29 August, 2005

A clean slate

I don’t want this, and yet I’m asking for it. I guess there’s a difference between what I need and what I want. I want to be able to just do my work without needing help. I want to be perfect, capable, self-disciplined.

But I’m asking W. to take over some of that discipline, and that scares me to my core. It’s letting someone else make decisions. It’s being held accountable, and it’s getting immediate consequences for my increasingly bad habits.

The natural consequences of not doing my work are… well, vague. Who knows how well I’d write if I did it further ahead of time? Part of what stops me from working without deadlines is the fact that by procrastinating till the very last minute, I can then blame any of my failures on the fact that I didn’t have enough time, that I was working under pressure. Sure, I have potential, but who knows whether there’s anything more than potential, you know?

I do want to do this dissertation, and I know that the natural consequences of not writing are just that: that I won’t get the opportunity to write the dissertation. But that’s not really real for me. It’s something vague, off in the future. I would be incredibly disappointed, but I can’t make myself believe that it will really happen.

And so I asked W. to help me, so that I will have some more believable consequences. God, I don’t want to go through with it. After yesterday, I (mostly) believe her when she says that if I get a punishment spanking, it will NOT be a fun experience.

When I imagine spankings, there’s still an element of fun from my point of view. Even when the characters in my stories don’t want them, well, it’s not my butt on the line. I don’t have to actually experience it. It’s all in my head. But an actual punishment isn’t fun, not at all. And I, an actual person, have to go through it.

Why did I ask her for this? Well, because of all of the usual reasons—I want, need, crave the structure. I need to let go of my guilt; that guilt over my procrastination ironically just drives me to procrastinate further. And why did I ask her to punish me for my procrastination this summer, which she is just as happy to forgive me for? Because I need a clean slate.

We had discussed me setting clear goals for this week, and receiving consequences if I didn’t meet them. And a big part of me is afraid that I will not meet the goals, not because I’m incapable of doing so, but because I will be testing to see what the consequences will be. So I guess I asked for the punishment in part because I would rather get a spanking and then do my work than not do my work and then get a spanking.

But, oh, it’s not a happy thought. Because even though I want the result of the spanking, I really and truly do not want the spanking itself.

She asked me how we can make this spanking relevant, and this next part is my answer, so far as I have one right now:

There were eight weeks of this summer. One and a half of them don’t count, because I was sick. And I’ll also give myself a freebie for the week that I was at camp with W. and her family, and for the two days when I was picking her up from camp. And I’ll even give myself a free week for the time I was dealing with my brother leaving.

That leaves four weeks. A reasonable workday for me, when I’m making myself focus and really using my brain, is about four hours. And given a five-day work week (I work better when I take time off every week), that means twenty hours a week, or eighty hours.

And on top of that, I know perfectly well that even if I can’t concentrate or do other work, it’s still useful to spend fifteen minutes a day just writing off of the top of my head, getting that day’s thoughts down on paper. I don’t need the computer to do that, and I don’t need a very clear head. I just need discipline. So that’s fifteen minutes times ten days, if I exclude the week and a half that I really was way too sick to do any work (and I tried to work for two days at the beginning of that—I was just too sick to manage it). Two and a half more hours.

So the total number of hours I should have worked adds up to 82 ½.

To my credit, I did have one week in there where I was working pretty well. In that week, I worked for three and a half hours on Monday, two on Tuesday, five on Wednesday, and seven on Thursday. That’s a total of seventeen and a half hours. So I pretty much wasted 65 hours that I could have, and should have, been working this summer.

So I guess a relevant spanking would include paying up for those hours I wasted. I think that if I continue in my procrastinating ways (which, of course, I’m not going to do!), then it might be reasonable to also restrict my access to solitaire and blogs and email. But right now, I don’t think that’s necessary.

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