I’m Too Old To Be This Busy

I’ve been quite busy lately, helping my kids update and fix up their new house before they move in next month.

I have never been a cleaner by choice. I’ve survived, my kids have survived, yet my house has never been a front runner for Architectural Digest or Better Homes and Gardens.

Because of both retirement and Covid, my house is the cleanest it’s ever been. I have a new refrigerator that I keep meticulously clean, and my clean counters and organized pantry are finally proof of my boredom.

I mean, I’ve always been clean — I’ve just always been messy. Disheveled. Sidetracked. At the end of the night before I go to bed I retrace my steps of the day and take 20 minutes putting everything back where it came from.

I so envy my daughter-in-law. She is clean, organized, and keeps up after three kiddos, a husband, and a dog. I’m always getting organizing ideas from her, including bins, shelves, and lists. 

I’m lucky if I can sort yesterday’s pj’s from last week’s.

Every time I come home from her house I am inspired to put more away, get rid of more clutter, and organize the rest so that I can find what I want when I want. 

But I believe it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

I still have a tendency to go three directions at one time, start projects I don’t finish, and extend my energy way past my 68-year-old limit. I want to do ten things at one time, including art projects, writing a new novel, sewing beads on my t-shirts, finishing the two books I started reading, and watching a 52-part Chinese TV series with English subtitles.

One thing is pretty darned clear.

I will have to live until I’m at least 95.

I can’t see getting everything done and organized before then.

 

Cleaning Up Your Act

My friend Chrissy over at Chrissy’s Fab 50’s has been blogging about going through her closets and drawers and other places of secret stashes and cleaning out, rearranging, and thinning out her house — and life.

I love it.

Over the last few months I have been cleaning up and straightening out too. I am so proud of my (finally) thinned out and organized closet, and am eyeing the buffet in the dining room as we speak.

I have also been cleaning up, straightening up, and re-evaluating my Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog. I’ve been checking links and spacing and image sizes, trying to make it more esthetically pleasing.

That may not sound like a big deal to most. That is because most take care and time the first time around. 

I just feel like I didn’t take enough time with my work. With my presentation. Like I ran helter skelter around the woods looking for violets when if I would have just followed the path I would have found them.

It’s not that I didn’t pay attention — I did. I loved the art, I loved the showcase. But these days I can’t help but wonder — where was I going when I was in such a hurry to post in the first place? What was so important that I couldn’t have used a little more time to make a precise, pleasant presentation?

This is the funny thing.

The older I get, the more precise I’m becoming. The more organized I’m becoming. The more thorough I’m becoming.

Maybe that’s because the older I get, the more I’m forgetting. The more I’m knocking things off the shelf and knocking things over. The more I lose things, break things, forget things.

Cleaning up my blog or my closet or my pantry are ways to take back what control I still have over my body and my mind.

The positive thing out of all of this is that you’re never too old — or young — to pay attention to anything you do the first time. Or the second time. There’s always time for cleaning up your act. 

Don’t be in such a hurry. Take pride in everything you do. Everything. It sounds so simple, but in reality it’s quite hard. We all have places to go, projects to finish, schedules to keep. 

But our personal space, our personal Art, is just as important as keeping precise spreadsheets at work. You don’t need to be perfect — you just need to pay attention. Take your time. Do it right. Clean it out. Straighten it up.

You’ll love your outer space — and your inner self — when you’re finished.

 

 

Keep A Calendar — Or A Muse

I am feeling a bit under the weather this eve. I went through my back stories looking for something else (always the case) and found this fun blog from a few years ago. Seems like it’s perfect for my feelin’ down time…

Calendar Girls

My Irish Wench Muse came to visit me last night. She was all full of her usual Irish self. I wasn’t writing or researching or hanging with my family, so I knew something was up.

“Read yer blog the other day,” she said, smiling, wiping the kitchen table off.

“Oh? Great! Which one?”

“The whinneh one.”

I should have been upset, but how can you be upset at your truthful conscience?

“Whiny? Why was it whiny?”

“A lotta ‘I wants’ and “I’ canna haves’. And no solution. What kenna blog is that?”

I sat straighter in my chair, watching her bend over a drop of gravy and start to scrape it. “Hey! All bloggers get down now and then. It’s part of the creative process!”

“Aye, and a lotta bees sting people when they’re nah looking, too. And they still manage to make the honey.”

I had to see where this was going and fast.

