Things I liked to do instead of write in 1995

Apparently, I was just as lazy and unmotivated 20 years ago as I am today.


March 23, 1995

Here, in no particular order, is what I usually end up doing when I sit down to write:

  1. Test the refrigerator door to make sure the hinges are still operating properly. I rarely take anything out to eat. I also open the door slowly to see at what point the little lightbulb turns on. Someday, that bulb isn’t going to turn on and it’s going to make it all worthwhile.
  1. Go into the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror for a long time. Sometimes, I comb my hair in bizarre and funny styles. Sometimes, I experiment with different hair care products, like gels, rinses and conditioners. Sometimes, I cut my nose hairs. Sometimes, I stare at myself and ask, “What’s wrong?”
  1. Turn on the TV and make the rounds. I go through the channels in a specific sequence: 2, 4, 7, 5, 11, 9, 13, 21, 25. I realize that’s out of order but the pattern is ingrained in me. I can manipulate the remote with my thumb without looking at it. I start to feel guilty after two “laps.” Thank God I don’t have cable.
  1. Eat peanut butter by sticking my finger in the jar. I’m sure this practice will come to an end once I’m married. [Note: It hasn’t.] This reminds me that when we were kids we had a schnauzer named Nipper who would bark incessantly. To shut him up, mom would take a finger of peanut butter and stick it on the roof of his mouth. That bought us a few minutes of peace and quiet. Dogs love peanut butter, you know.
  1. Masturbate. I consider this my most healthy distraction and the one that takes the least amount of time.

5a. Take a nap.

  1. Mope. I have a theory that my extra-special, finely-tuned brand of moping is an important part of the creative process, so I’m not sure it’s fair to include it in a list of distractions. It’s like saying breathing is a distraction.
  1. Stare at the phone. The best distractions are the ones not initiated by me. When the phone sings, I drop my laptop like it’s suddenly leaking the Ebola virus and rush to answer by the second ring out of fear that whomever is calling might change their mind. I rarely get back to what I was doing. I have reams and reams of half-finished sentences. Maybe I can mash them all together and make some haiku.
  1. Read someone else’s work. WOW! can some people write! If I’m feeling a little too productive, I’ll walk over to the bookcase and pull out some Dickens or Hemingway and it’s back to distraction #3.

85 thoughts on “Things I liked to do instead of write in 1995

  1. You sound as if you had the masturbating thing down to a fine art. I think it’s better for the health if it lasts longer, though. Maybe you’ve improved on that over the years.

  2. #2 is especially productive when you have a decent makeup collection and are therefore able to experiment with twenty different YouTube tutorials for a smokey eye that will all make you look like you belong to Fight Club.

  3. I work from home a lot, and my procrastination usually involves the refrigerator door too. When I was younger and left the door open, my mom would say “You’re letting the penguins escape.” I think some part of me is hoping that one day I’ll open the door fast enough to see these mysterious refrigerator penguins in action.

    • I don’t know how you do it. I’d be an utter failure at working from home. On days when there’s a blizzard and I can get into the city I remote in and it never goes well. All I have to do is stretch my arm out and I can touch food. If I worked from home I’d be gigantic.

  4. I used to say that I have only two bad habits…impatience and procrastination. That’s a helluva combo. Now, I blame an errant muse! I could use a ghost writer, but I can’t find the ouidja board…

  5. it’s a tiny bit after 9PM and i’ve been awake since 4AM. i’m not procrastinating, i think i’ve just totally fucked over my internal clock. i wish i could write myself asleep. xoxoxo

    • Hey, are you new here? I had to approve your comment. Hello!

      Look, I just regurgitate what’s in the journals. I don’t add anything. I’m too lazy for that. I, too, was surprised to see the Ebola reference. I guess that stuff has been around for a while. The laptop had 4 MB of ram and a 40 MB hard drive. I remember being marveled. A 40 MB hard drive!? I’ll NEVER use all that space!

      • Nope, I’ve been reading you for years. I used to be Miss Milk. A laptop in 1995, though – you must have been fancier than you let on.

      • Curious. Have you been in the witness protection program?

        I wasn’t fancy. Taking on debt was a big part of my youth and a collosal mistake. I bought a lot of crap I couldn’t really afford. Thankfully, I’ve got that all sorted out.

