When I was 12 years old, a director who lived in my apartment building asked me to audition for a commercial. That audition led to me signing with an agent and appearing on things like a Frosted Flakes commercial and Law & Order episodes.
Being a teenage actress was alternately very exciting and kind of embarrassing, and ended up being my post-college career for a few years, until I realized that I kind of hate acting and am actually not particularly good at it.
When I was 12, however, becoming a professional actress did many important things for my life, including allow me to purchase my daily Tasti D-Lite with my very own money, meet Benjamin Bratt, and occasionally miss school in order to do stuff like hang out on a beach eating seafood (Red Lobster commercial) or sit on the hood of a pickup truck looking wistful (music video). But the most important thing that my job did for my 12-year-old self? Easy – it convinced my mother to buy me two things: a beeper (pink, sparkly, themostamazingthingever) and a black Filofax with a snap cover that made me feel enormously grown-up and important, and that was supposed to help me keep track of my auditions.
What it did instead was kick-start a long and prolific career in obsessive list-making.
I still have that Filofax tucked away in a keepsakes box in my attic, because the extensiveness with which I documented every single thing on my teenage to-do list transformed it into a type of diary. I mean, seriously, there were illustrations in that thing. Charts.
I’m still big on lists to this day. My daily todos are written out each morning in little lined booklets stacked next to my computer, and anytime an errand (no matter how menial) pops into my mind it goes straight into my phone’s calendar without even a second of reflection. If all that documenting and duplicating sounds excessive, let me assure you: It may make me a little crazy … but it also makes me eminently on top of my s***. Which is awesome.
The positive side effect of all this list-keeping and note-taking is that I don’t have to actually remember anything, ever.
The negative side effect? Same thing.
If it’s not written down in my iPhone, it’s not going to happen. Simple as that.
Guess what hasn’t made the list lately? Any activity whatsoever involving a razor and shaving cream.
You know, right before I went into the hospital to have my son I remember being extra caught up in the idea of making sure that everything was just-so, and my lists started jumping the shark straight from “detailed” into “insane.” Even I look at my lists from that time period (they’re still saved and backed-up; see: obsessive) and think “You’re giving birth to a child, not trying to assemble an Ikea Baby from scratch without an instruction manual. People have done it before. Go drink some tea.”
On the prebirth lists that I made were smart things, like reminders to myself not to forget to bring the car seat to the hospital or to pick up stamps so that I could send out thank-you cards for the registry gifts before an infant arrived to occupy my thank-you card-writing hand. And also things like a fully itemized list of every single item of clothing I should wear on the five-minute journey from our apartment to the hospital, because making my grand entrance at the maternity ward garbed in that exact shirt with my nails painted that exact shade of pink seemed very, very important. Because I’m ridiculous.
Supporting evidence for that assertion: in addition to planning out an outfit that (I would soon learn) would be removed from my person mere seconds after my arrival at the hospital, I also calendared shaving appointments with myself every two days leading up to my due date. You know, so as not to stun my doctor with the realization that sometimes women grow hair on their legs.
Which brings me to my point, and my point is this: When I say to you that I can’t remember the last time I shaved my legs, I mean it. I can’t. But I just checked and they’re actually reasonably non-woolly, which means that some kind of autopilot appears to have kicked in that enables me to occasionally pick up a razor and haphazardly apply it to my legs without ever realizing that such a thing is taking place. And that’s nice I suppose.
It’s not that I don’t care; I do. And it’s not that I’m awesomely wise and non-vain now; I’m not, and I totally still am. It’s just that I used to be the kind of person who shaved just because a couple of days had gone by and it was probably time – the kind of person who really honestly never left the house without at least something on her face (definitely a little powder, maybe a little mascara). And now it’s not unusual for five o’clock to roll around without me ever even having glanced in the mirror. Even when I do want to put on some makeup and fix my hair, there’s no way that I’m dedicating more than five minutes to the task, because that’s five minutes that could really be spent doing more important things. Like drinking coffee. Or eating something that requires a fork.
Besides trying her hand at acting, Jordan Reid studied cognitive neuroscience at Harvard. She then created the lifestyle website RamshackleGlam.com for “those who don’t have a clue how to be domestic.” She lives in Hudson Valley, N.Y. with her husband and son. Excerpted with permission from Ramshackle Glam, by Jordan Reid, ©2014, Running Press.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, December 2014.