List Compulsion

January 10, 2000

I was raised by list makers. Growing up I could determine the importance and duration of future events from the list making activities of my parents. Grocery lists, gift lists, book lists. Lists of books to buy, lists of book already bought. Yes, even lists of lists.

Growing up in that alphabetized and ordered world I learned to make lists myself. For a time I stopped making lists. My little rebellion against the ordered world. It didn't take as I still write things down. My wife will tell you that I write everything down and then keep all the little scraps of paper. For a time this was really compulsive. For years whenever I would move to a new apartment or house I'd take along boxes filled with old scraps of paper. Stuff I hadn't looked at since I wrote it down, but nothing that I could bear to part with.

Today I am more relaxed. I don't feel the need to write as many things down, and I've learned to empty my pockets into the trash can at the end of the day. The only list I really use anymore (on paper, anyway) is the grocery list. I have a page-a-day calendar on my desk and I use the old pages as a note pad. I carefully write out all the things we need and then stick it in my pocket. When I come home, with all the items crossed off I hesitate at the trash can. Do I need this list?

Hmmm.

Milk Eggs Romain Lettuce Cucumber Celery Garlic Onion (red and white) Chicken Rice Soda

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.