Monthly Archives: April 2012

A.D.D. plus E.S.P. = A Mind Field

I used to be a multi-tasker extraordinaire. I remember once when my kids were in elementary school, I baked a blackberry pie while talking on the phone. Those were the days when you had a wall phone with a receiver you could jam into the crook of your neck. (That’s what we called hands-free back then.) I remember my kids kept coming into the kitchen so I could help then with various things. Meanwhile I was washing the berries I had just picked, sifting flour, and rolling out pie crust. All of it seemed effortless. Even the pie turned out to be delicious. I was proud I could handle everything with ease.

I look back and realize that I wasn’t totally present for anything that day—the phone conversation, the kids, the pie. I was getting a lot done, but I wasn’t really experiencing any of it. Now, I want to be more present—to enjoy each moment more fully.

These days I try not to multi-task. I have to do this consciously as I am a Random-Abstract thinker and doer. This term comes from a teaching theory that says people have different brain styles. Some people are very concrete in their analysis, and specific in creating solutions. Some people are more random, pulling from different parts of their brain. Their solutions appear more abstract.

Sometimes Random-Abstract works, especially for creative ventures. It’s a boon to my writing self. Sometimes Random-Abstract is not so good. I can’t tell you how many times I have left eggs boiling on the stove and forgotten them. I’ll think of the perfect phrase for a short story or poem, and head to the computer. I have good intentions of returning to the kitchen, but once sidetracked, I am basically a goner.

One time we were seeing Robert Morse in “Tru” at the McCallum when I suddenly remembered I had been going to make egg salad for lunch. I’d become distracted, leaving the eggs simmering. Two hours later, I looked at my watch: 3:16.

Oh, my god, I thought, the eggs! The water has completely boiled out of the pan! The eggs have exploded! I could visualize the house filled with smoke, the fireman, his ax poised, ready to knock down our front door.

“We have to go home right now,” I told my husband.

“It’s only the beginning of the second act,” he said.

“But, I left eggs on the stove!”

He patted my hand. “No sweat. It’ll be fine.”

That’s the last time he ever said that. We got home and found the house filled with smoke and black soot everywhere. Fortunately our smoke alarm had alerted the fire department. It was all just as I’d imagined, except the front door was intact. That was because our neighbor had stopped the fireman with the ax. “I told him I had the key,” Alex said.

The really eerie thing about that experience was that the Fire Department’s report showed they had arrived exactly at 3:16—just when I remembered the eggs.  My brain certainly functions in abstract ways. I am most likely ADD, but perhaps, I’m ESP wired, as well.

I’d like to report to you that I’m better about leaving things cooking on the stove or water running in a sink or turning off appliances, but why add lying to my sins. A side effect of the problem is that I’ve developed a morbid fear of burning down my house.

I told that to a therapist once. “Sometimes when I’m already in my car I have to go back into the house and check. Do you think that’s OCD?” I asked.

She did and wanted to put me on medication for it. Then I explained my history with the fire department.

Instead of meds, I’ve worked on developing strategies to prevent disaster. I now have a hard and fast rule that I cannot leave the kitchen if I am hard boiling eggs. If I am soaking stuff in the sink, I can’t leave until I have turned off the water. And I buy appliances, which turn themselves off.

So far, so good.

An Ol’ Dog Learns a New Trick

The Kitchen Sink

I am a personal growth story. Unlike Peter Pan and his crowd, I do want to grow up. I’m constantly striving for a calm center, something I wasn’t born with either physically or mentally. Nature and nurture didn’t endow me with the traits to achieve an inner peace—probably the opposite. But you can teach an old dog new tricks. I am learning.

Last Saturday was a perfect example. I was cleaning my kitchen and decided to get rid of some uncooked pasta that had been sitting opened and unused for over a month. I looked at the package and at the garbage pail. (I’m very proud of how little garbage we have. I am an excellent recycler. Now, there goes the hubris! Pride goes before a fall.) I could have thrown the package away, but I decided to put the noodles down the disposal. (Quite off the subject, I do have this conflict quite often. Which is better for the environment—less objects in the landfill or less use of water and electricity?)

As I fed the thin pieces of pasta into the disposal I did wonder if I could be creating glue. I have to say in 40 years, I’ve never done anything like this. My parents were of the Depression Era, and their mentality was passed to me. Never throw away anything you can use. But this time, I was going to do it. We used to like angel hair pasta, now we like a thicker noodle. So why keep this opened package and or eat what we wouldn’t like? Ah, the everyday domestic dilemmas.

So, after a minute the disposal started sounding like it was having lung failure. The sink began to back up and a whirlpool began to eddy across the ever-rising tide. Then it looked like an elfin ghost was water skiing across the center of my sink.

You can imagine my consternation. I turned off the disposal. I got under the sink and started cranking the little do-hicky that’s supposed to unstick the motor. But that wasn’t the issue. The motor wasn’t stuck. I stuck my hand down the sink and began picking out tiny pieces of pasta. This didn’t really help because the problem was that I had, in fact, made glue.

You might be wondering what the moral of this story is. Well, I won’t keep you in suspense. What I learned that day was that it wasn’t necessary to panic. For some reason, I remained calm. I tried to fix it and when it wouldn’t work, I just said, “Oh, well. I guess the plumber will do it on Monday.” My normal reaction would be that it was the end of the world that our kitchen sink wouldn’t be functional for two days.

And the amazing thing was that when I returned from buying take-out, the sink had unclogged itself. I saved so much wear and tear on my body by not worrying, and then the issue resolved itself! Talk about an energy saver.

I wonder if I can do that again.