I’ve started this thing where I’m sitting alone for 30 minutes a day and just seeing where my mind goes and writing about it. I didn’t write about the first time, but here’s Day 2 of that…
That was…interesting. I was sitting on one of the arm chairs in the living room on my laptop before I did this, and it was starting to hurt my back so I went to lay on the couch instead. (I actually thought about laying on the floor, I think sometimes that’s good for this kind of thing to be totally flat on your back, but I knew if someone walked by the living room and saw me on the floor I’d get some kind of comment that would risk taking me out of it and I didn’t want to deal with that. Also not sure what the dust situation is on the living room floor and probably not the best idea where my allergies have already been a little bothersome.)
Anyway, so I went on the couch on my back, and instantly I was uncomfortable. At first it seemed like this was going to be similar to last night. I’m fine when I’m on the couch on my back doing something, but as soon as I put an eye mask on and tried to just let me thoughts wander I became hyper aware of the fact that the cushions are a little old and messed up and I was kind of at an angle, and it wasn’t great. I rolled over onto my side and that helped, but then I worried I was going to fall asleep….and then I became okay with the fact that I might fall asleep because I’m sure I could use sleep so if that happened then fine.
Once I was in a more comfortable position, I got really focused on the two different sounds (my grandpa’s TV– I think he’s watching….The Big Lebowski? And my mom’s TV– 24/7 coronavirus news). I think I wanted to just tell myself the day was now ruined and I’d have a migraine, but I really tried to focus on my breathing and not concentrate on the different sounds. Then I had some weird visions of war sort of scenes on the news– it wasn’t that specific but given The Big Lebowski and what they were talking about I’m going to guess Vietnam? I’m not really sure but it was very Across the Universe-esque.
I’m also not sure if I was technically asleep or not after that point, I may have just been dozing off a bit. I think my mind was just basing things off The Big Lebowski because I somehow started thinking about school and old random things that have happened that I could write about. (I associate The Big Lebowski with school because in my Vietnam War class in college they gave us a list of about 20 movies on the topic that we could have watched for an assignment and when we voted The Big Lebowski won, which given the other options that was probably the one that was about the war itself the least but that’s what we went with.) I tweeted earlier about a weird thing that was part of 8th grad for me, about how one of our teachers had this cup in his classroom and when you had the hiccups you had to drink out of this cup. And it totally grossed me out then. My mom is a huge germaphobe, and as a kid from being raised like that I was very overly aware of germs, and the thought that this cup was just sitting in his classroom and he’s trusting a bunch of middle schoolers to bring it to the bathroom, drink out of it, and then wash it themselves was really suspect to me, and that combined with what I now know to be social anxiety made the whole experience horrifying because I didn’t want to hiccup and not only have to deal with the gross cup but also be called out for hiccuping in front of the class. It was one of those things from my childhood that I’ve always thought was kind of weird but also never thought too much about, but now with everything going on I’m just like, “Wait, that’s actually really disgusting.”
So I thought about that, and how a couple of weeks ago I also shared on Twitter the weird experience Theresa and I had working at this haunted hayride at a farm, and how if I really think about it I’m sure there are plenty of random things like that that would make entertaining blog posts and just be fun to look back on. I started making a list in my head of things that might be fun to write about like that– Lots of things from 8th grade, which was actually not a great time in my life in general as I was picked on a lot, but maybe my school was just a weird place because I instantly came up with the hiccup cup, the Red Sox version of the Pledge of Allegiance that same teacher made us say (for a second I even tried to remember it, we used to have to say it every single day), my 8th grade “boyfriend” who I broke up with via a random kid in our class who offered to tell him for me when I found out he made fun of me for having hairy arms, this weird contest we did when we learned how to calculate percentages and the first class with everyone to score 100 on the test got a themed dinner served by the other class….
Then I got a little restless, like I wanted to get up and start working on this stuff but I was sure I had about 10 minutes or so left, and in any case I’m still technically working and I at least have a meeting at 4:00 so it probably doesn’t make too much sense to get too into anything else. That feeling calmed down a bit and it seemed like I finally had a handle on zoning out the sounds even though I wasn’t really thinking about anything in particular.
But then my dad came out of his room and went to my mom’s room and talked about buying a new freezer for the basement (because he’s like doomsday prepping, I don’t know? Maybe if they stopped doing Nutrisystem we’d have room in the regular freezer in the kitchen for non-diet food…) but that infuriated me. Because now I had The Big Lebowski, the news, AC/DC, and my parents talking so loud all at the same time. I was frustrated because I felt like I just got control of zoning out the two TVs and I was really proud of myself for doing that because I hardly ever actually try to zone it out, I usually put headphones on or just sit there angry about it (and even with the headphones I’m usually angry because I want quiet and feel I shouldn’t have to drown it out with more noise).
Since I was so far into all this I felt determined to not give in to the distraction, and knowing I had to get back to work I really didn’t want to get a headache that at this point would probably have been more from stressing out over it than the sounds themselves. So I decided to just really focus on my breathing, and I put the blanket over my face and just took long deep breaths and focused on that. At first it was really hard (not breathing, if breathing was hard we’d have bigger issues) but focusing on that as opposed to all the background noise. For the first couple of minutes of that I thought about just giving up and calling it a good try for today as I was pretty content with how the rest of it went. But I kept going and just really tried to think about my breathing, and while I still was present enough with everything around me to take in my parents’ entire conversation (we’re getting a new freezer delivered in two weeks to replace the broken one in the basement. When they come to deliver it they’re taking the old one away, that service cost an extra $25 and it’s going on my dad’s Best Buy charge–not that you care at all, but neither did I, so there). Even with hearing the whole conversation and all the different TVs though focusing on my breathing definitely helped. I still had some level of annoyance over it, but not my usual sort of behavior where I just sit there and feel sorry for myself. I’m sure if I continued to think about it I could get to that point, because really they could have some consideration to at least close the door of one of the rooms with the loud TV if no one’s in there (I like AC/DC but there was really no need to add that to the mix with my dad’s door wide open).
I think I’d call this a success. I also think it’s clear that I’m a chronic overthinker, because it seems like my initial thought whenever I first start doing this is to find something to overanalyze when the point is to just let my mind wander. But I’m kind of proud of myself for attempting to deal with all the noise at the end instead of just moping about it which I tend to do, and I wasn’t expecting to get all kinds of blog post inspiration out of it either so that works.