Habit or Obsession?


I suspect you would agree that each of us does a number of things daily out of habit–without even thinking about them. I imagine we also do at least a few things quite intentionally. As if obsessed about it.

When does an obsession become a habit, though? Or vice versa?

I think back with some embarrassment to this obsession from my post-college years. I started scheduling practically everything I did in fifteen-minute increments. If something took longer  than I’d allotted an adequate number of fifteen-minute slots for, I got seriously bent out of shape.

In order to track my time properly, I had to start on one of the quarter hours. Oh, my! If I was five minutes past one of those times getting on the road for a trip, irritable wouldn’t adequately describe my state of mind.

That was definitely an obsession–one I’ve long since outgrown.

Let me share a few other things that I’ve done in the past or I’m currently doing.

  • I used to always take a hot dog for my lunch before I retired. I continued to do that years after retirement. Then I suddenly desired to have something different. For the last several years I’ve been eating peanut butter sandwiches. Not just on weekdays, but for Saturday lunch and Sunday supper.
  • When dressing, I sit on the bed to put my left sock on first and then my right one.
  • When my Harry’s razor blades are a few days later than expected in arriving–I use one a week and change them on Sunday–I’m apt to email Harry’s and ask why they can’t be more consistent in their shipments.
  • When riding with my wife I tend to keep my eye on the speedometer. Even though she’s never gotten a speeding ticket, she tends to push the limit. I don’t hesitate to let her know I doubt the police might not be as tolerant of the excess as she thinks. A speeding ticket is certainly not in the budget.
  • While visiting family out of town, I’m apt to pick up my guitar and play quietly while other people talk. If I hear something I want to comment on, I do. Otherwise, it’s just me and my guitar.
  • After I take clothes out of the dryer–yes, I do the laundry–I do three things: clean the filter, set the dial to optimum dry, and throw a clean dryer sheet inside the machine. I get mildly irritated if I have to one of those things the next time I use the dryer.
  • When I buy a carton of my favorite frozen yogurt flavor, I allow myself exactly half a cup per day, confident that amount of sugar won’t hurt. If I get really daring, I use a half-cup container, not a bowl.
  • I don’t like crispy bacon. I’m not going to be rude if served overdone bacon at someone’s home, but I’ve been known to ask for different bacon when eating breakfast out.
  • My mother always watered the grape juice down with water when I was a kid; that’s what I got used to. So when I started buying grape juice a year or two ago and found the taste of straight juice unappealing, I started watering it down slightly, too.
  • I always wear a nice leather man-bag when I go out. I have too much stuff to carry in my pockets: small notepad, pen, and pencil; hearing aid batteries; emery board and nail clippers (I have to have my fingernails just right for my guitar playing); a comb; two business card cases; a flash drive; and the coins referred to in another bullet point. Oh, and–of course–my cell phone. I feel absolutely naked if I forget my man-bag.
  • Ditto if I fail to have my cell phone with me when I go out, even though I rarely use it for anything.
  • I keep two one-dollar coins in my man-bag for emergencies. I don’t cheat and use them for anything else just because I don’t have any other money on me at the time. I wouldn’t even think of doing that.
  • At bedtime, I have to clean my hearing aids and put them away before I brush my teeth. The two things have nothing to do with one another, but I get mildly frustrated if I do them out of sequence.

What do you think? Maybe I’ve simply confirmed your suspicions that I’m at least a little weird, and that’s okay. I write quirky fiction, so I should have the right to be a little quirky, too.

Regardless of that, which of those things are habits and which are obsessions? Do you have any particular habits or obsessions you’d be willing to share in a comment?

Sometime I may ask my wife for a list of what she thinks I should’ve included in today’s list.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Wardrobe on Display…or Just Socks?

 

sox2    sox    sox3

My wife and I have a friend who loves photography. He takes hundreds of pictures and displays every one of them on Facebook. Not just the best ones, you understand. Probably every picture he takes. I hope he doesn’t have prints made. I don’t think he can afford it.

We get tickled at the fact that he tends to take pictures of his clothes. If he buys something new–he loves shopping for clothes–he posts pictures on Facebook. Before heading to church on Sunday, he lays out what he’s going to wear and–you guessed it!–he takes a picture and posts it on Facebook as well.

