It’s a bird, it’s a plane…

It’s both!  This past weekend I was fortunate enough to watch something I hadn’t seen in years…the Thunderbird’s Air Show!

Although it was INCREDIBLY hot (think thousands of barely dressed people all vying for 2 square feet of shade), it was worth the gallons of sweat lost.  Not only was I with great company, but the show took place on the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee.  You really can’t beat that view.  The show started 30 minutes late, but made up for it by sending six F-16’s straight over the crowd and giving everyone temporary hearing loss, allowing us to enjoy the 45-minute show without having to plug our ears.

The pilots performed all the fancy flying tricks you would expect, and more.  Flying diamonds, corkscrews, loops, dives, upside down and sideways…they even had one plane that was pointed up but moving forward – imagine the jet fuel burned on that stunt!  The grand finale included the Thunderbird’s signature “bomb burst” manuever, which is something to see if you never have.  Unfortunately, by sitting directly underneath the show you (or at least I) can’t help fearing the pilots and/or planes looping around and taking a giant nose-dive straight into the crowd…they get so close it’s hard not to.  Thankfully, the show was flawless and a true crowd-pleaser. 

courtesy of USA Today

And if you thought that an exhibit of such pure skill, power, and machinery could not possibly be topped, then you thought wrong.  My husband was equally – if not more – thrilled to watch and listen to a custom black-and-orange Porsche 911 leave the parking garage as we walked to our little Honda. 

Sorry, Thunderbirds.  He’s already moved on.

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Harry Potter + probiotics

My husband and I live under a rock.  Not literally, but when it comes to the entertainment world, we might as well be.  We don’t have cable TV, and the 5 channels we actually do get we hardly ever watch.  We’ve been together nearly 6 years now, and I think we’ve seen about 4 movies in theaters.  It’s not that we don’t enjoy watching movies (more so him than me) or catching up on our celebrity gossip (more so me than him) – it’s not that at all!  One of my favorite parts of the week is the 20 minutes I’m required to sit in the waiting room of my ENT’s office after I get my allergy shots.  Why?  They have a subscription to People magazine!  It’s my one opportunity a week to frantically flip through the photos and articles to catch up with the rest of the world. 

So you can imagine how excited we were when we decided to go see Harry Potter 7 – Part 2 in theaters last night.  I know.  We’re about three weeks late and 5 viewings shy of everyone else.  But hey, we practically had the theater to ourselves.

Watching movies at night is typically a pretty calculated decision for me…there are several criteria used to select the movie, as anything from the violent, thriller, sci-fi, horror, and action genres are usually off limits.  Watching any of these movies too close to bedtime results in restless hours laying awake in bed, listening for bad guys entering my house, and horrible nightmares if I do somehow manage to fall asleep.  Needless to say, we’ve been watching a lot of documentaries on Netflix lately.

So agreeing to see a 7 o’clock showing of my boy, H.P. was a little bit out of character for me.  Although I know it’s all made up and fake and blah, blah, blah, I still get anxious after seeing any amount of violence.  So during the drive home, I was already planning out ways to help myself fall asleep…

But then we got home and plans changed.

Meet Roxie:

Looks cute and innocent, right?

Not so much.

We arrived home to a mini disaster: Roxie had decided to get into to the bag of Walgreens items sitting on the kitchen counter.  Tampons, toothpaste, wedding cards…but that’s not the worst of it.  No, not for this little devil.  She found a box of 60-count probiotics (used for digestive health) and ate EVERY LAST ONE!  Do you think it would be fair to say we’ll have some GI issues to take care of in our near future?!? 

These little green tablets were packed in those plastic cards where you have to punch each pill out individually through the little aluminum foil seal – and she had meticulously removed all 60 of them!  And gobbled them down.  All I can say is, wow.

So between stressing about the movie, frantically explaining the situation to the on-call vet (and being assured she’d be fine), and cleaning up Roxie’s tornado-like mess, I was so exhausted I went to bed and passed out immediately.  Technically, I have Roxie to thank for my good night’s sleep. 

