80 beats per minute.

Your heartbeat comes in dull thuds while the world moves around you.

You hear about tragedies in far-off lands on the news and sigh.

You read the musings of online comedians and chuckle more out of habit than anything else.

You wander from home to work, work to home, and then wake up and do it again.

Once a year, you might go on vacation, a brief distraction from the regular goings-on. You sleep in, then lie on the beach, inert, wondering if your cellulite is showing.

A week later, you return to the everyday and the waiting bills, and nothing has changed.

Boredom. Boredom. Boredom.

Bored dumb.

In 80 beats per minute.

Bored people give up things attempting to change their world. It’s easier than adding, the taking away.

They eliminate liquor—too many worries about getting their skirts trapped in their panties, stumbling drunk out of the toilets with their fleshy half-moons exposed for all the world to see.

They slice away all manner of delights—cakes and chocolates—in an effort to live a longer life that tastes considerably less sweet.

They whittle away at their caffeine intake, as though their pulses need slowed any further.  

Alcohol and sugar and coffee are things bored people give up. They cut out pleasure—it’s mortification of the flesh in order to feel something.

Not me. I’m giving up boredom.

I’ll enlist complete strangers to help me, because the people in a boring life encourage stasis. They say helpful things, like:

Why on Earth would you want to do that?--my sister

Could you cover that shift?--my manager

At your age?--myself

Your boredom is what these people know and, therefore, what they prefer. It’s comfortable for them.

It’s best to rely on the kindness of strangers when abandoning a boring life. Strangers don’t have expectations. 



I select the History of 20th-Century Art.

I pick the course by flipping open to a random page in the continuing education catalog. I point my index finger while covering my eyes.

(In truth, it was the result of my second try. My first attempt landed me in an Introduction to Accounting course, so I let the glossy pages fall open again. I refuse to give up boredom in order to take up accounting.)

It begins on a Thursday morning.

I file into a nondescript brick building, into a room filled with whiteboard and laminate tabletops and a buzzing mass of students half my age. Some students buzz with nervousness, some with excitement, some with sleepless giddiness, but they all buzz.

No one here is bored. Bored people don’t buzz like this. Bored people sound like idling engines in cars that never move.

I’m learning to buzz again after idling for so long.


Object. 1936.

This is Méret Oppenheim. It’s part of the collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

A fur-covered cup, saucer, and spoon project on the screen. Pelts lounge and linger around curves. The set looks soft in a way so impossibly luxurious, it would melt warmly in your fingers, if you could touch it. I want to touch it. I want to wriggle into the gentle nest of the cup. I can’t remember ever looking at anything before like I’m looking at this photo of a cup, saucer, and spoon.

M-e-r-e-t O-p-e-n-h-e-i-m, I write in my notebook, hoping I spelled the name correctly.

I add an asterisk, just in case.*

It’s an example of Surrealism, the instructor continues.

He is a man called Matthew Dunn (Just-Call-Me-Matt, he insists the first day of class). He is my age, with stubble and a black T-shirt he likely selected from the floor this morning.

She has taken the ordinary--the coffee cup--and transformed it into something extraordinary by juxtaposing it with the fur. In fact, the original name was Lunch In Fur.

I add another asterisk next to her name because she deserves stars.**

I marvel at being involved in anything where the word juxtaposing makes sense. I feel like, soon, I too will be sleeping in until lunchtime and taking my first coffee wrapped in extravagance. My eyes indulge in Object by Méret Oppenheim until Just-Call-Me-Matt replaces the set with melting clocks.


Soft pink silk drapes over my fingers.

I remove the kimono from the cardboard box. It unfurls like hair being released from a top knot and spills over my lap on the way down.

When I was married, I slept in sexless pyjamas—oversized tops and droopy bottoms. The kimono is voluminous rather than oversized.*

*Oversized and voluminous: it seems like a small matter of semantics, but the difference between the two words means the difference between boredom and living. Oversized means you are small and in danger of disappearing within the thing. Voluminous means you are carried along with a joyful buoyancy and the thing billows—makes you larger, grander. It may seem like a small matter of semantics, but it makes all the difference in the world. I consider my words carefully these days, when one word can swallow you whole and the other can carry you away.

I lift the hem of the kimono, which lies in a puddle on the floor. There are peonies growing there in reds and oranges, set against the sunrise pink. Bold green stems weave around the curves of the silk in my hand. My days will begin like this, with the dew of the shower beading on my skin and foliage clinging to the moisture. I look forward to my mornings now.