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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.

  • Notes From the 'Empty Nesters' File

    This past week, I realized something I knew deep down but had never articulated: I like exercise as long as it’s organic.

    Faced with a walk-first mentality, I’m happy to stroll around or bike until my feet want to fall off, using trains or cars only as necessary. Put in a drive-first situation, my embedded laziness takes over. The only exercise I seem to get then is typing on my laptop or phone or clicking the camera shutter. After 17 years in the suburbs, all I'm left with are really strong hands.

    Over the past two-plus months, Jill and I moved ourselves from Lorton to Alexandria, with help on a couple of occasions from friends and family. Although I’ve never been in the military, I’m pretty sure it was a 53-year-old’s version of boot camp: several weeks of hell followed by a big reward.

    On Sunday, we drove to Springfield Mall to shop in an actual store and see a movie for Mother’s Day. It was the first time I’ve been in a car in five days — one of the longest “no automobile” stretches of my life since my teens —and I haven’t missed it at all. Not one bit.

    That might seem strange given that I grew up in Texas, where public transportation is defined in the state Constitution as “build another loop,” and have driven back and forth to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New York numerous times over the years to see our kids. (By my estimate, I’ve easily driven more than 1 million miles since getting my driver’s license in — gulp! — 1981.)

    Since the move to Old Town, I’ve walked at least 3 to 4 miles daily and have gone on three bike rides in the past 10 days. The exercise has been good for the mind and soul, not to mention the waistline.

    For that, I’m grateful.

    Additional observations from the “recently moved empty nesters” file:

    • My most recent bike ride was 21 miles, the longest I’ve ridden in at least five years. I enjoyed all but the last three miles of it, which is when my body’s hashtag became #hipsdontlie. Two days later, I’m ready to go out again.

    • Commuter transportation is not perfect. I thought Metro was underselling itself with its marketing theme, “Back to Good,” then realized while traveling into D.C. this week that the tagline might be a tad ambitious. Still, there’s a lot to be said for walking to the Metro and not having to deal with the car/train/car commute. (Or worse, just the car commute.)

    • Surviving the sale of one house and the purchase of another within a two-month period is a great litmus test for your marriage/friendship/partnership. What I appreciate most about Jill is that our differences mostly compliment each other. It's OK to divide as long as you can conquer in the long run, and we've managed to do that. 

    • Moving inputs and outputs: Six days a week, UPS, FedEx, and Amazon have a love-hate relationship with our front porch. On the seventh day, the City of Alexandria’s sanitation/recycling departments dread coming to our backyard to scoop up the remains.

    • Styrofoam pieces and peanuts are like glitter: No matter how much you sweep, you can never completely rid yourself of either one.

    • We are the sole reason cardboard sales were at an all-time high in the second quarter of 2018.

    • “Some assembly required” remain the three dirtiest words in the English language.