Yesterday I got home after a treacherous commute from uni – slip-jogging downhill in the city in rain, with a heavy bag, heavy bass, semi exposed music folders, very full ferry, awkward seating – to the glorious sight of some parcels. My Asos package and some items from the BookDepository. I’m still waiting on 4(?) more books and a dress/convertible skirt thing to arrive:
OCD, Definition 1:
What I really want to write about is “obsessive compulsive documentation”, as per inspired by Marta’s blog. But first I have to get something off my chest: I used to be quite OCD as a child. I still am a little bit now, but it’s nothing compared to what I used to be. I’m sure lots of people out there will have done some of the things I used to do, but can you tell me – how bad did it feel when you didn’t stick to those “rules” which your brain somehow constructed and told you to adhere to?
I used to, and often still do now, but in a more oppressed manner:
– have to take three steps per slab of concrete
– count everything obsessively, out loud, in my head, all the time – especially when running and swimming (which is why I gave up the latter, counting up to the 5000 region is painful whilst swimming km after km in a lap pool)
– have to touch something a certain amount of times
– have to experience the same thing on both sides of my body (I still do this, my friends find it funny, but I really don’t – especially when they trigger it intentionally, it sets me off like a house on fire. e.g., if someone slaps one arm, I will have to ask them to slap me on the other arm, at the same angle, with the same strength; or if someone steps on my foot or something stupid like that. Actually, I’d appreciate if everyone who reads this blog that knows me in real life would please fucking stop laughing about it and triggering it, it’s anguish in my head to try and fight the urge to punch my own arm, for example.
– in addition to the above, I like to touch things with both hands. I line people’s phones up when it’s on a table. I like to stack my ipod and phone together because they’re about the same size, and I hate feeling a phone vibrate in one hand but not the other.
– most especially in homeware-type stores, I have have have to backtrack my way out of a store, as if I had a spider web-like things trailing me and I have to “untangle” my way out, so that this “thread” doesn’t loop around a shelf or rack in a store. It used to make my mum wonder why I kept walking in circles back and back around aisles.
– worst of all, I have a counting system and this is the most frustrating and made-fun-of thing ever. As mentioned above, I count. A lot. Moreover, I do this weird thing where I count three to 3, then three more to 6, then three more to 9, then two to 11, two more to 13, then three to 16 and then seven to 23. When I was younger, this systematic pattern only existed up to the number 9, but then at some point it grew to 11, 13, 16… and it did stop at 21 for a while, but somehow ended up at 23 instead. Weird, I know. And that probably made no sense to anyone else but me anyway. But the worst thing is, people make a joke out of it and I just can’t stand it! At its worst, you can tell my mind’s distracted from say, if I’m reading a book, I’ll end up reading really fucking slowly (I’m generally a fast reader otherwise) because I’ll have to look at all the punctuation on the page a certain amount of times… the page number a certain amount of times. And if it’s a number than I deem as “not good” or that I don’t like (such as 2, 4, 8), my mind psyches itself out and I have to “fix” it by looking at “good” numbers certain amount of times.
Not to mention, these are just my main things that I “have to” comply/count to. There are all sorts of random things that I obsess over as well, but don’t kick in that often, or are more easily overridden by my logic and common sense. For example, I have really, really messy (what people like to call “artsy”) handwriting – it’s mostly because I write really fast and big, and that’s just how it ends up. But those silly people that have attempted to copy my handwriting (fuck knows why), or, those even worse ones that try to criticise my handwriting beyond a necessary point, don’t realise that there’s a whole other reason which I let it become and stay so messy. To put it simply, once I make a conscious effort to make my writing neat, I end up obsessing over making it perfect. If I’m writing down music and my “neat writing” thing kicks in, then every little thing that pours over one line must immediately be erased. Or if my clefs don’t fit in the lines perfectly. Or if I haven’t divided each bar to roughly the same size.
