Reno Zone

I mentioned in a previous post that there are things I really should be blogging about, such as our home reno. I wrote that post back in July.  Right now it’s the end of October, and we’re nearing the end of the reno. I’ve taken lots of pictures, sent lots of text and e-mails but blogged zero times about the process.  I missed an opportunity to build up a follower / fanbase in the reno blog market. Another big idea bites the dust.

The bigger problem, as I realized when I took a look at my most recent blog post  (to catch up on who I am and where I’ve been, since it’s been so long since I’ve logged in here), is that my family and I are living in some alternate universe compared to the life I was living just over three months ago when I wrote it.

At this stage, our lives- or at least our material objects, the spaces where they’re kept, and all of the routines that are associated with those things and places —  are completely off balance.

From an ADD perspective, this is akin to waking up in the centre of a corn maze.  You know that there is an end goal, and you know that you can get there, even though each path you have the option of taking looks equally promising. It’s dizzying. It’s disorienting. Oh, and there are unicorns in the maze and they are so pretty that you know you must follow them even though they lead you crashing through the undergrowth and then when they disappear into a cloud of cotton-candy scented powder, you have to retrace your steps to the last place you were on the path and ultimately, you’re just looking for your prankster friends who led you into the corn maze, blindfolded, in the first place. And last you checked, your friends are not unicorns.

It’s just like that.

I should explain here that, early in August, the entire contents of my main floor got moved to my bedroom in tote bags and boxes, including art and kitchenware but not including the large furniture. The big pieces were all squished up on top of each other in what was formerly my dining room while the rest of the house got ‘done’.  The garage, which was also getting worked on, had been packed with junk which all got moved to enormous and impenetrable piles all through the basement, so you can’t really move around down there either.

Now that the flooring is done in the main parts of the house, we were able to release the furniture from it’s sardine-like positioning in the former dining room and distribute it in the newly opened space on the same floor so that at least we have some couches to sit on— but still no kitchen.  Our fridge has remained plugged in throughout this process and we’ve been keeping everything in there including paper plates (don’t hate me– I can’t keep washinhg gross oily foods in the bathroom because the grease will clog up the pipes!) and napkins and plastic grocery bags that currently have no home.

All of this contributes to ample confusion and general disorganization.

The incident that inspired this post happened this morning. I was all ready to take the kids to school and, for once, we were on time.  The kids were outside waiting for me, and all I had to do was grab my keys and go… and that’s when I realized that my keys were missing.

It’s a stretch to say that they were ‘missing’. For something to be missing, it has to have a place where it belongs. There has to be a spot where it should be, but isn’t. Right now, there is no natural or contrived place to put my keys when I walk in the door. My key hook, which I am fairly religious about employing, had been sitting on the floor of my office ever since the demolition stage of the reno. I got sick of looking at it last week and it’s currently atop a pile of candlesticks in my bedroom.  In short, I no longer have a default place for my keys to be. Somehow, I’ve managed with this handicap until now, but yesterday morning we’d gone so far as to call an Uber to get us out the door when I finally found the keys– under the cushion of our newly accessible couch. I guess I’d been sitting there last night prior to my DS bouncing on it as he ate his post-bedtime snack. I also found my hat and a pair of socks.

Routine is central to the functioning of an ADD individual. Take away the routine, and we need reinvent the passageway from thought to action.  It takes so long to form a habit, and when the rug gets pulled out from under you (in this case, literally as well as figuratively, what with the awful old carpets getting ripped out and thrown away), it’s difficult to find your footing again.

Take, for instance, the making of school lunches.  Pre-reno,  this was also a fraught process. Find the lunch bags, negotiate sandwich contents and snacks, find missing sandwich bags (why can’t they just STAY where they BELONG)?  Sometimes I get distracted, but ultimately, lunches are one of the three tasks I need to get myself and the kids through in the morning, so I’ll get there.  But when there is no kitchen and not even any plumbing on the same floor as the fridge, putting baby tomatoes in a baggie* can take half an hour when I need to take them to the upstairs bathroom to wash them off first…  and I’m back in the corn maze. Distractions abound.  The side roads are numerous.  Here! Is a girl beating her sibling that I need to attend to. Here! Is the bottom of the pajamas I’ve been searching for. There! Is a pile of library books that is out of control and need stacking. Now, What! Was I up to? Why did I come upstairs again? I’d better go back down and try to figure it out.

In the meantime, the box of tomatoes is sitting forlornly on my dresser, all but camouflaged amongst the scarves and hats that I’ve somehow, miraculously managed to dig out of Basement Mountain now that the weather has grown colder, but which I have no place to put.

Yesterday I discovered a bowl of soup that I’d heated up for DH in the microwave. The microwave is on a chair in my bedroom. I had nowhere to pour out the soup in that moment so the bowl went on my dresser.  Of course, I forgot about it and it was still there this morning. Gross, I know, but at least it’s nice and cool and it didn’t rot or attract flies because of the windows we had to leave open to release the smell of plaster drying on the ceiling downstairs.

