My New Master


My New Master

My New Master

My morning routine is pretty set in stone. I’ll save all the sad details for another time, but the last thing I do before leaving my house is sing to my kitchen appliances and household objects. This prevents them from causing me distraction later in the day.

Just to be clear, I don’t mean that I sing in the kitchen and an appliance happens to get in the way, I mean a full on serenade with specific words.

I start with the coffee maker. “You are turned off!” I sing to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I continue, “So don’t bother me later in the day, because you are definitely, clearly, totally turned off!”

The cat is used to it, but she does stare at me from the doorway, giving a “This guy is in charge of keeping me alive?” look. I don’t worry about it, though, since I have moved to the stove and God’s Gonna Cut you Down.

“Mr. Stove, your kill switch is down! Down. Down. Down.” And then the toasty maker, “You are unplugged!” and then the coffee grinder, “Off and unplugged, you too!” and then the dishwasher, “opened and off! Clear of water!” And after I’m out the door, “You have been locked.” And then I go.

You probably have some questions.

I think many of us live with obsessive tendencies. Whether you day-code your socks, count the holes in everyone’s head, or refuse to eat certain colored foods on certain days. Many of us have something. What makes it even more fun is that these tendencies are tailor-made for our own personal demons.

While these tendencies frustrate or embarrass us, for most of us it could be a lot worse. I know a woman who can’t leave the house without flicking each light switch on and off 30 times. Another guy can’t get on airplanes with the number 3 in its number. Another woman has to have all of her food on separate plates and then eats it using a very specific – and esoteric – ordering system.

Obviously singing to household objects is odd, but it’s a way for me to specifically remember turning off my kitchen appliances and locking the door. If I don’t serenade them, then a mile from my house I am struck with the question that will hassle me for the rest of the day – did I turn off the [enter appliance that will burn down my flat and cause my personal ruin here]?

I don’t know what the others deal with, but I like to have some sort of order or control over things. I can’t guarantee that a tram won’t break down, but I can be almost certain of arriving on time if I leave 2 hours early. Crazy as it sounds, it’s how I am able to free my mind from this sort of worry.

But let’s look at the advantages. Once I get something into my routine, it does not leave. It becomes an obsessive part of my daily ritual. While that might sound terrible (to those who are not ruled by the deity of obsession), it does help me get things done. Those things include a daily writing routine, a daily journal, and daily exercise. If one of these things don’t happen, it’s like an unreachable itch in the back of my brain.

When my neighbor showed me his fitbit (not a euphemism for penis), I was curiously amazed. A fitbit is unremarkable in appearance, a rubber, watch-like pedometer. Its job is to count your steps, monitor your sleep, your heart rate, and daily calories burned. When you reach 10,000 steps (about 4.4 miles) it rewards you by buzzing.

I knew immediately that this played directly into my obsessive wheelhouse. A daily quota of 10,000 steps and then a buzzy reward? Glorious. Also, 10 is my favorite obsessive number. Solid. Round. Sturdy. Even. Nothing makes my day like 10 people on a tram, a 10 word text message, or a box with 10 beautiful, red tomatoes. What can make a morning run better than touching the 10 light posts on my route, or a flight safer than the 10-word poem I’ve been reciting to every airplane I’ve boarded in the last 15 years. What can be better than October, the 10th month, of which I am a birth member. The fact that I am born on the 11th day is a burden I’ll carry to my grave. What can make a blog post better than rounding out perfectly divisible by 10? Nothing. So a goal of 10,000 steps is a gift from my obsessive deities. I Soon had a fitbit around my wrist. And just like that, 10,000 steps became another essential part of my daily routine.

A fitbit’s job is to make a person push themselves into more physical activity by making them cognizant of their steps and offering a reward for a goal. And fitbit is so good at this job it will soon be running companies. If I need extra steps to reach 10,000, I will get off the tram a few stops early (3,192 steps) or I’ll walk up the steps to my office (784 steps). If I get home in the early evening and I’m still short on steps, I might pace a great deal while making dinner, clean the flat, or come up with a flimsy excuse to run to the shop (2,435 steps away from my couch).

I have found that my new Master doesn’t reward me with a buzz at 10,000 steps, it punishes me with rubbery silence until I reach 10,000 steps. If I end up with 17,000 or 18,000 steps, I do force myself to get to 20,000. Round. Perfect. This is OK. I use the walking time mentally work on short stories, plan lessons, or listen to podcasts.

Hell, maybe I’ll use my walking time to come up with new songs for the kitchen appliances.

Anybody got a good obsession you’d like to share?

  1. #1 by ed on October 7, 2015 - 6:20 am

    I averaged over 30000 steps when we were moving. Now I pace the last thousand to get my 10. Do you check your sleep time?

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