Sunday, 31 July 2011

Mayhaps you desire to — SQUIRREL!

Continuing the 2011 theme of Get Your Shit Together, Heather, I attended an ADHD workshop last weekend. I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was five, and to my parents credit they forewent Ritalin for my tiny body and decided to try some other techniques to help me cope. In the ‘80s, of course, there was no Google, but the guidance counselor gave them a pamphlet called DEALING WITH DIFFICULT CHILDREN, and page one suggested sports to help exhaust a difficult child’s body and calm her mind.

Getting me into athletics was the best decision my parents ever made. Sports are the only thing in my life I’ve ever been naturally good at. Playing them gave me confidence. And a reason to pass my classes. And, yeah, it kept my mind in better check than it would have been running willy-nilly, wild and free.

In my adult life, once Google was available, I developed an ADHD action plan and went on Ritilan. Over the course of a decade, I was as stable as stable can be, ADHD-wise. I mean, there were things that I struggled with: drifting off into elaborate daydreams, losing important stuff, not being able to focus without complete silence or white noise, and generally being super unorganized. But lassoing my brain was a lot easier. The problem with Ritilan was that it clouded my creativity. On it, I could have one creative idea a week, and tackle that creative idea to completion. Off it -- I accidentally discovered -- I could have a million creative ideas a day.

Actually, honestly, off of Ritilan, there was no limit to my creativity. Reading, writing, photography, Photoshopping, painting, drawing: I couldn’t be stopped. I wasn’t a professional or anything, but I knew I had the capacity to be competent at ALL of those things if I just worked really hard at it. So, after talking it over with Amy and my sister, I came off the Ritilan to try to really tap into the non-accounting part of my brain.

I had a plan in place to keep myself from going on some kind of manic overload, and the plan worked. I had an 8 to 5 job. I had standing exercise, education and social plans. My life was clockwork, and part of that clockwork was my writing time. I wrote for a certain number of hours a day, and got better and better and better at it; and then one day, like magic, I got offered a gig writing. And that gig turned into more gigs which turned into more gigs which turned into more gigs. Before I realized what was happening, I was writing full time.

And that’s when my ADHD started going haywire.

I wasn’t prepared, in any way, to become a full-time writer. I wasn’t qualified, skill-wise. I had no idea that actual writing is only about 35 percent of being a full-time writer. I didn’t realize how much time would go into marketing myself and building my brand and interacting on social media and all that stuff that’s kind of necessary in the new world order. I didn’t know how much time I’d spend photo editing and researching and pitching and getting the shit kicked out of me by readers and networking and responding to emails and all that other time-chomping stuff. And, of course, I didn’t know it was going to make my ADHD go berzerk.

Things that are so simple for normal people -- returning phone calls, putting keys on the key hook, transferring clothes from the hamper to the washing machine, focusing without a box fan nearby, mailing birthday cards on time, remembering to eat -- have always been tough for me. But after I started writing full-time, they became fucking impossible.

The act of writing is so satisfying to me that it makes my internal dopamine production go absolutely batshit crazy. So it was just full-on: idea! create! dopamine! idea! create! dopamine! idea! create! dopamine! idea! create! dopamine! for who knows how many hours a day, for who knows how many days a month. It was pretty much constant, and pretty much an addiction.

Living with ADHD is tricky, but having a relationship with someone with ADHD -- especially when it is unchecked like mine has been for the past three years -- is infuriating. My parents used to exhaust themselves insisting that I just needed to try harder. Try harder not to lose my shit. Try harder to keep my room clean. Try harder to get places on time. Try harder to do my damn homework. It was worse, I think, because I didn’t have trouble with certain parts of those problems. I never lost my favorite books. I was never late to basketball practice. I never missed a history assignment. It was like, you know, “You only remember the things you care about remembering!” But that wasn’t true. I earnestly agreed that I needed to/would try harder, but no matter how hard I tried to try harder, I just couldn’t be better at those things.

I think that’s probably what it’s like to love someone with unchecked ADHD, too. Try harder to remember our anniversary. Try harder to return my emails. Try harder not to get so fucking hyper-focused on your career that everything else becomes peripheral or invisible. It’s like, “If you loved me, you’d do this and this and this.” And I’m like, “Well, that can’t be true, because I don’t do that and that and that, and I can feel in my heart how deeply I love you.” And it’s just like when I was in high school: I want to do that and that and that, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t try hard enough to make it happen.

