Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Avoidance and Other Behaviors

My brain is a lazy jerk. You might look at me and go oh, Heather is getting shit done, she seems like she is making it happen. She gets up every day. But really I am playing mind games with myself just to do the things I'm required to do. All my brain wants to do is go to sleep and maybe wake up to eat some gummy bears and then go back to sleep again. My brain hasn't changed in the last few years; I've just gotten better at tricking me. It's all a game. This all has to happen if I want to -- I don't know -- keep moving and have some kind of career as a book critic and/or writer. Remain employed. Earn a paycheck.

You know what I learned in grad school? How to work ALL. THE. TIME.

So it's all a big sham, I'm saying. This "motivation." Ninety nine percent of the time if I'm getting anything done, it's because I am avoiding something else. I can generally make this work for me.

Day-long, boring teacher inservice?
Write three months of daily lesson plans. 
Stuck in the car waiting for kid to get out of school?
Read 25 pages of book for review.
Don't want to grade papers?
Write essay.
Don't want to do submissions?
Grade papers.

I survive by making my avoidance behaviors just other things that need to be done. How dorky. I know. I have to have a to-do list, and sometimes doing something else on the list feels like more fun than whatever I'm supposed to be doing. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Yes, this makes me the same as the kid in my class who is trying to do her math homework when I'm not looking. I was that kid, anyway. The irony is not lost on me.

I bring this up because on Sunday I went off the rails. Avoidance reached critical mass. Well. Backing up. I think I lost the first wheel on Wednesday night when E was out late after his softball game, having a beer with the guys. I couldn't sleep and I needed something to do, so I organized my closet. As one does. And in the middle of organizing my closet I had this idea that maybe I should have a list of, like, just exactly how many cardigans I own and what colors they are. For science. And then maybe blouses and tanks and pull-over sweaters. This is a thing I needed to know, you guys. So I start writing it down on some binder paper (no joke!) and I think to myself that damn it, this is 2014 and if Clueless taught me nothing, it is the fact that we should all have digital closets by now. So a little searching proved that there's an app for that. Of course. There are actually a bunch.

Cut to me spending all day Sunday taking iPhone pics of each shoe, accessory and clothing item in my possession. Why? Because I needed to be able to create digital outfits and catalog my stuff. Because cataloging my clothing in photos was the biggest emergency, ever.

Or maybe I was avoiding reading for a book review. And writing said book review. And talking to humans. And doing anything other than sitting in the middle of my bedroom in Soffe shorts and an overstretched tank top, watching reruns of LOST for the umpteenth time just so I didn't have to think about real life. Sometimes a project feels like an emergency feels like it's easier to think of than your actual list of responsibilities and/or feelings.

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This all comes up now for two reasons.

1) My work schedule changed. I was only part time for five days. I picked up another class. I'm back to full time teaching, which means I'm back to no time for writing, thinking, and doing all the little organizy shit that constitutes the rest of being a writer. My strategy of avoidance won't let me get it all done. There's too much.

I'm having to find time to do work when I can't just pretend I'm avoiding other things. The only free hours in my day are morning hours, so I'm getting to work at about 6:30 AM. The only thing I am avoiding is sleep. It's okay, but it's not my normal deal. Pros: nobody else is at school at 6:30 in the morning, so it's real quiet. Cons: 6:30 in the morning, dude.

2) This post is avoidance of actual work that I should be doing. As always, there's a ton.

I better go.

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