I Do, However, Draw the Line at EX-Treme Dating...

So right now, I should be writing a paper to present at a conference I'll be attending in, oh, er, four days. Granted, this isn't the biggest conference ever, nor am I on the most attention-grabbing panel ever, but, you know, I'd still prefer not to make a fool of myself.

And yet.

It's 3 am, four days before I present (and probably less than that once I get this posted). I've got what amounts to, at best, half my paper written. And what am I doing? Well, I've just decided to watch L.A. Law, because the only other options are Paid Programming, Celebrity Justice, and CHiPs. The sad thing is that I decided against CHiPs because I watched it not so long ago when I was doing a very similar kind of procrastination thing, and I can't deal with it again. Not in such a short time. Maybe because it used to be my brother's favorite show, I have a fairly low tolerance for Ponch and John.

But regardless. What I ought to be doing at 3 am is one of two things. 1. Sleeping like normal people. 2. Actually writing the paper.

#1 is often not an option, since I have chronic insomnia. However, bad habits, like getting sucked into crappy late-night TV, tend to reinforce my insomnia. (Watching X-Files after midnight is the worst. I'm easily freaked out (in elementary school, my parents sent the teacher a standing order to send me to the library anytime they showed the animated Legend of Sleepy Hollow), and it just gets my heart rate up in ways that usually don't happen without some indecency involved.

#2. Ah, yes: doing the work. For some reason, this seems less appealing than any one of the following options:

a. Petting my cat, who is stretched out on my lap looking utterly adorable, and whose legs are twitching, probably because in her cute, adorable sleep she is beating the crap out of all the other cats in the neighborhood.

b. Flipping the channels, because no matter how many times I go through them all, there's gotta be something good I missed. I mean, come on - we have HBO!! There has to be something...

c. Reading the archives of some of the journals I've recently and not-so-recently discovered online.

d. Googling random things, like whether there's a place to print my paper at the conference itself.

e. Checking Atrios and Daily Kos and others to see if they've found any more appalling news in the past few hours.

f. Cleaning the bathroom.

g. Catching up on my e-mail (something I also don't do often enough, as some of you know).

h. Picking out pictures of New Zealand for the next New Zealand essay.

i. Reading the New York Times in case anything new's happened in the last few hours.

j. Organizing the CDs - I like 'em in alphabetical order, thank you very much.

k. Doing situps.

l. Washing dishes.

m. Cleaning the living room.

n. Reading Boondocks strips I've missed.

o. Catching up on Ted Rall's cartoons.

p. Writing this.

q. Finding the links for this essay.


OK, so you get the idea. (You probably got the idea by entry g, but hey, making that list was another thing to do besides write the paper…) Everything else seems so tempting when I've got work to do. And the odd thing is that things that ordinarily are work become more interesting when they're procrastination.

Like bathroom cleaning. I'll do it five minutes before our guests come over if we've got company, but if I have a paper deadline looming? Suddenly, that Lysol is looking … well, ok, not exciting exactly, but somehow, strangely, more interesting than what I'm writing my dissertation about.

Friends tell me that this is typical of the beginning stages of the dissertation (which this paper is part of), which doesn't make it any less frustrating. I picked my dissertation topic because it fascinated me, and I still like talking about it… I just don't know when scrubbing the bowl became something I'd rather do.

In an effort to break the habit, though, I'm going to stop pondering it for the moment, turn off L.A. Law, and either write the paper, or go to bed.

Wish me luck…

28. October 2003

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