Oh, how I miss my plumbing. What do you do with all of the sparkling flavoured water that’s been poured  into cups by kids with eyes bigger than their bladders and left on the table? You open the door and pour it on the ground. What do you do with a bowl of soup that is probably edible but you don’t want to find out?  You can’t spill it out a window. In retrospect, I should have flushed it (yes, we have toilets), but I ended up just dumping it in a garbage bag and hoping for the best.

Speaking of drinks, I have been attempting and forgetting to bring the (compostable!) plastic cups up from the basement for three days.  I just keep on forgetting what I originally went down for.

In my last post, I mention being able to drink an espresso before the kid’s bedtime to prevent myself from falling asleep. The espresso machine is now buried somewhere in my garage— I think . So if I want to stay up late, it’s instant coffee for me (downstairs for the milk, upstairs for the sugar, down again for the coffee and hot water…)

Oh, and then there’s the laundry. Normally, we just throw our laundry right down the sitars to the basement (there’s a straight drop) where it accumulates in a pile in the curve of the staircase. It is an extremely convenient practice for me, though it can be alarming for a visitor to see a pair of pants flying past them from the upper landing. There are a number of reasons we can’t do this anymore until the reno is over. First of all, there are people in and out of my house all the time.  I don’t need them seeing (or smelling) our underthings. They see enough of my messy life as it is.  Second of all, there is the dust and all of the debris that, although, bless them, the Guys are really careful and clean, I can’t imagine that it would be in good taste for anyone to have to shake the wood shavings out of my dirty clothing at the end of the workday.  Did I mention that my old laundry machine broke and we can’t get our new laundry machine to work?  Piles of laundry behind every door is just one more layer of confusion we have to wade through every day.

I’ve been asked why I we don’t just move out for the duration of the reno.  In fact, we were out of town for more than three weeks of it and when we returned, we had to stay with my mom for about four more weeks because the house wasn’t safe enough for the kids.  My mom’s was relatively comfortable– at least I could cook macaroni instead of microwaving veggie dogs, however I found it incredibly difficult to be living in two worlds at once. Here, I can’t cook eggs but there I just didn’t have the basic things I needed. Like my office. And my desk chair. And my desk drawers. You get the point.

So this is our life for now. We’re managing, but I am really, really looking forward to being able to come home, now that the reality of what a home is has changed for me.  It means being able to hang up my keys , sit on my couch, and empty leftover cereal bowls without having to worry about if I’d ever make it back.

*normally I use reusable tupperwares for this purpose, but my dishwashing mojo is off when I don’t have a kitchen so DON’T THROW RESUABLE DIPER LINERS AT ME!

 

 

 

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Sleep Guilt

I can’t sleep.

I can sleep.  I can fall asleep as soon as I get in to bed. I can lie down, roll on to my side, and cross the threshold into Dream Land in a way that many people would envy. I can fall asleep within a surprisingly short duration after having drunk an espresso. Like many parents, I can fall asleep faster than my kids– at their bedtime. Which is dinnertime for most adults.   But I don’t.

But I do. I fall asleep before the bedtime story is over. I can sleep-read. I want to sleep. I am so tired. I tell myself that I need to stay awake because there are so many things to get done that I didn’t get around to during the day.  I’ll just take a ten minute nap.

But I don’t. I wrench myself out of the twin bed and untangle myself from pudgy little arms because there is laundry to catch up on, exercise to catch up on, blogging to catch up on… are we seeing a pattern here? OK, I admit, sometimes it’s just Netflix I want to catch up on, though Netflix is often combined with laundry folding or exercise for me.

The kids like us to lie down with them, and I comply.  If I am really really tired at 7pm , I’ll have an espresso first, because I know how very hard it can be to get up again.  Despite this, I will still fall asleep with them sometimes.  My day can’t end at 9 pm  (which is when they actually fall asleep, not when they’re meant to fall asleep).  There is always too much to catch up on.

You don’t need to tell me that I would be more productive after a good night’s sleep. I know that I should have a steady bedtime, and that it would lead to an earlier morning and a better start to our days.  I know, from those days when I fall asleep at a normal hour, without forcing myself to stay up until some or all of my intended tasks are done, that I can rise without having to battle the sandman for the right.

Certainly, I am more functional in the morning. The quality of my work, when I can get right to it, is fueled by fresh ideas and the potential of a fulfilling day before me.  So why don’t I just shut everything down at 11 and turn the lights off at 11:30? I’d be able to get up at 6 or 6:30 with no problem and, at the very least, I’d

It’s something of a vicious cycle, this staying-awake business, and I am certain that it has to do with ADD.  I did some reading on ADD and sleep, and, on the surface, it seems like it’s not ADD that is preventing me from getting into bed. Rather, it’s this self-diagnosed disease called Sleep Guilt,  discovered by none other than the author of this blog.   Sleep Guilt is a condition which causes an otherwise sane person to remain awake out of a sense of obligation to complete a task, and remain awake either until the task is completed or until moments before the otherwise sane person can no longer physically sustain a state of consciousness and must drag her (or him)self up to bed.  When suffering from sleep guilt, the otherwise sane party might never even get around to starting said task, often because she (or he) is just too tired to really sustain any meaningful momentum, or sometimes because they get distracted by other, less obligatory but more entertaining things.

