Why I Miss Douglas Adams

Some time ago, Douglas Adams, of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame, wrote a silly little book entitled The Meaning of Liff. This is a dictionary of words for concepts everyone recognizes but has no words for, such as “the vaguely uncomfortable feeling you got from sitting on a seat which is warm from somebody else’s bottom.” Thanks to Adams and co-writer John Lloyd, this can now be expressed as “shoeburyness.” Apparently, Adams, Lloyd and others came upon the idea as the result of a drinking game, in which a player stated the name of a town, and another player had to assign it a meaning. They quickly realized that there are quite a number of things that are universally known but for which there are no words. Hence, shoeburyness. It helps that English towns often have ridiculous names.

I mention this not because I am a fan of Adams’ work (although I am), but because one of the words from The Meaning of Liff gave me insight into The Main Point of this blog (see previous post).

The word is “farnham.” I experience farnham on an almost daily basis, and it’s somewhat depressing. Farnham is the feeling you get at four in the afternoon when you haven’t got enough done.

That’s me. I miss Douglas Adams.

Why "fragmented"?

Where to begin? Part of the reason I began this blog was to have a place to put my head, which is too full of too many ideas, responsibilities, anxieties, frustrations, and desires.

This may come out like a rant: it’s the one thing about my life that make it “hard.” Even suggesting my life is difficult seems totally arrogant because I live in a safe, generally happy environment where people are mostly nice to me. I eat regularly, it’s unlikely that anyone will try to shoot at me (like in Iraq) or bulldoze my house while I’m in it (Palestine) or kidnap me for money (insert African country here) or stone me for sleeping with someone (insert unpleasant middle eastern country here). So, what’s the problem?

It’s less of a unhappy problem and more of an uncomfortable dilemma. My time is split (or should be) into all these tiny slivers, between service to my community (multiple places and levels), my own personal interests, my desires (like writing), my homework for a class that may not do me any good, and the pressures of homeschooling a child who has Asperger’s Syndrome (this is a new name I’ve been given to understand why my child is so difficult, but more on that later).

At the risk of sounding like a whiner, I started this blog, with hopes of connecting with other people who feel as disjointed and confused as I do every day. I wake up with a sense of dread some days, wondering how I’m going to do it all, and often I go to bed at night reflecting on how little I was able to accomplish. In between those moments, however, there are bursts of energetic action and insight, and moments of satisfaction and wonder. Sound familiar at all?

Just For Once

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by too many choices, I’d like to feel bored.

So why start a blog? It’s one more choice, one I can settle down with for a few moments and not feel guilty. I chose it.

Today, I should have been doing specific things (a list was even made). These activities benefited other people, generally, not me. I am a chronic volunteer; it’s damn near pathological. It must be the validation I receive from being needed that convinces me to volunteer in the first place, but later I experience ongoing sensations of being trapped from which there’s only momentary relief.

I chose to avoid those activities and spontaneously built a sad-looking compost bin out of old bricks I had in my garage. They were old and painted yellow: one split when I chucked it out of the garage into the yard. I stacked the bricks in a Red Rider wagon and hauled them around to the other side of the house. I pushed a row of them down into the wet earth and then stacked more on top, the result is something like the ruin of a burial cairn. Sweat ran down my stomach and soaked into my shirt, and I had dark, dirty bits under my fingernails. I raked up leaves and filled the space I’d built, then rushed inside to retrieve the plastic bowl full of kitchen waste to make my first deposit.

It was weirdly satisfying. About an hour was spent on that little project, an hour that I wasn’t being “productive.” No one helped me, and it’s unlikely I’ll be validated or praised for it in any way. Why’d I do it? I’m not going to dwell on the why and wherefore, just the satisfaction. Whatcha think about that?