Listing Towards Instability

Lists are (1) useful, (2) orderly, and (3) starting to overrun my life.

I can’t stop making lists. (Note from the eds: We also might add Exhibits C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, and K — not that we were counting or anything!)

I don’t know when it started, but lately I’ve been itemizing things on a daily basis. I’m doing something tedious, like getting ready for work in the morning, and I keep my mind engaged by running a mental log of sports team nicknames or people I met in college. I’m sitting at my desk at work, and I start thinking ahead to all of the tasks that I have waiting for me at home, so I pull out a Post-It pad and starting jotting them down (“write blog posts, do laundry, trim beard, pack suitcase …”). Suddenly the to-do list spawns more lists. I hate few things as much as writers’ block, so I start brainstorming topics for my blog. I’m looking forward to my weekend visit to Barbara‘s — oh, right, I’d better remind myself of the things that I need to pack. Speaking of Barbara, we didn’t get a chance to talk last night. I should scribble out some stuff that I want to mention to her before I forget.

Okay, I’ll cop to it: I’ve been making conversation lists since adolescence, and I’m sure that the concept sounds ridiculous. It’s not that I think the things that I have to say are all that profound or important; on the contrary, it’s a sort of insecurity. I dread the looming threat of getting on the phone and running out of things to say. If there’s anything worse than writer’s block, it’s the sensation of opening up my mouth and coming up empty.

My hang-ups aside, it’s not as though these lists don’t serve a purpose. I post want-lists on my baseball card blog to facilitate trades with other collectors. Putting down all of my anticipated expenses on paper helps me stick to a budget. But, taken as a whole, all this seems to indicate that I’ve got more Type A tendencies than I would care to admit.

At least I resisted the urge to write this article in list form.

Article © 2010 by Kevin Brotzman