Like the affluent, secluded uncle who dwells within his palatial beach house named after his first wife (her name was Bettie – or Betsy), the New Year came, motivated us to absorb more alcohol than our pre-frontal cortex would normally allow, psyched us into kissing anything with a stable blood pressure, and then drunkenly staggered into obscurity, not to be heard from until next year. Sometime before or during that annual flirt-fest, we made a promise to ourselves – to lose ten pounds of “unsightly” protoplasm, to attend the gym until we have buttocks like Beyoncé or the shoulder-to-hip ratio of Todd the Demigod (my imaginary workout buddy), to quit smoking cigarettes (around the dog).
Unfortunately for our physique and canine companion, most of us failed to keep our promise, to follow through with our life improving resolution. Hell, some of us even procrastinated to start our resolution for several weeks until the old “Oh, I’ll get to it eventually” excuse became a self-assuring mantra for justified complacency. So now it’s February, already. And we still haven’t done a damn thing to transfer our resolution from an idealistic schematic to a fruitful accomplishment, so with arms akimbo and chin to the stars, I’m compelled to change that. But before we can sketch a logical, realistic plan that will enable us to one-inch-punch a path to sustainable, beneficial habits, it’s imperative that we analyze a possible psychological cause – the everlasting conflict between our present and future identities — for our predilection to consistently delay actions that could potentially transform us into the powerhouse of excellence we wish to be.
The Physiological Side for “Putting Things Off”
There are several factors that contribute to our comfort and repeated engagement with procrastination, such as inefficient time due to working 76+ hours a week, the fear of failing to achieve a goal that we put every grain of effort into (because failure denotes incompetence, and as Americans, we’re not incompetent; we’re minimally exceptional!), and not knowing how or where to actually begin. Vik Nithy, a twenty-year-old entrepreneur and psychology student with a passion for cognitive neuroscience, discovered how, within the structures of the brain, factors such as these generate the negative feelings we associate with acts that are beneficial in the long run yet inconvenient in the moment (i.e. everything that doesn’t deliver instantaneous pleasure-tingles).
Using myself as a chic, well-proportioned character (my jaw line matches my chiseled belt buckle), let’s imagine, while incorporating Nithy’s research, that I’m a lethargic good-for-nothing (which isn’t that far from the truth) who’d rather experience The Dull Outdoors virtually, on my video game system, than take a redundant step into a forest or hiking trail or Wal-Mart Garden Center – because nature, even when artificial, is dumb, especially when coupled with fatigued breath and back-sweat. However, mostly because of my mother’s concern, I begin to feel that I should force myself to get outside more often, to receive adequate amounts of Vitamin D and work off a bulbous midsection amassed from years of refusing to vacate the couch. So I decide that my New Year’s Resolution will be the vague “go outside more often; hate nature less.”
But every time I think of putting on my hiking shoes and readying my skin to be pierced by chaffing sun rays, I hesitate. Negative thoughts consider the difficulty of the task and the unhappiness it will cause. These assumptions grab my optimism and wrestle it down to the scuffed wooden tile. Within my mind, a bar fight erupts between my limbic system, a part of the brain interconnected with the nucleus accumbens, the pleasure center of the brain, and my pre-frontal cortex, the section responsible for complex cognitive reasoning, in which the limbic system has the upper hand. Not being able to understand the concepts of “peace,” “change,” or “fair fight,” the limbic system tags in his brawling buddy, the amygdala, to strike the knockout blow. As the part of the brain responsible for the fight-or-flight response that processes fear, the amygdala thrashes the cortex from the blind side with a cluster of anxiety (in the form a Guinness mug) — a climactic blow that convinces me to stay on the couch, play more video games, and consider maybe giving the outdoors a try on a better afternoon.
A Psychological Cage Match
The physical processes of the brain that contribute to procrastination don’t act on their own accord; they are either supported by or produced from a variety of theoretical cognitive thought processes, my favorite and most relatable being the fight against our present and future identities.
(Using the more realistic version of myself as an example) When I first began my beautiful, stress-filled, bull-crap journey that is college, the battle between my present and future identities was fought on such a massive scale, one side actually considered nuking the other with Jaeger Bombs. At eighteen years of age, my present identity was a decent dude: he took pride in being a student, loved being around his friends (and women), and was a pretty good balance between cowardly and arrogant (I was still pretty shy). His one weakness – partying. Let me rephrase that: partying AND girls. It didn’t matter if he had four exams and a headless torso to deal with the next morning – if the word “party” or “girl” was spoken timidly by one of his friends, he’d put off studying, sleep, hydration, learning, and swashbuckling to pull an “all-nighter.”
