Random blog-like rambling from Rachel's brain. A mixed up mess of usability posts, fiction, and travel.


polyonymous - \pah-lee-AH-nuh-mus\

Adjective: having or known by various names

The Man Who Kept Lists

John had taken a psychology class during his brief experiment as a college student. The only thing he truly recalls was a textbook description of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

"mental disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce anxiety, by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety, or by a combination of such thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions)."

He recalls writing this down in his yellow notebook. He circled a later part that read:

"these symptoms can often be time consuming and alienating"

He had underlined "alienating" three times with his ball point pen. He always uses ball point pens.

He mostly recalls this definition when he finds himself once again filling the pages of yet another yellow notebook with yet another list of things. John does not know precisely why he keeps thinking of this definition or what it has to do with the lists. Lists, he will be the first to tell you, are important. They put the world, so disordered naturally, into something graspable. 

Today John is writing a list of names. 

1. Weirdo

The young woman behind the deli counter at the Harris Teeter always calls John "weirdo". He wonders if he is ordering unusual meat products. He does all he can to make her job easier. He brings with him a crisp sheet of paper with the items he needs written out, numbered and explained. I.E: "1.3 pounds lean hamburger meat. Purpose: hamburger helper meal + extra for possible additional cheeseburger at later date". She always laughs when she says it. He thinks it might even be somewhat of an endearment. 


2. Genius

The technical definition of a genius is having an IQ over 180. John has an IQ of precisely 182. He remembers the guidance counselor at his high school staring down at the results of the test, befuddled. John never got terribly good grades after all. He is relatively sure that the numbers do not make him anything more than that. A number. 

3. Fuck Up

John often gets absorbed in tasks that were not technically something his manager wanted him to do. They need to be done, so John thinks, and he has tried to explain this once or twice. The result is usually that his manager's face grows an unsightly shade of red and John is a fuck up. This is occasionally troubling. His mother once told him that this was not a word for "polite company". John makes a note on a blue post-it and tucks it in a book. 

"Manager != Polite Company"

4. Autistic

John was diagnosed late in life and the word that has come to define him still leaves him uncertain. Having a name does not always change things.

5. Sweetheart

He tends to not like it when people touch him. The only person in the known universe who has ever gotten away with hugs has been his mother. When John was little she would pull him to her and he would squirm around in her arms. She would whisper in his ear "just for a moment, sweetheart, just for a moment". He would still then and count slowly to five. When he reached four, she would tighten her arms a little and then release him. He'd shoot across the room and bury himself in his legos. From the corner of his eye he could see her smiling at him, gently. 

He knows certainly that this is an endearment.