Friday, December 31, 2004

Let Midnight Come

I said that if I can make it until midnight I would be all right. Lord, let midnight come. Yesterday I thought all my plans to visit New York City would go smoothly. Never on any trip to NYC have I had so many obstacles. I tried to purchase a ticket online but the system was down so I had to call customer service. They were more like a customer dis-service than anything else. I spent over an hour on the phone with them. My time of departure was delayed by an hour and a half. While en route to NYC I got a call on my cell phone from Langston. I hadn’t talked to Langston in a week and he was calling to let me know he was at intermission of Gem of the Ocean and wanted to call and let me know how much he enjoyed the first act. Langston lives on the other side of the country. What was he doing in NYC when he knew I would be here? Further, why was he calling me to let me know he was in town? Was this all some plot to rattle my bones one more time before the end of the year. He wants to go to breakfast or lunch before he leaves on Sunday. I love his company and I know that I could love him but it just can’t be. I called a mutual friend of Langston and I and he told me he knew that Langston was going to be in NYC but didn’t connect we would be here at the same time. He also said that he thinks Langston was here with ‘someone special.’ Torture.

When I finally arrived to NYC an hour after I expected to get here I headed to Escualitas with friends to get my mind right. It was there that I was violated. My cell phone was stolen. Explaining the details will only piss me off. Luckily the friend I am staying with had an extra phone and I was able to go early this morning to get my old phone turned off and his activated with my number. Of course all the numbers I had in the old phone are gone. Is it over yet?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Computer Love

Music While You Meditate

Can it really ever happen to me? Computer love. Since my freshmen year of college I have used the internet to do research, shop, listen to music, play games, and communicate with people literally all over the world. It's said that now you can find anything your heart desires on the World Wide Web - cars, houses, clothes, books, vacation packages, drugs, sandwiches with the Virgin Mary in them, anything - but the question I have pondered since my freshmen year of college is if one can truly find love.

The net is filled with chat rooms, message boards and dating sites specifically designed for people who are looking for someone on the information super highway that they haven't or can't come across just walking down the street. Have I done my share of meeting and greeting with the hope that one would become a dear friend or lover? Of course I have, maybe even more than my fair share. To date, none of those dates have panned out - on the romantic front anyway. Several guys, I met initially with the hopes of romance, have become good friends though. Most of the other encounters I have tried to forget.

I know three black gay couples who have met in chat rooms or via internet personal ads. Each of these couples have been together at least four years. I've yet to run across any couples recently who've established and maintained a healthy, real, growing relationship. One of those couples is my mentor and his partner. They have been together for five years and have lived with each other in upstate New York for the last three. When I look at their relationship I see a healthy representation of a loving black man to man relationship that I would use as a model for whatever relationship I'd build with someone.

I think the internet however was a different place four years ago. Today, it often seems those lurking on the net are looking for quick, casual sex, merely a band-aid put on the real problem that many of these men face; their loneliness. They are searching for someone to make them feel good for a couple of hours and when that time is up they find themselves alone again. Others are on the net seeking sex for pure recreation, others for validation. There are a number of reasons I suppose.

But every now and then I still find myself on the net searching, thinking, wanting to believe that there is someone out there sitting at his computer searching, thinking and wanting to believe too. Hell, I haven't had any luck finding a mate in any traditional venues yet, so computer love, maybe it could happen to me.

Monday, December 27, 2004


Last night I returned home from what had to have been one of my best holiday trips to Cleveland in several years. I had been apprehensive about going home because I thought my family would in some way bother me like they normally do at least once every visit. I have to admit my apprehensiveness was for nothing. I had a wonderful visit. The best day of the trip was Christmas.

Gifts: I know the day isn’t about getting gifts but I got everything I asked for – socks, underwear and a new white button down shirt, you can never have too many of any of those things. This year my uncle surprised me with a gift as well, a margarita mix set. He got my sister a pina colada mix set and my brother a margarita mix set also. The fact that my uncle is a recovering alcoholic and has been in AA for the past 12 years made me question his gift choices but who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth. Though my mother did ask if he thought all of her children were boozers because he got us all something alcohol related. He just laughed. That meant yes.

