The God and the Devil in the Details- My life shortlist

What’s news?

Not too much news on the writing/blogging front (besides the normal writing and blogging), but I thought in these recent days of so many free-books (fre-e-books?), I think it’s important that readers remember the wise words in this post by Glen Krisch.    “Amazon Select: My own reader’s guidelines.”  Check it out, then spread the word.

What does the future hold?

If you follow my blog, you’ll note that this isn’t the post I had originally planned for this week, but circumstance didn’t allow me the time I wanted to work on my intended piece.  But rest assured, next Friday, I’ll be posting “End of the World Stories We Hate to Love, Part I (The Bible through Y2K).”

But without further ado…

A few years ago, a friend informed me that she had started a running list of things that she liked and didn’t like.  And she wasn’t kidding.  She pulled out a small notebook that she carried with her, and already several pages were filled with short details of things that struck her on a daily basis as being either “good” or “bad.”

* not the actual notebook, but you get the idea

I don’t remember most of them, but one I will never forget was that she liked when she was driving in the rain and went under a bridge… that momentary lapse in the sound of the rainfall on the car.

This idea of labeling things as “good” or “bad” sounds simplistic, but I loved the idea and gladly took on the project myself.  It was a good examination of myself, and as a writer, it’s these small details that we can possibly use to bring a character or story to life someday.

Also as a writer, I like to bring things to a close.  While she said that it was supposed to be a list that I continue (presumably for her in an endless collection of little notebooks), I made mine into something more akin to a piece of prose (but still mostly just a random list 🙂 ).

So NOW without further ado…

As Far as Heads from Tails


The God and the Devil in the Details

I like a list that mixes a little wisdom with a little humor.

I don’t like waking up in an empty tent.  I don’t know.  It just feels like you’re missing out on something, and when you finally stumble out, you unfailingly find everyone else already sitting around the little breakfast campfire, halfway through their first cup of coffee and right at the punch line of some unbelievably hilarious joke.

I love the little shoots of new growth on Evergreen trees when hiking the late-Spring mountains, so much brighter green and more delicate than the previous years’ growth.

I don’t like the little, pink, sweat lines on my belly from sitting shirtless on a chair in the sun.  You just know they’re not getting tan, and even when you stand up, you’ll still have these little pink lash marks across your stomach.  Dammit!

I like a restaurant where the server asks if you’ve been there before.  It usually means you’re in for a treat, something out of the ordinary, sometimes even a small performance just for the price of a good meal.

I don’t like people at conferences who are sure to ask at least one question of every speaker in order to be noticed.

I like the house where a party is being held when the party has moved to the backyard and you remain in the kitchen to talk with only one other.

I really don’t like “high five!”

but the low five will live forever.  Dig it, man.

I don’t like when resources is pronounced rezources, and mature with a hard t sound.  Too close to manure, which is often what most people who pronounce it that way are full of when they speak of maturity.  And much as I try to hate the sin and love the sinner, it’s funnier or funniest, and more fun or most fun.  It’s a simple rule, people.

I love removing the form boards from fresh concrete.  Much like God must’ve felt, I imagine.  I have made a creation of solid stone.  (Okay, I realize how much this one is just plain wrong, but it sounded good when I wrote it)

In a city as drought-ridden as Las Vegas, it seems pretty ridiculous to have as many automatic flush toilets as they do.  I just don’t like automatic flush toilets in general.

I love floating in the ocean just off the coast of Hawaii.

I hate lists that go on too long, so…

I adore food.

I love sex.

I love to be scared.

It makes me laugh to giggle.

It feels better when I’ve wept.

I love to live.

I live to love.

I’d hate to die,

but I look forward to what’s next.

What do I want from you?

I’d love your comments on any of my likes or dislikes.

Or I’d love to hear one or two of your own.  And I hope this inspires you to start your own little list.  It’s been a few years since I wrote this (obvious by the automatic flush toilets comment.  They’re everywhere now), and seeing it again has made me want to start up a new one.

And don’t forget to check back next Friday for “End of the World Stories We Hate to Love, Part I (The Bible through Y2K).”