The type of sleep disturbances associated with ADD aren’t really in line with the sleep guilt diagnoses.   People with ADD often have a hard time falling asleep because their minds are racing, and they have trouble staying asleep because even though their bodies have fallen asleep, their minds are still churning.  Their restful period of sleep starts late, making it extremely difficult for them to wake up in the morning, because when their alarms go off, they are still going through the deepest part of their sleep cycle.  Interestingly, people with ADD are known to actually fall asleep when forced to engage in an activity they are not interested in. I remember feeling very sleepy in class throughout my childhood, and needing to put my head down on my desk.  Now I understand why.

The thing is, I have rarely, in my life, had any trouble falling asleep. As I mentioned above, if I’m tired, I’m sleepy. When I’m sleepy, I sleep. However, I wonder if what I call Sleep Guilt is really just a derivation– a unique manifestation, if you will, of the first two kinds of sleep disturbances I mention above. Perhaps I go through the mind-racing and the sleep-falling stages before I even get in to bed.  By the time I lie down, poof! I’m done. It’s an efficient system, if you ask me.  Also, when I look at it that way, I feel less guilty.

Now I wonder if I can train myself to stick to an 11:30 bedtime.  Challenging? Yes. Impossible? No. Beneficial? Very likely so. I might have to unsubscribe from my Netflix account.

 

Sensitive Me

I think of myself as a relatively insensitive person.  That is, I am resilient and I let a lot of things just slide off me like teflon*.  However, there are some things, sensory things, that just drive me batty. For example, here I am sitting in the studio (it’s my friend’s work space that she lets me use when it’s empty so I can have some privacy and uninterrupted work time).  I realize that I am feeling tense, and that the source of my tension is music coming in through the wall that is shared with a auto-body shop next door.  Although it would probably have to be blasting in there for me to be able to hear it, It’s not overly loud in here– I can recognize the songs though I can’t necessarily hear all the words. And it’s not the type music I hate  — it sounds like a top 40s radio station. Yet, there is something about it; the tone? the background-ness of it? The bass? That was causing me low-grade distress.

Sometimes, when I sit in the home office I share with my husband, he’ll have something playing in the background. He likes to listen to music while he works.  I can’t handle it, not even if it’s on the very lowest volume.  I simply can’t focus on whatever is in front of me. It’s different if I’m in a coffee shop or a library or a mall– places where there is a relatively uniform amount of ambient noise and familiar sounds.  But at home at night with the kids sleeping, and the only other noise being the one on his computer–  it’s so distracting.

ADD is often associated with sensitivity disorders. I hesitate to call my irritation a disorder, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it’s linked to the ADD.

My solution to this problem is to pull out a set of headphones and turn on an online white noise app.  His music, assuming it’s quiet enough, disappears, and I am in a Zone of My Own.  Really, it’s like being transported.  I think it’s even better for me than medication.  I’ve had very poor sleep for the past couple of nights (partly work, partly Netflix), which carries with it it’s own level of stress.  Add that to the tension I get from background music, and my stress level goes from a 2 to a 5 without my even being aware of it until I’m suffering from the symptoms.  Just now, I put on the white noise app (with a pink noise app playing on top of it for good measure) and as soon as the sound started coming out of the speakers, I felt a huge sense of relief.  It’s like my head had been in a bind and I did not even realize it until it came off.  I was all clenched up, but wasn’t even aware of the need to relax.  It’s a crazy sensation, but very satisfying.

When the bothersome background noise is done, I can turn off the white noise and get a secondary sense of relief from that.

Here  are some other things I am sensitive about:  I hate fans blowing  on me.  I don’t mind them too much if they’re the swivel kind, but I can’t stand the constant breeze on any one part of my body.  I’d rather be sweaty than have a fan pointed directly at me. On the subject of fans, I hate the way they make the light pulsate, depending on where they are positioned. I once worked in an office where the ceiling fan was positioned under the pot lights and directly above my desk. Also,  it was a windowless space I shared with about 7 other people– all of whom really really needed that fan.  Of course, I had to concede, but I always worried that I’d have a seizure.  I hate having my stomach touched. It actually makes me recoil, even if it’s my kids doing it.  That particular sensitivity started around the time of my last pregnancy, so maybe there is a physiological aspect to it.

On the other hand, I love to run fabrics between my fingers, just for the feel. Love having my hair brushed– even though it’s quit tangly, it never hurts.  I dislike shoes and love to feel the ground under my feet.  Sensitivity, I suppose, goes both ways.

Here is a link to my favorite online noise generator.  I am not getting compensated in any way for this endorsement. Just passing along a good tip.

*In no other way would I compare myself to teflon. I no longer own any more teflon or nonstick cookware except for my beloved waffle iron, and that’s on it’s way out too.