Perhaps the most interesting part of our family gift exchange came when my brother Jimmy Jam gave my uncle his gift. First, everyone was very impressed that my brother presented my uncle with a gift in real wrapping paper. Apparently Jimmy Jam, age 29, wrapped the gifts for his work Christmas party in the Sunday comics paper last week. We were all were pleased he had taken it up a notch with the wrapping paper. As my uncle began to take the wrapping paper off the gift we all laughed. It was a box of Honey Smacks. We all thought it was a gag gift because my uncle often eats cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner (like me he can’t cook). But no, my brother told him to open the box. There was no cereal in it. Instead there was plastic bag with a very nice white sweater in it. Jimmy Jam explained he had run out of gift boxes so he figured the cereal box would do.

Food: Every family has traditions of their own. Way back when I was in fifth or sixth grade my mother gathered her three children around and asked us what we wanted for Christmas dinner. No one was really interested in turkey, dressing and traditional holiday fare. We wanted barbecue ribs. Since then we have always barbecued outdoors in the cold of Cleveland on Christmas day. This year I don’t know what my brother did to that grille but he put his foot in those ribs and my mommas’ macaroni and cheese, potato salad, baked beans and greens left nothing to be desired.

Conversation: Christmas at my house is full of more jokes (and sometimes very raunchy ones) than a marathon of Def Comedy Jam – the first two seasons. This years highlighted topics of humor included my mothers weight gain, my sisters hair, or rather her need for it to be done, my brothers girlfriend who is the same age as my mother, my uncle now being rationed on how much food he can take home and my lack of a boyfriend. My uncles words, “if you don’t bring a man home soon we gonna think you perpetrating.” A faux gay - *clutch the pearls.* I am the only one of my mothers three children who has never seriously dated anyone and never brought anyone home for a holiday. I reflected on that several times during the day. I actually have a family that would be welcoming and embrace myself and a lover but I can’t seem to get one or keep one.

Jesus Christ: I suppose it was his birthday but there wasn’t very much mention of him. For the first time I felt so very strange all week long watching the news, going to malls and whatnot and hearing so much talk about Christmas and Christmas shopping but hardly if ever heard anyone mention Christ. For all the morals and values this country seems to want to emphasize as of late, I didn’t feel anyone anywhere truly put an emphasis on the birth of Christ this year. I know in my heart though that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Yesterday I sat on the couch with my mom before I left and we had a great talk. I told her how happy I was that I came home and how I enjoyed spending time with my brother and sister. Not once did we bicker. She said her kids were all finally growing up and I’m still her baby. Yep, I’m still my mommas’ baby.

Next stop on the holiday tour - Starr returns to the City for New Year's Eve!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Please Take Care

This morning I woke up at 4:30 AM to catch the 5:56 AM MARC train from DC to BWI Airport. I showered, I sang, at 5:00 AM I took one last look around my apartment, grabbed my bag and locked the door behind me. I was on my way home to Cleveland for Christmas with my family. I was rushing through Union Station headed to the ticket counter when a tall dark skin man in his mid to late forties approached me. He was carrying a plastic grocery bag with things in it that I could tell were not groceries but I couldn’t tell you what. He wore a pair of blue jogging pants, layers of shirts and a scarf. His skin was chocolate smooth and his hair sprinkled with gray. I don’t recall ever seeing this man before. He appeared a stranger.

“I don’t mean to bother you,” he said. I knew where this was going. “I am HIV+, my lover of several years passed away not too long ago, I have an appointment at Whitman Walker Clinic later this morning, and right now I am hungry and I have no money for food. Will you please buy me something to eat?” That is not exactly where I thought this was going. I was on the right train but the wrong track. More often than not I ignore requests from a passersby for dollars or change. I never know when to believe them and sometimes I don’t know if I have it to spare. "Spare some change and your luck might change," said one playwright. Today I was in a rush and this man could have been lying to me and I will never know if he was or not, but I told him to walk with me. We headed to McDonald’s. As we walked, we talked and he thanked me for my kindness. I told him it was not a problem. He asked my destination. I told him I was headed to the airport on my way to Ohio. He said he’d been to Ohio once. When we arrived to the counter, he ordered, I paid. He turned to me again and said that he appreciated what I was doing for him and I told him that, “We have to take care of each other.”

