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Saturday, 31 July 2010

Compulsively Perfect Obsession

I had made a comment on my “Facebook” page about the Mauritian, saying something along the lines of his “compulsion” for perfection was bordering on “obsessive.” This sparked a “conversation” between me, my Angel and my new friend about “OCD.” I have always wondered at the Mauritian’s insistence that anything he cooks or builds must be absolutely perfect and the smallest, unnoticeable mistake will infuriate and annoy him to a point where he will not enjoy the food or whatever it is he has done. I think he goes a little overboard and when he rants and raves I just roll my eyes, mutter under my breath and walk away from him. I like how his food tastes I don’t care what it looks like and the woodwork or drawings he has done look brilliant as far as I’m concerned, he disagrees a lot of the time.

My Angel and my new friend between them seem to have a rather long list of compulsions. According to them, there is only one way the toilet roll should go on to the dispenser. Towels, sheets and pillow cases should all be folded the same way. Clothes are hung on the line with the same colour pegs, clothes hangers must all face the same way in the closet, oh and while you’re at it make sure all the hangers are the same colour. Then there are the stories you hear about people who sort their CD’s, DVD’s and books alphabetically and chronologically according to colour and size. Oh and what about those people that have to replace whole dinner sets when one plate gets broken? Now don’t get me wrong I am all for “a place for everything and everything in its place” but does it really matter which way its facing or that it’s not placed in exactly the same place each time?

My new friend said “Things make you feel good when they are right!” and in a way I do agree, but no one except her will notice the pegs all match on the line, the clothes certainly don’t care and as for which way the toilet roll is, well, need I say it? Though I agree that when a clothes hanger in facing inwards it is easier to get the hanger in and out the closet, does it really matter what colour they are? Again, no one else will notice and the clothes don’t care. I know that when food is tastefully presented it does somehow taste better, but surely there is no difference to the taste if the omelette breaks a little and the inside falls out? I’m wondering is it just me or does someone out there agree that trying to ensure this kind of absolute perfection is really just creating unnecessary stress for one’s self. Strangely enough both my Angel and the Kiwi agree with me and have admitted to trying not to be bothered by these things even though it’s not easy to “change a leopard’s spots.”
My advice: Don’t try and change the spots, try living with them without obsessing about them. You are never going to be able to not put the toilet roll on the "right" way so the trick is to just change it when someone else gets it wrong and not work yourself up by thinking other people just don’t care. We do, we just don’t see the point and the truth is there is no point it’s just an obsession.
I even have a great story about a chap I worked with that was obsessively neat but never let it create stress. He was so obsessive even the papers thrown in his waste paper basket were neat. I used to get such a kick out of mucking up his desk. He would come back from his lunch break or a meeting to an untidy desk and the only indication of any stress was his one raised eyebrow. No matter how many times a day I messed up his desk he'd just quietly tidy it up. This happened almost daily and I worked with him for 5 years. Then one day he retaliated and tidied my desk, I couldn’t find a thing! Needless to say that created an over abundance of stress for me and a whole lot of laughs for him.

Anyway, my point is everyone has some kind of obsession it’s really just the degree of obsession that differs. It’s how we deal with other people’s reactions to our obsessions that cause the stress and unhappiness. My colleagues’ calm response to my incessant interference of his desk was what spurred me on to keep doing it and what made his retaliation so memorable and amusing.
I would enjoy rearranging my Angel’s perfectly packed cupboards or turning the hangers around in the Kiwi’s closet, but I won’t because even though I know they would try laugh it off it would drive them both to the edges of insanity and the truth is, despite their “OCD” tendencies, I really do like them.

Emotions and the Words that Comfort

The Butterfly’s third birthday has come and gone in a whirl of wrapping paper, balloons and smiles. Again the Mauritian and I were faced with the problem of what not to buy for her birthday. We were very proud of the fact that we only walked out the shop with two books, a cordless microphone, a small tub of “Play Dough” and of course the next addition to her collection of “In the Night Garden” toys. It seems almost unreal now that only three years ago, after a sleepless night the Mauritian and I were heading off to the hospital to finally welcome our daughter into this crazy messed up world. But three years ago it was that this stubborn, bright and beautiful bundle came into my life screaming, red faced and indignant.

For the past three and a bit years now she has done or said something every day that has had some sort of effect on me. For the past three and a bit years I have been floating on a bubble of pride about this little miracle, who is a part of me. Every day I look at her reminds me of what the Mauritian said the moment she was born, he tapped my shoulder in excitement saying “Look Manth, we did it!” who would have thought this screaming red face wrinkled stranger could be responsible for this overwhelming emotion that I have felt for her every moment since. Whew! Some days it just does not seem possible!