 

Featured image from pixabay.com by Pexels

The Blogs In My Head

One of my biggest and most frustrating symptoms of ADD is that I start projects and then don’t finish them. Notice I don’t say that I never finish them. I sometimes do finish them, but their completion has no noticeable correlation to financial pressure, spousal aggravation, time constraints, or any other logical element.  If I had to choose one thing that ‘triggers’ the eventual completion of a project for me, I would have to say that it’s mess. When there is a mess, I will eventually clean it up.

And when there is a clean spot, all other members of my family will gravitate there and fill it right up again with beloved yet misplaced objects. That’s my life, but I digress.

All of the above does not apply exclusively to tangible projects. If I make space and time in my life to work on, say, the business I’ve been trying to get off the ground for a few months now, or the course I was taking which cost us several thousand dollars, or the business BEFORE that which I have abandoned and actually whose web address seems to have been scooped up as I neglected to pay for the web hosting; somehow, the time I set aside for those things will get nipped and nibbled at, if not entirely chewed away by the needs of the people around me.

If I sound resentful, I sometimes am. And sometimes I’m not. Them’s the shakes when you’ve got a family. It’s also what happens when people know you to be nice and giving and know that you work from home, which makes you perpetually available.  Right now I experiencing heightened feelings of bitterness because it’s been weeks since I’ve had my ‘day on’ where I am granted an entire day with no interruption at the studio to work exclusively towards my own endeavors.

But I digress. Not the name of my blog, but it should be.

In addition to ideas for work, home decor, social events, etc, I also have ideas for blogs.  I suppose that I could write about any topic on this blog here, but I feel like I need to limit the posts here strictly to ADHD-related material.

I feel like a blog is a timeline, and if I keep my thoughts on different ideas in separate blogs, then I can reference them more easily.  If, in May of 2026, I want to find out how I felt about the month of May in 2017, I will be able to just look it up.  Things like this are important to Present me. Not sure if Future me will give a hoot. Sometimes I am afraid of this ego of mine which causes me to behave as though there will one day be enormous value to the ever-accumulating archive of my life.  Like I’m van Gogh.  Maybe it comes from my life in academia where specialists are always arguing about whether a body of work is attributed to the correct author, or where every tiny detail we discover about the life of a composer is paraded through headlines like it was a cure for cancer.

For example, I would like to have a blog about the weather. I would like to have a blog about the weather in the same way as most people would like to have a cottage in cottage country. Or the way my husband wants a farm. I want a place where I can spend time puttering around with no goals but the pursuit of serenity, and where I can look back and see the impact I’ve had on the place over, or how I’ve changed because of it. That’s the weather blog.  Pure, gentle ego.

I want to do a blog about my upcoming home reno.  Maybe it’s because, in this day and age when you do anything that requires research, you start out online and you get caught up in the figurative web of information.  You can spend all day jumping from site to site as the different ideas pop into your head — or is that just ADD me? Just today I ran a new idea for the kitchen past the contractor. Which gave me a great idea about the bathroom, which led me to do a google search for that feature, which led me to Pinterest, which is it’s own hellish wormhole.  I took a look on Etsy to see if I could find some parts, and then on Craigslist and Kijiji to find some coordinating furniture. I never got around to looking at all of the correspondence between me and the contractor and consolidating it into a usable document as I’d meant to do this morning.   . A blog is a good way to document all this, and it’s also very interesting, I think, to read about other people’s processes. For example, it took us years of hemming and hawing to even start getting quotes. Once we settled on a contractor, it took me six months to get back to HIM (as opposed to the other way around, which is usually the case. This is not, by the way, a DIY kind of reno that we’re talking about.  When you’re ADD, there are some projects that are better left in the capable hands of other people.  First we had to get good and tired of washing crumbling particle board out of our pots and finding creative ways to cover the holes where there used to be cupboard doors (but where the particle board is too busy high-diving into my cookware to adequately reattach the missing pieces).

I also have ideas for this blog which I never get around to writing.  It’s now almost 1:30 am. It’s finally quiet and nobody is interrupting me. I’m letting the laundry wait.  This is how I get real productive time.  I haven’t posted in weeks and my last post is not really meant to be read.

Sometimes I think about making a blog about my backyard birds, which are the best pets ever.  I also, while I’m cooking, entertain grandiose thoughts of a cooking blog featuring all the crazy recipes that I make crazy fast. I might also turn that one into a book. Another project. Will it happen? There’s no mess involved but the one in my head. Will it be enough?

 

 

 

Drupdate #3

I’m giving myself 10 minutes to write this post. I’ve been sitting here in the quiet privacy of my friend’s studio but I’ve been working for hours straight… hmm… is this an indication of the drug working…?

Hard to say. That seems to be my theme when it comes to medication.

So in my last post– rather, the one before last  I mentioned that I was going to try taking the meds consistently for two weeks. I think I’ll just do this in bullet form, for the sake of brevity and also bc these Drupdates are really just logs.