I bid him adieu and headed to purchase my ticket for the train ride to BWI. I boarded the train, scrambled to the airport and within an hour I was in the sky and within an hour of that I found myself here at home, in Cleveland. The snow was just beginning to come down and it has continued for the better part of the day and this evening. I look out my mothers’ living room window and see the picturesque scene of Christmas in Cleveland, a white Christmas.
I’d gone through my day not thinking about the exchange I had with the man from this morning until I looked at a picture that sits next to my mothers bed of my uncle who died in September 2000 of complications related to HIV. My mind hopped to his funeral and the last words I spoke to my uncles longtime on again off again lover who hugged me on his way out of the funeral home. I said to him, “We have to take care of each other.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


This morning my friend Pooquie emailed with a question he has been wondering about for some time. He wanted to know why I used a certain word so much and why I used it to describe so many things. A few weeks ago my best friend O-Canada asked the same question about the same word. The word is fierce. Pooquie asked me specifically what does fierce mean and why are people obsessed with being fierce. I told Pooquie that I thought that was a fierce question. What does it mean to be fierce?

I have one major life philosophy that guides my living - I should live my life by my own definition. With that comes my own definition of what the term fierce means. Fierce to Clay Starr is an adjective that describes someone or something that is wonderful, spectacular, fiery, intense, on top of his/her/its game, vicious, etc…. You may call it something else but I call it fierce. I know that I strive for fierceness based on my own life priorities. I think the ultimate fierceness is when one has every aspect of their life completely together. Move over Maslow, who wants to reach the top of your hierarchy when he or she can reach the peak of fierceness. [Please note, others may think that self actualization as defined by Maslow is fierce. Again, the key is that you define it for yourself.] And yes, when it comes to judging your own personal fierceness you can have parts of your life that are and others that are not.

Here are just a few fierce examples of what is considered fierce and not fierce in my book:

You own a land rover and no land. That is not fierce.

You are beautiful on the outside but your attitude is busted. You are not fierce.

You go on fabulous shopping sprees and your rent is not paid. That is not fierce.

You own a baby grand piano and have paid thousands of dollars in renovations to your home yet your home is an apartment that you are renting. That is not fierce.

You prefer seeing Tyler Perry portray an old woman on stage over Phylicia Rashad. That is not fierce.

Eva winning the America’s Next Top Model competition. That is fierce.

Tyra Banks saying that she knows that some people think she is ugly with a big forehead but she doesn’t care because she thinks that she is beautiful. That is fierce.

Putting others down to make you seem fierce. That is not fierce.

Basing your self worth on material possessions. That is not fierce.

Living your life by your own definition. That is fierce.

You think you are fierce but you really aren’t. That is not fierce.

Oprah. She is fierce.

You’ve read my blog more than once but you still don’t have me listed on your blogroll. That is not fierce.

Go ahead, be fierce!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Dreamgirls: Effie, Deena, Lorrell & Clay

I am a Dreamgirl. My road to being a Dreamgirl began in August of this year while traveling from DC to Philly for a convention with a fraternity brother. He and I listened to the soundtrack all the way to there and all the way back. When I got out of his car I grabbed my luggage and his two disc set of the 2001 live recording of the Dreamgirls with Lillias White, Audra McDonald and Heather Headley.

I have been hooked ever since. The music is great and I’ve been able to relate to so many of the songs over the past several months. I have always said that my life is a musical and the Dreamgirls soundtrack supplies me with a few songs that I could have easily belted out at any given moment.

I sang And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going when I was at a job that I hated and my supervisor wasn’t so fond of me either. But no, I was staying because I didn’t want any job less than a year on my resume. I wanted it to be a stepping stone. I wasn’t going anywhere.

That’s what I thought. I ended up not being able to take any more of that place and started looking for another job. The first opening I saw for a gig that I was qualified for was at a national gay organization. Can you say Steppin to the Bad Side? Reluctantly, I applied for that position. I interviewed, they wanted me to come back for another interview but by then I had already found another career move. Thank God.

Lately I’ve been singing Ain’t No Party whenever I start thinking about Langston. I am thinking about a man who is on the other side of the country and probably not thinking about me. He has someone else to think about and I’d be as foolish as Lorrell if I were to ignore that fact. I ain’t Lorrell.

