October 19, 2012

Being Apathetic & Feeding Al

There are infinite ways a woman with no job and no kids and no school and
no direct responsibilities can spend her free time. Right?


Ok, maybe infinite is too strong of a word.
There's got to be at least ten or eleven ways, though.



19 days into claiming London as home and I still don’t have a clue as to how I’m going to spend my time. I find myself in a very interesting situation: dragged along to a foreign land for months while my husband spends his time swallowed up in his reading and writing. Of course, one needn’t necessarily drag me to London…

Don’t get me wrong. In no way am I bored. In no way am I complaining (I always have Pilates to fall back on). In no way am I saying this to be vain.

Many of you kind folk have curiously asked me what I will be doing with my time here. And while I know intentions were well and good, I’m also aware that this kind inquiry is a disguise for some of the more honest questions, like Why doesn’t she find a job? Seriously, what will she be doing? Does she actually have NO plans? Why doesn’t she make some goals for herself?  Why does it seem like she hasn’t thought about it? Why is she so apathetic?

I’m sure my consistent answer of Who knows?  hasn’t necessarily helped my cause.

Let me take a minute, though, and explain why I have answered you with such apparent apathy, a lack of concern, indifference…


One of my defining strengths (and weaknesses) is the act of self-reflection, introspection, self-awareness. Let’s look at the definition of introspection according to Wikipedia:

Introspection(or internal perception) is the self-examination of one's

In other words, I love reading into things way too much. I mean, WAY too much. I also ask questions like Why did that happen? What action took place to form this RE-action? How can I make the world a better place?
Who should I thank for this trait? Mom? Dad? Youngest child syndrome? See, there I go…

So how does being self-aware lead to me giving an apathetic response to the question of what I'll do with my time in London?

Answer: I am very good at sitting around and thinking. If London happens to provide nothing else except a place to sit and think, then I will be absolutely fine. There have even been times in my life where I’ve purposely set aside days, weeks, or months to do nothing other than think.

One of these examples took place the year following high school. In order to understand what happened after high school, you must understand who I was during high school. I was the typical responsible, over-eager, over-energetic, straight-A, innocent, na├»ve, student council president type of girl. In plain words, I was the kind of student teachers would have dubbed “leader”. I’m sure I was annoying. Heck, even looking back that is obvious to me. I was always in front of the school announcing this or that, putting on skits, in charge of the talent show, the blood drive, the valentine’s day flower sale, etc. And while I was certainly having the time of my life (being able to use your strengths really is a good feeling), I was curious what life out of the local spotlight would be like…

…Enter the Pacific Northwest. For one year I went to a Bible school on the coast of Oregon. Instead of taking on my typical over-zealous leader facade, my goal was instead to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Grades were optional, so I opted not to participate. I observed those around me: the narcoleptic jock, the talkative future youth pastor, the shy girl, the theologically-minded smarty pants, the hippie, the other hippie, the dude who kept staring at the shy girl… When volunteers were needed, I deliberately remained silent. I sat in the back of the classroom. I toned down my energetic pretense and observed much that year.
One of the things I learned was that there are many hurting people around me, and there are little things I can do to help those people.

I guess you could call this a normal part of growing up, discovering oneself, finding who I really am.

I find it fascinating to observe and create theories for why people are mean to each other. Or why someone always needs to talk down to another. Or why this person is always aggravated. Or why that person needs to be the star of the show. Or why she is always bubbly. Or why he is always seemingly content.

On a very, very side note, I believe that many reasons why people act out in hatred (name calling, violence, prejudices, discrimination, etc) is because they do not feel heard. I believe they do not feel heard because no one is actively listening. Being heard, and in the same token, being understood, allows one to feel respected. Feeling respected leads to feeling loved. Feeling loved leads to giving love.

Just think for a moment… What would it feel like if you had one person who would sit down with you every day, ask you how you are, ask you what you did that day, ask you how you feel. What if that one person’s role was simply to listen to you, without their own agenda, without adding their own two cents. What if they asked you questions until they fully understood what you were saying. What if they listened to you until you were completely finished speaking… five minutes, one hour, five hours later? How would you feel? Content? Happy? Satisfied? Respected? Loved?

(Maybe you are lucky enough to have this.)

Now think about what it would feel like having absolutely no one to listen to you… Think of all that would get bottled up inside: opinions, happy feelings, frustrations, sad feelings, anger, confusion. Or, imagine if the person that is supposed to listen to you always interrupts, talks over you, never giving you the chance to finish what you were saying, never giving you the chance to fully express yourself. Imagine being misunderstood and never having the chance to clarify. Imagine walking around, like this, every single day… feeling unheard, frustrated, alone. Yesterdays anger piling on to today’s frustration. Imagine how unhappy you would be, knowing that there isn’t even one person who cares enough to listen to what you might have to say, not even for just one minute. What if you were never given the chance to freely say what you want to say?

There are many people who are in this situation. I have certainly experienced this. I’m sure you have too. Just take a look around and you will see it… people just trying to be heard… people just wanting to be heard.