“Well, I didn’t see it as whining. I saw it as voicing the universal truth of too much to do and not enough time to do it all.”

“Nay — the ‘Universal Truth’ is more like ‘Leave your dog inside too long and he’s bound ta poop somewhere.’ That’s why you need a calendar, lass.”

“I already have a calendar at work. And it’s packed full.”

“Do you get everything done on the calendar?”

“Well, duh. It’s work.”

“Then, my darlin’ writer, you need a calendar at home, too. A Grand Poobah Calendar.”

 What is that?”

My muse finished scraping the drip and headed towards the crack between the leafs. A dangerous area. “The term is from one of those operas. The Poobah has all the titles and ‘na much else.”

I didn’t get what that had to do with me and my whining…er…woes.

“If  ya canna make time in your head, write it down. Make the time on the calendar,” she explained, pulling out a butter knife to scrape the caverns between leaves. “Makes ya look important.”

“But that means I’d have to be — organized! How can a pretzel be organized?”

She shook her head between grunts. Must have been extra crumbs down the crack.

“How does the Gran’ Poobah get things done? Too many titles, too little authority. At least if he writes the bloomin’ things down he can see what he wants to do first. And he can pretend to do everything, even if he gets only a few things done.”

Well, that made sense. I helped her scrape the bread crumbs out of the crack and she smiled her little Irish smile.

“You’ve just got to know how to do a calendar, luv. Jam it with all sorts of rot.  Then when you start the day, start crossin’ off. Lines through rot are good for the soul! Makes you pick and choose your rot!” She spit on a slide of old milk. “You know, I may be a muse but I’ve got other ‘tings I have to do too. I canna babysit you all the time. “

I nodded sheepishly.

“I’m yer creative Muse, ya know. A lot of work goes into finding projects for you and fillin’ your head with ideas and suggestions. Makes my beer turn green half the time!”

“Well,” I said, “you know I love your company. And your ideas. I wish I would have listened to you 20 years ago, before I had grandkids.”

She threw out a hearty laugh. “Darlin’ 20 years ago you had your own kids, and were just as busy! and 20 years before that! ‘Ya dinna have time back then either. But you kept the calendar. In yer head.”

“I get it. I get it. Make a calendar. Put it all down. Bring your plans out of the 4th dimension in to this 3rd dimension so I can get a handle on it and do a little bit of everything instead of none of a lot. I get it.”

She nodded and stood. She was beautiful — green eyes, full figure, Irish brogue and all. “Aye. And donna forget — I’m riding up to the cabin with you this weekend. I’ve got a great idea for a poem! Oh, and my sister from Italy is comin’ too! She’s got this wild idea about manicotti  and pirates and diamonds and …”

Uh oh…

 

Computer Hoarder or Zen Master?

animated-gifs-computers-48 (1)Considering how haphazardly I live, organization is not a word that frequently passes my lips. I just have too much information, and not enough room/time/energy to organize it all. But then last week my Irish Muse stopped by, and I’ve been working on Big O 101. Most things around me are falling more-or-less in place.

One place I haven’t had much of a problem, though, is my laptop.

I used to fill notebooks with thoughts, ideas, research, menus for the week. The old-old ones were more like journals, full of angst and awakenings, blah blah blah. Necessary but over. The new ones, though, are a different animal. They are full of things I don’t recognize. Names. Lots of numbers that don’t mean a thing.  Notebooks became jotting books. Need a piece of paper to write down that stupid email address? Write it in the middle of a notebook. Need to add something to the grocery list but don’t have a piece of paper handy? Write it in the middle of the notebook.

I now prefer to document my writing, research, images, and ideas on my laptop.

I must admit I have kept things in much better order than the days of pen and paper. I keep/download too many things on my desktop, but they all eventually find a folder home of their own. I have folders for Stories, Chapters, Essays – Finished, and Stories, Chapters, Essays – Unfinished. I have a Humoring the Goddess folder with dozens of sub-folders.  I have one called Recipes, one called Resumes, and one called Research (which, btw, has the largest, oddest assortment of information I’ve ever seen). Novels have their own folder; inside those are sub-folders of character backgrounds, copy I’ve cut and couldn’t part with, earlier versions from cavemen days, maps of ancient landscapes that may or may not be relevant – all kinds of weird stuff.

I have folders with images: with my downloading prowess I’ve no doubt got three copies of every photo I’ve ever downloaded from my phone. I’ve got family photos, photos I’ve used in blogs, photos I think are cool, photos that are inspiration for other projects, and photos that are…just photos.