Sunday, May 14 – ON I think. I hosted a huge party.  Like, 100 ppl. But these things are old hat for me now.

Monday, May 15 – ON.  I get mad at DH when he reminds me to take my pill. It’s a sore point. I think he thinks it’s much more effective than it really is. He was working from home, which I find to be difficult.

Tuesday, May 16- ON. Really hard to work with hubby home. Tried to get through ‘desk pile’. Didn’t get through much. I think I might have started work on my brochure this day…

Wednesday, May 17 – ON. Midday meeting. Put in lots of time at my desk in the morning and then wasted the rest of the day at the mall, where the meeting was. Sometimes you just need to get out.

Thursday, May 18 – ON.  Yoga, dentist, worked on brochure.  I think I took it after Yoga… I think. Incidentally, I had a filling without anesthesia. Are you impressed? I am.

Friday, May 19 – ON. Grocery shopping and frenzied cooking in between three different school pickups. I was hoping to get some work done but instead made 70+ pieces of schnitzel. I did get some feedback from friends on the brochures I’d been preparing.  I wrote it all down in the grocery store on the notebook I keep in my purse.  Schnitzel is a LOT Of work, so when I do it. I just do a lot.  Also I had to prepare extra for a friend who had a baby. It was my turn to bring dinner. I had the same experience as I did last time— that I couldn’t figure out how to spice the food properly. I think that my schnitzels were not quite as good this time. It’s really hard to cook when your appetite is suppressed.  I rely on instinct but that part of the brain is suppressed as well. I wonder if it’s actually NOT connected to appetite suppression, but more to impulse control??? This is definitely something to explore.

Saturday, May 20 – OFF.  Lots of reading, some cleaning.

Sunday, May 21 – ON. Pretty sure.  It was a rainy day.  Woke up late, watched some TV with the kids, bought gardening supplies, went shopping for reno supplies but everything was closed. Went swimming. Ate Mac N Cheese

Monday, May 22 – OFF. I’m pretty sure.  I was out all day on a long-weekend excursion and didn’t feel like I needed them.  Which I realize is besides the point because I’m going for consistency here.

Tuesday, May 23 – ON.  Spent all day in waiting rooms, tried to read some work material but there were too many stops and starts and people to look after and pay attention to.

Wednesday, May 24 – ON.  Took late– about noon. Spent all afternoon at studio, finishing the brochures.  What a lot of work they’ve been, but I enjoy it.

C(K)eeping Up With The Concertas

I saw my new shrink last week.  She was nice, friendly, positive, and generally affirmative (affirmational? She affirmed what I said) but, as she pointed out before we even sat down, it was a bit of a mismatch.  She deals with palliative care patients, and not at all with ADD.  She was only handed my file* because they needed people to take over for my regular shrink, who is now on maternity leave.

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Not My Shrink.                         …ok now tear your eyes away and go back to the blog post…

I was a bit disappointed because I had been imagining this new doctor-patient relationship as the one that would complete me, mental health-wise.  Alas.  I need a Tinder for psychiatrists.

She asked me, at one point, probably because I was rambling at high speed and holding a Grande Pike Place, whether I was self-medicating with coffee. I am not, and I told her as much. I usually have one coffee in the morning and one, if I am desperate to stay awake, around the kid’s bedtime.

She also told me, as my last shrink told me, and probably everyone in the medical profession will tell me, that I need to get on the meds and just stay on them if I want to have a good idea of whether or not they’re having any effect. As you may recall, this is one of the great questions that surround my decision to medicate.

Since taking them intermittently, as I have been doing (sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally)  for more than a year, is not a viable option for me at this point, I have a problem.  Even if I ‘set an alarm on my phone’  (which everyone thinks is the answer to everything ADD), taking them on a regular basis has proven to be much more difficult  than it would seem.  It’s not that I don’t remember to take them. It’s that if I remember, and I am not seated at my desk (where I keep the bottle) or in a position to get the ‘travel pack’ out of my purse immediately, then the task will get put on an indefinite ‘snooze.’

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The Elusive Travel Pack              Writing About it made me remember to refill it!

At the behest of Dr. Affirmational, I decided to try once again. She asked if I could commit to two weeks straight and I told her, without much confidence, that I would surely try.  My appointment was on a Thursday, and I decided that the following Monday would be my first day. I took a pill on Monday. I took one on Tuesday. I took one on Wednesday. I forgot them on Thursday and Friday and then didn’t bother over the weekend.

Correction: I did not forget them on Thursday and Friday, Rather, I remembered on Thursday but I was in the car, driving. And I remembered on Friday but I was in the supermarket, and I  was in a rush to get out.

Today is Monday, the start of a fresh new week.  I took one this morning. It made me jittery after an hour. I calmed down. I am finishing my blog post that I’ve been meaning to write for 11 days.  Thanks to the shakes, I know it’s having an effect on me, but I don’t know if it’s actually fulfilling the intended purpose.  Hopefully, if I can keep up with the Concertas,  I’ll be able to tell you in two weeks. Wish me luck.

