Archive for ‘Observations’

20 June, 2011

Three Weeks

Three Weeks.

The two scariest words in my world right now.

Lately, I’ve been lying awake at night. I toss. I turn. Sometimes I give up completely and watch Bones.

Because there’s no anxiety that a little grizzly murder can’t cure. Right?

And why can’t I sleep?

Three Weeks.

In the silence of my bedroom, these two words haunt me. As soon as I stop moving — as soon as I give my mind a chance to rest, the anxiety comes.

Three Weeks. In three weeks, I will be going to Russia.

Honestly, that statement is unfathomable to me. I distinctly remember a time only six months ago when I wasn’t even a Russian major. I remember sitting in Russian class the first week, when study abroad in Moscow was brought up, and thinking that it was an interesting idea… but one that I probably wouldn’t take part in. I remember deciding to go and then telling everyone I met that I was going to Russia. But that was then. Russia was a long way away.

Three weeks is barely an eye blink.

And about four days ago, it suddenly dawned on me that I am terrified.

Excited? You bet. For the first time since I took up this unusual major, I’ll be in a place where no one tells me to shut up because I’ve been speaking Russian for two hours. I’ll be able to make huge gains towards my FSI Language Level 2. It’s a photographer’s dream. This trip is going to be forever planted in my memory as my first trip to my area of specialty.

Oh yes, I am excited.

But right now, I’m more terrified. Because I was blessed with a mind that is supremely capable of imagining myriad possibilities of disaster.

I’m afraid of the flight. I do NOT fly well.

I’m afraid that I’m going to arrive in Russia and realize that I don’t understand anything.

I’m afraid that speech paralysis is going to hit and I’m going to open my mouth to speak Russian and nothing will come out.

I’m afraid that I actually suck at Russian and no one is telling me.

I’m afraid that I’m going to hate the food and starve.

I’m afraid of the flight. I’m claustrophobic.

I’m afraid that I’m going to say something inappropriate to someone.

I’m afraid of the flight. Being out of control is extremely hard for me.

I’m afraid that I’m going to fail my classes because I don’t understand anything.

I’m afraid that I’m not going to get everything packed.

I’m afraid that I’m not going to have time in the next three weeks to get everything in order here.

When I lie in bed at night, these thoughts circle my head. Then the OCD Badger grabs them and suddenly my plane is crashing and I’m landing in Russian prison because I’ve misunderstood a policeman and said something I shouldn’t have.

I know it’s irrational. I know that I’m going to have a blast. I know that I’m excited. Really. And I know how to deal with all of these fears.

But if I don’t pay a little homage to this terror, I’m not being honest with myself or anybody else.

Sometimes, just acknowledging that the fears exist is enough.

And if it isn’t?

I still have three weeks.



15 June, 2011

The Rules of Cleaning (and Other Adventures in Housekeeping)

I’ve been cleaning.

I know that isn’t much of a shocker coming from me, the resident obsessive-compulsive, but there you have it. I’ve been cleaning all day long. And you know what? I’m still not done. In fact, I think the apartment is messier than it was when I started this morning.

The thing is… well… I’m particular. Some of it is OCD, some of it is just me being a control freak. Some of it is done because it doesn’t “feel right” otherwise. Some of it is just common sense. Either way, I’ve developed a system.

Here are a few of my ground rules:

Start with the kitchen. The clean laundry has to go through there and you don’t want to have to rewash it if it falls out of the basket and onto the floor, which it is likely to do, since you wait until it piles up to wash it instead of doing it a load at a time.

The fridge must be cleaned out before the dishwasher can be loaded. The fridge must be cleaned out wearing rubber gloves. Okay. This one is definitely OCD. I’m afraid of mold. And milk. Really, REALLY afraid of spoiled milk.

The floor has to be vacuumed before laundry can be folded on it. This usually involves stealing my neighbor’s vacuum, as she caused mine to blow up. Really. She plugged it into her wall and it blew up.

Things can NOT be put away into unorganized drawers. I’ve been like this ever since I was a little girl. I used to get in so much trouble because my dad would tell me to clean, then come back four hours later and find an even bigger pile of toys on the floor where I’d dumped everything out. Even then, I couldn’t bear to just shove stuff into drawers and boxes, and I still can’t. Just ask Kelly. Yesterday, she caught me cleaning out her kids toy chest because it was so disorganized. But hey, I found two pair of pajama bottoms and a shoe. Don’t tell me organizing isn’t worth it.

Clothes must all hang facing the front of the closet, sorted by colors and sleeve length. Not a problem until I find something that got shoved into the closet backwards by accident one morning and end up redoing the whole thing.

