Tag Archives: ADD

Email of the damned

I woke at three. By 3:15, I was composing an email in my head to Elder Son, aka the ‘alternate executor’ of both K’s and my estates.

“Rent a storage pod / Put all bedroom bookcases and books in it / Put half the chairs on the first floor in it / Empty basement as best you can.”

“The house’ll show better. Then later, hire a truck to ship stuff you want out west.”

Basement? OMG. Unfinished work is a topic that often keeps me awake, even absent a pandemic. One quilt, in particular, sprang to mind.

It was the less cheery of a pair, both constructed in the unhappy aftermath of Younger Son breaking his arm twice. The second skateboard fall required surgery and meant he started high school with a heavy, itchy cast — not an auspicious beginning in the least.

The Cheery Quilt (finished, below) was made almost as an antidote to the other, with sunflowers in the sky and a bright red house made of flannel plaid with associations to a happier time (Christmas pj’s made for him in elementary school).

The Dark Quilt quilt (above) used a lot of the same fabrics but bleached to represent the joyless aftermath of trauma. This time the house is constructed of deep indigo/ghost white prints to represent X-rays.

Where was it? At 3:45, I trotted down to the basement, determined and curious.

Link to process post about Ghost Xray quilt here. Post about bleaching fabrics and cheerier quilt composition here. Dated 2012 and 2011, respectively (ahem).

The Ghost quilt was in the dresser where I thought it would be. Exultation! But, oh my — how many unfinished projects I had to paw through to find it! I laid piece after piece down on the floor like a colorful cloth sidewalk to nowhere. Or maybe like a path leading straight into a big cloth, working along with Ragmates and Jude?

The Ghost Xray quilt stinks, of course, all the cloth down there does now — so it’s out on the Yew. The Impossibly Large Yew. I flapped the quilt out next to a red blanket that spent the last ten days soaking up rain and freezing in the cold. It had reeked of dog even post-wash. I was afraid it might’ve gone from dog-stink to mildew-stink given the time lapse, but no! It smells like spring. Delicious.

By 4 am, I had careened from concerns about children emptying this stuffed house to my central creative dilemma — finishing work. I don’t want advice or sympathy right now, but it helps to admit this (again) and witness it, maybe with a more balanced lens.

My impulses are good — both the creative and the personal. It feels important to acknowledge this as I beat myself up. There’s a deep river of generosity here. I am passionate about things. I care.

But the daunting business of completing work? Ugh, it really gets me down.

Elder Son’s blanket has, of course, stalled as I pump out masks. I’ve promised about 20 to friends (arg!)

Today, I have to stick to my routine of doing two crossword puzzles — if for no other reason that to let my psyche know that it’s Sunday! Then, maybe I’ll amp up the mask-making a little, to get it behind me.

Then, I need my almost-daily ritual of yard work. MAYBE there won’t be any fucking leaf blowers today, it being Sunday. Yesterday four (FOUR!) crews buzzed and whined their way through very-near-lots, two blowers each. At one point, I put on my ear buds. Next thing you know I’ll be embarrassing myself dancing to ‘Watermelon Sugar’ or ‘Old Town Road’ in full view of the neighbors.

Would that be such a bad thing?

 

What’s in your front closet?

Besides shoe polish, stationery, my pocketbook, travel pillows, the basket for rogue socks, and a pile of shirts to be ironed, there were many bins of fabric in my front closet. How did they get there? Was there a party I didn’t know about?

Just kidding! How else to keep several compositions going without running to the basement every other minute?

The closet had to be mostly emptied this weekend because I sold a cute patchwork purse on Etsy last week and cannot find it. Anywhere. This in spite of the fact that I took over one of the boys’ rooms as a “store.”

I’ve looked in all the right places and all the crazy places. Pulled furniture from walls. Looked in attic luggage and under car seats (don’t ask). Looked using casual side eye and with focused attention using a flashlight. Nada.

And to make matters worse? I can’t help but keep a rough tabulation of my time at this point — something I generally avoid because the numbers tend to be depressing.

A very generous guess puts my hourly rate at about $5 / hour for this pouch — which was machine pieced, hand quilted, machine and hand bound. There’s a Chinese closure which was hand stitched on. That rate excludes shipping and handling time (– another hour minimum). With every hour of searching, the rate goes down. And down.

Good thing the buyer is my cousin!

I will be making another pouch. A different one, of course, because all my cloth work is one of a kind. A weird pressure arises because the one my cousin bought came out really nice and they don’t all — ya know?

