The Listmaker

The Listmaker

The Listmaker feels the pull of the list urging him to take a look. Unwilling to reveal his list to the stranger, he ignores the pull. Picking up on some new discomfort within the Listmaker, “Something wrong?” Cinoa asks. “Oh, no, I’m fine,” the Listmaker lies. “So, say, where did you used to live before?” Cinoa cordially prods for the sake of consistency. The Listmaker no longer enjoys the small talk with the stranger and attempts to shrug off the stranger’s cordiality, “Oh, you know, here and there.” “I see,” Cinoa responds as he takes a sip of his coffee while maintaining fixed eyes on the Listmaker. Unwilling to look rude in front of the stranger, the Listmaker feigns a trip to the pantry in order to get a feel for his wristwatch, “Would you like something to eat?” Cinoa keeps sharp tabs on the Listmaker, “No, I’m fine.” “Sure? I’m famished,” the Listmaker pretends and continues to the pantry whereupon opening, he steals a quick feel of his wristwatch. Of the analog variety, the watch lacks a glass covering so that the Listmaker may feel the hands of the face without looking at the thing, thereby allowing the Listmaker the option to know the time, when necessary, without having to remove his eyes from his list. The attentive person, however, can witness this action and deduce that the Listmaker wishes to know the time, which ultimately, in the Listmaker’s mind, makes him seem impatient, rude, otherwise engaged. Thus, with both arms in the pantry now, the Listmaker gets a good feel of his wristwatch while his head remains visible, beyond the pantry door, as he looks to the stranger and offers, “I have crackers or cookies, if you’d like.” Almost vertical, relatively speaking, while the other peers down and a little to the left, the long and short hands of the watch, respectively, reveal that the time is very near 1900.

Knowing that the clock in his study will soon chime out, giving him an excuse to check on something, the Listmaker returns to the eating counter where the stranger sits, “Do you enjoy being a stranger to so many people?” “What do you mean?” Cinoa asks, entertained, chuckling. “Your line of work seems to force you into the lives of strangers,” the Listmaker extrapolates. “Oh yea, I see what you mean,” Cinoa admits; “It’s not so bad. I actually like getting to know new people.” “What is it that you do exactly?” the Listmaker asks. Cinoa glances away from the Listmaker as he responds, “Oh, yea, so I make sure that people know that they are entitled to a new roof whenever something happens to a roof that damages it. The tricky part is that most people have to file a claim with their insurance within a certain amount of time after the damage happens or else they lose out.” Familiar with this particular set of circumstances, the Listmaker nods, “Sure, I see. People can be really stupid.” Cinoa begins to look uncomfortable. The Listmaker watches the stranger fidget within himself a bit until Cinoa eventually breaks and reaches for the sheets of paper within the back pocket of his jeans. Looking even more concerned, Cinoa strokes his hair with his right hand. “Everything alright?” the Listmaker inquires. “Oh yea, I’m …” Cinoa begins to respond when the clock in the study chimes out. “Sorry, excuse me for one minute,” the Listmaker apologizes as he walks by the still-standing stranger through the living room, into his study adjacent to the living room.

The Listmaker furiously scrolls through the receipt roll to find what’s listed there within the day’s list, accounting for 1900 on through to at least 1930.

1900 – 1901 Don’t let the stranger see the list

1901 – 1906 Evade the stranger

1906 – ____ Run

Heart pounding now, the Listmaker feels trapped, and just as he turns over his shoulder to shout out another lie to the stranger about how he needs to check on something outside, Cinoa grabs the Listmaker’s shoulder. “Say,” Cinoa impedes; “Are you alright? You look tense. I was having a nice time, but you look awful. Why don’t we just sit back down and relax?” “Were we sitting? Oh sure. No it’s nothing,” the Listmaker almost shouts aloud in an attempt to seem calm, and then he continues, “But actually, you know, it’s getting late, and really, I should get back to my work.” With a hand still on the Listmaker’s shoulder, Cinoa feigns complicity, “Yes, yes, right. I’ve overstayed my welcome, haven’t I?” Feeling bullied, the Listmaker remains calm, revealing as little emotion as possible. Stepping away from the Listmaker a bit, giving him some space, the Listmaker takes a slow, steady breath. “Say, what is it that you do? I’m sorry I never asked before. That seems so rude now,” Cinoa jovially states, ignoring the tension. “Oh, you know, a little bit of this and a little bit of that,” the Listmaker evades. Cinoa, feeling frustrated and understands the evasive tactics of the Listmaker, changes his tone, “Now look here, kid. I can see through these little games you play.” Kid? the Listmaker thinks to himself, and then aloud asks, “Who you calling a kid?” Lost in the confusion of being called a kid, the Listmaker forgets to evade the stranger, or did I? But it was more of an emotional evasion as opposed to the physical that now seems more relevant, although the distinction was not detailed on his list. Stern and angry, Cinoa becomes impatient and quickly lurches and grabs the Listmaker by the throat, “Give me your list!”

