Girl of 100 Lists

il_570xN.369364163_qrgdWhen I started writing this blog (over 7 years ago!) I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn’t know that complete strangers would be interested in what I have to say, nor did I have any idea that I would one day develop a small but fierce following. I also had no idea how popular my “lists” would be. I thought I was alone in this, but it seems everybody likes to read a good list.

Lists are more than just a cool way of putting information together. Umberto Eco once said, “The list is the origin of culture”. I agree. I find making lists cathartic and useful in gauging the pulse of the average human. Lists are very much a part of today’s cultural currency, and a way for people like me to participate in the world around me. Lists are the great equalizer – they put us all on the same page. We all have favorites, likes and dislikes, and we all understand what “best” and “worst” means.

Susan Sontag said, “I perceive value, I confer value, I create value, I even create — or guarantee — existence. Hence, my compulsion to make “lists.” The things (Beethoven’s music, movies, business firms) won’t exist unless I signify my interest in them by at least noting down their names. Nothing exists unless I maintain it (by my interest, or mypotential interest). This is an ultimate, mostly subliminal anxiety. Hence, I must remain always, both in principle + actively, interested in everything. Taking all of knowledge as my province.”

I know. It’s pretty deep shit. But, Sontag is pretty deep. I think what she is getting at here is that by putting things into lists, by putting them down on paper, we are in fact acknowledging their importance or even their mere existence in the world.

Roland Barthes

Roland Barthes

In 1977 she wrote down a stream-of-consciousness type list of her LIKES and DISLIKES probably inspired by Roland Barthes famous lists of likes and dislikes. They are both great fun to read and they both give you a glimpse into the minds of these two great thinkers. (She likes: babies, boots and Bach, and dislikes couples, cats and cigars. He likes salad, cinnamon and cheese. Dislikes women in slacks, geraniums, strawberries.) Of course there are more, but you can look it up for yourself. The fact is, lists matter and they are important.

In honor of two of my heroes, here are some of my likes and dislikes.

Things I like: Cold weather, cats & kittens, beans, strawberries, cold water, maps, exercise, peaches, pears, cherries, swimming, mythology, apple pie, Prague, empanadas, Indian food, Mexican food, London, almonds, Star Wars, Prince, Mozart, Jazz, Stephen King, Hawaii, mis-matched chairs, weed, painting, coarse salt, making lists, movies, Vivaldi, New York, jazz flute, yoga, Cher.

Things I dislike: Football games, matching furniture, extreme heat, humidity, brocoli, being photographed, driving, talking on the telephone, rudeness, passive aggressive behavior, “Sunday School”, excuses, Sushi, Czech post offices, Anne Rice, tepid water, abbreviations, socks and sandals, Vice Magazine, flies, mushrooms, men wearing overalls, animals in clothing, women who don’t wear bras, artificial sweeteners, TiVo.

Things I like: Pizza, Margaret Atwood, baking, books, reading, the beach, mountains, solitude, laughing, pillows, sleeping, humus, travel, trains, cooking, cumin, singing, cabins, babies, taking photographs, Czech beer gardens, playing games, rivers, Gala apples, cinnamon, sweaters, caves, bats, Zadie Smith, school, dreams, down comforters, ice tea, Alan Alda.

Things I dislike: Paying bills, packing, large vehicles, vehicles with televisions inside, alcoholics, long painted finger nails, bad hygiene, “busy-bodies”, Vin Diesel movies, boxed wine, cigars, hypocrites, mosquitos, brussels sprouts, ants, wicker furniture, mirrors, televisions, excess, people who say “supposably”, Coldplay, really large groups of people, women who wear ostentatious hats.

Things I like: Colored pencils, playing ukulele, robots, dinosaurs, sparkling water, Hitchcock, blues, fine pens, salad, cheese, the smell of fresh coffee grounds, hot tea, sugar cubes, the piano, camping, amusement parks, luchadores, ice cream, water slides, San Francisco (The Bay Area), getting my hair cut, museums, lounging, magazines, coffee, Pollock, Tom Waits, trams, old movie theaters, jeans, shoes, swings, parks, cake, bookstores, Jim Henson.

49 thoughts on “Girl of 100 Lists

  1. I think also in making lists we bring dissimilar things together and, like Sontag says, apprehend those dissimilar things to ourselves in an attempt to reconcile our own oddities and variances. I like it!

  2. Awesome thought processes, however listing likes and dislikes seems to perpetuated negative associations. By examining this energy we create its permanence. Also in this creating a more permanent sense of self.

  3. the first three words in your like list “cold weather, cats and kittens” just stole my heart! i love them too.
    great read. i’m not big on lists, but thinking to make some now 😀

  4. Great blog, here’s my list
    People who make lists about likes and dislikes
    People who like Pollock & Tom Waits
    People who write good blogs
    People inspired by Susan Sontag
    Cheers Sue.

  5. the best thing about writing lists is going back through them after a while (a month, a year, or more) and see how they evolved… sometimes the result is pretty surprising!
    I just discovered your blog attracted by the title of your post while browsing around… I love how you put a list of your favourite things on the menu 🙂

  6. We would never get along. I am a photographer, if you don’t like getting photographed, thats your thing, but it would not work. I don’t like cold weather, and am accustomed to a hot humid climate. I love sushi, but it’s a free world.

  7. I love lists too!
    -Lists are a simple way to convey information
    -Lists are quick to scan through if time is short
    -My lists typically help me remember things

    I mostly make to-do lists, but sometimes I make lists of why someone enchants me, how the conversation went that day, weighing out the pros and cons of important decisions, to get my point across.

    Great post!

  8. I loveee lists and have made them ever since I was a 6-year old girl playing with my Beanie Babies, lol! And I completely identify with your dislike of “matching furniture,” which is something I never thought I disliked until I visited a family member’s home recently and saw how everything was brand-new, bought from the same store at the exact same time. Bo-ring! 😛

  9. I love lists, I just started a new job so my To-do list is quite short at the moment. so I’m making lists around the house, clothes I need to buy to impress at the new job, where I want to visit now I’m on a little bit more money… Love this blog, keep up the good work! 🙂

  10. I liked the concept. I personally do not like making lists. But loving history I see lists all the time. For example every twenty years or so the United States gets involved with a conflict. Then there is the list of presidents who were affected by the twenty year curse and finally a list of actors who portrayed presidents tops the lists I refuse to write down.

  11. lists are comforting and you would agree to it. your post is lovely as is the smell of freshly ground coffee, or the smell of the land before the rain or Cher or coloured pencils.
    congratulations on being freshly pressed. good going.

  12. Totally agree on the lists. Have a habit of making to do lists and adding a few things I’ve already done…just so I can cross them off. Normal is over rated anyway 😉

  13. It takes a lot of guts for anyone to share such an information to the public but the good news is, your potential suitors will not have a hard time figuring out what you want.

  14. I LOVE lists! Lists really help me put my thoughts on paper when I’m not even sure what my thoughts are; they also help me get organized; and I think peoples’ lists can tell you a lot about them.

  15. Pingback: Lists as monuments of me | when i can't sleep

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