“Lorrell loves Jimmy. Lorrell loves Jimmy. Lorrell loves Jimmy its true, but Lorrell and Jimmy are through. But I got a show to do baby.” [Firing of Jimmy]

I’ve known how it feels to be the leader of a hot new group, I’ve asked for One Night Only …and the tunes go on. Every man has his own special dream and your dream is just about to come true. Life is not as bad as it may seem if you open your eyes to what is in front of you. We are Dreamgirls…..all you have to do is dream and baby we’ll be there.

As I sit here in my room with my cd player blasting and singing at the top of my lungs….it is Hard To Say Goodbye, My Love but “Thank you and goodnight!”

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Zora Was Her Name

For the second night this week I have spent a lovely evening at the Akwaaba Washington, DC. The Akwaaba DC is a beautiful black owned and operated bed and breakfast just a few steps from Dupont Circle. I enjoy the space so much in part because it has a black literary theme. Each guest room is named after an African American author or genre of literature. My favorite of course is the Langston Hughes room. It is a chocolate delight decorated with pictures of and books about Langston Hughes. In the front of the room is a glass doorway that leads you to a small terrace that overlooks 16th Street. The first time I visited that room I imagined how wonderful it would be to crawl into the bed with my Langston and cuddle up next to him and hear him recite I’ve Known Rivers like he did on the phone with me once this summer. Even better I envisioned myself standing before him batting my eyes and playfully giving life to the poem Harlem Sweeties. But tonight I was not there to think about Langston or Langston Hughes for that matter.

Tonight I was there to hear the author Lucy Hurston talk about her aunt Zora Neale Hurston and the book she wrote about her life. I sat in the parlor of the Akwaaba with a group largely consisting of black women as Lucy recounted stories about Zora and her research, tales of life changing moments and the legacy Zora has left behind for other women to build upon. The other night when the Innkeeper invited me to this discussion and signing I didn’t think much of it. I’ve always admired the work of Hurston but until tonight I’d never really started connecting her words with her where. She was in many ways far ahead of her time. If my best friend and her husband have a daughter some day they plan to name her, Zora. Now I know why.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Friends Change

This afternoon I got a call on my cell phone from a number I couldn’t identify. Reluctantly I answered and was surprised to hear the voice of a friend. He was calling from his office. I asked him to what did I owe the pleasure of this unexpected phone call and he replied that he was just calling to say hello and see how I was doing because that is what friends do. Indeed, that is what friends do. I was just caught off guard by this because he doesn’t do it regularly and I haven’t spoken to him or his partner, who I also consider a friend, in over a month. This year I didn’t even call them for Thanksgiving and two months before that they were both absent from the guest list to my birthday affair. Yes, I do consider them friends but we just aren’t as close as we once were.

Someone told me long ago that when I realized that friends change I would have to change friends less. When he first told me that I had to repeat it several times in order for it to it sink in. The phone call this afternoon was another reminder of how true those words are. Although he and I both live in the same city and we don’t speak to each other or see each other nearly as much as we used to he is still my friend. We just aren’t as close as we used to be and that’s all right. Recently I watched North Carolina, my friend from high school, struggle with this lesson. One of his closest friends got married. Suddenly, she didn’t call North Carolina as much as she used to. She didn’t visit North Carolina as much as she used to and certainly there were parts of her life that she used to share with North Carolina that she no longer shared anymore. She had changed, much like we all do, and North Carolina didn’t want to accept the change. He wanted their friendship to be what it once was. It never will be. Their friendship had to adjust and he had to meet her where she was in order to maintain the friendship.

I am not opposed to change, change for the better anyway. I want to constantly grow and evolve and I know in order to do that I will have to shed some layers and on the stage of my life there will enter and exit new players. That doesn’t mean that I value anyone else any more or less than I once did but it is all part of life and change. So, I don’t know when I will talk to my buddy that called me today again, I just know that I enjoyed talking to him and until the next time I’ll hold on to that.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Looking for Langston

Tonight I went to dinner with a colleague of mine from grad school. Dinner was lovely. I did some serious damage to some tortilla chips and had my usual crab enchiladas. Sitting there quite full with a belly full of delight and waiting on him to finish his meal I found myself distracted by a tall dark skin man. From the angle he was standing and the way I was sitting I only caught glimpses of his side profile and then his backside. For a few moments I was physically at the table but my mind was definitely somewhere else. My thoughts weren’t even on the man who was in front of me at the restaurant though. My attention was now focused on a man whom the gentleman at the restaurant reminded me of, Langston, the man I want to love but he can’t love me. I sat there in a trancelike state for just a moment looking at this random man and thinking deeply about Langston.

