Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Another Limited Commodity From The Dead

My mother used to make lists all the time, lists of things she had done, needed to buy, operations she had gone through (even her "brief medical history" list that she carried to various doctor's appointments was not anywhere near brief), money she didn't have (each of these ended with a "in the hole" section marked in blood red), and more optimistically places she wanted to go and things she needed to do. I found one of these recently titled "Company Menu" (she always titled her list) that listed all sorts of things that I could never make in her tiny child-like writing which always struck me, if writing can have a personality, as tense and sad and a little tentative, a side of herself she almost never showed. The list fell out of a pad of paper she'd given me many years ago because the color of the paper annoyed her. The pad contains "XTREME Colors!" according to its front cover, and she'd bought it because she was always losing her lists in her her purse and knew she'd be able to see the loud pinks, purples, blues, and greens. "Now they just fucking get on my nerves," she said. "But maybe you'd like them?" I took them, of course. I love paper of all sorts and have stationary from almost everywhere I've ever been, my only collecting compulsion. Delighted, she passed off her bad paper onto me, and I've had it in my top desk drawer for a very long time, hesitant to use it because, let's face it, I like the story and am loathe to part with yet another limited commodity from the dead.

But the other day, I needed to make a grocery shopping list (I hate this activity so very much) and thought about my mother and how she would approve of her paper being something of use instead of stale decoration and that's how I came across her again, once more in the world of the living. I could see her making her lists and imagine that's one of my biggest heritages from her. Nobody loves a list more than me! I remember what I was doing this day six years ago -- everyone does. My love life was in a shambles, my car wasn't working, and then the world exploded and changed. People I loved were still alive for the most part and like that song that always gets played at second weddings, "The Best Is Yet To Come," I wasn't buying it for a minute. These past six years have brought more horror to the world in the form of endless war, more damage, more misery. As for me, they haven't brought the kind of clarity and wisdom to my life that I had hoped for, the supposed spoils of living through hard times. But if I bring out one of those colored sheets of paper, maybe I can make a list, not of what I think I need, but of what I have which is so much more than I deserve. I'd like to be the kind of person who doesn't need to write it all down to know it, but I can't imagine my life any other way.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I've had a wonderful and terrible life. I wouldn't cry for myself, would you?" Tennessee Williams

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: Memoirs Tennessee Williams

Benedictions and Maledictions
In Memoriam, September 11, 2001.


Charles Gramlich said...

A lot of good thoughts here. I sometimes wish I was one of those people too who didn't have to write it down to know it. I'd be more like my father then. Or like some of the mentors/teachers I've had over the years who simple "did." But I don't seem quite able to understand the world without words, and by now I guess I'm stuck with myself.

the walking man said...

"I'd like to be the kind of person who doesn't need to write it all down to know it,"

No you wouldn't, because, then you'd be like me.



Herman Northrop Frye said...

I hate it when the world becomes one big bibliography.

Christopher Moltisanti said...

Five more days until the day of the Emmy's!!

Cheri said...

List making is a sign of OCD. Or a symptom, depending on who you talk to. Your mother just stayed organized that way. But what a memory of her. =D

eric1313 said...

It's something fun and appealing about writing and creating without it having to be life.

Besides, you loathe almost everything else. What else were you ever going to do?

Obviously, you could do anything, but writing and teaching is where you will be listened to and what you will have the most control over, far better than anything else you can think of.

Me too.

eric1313 said...

Wishing you the best.

It will come, know matter what. Hope is the most plentiful thing I have.

Anonymous said...

AWWWW, sveetie...


Anonymous said...


I can barely hug myself.

Ropinator said...

Well, i am not anyones mum but I also make lists.