Saturday, October 24, 2009

Never Do Today What You Can Put Off Until Tomorrow

Well chickens, it is no surprise to any of you that I am a serious procrastinator. To say that your Polymath has elevated procrastination to an art form does not even begin to do justice to my ability to leave shit to the last minute.

It is a skill honed over years of doing homework for one class during the class which preceded it. And yes, I am including graduate school in this equation, and no, I’m not particularly proud of myself. I have been known to write research papers which were supposed to span a whole semester of work in the weekend before they were due, compose science fair projects out of whole cloth a mere 24 hours before needing to schlep my display board into the gymnasium, and more than once cut the five periods before my English class in order to read the whole novel upon which we were being tested. AND I LOVE TO READ!

I once wrote over 8000 words in one day because I had procrastinated a deadline beyond all reason. AND I LOVE TO WRITE!

What is interesting about my particular procrastination pathology is that sometimes projects which I have procrastinated only get done while in fact procrastinating doing something else.

Case in point, my guest room closet.

My Victorian Era apartment is not lacking at all in charm, architectural interest, windows or space. It has beautiful hardwood floors and amazing built-ins and tall ceilings. It has a spectacular circular bay in the front, and I kid you not, the windows in that bay have curved glass that follows the same curve as the walls. It is my single favorite place on earth.

Part of my love for it resides in accepting its many imperfections. It heats indifferently with loudly clanky radiators, requiring layers of clothes and many throw blankets in the winter, not to mention creating an atmosphere entirely devoid of humidity that makes for five months a year of extra-strength lotion and ashy elbows and cracked heels. It gets dusty pretty much within eleven seconds of being dusted, and every year a different grouping of tiles does a kamikaze leap off of the shower wall. While the entertaining rooms are an embarrassment of riches, the bedrooms are small and oddly shaped. And there is minimal closet space.

When I was married, the his and hers closets in the bedroom didn’t come close to providing enough storage, so we used the guest room closet as overflow. When I got divorced, one project I did not procrastinate was to immediately take over both bedroom closets, my clothes were very excited not to be living apart anymore. The guest room closet quickly became something of a junk drawer. I decided I should convert it into a linen closet/shoe closet, in order to house two of my favorite things (and two things that I tend to over-purchase, requiring inventive storage). I took everything out of the closet, measured everything out, and bought all the necessary supplies.

And then someone called, or there was a marathon of The Surreal Life on, or perhaps something sparkly flew by, but whatever the cause, the supplies, along with all the crap I had taken out of the closet went right back into it and the door was shut.

For five years.

Until, procrastinating on a book deadline, it suddenly became priority number one and I again pulled everything out of the closet, installed the shelves, put away my linens and shoes and patted myself on a job well done, if not done in a timely fashion. The fact that the whole thing only took about 3 ½ hours, after five years of putting it off, is not relevant, but is embarrassing.

It is often thus with my procrastination, that as paralyzed as I am by inertia, as daunting as things seem, usually once I get started it really isn’t that bad, and usually is much less of a pain than I build it up in my head to be.

So it is often with this blog. I have every intention of writing several times a week. I WANT to post with regular precision, I want to be able to come up with those witty once-a-week specialty posts that other bloggers come up with, like Meatless Mondays on food blogs, or Bullet Point Fridays on a mommyblog. I could recap a show like Blackbird does with Survivor, or explain a witty food idiom like Claudine does. I may be a procrastinator, but I do respond well to deadlines, so at least I know if I had a promised day-of-the-week posting, I know I would do it. Probably at 3am that day, but I would do it.

But so far, nothing particular has jumped out as the right thing.

I don’t have pets, so I can’t give a weekly update as to the antics of furry creatures in my life. I’m not really dating much these days, so I can’t regale you all with tales of a Charming Suitor or the hilarity of blind dates gone wrong.

This post began as an apology for not posting more often…but it seems to be ending with a request for assistance. Your Polymath may be really good at a bunch of stuff and pretty oddly knowledgeable about random topics, but she is good and truly stumped and needs your help. I want to share more often. What would you like to read about?

Pick a day of the week and a catchy topic, and if I pick yours, an appropriate prize will come your way.

In the meantime, I will try to get my poop in a group and get in touch more often.


  1. How about "Procrastination Wednesday"? You could list all the things you are procrastinating. Or, you could just do it tomorrow... Seriously, I just stumbled onto your blog from something on Jen Lancaster's page. I really appreciate your writing and sense of humor! :)

  2. OOOO, I have a GREAT idea! You could pick a cookbook, a really famous one, and try to cook all of the recipes in it in a year and blog about it... Oh, wait. nevermind. :|

  3. How about what you see, over the span of a day or a week, out that spectacular circular bay window you have?

  4. How about best meal of the week Wednesday, one you made or the restauant you ate it at. It could be a prelude to watching top chef!

  5. I know that being an Author can be a job where you often find yourself at home, in pajamas, with nobody to interact with except for the words on your computer. So I propose this: Pick one new thing a week that you want to try (Probably something you have always wanted to try, but maybe ended up procrastinating on doing?) And blog about it. This will get you out of the house, force you to experience or do those things before a 5 year period, and may even help you to procrastinate NEW things at home :) New restaurant? Poetry reading? Indoor skydiving? We await your adventures!

  6. I like all these ideas but I second the cooking one. I always like reading your cooking blogs. Maybe you could even ask readers to vote on a list of ingredients/a main ingredient that you "have" to use.

    Another cooking idea: With the holidays coming up, people could always use ideas for menus. What about blogs on great, easy side dishes? Or a festive appetizer and accompanying cocktail?

  7. Argh! Nina Hayes had the same idea as I did! Try something new and blog about it.

    I too found your blog via Jen Lancaster. I enjoy your writing and have wished you would post more. Your cooking stories were good. I pretty much enjoy whatever you write about...just keep it coming!

  8. You can borrow my "Two for Tuesday" which isn't original by any means. Maybe every Tuesday you post one recipe and one story about procrastination or whatever other adventure you went through that week.

  9. Wierd Wednesday. You can tell us about something weird, odd or just silly that you did or saw that week.

  10. Stacey's Sundae Sundays-

    Your writing is the dessert of life. Sure, it might not be something substantial that will end global warming or foil a terrorist plot... but it is something precious and wonderful and my life would personally be gloomier without your wordcraft in it.

    I know others feel the same. These past weeks of waiting for an update were agony. Yes, people can survive without dessert- but what kind of existence is that, really?!
    Give us something sweet to look forward to when we come into work on Monday morning: treat us to a delicious bit of your writing!

  11. Great post! It's good to hear from other procrastinators.
    I struggle with the same thing on my blog and I've been posting every day. I do Wordless Wednesdays (just posting a photo) with regularity. I also started a Meet the Exes Monday, which I did for some time but the whole not dating regularly thing got in my way! And to me anything involving memes (I do Friday Fill-Ins rather infrequently) is mostly more work to come up with clever answers. So, I can't wait to see what you come up with!