I just read a Newsweek story about procrastination. I’m serious—I just read it, and here I am, responding! All jokes aside, it was interesting to me because I’m a procrastinator—I always have been. In college, we did an exercise to learn more about our working styles. We had to line up on a continuum, between signs that read “I can play whenever I want” and something like “I always study first, then play.” I say “something like” because I was so far away from that sign I could barely read it. In fact, I was directly under the “I can play whenever I want” sign, and they let me take it home afterward to hang in my room. Not because I’m irresponsible; I did well in school and really enjoyed it. But because I truly work best when it comes down to the wire. (I just looked that up: it has to do with winning a race by crossing the wire.) I was forever trying to convince my roommates, whom I considered too studious and hopelessly dedicated, to put off their work and come play with me. In fact, I think they just had different working styles—they worked well by handling tasks methodically and pacing them out evenly to fill the allotted time. I once had a week in which I had six papers due. (I have to let my editorial “we” butt in here and tell you that my eyeballs are twitching off to the side, looking for something to do in the middle of writing this post. There are so many options! Check my work e-mail. Check my personal e-mail. Wash out the Tupperware that held my lunch salad. I’m going to try to finish in one fell swoop…) (Which comes from Shakespeare and points to a hunting bird’s ruthless and deadly attack: “fell” is from the same root as “felon.”)

Oh, dear. I didn’t even realize, when I went to look that up..!

Anyway, I work best under pressure. Alternatively, you could say that I can’t force myself to work unless I’m under pressure. Let me get back to that story: I had six papers due in a week. One each day, except that I had two due one of the days. I didn’t start any of them until Sunday night, at which point I had doomed myself to writing one (or two) per night, all week. And I’m awful when I don’t get enough sleep. Poor roommates!

Not that I’m saying it’s a good idea to do that. But I’ve always noticed that more vocabulary comes to mind when I’m under pressure. So I’ve always liked tests. However, when kids like me grow up, they have to get jobs, and jobs like mine tend not to have very solid deadlines. How do I get any work done? Sometimes I find myself preparing for a meeting at the last minute and then not presenting myself all that well at the meeting. And I’m more likely to procrastinate on hard tasks, like turning down a book proposal. Luckily, at my new job I have Microsoft Outlook as an e-mail program. I’ve been entering “Tasks” and “Calendar” items since I started, and it really works well! If you don’t do a task on the day you assign to it, it turns red and taunts you daily until you can’t stand it anymore and do it. You can also set it to remind you to do stuff by flashing an annoying box over whatever you’re working on at a prescribed time. I’ve been really good about not leaving stuff on my desk too long since starting with Outlook. That directly agrees with the Newsweek article, which tells us that people tend to procrastinate more on vague, broad-ranging ideas than on specific actions. So assigning myself a date to make a decision turns a vague “yes or no” into a specific task.

I still put most tasks off till the last minute. I work on the church newsletter on Sunday night, right before it’s due for proofreading on Monday. I just finished writing our Christmas letter, which still needs to be printed, signed, folded, stamped, and mailed. (It’s December 17!) We haven’t sent our packages yet. (The post office, via the TV, tells us we have until Saturday, and it’s only Wednesday…)

Oh, did you notice that I said “we”? Dave used to ask me to wake him up in the middle of the night to do his homework, due the next day. It sounds like a joke: What happens when two procrastinators get married? Answer: nothing.

Here’s the Newsweek article, if you want to read it:

Dinner Party

blue cheese ravioli leftovers
blue cheese ravioli leftovers

Dave and I had fun at our dinner party last night. Our guests were our caving friend Jen, our church friend Rob, and a co-worker of mine, Andrew, and his wife Maggie. The blue cheese rigatoni turned out to be delicious, although it got cold really fast. We had a spinach salad that was basically the same ingredients as the ravioli: spinach, red onion, tomatoes, and green peas. We played Trivial Pursuit and our two-editors-and-a-scientist team beat the two-lawyers-and-a-scientist team, although both teams had all their pie pieces at the end.

This morning Dave and I went over to church to normalize the Christmas tree in the sanctuary. Several of us YABSers (that’s young adult Bible study, although it’s more of a fellowship group) put the tree up on Thursday, along with the garland and bows on the windows, but at the end of the evening the event devolved a bit and the gentlemen started throwing the Christmas ornaments onto the very high tree. (Some of them actually stuck!) We called it a night and a few of us went over to Tandoori Grill for dinner. Yum. However, we thought it would be nice to make sure the Chrismons were more or less evenly distributed on the tree, so we went back today.

dishes from the dinner party
dishes from the dinner party

Dave and I also did a bunch of Christmas shopping today. The first rule of Christmas shopping is that you always find yourself something first, right? Last week we went out and I finally got some new underwear. (That’s how you know you’re a grown-up–when new underwear is really exciting.) Today we decided to get ourselves/each other a new TV. Our big old console TV, while very dear to my heart, has been slowly dying (the picture turns bright red at random). That, added to the necessity of deciding about a digital converter box, means that we’ve been thinking about a new TV for a while. We found a good deal and decided to go for it. We’ll save some money by building the stand ourselves, and I hope we’ll have this TV as long as the Gribble family had the console. (Since 1989. The TV cost $1937 with a 30% discount and weighs 140 lbs!) Never fear–we found some gifts for other people, too. We came home, had dinner, did the dishes, and went out to a Christmas party, thrown by Anna, an ex-co-worker of mine, and her husband Aaron.

In other exciting news, our good friends Kelli and Pete Bronski have brought their first child into the world! Marin Concetta Bronski was born on Friday. We’ll go meet her tomorrow and rejoice with our friends.

