Category Archives: OCD

I’m a consumer consuming. Or a consuming consumer. Either way, I’ve got it bad.

I have become a woman obsessed with using her phone. Once the kids get to bed, it’s: which site am I going to go to next upon which to waste hours and hours of time and energy? 

The past few mornings I’ve woken up feeling extra groggy, and I’m starting to wonder if this is the cause. Well, either binge surfing the net, or the added caffeine and sugar I’ve slowly let creep back into my diet after months and months about being vigilant about avoiding it.

It’s just there’s SO MUCH out there to read and see and peruse and browse and buy. I’ve got world news to catch up on, celebrity news, local news. Facebook news, Instagram posts. 

And then there’s the most recent obsession: the Bloglovin’ app. It’s an app that lets you plug in all your favorite blogs so you can follow them directly and get all recent posts in one place. Right now I’m subscribed to about twenty food blogs. And a couple of writing blogs. LOVE wasting time here.

When I’ve checked all of this stuff out, there’s always Pinterest and Etsy and Wayfair and Overstock and Craigslist and Facebook yard sale groups to check in on to find ideas and inspiration and items with which to fill our new home. So far I’ve purchased nothing. But the temptation is strong. Real strong. 

I’m feeling the need soon for another of my necessary iPhone abstinence sessions, which I self-mandate every now and then. 

But for now, I’ve got to run and check out these Memorial Day sales online.

Peace out.

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I freaking LOVE lists.

A good friend recently shared a Huffington Post article to her Facebook Timeline: “11 Things Every ‘Type A’ Person Wants You to Know.” It was a very entertaining read. And satisfying too, since it summed up so well characteristics and personality traits I share with others who proudlyor regretfully, I suppose—belong to the group Type A.

Number three on the post: We live by to-do lists.

It’s true. To-do lists, grocery lists, lists for projects, packing lists, lists of spices in the spice rack, lists of bills to pay each month, lists of emergency contact info on the refrigerator for whoever may need it, master shopping list of all the things you might buy in your house and from which stores lists. Even lists of lists. Because, why not?

I love them all. I get extreme satisfaction from creating lists. And being able to cross off items from lists. It should be noted that ALL list items rarely ever get crossed out, but still. It should also be noted that I prefer paper lists to lists electronic.

I have tried apps on my phone for project, grocery, and to-do lists, yet I find pen and paper to be more efficient for me to process. Even back when I had to use a Palm Pilot for work—remember those—I still ended up using pen and paper more often than not.

I think this post is rather timely, as I’ve decided, somewhat spur of the moment—either bravely, or stupidly, I’ll let you know—to drive with the three kids, sans husband (he will be working), to Connecticut to visit the in-laws for a few days.

Just this morning, I grabbed my trusty, edited many times, packing list from last summer’s trips to both Connecticut and Lake George. (I kept the worn-out, inked-up list in a drawer in my nightstand table—knowing it was a good one—so it could be used again and again).

I should admit, though, that while my list-making skills are excellent, my packing skills are not. I often go above and beyond the list, at least in the clothing department, and end up overpacking much more than I need to. This has to do with decision-making difficulty and needing to feel prepared for every kind of possible weather event.

Thankfully, I had my husband on hand to help tonight. He vetoed about half of what I wanted to pack, reminding me that I could do laundry at his dad’s house if I need to. I probably will still throw some extra things in the bags tomorrow, when he’s not looking, just in case.

Guess I should go make a list for that.

Magazines: The good, the bad and the ugly.

We are a magazine-loving family. We subscribe to several: Food and Wine, Golf, Martha Stewart Living (although I boycotted during the prison years on principle alone), Better Homes and Gardens, Parents. Even our oldest gets pumped when her monthly Highlights subscription arrives in the mail.

