Written by Cassidy Bull
Art by geralt
The steady beat of beeping yanks me away from bad dreams every morning. The alarm gets set for 8:55 because 9:00 is too on the dot, too exact. If the time ends in a zero, or god forbid a double zero, it feels overly formal. Why do we schedule things for the even times always? A lifetime of being occupied at o’clocks has led to eternal anxiety about the start of hours. Racking my forgetful brain to triple check I’ve nowhere to be.
After a few snoozes of the beyond annoying, headache-inducing racket, I drag myself off the mattress that was born before me and onto shag carpet from the 70s. Another day, another zombie stumble to brush my teeth. Mint in the morning, always too sharp a flavor. But those other toothpastes are even worse. I saw a cinnamon one at the store once and literally shuddered at the thought.
Every so often, when I’m scrubbing bristles over my slightly yellowed teeth, despite the package’s whitening advertisement, I’m struck with overwhelming indignation because I’m going to have to do this underwhelming activity twice a day, every day, for the rest of my goddamn life. Too much of our time is dedicated to housekeeping ourselves. Evolution failed somewhere.
I’ve found that I suffer from chronic boredom. It plagues me. It makes me roll my eyes and sigh a deep, bothered breath in the direction of things that really ought to be interesting. Books that are praised for slow burn I end up throwing across the room, movies without action make my eyes glaze over. I used to like painting, but now I’ve used every color, there’s no new shade, each brush stroke looks the same. Sudoku’s too easy. Crossword’s no fun. I’ve run out of hobbies. Too impatient for chess. Too cold out for golf. Too alone for bowling.
Maybe I’ve hit a lull in life. Graduated college, couldn’t get a job— even entry level positions require years of experience. Been bartending for a while, at least there’s some chemistry in that. Maybe my degree won’t be totally useless.
I spit out as much toothpaste as I can and head to the kitchen. With a sigh, I pull open the fridge, knowing it’s futile. It’s practically empty, yet I stare into the white shelves anyway. Maybe if I stand here long enough, letting the chill flow over me, groceries I’m too lazy to buy will appear. They don’t appear. They never do. I resign myself to coffee for breakfast again. Coffee isn’t a meal, I know that. I know that. But it’s going to be today, just like it has been every day this week, because I cannot bring myself to go to the sad, abnormally beige store with food for sale that has a 50 percent chance of sporting a long-passed expiration date.
It’s hard to escape routine. We fall into patterns so easily, even if we’re trying not to. Wake up, brush your teeth, put on socially acceptable clothes, go to work, hate it, go home, figure out what the hell to make for dinner, watch a show, go to bed, start the cycle over again. Wash, rinse, repeat, or whatever. It’s mundane. Who decided life should be this way? Why was society designed to turn us into pathetic, unhappy, unfulfilled worker bees? Actually, that’s an insult to bees. Bees are cool. They get to fly around, dance to speak, make honey, and allow life to flourish. Bees literally keep the world alive. What the fuck do we do for the world?
What do I do for the world? I pour drinks to suspiciously young-looking 21 year olds and straight up suspicious-looking 40 year olds at the shitty bar near my high school where I used to be a suspiciously young-looking “21” year old. I had aspirations. Have. I have aspirations. They’re still there, somewhere. Hopefully they’ll stick around for a while.
The coffee isn’t bad. I sip it slowly from a too-bright orange mug. I like coffee. It gives me the energy I’ve never had naturally. I flip open my laptop and press the spacebar impatiently as it, like me, takes too long to wake up. Lately, I’ve been browsing PhD programs. If I can’t get a job, maybe I can get a doctorate, and then get a job. Maybe I could just get the doctorate and then teach. Warn the future generations about the horrors of post-college life.
More school sounds like a drag. If I go that route, I’ll be in academia for the rest of my life. I’ll be bored for the rest of my life. What other option do I have? At least in grad school, I’d have the opportunity to not be a waste of space. I’d have an opportunity, which was a stranger to me now. I could do some research, sure it wouldn’t be interesting, but it would still, like, contribute to something.
I down the last of the coffee— the bitter bit at the bottom. The empty mug goes in the sink next to three other empty mugs from the past few days. I tell myself once again that I’ll wash them later today. I’m always telling myself I’ll do things later, and I never do them later. With life too. Everyone tells me I have time to figure things out. I tell myself I’ll figure it all out eventually. If I’m being honest, though, I won’t. God, how am I supposed to know what to do with myself?
My dwindling clean clothes greet me when I open the closet door. My ever-growing pile of dirty clothes on the floor grabs at my ankles, trying to pull me down. I almost let it. It would be so much easier to just collapse into a pity puddle and let myself expire. Maybe I should. I wouldn’t have to endure this morning monotony for another goddamn day. Maybe I’m depressed.