The List: Ranking more things within eyesight in my makeshift basement office

The sequel that nobody asked for or really even wanted

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
- Director: Don Hertzfeldt- Metascore: 90- Runtime: 62 minutesThis black comedy-drama is an animated film directed, written, drawn, and produced by Don Hertzfeldt. The film is split into three chapters that follow a stick-figure named Bill who has an unknown illness that causes memory lapses and strange visions. The visuals may be simple, but emotions still come through.

In October 2020, under a time crunch and feeling hugely uninspired, I penned a List in which I ranked some of the things within eyesight in my makeshift basement office. Nearly 16 months later, I still spend all of my workdays seated in the same spot, though some of the clutter around me has moved around a bit. Here’s where things stand now.

1. A basketball signed by the 1986 Boston Celtics

Growing up in Akron, Ohio, my grandparents lived four blocks away, which meant I saw them frequently from a young age. As a result, and due to my grandparents' strong Boston roots (my mom was born there, and we still have family in the area), I became a Celtics diehard at age 4, even though I was born and raised in Northeast Ohio.

On visits, my grandpa would tell stories about watching Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and Larry Bird play at the old Boston Garden, and about his occasional run-ins with the players off of the court. He had a bar napkin left for him by Celtics great John Havlicek, whom he was supposed to meet for a beer, missing him by 10 or so minutes. (Havlicek signed it, “Sorry I missed you, Al. -Hondo.") And one of his favorite stories involved seeing Dr. J and Andrew Toney at the Boston airport following a Celtics loss to the Sixers, when my grandpa told the pair the Celtics were going to kick their ass the next time through town.

But my grandpa’s favorite possession was a ball signed by the entire 1986 championship squad, from the star players (Bird, McHale, Parish) to team president, the legendary Red Auerbach, which he kept in a glass case on top of the bookshelf in his office. When my grandpa died last year, he left the basketball to my uncle, who gifted it to me over the Christmas holiday.

Now the ball occupies prime real estate on the corner of my desk, serving as a reminder of those stories my grandpa shared with me, as well as the bond built over nearly four decades talking about the Celtics, who will ideally kick the Sixers' ass when the teams square off tonight.

2. A tent, still in its box

This has been sitting untouched in a corner since last summer when our oldest expressed an interest in camping. It’ll get its first audition this summer when she and I set it up somewhere in the southern part of the state, ideally within walking distance of a river.

3. My CD collection

I’ve got thousands of jewel cases on shelves lining one wall, organized alphabetically by artist and then chronologically within each act (movie soundtracks are alphabetical and grouped after the letter Z). There is no doubt that I’m a Type A personality.

4. A signed print from “It’s Such a Beautiful Day” by animator Don Hertzfeldt

This incredible 2012 animated film centers on a stick figure named Bill who struggles with a failing memory, among other symptoms of mental decline. The film is sad, terrifying, unsettling and ultimately hopeful, and it continues to stick with me years after that first viewing.

5. A shattered Roomba vacuum cleaner

This was a functioning vacuum until we moved it to the basement before a home remodel, at which point it flat-out refused to turn off, no matter how many pieces I pulled loose from it or what buttons I pushed. Eventually we just let it spin in place until the battery died. This could probably be a metaphor for something. 

6. Ahava mineral hand cream

Walking our dog in the winter wrecks my hands, even when I wear gloves. This is the only stuff I’ve found that allows my skin to feel vaguely human during the months of January through March.

7. An infant playmat

With our youngest now well past the age of 2, we’ve started to donate and/or sell much of our baby gear. This is good (those Type A tendencies make me less sentimental about holding on to things that needlessly occupy space), but also a little bit sad, because even though our girls are still tiny, they’re not quite as tiny as they used to be. 

8. Documents for a potential story that I just haven’t been able to crack

But I also haven’t given up, so there they sit on the corner of my desk, taunting me.