But I can’t let her know that, she’s in the dog house with me.

Yes, I crack my knuckles. No, I won’t get arthritis.

I am a knuckle-cracker. 

To be more accurate, I will crack anything that is crackable.  This includes, but is not limited to: fingers, toes, knees, shoulders, hips, ankles, back, elbows, wrists, even my sternum.  To be fair, that last one is usually on accident when I am reaching around to put on my seatbelt.  Needless to say, I have a bit of a problem.  At least others seem to think so.

My family used to ask me, “Are you nervous?”  “Are you anxious about something?” “Do you really need to crack your fingers again – you just cracked them 10 minutes ago!?!”  They have since realized that there really is no explanation…I just crack my knuckles ALL. THE. TIME.

To be completely honest, half the time I don’t even realize I’m doing it. 

Stopped at a red light – crack. 

Sitting at my desk at work – crack. 

Putting lotion on…hell, I’m already rubbing my hands together, I might as well crack my knuckles while I’m at it. 

I rationalize all this by explaining that my fingers hurt and cracking them helps relieve the pain.  However, that’s only true about 25% of the time.  The rest of the time I think I am just doing it out of habit.  Or boredom.  Or just because I can.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to stop.  I have.  It didn’t work.  (Plus, it’s hard to sit on your hands all hours of the day.)  I will admit, I have more than one friend who can’t stand the sound.  In fact, many friends – including my husband.  And I completely acknowledge that my fellow office workers probably don’t all appreciate the giant, deafening “pop” sounds coming from my desk at least 2-3 times per…hour.  I just don’t have a strong motivation, or medical justification, to stop.  There is something so satisfying about releasing that tension in the joints, it’s hard to describe. 

I blame it on my dad.

When I was little, he would have me and my sister walk (and jump!) on his back to get it to crack.  We would pull his toes and push on his fingers until we heard them pop.  He’d then pull on our toes and the vicious cycle began…Drove, er…drives our mom crazy but it was 3 vs. 1 – sorry, mom.

So despite all the speculation that I crack my knuckles because I’m anxious or nervous, I just don’t see that as the case.  If it were, I would probably need to be checked into an inpatient facility.  Is it annoying?  Yes.  Does it consume too much of my day?  Probably.  Will I stop?  Not likely.  I’ll certainly try, but I can only sit on my hands for so long.

The secret’s out. Sort of.

Last night, my husband came home from work late, and after giving me a hello kiss (he’s always good about that), he went into our office to get some music going.  If you know my husband, you know that the man can’t stand to sit in silence.  Or read in silence, wash dishes in silence, even use the bathroom in silence!  If it’s not some Lady Gaga/electronic/techno/beat-thumping music he’s discovered on YouTube, it’s his own whistling or improvisational song lyrics he feels compelled to belt throughout the whole house.  I’m not complaining – this is actually one of the many things I love about him.  But I will admit that sometimes (aka more times than not) the sheer volume of it all is just a little much.  Especially when the music is cranked to 11, blowing out the speakers (is it common for someone to want to hear music – from every room – over the sound of the vacuum cleaner??) 

Anyway, as he was surfing through the computer to find his genre du jour, he came across my blog dashboard that I had forgotten to close out.  When he came back into the living room to sit with me, he asked if I had been researching OCD. 

I immediately felt embarrassed. 

Up until this point, I had not told anyone I was writing a blog, not even him.  Of course, he knows I have OCD and is always supportive of anything I find useful to help with the symptoms, but I wasn’t quite ready to share my blog with anyone.  At least not with people I know. 

Since I blew my own cover, I told him he was more than welcome to read my work, but I made him promise not to tell anyone that I was writing it.  He agreed, and we went on with our night.

But it made me think.  Why am I so ashamed of this blog?  Why have I decided not to share it with anyone?  Is it really that embarrassing to acknowledge that I have OCD?  I think what I fear most is what my friends and family will think.  Will they feel differently about me?  Will they judge or read into everything I do from here on out once they all know?  Will they think I’m being over-dramatic?  I don’t know, and I’m not sure I’m ready to find out.

