Hybrid Essay: The To Do List


Walk/WO  √

As it seemed dry with a few clouds, I decided to walk instead of Work Out. I did the one where I cut through the meadows behind Ely Cathedral, through Jubilee Gardens and then along the River Ouse. Meadows – rabbits and horses. Gardens – man walking two dogs, no poo-clean-up bags, clouds built up. River – one jogger, two dog walkers, six cows, swans, greylags, snow geese, rain. Pedometer reading: 8,640 steps!ToDoList

Don’t forget recyclables!  √

That is, paper and plastic. Paper from my office, plastic from the kitchen.


Later. Not awake enough. I know, a little bit each day. That’s all it takes.

Meditate √

As a young teen, I was trained in Transcendental Meditation. I thought it was cool, having my own mantra, phasing out without reefer, forgetting puberty. By the time I was in my twenties, I started to wonder if it was doing me any good at all – I was nervous, unhappy, stressed. Sometimes I would get stressed about being too stressed to meditate. And some days, a ‘good’ meditation left me feeling sad later. One day, I stumbled across an article about meditation being bad for you – too much of an emotional rollercoaster. I left meditation to people living in the 60s – okay for The Beatles, but not for me. I don’t know why, but I took up meditation again some ten years later. Perhaps it was simply to control my brain from looping negative thoughts about negative characters in my life – the sort of people I can’t shake out. Buddhism this time. With mindfulness I count my breaths in groups of ten and then start again. A lot of time is spent during the sessions trying to clear my mind – getting from one to ten is often difficult, interrupted and started again and again. Perhaps this act of trying is more what mediation is – at least for people like me. (I wonder if monks in Tibet have this problem.) But now, I always feel better after my meditation. Strange that I have to put it on my list, but if it’s not here I forget.

Return DVD  √

Everyone said that The Revenant was a big screen film. Okay, beautiful scenery, lots of trees, but a man being mulled by a bear – a 20-inch screen is fine by me. It’s just a revenge tale after all. My younger self would have been more gripped by all of this, but my older self predicted where the story was going and switched off a few times. Maybe it was the wine that night – a heavy red shiraz. Sometimes concentration is difficult and sleepiness sets in before 10 o’clock. But if I make it past the lag, I’m good until midnight, only to see a wretched-looking Leonardo DiCaprio stare into the distance.



Food Shopping  √

  • salad stuff (check use-by dates)
  • yoghurt (Greek, full fat)
  • cheese for risotto
  • nuts
  • snack bars
  • Shredded Wheat Bite-Sized
  • wine

 Write  √

Do I really have to tell myself to do this? I don’t remind myself to eat lunch or drink three cups of tea each day or shower and put on clean clothes. I’ve been writing stories and essays since I was a teenager. Later, it was stage plays – a lot of fun, but actors can be demanding. Now back to short stories and articles – that pay. It’s what I do.  Perhaps putting it on my To Do list guarantees a check mark. And that makes me feel good. A sense of accomplishment for the day, with good days being all checks. But of course, writing is more than that. It’s a way of discovering the self by trying to communicate in a way that strangers reading my work will understand – finding the expression, describing the image that others can relate to. In my first draft I write something in a way that I would understand. At the second draft I imagine my audience. Through the drafts I see my private life, my own idiosyncratic thought patterns – a reminder of every person’s unique experience of life.  Today, a blog entry about terrorism, another rewrite of an article due by the end of the week, a hybrid essay based on a To Do list.

Clean √

Bathroom today. I don’t mean a quick clean, relying on cleansers to do all the work and leave the room smelling lemony and cleaner than it really is. I mean, the dust along the top of the tiles and the lime scale stains on the shower nozzle. It took me all of 30 minutes.

French  √

Passé composé and conjunctions – 10 minutes online before dinner.

Then computer off. A glass of wine while I compose tomorrow’s To Do list


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