Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Friday, January 15, 2010

Stuff I've Been Putting Off

I hesitate to begin this post.  Kind of a “don’t go there” thing.  In our household, there is a legend of the time my husband and I made the to do list to end all lists.  I was eight months pregnant and on bed rest with pregnancy-induced hypertension.  I was already living with a teenager and a two-year-old, not to mention a young, battle-scarred Labrador I’d snatched from the clutches of the humane society.  My dissertation was on hold.  My husband had just finished his.  Unhappy stepchildren circled the scene.  Stress was the air I breathed.

For some crazy reason, we thought it would be a good idea to put down in writing all the things we needed to take care of.  The list began innocuously enough, with some item of the magnitude of “Clean the kitchen.”  And then it grew.  And grew.  Like a tumor.  Like the enchanted tree-character in my children’s old favorite My Neighbor Totoro, but not in a good wayIt grew into a menacing thing.  It became satanic in proportion and tone. 

Within three days of making The List, I had flunked my weekly medical monitoring and been hospitalized.  Induction of labor followed an attempt to stabilize my soaring blood pressure.  My last baby arrived, two-and-a-half weeks early and small enough for doll clothes.  Chaos took root.  My new family was off and running, sans training or proper shoes.

Obviously, fate was not largely altered by these events.  I was clearly going to give birth to this child sooner or later.  I already had medical issues.  And the somewhat atypical  number and character of stressors swirling around us were surely having their own effects.  But I have always harbored the belief that it was The List that brought the drama.  It took me awhile after that difficult summer to screw up the courage to make even the more pedestrian daily to do lists with which I had littered most of my adult life before. 

As I write this, I’m not pregnant, and can’t be, and finally don’t have even the ghost of a wish to be.  So I can’t precipitate an obstetrical emergency.  But some little voice within me hisses a warning as I contemplate an itemizing of some things I need to get to. 

In the face of this fear, and in the spirit of this blog and the changes it stems from, I have identified  a number of postponed tasks and issues which I (dare I say it?) l-l-l-list here.  I am thinking of this more in the way of an assessment than as a charge.  The list is in no particular order, and makes no promises.  I just need to look at it, to see where I am.   A benchmark of sorts.  In propitiation of the list-gods, I have limited myself to fifteen items—the first that come to mind.

Some Stuff I’ve Been Putting Off

  1. Painting the treehouse
  2. Grieving my dad's death 
  3. Finishing the refinishing of my kitchen cabinets
  4. Staining the fence we built before Katrina
  5. Casting off the scarf I knitted my son for Christmas
  6. Digitizing my poetry
  7. Working on the novel I started three years ago
  8. Cleaning the basement
  9. Making room for our cars in the garage
  10. Dealing with my blood pressure phobia
  11. Recovering the lawn
  12. Laying my dissertation to rest somehow
  13. Calling my brother
  14. Getting a life
  15. Painting the bathroom I primed nine years ago (after removing the mildew that has set in since)
Now all that remains is to sit and wait for the drama.  And maybe start therapy for an apparent paint brush phobia.

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