the totally frivolous goofy time-wasting blog of lists

by Toni McGee Causey

I am writing the finale of my book and there are words with the sense that I should make which are gone, spilled, dripped, bludgeoned onto the page of the manuscript and my brain, when called upon for sense for the blog, said, and I quote, “No.” And then there was much cursing and lots of procrastinating (did you know there is actually a girl who knitted an entire Ferrari? or a guy who builds insanely huge buildings out of decks of cards?) and I even fed the brain chocolate ice cream, and still, there was a “No.”

At first, I was kinda proud of the amount of work I did this week, because it was a good output for ol’ slowpoke here, and then I saw JT’s post where she wrote a quibillion words and then Cornelia’s post, where she raised JT another billion and probably did it while taming a lion with her other hand, and I looked around at the fact that I had written (oh, like I am going to tell you after those numbers) and played nonstop with the 3-year-old for two days (much drooling ensued) (me, not her) and I realized, I cannot even whine about not having the words for a blog.

So then I thought… Lists! everyone loves lists! Yay! Problem solved!

Until I realized this required coming up with something to list.





(And you wonder why I talk about football.)


Okay, I have a list. Things I would never do, no way, no how, not even if you paid me HUGE, as in Bill Gates huge. (Well, possibly Bill Gates huge, if you also gave me valium and a few shots.)

1) jump out of a perfectly good airplane

Now, I know that there are a bunch of people who love to do this, and a whole bunch of people who, for military purposes, are made to do this, whether they love it or not (and really, read the fine print when you sign up for military service, because I have a sneaky suspicion that the “will be forced to jump out of a plane” clause is really well hidden… wedged somewhere between “will get to study to be all you can be” and “may possibly be hazardous work environments”)… and I just want to say to those people who do it voluntarily for kicks: seek help. You are not sane.

Of course, I am the woman who fell off the third-from-the-bottom step this summer and fractured her foot in three places. Imagine the damage that I would do jumping out of an airplane. And don’t give me that nonsense about more people die in a car, etc., because the entire way down, I would be obsessing over just who packed my parachute and were they having a bad day, had their girlfriend broken up with them and did they feel like quitting their job and weren’t really paying attention in between the sobbing and the drunk texting and I would have a complete heart attack before I could even pull the chute.

2) Run with the bulls in Pamploma, Spain. Or anywhere, where bulls may run. Because do you see that? —–>

That, my friends, is a bull. NOTE THE POINTY THINGS. Those pointy things are in front of the bull. If the bull is behind you, then the pointy things are between you and the bull, and I am just slightly above average in intelligence, but even I can see that the bull, who knows how to use the horns to move things out of his way… also has four feet. That would be two more feet than I have. Odds are, he’s going to be faster. And if he’s pissed off (and wouldn’t you be if you’d been herded into a narrow street and poked and yelled at and had to chase a bunch of morons?)… he will probably not be thinking, “Oh, dear, look at that dainty little thing there who can’t run very fast; I shall swoop past her, leaving her untouched, for I am a manly bull, full of honor and compassion.” 

Of course, you don’t really have to outrun the bulls. You just have to outrun the other idiots behind you, who are between you and the bulls.

3) Bomb squad, bomb defuser, red wire or blue wire ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?  I can’t commit to a favorite ice cream, or a favorite food, much less a life-changing choice of which wire do I cut to keep from blowing up before the timer runs out.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I am extremely grateful that there are military people and police type people who do this sort of thing every day, and I know that the technologies have advanced and there are (somewhat) better levels of protection, but still. I get distracted too easily by whatever is shiny flapping in my peripheral vision, and it doesn’t take much for me to see something, start thinking what if? and run down the rabbit hole for a few minutes or a few hours, when, meanwhile, dinner is burning and the phone has rung repeatedly for twenty minutes and I didn’t hear or see a thing.

