EXERCISE Give me a List

Discussion in 'REFINING WRITING' started by Zen, Jan 30, 2013.

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    This was an interesting exercise that my professor asked us to do this week. He read us a short story, "A Brief history of My Failures with Women" by James Cagney, which I would have linked here if I could find it on the internet. It's a list of 15 different women the guy had failures with, and at first it's light hearted and humorous. It gets to his teenaged years and it's puppy love stuff because well, he's a teenager, but then his mother gets included into the list. He speaks of how she dies because she's taken off the ventilator, and how the aunt comes into the house taking down decorations, pictures and flowers then suddenly there's an "Aha!" moment from the reader. Perhaps that was why he failed so badly with women, because his mother was dying?

    Basically despite it being a list, as a reader you could find out bits and pieces about this person's life. So your exercise - which is the same assignment I'm doing this week in class - is to write a a Top 10 List of things in your life, and it has to have a theme. Don't know what it will be about? Lemme throw out some suggestions for you.

    Top 10 List of Failures at Work/School/Life/Romance/Food

    Top 10 WTF Moments

    Top 10 TMI Moments

    Top 10 Liars/Truths I've told.... And Got Away With

    Top 10 Things I've done Wrong/Or Right as a Parent

    All I ask is that you reveal to me and the readers a part of you that the everyday person wouldn't see. Give me that diamond in the rough feeling. Oh and also don't give me just a sentence or two per item. Elaborate on it, why did it make it onto this list? Think of it like writing a little blurb.
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  2. (I suppose this is where I post it...)(I got bored half way through, so I dramatized it. The basic ideas are the same I just made them a little more interesting.)(It ended up very different to my original plan. Oh well.)


    1- "This will be the last chocolate..."
    I have a stash of chocolate hidden under the staircase which I'm trying to make last as long as possible. Each day, I tell myself 'I'll only have one bit...', but it turns into several large chunks before I know it. I know I shouldn't, but I can't resist.

    2- "I'm only washing my hands because they're dirty."
    They're not really dirty, they just seem like it. I act as if I'll catch a disease if I don't always wash my hands. But I have a perfectly good reason. It makes me feel safe.

    3- "There's nothing wrong with me, I just want something to be wrong with me."
    I tell myself I'm simply making up excuses for my minor failures, but am I really? Isn't thinking up problems for yourself a problem at least? I'm not entirely sure it's a lie, but it feels like one.

    4- "I'll give plenty of money to charity when I'm older."
    I promise myself that when I'm older, and have a proper job, I'll give to charity. Because right now I supposedly don't have enough money. Despite the fact I have things I never even use in my room, while innocent children starve. Things aren't getting better, and they won't do unless I take action.

    5- "I don't need to revise, I have plenty of time left."
    Of course, when that time comes I'll just say the same thing, or distract myself in some other way. No, revision isn't fun, but it needs to be done to pass exams. There are some things in life you just have to do.

    6- "You have plenty of time left to prepare for your future career."
    Time ticks by every second, ticking out of my life. I do not have as long as I'd like to hope before I try to get into university and follow my desired career. I want to learn a couple of particular skills that will be helpful in the future before I leave for university. So why aren't I?

    7- "I have no interest in romance right now."
    Hahaha! Why do I even bother with this one? You totally weren't checking out that girl just now. Seriously, why do I tell myself this lie? Am I afraid?

    8- "There's no point in being alive."
    I say this from a logical point of view, not a suicidal one. Like many philosophers before me, I wonder what on earth the point of being on earth is. I wonder why I'm doing whatever pointless task I'm doing. But I think I already know the answer- it's to be happy, at least in the long run. I've got one life, so I should make the most of it.

    9- "I feel fine."
    No, no you don't. You feel gloomy, miserable, and fed up. It's part of the deal of being a hormanal teenager. You may as well be honest with yourself. Quit lying, and get on with life.

    10- "Everything will be fine tommorow, I'm sure."
    I know I shouldn't, but I can't resist. It makes me feel safer. I'm not entirely sure it's a lie, but it feels like one. Things aren't getting better, and they won't do until I take action. There are some things in life you just have to do. So why aren't I? Am I afraid? I've got one life, so I should make the most of it. Quit lying, and get on with life.
    #2 Cassette, May 15, 2014
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
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  3. I am going to write a very blunt list here:
    All the people I have failed (IMO):

