Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What looks like crazy on an ordinary day*

The other day, Maliavale told an amusing story about reprimanding her comforter**, and I got the feeling she was maybe a little concerned that this behavior might call her sanity into question. I would like to reassure her that talking to inanimate objects is entirely normal, particularly when one lives alone, but it occurred to me that I might not actually be the best judge of what is "normal."

My mother used to say that it's OK to talk to yourself, as long as you don't answer. Well, I both talk and answer all the time. Sometimes I even go so far as to have a stern back-and-forth discussion between my logical, rational self and my stubborn, denial-ridden self. It's only one of many things that probably make me at least borderline deranged. There are plenty of others, I'm sure.

Let's start with my clocks. My bedroom clock is, for some reason, in a separate time zone from the rest of the house. This is, of course, a bizarre little mind game, but it's not the one you think it is. I've never understood people who set their alarm clock ahead in order to shock themselves into getting up on time. This, to me, is a flawed plan that would backfire immediately: if I know the clock is fast, why would I forget that and think I'm running late? No, the mind game I've got going has more to do with tricking myself into thinking it's later than it is in an attempt to make getting up very early seem a little less painful. It's something I started several years ago when I used to set my alarm for 5:50 a.m. I couldn't possibly imagine getting up when the hour was still five, but if the clock said 6:10, somehow it seemed a bit more reasonable. I don't get up nearly that early anymore; somewhere along the way, I decided that rushing to my desk thirty seconds before 8:00 is just fine and also that bringing my breakfast with me to work can shave ten minutes off my routine and help avoid the need for a mid-morning snack (or, in Hobbit terms, "second breakfast" or "elevensies"). I still keep the clock set ahead, though, for no reason but simple habit. It baffled and annoyed my ex-boyfriend no end (nearly every time he stayed over, he'd say, "Wait; that clock's on 'Stef time.' What time is it really?"), and it forces me to do some weird math whenever I have to set my alarm for anything other than my usual work time. I know I need to get up by around 6:48 on my bedroom clock in order to be out the door by 7:20 on my kitchen clock, but since I never remember exactly how many minutes fast my bedroom clock is, I can't just recalculate my "getting ready" window from that time. Plus there's the fact that I add a "snooze buffer" ahead of the time I really need to get up, since I can't ever just get out of bed the first minute I'm woken. I'm well aware that I'm making the whole waking-up process entirely more complicated than it needs to be, but see? Crazy. That's exactly my point.

Then there are the weird obsessive-compulsive behaviors I've for some reason developed over the years... like the need to check under my bed (for what? monsters? intruders? that creepy undead baby with the scalpel in Pet Sematary?) before I can get in it at night, or the compulsion to press and re-press the switch for my headlights to verify that they are, in fact, on. At restaurants, I look inside the straw after pulling the wrapper off, to make sure no paper bits ended up inside. (Why?? Has that happened to me before? Would it be so awful and unpleasant if I ever did suck up a small, soggy fragment of paper with my drink? Where does this insanity come from??) And my computer... Look around my cluttered desk and you'd never guess that any semblance of order or organization was important to me, and yet, I need the button for my open Outlook window to be the left-most one on the taskbar that runs along the bottom of the screen. I have, on more than one occasion, actually closed all other open applications and reopened Outlook first, just to get that button back where it's supposed to be. It's lunacy, I know. Stop looking at me that way. I'm no Melvin Udall just yet; I don't flip the light switch on and off or turn and re-turn the lock a systematic number of times before I can feel at ease, but I do realize I may be walking a fine line here. Suddenly it occurs to me that I shouldn't be so hard on the good friend of mine who was honestly bothered that the clocks on her microwave and oven were two different colors. I thought she was loony, but hey--look at me. (In the words of Phoebe Buffay, "Hello, Pot? This is Kettle. You know what? You're black.")

Have I frightened you sufficiently yet, or should I start recounting some of the absurd and improbable theories I've cooked up in my head over the years? Let's see... there was the house near my old apartment that I was convinced was inhabited by vampires, because it had not one single window visible from any vantage point at street level. Since the back of the house was lake-facing, I truly hope that side was not windowless as well, but I wasn't about to trespass and investigate when doing so meant risking a vampire encounter. I'm also convinced that certain seemingly economically unsound businesses surely must be mob fronts... like the "Polka Dot Square Dance Shop" in a neighboring suburb and a place in my college town that sells, supposedly, nothing but seat covers. Let's not even talk about the time I was convinced the ghost of my home's former owner was stealing (or at least hiding) my shoes, because to talk about that would be to again entertain the possibility that I may actually have a ghost in my house, and I don't have to be crazy to be afraid of that.

