Monday, January 12, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Obsessive Compulsive Order, OR, Love You, Deirdre

Husna Selznick suffers from many conflicts. She is a second-generation Pakistani immigrant that married a Russian Jew, a publishing agent that constantly tries to sell Literary novels to her contacts at big agencies, and a pork-lover that cooks Kosher for family. These conflicts, she says, are “arbitrary amusements” in the face of the one thing that has truly pursued her. Some call it Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, though if you mention the complex to her she will correct.

“It’s Obsessive Compulsive Order,” Husna says in her living room, minutes after vacuuming over the steps my socks made in her carpet. “I obsess. I am compelled. But I am obsessively compelled to order, and I know exactly what I’m doing.”

She has a series of hooks for brooms, moops, vacuums and steam devices on the back one of closet door to prove it.

Husna was diagnosed with OCD some twenty years ago. In her first series of treatments she realized much of her disorder was intentional.

“I liked things being clean. My compulsions were mostly conscious,” she explains. “Even when I was bitchy down on my knees re-grouting the kitchen, I was happier than I was thinking about fighting with Papa or figuring out credit bills. The funny thing was that afterwards all the stress was gone and I could react reasonably. Plus I actually felt happy. There’s a buzz to order.”

Aaron Selznick, Husna’s husband, adds, “Beats Zoloft.”

Aaron does not suffer from OCD or OCO, but claims to sympathize with it thanks to a life in Accounting. He likens her perfectly aligned series of clay doves on the living room windowsills (which she attended to twice during the interview) to the squeeze toy in his desk.

“When I get worked up over something, he tips something over,” she says, eyeing a part of the floor that looks as clean as any other part to the mortal eye.

During the interview Aaron, her husband, explained that she’d been very nervous to meet me and have a photo printed. When she got too nervous he simply squirted a little ketchup on the floor. When Husna was through yelling at him and scrubbing it, she didn’t feel any anxiety. They spent the rest of the night watching Monk.

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