What is it about the glossy pages of magazines and catalogs—wait. Did I mention catalogs? No? Well, catalogs too. For the life of me I can’t recall ever signing up for one of these. However, they continue to arrive regularly, as a frequent reminder, that at some point in our lives we have bought something from their company, ever tempting us with material goodness, which we cannot responsibly afford. Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Land’s End, L.L. Bean, Williams Sonoma, Patagonia. This time of year I especially love thumbing through Baker’s Creek Heirloom Seeds and Johnny’s seeds, as we anticipate spring gardening in the next month or so.

We love our magazines and catalogs because they inspire us. They help us to find ways to perfect our golf grip and swing. They include tips on how to perfectly frost a cake, and trim back roses, never mind that we’re never going to find the time to make that cake in the first place, or that we don’t even own a rose bush. They include lofty calendars with gentle reminders and suggestions about what we could be doing with our days—planting asparagus, going horseback riding on the beach, doing Pilates practice three times a week, dry cleaning and putting away sweaters for the season, knitting tea-towel dresses for the kids—as if!

Magazines provide images and descriptions of the remodeling process of a small kitchen like ours, and its transformation through the breaking down of walls and building of additions that end up housing a gorgeous granite island, and a complementary backsplash, along with a charming eating nook and of course, stainless steel appliances. This kind of browsing, while hopeful with potential, can be also especially depressing when we reflect on how we rent our small old house and can only imagine one day owning a space as described above. Because the chances of this actually happening—us being able to afford a house in the first place, never mind a fancy remodel, are about one in five billion. We can still dream, right? Magazines help make it so. And, well, there is the fact that we do participate in the annual HGTV Blog Cabin sweepstakes, so our odds of living in some kind of amazing space probably go up to like one in four-point-five billion, right?

For all of the reasons we love our magazines, there is but one reason to both hate and fear them. (Well, apart from the obvious consumerism and materialism, which surely we can and should live without. Our life is perfect and charming as it is and we don’t need anything on those glossy pages to make us happy). No. The reason I’m talking about is—you guessed it—and if you didn’t, shame on you. You should have. Clutter. With a capital C.

If left to their own devices magazines will cleverly stack themselves in both tidy and messy piles on various surfaces and containers in your home. They aren’t picky about where they congregate. They’ll cover up other, far more important mail. They’ll act as a coaster and host a glass or two or three. They’ll even lovingly provide a sturdy surface upon which your toddler or preschooler can work on a coloring page.

I suppose if you are a clutter-lover, or at least more tolerant than me when it comes to clutter, this kind of thing wouldn’t bother you so much. But, if you’ve any sense of the stress and displeasure I feel upon seeing loads of papers gathering about in my house, you might imagine my magazine frustration, which will flare up from time to time.

Let’s start with the food magazines. These are really Liam’s thing, although I do love to browse through recipes and look at food photography from time to time. But the way I look at it is, they are only useful for keeping around if you are going to attempt to make the concoctions they describe on their pages. And, let’s face it. We rarely do. Every now and then one of us will try one of the recipes. Liam recently discovered an amazing one for hot oatmeal, which is definitely a keeper. But for the most part, the magazines are read for entertainment in the moment only, and then left around to collect dust. I wish I could say we go back and look at old issues when we are planning out meals for the week, but we honestly don’t even do that. It’s so much easier to look online, or fall back on our regular dishes. So what’s the point in keeping them around, I ask?

For years I was on Liam’s case about hanging onto dozens and dozens of Gourmet magazines. He insisted and still insists on keeping them since they are no longer in print. Some of them reside now with our cookbooks. Some I’ve made him take down to the basement. And the rest are stashed away in the bottom drawer of a nightstand where no one can see them. Perfectly useful, right?

