Rockin’ the Vote

You should vote for me for President because I would do a fantastic job.

Right.  Who am I kidding?  I would make a terrible President.  When I read the sentence prompt out loud to my kids to see what they thought, my oldest son finished the sentence for me:  “You should vote for me for President because I have a tiny horse.”

“I don’t have a horse, tiny or otherwise,” I reminded him.

“Then you shouldn’t be President.”

“But Obama doesn’t have a horse.”

“There ya go, Mom.  There ya go.”  He gave me a knowing look and retreated into his video game.

So much for getting any input from him.  I refuse to write a blog post based on the premise that a tiny horse would make me a good President of the United States.  Possibly President of some organization that involves being cruel to helpless animals, as it would indeed be very cruel to put a large woman on a tiny horse.

chinco

Before I veer wildly off into a tangent about Chincoteague ponies and start making immature and totally inappropriate jokes about the word “Assateague,” I had better find my way back to the topic at hand.  But since I think we can all agree that I would make a terrible President of anything, I’m going to change it up a little.

You should not vote for me for President because I would do a terrible job, and here are six very good reasons why not.

1.  I could never balance the budget. Hell, I can’t even balance my checking account.  I think I paid more in bounced check fees last year than I paid in rent.

2.  I am a sucker for a sad story or some crocodile tears. It’s true; I work in a high school/middle school lunchroom, and I believe every ridiculous excuse as long as it’s given with a trembling lower lip or a pair of glistening eyes.   I can be tough as nails toward any kid who gives me attitude, but a sad little face can get away with murder.

Now, imagine me in the Oval Office.  “Now, Mr. Putin, I’ll let it go this time, but you really need to be more considerate of the people around you.  You just put your nuclear devices away and don’t bring them with you to America next time.  And here, take this cookie with you.”

3.  I am incapable of keeping my mouth shut. Secrets?  What secrets?  If it goes in my ears, it comes out my mouth, usually without spending any time rolling around in my brain first.   Just stop and think about all of the wonderful juicy tidbits of United States’ gallimaufry that would become common knowledge if I were President.

4.  I am the kind of person who uses the word “gallimaufry” in a sentence. And giggles about it.  That should preclude my holding any kind of political office.  Or having any kind of responsibility, really.

5.  I get that ADHD hyperfocus thing. Never heard of hyperfocus?  Oh, please, do let me explain.  People with ADHD aren’t always frenetic and scattered.  We only bounce off walls and ceilings some of the time.  At other times, we can have an almost superhuman ability to focus on one thing to the exclusion of absolutely everything else in the entire universe.   The trouble with this is that we have little to no ability to control exactly what we’re going to focus on at any given time.  I once spent forty-five minutes watching a Pringles can roll slowly back and forth across a cement courtyard in a gentle summer breeze.  It was boring as hell, and I had things I should have been doing instead, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away.  If I did, I might have missed that can rolling in a new and unknown direction.  God forbid.

Here’s another example.  I remember sitting in the living room one day when I was ten or eleven years old, reading a book.  I can still see The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, and I remember that there was some kind of fuss going on in my house.  In retrospect, it was a rather panicky fuss, with a lot of shouting and running back and forth, and a lot of people who really didn’t belong there at the time if I had really stopped to think about it.  But I just couldn’t stop reading that book.

Not until the nice fireman pulled it out of my hands, informed me that the kitchen was on fire, and asked me rather impatiently if I would please wait outside while he and his men finished putting out the fire.

Hyperfocus.  I can just picture the rest of the White House staff awaiting my yay or nay regarding World War III while I hyperfocus the afternoon away wondering which way that tiny ball of sweat is going to go when it falls of the Secretary of Defense’s nose.

6.  I wouldn’t know what to call my husband – providing, of course, that I ever have one of those again. But hey, it’s a hypothetical question, so I can have a hypothetical husband if I want to.  And I’m thinking that my hypothetical First Man is going to be a handsome son of a bitch, with broad shoulders, a full head of hair, and eyes that are any color other than blue.  He’ll be a great kisser, of course, and he’ll have a definite preference for chunky middle-aged women.  He’ll have a great smile, and when he touches me I’ll . . .

I’m sorry, what was the question?