I’ve got a very busy Sunday Evening Art Gallery folder, with one subbie for “dones” and another subbie with “futures.” I’ve got folders with names of novels I’ve never finished, folders of novels I’ve finished, and books I’ve downloaded and have yet to read. I’ve got cute little folders such as Girl Things, Books-Music-Words, and Family Cards and Art, and boring ones like Taxes and Passwords.

The cool thing about keeping all those folders and documents around is once I open them,  it’s like time-traveling through the galaxy. Where did I get these things? Why were they important to me at the time? What did I want to do with these things?

Through the years I have carried these folders and documents and images with me, from computer to computer, from flash drive to flash drive. This is the most organized I have been, organizing the most useless information. But then again, that’s not really true. If I look closely, there is a growth pattern here. Much like the journals I kept in my 40s, there is a growth curve here somewhere. There is an emotional maturity I’ve slowly achieved, even though my future horizons are as open as ever.

I do like the fact that this is one area of my life that I’ve been able to categorize. I mean, I do detailed work at work, I keep a clean house, my DVDs are alphabetized (so I don’t have to go through piles every time I’m looking for a movie), and I’ve even attempted to clean out my kitchen cabinets.

But there’s something satisfying about opening a pretzel logic database and actually being able to find something. There’s something fun about thumbing through my Research folder and perusing auras, Rite of Pan, Medieval words, wormholes, and clichés.

What a weirdo! And what a galaxy to explore!

Tell me about YOUR computer. Are you organized? Do you have more ideas than gigabites? Or are you a catcher-catch-can kinda laptopper?

Calendar Girls

thMy Irish Wench Muse came to visit me last night. She was all full of her usual Irish self. I wasn’t writing or researching or hanging with my family, so I knew something was up.

“Read yer blog the other day,” she said, smiling, wiping the kitchen table off.

“Oh? Great! Which one?”

“The whinneh one.”

I should have been upset, but how can you be upset at your truthful conscience?

“Whiny? Why was it whiny?”

“A lotta ‘I wants’ and “I’ canna haves’. And no solution. What kenna blog is that?”

I sat straighter in my chair, watching her bend over a drop of gravy and start to scrape it. “Hey! All bloggers get down now and then. It’s part of the creative process!”

“Aye, and a lotta bees sting people when they’re nah looking, too. And they still manage to make the honey.”

I had to see where this was going and fast.

“Well, I didn’t see it as whining. I saw it as voicing the universal truth of too much to do and not enough time to do it all.”

“Nay — the ‘Universal Truth’ is more like ‘Leave your dog inside too long and he’s bound ta poop somewhere.’ That’s why you need a calendar, lass.”

“I already have a calendar at work. And it’s packed full.’

“Do you get everything done on the calendar?”

“Well, duh. It’s work.”

“Then, my darlin’ writer, you need a calendar at home, too. A Grand Poobah Calendar.”

Tickle me with an oak leaf. That’s how much sense she made. “A calendar I get. But a Grand Poobah Calendar? What is that?”

Viola finished scraping the drip and headed towards the crack between the leafs. A dangerous area. “The term is from one of those operas. The Poobah has all the titles and ‘na much else.”

I didn’t get what that had to do with me and my whining…er…woes.

“If  ya canna make time in your head, write it down. Make the time on the calendar,” she explained, pulling out a butter knife to scrape the caverns between leafs.

“But that means I’d have to be — organized! How can a pretzel be organized?

She shook her head between grunts. Must have been extra crumbs down the crack.

“How does the Gran’ Poobah get things done? Too many titles, too little authority. At least if he writes the bloomin’ things down he can see what he wants to do first. And he can pretend to do everything, even if everything is 5 or 10 minutes a day.”

Well, that made sense. I helped her scrape the bread crumbs out of the crack and she smiled her little Irish smile.

“You’ve just got to know how to do a calendar, luv. Jam them with all sorts of rot.  Then when you start the day, start crossin’ off. Lines through rot are good for the soul! Makes you pick and choose your rot!” She spit on a slide of old milk. ” You know, I may be a muse but I’ve got other ‘tings I have to do too. I canna babysit you all the time. ”

I nodded sheepishly.

“I’m yer creative Muse, ya know. A lot of work goes into finding projects for you and fillin’ your head with ideas and suggestions. Makes my brown beer turn green half the time!”

