No. 15 | Seven lists I keep


PEOPLE is a pen-and-paper list in my Lists notebook, a white Leuchtturm1917 A6 I had laying around a few months back when I got tired of copying lists from daybook to daybook.

My PEOPLE list is sort of a grown-up version of covering my bedroom with pictures cut out from magazines. Each list item is simply the name of a person whose life and/or creative output I want to turn my attention to from time to time. Some inspire me, some intrigue (or even frustrate) me, some seem like possible models for my own life or career. The title is deliberate — it’s not Heroes or Role Models or Favorite People, just PEOPLE. 

My list is mostly men and queer women. Mostly designers, writers, artists, or musicians. I don’t plan to ever share list in full, but I can tell you that David Byrne always goes at the top.

2) Cities I’ve Spent at Least One Night In

Listing every city I’ve ever visited would be tedious — I’ve bought gas in Peoria and changed planes in Dallas, but neither feels list-worthy. Bracketing by cities I’ve slept overnight in makes the list more meaningful.

It’s a shorter list than I’d like. I’ll tell you, though, I find “I want to add cities to this list” to be a much more actionable sentiment than “I want to travel more.” 

For a long time, my desire to travel was often at odds with my general preference for stability/routine (not to mention my general anxiety and my general inability to plan more than a few days into the future). This is much less true now than it was in my teens or early 20s. Being involved in web conferences and traveling for work helped me become a much more experienced traveler, which has made it easier to plan travel socially, too.

There are only U.S. cities on this list so far but I do have a passport and it looks like Canada is in my future for 2017! Baby steps, eh?

2022 Update: LOL pandemic. I have not yet been to Canada. Did manage Germany and Portugal, though!

3) Grocery

I have walked into and out of grocery stores without the main item I intended to buy…what, 100 times? 500? A lot of times.

I keep a list called Grocery in the native Reminders app on my iPhone, which syncs across all of my devices. The most typical way I add to this list is by yelling at Siri while I’m in the middle of cooking. Reminders is not my favorite list app I’ve ever used, but the Siri integration is too damn useful. 

The hard part is remembering to actually look at it while I’m in the store. If I’m in the mood or have the time for a bigger shopping trip, I’ll also take a picture of the inside of my main pantry cupboard. This cuts down on the “10 cans of baked beans, no black beans” problem.

Often I’ll put something on my list but not buy it because it’s not at a good price that trip. My ideal grocery list app would have buttons for “bought” or “skip” and skipped items would show up again the next time I open the list (after a reasonable wait, say, 45 minutes). Please build this, internet, or tell me which app to use instead.

4) Weddings I’ve Attended

If you asked me on the street to name the last three weddings I went to I wouldn’t be able to tell you. It’s just not the kind of information I can directly navigate to in my brain. It’s not that I don’t remember the weddings, I just can’t keep a mental list of them. This is true of lots of things for me. It used to stress me out a lot but then I started making the lists, you know? Not so bad now. 

I note the date, names, city, and what if any role I played. So far I’ve got DJ twice, groomsman twice, and usher once. (Oh shit, and groom, I guess. Need to add that one to the list.)

5) Bands I’ve Seen Live

I see a lot of live music and I’m trying to build up a full list of all the shows I’ve seen. A daunting task considering I only started the list this year. Back in high school I just kept a stack of Ticketmaster stubs, but then I started going to lots of cash-at-the-door or digitally-ticketed shows and it’s all a mess. 

This list lives as a Google Sheets document in my personal Google account. Where possible, I note the date, band, event (e.g. name of the tour), venue, company (who I was with), and a 1-5 rating.

While it is fun looking at the list, my main use for it is to identify bands I haven’t seen yet but would really like to.

6) Museums I’ve Visited

This is one of my lists that makes me the happiest, even more than the list of cities. I didn’t expect that when I first created the list. I’ve always sort of gravitated toward museums, especially modern art museums, but simply making the list revealed an immediate desire to expand it. 

7) Voting Record

Hey if the FBI is going to keep one on me I might as well, too. (Am I joking? Not sure.)

When I went to vote in the local primary this year, I realized I couldn’t remember other primaries I’d voted in. I’ve added in as much as I could remember about previous elections and caucuses to this list. I’m batting about 50% so it seems worth capturing the losers I’ve voted for before they fade from memory.

Originally published as List No. 15 of the 7x77 newsletter project.
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