Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Obsessives Anonymous, etc.

Evilkev always says I have an addictive personality.

I say it works for him. Whatever I get hooked on, I tend to be very loyal to. Because I’m obsessive. But it makes me only slightly more likely to kill to keep the object of my obsession, and far less likely, in his case, to seek a divorce.

If he wants to get rid of me, he’s going to have to kill me.

Which is why I never leave my back exposed and have all these little nannycams wired through the house. Petty and vindictive, I am. If he succeeds in taking me down, he shouldn’t get to enjoy his accomplishment.

But I digress. I got thinking about this, reading a remark Mark Billingham made on his forum. “There's a thin line between a comforting ritual and mentallist behaviour!”

Boy, is that ever true. I can relate to that. I’m about to share all my dirty little secrets. Like when I eat peanut butter M&M’s, I eat them lightest to darkest. So all the yellows, then the greens, etc.

And when I eat dinner, I eat my least favourite thing first, followed by second least favourite and the best part of the meal I save for last.

Personal growth, for me, is learning to have some potatoes and gravy before I finish the carrots. Oooohhhh. I get an extra big slice of pie for dessert if I’m that adventurous.

The sad thing is, I’m being serious. How can someone as apparently adventurous as me – someone who’s traveled over four continents and been to deserts and mountains, snorkeled in the sea and ridden elephants in the jungle, be so fucking dull?

Well, in this case, it isn’t about being dull. It’s about being anal to the point of being almost mental.

Like my mess. I’m not a neat-freak. I lean more to the slob side of the equation. Frat boy’s dream, right? Nope. I only like my mess. I’m comfortable with the evolving state of clutter in my space.

Evilkev walks in and moves papers and I’m having a fit.

Because even if it looks messy, I have a sense of order in my head, a recollection of the last pile of junk I saw a certain note in. And it works for me, my chaotic mental filing system.

But those food rituals, what are they about? Nothing but idiotic obsessions. What difference does it make when you eat the red M&M’s? None whatsoever. Pssst, Sandra, newsflash. They all taste the same.

Now, Mark, on his forum, admitted to having certain rituals he indulges in. They have to do with performing stand-up and writing his books.

And in a moment of great shock for such an obsessive person, I realized I don’t have a writing ritual.

Which either means I’m not as obsessive as Evilkev always tells me, or this is the pièce de résistance that’s until now has been missing from my writing.

What routines do I have for writing?

Well, I’m a list person. I love my lists. I get a great sense of satisfaction crossing things off, because it gives me the artificial impression of accomplishment.

I hate being interrupted. Which isn’t limited to writing, but it definitely applies. Evilkev once walked in the room and started to say something and I wailed, “There are voices talking in my head and I have to hear what they’re saying.”

He backed away slowly, hands help up in mock surrender and said, “Okay, crazy person.”

But that’s about it. There are certain books I like to keep handy. Baby Names Around The World. Forensics For Dummies. Profile of a Criminal Mind.

I like to get up really early, work out, and start writing by 9 am. And then I’ll usually work until 9, 10, 11 pm.

So, I guess incidentally, I’m bitchy from lack of sleep and abstain from sex from lack of opportunity.

But none of those things are hard and fast rules. Just incidentals.

Talking through this has really helped me. I’m now certain at least one person* is more obsessive than I am.

Which just goes to show that normal is a status achieved by comparison. If there’s hope for me, there’s hope for everyone.

So now that we’ve established that, what rituals do you guys have? And Boy Kim, you damn well better email me about last night. Don’t make me hunt you down…

JOKE: And now, to someone who might have been too relaxed about some things.

On their wedding night, the young bride approached her new husband and asked for $ 20, for their first lovemaking encounter. In his highly aroused state, her husband readily agreed.

This scenario was repeated each time they made love, for the next 30 years, with him thinking that it was a cute way for her to afford new clothes and other incidentals that she needed.

Arriving home around noon one day, she was surprised to find her husband in a very drunken state: Over the next few minutes, he explained That his company had gone through a process of corporate downsizing, and he had been let go - It was unlikely that at the age of 55, he'd be able to find another position that paid anywhere near what he'd been earning, and therefore, they were financially ruined.

Calmly, his wife handed him a bankbook, which showed thirty years of deposits and interest totaling nearly $1 million. Then, she showed him stock certificates issued by the bank, which were worth over $2 million, and informed him that they were the largest stockholders in the bank. She explained that for 30 years, she had charged him for sex and these holdings were the results of her savings and investments.

Faced with evidence of cash and investments worth over $3 million, her husband was so astounded he blurted out "If I'd had any idea what you were doing, I would have given you all my business!"

And a very serious note about politics.

When I started blogging, the one thing my husband made me promise to do was avoid discussing politics. He knew that my views, being strong on many things, would come off as rants and stir emotions. I’ve done political debate before, and it usually isn’t pretty.

Which is why I am always impressed to find a blog that handles political topics with sensitivity and wisdom and real intelligence. Barry Eisler’s blog is one such blog. If you are as interested in politics as I am, this is a blog you will want to visit, and it makes a very worthy addition to my list of links.

One of the reasons I have always been such a Rankin fan is that he hasn’t avoided political commentary in his writing – he is influenced by politics and world events. Barry Eisler is a name I have heard often, and my introduction to him via his blog has convinced me that he is an author I can respect, and his insights have just pushed his books to the top of my TBR list.

*Said in the nicest way possible. Because he’s both incredibly talented and very nice, which you’ll figure out if you read his forum and his books.


Bernita said...

Seems one is ALWAYS interrupted just when you've just grasped that elusive word/phrase/plot twist by the tail something really, really important like a resume of the weather forcast for the next three days.
I relate to your filing system, though sometimes it's more of an archaelogical dig in my case, it's having a physical sense of "where" that works.
My rituals are determined by individualizing the necessities of my environment - what can I do without waking someone, for example.
Otherwise, three cups of coffee first thing.

James Goodman said...

I would have given you all my business

Oh, my... I could almost hear, "Deadman Walking!"

Bernita said...

Funeral Thursday, James.

JamesO said...

I've sort of gone through obsessive ritual behaviour and out the other side. I now obsessively avoid anything that might be considered obsessive. So I have no structure to my day, I have no set time or place for writing, and I get bugger all done.

Time to start scraping every last grain of rice out of the pan again.

Boy Kim said...

It's on its way, honest guv.

Christa M. Miller said...

I've often thought I had mild OCD. I do the same thing with dinner that you do, Sandra (not with M&M's though), and I'm a compulsive nail-biter and game-player (online games like Mah-Jongg and Solitaire have occupied way too much time).

Ritual-wise, I have to read all my email and visit the parenting forum I'm part of before I start working. I try to keep this to just 20min. but sometimes it doesn't work out that way. I used to read blogs during this time, but now I save them for when my brain needs a break from work.

I've also noticed that I'm more likely to engage in OCD behavior when I'm feeling unsure of myself - unable to contact sources, or the writing isn't falling into place. I try to take it day by day, letting myself have "bad" days and telling myself tomorrow will be "good" (work-wise) instead of falling into a pattern of expecting all bad days.

Sandra Ruttan said...

3 cups of coffee Bernita? How do you stop shaking so you can type?

James G, LOL!

James O, yes, you've gotten too lazy. Time to start reciting your homage to the beared every morning.

Kim, don't forget I'll know if you're lying.

Christa, I'm a Mah-Jongg and Solitaire nut as well. Totally.

Cornelia Read said...

I'm not OCD at ALL. I eat my M&Ms the logical way, in spectrum order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue... and then I have to get all pissed that they have brown instead of purple. This is only by the handful, however. I don't have to sort the whole bag, like SOME people.

As for order of eating at dinner, I have to finish everything at the same time, so if there are fewer carrots than there is rice on my plate, for instance, I will eat tiny bites of carrots and big bites of rice so it comes out even.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Cornelia, spectrum? And 'taste the rainbow' is the skittles slogan.

But the food thing? Hey, at least I know why I have that hang-up about eating my food in a certain order! I should blog about that...

Boy Kim said...

Of course I know you know if I'm lying. I count on it. It's the punishments that make it all worth while.

I do the "finishing everything at the same time" too, Cornelia.

And I have to put my left sock/shoe/trainer on first.

I also leave the spoon in my cup of tea/coffee. (No, don't be silly. I don't drink a tea/coffee mixture.)

Erik Ivan James said...

M&M's I eat by picking up a handfull and throw them into my mouth three or four at a time, no color preferences.
Food, I just eat and in no particular order.

Anonymous said...

Sometime I think I'm obsessive/compulsive because I always watch an obsessive/compulsive dude check the same ten things on his car every morning.

Here's the order: (1) driver door locked, (2) driver window shut, (3) driver door shut, (4) back left corner (what's he looking at??), (5) back right corner ??, (6) passenger door locked, (7) passenger window shut, (8) passenger window locked, (9) front right corner??, (10) front left corner??

I feel bad for the guy. I wonder if he even recognizes his problem.

Boy Kim said...

You admit you watch him do this and you say he's the one with a problem, Jason?

I have a similar obsession/situation/problem here with watching the young lady through her bedroom window in the house across the road from me though, so I know what you must be going through mate. It's hell, isn't it?

Trace said...

I haven't read Barry Eisler yet but I will.

Bernita said...

Developed a tolerance, Sandra, may have to go to four...

Sandra Ruttan said...

Jason, there's nothing I could add to what Boy Kim already said. Except this. Get help.

Erik, you're so damn well adjusted. Which makes me wonder why you hang out here!

Trace, as a Canadian living in the US, you might find his blog very interesting.

Bernita, have you ever considered weaning yourself? Scary...

Bernita said...

I used to drink a whole pot...I get a lot of miles to the gallon.

For The Trees said...

I'm OCD in that I like to write a whole bunch at once. I'm not good in snippets. Too hard to get my head back into the harness.

I'm OCD in that I will ALWAYS answer Sherry when she calls on the intercom. I haven't not answered but once, and I still feel guilty about that one. Even if she calls in the midst of some really hairy passage that just fell into place after months of browbeating and self-flagellation.

I'm OCD in that I don't eat M&Ms. They give me a headache, because I'm hypoglycemic and the sugar boost gives me a resultant insulin overdose and I'm in the pits. Eating food, I just shovel it in because food is just fuel. Sad to say I'm not a gourmet chef, as a casserole is a balanced meal to me.

I'm OCD in that I won't leave the house without The List in my hand. Because somewhere along the way I'll probably run right by a store that has stuff I know I need, or I'll find something I can't do without, or something that costs money will present its ugly head. And if it's on the list, I'm ahead of the game.

I'm OCD in that I get started on something and I won't stop no matter how fatigued I get. Even when my blood sugar has dropped to minus 50 and I'm drooling on myself, I won't stop. "Just a few minutes more," is what I tell myself.
Then after nearly amputating my hand last year, Jim took me aside and told me how stupid that is. Somehow his advice stuck and now I'll stop, eat something, get enough brain sugar back in my system that I realize I can't go on, and I quit for the day. That's a better OCD than before.

I'm OCD in that I always try to get a dozen things done if I leave the house. It's like I gotta make every trip count. Well, with the price of gas what it is, that's smart, but I did this back when gas was only a buck-twenty.

I'm OCD in that I add up all the money - checkbook, wallet, change bucket, etc. - at the end of every day so I'll know where I am for the next day. Then again, that may be intelligent because there's usually a lot of month left when I get done paying bills.

I'm free and clear and un-obsessed when I write EXCEPT for gramerr an spelin. I will backspace a whole paragraph to fix a typo. I will argue with myself about it's its or it is for minutes.

I'm really, really bad about writing twenty-four-hundred word comments on other people's blogs. I only write that many words on my blog posts when it's first little bitty crack of dawn and I'm already into my second huge cup of coffee. And Sandra, I drink a whole pot every morning except when I blog that I didn't. Somehow the sun never tracks evenly across the sky when I don't have my coffee. No, tea only teases my nervous system. Even gunpowder tea, the super strong stuff: just a teaser. I think it's the alkaloids in the coffee beans.

I've now hit 2,541 words in this comment, and I'm gonna see if can handle this many words. If not, you won't get to see this. If so, well, read it and weep that I couldn't shut my mouth. Enough, Forrest. Go sit down now.

Daniel Hatadi said...

I think the act of artistic creation is an OCD itself. We certainly don't do it for the money.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Great joke Sandra...I won't steal that one...LOL

I like Barry's site also! Love discussing politics!...and religion! Both no-no's in our world...LOL

Stuart MacBride said...

I'm OCD-ish about making sure the house is locked (but then I used to live in a rough bit of town where drunks and smack-heads would invite themselves into your home and to your possessions), OK, so now I live in the middle of nowhere and the sheep aren’t adept at breaking and entering, but other than that I'm Mr Normal.

I have strenuously avoided any writing rituals. I did once think about getting a special writing hat, but then what would happen if I lost it? Much better to just go make sure all the doors are locked instead...

Sandra Ruttan said...

Forrest, was that comment longer than my post? That's an accomplishment!

LOL Daniel!

Stuart, what can I say?

Stuart MacBride said...


That'd do for a start.

Anonymous said...

It's true. I have to come to grips with it. I have OCD2 (squared). The psychiatrist says it's rare condition. It's somewhat related to condition where a person must intentionally mix up whatever an OCD friend of theirs must keep organized.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I am not talking dirty to you Stuart. You'll just have to wait for Rickards to get back.

Aw Jason. Now that's more likely. Stand up and introduce yourself to the group and state your problem. You'll feel better.

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