 

*Interestingly, she was actually NOT handed my file.  So most of my visit consisted of me recounting all the things I do and the things I don’t get around to doing and how I feel about it all. What else would we have talked about, really?

The Med Factor: Dinner Is Served

We do a lot of hosting at our house, and that means a lot of cooking for me.  I don’t particularly like cooking, but apparently I’m not half bad at it. Rather, I am half bad at it but the half that’s not completely burnt, over-boiled, or otherwise wasted due to negligence usually tastes pretty good, I’m told.

I always joke that most husbands, when they get in the door, call out ‘Honey, I”m home!’ My husband will walk in and automatically call out “Babe, what’s burning?”

Actually, that’s not a joke at all. He says that every single time he comes in the house.  Of course, with the fire alarm blasting (mine speaks English and French: FIRE! FEU! BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. FIRE! FEU! BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. And sometimes CARBON MONOXIDE! MONOXYDE DE CARBONE! BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.) and the kids fighting over the chance to stand on a chair with the broomstick (which we keep against the wall for this exact purpose) and stab the darn thing into silence on it’s elusive sweet spot (HUSH MODE ACTIVATEDMODE HUSH ACTIVÉ), there is no denying what I’ve been up to. Here’s another joke, but not: How do you know when it’s dinner time at my house? 

dinner_will_be_ready
Too obvious?

But I digress…

It’s not entirely accurate that I don’t like cooking. It’s true that I’d rather be…  dunno… writing, reading, hiking, not cooking etc. but I like cooking better than, say, washing dishes or bringing the trash cans in from the curb. Cooking is a chore but not the worst chore. The part I really don’t like is cleaning.  Cooking means cleaning;  it’s inevitable. And when you cook in a mad, hyperfocused frenzy like I do, the mess gets bigger and bigger throughout the process until it almost takes over the counter entirely., and sometimes the floor.  Peelings, wrappers, dirty dishes… I hate them all.  I can cook a four course meal (soup, sides, salads– yes, all plural–  and main) in under two hours but the kitchen is positively ravaged when I’m done.

12_Messy Kitchen
Not my kitchen, but close.

I never make desert, though.  Guests are responsible for bringing desert, or else I cut up fruit after I serve the main course when things have calmed down a bit.  I almost never bake. I hate it, and I am terrible at it. When you bake you need to be so careful about measuring and having just the right ingredient  and other dull and unnecessarily uptight details.  And it makes so much more mess.  Not worth it.

When I cook it’s a largely spontaneous experience and always experimental, like an art piece.  I know roughly what I’m making because I shopped for it that morning and it’s in the fridge waiting. But I never know exactly whether the ground beef is going to be meatballs, patties, bolognaise sauce, or lasagna until I start cooking. Herbed? Sweet n’ sour?  You just never know. I might consult a recipe for inspiration, but then I always revert to whatever I think is more fitting or (let’s be honest) whatever method will result in fewer dirty pans.  I have a lot of spices, and I’ve developed a feel for how to make them my own, and how much I can tweak a recipe before it turns the corner from home or exciting  to meh.

Last week I was on the meds while cooking. I’d had a lot to do that day and cooking was just one of the items on the agenda, albeit a large item.  I started cooking earlier than I normally would, which is maybe evidence of the medication serving it’s intended purpose. The meds were still in full effect and my appetite was pretty suppressed.

All of a sudden I realized that I had no idea what spices to use in the dish I was making.  I scanned my spice rack, waiting for the right ones to pop out at me as they usually do, but they all looked the same– bland.  I had to really stop and think about it in a logical fashion; What might taste good in this meat? Cinnamon? No that’s Middle Eastern and not what I’m going for. Garlic? Well yes, obviously but… oregano? Yes, that sounds Italian..  I think I’m going for ‘Italian’…

It may not sound like a big deal, but the experience was  it was kind of freaky and unsettling for me.   I didn’t have any precedent for this kind of feeling, and I was unsure of how to handle it at first.  Imagine trying to paint a ladybug,  looking at a palette of paint colours and not having any point of reference for which puddle to dip your brush into.  You know it should be obvious, but the answer is somehow eluding you, like in a dream.

Well, I’ve been cooking dinners for over a decade now and my inference, if not my instinct, kicked in.  I know ladybugs are red, and so I dipped my  brush into the puddle labeled ‘red’.  I made the food. It wasn’t artistic, but it was good, they tell me.  Essentially, it was formulaic, like baking.

What an unexpected side effect for ADD / ADHD medication;  Regular function might be impaired due to lack of appetite.  More accurately, it was a side effect of a side effect.  I wonder what other side of side effects I’m experiencing that I haven’t yet noticed.  Sometimes I wonder if there are any effects at all.

Before I sign off, I want to include another story about food and my husband, just to redeem his reputation in case you think, based on this post, that he is overly harsh or critical.

