Friday, September 29, 2006

Home again, home again

Yep, I'm back. Not that I was all that anxious to come back, but bills needed paying, chores doing. The usual responsibilities. So here I am.

I've actually been home for over a week and it's taken me awhile to surf around to all my usual haunts and post the odd comment here and there. It's nice to come back to familiar names and personalities, but I did need to get away for a bit.

Too much of the same thing tends to make me irritable. Not sure exactly why. For as long as I can remember, I've felt this way. I dislike (not quite hate) monotonous routine. I guess I need the stimulation of meeting each new day with some degree of enthusiasm -- the feeling that things may or may not happen in any given order; that things I never expected to happen might happen; that there will be new ideas and challenges to be faced.

Some routine is okay and necessary to get through mundane chores. But if I had to do the same thing day after day by rote, I might go insane.

In my teens, I had a summer job working in a cannery. It was on an assembly line sorting green beans. Great, huge buckets of beans would get dumped onto one end of a conveyor belt. We, the sorters, stood on each side of the belt as the beans moved along. Our job was to pick out all the twigs, leaves and 'non-bean' stuff, and the rotten, discoloured or under-sized ones and discard them into buckets next to our feet. The beans that got to the end of the belt were supposed be ready and 'perfect' for canning. If they weren't, a supervisor would come yell at us (because the machinery was so loud it was the only way to be heard), take the unacceptable beans and dump them back onto the conveyor belt for re-sorting.

The laziest girls (there were no guys) or those suffering late-night blues or hangovers always wanted to stand at the front of the line where the beans were first dumped because there was less pressure to catch the bad ones. They would just flatten the pile, shuffle through the beans and pick up the odd twig or leaf and let the rest go on down the line. The pressure to catch all the bad stuff increased the nearer you were to the end of the belt.

I began the summer trying different positions along the belt. I soon realized that I preferred working near the end rather than the beginning. Yes, there was greater pressure to catch the last of those demon bad beans, but at least it kept me awake!

At the front end of the belt, the monotonous drone of the machinery, warmth and humidity and unrelenting boredom of it all made my eyes glaze over and I'd catch myself almost falling asleep on my feet. I tried various tricks to keep awake: singing to myself, imagining animal shapes in the beans, counting the rotten ones (bad idea), stomping my feet. Nothing really worked until I started standing near the end of the line. I made it a personal challenge to never let any bad beans get through to be rejected by the supervisor. It forced me to stay awake. It was the only thing that kept me going.

I can think of nothing I've ever done since, that is as mind-numbingly boring as watching piles and piles of smelly beans go by in an unending vomitous green stream for eight and a half hours straight (less two 10-minute coffee breaks and half hour lunch). I might consider slitting my throat if I ever got stuck on that type of assembly line again.

I know some people take comfort in their routines. Maybe it gives them a sense of control in a world that is largely uncontrollable.

I have an in-law like this. She relishes and wallows in her daily routine. She can't tolerate having her morning routine altered. She MUST have her xx minutes to bathe and do makeup; she MUST have xx minutes to eat (the same) breakfast; she MUST read her morning newspaper over coffee; and she WON'T be rushed. The rest of her day follows similar set patterns. Any deviation from her routine sends her into a nervous frenzy. I'm not kidding. An unexpected dinner invitation will be firstly met with refusal, followed by - if she's talked into it and there's enough lead-in time – a mad scurrying to re-do makeup, find the right clothes and shoes, touch-up her hair and be ready and waiting an hour in advance.

She hates travelling for exactly the same reasons that I love travelling: She doesn't like the unknown or unexpected, doesn't adjust well 'on-the-fly'; doesn't like speaking to strangers, doesn't like to try 'strange' food, and worries about getting lost. Not me. I like the challenge of learning about a new place, meeting and speaking to people and trying the local food.

In a way, it's odd because I was extremely shy as a child. I used to spend hours, if not days, alone in my room with just my books and imagination. I hardly said a word or answered any questions (unless directly asked) in school. It's been an evolution for me to go from meek and mild child to an outgoing adult. I think I'm still introverted, but in a more outward way, if that makes sense. I guess It shows that people can and do change.

Per usual, I've ended up in a place I didn't expect. Although, it is my first attempt at posting after my hiatus, right?

I'll end this post by keeping my still warm vacation thoughts alive.

I brought some sunsets home with me. Some of you may have seen them already, but here they are for non THH'rs. I hope you enjoy them: