Friday, January 14, 2005

Neurotic Boxes

So I'm at work getting some shipments ready when I come across a stack of boxes (that weren't packed by me) to ship. Rather than dragging them to my desk to prepare the shipments, I find myself staring at them.

Edges that aren't aligned. Pieces of tape too long for the side of the box, dangling off the end. Flaps that aren't closed completely and corners that aren't the sturdy 90-degree angles the box-makers intended when they created the design. Items thrown in haphazardly without any padding so they rattle and bump around inside a box three times too big for its contents.

And I feel my right eye start to twitch. I have taken the box to the shipping table, cut the tape, repackaged the contents and am meticulously securing the new smaller box with tape before I realize, "What the heck am I doing?" I've just wasted the last five minutes on some utterly meaningless task so that a box will look pretty. What is wrong with me?

I have come to the realization recently that I am my father's child. Perhaps not literally, as both my brother and I are adopted. But in a manner of speaking, I have to admit that I do share characteristics that I see in my father.

Characteristics that I have spent the better part of 24 years teasing him about.

One of my father's more endearing traits is his obsessive compulsive tendencies. I think I actually cleaned my room twice during my entire 18 years at home. Not for lack of intention, but simply for the fact that my father couldn't wait for me to get home from school before cleaning the room. At least four times a week, I would come home to an organized room - bed made, floor spotless, and bathroom counter impeccable.

It was never a guessing game whether or not Dad had been home from work yet. One had only to look at the message pads by the kitchen phone, perfectly aligned to the corner of the counter and pens placed precisely on top, parallel to each other and equidistant from the edges of the notepad. Each kitchen appliance was aligned and spaced just so, and the counters were always immaculately cleared. His closet was (and still is) organized by color and sleeve length and each pair of shoes has its proper place. Socks are never rolled together, but folded neatly and placed in the drawer by color.

Did you ever see that Full House episode where DJ puts the bottle of cleaner on the kitchen table (and even - gasp - off-centered on the table) just to see how long her dad could stand it before he had to put it away? Yeah. Played that game a few times.

Unfortunately for my dear husband, I did not (repeat NOT) inherit any of my dad's cleanliness. I'm a dreadful housekeeper. However, I have noticed over the past several months, that I do seem to have some odd obsessive-compulsive traits, most of which I wasn't even aware of until I recently when I overheard a conversation in which two OCDers discussed their vices. And I painfully realized, "...hey, I do that. And that. I thought everybody did that."

It appears that I haven't inherrited any of the USEFUL OCD quirks. Only the ones that are utterly stupid, meaningless, and don't enrich my life or the lives of those around me in the least. So here's my confessional:

  • I sort my MM's by color and eat them accordingly. I didn't actually know that was weird until recently. But it bothers me when there are more of one color than of others.
    I don't step on cracks.
  • As previously mentioned, I'm very particular about boxes and packing. J and my mom had a few laughs unpacking our stuff after we moved to Texas, when they discovered that everything I had packed was..."gift-wrapped" as they termed it. Ha freakin' ha ha.
  • I have been known to spend hours inventing and reinventing a company form so that it looks "just so" and meets a certain standard for aesthetic perfection. We're talking about redoing border lines 4 times because they're too thick or too thin.
  • I generally have to turn on every light in a room when I enter it. At least when it's my own house. I have managed thusfar to keep my psychosis contained to my own domain. Of course my husband would mention that he wishes I would develop a neurosis for turning the lights off when I leave the room too.

Yes, I think I have the disease. And unlike the other OCD's I know, I haven't even contracted the useful strain. My desk remains cluttered, my house remains dusty, and there are large piles of laundry spewing out of the bathtub. But dammit, those boxes look fantastic.

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