I think, deep down inside, I really have always thought -- maybe because I’ve heard it so much -- that it was an issue of me not caring enough. But it’s not. It’s just not.

Here’s what I’ve learned as I’ve started trying to solve some of my ADHD conundrums: I -- I, not my online persona -- am very loved by very many people. People who are willing to give me more grace and space than I could ever hope to deserve. It’s shocking, kind of. And freeing too. And I’ve also learned that I’m capable of managing this thing. I’m always going to struggle. I’m always going to daydream. I’m always going to mail Christmas presents late. I’m always going to lose my phone, my keys, my debit card. I'm always going to get sidetracked on Twitter instead of responding to texts. I'm always going to let myself get swallowed up by my own imagination.

But I can own that and not let my ADHD own me.

I’m gonna make it as a writer. And I’m gonna make it as a friend. And one day, I’m gonna throw a Hogwarts-themed party where those two things collide: My book and my best mates, thriving in the same space.

Of course it's happening inside my head, but why on earth should it mean that it is not real?

Thursday, 28 July 2011

All the wine is all for me.

When I get nervous, I do this:

Naw, just kidding. Truth is, I can't even remember the last time I was for real nervous, not when I interviewed for jobs after graduation, not when I took the bar, not when I started law school, not the last time I went on any first dates however long ago that was. I don't get nervous on planes, I don't get nervous on trains, I don't get nervous in automobiles. Public speaking's a breeze and so is just about everything really, especially when you don't give a crap what people think about you. So what's left to be nervous about?

Completely inconsequential stuff, that's what. Like sports. I get very, very nervous on behalf of athletes. And when I get nervous very, very nervous on behalf of athletes, I drink a beer. And then another beer. And then I end up doing this:

Or this even:

Who is this? I HAVE NO IDEA!

I also get nervous for fictional characters. Whether they be on screen or in print, I get very, very nervous for them. And when I get very, very nervous for them, I make a cocktail. And then another cocktail.

And then I pass out on the couch and miss the end of whatever it was I was watching/reading.

That seems to take care of the nerves.

knope problem

AbsIt takes an awful lot to make me nervous. Since I'm a control freak, I'm either in control (literally or mentally) or I'm (mentally) off the deep end. There's no butterfly emotion in between those two sensations. I'm either peacefully neurotic or crumpled in tears.

The last time I remember being nervous? On a first date.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Why so serious?

When I get nervous, I grin. Not like a sheepish grin. Not even like a full-on smile. But like one of those grins you'd expect to see right before a psychotic clown murders you to death. It would be unnerving on the best day, but I only get really, really nervous I'm: at a hospital, at a funeral home, delivering bad news, or having an argument. So, you know, it's like fifty-bajillion times worse. I can't stop my grin. I try. I've tried for as long as I've been alive. When I try to stop it, I just look like an insane clown who is also biting her lips with all her teeth. Like the kind of person who got towed away in a straight jacket and treated with electroshock therapy at the Asylum for Loons in the olden (Beauty and the Beast) days.

Actually. Yes.

It's this.

But you're, like, in a hospital bed or whatever, and so it makes you feel like this.

Just another reason I shouldn't be let out of the house.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

clear eyes, full hearts

Jennie There are some TV shows, some movies, some books, that, when I watch or read them, I feel like I'm hanging out with friends. This is the only explanation I can give for how ridiculously sad I get when the show (book, movie, whatever) is over. I grow attached to these people like they're my BFFs, so when the series finale ends, when Harry, Hermione, and Ron are done fighting and have settled into peaceful, normal lives, when all the Losties are sitting in Heaven's Waiting Room or whatever, I miss them. Like they're real people. I know it's unhealthy, but it works for me, so shut up.

I also have this feeling that, even though the show or book is over, all of my old friends are hanging out without me. They're having adventures and I'm not a part of them. Mostly I'm just nosy and want to know what's going on with everyone always.

This week's topic is "what's the last movie/TV show/book that made you tear up" and I hesitate to even write about this show because Friday Night Lights doesn't just make me tear up, it makes me cry like someone punched me in the grief bone. Just thinking about the show makes my heart all hurty.

