Thursday, June 3, 2010

Operation Organization, Take 8. List-Mania

When I was 18, my best friend and I decided it was time for a road trip.  Mind you, we are two small town girls, so the farthest reaches of our imagination simply took us around our home state, so it’s not like we’re talking cross-country or anything here.  Actually, I think we would have MOST wanted to go to California, but neither of us could afford it and my parents would have eaten their hats before letting us go that far in a car on our own.  (I don’t think I would even have asked, can you imagine that conversation?  “Hey, Mom, Dad, uh, El and I think it would be a good idea to pack up our small town perspectives, replete with all our naivety and innocence, in the back seat of El’s parent’s van - if we can squeeze it in there between the 25 pairs of shoes EACH that we will obviously need - and head out to California on the first ever SOLO car trip I have ever taken.  Cool, huh?” Reply the parents, “Oh, honey, what a fabulous idea!  It’s not only logical, it simply MUST be done.  Why didn’t we think of it ourselves?”)
So, we decided that we’d take a trip around the home state, take in the must-sees, sing too loudly to the radio, take way to many photo-ops, and wear a different pair of shoes at every stop.  The trip would include camping (yes, that’s right, with a tent and everything), swimming in one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world, and lots of hilarity.  But before this could all happen, my mother (practical and loving as she is) demanded a list of places we were planning on visiting each day we were gone.  (And I would, of course, have to call her every day from wherever we were staying that night, but that’s beside the point.)  I went a little overboard.  Even at 18, my tendencies toward list-mania were quite developed.
Here’s the “itinerary” I made for my mom. 

I also made copies for myself, my dad, El and her parents.  (As you can see, it is color-coded by day.  The colors corresponded to maps, written directions, hours of operations, phone numbers and brochures and tidbits about each site we were planning to visit.  I stapled these to the itinerary before I handed out copies.  I’m more than a little obsessive.)  (I also find it pretty hilarious that I had to “plan” when we would eat.  As if we would need reminding - “Oh, by the way, eat lunch now!  No, not then.  Now!!”)  This itinerary took hours of planning - looking things up on the internet, planning out the best (i.e. fastest) routes to drive, making sure that we didn’t need to backtrack to hit certain sites, figuring out the hours of operation of the sites so we would make it to them all...  I won’t bore you with stories of ancient history - how it poured buckets on us our first night and a herd of wild animals (possibly bears, but more likely raccoons) broke into our campsite and acted like complete hooligans and we had to break camp in a torrential downpour with water up to our knees, how we forgot a hammer and had to use a rock to hammer the tent stakes down, how we had to set our tent up in our hotel so it would dry, how we got lost and ended up in Middleton, how we miscalculated distances and time and drove through blinding fog to find a place to stay in the middle of the night, how we got lost AGAIN, and ended up in Middleton (AGAIN), how our flashlight died and we had to use our car lights to shine on our campsite so we could use the hot plate to make dinner, only to then discover that our car batteries had died when we tried to drive into town, so we had to hike down to the “general store” to beg for help and get made fun of by the guy who worked there who wanted to know why we had used our car lights instead of just lighting a fire to which I responded that if we had been able to light the fire we wouldn’t have needed either the flashlight OR the hotplate.  Yeah.  I won’t bore you with all of that.  I WILL show you this picture though, because at one point in the trip, I found out I was a "Dud" according to the "Throne of Passion":
(I'm still smiling, though.  I'm either trying to hide the pain, or I just don't care.  Hm.)
I was proud of that itinerary and I stuck to it hard.  So hard, that on day two, when it called for swimming in an extra large freshwater lake, we did just that - even though it looked like this:
(Exceptionally stormy day)
I still have a habit of over-planning.  I make lists.  I make lists for my lists.  (I’m really not kidding.  I do.)  When we lived in Utah, I had a job I loved with a company I loved.  And it was by far the busiest job I have ever had in my life.  I was NEVER bored.  I had to-do lists on my computer, post-it lists on my desk and lists of assignments in notebooks.  I never go to the grocery store without a list.  (Well, I do when I accidentally spill orange juice on myself and have to change my pants right before I leave and forget to transfer the list from pocket to pocket, but that can't be helped.)  I list books I want to read.  I list movies I want to see.  I LOVE Google Reader.  Why?  It's a highly organized LIST of blogs I like to read.  I can’t stop making lists.
I’m also infamously notorious for overpacking.  I plan so much, I feel the need to plan for the unexpected - which means extra clothing, clothing for any weather, things stashed in multiple locations in case one bag gets lost, extra books in case certain books get boring, extra food (because what if all the restaurants close down at the same time and the power goes out so you can’t get into a vending machine and bug is crying that he’s starving?), and extra toiletries in various locations, (because if I’m leaving, I’m leaving with my venus and all that goes with it), along with all of the normal things like underwear, diapers, clothes, glasses, toys and toilet paper.  What?  You don’t pack toilet paper to fly four states away?  Well, that’s weird.
It is the beginning of June.  In two short weeks, we will make the “trek” to visit family in Utah, which means it is time to start planning.  First, I will systematically determine our must-haves by person and day.  Then I will determine our would like to haves by person and day.  Then I will make a list of all the bags we will need to pack - luggage, carry-ons, diaper bag, purse - and after that I will list BY BAG details as to what goes into each.  I will then create a sound plan for how we will survive the airport - what to do when, who will go where, who is in charge of who, when we all need to eat, what items need to be taken out of what bag during the security check, etc.  Do I sound a little OCD to you?  I swear, I’m not.  mr gets really tense while traveling.  And when I say a little tense, I mean he gets crazy.  He acts funny.  He says weird things.  He clams up.  He has a hard time swallowing.  It’s pretty much a sickness.  I do not.  (Oh sure, I have the whole “if people were meant to fly in the air they’d have been born with wings” and “huge metal objects weighing tons should not be in the air” thing going on at various moments, but for the most part, I’m at ease).  And why?  I’ve made my lists.  I’ve planned the unplannable.  I’m confident in my ability to itemize, catalogue and record everything imaginable that we may need, not need, definitely need and someday need.  I can relax.  
Of course, inevitably, I will leave something behind.  How is that possible?  You ask.  Well, the main problem is that I’m forgetful.  Slightly absentminded.  In an endearing way.  So all the lists in the world won’t help if you A) forget to list something altogether or B) forget to check things off the list as you go so you think you have everything, but just can’t be sure.  Once I forgot mr’s belt.  Another time I forgot his socks.  I’ve also forgotten my camera and my passport. 
But I continue to be a list-maker, nonetheless.  So far, I’ve made the “essentials” list and the “bags” list.  I know, it’s a bit out of order, but I figured I should know what bags we were bringing so I could decide what “non-essentials” might become “essentials.”  See, I have a plan.
Such was my organizational feat for the day.  It will continue over the next two weeks -  as I finish listing, make new lists, clean stuff to take, pack, clean stuff not to take so it will be clean when we return, mark things off of lists - and it will end the morning we leave as we finally sit down in our seats on the airplane and I can breathe easy - knowing bug has his sticker books, snacks and extra undies under the seat ahead of me and mini has her sucky in hand and diapers above.  And me?  All I need is a pillow.  mr can fend for himself at that point.


Unknown said...

This one had me rolling on the floor and crying (with laughter). We should really do that again sometime!

Unknown said...

I couldn't resist a trip down memory lane. I hauled out ALL of the photos from that trip and wanted to post every single one. But I refrained. AND YES. We need to do it again. We are old and wise now. Oh, the possibilities are endless!!!

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