Success, More Julie & Julia, OCD, and the Kitchen Sink

I woke up exhausted. Went to bed at around 2 a.m., got up at 8:30 a.m.  Perhaps the grrr squeak grrr squeak grrr squeak of the rock tumbler at approximately 50 revolutions per minute invaded my sleep. I believe I will move it to the far side of the house today. I believe I had better move it to the far side of the house right now…

And that speed is how fast my thoughts are spinning also. I can’t keep up with them. The ridiculous thing is that I even think, at any level, that I should try to–that everything merits remembering, no matter how small or absurd. But that is generally how I begin my day. Spinning. Wanting to get so much done, be so productive. Going off in a hundred different directions. It sounds like ADD, but it’s obsessional thinking, the hallmark of my particular flavor of OCD. There have been may times I have called my therapist for help, “Dr. M., I can’t get a grip on what I need to be doing because my head is spinning too fast.” And there were probably hundreds more times I needed to make that call and didn’t. Part of what we with OCD have problems doing is reaching out for help because we are so ashamed of our obsessions, compulsions and the fall-out from our illness. That is a large part of the reason so many with OCD go undiagnosed. Think about it for a moment. There’s a woman who washes/showers eight hours a day. When does she really have time to do much else if she’s running to the bathroom every time she encounters germs real or imaginary? And who is she going to tell that she spends that much time washing? Her house gets cluttered because she spends all her time obsessing and acting upon her obsession. Added to that is the shame of having a cluttered house, also to be overcome, before she can call for help. Another scenario: A man spends hours picking up trash in the New York City subways. Every time he gets off the train he hopes that he can make it out of the station without giving in to his need to pick up trash. Hours later he finally trudges up the stairs and makes his way home, unable to understand what is happening to him, why it is happening to him, and what to do about it.

I had a hard time getting started today, because I kept wanting to act on my thoughts: send an e-mail to this person; write a letter to that person; make Jamaican Pineapple Upside-Down Rum Cake with the pineapple on the counter; take a bottle of Giada de Laurentiis’ limoncello ( that I made to a friend to whom I’d promised a bottle; figure out a way to keep track of the time I spend thinking obsessively (wondering if I could keep track over time if it reduced); how to best graph those numbers (realizing that the time spent keeping track of how much time I frittered away would better be spent actually doing something, like finishing cleaning the kitchen).

I didn’t want to write until I’d finished the kitchen. Because I figured if I was completely fed up with just writing about it and thinking about it, then anyone reading this had to be as well. So…I finished cleaning the kitchen!  A small success, a baby step, but a very important one, since my house is on the market. As I mopped the floor, then cleaned it on hands and knees with clorox wipes, cleaned the cabinet fronts (because I was down there at that level and they’d been bothering me), put away things piled on the counters, cleaned out the frightening life forms evolving in the fridge, fed the dogs, and washed the dishes (interspersed with trips made to the computer to check e-mail and facebook, download music I was hearing on the radio, and check out answers to questions that presented themselves in my mind), I thought about my recent experiment making limoncello, and how I’d love to have a cottage industry making, bottling, and selling it (I spent a good couple of hours on that dream the other day, looking online at wholesale bottle samples, labeling software and printers, and drawing labels). That let me to think about things I’ve made in the past, like my grandmother Pom’s English Toffee , Chocolate Krinkle Cookies, South American Pollo con Cerveza, and other foods, that friends have told me I should make and sell, and how I could go about that. I thought about the misunderstanding I had yesterday with Trey*, and how to go about telling him what I need to tell him and what will happen when I do. I thought about how much I really like the Kings of Leon. I thought about the parakeets I’m getting from a friend (just what I need, another mess-making animal to take care of) and etc., you get the picture, I’m sure. I imagine that people with healthy brains probably have just as many thoughts, but it’s kind of a process in the back of their minds. With me, it’s in the forefront, an ongoing dialogue I’m having with myself, every new idea wanting a corresponding action.

