Tag Archives: Boredom

Hotel Rooms Suck

I’m currently out of town and sitting around totally bored in a hotel room. I really don’t want to write a blog post or anything but there is literally nothing else to do so why not try to be productive? After this I’ll probably try to work on some stories or something. While I don’t exactly know where this post is headed I’m going to write it anyways. This has never before been attempted on the Everything Sucks blog!

It’s already uncomfortable enough being in a city that you’ve never been in. In this case it’s Waterloo, Iowa (yay…). And it’s also discomforting knowing that the city you’re currently in which you’ve never been in before is also exactly the same as nearly every other city you’ve been in. Even though you’ve drive hundreds — even thousands of miles — across the wide open expanses of the United State of America, you always find yourself in the exact same places that you’ve already been. Our current hotel is situated less than a mile from a mall, a Target, a CVS, a handful of other hotels, a handful of gas stations, and a handful of restaurants. You already know those too: Applebees, Olive Garden, Burger King, McDonalds, Arbys, and so on.

This is America. Seriously. Zoom in on any city and its “business section” and you’ll find the same general theme of businesses. Coast to fucking coast…

My point here is that while being holed up in a hotel room is boring, you also can’t go outside and find anything else that isn’t boring. There’s no culture to explore and discover. This city is the same city I live in even if it has a different name. The streets have different names and everything is laid out differently but it’s the exact same city I’m used too: there just isn’t anything new out there and it’s not like I’m in a different country or anything. For all purposes Iowa and Illinois are exactly the same thing. No new and exciting accents, geography, or anything. Not even a new time zone.

Hotel rooms are fit nicely into this because they’re all exactly the same too. Each room of a hotel is superficially the same layout, even if one room is a mirror image of the room next to it. Each room has a shower, bed, sink, a bunch of mirrors (to make the room look bigger I’m assuming), and usually a table or a desk with a “work chair” or something like that. These rooms are cookie-cutter rooms that you’re just meant to sleep in because there isn’t much else you can do in them. Besides type bored blog posts that is.

Work in progress on “The Work Desk” feature of every hotel room.

They’re also surprisingly devoid of life as well. When you go into people’s houses or rooms they each have their own design, layout, and unique smells. People usually have their belongings/clothes/artwork/pictures/junk around that makes these places feel “lived in” and alive. Hotel rooms feel clinically clean and totally devoid of life even if they are, microbally, diverse and thriving (eww). It’s strange because the room I’m in has also been lived in by countless other people over the years and I don’t even want to think about how many babies were conceived and how many STDs were contracted on the mattress I’m laying on right now. But even knowing the amount of people and “stuff” that has actually occurred where I’m at there are no signs of anything really. It’s as clean and bland as a doctor’s waiting room. Hell, even more so as our room doesn’t have the classic “doctor’s office artwork” on the walls. A hotel room is probably the blandest living space you can find in our society.

I’m also staying at a fucking Motel 6 which is about as bottom of the barrel as you can get in terms of lodging. This is partly due to procrastinating the reservation as well as being fucking cheap. I’m notoriously cheap! A hotel room is just a place to sleep when you’re away from town and I’m not trying to stay at a place with a “fitness room” or a place that offers a “free continental breakfast” which I’m never awake in time to attend anyways. A room is a room and a bed is a bed and so be it. Anyways, Motel 6 is stupidly cheap and you can tell this from the room I’m in: this place isn’t trying to lie about its cheapness or to pamper you at all. Hell, it doesn’t even have a coffee maker which I’ve assumed was standard in all hotel rooms. This makes the room feel even more “hotely” than usual, once again pointing to the lack of stereotypical “hotel art” on the walls. These walls are bare: there is literally nothing on them besides the white and brownish-orange paint on the walls.

Next to our cheap Motel 6 is a Holiday Inn Express, and while not a 5-star place itself it is much higher up on the hotel food-chain than our Motel 6 is (Their rooms are around $90 per night while ours were around $70). In fact the building itself is higher up with its four floors overlooking our paltry two floors. Sometimes I will look out the window and see curious Holiday Inners curiously glancing out — and downwards, metaphorically and physically — into our Motel 6 rooms. And hey, I’m looking right back at them as well, a kinda passive curiosity exchanged between us. I ask in my imagination to them, “Hello, fellow traveler, what exactly are you doing in Waterloo, Iowa of all places? Are you on a business trip or are you on vacation with your family? Is this hellhole your actual destination or are you headed for more elaborate locations in the USA? Are you stopping for the night on a long journey to the West Coast or are you heading out East? Perhaps to see New York or Washington? Niagara Falls? Or maybe the Grand Canyon?” Then again maybe the man looking down on me from over there is just picking up a prostitute for the night. Who knows. I’m imaging them wondering the same thing about me as well: Who is this guy sitting in a rolly-chair with a hat on at 8 p.m.? Why is he rolling around in his hotel room in said chair? Why does he look angry? And what is he typing on his computer and why is he taking pictures of his hotel room? And why the fuck does he keep looking up at me and then typing something on his computer?

