Put your head down, your nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, money where your mouth is, hand on the helm jam on the biscuit, weasel in the rabbit hole, martini in the left hand and pool stick across the right, for I say unto you: cliches are fun when properly abused, and they are an excellent way to pass the time when you ought to be doing something else. Like, say, work.
I procrastinate. A lot.
This is not my fault. I place the blame it squarely upon my dearly beloved professor of Shakespeare at the University of Chicago. This blessed gentleman was not only the owner of several of those delightful jackets with the leather patches on the sleeves – not to mention a bicycle, a full head of white hair, and an incredibly sweet and welcoming wife who didn’t seem to mind filthy college students in her house at all hours – but was also a scholar of no small distinction who had been teaching the Bard for over fifty years and had seen a paper written on nearly every possible topic on the subject. I mention this because he made ‘A’s contingent on producing a thesis that he had not seen before. In fifty years.
I spent a full day writing my first paper, and I’d like everyone to bear in mind that I write very quickly and generally spend a good deal of time ‘thinking’ about it before I actually put pen to paper. I got a B+ on it. ‘Good writing,’ said he, in his comments, ‘but I’ve heard this argument before. Also, you happen to be wrong, but you didn’t lose points on that.‘ Is it any wonder that there was a deep and abiding love in my heart for this man?
The next paper I consulted with him beforehand to make sure he hadn’t seen the topic before. He was about to go onstage for a production of The Tempest, he was dressed in robes and a good deal of stage makeup, and he discussed my topic with me so arrayed until he had to answer ten minute call. He hadn’t heard the topic before. I spent the afternoon writing it. I got an A-.
The final paper I completely forgot about. It was finals week, I had a class in global warming taught by a professor who bore a remarkable resemblance to Gimli of Lord of the Rings, if Gimli dropped the axe and the helm and discussed particle dispersion a lot, and I figured my studying hours were best spent on physics. I wound up reading the play (again, I’d read it once before in high school), deciding on my topic, and writing the paper all in the space of five hours.
I got an A.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I procrastinate. It seems to work for me.
The trouble is, while procrastinating projects works for me, what I tend to do with the spare time is never good. It usually involves pop songs, for some reason. These are the moments in my life when I tend to think, “What would I say to all my loved ones in the afterlife if the Apocalypse happened right now and we all got to view our last twenty minutes over and over again? Is there any realistically cool explanation for spending one’s last moments on Earth rocking out to nineties one-hit wonders? I don’t think there is.”
I could do cool things when I procrastinate. If I scheduled it right, I could be procrastinating certain projects while scrambling to meet a deadline on another. I could dance or sing or train squirrels to do the tarantella. But I keep putting it off, because none of those things have deadlines.
Procrastination is not the problem. The problem is, I don’t have enough things to procrastinate. If I did, I could be in a constant state of panic, and everything would get done, and it would all be BRILLIANT.
I’ll tell you all about it. Tomorrow.
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