Archive for October, 2010

31 October, 2010

It’s the Bronchitis that Never Ends…

Yes, it goes on and on my friends.

A month ago I started coughing,

Not knowing what it was.

And I’ll continue coughing,

Forever, just because it’s the bronchitis that never ends…

Back in mid-september, when I was hard at work trying to put together the giant OCD meeting, I developed a cough. It wasn’t bad, at first. And then it got worse. Harder to breathe. Harder to ignore.

Today, after four days of running a fever and feeling like I was something out of the 1990’s Double Dare era, because I’ve produced enough slime to make Marc Summers proud, I went to the doctor. Diagnosis: Sinus infection. Ear infection. Allergies. Bronchitis – in the early stages of pneumonia.

I’ve accomplished nothing this weekend, and worse, it’s Halloween.

I LOVE Halloween. What other time of the year do you get to justify dressing up in outlandish costumes while eating orange, black, and green covered treats? What other time of year do you get to see costumed children performing movie scene reenactments? Or your best friend dress up like a zombie and dance the Thriller dance?

Kelly Dances Thriller

Admittedly, I went to watch that yesterday. And when I returned home, I promptly found myself with a temperature of 101.5. That’ll teach me to try to have some fun.

Tonight, I was supposed to go Trick-or-Treating with the Chaos kids. A chance to reuse my award-winning Wednesday Adams costume from the year before last. If you’re going to be born with super dark hair, you ought to be able to use it for something.

Wednesday Adams Costume


Alas, I shall spend my evening with my new best friends: Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Antibiotics, Afrin, Tissues, Vicks Vap-o-Rub, The Thermometer, and, of course, Sudafed. My costume shall consist of sweatpants and a t-shirt, and if I really want to be scary, I’ll continue the trend of having not brushed my hair properly in three days. I’m sure I could scare small children.

Regular party here!

Happy Halloween, Ya’ll! Stay safe. And healthy. And think of me when you’re out having fun. And, could you possibly explain to my professors why none of their homework is complete? Thanks.


23 October, 2010

Lies and Manipulation

Otherwise titled: How to get your three-year-old to pick up his toys in 15 minutes flat.

I did a bad thing. A very bad thing. Something that I swore I’d never do, because I hated having it done to me.

I lied to the three-year-old. And I made his toys come alive. And then I made him feel sorry for them. It was brilliant. It was effective. He’ll probably be scarred for life, unable to so much as drop a toy on the ground without feeling like he’s hurt its feelings.

Of course, he’s a boy. So he may escape unharmed.

We were having one of those nights. The Monkey Boy had dropped a stack of plastic tea-set plates on his sister’s head and made her cry. Munchkin girl was uninterested in eating, despite being very hungry. The healthy food fakeout – where you tempt with a piece of banana and, when the mouth is open, quickly insert the spoon full of tasteless, spiceless, disgusting orange vegetable mush – only led to screams of, “WHY, Auntie Bobs, WHY? I thought you loved me?!”

Then, because I was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad babysitter, I DARED go potty. And during that time, the Monkey Boy did something else. I don’t know what. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. All I know is that it made Munchkin Girl VERY VERY angry. Ear-piercing angry. I’m-Beating-You-With-A-Hot-Poker-Screams angry.

So there I was, one child in my arms trying to burst my eardrums, and another steadfastly declaring that he hadn’t done anything wrong. There was still uneaten food on the dinner table, and it looked like a toy-bomb had gone off in the house. I only had two options. I could sit in the middle of the living room floor, cover my ears with my hands, and start screaming uncontrollably, or I could somehow get the naughty three-year-old to help pick up the mess so that he would be occupied and I could vacuum. (Because when you’re at your wit’s end, and you have a screaming child, vacuuming is the way to go. After all, she couldn’t have really screamed LOUDER at that point. Gotta take advantage of these opportunities if you want to get things done.)

And then, I got diabolical. It’s really my mother’s fault.

See, my mother is a wonderful woman with an imagination like no other. She’s soft hearted and compassionate – and has a way of making things come alive.

Because of this, I still can’t eat food that is shaped like an animal. No chocolate bunnies for me at easter. No marshmallow peeps. Because of her, I feel sad for my computer, knowing that I’m going to replace it – because my computer will be sad, of course. I feel guilty when I don’t give equal time to my shoes. The couch I own? I have it because I didn’t want to make it feel unloved. And don’t even get me STARTED on stuffed animals.