If the search hadn’t been so thorough, here’s where I’d joke that the damn thing will probably turn up the the second I finish a replacement. But I won’t now because it feels well and truly gone. I am mystified.

Leprechauns, for sure. What else could it be?

Also, what’s on your fridge?

ADD and Deadlines

One of the reasons I didn’t know I had ADD until my thirties is because I functioned well as a student. I could organize myself around deadlines and wanted to excel and did. Except for freshman year of college, once I left home there were always jobs, too — providing more structure.

Nineteen of the first thirty years of my life were spent attending school.

The free-for-all business of raising two “highly active” boys was another matter altogether. When the younger son was tested for ADD, we checked all the same boxes.

Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare. Ed Asner

So now I know.

Next Wednesday (five days from now) is the first of my “Last Wednesday” Etsy store updates. It’s an experiment in promotion and setting deadlines. All of a sudden, I have a half dozen quilts to finish!

I probably will, even though my brand of ADD makes finishing things waaaaaay harder than starting them. So stay tuned!

Now if only I could impose a deadline for a first draft. Or rather (since I’ve done so multiple times), if only I could impose one that worked.

Wait and Attend!


A lot of waiting going on here. My sister went into the hospital the day K and I flew to Boulder last week. There I was walking along the foothills of the Rockies trying this hospital, then that, trying to find out where the ambulance took her. I sat on a rock in the morning sun. Cows lowed nearby, steam rising off their bulk. The nurse had called earlier to say the apartment was locked and appeared to be empty. I got good at leaving hospital web pages up in Safari and hitting the call button. She was in Beverly, turns out.

She’s home again but perhaps shouldn’t be. She cannot eat. Cannot keep meds down. Can barely scooch herself off of the (new) hospital bed onto the potty-chair. I am talking with everyone — the VNA personnel, the North Shore Elder staff, the PT who couldn’t get a hold of her, her psychic friend in Vancouver.

I’m googling all manner of depressing physical symptoms.


I spent the night with her before we flew to Boulder, sleeping on the floor. Her psychic friend had called that morning to say, “If I could SEE her, I’d know.” It’s hard to gauge these things. I honestly thought she might die while we were away, knowing how some people need that — the absence of their loved ones rather than their attendance.

[The nurse just called from my sister’s. They’re readmitting her. This is very good news. I asked a direct question and got even better news, “No, the end is not near,” she ventured. “She’s got a lot of life left in her.”]

Meanwhile, Finn ran away from his dog walker yesterday, running the mile and a half home along busy, well-traveled roads. There I was standing in the line at Marshall’s buying chocolate when I should have been at CVS buying a temporary mouth guard (more on that below). “He’s probably running home. Call your neighbor.” And so I did. I called the one that Finn tried to bite once. She let him in ten minutes later to my enormous relief, but it didn’t spare me the drive home during which I couldn’t help but scan the sides of the roads for an immobile, black heap.

And about that mouth guard. I left a messenger bag in the cab coming from the airport on Monday. This is me, off of ADD meds. I’ve been waiting (with diminishing hope) for a call from the Boston Airport Taxi Lost and Found (it’s not just me, as it turns out). The police officer James took down the hack number, time of pick up and drop off, the cab company and told me not to give up hope. But that was yesterday morning. Now, I’ve pretty much given up hope.

Are you ready for what was in the bag?

  • Laptop.
  • Bose noise-cancelling headphones.
  • New blue tooth ear buds (a total splurge).
  • A quilt I’d put umpteen hours into.
  • My $600 mouth guard.
  • My brand new, barely begun Michael Twitty book, “The Cooking Gene.”
  • A three page list of passwords.

Because I’d backed up my manuscript an hour before we left, I almost don’t care. About any of it. Seriously. It’s just money. It’s not four feet of water in my house. It’s not the prospect of no power for weeks. It’s not a town leveled by wind. It’s not a dead dog on the side of the road. And it’s not sleep interrupted to make watery squirts into a plastic bucket.

No, what bothers me about the loss is what this lapse of attention represents.

Because of an aberrant EKG two weeks ago (you may have read about it before I made the post private), as well as my first EVER high blood pressure reading, I’m off the stimulant meds. I WANT to be off for good. I’m committed. But to be this rattled?


“Where’s my phone?” I can be heard saying at any given hour of the day. “Where’s my phone?” (K says with kind realism: “You never can find your phone, you know, even on meds.”)

Okay. Okay.

