Like most writers, I need a deadline to really get my brain popping and my fingers clicking. Unfortunately, this doesn’t just apply to my work, but my personal life as well. I’m really good at getting things done, just not the things I should be doing – a constant source of frustration to me.
If I should be working on paperwork, I’ll decide I need to do every scrap of laundry in the house. If I should do laundry, instead I’ll create a spreadsheet of our finances. I am contrary. I think this stems from my mother being a micro-manager most of my life, but it could be I’m just stubborn as a mule by nature.
My husband knows this about me, and uses reverse psychology that I usually fall for: “I’m sure you don’t want to straighten up your biking stuff in the garage that’s in the way. I’ll do it.” To which I’ll reply indignantly, “Well, of course I’ll do it!” Then he just gives me this false blank look like he didn’t expect this reply, a master of the poker face. The man has me down pat. God knows he has also figured out not to try to tell me what to do. This will only result in my giving him the death stare, my Italian-Hungarian evil eye.
But there is one factor I can count on to get my sorry self motivated to get things done around the house and yard: visitors. If I want to really clean, organize or complete a few projects, all I need to do is invite people over, such as for a dinner party. This is the only time I’m inspired to straighten up the constantly growing piles of junk in my second story office, what looks like a psychologically damaged rodent’s lair of collected riffraff, a semi-hoarder-ish nightmare.
I know no one who comes to our house will notice any of these things (or wander up to my hell hole of an office). Put on some tunes, hand someone a tasty drink, fire up the grill and guests could care less if you have sawdust on the floor and cobwebs in the corners. Most folks are happy to just get out of their house and interact with humans. But for whatever reason, having people over lights a fire under my behind. Sure I’m not alone in this.
Due to the pandemic, we have not had people in our home and it shows. I think soon I’ll be eaten or simply absorbed by the mounds in my office. Thus I am very happy that our youngest son and his girlfriend will soon be staying with us for a bit. (Of course, properly socially distanced.) Suddenly I feel the need to paint the disgusting looking guest room closet – something not done since the early ‘80s – and a task that has been on the to-do list for years.
I will point out our son and his girlfriend could care less about the closet or any of the other projects I’ll do before they arrive. If we had raccoons nesting under the bed they will be sleeping in, my son would say, “Nice! I’ve always wanted more pets!” And his girlfriend would add, “Awesome! What are their names?”
But as I’ve said before, why let logic get in the way of a good thing? As long as my confounding brain is fooled into thinking it should now inspire my person to get projects done, I’m happy. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to get that closet painted before I change my mind and find a different mission. The goddess of motivation is such a fickle muse.
By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn is a Boulder freelance writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.