You down with OCD? Yeah you know me.

My Aunt Lulu tells the story of how as a child – she babysat me – I would line up her spice bottles as though they were in formation for war.  I played quietly and then I would put them back into the spice cabinet.  She tells this at family gatherings every time, and I haven’t the heart to tell her it was the first sign of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.  She found it endearing that I had a penchant for war and played well alone, and I found it relieving that her spice cabinet was neat and orderly.

In high school, my room was always immaculately clean and upon the first foot on the floor in the morning, bed made with militant-tucked corners.  I never wore clothes more than once before it was separated, colors or whites, into the hamper.  I would get nervous at the sight of a few dishes in mom’s sink, and as the dishes crept to plentiful the seething would begin.  That was the trigger to which all the guns in the world were  pulled…dishes in a sink turned to uneven pep-rally banners on the halls.  How could a cheerleader, perfectly poised and coiffed, be such a symmetrical slob?  The devil is in the details, which sometimes makes it impossible to not feel superior.

College was the first time I felt…neurotic.  There weren’t people around that I had grown up with and due to lack of a large population, had to like me.  People from all walks of life, backgrounds as diverse as the next, out of step with mine.  If you have a therapist confirm that you’re a number in their manual then you can get the university to let you room alone, so there I was in Wentz Hall at Oklahoma State University alone with an abnormally long twin-sized bed.  When left to your own devices, as a perfectly capable OCD person, you begin to create some intriguing patterns.  It didn’t take long, holed up in that dorm, until I was trying to convince my mom that I needed…no NEEDED a futon.

“Why do you need a futon when you have a perfectly good bed?”  She would ask.

“Mom, the bed is too long is makes me feel like I’m a short loser because I’m not here on a basketball scholarship.”

“Well that’s just ridiculous, Lisa.  You’re crazy.”

“Well duh, mom, that’s why I need a futon to sleep on.”

Once the futon arrived, I never slept on that bed again.  Truth be told, I had come down with a fear of wrinkles.  I needed a place for people to sit when they visited – the couple of dorky musicians that were teaching me guitar, which I never learned anyway – because I couldn’t relax while they sat on the bed, moving their bodies and creating giant wrinkles.  Eventually, I couldn’t stop thinking about wrinkles and under no circumstance could someone sit on my bed.  None.  I was spending too much time straightened wrinkles of the abnormally long twin bed and less time studying, so once I eliminated guests and sleeping on it altogether the wrinkle obsession failed to exist.

Fast forward to New York City.  I know what you’re thinking, how can someone like you – a small-town girl – live like that.  To the normal folk like you (let’s face it the only people to read this blog are my hometown peeps) it would make you shudder at the waves of people crashing into you, but to the crazies like me…it’s like redemption.  You see, there’s a process you go through in New York that most Californians call soulless, but we call it desensitized. For someone like me, this ‘desensitization’ was very much-needed.  I was, now, normal.  I could walk among a crowd – worry free of wrinkles, symmetry, and others I won’t detail here – and just feel secure via eavesdropping…these people are nucking futs.  Here I was thinking I was bat shit crazy because a wrinkle set me off into a flustered-state of organizing, but these people have real problems like peeing in streets or fighting each other over parking spaces.  For all intent and purposes, New York City swallowed me up like a fine wine.

Ten years later – married, living in Jersey, moving up the corporate ladder by day, writing novels by night, and getting an MBA in between, my fear of wrinkles downgraded to more of a pet peeve (as we – yuppies – call it to sound normal).  My mom contributes to my superiority complex of details by supporting that ‘making the bed is just plain good housekeeping,’ and New York City street-strolling has become more of an exorcism of my apparently new agoraphobia.  The good news is I’m no longer soulless.

The Bullshit of Growth, grab your boots.

Part of me thought the term ‘growing pains’ was bullshit – good TV show though.  Part of being an adult is being able to suspend your thinking and change your mind, and I have changed mine.

It all started around the age of eight or nine when my calf muscles ached something fierce at nighttime, and my Granny Ben would rub Absorbine Jr. on it.  I was in the 40% of children that physically felt their growing pains.  In my bodily defense, I took full advantage of my physical superiority probably more so than most little girls that played with Barbies all day.  Not me, I climbed trees with my boy cousins, ran faster than them, and rode my bike faster than the wind.  Too bad my parents bought me a girlie bike with a banana seat because what I really wanted was a rugged BMX with pegs.

Circa 1988ish – the pinnacle of divorce –  I was struck with the emotional growing pains of…you guessed it…divorce.  I sure wish they made an Absorbine Jr. for that!  Those growing pains were brutal.

When the nineties hit it yet another type of growing pain – physiological ones.  It was an awkward time that I prefer not to delve into again because it fits in like a pair of MC Hammer pants.

College was a time for experimenting of all genres and with this expanded my pant size.  The ego expanded and deflated as appropriate.  Often times reckless abandon for organized anything was merely a gateway to debauchery, and throwing caution to the wind defied everything we learned from our parents.  Didn’t you want them to be so dead wrong (your parents)?  I know I did and this rebellion was a growing pain that was the hardest to realize, but thankfully I eventually did, fixed my credit, and had enough failures to write a book.

Career growth, what can I say about that?  Sometimes you work for ten years to get what the intern that ‘knows’ the president of the company gets in less than a year going from intern to Director, but she hasn’t yet learned what you did in college (not to fall victim to compromising positions).  I’m just saying…she didn’t get there from paying her dues… like you, but then again maybe you’ll wise up and realize you’re now in debt with your soul.  Sometimes you soar, but most of the times what you dream of doing isn’t what pays the bills and growing to be okay with that is a big miserable lesson to learn.  This usually makes you fall victim to lottery tickets and a reintroduction to your college friend, alcohol. I’d take the muscle aches of growing pains any day over this because at least you’re inflicted and unaffected.  If you’re not a pessimist by this point of growth in life you will be, and if you aren’t we’ll who the hell do you think you are (steer clear of the rest of us)?!

I struggled greatly to break away from what was hammered into my head called religion in spirituality’s clothing, and I formed my own private spirituality to which contributes to my happiness.  I’ve learned not to talk about it with my mother, and since she’s my superfan on this  I will skip this too (along with the political section).  Love you mom.

Learning to not argue at impasses was a hard growing pain to get through, but it sure does make life less acrimonious.

Growing pains happen at every beat until your very last one, so you might as well grab the boots and wade through the bullshit.

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