People like lists.
They help us sort through messes and give the illusion of organization…getting our shit together, getting ‘er done.
For the ADDs — guilty as charged — lists keep us focused on what should matter, cutting out endless distraction.
Except…distraction is what I most need right now.
Growing up, I wrote lists for everything, from daily chores to traits of the man I’d marry (he broke every one). My mom and brother laughed uproariously when they read a random Monday from my Day-at-a-Glance, the bible for Type A Perfectionists everywhere.
“‘Wake up,’” my mom roared, sharing the page with my younger brother James. “Look at this!”
“OMG, sis. ‘Brush teeth.’ WTF?! You’re insane!”
I didn’t get the joke. I still don’t.
Anyway… since everyone on Medium’s making lists, here’s mine:
Things I do to keep from losing my shit when I probably have every right to lose my shit, because people are getting dumber by the minute…etc.:
- Bake. If you haven’t noticed by now from the pictures, I love to feed people. I don’t eat any of the cookies, breads, and cakes I make from scratch. Or I’d be fatter than I already am. I’m less than a week away from another major move (that’s two in one year, during COVID), out of state, and all I can do is bake up a storm to keep from stressing about it. There are only three people living in this cramped rental. So, I resort to giving away my baked goods to friends and neighbors, anyone I can think of, my dentist after an emergency checkup, the owners of a bar I interviewed last summer for a farm-to-table feature. Baking is my mental Zen getaway, and allows me to care for you through my love language: too much food.
- Music. I tend to listen to the same 20 songs on rotation, driving my family insane. A friend recently told me that that’s a tell-tale sign of someone with ADD. I can’t think straight, much less write on deadline, without listening to music on my headphones at full blast. I’ve always needed a radio near my head, even to fall asleep. My parents would go at it nearly every night before their terrible divorce (when I was just seven). Cops were called. That’s how bad it got. I think tuning out with the Top 40 was my childlike way of tuning them out. And, it stuck. Music also opens up some kind of freakish portal of inspiration. I can’t tell you how many stories that wrote itself because Lady Gaga was on a (rock ‘n) roll, or Guns ’N’ Roses struck a fiery guitar chord. Two years ago, during a dry spell staring at blank screens, I believe the spirit of my deceased friend Karyna summoned up an unlikely savior in the form of an old ’70s Hall & Oates song, “Wait For Me,” which opened up the writing floodgates. “Wait For Me” played at the tail-end of “Mr. Robot,” and something clicked. That seemingly random song broke through the walls of grief (from losing my friend so suddenly) and my chronic lack of self-confidence, unlocking the writer warrior in me.
- Movies. I was raised on the radio and the movies. Every weekend, I’d go to the neighborhood theater for Saturday morning matinee cartoons and the latest blockbuster later that night. I saw everything back then, from the front-center row, armed with my jumbo buttered popcorn, hot dog, large Coke, and Raisinets: “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Towering Inferno,” “Logan’s Run,” “Jonathan Livingston Seagull…” Whenever the world gets to be too much, I search for really engaging movies to stream on TV, featuring character actors and character-driven stories that make you give a damn. They’re getting harder and harder to find. For every “The Shape of Water,” you have to wade through a thousand preachy “Antebellums” dutifully going over a woke, virtue-signaling checklist of talking points. “The Shape of Water’s” a bonafide gem in the rough, a modern-day “Starman.” You’ll be a better person for it.
- Read. My reading material’s a little different from the average PTA mom. I prefer Stephen King for my fiction, biographies of serial killers and multiple personalities, sometimes a little Agatha Christie murder-mystery. The sicker, the better. The worse I feel, the more I need to be scared out of my mind. Counter-intuitive, I know. But I find comfort and safety in the most extreme, terrifying situations set up as entertainment. (“Criminal Minds,” the early edition, was my jam. Obvi.)
- Crochet/Photography/Bird watching. I ran out of people to crochet afghans and scarves for, so I’m taking a break. Plus, Covid. I also used to look forward to taking pictures of my son playing high school and rec sports. But he’s grown now, and…Covid. The safest form of recreation has got to be bird watching. You can look for eagles, herons, and hummingbirds solo or in a group, safely, socially distanced and masked up. All you really need is a pair of binoculars for the thrill of your life. You don’t even have to go anywhere. Just set up a chair for the “Big Sit,” and watch the technicolor show.
One day, when I rustle up enough courage. And money. I may go back to school to study law, just for the fun of it. I remember how engrossing my one and only Media & Law class — required for a journalism major — turned out to be. The volumes of thick precedents didn’t intimidate me one bit.
A psychic once told my mom when we were very small that I would’ve done better in life had I been born a man, because then, I would’ve been a rich and successful lawyer.