I resisted watching Friday Night Lights for a long time, not because I thought it wouldn't be good (Pajiba has been singing the show's praises for years and I trust them like Dumbledore trusts Harry (what?)) but because I didn't think it would be my thing. It's about football YAWN WHO CARES? But when I lost my job, I suddenly had all of this extra time, and since there are only so many hours a day you can job search, I decided to invest some time in Friday Night Lights. You guys! It's not really just about football. It's about Coach and Tami Taylor and Jason Street and Matt Saracen and marriage and parents and death and school and LIFE. It took approximately 1.5 episodes for me to become terribly annoying about this show, and by that I mean that I would regale Joe with episode summaries and spend half an hour after each episode repeating, "this show is so good...omg...I love this good," until Joe passed out from boredom.

I finished the fifth and final season yesterday and I think I'd be more upset about it had I not recently bullied Joe into watching the show with me (from the beginning)...mostly just because I wanted to watch it all again.


I won't say much about the series finale, because I have no idea if everyone has seen it yet (the way it aired was crazy stupid, I watched it all on Netflix and DVD), but I will say that I cried through almost all of it. Nothing that sad happened, no one died (you guys, I was so worried that they'd kill Grandma Saracen), but I'd grown so attached to all of these characters (Tim Riggins!) that knowing this was the last I'd see of them made me weep into my Cheerios. Because yes, I watched the finale while eating breakfast. Crying while you're trying to eat is totally weird, FYI.

I don't know what else to say about it. Just...just watch it, OK, so I'm not the only one sobbing in front of the TV. 

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

It's hard to know you're out there; it's hard to know that you still care.

This week's topic is sort of interesting, because I'm kinda weeping right now, but not because of any television show or book or movie--even though the internet is sort of all three rolled up together--but because, well, if you don't know it's none of your business anyway.

I was going to write about how I'm forcing Seth to watch Lost, and how almost every episode makes me sob into my couch cushions in 20/20 hindsight, but I'm not so into writing about fake stuff right now. So, in lieu of whatever crappy post I was going to try and pass off as decent writing, enjoy this video:

Oh yeah, ****SPOILER ALERT**** obvs.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

She knew herself best when she was with them.

AbsIf by tear up you mean, my book was all wet and I had to keep looking away from it so my heart wouldn't heave right out of me, then the last time* that happened was:

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

JFC this was the worst thing. I mean, it wasn't terribly written or plotted or anything academic like that. It was just like how you think you're going to be watching a fun Disney movie and then Scar kills his brother. Not cool, story-telling. I am shit at reviewing things unless I can make fun of them and even then I feel guilty about being mean so all I can say is I cried a lot. But Ashley (as always) says what I'm thinking except smarter and better:

Until about the last forty pages, I thought I knew what I was going to write in this review. I was going to say that Brashares is incredibly good with the inner lives of her characters. I was going to say that she brings people to life in magical, absurdly readable, and moving ways. I was going to say that despite this, reading this book is like expecting to jump into pool and float back to the surface, but instead you start drowning, sucking up little bits of air at a time, just trying to survive. I was going to say that as readable as it was, it was just too much for me to handle, and that these girls always seem like they need to learn the same lessons over and over again, and the lesson never sticks.

But then I got to the end, and I started crying, and I couldn't stop. To be honest about it, I'm still crying right now. (They're the good kind of tears, by the way, the bittersweet ones. Ann Brashares is not Nicholas Sparks or Jodi Picoult, both of whom I always feel manipulated by, like with them tears are the goal, and not just a product of something great that they've created. Sparks and Picoult want me to feel luxuriously sad about my life, Brashares just wants to tell me something true. Does that make any sense?) This book just got to me. It got to me on an emotional level that a book hasn't in a really long time, and there's nothing I can do about it. I don't feel like critically evaluating this book for its failings. I only feel like feeling. So that's what I'm going to do.

I'm warning you right now, if you pick this up, you better have a box of tissues ready by the end, and your best friends on speed dial.

Man, I feel sad all over again.

*Excluding both Harry Potter which wrecked me and the fiscal year end budget numbers which aren't depressing in themselves but an accountant I am not.

Monday, 18 July 2011

A voice. Your voice, Hermione.