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33 thoughts on “The God and the Devil in the Details- My life shortlist

  1. Carol Collier 01/27/2012 — 8:15 am

    Paul, what an interesting idea for an essay. Everyone has favorite things and pet peeves, but writers have a great format to display theirs to the world. The way we describe our characters and their emotions lets us vent our likes and dislikes. I hate teased, big hair, so when a bimbo comes into the story, that’s what she’ll have. I love the crinkles and smile lines on faces, so when I create a kind character, I describe him tht way. We seem to live in a binary world these days (at least in politics), not allowing many shades of gray. We seem to love or hate, rather than like or dislike. We often say “always” and “never” even though the words are rarely accurate. We do have some (almost) universal likes—babies, puppies, and kittens. My bucket list has grown so long I may never accomplish all of it, but I am starting my own like and dislike list today. Thanks for a good idea. Carol

    1. Thanks Carol. And some good points here. I like that you use those characteristics for your… characters. Hmm… characteristics… characters… 🙂

      Agree that there are rarely in-betweens, especially in this techno-social world where so many of us (myself included at times) feel like we have to make a statement. But there can be simpler things that we just like or don’t like so much.

      And it’s a fun project. In addition to learning a little more about yourself, it also makes you a little more aware of your surroundings, I think. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope you have a good weekend.

  2. I’m totally stealing this idea. I hope you don’t mind.

    I love your list. Especially the waking up in an empty tent one. I hate waking up in any tent.

    I also hate automatic toilets. They always flush before you’re done and then refuse to flush when you are done. Whoever invented them was a sadist.

    I think making the list of things I dislike will be easier than the list of likes. But the list of likes will raise my spirits, almost like counting your blessings, but less sappy.

    First item on my “list”: I like really good blog posts and new ideas.


    1. Hey Stacey,

      Thanks for stopping by. Glad you like the list. And I hope you can find some good “likes” of your own. I know sometimes it’s much easier to find the things that annoy us.

      So steal away! And thanks again. Hope you have a good weekend.

  3. One of the things I love ,more than anything else is going into my boys’ bedrooms when they are asleep and just looking at their peaceful faces.
    Or a toddler’s giggle. That makes me smile every single time.
    Loved the one about driving under the bridge when it’s raining. Related to that is sitting in a shed when it’s raining, and listening to the rain hit the roof.
    Interesting post, Paul. May just dig out one of my notebooks and start keeping a list myself.

    1. Do it! You already have a good start. As I mentioned, I wrote this one several years ago. It would be a whole new list since becoming a father. I’ll definitely need to revisit.

      And I like the rain on the shed, too. I like a light rain falling on most any surface.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a good weekend.

  4. My 5 year old daughter calls automatic toilets, faucets, etc. “dramatic.” And so there are–they scare the heck out of her!

    I also love being one of two in the kitchen when the party has moved to the backyard.

    1. Meghan, that’s awesome. They are very dramatic. The one about being in the kitchen actually dates back to my single days. It was always great to feel like you didn’t need to be talking to anyone else, and likewise that the person you were talking to felt the same way.

      But I still enjoy it these days. It’s just a little different. Now it’s usually because I or the other person is preparing food, and as good friends, we’re taking a calm moment to catch up uninterrupted.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment.

  5. I love sitting by the lake in Maine on a sunny summer day and waiting for the loons to call to one another. I love laughing with my kids, especially when we’re being sarcastic with one another. I hate commuting to work.

    1. Ah, a lake in Maine in Summer. That’s sounds great right now.

      And “amen” on the commuting. When I lived in Montana, I was able to bike everywhere (even most days of the winter). Now my job is an hour away, and it makes me crazy.

      Good to hear from you. Hope all is going well in your neck of the woods.

  6. Love this entry, and I could especially relate to the empty tent one. I hate that! I may have to look into stealing this one myself. Looks like you might have a few thieves in your midst 🙂

    1. It is an idea meant to be passed on, my friend. I hope you do steal it.

      Glad you can relate on the empty tent thing. While I love that early morning cool of a tent, realizing you can sleep a little longer because you’re camping and don’t really have anything pressing to do, it’s always better when someone else is there. And I’m almost as big of a fan of the morning campfire and coffee that’s way too strong with grounds in the bottom of a tin cup.

