Sunday, March 30, 2008


There are two important, time-sensitive things I need to get done. One is due Tuesday, the other April 15th (you know what that one is!). Because I have much to do for both these 'projects' it is essential that I write a post. ESSENTIAL I tell ya!

The procrastination of projects, whether creative or mundane, is a very long-held tradition with me. On those extremely rare occasions that I do something ahead of time I get slightly cocky, Oh look at me: all done nah-nah-nah-naaaaaa. Which annoys everyone, myself included. Either that or I fret: I can't possibly be done, it's not due for days! I must have missed something. Must have screwed up somewhere. Then I'll go back and re-do the whole thing. Yeah. That's some time saving there, Joy.

I'm very good at ignoring piles of 'stuff' that I'll leave to 'do later' for months at a time. Until something really needs doing. Like Friday. Friday - March 28th, mind you - I put away my Christmas tree ornaments. Seriously. It's that bad. It's my closets and drawers problem. I have all my holiday stuff in fabulous boxes, marked, labeled - they're great. Except that unless I can put stuff away 'properly' I just don't put it away. Things don't go back into cabinets, drawers or closets UNLESS they can go back 'properly'. I am my own Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest). And despite this orderliness which borders on the anal retentive (oh great, now I'll be getting hits from searches for 'anal'... *sigh*) I have absolutely no problem living with a kitchen table full of laundry that gets worn before it ever has a chance to visit its friends in the closet, or Christmas ornaments that sit on a chair for 3 months before I feel the need to put them away.

While procrastinating doing the mundane (taxes) can serve to get the house clean, and correspondence caught up, and pedicures done; procrastinating on creative projects tends to be more of an incubation. A percolation.

My love of coffee is fairly well-known. It began before I even tasted it. The aroma was enough to hook me. My parents refused to let me have coffee as a child. My grandmother however was a smarter cookie. She would give me a mug of milk with a teaspoon of coffee stirred into it. Heaven in a cup. It was enough to satisfy my desire for the java and yet not make me bounce off the walls. Not that I was ever one to bounce off the walls.... but you know what I mean.

Back home in the land of 'kids don't drink coffee' I watched my mother make it every morning with the devotion of an acolyte. She had a Pyrex coffee percolator. This was a wondrous item, not only because it made the magic elixir, but because it was completely clear glass - from pot to stem. Nothing was so fascinating as watching the process of the water beginning to boil (yes, a watched pot WILL boil... it just takes a while) then seeing the bubbling liquid pop up the hollow stem and fountain over the coffee grinds in their basket. And the scent... The smell of fresh coffee... is there anything better?

As the grinds soaked in the hot water they would drip that mellow brown liquid back into the boiling water and before it turned into full blown coffee there were streaks and wisps of fragrant, magical liquid spinning through the still boiling water. Then there was the 'ahhh' factor when the liquid popping up through the stem had turned into coffee so you could actually see it move through the clear tube. Once the coffee was done the show was over. Especially for me, who could not drink it. But every day I watched, fascinated, as this science-project-like process took place and in the end there was a perfect brew. I can't have been more than 8-9 years old when I was finally (after much begging) allowed to make the coffee myself. My mother was an incredibly early riser, so I didn't always beat her to it, but I loved it when I did. I still love making coffee in the morning, though I don't have a percolator, I use a machine now. The magic of watching the process is lost, but the delight in the making and drinking it are there to take its place.

Procrastination, especially for a creative project, is like watching the bubbles percolate through coffee. I tend to play video games now in lieu of watching the pot boil, but the effect is the same. It's an odd sort of electronic meditation. I click my mouse and break things, or feed fish, or whatever the game is and while my hands and eyes are 'in the game' my mind is a million miles away. Sometimes I'm hyper-conscious of the wild array of ideas zipping through my tattered little brain and sometimes I'm not; but I still know they're in there trying to take form. Just like the swirls of brown in the percolator that eventually overtake the clear, boiling water and become coffee.

The damned taxes however are another story altogether.


marxsny said...

We had that exact same Pyrex percolator. I liked watching the first drops of coffee come through and diffuse into the clear water. We also had a bigger white Corning Ware percolator with the little blue flower on it. That was only used on holidays though.

BetteJo said...

I don't know exactly what it was but I SO enjoyed reading your description of the coffee brewing! I'm not a coffee drinker, I drink tea - but I was almost disappointed when you were done describing the process and how you loved watching it.

Bella said...

My Nana did the same thing with me as far as coffee. At age 6 I was drinking a cup of milk with a bit of coffee stirred in. I've loved coffee ever since. Nana used to make hers in a percolator, too, but nothing as cool as that glass one. Very cool.

I recently saw the cutest little item from Williams Sonoma. It looks a lot like a percolator, but it makes lattes. It steams the milk right into the coffee as it comes up from the bottom of the percolator. Even though it's $95, I've got to buy one. (It's called a Bialetti Glass Cappuccino Maker, in case you're interested). It's too cute for words. :)

whimsical brainpan said...

That was the best tribute to coffee I've ever read.

I know what you mean about putting things off. While I am usually very anal about many things there is so much that I simply leave until the last minute. I do believe that I do better on most of those things if I do them that way though.