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Predictions for the new year, OCD style

by Julia Kite

4th February 2006

It's the new year! I will take any excuse to celebrate, but I have always liked January 1st. Horrible clichés aside, it's the chance to start fresh, to slough off all the mistakes of the past twelve months and truly resolve to try harder this coming year. Yeah. Sure. If only that worked.
I wish I could count all the times I have told myself, that's it, I'm going to stop, I'm not going to maintain these silly thoughts and habits any longer. It doesn't have to be New Year for me to make a resolution - and break it ... but it's a great focus.

Like everyone else, I am curious as to what this year will bring to our world. On the other hand, I really don't want to know. When you think about it, 2005 was pretty horrible. We started off reeling from an unfathomable tsunami. The Iraq death toll climbed, earthquakes hit Pakistan, terrorism hit London, and hurricanes devastated the southern United States. Re-reading those headlines, it seems silly - no, it seems absolutely ridiculous - for me to try to guess what will happen between this January and the next. But just because it's silly, doesn't mean I'm not going to do it.

So in honour of a brand new year, and to commemorate the faulty reasoning so often seen in obsessive-compulsive disorder, here are Magical Thinking Julia's predictions for 2006.

Prediction 1: The world's population will not be decimated by an avian influenza outbreak

It's taken a lot of nerve for me to actually write that sentence. I don't have access to any top-secret information, nor have the pigeons been telling me anything, but I still feel reasonably sure about this. Several months ago, government and media started scaring us. I reckon that if anything catastrophic was going to happen in the UK, it would have gone beyond one dead parrot in an Essex quarantine centre by now. Wouldn't it?

Of course, I've now gone and scared myself. Knowing my luck, it will happen after all. I do watch the news. A global pandemic. Mass hysteria. I really shouldn't think about this, knowing my propensity to worry about every slightest possibility. So if it turns out I'm wrong, there will be no need to punish me - trust me, I'll be doing that to myself!

Prediction 2: My kitchen is not going to clean itself

Down to earth with home stuff now, and I need to give you a little background on this: I share a flat with four other people in Yew York, and I'm currently taking a university course. None of us are particularly tidy (although if I had that type of OCD, it might actually serve a useful purpose instead of just making me anxious all the time). Our kitchen in particular has taken the brunt of the abuse - just last week, while attempting to make cheesy nachos in the oven, we set the thing on fire. Fortunately, one of my flatmates grabbed the fire extinguisher before the smoke alarm noticed.

Thankfully there was no lasting damage, but we now have an oven full of chemical foam. Naturally, I don't want to touch the stuff. I would rather just not use the kitchen, but this can't continue. Eventually, someone is going to have to mop the cooker, pick the ever-present eggshells off the floor, and figure out how to deal with the cheesy reek emanating from the refrigerator. To be fair to me, the mess is not really mine. I honestly don't use the kitchen much, and it's not my leftover tuna and spaghetti clogging the plughole.

I know that just about every surface is teeming with germs. It's mortifying. Still, communal living, by necessity, involves taking care of things for which you were not responsible. You make sacrifices for one another because, after all, when it comes time for the university housing office to make damage assessments, we're all in this together. In short, I am going to have to just deal with it. Furthermore, I want to enjoy living in every square inch of this flat, not just the safe zone of my bedroom.

My New Year's resolution: I will buy rubber gloves. I will wear nose plugs if necessary. I WILL MAKE THIS KITCHEN HABITABLE. Someday.

Prediction 3: The US and UK will still be in Iraq in January 2007

How can anyone not be constantly thinking about the Iraq situation and how it is going to come back to haunt us here at home forever? Remember back in May 2003 when George Bush declared the war was over? Well, to put this in perspective, I was in my last year of secondary school at the time. I am now looking for employment prospects for when I graduate from university.

Things were a lot different back in secondary school, when I lived in Chicago and obsessively worried that our Sears Tower - formerly the tallest building in the world - would be the next terrorist target. I acknowledge that terrorism is still a very real threat, but now, in January 2006, I can sleep at night. I attribute this to a healthy diet of cursing out the radio whenever George Bush invokes September 11th to rationalise yet another questionable policy.

I fully expect that the city in which I now live will be hit by terrorism again. When? I have no idea, and quite frankly I don't want to think about it. But for my sake there's no use in losing any more sleep wondering.

I'm guessing that by this point, you're not too keen on hiring Magical Thinking Julia for your next office party. Congratulations! You've learned something about obsessive-compulsive disorder that has eluded me for years: just because I say it, does not necessarily mean it will happen. Which is a good thing ... or is it? Oh my God, not again ...

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