Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Lately I have been thinking a little bit obsessively about my compulsive tendencies.

I think that we all have these things, every single one of us, something that has to be done before life can go on, something that will just grate on our brains if left alone. And some of them I'm improving on. For example, I don't go back and check to make sure the front door is locked at least three times before I can catch the bus anymore. (Walking back up and down the hill got to be more annoying than the possibility leaving my home open to burglers, I guess.) I don't avoid cracked paving stones anymore, either, or hold my breath at red lights.

Most of them are little and cute compulsions. I have to have a stove burner that's just been turned off covered by something, usually the teapot, but that's a safety issue. People get hurt by those things. My mother once put her hand on a burner right after I had turned it off and told her to keep away, that it was hot, and while her hand eventually healed the part of my brain that houses the image of the aftermath has not. All cabinet doors have to be shut immediately after whatever is inside has been fetched, but again, that's safety--my head is on level with the bottom corner of most cabinet doors and I am already likely to bump myself on them when they're closed. Still, if a burner is left uncovered or a cabinet door ajar, it's all that I can think about. And I won't even start in on my need for even numbers, although I'm sure that some members of the studio audience have some things to say about all of that.

And, of course, we've already spoken before about me and elevators.

But none of this is the point, because the one I've really been noticing lately is my deep need to have everything in exactly the right place. This is remarkable because I'm not actually a very tidy person; I am a person who makes piles. But those piles have to be in the right place. Which sometimes moves. Which is just one more reason why it's a good thing that I live alone.

But it goes so, so far beyond that. Are we playing a game with cards? I can't continue if they're not neatly stacked. I'll try and try and try, but eventually the pain will get to me and it'll have to be fixed. My bookshelves and cabinets and surfaces are arranged in a way that makes perfect sense to me, and I simply can't focus on anything else when anything is someplace else. The other morning I walked into the bathroom and the toothpaste was somewhere other than where I usually keep it, and my first thought was how glad I was that I hadn't known about it before going to sleep the night before, because it would have made sleeping impossible.

I hate forcing these things on people, and will sit and fidget and try to keep my crazy in check until it's impossible to do so anymore, because if I don't fix whatever it is that has moved out of place, the world will end. It will. Has the world ended yet? No, and that's because I always give in and put things back where they go, probably just before the universe explodes. You're welcome.

Anyway, for whatever reason, this particular thing has lately been making me feel crazier than a sprayed roach. Trying to suppress it doesn't work, just makes it like an itch that I can't scratch in public because it's impolite. And yet at the same time, I feel like a jerk when I give in and readjust something that someone has just put down. So maybe what I need to do is develop some sort of other, more distracting behavior, something that will move people's attention away from the fact that I've noticed that they've just placed something two inches to the left of where it's supposed to be. Like throwing the contents of my pockets in the air. Or blow an air horn. Or, I guess, letting the universe explode.

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