One of the nice things about Facebook is there’s absolutely nothing wrong with what he does. If his other friends are interested in seeing his clothes photos, more power to him and to them as well. I hope he doesn’t mind that we tend to ignore those posts. We don’t want him to think we’re disinterested.

We’re not. Not disinterested in him personally. He’s a really intelligent guy and he can be pretty interesting when his Asperger’s Syndrome symptoms don’t get in the way. But we love him in spite of them…and in spite of his photos.

I have to admit his clothes pictures once inspired me to take a picture of my favorite hats. Hats are my thing. Whether a driver cap style or an Australian Akubra, I’m almost never without a hat when I go outside. With no more hair than I have, I consider it a good health practice.

I actually posted an article about my hats a year-and-a-half ago, and I mentioned our friend then. I’d forgotten about it until tonight, and I’ll bet you don’t remember it, either. Old age in my case. I don’t know what your excuse is.

When I  asked my wife this evening for a blog topic suggestion, she said, “socks.”

Socks? She only wears black or white socks. Nothing gray. Nothing interesting or exciting. And surely an article about socks would be equally dull.

But, as she laughingly pointed out, socks are my thing somewhat the way hats are. They just aren’t as obvious to someone looking at what I’m wearing. She reminded me that I only buy socks that are really different. So I could and should make my article really different, too.

For years I wore two pairs of camo socks.  Plus other socks, of course. I found them on clearance for $.99 each at Old Navy. I live in a somewhat redneck area, and I figured they’d be just the thing–in spite of the fact I’m not a hunter.

I think that’s what got me started on wearing different kinds of socks. Yes, I still have some solid colored ones in the drawer, but I never touch them.

Oh, sorry. One exception. Our choir director likes for us to wear blacks and white shirts for the Christmas musical. So I grudgingly put on black socks to stay in her good graces.

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is the fact I’m colorblind. A red-green deficiency, they tell me. But I get mixed up sometimes (make that “often”) on colors I’m supposedly able to see accurately. That makes sock matching a challenge. Unless they’re distinctly different.

And therein lies my legitimate excuse. Let my wife say it’s because I write “quirky inspirational fiction” and want to appear quirky. But you and I know the truth…

I just have strange tastes.

Do you have a favorite quirky something or other? How about sharing that with us in a comment?

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Snow & Pizza

SnowAndPizza 001     SnowAndPizza 002

Some things never change, no matter how old I get. Like having pizza when we have snow.

That’s a tradition that started when I was in college. I attended Frostburg State College (now University) and lived in a rooming house a block or two from campus. The town and consequently the college were named after a family named Frost.

But—with the kind of winter weather we had there—the name really fit. While it’s hard to remember many details about my time at Frostburg—I told you I’m aging gracelessly—I remember snow being on the ground on a regular basis.

I didn’t have a car yet. In fact, I didn’t get my license till late summer after graduation and my first car three or four months later. So I had to walk if I needed anything from Frostburg’s modest “downtown.”

But the only thing I ever really “needed” from the main drag was a couple of slices of pizza. I could’ve eaten more, but I couldn’t afford it.

So it wasn’t unusual for me to trudge out while the last little bit of daylight remained and slip and slide up and down a few hills to reach my pizza place.

My intentions were always good: to wait until I got back to the house before eating.

Have you ever carried a box of fresh, hot pizza at chest level? Hard to ignore that delicious aroma, isn’t it? Especially if every part of you but your hands is freezing.

So I inevitably started nibbling on my treat while slipping and sliding my way back to the house. I was careful, though. As careful as possible considering what I was doing. But I don’t question that—had I fallen down—protecting the pizza would’ve taken priority over protecting myself.

After all, broken bones would mend–eventually. But I couldn’t afford to go back and replace any lost pizza.

That started a tradition for me. One that continued with my first wife and has continued with Kathleen. Whenever it snows, we have to have pizza. And we don’t order and have it delivered. One of us goes out to pick it up.

We do NOT walk, however. Neither do we eat in the car on the way home. We have to be practical. Texting and driving isn’t safe, and driving and eating pizza is even more dangerous.

