Blog: Our Reality Show

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  • Life on a Saturday When You're

    Several years ago, I decided to confront something that was inevitable: I am the source of my kids' ADD.

    I've always sort of known I had it, even when I was a child. I enjoy multi-tasking, which is helpful when your thoughts drift like the winter wind. I also enjoy the occasional benefit of hyperfocus, which allows me to tune out everything around me while I work to complete a specific task.

    Still, as I've gotten older, my ability to pay attention to things for sustained periods of time — aka when the deadline is not on top of me — has become progressively compromised, so much so that I'm taking meds to combat it. For the most part, the meds work pretty well, but sadly, as with anything pharmaceutical, some days it feels like I took a placebo.

    And that, my friends, is incredibly frustrating. Today is one of those days.

    Instead of being completely unproductive, I thought I'd give you a look into "The Saturday Morning of a Middle-Aged Man with ADD." 

    Hope you enjoy it. 

    TIme: 8 a.m.

    “Which story should I work on today?”

    • One of the three freelance assignments due next week.

    • The essay I want to write about childhood trips and Stuckey’s.

    “Hey, I’ve got laundry to do.” 

    “Maybe I should work on...”

    • The essay on taking in an older foster dog, incorporating how that relates to my grandmother’s cats and my sibling’s inability to “check the tail” before assigning names.

    • The book proposal I’m working on about parenting lessons learned, most of them the hard way.

    “I can do Jill’s laundry and my laundry. She'll appreciate that.”

    Time: 8:30 a.m.

    Said older foster dog, who is deaf and mostly blind, needs to go outside.

    Standing outside in the cold while serpantining with said dog so he doesn't hurt himself:

    “Of course, there are photos I could edit.”

    • The photos from our visit to Hamilton Pool in Texas last month.

    • The ones from Nutcracker now that I’ve got MSA’s selections.

    • The photos from Summerton, S.C., the place where I’m writing one of my features on this month.

    • The photos shot during the 1,000-miles of driving from Virginia into and around South Carolina.

    • The photos I took this week at the Library of Congress.

    "I wish we had a dog like Doug. We have a lot of squirrels."

    Time: 8:40 a.m.

    “I haven’t heard this Jack Ingram concert from 2005 yet. Should I play it?” 

    “If I play it, then I might not be able to concentrate on writing.”

    “I’ll play it anyway. After all, I’m doing laundry.”

    “I’ll tweak the parenting lessons for a minute. Maybe start editing some photos.”

    "Which ones?"

    Time: 9:30 a.m.

    “Wait, what about that line for the Summerton story that I thought of in the middle of the night?” 

    Middle of the night: Another middle-age male reality.

    “I need to send out a few emails for the third freelance piece.” 

    “Did I take my meds this morning?”

    “Well, shit, I did.”

    “I really should update my website.”

    Time: 10 a.m.

    “What do you mean the dog needs to go out again? OK. I know I heard him bark. That’s a sign that something is about to happen either way.” 

    Second outside serpentine with said dog so he doesn’t fall into the bushes. Back inside.

    “Boy it’s cold out there. Should I get some coffee to warm up? "

    Time: 10:15 a.m. 

    Ingram concert over. “That wasn’t bad. Not great, but I'm not a fan of his more popular stuff."

    "Now I can move from photo edits to the freelance writing.”

    “But wait, I can do Stuckey’s research. After all, that place was iconic when I was a kid.”

    Time: 10:30 a.m. 

    “Time to put the first load of wash in the dryer. Hold on the Stuckey’s research.”

    Time: 10:40 a.m.

    “What do you know? I didn’t find any change that fell out of my pockets in that load. Wonder how that happened?"

    Time: 11 a.m.

    “I really should be writing.” 

    Time: 11:30 a.m.

    “Wait, did I put the second load of laundry in the wash?” 

    “Well, shit, I didn’t. I wonder if there will be any loose change in this load.”

    Time: Noon

    “The meds aren’t working. Maybe I need to get some lunch."

    "Perhaps I should take a nap. I’m tired. Maybe that will allow me to reboot.”

    “Or not.”

    Postscript: I finally finished the Stuckey's around 9 p.m.

  • From Blob to Blog and Other Parts, Too

    Maintaining a website is like being caught in “Groundhog Day: Home Improvement Version.” No matter how hard you try, the job is never done, and on most days you feel like you’re stuck with a never-ending pile of laundry.

    As someone who juggles writing and photography and tries to give equal weight to both, I’ve spent a great deal of time debating the effectiveness of this website. Should the blog just feature my writing, or should it showcase both? Are the photos being presented in the most effective manner? Does the navigation make sense? Does the visitor have to click in too many places?

    Of course, I usually ask these questions at times when I don’t have Internet access, such as last night when I was on an airplane coming back from a quick trip to see Ben and Kate in Florida and do a job for a client. Given my ADD nature, time sans Internet is not necessarily a bad thing, because when I reboot I’ve often forgotten about that brief moment of panic and can let things "be" most of the time. (Just ask Jill, who’s always after me, rightly so, to pick up my mess of a life.)

    The problem with having ADD, though, is that you occasionally get meta-focused to the point where you can’t let something go. And that has happened more than once right where your eyes are now.

    Earlier this year, while trying to link back to something I had done several years ago, I discovered the blog had been poorly imported from its previous space. When I started this site in July 2013, I wanted to merge the things that represented both my love (family, writing, photography) and my profession (also family, writing, photography), so I brought “Our Reality Show” over into this space.

    I looked at the first few entries, thought they looked OK, and moved on to other things, figuring that someday I’d return and spruce them up a bit. Two years later, after a lot of lessons about linking, tagging, and categorizing, I realized what I had brought over was a mess. A rotting wood in the basement mess.

    So I fixed it, a job that took far more time than it should but one that now presents the blog in an easy-to-read manner. I added photos and a few videos — the previous site was not friendly to either of those formats — that represented the family and events of the time, giving you a more well-rounded picture and not just gobs and gobs of text.

    It looked good … until I found something else.

    Again, I was thinking about how my work is presented and whether anyone bothers to read or visit even for a moment (thanks for sticking with me, Jill and Mom). Given that I had not posted several freelance pieces I’ve written over the past several months (such as the one below), I decided to look at the writing section — "Words" in the site map — with fresh eyes.

    And those eyes again saw a blob. So I started tinkering again.

    The just-completed result is a new and (I hope) improved section showcasing my feature writing. If you have a minute, go over to the “Words” section and take a look. At the top, you’ll see a section devoted to new features such as the one I posted below. Then you’ll see several new categories, including sections devoted to stories that featuring both writing and photos, various features written for education and nonprofit/association clients, a few award winners, and some selected because I just happen to like them.

    I hope you like the changes. I’m sure at some point there’ll be more. But right now I have a number of other things to do for work and — certainly — at home. I think it’s time to get started on them now, before something else catches my eye.