Out of Order

The title of this blog is “Abby Has Issues,” and a bunch of my issues revolve around my OCD. While there are serious things that go along with it, a lot of them are what I consider to just be annoyingly quirky, no doubt adding to the charm that I ooze out of my various bodily cavities.


When I get stressed, my anxiety relief takes the form of (over) exercise, cleaning and brushing my teeth. Don’t ask. And not surprisingly, I tend to crave order, organization and keeping things to a minimum—whether it’s in my house or on my computer.

For instance, I would Tweet much more than I do if The Twitter didn’t keep a running total of how many tweets I’ve put out there. The higher the number gets, the more I want to go back into the past and delete until the number is reduced to something more manageable.

When it comes to email, I have an anxiety attack that can only be cured with an episode of “The Soup” and wine from a box when I hear people say they have 300 unread messages in their inbox.

Even though I have four email addresses for work, my inbox never has more than 10 emails. I’m pretty sure anything over that would trigger some sort of catastrophic destruction, so as soon as they come in, I open them and then organize/delete as necessary.

Email in Inbox

(When we have an email blast and I get 50 “Out of office” replies in 10 minutes, it’s like a manic game of Whac-A-Mole between the emails popping up and me deleting them.)

Let’s move on.

At any rate, I like things neat and tidy and have been known to straighten out hangers and items on store shelves as I walk by, pull weeds in other people’s yards as I pass and if I visit your house, I will make sure the toilet paper roll is properly placed—over is right, under is wrong—and then knock you off the pedestal I might have placed you on.

But my actual order of operations is screwed up in other areas, and it seems no matter how many times I try and get it right, I still end up out of order.

For instance:

  • I will get dressed, spray perfume and then proceed to walk directly into the sprayed perfume with my mouth open. Approximately 1.6 minutes later, I will decide that I don’t in fact want to wear that shirt (that now smells good), change my shirt, spray perfume and repeat the neurotic, yet fragrant, process.
  • I will also put chapstick on before taking a drink of something, and although I wash my water bottles and cups, it’s a) a waste of chapstick and b) not enjoyable to have chapstick-flavored water.
  • Whenever I clean my shower, I only remember to ventilate after unicorns and bottles of shampoo start talking to me. In other words, open a window before you enclose yourself in a small space with noxious cleaning fumes. 
  • This won’t come as a shock, but I wash my hands a lot. However, I often decide that I have to wash my hands after I put lotion on them—not because of the lotion, but because of something else—which starts a vicious cycle. Not only that, but I will put lotion on before I have to open a jar or a door, wash dishes, handle my food or get something out of my eye.

Seeing as I would like to cleanly wrap this up, I’ll just leave you with those examples and encourage you to line up single file and share your own.

What do you repeatedly do “out of order?”

And just because I want to know your take on this one, do you vacuum and then dust or dust and then vacuum?

This is very important to know.

34 responses to “Out of Order

  1. I wash my hands before peeing all the time, which is extra annoying because I hate washing my hands and the only time I really feel that I have to wash them is after I use the restroom (or before I cook for other people).

  2. Kacy, I do the same thing! I’ve always been so religious about washing my hands – I do it both before and after the potty, when I come home, and before I leave (among other times).

    Sometimes if I forget to floss I’ll do it after I brush. Does that count?

    • I totally do that, too! If you think about it, don’t you want clean hands before you use your hands to finish the urination experience? As for flossing, I do floss, brush and then wash my hands (if I remember to floss.)

  3. Dust and then vacuum.
    Except when I am vacuuming and notice dust. Then I must cease with the vacuum and dust. Then vacuum again. Hence I try and refrain from noticing dust whilst vacuuming. Work in progress.

    Because the dust kind of goes on the carpet no mater what, right?

    Sort of Unrelated but you might appreciate this tip I found about dusting the fans and using a pillowcase:

  4. What a relief! I thought I was the only one who was ummm…very orderly with their email in box! How can people stand having 300 unread emails?? For work, I must be able to see all on one page – if I have to scroll to find it, there are too many! And it can’t be 13 – it can be 12 or 14 or 27 but not 13…anywhere.. So glad I’m not the only one.

    • I shit you not, I worked with an older gentleman who literally had something like 10,000 emails in his mail (and clipped his nails in his office, but that’s a whole different issue.) They had to make him clean the thing out because it sapped all the energy from the global grid or something. He’s probably still doing it…

  5. What are you like watching the Tigers & Wings play? My anxiety disorder si through the roof when my teams are at it.

    Did you like the band New Order?