This winter has broken our tradition, though. Or at least thrown it off kilter a little. We’ve had so much more snow than usual that we would look like a pair of Pillsbury Dough Boys if we’d indulged with each snowfall we’ve had.

But talking about it brings back those same fond memories, and I hope I never get too old to enjoy pizza when we have our first snowfall of the season—and periodically thereafter. Living without that would be graceless indeed.

Do you have any quirky traditions? How about sharing them with us?

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. Please join me then. Better yet, go to the top right hand section of this screen and click to follow this blog by email. That way you’ll never miss a post.

Best regards,
Roger

Victoria’s Secret Bathtub

VictoriasSecretDog 002        VictoriasSecretDog 001        bathtub

There. I made you look, didn’t I?

Not surprising. Victoria’s Secret has a habit of making people look. Even when they know they shouldn’t.

Perhaps I should start by explaining that I’m a rather conservative Christian gentleman. That doesn’t mean that I necessarily disapprove of Victoria’s Secret products, but it does mean I object to the posters of their models in the store windows. It’s tough to keep from staring at women who’re wearing so little—and wearing it in such interesting ways.

But I try. That’s why I try to focus on the spotted dog. I’ve finally figured out why it’s pink: embarrassment from having to keep all those underdressed poster models company.

Walking for exercise at the mall isn’t as challenging as looking the other way when I pass Victoria’s Secret. In fact, I don’t even try. But I do avoid staring. Concentrating on a model’s hair, face, or teeth helps.

But do you know I’ve observed something interesting during my many months of passing the Victoria’s Secret store twice every time I walk at the mall?

I have yet to see an African-American model in those posters. I don’t think it’s discrimination on Victoria Secret’s part, though. I prefer to think it’s because the black models have enough pride in themselves not to show off that way before the world.

Okay, you say. You get it. But what’s this about a Victoria’s Secret bathtub? Is that some secret new product?

Nope. Until just a few weeks ago, a sales display for—want to try guessing?—easy-install bathtubs occupied the middle of the hallway outside the Victoria’s Secret store. It consisted of the cleanest bathtub you could ever hope to see.

And doggoned if the display didn’t face Victoria’s Secret.

The tub area was, uh, personed by one of two kinds of salespeople. (I never saw any customers there. They probably all went inside Victoria’s Secret.)

The first group consisted of older males who probably couldn’t remember the days when their wives would have looked good in a Victoria’s Secret garment and consequently took far too much pleasure in studying the posters for hours at a time in their boredom.

The other group—I’ll try to say this as kindly as possible—was composed of younger women who needed to lose a number of pounds before they could have posed for a Victoria’s Secret poster. In all likelihood, a significant weight loss on their part would better have qualified them as poster girls for the American Family Fitness place slightly further down the hall.

Could you imagine belonging to either of those two groups and having to face those enticing—and frustrating—posters day in and day out?

Whatever company those salespeople worked for probably did their employees a favor by shutting down that kiosk. Joblessness would probably be less frustrating than growing old staring at Victoria’s Secret posters.

This post was originally going to end there, but my wife pointed out something I didn’t realize. Victoria’s Secret carries many types of clothes other than the lingerie pictured in the window. I doubt I’m the only older guy in the world who didn’t realize that.

A visit to their website left me wondering why they don’t choose to clothe the poster models in the window and put the lingerie posters inside the store.

It’s not like people don’t already know about that part of their merchandise.

If you have any comments about today’s post, please share them. My opinion isn’t the only one around, but it’s the right one. *G*

Come again on Sunday to see what this aging fellow will talk about next.

Best regards,
Roger

The Facebook in the Mirror (Part Two)

Jenny     Southern Fried Sushi book cover           

If you missed my previous post, The Facebook in the Mirror, you might want to read it before you read this post. I gave several examples of how Facebook has helped me to reconnect with my past, and this one will give several additional examples.

After graduating from college in 1968, I taught junior high English for six-plus years. I thought the kids were great, but the demands on my free time were a real drag. And—years later when I took the Myers-Briggs Inventory—I learned that I am a confirmed introvert.

Not “introvert” as in “very shy person.” But as in “energized by being by myself or among a VERY small group of close friends and totally worn out by being around people in general.” Hmm. Not good for a teacher.

