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 Forbidden Fruit of The Big Apple.

Do you remember the first time you settled somewhere and became rooted, even if it was inadvertently?

I do.  I’ve mentioned before how many places I’ve lived (20 different zip codes).  Without a doubt a gypsy was born when I turned eighteen.  A fly-by-her-seat gal that could easily fit everything owned into a coupe and jet off into the sunset on any given day.  It was a freedom unlike any other with just the open road, music, and me.  Pulling into unknown territory with a discovery high.  It never ceased to amaze me at how quickly I met people since I considered myself somewhat of an introvert, but in retrospect it could have been my romance with who I wanted to be.  Once the discovery was over, it was time to pull a Christopher Columbus (sans the raping and stealing from the Indians) and head into uncharted territory.   This was my life for six years, and then I took a bit of the forbidden fruit – the big apple.

I’ve got to be honest, when I first landed on the concrete paradise I didn’t think I would spend a year here much less 9 years.  Alas, here I am writing this post from postal code 10036 (Midtown).  I certainly never expected for my feet to dig into the ground, firmly planted, and grow roots.  So you trade in the concrete for a yard, which puts you in either Brooklyn, Long Island, or where I live, New Jersey. Had you told the gypsy she would be a homeowner in New Jersey, living with a woman, and chasing after three extremely spoiled animals, she would have told you to get off the acid.

I had always been the one leaving, departing for a new adventure.  I had a reputation to live up to  – my high school awarded me ‘Most Adventurous’.  Under the stability of today, friends all around me bid their goodbye and head into my previously chartered territory; a new life.  From where I stand, home, the fruit is bittersweet.

The long snowy road of this week…

Life Is A Highway

Today I woke up, alert, relaxed, and genuinely ready to start my day.  Outside my window was a gray film complemented by droplets of rain covering the Friday morning.  Typically, I wake up groggy and unwilling to accept that it’s not a weekend so the mere peek outside would have set my depression into overdrive.  Not today, nope, I was up and ready to shake a tail feather.

Time was on my side as I leisurely got dressed, my hair dried to a radiant shine, and walked out the door as the sun appeared through the grim sky to greet my face.  Pulling out my sunglasses, I had a short skip to my walk and hopped in my car turning on the newly replaced windshield wipers to clear my view so that I could gracefully drive to work.  Without a care in the world and not running late for a change this week (road construction stress is the worst especially on a NJ Turnpike), I listened to Q104 (NY’s Classic Rock Station) tapping my steering wheel with an enthusiasm of a newly licensed driver as Billy Joel sang about tie dyed jeans (Captain Jack song).

Every green light danced as my car approached, and the weekly traffic on the NJ Turnpike due to construction parted so that I could veer off at an exit to avoid gridlock.  The normally busy Jersey City street was desolate allowing me to bypass the traffic woes of the turnpike, which pumped my smile to a full grin.

Cars lifted in the air as I looked for a parking spot in the usually hard-to-come-by parking lot in Weehawken.  Within a few steps of the bus stop, I parked my Honda and gathered my things jumping on the Jitney headed to Manhattan.  I sat alone and could breathe without the two overweight stranger’s bodies I usually get sandwiched between, and I got some work done courtesy of my iPhone.

The air was light, my soul felt bright, and it’s a Friday– Believe It Or Not!?!?

driving2

Going Up Norde, eh?

We drove to Montreal, Quebec (Canada), for the UFC 97 fight card.  We were excited about seeing UFC superstar Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell during his pivotal fight (win = come back, loss = retirement) and the wife’s favorite, Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva.  We soon found out, after crossing into Canada, that our high school French was beyond rusty.  It didn’t take long for us to figure out basic French like that ‘Norde‘ meant ‘North’ after driving back toward the U.S. border.

Shortly after getting back on track, we started passing cars left and right following the speed limit (Max. 100, Min. 60) before the light bulb went off.

“Ah, yes,” I realized.  “The metric system.”

I rarely speak in full sentences anymore since I am mostly only required to do such in 140 characters or less. The idea of a maximum and minimum speed limit was great, but I’d much rather it be mph rather than km due to time constraints.

Once we finally arrived at the hotel where parking was not included, our New Jersey tagged Honda pulled into a makeshift parking lot with only a French-speaking attendant.  After finally finding someone to translate, we paid $32 CAD in USD—overpayed.  We immediately found a currency exchange station.

We went to the Centre Bell for the UFC 97 Q&A with George St. Pierre and without a doubt I became a huge fan of GSP right then and there.  By the way ladies, he wears a size 11.5 shoe (just saying).

The Weigh-ins gave us a closer look (since we were in the 4th row) at the fighters and a sense of their personalities.  Not to mention, it was fascinating to see my wife–the most unaffected by celebrity person out there and the one person that just ‘doesn’t get’ celebrity gossip–starstruck by Dana White.  In some self-satisfying way, I wanted his autograph for myself to hang above my Life & Style collection in the bathroom (the same collection she rolls her eyes at my purchasing).

By the time we made it back to our glorified hotel room (pretty convinced it was really a hostel in disguise), we thought our experience couldn’t be topped until we watched The Simpson’s in French and could actually watch Music Videos 24/7 on Much Music.

Last but certainly not least (part II posted manana), in a true Twilight Zone moment we watched Ashton Kutcher and P Diddy on Larry King Live talking about Twitter. Ashton should win an Emmy for his acting as someone who has nothing to gain from the success of Twitter (I’m convinced he sat in too many Twitter board meetings and will see an investment on his return–his use of ‘content collaboration’ sounded all too familiar like I was in one of my MTV meetings).  I only have followers to gain–so follow me @alisaben05.

Merci Beaucoup, Canada!

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: