Procrastination Complicated

Is it or isn’t it procrastination? Is it one disguised as the other? And which do I want it to be?

So many questions.

I can recognize the symptoms: the obviously avoiding things that need to be done by doing something else. But these are somethings that need to be done with a degree of urgency and another of importance.

Moving into a new apartment creates many tasks that normally would be done in procrastination. The new sheets need to be washed if I don’t want to sleep on a naked mattress. And the laundry needs to be started early enough so that the bedding is dry in time. This classic procrastination is, this time, not a procrastination. It is a look at the clock that gets the load into the machine.

I have a lot of experience in the procrastination game. I have my techniques to avoid the procrastination. I have techniques to avoid the techniques to avoid procrastination. I have techniques … I usually know which role I am playing in the game (being present is a recognized technique for combating procrastination).

Now I am confused. House cleaning, laundry, organising drawers: These are classic procrastination activities which my claims of experience do not allow me to even use as procrastination devices and they fill my to do list.

My weekly prose post is late.

Aren’t I Clever

I have linked three ideas and I feel clever but I am most proud that I haven’t forgotten the ideas.

It started with my imaginary conversation explaining my donation of the mini cheese grater. I suppose it would be more precise to say that it started with my grating some Ossau-Iraty (a basque sheep’s milk cheese) but, even if I enjoy parentheticals, this is about the cheese grater, not the cheese, nor the spaghetti it was destined for. Actually, the conversation I am having in my head is not even about the cheese grater but about paying it forward.

I am imagining explaining to the owner of the Airbnb that I like leaving apartments better equipped than I found them. It only takes a few euros, less than the price of a coffee, and I get the psychological benefits of paying it forward.

Like all imaginary conversations, it is developing brilliantly. Paying it forward is a concept that I think is not well know in France. I could of course be wrong – when I actually talk to other people, I discover that many a concept is better known than I had imagined. Anyhow, I imagine having to explain it.

A good explanation needs a metaphor, analogy or simile. Looking for one, I remember that gratitude is another behaviour that leads to greater happiness.

The Airbnb owner is now forgotten. I am admiring the virtuous circle I have “discovered.” Paying it forward leads to gratitude on the part of the receiver. Break out the incense! I’m ready to put on my guru hat and preach paying it forward to create gratitude and make the world a happier place.

I am pleased with myself. This doesn’t solve the world’s big problems but it plugs in positive values into the utilitarian equation. Win-win. A little bit more eudaimonia for everyone. My self-satisfaction moves up another level with the addition of utilitarianism in the mix.

I drift off to sleep, pleased that I don’t have to defend my ideas in public. Simple solutions to the world’s problems rarely work well when put to the test because the problems are not as simple as the solution suggests. Besides the rigour required would kill my pleasure and I might discover the idea is less clever than it feels.

Not the Other Paris

Paris is named after the Parisians and not Paris.

That is just one of the useless facts that I have acquired. This acquisition starts with the Trojan War (how I ended up in the Trojan War, I do not remember).

His name is dropped. I do not pay special to attention to it. I vaguely remember him being in the Greek pantheon, and, though I have a review of their mythology on my “to-study” list, it is crowded field with many recurring characters. It is when Aphrodite‘s name is associated with his that I get interested. Then he ends up with Helen.

I start associating. Paris, the nobleman, fooling around with Zeus‘s daughters. Paris, the city of love. It has its Elysian Fields. And I had been somewhere else earlier in the week (vague memories is a recurring theme) that was named after someone out of Greek mythology. Were there people who think like me planning the city? Would someone deliberately use the story of Paris in building Paris? What other references exist in the city?

The synopsis ends with the statement that his name is not related to the city’s name. A quick parenthetical side trip to learn that the Parisians were a Gallic tribe, that Caesar mentions them, and that they were rich and powerful enough to be minting there own coins. Thankfully for my sleep, that does not lead to another subject of exploration.

I go back to the main article. Just because the city is not named after the mythical figure does not mean that the association wasn’t made by latter day architects (back in the day, they would have studied Homer).

I learn that moral of Paris‘ story is to beware of the scorned woman.

All Over the Place, Mostly with Questions

The menu did not match my mood. If your last name is Burger, advertising your concert in a restaurant window won’t drive ticket sales.

