Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tales of Oddity

I read another blog recently that had an entry about quirks. In the blog, the author had received one of those forwarded emails that was a questionnaire you’re supposed to fill out and forward on. This one was just one question: name 10 of your quirks. She was only able to name four of her own. While I didn’t get the email, I thought it might be an interesting thing for you to see how weird I am. So my husband says anyway. More humor at my expense, but I’d rather people laugh with me that at me. I did look up the definition of “quirk”, by the way, just to make sure I was answering the question right. (Maybe that’s a quirk in itself.) According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the first definition of a quirk is “A peculiarity of behavior; an idiosyncrasy”. Yeah, I have a lot of those. Sometimes I refer to them as my OCDs, which, of course, stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, so if you hear me make reference to my OCD you know why. Each of these requires some detail, so maybe I’ll break them down into two posts. We’ll see by the time I’m finished writing them out. So, here we go:

1. Expiration Dates: I have an obsession with expiration dates. Especially with dairy foods. I check the expiration date of everything before I eat or use it. Right now I can tell you that the gallon of milk in my refrigerator at home expires on October 20th. (Oh, guess we’d better go shopping.) When I bring yogurt to work, I actually line it up in the refrigerator in order of expiration date. I eat the one that will expire soonest first. My husband has attempted over and over again to explain to me that the date is not an expiration date, it is only a “sell by” date so that the stores know when to pull it from their shelves if it has not been sold. Yeah, I’m not buying that argument. I will use or eat the item up to the day before that date. If we reach that date and the product is not used up, it gets chucked. That’s just the rule. In my defense, I do have a good reason for this obsession. I have gotten food poisoning from rotten cottage cheese twice. It’s no fun. In fact, I think it’s the worst I’ve been sick in my life. If I can help it, never again. Oh, here’s a useless fact for you: did you know the only food product that doesn’t expire is honey?

2. Directions: I am, as my family puts it, anal about directions. When I refer to directions I mean things like recipes, the directions on a box of something to cook/bake, patterns for cross stitch or latch-hook, instructions on how to assemble things, how to make a craft from a kit, etc. I guess this bleeds over a little into reading of maps, too, though I don’t use them very often. “When all else fails, read the directions.” Just seems to me that the directions are there for a reason. I have no desire to “improve” on them. I am convinced that whoever designed the product probably attempted to make it thousands of times, and learned by trial and error which is the best way to get the task accomplished. They’ve made the mistakes for me, so why reinvent the wheel? So, I follow the directions. It apparently appears to my family that I do this beyond normal direction following, to the point that this is one of my OCDs. As you can imagine, this is a source of great hilarity for them. I don’t think it’s quite that funny.

3. Matching Jewelry: This OCD is probably pretty extreme, but I have to have matching jewelry. I have difficulty wearing “mismatched” sets. Let me elaborate. A “set” to me means earrings (sometimes two pairs since I have both ears double pierced), a necklace, a bracelet and at least one ring. It actually bothers me to wear jewelry that does not match. I can’t do it. The majority of my jewelry has all these things in it, though a lot of them I am still working on the exact match. For instance, I have a set of rubies that includes earrings, necklace and ring, but I have yet to get a matching bracelet. So far I have placated myself with a red bracelet and a silver heart bracelet to fill in the gap. I have a set of sapphires that is the same (this one has two pairs of earrings). Luckily I have beaded bracelets that are blue, so that works for now. I have a pink cat’s eye set that is complete. I have several sets of amethysts and one of copper that are complete. I have two sets of pearls, one Tahitian, one lavender. The Tahitian only has earrings and necklace, the lavender is missing only the ring. You get the point. There was a time, too, when I began to think that I needed the shapes to match as well. For instance, the stone in my sapphire necklace is oval. I briefly thought I needed to have all the other pieces of the set in oval shape as well. Luckily, I was able to talk myself right out of that. Anyway, I’ve had several people comment that I match my jewelry more than anyone they know. I’m sure they’re right. I’m a freak that way.

4. Dirty Hands: I literally cannot stand to have dirty hands. This includes having anything under my fingernails. This doesn’t bother most people, I hear, but I can’t stand it. Here’s an example: I can barely stand to make rice krispie treats, since part of that requires that I cover my hands in butter to help spread the treats in the pan. Another example: I hate making hamburgers with anything mixed in, like Worcestershire or garlic salt, because that requires mixing with my hands and they end up covered in hamburger grease. Ew. I take it far enough that I will wash my hands 5 or 6 times during preparation of a meal, even if I have to touch the same food again after I’ve washed. It’s been suggested that it’s the fear of things like salmonella or other food-borne illnesses that is causing me to wash. It’s not. I can’t stand to wash dishes with a sink-full of water, because I hate to stick my hands in the dirty water (lately I have been able to manage it if I just wash using running water.) I even loathe having lotion on my hands if it is the kind that makes my hands feel greasy. Incidentally, Satin Hands by Mary Kay is fantastic, no greasy feel at all.

