Purification Rituals

When I'm about to grade a stack of papers, I have a few purification rituals (read procrastination).

The first ritual is to make sure all the dishes in the sink are cleaned. This is to ensure that when I pour myself a pot of coffee, I will not be setting coffee mugs on other dishes, in dirty sinks, on scummy plates. Chances are, I'll use the mug over and over again.

The second ritual is for me to clear my desk. Clearing the desk takes place in phases. The first phase involves balancing the checkbook. I make sure all the ATM receipts, slips of paper, etc., are accounted for, properly tabulated, and shredded. I then pay the bills. Papers seem to come at the end of the month or during the middle of the month when bills start coming in. Bills are also responsible for most of the clutter on my desk.

The third part of my ritual is settling correspondence. E-mail piles up in my virtual mailbox, so I weed through the spam, old messages, listserve nonsense, and other stuff. Because of the high volume of computer viruses at my current institution, I often have to run a virus scanner which usually takes an hour or two.

Fourthly, I vacuum. The floors need to be cleaned. When I'm walking barefoot in the apartment, I don't want to step on pebbles, chiggers, stickers, bits of staples, nails, or any serrated edges of any kind. It's important to be comfortable when grading and I'm most comfortable in socks or bare feet. Vacuuming is a safety precaution.

Fifthly, I scan all the television channels to make sure nothing important is showing or will show. I start from channel 1 and go all the way up to the 400's where the cheesy music channels reside. One time I settled on a Curling tournament and sat transfixed, trying to figure out the rules. I still don't get that sport. It's basically bowling on ice, right?

Sixthly, I call mom.

Seventhly, I walk the dog. Brisk walks are neccesary for hunting dogs like Jake. If Jake does not get his walk, he whines like a two-year-old. If I want an optimum paper-grading environment, noise like dog-whine must be eliminated, so I take Jake on a two-hour walk through the Switchbacks.

Eighthly, I delete all the phone messages on my school phone.

Ninethly, I recycle all the magazines I've read. For some reason I keep getting Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly. I think I got roped into subscribing to them when purchasing something for my digital camera. I, according to Papatya Bucak, am a danger-prone consumer.

Tenthly, I call dad. He and mom use different phones.

Finally, I settle down to grade papers. I'm still wondering why it takes me so darned long to finish. . .

Oliver de la Paz