Year of Mess

I was really hoping for one of those archaic words no one knows anymore or at the very least a word that sounded like it was created in a lab somewhere that twisted your mouth when you said it, but alas, the word I searched for was neither of those. In fact, it’s just as mundane as the action it describes.


/kat-l-aw-ger, -og-er/


  1. one who catalogs or makes lists

I’m a chronic list maker. I have daily to-do lists, how-to lists, grocery lists, house project lists, meal lists, favorite nail color lists, movie lists, cleaning lists, birthday lists, vacation lists, a bucket list… I could go on and on. And all of these lists are separately tucked away on sticky notes, or jotted down in my planner, or typed on my phone, or filed away in my brain. The lists are long in length and the quantity is seemingly limitless. I can honestly say a day does not go by when I don’t consult some list I’ve made.

Does it keep me more organized?


Does it help me accomplish more of the things?

Only when I’ve slowed down enough to make the list and find the list and then keep it in front of me all day long with no distractions and laser-sharp focus to kick ass and take names. And usually only when there’s coffee or alcohol involved.

How often does that happen?

Once every few months.

Face palm.

It’s that time of the year when everyone is making lists – lists of accomplishments and failures in the past year, lists of the good and the bad, lists of their top nine on Insta, lists of the most searched things on Google, and then the lists of all the things that we hope to look forward to in the next year. We’re here knocking on 2019’s door and we have a list in hand. True to form, I have a list, it’s long, and there is no particular order:

  1. Drink more water
  2. Take the dog for a walk everyday.
  3. Clean the bathroom every week.
  4. Lose 45 pounds.
  5. Donate all those clothes to Goodwill.
  6. Sort through all the closets and drawers to actually find every scrap of clothes to take to Goodwill.
  7. Call my dad more often.
  8. Finish painting the stairwell that we started in August 2018.
  9. Run another half marathon.
  10. Develop a social media plan for the year.
  11. Soak up every second of the time my son chooses to hang out with me so I can appreciate what a funny, smart, decent human being he has grown into.
  12. Find the perfect chairs for the living room.
  13. Send more cards in the mail.
  14. Read a new book every month.
  15. Date my husband.
  16. Delete the Dots&Co game off my phone (so addictive!)
  17. Volunteer more.
  18. Replace the shrubs in the front yard so the neighbors don’t continue to hate us for having dead trees up against the house that make the place look deserted and bring property values down.
  19. Win the lottery.
  20. Publish the novel I started a year ago.
  21. Reduce the grocery bill.
  22. Change the tablescape on the dining room table every season. And on time.

I could keep adding to this list for the next three hours. Seriously. I’ve added seven things to this list just in the time that I’ve been writing this post.

My list making for this upcoming year, however, seems to have a bit more urgency prescribed to it. I’m looking around and there are a ton of things that by now I should have already accomplished in my life. Like, why can’t I fold clothes as soon as the dryer is done? By this age, I should not still go rummaging through wrinkled clothes that have been in the dryer for two days to find something to wear. Nor should I be turning on the dryer for that same load of clothes, just so I don’t have to iron t-shirts.

Also, why am I just now finding out that this exists?!

Photo courtesy of PCSD (Palawan Council for Sustainable Development)

This is the thing of nightmares and I don’t know how I’ve lived this long and not known about it.

On a more serious note, and one of much more urgency, why haven’t I grown up to be everything I wanted to be? That list was long when I was younger. So many things I wanted to do and be and the list grew and grew until my mid-twenties, and then I started dwindling it down; not because anything had really been accomplished, but because I lost interest in most of them. (I mean, do I really have chutzpah to be an actress? No. The answer is no.)

And now, I’m peering down my 40th year on this planet and I realize that most of the things on most of the really important lists are things I really haven’t gotten around to checking off. And for whatever biological clock reason, the panic is starting to set in a bit. I can hear my brain shouting, “Tighten up, stop wasting time, get shit done!” And also in the same breath, “But first coffee, or alcohol.” Or both.

So, in the next few hours before we officially ring in 2019, I will be doing what I do best: writing lists. I’ll add to the list that I’ve started here, and then I’ll systematically begin to categorize, and then I’ll prioritize. And probably by the end of February, I’ll have forgotten about all of it and I’ll be rewatching the seasons of Game of Thrones to get ready for the series finale in April.

Why do I go through all the trouble of making the lists? I know, inevitably, I will set them aside only to begrudgingly look back at them at next year’s end to groan again over my lack of accomplishments. Maybe there’s a word for that too – a word for someone who makes lists and then doesn’t actually use them. I searched Google. I didn’t come up with any. Interestingly enough, I found a few words for people who get things done: go-getter, achiever, high-flyer, hard worker, busy beaver, and doer.

As I enter this year of middle age and I set out to make my epic lists, my sense of urgency is pushing me to be a bit more active in my quest to accomplish more. And so, 2019 will need to be the year of checking things off the list. This year will need to be a year of “yes,” a year of “if not now, when,” and “YOLO.” Okay, maybe not that last one because I think I’ve lived long enough to have more sense than that, but you get the idea.

This will be the year of getting dirty and getting things done.  




  1. the person who does something

This will be the year that begins the middle-aged mess.

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