A Certain Kind of Crazy

* In the interest of protecting the anonymity of loved ones, my mother will be called Judy throughout this article.

Back in the 1980s, alarm clocks could only be set by speeding the time forward. This was a great aggravation, as my alarm to this day must be set at a 15-minute interval — 15, 30, 45, 00. If I needed to peel myself out of bed at 7:15, and I accidentally set it to 7:16, I went around the 23 hours and 59 minutes until I got it right. In the 1990s, some genius discovered that you can scroll a clock backwards, so today my neuroses only costs me a second or two. To put this landmark in perspective… the Hubble Telescope was snapping shots of galaxies billions of light years away in 1990, and we were cloning sheep in 1996.

Dolly the Sheep_detail
Dolly the sheep’s reaction: “I’m beside myself!”

I find it ironic that the D in OCD stands for “disorder.” Everything on my desk is parallel, and my laces can’t be flapping about on my carpet when my shoes are aligned on their shelves as meticulously as a North Korean army procession.


By the time I have arranged my pillar candles to perfection, they’re half as tall as they were when I grabbed them. Disorder? Surely you jest.

What can I say? I am Judy’s daughter. A woman who ironed her homework in grade school. Who shook out the bathroom rugs before a party to get all of the fibers standing up, then had us circumvent them until company came. Whose hangers are not only exactly an inch apart — when I lazily shove a tee shirt back into her closet, it’s back in her Korean procession of hangers within 3 minutes. I don’t even see her zoom from the kitchen and back to reconfigure. It’s like a superpower. If she had a cape, she’d iron it every day.

Good god, make it stop.

You can veer too far the other way. I have a cousin — we’ll call her Marla — who has a clean pile of $120 blouses and a dirty pile of $120 blouses, which merges into one pile as the days roll on. As all brilliant minds with messy desks, she has a system, and knows which half of the pile is headed for dry cleaning. It is also possible that she remembers every blasted thing she’s worn the past three weeks, the way she recalls every restaurant meal she or her co-diners have had since bottled water and sushi were only sold in Beverly Hills.

Everyone is a certain kind of crazy. As long as it doesn’t interfere with your work or hygiene, or relegate you to playing World of Warcraft in your mother’s basement, feel free to let your freak flag fly. Disinfect your hands every time a redhead sneezes on a full moon, organize your socks by the wavelength of their primary color, or twist your Christmas lights until they all face the same direction (note: this is not possible. I have spent hours trying).


And if you come to Judy’s condo for pasta and spinach pie, feel free to walk on the carpets and fuss with the hangers. I’m actually curious to see which she’ll fix first.

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