10 Things to do instead of writing your thesis proposal

1. Calculate your student loan payments. Think about emigrating. Feel suddenly ill.

2. Google diseases that match your symptoms.

3. Stumble upon an article on Graduate School Neuroses at The Chronicle of Higher Learning. Realize that hypochondria is rather prevalent among people like you. Feel less special.

4. Go to the movies before noon. The AMC Forum 22 offers $6 showings before noon on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. (It only counts as official procrastination if you go on Friday). Since popcorn and candy in the morning are unhealthy, grab baked goods and a latte at the pâtisserie beside the theatre. While you debate whether to buy the $2 coffee or $5 latte, remind yourself that you don’t smoke anymore, except when you’re stressed, bored or drinking.

5. Read New Yorker article on the psychological reasons behind (and importance of) procrastination. Feel self-justified. Until you read the concluding paragraph that asks whether procrastination is “telling you that what you’re supposed to be doing has, deep down, no real point.” Try not to think about that.

6. Make an elaborate dinner. Which requires a full day of planning. Preferably with hard to find ingredients in order to necessitate trips across town to specialty food boutiques, like Olives & Épices at Jean-Talon, or Les Cochons Tout Ronds for saucissons and jambons crus (now at both Jean Talon and, as of spring 2011, the Atwater market). Defy the stereotype of starving student! (Remind yourself to turn down the heat when you get home, to save on hydro bills. Bonus: this way you can also turn down the coldness level of your fridge).

7. Imagine your alternate life. You know, the life where you stopped after one degree, and went out into the world to do, well, something else. Like become a world-renowned chef. Picture yourself hanging out with your new friends, Ferran Adrià and René Redzepi. Sign up for cooking workshop at Les Touilleurs on avenue Laurier. Invite your friends who have jobs to join you. Hope they bring wine, because you might “forget.”

8. Do an Internet search for academic conferences happening someplace warm this winter. Find one in Barcelona. Oh happiest of happy coincidences, said conference is close to Roses, home of Ferran Adrià’s molecular cuisine restaurant El Bulli (a.k.a. the world’s best restaurant).

9. Make long-distance call to El Bulli to see if you can get reservations. While phone rings, wonder if you could get academic travel funding to cover a $500 meal. Bemoan the friendship-that-never-was with Ferran Adrià when you realize reservations are an impossibility. Make reservations at Montreal’s Lémeac instead, where the $22 after 22h menu is something you can actually afford. Almost.

10. Write a blog.

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