I don’t think it’ll be surprising news to any of you guys that I’ve seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two four times in the last four days. I have the weirdest relationship with Potter movies. The first time I am always so excited and so nervous that I’m literally vibrating in my seat the whole way through it. The second time I appreciate it as a whole different thing than the book. The third time I appreciate it as a work of art. And the fourth time I just feel so fucking happy to have grown up in the Potter Generation.

I thought the last movie was going to slay me. I mean, I pre-mourned for weeks leading up to it. Some days, I’d just be working on something totally unrelated to anything magical and tears would just start leaking out of my eyes, like my insides were so sad even if I didn’t have time to think about it. But then, the most amazing thing happened in the movie: I only teared up two times. My poor, darling sister started crying as soon as Snape came on-screen and kept crying for the rest of the whole time. Just inconsolable sobbing.

Last night, though, after seeing it for the fourth time, I followed the rabbit hole down, down, down, down into some Ron and Hermione fan vidoes.

And then I lost it.

And now I commit my soul to some very old, very worn-out fanfiction.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

find your happy thought

Jennie When I was little, I really thought that, if only I found the right combination of practice and magic, I could fly.

I suppose I still believe that, just a little, which is why sometimes I close my eyes and think happy thoughts, or hold my open umbrella as high in the air as possible, hoping a strong wind will carry me away. No luck yet, but I'll let you know if it changes.

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Home is where the heart is, so your real home's in your chest.

Each day I wake anew--not renewed, but blinking and disoriented--reborn. And reborn I feel until I open the wardrobe, flick through the same old shirts, skirts, suits I never wear. As ever my fingers fumble with zippers and snaps, my knees and hips bash ungracefully into bedposts and banisters. Each day I wake from the most vivid dreams I've ever had, blinking and disoriented, not knowing where I am or who I am until I try to do something, anything, and realize I'm still me. Unremarkable me.

On the ninth morning a bed was delivered, and on the ninth day our first houseguests arrived, an old friend, his second wife, their two-year-old son. Days One through Eight were spent in a flurry of heavy lifting and unpacking, driving and packing and unpacking again. I vaguely remember a trip to Ikea squeezed in there somewhere, remembered only because it was at Ikea where I fell in love at first sight for the first time ever. For there, hidden amongst the affordable contemporary Swedish furniture was my one true love:

Fabric, covered with origami animals and for sale by the yard. If ever a benevolent Santa created one thing especially for me it was this. But Santa is not benevolent, or if he is he also has a wicked mean streak for alas, I CANNOT SEW. And after remembering that I CANNOT SEW I did what one does in such a situation, I whined about it on Facebook.

The responses came fast and furious and so it was that I learned sewing is easy and I can learn in a weekend. Which leaves the remaining 29 days of the month for alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol.

You can't hurt me.

AbsI'm never very good at questions like these because I get all caught up in the rules of the question like:

a) why do I only have a month to learn this skill?

b) does this mean that some things are barred from the list since it would be impossible to learn some things in only a month?

c) and if not, then why a time constraint at all?

See? It's hard! So, in order to answer this question at all, I'm going to say that it has to be something that I could actually learn in a month, like say, if I were training for a film role. In my super glamorous fantasy life. In this film role I'd have to learn martial arts, of course, so I could kick some ass. (I have watched every BTS featurette for the Charlie's Angels film franchise.)

Also, I'm going to assume my arms with suddenly look like this cause of all the bad assery:

Aww yeah.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Something wicked this way comes


Happy day after America’s birthday, everyone! How were your festivities? Did you set anything on fire? Did you enjoy delicious American beers? Did you pledge your allegiance to the flag? I did not do any of those things. I floated in the pool for three straight days rereading Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility for about the hundredth time. I always forget how book Darcy is a bigger dick than Colin Firth or Matthew MacFadyen’s Darcys, but also I always forget how much greater his redemption is in the end. Goddamn, I love me some Fitzwilliam Darcy. I’d marry him so much.

This week’s Collective topic is: If you could learn to do anything with only a month’s worth of practice, what would you learn?

I am not what you’d call “skilled” at “a lot” of “things.” I pretty much just scrape by in life by being nice and begging people to forgive me. My life would be infinitely less stressful if I could learn to do lots of things with a month’s worth of practice. Like time management. Or saying no management. Or, like, learning to read a calendar. Alas, if I really could do master one thing in a month, I would absolutely master the piano.

Like this much:

The Sugar Plum Fairy one is my favorite.