This post is part of Finish the Sentence Friday, in which writers and bloggers finish a sentence and “link up” their posts. This week’s sentence was “You should vote for me for President because…”  

For information on Finish the Sentence Friday,Join our Facebook page! 

(Gallimaufry:  a hodgepodge; jumble; confused medley.)

Advertisements

K.T.I.

The Big Guy has a term for certain people in his life:  Knob Twisting Idiots, or KTI’s.

As he explains it, a smart person will solve a problem by turning one knob or pressing one button at a time, gauging the results, and moving on to another knob or button, and so on until the problem is identified and can be repaired.   But a KTI will jump into a situation and fiddle with every possible knob, button and lever at the same time until something works, and will then be utterly bewildered as to just exactly which knob fixed what problem.

Yesterday, I behaved like a true KTI.  I fiddled with my blog.

Prior to yesterday, my all-time high for views on my blog was nineteen.  Not great, I know, but I was still proud of it.  I just wanted to do better.

So I did some research in ways to increase traffic.  I commented on some blogs that caught my eye.  I opened a Twitter account and shared a couple of my posts there.     I asked for feedback from the folks at Daily Press.   I shared a few posts on my Facebook page.  I narrowed the focus of my blog and I searched for other blogs with a similar focus, and then I started following the ones I thought I could learn from.

As a result, yesterday brought 114 views of my blog.  From nineteen to 114, in one day.

Woot-woot, I did something right.

But, er, what?

As an adult with ADHD, I have had to learn to be methodical about everything.  I get through my day with lists and self-imposed checkpoints to keep myself on track.  I have to have a routine for everything I do, or my days will just slip away into a frustrating mass of projects that are started and not finished.  I even set a timer to thirty-minute intervals to remind myself that i’m supposed to be doing something.

In short, I must be the exact opposite of a KTI.

So I’m not sure what possessed me to behave like one yesterday.  It would have been smarter to make one change each day or every other day in order to see what would be the most effective.  Oops.    I guess my next move is going to have to be to just sit back and watch what happens, see how things play out.

Lesson learned.

For now, anyway. Until the timer goes off or I find another shiny knob to twist.

Pretty Pretty Shiny Shiny

Question:  How many people with ADHD does it take to change a light bulb?

 Answer:  Let’s go for a bike ride!

No matter how much I want to write my novel, I struggle every day with focus.  I am so easily distracted that it is a major effort for me to keep my mind on the chapter I am writing.  I start thinking about the next chapter, or about the short story I want to write, or about the fabulous book I just read, or about the pretty cardinal on the tree outside my window, or . . .

In the wise words of my nephew, it shouldn’t be called ADHD.  It should be ADOS:  Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny!

Now that I have all of this free time, I’ve been doing some research into things like writing software and writing networks or websites.    I’ve joined Romance Writers of America, which has provided me with some fabulous online classes and discussion groups to improve my skills.    I have my blog here on WordPress and I just started a Twitter account, although I freely admit to being utterly clueless about things like Tweets and hashtags.

#OverMyHead

All of this technology begs the question:  Is it really helping me write my novel, or is it just a whole new bunch of shiny objects?

A few weeks ago, I splurged on a program called WriteWay.  It’s sort of a template for organizing one’s thoughts while writing.  A writer can set up note cards for characters and chapters or even scene-by-scene diagrams.  There are places to plug in research and new ideas and comments.  It is incredible.

In theory, anyway.

In reality, I’m starting to realize that it’s just another distraction so far.   I have spent so much time setting it up and learning my way around that I haven’t really accomplished anything.    Well, that’s not entirely true.  It has really helped me in two ways.

It has helped me really define my characters in much more depth.  I always thought it was silly to come up with all kinds of background information for my characters if that information wasn’t going to be part of the actual story.   Really, is it important to know the Hero’s birth order or favorite song?  Does it matter that he’s allergic to peanut butter or that his father abandoned the family when he was only two years old?

I’m exaggerating, of course, but I have learned that it really does help me to know my characters better.  If I can’t see them as fully-developed three-dimensional people, how can I make anyone else see them that way?

