8 Stories About Lists

  1. I started keeping lists when I was six. I wrote them on scraps of paper and stuffed them into an empty Blue Diamond almond can.
  2. I kept lists from then on. Most of the time, I would make a list and never look at it again.
  3. In high school, when graffiti was a part of my identity, I devoted myself to a spin-off: incredibly precise handwriting that mimicked the flair and soft corners of tags while remaining entirely legible.
  4. The lists remained a favored ritual, a physical act and calming process that didn't have much to do with recording information and everything to do with the pleasure of execution, until 1986, when I formed my second band, the first I was really proud of.
  5. I started filling notebooks with lists of song titles, lyrics, ideas for arrangements, and homegrown notation that used lines and circles and dots.
  6. When my third band, Ui, started recording and touring, lists became central to my life. We played instrumental music, which led to a mathematical trade-off. No words to memorize, but we needed to remember more data: pedal settings that fluxed, tunings that would change from song to song.
  7. After the band broke up, my lists migrated to Evernote and Google Docs. Now I record ideas for articles and names of products and names of people I want to work with. I revisit these lists often. The romantic notion is that handwriting is magic but, for me, my hands only summoned the magic of doing. The digital lists are much more useful.
  8. I still make a list every day, to remind me of immovable tasks. I use bright green paper I swiped from one of my boys. I write everything in a chisel-tipped Sharpie marker. My flair has faded.