When we were engaged, and this was way back before I became the gourmet chef that I am today, it was pumpkin season, and I was taken with the notion of making pumpkin soup.  Working from my gut, I brought the pumpkin home, baked it, peeled it, pureed it, and spiced it, and then served it to my fiancee and a friend of mine for dinner that night. The soup was horrible and not at all what I’d intended.  I couldn’t eat it and neither could my friend. But my darling man tasted it, said “It’s not that bad, maybe I’ll just put some humus in it.” Yes, he ate the whole bowl with humus in it. And that is why I love him.

Notice: No ladybugs were harmed or ingested in the writing of this blog post or ever, really, by the author, to the best of her knowledge.

Drive Inspired

I had a phone call the other day from what I guess I’d call a friend-once-removed (an FOR), by which I mean she is a person who is friends with another friend of mine, and who, consequently,  I see several times a year but don’t really have anything else to do with. I like her fine.  I’m just not particularly close with her. An FOR.

Although I was initially surprised to hear from her, her motives became clear as soon as she said the words ‘hoping you can help me with a little venture I’m working on.’ My suspicions were confirmed when her schpiel ended with ‘can I meet you for coffee?’

I asked:

“Is this Arbonne?”

It was.

Who has a great skin care routine? THIS GUY!
Aaaay. Who has a great skin care routine? THIS GUY!

Arbonne is a line of products whose marketing scheme is word-of-mouth and rhymes with “Fonzie.”

“I’m not buying anything– you should know.” I didn’t want to mislead her, though clearly she was trying to mislead me  by making it sound like she cared for my actual companionship.

It’s fine, she told me. Even if I didn’t buy anything I’d still be helping her firm up her pitch and it would be good practice. I was being asked to help. I was flattered. We made a date.

I don’t necessarily disrespect people who choose to chase the dream and make ‘a little money in their spare time,’  as it were.  In fact, I was totally impressed by FOR’s verve , get-go, drive, or whatever you want to call it.  It takes some serious cajones to call people out of the blue when you barely know them and try to get them to open their hearts, schedules, and wallets to you.  Of course, it makes it easier if you’ve already destroyed relationships with all your original friends, but it’s all worth it, I think, when the Arbonne people show up at your door with a thank-you gift in the form of a white Mercedes. No, really, they promise you a Benz if you sell enough body lotion and shampoo.  Whooooa. Happy days!

I was trying to avoid sarcasm in this post and now look at me.  I blame the Fonz but the Fonz doesn’t care. Aaaaay!

So I met with this FOR at one afternoon at a popular coffee place which I will not name but rhymes with Spar… Bucks…  and I brought my Little One, who happened to have a day off.  He was excited for the hot chocolate aspect of the meeting, and I was excited to do my friend of a friend a good turn as she began her journey to purported financial freedom.

I should mention that I’ve already been accosted by friends in the past who got on the Arbonne train. In fact, I’d won an entire gift basket worth of merchandise from a trade show and through some internal political hierarchies having to do with geography and/or nepotism, the person assigned to my followup telephone call was a girl not-removed from me, but an actual friend. An actual friend that I had to listen to as she rambled on about the products for fifty minutes until I managed to find some reason to excuse myself from the conversation.  So I know a little bit about Arbonne. I’m still friends with that girl, by the way, but we’ve never ever spoken about what I’ve come to think of as The Horrible Arbonne Incident.

I scheduled FOR’s coffee date for the end of the school day just in case it… uh… didn’t have a natural end.  I figured 45 minutes was enough time for her to practice her shpiel, drink a coffee, try some products, and get out.  To make a long story short, I learned about Arbonne all over again, even though I told her, in nicer terms, about my previous education in the same department.  I had the complete presentation including power point, demo booklet, and a little trial kit of toiletries — six products!! — that I was meant to use daily and return to her after three days. Six products? I feel proud if I have the energy to brush my teeth at the end of the day!  I can’t even remember to take my ADD meds three day in a row!

Of course, I ended up taking it all home in a tote bag embossed with enormous company logos. I somehow followed the skincare routine for three full days (though I used up the little squirt of night cream on DD’s dry hands when we couldn’t find her regular lotion).  I even met her on the morning of day 4, though I forgot the tote bag which I’ll have to get to her at a later date.  I did not remember to take my pills during this time.

To add insult to injury, turns out the FOR is not new to Arbonne. She did not need to practice her pitch on me because she has been doing it for over two years. My efforts at do-goodism were for naught.  I’m such a sucker.

But I digress.

Seeing FOR in action, even though the action was being taken against me, in a way, was somehow inspiring.  The girl has a goal: to supplement her income (which I would describe as steady but limited). She has a means: The Fonz. She has a market: Other FOR. She has a modus operandi: Call, cajole, coffee, call again. And she does it. It sounds easy, but know how difficult it can be to tear oneself away from a good game of candy crush and make even a single sales call.  I know it’s hard to put oneself out there and present oneself with confidence, even if you believe that the rewards are great and have optional seat warmers.

So even though I don’t think I’ll be peddling beauty products anytime soon, I can take a lesson from my FOR and push myself to write one more blog post or send out that promo package.

