Flash in the Pan

A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights

Living Without A List

by Meg Hanna House

For the last few months, I've been living without a list. Oh - I've gone through the organizing motions of list making and calendar maintenance, but never looked at them, never let them guide my days.

Living without a list is a dangerous business, as I found out this week when several to-dos got forgotten - a double-booking for my daughter, a last minute catch on an appointment, a sudden jerking awake 15 minutes after my son's school had let out. I even went so far as to grocery shop without a list. What is it that makes my mind go blank when I walk through those automatic doors? It's as if some brain vacuum above me sucks even the few items I knew I needed - milk, cereal, juice. How hard can it be?

Living without a list is like living without a net, like biking without a helmet, and this week I paid for it - luckily not with a limb or a severe concussion. A few bills were late, a few events forgotten - nothing crucial, though I do worry a bit about my son's trust in a mom who forgot two of his things in one week. On the other hand, maybe he will step in where he sees my skill is clearly lacking.

But this morning I went back to my list, my encounters with hard reality jarring me back to old coping mechanisms. I sat with the phone and the list and my calendar, checking items off, moving pieces around like tiles in one of those number puzzles. As I checked to-dos off, the list grew, till black and blue handwriting scrawled to the bottom of the page. I made phone calls, and left messages when someone wasn't there, feeling relief that the to-do was now in someone else's hands.

So I've pulled myself back from the edge of no-listdom. I'm back with my net, my helmet, my security blanket in hand. I've rebuilt my structure, if only for today. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? I may once again yell, "Look ma, no hands!" - not worrying about the pothole that awaits me at the bottom of the street.

Meg Hanna House lives (mostly with a list) and writes in Arlington, Va. Her work has a appeared in various publications, and she also fills her calendar with owning a wine store with her husband, music, and cycling.

Twenty-fourth Flash

The Coat by Sally Weare
A Good Scout by Sally Tilbury
No Magic Involved by Sue Thomas
Snap Judgement by Janet Rene Snyder
Slim by Ken Rodgers
My Life As A Hermit Crab by Sara Baker
Roadkill by Adrienne Ross Scanlan
The Last Time by Antonia Albany
We Got It Made by Pat Pomerleau Chávez
The 65 Imperial by Sandra Lynn Mallo Adcock
Time Is A Tiger by Joan Zerrien
The Balloon by Lynn Sunday

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