(Note: I also doubt that anyone is staying in Waterloo during a transcontinental adventure. Waterloo, IA doesn’t even have a giant interstate running through connecting anything important. 380 connectes Cedar Rapids to Waterloo but doesn’t really do much other than that. Why anyone is here is anyone’s guess.)

I’m new to staying in hotel rooms and usually only deal with them for the rare vacation and then only for a few days at most. I’m imaging the people who stay in these lifeless boxes frequently, like pilots, business travelers, musicians, etc. and I wonder what the hell they think of these places. I don’t even know what jobs require you to frequent these bland, all-the-same-but-kinda-different rooms and buildings, but it almost seems like it would be draining in a way. Like if you stay in these rooms for too long you go crazy. I’m thinking like the movie Fight Club or in the Stephen King stories 1408 or The Shining where the hotel room/hotel itself is haunted. Hotel rooms seem to have some mystery to them simply because they’ve been around for so long and have had so many people stay in them. Over time there’s bound to be something crazy happen in them. But maybe that’s the wrong outlook and that some people find these rooms comforting in a way. As all the rooms are the same I could seem them turing into “home” for the frequent traveler; a little slice of comfort and familiarity to come home to in the total blandness of them. Like if you stay in bland and drab rooms long enough you start to find them comforting in a way. Like you find yourself used to and comforted by the neutered lamp-on-desk, undecorated white walls, and wrapped up single-ply toilet papers. The white, undecorated towels. Not to mention the little shampoo bottles as well! As for me, luckily they’re only boring, even if they are intensely boring. I’m just trying to pass the time here. I’m not returning to just another hotel room on a month’s long job assignment, nor am I terrified that the room is haunted or that I’m losing my mind. Maybe boring isn’t so bad after all.

Vacation Sucks Part Deux

I have already written a post about why I cannot for the life of me enjoy vacations, but I thought it would be a fun experiment to write another post about it. It seems I cannot figure out why I am so miserable on vacations even though this misery has occurred year after year for more than a decade: I still have no clue why I hate vacations so much. So I thought it would be fun to write a new post without reading the previous post. It might be fun and enlightening comparing and contrasting these two posts, so let’s see what happens.

As a quick introduction if you haven’t read the first post: I hate vacations. For some reason while I can’t wait to take vacation actually being away from works leaves me on-edge. I feel like I should be doing something and my general mood is one of being lost, undirected, and antsy. It’s like a perpetual feeling of having something you need to do without there being anything to actually do. I find that I cannot relax as something is always prodding around in my head telling me that “You should probably be doing something right now, shouldn’t you?” It’s even worse because the feelings are so contradictory: how can you be both bored and feeling like you have something to do?

I’ve always been this way and the problem only gets worse year after year. You see, I work a union job and when I started I was given two weeks of vacation: one week was a mandatory vacation week and the other was an optional week. This wasn’t too big of a problem because I only had to be gone one or two weeks out of 52. The problem is worse now that I have three weeks of mandatory vacation and one optional week: I’m forced on vacation for 3 out of the 52 weeks in a year (5% of the year if that helps). Considering this it’s no wonder that my vacation anxiety has increased as my vacation weeks have increased. I now have almost an entire month every year where I have unavoidable anxiety, antsiness, and uselessness that I dread every time a vacation week comes up. It is a shitty feeling.

I want to also note how stupid it is to actually complain about taking vacation! Most people don’t get jack shit for vacation and are nearly forced to work every week of the year. Complaining that you’re not happy on vacation sounds like a rich person complaining about their house being too big. Like, wow bro, that sucks but it sure is hard to feel sorry for you when you own three Ferraris.

So I have this predicament every year where I’m forced to take off work and am mostly miserable while off. This had lead me to try various techniques to make myself feel better and none has really worked over the years. My first technique was to spread the weeks out evenly through the year; this allowed me to “enjoy” my vacations throughout the year while breaking up the flow of constant work. This just allowed for multiple shitty weeks to appear throughout the year. I’ve tried making “to-do” lists while I’m on vacation but this only seems to pressure me into doing chores all the time; I end up feeling busy and pressured even if I am off work. My usual go-to technique has been to simply drink: by drinking you keep yourself entertained, busy, and preserve your sense of self-worth (mostly because you’re fucking drunk and life is fun and confusing and you can do random shit). I used to think my vacation drinking hinted at something deeper psychologically; I now think I drink just to not be fucking bored.

