To do

I’m back. I haven’t spent more than four consecutive nights in the same bed since July 21, a feat of bed-hopping I don’t think I have matched since, perhaps, fourth-year university  (joking!) the summer I travelled around Europe in 1993 with my friend Julie.

(Coincidently, in this recent spate of bed-hopping, I spent two nights on Julie’s pull-out couch in the lovely borough of Queens, New York, where I slept quite well. Julie, however, did not, poor thing: her 15-month-old daughter, it seems, has some very strong ideas about exactly when and where she will and won’t sleep, and it seems that the hours between 2 and 4 AM are currently designated Not Sleeping Time.)

But. Now. I am home, from journeys that took me from Thunder Bay to Toronto and back again, to Bushwick, Brooklyn, and then Queens and then South Orange, New Jersey, and then the Manhattan Hilton and BlogHer ‘12 and then back to South Orange, and then Toronto (and another not-sleeping toddler), and then Thunder Bay to wash my clothes and pick up my family and then to a tent in the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and home, and then to Duluth, Minnesota, and then to the Wisconsin Dells (oh Lord, the Wisconsin Dells — where Vegas meets water. And a vengeful God. And Republicans. And bumper stickers that say things like “I don’t believe the liberal media.”) and then Minneapolis and then Duluth again and then home, where I intend to stay put for a good long time if I have any say in the matter.

Because, frankly, I have things to do.

Chief of which is to make a to-do list.

I am a list maker. I like lists. I need lists. I feel unmoored without one, purposeless. I need to know that there’s a place where I can record every single task, books to read, movies to watch, blog posts and pitches to write, client jobs, phone calls to make, things to renovate. I scribble things down on scrap paper, cross them off, add new pieces of paper, consolidate the items onto fresh sheets, clip the lot together on the clipboard I’ve had since I was 13. This last spate of travel ended Saturday night with me furiously scribbling items onto four different sheets of paper, collating things I had typed into my phone, going through old to-do lists, X-ing out outdated or done items, running through the house with a toothbrush in my mouth to add just one more thing. And then one more.

(Do I count as the liberal media? Just wondering.)

The idea is that I will eventually dictate the entire list into a Word document and print it out, and there it will be: a blueprint of my life, the plan, perfect, just like in Getting Things Done. In reality, it rarely if ever works that way, and I end up with my various scraps of paper, written with different pens, half outdated, never completed. And while I continue to hold on to the fantasy of the finished to-do list, the ordered life, I may also be starting to let go of it, the idea that I can capture it all in one place, that for even one brief shining moment I will know what it is I have to do with this one perfect life, line item by line item until I am done.

(How do you to do?)