100 Things That Annoy Me
By Nicole Freire
Nicole's To Do List
A few months ago I was in Chaucer's Books and almost knocked this book off the 'new books' table with my elbow, "1000 Places To See Before You Die". I snorted at it, because as much as I enjoy telling other people what to do or see, I am aggrieved when someone else, especially a book, tries to tell me what to see before I die.
But as it was near the holidays, I chalked the book up to the many silly books that come out around big gift-giving celebrations. You know, the books you see in Costco and think to yourself, "Hey, I'll get this for Uncle Joe and the entire boxed set of Lemony Snicket for the kids and the entire season of Lost on dvd for myself, and look! Free samples of tiny quiches!"
They aren't novels, they aren't books, they're lists. And most of these books tend to be travel books, so there are lists of cathedrals to see, restaurants to eat in, hotels to stay in, and get going, because you have to do it before you die.
Anyway, the holidays passed and I thought all this hoopla about things to do before you shuffle off the mortal coil was over.
But now it's reared it's head again all over the blogosphere, mostly in the form of lists of "100 things to do before I die." I read quite a few blogs in my precious spare time and it's the new fad everywhere I read.
And I find it unbearably annoying.
The lists seem trivial and hokey and utterly selfish, much like the annoying travel lists were. Sure, I too would like to see the Taj Mahal someday but right now I'm trying to decide which bill can wait until the next paycheck. I've seen some lists that have "speak French" right next to "speak Mandarin" and the worst part is that it's not written ironically. Ride in a hot air balloon, travel to Africa, make my own wine, raise butterflies, live for a month in Paris, these must-do-before-I-die entries fill list after list that I've read.
There is nothing wrong with having dreams, nothing wrong with lists, I make them all the time. And I suppose there's nothing wrong with writing down your dreams, but really, 100? And it all has to be accomplished before death? Do you know when you're going to die? Because I would think that just learning to speak French AND Mandarin is going to take a few years, not to mention all the traveling you'll be doing in the meantime, in hot air balloons and planes you've
probably learned how to fly, so maybe you should cut back to 75 things? 50?
And part of this list making craze is the magical "achieving my goals" part of the equation, which also annoys me. Because I think that maybe we should stop wanting to travel to Africa on safari and concentrate instead on bringing down the price of food in Haiti, where it's been skyrocketing in recent days.
At the very least, stop writing on your blog about your goal lists as if they were blank checks to be written, if only you can believe in them hard enough.
Have a little sense of limit in these lists, or at least make them amusing, not annoying and selfish.
Right now my list reads like this:
"10 things to do before I go to bed"
- try not to yell too loud at eldest kid for talking back
- eat hamburger for dinner
- compliment husband on hamburger making skills
- finish glass of syrah
- remember to floss
- spell check column
- take evening pills
- get younger kid to take a bath
- praise trader joe's garlic mashed potatoes
- learn Portuguese
Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.