Taskus Interruptus:

A diagram of the parts of a classical guitar l...
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Def: whatever original task one sets out to do, another precedent subtask will divert the majority of available time and impulse, often taking the place of or removing from memory the primary objective.

There’s got to be a name for it–what I assume to be not an individual idiosyncratic behavioral oddity unique to our household.

This morning, the primary task was to empty one of my book boxes to use for shipping items left behind by Christmas house guests. But wait: the plastic trays (saved from the pharmacy trash can, I think) sitting on top of the uppermost box of books (for sale: anyone?) should find some use.

And I spent the next 30 minutes rearranging odd assortments of sticky pads, pencils (remember them?), rubber bands and twist ties, staples, massive quantities of old ball-point pens (guessing 50% are dry as the proverbial bone) into the half dozen perfectly intact and must-be-useful-for-something trays. Should find a home in my oak desk drawers somewhere. Surely.

Now, unsortable items to be dealt with, including: THREE guitar capos (I recently demonstrated that playing is beyond my pain tolerance after restringing my classical guitar to play along with my son to perform for family last week); two P38 backpacking can openers (?); and various arcane geegaws in tiny plastic bags containing screws from a zip drive I owned back in 1998, print head cleaners from an HP printer now under many feet of fill dirt somewhere in a land fill, and a ladybug graveyard.

Terminology suggestions in addition to this blog post title include but are not limited to:

  • Job stutter
  • Listorrhea
  • Domestic focus failure
  • Work-wanderosis.

Do you know what I mean? Don’t you agree we need a name for this affliction? To name your enemy is the first step toward its defeat. Yeah, right.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Oh, yeah — an epidemic of that among many I know. Suffered my latest bout today in the midst of de-Christmasing. What should have taken about an hour stretched into several as new tasks intervene and delay one just begun. Oh well, there are certainly worse afflictions. Happy New Year, Fred!