Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Listless

I read this article yesterday in the thirty seconds the Internet wasn't being monopolized, 25 Things I Didn't Want to Know About You. My first instinct was to nod smugly to myself, even though I have recently written such a list. Yeah, they are dumb. Look at us; you can see the degradation of intellectual interaction and of real, relevant communication.

But that lasted about a second. For one, I couldn't feel too superior. I did one, after all, and now the world (or anyone who cares to read it) knows I once forgot to wear pants to class. So yeah.

But also, I quite love lists. There something poetic in the enumeration of items that, by themselves, would be trivial or superfluous; but as a whole, paint a picture that's more complete and relevant than you could've otherwise gotten. There's something beautiful in the placement of silly items (Subway gave me peppers instead of onions. It ruined my night) next to deep, meaningful ones (I never told my mother I loved her). I'm kind of addicted to the whole phenomenon. I know we need longer, for-real deep items in our lives for good. I kind of hate Twitter (which, apparently, is evil) and other micro-info things. It makes me feel like my brain's been scribbled on or something. But these lists, and other lists, are an exercise in thinking. What do you put on a list? What makes the cut? What gets included under your narrow heading of a premise? What do you share with others? What have you accomplished? What would you like to accomplish?

The last few days have called for lists. There's been so much going on -- some really good, some really not -- that I feel like I can't get a handle on it all.

I used to hate lists, or at least I thought I did. My mom would write them to the point of excess. Lists of things to do, things I hadn't done, when to call, what to pick up, what she was picking up and if I wanted something I'd better look at list No. 2 and call at the number she listed before the time she listed on list No. 3. Her lists to herself frequently included the item "Write list." She says she was joking, but we know better.

But I've caught the bug. It's therapeutic.

I hate:
  • That nobody does, or even rinses, dishes in this house except me.
  • The feeling, sound, or even idea of teeth anywhere near a Popsicle.
  • Myself, sometimes.

I love:
  • My son.
  • My husband.
  • Cream cheese frosting.
  • Springsteen songs.
  • Rainbows.
  • Sleep.
  • Myself, sometimes.
See? already, I've discovered something about myself. I love more than twice the amount of things I hate. That's good, right?

In the past couple of days I've made:
  • Two cakes -- one red velvet, one carrot. Both with copious amounts of frosting.
  • Two batches of chocolate chip cookies.
  • Two batches of fudge, one with walnuts and one without.
  • Bouquets for my sister's upcoming wedding.
  • Tortellini.
  • Plans that I failed to keep.
  • Bread.
  • Frito casserole.
  • Myself a little bit fatter.
  • Several paper cranes, with my son.
  • This list.
  • My son laugh.
  • My son cry.
  • A mess.
Yea, lists! I feel so much more productive now.

So far this week, I've lost:
  • This list, twice while making it.
  • My keys, five times.
  • My cool.
  • An argument (due in large part to the item above).
  • A gallon of milk. (Apologies to the poor soul who eventually discovers it.)

In the past two days I've read:
  • A large chunk of Order of the Phoenix with my son. It's the darkest, most complicated book we've tackled. How is it that fiction so elegantly illustrates tough realities?
  • Most of Leslie's book, Let Me Eat Cake.
  • Terry Pratchett's novel Thud, which I found while unpacking straggler boxes and promptly sat down to read.
  • Much of a blog about orangutans that I can't seem to find again.
  • A book about condors.

In the past two hours I've read:
  • Several top-five-various-things lists on Facebook. (I seem to be more into reading them than responding to them, but if anyone wants to know a few top-ones, here. Farm animal: cow. Person I've been told I look like: Lisa Kudrow. Flower: tulip. Thing I don't leave the house without: Well, nothing. I intend to leave the house with my license, keys, money, ChapStick, pens, purse, cell phone and a million other things; but I'm lucky if I cover two of these.)
  • Mary's latest Nonfictionist, an interview with the inimitable Dinty Moore.
  • My uncle's post on the anniversary of my grandfather's passing. It was a fitting and touching tribute, and filled me with a host of simultaneous isn't-it-funny feelings. It's funny that I never can seem to remember the anniversaries of people's passings but always commemorate their birthdays long after they're gone. It's funny that, unrelated and just last night, I was going over pictures of my grandfather and father with my son. It's funny that I never much cared about sports talk but would dearly love some with either of them now. Maybe funny's not the right word. But you know.
  • A brief reveiw of Froth! The Science of Beer, which looks fun.
  • A bunch of things pertaining to an idea for a story I have, but which I'm not sure will pan out so I'm not telling (yet). But it's so fun: once you really set into something, become immersed in it, stories come at you from everywhere.

And see? I can't even write lists for long without telling stories.

My mind is a right mess. But there's some really good stuff in there. Lists, sometimes, bring it out. It's like Dumbledore's Pensieve in Harry Potter; it lets me take my life, break it up, reorganize it, and look at it from a once-removed point of view; which somehow, gives me a closer look.

I'll leave you with my son's list of activities on a farm recently. You'll notice cow poop gets a smiley face. Naturally.

5 comments:

Kevin J. Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

You demonstrate so well that lists are often just lists, Kim, but they are much more when you inject your life, family, surroundings and writing into them.

And that coincidence of looking at their photos is, no doubt, no coincidence; your father and grandfather/my brother and father were so much alike. They probably spend a lot of time talking about you and their families up there.

Mary said... Best Blogger Tips

I love this so much. Also, have you seen Christopher Smart's poem about his cat Jeoffery? It's awesome. A great example of listing used poetically. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/for-i-will-consider-my-cat-jeoffry-excerpt-jubil/

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks, Kevin. :-)

Thank you, Mary. I hadn't read that poem before; cool!

c. said... Best Blogger Tips

Great post, great photo of you reading/eating Leslie's book, but I would expect nothing less from you, Kimmy. All your posts are a pleasure to read. We are all self-loathing sometimes, us writers, I believe. It's a struggle, a balancing act between the good days and not-so-good, at least that's the way it is for me.

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks, as always. :-) I've certainly scarfed down enough cake lately, so I'm glad I could make good use of it. Leslie's book is delicious, if you haven't read it yet.

And yeah, it's a balancing act. Of course, some days I don't like others either. Maybe that's why I have a son. It's the only guarantee that there will always be someone toward whom I feel gracious and loving, no matter what. Even right now, with vomitus-covered sheets in the dryer, in the washer, and on deck.

(See? Not everything I write is bound to make people want a kid.)