A reason for easily noticing one’s own faults in others: I have to put up with my own bullshit. Why would I want more of the same from someone else?

How many people would know what a lepidopterist is if it wasn’t for Nabokov?

You don’t have to think to be. Otherwise there would be gaps in your existence because there are pauses in your thoughts. Where were you during your unconscious moments?

Ever notice how all fake suicide murder victims are left-handed?

Young girls doing choreographed dances in the street. The TikTok generation. Nostalgia in the making. How long before the adults take over and make the platform uncool?

It is quiet here. I sit putting together any old words. Steve Winwood is the only Traffic I hear.

What Direction Was That?

There have been steps forward, there have been steps backward and in no way has the movement been simple, proportional, or always in the right direction. In fact, I cannot know if the result is positive until I cash out, and I am not going to be there for the accounting. Yet I keep playing, trying for progress. Like Pascal’s wager without the restrictions (some might call it the hedonist’s version).

The wager is no longer the same. There is more information now. That has lengthened the odds, exposed more alternative bets, and falsified some of the original premises.

I am in the fast lane of the ring road driving at the radar speed limit (speed limit plus the radar’s legal margin of error). As I move a lane inwards, after passing a string of cars, an impatient driver arrives and honks for me to hurry up.

I am surprised and annoyed. Surprised, because with the number of radar boxes on the ring road, driving faster than I was going means wearing out your brakes. Annoyed because the honking feels like a false accusation when I should be shaking my head at the stupidity. I relieve my annoyance by flipping a bird.

Somehow it is seen. The insult stings. The response is a sudden braking. But I have jettisoned the bad mood and I calmly use my brakes.

Mister impatient seems to spend a lot of time looking in his rear view mirror because he starts multiplying his efforts to get a reaction, other than braking, from me. We end up at full stop and now it is two lanes of cars honking at him.

My patience tries his and comes storming out of his car verbally attacking my sexuality. Is my disdain showing? A grab at my door handle, a two hand shove at my window, more honking. He kicks the car and speeds off.

I am left pondering the extremely disproportionate reaction. The other times I’ve had to deal with overreactions were after stronger provocations. Sometimes it started with me deliberately acting like an asshole.

My self-criticism over getting annoyed at senseless honking seems so minor in comparison. A wave of holier than him washes over me. Which is abbreviated as righteousness. And that feels undeserved. After all, there is still the matter of my finger exercises.

Like Oysters Their Eyes

In theory, a new identity seems simple, a switch to flip, a potion to drink. In fiction it’s always good to evil: The Hulk, The Werewolf, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

It used to be that hypocrisy was a crime against morality. Now it is the norm and authenticity is something to strive for. (A dash of populism because the idea amuses me.)

I like being able to throw on a personality. My wardrobe is designed for it. It goes from suits to worn-out jeans, businessman to beatnik and everything in between. It is all codified. The anti-Seth-Godin–people who do this are like this (same words – different meaning). I excuse my behaviour by claiming multitudes. (Appearing well read is compatible with multiple personalities.)

One of literature’s best asides is Vonnegut’s question about turtle necks. The question is asked but not answered. But this is the age of the internet. If I want to know, I can find out that turtles neither buckle nor contract their necks; they fold them.

The personalities are meant to be like masks at the carnival, something to hide behind while enjoying my fantasies. But I am just as protective of my disguises as I am of myself. Perhaps because I put the costumes on so often that they no longer are costumes.

The actor laughs. His origin was a desire to improve my skills. Now he is his own complex skin with an arsenal of sub-personalities including a modern, authentic, vulnerable renaissance man.

Doña Juanita

I get annoyed when I am acting grumpy and I get grumpy when I am annoyed.

I imagine being asked why I came to the show. I would reply that it was because I was fantasizing being seduced by a female Don Juan, that I had worn long johns to ensure I was hot.

I groan. It is worse than a dad joke. It is a granddad joke. I am disgusted with myself. If it wasn’t so cold, I would take off my long johns.

Nothing annoys me more than cold. A statement I look for ways to qualify. It is too hyperbolic. But I find myself short on qualifications. The hypotheses do not test true. The inescapable penetrating cold is not the only time I get grumpy. I was in a rotten mood last week after 800 meters of cold. Other examples abound.

There are details missing. The ones that would tie all this together, that could explain the context. I am not finding how to bring it all together. I am getting annoyed.