Finish with the bathroom. Because you’re going to be showering there when you’re done anyway and you don’t want to have to clean the shower twice. And speaking of showering…

You can’t be clean in a dirty house. This one baffles people who assume that a ‘being clean’ compulsion must go along with multiple daily showers. But I absolutely can not stand to be clean in a less than clean environment. When I step out of my shower, I don’t want to immediately feel dirty again. That’s not to say that I DON’T shower, only that once I start the cleaning process, I have to finish cleaning before I can shower.

None of these rules are so terrible in and of themselves, but here’s my problem.

I have to start with the kitchen. Fine. But that means I need to clean out the fridge. And the fridge is scary because there might be mold there. I can’t load the dishwasher until the fridge is cleaned out and I can’t clean the kitchen until the dishwasher is loaded. If I skip the laundry, I don’t have to do the kitchen, but I have a month’s worth of laundry to do and it’s all over the floor. But even if I do the laundry, which requires emptying the fridge of the spoiled milk and possibly dying, I can’t fold it because the floor is covered in dog hair and I can’t vacuum until I pick up the clutter that’s on the floor. But I can’t put away the clutter on the floor because I have to dump out the drawers and stuff where the clutter goes because they aren’t organized the right way.

Is anyone else getting a Vizzini in the Princess Bride feel from this argument?

The result is that it is now nearly 10:00 pm, my floor is covered in dirty laundry and emptied drawers of stuff, my dishwasher is still unloaded, and it’s too late to vacuum. And I can’t shower. Which I desperately need to do.


In other housekeeping news, I’m toying with a site redesign. I’ve purchased a domain (strange… nobody else had bought yet. I can’t imagine why) and I’m looking for a good theme that will let me run several different sections from one main blog. Kind of like Pioneer Woman does. I’d really love to run a section for OCD proper and maybe integrate my writing blog with this one. I’m not sure yet. I just want things more organized.

So stay tuned. And if you know any great WP themes that will let me do what I want, let me know would you?

I miss HTML. This CSS stuff might as well be Arabic, for all that I can understand it.

Finally, my dear readers, I have a piece of advice for you. Line your shower with garbage bags before rinsing hair dye. #Lessonlearnedthehardway

Until tomorrow (if the cleaning supply fumes don’t kill me before then)


14 June, 2011

Eight Reasons Why Glee Doesn’t Completely Suck

Last week, after spending two years convinced that a brain-eating human-age-regression virus was sweeping the world, it happened.

I got sucked into Glee. And it doesn’t completely suck. Well, it does, because it sucked me in. But not in the bad way.


Here’s why I don’t hate it as much as I thought I would. (Like, not at all. Like, I kind of like it.)

1. They based a whole episode on a Fleetwood Mac album.

The Chain. Go Your Own Way. Dreams. I grew up on this stuff. Stevie Nicks is pretty much my vocal idol. So any show that takes Fleetwood Mac and makes it accessible and cool, thereby making me less of a freak for preferring the classic rock to just about anything produced since I was born? I’m down with that.

2. Shue’s abs.

Damn. Just… damn.

And he sings. And dances.

And is in love with a woman who has OCD.

And mentors troubled high school children.

And did I mention the abs? Not that it would ever really be appropriate for a teacher to strip off his shirt in front of impressionable teenage girls. But still. Damn. My last chorus teacher was a middle-aged woman with thick bangs and a propensity to wear calf-length church dresses. So. Not. Fair.

3. Brittana.

They’re pretty. They care about each other. They like women. They like men. Brittany makes me giggle. Santana has a spectacular rack.

Just saying. I am an equal opportunity ogler.

They sang Landslide. It was awesome.

And mostly… they’re just really cool together.

4. The characters have depth.

Even Sue, the epitome of evil, has a soft side. No one is 100% good and no one is 100% bad. I get annoyed watching shows where morality is absolute — we all have our less than appealing qualities and everyone makes bad decisions sometimes.

5. The cast is diverse. Like, REALLY diverse.

Okay, so Glee plays on stereotypes. But what the show is really good at is taking the stereotypes and turning them on their head. And EVERYONE is represented. Black, white, brown, purple. Gay, straight, bi. Disabled. Popular. Christian. Jewish. And what’s so cool is that despite this, no one is cast into a box. The diversity is great — and the fact that the story line is more important than the attributes of the characters playing it is even better.

