Now, Let’s Talk About My Lists


In keeping with the spirit of revealing more of our true selves for you, our loyal readers, fans, friends and stalkers, I’m going to talk about my serious control and Type A issues. No, this isn’t my blog entry where I reveal anything about my sex life. That one would be short. And it would say that I didn’t find myself until I hit 35. The end. But, this entry is probably as hard for “perfect panda” to write as that one was for “baby giraffe.”

It’s true. I have control issues. I like things to be neat and tidy. I like to have the last word. I like to dominate meetings with my fantastic sense of humor and amazing ideas. I can’t let go of things. Ever. People who know me will attest to this. I will say I am over it. Yet, I will bring it back up at least 500 times. I fidget constantly. While that might not be Type A, it happens because I am sitting and talking with you and thinking of the 500 other things I need to do and obsess about.

Lists. I have dozens of them. I have a spiral bound notebook (yes a real, paper one @floopjack) that I make separate action list items for work and daily to do lists in. I love crossing things off of lists. It’s cathartic. I make them very, very long. Really, I make them too long. Inevitably, since I am only human, I have to carry things over onto the next day’s list and then I begin to panic. Sometimes, I have full-blown panic attacks. The kind that bring you almost to your knees.

I have home lists, shopping lists, lists for projects I need to do around the house, a list of places I want to see. I have private lists. Ahem. Most of my lists are electronic in Springpad, which has really changed my life. But, I digress. See? I am trying to talk about the negative effects my Type A has on my life and here I am about to pitch the beauty of a product that will allow you to make lists on your computer and then access them on your phone (IT IS AMAZING FOR GROCERY LISTS).

So last weekend, I threw a list out before the weekend was over. Since forever, I have mostly hated Sundays. Why? Sunday is when I do like all of the work that everyone does for like a week. I overdo it. Last weekend I had 25 things on my list for one day. Bitchy said I was insane and to stop it. Well, she was right and I threw it out before she yelled at me. But, it made me start to think about why the fuck that it is that I feel like I have to always be an A student and accomplish all the things? Someone I am very close to said to me last week (this isn’t an exact quote), “At the end of the day, whether it’s perfect or not, you’re going to get the same reaction from the people you turn it in to.” Why do I need to be perfect panda?

Here’s where we get probably a little too personal. But this is my blog to let this stuff out. So, here goes nothing. I grew up poor white trash. Totally true. I was the poor kid in a fairly affluent area of Northern New Jersey. My friends had nice houses that were always immaculate and clean and there was no yelling, and violence, and filth. Mine? The opposite. And so I grew up with a serious need to control my personal space and keep it clean. I’m not going into too much detail about my childhood but my mother was just not ready to be a mom. Ever. The environment was not safe and eventually my grandmother adopted me. She is the most wonderful person in the entire universe and I love her dearly. She saved me. But, my grandma was a packrat. She was a schoolteacher her whole life and kept piles of paper everywhere. So now I hate paper. I hate those piles that people let clutter by the phone or on the kitchen counter. Every Friday, my desk at work is spotless. And whether she knows it or not, she started my obsessive listmaking. I did it and do it because she does it. See how we influence children?

So, where was I going with all of this? Ahhhh, yes. Well, you see now that our #tendaypurge was probably not hard for me to do. I *love* to declutter and throw things away. But, now, I am going to try and start to just be a little easier on myself. I have promised myself that I will not make a list with more than five things on it. And I am going to try and stop hating Sundays. I will clean and do my things for a couple of hours but will also just try to stop and relax a little. You might imagine that I rarely relax. I’m a complete pill. Can you imagine living with me? For the first time in like my whole entire adult life, I actually did nothing for like three whole days over the holiday break. And I have only been pissed at myself for not cleaning the hall closet and painting the bathroom like twice since then.

It’s a new year. We have new beginnings. And for the first time in a really long time I am so, so happy. I will never be a totally carefree person. I can’t. But, I can just let go of a few things at a time and be happy with that. And at some point this year, I am taking a trip somewhere without one single list.

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13 Responses to “Now, Let’s Talk About My Lists”

  1. Amber Love says:

    Hey!! I live surrounded by rich NJ people! I can’t escape. I tried. I should have gone away to college but I’m too clingy with my mother (who is as awesome as your gram sounds). I left for almost a year to head to a big new city and try to make it only to come crawling and bawling back here.

