Friday, November 09, 2007

The Days Are Just Packed

Weekend Assignment #190: Share some of your favorite boredom-alleviating tactics from when you were a kid. "Kid" in this case can stretch from the ages of about six to eighteen; just pick an age where you did something particularly ingenious (or alternately, just plain weird) and go with it. One caveat: avoid the boredom alleviators where the story could end "and then nine months later little Jimmy was born." Because that's in the realm of too much information.

Extra Credit: When was the last time you were really, really bored?

And you expect me to remember this, do you? I mean come on, it was 40 years ago!

Sigh. I'll try, although I'm less than inspired on this one.

What I remember is starting out the window, knowing that no friends were available to me on that particular day, either because someone was busy or I'd had a falling out with someone, or because I was just between friends. From there I might have chosen, in my desperation, to watch tv shows I didn't like, such as Gilligan's Island, or visit the most annoyingly boring friend I had (and no, I won't reveal who that was), or reread a book. When I was a kid, I didn't have a huge book collection, but I had my Whitman versions of Little Women and Black Beauty and Tom Sawyer, two or three books each about Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins, and my grandmother's hand-me-down copy of Winnie-the-Pooh. I don't recall doing anything especially ingenious or weird, unless you count acting out scenarios with china animals, starting a Batman club (membership: three), creating my own secret identity (Bat Friend) and trying to fool my friends, catching salamanders near the old railroad tracks, scrubbing my old ballerina wallpaper, or imagining my own Utopian country (The Place) only to discover how very boring it was.

A slightly more effective boredom-reducing activity was to walk into the village of Manlius, look around at Manlius Pharmacy and Weber's, and maybe even buy something if I had the money, even if it was just wax lips or bubble gum cards, or a comic book from Temple's Dairy Store about some character I didn't even like much. (It took a truly desperate level of boredom to make me to buy an issue of Blackhawk or Sgt. Rock.) Really, though, the walks into the village were better with two people. I imagine nowadays a ten-year-old wouldn't be allowed to walk a mile by herself on a suburban main road, just to buy an ice cream or look at china animals. But in those days it was fine, as long as I told my mom I was going. Sometimes I even walked home facing backwards.

The most boring times of all, it sometimes seemed to me, were on vacation at the Speakman summer house we sometimes rented on Lake Ontario. My parents' idea of a good time was to lie on the beach with a paperback book (John D MacDonald for dad, gothics for Mom) and a transistor radio tuned to Arthur Godfrey on WSYR. For me that was the dullest thing in the world! I would take a rubber raft and ride the waves until I'd thoroughly depleted the entertainment value of that activity, and then there I'd be, wishing I had a good book, or a friend to talk to, or a village nearby where I could purchase wax lips, china animals and comic books. The library books I got on vacation never seemed to be anything worth reading; I particularly remember my mom picking out something for me called The Clothes Horse, and my being annoyed that it wasn't about a horse. Eventually my parents did invite a friend of mine to visit us on vacation, and that helped a lot. So did Dell and Penny Press puzzle magazines with as many logic problems as possible.

Nowadays, as Scalzi says, there's little time to be bored, except possibly at work if I'm doing the same old thing (which assuredly does not describe my present job!). I'm not limited to three or four tv stations, and whatever they happen to show on a weekday afternoon. Nor am I limited to whatever friends might happen to live in my neighborhood. Heck, there's always more to do than I can make myself do. Here I am with Doctor Who on pause on one computer, the Doctor Who Series Three soundtrack (which is glorious) on pause in iTunes on the other computer, just to free my brain up so I can write this blog entry. I've also got a flash game open, and eight more Firefox tabs, Chapter One of Heirs (still untouched), AIM and an inactive IM, and PhotoStudio, except that I didn't take any photos today. There's a Thurber book on my desk from looking up the publication order of several of his books, and my sonic screwdriver, which I've been comparing with the "real" one as it pops up on screen. Who can be bored, with all that going on? As Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes says, the days are just packed! Well, the nights, anyway.

Extra Credit: Well, I'm really bored with this blog entry. Does that count? (And no, that's not a slam at the assignment. It's not you, John, it's me!)



Becky said...

Well duh. You didn't mention riding your bike (as illustrated by the photo). LOL!! ;-)

Considering your parents were educators, I'm shocked your supply of books was so limited! I took every opportunity to beg for new books. Usually my mother was happy to comply. I think she appreciated how quiet the house got when I had a new book to read.

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Well, I did think of it, but riding a bike wasn't very interesting, really, except when I rode back from the railroad tracks and managed not to pedal until the last hundred feet or so because it was all downhill until I reached F-M Road.

bea said...

You had a brother growing up didn't you? I thought I had read you had a brother... or am I thinking of someone else? Reading this, it sounds like you were an only child. Your description of browsing in the pharmacy reminds me of when I browsed through stores. Having no money, I'd just think and imagine what I would do, if I could... I'd stand so long staring into the window of a storefront that the owner came out one day and told me I was loitering! I was a kid... didn't know what loitering meant, but found out that day. Take care!!

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Yes, Bea, I have a brother named Steve, but he's seven years (minus 15 days) older than I am. With that kind of age gap, he wasn't going to want me to hang out with him. In the summers he went to study camp or reading camp or had a summer job parking cars, and when I was eleven he went off to college. That kind of makes me almost an only child. Steve and I love each other, and he was my defender when I was upset, but to be honest we don't really click that much. I think I'll call him today - he doesn't know about Tuffy yet. Thanks!