The Splintered American Day

What has happened to time?

(Despite the fact that it is now flying by at exponential speeds (which I am told gets worse and worse as you age)?)

I don’t know about you, but time here has busted right up.

You see, I have ADHD. (Surprise! Just kidding. I write about this like once every five minutes.) Among the features of the ADHD brain, many of us exhibit something called “ultrafocus.” It is the flip-side to all that distractibility, where we can’t settle at all. During ultrafocus, we become absolutely absorbed in something, so that it is hard to pull us out. ADHD patients say that during ultrafocus they forget the time, they forget to eat, pee, or sometimes even move, and they get a lot of only one thing done. This is me, and my daughter and son. When I’m really painting, or my daughter is really crafting or my son is really LEGO-ing it, there is no snacking or showering or conversing in a meaningful way.

So this chop-chop day is totally messing with me. With my rhythm. With my natural self.

How so chop-chop?

I wake up to a pressing list of things that I have to do to get myself presentable and awake and my kids clothed, fed, clean, and prepared for their days. Then I have to get all of us in the car and to school. Then I get to work (home or wherever). At some point, I eat lunch. If I’m lucky, there are no doctor appointments, grocery runs, or banks to visit during this time. Then, less than six hours later, I turn around and drive back to the school, then manage after-school things, and drive back home. I walk in the door from there and have less than an hour to get dinner on the table. Then dinner. Then dishes. Sometimes there is another thing, like Girl Scouts, that squeezes in here. Then helping with homework, reading, planning, then assisting toward bed (for like another hour). I’m left with a couple scrappy hours before I get to bed.

I’m not complaining about what I have to do in a day. For the most part, I chose this. In fact, I continue to choose it. What I am realizing is having an enormous impact on my psyche and whatnot, is that I was never meant to operate in small pieces. In my dream world, I would roll out of bed and onto my typewriter, still in PJs, and find cereal like eight hours later. I would go to bed, late, with ink smudged on my face and paper cuts on my fingers. The next day, I would spend morning till night hiking the Eno with the family, picnicking, and swimming, and reading like a whole novel together before watching The Lord of the Rings. The next, running errands from dawn till dusk. Overall, I might spend weeks forgetting to return calls while getting a book done. Days incommunicado while baking and decorating and stuffing goodie bags for a birthday party.

What you won’t catch me asking for is “five minutes” to do anything. Or a wish for ten things done in ten days in half-hour increments.

Oh wait, that’s my life. That’s modern life.

The only thing I can do to combat this intrusion on my biorhythm and personality is to realize that I am an ultrafocus person living in a shattered-day world. Then, try and make as many choices as possible in favor of more long bits and less short bits. My first choice: to work toward goals and not deadlines. Right now, every hour I have to work, I will be doing the same thing, over and over, until it is done. If I’m in an editing stage, I will be editing all six hours for however many days until it’s done. When things have to be released in pieces (like Tweets or Wattpad sections), I will tackle them in long, passionate swaths and let the internet (through scheduling) do the hard part of throwing them out onto the internet every four days. And no more of this “two minutes for Facebook.” Yuck. And what to do with those ten minutes here and there between things? Okey, so I haven’t figured it all out, yet.

I can’t stop that final school bell from demanding that I leave Clement dangling from a cliff and hie me over to the carpool lane. I can celebrate that I can get so absorbed in my art that I have tremendously productive times. That I thoroughly enjoy it while I’m there. That I have these wonderful kids and this wonderful house and this wonderful husband and, and and. And that I live in a time of modern conveniences and freedoms and opportunities. I’ll make this work, despite–in spite of–the modern inconveniences.


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