Friday, August 27, 2010

the list

there really ought to be at least ONE list in every blog page's posts. it is such a staple in blog writing that it should probably be a requirement in order to even have a blog page. for instance, let's say that the law of the list would be that every blogger has to start their blog with a list as the first post. it wouldn't be too hard to do--the list could simply be: "reasons why i am starting a blog".

i have not included a list in this blog as of yet. dunno why. i just started writing, i think, without needing to enumerate why i was writing. i think i am pretty clear about why i am writing in the profile page--what use do i or my readers have for a list? and yet here i find myself, writing a post entitled "the list". and yet, even with that, it is as clear to me as it must be to you that i am not writing a list at this moment.

bear with me.

the thing about lists is, as list go, they are pretty boring. a list is nothing unless sprouted from a particular context. without that, a list is just a collection of items, names, places, or tasks. boring. to me, the true function of a list is not to stand alone, offering information without meaning. rather, i see lists as a sort of an index table for ideas--and as we all know, ideas are often quite unstructured. but then a list comes along and *poof*--we get it! thank you, list! therefore, the connection could be made that a list must start with a collection of ideas--about something--and this something is what ties them all together in a list! fun! i will chance the wrath of literary purists here to state that a list of unrelated ideas is not really a list, unless, of course, it is a list of unrelated ideas! double fun!

so what are the ideas behind the list that i have been threatening to start at any time now? well, they are ideas of what i want to find in my eventual new home. i think i waited this long to write this list because i had to make sure that the list of things i want to find is not the simple opposite of the things i want to leave behind. i think i have cleared this hurdle by realizing that some of the things i want to find are in fact things that i have right here in los angeles already--i just hope to find them in my new hometown as well.

now i am well aware that a list, though beneficial in an organizational sense, can also be a hazard to any actualization of the listed ideas, and this is because lists, by their very nature, are limiting; as soon as a list if finished, the writer has declared a finite number of themes, items, or ideas deemed worthy of inclusion, and by association, also declared an even greater number of themes, etc. to not be worthy of inclusion. and yet, we continue to write lists. i wish i knew of a better way, but so far i do not. sometimes, as human animals (i prefer the term to human beings--it reminds me of what we all are), we have a tendency to look up our own asses in order to see outside of ourselves. like i said, please bear with me.

so...with all that, let me now introduce you to the first item on my list--My List of Things I Would Like To Find in my New Home.

1. people who know how to respond in a timely manner to a voicemail, text, email, or evite.
i often wonder if this simple skill is becoming obsolete. i have noticed that, at least here in los angeles, there is a converse relationship to the amount of time that people are online or with their phones, and the amount of time it takes them to respond to a message. perhaps this is a symptom of youth, since it appears to me that the "rules" of communication are changing at a rapid pace.

this leads me to a closely related #2, so i will waste no time in adding this idea to my budding list:
2. people who are willing and able to make a make plans and commit to them more than one hour, or one day ahead of time.
my friend dave is able to do this, and that is just one of the reasons he is my best friend. but too often, with others, i run into the following conversation:
me: "do you want to go to the movies this weekend?"
them: "sure, check with me this weekend."
me: "but i'm checking with you now. do you want to go to the movies or not?"
them: "sure i do, but why don't you txt me first on saturday."
me: "why? do you have other plans already?"
them: "no."
me: "and you want to go to the movies with me?"
them: "sure."
me: "great! then let's do it. wanna meet around 7?"
them: "check with me on saturday".

3. people who know how to spell, and who know the difference between "there", "they're", and "their".
in other words, have a fucking high school diploma, and let it show that you actually paid attention. i know that i don't usually capitalize, but at least i know HOW to capitalize, and when i am doing formal writing, you better know that i damn well capitalize. but spelling is a big one for me, because it is indicative of one's reading ability, and one's reading ability is usually indicative of one's intelligence, willingness to learn, and critical thinking skills.

