T.'s Reviews > Things to Bring, S#!t to Do: And Other Inventories of Anxiety: My Life in Lists

Things to Bring, S#!t to Do by Karen Rizzo
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's review
May 29, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: biography-and-memoir, nonfiction, favourites
Recommended to T. by: Nan Santamaria
Read from April 15 to May 28, 2011 — I own a copy

I can't remember when I first started writing lists, only that I've been making them for a long time. There's something about being a listmaker that elicits polarizing reactions from people I know: I've been called weird, very organized, anal, obsessive-compulsive, neurotic, and more. It's probably all true; I haven't made up my mind yet. My favourite was being told I reminded him of a devout collector; only it's days and the most inane things that I have (which fits the bill, if you think about it).

Nan said he gave me this book, if only to feel not so alone, and I'm grateful for that. I love how the author's lists show you how she's grown as a person over the years. These lists, which contain the tiny details of Rizzo's thoughts and activities - when compiled, do show a life well lived. I could only hope I can look back on mine someday and glean from them the same thing.

Perhaps the most poignant lists for me in the book were those written when Rizzo was dealing with the death of her parents. I had to stop for awhile after that, and let days pass before I pick up the book again. When my grandfather died, I was a wreck. I couldn't work, I couldn't write. How do you begin living again after seeing someone you love die in front of you? It was harrowing. The experience left me hollow.

Then - at the wake, sitting on a bench trying to contain my tears, I got a pen and wrote lists on the back of a used envelope: Things I remember from my grandfather's visits when I was a child. Things Lolo used to greet me with whenever I would call. Questions he asks whenever he calls. Food he wants us to bring whenever we come to visit. Things he taught me. Things he taught my father. Ingredients for the barbecue sauce recipe that's been a family favourite for years. Reasons why I feel guilty when he died. Things I whispered in his ear during the night at the ICU.

Lists have always been important to me, but I never realized how fundamental and significant they were to how I live until I read this book. My office is filled with lists: debts to pay, things to do, deadlines. My desk, too: thoughts for the day, numbers of people and friends, missing books, ideas for poetry collections. My lists are everywhere: in my bag, in my wallet, in my notebook, written on the back of receipts, random tissue papers, even sugar packets. And they not only include the to-do's or the to-buy's, but also: kinds of bread I like, high school pranks, sounds I like, reasons why I don't like my neighborhood. And it goes on.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm glad this book has found its way to me. Thank you, Nan.

29 May 2011


December 2010
A Christmas gift from Nan. Thank you, dear.

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Reading Progress

04/16/2011 page 20
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Nan (new)

Nan Santamaria I actually wanted to keep it for myself, but you're the most compulsive listmaker I know; you need it at least to feel not so alone.

message 2: by T. (new) - rated it 4 stars

T. Really enjoying reading it. Have to stop from time to time because I keep recalling similar lists I have made in the past and I just have to dig them up. Also making notes for other lists that come to mind! Saka that part about her parents - naka-relate ako; everything I wrote after Lolo died were lists.

message 3: by Nan (new)

Nan Santamaria T. wrote: "Really enjoying reading it. Have to stop from time to time because I keep recalling similar lists I have made in the past and I just have to dig them up. Also making notes for other lists that come..."
consider it my instant hug whenever the pages open themselves up. >:D<

message 4: by T. (new) - rated it 4 stars

T. >:D< Miss you, Nan. Hope we can meet up for coffee soon.

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