The tiniest of tiny little buzzes buzz by. 

Gasping for air with only toes left on the ground, the Listmaker wriggles and grabs at the stranger’s hands that wring his neck. Unable to speak, the Listmaker has no choice but to focus on staying alive, somehow. Cinoa, however, outsizes the Listmaker in height and weight. With no hope in sight, the Listmaker does his best to make a gesture of some sort that he desperately hopes the stranger reads as a concession. “What?” Cinoa mocks; “What? I can’t hear you.” the Listmaker blinks hard, moves his mouth as if trying to speak. “Say, are you trying to tell me something?” Cinoa continues on in his mockery. Batting at the stranger’s hand now, the Listmaker attempts to nod. “Oh, very well,” Cinoa feigns as he drops the Listmaker from the grip. Something moves beyond one of the windows that catches Cinoa’s eye.

“Careful!” Ladybug whisper-shouts upon its return to the Lingerer waiting outside.

Coughing and writhing on the ground, the Listmaker feels lost, but then suddenly remembers his list. Knowingly, the Listmaker rolls over so that his body hides his list from the stranger. He clutches his side as if in agony and wraps a hand over the list in an attempt to either fling the thing or conceal it in a pocket. “Say, you were trying to tell me something, kid!” Cinoa yells through the Listmaker’s wheezing and violent coughs. Fuzzy, dry, the Listmaker chokes out a raspy, “Khi ont no-owe hat khour kalking ah-bhowe-hut.” Frustrated, Cinoa begins to pace the floor back and forth in front of the incapacitated Listmaker. At this moment, the Listmaker feels a bit of strength return and decides that the time has come, according to his list, for him to run. Nimbleness is essential, and so, the Listmaker gathers himself in his mind and in one dynamic action, he clambers to his feet in an attempt to take off for the front door. Unknown to the Listmaker a small unrolled portion of his list sticks out from beyond his grip of the receipt roll. Cinoa catches the smallest glimpse of what must be part of the Listmaker’s list. And so, being bigger and faster, the stranger lurches forward and reaches for the slip of paper sticking out from the Listmaker’s hand. As the Listmaker plants a strong foot on the ground, ready to take off into a full sprint, the stranger grabs the slip of paper, forcing the top edge of it to tear from the rest of itself.

The Listmaker, aware of the lost portion of list, immediately wonders at what time does his now-torn day’s to-do list end; how much time does he have left? With that thought, the Listmaker’s world grows cold and damp, and with the remainder of his consciousness, the reality of the situation weighs heavy upon him, since, having been distracted earlier in the day, the Listmaker knows that he will not wake, as per the usual, already written, command of the next day’s list remains unwritten. All he can do, his consciousness consoles, is stay calm and rest within the lost, dark hinterlands until, as he remembers, per the next day’s list, she arrives. And as the Listmaker cools to a chill, a small buzz buzzes by, “She’s coming. Hang on. She’s coming.” A soft, wet nose gently nibbles on the underside of his face at the soft flesh where the jaw becomes earlobe. 

How Red & Blue Make Green

How Red & Blue Make Green

A while back, a friend of mine (whom I will not name, nor will I draw too much attention to as he is both white and male, but mostly because I honestly don’t think he wants the attention or the credit, so he will remain nameless and referred to only as a he/friend :) said something to me after I asked him something regarding his toddler daughter that I cannot remember now (&was clearly, largely unimportant) to which he responded (&I’m paraphrasing here as I am also too lazy to go into my DMs to get an exact quote), “When she says, ‘No,’ I completely surrender so that I can model what should happen if she says ‘No’ to a man.” 

I thought about this for a long time, not because I didn’t agree with what he was saying, but rather, because there was something clearly deeper at work, but my mind couldn’t quite come up with it on the spot. Obviously, I cheered him on and encouraged him, like I would any father who has taken on the parenting role of father head-on, but what he said to me has been brewing in the back of my mind for some time now, and I finally have a little something of a nugget about which to write.

