by thea marie
Journal Entry: Excerpt for the Express Yourself Contest
If my name was a verb, it would be Procrastinate. Nobody can do it- or not do it, whatever the case might be- like me. I am the Mistress of Just a Minute, the Empress Most High of I’ll Get Around to It, and the vast realm over which I reign is called, Eventually.
I can know full well when a thing has to be done, have at hand all the proper tools with which to do it, and a most suitable place in which to get it done, and still, I will push it to the side, promising ever so sincerely to get to it in just a bit. Of course, it’s way later when I pick it up again, if I ever do, and then when I do, I’m pushing it. It doesn’t matter what it is, if I can put it off, I will.
I think it’s a purely psychological rebellion against doing the things I have to do. I’m sure that has some point of origin way back in my early childhood, where for ten years, I was the only girl between two conspiring, conniving brothers. I have always had a problem with feeling as if I’m being dictated to, even when that really wasn’t the case. If I so much as sense that I’m being told I have to do something, I start balking.
It rankles every element of my spirit to be told I have to get something done, that it has to be done by a certain time, or in a certain way. If it’s my choice to do a thing, it’s fine. But to be told that I must- forget it. So, in my mind, I think I’ve decided that putting things off is my way staying in control of my world.
Pursuing this line of thought, though, I often wind up shooting myself in the foot. But does that make me pick up the pace? How could it? I only have one good foot at that point. To do things any differently would be caving, giving in to those forces or to those people that would have me do their bidding, and I’m nobody’s pushover, nobody's sissy punk.
So what, if the payment gets there late? What does it matter about the hefty late fee that gets tacked on, which is about a fourth of the on-time payment? Whose business is it if I have to pull an all-nighter to put together a presentation that I had three weeks to prepare? I’m the one who has to show up the next day with the dark circles under her eyes, and feeling like a eighteen-wheeler rolled over her head. What do I care if my hair starts falling out in huge clumps because I waited until the last minute to write that research paper that I had two months to complete?
The bad part about it is, for me, it’s almost as if it doesn’t get good until I’m at the wire, trying at the last minute to do something that I should have done long before. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to the late payments, though. Them, I just curse myself about, swear to myself that I’ll never do that again, and then, the next month or so, I do it again. But as for the rest of it, I'm notorious for doing my best work when I’m under the gun.
When I was finishing up with my Masters’ Degree, and it was time to do my major project, I almost died when the professor who was introducing us to the project said that we had two years to complete it. No way was I going for that. I knew that given that much time, on the 703’rd day I would be just getting started. That was the one time in my life that I was proactive about my affliction.
I immediately sought out Dr. Tilles, a very disciplined professor I studied with in undergrad who knew me for the slacker I could be. She agreed to work with me, provided I was finished within her time frame: one quarter. I managed to do it, but even with that, I had my random moments of “I don’t feel like it right now” which I had to beat back with whip and chair.
It felt good, though, when I talked with people from that introductory class who, a year later, were still working on theirs, and I was already done. Knowing that Dr. Tilles meant what she said, and that she would have dropped me immediately if I started to lag behind, kept me on target. Some people mean what they say when they give you an absolute deadline. She was one of them. There were only two colors in her spectrum: black and white. There were only two grades in her gradebook: pass or fail. Grace was not an entry in her dictionary nor did you hear it in her spoken vocabulary. The choices you made with her were strictly your own, but so were the consequences. Not being given much latitude in which to stray or straggle, I kept up and, in that scenario, moved on in a timely manner.
To wind this up, I know who I am at this point, and although I’ve accepted it, I’m still working on getting better. Getting serious about my writing is helping me with this. Keeping up with my failures and successes in this area in the form of journaling helps me to more clearly see where I fall short and hurt myself.
However, I sometimes feel it’s still a losing battle. I mean, when you consider that I’m sitting here right now looking at the house payment that was due at the mortgage company on the 1st and this is the 4th.
Oh well, they do give you until the 16th before they tack on the late charge. If I write the check and mail it out in the morning....wait, do I have any stamps?