The To-Do List

Let's go back to my graduation ceremony, to a student speaker, a young woman selected because of her ribosomal involvement in activities, clubs, and committees. The subject of her speech was the to-do list. She emphasized the astounding fact that the things she wrote on the list generally got done. A sliver of me wanted to follow her: wanted to believe in manifestation, magic, achievement, experience but she kept flatting me into a sheet of paper, angling me into satisfied checkmarks. Her speech extended into a vast parched desert, the repetitive to-do to-do to-do of the list pounding my brain like a relentless hammer. If it is even possible to make the subject of a to-do list compelling she failed to bring us past the skeleton of paper, agenda, check. My to-do lists are explosive— eruptions that fling themselves across pieces of paper, that sharpie themselves across my hands, arms, and legs, that randomly insert themselves within the body of my theory papers. They have to be edited out, shoveled up, scrubbed off in the shower, discovered amongst the archeological layers of litter that build up in the corners of my bedroom and studio. I sometimes rediscover them on the REC center's exercise mats when unbeknownst to myself the mark must have rubbed off onto the matt during a previous workout. I have caught myself in moments of amnesia writing a second identical list within 20 minutes of its original. I often never look at them once they are written. Their goals constantly hang in suspense— never crossed out, never checked. In fact, they are not lists at all but roll calls, a survey to myself demanding if I'm aware of what I'm juggling paired with a doubt in my ability to juggle. Occasionally, I find ones that tell me something in terms of movement. The one from my first day at graduate school reads: find bank, ask about payments at the Administration building, where is the Administration building, find a job, find out where to find a job, ask construction worker for soil, etc. Where the one on my last day reads: close credit union account, close P.O. box, submit thesis to online portal, transfer money to credit card for budget truck fees, apply to jobs, what jobs, leave goodbye gift for Mike (employer), turn in keys, etc. Other bullet points document a different side of myself: stop talking Laura, listen better Laura, be a better person Laura, don't be an idiot Laura, work harder Laura, just f***ing do it Laura, are phrases that surface and resurface within a never-ending list of morphing to-dos that both do and don't get done.

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