List Overload

24 January 2002

I am a List Person. I have a "To Do" list. I have a list of cards and presents I need to buy soon. A list of grocery and household items that need purchasing. A list of movies that need to be seen. A list of general household tasks. A list of things I would like to remember to cook or bake. A list of books for which I would like to check the library, and another list of books for which I would like to check used bookstores, and a third list of books we currently own that I would like to reread. I use Amazon to do my list of books I would like new, but it's still a list I made, so I suppose it counts. I also have a list of stories to write, a list of novels to write, and a list of fun stuff I told people we would do at some point and I don't want to forget.

I also have implicit lists. My e-mail inbox constitutes one. My pile of library books is another. I'm pretty well always aware of them.

(This neglects at least two informal lists: the list of stuff I want when we get a house, and The List. The list of stuff I want when we get a house is basically the list of stuff I have hated about our last two apartments. I want a sink with two sides, for example. I want a pantry. The List is one my mother knows well. When she's said something sarcastic and teasing, I sometimes say, "Ma, you're givin' me a complex. That's all right, though, I'll put it on The List." She knows what list by now. It's The List of stuff for which I will bill my parents when I need a shrink for all the complexes they gave me.)

I am good at lists.

Sometimes, though, the lists overtake me. I realized yesterday afternoon that they had. There's a certain point at which they are Just Too Long. When reviewing the list to see what can be done with the ten minutes I have free is something I have to do several times in a day, because there are too many things to be done, and soon, for me to keep them in my head. This is why I keep the list: so that I don't have to keep things in my head. But there is such a thing as too long a "to do" list.

The problem is, I've been working on the big things. I'll probably continue working on the big things, too. They need doing. I'm glad to be keeping mostly even on slush for WIHA; I'm glad to be working on the new ending to Reprogramming so that I can get it out in the mail soon soon soon. And I'm glad that the big projects aren't getting in the way of spending time with the people I care about.

This has unfortunately overlapped with one of my cooking binges. I go through them, when I want to try new recipes every night or at least Make Something. Then I'll be happy with a week of mac 'n' cheese, spaghetti, waffles, whatever anybody else wants to cook. That part never lasts longer than a week, because I get sick of it and want to Make Something. But Making Something takes time.

So. At some point, I need to sit down and deal with little stuff on the lists. I did some of it last night. I need to do more of it today. The things that will take me less than half an hour to finish if I just sit down and do them (or wander off and do them, whatever) -- I can do those. I have half hours.

I'm still going to work on Reprogramming and reading slush for WIHA, of course. And I started reading Lori's book last night (we're reading it in chunks for writers' group) and am ploughing through Treason in the Blood. It's not just a day for little stuff. But I do need to take "little stuff" breaks. Soon Reprogramming will be on its way to another publisher, and soon the WIHA deadline will be past. (A week and a day, folks!) And then I should be able to catch a breath. Yeah, right.

Timprov has added another thing to the "to cook/bake" list this morning, but that's all right. I bought chocolate pasta back at the Ghirardelli Festival in September, and I told Scott we could have it when he came out to visit. Well, now he's coming. But I only have one package of chocolate pasta, and I was trying to figure out what I could try the blackberry sauce out on before he gets here, so that I know it works. The answer is strawberry-blackberry shortcakes, although I probably won't make them tonight. Soon, though. Wish me luck with it. I'm making it up as I go along.

Isn't that always the way.

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