List #15 – Paul Lisicky: To Do
LISTS: LITERARY & LAUNDRY
–Finish storm cleanup. Wipe slop from porch, shovel up mush of leaves. Wash windows a third time. Sweep walk. Pick up torn shingles, torn papers, loose plastic. Hose off white table to make it white again.
–Stop thinking about the fact that you now live in a part of the country where there can be a combination hurricane-Nor’easter one week and a freak snowstorm the next.
–Patronize businesses in town. They need it now.
–Finish rereading Jane Bowles’ Two Serious Ladies for Book Fight podcast next Wednesday. Read Joy Williams’ intro of novel. Then read it once more. Joy Williams!
–Talk to your landlord about what to do with recyclables you’ve been heaping in the basement since August.
–One less glass of wine today.
–Make playlist for Largehearted Boy.
–Schedule that forearm tattoo you’ve been thinking about since July. An anchor is an anchor is an anchor.
–Write to editor and explain why you haven’t sent her the new manuscript, even though you finished the manuscript two months ago. Be clever and fun about it.
–Send out more copies of Unbuilt Projects.
–Read Diane Williams story for Monday three times. Read three student stories by tonight. Stop trying to write an epic about each one. Be concise. Duration is not depth! Multiple feedback pages do not translate to care and concern.
–Reread Forrest Gander for Tuesday.
–Decide what the hell you’re teaching in that potentially huge undergrad class this spring. Ask Famous Poet for his syllabus. Why haven’t you sent him that email yet? Examine.
–Think about what you’d like to plant out front come spring.
–Start the search for a new apartment come spring. Ocean Grove? Bradley Beach? Get in touch with (very hot) realtor you once had (very hot) sex with. Talk to others at the coffee place for apartment suggestions. Stop isolating yourself.
–Put a limit on the time you spend on Twitter. Write blog entry. Find a way to reinvent your blog.
–Start running again. What’s it been—two months?
–Go through files and revise abandoned stories. All right, one story.
–The boxes your ex dropped off in September—put them in storage unit. Why have you been avoiding your storage unit? Why should a storage unit make you tired? Is tired the same thing as sad? Oh, God.
–Text buddy to let him know you’re still thinking of him.
–Text ex about having dog (Ned) stay some days in December.
–Go to police department and ask about getting fingerprinted for the new low-residency job. Try not to stutter and blush when you tell them it’s for a background check. Why do you feel like a criminal?
–Course preference forms! Due last week.
–Write course description for summer workshop you probably shouldn’t have said yes to. (Three summer residencies-workshops! What were you thinking?)
–Reduce towers of folded clothes on closet shelf. Put summer clothes in boxes—summer ended. Leave two pairs of shorts out for trip to Miami Book Fair next week. Reserve rental car. See how you’re going to get to Newark Liberty with no train service on Thursday.
–Try to write a to do list in a bright-enough voice when the very idea of a to do list swamps you with dread.
Paul Lisicky is the author of Lawnboy, Famous Builder, The Burning House, and Unbuilt Projects. He is the New Voices Professor at Rutgers University and he teaches in the low residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College. A memoir, The Narrow Door, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2014.