    I’m so glad I found you on the Twitter! You and the other librarians ladies make my days better.

  2. Hardin Reddy says:

    This is my first time here, and I enjoyed reading something you wrote that’s more than 140 characters.

    You mentioned this post made you cry. What I saw in it was liberation, or at least the beginnings of one, from the shackles of your own personality. Which means that, if you shed tears, they should be tears of relief, if not happiness.

    • Wine Librarian says:

      Oh, you are totally right. I am very happy and learning to let go of a lot is part of it this year. :)

  3. Bitchy Librarian says:

    I love you.

    When you told me that you threw away that list, I was SO fucking proud of you. The next time you feel the urge to make a long list, write down a list of everyone who loves you. :)

  4. You and I have a lot in common in this area. I’ve never had to make a list of my lists, but it goes almost that far. My “To Do” list is never empty (although I did get it organized with a great Mac & iPhone app called “Things” and with its glorious tagging features, I separate not only home from work, but also different projects at work — which is, admittled, perilously close to lists within lists.)

    I’ve never had a panic attack over it, but I do get really stressed out when a list starts getting too long and I feel like I’m falling behind/not making progress on it. On the other hand, I’m becoming quite addicted to Twitter and Reddit, and that definitely having an impact on how I choose to spend my time. Hopefully, at some point, instead of simply adding another item to my To Do list when I think of it, I’ll start doing some self-editing. (“Does that REALLY have to be done? If so, does it have to be by me? Is it more important than time spent doing something else that I’d enjoy more?”, etc.) This would work better if I placed any actual value on “relaxing” — a large part of me just feels like any time that isn’t “productive” is wasted.

    I’m also constantly struggling between the fact that my body seems to need almost 9 hours of sleep a night, and that means too few hours to do the things I want during any given day, so I’m constantly pushing myself to get by on less rest. Which only leads to feeling more tired and stressed out. Go me. :-\

    If I believed in New Year’s Resolutions, I probably would be trying to do more about this. But I don’t, so it’s something I only work on here and there when I’m NOT on top of my lists. ::sigh::

    TL;DR: wanted to let you know you’re not the only one who struggles with this shit.

    • Wine Librarian says:

      Thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. I don’t believe in resolutions either. But I believe in empowering myself to make change.

      • Empowering is good. Even better are friends who know you well enough and care enough about you to help you with it, without managing to sound judgmental and critiquey. (Yeah, that’s right, I just made that word up.) Maybe we all of us Type A/OCD people can encourage one another on this road to betterment. :-)

  5. John says:

    I had no idea that we grew up in the same area. Well, wait, maybe I did, but I’ve placed that in the back of my mind, somewhere, where everything is horribly disorganized, like most everything else in my life.

    My sister-in-law is a very peculiar case. Her parents (my in-laws) divorced when she was very, very young . . . my wife remembers some “happy times,” but my sister-in-law, if she thinks about her parents together, well, it’s all vinegar & motor oil. So, my sister-in-law lived with my mother-in-law, who is NOT a clean person, and my ex-step-mother-in-law, who is a control freak.

    When my sister-in-law was at her dad’s, she didn’t get to control anything . . . and when she was with her mother, she sought out control, and that lead to cleaning. Now, she can’t start cleaning something without REALLY cleaning it . . . this can mean that she needs to pull out a toothbrush and scrub tile because she thought she saw a speck of mildew while doing the dishes.

    Anyway, I think this comment might be longer than your post . . . just want to say that we love you, and we love what make you you, long, highly-organized lists & all.

    • Wine Librarian says:

      Aww, thanks John. I think we have talked about growing up in NJ at some point. :) I’ve filed it away, neatly. Thank you for sharing and for the kind words, as always.

  6. vodkaandlemons says:

    I am going to be more like you some day and I will be more successful for it. I am pretty much your opposite. I do like to be a perfect panda but only when I need to be. I’m a slacker. I’m not a planner. I have those stacks of paper everywhere and if you saw my desk right now you would throw up. I’m going to go back to school this s ummer and I am going to think, be more like Winey.

    • Wine Librarian says:

      It’s funny because I like to do a lot of projects at the last minute because I feel like I work really well under pressure, but yeah, generally speaking I’m an organization freak. :) This was seriously so sweet of you to say.