Friday, March 11, 2011


I was having difficulty writing about my bad habits. I strolled down to Emmy Lou’s workspace. It’s a remodeled root cellar we call ‘the dungeon’ I asked, “How’s it going? What are you working on?”
“What are you stuck on?” She has an annoying habit of responding to a question with a question.
“What makes you think I am stuck on something? Can’t I just show interest in your work?”
“You don’t usually visit me unless you’re avoiding something.” She said.
I was offended. Questioning my motives! Whenever I procrastinate she feels the need to point it out.
Soon, a plethora of people will show their proclivity for procrastination. They are the ones you will see standing in line at the post office, April 15th. They had months to prepare and send their taxes, but instead, they waited. That used to be me.
In 2008 I filed an income tax ‘extension’ and sent less of an estimated tax payment than the IRS figured I should. I then failed to file on time, at the end of the extension. This really irritated the IRS. Who knew they were so touchy? I received nasty letters, then fees and fines. Now I pay my taxes on time and instead of discarding IRS correspondence I read it soon after it arrives. If punished enough, even the most ardent procrastinator can change.
Last year, that second week in April, I smugly smiled when Emmy came back from the Post Office. She had to wait a long time in line to mail a package; it was so crowded with last minute tax filers. I however, was a model citizen; our taxes had been filed early in March.
I began looking for other ways to break my nasty habit. Online I found, “Procrastination refers to the counterproductive deferment of actions or tasks to a later time.” “Physiologists often cite such behavior as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.”
The definition included three criteria for a behavior to be classified as procrastination: it must be counterproductive, needless, and delaying.
No one else performs counterproductive, needless and delaying actions as well as, or as often as I do. Mine was a far more serious problem than I previously thought.
I needed additional research. The internet is an enabler, a wonderful, horrible thing. I searched ‘time wasters’ and stumbled onto ‘times of gestation’ for various animals. I found myself looking at a photo of a wombat, a very odd looking marsupial. I don’t remember ever seeing one before. Its gestation period is 20 to 26 days- then up to 10 months in the pouch. I read on, lost in details.
For a burrowing animal they are huge; over three feet long and close to 80 lbs. Dirt doesn’t get in their pouch cause it’s mounted upside down. The most fascinating (and hard to believe part), they have square poop!
On Wikipedia, they call it cubic feces. I Googled ‘cubic feces’, later, as though coming out of a trance, I found myself on a website which explained how to remove and grind the valves on a 283-(cubic)-inch Chevy engine.
While Emmy and I were dating years ago, I had two different Chevys, one a convertible, the other a sedan. I had to replace the engine in one of them, but only pulled the heads and ground the valves on the other. I couldn’t remember which was which, Emmy would know. Changing an engine is more spectacular to bystanders, or those waiting for a ride than those performing the task.
In the ‘dungeon’, I asked, “Do you recall if I changed the engine in the Chevy sedan, or just grind the valves?”
“You changed the whole engine of the convertible in a barn.” She said, then added “What are you stuck on?”
I am making progress; at least she answered my question.