And it makes me wonder… what do they do with the guys who test at the lower end of the class? You know, they still have a passing grade to graduate, but they’re not at the very tip top of the class? those guys? I don’t know about you, but I think it’s really okay if my lawyer was tenth or so in his graduating class, but the bomb squad guy? Insane pressure to be the best at what he or she does. And who wants to work next to the bomb guy who graduated last in his class?

So how about you? What are three things you would totally never, ever, no way, no how, not even with a HUGE reward… ever do?

Contest winners from two weeks ago:

Shannon J

Larry Gasper


Mary (mgarrett)

Donna Kuyper

If you would all email me at toni [at] tonimcgeecausey [dot] com and tell me the online bookstore of your choice and which email you’d like the certficate sent to, I’ll them out right away!

Meanwhile, I am going back to my finale (which, honestly, I’m very happy about, even if I didn’t do eleventy billion words on it this week) (grin)… and I am looking forward to hearing about what you all would not ever ever ever do.

29 thoughts on “the totally frivolous goofy time-wasting blog of lists

  1. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Those are pretty damn good three things. I am slightly more likely to try number 1 than numbers 2 and 3, so maybe I would change that one to "join the military", since you kind of brought it up. Otherwise, I'm with you

    Are these page counts starting to bother anyone else?

  2. Karen in Ohio

    My daughter's boyfriend just ran with the bulls this past year. Everyone has to wear white pants and shirt, and if they don't have a red scarf they have to buy one.

    He has a photo on Facebook; there's a bull almost breathing down his neck. He has the most terrified expression I've ever seen in real life.

    It's a guy thing.

    Being afraid of heights, I'm afraid jumping out of airplanes was always a no-go for me. I can't even conceive of hurtling down at mountain at 35 mph on two skinny little slats of wood, either.

    And I don't know if it's fear or incompetence, but I can't think of a mystery plot to save my soul. There will probably not be any competition from me in that area!

    Page counts, page schmounts.

  3. J.D. Rhoades

    I'm with you on the jumping out of planes. I've often said the only way you're going to get me to jump out of a plane is if you set the sumbitch on fire. But IIRC, Airborne is not something they slot you into; you have to ask for it, then qualify.

    Also as for bomb disposal, they don't do the "red wire/blue wire" thing if they can help it at all; the preferred disposal technique is to move the bomb someplace safe and blow it up. Which, according to a civilian bomb tech I spoke to one time, leads to a slogan among EOD guys: "It ain't our fuckin' luggage." That is to say, if your suitcase even looks a little hinky, they're not going to muck about with it; they're going to blow it up, just to be safe. Still, once in a while they do have to get in and lay their hot little hands on it, which is something I think I'll pass on as well.

    Thing I'll never do: spelunking. Way underground, thousands of tons of rock above me, in a narrow chute with no way to turn around or go back, and if I get stuck, there I stay till I die, and oh, yeah, it's cold and wet as well? And pitch dark? No thanks, y'all have fun.

  4. Karen in Ohio

    Dusty, I did the Wild Cave Tour at Mammoth Caves once, when I was young and foolish, and let a boyfriend talk me into going.

    Yeah. I'm with you there, pal. Never again. *shiver*

  5. PK the Bookeemonster

    For writing being such a lonely business, I'm sensing competitiveness in word counts. It could become an Olympic sport. Come on, they have curling ferheaven'ssakes.

    First, I'm going to focus on top three jobs I wouldn't do, you could not pay me enough money to do it.
    Underground miner. I just don't do underneath the surface. No. Not going. Nope.
    Crab fisherman a la Deadliest Catch. Extremely cold. Wet a lot. Dead tired all the time. No way.
    Portable toilet cleaner. 'nuff said.

    Let's see recreational-wise?
    Spelunking (see underground and no)
    Mountain climbing. Why do they consider it "fun" when your life is in jeopardy? I don't get it.
    A toss up here. Either bull riding (I don't care if it's only 8 seconds, that bull really doesn't like you) or scuba diving (I'm relying on a machine for air? Are you kidding me?)

