Successful people know how to do this. They keep lists. Whether or not they actually get to them doesn’t much matter; they’re still successful. The simple act of adding items to a list relieves stress. The burden of remembering all there is to do is diminished the moment the item is accounted for. One less thing to worry about. And yet…
The lists become meaningless. I’m obsessed right now with getting things done. It’s a January thing. I have a scrapbook room of clutter that needs to be organized. Christmas ornaments have been tucked away, wrapping papers stowed. A batch of sweet pecan squares baked and handed off. Check. All this, with the hope of getting to more to-dos.
What I want to do:
Watch more movies of substance–movies that people call films. Films that make me feel. That’s what I want to do this year. I want to wake up when other people go to work, pull out my notebook, and press play. I want to study film appreciation in my jammies.
Baking. I’ve never been much of a baker, and when you’re hoping to lose a good twenty pounds isn’t the time to start, and yet… I can’t help but want to bake love into the lives of the people around me. This worries me. Because really, what I want to do is to be ready. I have a very real need right now to nest. I want to make trays of lasagna, not a bite eaten, just made fresh, then filed away. Yesterday, I made four batches of cauliflower puree, to defrost during the week, and sneak into pasta sauce, into mac ‘n’ cheese, into deviled eggs.
I’ve just reorganized all my cookbooks and am eager to start trying new recipes, having more people over, playing more board games, trying more grapes.
I want to spend the week doing nothing but cleaning and organizing. Every closet, every drawer. Ridding myself of oils we don’t use, dressings untouched, jars of pickles, and abandoned jams. Why do I want so much to have everything in its place? Already, I’m thinking of summer–how nice it would be to take a gardening tool bag and fill it with a summer set of flatware, beehive glasses, coordinating plates and napkins, all tucked away at the ready.
I wonder if my need to have everything in its place, all planned and at the to-do, is my way of crossing things off, so I can get to what really needs to get done. It’s my way of liberating. Of throat clearing. It’s how I get to what matters. Having a stocked pantry, with white chips separate from the mini ones, from the 70% cocoa ones, from the mint ones. Yellow cake mix, just in case. Real lemon extract. A spice drawer, each spice labeled, and each spice there. Even mace.
I realize, of course, that if I ever needed something, I could, in fact, go out and get it. But there’s a comfort in knowing everything I need for anything I may want at any time is there, at the ready. It’s the feeling that nothing will get in my way. That if I want to make buttermilk pancakes for my family on a Sunday morning, I can. Even if it means adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to milk, as a substitute for the buttermilk. There’s just something very calming about knowing that something’s there. And yet, I’m not a hoarder, not even a little.
I was thinking today, as I was putting pots and pans away, that someone asked me recently what I would do if I was single in New York. What would I do with my time? And just for a moment I thought, “I’d take the time to polish my all-clad. I’d practice recipes to the point where I’d no longer need them, and I’d bring the bartender at my local watering hole a goodie bag. Often.” I’d rid myself of excess and keep only the things that comforted me: truffle oil, thick white wrapping paper, good personalized stationery, vanilla bean paste, my cookbooks (every last one), micro cotton bath towels, lemon verbena soaps in my drawers, good bed sheets, a well-stocked pantry with high-quality spices, big latte bowls, and an excellent espresso machine. In the meanwhile, all that’s on my to-do list tomorrow is to get my ass on the elliptical machine.
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