I’m much better about disposing of my magazines. Typically, when I read through one of them, I’ll fold down the corner of any page that contains something that’s caught my eye. It could be a recipe I’d like to try, or a craft with the kids. Sometimes it’s book or a product review, which I can add to Pinterest or an Amazon wish list. Most often, however, I find I’m drawn to images of other people’s homes and outdoor spaces. So, these pages eventually get ripped out, and sorted into corresponding file folders based on their content (kitchens, wall art, entryways, storage ideas, etc.). This is my pre-Pinterest, non-techy paper system, and I’m sticking to it. And before you go getting all, “But isn’t that cluttersome too?” on me, you should know that my filing system takes up only three-quarters of a bottom desk drawer. If it ever comes time to need more space than that, I know I will have to purge, or at least by then have purchased a damn house already so we can make use of the ideas on those damn pages.

Now, if a month or two or three should go by, and I haven’t dealt with filing or Pinning the pages, I will either make fast work of getting it done, or simply trash the things, trusting that there is nothing on the pages so special that my life would be worse off for having missed out on capturing it in the first place.

So why this love-hate relationship with our maggos, as I affectionately call them? Well, it stems from my childhood, like most of my OCD issues, I guess. You see, one of my parents, and I won’t mention her name here, but her initials are M.O.M., had a bad habit of collecting newspapers and magazines and mail and receipts and coupons, without ever actually regularly looking at or going through any of them. These papers and scraps of papers would pile up on chairs and counters, floors and boxes, and even black trash bags, in our childhood home until one weekend, several times a year, M.O.M. would decide to ‘go through them.’ The only problem with this was, since there were so many to begin with, she rarely made a dent, and to top things off, most items never got trashed, but simply recycled back into some other filing system which nobody but her ever understood. It was total madness.

She will readily admit to being a pack rat. By the way, I love this euphemism for hoarder. Let’s just call it was it was and is. In her defense, she worked a lot. Long hours at the office and long hours being M.O.M. to four kids. She couldn’t keep up with the clutter. I think in her mind she thought that if she threw something away, there was a chance she would miss out on something that would be so harmful it wasn’t worth doing. Like, what if she threw away a newspaper that had an article about my dad and his policing in it? Or a magazine that had the world’s best chocolate chip cookie recipe in it? I think she always thought there would be time in her busy schedule to go through things more thoroughly. But history showed this was not to be the case.

There is still evidence of this clutter in my parents’ home today. M.O.M. is very sensitive to criticism about it, and all of her children as well as her husband are aware of it, and try to steer clear from commenting about it. A few years ago, however, on a trip through their garage, I just couldn’t help it. And so I asked M.O.M. why on Earth did she insist on hanging on to the stack of Family Circle magazines from the 1980s. Or the plastic baggie full of expired coupons from the nineties.

“Leave me alone!” she shouted defensively. Clearly D.A.D. must have been on her case about it too. “Maybe I’m going to read those magazines someday.”

“M.O.M.,” I said, “I’ve never seen you read a magazine. Like ever. In all my thirty-some years.” (Even now that she is partially retired I’ve never seen the woman read a magazine).

But back then, this is what she said: “You can all burn my magazines when I’m dead! How’s that?”

I don’t know why, but her comment struck me as insanely funny. I know I should have been horrified, for that is my normal reaction when anyone I care about carelessly or humorously mentions his or her own death. As it is the source of my greatest anxiety—losing a loved one—I typically recoil when these kinds of comments are made.

That time was different, though. I can recall having the most distinct and vivid image of us all standing around weeping, yet laughing through our tears as we had a bonfire in the backyard, torching all of those old Family Circles and Reader’s Digests. What a loving tribute that would be, huh?

And so, because I do not want to burden my own children with the task of burning my magazines upon my death, brilliant as that plan is, I will continue to go through them, when I can, to keep our house from being overtaken by paper clutter.

I hope they will appreciate this when they are older.

Pet peeves: Part two (a bathroom special).

I honestly don’t know how he does it, but my husband has this uncanny ability to sense when I’ve just cleaned the bathroom sink. Then, and only then, like a magnet drawn to a piece of iron, does he decide it’s a great time to trim and/or shave his beard. He couldn’t have a different sense? Like, deciding right before I’m planning on cleaning to execute this chore?

