Nov 17, 2007

Listless

Here's a party that not only am I late to, but I have actually completely missed the invitation:

TO-DO LIST has been a magazine and a blog. Now it's a book, To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soulmate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us, a collection of 100 lists and the stories behind them.

Love me. Love my lists. Meh. I'm not so sure it's such a great revealer of hidden motivations. For one thing, now that it's officially a meme-writ-large, how can anyone hope to write an honest list? I could care less about lists that other bloggers make because at this point, it's a contrivance. You might as well be planting questions for politicians to answer.

I used to be a devotee of The Sidetracked Home Executive. It's a great system for organizing your unwritten list of oughts and shoulds. But it, too, starts with lists. I've used it at work and at home and found myself happily organized, neat, and sleeping well at night having put all of the "screaming monkeys" of obligation tidily to bed in their little cages of conscientious compliance. Used to.

I also have a mental list of great blog names, book titles, stage names and quirky advertisement ledes. I still have a written list, somewhere, of printing-press terms that would make for great gymnastic moves or criminal offenses. Don't ask. It's so obscure to anyone outside of the printing industry as to be geeky beyond all hope.

All of my lists involve the manipulation of words and ideas. I can sit very still, Cuba Libre in hand, eyes closed, and be busily arranging my lists, rewriting my lists, organizing my lists and thinking of ways my lists can help me win fame and recognition. The casual observer might think I'm slacking, but I'm actually working my little feathery synapses to their molecular pins.

[Update: I changed the title of this post for something better. See? I can't help myself.]

Just this morning I was making a list of things that go "beep" in my house, car, purse, or desk. Why? Because one fine morning I'm going to wake up and find that beeping stopwatch wherever it's hiding and smash it with a ball-peen hammer. Yes, the rounded side. So that all of my frustration can be focused into one lovely, case-hardened pinpoint of satisfying destruction. And then I'm afraid the hounds of hell will be released and the cell phone will be next, then the coffee pot, the microwave, the smoke detector with ancient batteries, and EVERY FARKIN' BEEP that BILL EFFING GATES has ever programmed into the HELL that IS WINDOWS and that goes ESPECIALLY for the 2AM "Important Updates" that cause my computer to shut down and re-start with that farookin' loud WINDOWS theme turned all the way up because I was listening to Erica's latest earworm last night and forgot to turn the speakers down. And now I'm awake, dammit.

[Another Update: my Volkswagen dings incessantly for all kinds of reasons. A pox on the Germans! Can't leave the door open on it either, just to vacuum the darn thing. I sure hope some angels are gettin' their wings. Fargin' Krauts. Yes, I can say that cuz I are one.]

I'm posting this under the label "Enemies of Slack" although you can earn cred at The Slack for making lists and completely ignoring them. In fact, it's good for your health.

17 comments:

Erica said...

I concurrently make multiple lists in my head [for some reason, "remember to buy toilet paper" always gets left off -- oy.], and then for fun, I rebel against them.

Earworms, though...like Darth Vader [James Earl Jones, not his latest incarnation using Eddy Izzard's voice] says, "Resistance is futile."

Joan of Argghh! said...

Earworms are proof of the power of music. I am soooo susceptible to their merciless influence. "You're the One" is a bit more benign than, "Hotel California" which I abhor.

Holder said...

When you were a kid did you ever say the same phrase or sing the same bit of song over and over and sort of tone out? Just listen to it in your head, feel it vibrating there? (These days it's water running that turns my inner catatonic on) But my children will sing the same batch of music so many times I ready to drive my car into a tree!

Joan of Argghh! said...

When I was a kid? How about now?

Michelle said...

I really want to give you some amount of inspiration on this list thing......the reason "the list" once worked for me was the photographic memory I once possessed - once something was written it was known. I wrote it down and no longer needed it, close my eyes and I could see it. Today: I write the list, place it somewhere safe, go about my day, much work is done, look for list, close my eyes, look for list again, spew profanity under my breath, look for list, profanity makes it out of my mouth at an alarming rate, close my eyes, buy shoes.....it had to have been on the list somewhere!
Right now I am working on the mental list of things to pack - once I find the luggage this will come in very handy!

Maddy said...

In the interests off efficiency, I always find it best to make lists at the end of the day, that way I can include all the things that I have already done, which means that the next morning I can cross off a whole heap of stuff and feel supremely efficient.
Cheers

Joan of Argghh! said...

Michelle, mental lists don't count, I don't think...

Maddy, welcome. Your list strategy is cunning and works well with the theme of this blog. Come back soon!

GLASR said...

List. Ballast needs attention, no? ;~)

Oswegan said...

You should read an article in the Nov. Atlantic Monthly entitled, "The Autumn of Multi-Tasking."

Trust me.

~Oswegan

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Oswegan-
I'll write that on my list...after I get around to finding some paper...and a pen...after I drink another grog or two...if I'm still awake...and if I still remember...what were we talkin' 'bout again?

Joan of Argghh! said...

Oswegan, I did look that up. I don't have a subscription to Atlantic Mo, but the bits I googled up were choice:

“This is the great irony of multitasking–that its overall goal, getting more done in less time, turns out to be chimerical. In reality, multitasking slows our thinking. It forces us to chop competing tasks into pieces, set them in different piles, then hunt for the pile we are interested in, pick up its pieces, review the rules for putting the pieces back together, and then attempt to do so, often quite awkwardly."

Holder said...

I admit it, I do lists. I have scratch paper beside my computer, then I write phrases for things I must get done before I leave. I never lose my lists, my lists are always complete, lists keep my life going. Naaaw, who am I kidding? Lists are just something else for me to lose.

Kim said...

I favor sticky notes, stuck together to make one long disjointed list of lists. Then I lose them in my purse, whichever book I'm reading that I use them for bookmarking,and under the piles of laundry that I need to put away. Or,I write notes on the top of my hand which disappear as soon as I wash them.
Multitasking is just universal ADD. I've decided we're all that.
The beeping. I agree with you totally and wish for the day when the fricking car doesn't beep or ping and the copiers shut the f up and the everything else that beeps just breaks.
Antibeepers unite.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Finally, my blog hits its stride with the AntiBeep crowd. I have found my people!

GLASR said...

Beep, beep. Isn't that the sound a Road Runner(feathered or Plymouth) emits when accessing the passing lane? ;~)

Kim said...

It's a very inclusive crowd and quite well-read, traveled and urbane and delightful. If I do say so myself.

i, squub said...

You should turn off your automatic update thingy on windows. Or at least set it to auto-download but not install until you tell it. Then, when you're shutting down, you can see the little thing about "Install Updates And Shut Down" as the main option, and have to look through the little words at the bottom to find, "Shut down without installing updates" so you shut down without feeling like it might break your computer to do so.

As far as lists go: I find that I'm much more efficient at not getting anything done without them.