  7. I like you. I like this post. I like the movie Amelie, and how it starts with random likes/dislikes. I like poetry, irony, and the mystery of the human condition, which feels both familiar & strange when taken in these gourmet morsels. ❤

    1. Right back at ya, Red. You’re pretty cool yourself.

      And I love how you worded your comment. I love that I’ve met so many cool writers over the past six months.

  8. Nice post, Paul. Makes one stop and think. In fact, these two came to mind when you mentioned tents.

    I dislike waking up in a tent when the air has leaked out of the mattress.
    I like sitting on the dock at night when the moon is full and the lake is calm (in August, when most of the mosquitos are dead).

    1. Air mattress? You camp in style 🙂

      And the dock sounds great. I might change yours a little for another of my own, sitting on our deck at night when the moon rises over the mountains and there is no wind (in late July, when the biting gnats are dead).

      Maybe we’ll have to swap visits to these locations someday.

  9. What a great post! I hate high fives as well. I always feel ridiculous when someone makes me. I love spotting hawks and eagles when driving and pointing them out to my daughter. My daughter, in return, dislikes when I constantly point out birds to her while we are driving.
    Looking forward to next weeks post.

    1. Hey Kodi, thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I hate the forced high five. I’ve grown a little better with them since working with high school kids. It’s kind of cool when they want to high five you. God save me, I even fist-bump a few of them.

      And I love your two responses. When my Dad used to drive Kira in to school, apparently he would give her all the scientific facts about cows and sheep. I don’t think she ever said much in return, but he still talked to her about it.

  10. What an awesome list, Paul! Seriously, I loved every bit of it. It made me shake my head, it made me ponder, it made me smile and it made me laugh.
    Sorry I haven’t been by in a while. It was the week from hell, and I am only now catching up.
    Have a great one!


    1. Hey Jimmy, thanks for stopping by. Glad the post had multiple effects on you (curious what would make you shake your head… in disbelief that I would say such a thing? disagreement?… ah, the fragile ego of the writer 🙂 )

      Anyway, no sweat. I’m glad to see you when I can. I completely understand “week from hell. Personally, I had to make a list of blogs that I wanted to be sure I stopped by and commented (yours included of course). What I found was a pretty significant number, so I actually had to develop a schedule for visiting blogs that would work with my paying day job and the need to be working on my writing, as well on my days off. Unfortunately, it worked out that I only get to see my friends about once every two weeks (with a few exceptions here and there).

      As I’ve always said whenever a friend visits (in real life, I’m talking now), I’ll take whatever time I can get with you whenever I can get it. I usually wish it was more, but such is life.

      Hope you’re having a good weekend.

  11. Las Vegas also has a lot of fountains for a city in a desert. I saw a YouTube video by Felicia Day where she said she didn’t get Vegas’s obsession with the fountains, that they aren’t romantic because they’re ‘mechanized spitting.’ Funny, and … well, yuck!

    Love: The moment when something absurd happens and you look at your friend and know he’s thinking exactly the same thing you are.
    Hate: People who drive HUGE vehicles VERY SLOWLY in my parking garage. If you can’t drive it with confidence, don’t drive it! Or at least don’t drive it in front of me.

    Love: Inappropriate bouts of laughter.
    Hate: Getting doggy eye boogers on me (ugh!).

    Love: The three hours after all of the chores for the week are finally done and the floors are clean, the fridge stocked and the laundry basket is empty.
    Hate: The pressure I put on myself to always get everything done, no matter how unreasonable it is to expect that of anyone.

    1. I have a feeling you are the type of person who would have a lot of fun with this type of project. Granted, we don’t know each other that well, but in a lot of ways, you remind me of the woman I mention who got me to do this in the first place.

      It was interesting to visit my friends in Las Vegas during the worst of the drought. They had a probably fifteen or twenty foot waterfall feature at the entrance of their development, and it was interesting to see the couple years when the development/city stopped running it.