  6. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Toni

    "did you know there is actually a girl who knitted an entire Ferrari?"

    Great! If I get her some wire wool, will she knit me an engine block?

    I'd LOVE to jump out of a perfectly serviceable aeroplane. I should imagine it's so much better than jumping out of one that's just about to crash – less likely to end up with your hair full of red-hot bits of engine casing on the way down…

    I'm with you on the bulls and the bomb disposal, though – although I did have a pal in RAF bomb disposal, who said they just withdrew to about half a mile away and then fired a Barrett Light Fifty at whatever it was they wanted to blow up. Sounds like a great job to me.

    Dusty hit the nail on the head for me – not never going potholing, no matter what the pay is.

  7. billie

    I might be swayed to jump out of a plane if the parachute was quadruple-checked for safety, but I would NEVER bungee-jump.

    Spelunking, mentioned above, is another thing I would never ever do. The very idea of being in a tight tunnel inside a cave and not being able to get out fast completely unhinges me.

    Go into the crawl space of a house. There's a long-standing family "bet" that if someone put a million dollars in the far corner of the crawl space beneath whatever house I was living in and I could have it if I crawled through to get it – whether i would get over my fear of big spiders in the dark or not. I don't really envision that happening, even for a cool million, but it's never yet been tested – and now I live in a house with no crawl space! 🙂 Once the joke even went so far as my brother saying there weren't even spiders under the house, and he was going to prove it to me. We opened the crawl space door, he handed me the big flashlight, I aimed it, and there was the biggest wolf spider I'd ever seen.

  8. Cornelia Read

    My mother has jumped out of an airplane. That's plenty for one family. I'm also anti-bull-running and not a huge fan of bombs, so… EXCELLENT LIST!!!

    And Toni, I'm sure your word count is filled with actual WORDS, unlike whatever I typed was. I have no idea.

  9. TerriMolina

    You always make me laugh, Toni!!
    I don't have a list for things I won't do because if I don't plan to do them why think about them?? =)
    Although, as for things people do for fun that I'll never understand is sticking their hand/head in a predator's mouth. (do you ever watch TruTV's World's Dumbest…?) like the gator isn't going to smell fresh meat and not want to chomp on it?? Also…bungee jumping…really?
    As for the word count intimidation….just seeing all your books listed on the side is intimidating enough for me. 😉

  10. Fran

    I have a friend who is ex-military with "Ranger" in there somewhere, and he jumped out of a perfectly good airplane because it was his job. His chute opened right before he hit the ground. He bounced. Three times. Dislocated bunches o' joints but Did. Not. Break. A. Bone. Not one.

    He figures he's living on borrowed time, and he's pretty darned amazing.

    Great, great list!

  11. Allison Brennan

    Three things? I have to narrow it to three things?

    Your three things would be my three things. Definitely. I can't imagine anything I'd want to do LESS than those three. Except maybe be Steve Rowe's assistant on Dirty Jobs. I might skydive rather than work in a sewer, or run around in sh*t.

  12. Gar Haywood


    First, let me say that this is the best "Ain't Got Nothin' to Do With Writin'" blog post ever. Way to go.

    As for the things I would never do, the three you mention are right up there on my list, along with:

    1. I would never re-marry my ex-wife. Uh-uh. I'd rather try to defuse a bomb while running with the Bulls in Pamploma with an opened parachute strapped to my back. I'm serious.

    2. You remember that scene in INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM where Indy has to reach deep into a hole in the wall to open a hidden door? A hole that's FREAKIN' CRAWLING WITH SLIMY BUGS AND GOD KNOWS WHAT OTHER KIND OF MULTI-LEGGED ABOMINATIONS?? Well, I ain't doin' that. Not ever. Kate Capshaw can call me a punk, whatever, but I'm not putting my hand in that hole, period.

