we like lists: list # 13: it was the best of lists, it was the worst of lists

Few things in life are all good or all bad. Even though I dislike Christmas, I'm happy to enjoy some paid time off, and this year I reaped the benefits of holiday overtime.

Sometimes, the negative so grossly outweighs the positive that there's no point in searching for a shred of silver lining. Example: Jason Kenney. And some things are so joyous, that only a fool searches for a blemish. Example: the 2004 World Series.

But many things in life are downright contrary in evoking mixed emotions. That's what we're listing today.

In the spirit of our last list, this is another create-your-own. Name your five worst and your five best. The only rule is they have to be about the same thing.

I think it's better to start with the negative and end on the positive, but that's up to you.

In honour of turning 50 six months ago, here are the five worst and five best things about getting older, in the world according to me.

Five worst things about aging:

5. I used to have perfect skin. My skin was my best physical feature. Now my skin is... ordinary.

4. General physical breakdown. Creaky knees, easily-pulled muscles, weakening hands.

3. Less stamina. Longer recovery time. This may be more health than age, but the age isn't helping.

2. The ever-lengthening list of care required for maintenance. Orthotics in the shoes, complicated lenses in the glasses, medications, ergonomic equipment, screenings for various diseases. And that's not counting anything cosmetic, which I'm avoiding.

1. I haven't travelled enough. I feel time ticking away, and there are so many places I want to go.

Five best things about getting older:

5. No one asking me when I'm going to have children.

4. Freeing myself of self-created obligations. No longer spending free time on people I don't really want to see, things I don't really want to do, and other people's useless drama. Suffering less bullshit.

3. A longer fuse. More patience, less anger, more generosity, more compassion. More control of my temper.

2. Coming into my own as a writer. Becoming a better writer, but more than that, understanding and accepting my writing process, understanding my need to write as integral to my self, whether or not I write professionally.

1. Knowing what's most important to me. A deep understanding of my core values, my life goals, my purpose, which leads to a richer, more rewarding life.

Your turn!


Rural said...

I also love lists but at 65+ this is one list I do not make, in this particular case I am of the view that the less thought about the better. But then you are not yet 'old'!
Never the less a couple of things struck a cord and I will respond to just those.......

“General physical breakdown. Creaky knees, easily-pulled muscles, weakening hands, Less stamina, The ever-lengthening list of care required for maintenance......”

Yep, been there done that, only advice is try and ignore it, use those creaky knees and other less than optimal body parts daily, stay away from doctors at all costs, they will always find something wrong – thats their job now, creating work for fellow medical practitioners!

“Freeing myself of self-created obligations. More patience, less anger, more generosity, more compassion. More control of my temper. “

Also been there, some folks never reach this point, so glad that you have found that experience and life learning brings a different perspective..... so long as one does not take the daily list of political crap too seriously!

“understanding and accepting my writing process, understanding my need to write as integral to my self, “

You are way ahead of me, I only recently realized that I write as much or more for myself as I do for any audience I may create, it clears the mind, puts the things troubling me in perspective and encourages rational thought rather than unsubstantiated rants – not that I do not enjoy one or two of those once in a while.

So although the body may get increasingly creaky the same thing applies to both the bones and the brain ...... use it or loose it. Now I have to rest after all that exercise!


laura k said...

Rural, thanks for your thoughts. But... the idea is to create your own list about an entirely different topic. Pick something that you have mixed feelings about and name the 5 worst things about it and the 5 best things about it.

M@ said...

Ten things about my job. First the worst parts.

1. It's government work, so there are a ton of delays and frustrations and so on that just don't happen anywhere else.

2. I'm a contractor, so I can never even pretend to be permanent. All of my professional relationships are tenuous and fleeting.

3. A lot of it is drudgery, work that takes mental effort to complete but that isn't rewarding or stimulating in any way.

4. I almost never see the effect of what I do, because when the systems I design are actually being used I'm typically long gone.

5. I don't get to use my best skills very often, the skills I most enjoy using.

But on the other hand:

1. I'm exceedingly well compensated for what I do.

2. The work can be very rewarding when it goes well, and I usually get credit for what I've done well.

3. I have flexibility in my work -- if I want to take a day off, I don't get paid, but no one argues with me if I say I'm not coming in and no one checks how many vacation days I have left.

4. I have achieved a level of seniority and respect that makes it very easy to get work done. People trust me and often they don't know what to do as well as I do, which is a good feeling.

5. I've learned a lot about how government functions, and I've also learned how hard government employees work. It's been revelatory in many ways.

How's that, then?

laura k said...

How's that, then?

Brilliant. And exactly what I had in mind. Taking stock.

Interesting, too, about your job! A real mixed bag. Work is often like that, I think - a balancing act of pros and cons.

M@ said...

Shall I do another list of stuff that's been on my mind lately?

5 reasons I like and hate e-books

I like that:

1. They tend to be cheaper.

2. There's an opportunity, currently being somewhat fulfilled but possibly to improve, for authors to be better compensated for their work.

3. The democratization of publishing is possible in the way that the democratization of music happened in the last 10 years or so.

4. They really are very convenient to buy and read.

5. Every book can be available to every internet-connected person on earth.


1. I like the tangible properties of books.

2. I love browsing bookshelves, both in stores and in people's homes. Browsing virtual bookshelves doesn't even compare.

3. Book prices have not stabilized. Currently many e-books cost more than their trade paperback equivalents, not less. There is no good reason for this.

4. I find flipping through reference books a great way to find things I didn't know I wanted to learn; I find flipping through any book a good way to get a sense of whether it's worth reading or not. There is no equivalent in an e-book.

5. I can't figure out how to sign electronic copies of my books.

laura k said...