      I mean, c’mon. It’s the desert. Granted it’s supposed to be some sort of oasis, but in reality, it isn’t. Weird place. For more reasons than just the water thing.

      And talk about people driving huge SUVs– and the like– that they never take off pavement and in a place that never gets snow… sheesh. These are the same people who keep the gas companies able to charge the prices they do. Okay, don’t get me started on that rant.

  12. I love this list idea and the comments have been great. With a list like this in mind, you really do notice more each day. After reading your blog, I was sitting in the kitchen looking out at the wind blowing through the trees. I realized how much I love watching our big pines sway in the wind, and almost immediately, I also thought about how much I hate being out in that wind as it blows through the trees! I really liked your comment about going to a new restaurant and having the server ask if you have been there before. I always consider that a good sign. And I love those moments in the kitchen, too.

    1. Thanks for your comments. As far as the wind, you should see my response to Marie’s comments. Definitely preachin’ to the choir about the wind. That’s interesting though about the pines. We don’t really have anything that “sways”… with the exception of our young Aspens.

  13. I love Spring on a farm or ranch, for it is a time of renewal. Being right there when new life comes into this world is likely the closest thing to a miracle I have had the good fortune to witness many times in my life. Speaking of miracles, I love babies and watching them in slumber as their tummys rise and fall with each life giving breath, as though they had been taught correct breathing by a Yoga Master. I love (maybe just like) the part about getting older that allows me to re-examine some of the precepts upon which I have built a life…reinforce those that still work, change those that don’t. What do I hate? Well, that’s it. I hate hate (the noun) itself. Except for more freedom to be with those I’m close to (which I love) and choose how I want to spend the day, I pretty much ha%#, er, uh, umm, dislike, that’s it…I dislike getting older.

    1. Some good ones here. Although I was too little to remember our farm in New York, I’m sure there was a lot of that there.

      And a good lesson that we should always be learning (and ergo, willing to change our notions about things) until we take our last breath. Something I tell my students… that changing our mind or opinions when given new information isn’t necessarily a bad thing… but it’s always a good reminder for myself as well. Easy to get set in our ways as we get older.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  14. First of all, I love the blip about Glen Krisch’s post. It makes sooo much sense.

    I don’t like automatic toilets because if you don’t get up fast enough, you could bathe certain body parts in unsanitary water. Enough said on that one.

    I’ve solved your tent dilemma. Don’t sleep in tents. My sleeping bags go right on the ground, and I don’t use an air mattress.

    I want to go on a fishing trip to Maine, as well!

    Great post and many thieves. 😀


    1. Yeah, and the sudden whoosh of cold air on the undercarriage isn’t so great, either. But I mostly don’t like them because they seem wasteful to me. Living in Montana, we went by the “If it’s yellow, let it mellow” rule.

      And I used to be an outside sleeping bag guy. That’s a whole different ballgame. The vulnerability is huge (as if the thin tent would actually protect you against anything with claws and teeth).

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope you had a good weekend.

  15. I love that fresh air in the great outdoors. It’s not just clawed things you have to watch out for either. Skunks can visit. 😦


  16. Such a good idea! I’m not really a list person but after reading this I’m going to give it a go.

    1. I’m appreciate it, Barbara. I’m a huge list person, whether it’s daily chores or goals in life. This one was just for fun. Thanks for stopping by.

  17. I love the sound of a lone meadowlark on a still summer day (or that of a whippoorwill in the twilight, or just about any birdsong). Those sounds used to be a lot more prevalent than they are now.

    I dislike sloppy use of language, especially in published books. I hate to see aspiring writers wondering whether spelling and grammar really matter.

    1. At the time Shakespeare was living in Stratford-upon-Avon, it is said that there were more birds than people. I think those types of surroundings can certainly have a positive effect on someone.

      And yes, it is frustrating when writers don’t know any better. Now, if they are using it to demonstrate character, I’m okay with it. But the old adage goes, “You have to know the rules before you can break them.”

      Thanks for stopping by, Steve.

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