It’s the most unbearable thing ever. Just now, I’ve scratched the back of my neck twice, on both sides, with both hands, because I can’t talk about this without succumbing to the “NEED”. I haven’t told my therapist any of this yet, though. Simply because we’re always dealing with something else and I forget about this until I get back into my car and something sets it off.
OCD, Definition 2:
Now, the other, less annoying type of “OCD” is “obsessive compulsive documentation”. To be honest, this goes beyond the desire to blog or to write in my notebook. For me, I like to keep a documentation of my mere existence and how I think/feel about things. I’ve learned so much simply by reading back in old poetry/lyric notebooks, old diaries, old blog posts, and looking through either digital photos or physical photo albums. I can’t remember how that quote goes, but I truly do believe that everything we’ve ever seen, everyone we’ve ever met and everything we’ve ever done has had its part in creating who we are today. I guess the whole “documentation” thing began the minute I was born, because my mum is a professional photographer. She’d done the big studio thing in Tokyo, did reporting for major newspapers and magazines in Taipei, and later opened up her own studio specialising in children’s photography – so my sister and I were constantly her subject of her films. She also used to do work for a parenting magazine, so whenever we so much as cried, out came the camera, snap snap, the dough rolled in. Obviously, being photographed whilst being told off or upset in general was really quite traumatising, and caused us to cry even more – but as I’ve grown up, I kind of appreciate having these things to look back on. When I was six, I asked my mum to buy me a navy and white checkered hardback diary. It came in a matching box with a lock on it, and it was to be my best friend during our immigration to New Zealand. The last time I read back through it, it occurred to me how I had started writing all in Chinese, and then in the middle was a bit of Chinglish, and eventually the Chinese got filtered out to remain only in the phrases where there’s a lexicon gap.
Then, at age 12 I discovered blogging and it changed my life. As you can see, I’ve been doing it ever since.
What I enjoy about documentation is that there’s evidence outside of myself that an experience or thought had occurred. Our memories aren’t reliable, and more often than not gets gray and blurry around the edges. Sometimes you see a view so amazing or had such a good time that you think “I’m going to remember this forever” – but really, you don’t. Some people enjoy just keeping such memories within, to themselves, but I just can’t. On top of this, such documentation often becomes a source of inspiration for me later on, when I am feeling more creative. Reading old poetry/blog/diary entries of my own have often resulted in extended verses, a new reflective blog post, and once even a painting – so see, for me it’s not just about “did that, *photograph it*, file it”, even if it appears to be to onlookers.
As for less meaning for documentation like taking crappy party photos versus taking decent film ones with a bit more effort, both are important to me. Whilst I may not (unlike most people my age) splash all my party/drunk/whatever photos all over facebook, it’s still nice for me to know that someday when I’m older and these days are over, I will have something left of it to look back on. Heck, I don’t even party that much or often anymore, so even looking back on photos from a year ago evokes nostalgia and makes me feel old already!
Point is, I like documenting. And even though I believe that, at the core we never change that much and essentially remain the same at heart, I still like to be reminded of who I used to be at any particular given point. It’s like those amazing lyrics or songs that I write in the shower, that I feel are so worthy of being worked on and properly written out, which I then forget the minute the water goes off – so too do the amazing memories and experiences that we have, if we don’t record them in some way. Plus, it’s always fun to see things from a new perspective, or think my god, I was that retarded at that age?! and then feel like a better person a few years on, isn’t it?
Left: welcome to the neglected corner of my room, where I tend to stash the biggest, heftiest items (refer to multiple basses and hockey gear), which then gets in the way of me trying to reach my wardrobe.
Right: my wardrobe door, on which I stuck a pile of those whacky film photos taken in Japan (my heart melts!) and Taiwan.
Traces of last night.
Left: Chocolaaate + acrylics I used to paint my bedside table last night.
Right: The remains of the beer and cupcakes which the boy and I indulged in along with Boston Legal last night.
I’ve been meaning to post this ever since Christmas. She may not enjoy my documenting ways which entails (undisclosed) unflattering photos of us, but my special lady friend sure gave me an adorabubble Christmas present which she made herself! It graces a prime spot on my wall, of course.