Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).

I label my emails. I color-code and file them. Nested, rainbow-hued stacks of tidy texts that belie the disorder I feel every time I open my inbox. My efforts to control the uncontrollable, unstoppable, unrelenting onslaught of messages from the grid.

But see there? I’ve created a three-item list of words that begin with “un.” I like threes: a sense of completion, symmetry, zen. Feels good. Still I’m compelled to return to that three-item list and reorder the items into alphabetical order: “uncontrollable, unrelenting, unstoppable.” Ah, that’s better.

Fortunately, Gmail automatically alphabetizes labels and sub-labels:

Chrome bookmarks do not do this automatically so I periodically have to “sort” them.

I use verbs for all of my tasks in my Google Calendar: draft self-study, contact references, send agenda. But there again, they’re not alphabetized. So change the verbs or change the time of day I hope to complete each task so that “contact” comes before “draft” comes before “send” comes before “write.”

And the colors in the calendar must correspond to the colors in the email. The contrast between categories sufficient to indicate categories: center, department, college, university, etc.

The kitchen fridge list? Alphabetized. Lower case verbs begin each item. The home screen on my phone? Alphabetized. Nine items per screen.

My friend’s daughter washes her hands obsessively; my daughter used to pluck out her eyelashes, I chew my nails, dig at scabs and zits, pick at the dry skin of my heels until I bleed.

I make sure the three elements in that list are parallel and alphabetized by verb.

About BJ

living the dream in northern Utah
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