It’s okay if you are a bit bored with me. To be honest, even I’ve gotten the teensiest bit bored with myself lately. It’s hard to believe, really.
I never imagined that I could bore myself. After all, I’m full of fascinating tid-bits about myself.
For example, did you know that I am a triplet? No? Well, now you do!
And guess what: the fascinating facts don’t end there!
I am an Aquarian.
I know how to milk a goat.
I am scared of elevators and fake eyelashes.
I don’t believe in candy that doesn’t contain chocolate.
I regularly drink three cups of coffee each morning.
My past jobs have included: souvlaki maker, barista, babysitter, catsitter, secretary, bartender, Gap sales associate, salad bar attendant, and, for one night only, cocktail waitress at a country western line-dancing club (in London, no less).
My favorite karaoke songs are “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “These Boots are Made for Walking.”
I know much, much more about the rules of proper punctuation than I let on in this here blog.
I have naturally curly hair, a bad knee and eyes which are twelve different colors at once.
Fascinating stuff, huh?Additionally, I have countless action-packed, edge-of-your-seat stories about you-know-who (that would be me, in case you hadn’t guessed it.)
Did I ever tell you about the time I slid down a mountain in Nagano? I did? Well, let me tell you it again.
Like fine wine and cheese, these stories only get better with age — primarily because I’ve forgotten the more mundane bits and substituted them with much more exciting details.
For instance, the mountain story now includes a dragon! (Ooo, dragons!)
I never imagined I’d get tired of hearing myself blather on about myself or tell the same old story over and over again. (Well, not exactly the same… as now it contains dragons!).
Sure, I get tired of other people talking about themselves all the time. (Particularly when these people don’t give me sufficient time to talk about myself and then don’t have any fun stories with made-up bits about mythical creatures.)
I’ve been halfway through first dates listening to some guy drone on and on about his mundane job as a fire fighter or fighter pilot or flame thrower and thought “Boring! Blah, blah, blah. Okay, so his story about singlehandedly saving a family of seven from that runaway hot air balloon was kind of cool, but when is he going to let me talk about myself already?! I have this great story about the paper cut I got at work today, but he’s not even letting me get a word in edgewise! Some people! Just because they save people’s lives and stuff they think they can hog story-telling time. Sheez!”Usually, I have no problem prattling on about myself.
I’m the first person who hops up during the “tell us something about yourself” portion of the first day of class… and then proceeds to tell everyone about myself for the entire forty minutes of that class.
I have an annoying habit of butting in to other people’s conversations to relate whatever they’re saying back to some story about myself (I don’t mean to do it; it’s just that my story was related… and my story has dragons!).
In fact, I’ve spent almost four years blogging entirely about myself.
Sure, I’ve added a few tidbits about people and places along the way, but, mostly, my blog has been about me.
In my college creative writing class I was told the number one rule of writing is to “write what you know.” There aren’t a whole lot of topics I would consider myself an expert on. I’m horrible at math. I can’t figure out how computers work. I don’t keep up with politics. I can’t cook. But there is one topic that I know really, really well: me!Besides, isn’t that what this whole blogging thing is about?
Sure, I’ve seen some blogs which actually do offer helpful information and advice and, you know, facts and stuff. These blogs have thousands more readers than mine does. Their posts are short and informative and usually have a point (rather than ranting on and on for twenty paragraphs about cookies and pants). These bloggers like to write bulleted lists entitled “How to Blog” or “Top Ten Things You’re Doing Wrong With Your Blog And You Should Probably Be Put To Death Because of It.”
But do these so-called bloggers really get blogging?
The Merriam-Webster definition of the word “blog” is “an online personal journal.” A personal journal is a place where you rant about your mom… and your pants. Journals aren’t meant to be lecture-y and full of bulleted points. Journals, as a rule, are packed full of self-indulgent drivel — drivel which could be potentially damaging to your relationship with your mom should she find out what you’ve been driveling on about. (Not that I would write anything bad about my mom in either my journal or my blog… I’m just using this as an example. Hi, Mom!).
So, while I may write ranty 20-paragraph blog posts that never actually get to the point (if I ever had a point to begin with), I’ve never really had a problem with blogging about myself (and my mom… and my pants… and, you know, cookies).Last Friday, I went out to dinner with some people who are in the same volunteer program as me.
I began chatting to a young guy from Texas who was sitting next to me. He informed me that he does some freelance writing on the side to help pay for his travels, and I encouraged him to start a blog. “It’s a great way to let your friends and family know what you’re up to,” I said. (I didn’t mention the fact that the majority of the people who read my blog these days are people I’ve never actually met in real life before. It seems my family and friends are no longer interested in my self-indulgent rants after listening to them in-person for over thirty years).
Despite my attempts to convert him into a blogger, the Texan was resistant, “I don’t know. I just don’t feel comfortable writing about myself,” he responded.
I blinked at him.
For a moment my brain went a little fuzzy.
What did he mean?
Not comfortable writing about himself?
I couldn’t imagine a life like that.
I wondered if he had a problem talking about himself, too. And, if he did, I wondered what on Earth he talked about with people if he wasn’t talking about himself.
I had heard of people like him — you know, people who don’t like spilling their personal lives to random strangers. But I couldn’t imagine what that would be like myself.
“Oh,” I said. “I guess I’ve never had that problem.”But, lately, to be honest, I have kind of had that problem.
Last week, I had great plans to chug out a blog entry entirely about myself and my new life in Chiang Mai. I had set aside a day to work on my blog entry. I had holed myself up in my apartment with the requisite amount of chocolate, Diet Coke and potato chips needed to complete such a task.
