Never Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Can Put Off Till Next Week
June 15, 2013
I’m raising procrastination to a high art. Example: I am supposed to turn in my mileage documentation by the fifth of the month—it is now June 15 and it’s still in the folder, line upon line (64 or so) and I haven’t calculated the mileages on Bing yet.
Last night when I got on the computer to do it, I started playing solitaire. I finally won on the sixth try—then looked up other free games, looked up Bradley Manning and NSA articles on World Can’t Wait, tried to watch a youtube video, and browsed political and other blogs until I was exhausted and went to bed.
I finally threw away my book about overcoming procrastination. The program in the book required too much perseverance. Besides, it didn’t fit on the shelf crammed with books about being organized; “How to Get Things Done,” “Organizing for A.D.D.”. “Clutter-Free Living”, etc. I misplaced a library book about clutter and hoarding called “Buried in Treasures,” and didn’t find it for weeks. I had to pay an $11 fine. (This is totally true: I wish I was making it up.)
Procrastination puts me into a bummer mood, because what has to be done is always mildly irritating, like a squeaky wheel that needs to be greased. Trouble is, I’m too interested in other things to get the WD40, so to speak. Once this week I sat down to do the cursed mileage, and inadvertently left the t.v. on. The movie “Elephant Man” had just started, and it was absolutely wonderful (again). The sad plight of John Merrick drew me in. I was touched and teary at the end of the movie; the mileage papers, unfortunately, were not touched.
Paperwork is my absolute WORST. When the pile reaches a certain volume/mess ratio, I put it in cardboard boxes behind the couch. When there’s no more room, I put a pretty piece of cloth over it and try to pass it off as an end table.
Going through a box, I find many articles ripped from newspapers about interesting things I plan to write about someday, recipes from a magazine that might be good, a coupon for an oil change that has expired, information about an exercise class taught last spring at the local community center. A common theme emerges.
I never procrastinate when it comes to playing with my dogs, watching a movie, reading, cooking and eating a good meal—in fact, these enjoyable activities can become skillfully applied procrastination tools. Two positives about short-term gratification are that at least it’s gratifying and also fairly easy to achieve. Now what is to become of that mileage that was supposed to be turned in three weeks ago? I just don’t want to think about it right now . . .
April 7, 2012 (from the Peace Journal)
The more I’m around anti-war activists, the stronger the idea of peace grows within me. This is different from many other issues I’ve been involved with where splintering and disillusionment have occurred. Peace activism seems to bring out feelings of unity and welcome between disparate groups.
I have been lied to or misled or misunderstood some issues that I cared about. Some activists have harangued me for more money and more time for political candidates and issues, even though I believed in them and did my best to promote them. These days, it’s hard to put my trust and time into political issues, having experience burnout and futility in most cases.
But peace is simple. It just means we agree to live together without violence, and solve our disagreements without bloodshed. This can be done. Enlightened people want peace. The majority of people of the world want peace. It’s an idea protecting the innocent and vulnerable. Its symbols of beauty—healthy earth, cooperation, respect for other species of animals and for each other, love, enjoyment of the blessings we still have.
Thinking about a looming war in Iran and going to a peace activist meeting last Friday—my head full of concerns and fear for the future—inspired by speakers who work to promote change—spending my time in these lofty clouds.
As I got off work yesterday I saw something incredible which I had never seen before. On the corner of Rundberg and Parkfield, twelve or so young men and boys were dividing up, calling threatening insults to each other, gesturing, pulling out knives. They were getting ready for a gang fight. My car was right by a group of six—taunting and pulling out knives right in front of me. “I’m gonna kill you, nigger” (weird because all the boy/men were black, hispanic, or black/hispanic). I rolled down my window and looked at them—stupid move, but I was fascinated. Even though we made eye contact, they held back nothing. Their eyes were mean and bold.
The other group of men walked down the block about 30 feet, but turned around because of the taunts. “Yo! We’re ready for you, mutha-fuckas!” They were girding up—smacking their fists into their open palms, pulling out their own weapons. The light changed and I sped away.
My god—how do you introduce peace to this? These young men would slash it to ribbons and laugh.
The Story of Mr.T
As anyone who has pets knows, each one has its own personality and own story. This is the story of MisterT.
We got him was in the spring of last year when my dachshund found him in a culvert while we were taking a walk. She kept yipping and digging in the grass and finally leaped up with something in her mouth. I thought it was a mouse and tried prying it away from her in hopes of letting it go. Instead, it was a baby painted turtle about as big around as a half-dollar. The dog’s teeth had almost cracked its delicate new shell.
I brought it home in an Altoids tin lined with grass. We had an old aquarium under the house, so my husband and I prepared it with water and gravel and gave the turtle a home. One of the really fun things about having a pet is finding a clever and suitable name for it. After batting a few names around, we settled on MisterT. Because of the dent in his shell caused by the dog, he had one damaged back leg, but he paddled and crawled gamely. We wondered if he would survive the injury. After a few days he was still eating turtle food, swimming and crawling, so my husband bought a few accoutrements for the aquarium. He got a bright lamp for warm “daytime” light and an infrared lamp to keep him warm. Mister T liked to climb onto the big rock we put in the aquarium and stretch his neck out toward the heat lamp. He splayed his legs and stretched his little tail out. Since turtle’s necks are about 1/3 the length of their bodies, this sunbathing turtle looked very funny.
Word had spread among friends and coworkers that we had a turtle. A young married couple we barely knew had two large painted turtles they “wanted to find a home for” (get rid of) and we took them in. They were much bigger than Mister T, but the three of them got along well. The turtles crawled on top of each other on the rock, competing for the heat, stretching their necks out. They would plop into the water together when startled and scrabble against the glass aquarium walls. When it was time to feed them, they would bob around in the water with just their noses showing, swimming expectantly toward the turtle food container in our hands.
Mister T seemed content with his new friends. For three months they lived together in harmony or at least uneventfully, which is the most I guess turtles can hope for. The larger turtles (Hans and Fritz) liked an occasional snack of underwater weeds or guppies, which we bought at the pet store.
Alas, Mister T had very fragile health. We knew he was crippled, but he showed no other signs of ill health. His shell was shiny and the red stripes along his face and neck were still bright. But there was an insidious fungus burrowing into his damaged shell; either introduced by the seaplants or the guppies. The other turtles were immune, but Mr. T was susceptible because of his damaged shell. The fungus lurked there, spreading, and one day we noticed a gauzy substance drifting out of his back leg joints. He was still eating, but swimming and climbing with less alacrity. He stopped climbing on the rock to sun himself. Then one day he didn’t eat, and we knew his condition was grave. We watched for signs of improvement, but we knew he had been living on borrowed time ever since that fateful day he had been caught by the dog.
Then one morning my husband found Mister T floating lifeless in the water. We buried him without ceremony— but marked his passing as a loss. It’s sad to lose a pet, even when it’s just a little turtle. We had gotten used to him.
But by suppertime, we were pretty much over it.