Tonight I have been organizing my new del.icio.us account. I uploaded almost 400 links from my favorites list on my work computer, and I realized that a lot of them I had never looked at more than once. I spent the greater part of the last two days paring the list down and checking links, although I haven’t managed to check them all yet. But the interesting part of this, to me at least, is that I would spend that much time doing something like that. I diligently plowed through hundreds of links, changing tags, deleting links that either didn’t work or that I thought weren’t interesting, and carefully combing the list to make sure that everything was consistent and true. Why? I have only the vaguest idea.
It’s the same compulsion that affects me at home. I have over 400 DVDs, and they are organized alphabetically on shelves in my living room. Not only that, but I have an excel spreadsheet that lists not only the movie titles in my DVD collection, but also the directors, actors, actresses, dates of release, and genres for each movie. I have really agonized over the genres sometimes – for example, I have a lot of musicals that are also romantic comedies, so I give them both designations. But what about the musical Chicago? It’s a musical, but what else? A satire? A drama? Sometimes I’m just not sure.
My mind just works that way. Everything is subconsciously alphabetized in my brain. A lot of times I will try unsuccessfully to remember somebody’s name, or the name of a place, and I may offer up the wrong name. But 99% of the time, if the answer is wrong, it will have at least started with the correct letter, because my brain works alphabetically to retrieve information. I imagine that inside my head is a vast warehouse of file cabinets, and I hope that the files inside are neat and orderly. Crazy? Perhaps.
I’m sure that this is one of the reasons I became a librarian. Alberto Manguel, author of A History of Reading, says that librarians are the organizers of the universe. I believe I fit into that mold fairly well. But I’m not really proud of this tendency. I think it makes me too conservative, too hesitant to take risks, too boring and judgmental. I want to be a free thinker, a more creative writer, and a fun friend – and I’m not sure my obsessive-compulsive behaviors really help me to make and keep friends. They make me a pretty good Scrabble player, though!
One other thing that you may notice concerning my OCD behaviors – I will rarely, if ever, post a blog entry containing a misspelled word. If I do, please let me know. I’ll agonize over it until it can be fixed!