Themes: #2 Beverages, #6 Birth,
#8 Enough, #16 Holidays
Laziness And The Art Of Procrastination
The keys on my bass clarinet make a hard, metallic sound as they hit the band room’s carpeted floor. The sound startles me into waking up and makes the girl to the right of me nearly drop her bassoon out of surprise, but luckily a domino-like situation was avoided.
Blinking my right eye then switching to blink my left, the remaining snippets of a half formed dream begin to disappear from my mind. I look around and see the entire band class staring at me and my fallen instrument, some in confusion, most in amusement.
“Oh shit,” I say under my breath as I scramble to pick up my school-owned bass clarinet.
“Is there a problem here Yim?” asks Mr. Wong, the band director, as he moves to stand directly in front of me.
“Ugh… I’m sorry I must have fallen asleep or something,” I mumble while trying to avoid his terribly angry gaze.
“Are you narcoleptic or something?” he questions. “What the hell were you doing dosing off in class like that?”
“I’m so sorry Mr. Wong, it’s just that I haven’t slept in like two days,” I try to explain.
He cuts in, “Doing your social studies paper I’d assume.” I nod. “See, this is a great example of why you should not wait until the last minute to get your work done,” he says, now addressing the whole class, and apparently using me as his example. “How are any of you going to survive in college like this?” he asks, pointing at me and my slouched, energy-deprived body. He walks away shaking his head as the entire class suppresses chuckles.
It really wasn’t supposed to come to this. You see, I had made detailed plans on how and when I was going to finish my report, a comparison of Hong Kong and Taiwan’s current relationship with China, over the long Thanksgiving weekend. The problem was, I really did not want to follow any of those plans because, well, they were significantly less fun than the other plans I had made which included watching football, watching Elf several times, and eating disgusting amounts of turkey and stuffing. I actually followed those plans.
I’m sure this makes me sound like a horrible student, but honestly, I’m actually not that bad at all. I mean, I guess I finish my homework on the day it’s due a bit too often but it just always works out somehow. In fact, I’ve managed to get mostly As throughout my high school career despite the rushed problem sets and last minute papers.
This year, my final one in grade school, is really the only year I’ve ever had the need to pull an all-nighter in order to finish my work. It’s also the first year where I’ve had to spend more money on coffee than on food.
In retrospect, I really should have seen this coming. We were always warned by our old teachers about how much more difficult the senior year would be. I suppose it’s less so about the workload than it is about the condition known to most as “senioritis”. Now that it’s nearing the midpoint of our final year, I think just about everyone in my class has developed a full-blown case of the terrible made-up disease. I don’t mean to blame senioritis for my laziness, especially since it isn’t actually a real condition, but I can’t help but feel like I’ve shown traces of it ever since I was born.
“Go and put away your toys now,” my mother would say to me when I was younger.
“I will later on. But, I mean, what’s the point of it anyway?” my three-year-old self would ask. “I just want to grow up already so I don’t have to deal with this anymore. It’s all so stupid.” I always worried my parents. Looking back, I can see why they might have been concerned.
I always had a tendency to put things off whether it was because I didn’t want to do them or because there was something else I’d rather be doing (sometimes I was just so “over it” that I would not want to anything at all). In general, this never really affected anything until the sixth grade, when I finally realized just how good I was at putting things off while still managing to pull off something pretty great.
It was nearing the final week of my first year as a middle-schooler and I had a giant project due for science class. My project was to study the different amounts of growth between hydroponically grown cabbage, some that had just been given water and others that had also been given chemicals. The problem with this experiment was that I ate it within the first week and guess what I found out: extremely small amounts of food don’t actually taste like anything. While this was a groundbreaking conclusion, at least for me, it wasn’t exactly the kind of results that my science teacher would appreciate. I decided to forget about the whole ruined project until the day before it was due.
“Hey, did you finish your project yet?” my friend Thomas asked me at lunch.
“What project?” I asked back.
“The science one. Don’t you remember? It’s due tomorrow,” he said.
“Oh shit… I ate that,” I replied, suddenly recalling the tasteless bits of leaf that were eventually supposed to grow into cabbage. “Thanks for telling me man!” I yelled as I ran off to find the computer lab.
At the computer lab, I utilized the world wide web to search for the average growth rate of cabbage, but unfortunately, couldn’t find anything useful. I ended up panicking the rest of the school day and when my mom showed up to take me home I raced into the back seat and yelled, “Go now! We have to get back home now or I’m going to be a failure for the rest of my life!” This made my poor mom worry about me even more. I’ll have to apologize to her at some point.
Once I reached home, I spent an entire hour thinking about a plan of attack, a way to somehow get that project done without having to write “I ate this” in every single column of each of my data tables. So, I decided to make it all up. I had a few days worth of actual numbers from before the time when I decided my experiment belonged in my stomach, and I decided to use the same patterns of growth throughout the entire one month set of data. I filled out the tables so that they followed the patterns, sometimes throwing in a random outlier to make my teacher think it was real. Then, I made up descriptions for each day’s changes and sketched what I thought they might have looked like. Finally, I applied a skill that I still use to this day. I used big words and strange analogies to make my explanations sound smart. All I needed was to add a cover page and I was done.
On the day we got our grades for the projects, Ms. Collins, my sixth grade science teacher came around to my table and gave me my graded paper. “Great job,” she said. “This was exactly how I wanted it to be. I think you were the only person who got a hundred percent on this.”
“Thanks, Ms. Collins. I worked really hard on it,” I told her gratefully.
“I’m sure you did,” Ms. Collins said, beaming at me while she walked away to hand out the other less perfect papers. Thomas was sitting across the table from me, shaking his head the whole time.
Ever since this instance in the sixth grade, I’ve been counting on my powers of procrastination to get me through all too many assignments. More often than not, it has payed off, and things have gone well for the most part. From worksheets done five minutes before class to adding the final touches to a PowerPoint presentation on the day of The Pacific Science Symposium, I’ve been lucky enough to not only get by but to excel with what some would call my ill-advised methods. However, this first semester of 12th grade has taught me that while I may be able to get away with putting some things off, I’ll pay by probably not getting enough sleep.
“Nice one man,” laughs Josh, a flute player, as we exit the band room.
“Hey, at least I got my paper done,” I say to him.
“Yeah, I guess,” he replies, “but did you finish your English?”
“What English?” I ask.
“The December Bamboo Shoots,” he responds. “It’s due tonight dude.”
“When?!” I demand.
“Before tomorrow, I guess,” he says.
“Then I have ‘til 11:59 PM,” I declare.
Josh laughs some more, shakes his head, and then says, “You’re an idiot, man.”