Confessions of an Impulsive Procrastinator


people say I’m the life of the party

Certainly, I’m no stranger to what Eliot called “the awful daring of a moment’s surrender.”  One of my few memories of my family’s 9-month stay in Biloxi, Mississippi, is leaping from a chest-of-drawers onto a rocking horse Roy Rogers style, an act of derring-do that produced buckets of blood and pain so intense that it is pointless to even attempt to describe it.[1]

Alas, I could enumerate more recent acts of stupidity spurred by impulse rather than contemplation, whether it be driving my MG Midget down steps leading to the campus police department, an act of bravado that cost me a reckless driving fine of $200 dollars, an overnight stay in an establishment with bars (way too many in fact), and six points from my license. Even more recently, in the present century, impulsiveness has led to my machine-gunning undiplomatic emails and cc-ing everyone from the Pope to Mr. Peanut.

On the other hand, when it comes to everyday non-academic living, I’m the worst type of procrastinator. For example, my upper-story AC unit shut down last Wednesday, and I’ve just set an appointment to have it fixed tomorrow. The handle one of the doors leading to screen door has been broken longer than Barron Trump has been alive.[2]

Often when things do get repaired, it’s thanks to my neighbors. Friday, I was piddling around in my sweltering study upstairs when I heard banging below.

It was next-door neighbor Jim and his pal Gino working on the door. This morning another neighbor Whitney, whose landscaping company provided our yard maintenance before she and her husband sold Good Natured Gardening, arrived with a fellow to offer a quote for cleaning up the vine ridden back yard (think of Faulkner’s Miss Emily’s yard in Jefferson).

Asiatic jasmine, not a lawn, is hidden beneath the vines.

I did get a couple of things done. Went to my new classroom to draw it for my friend Kris who’s going to feng shui it. I contacted Judy’s life insurance company to hear the welcome news that after 12 weeks the claim is finally in the process of being processed. I also deposited Judy’s social security death benefit check, $255 dollars that I will no doubt spend unwisely.

Can you tell it hasn’t been feng-shuied yet?

However, these small victories were offset by failures.[3] I was rejected in my attempt to buy fill dirt for the almost always water-filled swale in my driveway that dips and rises like a ride at Six Flags.[4] My rejector suggested several other places to call, which I may one day. Also, I can’t find the red Chinese envelopes I need for the feng-shui-ing. Nor did I call a plumber to fix a toilet in the guest room bath, which I will get to tomorrow or the next day or the day after that. In fact, among today’s a dozen to-dos: “clean bedroom, read 50 pages, finish civil rights presentation, dispose of no-longer necessary artifacts “ all remain undone.

But I did crank out number 9 on the list – “create a blog post” — and accomplished something not even listed – boiling three pounds of peanuts.

So farewell sloth, hail gluttony.

[1] Okay, I can’t help myself.  Imagine vice-squeezed testicles (my landing on the saddle of the spring-loaded rocking horse) coupled with a bully taking you by the hair and slamming your face on the sidewalk (my face-first landing on a tiled-floor).

[2] Though Judy did get someone out to fix it 5 years ago but he fiddled with it for an hour, left, and never came back.

[3] Shut up, Microsoft word suggestion; that sentence needs to be in the passive voice.

[4] It does, however, dissuade tourists on golf carts to hang a right on my property.

4 thoughts on “Confessions of an Impulsive Procrastinator

  1. Following are three of my favorite quotations. I will leave you to guess as to the reason for my affection.

    (1) In 1930, Robert Benchley, of the Algonquin Round Table, revealed how he managed to pore through scientific magazines and build a bookshelf when an article was due: “The secret of my incredible energy and efficiency in getting work done is a simple one. The psychological principle is this: anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.”

    (2) Dr. Piers Steel, a psychologist at the University of Calgary: “We are willing to pursue any vile task as long as it allows us to avoid something worse.”

    (3) John Perry, a philosopher at Stanford: “Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing.”

  2. Killer quotes, Catherine! The weird thing is I’m not a procrastinator when it comes to school, but everything else I put off, not because of the “pale cast of thought,” but through some perverse combination of sloth and fear.

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