Perhaps he’s on to the nugget of truth that in America (perhaps in other places as well, but I can only speak to white [yes, I am Korean, and I recently learned in Franchesca Ramsey’s book that I’m technically transracial…as in, born of a specific race but transplanted, i.e. adopted, into another racial custom, not ‘transracial’ like the disgusting trend of not-black folks posing as black] American life with confidence) ‘No’ doesn’t mean No. And the sad thing is, I cannot even count how many times I’ve heard men (boys, who am I kidding) say things akin to, “99 Nos and 1 Yes is a Yes,” etc. 

And then all of this made me realize that if Americans are unwilling to respect someone’s “No,” then they are quite literally incapable of respecting anyone at all. Everyone loves a Yes-Man, but a No-Woman is seen as troublesome. So, there it is. 

“I can’t breathe.”

In America, No doesn’t mean No. It means nothing at all, which means that words, as a whole, largely have no meaning here in These United States. 

But that can all change! It’s easy. 

We need to respect the words coming out of each other’s mouths.

No matter how much we may disagree with them, no matter how flawed we believe them to be, no matter how uncomfortable the words are making us, we all have the right to say what we want, to be heard, and to hear. But this does not mean that your words have no consequence. In order to truly be heard, we need to be creatures that can hear, can see, can understand the truths of each other. We don’t live in a simulation. If we did, we could all feel the underlying programmed truth &or reality. We live inside our own heads with our own brains that interpret the world for us in our own unique way. This means that in order to get inside each other’s heads, we must speak, communicate, use words (&yes, obviously, people who are incapable of using their physical voices are quite able to communicate with words). This also means that in order for you to successfully get inside someone else’s head, you must listen to what they are saying; you must hear them.

There are no right answers to life. 

There is no right way to live. 

There is only the right to live. 

When someone says something to you, and you say, “No,” to be disrespected and not heard means that that person does not care about your right to your own life. They desire to control you. They see you as a piece in their life. The people who respect your Nos are the ones who ask you why you’re saying no in the first place. Imagine if, when a coworker (or whoever) says no to you, instead of becoming frustrated or upset that they’re not going to “do something for you,” you simply asked why they’re saying no. Maybe it’s because you’re perceived as lazy so they don’t want to help you out. Maybe they’re just tired because they were up all night with the baby, and they just need a break today. Maybe they just don’t want to, and it’s none of your business why; do it yourself, etc. The bottomline is that the reason for their “No” matters a lot less than the fact that they’re saying it. 

Yea, of course, we all have to do stuff we don’t like (which is obviously my concern when hearing this strategy from a parent), but the larger, more important Truth is that we need to respect the words that come out of each of our mouths. Perhaps if we do this, we will be more careful about what actually comes out of our mouths because now we actually feel like someone is hearing us, listening to us, validating our right to life. 

Lists of Lists

Lists of Lists

He writes a list for the day. Adamant, every single task that must be accomplished he outlines within a doable amount of time and writes each item on a roll of receipt paper. To transpose a day’s list here would be impractical and purposeless. Nevertheless, an example of the day’s first hour:

0630 – 0635 Wake

0637 – 0638 Get out of bed

0638 – 0639 Walk to bathroom

0639 – 0645 Relieve the pee

0645 – 0646 Wash hands, rinse mouth with water

0646 – 0647 Dry hands on brown and blue towel

0647 – 0649 Exit bathroom, return to bedroom

0649 – 0650 Put on robe

0650 – 0651 Walk to kitchen, turn on coffee maker

0651 – 0652 Pick a bowl from the cupboard and a spoon from the drawer, set both on eating counter

0652 – 0653 Grab coffee mug from drying rack and turn upright onto the counter in front of coffee maker

0653 – 0654 Choose an oatmeal from fridge and grab almond milk, place on eating counter next to bowl and spoon and counter in front of coffee maker, respectively

0654 – 0655 Pour oatmeal into bowl and almond milk into mug, return both to fridge

0655 – 0656 Stir oatmeal with spoon and wait to reach room temperature

0656 – 0659 Sit at eating counter, wait for coffee to finish

0659 – 0702 Open blinds

0702 – 0705 Pour coffee into mug, sit at eating counter, sip coffee as oatmeal warms

0705 – 0710 Eat oatmeal, drink coffee

0710 – 0713 Wash bowl and spoon, set in drying rack

0713 – 0714 Refill coffee mug with almond milk and coffee, turn off coffee maker

0714 – 0716 Grab newspaper from front porch, breathe in thirty-seconds of fresh air

0716 – 0717 Walk to desk, set coffee on desk, sit with newspaper

0717 – 0730 Read newspaper

At some point during the day, “Write tomorrow’s to-do list” is the next thing on the day’s to-do list to do. The circumstance of listing the task of writing the next day’s to-do list creates an irregular sensation to write another list listing what ought to be listed in the next day’s to-do list, and so, a new list forms, which ultimately returns him to the day’s list that needs to be finished, but the completion of the day’s list rests upon the listing of the next day’s listed listings. 