After getting his facial hair all over every last surface of the sink, Liam does manage to clean up after himself. Thank goodness for this! But, he usually leaves pools of water all over the edges around the basin. So while evidence of the hair goes away, it ends up looking like he splashed about in there and just tossed water all over the place. Which, let’s face it, is probably exactly how it all goes down.

This is the exact state in which I found the sink last night when I went to brush my teeth, an hour after having just cleaned it spotless post stomach bug of our oldest kiddo. “Seriously?!?” I asked out loud (he was standing just outside the door). He knew exactly what I was talking about. I bust his balls about this all the time.

“What? I cleaned up,” he admitted, with a knowing smirk.

When I mentioned the wet spots, he asked me, “What’s worse? Beard hair all over, or puddles of water?”

“Both! Equally so!” I admonished.

Then, he grabbed the clean hand towel I had just hung up and wiped up every last inch of water. I couldn’t tell him then that I’d prefer he use a paper towel and not add insult to injury by soaking up a perfectly dry hand towel, offending my better sense of order and cleanliness. I know, I have my issues. I thanked him kindly, and then tossed the wet towel in the laundry when he wasn’t looking, and replaced it with a new one.

While we are on the subject of wasting towels, let’s discuss the little girls’ use, or overuse, rather, of washcloths while taking a bath. I keep a small basket of washcloths within reach of the bathtub. This is perhaps my error. I should probably move the basket to where little arms cannot reach it. The girls know I have a firm rule about using one washcloth per girl per bath. I’ll let them each have one, to be fair, but more than that is not necessary. This way, after they finish bathing, I can drape one cloth over the faucet, and one on a hook up near the shampoo rack to sufficiently dry out and be used again on following evenings.

A couple of months ago, Nora shouted to me from the tub where she and Frances had been happily playing. “Mommy! Frances did something naughty!”

I ran in there thinking I would find floating poops or razor blades or something equally dreadful. Instead, I saw, splayed out on the edge of the tub, five or six used, soaking, sopping wet washcloths. Frances had raided the basket and grabbed up every last clean cloth to play with. “Frances,” I said sternly. “One washcloth. You don’t need this many.” The tone of my voice must have clearly communicated my extreme displeasure, for she burst into tears at my reprimanding. Why do I care, you may be wondering? Why make my daughter cry over something so insignificant?

I hate, hate, HATE, having to do unnecessary laundry. In general, if clothes don’t get too dirty, they go back into drawers for wearing another time. We use cloth diapers, and so already do three cycles of diaper laundry every other day of the week, in addition to the normal laundry load.

When a certain child decides to use five washcloths, they end up getting stacked, one on top of the other, on top of the bathroom faucet, where, due to their number alone, they surely will never have time to dry, thus creating the perfect environment for mold and other unsavory bacteria to form, grow, and multiply. So, into the laundry they go. Am I overreacting? Yes, of course. I am aware. They’re just washcloths. But they have the power to undo me. I wish it wasn’t so. Really.

Thankfully the girls have caught on for the most part. We seldom have more than two washcloths in use at a time these days. When the occasional accident happens, and a third cloth sneaks in, the girls are quick to apologize, making me feel like the real OCD jerk I am. I’m working on my reactions though. “That’s OK girls. Not a problem,” I’ll say in a fake, cheery voice. Even though inside I’m trying to control the rage and the urge to rid the house of washcloths once and for all. Grrrrr.

Anxiety Episode #5: Neighborhood solicitors or other would be criminals force their way into our house to burglar, assault, kidnap and/or murder us.

Our neighborhood sees a fair amount of people walking its streets, knocking on doors with offers to mow lawns, pave driveways, or repair windows and roofs. Also, there are Jehovah’s witnesses (rarely), and the occasional dudes who are in transition—they’ve found Jesus, they’re many months sober, and they’re preparing to leave the halfway house. Somehow they believe their future success depends on the sale of magazine subscriptions, of which I’m meant to buy several.

