Date Archives April 2016

Cool stuff I found out about Prince

You guys. Prince.

Shit.

What can I say that a million people haven’t already said?

Well, I guess I could say this (which is what I posted on Facebook the other day):

I mean zero disrespect when I say this, but I hope we find out that Prince died with a peacock up his butt or something.

I mean, it’s Prince.

[Also, to those closest to me in this lifetime: When I die, please shove a peacock up my butt. I’d like to make people wonder.]

[Also, it would be a good idea to do that BEFORE calling the authorities. Because, like, doing it during the funeral might raise some eyebrows … although picturing someone ass-raping my corpse with a bird amuses the hell out of me.]

[For the record, no, we didn’t go to Tijuana while we were in Mexico. Why do you ask?]

Oh yeah, Joe and I just got back from Mexico.

My point was this: Prince couldn’t have just died from the flu or from slipping on a bathroom tile. He was superhuman. I wanted to think of him going out doing something dirty and beautiful (you know, because peacocks are beautiful) and completely Wha …?

Like about a million other people, I’ve gone down the Prince Internet rabbit hole the past few days. I’ll just share a few thoughts, which won’t do justice the man … and then I’ll share a few cool things I’ve dug up the past few days.

It seems pretty undisputed that Prince was a genius. But two things really stand out to me when I think of him:

  1. His unwavering dedication to expressing his art on his own terms, with zero regard for what anyone else thought.
  2. Despite this disregard, every single person I’ve run across in the last few days LOVED him. So many people related to him on a personal, heartfelt level.

Instructive, right?

DO YOUR OWN THING, YOUR OWN WAY, WITHOUT FEAR. You may find that people won’t love you in spite of it, but rather, because of it. 

And now, here are few little gems that I’ve stumbled upon:

The director Kevin Smith telling a 30-minute story about working with Prince. Put it on while you’re cleaning the bathroom or something … it’s pretty funny. It also provides a glimpse into what Prince’s world was like after he stepped out of the spotlight.

httpss://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LhcParuzpc

I was talking with someone yesterday and we wondered if Michael Jackson and Prince ever shared a stage. Turns out, they did. During a James Brown concert. Yowza.

I love this clip because it’s at the height of Michael Mania, yet Mr. Jackson insisted on inviting Prince onto the stage. Prince is young and cocky and, after he gets his bearings, you can tell he wants to show the big dogs that, yeah, he can hang.

httpss://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHaFj7gOWh4

 

Finally, we have Bruce. He opened a recent show with Purple Rain — not just a few bars, the whole darn song. (Oh, Bruce Springsteen, you somehow always manage to do exactly the right thing in exactly the right way.) I actually got teary watching it. The woo-hoo-hoos at the end of Purple Rain always get me anyway, but watching Bruce do it and knowing Prince is gone … gulp.

One more thought on this: I’ve read that some writers will re-type their favorite authors’ work in order to get a different understanding of how a piece was constructed. It’s a good way to get under the hood of another artist’s work. I’m not a musician (not a good or competent one anyway), but I like to think of music legend Bruce sitting down to learn music legend Prince. It seems like such an intimate act … what did Bruce see when he got in there?

Now I’m tearing up again. Anyway, watch this.

httpss://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqIsxyyQuTA

Thanks for everything, Prince. You told Kevin Smith you wanted to change the world. You certainly did.

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Confessions of a thought hoarder and chronic procrastinator

Preachy saying about procrastination: Tomorrow is the day you'll do what you wish you had done today, right?
By Alexandre Normand from San Francisco, United States (Procrastination (No Wall Uncovered VII)) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Part 2 of my series detailing my lifelong struggle with procrastination: Let’s talk about ADD

(Missed part one? Well, here it is, baby!)

The first time I remember blowing off studying was in the 5th grade. I had a social studies test coming up. I knew I should study, but I just didn’t. It was springtime. I was busy playing outside and homework was boring.

When the tests were graded, the teacher hung up the A and B papers on the bulletin board. In the top row, I saw my friends’ tests with the As written on them. My test was up there, too, but in the second row.

I got a B.

I felt bad for maybe a half a second. I wanted be in the top row, too. But then I remembered that I hadn’t studied. I didn’t deserve A because I hadn’t worked for it.

My kid brain quickly did the calculation: If you stay in and study, you can get A; if you stay outside and play  … nothing really terrible happens at all and you can still get a B.

And that was the moment that I decided to be a B student.

Phoning it in

 

From then on, my study philosophy could be boiled down to one simple phrase: Phone that shit in.

By the time I hit high school, my mother was regularly begging me to “just bring one book home … just one!” Holy Lord, was I cocky with my reply. “You can make me bring a book home, but you can’t make me open it.”

The poor woman gave up. Who could blame her?

And you know what happened? Nothing. My grades were mostly fine. I got a slew of Bs, peppered with some accidental As and an occasional C (and one D — which, now that I think about it, was probably charitable).

Even then, I couldn’t figure out how I managed to eke out a respectable academic career with practically no effort at all. I rarely paid attention in class … I was usually off somewhere in my head, running through whatever my favorite daydream-of-the-moment was. I was forever asking people what we were supposed to do … if the teacher called on me, my response would likely be along the lines of “Huh?”

And it wasn’t that I was a genius brainiac, either. My older sister, who was two years ahead of me, got pulled into the gifted program in elementary school. I never did. In the academic pecking order, I figured that I was at least a good one to two rungs underneath the really smart kids.

But it seems that there may be a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of this: attention deficit disorder.

 

The blessings that come with the curse

 

Seems counter-intuitive, right? Shouldn’t ADD be a detriment to one’s academic career?

Turns out, maybe not. While ADD may be characterized by distractibility, it has a flip side: the ability to hyperfocus. That means people with ADD often thrive under novel circumstances — such as test taking environments.

In my adult life, I suspect this hyperfocus comes into play when I’m interviewing and ghostwriting.  I get an adrenaline rush, I key in on the subject and we’re off …

Back in school, I was a test-taking ninja. I could sit down and deconstruct a test like a SWAT team member defusing a bomb.

OK, that might be over-selling it. But tests just made sense to me. The way questions were asked gave me a lot of clues as to what the teacher wanted … so I gave it to them. Then I collected my B and resumed the episode of Richie Sambora writes a love song about Trish that was going in my head.

 

Wait! Isn’t ADD a big load of dookie?

 

So am I one of those annoying people claiming to have a “thing” in order to excuse my shortcomings?

Good God, people, I don’t know. All I know is that my debilitating, soul-sucking, self-esteem-murdering procrastination led me to take a closer look at my brain in the last year or two. And after all the regular strategies and “life hacks” and other tools could not cure me of this horrible affliction, I decided to look into ADD.

After endless Google searches and “Do I HAVE ADULT ADHD?” quizzes, I ended up reading Driven to Distraction.

And there, I saw myself. In fact, I cried through several passages. It explained a lot.

You probably have questions, yes? Let’s knock ’em out:

  • Is ADD a real thing?
  • And isn’t it ADHD?
  • Why do I think I suffer from this particular version of alphabet soup?

Yes, some people think ADD is bullshit. I acknowledge that there may be good reasons for this argument. I wonder if ADD is actually just a subset of what constitutes “normal” — if, in fact, more than 10% of the population has this, I don’t know that we need to describe it as an affliction. Maybe it’s just another flavor of ice cream in the Baskin Robbins selection of ways that brain function. Unfortunately, much of our very linear, color-in-the-lines societal structure just doesn’t play to the ADD brain’s strengths.

ADD v. ADHD: What’s the diff? Well, obviously, the H. It seems that girls may be less likely to have hyperactivity part. According to Driven to Distraction, an ADHD boy may seem disruptive in class, while an ADD girl maybe staring out the window, completely oblivious to what’s happening in the classroom.

Why do I think I have it? Well, I actually didn’t want to think I had it. First of all, I didn’t feel like having people say things to me like “I don’t believe in ADD,” as if it were Santa or heaven or an oogedy-boogedy ghost.

Second, I was afraid that saying I had ADD would make me sound flakey and unhirable and immature.

Third, I wanted to think that I was “better” than having ADD. What does that mean? I’m not sure … maybe smarter or more together … ADD just seemed like a weakness or a scapegoat.

But in Driven to Distraction, I have to admit that I saw my life laid out before me. Sure, there was procrastination and distraction, but there was more than that. Some things that resonated:

  • Daydreamy in school and test-taking ninja, which we’ve already covered.
  • Becoming snappy and moody when overwhelmed or when having to explain things that I don’t feel like explaining.
  • Chronically late (insert all of my friends and family nodding vigorously).
  • Difficult time transitioning between tasks — this one  is so me. I always feel like I need breaks between things — especially on the weekends when we’re running around. I really, really need quiet time to decompress for a few minutes before starting the next thing.
  • So many words in the head all the time — it’s really noisy in here.
  • Forgetting appointments. (Um, hi. I once missed my friend’s wedding rehearsal because I thought it was the next night. Sorry Renee!)
  • Having a hard time attending to the small details to finish a task. When I used to work for a newsletter company, I would put off and put off and put off incorporating changes from editors or proofreaders even though it wasn’t a hard thing to do. (I think years of client work has cured me of this one.)

 

Let’s talk about my dead father

 

So what causes ADD? There are many theories, but one that really made sense to me is that the brain has a hard time filtering out distractions.

Therefore your brain is just saying yes to everything all the time. It gets really cluttered, so it’s hard to find the important stuff.

And now, a tangential but hopefully illustrative anecdote …

When my dad died, we had to clean out his living space near his office (he took a job a few hours away and he and my mom would take turns commuting to each other on weekends).

Dear old dad was a bit of a hoarder. His space wasn’t unhygienic, but he had stacks of stuff everywhere. One stack might contain such unrelated things as a vehicle registration, receipts, newspapers, birthday cards, photographs of his grandkids, magazines, old Powerball tickets, and a manual to his latest new gadget.

As we went through the archeological dig of his living room, I kept saying “He didn’t know what was important. If everything is important, nothing is important.”

I think that might be what’s going on in my head. There’s a lot of good stuff in there. Important stuff. But there’s so much other stuff that it all gets piled together. My brain says yes to everything and then tosses it all onto a thought pile.

 

I am a thought hoarder.

 

Thought hoarding (I just made up that term like goddamn scientist, thank you very much) may be one reason why that TOTALLY AWESOME THING THAT I’M TOTALLY COMMITTED TO DOING will just sometimes vanish out of my consciousness … blown over by the sands of time or 18 expired Auto Traders.

And I think thought hoarding is a big reason why I procrastinate.

Because even if I can remember to do that TOTALLY AWESOME THING THAT I’M TOTALLY COMMITTED TO DOING, I’ll just put it off.

Because starting that thing will require me to dig it out of one of those piles. And certainly, there’s other stuff in other piles that will pertain to that … and there’s probably more stuff that I’ll need to find out, so that means bringing in more stuff and making the existing piles even bigger.

It’s exhausting. It’s a helluva a lot easier to watch The Real Housewives than to dig into that mess.

Hence, procrastination.

So what to do about all of this? From medication to meditation … I’ve tried lotsa things. I’ll talk about those next time.*

 

* Assuming I actually get around to writing it.

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