    I relate to all of this. While I’m not obsessive complusive, I’m obsessive. I know that feeling of mind racing and heart pounding.

    • I don’t ever get the mind racing/heart pounding thing, as that’s a bit more “anxiety” than compulsive or obsessive (when it comes to me.) However, I do get anxious when I can’t engage in a compulsion or stop an obsessive mindset, if that makes sense (probably not.) As for sports, I’m really not psycho when the game is on. I tend to go on a cleaning or baking spree if I have time (on the weekends) and my mom is the same way. She cooks up feasts during any sporting event. Anyway, I find my sports to relieve some of that anxiety 😉

  6. I’m a freak about the inbox! I don’t hold to 10 but it cannot be more than one page- no scrolling for new email.

    Uh, hello? You dust first because despite however great a job you’ve done there are some dust/dirt particles that will float down- and get taken care of by the vacuum. Clean from top to bottom.

  7. Dust.

    You are adorable and hilarious Abby. I would like to know, what perfume do you wear? Unicorns talk to you!? I also need to know, what cleaning supplies you use!!!

    What do I do out of order? I eat breakfast before bed. Sometimes I do my crosswords out of order. Like, I’ll go through all the across first and then all the down…but the next crossword I might jumble around! I know, I’m crazy like that. Actually though, it is one of my “rules” so I don’t fall into obsessive patterns. I’m totally serious. I use my crosswords as an OCD awareness practice.

    • I think my perfume issues are post in and of themselves, but my “fancy” perfume is Clinique “Happy” or “Happy Heart.” However, I also have four or five Victoria’s Secret sprays of different scents hanging around as well. As for cleaning supplies, just the basics. Nothing fancy.

      This will sound weird, but I actually use crosswords as a “tool” in a certain way as well. I used to never get them done because I would doubt that I knew what I was doing, but when I started doing them in pen and just going with my gut, I gained confidence. I know that sounds weird and it’s a basic thing, but it kind of served as a reminder that I should have more confidence in what I do, even if it’s just a puzzle.

  8. Dust first. Always. And from top to bottom (of a room, or piece of furniture, or whatever). Also, I try reeeeealllly hard to leave the lotion on my hands, but I feel like it’s literally attracting germs, like those swiffer commercials (just a strain of SARS, hangin’ at the corner of J and K…UNTIL YOU TYPE, THEN IMMEDIATELY SNEEZE AND WIPE YOUR NOSE AND OHHHHH SCHNAPP START THE CLOCK YOU’RE DYING!!!). So then I wash it off. So between washing my hands all the time, and my inability to keep lotion on them, they look like they were cut off of a 52-year-old cadaver and attached to my arms.

    Also, because I’m more scared of superbugs than normal germs, but still petrified of normal germs, I have quite the love-hate relationship with triclosan and other “antibacterials” (that really only kill off normal, baby staph and other low-hanging fruit, lightly bruise viruses at most, and make fungal spores giggle). BUT THEN I REMEMBERED ALCOHOL? know why hand sanitizer dries out your hands so bad? because it’s basically killing off the surface cells OF YOUR SKIN – because it basically KILLS EVERYTHING. Know what else? It dries SUPER fast, and it leaves virtually no odor behind once it’s dry. (This is foreshadowing).

    So now, my years-long conundrum regarding how to really keep my mattress “safe” to sleep on without sleeping on a pee protector is to keep a squirty bottle, like those used to discipline dogs, full of straight-up 70% isopropyl alcohol in my cleaning arsenal, and essentially “febreeze” my mattress with THAT. Whenever I want. Whenever I think maybe there’s some eensy little microbe in the vicinity that HAD. IT. COMING. Boom. Suck on THAT, microscopic mites. (Oh Christ, now I’m thinking about mites…)

  9. Dust. Then vacuum.
    I have a specific routine for putting on my make up. Once in a while I will change it up just to entice my creativity. But that’s rare and usually when I have PMS.
    I’m also somewhat obsessed with brushing my teeth. In fact, when I read your comment about brushing your teeth, I had to get up and do it. I used cinnamon flavor tonight.

    • I don’t wear much makeup, but I do have the same routine for what I wear. Speaking of which, I used to put on makeup and then get dressed, in case I got makeup on my clothes. Then I switched, as I ended up getting makeup on my clothes when I put them on. Solution? Don’t wear makeup.

  10. Wash my hands and then go to the bathroom.
    E-mail before work. Then if another message pops up I have to look at that too!