Are these people legit? Are they prospecting for real business or just casing houses for potential burglaries? Are they in the (black) market for cute, bright babies? If so, I’ve got a couple I am absolutely NOT wiling to part with.

I always get both nervous and extremely irritated when I see these folks approaching the house. Nervous, because I find them to be highly suspicious, and irritated, because I have not invited them to my home, and therefore, do not welcome their presence. I know, this all sounds very Scroogey and judgy, but I can’t help it.

Usually these types come around when Liam is still at work and I’m home alone with the girls. I go into overly protective mode then and try to meet the strangers just outside the door in sight of other neighbors. Or, if I think I can get away with it, I hide from the windows, and hope they just go away. I’m sure their intentions are good, really, but these “traveling salesmen” creep me out.

On second thought, maybe I should give these people a small glimpse of our living room, so they could see we have little of value worth taking should their motive be burglary. Of course, if they’re looking for doll house furniture, children’s books, random board game pieces, broken crayons, uncapped, dried-out markers, prized coloring pages, and/or a small collection of baby dolls and stuffed ponies, they would soon come to the realization that they had indeed landed at the jackpot house.

I can usually dismiss the fix-it-up peddlers straightaway because we rent our property. We are not able to make the kinds of decisions they want homeowners to make, thus requiring their services. As for the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other reformed types, I will usually just accept some literature kindly, with every intention of trashing it once they’ve walked away. Sorry, but it’s true.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be entertaining these folks at all. It’s probably not wise that I do. They’re so intrusive. I feel the same way about 800-number callers who call many times a day over the course of many weeks and refuse to leave messages on my phone. Get a life!

I know I could probably invest a little time and energy to deter these folks. I could make a bold “No Soliciting” sign and hang it on our front window. Or, a “Beware of rabid attack dog who gets lose from time to time and has been known to break through skin” sign. Or, I could call the police. I’ve also been thinking I might just stand in the window next time and simply shake my head no while simultaneously wagging a finger until the creepers get the message and go away. This seems slightly rude, but could be effective.

In any case I’ve been locking the door obsessively lately, just be safe. In addition to the presence of the neighborhood peddlers, I’ve been worrying about how a local woman was attacked in her home recently and murdered by strangers. I don’t know the specifics of how the bad guys got in, buts it’s enough that I know they did.

Liam likes knowing that I lock the door when he’s not home; it eases his mind to know that I take precautions. However, I think he finds the habitual practice of locking the door to be a little over-the-top once he’s joined us for the night.

Take for example, a common sequence of evening events at our house:

Liam pulls in the driveway after a long day at work. I usually see him coming and go to unlock the door (which I’ve had locked since I walked in from school said goodbye to my mom or to Candace, the girls’ two favorite caregivers). I give him a hug and kiss, welcome him in, and then close and lock the door behind him. He greets the girls. We eat dinner. He may go back outside again to check mail, or empty garbage, so he has to unlock the door. I lock it soon after he comes back in (once or twice I’ve nearly locked him out while he was just making a quick trip to the garage). After dinner he decides to make a fire in the fireplace. We keep our firewood on the porch, so he must unlock the door to go get some. Minutes after he’s come back inside, I notice the door is unlocked and re-lock it, even though I know he’s likely going to need to go back out for more wood in a half hour. A half hour later, as noted, he needs more wood, and so must go back out to the porch, only after he unlocks the door for the fifth time in just under two hours. And so the game of back and forth with the locks continues until we go to bed. Often, he will look at me during these moments and simply shake his head, as if to say: you’re really overdoing things here, woman. Thankfully, he refrains from adding that he thinks I’m bat-shit crazy, and at most will do the shaking head thing and/or sigh.

What? I’ll counter. I’m just trying to keep our family safe.