    3. And speaking of the word "punk," there are a great number of things I would like to think I would never do in prison, and I think you all (the guys, especially) can guess what they are. But this is mere speculation on my part. I'd probably need to see the shiv involved to really know for sure. (Let's hope I never actually have to see the shiv involved and find out for sure, OK?)

    4. All those tricks kids do on bikes and skateboards these days where concrete and steel and sharp, pointy objects abound. Hey, I like my teeth in my mouth, my nose running vertical to my eyes, and my brain encased in my skull. Clearly, I don't have the total disregard for all these things necessary to ever become much of a shredder, and that's perfectly fine with me.

    5. NO JOKE HERE: I could never be a cop. Not because I'd worry about getting myself killed — I probably would — but because uniformed policemen are the first responders to every bloody, sickening, unholy act of violence people commit against each other. They see things many soldiers never see on the battlefield. That ain't for me. I just don't have the stomach for it, and I'm man enough to admit it.

    And yeah, Alex, all this "I wrote a bazillion words in an hour with one hand tied behind my back" chest-thumping we've been seeing around here lately is a real pisser. I wrote 9 pages yesterday and I'M DAMN PROUD OF IT! Anybody wants to call me a slacker 'cause that's the best I can do, I'll be happy to see you in the bar at the next big convention.

  13. Anonymous

    …..and for anyone who is waffling on going to the next writer's convention…….don't hesitate…..get your reservation now and spend the whole time in the bar being amused by Gar. He's hilarious, as you know by reading his comments, and a really friendly guy. and he ain't hard to look at either! (Sorry, Gar's wife….I am sure you are used to stuff like that!)

  14. kim

    Up until a few months back, number one would have been on this list. Then I found myself in the middle of a midlife crisis I suppose, and in a moment of complete insanity, jumped out of a perfectly good plane. Glad I did it. Not sure I'd do it again.

    1. Get on a submarine / deep sea diving. The thought of all that water pressure. Nope. Couldn't do it.
    2. Bungee jumping. My stomach could never handle the bouncing.
    3. Running with the bulls. I mean really, why would anyone do this??

  15. Debbie

    Can't add anything to the list 'cause my brains just not on…well okay, one thing. Won't get into a car with someone angry, on drugs (you know the kind), drunk, overtired, or anything that could ever cause me to experience the deployment of an airbag first hand again.
    Going now to check out Gar's photo! <grin>

  16. lil Gluckstern

    Your three things plus no spielunking, underwater restaurants, and the Gran Canyon Skywalk. I guess I'm so dippy i like air around me, the ground under my feet. I enjoyed your post. I'm just amazed by you writers. These posts are in addition to your writing!?!

  17. Mary

    I'm with you on not risking my life deliberately for "fun." It just wouldn't be fun . . .
    A friend's grandson gave up plans to join the police force for Gar's reason. Responding to a terrible accident, his partner/mentor (?) said, "You get used to it." He decided he didn't want to become hardened enough to not react to what they had seen. He's doing sports training/therapy instead.
    Given the choice between nursing and teaching (in the '60's limited choices for women), I definitely stuck with teaching. I didn't even want to take biology, too much icky stuff.
    Of course, I realize that teaching might be on other people's "never do that" lists, but my students were mostly nice to be with.

  18. JT Ellison

    I'd actually love to go skydiving someday. After the autopsy trip, I've revises my thoughts on Never say Never. I'm still terrified of heights, I have the urge to fling myself off, though I try for immersion therapy whenever possible. I'm not a fan of being underground, so no spelunking for me. And no mountain climbing either. I can say with all honesty that I'm not planning on getting on a motorcycle anytime soon. Too unprotected. But get me a ride in an F-14 and I'm there.

