“How many times do you check things?” I asked a group of my colleagues about ten years ago, other Executive Directors of state domestic and sexual violence coalitions. We went around the table, out for dinner after a day of meetings. One friend talked about the 79 potted plants on her porch that she needs to water every day in the summer, making sure she gets to them all. Everyone double, triple, quadruple-checked something — sums on budgets, spreadsheets, brochures about to go to print, sensitive emails. I checked that my medication was in my luggage at least three times before I would get on a plane.
“How much checking is OCD, and how much is what makes us good at our jobs?” I asked.
I still don’t know the answer to that, but Saturday night, after hours of eating and drinking with a group of these old friends, the topic of checking and keeping track came up, different but related habits. One of my friends keeps a log book of her bike rides. Another wears a FitBit and makes sure she walks 10,000 steps at least six days a week. I write down my exercise every day in my calendar, and apparently have been back to 1988, as I can see in the old, spiral bound Note-a-Date Weekly Business Appointments for that year. I had my old calendars out, considering whether to dump them in the process of rearranging my study — they take up a lot of shelf space (though far less than all my journals, which is another whole story). But tracking exercise isn’t so uncommon — I have numerous friends who record their daily workouts and some compare what they’ve done each day against what they did a year ago.
Then the topic of tracking periods came up and I remembered I did that from my late teens until well in to my 40’s. In the 1985 date book I found small back-of-the-book calendars from 1983, 1984 and 1985 taped to the inside back cover. The dates of my periods are circled, as they are in all of the date books. Tucked in to 1985 is a piece of paper that graphs my basal body temperature and the quantity and consistency of my cervical mucus for the month of June. Tracking my fertility cycles. After the beginning of June there are no more circles in the 1985 calendar.
Sam was born in March 1986.