{ Reese's-Puffs-inspired musing on lists }

As I was eating a bowl of Reese's Puffs out on my sunshine-speckled front porch this morning, I found myself studying the back of the cereal box, which included a list of "18 Things to Do Before You're 18." Well, I'm already four years too late, but of the things listed, I've managed to do the following 8 so far:

- Win an award, trophy, or prize
- Meet your idol
Last October in Chicago, I got to meet a bunch of my running/marathoning idols, including Deena Kastor and Emmanuel Mutai
- Get away with the perfect practical joke
Appropriate to mention this on April Fool's Day, I figure (okay, I'm a day behind in actually posting this entry to my blog) - I taped down the switch on the retractable sprayer in our kitchen sink, so when my unassuming mother tried to turn the faucet on, it sprayed water all over her instead. Nice, right? I guess I didn't really "get away" with that one, since my eleven-year-old self cackling uncontrollably in the next room probably gave me away.
- Own a pointless collection (Sugar packets)
- Conquer your biggest fear (Talking on the phone)
- Raise money for charity
- Pass your driving test the first time
- Reach 18 years of age - yes!!!
(For the record, I'm not editorializing; the cereal box really reads, "yes!!!")

I've come close with...
- Ride the world's biggest rollercoaster
According to Wikipedia, this is "Kingda Ka" at Six Flags in Jersey - with Cedar Point's "Top Thrill Dragster" at a close second. I can't claim Kingda Ka, but I've ridden TTD more times than I can count, so perhaps I can claim my list of accomplished Reese's Puffs goals at 8.5?

And one I've failed completely, despite giving it an optimistic shot during my time in Prague over Winter Term my junior year:
- Meet someone with your own name
Reese's Puffs' editorial commentary on this one is "With a world population of 6 billion it should be easy" - forget that, I can't even manage to meet one person who shares even my first name!

I'm pretty sure I can directly trace my penchant for list-making to the beginning of college. Something about Oberlin has not only forced me to develop stellar time management skills (which, okay, has gone hand in hand with fine-tuning my procrastination abilities) but has also inspired me to think, dream, and plan big. Thinking big requires a good organizational system for those thoughts, and I've found that nothing works quite as well as lists.

My best friend Seyeon, also a fiend for lists, got me into the habit of making lists of all my homework assignments for each week (reading, online responses on Blackboard, paper deadlines, problem sets, etc.) over the weekend, so I'd have an overview of the work ahead on my bulletin board always. They included circles next to each assignment that I could bubble in with colored Sharpie whenever I completed them - a great system that really helped me balance my workload, and (almost) feel heart-pounding excitement at 1 a.m. in Mudd Library as I anticipated all the bubbles I'd be able to Sharpie in once I got back to my room at the end of the night.

Rather compulsively, I make other lists, too - for just about everything. Books I want to read (The Unlikely Disciple, The Places In Between, Birds of America), Movies I want to order from Netflix (Broken English, Towelhead, In a Day), Places I want to travel to (Nepal, South Africa, Sitka in Alaska), Marathons I want to run someday (Disney, Cleveland, Seattle, The Leading Ladies in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the big three: New York, Chicago, and Boston), Things I don't know but want to look up whenever I'm online next (what exactly wisteria looks like, the grammatical difference between "may" and "might," who Noam Chomsky is).

I have an entire box full of index cards that make up a whole other host of various ongoing lists I keep, including:
Inspiring Quotes
Thoreau's "I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor," Kazuo Ishiguro's "It's hard to appreciate the beauty of a world when one doubts its very validity," etc.
Personality Traits for my Ideal Significant Other
Outdoorsy, Passionate about hobbies, Punctual, Self-educating, Likes to play Scrabble, etc.
Goals for the Future
Write for Runner's World, Learn Arabic, Snowboard in the Alps, etc.
Goals Accomplished
Try being vegan for awhile (I made it six months; Thank you, Harkness Co-op!), Rebuild homes in New Orleans (Did it January 2007; Thank you, Winter Term!), Go to a Trader Joe's (We don't have those in Kansas; Thank you, Ohio!), etc.

I know I'm not the only one who likes making lists. What lists do you keep?


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{ Responses To This Entry }

I'm glad I'm not the only human being who fears talking on the phone! I used to think I was the only one in the world (OK, I'll never be the only person in the world doing anything) who felt that way. Thanks for making my day.

Also, I don't make lists because they remind me that I'm procrastinating...Even though making lists is a great idea.

Posted by: Ariel on April 6, 2009 12:13 PM


Okay, so I just gave an interview in which we talked about lists! For a very long time! It was awesome -- she had pretty cool things she wanted to do.

Posted by: Aries on April 6, 2009 10:44 PM



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