I think this weekend may be a good time to get started on that rabid dog sign. I really think it might be a game-changer for us.

Hoarding: It runs in the family.

I’m having a bit of writer’s block tonight. It’s probably because I was awoken by a fussy, teething, thrashing 21-month-old 7-8 times during the night last night, and as a result, right now am having difficulty stringing words together to make complete sentences.

So, tonight’s post is an excerpt from an old blog I used to write. As it mentions a time before my wedding, it must have been circa 2009, soon after Liam and I moved here to PA from Boston, where we’d both been living for some time. If you followed the blog then, the story might sound familiar. It features my nephew, Miles, who is eight now. At the time of this post, he was three-and-a-half years old.

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Back story #1: Liam has been a little obsessed with hoarders and hoarding in general, I think. He watched some show on 60 minutes or Dateline, or one of those shows he’s always watching, and he won’t stop making comments about it. If we leave magazines around for too long, he asks: Do you think we’re hoarders? Or if I gently remind him that he needs to get rid of some of his t-shirts since they are taking up three drawers’ worth of space, and he somehow never manages to even touch the ones on the bottom, he replies: I know, I know. I’m a hoarder.

Sometimes I get the hoarder card from him too, especially when it comes to the basement full of crafts that I don’t make use of as often as he thinks I should. Then he starts to go off about the dangers of hoarding and how soon we’ll have our dead cats lying around us, among piles of our picked-off scabs, and pizza boxes full of mounting garbage that we are too lazy to throw away. All of this, never mind the fact that we don’t even own cats.

Back story #2: Liam and I have been saving up our loose change for over a year now. I have to admit, I never much cared for change before I met Liam. But, as I’ve already pointed out, Liam likes to save things. So, we started a coin jar. When it filled up the first time we took it to the grocery store to get bills from the CoinStar machine, the one that charges a small fee per dollar to process the coins. Fifty dollars is no small amount! Instead of spending it, we put it into an envelope.

At some point I decided to start my own coin jar. I kept it separate from the other jar—what would become Liam’s jar. We declared a competition between us to see who could collect the most coins. As a result, we now have quite a little stash of bills in our envelope. We have dubbed it the ‘furniture fund‘ which we plan to use as a down payment for some nice Amish-made table for our yet-to-be-bought new house in our yet-to-be-determined city of settling down.

Real story: A few weeks ago I was over at my parents’ house visiting one evening. (FYI: My mom could quite possibly be a real hoarder. Not dead cats bad, but close. At least, she’s much worse than Liam will ever imagine he is or I am. Love her dearly, I do.) My parents’ house has loose change all over the place and they keep a big jar on their bedroom dresser where a lot of it ends up. I have occasionally been known to go over there and secretly steal the change from that jar, so that my coin jar would fill up faster than Liam’s. I know I should feel ashamed about this, but I don’t.

On this particular evening I let my mom know that I was in real serious need of some coin. I explained that the change-turned-to-bills via CoinStar was going to help pay for my wedding veil, a random item I decided I needed immediately, among other wedding weekend expenses. After hearing this, she was happy to help. Less money she’d have to contribute? Sure! Why not? She showed me several of her secret stashes of change, many of which included quarters, the Big Kahuna of change. These she had to carefully check through though, before giving to me, to make sure they weren’t ones that were of U.S. states of which she hadn’t yet collected seven or eight duplicates. She’s hoarding these, I guess, so she can give each of her children a set some day, although this remains to be seen.

Anyway, she and I were sitting on her bed going through piles of coins when my sister, Melissa, and her young son, Miles, came in. Miles has his own piggy bank at home and my parents will occasionally give him change to put in there. When he saw all of the coins he got very excited and climbed up on the bed to get involved.