A few days ago I finally got a chance, via “MSN” to have a “catch up chat” with my favourite Eeyore. Reading what she said about my new niece and the roller coaster of emotions she experiences every day reminded me of how I felt, even now. Eeyore spoke about how she gets so mad and irritated because “Sprout” just will not co-operate and then that sudden smile melts her heart. I remember those days so clearly when you’re delirious with lack of sleep, when you want to just give her to someone else, when you just want to send her back because there is no way you will ever cope with this. I remember just collapsing on the floor in a heap sobbing with exhaustion after almost thirty six hours of no sleep, the Butterfly had been crying for most of those thirty six hours and I was now no longer capable of anything. I lay on that floor sobbing and begging her to stop crying and begging God to take her back when I suddenly realised the only one crying was me! The Butterfly was happily cooing and smiling at “Fred” that made everything alright and the past thirty six hours dissolved into nothingness. I get so crazy mad with the Butterfly sometimes that I want to scream with rage, I’m happy to report, however, that I don’t. I often don’t even get a chance to because, when I come into the kitchen and she’s sitting on the kitchen floor with the tub of yoghurt and her paint brush painting my stove with said yoghurt, she says: “Mummy can I have a hug?” and then she smiles. I am incapable of yelling at that smile and she knows it!

Now I know why my father told me “Grandchildren are a Grandparent’s revenge!” Perhaps one day I too will have my revenge!
Until then I shall take comfort and guidance from the words of Kahill Gibron:

“And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of children.

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls’

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backwards, nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
(Quoted from “The Prophet”)

Speechlessness

One of the blogs I follow is written by the enchanting wife of one of my many charming cousins, I enjoy reading them because they are so real and it does in some way keep me connected to a small part of my family. This morning as usual I followed my normal daily routine rounded off with a quick blog update. Her blog this morning spoke of those rare moments between a husband and wife when one simple comment from him makes her speechless with indecision. Should she laugh, scream or cry? Should she hit him or hug him? For just that split second of silence the world holds its breath waiting for the wife to realise that there was not only insightfulness and some truth in what the husband said but also humour and love. As I said, a rare moment! So it was one of those moments that my fellow “blogette” shared and while it made me laugh delightfully it reminded me of a moment this wife shared with her husband.

To tell the story with any affect, however, I do need to give you some background!
The Mauritian is a very confidant driver, he is always aware of his surroundings and other drivers and has successfully avoided numerous almost accidents even while “DUI!” As one of his constant passenger I am very comfortable even though there are times I think he drives too fast or gets consumed by unnecessary “road rage.” I have learnt over the years though to keep my opinions to myself and just let him get on with the job at hand. In the twenty odd years he has been driving he has had one minor accident, one parking ticket and amazingly only one speeding ticket so who am I to criticize? He does, however, have one habit that really gives me the shivers! When we are having a discussion he does tend to take his eyes off the road and look in my direction. It is only for a split second but it happens very frequently. Unfortunately the Mauritian and I have our best discussions in the car, it may be because neither of us can walk away and therefore end up working things out. We are both extremely stubborn and always want the last word and neither of us is very even tempered so a discussion while driving tends to help us both keep things civil.

My story starts on a Sunday evening when we were returning from a visit to my favourite Aunt in Durban North. We were heading south on the N2 towards home and having a very deep and involved conversation about...hmmm, perhaps I should leave that for another blog! The Mauritian as always was talking and darting his eyes in my direction which was normal, except I began to notice the length of time his eyes were off the road grew longer and longer. I was constantly telling myself to just keep my mouth shut because he knows what he’s doing! Of course this would not be a good story if there was not that inevitable “but!” So, but I eventually could no longer take it and said, rather calmly I thought, “Babe would you please look at the road and not at me you’re making me nervous!”

His response: “But Polly you’re so beautiful, I can’t keep my eyes off you!”

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Blog that Got Away

I discovered a completed yet unposted blog in among my files this evening. I was rather bemused at how I had forgotten about it and put it down to a recurrence of “porridge brain” one of the last remaining afflictions left over from pregnancy. It is a few months out of date, but still worth sharing, I think. So grab yourselves a beverage and settle in for a ramble.