5. Space at the Dinner Table: Also a point of hilarity for my family, I am unable to continue to eat at the dinner table if I have too many dishes or other table knick knacks surrounding my place setting in too close proximity. When we were kids my sister used to love to pile serving dishes, salt and pepper shakers, butter dishes, etc. around my plate just to watch me squirm until I had to move them away again. This probably touches a little on claustrophobia, though I don’t have any problem with any other closed in sort of spaces. I just have to have the elbow room. This causes me problems, as you might guess, at dinners with a lot of food, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. More food means more dishes and less space. *shudder* Gives me the creeps just thinking about it.

6. Lists: I make lists for everything – any sort of shopping, things to do, things to pack on the occasion of a trip, supplies for a specific cake, etc. I will even write out a detailed description of a cake, list-style, and sometimes a list of tasks to get the cake accomplished in the order they will need to be completed. Granted, I do not take this issue as far as my sister, who rewrites her grocery/shopping lists a minimum of twice. First she writes a list of everything she needs from the store, then she rewrites the list to categorize where the items are in the store. (Come to think of it, I think my mom does this too.) If I am not mistaken, I believe she even has to rewrite it again if she adds a last minute thing to the list and there is no room in the column for that section of the store. This sort of thing for me could mean I would be doing nothing but rewriting lists, since I’m forever adding something last minute. Thankfully, I don’t take it that far. But I can seldom get my shopping or packing done without a list.

7. Quotes and Facts: I seem to have a fascination for quotes and useless facts. This works several ways:
First, movie quotes. I can compare most situations in my life to a movie, and generally can quote from that movie. A lot of movie quotes I can identify without knowing which character said it.
Second, quotes or sayings in general. I actually collect these. I have a journal of sorts in which I add a quote or saying I have read or heard that I like. An example of this would be the quote on my calendar for today “Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.” – Steven Wright. Hmm, I’ll have to write that down. Anyway, this is something I have been doing since high school, so you can imagine the collection.
Lastly, useless facts. I love them. Like, did you know that Edgar Allan Poe married his first cousin when she was 13? Or that butterflies taste with their feet? Or that the gestation period for an elephant is two years? These are completely, utterly of no use to me, yet I remember a large majority of the ones I read or hear. Maybe I should write them down, too.

8. Edgar Allan Poe: Speaking of which, this is also another quirk. I love Poe’s work. Now I know some of you out there are saying, well of course you do! You were an English major for crying out loud! Well, sure, that’s true. And the majority of people have been exposed to Poe’s writings in even the very basic college, sometimes high school, English classes. But, how many people do you know read his poems and stories just for fun? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Me either. I actually have a book that is a collection of his works, just to have them. Anymore I don’t have a lot of time on my hands, but I used to read something of his every night. I’m still not all the way through, but I’m working on it.

9. TV Shows: I actually get angry at television shows. If a show makes me angry, I stop watching it. And I don’t mean just that episode. I mean the show altogether. For instance, Ally McBeal. I loved that show. LOVED it. And then they killed off Billy. It made me mad. So I stopped watching for a while. Then Robert Downey, Jr. came to the show. I began watching again, and really liked him as Ally’s boyfriend. Then they wrote him out of the show. Now, I understand a lot of that had to do with his real-life arrest and, I believe, conviction for drug possession, but it still made me mad. So I stopped watching and never went back. The same thing happened with ER. They wrote Doug, George Clooney’s character, out. I stopped watching. Then I went back for a while, and they killed off Mark Green, Anthony Edwards’ character. I stopped watching. I gave them one more chance for a short while, then Carter and Abby broke up and he wandered off to Africa or some ridiculous place and that was it. Never watched again, with the odd occasion when my sister forces me to. The X-Files when David Duchovny left, 90210 when Brandon and Kelly didn’t get married, The Drew Carey show when Kate left, I could go on and on. My husband finds this amazingly amusing. I just find it irritating.

10. The Rain: My last quirk has to do with the rain. You all know about my issues with the Fall. Well the rain is somewhat different. I actually like it, quite a bit. I’m a person who is happier on a rainy day than I am on a sunny day. I love the sound of the raindrops and the thunder. I love the lightening flashes and the grey clouds. I love the smell, though more so in Wyoming (that’s the smell of wet sagebrush). I don’t even mind walking through the rain without an umbrella, as long as I’m not on my way to work or to court. For most people it’s the opposite, a rainy day is a bad day. Not for me. They’re always good. A co-worker suggested maybe that would not be the case if I lived, or had lived, in someplace like the Pacific Northwest. I doubt it, but you never know. I did grow up in a desert, after all. Maybe I’d hate it if it rained 9 months out of the year. Somehow, I can’t imagine that, though.

Well, there’re ten. I’m sure there’re lots more I could come up with, but this is probably long enough. So now you are aware of how completely wacked out I really am. So I’m told. It’s ok, I admit I’m goofy. If any of you would like to share your quirks, feel free to leave a comment or email me. I’d love to hear them!


Dotti said...

oh, J. you are too funny. hey, here is another fun blog to read. I love this woman's photography as well....

Jen said...

HEY!!!!!!........ I am the only one allowed to call Janci "J"! That's my nick name for her. Please find your own!