    1. My mother is a good person, strong and dependable. I grew up wanting to be exactly like her. She wanted me to be like her. She was resourceful and sensitive and caring. Most of those things have never applied to me. I am not physically strong, having suffered from leukemia since I was a child and still am. I am hard working but never dependable or resourceful. I felt I was a burden, weak and unable to help them keep our massive family afloat.
    2. My dad is my hero, I love him to bits but I have failed him totally in my life. We are supposed to treasure our parents, bring them joy and one day, bring grandchildren or great grand children into their lives. My dad works so hard for the money to support us and me, being an extremely sickly child/teen, weighed him down so much. I used to yell at him, asking him why I was sick. As if my dad, my hero and the healer of scraped knees could cure leukemia. I placed so much expectation on him and he was weighed down by it and never complained. All he ever said in response was that he was sorry. Now I am the one who is sorry.
    3. All my older siblings. I dislike them sometimes but love them always. I took the time of our parents away from them and they suffered because of that. I feel like i have let them down, unable to be that hypo little sister, unable to run or chase because I might break a bone from crashing into a table leg. I had to treated like porcelain, with care and I hated it. I wanted to play 'sock-wrestling' and play fight. There were so many things I wanted to do and they all protected me. And I hated them but now I love them. I dance now, slowly and gently but I dance. I thank JLD for that XD.
    4. My now ex boyfriend. He deserved better than a skinny, dilapidated and half-dying girl on the fine edge of living and spending the rest of my short life in a hospital. I failed him, because I could never be what he needed and vice versus.
    5.My teachers expected me to bounce back from a debilitating disease straight away and looking back, I know how stupid that was. But I failed so many exams and tests that they looked so disappointed, as if I could study during my leukemia treatments when they had to strap me down to stop me moving. I felt like I failed.
    6. My best friend, who never ever stopped believing in me but who I had thought abandoned me.
    7. My friends, many of whom DID abandon me during this time. I failed myself by not having better friends. XD
    8. My doctor. I feel I failed him because he couldn't fix me. He felt like he had failed and I felt I failed him by not getting better.... My life is whacked up, seriously.
    9. My nana, who said she hoped I would die. Sorry nan, I am still alive and kicking. My nana doesn't exactly like me.
    Finally, 10.
    I failed myself, because I chose the easy but painful way of failing everyone so I would not fail myself.

    So yeah... Have a list!
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  4. #1. "Why am I alone?"

    I try over and over again to find a single guy to love and to hold.All I ask is to be loved in return but all I get is lied to and my heart left in pieces.Will no guy ever tell me he loves me and mean it?I'm left alone to ponder that question under the silence of the stars in the night sky.

    #2. "Why do I exist?"

    I don't quite understand my reason for existing.Do I exist to help others?To be hurt and used?I can't seem to find what I'm meant to be doing on this earth.Perhaps I will find out someday soon.

    #3. "What if I had died?"

    I wonder if I had died before I was born if anyones life would be better off without me.Maybe peoples lives would be worse.I guess I'll never know if my existence actually matters.

    #4. "Am I really attractive?"

    People always compliment me but when I look in the mirror,I see the opposite.I don't understand how I can be attractive in their eyes.Beauty truly must be in eye of the beholder.I just hope that I will finally see it myself someday.

    #5. "Why do I dislike myself?"

    Is it myself that I dislike?No it couldn't be.It must be that I dislike who I look like and the fact that I seem trapped in his shadow.Even his mere memory haunts me everyday that I wake up.

    #6. "If I change myself will I be happy?"

    Changing myself may bring me happiness but I believe that it will only be temporary.I will mostly realize that changing myself doesn't change a thing.

    #7. "Will I ever find true happiness?"

    I can't say that I will ever fully be happy but even if it is only a little happniess,it's better than nothing.All I know to do is hold onto the little and simple things that make me happy.

    #8. "When will I die?"

    I know it isn't something that most people wonder about,but I can't help but wonder.Will I die tonight,tomorrow,a week from now,a month from now or a year from now?I can't seem to stop wondering about it.

    #9. "Are my thoughts healthy?"

    I have no idea if my thoughts are healthy or not.If I could compare other peoples thoughts to my own then maybe I would know.Would it matter if my thoughts were unhealthy.Perhaps but who would it matter to and why?

    #10. "Why do I think so much?"

    It seems to be a bad habit of mine.All I do is ponder some many different things about the world,people and myself.I guess its just who I am but I think that I wonder about things to much.

    (Nevermind my weirdness.lol)
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  5. Loves I Never Got Over
    1. He played baseball with my brother. Through their sleepovers, we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning doing nothing more than talking. Years down the road when thoughts of suicide crept into his mind, I was the one he called. I cried for the boy I used to know and the broken man he was becoming. Every now and again he comes back into my life; he defines inevitable for me.
    2. In six short days I fell for him. Maybe because I had been taken from everything I knew, jolted into a routine I didn't understand with people I had never seen before. He was my wakeup call, my goodnight, my camp love. I miss his friendship more than anything in the world.
    3. He was shattered in pieces by the girl he loved, the girl who was supposed love him too. I was broken by my inability to fix every around me... But I could fix him. With late night skype and early morning phone calls, I fit together his pieces with the fragments of my own. Now the army owns him and I only borrow him on occasion. I'd cross the world for that boy.
    4. I never got the chance I wanted with her. She's a wandering spirit, never to be tied down. So I let her be free and call me when she needs the comfort she knows I will provide.
    5. He got tired of waiting for me to stop being broken and love him.