Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why Five Things? And Why Don't They Suck? And What If They Do?

Here's the thing: a lot of stuff sucks. It does. The first time I wrote a list of five things that don't suck, it took me forever. I was lost in, well, loss. The common phrase is, I guess, that I was drowning. Except I wasn't. There was no struggle, there was just sinking, like when you open your mouth under water and let the air bubble out of your lungs while you drop to the bottom, wherever that might be—the lake, the pool, the sea. The type of water doesn't matter, and neither does the place you land. And, most times, you push off the bottom and head to the surface. You make the choice to find the air again. FTTDS was my unlikely air.

The idea is ridiculous, of course. Listing five things that don't suck…that's some sort of touchy-feely self-help bullshit. But I come from a long line of people who decide, in one way or another, not to seek the surface anymore. A very, very long line. And I could go into detail about the loss—the loss upon loss upon loss—of the year that led up to my first list, but it doesn't really matter. It'll come out eventually, probably, in time, because I'm a writer and that's what I do.

So that day, desperate to want air if not for the air itself, I went to Facebook, and typed, in part, "Five things that don't suck: 1. Kittens."

And then I stared at the screen for ten minutes, trying to think of something else, anything at all. Then I started to cry again. I'd been doing that a lot recently. But eventually I came up with a second thing that doesn't suck ("really cold ice water with a honkin' big slice of lemon"), and the rest followed. And the days followed that.

I've learned some things in the past few months, and maybe I'll put some of them here and maybe I won't. But there is, for now, this: every day at least five things in my life don't suck. And maybe it's a little easier, every day, to do the stupid things I have to do if I first take a few minutes to find those things and list them. And maybe it's a lot easier to do the important stuff. It's cumulative, or at least it seems to be. There will be days when I post little essays. There will be days when I only post the list. I'm winging it here. Deal with it.

In fact, I've set only two rules for myself: 1. make a list of FTTDS; and 2. make a list every day. It doesn't matter what's on it, or if an item has made the list before, or if it's technically five variations of a single theme. The items on my list are often related to what's going on in my world, but sometimes they're purely theoretical. Sometimes they're mixed. Sometimes they follow some sort of newly-minted tradition. I am under no obligation to explain or defend, but I'll explain if you ask nicely, maybe. Some days, I know exactly what the list will bring. Some days, I have trouble getting past the first item or two. Those are the days where I wish I had decided to write a daily list of five things that DO suck, but there you have it. No one ever said it had to be easy.

And, finally, it's my list. Your mileage may vary. I don't really give a shit if you think something on my list sucks. Start your own list if you must, but keep your paws off mine. Because odds are, if you think about it, whatever it is doesn't actually suck. Just because you don't like anchovies doesn't mean they suck. Anchovies are essential for the survival of other fish that you might find delicious. Yellowtail, for example, do not think anchovies suck. Don't like fish? What about pelicans? They're kinda cool, right, with those big scoopy beaks and their stubby little legs? Guess what the brown pelican thinks doesn't suck. You got it. Anchovies are in Worcestershire sauce, in Caesar salad dressing, in fish sauce. So give me—and the various anchovies of my lists—a break and travel with me instead of against me. Because it's not going to make a difference to me if you choose to spend your time looking for suckiness in my lists. But it could make a difference to you if you don't.

Yeah, I know. Shut up.

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