Eventually, night falls, and the room grows dark. He consults the day’s list but soon realizes he does not know the time, and just as the thought hits his conscious mind, the clock begins to chime. Eighteen hundred, he thinks to himself. He consults the day’s list once more and reads:

1800 – 1801 Consult the day’s list

He consults the day’s list for one minute, and then he reads:

1801 – 1810 Complete tomorrow’s to-do list

He begins to complete the next day’s to-do list, always in reverse order by writing what must be done last first, when the doorbell rings and interrupts him with the first hour of his day left bare. Unsure again of the time, he looks at the clock, the time reads 1810. He consults the day’s list.

1810 – 1811 Answer the door to see who knocks

Obedient, he walks to the front door and opens the door—a stranger. Cautious, he keeps his foot behind the door. “Good evening, sir. I hope I’m not interrupting,” the stranger begins; “My name is Cinoa. How are you today?” “One moment please,” he responds as he shuts the door. He consults the day’s list.

1811 – 1814 Find out what the stranger at the door wants

Noting the three-minute allotment for this particular interaction, he decides to consult the next few line items.

1814   – ____ Do as you’re told

____ – ____ Return home

He agrees and walks back to the front door. As he opens the door, the stranger, Cinoa, speaks up before he can get a word out, “Please, sir, I just need one moment of your time.” “Okay, yea, sure. How can I help you?” he responds.

Cinoa, stuttering, nervous, “Jus, just, uh, one, uh, moment.” Wringing a few sheets of paper between his hands, Cinoa looks down at the sheets and mumbles slightly as he reads. “Right, yes, oh right, yes,” Cinoa whispers to himself. “Are you the owner of this house?” Cinoa finally asks. “Yes,” the homeowner states. “Great. Then please, sir, come out here with me, if you don’t mind. I’d like to show you something,” Cinoa reads from his sheets of paper. “Very well,” the homeowner obliges. The two walk around to the side of the home, an aged, cumbersome house of natural wood. Cinoa points to a corner of roofing, “See that there?” “Sure, yes,” the homeowner acknowledges. “That’s a good sign that you’re in need of a new roof,” Cinoa explains as he consults his sheets of paper again, and then he continues, “Do you mind if I get on the roof to check for any other problem areas?” “Sure, that’s no problem,” the homeowner again obliges. Cinoa looks at the homeowner, then back at the sheet one more time, “No.” “No, what?” the homeowner asks. “You were supposed to say, ‘No,’” Cinoa clarifies. “Oh,” the homeowner states. Feeling a little shocked, the homeowner apologizes, “I’m sorry, just one moment, please.” Cinoa nods and stands, “I’ll just wait here.” The homeowner walks sideways for a bit as he dismisses himself from Cinoa’s presence and returns to his house to consult the day’s to-do list.

1823 – 1825 Walk back inside house to consult the day’s to-do list

1825 – 1828 Return to stranger and refuse the offer and be adamant that it’s all a sham

1828 – 1830 Argue with the stranger and escort him off the property

1830 – 1831 Return home

Running now, the homeowner rushes around the house to speak with Cinoa, “I’m sorry, you were right. No, I’m not interested in whatever you’re trying to do here. It’s all a sham of some sort or something, I’m sure.” “Okay, sir. There’s no need to get angry. I was simply trying to provide you a necessary service,” Cinoa responds. “Aren’t you supposed to insist?” the homeowner asks. “No, I’m to respond politely and respect your wishes,” Cinoa states. “I think you’re supposed to try to convince me that you really ought to look at my roof. I mean, look at the thing; it’s nearly falling apart!” the homeowner insists. “It’s not up to me to convince you,” Cinoa explains. “Then what are we to argue about?” the homeowner states at the same time he realizes that they are indeed already arguing now. “Ah, yes,” the two respond simultaneously, satisfied. “Great,” the homeowner smiles as he motions with an arm to lead Cinoa off his property. “Perfect,” Cinoa states while collecting himself and acknowledging the homeowner’s gesture to remove him from the property.