In case you didn’t catch it, I CLEANED THE KITCHEN. And I’m posting a picture at the end to show you. It took me nearly all day, because all of the side activity taking place during the actual tasks, but I DID IT. I realized that this (blogging) is probably a pretty effective tool for me in being accountable to myself for my time and activities.  Usually what happens is I think of something to do. And I think about how to do it and when to do it and all of the steps required to get it done and I keep thinking about it and thinking about it, but not actually doing it. So night falls, and I haven’t done what I really needed to do, and I beat myself up, and keep myself depressed. I used to be a list-maker. But then I’d misplace the list, get distracted, and eventually get back to making another list, repeat, repeat, repeat. It’s incredibly difficult for me to start something and complete it. My sainted cousin Kathleen* told me to just work on something for 15 minutes at a time and take a break. At least I’ll be productive in fifteen minute increments throughout the day. But my mind wants to accomplish so much! It’s humiliating to take six hours to accomplish something that should take two at most. Baby steps! Compassion!

Enough about that. I cleaned the kitchen! I also spent a little time checking out Julie Powers of Julie & Julia fame. I had been looking at her blogs yesterday, the Julie & Julia Project blog, the subsequent two blogs, and her book Cleaving. I didn’t realize she no longer blogs (I am pop culture illiterate, for the most part, and like it that way). She moved on to another memoir and is now writing a work of fiction. Apparently she has received an enormous backlash of hate because she isn’t an expert chef (she never claimed to be) and for the subject matter of Cleaving-not the part about apprenticing at a butcher shop, but the revelations about her affairs. I thought about that for a while. As a woman who has underachieved most of her adult life and committed many immoral acts, I find her extraordinary honesty immensely responsible, selfless, and brave.  We learn as much or more from people who admit their mistakes, pay for them, and learn from them as we do from people who (act as though they) are perfect. I’m not saying there aren’t any people who don’t live moral lives. I have seen many of them in my time. But I’ve seen many more who act as though they don’t make mistakes, look down their noses at others whose mistakes are public, and condemn them all while behaving like…well…to use a quaint turn of phrase, their shit doesn’t stink (me being one of them for a very long time). I’m sorry that Julie is no longer blogging, but I’m looking forward to reading her old blogs, Cleaving, and whatever she comes up with next. She is one of my heroes just as she is–an imperfect, strong, growing human being.

It’s been an okay day, as far as days go (grrr squeak grrr squeak).  My kitchen is beautiful again.  I’d give anything to be able to save my house. I’ve lived here for ten years. But I don’t see a way. And I will grieve, I’m not going to pretend like it doesn’t hurt like hell, because it does. I have no choice but to go on, to keep moving. The very little I do have control over regarding my house, I want to remain in my control, and how good the house looks when people come to see it is to some extent, within my control. The better it looks, the more I get for it, and the more I get for it, the more I have as a nest egg for when I am in a position to have a house again. I’m not going to spend long periods of time brooding about it, but shedding an occasional tear now and again (okay, sobbing) is understandable and acceptable.

I’m feeling very overwhelmed, but I’m trying to stay present. I’m not in a great mood, but neither am I feeling exceptionally down. I’m going to make something to eat, see what jobs are posted in the Sunday paper, and talk to my children. I’ll talk to Trey. I’ll try to do a little reading and get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow will be a better day. I believe that whole-heartedly.


1.) My children, who give me a challenge to look forward to every day.

2.) Trey, for his amazing ability to see and understand my perspective.

3.) My families, both the one I grew up with and the one I didn’t.

4.) Julie Powell, for her bravery and honesty.

5.) My dogs, for their unconditional love.

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness is never decreased by being shared.” ~ Buddha

Peace, T.

Did I tell you I cleaned the kitchen?


About ZephyrLiving

Join me on my journey, if you like. A return to mental health. When I started with my first blog in 2011, I was three years in. Now it's 2015, and I am so much better. I though I had nothing less to lose. I was so very wrong. So arrogant--or deluded! OCD, Compulsive Hoarding Syndrome, Chronic Depression, PTSD and Histrionic Personality Disorder. A big list, a big task. I've come a long way and still have far to go. But I've built my foundation and I'm working at it every single day! Join me for some laughs, some inspiration, some hope, and support. Peace.
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