Excellent best/worst, M@. A great distillation, and I hadn't even thought of the #5 hate! :)

My own worst on this list would be widening the digital divide. To read e-books, you need a device, and you need a certain comfort level with technology, and a lot of people continue to be left out of that equation.

Adding to your #4 hate, I often go back to books and search for a passage, based on a visual memory of where it is on the page. There's no equivalent of that for e-books.

My #1 best would have to be portability. I've read a lot of nonfiction that was like carrying a brick in my backpack. A digital version would solve that problem.

allan said...



1. A seemingly infinite amount of intelligent commentary on every possible topic.

2. Blogs give millions of people the opportunty to share their thoughts and work/ideas (which leads to #1).

3. And almost all of it is free!!!

4. The ability to listen to or watch any major league baseball game. (Also: info/stat sites like Baseball Reference.)

5. #1 and #2 lead to communities of like-minded individuals that can span the globe.


1. The best is also the worst: knowing that you are missing out on so much great writing, and that even spending 24 hours a day online would not make a big enough dent.

2. On-screen presentation discourages the kind of deep reading you would do if the same stuff was in a book.

3. All advertising, but especially ads that blink and flash, slide across the screen, pop up, etc.

4. Gives idiots a platform to broadcast their (often hateful and harmful) idiocy.

5. Writers being expected to write for free (see best #3).

johngoldfine said...

I really like your list, Laura--though I'm not sure some young whippersnapper would truly appreciate it....

Heathrow, best and worst:

Best: Yotel. Ever since I read Scupper the Sailor Dog as a little boy, I've wanted to sleep in a bunkbed like Scupper's. This picture made a huge impression on me:


How often do you get to live your fantasies without getting in major trouble? Check it out!


I'm going to break this post up--next 'best' coming up.

johngoldfine said...

Another Heathrow best: if I've come to England to walk, I have my walking stick in hand as I enter the immigration control area--a huge cavern with hundreds of people in line desperate to get their passports stamped. There are three blue-clad women there whose only job, apparently, is to hand out landing cards to those who haven't got them yet and to shunt into an express lane families with babies, people in wheelchairs, and a white-haired old man using a cane.

Tell me I'm a shitheel for taking advantage of these ladies' inability to distinguish between a healthy walker and a slippered pantaloon.

johngoldfine said...

Next best at Heathrow: the champagne and oyster bar in the international departures area. Those five-pound notes aren't real money, are they? Half-dozen oysters and a flute of champagne, thank you, and a discussion with the barista about oyster harvesting, farming, history, and international preferences in condiments.

johngoldfine said...

Next best: Central Bus Station, Heathrow--National Express coaches take me anywhere I want to go or to a train station that will have a train to anywhere I want to go--minimum muss and fuss.

Last best: Admiral's Club. I once had seven hours to kill at Heathrow and the international departure holding pen (wait for my 'worst' list) is one of the circles of Hell. So I decided to buy a pricey day membership at the VIP lounge: big leather club chairs, sound proofing and quiet murmuring, internet, good food and drink, magazines and newspapers, windows with a view, luggage storage.

johngoldfine said...

Heathrow's worst: that international departure pen. Thousands of anxious people sprawled with luggage in a small, overheated, overbright, noisy area, surrounded by high end shopping outlets. You feel like an animal in a feeding pen (think 'Omnivore's Dilemma'); you feel like a pinball on a huge blinking blaring game table; you feel like an exploited idiot; you feel like your essential self is bleeding into the surroundings and you are powerless to stop the leaking.

A personal Heathrow worst: sitting on the tarmac on a Virgin Atlantic plane for 7 hours whilst (as they say) the ground crew tried to figure out what our plane's problem was. In the end I got to spend an extra 24 hours in Heathrow and to fly out the following day....

Amy said...

Best and Worst about living in western MA:

First, the worst:

1. Cold weather

2. No real city within 90 miles (I don't count Hartford or Springfield)

3. The ocean is over an hour away.

4. Nothing but mass media movies available 90% of the time

5. Limited career opportunities


1. The ocean is only an hour away

2. Boston and New York are both within driving distance

3. Lower cost of living

4. Quiet and peaceful for the most part (flipside of no cities, no movies, etc.)

5. The Red Sox!

laura k said...

Yay, thanks for your lists! It's just not a list post without Goldfine and Amy.

"Heathrow: a study in extremes", by John Goldfine. (I love the bit about the walking stick!)

Western Mass: a nice place, except when it's not.

tornwordo said...

I always start these and then something distracts me and I don't finish/post. We'll see if this one va voir le jour.

Best and worst things about being an American turned Canadian:


5. Family and friends never cease querying about when you will be "coming back".

4. Watching US politics and cringing at nearly all times. (I'm equally unenamored of Canadian, and especially Quebec politics but for different reasons.)

3. California sure had a nice climate.

2. No Del Taco, Supermex, In-n-Out. It is getting better though, they opened a Taco Bell 10 minute drive from my workplace.

1. Every time I go back home, I'm acutely aware that Serge and I are traveling as strangers in the federal government's eyes. Despite our enduring and licensed relationship.


5. Bagels, Poutine and Smoked Meat.

4. The city spirit. It's so live and let live. Multicultural, cosmopolitan and friendly.

3. The spectacular rise in real estate prices over the last 10 years. Especially in light of whet occurred in the states.

2. Universal Health Care. No not perfect, but it still rocks. If you need urgent care, you get it.

1. I can feel all smug about feeling like my country rejected me, and somehow I landed into a better life. I'm living the American dream.......in Canada! LOL.

* I wrote these randomly, not in order of intensity.

laura k said...

2. No Del Taco, Supermex, In-n-Out.

Coming from California, the In-n-Out desert must be hell!

I normally don't eat fast food, but if there were In-n-Out in New York or Ontario... I doubt I'd say that.