Because as she, and so many zombie-like and  glowy-cheeked Benz hopefuls before her remind us:  Don’t think “what if it doesn’t work?” Think “what if it does?”

 

 

 

 

Twist of Fate

When I last saw my shrink, she was apparently pregnant. She did not bring up the subject and so, according to protocol, I did not bring it up either, though her condition was quite… pronounced.

Well, in addition to ADD-dar, I apparently have preg-dar, because this week I got a call from the hospital informing me that I’d been transferred to a new doctor due to my own psychiatrist going on maternity leave.  I felt it safe to enquire if she’d actually had the baby yet– she hadn’t– and asked the caller to pass on my congratulations for when the time comes.

What my radar didn’t pick up on until just now was that her pregnancy was a graceful solution to a conundrum I’ve been avoiding.

For a while now, I’ve been debating doing a shrink-swap.  Although I am fond of my psychiatrist, I wasnt’ sure she was the best one for my specific needs. I want someone with experience in my specific area — Adult ADD– and I felt, at times, like she was winging it a little bit.  I mean, I’ve been on this road towards intentional correction for close to two years now — or more?  But I am still not 100% sure of my diagnosis.

The appointment they offered me with the new doctor is still two months away.  I guess that lack of availability is one strike against her.  Still, I’m in no rush. I haven’t been updating, but I also haven’t really been taking my medication for over a month now. I took it today for the first time in ages.  The only definite effect was hunger pangs at about 4:00.

If I am brave and strong and play my cards right then this can turn out very well. I tried e-stalking the new doctor, but there isn’t too much online about her, at least on the first couple of google pages.  I’d asked the administrator about her when she called to set up the appointment. I learned that she’s not new; she’s been around for many years. Well, that’s something.  And if I realize that she is not for me, I will be bolder this time and ask to be re-referred. I will.

P.S. If you scroll up and down over the square in the image on top of this post, you’ll see why the two doctor characters are doing the twist.

Those Who Can’t

Considering that I’m not great at focusing and getting things done, I’m really really good at telling others exactly what to do to get things done.

You see, I am perfectly good, and even great, at figuring out the next steps.  It’s clear as day to me: Design the brochure, put together a package, mail it out, follow up with phone calls.  The problem is just preventing myself from reading one just one more episode recap of Nashiville.  (I’m impatient with all the drama and it’s so much more satisfying to find out where all the relationships are headed which, like every soap opera, is nowhere. Knowing the end has absolutely no impact of my enjoyment of any entertainment media or books. But that’s another blog post for another time.)

I am great a organizing my husband. At least, I am great at setting up systems for him, though whether or not he keeps to them is another story. I organize the kids’ rooms but they’re not old enough to appreciate my efforts yet.

My latest attempt at getting someone else to get things done has been aimed at my friend Dinah.  She runs a small business, but the way I see it, she has only just begun to exploit the potential of it. And so I try to tell her what to do.  For the record , she has told me, when asked, that my prompting and nose-sticking is not annoying for her and that she needs a kick in the pants sometimes.  And so I kick. And nudge.

Here’s an example:

I’m trying to get her to do a program with a nearby restaurant.  It wasn’t my idea; it was hers, and it is a good one, in my opinion. I did spend some time hashing out the details with her of what the program would look like, and how to advertise it. I even made her two Instagram posts on the spot so that she could upload them immediately and get moving.   I know how hard it is to start the momentum on a project, but I also know that step one is often the hardest but that the following steps usually schedule themselves.   So I told her to do just one baby step that day, and then I bugged her  about getting that one task done:

Whastapp_convo_2

It’s been almost a week since our initial conversation (though we started talking about expanding her business probably over two months ago).  I sent her this text five days ago, and she didn’t do her ‘homework,’ as she calls it. I saw her again today and started in on her. She’s having a really busy week with guests from out of town and a big event this weekend, but I insisted that she just call the restaurant and book a meeting to talk to them. I promised to remind her about it in the afternoon after the lunch rush.

whatsapp_convo

She hasn’t responded yet.

I know that in order to make things happen for myself, I need to make a commitment to SOMEONE ELSE.  I need to commit to having some material to show someone by a certain date, with the consequence that I will either be very embarrassed about myself, or that I will let someone down if I don’t follow through.

The problem is that very often we only have ourselves to answer to, and it’s not enough. I should say that my problem (and thank heavens for my problems) is that there is nobody in particular who is going to suffer or even be disappointed by the things I neglect to do. I’m not talking about making dinner– I’m an excellent dinner improviser.  I am talking about the things I dream about doing and will myself to do and even make time for myself to do, but don’t.

I don’t know that Dinah is complicated in the exact same way, but I think it’s safe to say she needs someone to answer to, and so I’ve appointed myself. This is me: The life coach. I wonder if I can make a career out of this? On the other hand, if she never follows through, I guess it’s a fail for me. What kind of life coach am I anyway, if I can’t even get a person to make a single phone call?

They say that those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.

I guess I’m a teacher.

Sigh.