Before he could consider pulling an “all-nighter,” though, he received a violent visit from his future identity. Now, the future identity is the forecasted, hypothetical version of us that has achieved all of his goals, trimmed down some of his idiosyncrasies, and adopted all the good habits he’s ever felt would make him the apex of success and masculinity. He’s the person, based on our lifetime itinerary, that we think we know we’ll become in the coming years, and my version was a megaton stud: he was college educated, had an amazing job in business administration (I was a business major at the time), and was as ripped as a flag is patriotic. So whenever my present identity thought that maybe he should take it easy, study, and avoid procrastinating, my über ripped, over-educated future self would punch him in the throat, put him in a headlock, and say, “Dude, look at me. Look at what you’re going to become. Party-it-up while you’re young; you only live once.” And thus the cycle of procrastination continued.
Thankfully, as the years added experience, and numerous successes and failures nurtured my maturity (I’m still a dork), I realized that my future identity would never manifest as long as I continued to procrastinate the tasks that were most advantageous for my physical and mental advancement. I mean, I still occasionally delay that which I know will, in the long term, improve my quality of life. Yet I believe with fist-clenching authority that if we know of and understand the factors that contribute to procrastination as well as truly understand the value of our goals and resolutions, we can learn to manage procrastination in a manner that will bestow the idealistic traits of who we realistically wish we could be — to the person we are at this very moment
by Jedediah Hoy
APRIL 1: Iceburg’s 17 minute investigation into April Fool’s Day
While April 1 should evoke a mandatory grin followed by a, “By-the-pecs-of-Poseidon, what’s that mega-crap on your shirrr – made ya look,” the scrolls of time tell us there were people who and events that replaced the frivolous, laid-back attitude that April Fools’ Day is celebrated for with the motivation to be forever recognized within the highest echelon of killjoys.
Humor is to wellbeing as a tightened fist is to a lighthearted crotch-shot: they both leave you breathless, on your knees in a rejuvenating stupor (or in a red-rain of pain!), and eager to contribute to or reciprocate the joke (or low-blow) with giddy enthusiasm.
With this month being helmed by All Fools’ Day, we’ve never been more accepting of the hysteria that comes with being barraged in the funny bone; regrettably, history doesn’t share our excitement. While April 1 should evoke a mandatory grin followed by a, “By-the-pecs-of-Poseidon, what’s that mega-crap on your shirrr – made ya look,” the scrolls of time tell us there were people who and events that replaced the frivolous, laid-back attitude that April Fools’ Day is celebrated for with the motivation to be forever recognized within the highest echelon of killjoys.
Those people and events include…
The Pope Who Fooled the French
New Year’s Day was originally on April 1. No, really. Several ancient cultures, like the Romans and the Hindus, marked the now notorious day for practical tomfoolery as the beginning of the year because the date closely aligned with the Vernal Equinox, which is usually around March 20.
In 1582 Pope Gregory “Me So Fresh” XIII ordered the use of the new calendar. It placed New Year’s in January, and when the change was made, rumor says that many of the French were either unaware of or rebelling against the date change and continued to celebrate New Year’s on April 1. These traditionalists became one of the most rotund butts in the history of jokes, and April Fools’ Day was born.
The Volcano That Burst Forth (Probably Because It Took Offense to a Joke)
If we’ve learned a single piece of [mis]information from the science portion of our grade school education, it’s that a volcano’s ease to anger is only equaled by its unwillingness to be a comedic punch-line. You’ve at least witnessed parts of the eventful life cycle of a volcano on the Discovery Channel (before reality shows like Rise of the Stink People began oozing their irrelevance over the airwaves); its dome was seemingly sedated, calmly drooling its molten effluence down a thirty-degree grass patch at speeds that an infant in flame-retardant pajama bottoms could out-roll. Unexpectedly, like the quick snap of a sucker punch, the cameraman or the millionaire working pro bono as an expert in lava composition cracked a bad joke at the volcano’s expense, and all hell leaked, boiled, blew, and broke loose.
This might have been the case on April 1, 1793, when a collapsing lava dome — Mayu-yama from Mount Unzen, an active group of volcanoes on Japan’s Kyushu Island — triggered a landslide that rioted through Shimabara City and belly flopped into the Ariaka Sea, creating a pant-fertilizing megatsunami that reached the titanic heights of 330 ft., which combined with the land slide killed an estimated 15, 000 good humored citizens.
