procrastination versus obsession
Sunday, May 13 2007
This morning Gretchen and I went to visit Andrea, our neighbor (and frequent dog sitter) up the street. (We've developed the sort of relationship where I'm the first one she calls when she needs to borrow a hand truck or her cat brings a live chipmunk into the house that escapes under the Chintz collection.) Andrea wanted us to meet her daughter, an attractive woman who appears to be in her 20s (Andrea herself is in her 60s). Over coffee and French toast (Andrea had made mine egg-free), we talked about what television programs we like and, Jesus, I forget. Later Andrea's daughter briefly came over to our house and we gave her the tour. It was the first time in recent memory I wasn't embarrassed to show a visitor my laboratory, which was now about as tidy as it has ever been.
Whenever I do anything, my involvement can only be in one of two stages. One of these is the stage of procrastination, when the need to do the thing affects my life like a sickness, and yet I do little or no work on it. The other stage is obsession, where I do the thing at the exclusion of all else (usually the "all else" includes a number of projects that I am then procrastinating).
For a long time the laboratory cleaning project was stuck in some state of procrastination. I did a whirlwind (though very superficial) cleanup before the building inspector visited in the Fall of 2005, and before that the only time I cleaned it was prior to my wedding four years ago. Last summer while I was in a serious garage-cleaning jihad, the laboratory benefited from some order bubbling up from below, but that was soon undone by the chaos of the project of adding a second solar panel to the solar deck. Recently, though, beginning with my new shelving and the homemade computer desk, the laboratory tidying project reached a critical juncture and became a self-sustaining obsession. It has experienced increased order on all levels, from the chaos of its drawers to the clutter along the narrow trail of its main axis. That clutter has now been sorted and contained, made to reside in the parts of the laboratory where the ceiling is too low for human traffic. Finally I can see the floor again!
The laboratory today. Click to enlarge.
How that floor looked more than four years ago, February 14th, 2003. Click to enlarge.
The clutter as of March 10th, 2006. That's Julius (aka "Stripey") walking down the narrow central aisle.
The kind of things one finds when cleaning. Here is one page of notes from the Spanish course I took at Ulster County Community College a few years back. At some point in the course I decided not to use any more paper for my notes, and my writing became progressively smaller and smaller from there. Click to enlarge.
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