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Lists are SO Unromantic

"When does a place or an idea stop being romantic?"

"When I start making lists."

This is the beginning of a long overdue conversation I need to have with myself.

Lists mean responsibilities. Lists mean memories. Lists mean something lived and something desired to be lived. Lists are short. Lists tie you down deeper. Lists lead to more lists.

After all a good friend told me, "if you write it down, it's yours".

Book lists

Grocery lists

Online shopping destined to make moving anywhere difficult.

Lists are not histories. Histories are often ignored due to their contradictions. My most recent example can be summarized as this: across time women have fed the world but were denied the right to own property. However, this history could become a list if I acknowledge my own land ownership dilemma that includes my great grandmother's egg money, the Great Depression and a scholarship for women I found online entitled, "Mother's Egg $".

Am I searching for work or livelihood? Which is more important a job that pays for health care or a job that allows me to be healthy?

My conversation with myself stalls and I cannot ask my great grandmother, my grandmother, nor my mother.

Lists are not stories. Stories exist because character motivation drives stories. Character development decides what events are important enough to include and what events stay off the page. Stories are even more cherry picked than histories. When, stories' acceptability changes and narrations are altered as old and new identities are challenged simultaneously. For example, my book club at work informed me that Laura Ingalls Wilder book award for lifetime achievement no longer bears her name because her narration is through the lens of a white woman in the 1800s, but the books remain on my shelf. Even someone extremely concerned with multicultural literature cannot disappear a cornerstone of my own literature story. However, those identities could become a list if I acknowledge the steps I need to take to be who I want to be.

Am I trying to be good or strong? Fit or thin? Are these important characteristics of womanhood at all?

My conversation attempts to use other people's answers and I can only trust the handwriting in my mother's recipe box and the songs that come on the radio on the days that are supposed to be marked by bad luck even if it’s a black butterfly crossing your path instead of a black cat. It’s a break up song from the universe that when sung to me was never was about a man.

Even though I realize that being a woman,

Wrong, baby, wrong. . .


Gone, baby, gone. . .


Cry. . . Crawl. . .Fall. . .Now and then. . .

may be the most revolutionary thing I've ever done,

But if you think you’ll never move on,

but I’m the one that has to do it.

You’re wrong, baby, wrong.

Lists provide order. They let you decide the order of what you do. They illustrate your accomplishment by check marks or crossed out lines. In short, I am deathly afraid to make the list that is next on my list.

Lists of what I want instead of what I’ve already done on resumes.

Lists of why someone should like me like I’ve already done on cover letters.

List of how to be who I want to be grown up.

In all my imagining of women's histories and stories who have lived in my place before me, it was too easy to forget, too visible to see that my mother once saw my father's land as romantic. And she stayed long enough to put me on her list.

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