Every year at this time, I get a little listful. Not listless. Not wistful. LISTFUL. It means that I am full of lists. Overflowing with lists. Lists are bursting forth in every medium—paper, emails, sticky-notes, brain, phone, and now, inevitably, on my blog. I cannot contain them. I list the things I did last year and the things I didn’t. I list the books I read last year and the ones I didn’t. I make to-do lists and to-NOT-do lists (just as important). I make lists of resolutions and then revise them. I make lists of things to buy and then take pictures of them. I list what I need from the grocery store, who to thank for Christmas gifts, and how many pairs of socks I own with animals on them. (Just because.)
With all these lists pouring out of me, it’s only natural that I want to share some of them with you. Here goes…
Got any lists you’d like to share?
I had plans.
I was going to conquer the world
and the laundry.
I was going to write the great American novel
and bake the great American pie.
I was going to rid my home of every piece of clutter,
every unnecessary item of clothing,
every duplicate ladle (because really,
how many ladles does a person need?).
I was going to learn to sew
and learn to sing
and learn twenty new ways to cure the hiccups.
I was going to wash the windows and the dog
and find out, once and for all, what that one weird
vacuum attachment is really for
(because I’ve only ever used it to reach
behind the fridge for the magnet that fell off).
I was going to clean behind the fridge.
I was going to clean under the fridge.
I was going to buy a new fridge
and new fridge magnets
and rearrange them daily
to see if my husband noticed.
I was finally going to exercise.
And organize my computer files.
I sit here
with my eyes
and my face
toward the sun
the last time
© Carie Juettner 2017
Three years ago, I sat in a coffee shop with a brand new journal, some colored pens, a stack of magazines, a pair of scissors, and a glue stick. I’d just decided to end my teaching career and become a writer. Faced with the opportunity in front of me, I felt both excited and overwhelmed in equal measure. After all, I didn’t exactly know what being a writer looked like. So I did what I always do when I need to figure things out. I sat down with a blank page and an open mind.
This is what I produced:
This found poem is still one of my favorite things. I re-read it a couple of times a year, and it never fails to inspire me anew. The journal it’s in is no longer blank. I stayed in that coffee shop for hours, filling it with ideas, story beginnings, homeless lines of poetry, and the very first to do lists for my new life as a writer. With every word I wrote down, I felt more confident, more sure of my decision. By the time I came home, I still didn’t know exactly what it meant to be a writer, but I was ready to find out.
There’s some good stuff in that journal. Once in a while I open it up and find an idea that’s ripened into something juicy. Some of the vagrant lines of poetry have found homes; others still wait patiently. But my favorite thing about it is the way it serves as a concrete reminder of where I started and how much I’ve learned. Three years ago, my to do list included items like “Research steps to publishing a novel” (as if it were that simple) and “Find a third publication to submit poetry” (because back then I had only two credits to my name and no idea just how many opportunities there are for submitting work).
When I look at this journal, and the found poem that started it all, I can’t help but wonder what the next three years will teach me. I guess there’s only one way to find out.
She dusts off her to do list and…