Monday, February 20, 2017

Twenty Years of To-Do Lists

I was cleaning the other day (I know--big shocker!), and I found many random things. For instance, why did I move house with my entire cloth diaper stash, four years after my last baby toilet trained?

It's all on ebay now, although I probably would have made a lot more off of those diapers if I'd sold them when they weren't "vintage."

I found my wedding album, which I'd been looking everywhere for since I moved. What happened to its cover, however? No idea. I guess that now I get to design a new one!

I recycled several previous generations of instruction manuals for cameras and sewing machines that I no longer have.

I found my mending queue, stuffed into a box and moved to our new house and then put onto a shelf in the back closet. It was actually hard to look at that little stack of little pants with torn knees and little shirts with ripped seams--how did I ever have children so tiny? If you sew, then one day, while your children are still small, I want you to simply whisk away your entire mending queue--yes, the whole thing!--and put it into a time capsule. Look at it again when you and your kids share a shoe size. It will make you cry.

I also found a bunch of old notebooks, and when I flipped through them, I found a bunch of old notes! I don't know why I kept all of my college notebooks, from undergrad and grad school, but I'm pretty stoked to have them now. It turns out that I used to have way better handwriting than I have now, but I didn't start to take all of my class notes in outline format until grad school. I don't think I organized my notes at all as an undergrad!

It turns out, though, that I always wrote to-do lists, and lots of them. I don't remember when I bought my first planner, but it possibly wasn't until I had kids who had extracurriculars that had to be organized. Before that, they showed up in all of my school notebooks, all over all of the pages. Here's my to-write list of topics for the Opinion column that I used to write for my undergrad newspaper, The TCU Daily Skiff:

The other Opinion writers and I measured our success by how many Letters to the Editor were received in response to us. If you REALLY hit a nerve, sometimes a reader would send a personal letter directly to you, as well, or even find out your phone number and call you directly. I got a phone call once from the Student Health Center when I wrote that they should offer the morning after pill. I received a letter, like a genuine, in-the-mail, postage stamped LETTER once, in response to I don't remember what article, but I do remember that the writer was a very devoutly Christian woman who took deep offense to something sacrilegious that I'd written. It actually could have been the same column that pissed off the Student Health Center, as a matter of fact. Anyway, this writer made her points with different colors of inks, and stickers, and a lot of underlining and circling important phrases. Interestingly, my second job (I generally had three to four at any given time to pad out my scholarship) was in the special collections library, and I did a lot of work with the Marguerite Oswald collection. She was convinced that her son had been framed for assassinating Kennedy, and her papers consisted of her fruitless research into that topic, as well as all of the mail she received, both fan mail and hate mail. Many letters of both types were from crazy people. Many of them made their points with different colors of inks, and stickers, and a lot of underlining and circling important phrases.

I was THRILLED to receive my first crazy-person hate mail! I am sure that I still have it somewhere. Perhaps I'll find it the next time I clean...

These next couple of to-do lists make me the happiest, though. The first is from the summer that I had Will. It's clear that I was in serious nesting mode! I mean, washing the windows? I have washed the windows of this current house exactly once. This task listed below, if I ever got around to it, was probably the only time I washed windows in that house:

And this one, with a date of just days before I gave premature birth to Syd, I'm sure did not get completed:

I thought I had another six weeks to bust through that independent study project!

Here's what my to-do lists look like these days: 

All those cookie booths! 

I tend to put all my bits and bobs of notes in my planner these days, whether it's my percentages for making cookie orders, or my plans for sewing Syd's fashion show garment, or lesson plans for future school units or Girl Scout badges, or even, clearly, a bit of old-fashioned math.

I also keep these planners. I don't know if anyone will ever care about them, beyond me--I certainly don't expect to have my papers in a special collections library one day!--but I do like to look through them and reminisce. Looking at my schedule of taking little ones to gymnastics, or Creative Movement, or Montessori Family Night, is a reminder of how fleeting the inconveniences of their childhood are, as fleeting as the pleasures. Seeing something to do with Pappa or Mac written down as casual as you please is a reminder to appreciate my loved ones. Whole weeks blocked off remind me of our great vacations.

Although those to-do lists with things that never got marked through still make me kind of tense to look at...


Tina said...

What a fun find! And Woohoo for finding the wedding album!

I LOVE looking through all my old planners and art journals. It's so good to look back and see that I really am a creative person, especially when I am feeling anything but creative.

julie said...

YES! And on NPR the other day, I heard an interview with a grad student who'd just discovered a lost novel of Walt Whitman's. He said that Walt Whitman had wanted a bunch of his early writing destroyed when he died, because he thought it was so bad.

Walt Whitman.

Was embarrassed of his writing.

Gives me hope, it does!