first make a list

and so we begin. Again. This morning was cool and crisp, and I felt the familiar urge to promise myself that there would be no more forgotten assignments, no more overdue library books, no more forgotten birthdays or anniversaries... no matter how old I get, that first cold breeze at the end of August puts me in Restart mode, like maybe 10th grade.  I no longer rush to buy pencils and lined paper, but the urge to make the most of a fresh start is still there. I have to be physically restrained from changing my hair color.
Life is the art of the possible.  With this in mind, I'm starting small: I will do one thing which may prove to be sensible. I was given a Journal, and the cover is so adorable I can't bear to use it for things like grumpy thoughts of the day, to-do lists, stuff I mean to look up really soon.... and yet, I want to use it for something...

Back of journal
Front of journal
The obvious: packing lists! How many times have I failed to put something into a suitcase that would have been useful or fun, brought stuff that never came out of the suitcase or looked awful after one wear! If I collect a bunch of packing lists into one volume, even if I staple scraps to a page or two, at some point I should have amassed some useful knowledge. Even if the group of lists isn't useful in sum, there'll be a helpful record of what I wore to family events. Sister and I attended a wedding where the bride recognized what one of us was wearing from another family wedding. She was highly offended. Sent one of her kids, age 10, over to tell us so. Nice. If there's another event at which that #itch might be present, I'll be sure that outfit is trotted out again. Don't mess with baby sister!

Himself has a different attitude towards lists. He makes abbreviated notes up in the corner of a piece of paper, say, a page of a yellow pad or of a magazine or newspaper that's close at hand when it occurs to him to jot something down, tears of the little notes, and sticks the postage-stamp-sized thing into his wallet. I think the idea is that at some point, he'll pull out a bill, and the little scrap will come with it, fluttering onto a table, where he'll be reminded that there are things he meant to do. Or people to call, or stuff to pack. I find it ridiculous, but it's been very successful for him. Except for the time a little list got stuck into the "bill presentation" folder at a restaurant along with the credit card. When the charge slip came back for signature, it was clipped to a tiny note on pink paper - oh, thanks, Financial Times!  - that said "Mike underwear thin".

My own little lists are of the things I'm likely to forget - paper towels, detergent, stop at the tailor's. I don't forget to buy food. Now really. The first item of each list for something like a to-do list for a trip (reserve cars, call restos, check luggage restrictions),  a party or a transaction, is shown at the top of this post. And the last item is always "Find safe place for list." I imagine that the little journal with the packing lists will live in a carry-on suitcase, or in a bookcase near the travel books. It will travel with me, so that I can use it to take attendance in the suitcase contents before coming home, wrinkled blouses and all.

Where do your lists live? Do you hang on to lists for future reference?


  1. Gawd, I have to stop working now and this topic is the perfect excuse!

    I still have a black Filofax where most of my lists live. I do not find computer lists at all satisfying. So what kind do I have?

    My daily/weekly list of stuff is on a 4x6 index card. I have a market column,with areas for different stores I may not go to more than once a month. Errands column so if I am downtown I will check to see what stuff I need to do there. Garden chores( I don't ever write "weed" as that is just never done). Food to make-- this weekend, can blueberry jam and freeze berries, can tomatoes. Every week this month I have written " renew drivers license"-- I didn't say I always DO everything on said list! On the back I list continuing projects, much of which is brought forward week-to-week. I do not keep these lists.

    Then, I have permanent lists of trip packing with a symbol next to things I did not use. These live in the Filofax for a couple years and are extremely useful--your little book will work well too. I should keep a record of what I wear to events as that would prevent duplication-- good idea.

    Lists for books I want to buy,yes. Clothes I bought with regular and sale price listed and totaled for the year. Music to check out. Movies someone mentioned that I would never recall on my own.

    I do have one little book ( from Williamsburg) that I record house purchases with prices in. Very interesting reading.

    Whew! Must collapse now-- great fun post. I am really not a compulsive person, but I recognize I must impose order on myself or suffer the consequences.

  2. Lane, how incredibly organized! that is a most impressive list of your lists.

    Your index cards reminded me: As I get older, my medical history gets longer, and I've been trying to format it so that I can get it all printed onto computer mailing labels or equivalent. The arthritis, first diagnosed at age 28, means it's no fun to sit and print the whole thing by hand each time I see a new doctor. And frankly, judging by some of the advice or prescriptions I've been given, it's never read anyway, it's just on the form because the malpractice carrier thinks it would be nice to ask. Sticking labels onto the forms makes much more sense to me.