“Well,” I said, “you know I love your company. And your ideas. I wish I would have listened to you 20 years ago, before I had grandkids.”

She threw out a hearty laugh. “Darlin’ 20 years ago you had your own kids, and were just as busy! and 20 years before that! Where do you think all that stencillin’ you did at the B&B came from? Or those sky space paintings from yer youth? Or that story you wrote about you and that English guitar player — Paul? Or that story about the beep bopin’ alien growning his own…”

“I get it. I get it. Make a calendar. Put it all down. Bring your plans out of the 4th dimension in to this 3rd dimension so I can get a handle on it and do a little bit of everything instead of none of a lot. I get it.”

Viola nodded and stood. She was beautiful — green eyes, full figure, Irish brogue and all.

“Donna forget — I’m riding up to the cabin with you this weekend. I’ve got a great idea for a poem! Oh, and my sister from Italy is comin’ too! She noticed you have a bare wall downstairs, and she’s oh-so-up with Italian Frescoes!”

UhOh..

 

Don’t Worry About It!

          th_Cheshire_Cat_KHREC  They say routines get easier as you get older. That’s why adults have an easier time dealing with telephone solicitors, making grocery lists, and analyzing football games.  Why is it, then, that getting ready for work in the morning is often more confusing than a “Where’s Waldo?” puzzle?

            Let’s take this morning, for example. Woke up more than an hour before I needed to leave for work. Now, mind you, I have no children to get ready for school, my animals were already fed, and I didn’t have to dig through the basket for clean underwear.  I took a quick shower, made my lunch, grabbed a banana, and ran out the door.  I didn’t do the makeup thing or the curl-my-hair thing. And I still was almost late. Checking out my main campground (where I work), others looked so smooth and…mmm…together.  The guys were groomed, the gals were fresh.  Few (if any) look as frazzled and windblown as me.

            Time Management, you say.  I swear I am proactive.  It’s just that my time is lost somewhere in Einstein’s Relativity Time Dilation Theory. This morning I managed to slice, salt and paper towel eggplant for dinner; throw an excess of grapefruits in a bag for company distribution; and even took time to select jewelry to match my top. But somehow I still managed to look like a bag lady schlepping bundles in the back door of work.

            Get Up Earlier, you say.  I don’t know about most of you, but 5:20 a.m. is already pushing the sanity button.  Seeing as I woke up at 4 a.m. anyway (when various cats and dogs chose to share my side of the bed), you’d think I’d have the stamina to get up and get going.  Right. My husband showers, shaves, dresses, feeds the dogs and cats and fish, makes himself a breakfast sandwich, lets the dogs out again, brushes his teeth, checks the weather, and leaves for work all in 35 minutes.  What’s up with that?

            Be More Organized, you say. Pick out your clothes the night before. Make your lunch the night before. Take a shorter shower so you don’t have to put your makeup on in the warehouse bathroom. Color-coordinate your jewelry (gold together, silver together, rhinestones together) so the choices are quicker. Now you’re getting to the edge of implausible. How would I know what I’d be hungry for at 12:30 p.m. the next day? What if the shirt I wanted to wear suddenly sported a ketchup stain? What jewelry would go with that?

            Enlist Help, you say. That he-man who flies through his (or her) morning chores can pick up a few more tasks along the way, too. Knowing my tendency to move slow (so I don’t forget anything), I should have him double check the stove and curling iron before he leaves to make sure they’re turned off, have him make me a sandwich while he make himself one, and since he’s  superman and out to his car long before I take my vitamins, maybe I’ll have him start my car as well. That way I don’t have to drive the first couple of miles peering through a strip one scraper width wide.

            Accept It, you say.  The more you fight your routine, the more messed up things get.  What is the purpose of a routine if you don’t stick to it? Realize that you do stick to it ― you just interpret the parameters of these things your own way. So you don’t always remember to bring the bills to drop in the mailbox. So you don’t remember to pack bottled water or the book you read until one in the morning.  So what?  Has anyone ever mentioned your non-ironed shirt or your pants that occasionally ride up your calf because of static?  Not really. Accept that, even though the field has been filled with obstacles, you have managed to stay within the safety of the goal posts.

            Look ― the things your friends worry about have nothing to do with what you brought for lunch or if your hair was cut too short.  Friends are more worried about what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling. How your family is doing. What you’re doing Saturday night. If you’re feeling okay and if they can do anything to help you feel better. Those who judge you by your rigid adhesion to schedules don’t understand who you really are. So they don’t matter. Respect the rules, abide by the ones that can get you in trouble, and strive to keep the rest.