Making matters worse is having anxiety about going back to work! You’d think that being miserable on vacation would make work seem appealing, but it doesn’t. It seems that after I actually go on vacation I do enjoy something about being away from work. So that going back to work also gives me anxiety. What the fuck is wrong with me? Am I just never happy?

My new theory is that I hate adjusting to new things. It isn’t so much going to work or staying home from work that I hate, but that I hate changes to my daily/weekly routine. This could explain why I have a mild hatred of the weekends to. It isn’t that I’m bored or used to being busy or needing projects to do but with just flip-flopping from “work mode” to “vacation mode” and back to “work mode” over and over throughout the year. Obviously placing vacations separate from each other would only serve to worsen my mood as I’d have more “adjusting” to do. This seems to be the case with past experiences. I simply hate adjusting to new things that break my daily flow.

The obvious solution to this problem is to take all of my vacation weeks at the same time: instead of having a week here and there off I’d take an entire month off! This initially sounds like it would be bad as you probably don’t want to go back to work, but according to my theory, this should minimize the number of “adjusting” phases. When you go on vacation you hate life but — as people do — you adjust to your new norm. After you adjust you can enjoy your time away from work! The same is true for when you go back to work; yes, it’ll suck at first but after a few days you adjust to the new normal and you’re more or less happy able to deal with life.

A small problem appears here though: I don’t have enough seniority to pull off a block of vacations! While I tried it this year I simply couldn’t. My vacations this year are all a week or two apart. I take a week off work, I work a week, then I take another week off, and back to work…and so on. Luckily my weeks off are still close enough together that I can sort of “remember” the vacation mindset and each week of vacation is slightly more enjoyable than the weeks before it. While I haven’t solved the problem I seemed to have minimized it this year.

Another thing that I’ve found that helps is to have a “suggested to-do list”. I bitched before about having a “strict to-do list” because this makes you feel obligated to do things on vacation. It just feels like a chore list. My “suggested to-do list” is merely that: a list of thing that I can and should work on, but they’re more like large projects than simple “to-do” menial shit. For example I had things like “finish a painting,” “finish and ebook,” and “write blog posts” for my list. If I’m bored, antsy, or depressed I just look at the list and begrudgingly sit down to work on a project even if I don’t want to.

This “keep busy at all expenses” has lead to a unique few weeks off of work. A few of these are large projects, but most of them are just random shit that I decided to do while not having anything better to do. Boredom leads to creativity, even if it is a stupid sort of creativity. Here’s what I actually did do during my past three weeks off of work:

I’m really proud of this so, yeah, shameless self promotion.
  • Finished Facebook Sucks ebook
  • Paint a picture of Princess Zelda
  • Wrote a few blog posts
  • Washed and waxed my car
  • Changed my dad’s car’s brakes
  • Helped put my dad’s car’s tire back on after it randomly fell off
  • Helped put my dad’s car’s lug nuts back on after the tire almost fell off randomly a second time
  • Got high on cough medicine
  • Helped my dad buy/install a car battery while high on cough medicine
  • Listened to music
  • Went on a 34-mile bike ride
  • Went on a bunch of shorter bike rides
  • Got high on cough medicine a second time
  • Figured out the meaning of life while high on cough medicine
  • Forgot the meaning of life because I didn’t write it down
  • Read some books
  • Cleaned and greased bike bearings
  • Put a new AC on our shitty Dodge Caravan
  • Change brakes on my friend’s car
  • Shitposted on Facebook
  • Went to (and hated) Six Flags
  • Made candles
  • Finished and published a book on options trading
  • Mowed the yard a few times

That was kinda a rambly post, so to wrap things up a little bit: I hate vacations and have always hated vacations. I’m always bored/unmotivated and feel anxious/on-edge with a persistent feeling that there’s really something I should be doing. Over the years I’ve tried various techniques — like making lists and breaking up my vacation — in a futile attempt to enjoy my vacations. This year I’ve realized that, maybe, my vacations suck because I need to adjust to being away from work. My anxiety is mostly from having an extra five hours of free time a day that I don’t know how to utilize. Going back to work also has one of these “adjustment phases” so my grand idea was to take all my vacation at once to minimize these “adjusting phases”. I also wasn’t able to do this this year. And to keep myself busy on vacation I’ve resorted to various random things that sound really stupid when you write them out. So that’s it: vacation sucks because you have to adjust to being on vacation in the first place to enjoy it.

Looking back on my last vacation post wasn’t as interesting as I expected. I didn’t get into the nitty-gritty psychological details as to why I can’t enjoy vacation. I mostly complained about the fact that I never do anything on vacation and how I squander the entire week off. Something about having too much free time causes you to procrastinate endlessly. I also hinted at some deep interplay between anxiety and productivity that I touch on in an upcoming post. To hint at: apparently I’m more productive and motivated the more stressed out I am, which is counterintuitive.