    1. Some people have thumb drives with their history on them, but not all offices can handle them or merge into the chart, I read the whole history on everyone, but I am a dinosaur at this point. Labels would make too much sense!

      Another list-- who's been here when for dinner and what I gave them, whose allergic to what. Who cannot eat walnuts etc.

  3. My lists live in my brain, but that's only because I usually either lose the ones written on paper or simply forget them at home.

    1. Brain lists, ah, yes, I remember those days. Some of the time.

  4. Good topic!

    First - the bride sent a 10 yr old to chastise you and your sister! That is crazy! Doesn't she know that even the Duchess of Cambridge recycles her wardrobe? Gawd!

    Okay - on to lists. Oh I make them, then forget to look at them! That is a good September resolution - look at list the beginning of each day. I never used to be so scatter-brained, but am getting more so, probably because my word demands have increased ten-fold. So this would be a good resolution!

    I love September. I think I love summer more as I age, but September is the newly-scrubbed month of the year, where we put on shoes again and sharpen our pencils and resolve to "try harder". I tend to view January 1st as less of a time for resolutions and more a time for cleaning out...

    1. We live for the day when that particular bridezilla, the graceless, the selfish, the mean, is no longer connected to our family. But for quakes and hurricanes, we'd be in Haiti right now, looking for someone who could really make a good curse stick.

      I have a number of little pads and books that hold the pitiful beginnings of lists. imhoping thatfinding rational places to keep them will add effectiveness. Except then I'd need a list of the places...

  5. That was one Bitchy Bride! I always make lists, and put lots of easy stuff on them to make it look like I'm a capable adult when I can strike one off. What I cannot do without, is my calendar. This is the safety net which rescues me from utter chaos. I love your journal, I'm such a sucker for a pretty notebook.

    1. Bride: grrrr.
      I used todo that list trick when I worked for the Boss Who Escaped from the Asylum - then leave the list partly sticking out from under a pile of open books. While he was prowling and spying I could actually get some work done.
      My I-Things have totally messed up my calendaring. They will not sync, only mutually erase.

  6. That bride should be ashamed of herself. I am not a list maker per se, except at Christmas time. I love the vision of your packing lists for exciting trips. OT- The Gap has cute knock off gentleman's slippers. Cotton canvas,embroidered emblems, padded insoles and only $39.95.

    1. I think the first lists I ever made were Christmas lists. It was a sad day when I realized that lists could also be used to keep track of work I was supposed to do, instead of things I thought others (mainly Santa) to do for me.

  7. I am queen of lists myself. I keep a notebook for work of my weekly to-dos, then post-its for daily priorities. At home, we've got little note pads scattered everywhere (everwhere bc BF likes to inadvertantly scatter them all abouts when he takes notes, etc.) with errands, chores, shopping lists, etc. If it's not on paper, it ain't happening! ;o)

    1. Yes, the door from the house to the garage at Flintstone Manor is usually festooned with stickies - bring home this, order that, close up this...

  8. How timely that I am reading this post. I am up early today to pay corporate taxes before The Rascals get up and start talking, and I'm surrounded by Lists of a Madwoman. I must get myself more organized, I have scrawled half-lists for everything, even the important stuff like these wretched tax schedules.
    It is my September resolution to start making lists like a grown up, thanks for the tips all.
    Fred that is a nice journal and I love your packing list idea.

    1. September resolutions, yes!
      Dani, you reminded me of my dad's attitude towards taxes: my mother convinced him to save his expense receipts, and so he did. After the glove compartment was full, he put them in a box in the trunk, which soon overflowed. When tax prep time lurched around, he handed the keys to mom and said, "I think you'll find what you need in the car." We are talking about the guy who graciously accompanied his wife to a tax audit for moral support, having promised not to talk, until he couldn't stand it any more. "What on earth makes you think that's any of your business?"

  9. How wonderful.

    Fall approacheth here in Minneapolis, and I've been caught fondling last year's sweaters. Frankly, I'm tired of summer -- it started out too hot and hasn't let up.

    And lists? My life is a list.

    Well written post. :-)


  10. wow, thanks, Pearl!
    my life is a list... that's what Wordsworth would have written if he'd had talent.


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