Now my character Evan has a reason to fight for his grandmother’s house, as well as a very good reason to avoid falling in love with Tara.  And poor Tara has become far less pathetic.  Her quirkiness now has a cause beyond Let’s-Make-Her-Interesting-For-No-Apparent-Reason-Syndrome.  And there is a villain now, although for the life of me I can’t come up with a name for her.  She’s a Barbara, no doubt about it, but I have a Barbara in my life who is nothing like this character and who would probably be supremely offended.

The other lesson I have learned from WriteWay is that I am nowhere near as prepared to write this book as I thought I was.  I know the beginning and I know how it’s going to end, but everything in the middle is just a big ol’ melodramatic muddle.  With a couple of very awkward sex scenes in which I tried really hard to find synonyms for “erection”.

In the long run, I think this is going to be a big help, as soon as I stop being overwhelmed and start buckling down.   I’m the kind of person who needs direction, and I am hoping that this will give me that direction.  Otherwise, I’m afraid I’m just going to continue meandering helplessly from scene to scene without ever writing the actual story.

I’d like to hear from other writers about WriteWay or other writing software programs.  What do you think:  distractions or direction?  Worth the money, or a useless extravagance?

And what the heck am I supposed to do now that I’m on Twitter?

My Big Five

If I could be the average of the five people I spend the most time with, I would surround myself with people who know how to laugh, who persevere, and who are good-hearted. Some of the people on my list are no longer on this Earth, and some are celebrities I will probably never meet, but it’s my fantasy list. I can manipulate reality all I like.

The first person I would choose would be my father, because of his sense of humor. Dad lived a hard life, and I’m sure he had a few regrets at different times, but he always seemed to bounce back from life’s hardest hits with a smile and a joke. The jokes weren’t always funny, but he always made the effort to laugh – and to make those around him laugh, too.

If I’m lucky, I’ve inherited at least a portion of his ability to see the funny side of every situation, no matter how horrible.

I would choose my big sister next, because she has all of the organization and initiative that is so lacking in my life. She never misses appointments or forgets to return a phone call; she sends birthday cards on time; she works an incredibly high-stress job and runs her household and still makes time to read and improve herself every day.

She’s Super Girl – but still human and likeable.

She’s . . . a Big Sister, even if she has told me repeatedly that we are the same age now that we are over thirty.

Christopher Reeve would have a place on my list, too. Really, he should be on everyone’s list. I’m sure he had moments of despair after his accident, but the other moments were stronger. The moments when he faced the facts about his paralysis and went forward with his life anyway. The moments when he moved forward help others with spinal injuries.

Next on my list is Nancy Gideon, one of my favorite authors. She writes her books while working full-time and raising her children. She also makes time to help aspiring authors any way she can. If I could just gain the tiniest bit of her motivation and ability to follow through and finish things, I might actually be published.

Comedian Mark Lowry is the final person on my list of five. Once again, I could benefit from spending time with a person who is able to see the funny side of every situation. But Lowry also has a deep faith in God and family; his unique way of explaining God’s word has helped me through many situations when I was full of questions and short on belief.

Lowry has also dealt with ADHD, and many of his routines are about the impact this condition has on adults and children. Whenever I get frustrated because my train of thought has left the station for points unknown, his comedy routines help me remember that my ADHD also gives me the gift of creativity and makes me who I am.

Dad, Big Sis, Christopher Reeve, Nancy Gideon and Mark Lowry. What a group.

Six Degrees of Brian Dennehy

Maybe it’s because of my ADHD, but I have a tendency to throw wrong words into a conversation for no discernible reason.   I know what I want to say, and to the best of my knowledge the right words are speeding on their way to my mouth – and then my brain jumps ahead to a different thought while my mouth is still wrapping up the first one.

And I end up saying things like, “That sale ends tomorrow, so your father and I are going to get up early to go dancing.”

Now, I’m not thinking about dancing.  I may be thinking about any of a variety of subjects, but I can guarantee that dancing is not one of them.  The word just pops out of nowhere.

I’ve always done this, but it has definitely gotten worse with age.   “Mommy brain” is part of it, and so is stress, but sometimes there is just no explanation for what I say.  At work, I once told a client I’d start her haircut as soon as I got some forks out of the sanitizer.  The irritating part is that I didn’t realize it as I continued to substitute fork for comb through the entire service.

I guess it’s not all that difficult to understand why that particular client went to a different stylist after that.

My kids and husband have learned to translate for me.  “Has anybody seen my goulash?”  I’ll say.

