Bucket lists. Grocery lists. Laundry lists. To-do lists. Top 40 lists. Best and Worst lists. We spend our lives surrounded by lists. If we aren’t making or completing them, we’re reading them on our preferred forms of social media or listening to them on our favorite podcast. Naturally, the book I’m obsessed with at the moment is all about—you guessed it—lists.
When I turned fifty last year, I made a bucket list detailing fifty things I wanted to accomplish before I turned fifty-one. The list has taken on several forms over the ensuing months as I have added or subtracted items based on either my current level of interest in or my expected ability to accomplish them within the specified timeframe. The current iteration of the list includes items that are mundane (#12 clean out closets, #33 get my car washed and waxed, #34 upgrade my cell phone), whimsical (#19 play miniature golf, #21 take a day off “just because”, #30 crash an open house) and aspirational (#31 take a refresher course in French, #36 attend a festival, #42 commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City). Item #24 (be a wall walker for at least one day) probably qualifies as all three.
I took a trek to one of my local shopping malls last weekend. After I made a couple of laps to get my steps in and cross item #24 off my bucket list, I rewarded myself with some quality time in Barnes and Noble. I perused the shelves a while, floored as usual by the vast number of titles that were available. Each time I hear that the publishing industry is dying, all I have to do to temporarily disprove the theory is walk the crowded aisles of any nearby chain or independent bookstore.
On my latest trip, I went to the stationery section hoping to find a daily organizer I can have with me at all times instead of relying on the scribbled notes on the kitchen calendar at home or the desk pad in my office at work. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did stumble across something else. Listography: One List a Day: A Three-Year Journal by Lisa Nola caught my eye so I picked up a copy of the book and flipped through it.
I tried and failed for years to keep a journal. I bought each one with the best of intentions and looked forward to being able to reflect on or cringe at my daily ruminations years later. I always started out like a house on fire, writing pages and pages at a time before eventually petering out as I got too busy living life to take time to record it. The premise of Listography seemed much more manageable, however. Instead of taking several hours to wax poetic on the events of the day, all I would have to do was take a few minutes to jot down three responses to the daily topic.
Concerts I’d Time Travel to. Most Memorable Smells. Books That Influenced Me. Questions for the Universe. Listography, you had me at “hello.”
My only New Year’s resolution this year was to create a better work/life balance. At the end of 2018, my wife Dita and I were spending more time apart than together since she had a new job that required her to commute to work instead of working remotely in our dining room and I was working an average of six days a week to help the four-person team I manage catch up on a backlog of cases. On January 1, I resolved to make a concerted effort to spend more time working on my bucket list and less time looking at my to-do list.
I bought Listography in mid-February. I began that day’s list as soon as I got home. Or at least I tried to. The talking point for the day was Weird Things I Do. Naturally, I couldn’t think of any because nothing I do is weird. Dita, on the other hand, begged to differ. We spent a lazy Sunday afternoon laughing over things I think are perfectly normal but she thinks are a bit unusual. Doesn’t everyone put their beer in the freezer for twenty minutes to make sure it’s ice cold before they drink it? Okay, maybe it’s just me. But at least I’m not the only writer I know who can’t begin a new manuscript without selecting a title first. I see you, Carsen Taite. I see you. As for occasionally centering text in my head when I’m stressed the way I used to do in typing class a hundred years ago, yeah, I admit that might be a little out there.
Dita and I had so much fun working on the first list we decided to tackle the previous days’ topics as well. It has quickly become a new tradition. We work on a list between commercial breaks on one of our favorite TV shows or mute the sound on the nightly news to focus on New Restaurants to Try or Values to Focus on This Year instead of the latest machinations in Washington, DC.
It’s funny to realize that a book I initially thought was going to be all about me is slowly morphing into one that’s all about us. Something to add to the list of little things I appreciate. What do you mean I only get three entries? Then I guess it’s time to make a new list.
Tailor-Made by Yolanda Wallace out now!
Before Grace Henderson began working as a tailor in her father’s bespoke suit shop in Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn, she established a hard and fast rule about not dating clients. The edict is an easy one for her to follow, considering the overwhelming majority of the shop’s clients are men. But when Dakota Lane contacts her to commission a suit to wear to her sister’s wedding, Grace finds herself tempted to throw all the rules out the window.
Dakota Lane works as a bicycle messenger by day and moonlights as a male model. Her high-profile career, gender-bending looks, and hard-partying ways garner her plenty of romantic attention, but she would rather play the field than settle down. When she meets sexy tailor Grace Henderson, however, she suddenly finds herself in the market for much more than a custom suit.