Everyone Loves a List

There are lots of reasons to love a list.  Lists dominate the newsstands:  “10 Ways to Cook Chicken,”  “10 Best Movies of the Year,”  and “5 Ways to Get the Sleep You Deserve.”  Why are they so compelling?  Lists dominate my life in a way they never did in my younger, less organized and more spontaneous days.  I make lists to remember what to do the next day, what I want to talk to my husband about and what chores the kids need to do while I am at work.  It’s not sexy, but it works.  Oh wait, I forgot about the “Top 20 Ways to be Sexy.”

The allure of lists are many.  One reason is that they are finite.  Lists don’t say, “this list won’t cure all your problems.”  They say:  Do these 10 things and THEN things will calm down.  THEN you can take a breath.  THEN you can relax.  Only 10 things?  Well, any idiot can do 10 things, right?  Right?

For me, I always check a list to see how many things on that list that I am actually doing.  In “Top Ten Anti-agers,” I go through and say yes, I moisturize, yes, I stay out of the sun.  But hmm, no I do not do peels every 6 months.  Better go find another list!

Lists make us think that the answers are simple.  That if some ideas can be numbered, then they have been funneled down to their essence and thereby completely easy to master.  5 Ways to Make the World a Better Place?  Done!

Crossing things off a list is one of my biggest thrills.  I know, sad isn’t it?  But crossing something off a list, a sense of accomplishment is one of the few ways I can feel satisfied and safe in a world that also includes random shootings, natural disasters and the Kardashians.

I think I just made a list about lists.  Now I am going to make a list about how to make an awesome list.  You’re welcome.


Happy Thanksgiving…I mean Merry Christmas!


Jennifer was driving home from work and she passed the local florist.  Halloween was still fresh, the milky chocolate still a warm memory in her mouth.  But in the display, could it be?  Christmas decorations?   A white sparkly horse with a velvet red backdrop, both next to an ornate Christmas tree.  She slammed on the brakes. Goddammit, she thought.

She threw that bitch into reverse and turned into the florist.  All her actions were now guided by the white hot rage she felt.  She was pissed.

Throwing open the door, the jingle bells hanging on the door flew across the room.  They plinked daintily on the ground as the unlikely warrior stood in the entrance.

“Who made the display?” she asked.

“Can I help you?” asked the girl in the green apron behind the counter.

“Yes, you can help me by telling me who made that display,” she said, pointing to the shimmery horse.

“Um, let me get my manager.  I’m pretty sure she did it,” replied the girl.  She turned, double taking the angry woman who remained in the doorway.

“May I help you?” The manager.

Jennifer laughed a snarky little titter.  “Yes, you can help me.  And all the other women, quite like yourself, who are not fucking ready for Christmas.  You can help me by not reminding me of all the presents I have to buy that I don’t have money for, all the decorations I have to put up that I don’t have the energy to do, all the endless errands, school plays, volunteer committees, unwelcome socializing, boring parties I have to attend.”

“Well..” the girl in the green apron grabs the manager’s arm.  She shakes her head no.  Don’t try to stop her.  She needs to get this out.

“I do not need to be reminded of the 5 to 10 pounds I will gain, the stress of my in-laws visiting, my kids being off from school and trashing my house.  I don’t want to think about what to buy for my husband, who is fucking impossible to buy for, or which credit card I need to use or how much I miss my sister who can’t afford to come and visit.  And for the love of all that is holy, I still have to cook for 25 people on Thanksgiving and taking the fucking skeleton off my front door.”

Jennifer pauses to clear her throat and gently tug on her shirt.  She lifts her chin proudly.

“Thank you for your time” she says, as she spins and walks out the door.

The manager shrugs.  The girl in the green apron goes back to the counter.

The display stays.