Food and Exercise

I’m here to talk about food. Food and exercise. This afternoon I pulled on my running shoes and went for a jog. The whole time, I was thinking about how much I hate jogging—I can’t breathe, I immediately get a stitch in my side, my ankle hurts, my knees ache. I was also trying to remind myself that I feel really good when I get enough exercise. Generally, the crankier I am, the likelier it is that I haven’t been outside or climbing in the gym in a while. Make no mistake—I HATE the idea of exercise. I love to ride my bike—especially mountain biking—but it’s exhausting. I love to climb in the gym, but I hate postponing dinner to head over there after a long day at work. I love to ice climb, but I hate being cold. I love caving, but I hate worrying about how scared I’ll be. I love running about with friends, but I hate the idea of spending an afternoon playing soccer. I love swimming, but I hate suiting up and sliding into cold water. I hate jogging. Yes, I just hate it. But the easiest exercise to get in the middle of day is pulling on stretchy clothes, pocketing my iPod, and lacing up my really cool Adidas (bought when I was laboring through triathlons a few summers ago). Then heading out to the bike path near work and going ten minutes in one direction until—thank goodness!—my watch beeps and I can turn back. Luckily, I inherited some of my dad’s desire for a regular schedule, which has made it easier to get in the habit of exercising. In college and grad school it was Abs of Steel, every other day, for years. I still do exercise videos that Dad taped from the TV back in the 80s—Denise Austin and Basic Training: The Workout with Ada Janklowitcz. I also did Buns of Steel for a while, until I realized that building muscle in your rear means building your rear.

Anyway, I hate jogging. And I hate the idea that I get a bunch of exercise and then I have to do it again! I should immediately look like a movie star. It’s all well and good to be healthy (as always, The Magic Mountain comes to mind), but I’m already fairly healthy. If I’m going to kill myself huffing and puffing up the path, I want to be gorgeous at the end of it, immediately!

I also exercise because I LOVE FOOD. I love it as much as I hate jogging (maybe more). Dinner is a beautiful reward for a workday. Breakfast soothes the pain of having to be awake. Lunch is probably my least favorite, but at work it gives me time to read for fun and enjoy some leftovers. I’ve always loved to eat, but I have no appetite. I’m never hungry. I think I have a terribly slow metabolism and I eat because it’s finally time, hooray! So I simply must exercise. I’ve struck a happy balance with my body. I eat more than I should, but I don’t worry about what I’m eating, and I live comfortably with the results.

I’ve recently discovered that I love to cook, and I’m also learning that I like to garden. I love to eat vegetables that taste like they’re supposed to, and that have to have the dirt washed off before I can eat them. I’d love to learn to can and learn how to freeze things in useable quantities—so I could pull out carrots in the middle of winter for a soup or a stew. (Advice welcome.) Since I’m talking about cooking, I’ll mention that we’re having a dinner party tomorrow. Dave suggested that I make either Indian food or stir-fry, but I decided on blue cheese rigatoni and spinach salad, with pineapple upside-down cake for dessert. If it turns out well, I’ll post the recipes.

Two Haircuts and A Little Bump

Dave and I both got haircuts this weekend. His was the standard Great Clips $14-with-a-$2-tip haircut. He seems to have quite a bit of skin behind his ears this time–his haircuts are always variable. Well, the arms of his glasses fit right into the space, so that’s all right.

Dave's handiwork
Dave's handiwork

You all know how I feel about haircuts–terrible. Even though I occasionally think “time to get rid of all this hair,” as soon as I get it trimmed, I feel trembly and awful for a while. Then I think “it’s not hurting anyone, so I guess I’ll just keep it for a while longer.” My mom always cuts my hair, but I haven’t seen her in ages, alas. The ends were getting so raggedy, I asked Dave if he would do it. He said yes two months ago, but we hadn’t gotten around to it until this morning. I got out of the shower and laid out the towel (to catch the clippings), the scissors, and the comb. Dave eschewed the towel. He also eschewed Mom’s gentle habit of cutting an inch or so off and showing it to me, then going further with my blessing. He simply snipped seven and a half inches straight off the bottom. I thought I might faint, but the ends look great and my head feels lighter. One step at a time.

bent wheel

This afternoon Dave had a band concert, so he took the car ahead of time and I got on my bike to head over to the music hall (it’s only a mile and a quarter away). Two blocks from my destination, I saw a car behaving kind of strangely over to my left. It seemed like a woman who wasn’t sure if she should be going or not. I didn’t have a stop sign, so I slowed down but kept going. Then the truck sitting at the stop sign over to my right turned right into me! I wound up on the road with my bike on top of me. I wasn’t hurt–just a scratch on the shoulder and a little bruise on the chin. The poor guy felt horrible and he immediately admitted that it was his fault. Well, it was! He was watching the woman at the opposite stop sign and not looking before he turned. Luckily, we were both going slowly. Unluckily, my front wheel is mildly tacoed and my front brakes are ruined. I’m glad Dave knows what to buy and how to fix bikes. I was pretty startled and mildly shaken up, but I made it to the concert on time after walking my bike the final two blocks. The band sounded good and it was fun to hear some Christmas music. It’s in the sixties today and all of last week’s snow has melted, so Christmas seems farther away than it did a few days ago. We’ll probably get a tree this year, since we’re staying in town. Stay tuned!

Happy Birthday, Dave!

Well, since we have a blog, I thought I’d take a moment to wish Dave a happy birthday. We’re headed out to dinner with good friends tonight, possibly followed by ice skating. (That counts as living it up for we oldsters.) I forgot to bring the camera, alas, so our revelry will be anonymous. It’s hard to believe that centennial baby Dave is thirty-two—after all, I’ve known him since we were eighteen—but it must be harder for his mom and dad to believe it. I hope it’s a fun day for the birthday boy!