Thursday, January 18, 2007

Listing Listfully and Listlessly

My life is cluttered, and lists are part of the clutter. Lists reside on tiny pieces of paper that I carry in my pockets, with the left side used more than the right. Lists abound on my desk on sticky Post-its of neon colors. I have even taken lately to drawing up a list at the start of the workday. It's an exhaustive list inventorying all the anticipated tasks of the day: responses to calls, e-mails, queries, comments, asides, requests, deadlines, and stated or implicit demands of disparate pieces of paper on my glass desk, a desk as transparent as my orderly attempts to rein in my rampant disorder. (I am ending this paragraph right here in homage to Lenny Cohen.)

Then I numerically rank each task, perhaps stopping at ten. Then I cross off each completed task.

This list-ordered tasking seems to settle me down and focus my efforts. It works until intrusions of yet other tasks.

Or does it work at all? And will it last?

List last.

Last list.

Lost lust.

Lust lost list last.

List lost lust last.

I just love the lilt of those four words.

Et cetera. Inter alia. Age quod agis.

Where was I?

If am without lists, does that make me listless?

Or do the lists themselves make me listless, tricking me into thinking listing equals doing?

In consulting my Oxford English Dictionary, or OED, I am thrilled to find the deep and criss-crossed layers of listing and its variants and associated forms. (Yes, such a finding thrills me, and I make no apologies for it.) The word list offers a rich playground for any list maker.

(But I will be brief. I need to pack for Berlin -- and alas I have for now successfully avoided lapsing into all kinds of blatant Wall metaphors, analogies, and paradigms.)

My OED tells me that list in some associated form or other (to say nothing of Franz Liszt!) refers to:

the ear,
a border,
a hem (as in [ahem!] a silken piece of ooh-la-la! cloth you know where),
an earlobe,
part of a head of hair, such as a beard,
a scar,
a ring around the foot of a column,
a place of combat,
a staked enclosure (plural = the starting point of a race),
lust (you knew it would come to that),
the careening of a ship (such as the ship of state embarking on certain courses of action),
a roll or catalog of words (such as This parade of nouns),
to please,
to care for,
to listen (I've barely begun to touch the verb forms)

insert ellipsis points here

This is just for starters. (Does that make it UNjust for finishers? hahahar!)

The list goes on.

Or could,

But I am getting listless.

Laugh. Or....



Glamourpuss said...

Try 'last list lost; lust'. That should be more satisfying.


azgoddess said...

i LOVE lists....i make them when shopping...only shopping

and i love crossing off when i get something and put it in the cart...grin

but i haffta be honest -- i never buy just what's on my list and rarely do i buy everything on my list...they are usually outta something!

Natalie said...

I also love lists and am very serious about using them at work. Checking things off them is very rewarding. I agree though that you can spend more time making lists sometimes than doing the things on them.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

If having no list makes you listless, then you are probably incorrigible as well, and cannot be corridged.

JoeBlogs said...

The only person I can understand taking lists is a waiter.