Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Sample Conversation Between Spouse and Me
[Note: When I was president of Junior Woman's Club, "starburst" was our exec committee's safe word. When people started to go off on tangents, one could simply say, "starburst," or "we're starbursting," and it was a signal to get back on-message.
Another note: Spouse frequently accuses me of starbursting when I am (allegedly) cleaning the house. Basically, if I'm doing a task that he doesn't deem mission-critical, I'm either "fiddling while Rome burns" or "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," depending on what metaphor is his favorite that week.]
So I've been thinking about your disdain for starbursting, and I think that it's partially misguided.
I submit that there are three types of starbursting. The first type of starbursting I shall categorize as "mission-critical starbursting." Example: my goal is to eradicate the pile of clothing on the blanket chest on my side of the bed. So I ask myself: why is the pile there? Partly because I have a mental block about hanging up clothes when I get home from work, and partly because my closet is currently disorganized, and every time I think about sorting through the pile I think, "I need to organize the closet before I hang up those things." Ergo, organizing the closet is an appropriate precursor to eradicating the clothes pile, and in fact really ought to be considered a necessary part of the clothes pile eradication process. Because, in the absence of an organized closet, the clothes pile is likely to return.
I concede this point.
A second and distinct type of starbursting I shall refer to as "opportunistic starbursting." Example: last night I went in search of that tablecloth that I was thinking of using for Keno.
And then I decided that I would look for paper plates and napkins for the Woman's Club notebook exchange while I was at it, and in the process of looking for all of the above I realized that the sideboard was in a state of disarray, and it really needed to be organized, and, on the theory that to keep a house within certain organizational tolerances you need to take on several "done in a day" projects per month, I decided that I needed to reorganize the sideboard, because like every other storage piece in the house it needs to be reorganized on an occasional basis, and there wouldn't be a better time than right then, while I was thinking about it. So I cleaned out the sideboard and, not only did I find the tablecloth, paper plates and napkins, but I found a bunch of other paper goods that I can use over the summer, so taking the time to clean out the sideboard both facilitated the consumption of consumable goods that were already taking up space and eliminated the need to spend money on similar goods. Thus, I submit that opportunistic starbursting can be socially useful.
I concede this point as well.
So that leaves "procrastination starbursting." Like when I go to clean out a desk drawer, and find a picture of one of the kids from the spring of 2013, and remember that I haven't printed the Shutterfly album for the spring of 2013 because I need to upload those pictures from Memorial Day, so I decide to upload the pictures while I am thinking about it, and when I do upload the pictures, there is a banner ad for 30% off of photo albums on the Shutterfly site, so I decide to go ahead and complete and order the book, but then I remember that I should always link to Shutterfly through Upromise because the kids earn money for college that way, and when I go to Upromise I see that Lands' End is offering extra savings this week, so I buy the kids swimsuits for summer vacation.
And then I spend two hours on Travelocity looking at hotel options for summer vacation.
When it's only February.
And I never get around to finishing the drawer.
And then you come in and see the big pile of stuff that I have taken out of the drawer, spread out on the bed and only semi-sorted, and you're really tired, so while I'm in the bathroom you just shove everything on the floor.
And then I yell at you for not giving me adequate time to complete tasks.
Okay, I agree that it totally sucks when I do that, and I should stop.