Thursday, January 29, 2009

Listmakers Anonymous

My name is InkMom and I am a listmaker.

It's been . . . 14 hours since my last list.

My first list was in kindergarten. I got a new box of 64 Crayola crayons -- you know, the box with the sharpener in the front? I scavenged a big piece of poster board from my mom's church stuff, and used all 64 of those crayons to make a list of . . . all 64 crayon colors. I was so proud that I took it to school for show and tell.

I am jealous of the kids whose schools give them agendas to help them keep track of their assignments. They didn't do that stuff *GASP* 20 years ago when I was in junior high. I wish they had. I would have loved it.

I even make lists late at night, in bed, alphabetically, when suffering from insomnia. Like: list a Disney movie starting with every letter of the alphabet. I've done countries, world capitals, bodies of water (that's a tough one), authors, flowers, vegetables (also hard), fruits, names I could actually live with, scriptural figures, painters, great works of art, composers, car models . . . uh, oh. Looks like I've already fallen off the wagon.

Right after MayDay was born, I had a hard time getting a handle on all the housework with the added stress of a third child under 2 years old. (Go figure.) I found myself making the same list every single day: dishes, laundry, vacuum, etc. It's frustrating to make yourself a to-do list and cross off what you've done only to write it all on there again the next morning. So. My solution was to LIST every single household chore that needed to be done around here by frequency. I typed them all up and then posted them on my kitchen cabinet: a daily list, a weekly list, a biweekly list, and a monthly list. Oh, the satisfaction.

The daily list has stayed up as a reminder . . . in case I really need one to tell me to do the dishes. (Total honesty here: it's really there for CPod. Because sometimes he does need a reminder. Or an idea of what to do with his spare time. Ha, ha.) But the other lists fell out of use for a while.

I can live in squalor no more. Somehow, if it's not on the list to clean out the refrigerator every two weeks, I'll go months without doing it . . . and by then, I guarantee I've got something in there that would qualify as an antibiotic, and all my leftover containers are full of what was once spaghetti sauce but is no longer recognizable. I confess, I have thrown out containers full of . . . growth, because I was too grossed out to clean them.

So this week, I reworked the lists a little. I made some permanent assignments to CPod, like wheeling the garbage out to the curb, and toilets, and sweeping out the garage. (He's totally on board with this. Since he's the one in charge of teaching our kids how to aim that thing, he's also totally responsible for the aftermath when their aim is off.) And I printed them again, and taped them to my kitchen cabinet. Scour sink? Check. Clean kitchen floor? Check. Pay bills and reconcile on-line statement? Check. Update menu and grocery list? Check. Check. Check. Check. Check!

And . . . if you really want me to, I will publish the lists. But only if you ask, because they're boring and I don't want to make you read something that's uninteresting. Maybe I have no idea what you think is interesting. If so, just ask.

(Now that I'm rereading this . . . I sound totally uptight and rigid, and I'm beginning to question my own creativity! It's really not that bad -- no one gets in trouble if the list isn't completed. CPod does not suffer if the toilets are not spic and span every week. Seriously, I think this drive for organization is a function of my need for order, which implies a great need for control . . . which is absolutely true. And closely tied to that crazed look in my eyes when I can't take the clutter any more. I think my creativity is stifled by the distraction of a disorderly environment. And my sanity is eroded by an inability to find what I need when I need it. And if it's written on the list, it's something my brain no longer has to keep track of. I may have to change the title of my blog, because I don't think I can even imply the (not) anymore!)


  1. ok.. as I was reading the post I was thinking how I was going to email you and see if you could send me a copy of your lists.
    But then... it got better. You even volunteered to post them.
    But then... after reading the last part I now think maybe I'm crazy too? Atleast I'm not alone.
    So true that I need lists so my brain no longer has to keep track of it. Plus I need to feel like I'm in control. Never thought of that before. Big ah-ha moment for me.
    Anyway.. I'd love to see your lists. It's on my to -do list to make a list of chores.
    Just haven't got to it yet.

  2. Oh, I wasn't think uptight and rigid. But I was laughing out loud at your choice of activity when insomnia hits.

    I usually just resort to punching pillows and swearing. I hate insomnia.