It is time to break the cycle.

It Warmed Up

I would have loved to be a musician. I write instead.

A memory manipulated in the moment. Made to fit the narrative. I was thinking about writing before I dreamed of being a rockstar. Or so my memory is now reminding me.

It is just that I am watching made-for-TV concerts and it is reviving my rockstar dreams. The quality of the musicianship (-M- has to be one of the most underrated guitarists. Then again, I have no idea how he is rated by others, it is just that guitarist is not my first thought when I think of him. I picture his stage persona, remember the clever lyrics and songs with range. But this is not the first time he has impressed me. Each time a new reminder.) and the shear pleasure of the artists in flow has me dreaming, the searching for ways to make it happen.

Then I am thinking of the amateur acting I do. It is a way to be on a stage without having to master an instrument. Somehow I manage to conflate this and that and end up at writing. So it goes.

Everywhere It’s Been the Same

My hometown has dropped down the list of places of where I want to live.

Next week is apartment hunting week. The city wasn’t on the list. Nor was it on my no-go list. It comes with a couple years of income. Afterwards, it’s back to the list. Staying put might become an option.

It’s the annual smoke warnings that made me start to question my hometown’s ranking. Regular public health warnings that suggest staying indoors during the short sunny season blur the dreams of a paradise.

I had been hoping for a smaller city further south. Something in the few hundred thousand people range with a bigger town not too far away. Big enough for nightlife, small enough to know everything that’s happening.

As I am looking at my direction, an atmospheric river makes the news. I know that some places will suffer more from climate change. I did not expect my hometown to be one of those places. Do I still want to live there?

I have been practicing all summer. Checking out neighbourhoods. During the week. Seeing if there are places with their regulars. Areas with personality. I am not worried about night noises; I once lived next to a trainstation and did not lose any sleep.

I have selected a few neighbourhoods. Lyon, in size and ambition, reminds me of the Vancouver of my youth. Just a little. But enough. Staying put might become an option.

Lightbulb Bathing

Sitting in the bath with big ideas, really big, like huge. I am impressed with myself. They have to be preserved. I reach for my pen and paper.

Being present includes looking at where you came from and choosing a direction. I can see this thread of thought loops back to another of my favourite ideas: People are alarmed about modern life while most of it, including the alarmism, is only history repeating. I want to differentiate between being in the moment and its directionless short-term thinking evil twin that ignores the past and damns the consequences.

But the good twin version still lacks clarity. It looks more like a paradox than a distinction. (Here I am being polite and kind to myself. It looks like pompous bullshit.) It would take pages to define what I am trying to say.

I suggest that revisiting how I got to this idea might help me find another, better way of saying what I mean. I counter that it will probably only help by giving time to the subconscious to play with the idea. However, I did really enjoy the journey towards the thought.

I arrived at the good twin while condemning the evil twin. I remembered that being in the moment is a good thing, one of the keys to happiness. Spotlighting the present is not the same as being present. A paradox, this is not.

This criticism of spotlighting the present came from the thought that having choices in the life to live is a modern phenomena. Until the early twentieth century most people weren’t educated, most didn’t have rights and, even in democracies, most didn’t have a vote. Most people were just a part of the current generation of peasants.

This from the thought that macho, homophobic metaphors along with rotary dial phones and mix tapes will soon require explanatory footnotes. Footnotes that I wouldn’t need. I have prepared mix tapes, I have experienced the anguish of a dial slipping on the last number, and I have laughed at humour that mocks the stereotypical effeminate homosexual. Some of the jokes would still make me smile.

And I had arrived at that topic because I was trying to reconstruct a joke that I had thought of about having one foot inside and one foot out the door. The French use the position of the butt hole, between two chairs, to indicate someone who hasn’t chosen which one to sit on. Somehow I had found a way to blame it for my horniness but now, like the tune you can’t get out of your head, I was stuck on the admonition to choose a chair to avoid getting sodomized. I am not sure the original joke was in good taste but I am confident it was in better taste than that piece of medieval style of wisdom.

Why do I wait until I have come to an interesting conclusion to start thinking about writing down the premises and arguments. Instead, I usually pull out the age old post hoc rationalization that if my idea was good enough, I will have it again. Today I counter with “Ask any stoner. They’ve all forgotten at least one world changing idea.”