            Don’t Worry About It, you say.  Now, that’s about the most sensible advice you’ve given me today.

 

Time Management — or Really the Lack Thereof

Round and Round and Round She Goes…….Where She Stops Nobody Knows……

Does your life often feel like that?? Lately my life has been that! No time to blog, no time to write, barely time to breathe. As I sit here jotting down a few words of wisdom, I am scratching and digging and itching the skin off the top of my feet where chiggers fed a few days ago. What kind of wisdom is that?

I really believe the drought in the Midwest has drained the sanity out of us mere mortals. If I thought I had little patience before, ask me how I feel after camping for two days in 90 degree breezeless weather. (On second thought, don’t ask…) On one hand, chiggered ankles were a small price to pay to be with my grandson for the weekend. But, upon reflection, I could have thought of 50 other places more suitable to both my “temperament” and “temperature.”  We won’t talk about sweating, but with temperatures at 100 one tends to sweat in places you never knew you could sweat in.

The heat also messes with my sense of organization. (Like I had any to begin with…)  I look around the house and see all the things I should do but don’t have time to do because I’m busy doing other things. We all have days of disorganization. But why does it seem lately that I’ve had weeks of it? Maybe I need a little time management or something.  A search in Yahoo brings up time management games, tips, skills, techniques, strategies, software, training, books, articles, and activities. Wow. I am overwhelmed just by so many choices. This is more than just turn right or left; this is riding on the twirliest roller coaster in the land.

Is my madness just a case of time mismanagement? Of poor planning? Or is it that our world has gotten so big, so advanced, so fast, that there are literally millions (as opposed to dozens) of activity melons that are ripe for the picking? Our ancestors didn’t have such a cornucopia of delights to choose from. Extra curricular activities were limited by your pocketbook and your proximity to town.  Reading (how about sinking your teeth into The Scarlet Pimpernel?), walking (didn’t you see Sense and Sensibility?), checkers or chess, or singing around the piano (think Christmas Carol), were the highlights of adult play.  Granddaughter in another state having a birthday? Too bad — too far. Want to go swimming to cool off? Too bad — closest body of water is five hours by mule.  Want to go out for dinner? Too bad. Town is ten miles by mule.

These people didn’t have an unlimited choice of entertainment like we do. Blogging, surfing the Net, playing online or video games, talking on the phone, watching 20 Closer reruns you’d DVR’d, reading Star Magazine, dancing to your IPod — all are activities that would be chinese to them.  I know we don’t do all those things, but admit it — we get pretty darn close. Add going to work,  grocery shopping, driving to birthday parties and soccer games, watering the garden, mowing the lawn, washing clothes, getting a hair cut, going to the dentist or doctor, all contribute to the roller coaster ride we put ourselves on.

Here are a few tips I found on the “Time Management Tips” List:

Carry a schedule and record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious moments are going.  How many three-ringed notebooks do I have to carry around??

Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it. To-do lists get longer and longer to the point where they’re unworkable. See my blog https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/real-lists-vs-fantasy-lists/ to clarify real lists vs. fantasy lists.

Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations that produce our results.  I already spend 110 percent of my time doing this – where did they get 50??

Schedule time for interruptions. Plan time to be pulled away from what you’re doing.  Oh, does that mean I can pull into McDonalds for a hot fudge sundae on my way to the grocery store?

Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don’t start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.  I do this before I go to sleep and between alarm snoozes in the morning. Plans sound better when you’re half asleep.

Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. When you only get 10 minutes for morning break and you’ve got three phone calls to make, that’s tacking on another 15 minutes to an already squished schedule. Mmmm…

Put up a “Do not disturb” sign when you absolutely have to get work done. Yeah, tell that to your dogs and cats and kids…

Practice not answering the phone just because it’s ringing and e-mails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls. About the only free time I have lately is on the toilet — not what I consider a conducive atmosphere for answering emails and phone calls.

Block out other distractions like Facebook and other forms of social media unless you use these tools to generate business.  I use these to generate the business of friendship and gossip…whatchu talkin’ about??

Remember that it’s impossible to get everything done. Also remember that odds are good that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results. Now that’s the smartest thing I’ve heard all day.

I guess I’ll just have to do what I can when I can. After all, there’s so much more to see, to do, to write.  And I’m sure there will be plenty of time to get organized on the “other” side.

