Sunday, April 25, 2010

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Another impediment to blogging: I have a touch of OCD.

My hands look like the Wicked Witch of the West because I’ve washed them a few too many times in this life, but [bxA] I’m not totally debilitated by these obsessions and compulsions. It’s not like I’m flipping the light switch on and off a hundred times a day (because eeewwww…do you know how many people touch a light switch?)

My unhealthy fixations are primarily on two things: chronology of events and music. Neither of these obsessions has any intellectual or culturally fascinating slant.

Damascus (Aug ‘09) – Dan Brown books purchased by our host’s sister – numerous copies for the women in the family to read.

Years ago I read the DaVinci Code and recognized instantly that the author is obsessive compulsive but with the artistic genius to turn fact accumulation and regurgitation into suspense fiction. This is a gift I do not possess.

My OCD is pure straight-up boring. I make timelines and lists.

For example, last August Alyssa and I did a couch-surf stint in Damascus, Syria...

Beirut, Lebanon (Jun ’09) - Memorial on street median marking the spot where explosives struck Rafik Hariri’s motorcade (blue billboard in the background depicts Rafik Hariri; 'Stop Solidere' poster protesting Hariri’s real estate development company hangs on the abandoned St. George Hotel).

We were in the thick of the story of Lebanon with its various factions of Christians, Shiites, Sunnis, Druze and Alawites, the June elections, the formation of parliament, the international criminal tribunal that could link Syria to the assassination of PM Rafik Hariri on Valentine’s Day 2005, which ended Syria’s 30-year occupation of Lebanon.

Damascus (Aug ’09) – magazine our host bought for his mother on our way to her house.

Tension between Syria and Lebanon was palpable and it was Obama’s first year in office.

Lebanon & Syria (Summer ’09) – Lebanon PM Saad Hariri; Syria President Bashar al-Assad

On the hours long bus ride from Beirut to Damascus we had watched posters of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri give way to posters of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Each of these guys is heir to the throne of his father – with public pressure on Saad, who turned forty last week, to be as good as his father, and public pressure on Bashar, 44, to be not-as-bad as his father. I wish someone would write each of their personal stories as a feature length article in Vanity Fair.

Our couch-surfer host in Damascus had put us up in a rarely-used office over a textile factory in the south side of the city far away from any travelers.
Damascus, Syria (Aug '09)– building where we stayed in the office over a textile factory.

After we feasted with his wife, two sisters and two young daughters, he took us on a long drive up a dark hill where locals park along the roadside to stare into the city lights down below. He told us great stories about being a commercial pilot for the national airline, how he paid 300% tax to have his dream BMW imported into the country, and what it’s like living in a country with a closed economy and limitations on expression, including the banning of Facebook.
Damascus at night. Syria (Aug ’09)

All the while, I sat alone in the backseat of his dream car, totally mesmerized not only by the string of songs playing on his car stereo, but the fact that every song was a live recording. I quietly fumbled around in my bag for pen and paper to scribble nearly illegibly in the darkness:

Songs* Playing in Couch Surfer Host’s Car on a Nighttime Drive
through Damascus, Syria (August 2009)

Tears in Heaven, Eric Clapton
Ironic, Alanis Morissette
Losing My Religion, R.E.M.
Strong Enough, Sheryl Crowe
Are You Gonna Go My Way, Lenny Kravitz
Gallow’s Pole, Led Zeppelin
Summer of ’69, Brian Adams
Mrs. Robinson, Simon & Garfunkel
Here Comes the Rain Again, The Eurhythmics
Tonight’s the Night, Rod Stewart
Linger, the Cranberries

*All songs were live versions – this is extremely relevant in OCD Land.


assie said...

you forgot to mention the Emirates Music list ...

wheelo said...

wow. this takes me matt's backyard. you whipping out a napkin and making tiffany and i remember everywhere we've ever lived and worked. you're such a quirky little pill. i miss you much.