Monday, December 14, 2009

Aw, what a card.

Because of some insane spark of inspiration that washed over me, I eagerly decided tonight to blog about Christmas cards. I was pretty sure that I once wrote a post about cards at some point. And whoa, I did indeed write one -- one day short of 2 years ago and available here for your reading pleasure. The timing coincidence on that is cute and all. But you could have knocked me over with a candy cane when I read my follow up post. Seriously, my eyes bugged out like one of those kids on a creepy oil painting when I read this:

Several weeks ago, I started addressing envelopes, including the one for M., a friend of mine. However, I learned recently that our friendship's not worth the 41 cents it'd take to mail the card.

OK, two things:

First, someone really needed to spike the eggnog for my 2007 self with a big ol' shot of get over yourself. Basically, I expected M. to read my mind about something that I also blew out of proportion, and he didn't. I'd go further with the story, but then you'd be thinking, "why am I reading this middle school girl's blog?"

Second, and even more hilarious, M. recently moved and emailed me his new address today. You know, so that the card I'll be sending reaches him. And I'll be getting one from him, of course. After we went back and forth on email for quite a while, we finally chatted on the phone for a bit and had a nice conversation.

My point with the M. story is that sometimes (ok, often), the ADD brain gets all caught up in chasing after the shiny thing in front of it. And, if you're me, that's great if the shiny thing is a sweet patent leather handbag like I got last year for 70 percent off. But if the shiny thing is some petty drama that you can't release from your craw, then for us to spend our mental energy on it is a futile mission that has one victim: ourselves. I maybe see M. once a year, and I do recall that it took me several months to "get over it". And I'm glad that I did, as he's an even bigger goofball than I am, and we always have a hilarious time together.

I'm glad that I could catch you up with the happy continuation of M. and my friendship. But now, on to the main point that I wanted make here about Christmas cards.

As per usual this year, I fired up the ol' spreadsheet shortly after Thanksgiving and started to type up the list of folks to whom I'd be sending cards. I was going to be placing an order for cards, so I wanted to make sure that I ordered the right amount. I did weed out a few names (sans the middle school drama), but I noticed that I added many more this year.

The completed list included 50 names, which is more than I ever had on my Christmas card list. And weirdly enough, I didn't feel my typical dread of writing, addressing, sealing, stamping, and mailing. Instead, I looked at the names and realized that I was happy to have these folks in my life. I even thought that about my cousin who openly bemoans my dubious urban singleton lifestyle to anyone within earshot, never mind the fact that I like to travel outside my area code. (Having a million entertainment stories, dates with cute guys, and seeing the world? Priceless!)

I think it very easy to get caught up in the hullabaloo of the holidays. TV ads tout "the perfect Christmas" and equate love with some mass-produced geegaw from the mall jewelry store. Just like my silly situation with my friend M., it's easy for ADDers to fixate on the interesting thing right in front of us and forget the stuff that grounds us. And that's usually the people in our lives.

So when you tick off another name on your card list, think about why you're sending this person a card. Maybe they remember you from back in the day with your big ol' 80s hairdo (and I'm not just talking about the ladies here). Or maybe they're a new pal who, wow, totally understands you. Or perhaps they're like my cousin, and they're an imperfect judgemental know, just like we all are. Or maybe they're like M., and you finally realize that all the stamps sold by the U.S. Postal Service aren't worth as much as your friendship does.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A taxing defense?

Today's "ADD in the News" story introduces us to Robin Magee, a professor at a law school in Minnesota. The prof's in a legal pickle of her own after being charged today with 11 felonies that pertain to her failure to pay state income taxes or file tax returns. Oops.

In the matter of how did this happen, counsellor, what say you?

"Magee stated that she has been unable to organize her records because she has extreme ADD and is unable to complete her tax returns."

That's what she said! You can read it for yourself in the criminal complaint, which is linked here.

(And I'm curious: does "extreme ADD" involve skateboards and Mountain Dew? If so, why did I end up with the boring regular ADD? Not fair! I digress...)

Folks, lately I've been working hard at having compassion for others and being non-judgemental. But honestly, Gandhi would have a hard time understanding Ms. Magee. For starters, she's a law professor who once practiced tax law. Although I'm not a lawyer, I am an American, and you can't escape knowing that April 15 rolls around every year. (The commercials for Turbo Tax and H&R Block won't let you, anyway.) She also earned her law degree from the University of Michigan (go blue!), which is one of this nation's top ten law schools. She's a smart lady, to be sure.

But yeah, I realize that intellect and ADD are two very different things. I have both of these things, so I should know. And therein lies the problem.

I think it's difficult for non-ADDers to understand that a clinical disorder can cause you to forget things because your mind is elsewhere or be confounded by having to file papers in your desk. On a daily basis, I try to explain these sorts of things to non-ADD people, and it's just not something to which they easily relate. So, when ADDers use the disorder as a defense for actions of this magnitude, I feel that it hurts all of us ADDers. It perpetuates the inaccurate stereotype that ADDers are capricious nitwits who don't have their act together.

