Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why You'll See Me in H-E-Double-Toothpicks

No one's perfect, right?  Maybe someone is, but if that perfect person tells us about it, that could be indulging in the sin of pride, and then, poof,  no more perfection.  No one we know for sure then, but if there is, she's keeping it to herself, because that's the kind of perfect person she is.  This little bit of inane logic makes me feel better when I think about my own universe of faults, and I have to think about them, or I couldn't even begin to try to fix them.  Of course, the way of a Jewish girl like myself isn't private confession and devout penance, but public complaint and sarcastic self-deprecation, so here is a partial outline of the character elements I should be improving.  Any plans to improve or progress toward such improvement will certainly appear in another post.

First, I'm lazy-- as in, I avoid work. As I write this, rumpled beds lay unmade, dirty dishes soak unwashed, and please, don't even get me started on what's dusty and sits undusted. And I can't let myself off the hook because I'm getting some writing done, because if there was a blog deadline, this baby would be on the back burner too, with the phone calls I have to make and closets I should clean.  This is because my will to get something done varies in inverse proportion to the urgency and magnitude of what I have to do. Wow, that was almost like math and it made me tired, but I mean the more I have to do, and the more quickly I should attend to it, the less I actually do
Is she contemplating her slothfulness?  I would be, just to avoid getting to work.
Those of you with a taste for the classics will want to identify this as the deadly sin Sloth, which sounds much more glamorous because it also somehow sounds more evil. Miss Lazy wears sweatpants and drinks juice from the carton, but Sloth is all dressed up in an evening gown, reclining on a chaise lounge with a cigarette holder and a cocktail, dismissing all the stuff that isn't getting done with a wave of her manicured fingernails.  Since I procrastinate by wasting time or doing one thing instead of another, I don't think I qualify for the tawdry glamour of sloth.   See, even my laziness is lazy.

This is because another of my big problems is that I am eminently distractable.  I just wandered away from here for a minute because I heard the blip-blip-blip of the Words with Friends game on my Facebook page, alerting me that it was my turn.  I mean seriously, I was in the middle of a sentence and I clicked away without even trying to finish it.  Sadly, there is no glamorous, classical name for such spineless attention deficit.  Further proof of this bad habit is confirmed by a quick walk through our apartment at about 4:30 on any given afternoon. Every room holds the beginning of a project--something I started with good intentions, then abandoned because I started something else, also with the intention of finishing, until the laziness and distraction washed over me.

You know where this is going-- those are good intentions...

And we all know what the road to hell is paved with don't we? In my case those good intentions often cause me to curse, even in front of my children.  Aw hell, I swear in front of other people's children too.  On Delia's class trip to the aquarium this week, one strapping young man ran through the ambient darkness of the dimly lit exhibits, crunching my toe and throwing me off balance toward a tank full of eels.  Of course I know the swearing has a deeper and uglier root-- my bad temper.  I wouldn't have to swear if I didn't fly off the handle.  Because I'm so cranky,  I've developed a fall-back faux-curse:"Flipping Flippers!" I wasn't able to manage that in the aquarium, though the words I chose started with the same letters.   I think only five or six people heard me though.

I hope they weren't judging me, but I couldn't blame them if they did, because one of the things that often diverts my attention is my own judgement of others.  Not that I really care if people swear-- they probably have good reasons.  Maybe their toes just got stepped on.  No, my special bad angel sits on my shoulder when I read because I am exceptionally critical about spelling and grammar errors.  In my own defense, I have made a living as a proofreader and editor, so my judgemental nature has provided me with some marketable skills.  I might have written a bestseller by now but for the laziness and distractability and, oh yes, the crippling agony of fear that I will make a mistake myself and therefore be a judged judger, haunted eternally by the knowledge of my own errors. At least this flaw comes with built-in punishment. I recently yanked a Facebook post that had been up for eight hours and already had comments, because I couldn't stand the idea that someone would realize I had put in an extraneous apostrophe. By the time you read this, I will have gone over it a hundred times, probably while I avoided something that urgently needed to be done.  But enough about me, back to judging the mistakes of others.

Publicly posted errors, such as a recent notice about a new group for fathers at Delia's elementary school really drive me nuts.  (There's my  bad temper again!) The flier, which was put up on walls all around the school and sent home in the backpacks of innocent children, read: 

Calling All Dad's! 

"All Dad's what?"was all I could think. 

I didn't immediately think of the awesome group of guys who wanted to get together and have some fun with their kids. No, I stood there wondering what kind of example those idiots were setting,  putting up a notice that was confusing and wrong.  Then I despaired because no one else was going to care anyway.  I only muttered to myself about that, but I am certain that a failure to keep my criticism to myself was a factor in the loss of my last job.  The boss put out long manifestos filled with errors and required everyone to read and initial them.  I left them on the counter, corrected, after reading them.  When she learned it was me, she icily asked that I go over the communiques before she put them out, since I was so smart and all, but I wasn't there long enough to really help her with her writing...

Maybe I couldn't stop myself from marking up the memos because I'm competitive.  No one will want to play with me after I post this, but I have to admit to a certain competitive streak which really reveals itself when I play Words with Friends.  I really hate to admit to being competitive, especially as it fights so hard with one of my major flaws, which I wrote about recently, always wanting to look like I have everything under control. It is hard to be nakedly, rampantly competitive while projecting an air of studied calm-- ennui, really-- about the craziness of this mad, mad world.  And you'll note that I'm too lazy to be competitive about anything requiring strenuous activity-- I already know that even Fiona can best me in a race, but only because I don't want to look like I'm working at it. 
I felt I had to include this fault though, after hearing myself growl, "Take that Wayne!" while jabbing Send Move on the keyboard for a particularly juicy word.   My friends are all intelligent, with great command of the language, so they are often ahead of me. Luckily, I really love a come-back, though I won't post those self-congratulatory messages on my Facebook wall, as that would be, you know, tacky. But seriously, I crack myself up with how happy I am to get ahead in something so simple, and I die a teensy tiny bit when I lose. 
I don't know them, but if I did, I would be envious.
I play on Facebook when I am supposed to be getting things done, as I noted above.  Thankfully, Facebook is not something that similarly inspires my competitive nature,  but does bring out another of the seven big sins--Envy.  Everyone looks like their lives are better and more fun and they do more stuff and they look so thin and their kids are so cute-- well my kids are cute too, and I'm proud of that, which could be another flaw on my list, but pride looks like a sin that takes some work, and as you can see, I've already got a lot on my plate.  And I just thought of something else I could be doing.


(Leave a comment and let me know what I've forgotten-- or let me know what flaws you're working on.  I won't tell.)

Sloth cartoon here. Myrna being slothful, here.  Cobblestones here.  Grammar laugh here. Happy family, hereSignpost image found here.

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