I have only watched five minutes of the movie American Psycho and it is the opening scene when Patrick Bateman is going about his intense beauty regimen. “Wow,” I thought to myself as I watched it, “This man has a fabulous morning routine.”
Like Patrick, I have a deep and unconditional, near biological, love for routine. In fact, my love for routine is rivaled only by the routines within that general outline of a routine.
My morning routine is a carefully calibrated amalgamation of smaller routines. My toothbrushing methodology, once taught to me by the dentist in year two and never forgotten. My practiced mode of tea production and consumption through which I have developed an unrivaled ability to consume near-boiling liquids. My religious sunscreen application to make any Korean woman proud.
Even while not working and without any meaningful agenda in my day-to-day life, my devotion to routine is still a steadfast companion to my boredom. Having found myself unable to wake up past 6 am, I now unashamedly set an alarm for 5:30 am. At 5:20 am, my body automatically wakes up. Between then and 5:30 am, I have a somewhat unsettling minute-by-minute task list in my head. I don’t write it down because that would be concerning but if I’m slightly derailed, say, by two minutes, this is even more concerning.
When I moved out of my parents’ house a few years ago, I had even more free reign to embrace my regimented nature. Without pesky parents to throw spontaneity in the mix, I got to eat the exact same meals every day for almost a year. Breakfast was the same for a year and lunch too. I changed my dinner quarterly or thereabouts when I started feeling the judgment of those less routine-driven than myself.
You can imagine that this lifestyle does not lend itself way to socialization. When you socialize you have to interact with other human beings who perhaps do not share the same routine as you. Maybe they don’t eat the exact same thing for lunch every single day. This is a huge spanner and it is frequently thrown into the works. I’ve learned to deal with it by way of begrudging tolerance.
Working overtime doesn’t perturb me because of a matter of principles or because it encroaches on time for socializing or so-called “me time”. It perturbs me because it encroaches on my routine. I don’t rely on public transport or bus timetables anymore but the traffic at 5 pm is very different to the traffic at 5:25 pm. Being 25 minutes late to leave work can have catastrophic effects on my evening routine. I will frequently spend the whole drive home wondering how I can make up for these 25 minutes of lost time. Which tasks can have a minute shaved down here or there so I can roll into bed at the same time as initially planned, ready, and waiting to spring out of bed at 5:30 am exactly.
I know this is largely just a mental or intellectual matter but I also have reason to believe that my body on a chemical level is increasingly reliant on routine. I suspect I’ve become deconditioned to dealing with change because if I’m out of whack, I can be taken down with stomach cramps or a headache for a whole afternoon, constipation, dry skin, halitosis, you name it. 20mL less than my daily allotted water allowance and I could be dry as a desert, kidneys going into failure and wondering where it all went wrong.
With society’s expectations of me as a woman in her twenties looming over me, I have of course conceded to the occasional disruption to my routine. But looking forward to the future, I patiently await my time to shine. Sitting in a nursing home, with the clock striking 11 am. Ah, time for a cup of tea. Then I will finally breathe a sigh of relief.