The Day of Not Doing Shit

From left to right: Phil, Larry, Alex, Nora, Tom and Susan. Not pictured: Scooter

It’s one of those days where everything fascinates me but the manuscript on Microsoft Word. I play with the cat, water my plants, talk to my plants, and then name my plants. Phil, Larry, Alex, Nora, Tom, and Susan. I then text a friend to tell him how I cleverly named my plants in the acronym PLANTS. He does not find this as astounding as I do. I carry the cat around and try to get her into a forced impromptu fight with a spider who’s been edging his way closer to my bed.

The cat doesn’t take the bait and the spider runs away from us into my bedroom. They both kind of seem embarrassed for me. I am failing at not doing things.

I’m procrastinating today. Big time.

And while it’s something we all do, especially if we work from home, I take it hard. The thing is, I fling a lot of ‘don’t procrastinate’ rhetoric at students, so when I fall victim to the calliope of fucking off, I feel like a fraud. My particular rhetoric: get things done early and it’s like a vacation from work for the rest of the day.

Now, I truly believe and usually put this advice into practice. I get up early, have a nice routine of reading, stretching, journaling, and sitting quietly. I make coffee, tidy up, water my plant guys and girls, and then I get to work.

But sometimes, things go horribly wrong. I have diagnosed the mistakes which lead to the procrastination. Among them are drinking the day before and starting late, reading too much and finding it hard to motivate myself under the watchful gaze of the crushing talent of Louis de Bernières, Sarah Vowell, or James Clavell. But the most common mistake is allowing myself to check the internet before I start writing.

The internet is a temptress. Come on, sailor, don’t you want to confirm your political bias with a traipse through CNN? Don’t you want to see what makes Trump the world’s biggest cunt today? (Because there’s a brand new reason literally every day). Don’t you need to go look at the rating scores and commentary for Modern Family and Breaking Bad and do a crossover comparison that will be sure to take up hours?  


It’s infuriating.  

What is more infuriating is that I don’t procrastinate writing projects for other people. So I get busy with the work when I have an article due at the magazine or materials for a Brazilian school system whose workload and deadline suggest that Nazis are still alive, well, and still running things down there. But when it comes to doing my own work, I can fall into an awful routine of dawdling.

So, like you, I find things to do that are not work. In the past I might have wanked to kill some time, but stopped after I realized that I still had all my work to do, but had to do it while hungry and tired. Furthermore, it only killed about 3 minutes including mental foreplay.

Recently, I made the mistake of clicking on Facebook articles for Ranker, Cracked, and Brightside. I knew what I was doing. My page is now flooded by these listicles and they sit there as I scroll mindlessly, just flirting with me to click one. 25 actors in their first film and last film. 10 things you didn’t know about Band of Brothers. 20 of the toughest snipers in the history of war. 20 Easter eggs in Spielberg films.

I have perfected the art of checking my email on my phone, while my computer is open to my email inbox about two feet in front of me. As if I might get an email in the nanosphere of cyberspace between the computer and my phone. I listen to Burke teaching Chinese children on the computer in the other room and try to solve her riddle-questions before they do. I am 4/8 today.

In the throes of my procrastination I get frustrated and angry with myself. Though I do not get angry enough with myself to stop procrastinating. It’s sort of like being a drug addict, only the drug is the observation of your time being beaten to death by a variety of bullshit in slow motion.

I have learned the tricky game of Virtuous Procrastination. This is when we do things that are productive, but not the thing we are actually supposed to do. I have cleaned my house, worked out, and written long emails to avoid my work. I have checked and rechecked my work email until something appeared and then I rolled my eyes and pretended to be pissed off that I’m getting distracted from my work. There is no item too small for a grocery store trip and, as a result of this, I have developed quite a popsicle addiction to boot.

Today in desperation, Phil, Larry, Alex, Nora, Tom, Susan, Bela, and I watch Modern Family. Scooter is sort of left out because he’s on the bookshelf next to the TV. I have a notebook on my lap and tell myself that I’m looking for inspiration for a blog post. At the end I start writing a post on the evils of procrastination. So, you know, full circle.

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