Molly Fisk: Not Quite There

This morning I finished paying my monthly bills, which I do by hand in a coffee shop the old-fashioned way, and as I was driving home, got into a familiar argument with myself.

“Hey, great, the bills are done!” I said.

“Not so fast, Buttercup,” said I. “You have to put them in the mailbox. Then the job will actually be over.”

“Oh, piffle,” I replied, which is a time-honored phrase in our family for when you disagree but have no decent argument to put forth. “They’re totally finished! The Wonder Woman stamps are affixed, the little return name tags are on there, what’s your problem?”

“Molly, the point of paying bills is that the money arrives at PG&E and your usurious credit card bank, not just that you write the checks and seal the envelopes.”

“Oh, piffle,” I said again. Then I sighed, changed lanes, took the Broad St. exit toward our town’s post office, pulled into the parking lot, and dropped the sealed envelopes down into the gaping maw of the blue drive-by mailbox. Don’t tell my other half, but I did indeed feel a teensy soupçon of relief as I let them go.

After a lot of research, it’s my opinion that humans are different from each other. One example is the way we approach tasks. There are quick starters who peter out in the middle, good steady plodders, and people who can’t get going but once in gear race to a blistering finish. I am a 7/8ths gal. I can start fine. I can continue cheerfully through most of the process. And then, seven-eighths of the way along, when the end is in sight and you can almost hear faint cheers from the grandstand, I completely abandon whatever it is and move on to the next thing. I’m not proud of this, but I’ve come to understand it’s a consistent pattern.

My friend Margot, in Cambridge, used to swing by every couple of months and say, “I need something to do: What’s under your bed?” I would groan as she dragged out the big box of unfinished projects. Over the course of several years, she knit the last sleeve on a woolly green sweater, bound the buttonholes on what ended up being one of my favorite dresses, and put the backing on a quilt I had made out of my mom’s old Liberty blouses. She took some abandoned flannel and made me a wonderful nightgown. I was horribly embarrassed at the time, since back then I believed I had to be perfect. But I still let her help, and thereby learned a powerful lesson.

Nowadays, I know that if I can’t get myself through that last eighth of a task, I need to find someone to hold my hand. None of us is good at everything. We all need help. The way to make life work smoothly is to find people who can do the thing you’re hopeless at, and figure out what you can do for them.

Oh, what was my side of the bargain? Every now and then, I could say something silly enough to make Margot, a serious woman from central Maine, laugh until she cried.

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  • Deb Lundstrom May 13, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    I’m a combination of procrastination and inability to finish (I clearly remember the many grade school report cards with the notation “Doesn’t complete assignments”), which has followed me through to this, my 63rd year. Ah well, no one has died of either bad habit.

  • Shirley May 13, 2017 at 9:43 am

    I am a procrastinator. Once I get started though, I go for it.
    You and Margot have an excellent trade off for the two of you.

    • Molly Fisk May 13, 2017 at 10:43 am

      I like sorting out all the many gives-and-takes there are possible in this world… as someone with no nuclear family, I really need my friends, and it’s good to have a wide variety of ways to build relationships. 😉