Tuesday, March 29, 2016

She's Making a List and Checking it Twice

If you think the spilled tea stain on this list is bad, you should see what my cookbooks look like...

So, remember at the beginning of the year when I said I was going to start doing some real writing? Well, it hasn't happened yet, but that doesn't mean that I can't start now. I have decided to give myself some writing prompts. They could be words or ideas or working on my issues, or making myself share a memory...Or hell, make one up. I love fiction! Anyway, this will be my first. My writing prompt is "lists".

One would think that a person like myself would love lists. I document everything obsessively and I'm spacey, so constant reminders are completely necessary for me to function. I read one thing about the spaciness that comes with perimenopause and they suggested trying to remember things by saying them out loud. Such as, "I'm putting my keys on the kitchen table". Then an hour later when you (and by you, I mean me) are frantically going through your bottomless messenger bag looking for them, you can recall the sound of you own voice in your head telling you where they might be. Which is much better and more useful than the other voices in my head...

My fear of lists comes from my abusive legal guardian, my Aunt Kath. She used to do this thing where every day in the summer, she would make a list of chores we had to do. This was on top of my every day chores of cooking and cleaning-up after every meal, dusting, vacuuming, sweeping every day, cleaning out the stalls of the horses in the barn and cleaning the two bathrooms. She would stay in her bedroom and sleep all day, while we did this work. We were supposed to get paid $2 a week for allowance, but she would wait a month or two to pay us and then give us less than half of what she owed us. We also were not allowed to work anywhere else (except they would let me detassel corn for two weeks every July as long as I got all my other chores done before and after work). The only money I had during high school was from performing these tasks and I had to buy my own clothes and anything else I needed, besides the food I cooked everyone for breakfast and dinner.

The crazy thing about her lists, was that she would make them as long as she possibly could and then when we finished, we would have to knock on her bedroom door to see if she would let us do anything. I would only want to go for a run or a bike ride, because I wasn't really allowed to hang out with other people or leave the house for more than an hour or two, but my Aunt would tell us to come back later and we would have to just sit around and wait for her to decide to get up out of her bed. Usually, when she did, she would check out our lists and think of other things to write on it and the process would start all over.

So, for years I stayed away from lists. They were my nemesis for so many years when I was younger. As I worked through so many of my issues, I got around to rethinking lists. First of all, I'm the only person in charge of me, so the only tasks I have to perform, are the ones I feel necessary. Secondly, I can put "ride bikes" or "go for a run" on my lists. They don't all have to be chores. I can write down all of the fun stuff I want to do. Thirdly, if I don't get something done on my list, it's not a big deal. I won't get the crap beat out of me or the few things I hold dear taken away from me anymore.

Now I make lists and there are no scary dark clouds hanging over my head about them and they aren't endless and they are helpful...And many times, fun. See how I turned that around?

2 comments:

rel said...

Love it. Your post, not lists. :-)
The only time I might make out a list is if I'm going to the grocery store. I often forget said list and then I have to do my favorite thing; browse the aisles. I find many more things that should've gone on my list anyway.

Lists affect me in a curious way; once I write a chore, activity, or whatever on a list , my mind then thinks the item has been completed and no further action is needed.

It's a wonder I get anything done.

Tara Coady said...

Ha ha. That's great. I have friends who think lists are paralyzing. They feel like they have to get everything done on the list that day and the pressure of it makes them want to sit around and watch TV instead.