Even if I have nothing in particular to do, I make a list:
TODAY’S THINGS TO DO LIST
1. Nothing in particular.
2. If something in particular comes up, I'll let me know.
* * * * *
With hindsight and regret, there is a list I never made—or ever thought of making. It is a list (best kept in a wirering notebook), of the good books I’ve read during my lifetime.
What made me think about it was a discussion of Bel Kaufman’s Up the Down Staircase on LibraryThing. “I’ve read that!” I thought, and in fact I’ve read it twice, back about the time it came out in 1964 or so. But do you think I could remember anything about it? The story, the characters, maybe a quote or two? No, on all counts. All I could do was read the discussion, keep my yap shut, and feel the frustration.
The same thing has happened with Steinbeck, Chaim Potok, The Catcher in the Rye, and On the Road. It isn’t that my memory is shot; rather, it’s a matter of reading too many books too long ago and not remembering anything but the title and author.
How nice it would have been, then, to start a book list, a book journal, when I was in high school—in conjunction with (or instead of) making lists of dates in history and the abbreviations of the elements in chemistry. The high school lists are long gone, but I sure wish I had some notes on Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There and Pinball.
Perhaps I'll be a bit smarter in my next life when I come back as a library cat named Louie.
* * * * *
Poor Martha and her grocery lists. She makes one every week, and every week when she goes shopping, the list is on the kitchen table right where she left it. Not occasionally or once in a while, but every single week. We even have a routine when she gets home:
“You, uh, forgot your shopping list,” I tell her.
“I know, but I remembered almost everything on it.”
[This part varies]
“Did you remember the double-chocolate triple-fudge brownie with quadruple-dark chocolate sauce on top ice cream? And the hot fudge for it?”
[This part doesn't vary]
“Nope. Those are the two I forgot. I did get a nice strawberry rhubarb pie, though.”
The reason she “forgot” is because the ice cream was for ME and the pie was for HER. To prove it, listen to this:
“You know I can’t eat strawberry-rhubarb pie—it lies on my chest all night,” I say.
“Well no one is forcing you to eat it. Don’t worry; it’ll get eaten before it turns green."
It would be easy to get angry, but I don’t. She’s the one who spends her time and energy shopping, schlepping the bags around, and putting the groceries up—all because I can’t do it any more. Martha does her best, and I find her list- forgetfulness kind of endearing, something that’s unique about her.
But damn, I sure miss my family-size bowl of chocolate crash cart before I put on my jammies . . .