Multi-Distractional Procrastination

Bloody raccoons! I woke much later than usual this morning, around 6, and wandered out of the bedroom without even putting on my “morning clothes.” As I exited the bedroom into the living area, and before even reaching for the light switch, I noticed movement outside on the deck.  My eyes adjusted quickly to the very dim light outside. A large raccoon slithered across the deck (slithered is the only way to describe that furtive, undulating movement). Another smaller one scurried along the deck railing near the hummingbird feeder that I left out for the night, thanks to the lingering rain and my disinterest in tracking water into the house as I retrieved it. A third one on the railing scampered in another direction. As soon as I saw the beasts, I stomped my feet and growled. Their movement ceased. I rushed to open the back door and screamed a few obscenities at the animals. Though they retreated, their departure was unhurried, as if the screams of an angry fat man wearing only underwear and flip-flops were not particularly frightening. Fortunately, the feeder remained, dangling from the hook I once hoped would keep it out of reach of raccoons thirsty for sugar-based nectar. I’ve long since abandoned that hope, replacing it with resigned acceptance that I would need to take the feeders in every night during hummingbird season. Except when weather and sloth conspire to bring out the lethargy in me.

That experience was more than an hour ago. Since then, I’ve donned my morning clothes, made coffee, eaten a ginger snap (dipped in said coffee) and read more than I care to know about the Republican National Convention. I also absorbed information that a polar bear attacked a camp site in Norway’s Svalbard Islands on Friday, killing a foreign national before the bear was killed. The man was taken to a hospital in Longyearbyen, the main settlement in Norway’s Arctic Svalbard archipelago, which is more than 500 miles north of the Norwegian mainland. It was too late; he died.

In terms of raw drama and tragic run-ins with Mother Nature, raccoon invasions and distant hurricanes and the fierce remnants of local tropical storms do not compare to polar bear attacks. Except for the pain I imagine would accompany a polar bear attack leading to one’s death, I think that way of departing this life might have some appeal, if for no other reason than to imprint the memory of one’s mode of death on the minds of survivors. I started to say “on the minds of descendants,” but one without children has no descendants. Oh, well. It’s not a matter that merits much thought, inasmuch as the likelihood I will die at the claws of a polar bear is less than minuscule.


My mood of late has grown increasingly somber, despite multiple inquiries from people who want to boost my morale or provide a sympathetic ear, etc. I am afraid to engage more than superficially because I know, if I were to open up, I would melt into a puddle, an  undeserved pity sponge. It would be especially embarrassing and frustrating, knowing that I am not the one deserving sympathy and support; my wife, stuck in hospitals or rehab facilities for going on six weeks, is the one who needs it much, much more. She is in a place now where she cannot even have visitors, save the occasional visit by her sister and me through a glass window, speaking over a two-way intercom. I am angry at myself that I allow my self-pity to put me at risk of a tearful meltdown. Yet I don’t know how to switch off the emotions that trigger it. Attempts at replacing the fear and anger and so forth with false bravado have failed miserably. A stronger person would be better able to conceal those uncomfortable emotions, presenting a stoic exterior in public and reserving tearful breakdowns for private time. Perhaps the best solution is to avoid opportunities for public humiliation. Stay at home, keep conversations by phone or computer short and focused on other matters, and keep people at arm’s length.

Crap. I can’t even keep my whip-saw emotions in check on the page. My fingers let loose with minds of their own. I think my fingers are deviant; they do not adhere to instructions sent to them by my brain. They reject instructions they find offensive or inane, opting instead to jab the keyboard as they see fit.


I can see a story forming out of that idea. A would-be writer who is too lazy and too unsure of his abilities to attempt to get published discovers over a period of weeks that his fingers are receiving their instructions from somewhere else; they type not what the writer instructs them to type but, instead, what another writer tells them to type. The other writer, a well-known published author, has lost control of his fingers to crippling arthritis and he can no longer speak into a microphone, due to the deterioration of his vocal chords as a result of a lifetime of two-pack-a-day smoking. But the published author discovers his psychic ability to control the fingers of others. The published author has tried several others, but until he finds this one guy, he has been dissatisfied with the speed and certainty of their keystrokes. Now, though, he has found the right one!  Okay, there’s the seed of the story. Now, the question is whether it will ever be written. Silly question! Of course not. The seeds never sprout into full-grown trees; even the bushes usually wither and die before reaching maturity.


The Garage Door Guy came out day before yesterday and adjusted my garage door. At my request, he said he would return the next day (yesterday) and replace the bottom seal; he did. I was extremely pleased with his work. He, on the other hand, was extremely frustrated with what he had to go through to get the seal installed. Nonetheless, he did it and, as far as I can tell, did a good job. He arrived at around 3:00 p.m., during the peak of high winds and heavy rains caused by the remnants of Hurricane Laura. He worked right through it. I was impressed. The other company I had called, Garage Door Doctor, said it would be two weeks before they could get to me, but said it was too early to schedule a visit. Needless to say, I am no longer a fan of Garage Door Doctor; I will, though, recommend Garage Door Guy.


For the last hour or so, I have switched between writing, making more coffee, putting a load of clothes in the washer, and otherwise occupying my time by devoting my attention to radically different endeavors. It’s time I stopped ignoring my “chores” through writing and get to the business at hand. So, enough of the distraction, John; get on with the day!

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Multi-Distractional Procrastination

  1. I plan to say nice things about the Garage Door Guy wherever I can. They deserve appreciation and attention. I am with you that many customers are better left unserved; I’ve run into my fair share of them.

  2. Tom Swinburn says:

    It is an unusual and happy circumstance to run across, by accident a good service provider. When we do it’s incumbent on us to spread the word. People like that deserve the business you might help them garner through your spreading of the word. Likewise, when disappointed (the usual case) with an individual or company we should warn potential customers of theirs that avoiding them would be in their best interest. As I know a bit about the service side I can say without reservation that plenty of customers are better left unserved. But we must, painful as it is smile and do that which we are paid to do. And put that name in your little black book, never to return. It works both ways, a service person happy to have a satisfied customer and customers happy to have a service person competent, punctual and fair.

    Both are too often disappointed. Glad your garage door guy did right by you.

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