This is not the first time this has happened. For whatever reason what happened tonight has happened several times in the past two weeks. Every tall dark skin man I see makes me think of Langston and now more than ever it seems like the world is full of tall dark skin men. They are on the train, in the grocery store, in restaurants, they are everywhere and everywhere they are I see Langston. I try not to think about him because I know the realities that we live in and why we aren’t together. Now if only my subconscious can understand that too.

I know he is not here in Washington, DC, so why do I constantly think that I see him then? Is Langston everywhere that I am because my heart is or am I just a nut case? With the exception of my trip to the library and dinner with the LoveHater I will not leave my house tomorrow. Hopefully then I won’t see Langston.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Pack Light

I called to ask my sister if she had a martini shaker in hopes that would be one less item I had to pack for my trip home the week after next. I was delighted when she responded in the affirmative. There would be more room in my bag for other frivolous things that I can over pack. But as many conversations go when I’m talking to someone from home it turned from delight into agitation when she started telling me all about how I should run my life. I know that she like my mother and other folks at home only say things from there heart because they think they know what is best for me. I try to respect that as much as possible. Yet and still it bothers me. I am a young adult who does not know everything there is to know about the world and is sure to make many mistakes and missteps on the path of life. In the same token I am a young adult who has a good head on his shoulders, a pinch of street smarts, a pocket full of good sense and a whole lot of faith in God.

As I am preparing my clothes and other tangibles to head to Cleveland I am now also in the process of preparing my mind as well. It took me some time to put into words what it was that I feel when I go back to Cleveland or speak with people who are still there. It took me a while to realize that the world that I grew up in is not the same world that I have created for myself as an adult. It is at times difficult to merge the two or get one to understand the other – hence my problem from earlier with my sister. When I go home I feel like it is back to being CJ the child/person that my family grew up with and when I am anywhere else in the world I am Clay Starr the man/person that I have become in adulthood. To be both, to be just one, simple to be….

I will not be packing my own martini shaker this year nor will I pack my tongue. It’ll be easier to leave it in DC than hold it when someone starts talking to CJ when it is really Clay Starr.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Tis the Season

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas? I think not. I am originally from Ohio [yes, a red state] and by this time I am used to seeing the first snow of the season which usually gives me the extra boost I need to put me in the holiday spirit. As of now I’m not. I am not the Grinch who stole Christmas but at the moment I’m certainly not one of Santa’s little helpers. The list I created the other day of people to send Christmas cards to has been replaced with a list of reasons I decided not to send cards this year. The coins are tight, there is no snow on the ground, the Democrats didn’t get what they wanted for an early gift and that other Clay is singing Christmas songs all over network television. Ba-homo-bug!

I suppose it is true that as an adult the holidays are different from our youth. In a little over a week I will pack my clothes, bottle of Belvedere and martini shaker in my travel bag and head home to be with my family and high school friends. I’m sure once I smell the freshly baked cookies my mom makes, argue with my sister and eat half a slab of ribs right off the grill on Christmas it’ll all come together and I'll have that holiday spirit once again. At least that’s what I’m praying for – that and someone cute under the mistletoe.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Done with dating?

It’s the middle of the afternoon and I just left the grocery store around the corner from my house. I picked up chicken, pasta, water, all my regular items…and a phone number. While I may hardly ever get attention at clubs, bars and the like, I tend to have pretty good luck (is it luck?) meeting people in random places doing every day things. I was on my way out the store, the guy made eye contact and it went from there. Honestly, now that the initial rush of meeting someone new is over and I reflect on the rather lackluster conversation we had, I doubt that I’ll call him. Though if I did it would probably lead to a DATE! and from there who knows? [Food for Thought: I have never gone on more than three dates with the same person though I’d love to be in a committed long term relationship with someone I cared for.]