Ms. Magee, if you lost your W-2s and want to blame your ADD for it, go right ahead. But attributing years of tax evasion and fabricating information on tax returns to ADD? Eh, overruled. Can she attribute her ADD to having difficulty with preparing tax returns? Yeah, sure. But if you want to attribute 11(!) criminal charges solely to ADD, then you may as well blame ADD for credit default swaps and trans-fats while you're at it.

Admittedly, I tried to be mature and give Ms. Magee the benefit of the doubt. And apparently, so did the the tax department:

"MDOR investigators requested Magee to provide documentation that she was medically unable to file tax returns due to the stated condition, but she has failed to provide any such documentation."

Hmmm. But wait; there's more:

"Magee also claimed that she did not believe that her repeated delinquent filing of income tax returns was criminal because she was due refunds because she overpays taxes." However, MDOR records show that for most years, tax was due after adding back income which Magee had omitted and eliminating expenses she could not substantiate."

I don't have a copy of the DSM-IV handy, but the last time I checked, cheating on your taxes isn't a symptom of ADD. If so, the prisons would be jammed with me and you and the rest of the ADD populace.

I do wish Ms. Magee well and hope that she takes responsibility for her actions instead of using her ADD as a foil for them. And speaking of Gandhi, as I did earlier, I'm going to take to heart his sage quote, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." There is a big stack of tax-related papers on my desk, and I shall file them now.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

When (and if) routines get too routine.

I work with a guy named R. who is all about having structure in his life. Every day, he arrives at work at the same time, goes to the gym at the same time, eats the same lunch at his desk that he totes to work each day, and leaves at the same time. He also rinses out his coffee pot at the end of the day at exactly 1/2 hour before he departs. I know this because I see him walk past my workspace to the office kitchen every day at the same time.

R. is not obsessive-compulsive. Rather, he just likes having structure in his life. A lot. If you were to ask R. about the recent vacation that he and his girlfriend took, he would certainly tell you how much they enjoyed the trip. But he would also tell you that he is happy to be back to his daily routine.

When I think about R.'s structured life, I'm of two minds. On the one hand, I think that having a routine like that is boring. His schedule doesn't permit going for a walk on a lovely day. He also declines lunch invitiations from his friends from time to time so that he can maintain his routine. I can't imagine not being able to treat my lunch hour as my own play-by-ear time of the day where I get to do whatever I feel like doing, instead of treating it as a time to fulfill a self-imposed requirement.

On the other hand, I wouldn't mind to have an ounce of the structure that he has. (Just an ounce, though.) I like the idea of having more structure that allows things to happen rather automatically. Presently, I have routines of sorts for my mornings, both at home and at work. In both cases, these series of actions seemed to come to be over time out of convenience and effiency rather than any sort of conscious planning. For example, at work I fill my water glass while my computer boots up, followed by a review of my calendar for the day's appointments and checking in with a couple of coworkers regarding our work assignments.

Other than the basic routines that I have made attempts to give myself more structure. I've followed the Flylady system of housecleaning from time to time. And I've also written down an end-of-the-evening routine for me to follow before I go to bed that includes picking out my outfit for the following day. But unfortunately, I've had a difficult time sticking to these routines. I'll typically try them for a few days, but then miss a day or three and give up. Admittedly, I blame the routine for being too stringent rather than correctly faulting my perfectionism for scrapping the routine altogether.

In addition, I also worry about routines getting in the way of being my freewheeling, spontaneous self. As an unmarried lady without kids, I'm often reminded by my coupled friends with offspring that it must be nice to have free time to do whatever I wish. As they often say, I could jet off to Paris whenever I desired! But realistically, even though it's great to have options, there's also such a thing as having too many options. By not having a routine to plan my week, I often end up failing to make decisions about ways that I want to spend my time, which then result in not making plans. And when that happens, I get cranky. That's not fun!

I'm going to experiment with establishing some more structure for myself this week. I have a few ideas of things I want to implement: 1) picking out my work outfits before I go to bed at night, because I spend too much time ironing and/or searching for a shoe that managed to separate from its mate; 2) answering emails (work and personal) by the end of the day that I receive them, because I say "I'll get to that," but then fail to do so; 3) use my calendar to plan my personal schedule. Regarding this last item, I'm finally back to using one again. But that's another story for another day... :-)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Look who's blogging again!

Hey folks! I'm back. Over the past several months, I've made several attempts to write some epic blog post to herald my return. But duh, I have ADD, which means that these attempts remained half-finished in my drafts folder. I'm sure that many of you can relate!

It's been almost 9 months since I last typed to you, and I've many of stories to share. Heck, there's no way that amount of time can go by without any of what I call "Great Moments in ADD-Ness". Despite the radio silence of posts here, I've been itching to share stories of all sorts, yet felt personally pressured to come up with some big clever and witty verbiage to say I was back. But you know what? I'm not going to do that. Let's move on from this hiatus!