Won’t there?

Real Lists vs Fantasy Lists

            Everybody makes to-do lists now and then.  As we get older, our nows seem further back in history, and our thens become obsolete.  So to keep track of the void between the two we need a list to keep things straight. But what kind of list do you make?

            My husband is very fond of making lists.  When he gets ready to go fishing or hunting, his list fills up two pages of college-lined paper.  There are things to bring, things to pack, things to sort, things to find.  I must admit that part of the length of his list includes things to bring/pack/sort/find for everyone else, too. But that is another story.  His real “to-do” list reads more like an instruction manual, all bullet points being checked off before he takes off to the wild blue yonder.

            I make my share of “to-do” lists as well.  Mine usually consist of mundane things to remember:  take ground beef out of the freezer for dinner, call Teresa tonight, write a check for my son’s lunch fund.  Practical, important things that I need to remember to do so that my day — and life — runs smoother.  My real list also extends to calling work or home and leaving voice reminders to myself in case I misplace my physical list.  I can’t help it if my list barely fits on the back of a sticky note; my real list is limited by energy and time and the phases of the moon and how many sticky notes I have.

            But what exactly is a fantasy list?  How is it different from a reality list?

            A real to-do list has tangible edges.  They have beginning bullets and ending periods.  Real lists can be scratched off one line at a time.  Progress can be made and seen through ledgers and spreadsheets and check marks on college-ruled paper.  Real “to-do” lists create deadlines and goals, culminating in that “feel good” sensation when you cross off a task that has been completed.

            A fantasy list, on the other hand, is as wild as clover in the field.  Each task reproduces itself every time you turn your back, manifesting into a half dozen more fuzzy bullet points on your list.  Fantasy lists are things you dream about, things that may or may not come to fruition.  Fantasy lists may have a foot in reality, but often it’s a child’s size 2 shoe, something that, for all practical purposes, couldn’t hold you in a mud hole if you tried. If you are able to check off one line on your dream list you are doing good.

            Fantasy lists can include a wide diversity of ideas and ideals.  Lose weight often tops a lot of lists.  Variations of this task are:  lose five pounds in three weeks so that you fit into your jeans, or lose 25 pounds by next summer so that you can fit into a bathing suit.  Pull weeds is often another chart topper.  It doesn’t matter if you have mums in a pot or a vegetable garden on the hill; weed pulling is often an arduous task that takes forever and seems to produce no long-lasting results.  Fix the squeak in the (fill in the blank) is a good one, too.  How long has that lid or chair or washing machine door made that high-pitched, irritating noise?  How much longer can you endure it before you finally take care of it?

            There are other bullet points on a fantasy list that are full of good intentions but most times get lost on the sidelines:  sew the falling hem on your pair of brown pants; give the dog a bath; call your sister.  Sometimes the list is full of ideas triggered by others:  find a recipe for a spaghetti squash, something like Emeril’s but with not as much garlic; look up how many Academy Awards Tom Hanks has won; call Jill to see if she wants to go to the café for coffee or to the pub for a burger, and if she wants to do it next Thursday instead of tonight because your son has baseball practice at five and the café doesn’t serve alcohol and a beer would really go great with that cheeseburger.  These are innocuous-looking thoughts that have the intention of being done, but somehow never get checked off the list.  This is most likely because a few points from the “real” list sneak onto the list, taking precedence over the more drawn-out ones, and we never seem to get back to the ones that were triggered by our wandering mind.

            Once we step up to the next level of a fantasy list, the bullet points look more like a doodle than a black dot.  The list gets more complicated in an ethereal sort of way: find out how much a flight to Cancun would be in February versus July; check out the price of cottages in the North Woods, say Eagle River or Sturgeon Bay; research the difference between inter-galactic space flight by nuclear fusion and nebula-to-nebula propelled travel for that science fiction story you are writing.

            The edges of the “to-do” list may get a little fuzzy, but that doesn’t mean that these ideas aren’t earnest.  These tasks are just as important as calling for a dentist appointment or making sure we pack aspirin for the trip.  They are just a little harder to maneuver; they are not weighed as heavily as the ones on the “real” list, and are scoffed at by those whose bullet points are five words or less.

            I just don’t get it.  Fantasy lists are just as important as real lists.  And I’m sure that if my husband sat down and made a fantasy list with me, he would be able to move that hunting trip to Alaska right up there to the top of the list.