Caveat: Sitting Among the Snowdrifts

I need to talk about procrastination.

It’s easy to do, in this hermetic space on the edge of civilization, encased in fresh-fallen snow and betrayed by the bureaucracies that lurk just over the horizon.

I had been highly motivated in the fall to become a full-time student in the University of Alaska’s online teacher certification program. That fell apart, as I’ve noted before, due to the stringent, two-year basis of the state’s concept of “residency.” I would be subject to exhorbitant out-of-state tuition, and decided to forgo the privilege. Hopefully I can try again next year.

Meanwhile, I had already registered for a set of tests-for-credit to fulfill some outstanding prerequisites. Two parts of US History, and Intro to Psychology. I had scheduled the tests for the 13th of January, because given the online classes would have been starting the week before, it seemed the best way to maximize study time and still not end up overwhelmed once classes started.

So I told myself, after I decided to delay starting the online program for a year, that I would just take the scheduled tests anyway. It’d keep me busy during this hiatus while Art was still down south.

Unfortunately, that didn’t work. When the pressure is off, I tend to procrastinate. And the pressure was definitely off. There was no way to trick my mind into thinking these tests were important, when their “due date” was now more than a year off.

Last night I took a set of practice tests. Their results clearly show that my studying, such as it has been, hasn’t really been effective. Of course, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I might, indeed, be able to pass the tests. But not in the “summa cum laude” way that is my accustomed academic mode.

Further, there is no penalty in delaying the tests. I believe when I registered the only deadline is something like 8 months from registration. I have until summer to get them done without extra cost.

I have therefore elected to delay them. I specified a March date, only because I had to specify something. The test date is easily moved – the testing center in Ketchikan has several slots every week.

But I feel guilty.

I also had made a firm commitment to do something about a more generic job search once returning to the island. I made up new resumes, dropped feelers among my acquaintances, but have hardly been assiduous in follow up. It’s too easy to settle into a routine, here.

I put in some time outside: firewood, shoveling snow, maintaining the RV, checking that our water system is handling the cold, etc.

I put in time on my computer: maintaining my blog and server and websites, admin stuff on the geofiction website, trying to solve certain puzzles related to making my websites “cleaner” and more professional and better-coded.

What else? Study time happens, but not as it should (see above). I read some in various books-in-progress. I have developed a new hobby of reading a few well-written “web-comics.” This is an emergent genre – essentially graphic (i.e. pictorial) novels published online. They were extraordinarily popular among my students during my last years in Korea, and I made several efforts to get into some of the Korean ones at that time, in hopes it would inspire me to improve my Korean. I suppose it did, a bit, but the slog of reading them with dictionary in hand was hard to keep up. One English-language one that I’ve been enjoying is called Seed. It is science-fiction, essentially: a psychologically interesting set of characters dealing with a rogue Artificial Intelligence.

I admit that although I love the snow – it’s gorgeous and calming and I have no concerns about the chance of isolation or the work involved in shoveling out the stairs whatever, it does rather de-motivate me vis-a-vis any project to get out to town, whether job search or anything else. Heavy snow is about staying home and looking out the windows, not about going to town on treacherous roads in hopes of getting a dead-end job out of a sense of obligation to be “productive.”

I feel guilty about abusing my family’s generosity and Arthur’s “hospitality” (despite the notion, too, that I’m presumeably serving a genuinely useful care-taker role with him, which his disavowals of disability make difficult to maintain). I think if I was truly self-sufficient, I’d not feel guilty for being a currently “unproductive” member of society. I feel sufficiently creative in my various pursuits – my poetry, my offline writing efforts, my programming work on my websites – such that I am contributing to the world, just not for remuneration at the moment.

And that’s the news from this side of Port Saint Nicholas, here in Rockpit, Alaska.