This blog started on a Friday morning in mid May at around 2am with the Butterfly climbing over me elbow to rib cage, knee to breast bone so she could “sleep” between her favourite parent and her Mum. Two hours later I banished her back to her own bed and threatened her with a life time of no nakedness if she made the slightest sound for the next four hours. To my delight and surprise, it worked, and with the Mauritian on a day’s leave we were able to sleep in past the sunrise. Breakfast was an unrushed feast complimented with oodles of coffee and conversation, rounded off with a trip to the local “zoo” and a run about the park for the Butterfly. Wrapped up warmly against the cold wind and keeping a wary eye on the heavy rain clouds overhead the Mauritian and I ambled behind the Butterfly as she charged about from place to place never quite sure where she wanted to be. Two hours, frozen noses and blue fingers later we made our way home for lunch, tea and a half hour “cat nap” on the couch.

Somewhere between clearing away the lunch paraphernalia and starting dinner the Mauritian was dragged to the Butterfly’s bedroom to build “Lego” houses and cars so with no one to talk to I decided to check my emails other social sites. It was while trolling through cyber space that I discovered that our “Residence Application” had finally been approved, of course it wasn't long before the Mauritian had phoned everyone he could to tell the news. Then he was gone, off to buy a celebratory bottle of wine and maybe stop in at gym! With the Mauritian out the house and supper bubbling on the stove it was time to wrestle the Butterfly into the bath. That was when everything went dark and I watched my heart jump out of my chest at the loudest clap of thunder I have ever heard as instantly the heavens opened, literally! I was inside looking out onto a majestic thunder storm. So there I was, once I was brought back to my senses, running about switching off and disconnecting computers, telephones, DStv decoders, Hi-Fi’s and bathroom taps. Once all safety precautions had been taken I went looking for the Butterfly to settle down and watch my first real thunderstorm here at the end of the world. I couldn’t find her, inside that is. The Butterfly, of course, at the first sign of rain, while her mother ran about frantically, had “stripped down to nakedness” and charged out into the sheeting rain running up and down the front yard yelling “This is fun!” and then jumping gleefully into a very muddy puddle, never mind the thunder and lightning that rumbled around her. Then, as so often happens with these sudden storms it ended as instantly as it had begun, the curtain of clouds was drawn aside and the sun shone brightly, smiling on the earth like nothing had happened the only proof was the soaking wet and muddy Butterfly running down the garden path followed by a beaming Mauritian sporting a bottle of Nederberg Merlot and a “Manth, how was that storm?” I topped off my Friday watching “American Idol,” yes I admit I followed it this season. I started watching out of curiosity as one of the contestants listed one of her musical influences as Melissa Etheridge and I wanted to see if she would do an M.E. number. She did, but only when she was in the final three, so I watch the entire season. Unfortunately, Crystal Bowersox did not win, and I have again gone back to thinking “Idols” is a crock of sh... And I won’t be watching next season! Thus ends my “soapbox” moment.

Saturday dawned cold and wet after a stormy night. I was awoken at 4am by a Butterfly wanting chocolate milk and a text message from my favourite school friend telling me of the death of her father. This news after the previous nights high sent me plummeting into the depth of despair. Okay, that’s a tad bit dramatic, even for me, but the news did make me very sad. I always had a soft spot for her dad, he was a happy, smiling man who was very difficult not to like. It was all made worse by the fact that I could not be there to support my favourite friend as she has been for me in the past. She has been my “sounding block,” my “punching bag,” and my “positive injection” whenever I have needed her for the last twenty or so years, this would’ve been a chance for me to return the favour but I was only able to show my support in an email. My favourite friend of course made it all better when she replied and told me to “...keep writing, it’s people like me who don’t have the words that need your words to get us through...” It seems strange to me that she should feel this way when she always knows exactly what to say and how to say it at just the right moment and I, with my love and appreciation of the written word seem to ramble on aimlessly.

Sad though my day began, it did improve with a delightful email from an uncle about the merits and demerits of “Face book” and emails and the “friendship” destroying abilities of those horrid time wasting chain emails. His delightful account did lighten my mood and gave me the positive boost I needed to start my Saturday in earnest and tackle that horror called housework and breakfast.

It’s almost a month and a half ago since I wrote this blog and reading over it now I am amazed at just how many emotions one can experience in just twenty four hours. The anger at been woken up at two in the morning, the satisfaction of getting to sleep in, the contentedness of a lazy start to the day and the euphoria at the end of a long wait. At being unaware of cold or discomfort because I’m so wrapped up in the love of a husband and child. Awed by the power and beauty of nature and the delight of a child in the simple things like rain and jumping in puddles. Being saddened by death, rendered helpless by distance and relieved of useless guilt by wise words of gratitude. Then up back into smiles and the positive because of an email from family. In twenty four hours we experience a myriad of emotion, a roller coaster ride of ups and downs all caused or influenced by the circumstances and people in our lives. We can deal with them or ignore them, we can feel them or suppress them, me, I choose to embrace my emotions and share them in my rambling wordy way.