When I discovered Facebook, I couldn’t keep from wondering what had become of my former students. I’m not pretending I could remember all of them—I had trouble remembering some names from the current school year. But I tried one name—I don’t remember who was first—and hit pay dirt.

And—lo and behold—he or she accepted my friend request and seemed genuinely happy to hear from me.

I tried more and more. When I couldn’t remember more names, I checked the friends list of the ones I’d been able to friend and sent many of them friend requests. I’ve ended up with quite a list, and I’m thrilled to report that at least one of them became a teacher. But even more amazing, some of my former students actually credited me with having taught them something.

Truly amazing. I didn’t feel that great about my teaching.

One of my former students is Tom. The top right pictures are Tom then and now. He’s lived and worked in Colombia (yes, the country in South America) for a number of years. He writes poetry and is a chef at his own restaurant. And—doggone it!—he beats the pants off me in Words with Friends. I learned recently that he was responsible for getting a poem of mine published in a free local magazine during the mid-seventies.

Tom is  a reconnect I highly value.

The other Facebook reconnect I want to mention today was a young lady (I call her my sister) who went on the same mission trip I did in 2000 to the Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Jenny and I both worked at the same place and were sitting beside one another when we heard about the mission trip to Oz. I still have a picture of us returning on the train from a day trip to Sydney, both of us snoozing, her head innocently on my shoulder.

We lost track of one another when she went to Japan as a Journeyman missionary (two-year program for recent college graduates). A few years later, one of her former co-workers told me Jenny had married a Brazilian and moved to Brazil.

How does a guy track down his missing “sister” when she’s that far away and he doesn’t even know her married name?

Facebook, of course. When we reconnected, it was like we’d never been apart.

But what makes our story special is Jenny had spent some of her free time in Brazil writing her first novel. I asked her to email it to me, and my wife and I had a great time reading it.

In fact, it was so good I had her write a proposal for me to forward to my publisher. That resulted in a three-book contract for Jenny’s Southern Fried Sushi series. If you don’t know much about writing and publishing, let me share this: practically nobody gets a contract for a first novel from the first publisher she submits a proposal to.

You’ll see Jenny with a toothbrush in her mouth on the train ride to Sydney and the cover of her first novel to Tom’s left at the top of the page.

Facebook has helped me to look into the mirror and see some wonderful parts of my past, along with the chance to bring certain aspects of the past up to date.

If you have any special Facebook or Twitter tales to share, I’d love to hear them. Just leave a comment.

Best regards,
Roger

Healthier Than Thou

pillBotles

Every once in a while, I run into someone I haven’t seen in a while. Someone who’s around my age. Someone who really means it when asking, “How are you?”

But we both know what that question really means. “Are you holding together as well as I am or better?”

The funny thing about that is most “people of age”—a designation inspired by “people of color,” which strikes me as equally silly since all of us are SOME color and all of us are SOME age—pass up the opportunity to be honest. Probably because they don’t want to chance learning that the other person is healthier.

I’m never as honest as I could be. I mean, I’m not about to say, “I have some cysts that make walking and standing anywhere from uncomfortable to painful at times, and having them removed might not solve the problem.” Not unless I’m talking to someone I want to urge to move on without further discussion.

I suppose I could always say, “Well, I’m able to get eight or nine hours of sleep every night.” No need to add that I normally still feel tired when I get up and nearly always take a short afternoon nap. Sometimes two. Concurrently.

Or should I whip out the list of medications I keep in my wallet? My doctor’s office loves me because that printed list keeps me from having to pronounce the names of my regular medicines and keeps the nurse from having to figure out what I’m trying to say when I mispronounce them.

List-sharing with other people of age would have drawbacks, though. While it doesn’t take any effort at all to get my father-in-law to share his medicine list—and does he evermore have a lot of them—mine looks puny next to his.

Does that mean I’m healthier? I should hope so! But that’s beside the point. He’s twenty years older than me. The fact that he’s still alive must mean that I’m, uh, well, maybe it means HE’S healthier.

Maybe “Good to see you. I’m fine, thanks.” is an honest enough response to “How are you?”

Thanks for letting me share these thoughts with you. Please feel free to leave a comment. What do YOU think about this subject?

Best regards,
Roger