Lists, lists, and the program

I believe that all women, but especially housewives, tend to think in lists; I have always believed, against all opposition, that women think in logical sequence, but it was not until I came to empty the pockets of my light summer coat that year that I realized how thoroughly the housekeeping mind falls into the list pattern, how basically the idea of a series of items, following one another docilely, forms the only possible reasonable approach to life if you have to live it with a home and a husband and children, none of whom would dream of following one another docilely.   –Shirley Jackson, Life Among Savages


Ain’t that the truth.  By reading many of your posts, I know you all agree with me.


I used to use lists sparingly, like when I had a ton of reading and papers to do or that some one was coming to visit and we hadn’t cleaned the condo for weeks. Yet when we were behind the eight ball, like the time my husband convinced me to throw the business Christmas party at our house, it was our buddy J who came to the rescue with his lists: things to buy, things to do, goals to be accomplished.  As J is more organized person, he always told me to set it down in writing.  “You can’t go wrong with the program.”  “Life’s taught me over and over again to stay organized.”  “When my life’s falling apart it’s because I didn’t keep my shit together.”  “One day, Fae, when you’re older, you’ll know that life keeps rubbing your face in it until you figure it out.”  “I’m too stupid not to be organized.”  (Yeah, J has a lot of sayings, but he’s saved our asses more times than can count and that’s a whole post in itself.)  While a few things would be forgotten in the chaos of life, it all worked out in the end.  Until I got pregnant.


When I first became pregnant, I lost my mind.  Sure, I was also losing my breakfast and any Baja-style tacos I ate before I realized fetus-Evan hated them, but it was my mind that I missed the most.  (And it still seems to come and go when it pleases.)  I couldn’t remember to buy the milk I actually went to the store for.  I nearly forgot to buy Christmas gifts for a few people.  I missed a month of bills.  I lost my cell phone!  That’s a big deal for someone who NEVER loses anything.  I left my purse in a bathroom stall of a store, only to remember it when I needed cash to by the items with.  (J was there for that, and he let it go only because I was pregnant and my purse, AKA Jaws Lunch Box, was still there.)  So to save my sanity and Wednesday night’s dinner, I started using lists.  Lists for groceries; lists for chores; lists for bills.  And as long as I don’t deviate from the program I’m fine.



The Program (in list form):


1) A Yearly chart of all the bills that need to be paid, so I can check them off.


2) An ongoing list of groceries on the fridge.


3) A Notebook page: A List of chores for the week, a list of phone calls to make for the week, a list of errands to do that week, the menu for the week.


4) Lists of art supplies, things to do if I’m bored, things to buy when we get the scratch.


5) Ongoing lists of what to write in the blog.


6) List of issues needed to be discussed with my husband.  (After a long day with boys I forget to talk to the husband about the bills to be paid or setting a date for when we’ll leave for Christmas.)



I hate being this organized.  I’ve always been one of those messy-organized girls, who might have a huge stack of paper on her desk but knows exactly what’s in that stack, which doesn’t work if you have two kids and a messy husband.  But now if I deviate from the program, this house of cards will fall.  Bills will be forgotten, random food won’t be bought, my friend V won’t get her weekly voice mail message of “hi, I know you’re crazy busy, but maybe you could find the time to call me,” and I’ll forget that cute thing Sean did or Evan said, so that I have to write a blog about writing lists.  Of course, I have to relearn the lesson of ALWAYS follow the program about a million times.  I’m a slow learner.


Homer:    Blame me if you must, but don't ever speak ill of the Program!  
The Program is rock solid!  The Program is sound!

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