However, I do know that mental health doesn’t have to be such a taboo subject.  Yes, there are certain stigmas that surround mental disorders and the people who battle the symptoms day-in and day-out.  But if more people talked about it and helped others understand it, maybe we could eliminate the stigma and encourage people to seek help. 

Don’t expect me to share my stories with my friends or family anytime soon.  I’m not sure what I’m waiting for, but I’m just not ready. 

But one day I will, I promise. 

Just not yet.

The Hora of it all…

One of my closest friends will be getting married in three weeks.  As if that wasn’t exciting enough, her hubby-to-be is also a very good friend of mine (isn’t it great when two friends get married??)  Anyway, the bride’s family is Jewish and the groom’s is Catholic, so a mixed-religion ceremony will be done at a neutral location.  When we started asking the bride about what religious traditions will be incorporated into their day, the one I was most curious about was the Hora, more commonly known as the Jewish “chair dance.”  Essentially, the bride and groom are lifted up on chairs as everyone dances in a circle around them…doesn’t that just sound incredibly fun?!?

courtesy of bridalguide.com

I am determined to make this happen, seeing as there will be no yamakas or stomping on the glass.  Since I am unaware of the proper etiquette associated with the Hora, I was inquiring into how the dance gets initiated (aka, can a slightly hyper, non-Jewish bridesmaid request slash demand the celebratory dance take place, or are there more formalities involved?)  Just then, my other close friend reminded me that I don’t do particularly well with people being lifted into the air.  Damn.  In my excitement, I forgot all about the incredible anxiety that would inevitably ensue should I happen to witness the Hora in person. 

Not only do I feel that falling to one’s death is probably the most terrible way to die, but I also just don’t like the idea of falling in general.  When your landing is not ideal, you can most certainly count on bruises, sprained joints, broken bones, or even paralyzing injuries.  There are simply too many stories out there serving as shining examples of what happens when you take a bad fall.

As a result, I get incredibly anxious when I am around anyone who has the potential to fall – children on a swing set, people riding piggy-back, spectators in the front row of the balcony section, and more than likely, a bride and groom being hoisted into the air on rickety chairs held by their intoxicated friends and family.  This may not go so well.

Upon seeing such “dangerous” situations, I have been known to close my eyes, change seats, have my own little version of a panic attack, and even leave the area completely.  Even if the moment passes without any trace of danger, my mind will play out the alternatively horrific ending regardless.  It is a terrible little movie that only I can see, but that haunts me until I can find something to divert my attention to something else. 

Yeah, maybe my friend is right.  We could probably do without the chair dance.  Although it sounds fun, it could be hora-ble.

Glad to be diagnosed

As you know by now, I have OCD.  And I’m not just saying that in the, I-always-have-to-put-the-right-sock-on-before-the-left kind of way.  I have actually been diagnosed with OCD.  And let me tell you, it was a huge relief!  Imagine having a million weird little quirks that you can’t quite explain and then all of a sudden, some crazy therapist lady with a slightly hippie appearance (but a legitimate professional background) puts a label on it for you.  And tells you you’re normal! 

Well, for someone with OCD. 

Anyway, it was a feeling of liberation!  I know there is much debate over the ethics of diagnosis, and whether or not it does more harm than good for a patient.  But for me, it was a postive experience.  Finally, I had the missing piece to pull it all together.  A diagnosis.  Something to research.  I think deep down I knew I had OCD, but I had never labeled myself as such, and neither had anyone who graduated from a psychology program.  So I went through life just thinking I was quirky. 

That day in the therapist’s office was a long time coming.  Years and years in the making.  As a child, I was a perfectionist to the core.  I was a natural-born leader, which my teachers recognized immediately.  I would always be assigned the desk right next to the naughtiest kid in class.  Supposedly, this is a trick many teachers use to reign in their rowdiest pupils.  This didn’t bother me too bad – at first.  Because as an elementary student, you always have something to look forward to – the best day in a child’s primary school life – the day the desks get rearranged!  So I would sit next to the naughty kids, patiently waiting for the day when we would walk into the classroom and, low and behold, the desks would no longer be arranged in rows of 6, but in pods of 4!   Like all my classmates, I would run around the room looking for my name tag, only to find it in the same pod as the naughty kid.  And so defined grades 1-5.

