Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Highly Personal Art of a Professional Procrastinator

I'm having a difficult time getting started this morning. Actually, I have to amend that because it’s afternoon already. Damnit.

I got out of bed with excellent intentions – but because I couldn’t fall asleep last night, my alarm woke me out of the kind of dream that seemed so real it was as if I was in the middle of another life. These types of dreams are disorienting and I while I remember getting out of bed, and waking Emma up for school, I think I then stumbled back into bed and slept again because the next think I knew Smith was waking me up and handing me a cup of coffee (bless him). Every one else was out of bed by then, dogs fed, Maddy almost out the door for the bus, Emma was dressed and wearing shoes (a miracle), and I was still groggily drinking my coffee. Everyone left. I sat down to my laptop. Right here, in my crowded and messy office. But I couldn’t get anything going. I wrote one sentence. Here it is:

The other day I was my friend Nathan and I were having a working lunch – which means we brought work we were supposed to have rea

It’s not even a finished sentence. It’s not even grammatical. It sounds like a two-year-old wrote it. I don’t remember where I was going with it either.

I got up and went downstairs to the kitchen because the dogs were barking at the joggers and women walking along the sidewalk with baby carriages. This happens a lot. Dogs tend to take things personally. I checked for mail even though it was, at this point, only 9am. The mail carrier rarely shows before 3. I made more coffee and went outside to sit on my small deck. I brought a notebook and Lydia Davis’s novel The End of The Story, which I’m obsessed with right now. I’m also obsessed with her short stories, which are truly short and almost perfect. I read a few pages of The End of the Story but  my eyelids begin to tremble so I closed them and instantly I was dreaming because I believed myself to be baking bread with oatmeal raisins and apricots. I woke when I felt my jaw release and my mouth fall open. My notebook was on the table next to me so I made a list of all I wanted to do today. Here it is:
This is just a partial list. It goes on for a few pages and includes categories such as Teaching, Personal Hygiene and Do Immediately!

As you can see, up near the top of the page, no longer in the lines, is a note to make bread with raisins oatmeal and apricots – so that nap was not exactly a waste of time. So far, however, I have completed nothing on that list. Nor have I written or read much. After writing my list, I got up and lay down on the couch next to my dog and fell asleep. This time I didn’t even have useful dreams. I slept about twenty minutes with the dog curled beside me like a coda. A truck hitting the manhole sized pothole in front of my house shook me awake. At this point, I was even more groggy.

Part of the problem is that list. How many of us are taught as children that one must do the unpleasant things first before allowing oneself to do things that are fun? As you can see from that list above, there are fun and unpleasant things (fun=bake bread, buying geraniums. Unfun= doing the dishes, making doctor’s appointments, cleaning out the fridge.) But today I woke up with a groggy two-year-old’s frame of mind. (I don’t WANT to do the dishes!(stamps small foot) Well, ya can’t bake the bread if you don’t do the dishes. (fists on hips)) There are things I SHOULD do before I can undertake those things I WANT to do. Unfortunately for me, writing is both fun and unpleasant; it is both something I SHOULD DO and something I WANT TO DO (Stamps small foot again), and so on days like today I find myself in this weird limbo, caught between the stubborn child and the admonishing adult, almost completely paralyzed ,unable to do much more than write lists and fall asleep.

I have days like this more often than I want to truly acknowledge.

Back I went upstairs thinking getting dressed and dabbing some makeup on my face might succeed in tricking my brain to getting down to business. Feeling more awake, I opened my laptop. Feeling peckish, I went downstairs and made popcorn, which always makes the dogs happy. I don’t know why the air popper’s funnel doesn’t funnel all the popcorn into the bowl – there’s always popcorn flying around my messy kitchen. But this is what dogs are for, so at least my floor is clean. Came upstairs and re-woke the laptop. Opened a fresh page in Word. Decided to write on a yellow tablet instead. Couldn’t find a pen with a satisfying enough scratch to it. Returned to the laptop and the blank Word page. Wiped the popcorn oil and salt off my laptop keyboard.

Wrote: I'm having a difficult time getting started this morning. Actually, I have to amend that because it’s afternoon already. Damn-it.

(stamps small foot)

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