December 21, 2003
You know, I think I could teach a graduate-level course in Procrastination. For the past two weeks, I have been procrastinating at a break-neck pace. People ask me, ‘Kay, how do you manage to do it all?’ (Er, actually, they don’t.) The answer is, I do something else entirely.
In college, I procrastinated like everybody else. Meaning when I had a paper worth 80% of my grade due in two weeks or less, I watched Gilligan’s Island and Hogan’s Heroes for hours on end and ate prodigious quantities of Vending Machine Snacks. Nothing wrong with this basic methodology. It works, believe me. You get absolutely nothing done, and then, in a very short period of time during which you are in a total lather of anxiety, you get a lot done.
Then I went to law school. Everybody around me was staring at casenotes like it really mattered whether they were prepared in Torts tomorrow. There was no quiet place where a person could watch I Dream of Jeannie reruns all day without everybody finding out about it. I started to cave in to the pressure. I felt the need to Straighten Up and Fly Right. But then I had a breakthrough that took my procrastination to the Next Level: I started thinking of important things I really had to get busy and get done before I could, in all good conscience, begin studying.
“A girl’s got to eat, ” I said. So I spent hours shopping and cooking myself tasty and nutritious meals. A roommate taught me the basic laws of Kashrut so that I could cook healthy meals for him, too. Pretty soon I was making healthy quasi-Kosher meals for a regular cooking group.
“The brain needs oxygen to think deep thoughts about the Rule Against Perpetuities,” I said to myself. So I spent another couple of hours a day suiting up in my sweats and jogging past the drones gazing hopelessly out the library windows, on my way to the park for my daily run.
For those three years, I never got around to studying until late at night and/or late in the semester. But I was a healthy specimen. And very well groomed. I heated up the Lady Clairols every morning, rain or shine. I looked like an Avon Lady, but I was perky, if not exactly prepared to be called on in class.
What have I been procrastinating lately? These sweet little flower washcloths from the Winter 2003 issue of Interweave Knits, which I made for teacher presents. They are not all that hard, but they are a bit dangly what with knitting the petals separately. And the Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille, while lovely and cushy, wants to fight you and make your hands tired. So I procrastinated them off-and-on for two weeks, and only got down to business and finished them the night before Teacher Present Hand-Off. They had to be wet-blocked, and it was touch-and-go whether they would be dry enough to wrap in the morning.
Procrastinating these little washcloths led to an amazing boost in productivity on projects that I previously had been procrastinating. (Are you still with me?)
Instead of working on teacher presents, I did a garter-stitch marathon to finish up my knitted tribute to Loretta Pettway’s Bricklayer Quilt from the Gee’s Bend Quilters Exhibit. Here it is, bordered in the now-discontinued black shade of Rowan Denim:
(For those just tuning in, I started this blanket as Beach Knitting last summer. It had no particular due date–that’s why I finished it now! Here’s a closer look.)
I also used the excellent procrastination technique of Starting Something Completely New and Suddenly Necessary. I made a darling little baby poncho for darling little Baby Rose to wear on New Year’s Eve. It’s in Manos del Uruguay, in a slightly-variegated fuschia. I’ve sewn it up, and now it’s reached a stage that I must procrastinate: attaching the fringe.
Sometimes, your back is up against the wall. To procrastinate something, you have no choice but to stop procrastinating something else. Are you sitting down? I started working on this:
Yes, it’s the Olive from Rowan 26 that I’m knitting for you in the Curls and Purls NYC knitalong. Remember? It’s a Peter Pan-collared cardi in Felted Tweed, so boxy and old-fashioned that it should be called Olive Oyl. But it’s tweedylicious, the very essence of that Yorkshire Spinster vibe you love, and I’m almost up to the shoulder shaping on the back. Perfect for those long hours driving from Omaha, Nebraska to Hutchinson, Kansas after Christmas, and all the airplane time to and from the frozen plains and New York.
By the way, I also procrastinated all of my Christmas shopping.
Happy holidays, everybody!!