I swore I’d never do this to my children (or my nephews and nieces, as the case here may be). I promised myself that I wouldn’t scar them in such a way. That they would know the joys of eating chocolate bunnies at Easter, and they wouldn’t feel even a little bit bad about biting off the poor little bunny ears.

But in my desperation, I found myself channeling my mother. Looking around at the explosion of toys on the floor, I concocted a plan. With the screaming baby on my hip, I walked into the kitchen and calmly hit the timer button on the stove. Per usual, the beep called out to the Monkey Boy, like a beacon of light in a storm, and he came rushing into the kitchen.

“What you set the timer for?” He asked.

“Well, I have a secret.” I said. “You wanna know?”

He nodded.

“You wanna know?” I asked, trying to build suspense, while simultaneously working out the story in my head.


I crouched down.

“Monkey, look!” I pointed at all the toys on the floor. “You see all of those toys? There are lots and lots of them, aren’t there?”

“Yeah, there are lotsa toys.” He said.

“Well, they’re all really naughty toys.”

“Why are they naughty?”

“Because they aren’t where they belong! They won’t listen and go back to where they’re supposed to be, in their toy chest and boxes in the playroom. And that’s very, very naughty, when the toys don’t listen – but I don’t think they understand that they’re being naughty! And you know what?”


“If they keep being naughty, they’re going to have to get a time out and go away for a really long time to think about why they’re naughty. So look here.” I pointed at the timer. “The timer is set for FIFTEEN minutes. When the timer beeps, any toys that aren’t where they belong are going to have to go into time out, and they they’ll be really really sad. They won’t get to play with Monkey anymore, and that’ll make them cry, like baby sister.”

Baby sister inserted an appropriate wail.

“So you have to help them!” I continued. “You have to hurry hurry and pick up all of the toys and put them where they belong, so they won’t get a time out and be sad. Hurry hurry!”

I have never seen the Monkey Boy pick up toys so fast.

Cleaning, which is usually punctuated with whines of “but I need you to heeeeeeeelp me! Bobbbbbbiiiiiii, you have to HEEEELP MEEEEEE!”, was instead carried out with cries of “Oh no, we have to hurry hurry! Hurry hurry!”

In fifteen minutes flat, every toy was out of the living room, kitchen, and dining room, and all of the toys in the playroom were put into their boxes.

I did help, but only to gather toys from the less obvious locations and to round up the books, which belonged somewhere else entirely.

When the timer beeped, there was much cheering.

I wish I could say that it was the turning around point for our night, but I can’t. The Munchkin Girl continued to scream, unwilling to eat anything but a banana, until I finally gave up and put her to bed. She was OUT in fewer than three songs, which makes me think that she was just overly tired and whatever mystery-torture the Monkey Boy had bestowed upon her was just the straw the broke the camel’s back. I still had to threaten to hang Monkey by his toes when he refused to stop running around upstairs, and we had a rousing argument about the correct pronunciation of “pajamas.” (It’s pa-JAH-mas, dammit.)

He then launched into a soliloquy about Chuggington trains that didn’t end until Daddy got home and took over the bathtime routine. In fact, I don’t think it actually ended there. I just excused myself from it at that point.

Still, thanks to my mother, lies, and manipulation, I got the toys cleaned up. A small success in the midst of many, many hair-pulling moments. And really, in the House of Chaos, small successes are what you shoot for. Anything else is just gravy.

Me: 1

Monkey Boy: 0


21 October, 2010

10 Notes from Campus

This is not, you might have noticed, a post about the event I promised to post about two days ago.

And you thought I’d forgotten. I haven’t. I’ve just decided to delay it until such time as I see fit to stop delaying it. Or, you know. Until I have time to copy over the pictures from the camera.

I find my that my mind is all over the place tonight, unable to focus on anything productive like my unfinished Russian homework, my unread literature homework, the dishes in my sink, the laundry in my washing machine, or the labrador staring at me, wondering if I’m ever going to take him out. Can’t imagine why I’d want to do any of those things when I could sit on my couch eating popcorn for dinner, and write about some of the things that have happened on campus in the past few days.

I’m sure my professors won’t mind. It’s introspection. They like that in Social Work. Right?

1. I’ve been searching for the best place to do Russian homework on campus, and I think I may have found a strategy that works. It’s about time, as many of my previous efforts have been unsuccessful. For example: The week before last, while sitting outside of the union, I was approached by a young man. I was clearly surrounded by Russian homework. A textbook, a workbook, a laptop with translations on the screen. A pile of homework to be corrected. Uninvited, the young man sat down next to me, and asked, “So what are you working on?”