  11. Perhaps ingesting toxic perfume and inhaling noxious cleaning supplies creates or enhances OCD? If you’ve been doing it all your life then it is possible, isn’t it? After all, studies have shown that taking magic mushrooms just once in your life can change your brain function for the rest of your life & enhance creativity.

    • You bring up an interesting point, Mr. Lakeman. However, I think that my OCD actually started when I ingested noxious fumes at a place called “The Ass House” during my college years. And while I do love mushrooms and add them to my meals whenever possible, I have yet to experiment with the magical variety. Perhaps now I have weekend plans!

  12. I’m one of those “wash hands, then pee” kind of girls. It infuriates me when I do it.

  13. Over on the toilet paper is always right. I usually dust first with a wet rag. Not dry that just moves it around. Then vacuum. My bathroom doesn’t have a window. Drives me nuts. I clean with baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice & elbow grease. It’s not the cleaning chemicals I worry about, it’s the heavy metals, etc. In Pittsburghs public water. It must turn into some noxious steam when I take a hot shower. I just know it.

    For a while there, I was giving my kid a bath and then feeding him. I’m a genius.

  14. I always put lotion on my hands and then realize I need to go to the bathroom, which causes two issues: one, I need to open the bathroom door with my now greasy hands, and two, I will now be washing my hands which will necessitate lotion re-application. It’s a never-ending, vicious cycle.

  15. Only thing worse that unread emails: un-clicked facebook notifications. When people want to show me something on their facebook and they have the little red icons up at the top (sometimes indicating massive amounts of messages, etc!) I honestly just can not pay attention.

  16. Hi Abby, thankyou for a very interesting post that I can truly relate to! I have had issues with anxiety and depression for most of my life, and along with that comes a very rigid level of OCD…Mine is all about order and symmetry, so I totally understand your urge to straighten things and keep your email account at a good number, etc ~ and yes, the toilet roll has to be over, like you said! This also interferes with eating and food for me…I am obsessed with numbers and weights, whether that is on the scales for me, or the food, lol! It is very pervasive… I just recently wrote a post last week about OCD myself…So, thankyou ~ it is reassuring to know of someone else who understands :o)

    • I’ve written many posts about how the OCD manifests itself through my food and overexercise, so I can relate 100 percent. While I choose not to write about that aspect of things much anymore, it’s still there. My point is I understand, and you know what? We’re not crazy. We’re simply quirky and working on those quirks to be healthier and happier versions of ourselves. 😉

  17. Pet the cat and then rub your eyes. Thoroughly wash eyes and hands. Repeat.

  18. No one emails me so I don’t have that problem. My thing is my bed ALWAYS has to be made. I get up, make my bed, then go about my business. If I lay on top of it for a few hours, I’ll remake the whole thing again. Straight hospital sheets for this girl.

  19. i absolutely dust then vacuum. i also do every single one of the other things you listed. i shower in order -top to bottom- in exactly the same way every single time. and just so ya know, over IS right, so feel free to drop in any time. xo

  20. I don’t do the vacuuming yet- (I’m merely a teen who’s mama loves chores 😉 But I’m pretty sure I would dust, vacuum, dust…but then wouldn’t dusting create a need to vaccum?- so I’d probably dust and then vacuum again and then GRRRR I get what your saying here :S

    Sadly…I read/delete/write emails via ipod, my online account dosnt process this so I have over 300emails untouched online…I don’t mind too much since my iPod is squeaky clean.
    Though I don’t have OCD- my little sister does. She reads emails, replies to email. Delete email. Delete sent mail. Delete deleted mail.
    She won’t leave that computer till her email account is EMPTY of ANYTHING!!!

    And as to my weird habits…well I am a junky. A real hoarder, who hates to clean- in general. But every month or so I get this massive panic attack where I empty everything  and CLEAN EVERYTHING until I flop down defeatedly in exuastion. It really stresses me out- big time 😥 

  21. I vacuum, then dust. I never gave it much thought, but then I was informed that that is the proper order. Also, when I actually do my hair, I do it first and then my makeup, which usually results in black eyeliner in my not-black bangs.

  22. I’m gonna pretend your list is very weird because I don’t do these things at all. *nodding because actually, yes, I do do most of these*

  23. I have many of the same problems. small things like emails, or cups or folding of towels will drive me insane unless fixed and in the proper way. often I can’t have someone help because I stress and stare at them if they’re doing it wrong, then wait until they leave the room and fix it the way i need it. as for the vacuum/dust issue I vacuum first then dust. I don’t care if the dust goes on the carpet, but I can sure see it on the furniture!!

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