Procrastinating . . . still

I’ve had lots of good intentions this week that have gone the way of so many good intentions.  Don’t know how or why, but those things that I promised myself would get done are still on the “To-Do” list waiting to be done.  They seem to be a patient lot.

There are quite a number of them.  So many in fact, that they have organized themselves into categories based on location.  There is the “To-Do” list in the garage.  If I am honest, these are the ones that will be the last to get done.  I am able to easily set them aside because they are out of sight and only invade my consciousness when I drive in and out of the garage.

To-DolistThen there is the collection of “To-Do’s” in my office.  These are harder to ignore, since I am dependent on finishing some of these in order to secure income sufficient to support my lifestyle.  I am much more motivated to get these done, although there is an on-going debate between my inner four year-old and my more responsible self.  Currently the four year-old is complaining that she just “doesn’t wanna do it!” and, with her little fists firmly planted on her hips, she is pouting.  I have an increasing tendency to accede to her demands since I actually am in agreement with her!

That leaves the weekly “boring but necessary” to-do’s of laundry, garbage, dusting, picking-up and watering the plants.  Oh, if only I had a wand to wave, a nose to magically twitch, or sufficient income to afford staff to manage these tasks.  Having been raised by a mother who followed the old Victorian dicta of Monday, washday; Tuesday, ironing; Wednesday, mending; Thursday, market; Friday, baking; Saturday, cleaning; and Sunday, church, these routines were drilled into me from a young age.  Truth be told, this schedule is actually a wonderful way to maintain a certain level of order within the chaos and variability of my life.  But that four year-old continues to weigh in on the having to do it vs. the wanting to have it done.

messydeskI have developed a high tolerance for messiness.  Papers can be strewn everywhere on my desk.  Piles of journals and magazines reside on shelves as well as the floor and one end of the dining room table.  They are nomadic in nature, traveling from table top to floor to in-box until they eventually are put in the recycling.  These piles are not disturbing to me.  I truly know what is in them, and they have an intuitive order that is perfectly clear to me, but does cause confusion and irritability in others.  I had a boss once who came into my office and pointedly told me to get things cleaned up because he couldn’t find what he wanted.

Periodically I sort through things that in moments of impulse I printed out, cut out, or downloaded for future use.  I can trace this behavior directly to my mother who was an inveterate clipper of articles.  I vowed I would not replicate this behavior, but have fallen prey to the ease of printing or copying.  My files are filled with these bits of information that I have promised to look at someday.  I suspect they will end up being like the journals and make their way to recycling sooner or later.  Probably later.

My husband and I used to share the office.  His side was a model of architectural efficiency.  Mine was more like a Jackson Pollack canvas.  We periodically negotiated changing “His/Her” zones within the small space we shared.  These negotiations often reflected acquisition of new office equipment, book shelves, or the focus of a particular project.  Since his death, I have taken over the whole of the space and wonder how we could ever have shared it.

messy-deskToday my neighborhood is holding its annual garage sale.  This is an opportunity for me to put into circulation things that I no longer need or want.  I have put aside many objects for this sale and had good intentions of setting up tables, placing price stickers on items, and having everything ready to release.  But that darn four year-old kept pulling me away from these tasks.  So I will keep my garage door closed today and allow my collection to increase in value one more year.

That just leaves my regular tasks ahead for the week.  I intend to get them done, as well as tackle some of those things that I have been putting off.   This means I will need to tear myself away from Facebook, from binge-watching TV, and taking a nap.  Well, maybe I will take that nap.

Happy Father’s Day

HapppyFathersDaySince this blog is published on Sundays, it would be an oversight for me not to acknowledge the debt I owe my father, grandfather, and other men who have shared their wisdom and guidance with me over the decades.  My grandfather provided a role model for what a gentleman was supposed to be.  He outlived my father and had a more lasting impact on my values and beliefs.

My grandfather’s legacy included demonstrating dignity in the face of loss.  He was not ashamed to cry when my grandmother died.  He maintained a positive attitude as his ability to care for himself declined.  He demonstrated commitment to his faith and trust in his God, and approached death without fear.

My father died when I was 14.  While I would have preferred to have him live and long and healthy life, I now believe his death was perhaps his greatest legacy to me in that I learned quite early on that we are not granted endless opportunities to say “I love you.”, or “I’m sorry.”

These phrases may have been difficult for men of that generation to utter.  For so many of them, free expression of emotions was either never modeled or was considered unmanly.  Yet they are powerful statements that are often key in healing wounds left from childhood.  Such statements echo only in my memory, as my father and grandfather are long gone.  But I delight in hearing them spoken today by fathers and grandfathers no longer bound by that norm.

3 comments

  1. Oh Mary! We are SO much alike! I have always been the queen of procrastination with the following motto: “Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow; if it is important today, just think how important it will be tomorrow!” It has served me well because if it REALLY is important, it gets done (perhaps just in the nick of time!); and, if it wasn’t really important, I didn’t waste any time doing it before it dropped off of the list. As for that messy desk…there have been articles written about how they are indicative of superior intelligence (I guess we need it to be able to remember where each of the sheets of paper, etc., in the piles is located—and we Do remember! I can’t tell you how many times people used to ask me for something at work and were astonished that I could go directly to it in the middle of a pile and hand it to them! They called it a messy desk, my similar colleague and I called it a fail safe filing/security system in one! Yes, we had that boss, too…). That said, there are certain places where I am the penultimate neat freak (my car for one). I have also found that I am much neater when I’m sharing living space with someone else than when I’m living alone. I never want to impose my messes on someone else and I do believe in putting things away (you know, “a place for everything and everything in it’s place”) because then they are right where they belong when you or the other person need them again (no, that is not a contradiction to the piles of stuff in the office because those piles ARE where those things belong so we can find them quickly!). I ass/u/me’d he would feel/behave the same once we were sharing OUR living space. Sadly, my husband is not so well “organized”. His mound building is symptomatic of his creative, if easily distracted, spirit. The fact that we have multiples of so many items that most people only need one of is testament to the fact that when he gets side-tracked and sets something down, it is no longer part of his consciousness. As a result, when he needs it again, he has no clue where it might be, so just goes and buys another one. The original becomes the foundation for one of his heterogeneous mounds. During the first week of our marriage (nearly 24 years ago, now) I realized that he was NOT like me in that he felt absolutely no compulsion to spare anyone, other than the “cleaning lady” he paid for cleaning the house he lived in before we married, from having to live with his “sculptures”. I could either have a happy marriage and tolerate his mound building; or, I could have a neat house and get an annulment/divorce. He’s a sweetheart, so I kept him and his mess, but it is becoming less tolerable as we get older and it is more difficult to keep up. He recently spent a month in the hospital and the Anthropologist/Archaeologist in me took advantage of the opportunity to “excavate” some of his mounds so I could “reclaim” some of the living space and kitchen counter work space in our home. When he came home, he promised he wouldn’t use those areas as his “blank canvases” for new “sculptures”. We’ll see how long that lasts… Ironically, part of the reason we chose this house to purchase when we got married was because it has a great floor plan for entertaining–something we have been unable to do for YEARS because of the “mound building” activity. In his defense, however, there is also the “warehouse effect” that happens when one’s home becomes the storage facility for inherited furniture and other belongings of one’s deceased parents and other relatives. So, I think that BALANCE is the key. As I’m getting older and less able to physically manage heavy lifting, I’m beginning to feel the pressure to declutter so no one else will have to do it when we’re gone.

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