Melissa, my mom and I soon each had a huge pile of coins in front of us and we began to sort them into two piles. 1): the pile for Kirstin to take home to change to bills and use to pay for her veil, or whatever else she deemed she needed, and 2): the reserve pile for mom in order for her to one day complete her eight sets of state quarters. Incidentally, I’m not quite sure why she needs eight sets. If you count one set for her and my dad to keep, plus the four kids, that makes five sets. Hoarders need to always have back-up, I guess.

The conversation began like this:

Me: Hawaii?

Mom: Yeah, I need that one.

Melissa: How about Delaware?

Mom: Nope. That was one of the first ones. I have plenty of those.

Me: New Mexico?

Mom: Hmmm…I can’t remember. Put it in my pile just to be safe.

After hearing my mom say ‘yes’ to her pile for Hawaii for about the 13th time, I stood up for my collection and shouted: No! You have enough already. The veil! Think of the veil! That one’s mine! We were starting to get a little hysterical and the mood was becoming intense.

All the while, my nephew Miles was secretly stealing from each of our piles to make his own, his smile growing wider and wider with the addition of each new coin. Eventually I started watching him with more interest and concern. I tried to rationally explain to him that his Aunt Kirstin needed the money more than he did. I would then steal a few dimes from his pile and he’d say angrily, “Hey, that’s mine!”

I mean, he could play the pile game just like everyone else, right? That’s what he justified in his smart little brain. And then I’d yell back, “No, they’re mine!” We’d laugh a little and the game would continue (and yes, I had no problems stealing money from a three-and-a-half-year-old and not giving it back).

Soon, my yelling turned into, “Miles, quit being a hoarder!” Of course, the vocabulary was fresh in my mind from Liam’s constant use of it at home. Then when their piles were dwindling, Melissa and my mom would swipe some coins from Miles too in order to sort them into their rightful places. I mean, this was serious banking business here.

My mom and Melissa soon dumped on him too, “Miles, nobody likes a hoarder.” Or, “Miles, quit hoarding!”

Melissa, my mom and I were having more fun using these big words with him than you can imagine. Miles continued to get frustrated that his pile was shrinking by the minute and his mom, aunt and grandma were yelling nonsense at him left and right. It just wasn’t right. Finally, amidst hands taking from him and words being thrown about, Miles responded to us all in a shouting, desperate whine, “But, I wanna be a hoarder!”

The grown ups looked at each other and began to crack up. This little guy had understood that keeping his money to himself and playing the game with the big girls meant being a hoarder, and that was OK by him even if he didn’t own the word at the time and would likely forget it the next day. In the moment it was completely hysterical.

Eventually Miles lost all his money. Well, I did I let him keep the pennies. What does he know anyway? And, a few hours later, I was $125 richer. Thanks, mom! Hoarding sure does pays off!

OCD Tendencies: Take that, you microwave timer!

My mom will tell you that as a teen I’d often ask her for how long I should put something in the microwave to reheat. She would make a recommendation, and then—get this—instead of punching in the minutes or seconds she’d just suggested, I’d go ahead and enter my own time, a few seconds more or less than what she had said.

She explains away this odd behavior as my being stubborn and contrary—having always wanted to do the exact opposite of that which someone proposed. Even when I was the one doing the asking though? How messed up is that?

The microwave trick must have started like this, in a somewhat defiant, humorous way—like, ha-ha mom, you told me to put the rice in for 45 seconds, and I punched in 38! See if I listen to you again.

But this is a behavior that has continued long after I’ve left my parents’ house. It’s totally weird, I know, but I can’t bring myself to reheat something for any round number of minutes, or multiple of five for that matter either.

Anything that should be reheated for close to a minute goes in for 57 or 58 seconds. A half a cup of coffee left out for too long on the counter might make it in for 23 seconds. No one is watching over my shoulder anymore. There’s no joke to be had with someone else. It’s just me and the microwave.

Maybe it’s just about me wanting to be a nonconformist. I feel I must not let the microwave win; I won’t be made to be a conventional time-setter.

Disturbing, right? Welcome to my mind and the games we play together.