And finally, there are the things that come out of my mouth at times... things that, if they don't question my sanity, at least prove I'm a tremendous dork on the level of Anthony Michael Hall circa Sixteen Candles. Thankfully, most are things I catch myself saying only when I'm alone (since, again, talking to myself is routine) and not things I ever say out loud to another human. For example, at least twice a week, as I return from work and start thinking about dinner, I catch myself exclaiming, "I'm Starvin' Marvin!" At least it's not a line I use when dining out in public, but seriously, who says that in real-life?

Um, yeah... all these one-date guys I've found fault with due to some weird social foible? Maybe I should seriously re-think which one of us is the freak.

* This post title is actually the name of a book I once read--a book that, incidentally, has nothing to do with any of the insanity I'm outlining here.

** This is neither here nor there and of interest to absolutely no one but me, but I love that the direct page number link on that post is actually my birthday (3/18). :-)


-R- said...

Talking to yourself is ok. At least, that is what I tell myself. And I need Outlook to be on the left too; I have also closed all other programs just to get it in the right spot. The vampires though... I am not sure what to do with that.

stefanie said...

No way; you do that too?? I really thought no one else could possibly be weirdly obsessive about such a strange thing. Thank you for making me feel normal about ONE of these at least! :-)

stefanie said...

Oh, and that was totally a vampire house. I don't care if no one else believes me.

abbersnail said...

Browsing and ran across your blog. The worst is talking to yourself, saying something you find hilarious, and then cracking up. Good times.

Stinkypaw said...

My Outlook button, in my task bar, at the bottom of my screen (please!) is the first one from the right. I've been called upon for rearranging my icons, and?! Like my Recycle Bin MUST be, bottom right. That is just where it goes. Everything has its place and every place has its thing!
What's wrong about that?

beingmccrary said...

I totally talk to myself, maybe less with Fiance around now, but I still do. And, I don't so much use the phrase, "starvin marvin" but I often ask my dog when I'm about to feed her if she is "hungarian"...in reference to the country Hungary..because for some reason in my crazy head it reminds me of being hungry. I've exclaimed it out loud to myself before and accidently in front of friends on our way to dinner. I don't recommend that.

Guinness_Girl said...

Damn you, beingmccrary - I can totally see myself adopting this Hungarian thing. Crap.

Stef, I do stuff like that, too. (I'm with you and R on the Outlook thing, too, btw). My bed in my room the year I lived in the sorority house was elevated, and right under an air vent. I couldn't sleep for a whole week because I became convinced someone was up in the ceiling (attic? I don't even know if the house had one!), watching me through the vent while I slept. Shudder. It was awful, and yet totally unrealistic and crazy of me.

Polka Dot Square Dance Shop, my ass.

stefanie said...

Yay; thanks, everyone. I should have known that if the Internet has taught me only one thing, it's that no matter how big a freak I feel I am, lots of people out there share the same afflictions... er, charming quirks and characteristics. ;-)

Oh, and GG--I KNOW! Seriously, that was definitely a mob front. Thank you.

Maliavale said...

OK, third time's a charm: The word verification hasn't been working most of the day. Blarg.

Anyway, your comment above about people understanding your quirks is one of the big reasons I love blogging. ;-)

As far as those quirks go, the clock thing is just funny; vampires are indeed scary and nothing to not take very seriously; the Polka Dot Dance Shop is a post in and of itself (photos needed); and I do the exact same thing with Outlook. Tah-dah!

stefanie said...

Malia--You know, I had the Polka Dot Square Dance Shop in my mind as something I wanted to write about for a long time, but I didn't know how to turn it into a whole post (since, pretty much all I had to say about it was, "I think that's gotta be a mob front"). So I was glad I finally found a way to work it in somewhere. :-)

And I know what you mean about this being one of the things you love about blogging. I loved your comment the other day about "My dermatologist wouldn't understand. No, that's what the Internet is for." That cracked me up.

Simone said...

I do the outlook thing too and have closed other applications so it shows up first. :)

stefanie said...

I love that I'm not the only one with this bizarre Outlook behavior (apparently it's not so bizarre after all). Now if only one of you would validate this weird clock thing I've got going...