4. a city where the universities have more power and influence on the culture than the churches.
i am not interested in being surrounded by mystical thinkers who shun carnal pleasures as a way to lessen the fear of death. death is coming for all of us, folks, like it or not, and so you might as well live as fully as possible, and that includes lots of carnal pleasure. i prefer to live in an academic setting, where ideas dominate conversations, rather than fear. plus, it would be fun to teach someday!

5. people know where to applaud in a live theater or concert performance, and where not too.
los angeles audiences love tricks. i have noticed in recent years that in a dance performance, "tricks" are applauded. you might ask why shouldn't they? well, because the reality is that the entire performance is difficult, not just the tricks! would like to enjoy a piece as a whole without worrying about whether the performer is being validated for being able to execute a back-flip. additionally, sophisticated audiences should know when a pause in a musical performance is a pause, or the end of the number. there is a clear difference to anyone who is paying attention.

i recently treated myself to a concert by rufus wainwright, a favorite artist of mine. the show was divided into two sections--the first being the entirety of his amazing new album, "songs for lulu", and the second being a random selection of his other songs. he made the request that during the first half of the show, there be NO applause--that the songs were presented in a "song cycle", and that they should be listened to as if they were one long piece, including his exit from the stage. i honored this request, since it was his idea of how the audience receive the work, but of course, there were a few attention grabbers who just couldn't contain their appreciation and lapsed into shouts and applause. thankfully, they were shushed! but for me, the best way to show my appreciation was by respecting rufus' request.

6. people relate more to each other in the world than to their electronic devices.
i may be wishing on a star with this one, but a guy can dream, can't he?

7. a place where the coffee tastes like coffee and the drinks taste like alcohol.
i am really, truly, just over the trend to flavor everything up so much. do we really need that much sugar? the thing is, when beverages are sweeter, we drink more or them, so there is a good argument for leaving the sugar out! remember, moderate caffeine and alcohol consumption is actually good for you! as much as los angeles pretends to be a grown up city, its beverages are for kids.

8. a city where the prevalent color is not "stucco".

9. access to the best meat and produce available.
this is a given in california, which is one of the reasons i may stay here, in california, that is. having grown up in southern cali, i sometimes take it for granted that i live only miles from the richest produce growing area in the country.

10. a home that is walking distance to most of what i do.
even though i am close to most everything i do now, i do not go out that often due to the distance to bars or clubs that i would like to visit. the idea of riding my bike in chilly weather in weekend night traffic generally deters me from going out at all. i would love to be able to wrap up and walk to my favorite places without concern. in other words, i want to live in a neighborhood.

well there you have it--my list! i stretched it out to ten items, but i could easily reduce it to my top three, or expand it to twenty. at least i have a list. now my blog page is officially on its way. of course, i do not expect to find the "perfect city" where all of my desires are fulfilled, but in order to get what you want, you gotta know what you want...


  1. Good list and not too much to expect, I'd say.
    I would take exception to number 3. having been a teacher for some 25 + years and having worked with kids who were LD (Learning Disabled), reading ability, willingness to learn and critical thinking skills are not always indicative of kids' intelligence. Most people would be surprised how many adults and children have some kind of LD....most have been undiagnosed. It is very frustrating to witness from the 'outside' but so much more if you have it.....especially in our educational settings where 'academic' performance is everything.
    Stop. You got me goin'!

  2. to jim: actually, i think my list is a hell of a lot to expect! but point taken on #3, however, as a counterpoint, i am coming from a los angeles perspective. as a therapist, i can tell the difference between a learning disability and someone who didn't pay attention in school; the latter being an epidemic of our broken public school system, irrelevant curriculum, and blurry teacher/student behavioral boundaries. as a therapist i can work within the system to help, but as a layperson, i don't want to be surrounded by it in my daily activities. that is my preference, and a lot to expect! thanks for the thoughtful comment, jim--glad i got you going!