    And Gar, please tell me you were kidding about the chest thumping. Quite the opposite. I was trying to be honest about feeling like an utter failure because I couldn't get the book to work. And the panic that ensued so I could meet my deadline. It wasn't pride. It was meant to show that even professionals back themselves into corners sometimes and have huge doubts. I hope that's what came across, because if it didn't, I have to go fix the blog.

  19. Anonymous

    JT…….I think you are being too sensitive. (Dontchya hate it when people say that?) But Seriously, Gar was only teasing you. He would never criticize you. He was poking fun of himself because he is not as prolific as you are. Hell. WHO IS!? Everyone gives you shit about how much you work and how organized you are. It is all with love and admiration and a teeny bit of envy (NOT IN A BAD WAY, as Cornelia would say) Honest! Besides, I think he was talking about Cornelia strapping her ass in her chair to write 60 pages in two days, or whatever, because she missed her damn deadline!

  20. Anonymous

    and Gar? You probably ARE a bit of a slacker… a good way. See ya in the bar with gloves on? Nah. It's too hard to hold those martini glasses. : )

  21. Jeanne in MN

    I also won't be spelunking. I read Nevada Barr's book set in a cave, and all the participants had to go to the bathroom in plastic bags and haul that back out with them. No thank you.

    In general I would avoid anything that has the potential to break bones. This can include walking when there is ice under the snow. Rock wall climbing is also out, along with the other activities mentioned in the other comments.

  22. toni mcgee causey

    Morning spent with the 3 yr old and the movie Tangled (fun — and watching her be so completely engrossed, even though she didn't understand half of it was the best part).

    Loved loved loved all of the comments. Totally agreed on the spelunking. And Gar, you completely cracked me up, especially with the ex thing. My oldest son is a police officer (SWAT type, but they call it SOU) and my youngest is a firefighter and I'd have to add those two jobs for the very reasons you've said. Every once in a while they'll mention something horrific and I try to listen, but my brain is going LA LA LA LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU because these are the kids I barely let cross the street even when they were clearly old enough… and now they're fighting crime, dodging bullets, fighting fires, and seeing horrific accidents / murders / suicides.

    JT and C, I really do hope you know we're teasing you and it's because we're in awe of you both (talent and generous spirit) and we did totally get that you were talking about how you'd backed yourselves into a corner and you were being honest. I wouldn't want my teasing you here to give the impression that you did anything that came off negatively–you both rock, and we love you. Never worry about being honest. I'm glad people get to see that it's not easy, that there are times when we write ourselves into corner after corner and have to work like hell to dig out–it's really a true part of the business.

  23. Reine

    I can't cross Mass. Ave. without help.

    I fainted when I saw a photo of P-Wog holding onto a rope – with his feet – while hanging out of a helicopter. I told him he must never brag about such accomplishments to his mother, never mind show her pictures.

    I could not walk through the stacks at Andover-Harvard Library, because the floors were made of glass. This was problematic when my adviser's office was located there. I missed three appointments with her before she offered to meet me in the refectory. She also helped me across Mass. Ave. by enticing me with lunch at Changsho.

  24. Catherine

    Before I read through everyone else's hell no lists, my chief no way was water slides. I eventually gave up on even the little slides when the kids were young and retired happily from water slides forever. Well water slides more than a metre long. I have built up a dislike for water slides that now I hit the mute button when I see people screaming down in commercials. I hate the whole uncontrolled plummeting through a fibre glass tube suspended in the air thing….with the short free fall at the end (usually with my swimmers uncomfortably lodged in ways contrary to pleasing fashion)…

    I am happy however to climb. I haven't attempted a mountain to the level of ropes and equipment, but will happily still scale any tree that is high and sturdy enough. A long term fitness goal is to reposition my body mass to the point that it is possible to haul myself up a rock face.

    I might maybe, someday throw myself out of a plane. Anything involving going more than a metre underground is out though.

    Eww yeah also there is some new thing where you let little fish nibble off the dead skin from your feet. NEVER going to happen.

    Hell no!


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