    I'm kind of interested in your lists. You know, for a sort of guide for my own house. My house is a mess and I can't really get a handle on it. I'm sure a list would be the answer.

    Also, 1pm lettuce wraps made me laugh out loud.

  3. This post cracks me up! First because as I read about your insomnia habit, I suddenly remembered the first time you told me that and the conversation that stemmed from it. I believe you were making an alphabetical list of cheeses and I was shocked that you knew so many! You are hilarious and I love you! There I said it.

    Second I love this post because I do the same kind of lists for my house work. Except I have a board on my wall that it is written on with a nice grid. :)

  4. Oh yes, I totally remember those days of three kids two and under. ugg. I would love to see your list!

  5. I was totally thinking the same thing as Andrea. Ohh, I need that list. Only I was going to lurk and wait for someone esle to ask for you to post it. I used to make lists (for cleaning-not insomnia, and definately not alphabetically!) but yes, nothing ever seemed to get finished. And also, if I did anything which did not appear on the "list" I would write it down just to cross it off. Finally, in frustruation I just quit making a list all together. That is not going over well. It's like I don't hold myself accountable and I find myself up to my eyesockets in filth! I'm especially bad if I know company is coming. It may be weeks (months) before they are due to arrive and I will do everything in my power not to mop, or scrub the fridge until right before they come, heaven forbid I should do it more than once.
    For the love, post those lists crazy lady!

  6. I WANT YOUR LISTS!! I went to a class once where they talked about lists like this and it sounded so great I went home and tried to make them. I got half way through and quit. I'm just not organized enough. I've told you before, I make my lists on little scraps of paper that I lose and find 6 months later buried under the clutter, with a reminder to declutter. (I WANT YOUR BOOKLIST TOO!)

    I think you're wonderful and only as crazy as the rest of us. I do math when lying in bed, or swimming laps. Choose your insanity.

  7. I do math when swimming laps. Or write stories. In my head, not on paper, cause that would be hard to do under the water.

    I've seen your lists.

    I think they're only a little bit crazy.

    I am suffering from insomnia right now.

  8. You know when you leave a comment. And then later you think about it. And hope it didn't come off wrong?
    I don't actually think you're crazy. For the record.

  9. Here is my list of comments...

    1. Destinee cracks me up!
    2. I have a weekly chore list on my fridge, but I stopped looking at it. Maybe I need to have one where I can cross things off.
    3. I think it is absolutely hilarious that you cure insomnia with making lists!!!!
    4. I would LOVE to see your lists as well.
    5. I can't wait for GNO!!!

  10. Believe it or not, I sat and read this thinking "I wish she would give me her lists." Yep, I really want them. I always want the list, but hate taking the time and mental energy to put them together. So, no, I don't think you are uptight, rigid, crazy, etc... You are very useful to a large group of us who suffer from list envy.

  11. I'm all about the lists. But as I get older, they kind of change priorities. Now I make lists of things I know I can accomplish, like "Turn 45", "Eat brownie batter", "Grow bizarre hairs out of my chin". I'm telling you, ANYONE can succeed with the right stuff on their to-do lists!

  12. This is my 3rd trip to this here comment section. I don't know what the pull is but I'm so glad I came back. I laughed out loud at DeNae's list and the things she can accomplish. I love it. Maybe I'll give this list thing another shot.

  13. since I've lived in this country I've met more and more people who can't live without their "To Do List" and when I think about a list I feel completely trap in a mechanical world which has no spontaneous moments and that just freaks me out! Lists? no thank you ... not for me. Believe me I've tried, I can only use the grocery list or the Christmas gift list but a "To Do List" makes me start itching all over, I guess you could consider me a Listophobic! :D

    I love writing though, while I was in my vacation I had the thrilled of going through all the boxes my mom has kept of all my diaries since I was like 7 ... What Fun!!! Reading those was a gift!

  14. Great Scot! You *are* are serious list maker and earn the title, for sure!! ;)

    I agree that when my home & other to do's are in order (via lists usually), my brain falls into more order and therefore, happiness. Great post!

  15. I love your daily/ weekly/ biweekly/ monthly idea. I think I might make my own list now. I am a compulsive "to-do" list maker. In fact, the more overwhelmed I am at work the more lists that I make and then I realize that I need to be working on list items instead of making more lists. Vicious circle!


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