Lucky for him, we were in a public place, so I had to quell my desire to take the Russian textbook and slap him upside the head with it. I told him I was busy – which should have been the end of it. But he was undeterred, and proceeded to quiz me about my political and philosophical knowledge for the next forty-five minutes. Russian homework status: unfinished.

My favorite place to sit is outside of Calhoun. I have an emotional attachment to this building, because it is where I had Vampire class last fall. Really, this building changed my life.

Alas, there are no power outlets outside Calhoun.

The Union is crowded. The FAC is worse. The Social Work lounge – usually an optimal choice – is, unfortunately, in the Social Work building. Which is in Timbuktu. At least, it might as well be. If I’m going to lose half an hour walking, it just isn’t worth the effort. And, of course, none of the busses service the Social Work building.

I should say, none of the busses will take you TO the Social Work building. There are plenty that will take you away from it. It’s no wonder we’re the smallest school on campus.

So, you see my dilemma? I have heaps of unfinished homework, and for the past several weeks, I haven’t been able to find a good place to do it. Location is important, you know. As I said though, I’ve developed a strategy. I’ve taken to lurking in the halls of Parlin, waiting to see which classroom is left empty at the beginning of the new period. There’s usually one – not necessarily the same one for multiple periods, as I discovered yesterday when I unintentionally found myself crashing a class on English literature. But still, I like this strategy, and I think we’ll see how it works.

2. Speaking of literature. Today, in World Literature, Dr. Richmond-Garza had us rolling.  If you’ve never had the opportunity to hear a slightly gothic but very proper British woman interpret Faust, I highly recommend it. I mean it. I want you to run out and find yourself a slightly gothic but very proper British woman at once. … No? You’ll just take my word for it? Pity. I can’t do the accent very well. She included in her lecture a pantomime demonstration of how cats kill mice. I just wish I’d had the presence of mind to pull out my phone and video it. Something about the idea of Satan being a cat…

There is a REASON that I am a dog person. Thanks to Dr. Richmond-Garza, I now know that it’s because cats may be secretly trying to steal my soul.

3. It also occurred to me during today’s reading of Faust that I might very well be Wagner. Which, if you’ve read the play, is not necessarily a good thing. He’s such a lovely, sweet…naive little suck-up. It didn’t dawn on me that I might be turning into this character until Dr. Richmond-Garza made the comment, “Imagine going to office hours and saying to your professor, ‘Oh, I’m just so impressed with you, I could do this all evening!’, none of you would ever think of doing that.” Then I squirmed in my seat a little bit. And giggled. And tried not to make eye contact with anyone.

Because I’ve come very close to doing that, not once, but twice.

Okay, so I didn’t actually tell my professors that I’m damn near giddy every time I get the chance to have an intellectual conversation with them about anything. But I do distinctly remember calling Kelly, just before office hours last semester, and saying something to the tune of, “I’m so excited! I get her to myself for twenty minutes!” And then there’s Russian. Enough said.

Does this mean that I’m Wagner? I never knew. I really don’t want to be a little German boy. I’m afraid it just wouldn’t go with my image.

4. But this does bring me to my next observation. In a Russian verb lecture today, Dr. Garza mentioned that similar intensive programs in Stanford and UNJ hadn’t gone quite as well as ours. Stanford’s intensive Russian had a 50% drop rate. We gained a student. I hate to tell him this, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with him not being the professor at Stanford. (Now, if saying this makes me a little German suck-up… *shrug* What am I gonna do?)

Half the class is there, myself included, because of him. The other half – at least the ones not graduating – will be taking his classes for years to come. I guaran-fracking-tee it. He really does have a cult-like following there. I think there’s a FB group and everything.

In all seriousness though, the professor makes or breaks the course.

5. And Jester smells like fried food and feet. I don’t know why you’d care. But there you have it.

6. Course schedule is out. Tomorrow, I have to do some major running around in an attempt to take care of some credit transferring that I didn’t do earlier, but should have. I’m not looking forward to it.

7. Breakfast tacos make my world go around.

8. I had a Social Work Research Methods midterm exam yesterday. I felt good about it. Except for the one question I didn’t answer. Still – I deemed that, as a Social Worker, it was my job to be honest. So in the blank, I wrote the following: I’m sorry, but I just don’t remember the answer. I’ll spare you making one up. 🙂

I hope he appreciates my honesty and doesn’t take it as cheek. It really wasn’t meant to be. I just couldn’t remember the answer.

9. If my actual notes were this detailed, I might have had a shot at remembering the answer.

10. Today while walking by the six-pack, I saw a guy pull out a hammock, tie it between a lamppost and a tree, and prepare to take a nap. You just don’t see that every day.


