Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Different strokes

I was having lunch with a friend today. We were talking about different types of people. She is one of those folks who have constant calendarizing occurring in their brain: what's coming next? am I doing what I'm supposed to? is X doing what she's supposed to? I am not one of those folks.

I am the one who forgot our last lunch because I neglected to put it in my electronic calendar aka Palm Pilot. I have an electronic calendar because my brain calendar is non-functional. Think of my mind as a slippery brain on which biological memory post-it notes simply do not stick. The note, which cannot adhere to such an unforgiving surface, flutters to the ground as I move to the next interesting thing--and is completely forgotten.

And merely entering a date into my electronic calendar is not sufficient. Oh, no. Unless it is, at a minimum, weekly recurring event, I will forget it if all I've done is put it on my calendar. I must put it on my calendar. I must check my calendar numerous times each day. I must activate the alarm on my calendar, so that I do not forget at the last moment if I become engaged in something else.

If it's a highly unusual event, not part of my regular life, I must plaster numerous areas of my house with paper post-it notes. Those who know me know this. They have been known to ask me, "Did you put up a post-it to remember X?" It's good when people know you.

Why is all this true? What is wrong with me? I'm not faulty, just differently abled. I am always right here, right now. I am never thinking about the next hour, minute, day. I am here--and completely lost in here! Want to talk to me while I'm reading a book? My family jokes about the delay factor involved in gaining my attention: "Mom." Pause and count to 5. "Huh?" Wait another 5 seconds for good measure, to make sure I have fully emerged from whatever world I was in while reading.

Beef stew has been on the menu for three weeks running now. Today is the first time in those three weeks that I've actually made it. Why? Because beef stew needs to be started around 2pm. And I don't usually cook dinner at 2pm. So I have to REMEMBER to start the stew at 2pm on the day planned, which I managed to forget to do two weeks running.

I'm usually busy doing something else at 2pm. And, unless I plaster a post-it on the back door or set an alarm, I will inevitably be so involved in whatever I am doing at 2pm that I will forget to start cooking. Admittedly, I've been a bit lazy these past two weeks, it being holiday time and all. So my usual admirable coping skills (involving the post-it and/or the alarm) were not in use. I was reading, instead.

We ate out a bit more than usual the past two weeks. :-)

Now, please note that I do not use my differently abled-ness as an excuse for living a disordered life. I am a responsible adult. I am rarely late. If I volunteer for an organization, you can count on me to do what I've volunteered to do. I pick my children up at the correct times (most of the time). That is because I have done what truly responsible adults do who have slippery brains: invented coping mechanisms to bypass the slippery brain problem.

Visualize it as wrapping my brain in velcro each morning. As long as I remember throughout the day to check my calendar regularly, enter new calendar or to-do items into my calendar, and use the post-it system faithfully, I can run a functioning house because I stick to it. Pun intended. I stick to the system because I can't handle the guilt feelings that result when I do not stick to it.

So, once again we see that guilt has its uses.

My friend T is a calendarizing gal, as well. She often wishes she was more of a lost in the moment, slow down and smell the flowers type. I suppose there must be coping mechanisms to help those folks, too. Maybe you could calendarize losing yourself once at week at 7:45p . . . ?

Liz :-)

PS. Please note that I am assiduously avoiding all election conversation for today to avoid boring you, fair readers. I'm sure there'll be something interesting to discuss tomorrow!


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