But, I nearly left the same messenger bag in the Denver Airport four days earlier. And I DID leave my Daily Pages in a shop on Pearl Street in Boulder the day of our departure. We’re talking about a full-sized spiral bound notebook!

And so, I had to wonder — do I want to leave this writing project behind so badly I’d inconvenience myself to this astonishing a degree?

My brother says things will settle — in about a month. Meanwhile, I wonder what else I can possibly lose in the interim.

A silver lining must be mentioned before I trundle off to hunt down my Replacement Daily Pages (yes, I lose them in the house, too, and yes, it was that way before). I’ve missed my laptop. It’s almost like having lost a companion and so its loss is not quite purely pecuniary. But, here’s the silver lining — how great it’s been to want to work, to notice the longing to flip the computer open and GO. I cannot remember when I last felt this way. Have I EVER? There’s been a lot of bruising resistance, overpowering doubt, and the suffocating sense of obligation. Productive hours, too, but still.

So that’s good, right? Now I access the files on the PC and I’m reminded how much faster I type on an honest-to-goodness keyboard. So maybe that’s a good thing, too.

Needless to say, I will replace those expensive, noise-cancelling head phones (we are enduring the seventeenth week of jack hammering as I type. In addition, Aftercare has distributed recorders to the kids across the fence and a handful of them are tooting the same note over and over again). I’ve scheduled a dentist appointment for a new mouth guard (probably costs way more than $600 now). Plus, earlier today, I ordered replacement ear buds. Murphy’s Law says that if the bag is to show up, now would be the time.By the way, the folks at the Pearl Street shop who found my Daily Pages (“Oh yes! The notebook with a photo of a very pregnant Serena Williams in the front sleeve? It was in the restroom”) offered to ship it to me gratis. How incredibly nice! I have two parallel fantasies about this. One: they read enough to feel utterly sorry for me. Or, two: they read the rare powerhouse page and thought — this is some writer! We don’t want to get in her way.

It’s probably neither, but it’s fun to imagine.

Pinning a plot


This morning I pinned half of my manuscript’s 156 chapter titles to design boards. I’m really hoping my cut and paste exercise exemplifies what success-guru Tim Ferriss calls, ‘taking weaknesses and turning them into competitive advantages’ — but I’m not sure, for you know, the Time Waster has a lot of guile at her disposal.

I am a visual/kinetic thinker with ADD — making me long on intuition and creativity and short on finishing and organizing skills. The one is as glorious as the other is treacherous. Some days all I can ask myself is — what good are these creative gifts if I don’t finish a fucking thing?

In college when I had a paper due, I got busy rearranging the furniture. Although the tactic took up a fair amount of time, it wasn’t pure procrastination — some important visual and kinetic organizing was taking place. I couldn’t explain it then and can’t explain it now, but it still makes total sense. Maybe pinning a plot to a design board operates with the same inexplicable logic?

With 156 chapters committed to word files, plus another 50+ scenes typed up and housed in word files I call, Silos One through Five, plus stacks and stacks of notebooks holding scenes that have not yet been typed up, plus stray pieces of paper notating important revisions arising from ongoing research — I am way past the point where my pea brain can easily remember, study, or evaluate what I’ve got here.


After a week away, it can be hard to get back in and for this reason, I turned to colored pencils. Anything involving colored pencils can’t be that bad, right? I added quick stripes of color to the chapter titles: Melody — green; Saffron — orange (naturally); Eliza — purple; omniscient narrator — blue; Mo — yellow paper. I love tricking the Time Waster with a wily maneuver of my own.

I’m pretty sure the plot-pinning on design boards does not constitute procrastination, but writing this post does, so let me share two very brief and immediate confirmations — and then, back to it! Each column tracks a character — Saffron on the left, Melody in the middle, and Eliza on the right. If you’re invested in Melody’s character, you will be disappointed and if you take umbrage at the amount of content devoted to the only white main character (Eliza), then you will be annoyed. I want to carry my readers along, not disappoint or annoy them! I have ideas about how to fix this.

The exercise also confirmed that I have too many many opening scenes, one of them coming at about chapter 25. This cannot stand. Some movie reviewer lambasted the most recent Batman movie for having seven opening scenes and I really took note of the critique at the time because I had a hunch it applied here. How to fix this problem is less obvious, but I suspect it will involved ruthless editing.

May you also turn your weaknesses into strengths this week — and, if you have a notion of how to do so, or how you’ve done so, I’d love to hear about it.