I had thought up a topic, written down some notes in my journal and typed up a general outline on my computer (I bet you didn’t know writing about me required so much preparation, did you? I bet you thought all my blathering on about myself just came naturally and didn’t require a steady diet of Hershey bars and caffeine to inspire it. Well, I assure you, it takes lots of time and effort and artificially sweetened soda to write endlessly about myself!).
But the blog entry never came. Instead I chatted with people on Twitter. I looked through the Facebook photo albums of my friends and of my friends’ friends (don’t pretend like you don’t do it). I checked my horoscope. I read a few blog posts written by other bloggers who don’t seem to have a problem prattling on about themselves. I watched a few episodes of Law & Order. I munched my way through all my stockpiled chocolate and Pringles.But I couldn’t bring myself to write about myself.
For the first time, I felt bored about the prospect of yammering on about myself. It didn’t help that my life has been pretty predictable as of late.
I spend most of my days puttering around my apartment or my neighborhood or the nearby mall. Sometimes, I feel industrious and show up to work to putter around the office.
My evenings usually involve some combination of pad thai, beer and cable TV. Every once in a while I’ll go out for drinks or the night market with friends, but I don’t even do that as much as I probably should.My life has become boring; not in a bad way, mind you — at least not for me.
Most people travel to escape the predictable and the routine. I, on the other hand, travel to find it.
I came to Chiang Mai specifically because I knew it would give me a chance to settle down a bit. After a couple months of traveling, I was ready for a routine. I was desperate for the familiar. I was pining for the mundane. I love being boring — it’s just kind of hard to brag about.
Maybe, I’ve become a bit too predictable.Last week, I showed up at the smoothie shop around the corner from my apartment building and the girl behind the counter started making my order before I’d even had a chance to tell her what I wanted.
I felt a little surge of joy as I handed over my twenty-five baht in exchange for my drink of choice — a coffee shake with crushed Oreos. I had become a regular! In this foreign land, I suddenly felt accepted and welcomed.
I also felt really, really boring.
You see, my neighborhood smoothie shop offers a mind-boggling array of beverages in colors and flavors that I’m pretty sure don’t exist in any other country on Earth.. or in the natural world as we know it. The menu could rival the constitutions of most countries in both its complexity and length.
Once I saw a customer order a fluorescent pink smoothie with what I’m pretty sure were croutons on top.
Another customer got a chocolate shake blended with gummy bears and corn flakes.
Just yesterday, I witnessed the making of a Thai iced tea topped with cubes of brightly colored Jello and a sprinkle of Cocoa Puffs.
I enjoy watching the shake shop workers whipping up colorful concoctions full of breakfast cereals, canned sweet corn and gummy candies, but I’ve never felt particularly inclined to order any of these drinks myself. My choice is delicious — dependably so. And it doesn’t contain any ingredients that might make my internal organs glow in the dark (at least, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t).I’ve been happy with my life here in Chiang Mai.
That is until the shake shop girl pointed out how mundane and small my life had truly become. Couldn’t she just pretend like she didn’t know exactly what I was going to order?
Sure, it was nice to be recognized… but, in some ways, I would have preferred it if she acted a bit more surprised… maybe even a bit taken aback.
She could have waited until after I’d told her my order and raised an eyebrow or two once she did. “A coffee shake with Oreos? Wow! That’s a new combination. I’ve never even heard of such a thing before. What will these foreigners think up next!” the eyebrows would say.
And I could walk away with my coffee blended concoction smug in my uniqueness, my creativity, my spontaneity, my foreignness.
As it was, I walked away with my drink and just felt stuck.
I felt like I had married that drink for the rest of my life (or, at least, for the next couple months that I live in Chiang Mai.) Not only was I married to a beverage, but I was also married to the most boring beverage on the entire menu. Couldn’t I have gotten hitched to the fluorescent-pink-with-croutons-number? Or maybe my coffee shake could have a couple shots of Jello put in it? Why did my new beverage-life-partner have to be so… so… brown?The weekend that followed I decided to break out of my boring, routine existence.
I went out on Friday night and Saturday night. I met new people. I sat in the courtyard of a hostel and talked to people from countries I had never even heard of. I got asked out by a tuk-tuk driver. I went to a Halloween party. I talked to strangers. I bullied people into dancing with me. I tried new drinks… and none of them were brown.
By Sunday, I was exhausted. I begged out of meeting my friends at the night market and headed directly home after work.
On my way home, I stopped by the smoothie shop to pick up my usual pick-me-up. The girl behind the counter looked at me. I looked at her expecting her to whip up my drink. Instead, she handed me the menu.
It was as if she had handed me a new lease on life. She was not only offering me the chance to change my order, but the opportunity to change myself — to become an infinitely more exciting person — someone who might actually deserve all my narcissistic tendencies, someone who was worth bragging about, someone who was adventurous and daring and capable of ordering a drink with croutons on top.
I could opt for a green smoothie with pink Jello cubes or a pink smoothie with green beans on top.
I could be that person who lives in the moment — instead of the person who lives holed up in her apartment with cookies and cable TV.
I could have anything I wanted.
I could be anyone I wanted.
I pointed to my order: a coffee shake with crushed Oreos.
It wasn’t exciting or new or unique or different. But it was delicious — dependably so.
Sometimes life is good just the way it is — without the candy or croutons or day-glo Jello shots… or the made-up bits about dragons.