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Richard (RJ) Eskow Headshot

I'm Not ADD, I'm Going "APE"

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What was I saying? Oh, yeah. Yesterday was a particularly bad day. How could I lose my keys? I haven't lost my keys in almost a year, since I came up with that special routine to manage the key problem. Why ... ? Oh, yeah. I broke my routine. I took a run and had the keys in my sweatpants - but I thought of that and checked my sweatpants a dozen times at least ...

Well, anyway, 30 minutes later I had the keys. See, I knew I was going to take a shower so I put the keys for safekeeping in a Pendleton shirt that ... it doesn't really matter. Then I had to leave for a meeting, but I couldn't find the file I needed for the meeting.

Oh, wait ... I never made a file for this project. The papers I need must be in my "To Be Filed" file. Where is my "To Be Filed" file? Crap! I left it right here next to the papers for this weekend's conference that I was going to neatly put in a 3-ring binder and ...


They tell me it's "ADD." There's a shelf full of medicines you can take for it, including some dandy stimulants. (Although, perhaps because of the peculiarities of my drug profile, stimulants often make me sleepy, or have no effect at all ...) And there's nothing that pharmaceutical companies like better than finding new diseases and coming up with drugs for them.

Should I rely on pharmaceutical companies - or kabbalists? Hmm ... think I'll go with the kabbalists ...

Secrets Kabbalists Know

The early kabbalists - the real kabbalists - believed that letters and words themselves have supernatural powers, and that in some ethereal realm the characters themselves emit a spectral light that affects us here in our world.

They may be on to something.

The real problem, I've decided, is not the "condition," but the name: "Attention deficit disorder." Right there you have not one but two derogatory words casting their ghostly rays over my whole day. There's "deficit," as in "not enough." Then there's "disorder," which is medicalese for "Dude, you're really f**ked up, but fortunately there's a shelf full of medicines ..."

Yeah, I'm as good a demographic for Big Pharma's marketing schemes as I am for those "business casual" pants they advertise - the ones with "a scoche more room at the crotch." (I don't know what "scoche" means either. Sometimes I wonder what country these advertising copywriters live in.)

Not Bad as in Bad, but Bad as in Good

One of my brothers has it too, so we had an ADD slogan-writing contest once. We thought we could print up t-shirts for ADD sufferers. He came up with "It's An ADD Thing - I Wouldn't Understand," which is a nice complement to my entry: "ADD: Where Have I Been All My Life?"

But who says it's bad? I've been a musician, a company president, a consultant, a writer (ok, granted, it's a "ADD" resume) and I've done pretty well all these years. Sure, I've had my ups and downs like everybody ... but I wouldn't trade for anybody else's life, and that's what counts.

There are professions for which "ADD" is a plus. CEO is one of them, apparently, which must be why I like the job. Studies show that CEO's and corporate leaders have ADD at a far higher percentage than the population in general. It helps them as they spend their day worrying about everything from long-range product design, to this year's employee benefits package, to the staff morale problems caused by the broken vending machine near the loading dock.

And now we have 500 channels of TV, laptops, Blackberries, cell phones, and God knows what's coming next. Probably personal implants behind your cornea. ADD isn't a bad thing anymore. In fact, it's an evolutionary adaptation to the world of tomorrow ("ADD: the world of tomorrow - today!")

Word, Sound, and Power

So those kabbalists were on to something - the same thing the Rastas discovered when they said "word an' sound 'ave power." (I saw that in a movie once.)

I'm not calling it ADD anymore. I'm calling it "Advanced Informational Multitasking" - "AIM." I'm sorry for you people who don't have it to help you move through the 21st Century, but maybe we'll pass some laws to protect you from job discrimination.

But what about the downside, you ask, with the keys and all of that? Well, I'll give the downside a name, too: "APE." It stands for "Advanced Personal Entropy." It means that, as a consequence of my AIM, structure and order in my life tends to dissolve into utter chaos at a highly accelerated rate. It's the price I pay for my special gift.

Coping With APE

So what about all the organizational problems? For twenty years I had a full-time secretary or Administrative Assistant (an AA, as they're called). But now I'm a one-man operation in startup mode, and I have nobody to fight the centrifugal force of APE in my daily life.

My wife keeps suggesting I hire one of her friends or business associates for a one-shot organizing session. She knows lots of people who are bright, energetic, highly organized, and love to help other people get their lives in order. (If you're looking for such a person - either to hire, or to marry - I suggest you attend some meetings of Al-Anon. You'll find more of them than you can handle.)

But it wouldn't work for long. I've tried it before. I get a beautifully organized file system and office, but within three days APE has restored them to their previous feral state.

Really Coping With APE

So there's only one solution, really: Denial. I'll just keep saying that we AIM/APEs are better than everybody else, even when I can't find my keys. I'll say that you guys have "AED" - "Attention Excess Disorder" - and that I'd sure hate to be in your shoes.

Speaking of which - I should have left the house twenty minutes ago. Where the hell are my shoes?

A Night Light