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When the going gets tough, the tough makes lists

Submitted by on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 2 Comments

Just as Big Guy brings Bear out retirement when he’s felling out of sorts or overwhelmed, I, too, default to an age-old comforting technique in times of crisis.

I make lists.

In preparation for The Big Move next week, I have four going, and that might be a record for even me. There’s also a neon green Post-It on the corner of my monitor to remind me of things that will cause the world to end if I forget to do them on a given day. I haven’t listed breathing yet, but check back with me in a week.

I kid myself that it’s because I’ll forget something important if I don’t make lists. I seriously doubt that would happen – the silence in the back seat would tip me off if I left one of the guys behind.

The real reason for list is as simple as the reason Big Guy still cuddles bear on occasion. Just the process of making a list makes me feel like life is a little less chaotic.

It’s not that I completely dismiss their value as an organizing principle. They do work well at times when there’s more going on than I can possibly remember – gee, maybe that’s why I started every day of my newspaper career by making a list.

The technique does not, of course, always work. Sometimes no matter how carefully I make my anal little lists, what sounded good when I put it on paper turns out to not be do-able in the real world. Or when the boss comes in and adds 30 things to the list.

This time, it all has to be done. I might be able to skip making Christmas cookies after convincing the guys that Santa prefers cupcakes, but I can’t afford to forget to turn in the cable box. That’s why we edited heavily as we took pen to paper tonight.

It has to be an old-fashioned paper and pen list too, though the utility companies did trick me into putting one on the computer today. I’m going to call that one “record keeping,” though, and declare that it doesn’t count.

There’s something therapeutic about sprawling across the bed with the guys and slowly writing down items to pack in the car, things to replace when we get there, essentials we need to buy before we leave because they probably won’t be readily available there. Torani sugar-free chocolate syrup is an essential, right?

There’s nothing therapeutic or leisurely for me at all about computers. I’ve spent too many years sitting at them going as fast as I can to be able to slow the pace now.

It’s also the one situation for me where paper is more efficient. I could put the lists on my laptop or Blackberry, but I simply can’t get to electronic versions quickly enough. Flipping through pages always will be faster than clicking through documents.

And  that’s why my omnibus collection of lists resides on my desk in a reporter’s notepad – I’m sure that’s a comfort mechanism, too , that hearkens back to routines that were part of my life for years.

It’s odd how words on paper can be so reassuring. My garage might still be a hazmat scene and the car might be loaded down with more Goodwill donations. As long as I have my lists, though, all is right with the world.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • MtnMom said:

    Thinking about y’all a lot! Wish it could all be much simpler!

    MtnPops does the list thing! Took me forever to realize that it is not just a need for order but a way to cope as well! When an engineer marries a “do it know and think about it later” type, there are very interesting stories to tell. Many have to do with lists!

    Just wishing y’all the best and that, once you settle in, being back together as a family will make this all worth while.

    Love to all of you,

  • Petra aka The Wise (Young) Mommy said:

    Yes, lists are my friend. I make lists of the lists I need to make. But somehow I still forget stuff, lol.