An ode to the art of list making equipped with an immediate call to action: Write It All Down…

by: Wendy BooydeGraaff

Write it all down. List the things you can accomplish today and the things you cannot. List what is important, what is banal, what is incredible, and what is heart-wrenchingly desolate. Write down the easy things to cross off: urinate, feed cats, fertilize orchid. The lines, as you cross them off, will offset the things you cannot cross off: finish Moby Dick, retrieve mail from mailbox, plant tulip bulbs. Write down the things that could happen and possibly make the day more fruitful. Make the list look better with its neat ruler lines crossing out neat letters: close shades on south side to block sun, call neighbor to shovel walks if snow comes, take medicine.

Write down the things from yesterday that didn’t get crossed off: video conference Dr. Amy, apologize to Dan, bury bird lying on other side of picture window before neighborhood cat finds it. Write down the things from yesterday that did get crossed off but can be repeated today: two-minute plank, mindfulness app, recite Lord’s prayer. Cross off the entries with a ruler-straight line, more than once if you do them more than once. Space the multiple crossed-off lines less than a millimeter apart and cross off as many times as the space between list items allows, but only as many times as actually performed. This is an art and a calculus. Be careful not to retrace lines as pencil will cut through paper and render list, and therefore day, invalid. You may not perform any item on the list more times than the crossed-off lines allow. You may not perform any item on the list fewer times than the crossed-off lines document. You may not perform any item that does not appear on the list.

Pay special attention to sub-lists: 1. Order pharmacy items at; 1a) anti-fungal for toenails; 1b) anti-redness face cream; 1c) antibiotic topical cream; 1d) at-home bite-guard kit. Sub-list headings may not be crossed off unless all sub-items have been completed at least once. Sub-list headings may not be crossed off more than once if each sub-item has not been crossed off the same number of times.

File away yesterday’s list.

Flatten curled edges of paper. Use iron if flat of hand is insufficient.

Sharpen pencil.

Remember to hold up note to window so UPS driver knows to leave package and not wait for signature. Avert eyes. Avert whole head, if possible. Make these last two separate line items, not sub-listed items.

Write note saying portico is unlocked. Leave all packages inside. Close door firmly behind. Wiggle handle to ensure proper latching. Consider this note permission to leave package in lieu of signature.

Thank Father, Son, and Holy Spirit you had the wherewithal to have General Construction enclose the portico last summer. Thank Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for Meijer Curbside and Uber delivery driver Joe who knows about the portico without needing the sign.

Tomorrow you will do it all over again. Take comfort in that. Prepare yourself: there will be changes. Dan no longer requires an apology. Bury the bird feathers and a shiny gullet. Remind yourself that Dr. Amy often reschedules video-conference sessions. Remind yourself to practice flexible thinking. Remind yourself that if Dr. Amy gets burned out, or retires, or passes you on to her intern, you could possibly survive. You survived Dr. Ann switching you to Dr. Amy. You survived, but more importantly, the list survived.


Wendy BooydeGraaff is the author of Salad Pie, a children’s picture book published by Ripple Grove Press. Her work has been published in Emrys Journal Online, Kveller, SmokeLong Quarterly, Bending Genres, Critical Read, and Jellyfish Review, and is forthcoming in So It Goes, Border Crossing, and NOON.

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