6. There is an obsessive-compulsive character. And she isn’t a freak show.

I admit, whenever I hear tell of a character with OCD, I cringe a little. I’ve seen it done so poorly. Comedies use OCD as fodder for jokes. They make fun of the anal-retentive properties without ever addressing the fact that OCD can be a serious problem. That said, I’m all for laughing at our problems — just not at laughing at the people who have them. There is a difference.

And Glee manages to find it. Emma is cool. Having an obsessive-compulsive character like her on prime time can only do good things for awareness. Glee sees her go to therapy. It sees her trying medication. It acknowledges the fact that individually scrubbing grapes is quirky and a little funny, but also part of a larger problem. It doesn’t make her a freak or hyper-controlling. (Monica Geller comes to mind.)

Basically, the show just handles it really well. That alone makes me respect it.

8. The ratings are good, so it probably won’t be canceled.

Always a plus. Nothing worse than getting sucked into a show only to see it canceled just one season after you really get into it. *cough* Veronica Mars *cough*

So yeah, okay, it’s not too bad. Even if I’m developing an inferiority complex as I realize that every one of those little snots is a better singer than I am. And even if the musical dubbing REALLY annoys me. They could definitely improve on that. And even if I still don’t really buy the premise that people from so many cliques would come together striving to win a singing competition, (We weren’t that united in ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, for God’s sake), or that football players and cheerleaders would give up their popularity just because of a few songs.

It doesn’t completely suck after all.


3 June, 2011

We’re Women

Yesterday, I arrived in Washington D.C. for the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. After being greeted in Washington by an immediate hail storm, I have to admit, I wondered if Murphy was planning yet another vacation-from-hell for me.

I should have known better.

After all, Murphy is a man. He wouldn’t last ten minutes here. At a conference like this, there’s no man who could hold any of us back.

There is a kind of power here. It radiates from the concentration of strong, passionate young women at NCCWSL, enough to power a city. Enough to make me dizzy with hope and excitement; to light up my mind with possibility.

But this power doesn’t really come from the fact that we’re all women. It doesn’t come from the fact that we’re all intelligent or that we’ve all found ways to make a difference at our respective schools. Though we come from all over the country, in those ways, we are the same. And this power, this energy that I’m so drunk on…

It comes from our differences and our willingness to explore them.

Marsha Guenzler-Stevens talked WITH us instead of TO us.

That was made strikingly clear from the first moment of the opening session. Instead of simply giving a speech, the keynote speaker, Marsha Guenzler-Stevens, asked us all to get involved. She turned the tables on us. She didn’t tell us what feminism was — she asked us. She asked us a lot of things.

Do you think that, in your lifetime, a woman will be president?

Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Do you feel that you have ever been marginalized or discriminated against because you are a woman?

The result was amazing. Though we did not all share the same opinions, we did share the floor, the space, and the time. We considered one another’s reasoning. No one slung hateful words at the people who didn’t share their point of view. Quite simply, we listened, we absorbed, we shared, and we learned.

Just imagine if we could get congress to try that approach.

In every day life, sometimes it feels as if I’m talking to a wall. I go off on comparative social linguistics or start talking about language and identity, and people — at BEST — smile and nod politely. More often than not, they seem to simply tune me out. If I want to explore the intersectionality of language, disability identity, advocacy, and gender discrimination, I usually have to do it all in my head. (You all know already, of course, that it’s confusing enough in there without my having full blown debates with myself.)

Here, my words matter. Everyone’s words matter. Here, people want to hear what I have to say, and I want to hear how they respond. It challenges me to think more clearly and to incorporate new ideas.

Here, everyone cares about something. And even if we don’t care about the same things, we all care about each other. Here, you’d be hard-pressed to find apathy.

That is the kind of passion it takes to change the world.

Tonight, I had the privilege of hearing some amazing women speak. Women who have already used their passions to change our world for the better. I look at them and I see what I could become, what I could accomplish.

And in a way, I think they look at us and see that we are their accomplishment. They gave us this future. They lit a fire in us that won’t be put out.

It was a great honor tonight to meet and speak with these women. Natalie Randolph, the only high school varsity football coach who is a woman; Swanee Hunt, whose work with Bosnian War refugees nearly brings me to tears and is only one of the many ways she’s served us; Lisa Jackson, whose science skills are put to use  leading the EPA; Marsha Guenzler-Stevens, who reminds me that working in higher education is absolutely worthwhile; and Connie Chung, who paved the way for women in media.

Connie Chung, as it turns out, is funny.

And brilliant.

And nice.

Me with Connie Chung

I am so glad that I got the chance to listen to her.

She challenged us all to take credit for our accomplishments. To stop being afraid to grab success with both hands. To laugh out loud. To persevere.

We will, of course.

We’re leaders.

We’re women.