Anyway, I got to thinking, what if someone told me that my dating days were over and that I had to pick one person from my pool of friends to be in a committed relationship for the rest of my life. Who would I choose? After thinking long and hard about this I decided I would spend the rest of my days with Country Boi. I love and admire Country Boi. He is in his mid-thirties, handsome, quite intelligent, spiritually well, raised in the country and still has some good southern ways about him that I find charming. I love his company and his appreciation for me as a person. When I am around him I feel at great ease.

Hmm…so why am I not dating him? Good question. I’m not dating him for a number of reasons one of them is that I value our constantly evolving friendship. Perhaps, one day I will find a Country Boi or City Slicker for me to be in love with and he’ll also love me. But in the meantime, I guess I’ll date or at least try to. What about you though? If you had to pick a life partner/husband/wife from the pool of your friends, who would you choose, and why? Think about it.

Friday, December 03, 2004


When people find out that I am a member of a black fraternity they immediately get an odd look on their face and questions and comments (by the brave) soon follow. “Are you really in a fraternity?” “You don’t seem like the frat boy type.” “I would have never guessed…” “You must have gone grad chapter.” “Did you pledge? What was that like?” “Why did you do that?” The questions and comments go on and on and on.

Indeed I am a proud member of the first intercollegiate black Greek letter organization founded on December 4, 1906 on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. At first glance I may not appear to be what one idealizes as the typical black Greek. I am an out, black gay man. I’m not what you picture in a step show and that’s okay with me. Black Greek letter organizations and there members are not a monolith and each organization, chapter and member has their own unique identity regardless of what others may lead you to believe.

I pledged for a number of diverse reasons unique to me. Everyone pledges for different reasons and has different expectations of what they will put in and take from the organization. I wanted to share in a bond of brotherhood with like minded men of similar backgrounds. I wanted to take another step toward healing myself. After years of troubled and awkward relationships with black men I felt like this could possibly help me bridge some gaps and come to some new understandings. I wanted to continue to serve communities and use this as a vehicle to do so. I felt in my heart that the founding history of my beloved fraternity mirrored my own life. I became a member first in my heart.

The path to membership was not an easy one for me and it was years in the making. But each step on the journey to the city where the streets are paved in black and gold taught me much about myself and where I saw my place in the world. Are there members of this organization that do not wish to accept me? Yes there are and that will be a fact for years to come. Are there brothers in this organization who take me as I am? Yes there are. Black Greek life is peculiar to many on the outside and probably equally peculiar to many of those on the inside as well. But for all the peculiarities I still don’t think I would have it any other way. I have met fine black men from all walks of life, from all over the world, who I have had the pleasure of interacting with and learning from that I would have never had the opportunity to do so if not for our fraternal bond. I have gained endearing friendships and relationships that I believe will stand the test of time. Indeed I am a proud member of the first intercollegiate black Greek letter organization founded on December 4, 1906 on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

The Oldest, the Boldest and the Coldest! First of all, servants of all, we shall transcend all!

Happy Founders Day!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Put me on the list....

The world is full of lists – so also is my life. In fact, I’m taking a break right now from the first draft (of what is sure to be many) of my list of folks who will be getting a holiday card from me this year. Lists are so incredible because they have the ability to guide our thoughts and rule our lives if we allow them to. Some lists are made for us to look upon and reflect, some are made to keep us organized and on track and then there are some made just for the sake of making them. Today I have made at least three lists not including my holiday card list. There was a things-to-do-today, a things-to-do-before-noon-today and a people I need-to-touch-base- with-in-the-near-future.

Whose idea was it to create lists? Why do I keep creating them? I suppose there is good reason for some – like the list of the 25 most influential people in my life that I made on the eve of my 25th birthday, my list of men I’d like to date or see naked, my list of favorite places to eat and shop, my list of reasons that I should be America’s Next Top Model, the shit list that hangs on my grandmothers refrigerator she updates periodically– but the rest…..who needs them? Most people don’t bother with keeping up with them or doing the things on them anyway.

I have to draw this short entry to a close though; I have a couple of things on my things-to-do-list I need to get to before the day is over.