“Purse?”

“Coat?”

“Keys?”

By which point I have probably already found my gloves.

My Dad did the same thing, but we blamed it on beer or his general absentmindedness.  In his case, the part of his brain that threw in random words was also the part of his brain that resided firmly in the gutter.  On one memorable visit to my sister at college, he regaled the roomful of girls with a fascinating story about a co-worker who had broken his sternum in an accident.

“Can you imagine the pain of a broken sternum?”  He asked.  “I mean, the sternum is right there in your core.   You can’t really move without having an effect on your sternum.  Yessir, a broken sternum’s got to be just about the most painful thing you can have.  I sure would hate to have anything happen to my sternum.”

Now, go back and read that again, but this time substitute scrotum for sternum.  Every single time.  He honestly had no idea he was saying it.  Loud, proud, and several times.

Dad also had a knack for not remembering the names of the celebrities he wanted to talk about.  He could remember the most intricate details of their careers, who they were married to, and so on, but names were details he just couldn’t grasp.

“You know that one actor,”  he would begin, and my sisters and I would roll our eyes and get ready for the ride; “that one guy who was in the movie with that other guy who was married to the girl who did that priest movie with the guy from the doctor show?  Not the doctor show with the guy who sold coffeepots, or the doctor show with the firemen and that Indian that you girls always had a crush on, but the other doctor show?  You know the guy I’m talking about, right?”

The answer, by the way, was always Brian Dennehy.

Just this morning, I had almost that exact conversation with my husband about a DVD I want for Christmas.  “It’s the remake,” I told him.  “The one with that one actress.  You know, the one whose dad was married to the woman from movie where the robots take over?  It had that bald guy that my mom thought was sexy, the guy who was in the musical with the lady from that movie with the guy that did all the Hitchcock movies.”

“Honey, you’re doing it again,” the Big Guy said gently.

I just hope he figures out that I want “Emma” with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Filtration

I am a blurter.  I admit it.   Clever things have a way of popping into my head and shooting out my mouth before I have time to realize that they really aren’t all that clever.

I’ve been told it’s part of my ADHD, which apparently causes problems with impulse control.  To me,  “impulse control” sounds like a problem with overspending or  kleptomania, not about saying idiotic things I have no business saying.

It has more to do with the fact that I can’t stand silence when there are other people around.  Silence is uncomfortable and awkward, and I feel like it’s my inherent responsibility to fill that silence with words.  Unfortunately, I don’t seem to feel that same inherent responsibility toward thinking about what those words should be before I blurt them out.

When I was a hairdresser, clients loved it.  They thought I was saying outrageous things to earn better tips.  “My husband won’t let me cut my hair,” a woman would say.  “Tell him to sleep with a wig,” I’d retort.  “Does this make me look sexy?”  Another would ask.  “I’d do you myself,” I’d assure her.

I talk about my sex life or my husband’s annoying habits or the most recent argument with one of my kids.   Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat because the reality of something I said earlier in the day has just hit me, and I can’t go back to sleep until I’ve confirmed it with my husband.

“Did I really tell the neighbor she’s nagging the hell out of me?”  I’ll demand, shaking him awake.

“Not in those exact words.”

“What were my ‘exact words’?”

“Something along the lines of ‘I’ve got a set of anal beads that haven’t been as far up my ass as you are right now.”

Basically, it boils down to a problem with filters:  I don’t have any.  I’ve been told that most people are able to think an idea through, turn it over in their brain a time or two, and then speak.  If that’s true, I really envy those people.  For me, by the time I think about saying something, it’s already out there.

My doctors say it’s because of the head injury that I suffered when the tree landed on me, but my family members all know I was like this before that night.    Kind of like the short-term memory issues and difficulty focusing.  If they want to blame our friendly neighborhood maple tree, they can, but my family and friends know I’ve always been like this.

It can be summed up by sharing the conversation that took place in the recovery room after the neurosurgeon rebuilt my spine the next day.   I remember waking up feeling grumpy and scared and sore and when a visitor leaned in a little too close, I let her have it with every bit of pent-up anger and bad feelings I had ever felt toward her.

“Oh, God,” my husband said; “Her filters aren’t working.”

My sister looked at him in surprise and asked,  “She has filters?”