18 October, 2010

It Blows My Mind

Tomorrow, I promise to post all about the event we held this weekend. The one I was so worried about – suffice to say, it went over extremely well.

Tonight, I have to spend a little time talking about one of its after effects though, because honestly, it blows my mind.

Last week was OCD Awareness Week. It’s why we had our mini-conference when we did. And it’s something that, for obvious reasons, I paid pretty close attention to this year. I’m willing to bet that most people didn’t have a clue. This probably should have pissed me off, but mostly, it just drove me to put on a really great event and to DO something about the lack of knowledge that was out there.

I always thought that I was super out of the OCD closet. And, in the context of how I live with it today, I am. But this weekend, Kelly attended the mini-conference we held and sat in on the support group for “relationships.” It was the perfect place for her, because God knows she spends enough time being a support person – I knew she could provide some insight to the people there. While in her group, she had the opportunity to hear some parents speak. And this made her curious. What was my story? All the bits and pieces that I didn’t talk about?

When she said she wanted to do a blog on OCD, what I had in mind was that she would be writing about her experiences. Instead, she asked me about mine. And because I learned long ago that resistance is futile, I started to write. Bits and pieces. Things that I remembered from childhood. Things that I didn’t directly remember, but had seen in videos. Things that I wished people had done, and things that I wished they hadn’t.

When I was all done, I had 11 pages. 5200 words of what I would have deemed “whining.” See… in my 11 pages, I had violated several of my cardinal rules of thumb.

1. You don’t publicly speak ill of your family.
2. You don’t force people to read about your problems.
3. You most certainly don’t share with the world all of your most embarrassing rituals and compulsions.

Apparently, I wasn’t REALLY as out as I thought I was. But once I started writing for Kelly, I couldn’t stop writing. I couldn’t stop talking about all of the funny things I’d done when I was younger. I started remembering things that I hadn’t thought of in years. Some of it made me laugh. Checking the freezer for my dead parents? Admittedly, in retrospect, pretty funny. Some of it made me shake my head and go… wow…well THAT makes sense. I had never really considered that my three-year-old self got angry with daddy when he messed up song lyrics because I had OCD. But that one we have on film. It’s a running joke in our family now, and it always makes me giggle. But it makes me think too.

Some of it was hard to write. The summer I was 16 was hell. Reliving it wasn’t something that I had intended to do when I sat down to blog yesterday. But there it came, spilling out like water from a floodgate.

And then there was the whole “Dear God, what if my parents see this,” moment. I won’t lie. I’m still afraid they might. And I still feel a little guilty for representing them poorly. I certainly didn’t mean to. I didn’t talk to them, so they couldn’t have really known. More than that, my father lives with Schizophrenia and PTSD. His own mental illnesses are enough to keep anyone busy for a lifetime, and I don’t envy him them.

And they were – and are – good parents. Mixed in with the bad memories are some great ones, of cooking breakfast, pancakes in bed, sledding in the winter, and Carolina basketball.

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t want anyone to have the wrong impression. I just want the impression they have to be honest. And unfortunately for all of us, that includes some less than stellar moments of yelling and screaming and feeling frustrated and misunderstood.

But then, it’s entirely possible that I’m obsessing.

I sent my 5200 words to Kelly, who proclaimed that she was posting them all. “It’s too important,” she said. I’m not sure what went on in that meeting, but we must have made an impression. And I’m so glad that we did, because she’s right. It IS important. It’s important to me. To everyone living with OCD.

In the past 24 hours, the blog has received more hits than I can think of. It blows my mind that people want to read my story. Other friends are posting on fb about it. That baffles me too. I just never imagined that anyone would be all that interested.

But the comments have made it all worth it. And I’m glad that I gave it to her to post – and grateful to her for making it a big deal. I spend most of my life trying to act like OCD isn’t the driving force behind me. I want to be an advocate for it, but I never want people to think that I use it as an excuse to be less or not try as hard. I don’t want people to see my accommodations and think that I’m milking the system. So I make it not a big deal. As not a big deal as possible. And while I never want it to be the thing that defines me, I’m glad that occasionally, someone realizes it is a big deal.

I’ve said it before: I always feel guilty when I talk about this. I always wondered who would care? Who would really want to hear? But I am reminded today that talking about things makes them less scary and less stigmatized. So I’ll talk. And I’ll keep talking.

But it really does blow my mind that anyone wants to hear what I have to say.

So, for the curious… for those who haven’t read it already, here is what I wrote for Kelly: My Story


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