I feel that most of the world’s hate and violence would be solved if everyone would just have one person who actively listens to them (isn’t that what we pay therapists to do?). I have often found myself in these one-sided friendships where my sole role is listener. After one particularly busy year of listening, I realized I was unhappy, discontent, and felt used. I realized that I needed someone to listen to me! Well, then I got married. (Poor Andrew). But I digress.

I guess my whole point is that I still don’t have any objective goals of what I will do with my time in London (besides, objective goals went way out of style in 2003). But I’m not worried. It’s the simple things that give me joy… whether its naming the birds that land on the birdfeeder (Alfredo, or “Al,” is the vulture-like pigeon that romps around the feeder because he knows he is way too fat to sit on it), or making my homemade latte every morning, or going for a hike on the heath, or reading the nature books scattered throughout the flat (our landlord is a nature filmographer).

I talk like I have had nothing to do, but, in fact, it has been the opposite. I’ve been kept perfectly busy, experiencing all the joy that new things have to offer. We feel at home in our little village on a hill. Our studio apartment is too small, but also just right for us. And even the daily rain shower is still beautiful (as long as the sun pokes through once in awhile). I know the newness will not last forever, and I know that one of these days I may wake up with nothing to do. Thus, I will begin my time of introspection.

At this precise moment, however, I am still in my pajamas (for I stupidly packed no other lounge clothes). My hair is wet (because I haven’t bought a hair dryer yet). I am sipping my homemade latte (of which just moments ago the machine exploded hot milk all over my single set of pajamas/lounge clothes). I find myself rambling to you about what I will be doing in the next few months in order to figure out what I will be doing for the next few months.

I’ve been told I should write a book. After all, book writing does run in the family. Ok. While that sounds all good and great and sweet, I’m wrestling with a severe lack of direction.

Ideas, anyone?

Curious as to what it actually takes to write a book, I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. My research, though, has been quite disappointing. I realized that it really doesn’t take much talent, at all, to publish a book. Or maybe it was my choice in books that led to my disappointing conclusion... For a while I was reading the classics and modern fictions, which really meant that I was reading whatever books I could get for free on my Kindle. While I wouldn’t recommend doing that, I now know what kind of a writer I DO NOT wish to be.

So then I decided to do some research with whatever books I could get my hands on during the free book swaps at the hostels. And while I also wouldn’t recommend doing that, I did read some interesting, though again, poorly written books. For a brief example (and by brief I think I read two pages), I will refer you to last summer’s book obsession: 50 Shades of Grey. Writing quality? Poor. Story quality? Very, very, very poor.

American middle-aged housewives, I imagined you to be much better than that.

[I’ll consider my writing research finished. For the sake of my mental health.]

And while my daily blog views have doubled since starting the Confessions of the Euro-fluenced chapter four months ago (don‘t get excited, doubled is one of those creatively descriptive words that means lots of things), I am now desperately trying to hang on to the readership that I’ve been so fortunate to earn. Writing this blog is my daily therapy. I’ve alluded to that fact many times before. It’s like my modern diary… an interactive journal without lock and key.

I say all of this to try to officially answer your questions of what I’ll be doing with my time in London. I’m sorry that I still haven’t really answered. Maybe including my To Do list will help!?!

Melissa’s To Do List for London

*experiment with my hair (yeah, yeah, what’s new)

*attend a MAC make-up class (thank you, Groupon)

*strategize methods for keeping the neighborhood cat hanging around

*befriend my celebrity-neighbors

*become a ‘regular’ at the neighborhood thrift stores

*become a ‘regular’ at the neighborhood coffee shop

*become a ‘regular’ at the neighborhood small music venue

*befriend the dogs on the Hampstead Heath

*explore every single street in London

*eat a ton of Chipotle

*attend Breaking Dawn Part 2 premier

*meet Robert Pattinson at aforementioned premier

*discover all the possible ways the furniture can be arranged in our two-room apartment

*try out neat-o vegetarian food combinations

(Does pickled cabbage work well in an egg sandwich?)


In between all of these things I will also be video chatting with those I love!

And in between my To Do list and video chatting, I will be entertaining you, right here, with my words and stories and thoughts.

My only hope is that you will be at least slightly entertained. Also, inspired.

You, having read to this point, is proof of that possibility.

(Thanks for hanging in there!)

But for now I must leave you in order to refill my bird feeder, go pet the cat, and then experiment with a very broken espresso machine.



.with hope.

.with love.


***You can click on the pictures and they should open, much larger, in another window!***

Our little home!

The fishing pond at Hampstead Heath! 

The vast sky at the heath! 

One of the many dogs we encounter on the heath (and probably the cutest!). 

Another view.

A typical dog walker at the heath...  

One more view... 

Our corner pub!

Utilizing our one-person kitchen (there's no excuse for that creepy smile).

What is wrong with this picture?

Our bedroom that happens to be in the living room.
My, er, closet that happens to be in the dining room.

Another kitchen view.

Our living room that happens to be in our bedroom. Studio apartments can be, well, unique.
Our landlord is a nature filmographer and has many random objects laying around. These teeth are now proudly displayed on the mantle. Any guesses to what kind of animals they belong to?

Justin, the Badger.

Typical to England, I now get my produce delivered from a local coop. This is my first delivery!

The contents of our first delivery!

Our first meal from that first delivery! I'm not really sure what I was going for...



No comments:

Post a Comment