They two walk together amicably along the side of the house and across the front yard to a small dirt driveway. “Have you lived here long?” Cinoa chats. The homeowner simply looks at Cinoa. “I get it,” Cinoa responds; “No small talk, eh?” “Not today, apparently,” the homeowner concedes. “Sure, sure,” Cinoa mutters to fill the silence. Once Cinoa reaches the dirt drive, the homeowner turns on his heels and heads back to his house. “Alright, bye! Thanks again,” Cinoa shouts out. The homeowner ignores the farewell, does not wave a hand and quickly hops up the steps to the front porch, never looking back.

1831 – 1833 Through the front door window, verify that the stranger left.

He walks back to the front door and stares out over the front porch and front yard, through the window. Cinoa still stands on the dirt drive; he waves at the homeowner whom he can see through the front door. The two stare at each other over the distance that separates them. He stands for the allotted two minutes, but Cinoa does not leave. Anxious, he consults the day’s list.

1833 – 1834 Invite the stranger in for coffee

He walks back to the front door, opens it and stands upon the front porch. Waving at Cinoa now, he shouts loudly, “Do you want to come in for some coffee?” “Sure,” Cinoa gladly accepts; “I thought you’d never ask.” Cinoa makes his way to the house while the homeowner leaves the front door open, makes his way back to his desk, and consults his list.

1834 – 1835 Make coffee, take list with you, keep in pocket

1835 – 1836 Ask the stranger how he likes his coffee

1836 – 1837 Prepare two mugs

1837 – 1900 Make small talk

Hearing Cinoa’s feet hit the wood floors of the foyer, the homeowner shouts, “I’m back here, in the kitchen. Keep walking straight past the stairs and down the hall. How do you take your coffee?” “Black’s fine or with one sugar cube, if you have sugar cubes,” Cinoa admits as he reaches the kitchen. The kitchen opens out to the left after the hallway. Cinoa appears in the doorway between the fridge and a full-length, cupboard-type pantry. “Come on in,” the homeowner invites as he busies himself preparing the two mugs; “You can sit at the eating counter over there.” Comfortable, Cinoa makes his way through the kitchen, past the kitchen’s middling island countertop area, behind the eating counter to the stools that face back into the kitchen. “I’ll stand,” Cinoa decides. “If you must,” the homeowner jovially comments.

Cinoa has a look around. The kitchen opens into a living-room area that’s carpeted, unlike the hardwood of the foyer and hallway, also unlike the kitchen which is floored in some sort of blue tile. One large, blue couch sits on the farthest wall from the kitchen, an even larger window sits behind it. The wall that extends out from the left side of the couch, back toward the kitchen is littered with small windows all of various shapes and sizes. Each window has accompanying blinds that fit exactly within each respective window’s shape and size. “I like those windows,” Cinoa admits. “Yes, they are nice,” the homeowner agrees. “How long have you lived here?” Cinoa asks. The homeowner looks at him, as if studying Cinoa’s intent. “Not long,” the homeowner lies. “Really?” Cinoa questions; “That seems odd.” “How so?” the homeowner humors. “Well, it’s just that the clean, modern interior of this house definitely doesn’t match the almost rotting exterior of the thing,” Cinoa explains. “What does that have to do with how long I’ve lived here?” the homeowner asks, confused. “Oh, nothing, I suppose,” Cinoa mutters.

The coffee maker gurgles and puffs a short spout of steam to signify its completion of its task. “I don’t have any sugar cubes, but I do have sugar,” the homeowner offers. “Oh, no sugar then,” Cinoa responds; “Black’s fine.” “Sure,” the homeowner obliges as he pours the coffee from its pot. “Say, you have any family?” Cinoa, feeling nosey, asks. “Yes,” the homeowner lies again. He places the strangers coffee in front of him on the eating counter while he remains standing within the bounds of the kitchen, “Please, have a seat.” “I’ll stand,” Cinoa states, almost defiantly and then prods, “And?” “And what?” requests the homeowner. “Your family,” Cinoa clarifies. “Yes, I have family,” the homeowner reiterates. “Of what sort?” Cinoa prys. “Of all sorts,” the homeowner retorts. “Very well,” Cinoa concedes with a small chuckle; “I just thought we were gonna get to know each other a little. I mean, you’re the one who invited me in.” The two sip coffee for a moment, quietly slurping, silently standing.