Before we begin, know that I am posting with great difficulty this morning due to the fat band-aid on my right index finger, meant to cover and heal the spot on my top knuckle where I grated my finger like a hunk of cheese last night. Ouch.
(BTW, I was making this, which was absolutely delish. Don’t skip the pine nuts if you make this one. Just learn from my example and be careful grating the parm.)
(and BTW again, finally, I found an eggplant- heavy dish that I like. Success!)
And Now Down to Business:
So, my house. She is a good house, not too big, not too small for our little pack. She is a bungalow within two years of her eightieth birthday, full of charm and bricks and wavy glass and arches, high ceilings and glass doorknobs. She was a bargain in an “emerging” neighborhood for A. and I as newlyweds, and has hosted us for 5 + years now. We love her dearly.
Her windows are so charming, in fact, that you’ll need to put on an extra sweater in the winter to handle all of the drafty character. Her one full bathroom is so cozy it fits exactly ONE adult who, if they so choose, could sit on the commode with one foot in the hallway while turning on the shower with the opposite hand. (and that one adult must use the hair dryer in the kitchen, because the bathroom is also too charming to have an electrical outlet. But it also has a truly charming floor of teensy, octagonal tiles.) Her kitchen is so charming that if you cook, say, a curry dish, you will be reminded of that dish for a week straight with no exhaust fan to suck out food smells. And you will be charmed to prep the whole thing on a countertop the size of a postage stamp.
These are the things about her that we just live with, because we love her, and because she sure overlooks a lot of bullshit we throw her way, like two dogs and a cat that shed 7 pounds of hair daily, a toddler with crayons, overflowing laundry, slacker maintenance skills, etc.
And then there are the upstairs bedrooms. Two small, afterthought divisions in an attic “finished” sometime in the sixties, I’m guessing. But still with the 1930 windows and very, very limited insulation.
Sleeping up there (which A. and I do) is like camping. Hot as shit in the summer and freezing cold in the winter, with a few weeks of just-right temperature between seasons. Right now? It is bum-freezing cold. And the toilet seat in the half-bath? MADE OF PURE ICE.
There are things we need to do. Like blow in more insulation and replace windows. But we have about $30 to fix this problem, so…
Enter the space heater.
Enter also my maddening, all-day anxiety about whether or not the space heater is still on, even though I vividly remember turning it off before I left the house.
Here is the list of constantly cycling OCD questions* that flavor my days, including but not limited to:
- Did I turn the oven off?
- Did I lock that back door?
- Did I turn off the coffee pot?
- Is the baby monitor on? (a bedtime obsession)
- Is the garage going to catch on fire since you guys were smoking back there?
- Is the alarm set for a.m. and not p.m.?
- Is the curling iron off? (I literally have not used a curling iron since my freshman year of high school, by the way, but here I am at thirty-one, with fleeting thoughts of a gnarly, hairspray-caked Conair curling iron sitting on my parents’ bathroom counter.)
- Are there candles burning?
- Did I remember deodorant?**
- Are my keys still in the door? (answer is often yes)
- Where is my phone? (leads to constant checking)
- Did I flush the toilet?
and now my new addition to the OCD family of thoughts:
- Is the em-effing space heater still on upstairs, possibly with a sock draped over it because it really is sitting way too close to the laundry, possibly catching our sweet old house and everything in it on fire at this very minute? How will the dogs get out if the house is on fire? WE MUST THINK OF THE PETS!
*Please understand a bit of history: that I grew up in a small town where my father handled much of the insurance business in the area, and was frequently awakened in the middle of the night for a house fire, tornado damage, a car accident, etc. My dad is a good guy, and he takes insurance seriously, and he was often standing in the snow with a family in the middle of the night, watching the volunteer fire department try to save what was left of their burning home. But his familiarity with tragic incidents and the causes of said incidents has made him a cautious, boy-scout-prepared type of a man who has a sharper focus on prevention than most. He is a man-scout, I guess. And I, having grown up in the shadow of his preparedness and caution, have some signs of OCD as an adult.
** I do recognize that doubting my own ability to address personal hygiene and sanitation have little to do with my dad. But that curling iron thing? That was hammered home to me with a brainwashing-strength intensity from the time I laid eyes on that Conair with the skinny barrel and put it on my Christmas list.