Great win) gotta get up tomorrow and (keep the streak going/ forget about the loss) night y’all. (God is good/ I love this game!)

That’s it, day in and day out. What the hell is the point of tweeting if you have NOTHING interesting to say.  As much as I despise the people asking for advice (get to that in a sec), at least they are making an effort to use the service for a discernible purpose.  What are you accomplishing by just essentially copying and pasting the same tweets morning noon and night?

But, worse than the mundane posts are those having to do with people asking their followers for help.  Often athletes will pose questions asking everything from dating and fashion advice, to questions about what food to eat and what music to listen to. I could care less if Hasheem Thabeet gets his “twit fam” to help him pick an outfit for the night. And god, don’t even get me started on the people who must be out there responding to these pleas for advice. If you are one of those people you need to take a good long look in the mirror and ask yourself what you are doing with your life.  I just can’t imagine ever caring enough to try and influence a routine choice in the life of some basketball player. Does it really bring you satisfaction to feel like you are helping a random dude choose what kind of jeans to put on that evening? Do you go to bars at night and brag “oh ya, ya, blah blah, you helped develop the Large Hadron Collider, big whoop. Well, who has two thumbs and made sure that Steve Nash listened to Steely Dan on his flight from Denver to Utah?! That’s right, you’re looking at him.”

Spending time on Facebook is really not much better.  I recently read something about the max amount of people that any one person can feasibly keep in touch with, or really be true acquaintances with, at one time.  Obviously I don’t remember what that number was, but I can guarantee my Facebook “friends” exceeds that number.  I can only be so interested when someone I haven’t spoken with in years proclaims “Vegas/Tahoe/Big Bear/ Havasu/ Arizona/NYC/ Boston this Weekend!! Who’s down??”  I always think it would be funny if I started interacting with some of these people like we were really close.  Just throw in a comment after a couple hours like “Ya bro! I’m so in, when do we leave?”  And wait to see what they say.  Do they pretend it never happened? Give me a “uhhh, we cancelled, next time man,” or maybe just a straight up “wtf? are you kidding?”  Whatever the scenario, I highly doubt I would really be welcome at any of these events, but they dominate my Facebook space nonetheless.  Such a weird phenomenon.

Basically, I keep saying I am going to start being productive, but somehow slip into the abyss of the internet.  Maybe blogging more is the answer.  Or learning guitar.  Or keyboard. Or studying for a grad school test. Or buying an X Box. Or reading more. Or learning Hebrew.  Or, maybe I should come up with an intricate list of pros and cons for each thing. Ya, that would be a quality time killer.

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2 thoughts on “How I Deal With Crippling Boredom

  1. Just ran across your blog, am in UAE and could so relate to your sleeping to ease boredom, even sensing a yawn coing on qualifies at the very least for a valiant effort to get to sleep…rip clothes off and under the duvet…i’m starting to think that would be a lot more fun with somone else but then again it might interrupt me trying to get to sleep…swings and roundabouts!

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