Thursday, May 03, 2012

OCD, Bills and Earrings

I am positively ritualistic.  I get up in the morning, let the dogs out, make a cup of coffee, feed the animals, change their water and head down to the computer.  Drinking coffee and downing my meds, I usually check email first.  Then I check Facebook and my other email accounts.  I read the newspaper online and respond to other bloggers.  I check my blog stats (pretty low, but who cares?) and comment on other blogs.  But if I have a writing deadline, I don't even open Firefox unless I need to reference something, because looking at email is a sure way of getting distracted.

My favorite blogging time is during this period of indulgent OCD.  If I am away and there is a desktop PC available, in the mornings, especially, I am drawn to it like a fly to sugar.  Laptops don't do it for me, and if I have a laptop, I will complete only what is necessary, like responding to work-related emails.  Laptop use is just not the same as sitting down at a big screen and typing on a real keyboard attached to a mouse I can hold.

I'm also OCD about checking my email and blog stats. It feels good to see mail in my inbox.  If all I had was physical mail, I'd be the one rushing out there as soon as the delivery person left.  Pathetic, I know, but there's something about feeling connected to the rest of the world that keeps me sane and gratified.

As a teen, when I moved out and realized I was receiving mail addressed to me at my place of residence, not my parents', I was more excited than a kid.  What a novelty, getting Fingerhut catalogs, more often than most people because that was the only way I could afford to buy things like pans and fake flowers.  Fingerhut let me pay in tiny increments that I sent by mail and check--my checks from my account filled with my money (little as it was).  In the late 80's and early 90's, being an adult was a thrill, that is, until I couldn't afford to fix the car and had start living off credit cards.  I began dreading bills because I couldn't pay them.  I got in this bad habit of throwing bills away before I even opened them, as if burying debt would make it disappear.

I thought going back to school would get me out of this trap, but student loans suffocated me even more.  Thank God I'm beyond the worst of it---the bills get paid and, amazingly, I own a house with my husband.  But the student loan debt remains at over $100,000, mostly thanks to Union Institute, the epitome of white collar crime in the higher education sector.  Obviously I'm not the only one who got ripped off because there's a class action suit heading their way.  Jail time for the current and previous presidents would thrill me.  Put these people behind bars with the disadvantaged and perhaps these educated felons would learn something about real life.

As you can see, blogging helps me clear my head in the morning, dumping the clutter so I can proceed to be productive throughout the day.  People need me, and it's a gift to me that I can help.  Maybe that makes me selfish, but I prefer to think of it as a symbiotic relationship and a mission.

I watch the clock on my computer screen as I type.  Six minutes left to bathe in Internet glory.  I push it to the limit, usually, preferring a rushed readying to giving up reflection time.  If I have to get to work early to prepare for class, I modify my deadline.  I've become a pro at taking two-minute showers and then slapping on the war paint (make-up) and protection, the protection so I won't smell like a boxer just out of the ring.  That's part of my ritual.  David says I have a phobia about body odor, not so much on other people as on myself.  I sweat too easily and always have.

It's funny how, in the morning especially, I can roam from revealing behavioral patterns to fear of stinky pits.  If any of my online students bump into this blog, I always hope they will not use my entries as models for their own writing, as these posts mostly represent rambling free-writing.  Free-writing is a crucial part in creating quality drafts, however.  It's the way some of us get topics we can manage, organize and write about.  I am a proponent of free-writing, if for no other reason than it's therapeutic.

I'm going to push the limit this morning because I don't have many copies to make before class, and I'd rather answer my friend's email than steal time to worry about clothing choices.  It's a blessing to be able to send my shirts to the cleaners.  Those guys wash, press and starch me into looking professional.  I've always sucked at ironing.  It's so nice to have a closet of wearable dress shirts, and I know my husband appreciates it, too.

Anyway, I do have to get ready so I can spend some quality time with my sick students.  Besides that, I need to do a quick edit to make sure this reads like it was written by someone who has spent a lot of money on education, an English teacher who grew up in the 1980's and who still sports multiple ear piercings.
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