The man who offended the snoozing goliath with salty humor was never found (or existed), but if he was (or did exist), we’re assuming: (A) he was a white guy (because that’s provocative), and (B) he was a would-be galactic samurai, i.e. the megalomaniacal ancestor of Thomas Cruise Mapother IV (AKA Tom “The Pleasure” Cruise).
The Novelist Who Sneered at a Royal Suggestion
You don’t tell royalty no, unless, of course, you’re Jane Austen (or a free spirit dying to experience exile). On April 1, 1816, Austen responded to a letter from the Prince Regent regarding a suggestion to write a historic romance by saying, “I could not sit down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life.”
Maybe it was a joke: “Prince Regent, your story pitch is awful; I wouldn’t consider it unless my life was on the line… April fools!”
Claire Harman, author of “Jane’s Fame,” talked on NPR on March 25, 2010, about Austen’s personality in addition to her popularity, and it turns out everything you’d imagine Austen to be is probably true: she was witty, cynical, and judging by her response to the Prince Regent, a little bit headstrong.
Harman says that Austen’s fame was, in a way, rekindled by the biography written by her nephew. “James Edwards’ memoir of his aunt made her into a sort of sentimental object. You know, and people loved her as a person and as a character, as well as the books and sometimes instead of the books,” Harman said.
The idea, however, that Austen had a meek and mild personality would not be accurate. Who would have thought?
“She wasn’t necessarily a nice person at all. I mean there’s really nothing in the letters to suggest anything other than a very sharp-witted and at times rather acid-tongued woman,” Harman said.
So the whole “screw you Prince Regent” thing probably wasn’t a joke then. You go, girl!
The Theory That Big-Banged Science
Melodramatic male studs who claim ladies to be the ficklest of life’s challenges need to escort Science on a dinner date or two: During the appetizer (cheese sticks), Science would intimately observe your surface area to get an estimate of your internal composition. She’d alleviate your physical insecurities by assuring, “Your name’s Pluto? How cute! I hear that small planets are in touch with their emotional side.”
But the moment the dessert platter (Hazelnut Dacquoise with Chocolate Mousse served on an Astronaut’s face shield) lands on the table, she’d be all curled up on Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, bragging about how she recategorized you as a Dwarf Planet, Science’s way of catapulting you into the “friend zone.”
Science played the Steady State Theory in the same sort of way; prior to April 1, 1948, cosmological opinions were split between whether Steady State Theory or the Big Bang accurately described the origin and continuing development of the cosmos. But once the Big Bang Theory was officially proposed on the date listed by subjectively sexy, objectively brilliant geniuses Ralph Alpher and George Gamow in Physical Review through the essay “The Origins of Chemical Elements,” Big Bang began to gradually earn more favor within Science’s academic bedchambers. Science has been developing excuses to keep Steady State in the “friend zone” ever since.
The Revolution That Preferred Loss-of-Life over Laughter
Remember when McCarthyism was a thing? It was kind of a blip in American history. Luckily, China out did us. How often do you get to say that?
Roughly ten years after the red scare settled down in America, the Cultural Revolution in China became the cool new trend. Just by chance, the nationwide witch-hunt for capitalists started on April 1, 1966.
Admiration for market economies is no joke.
This was the era of Mao Zedong and communism was at its peak. Zedong feared the country was headed in the wrong direction, so he called on China’s youth to put the country’s political ideology back on the right – well, left track.
Nearly 1.5 million Chinese lost their lives and tons more felt the wrath of a large group of angsty, nationalistic teenagers. Take that, laws of supply and demand.
By Leviathan Robb & Ginger Jones
Profiles of our beloved supreme leaders – Kim Jong-Un, Paul Ryan and Chris Brown
Three men who want to rule the world and are the truest examples of what a supreme leader should be.
At only 30 years old this bright individual is the supreme leader of North Korea. Not only has Kim Jong-Un legalized pizza he has also forced employees at the local gourmet restaurant, McDonalds to serve breakfast until noon. Sure he threatens people with nukes every day, what teenager who plays Call of Duty doesn’t? Kimmy is such an inspirational figure to local teens, they can really learn how to be a social success and loved worldwide. Rumor has it that Kim has sent all local redheads to South Korea so that they can find Seoul—whatever that means. If your bratty little brace faced sweetheart won’t listen, why not pick up a copy of Kim’s new book, “The Nukes of Hazzard.”