These small signs of perfectionism slowly crept their way into other facets of my life.  I remember my mom escorting me to the bus stop down the street and making me wait to be the last one on the bus.  Apparently, word had gotten out that I always had to be first.  And I started to become obsessed with fairness, mostly for my own benefit.  If my sister and I split a piece of peanut butter bread, I had to have the bigger half, because it wouldn’t be fair, to me, to get a smaller piece than her. 

The interesting thing about OCD is that symptoms change as the person and their life situation changes.  No, I do not obsess about getting the best bite of the DQ Blizzard I occasionally share with my husband (however, I am still very protective of my food – keep that fork over at your own plate!)  Just knowing I have OCD, having that diagnosis, has helped me to better understand the way my mind operates so I can actively work on controlling the obsessions and compulsions.  I was happy to be diagnosed, because now I can face my OCD head-on.

PS – the boating this weekend went wonderfully, despite everyone reminding me of the terrible boating accident last weekend and the numerous “be safe!” pleas.  I’m still bothered that it took me 3 times to park the boat in the lift (ugh, pathetic!), but I faced my anxiety and I think everyone had a great time.

Written to perfection

courtesy of teachingauthors.com

I take great pride in my writing ability.  By no means am I the greatest writer out there, I’ll save that title for the pros, but I do enjoy writing and editing almost as much as I enjoy chocolate.  I said almost.

For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with perfection in my writing: spelling, grammar, complete sentences, punctuation, even the way my writing looks.  Let me tell you, second grade was probably my least favorite year for writing – cursive!  Ugh!  Getting those letters just right seemed impossible.  I would write, and re-write, and re-write until I was satisfied with how my letters looked.  (I soon began to hate the cursive lowercase “s” more than anything…my first name has two of them).  I was so concerned with the way my letters looked that I would erase holes in my papers.  It didn’t take long for my pencil erasers to disappear, leaving me with no choice but to use the colorful replacement erasers (and don’t even get me started on the agony caused by those pink and purple eraser streaks left on my homework!)

This need for perfect writing has most definitely followed me into adulthood.  I can’t so much as send a one-liner text message without spell checking first, let alone send an email, give a birthday card, mail a letter to grandma, or publish this post!  I bet on average I re-read a single written work about 5-10 times before releasing it to the world, depending on its importance (text message being very low, blog posts about perfection in writing being very high).

At first I thought I was just a great English student.  But after seeing all the horrible writing floating around out there – even by “great” students – I knew I was probably a little over-the-top.  I found this useful website that helps explain my compulsive checking.  (Note: I fall into several of the compulsive checking categories listed on this site, which I’ll share in due time).  It’s not that I’m just concerned about writing properly or spelling words correctly.  It makes me extremely anxious to have mistakes in my work.  My chest feels tight, my heart rate increases, and I feel compelled, obligated, required to correct them.  If I know they’re there, I want to fix them.  Immediately. 

I check for everything – spelling, grammar, flow, capitalization, word usage, punctuation, overall tone, repeated words, and on and on.  The best is when I catch a word that is spelled correctly, but used in the wrong place.  For example, if I type “fore” instead of “four.”  I love catching those errors, it validates my effort.   I’ll re-write words, sentences, and even whole paragraphs until they sound just how I want them.  It is not uncommon for me to review an email, even to a friend or family member, about 3 or 4 times before sending it, and then open it up in my Sent file to re-read it again.  This allows me to view it as the recipient will see it. 

I have gone through this process with every post on this blog.  I’ll write, re-write, preview, make corrections, preview again…sometimes I’ll even have the editing screen and preview screen up at the same time so I can compare them to each other (like I am currently doing for this post).  After I am satisfied, I’ll publish, then always go back and open the blog via its main URL to view it as you would.  It takes frickin’ forever.  But it’s worth it, because it’s written to perfection.