Kage Baker liked lists. It gave her a feeling of security to have a linear map to the future, she said: a path of stepping stones clearly marked out through the treacherous morass of What Is To Come.
Mind you, she detested classical To Do lists. Anyone else giving her a list of things to do was in for automatic rebellion: what Momma called Kage’s “sad little pine tree” look, which wasn’t so much sad as an indication that the bedrock was going to rise up and do the samba before Kage changed her mind … Kage liked lists she made herself. The lists for packing, for trip itineraries, for party food and guests.
Shopping lists were probably her absolute favourites. She adored shopping – for anything, really. Definitely one the ladies who enjoyed shopping therapy; even when we were very young and poor, she liked to go to places like Macy’s and Pier 1 to just window-shop. And she’d make out lists of things she’d get as soon as one of us got paid. Some of the items on those lists took 30 years to achieve, but she never lost track.
Plain old grocery shopping was a steady delight for Kage. A trip to CostCo was a monthly adventure into Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders; especially to stock up on the staples that lived in the pantry – Kage felt unsafe unless there was always a pound of sugar, a pound of salt and a pound of various flours on the shelf. Ours was the sort of household where she made up menus as she filled out grocery lists; and so we always knew what was for dinner. After all, with good storage it could always be put aside if one ended up on a major pizza jag come supper time.
She packed for trip days in advance. That gave her time to change her mind and re-pack 2 or 3 times before we had to leave; also, time to come to me and beg me to fit a third pair of pants, or another copy of her latest book, or a spare notebook in my own luggage. A bag of Hershey’s Kisses. A flask of rum. Extra CDs.
I pack sparely. And at the last minute. And usually I forget something, too. Especially since Kage has been gone, since I not only loathe lists, I even forget to make them. Fortunately, Kimberly is another expert list-maker, and backs me up. This is very important – she’s been considering what I should take to the hospital with me for weeks – I haven’t even figured out what bag I want to pack, let alone what goes into it.
Of course, they don’t encourage you to bring a lot of things to the hospital with you, in these modern days. When Momma went in for procedures, she always packed her special tan case with toiletries, cosmetics and fancy bed-jackets … I must admit, I did admire the bed jackets, which were gorgeous Victorian-esque things with lace and ribbons and pretty fabrics. That’s out of fashion now, when hospitals prefer you eschew couture in favour of gowns that can be stripped off in one fell swoop.
I guess it makes things handier for emergencies, but it does make one feel flimsy. Insecure. Unsafe. And very, very un-cool.
My main concern is to make sure I have a full set of clothes suitable for escape. That means, at a minimum, panties and soft outer garments that don’t bind or need fancy fasteners, and shoes. And a hat; one’s hair gets dreadful in hospital. Closely following that are something to read and some way to communicate with the outside world. My Kindle works admirably for most of that; when combined with my Buke, I can do anything!
So tomorrow, I’ll stuff all that in a canvas tote or something, and be set. Kimberly will keep it safe for me until I wake up, and then I will be safe and happy no matter where they stash me afterwards. Oh, and my admission papers. And my anesthesiology check list. And my Advanced Care Directive, which I don’t quite remember where it is …
I’ll check Kimberly’s list. I’m sure she has one.