Paul Ryan looks like a model straight off a package of Hanes boxer briefs—the look every politician strives for. Who cares if he has just graduated from pampers to public dampers. After recently announcing, “We are not going to give up on destroying the healthcare system”, his ratings went through the roof– taking with it your average American’s basic personal rights. Ryan is the guy you can go to with all of your personal problems, sure he won’t listen but you’ll be sidetracked by his baby blues. Like Kit-Kat give him a break! If Paul Ryan were an item at Big R he would be the perfect tool bag. Paul Ryan has the kind of personality only a mother could love—which is totally in right now.
If young men want to know how to be the perfect guy look no further than Chris Brown. When Chris was a child listening to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” he took it to heart by utilizing the lyrics and incorporating them into everyday life. Brown likes his women like he prefers his eggs; beaten and over easy. When Rihanna (Browns’ current girlfriend) told Chris that she wanted a “black guy” he misheard her and gave her a love stamp right across her face—now that’s love. Recently, Rihanna had taken up a career in stand-up comedy at high school proms but soon gave up another one of her dreams due to Brown’s embarrassing behavior. Reports say he kept “beating her to the punch line.”
Talking to the ‘that’s what she said’ girl at your mom’s house
Her name is Lauretta Scapini, and she is the “she” of “that’s what she said.” I ask her the hard questions.
I recently sat down with a woman we all know, but few would actually recognize. Her name is Lauretta Scapini, and she is the “she” of “that’s what she said.” I ask her the hard questions.
Iceburg: Hi Lauretta, thank you so much for meeting me today.
Lauretta Scapini: Of course, thank you for having me.
Ice-B: That’s what she said.
LS: Yes, yes it is.
Ice-B: Nice. So how did this whole thing get started? How have you taken the blame for so much, and please excuse my lack of decorum, but sluttiness?
LS: That’s a great question, thank you. Well, as many people probably know, the phrase “that’s what she said” gained tremendous popularity on the NBC hit show The Office. You know the one where the boss tries to screw over his employees?
Ice-B: That’s wh- um of course.
LS: I knew some of the guys on the set, you know, as a woman in my profession would–
Ice-B: Which would be what, exactly?
LS: Isn’t it obvious? I make wax sticks to light on fire. I’m a candlestick maker.
Ice-B: Excuse me?
LS: It’s a very erotic field, and I mean come on, look at me. I’m a California “10,” which is like a New Mexico “87.” Don’t take it wrong.
Ice-B: None taken. So tell me more about being a candlestick maker and how that brought you to work with set guys at The Office.
LS: I’ve always been fascinated by my ability to mold wax into shapes, then just watch it burn. The scent combinations is probably the most exciting part of it. Anyway. I had a series of videos that were posted on YouTube that have since been removed where I walked the audience through the process of making candles, step by step. I know how men — and even some women — look at me, so I knew the best way for me to really market myself and my candles would be to play up my sexuality. So everything I said was meant to taken as euphemism. (Editor’s note: We love to take euphemisms.)
Ice-B: What would you say to those who criticize that sort of behavior? Discussions about who “she” must be inevitably turn to accusations of promiscuity and defamations of “her” character.
LS: It’s the cross I choose to bear. As much as I loved Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, I can’t help but feel more connection to the work and theory of Audre Lorde, specifically her discussions of intersectionality. As a beautiful, intelligent, mixed-race woman, I’ve found it frustrating to live and accept any sort of authentic experience that posits we live in simple binary oppositions that serve to differentiate men from women. Lorde maintains that there are a whole slew of categories and subdivisions for characterizing women because each experience is authentic and different and beautiful and can’t possibly speak to the whole experience of being a woman; of being a feminist.
Ice-B: So by being overtly sexual, you’re helping women? I don’t understand.
LS: We’re taught using the master’s tools. Our culture is a patriarchal one that we’re wholly dependent on. So I take what’s expected of me and blow it… out of proportion.
Ice-B: Has it been hard?
LS: That’s what I said. [Laughs] But yeah, it has been. It’s been a long, hard, road full of bumps and bruises, leather and lace–
Ice-B: Ample alliterations.
LS: Exactly. But my work isn’t done. We tend to categorize everyone: races, religions, genders, sexual orientations. If the world was meant to be black and white, we wouldn’t have colors. As much as women are forced into specific roles, men are, too. They need to know that they’re not sex machines, expected to fertilize the earth. And until I can get people to accept and own their sexuality, I won’t quit. I’m not finished yet.
Ice-B: That’s what he said.