  6. Wait – no computer games? I always felt like 5a and 7 are very unproductive, even as far as procrastination goes. At least when you’re shooting monsters or building civilizations, it feels like you’re accomplishing something useful.

    • 5a was my favorite. It usually meant I saw some action. I still like a nice nap on Saturdays. I was never much of a gamer. I don’t have the required eye/hand coordination. Why do I picture you slumped over a game counsel as a youth?

    • Laundry?! You can do better than that! What about game shows or reality TV?

      I’m reminded of Springsteen’s ’57 Channels and Nothin’ On’:

      Man came by to hook up my cable TV
      We settled in for the night my baby and me
      We switched ’round and ’round ’til half-past dawn
      There was fifty-seven channels and nothin’ on

    • 5a happened naturally. The others required some intent on my part. 5a was a chemical reaction that couldn’t be helped or fought.

      I’ve built upon my arsenal of distractions. Blogging, for instance. I can kill an entire afternoon reading, writing and commenting on blog posts. It’s all for nothing.

  7. A great list, but the journal entries show that there were bits of brilliance in that refrigerator.

    As for procrastination, well, I am on a two week vacation where I planned to get back to writing. I’m on day 6 and have yet to open my computer. But I will say that my stress level is lower than it has been in many years.

    • I hate hearing that your stress level might be directly tied to your writing. Does that mean you’ll eventually have to give it up entirely? Hope not. Hope it doesn’t turn into a JOB. you’ve already got one JOB and don’t need another.

      • My stress level is for the writing I do at work. They shift around but they are set by courts so I must adhere to them. It’s been a year of constant, high stress report writing on topics I need to research heavily because I generally don’t know anything about the major issues.

        But I am really refreshing my batteries by reading light fiction, walking the dog, and ignoring the news.

  8. Haha. Very funny, Mark. I can relate. Now we have that damn Internet, too. It’s really hard when the distraction is at your fingertips. I wonder how this list would differ if you wrote one for today. I definitely try to have put my phone away. Notice how I said try. *sigh* It’s so hard to write no matter what.

  9. Yes, number 7… write some haiku… to go with the pieces of art you post on here… could be just the therapy you need, as long as you follow the haiku writing rules… “Haiku on Pain Street…” yep, I like it.

    • Man, I love a good Haiku. Love it! I’ve tried my hand but they’re just not my forté. You’ve got to be super-sharp to pull those off but I’m just not there yet.

      Haiku ain’t my thing.
      Words cascading down the stairs.
      There. See what I mean?

  10. Now, of course, I have to rerun my deeply unproductive day and wonder how many of the things I did could have been procrastinating. I mean watching the rain run down the windows could be described as cerebral or meditative or – yes – procrastinating. But then I think – I wonder if the hinges on my fridge work, because that little light is not ALWAYS on. Sometimes it is OFF. Now what could this mean. I am going to go and have a look – at least I will lick the peanut butter off a knife. c

    • Don’t let me spoil procrastinating for you. Imagine if we were all ‘on’ 24 hours a day without a moment to admire the rain. What a waste life would become.

      Peanut butter tastes completely different on a knife than it does on a finger. It’s a fact. I’ve run multiple tests. Your method results in a knife to wash.

  11. I love this list. Imagine what we could all achieve in the world if we were as good at other things as we are at procrastination. I wonder if there’s some instinctive caveman survival reason why we procrastinate, I might look that up later, then I can blame it on that rather than take any personal responsibility.

    • I want to find something I like so much that I don’t procrastinate to do it. I can’t WAIT to do it. Isn’t that the trick? I don’t know about it being a survival instinct. I think that’s intellectualizing the problem. Most likely that I’m just a lazy, unmotivated sod.

  12. What little work I do I do down the pub. Spend the money I’d have spent at home on heat and light on beer instead.

    Getting wanking to take a nice long time is lovely — mind you, not down the pub.

    • I don’t know if I could live like you so but I certainly find it admirable. I wish I could be as free but I’m strung too tight. I don’t like it but there’s not much I can do about it.

      So sorry about the comment approval again. I don’t know how to fix that, either.

  13. It’s me who should apologise — WP ia a godawful platform and the only way you can get it to stop hounding you and following you like some irritating dog, is to invent a new email address with every post. Which requires approval all the time. Apologies for your extra work there.

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