Inner Meme

Of all the things one could write about on a personal blog, are there any more ubiquitous than the internet meme?

There are the “25 Questions About You”, “50 Questions About You”, “Which Celebrity Are You Most Like” and so, so many others.

I figured why not just keep a running list of various interesting (or not) things about me? I may decide to add to it as time goes on. If you want to really get to know me, read it. Or skim it. Write your own if you’re so inclined.

  1. I have a first name that hasn’t been popular since, like, the 1890s. There’s a bit of a story behind it, but the short version was that I was named after my great aunt.
  2. I won a pageant when I was a toddler, mostly because I grabbed the mic and said “My name is [FirstName] [MiddleName] [LastName] and I wanna win!” I haven’t had that much chutzpah since.
  3. I am very, very. rarely ever barefoot. I just don’t care for it.
  4. I had very curly hair until I was about 5. Then, my hair relaxed a lot and became “barely wavy”. (The fact that I had hair past my butt by the time I was 5 I think might have contributed) Anyone who’s ever been pregnant can guess what happened next: I had a baby, and the curls started to come back. By the way, I love Curl Keeper products.
  5. I am a lifelong cat person. I even subscribed to Cat Fancy when I was a kid.
  6. My cats’ names are Neferkitty and Bastet.
  7. I am “directionally challenged” and get lost a lot, even in my home town. I’ve gotten so hopelessly lost in San Francisco that I’ve had to pull over to cry (I’m working on this trait though).
  8. I’ve broken two bones in the past year and a half. Both times, I had just gotten a new boss (although this sounds vaguely like some sort of Mafia initiation rite, I swear the two things are not related).
  9. People in my family have a habit of being born near holidays: my brother on Labor Day; me right after Mother’s Day (and Armed Forces Day); my husband right around Rosh Hashanah, and my son has to share his birthday with Memorial Day some years.
  10. I didn’t learn to swim until I was 25.
  11. I took Honors English and remedial Math at the same time, all throughout high school. Then I royally struggled with Math in college. I literally thought I was too stupid to earn a degree until I took statistics and (surprise!) enjoyed it.
  12. I earned my BA when I was 33. I did it while working full-time and raising a family which included a husband who worked (and still works) two or three side jobs at any given time. If I can do it, anyone can.
  13. I work in Information Technology and am surrounded by programmers and sys admins who tell me I “out nerd” them. I have no idea what they’re talking about. Just because I occasionally read xkcd and I know what “Hello Cthulu” is…
  14. I have twins on both sides of my family and was always convinced I would have twins myself. I didn’t, but he is a Gemini (proof, I think, that God has a sense of humor).
  15. I wear high heels at least 4 days out of every week.
  16. I almost always wear makeup (I love Bare Escentuals, by the way).
  17. I started cutting meat out of my diet 20 years ago and went fully vegetarian almost 5 years ago.
  18. I am so afraid of spiders I check for them before I enter a bathroom, garage, shed, or any dark, enclosed area.
  19. I started taking drama in junior high as a way to get over shyness. I ended up doing musicals in high school, community theater afterward, and took dance lessons starting when my husband and I were dating.
  20. I have a decent memory for numbers: people’s birthdates, phone numbers, my old locker combination from high school…
  21. I learned my letters and numbers by assigning a color and a gender to each one. Days of the week and months of the year similarly have a color and a gender to me. I understand this might be a sign of synesthesia. Whatever the case, it appears to be genetic; my mom and 7-year-old son have both informed me that my color assignments are “wrong”.
  22. I am a lifelong nightowl; even as a little kid, I would stay up until 11pm, midnight, whenever. This is infuriating to my husband, who has been known to fall asleep on the couch hours before I turn in.
  23. I wrote and illustrated my first short story when I was about 9. I have been writing in some form or other (I was on the journalism staff in junior high) or  doodling in some form or other (my degree is in Visual Art) ever since.
  24. When I was a kid I used to get in trouble for reading when I was supposed to be cleaning my room.
  25. I cannot type the word “buy” without having to stop and think about it. I usually end up typing “guy” instead.

Absolutely, Definitely, Hella Distracted

The word “disability” for me is a bit of a funny term. It implies something that is not necessarily so. Being as anal retentive as I can be about grammar and proper usage of the English language, this bothers me.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I were informed that our son had a profound disability, and that he would never be a “normal” kid, might never have normal relationships with others, might not be 100% successful in his life “but he just might get a job someday”, said the psychologist (who, at the time, I thought was kind of a bully). I was sitting in a room with about four other parents and their spouses and I burst into tears. For ten weeks, I had taken unpaid time off work each week to participate in a program run by Kaiser Permanente called TOTS, which, according to their website is “designed to help families with difficult to manage 2-5  year olds”. My son had been difficult to manage since starting Kindergarten and in fact had been asked to leave preschool a couple of months early for similarly wacky behavior.

The psychologist singled me out several times during the program, that day in particular, saying “I know, it’s hard to accept, and he’s a dangerous child, but it will be OK”. Unsurprisingly, none of the other parents set up a playdate with me, as per her suggestion.

The disability? ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which I understand affects anywhere from 2 to 25% of children and adults. More boys than girls are diagnosed with it, possibly because boys typically show more obvious signs of hyperactivity, whereas girls typically tend to be more “inattentive” and in my estimation, more likely to be labeled “lazy”.

When I think back to the traumatic experience in the TOTS program now, I almost have to laugh about it. After having learned as much as I have about ADHD over these past couple of years, and especially after having met some adults who are fairly certain they have the disorder, I see ADHD as no more a disability than having red hair.

Pete Quily, a member of CHADD, lists over 150 positive attributes of ADHD:

  • Always willing to help others
  • Creative
  • Good in a crisis
  • Empathetic, sensitive
  • Good sense of humor
  • Imaginative
  • Intuitive
  • Optimistic
  • Problem solver
  • Visionary
  • Witty

And so on. Not a bad list, eh?

A quick Google search reveals similar list of benefits for Aspergers and Autism as well (I didn’t dig too much into other disorders). This begs the question: exactly how is a disorder which at its best results in a person who is funny, smart and empathetic, how can it be regarded as a disability? Where is the lack of ability here?

My interest in this particular condition comes not only from a place of concern as a mom but also from a more personal place. I know that ADHD has a strong genetic component, and I do have many, many memories of being asked as a kid to pay more attention, comments in my report card that I was “daydreaming” in class despite (usually) getting decent grades, and a lifetime spent trying to overcome disorganization, forgetfulness and distraction. I get it; I really, really do. Similarly, my husband remembers not being easily distracted so much as feeling he couldn’t stay still (the “being driven by a motor” feeling hyperactive kids and their parents often report). And he had had some behavioral issues in grade school.

To illustrate just how distractable I can be sometimes: a friend and I watched a film last night that had been directed by a friend of hers. The movie was filmed locally, at a place I’ve visited a couple of times. Right after the first scene, my friend casually mentioned that the lead actress had been in a terrible car accident after filming and lost her hand.

I was like “She what?!?” By the time the pizza arrived, I had found the woman’s MySpace page, several blogs mentioning her, some photos, press releases and videos on my iPhone. While watching the movie.

Speaking of Chauntal Lewis, she is a shining example of “disability, schmisability”, having stuck to her craft and stayed busy since shortly after her accident. Disabled? Not hardly. Able? Totally.

So, how’s my son doing? He’s fine! More than fine, actually; he’s thriving in a school environment in which he’s surrounded by kids who are similar to him. He’s still probably quirkier than most of the kids in his class but he is much mellower than he was and the behavioral reports have been coming back perfect for a while now. Disabled? Not really. I just don’t see how.