St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Harbour Grace, Newfoundland
The Internet is a Strange and Wondrous Thing
Especially for people with Attention Deficit Disorder, like me. I woke up this morning wanting to text my daughter, to share a memory. Some background is in order:
My family’s ancestral home is in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Several years ago—decades, really—my father, his mother, a sister and a brother, visited the town. One of the souvenirs he brought back was a vinyl recording of Newfoundland songs.
One of our favorites was Dick Nolan singing “Aunt Martha’s Sheep.” It was that song I wanted to share with my daughter. So I fired up Google and entered the song title.
One of the hits was the link above, which will take you to YouTube so you can watch it. Another one takes you to Wikipedia, and I hope you’ll read the entry there, especially the part under “The Rest Of The Story,” where you’ll learn of the song’s connection to Harbour Grace.
Anyway, after the “Aunt Martha” video finished, it went on to the next song, “Some Shockin’ Good.”
Naturally, I Googled that phrase as well, which took me to the newest blog I’m following, Some Shockin’ Good.
And that, in a nutshell, is how the Internet works to bring the world together.
There’s a fine line between the two. I used to have the latter, but it matured into the former. And much like my depression, it’s been a lifelong companion.
Consider: I have pictures of me as a child of 3. I am connected to my mother by a chest harness and a leash.
Before you start screaming “Child abuse!” you need to understand it was the only way she could keep me safe, short of keeping me in a stroller. Put me on the ground and I’d take off running.
That phase — the ADHD — lasted until I was about 7. “Your child can’t sit still in class.” “Your child is so fidgety that it distracts the rest of the class.”
Fortunately, I outgrew the hyperactivity. Or rather it matured into something else: ADD.
My mind still made lightning-quick connections between random thoughts and ideas.
It still does.
There are medications now that we didn’t have in the 1950s. And I can’t say how grateful I am for that. Not that we have them, but that we didn’t have them back then.
My Creativity is Dependent on My ADD
I enjoy having ADD. It’s part of who I am. I appreciate the way my mind zips from thought to thought, making connections which at first seem random but in the end come together and make perfect sense.
A professor at uni once told me, “ It’s amazing to see your mind at work. It’s like a lightning bolt, zipping from cloud to cloud. But eventually it hits its target. All in about 3 seconds.”
That’s Why I Write
My ideas come faster than I can write them down. Writing forces meeting to focus on one idea long enough to commit it to the screen.
Since I know that what I’ve written is probably incoherent to anyone else, I set it aside for a time. Then I go back and massage it until it makes sense, until it’s right.
Consider: since I started writing this piece, I’ve gone back and changed the title at least 3 times. I’ve edited the story so many times I can’t remember how many. And I’ll keep editing, massaging, until it’s RIGHT.
And that’s a benefit of ADD, and how I cope with it.
“There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.” The Cremation of Sam McGee, by Robert Service From “Songs of a Sourdough”
There is no Lake Lebarge anywhere in Canada. There is, however, a Lake Laberge. Robert Service used poetic license in order for it to rhyme.
It was in late April of 1973 when my friend Larry and I camped in the campground at Lake Laberge.
Alamy Stock Photo
The Northern Lights
Have you ever seen them? “Those bright dancing lights that are the result of collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere.” (Northern Lights Centre)
I had first seen them in Anchorage, and then in Fairbanks. But here, with the sound-absorbing three-foot layer of snow, I could actually hear them crackling and popping. I had always thought them to be silent, but “there on the marge of Lake Lebarge” I learned otherwise.
Larry, sound sleeper that he was, slept through the whole show. When I woke up the following morning, he was gone! Sleeping bag, back pack—everything. He had packed all of his gear into the car and left a note on the windshield saying we was restless and decided to hike along the (Haines Highway) road we were following.
So I packed my gear, collapsed the tent, and headed down the road. I caught up with Larry after about 5 miles. I’ve never seen anyone so glad to get in out of the cold!
We continued on into Haines (Alaska), only to find that the border crossing was closed. No barricade or anything, just a big sign that we would be committing a felony if we entered our own country without checking in with Customs. Even back then, it was harder for a U.S. citizen to re-enter her own country than it was to enter a foreign country. So after weighing the pros and cons, we decided not to take any chances. We parked and waited the 2 hours it took for the Customs dude to show up.
I don’t know what his problem was, but he wanted to know just about everything about me. Where I was going, where I was coming from, why had I been in Canada, did I have a job in the US, and just about everything but my shoe size. Larry (who was a Canadian citizen), just had to show his driver’s license and was waved in. I wondered if the fact that both Larry and the Custom guy both had short hair and smoked a pipe had something to do with it while I, a citizen by birth—and with long hair, a beard, and smoking a cigarette—was put through the wringer.
So On To The Ferry
Once you enter Haines, the highways end. There are no connecting roads to the rest of Southeast Alaska. The only way to go any further is by boat or by airplane. And that meant the Alaska Marine Highway System. You’ll forgive, I’m sure, when I admit that as I write this, some 45 years later, I can’t remember which ferry we took.
After a stop at Juneau, we continued down to Petersburg, our destination. Larry later left to go commercial fishing, while I found a job, got married, and had my first daughter.
I never saw the Northern Lights in Petersburg, but I do remember snowshoeing across the muskeg by the light of a full moon reflecting off the snow.
Yes, it’s been a while. The Dementors had a hold on me for far too long, but I’ve shaken them off.
A large part of shaking them off was Friday Nights at Ed’s. And therein lies a tale.
I first met Ed near the middle of August. I needed to find a place to live and I found Ed’s post on Craig’s List. He had a room to rent, and I answered. A week and an interview later, I moved in.
Ed hosted a small gathering of friends on Friday night. It was a potluck, with Ed providing the main course, and everybody chipping in with side dishes and desserts.
The first time I went, I hadn’t planned on attending. I went downstairs to the kitchen to fix myself a sandwich, and somebody—I think it was L.—told me to grab a plate and join in.
That was at the beginning of September, and I haven’t missed a night since. It took me a while to feel comfortable, but I managed to overcome my Social Anxiety Disorder and fit in.
It helped that I wasn’t the only one with emotional or mental issues. E., L., and J. suffer the Dementors, so they understand.
S. enjoys philosophical issues, as do I, so we have that in common. We both also are wrestling with weight issues, as we are both Persons of Size.
D. always serves as the bartender, and he mixes some wicked-cool drinks, which also help me relax. But let’s be clear: I know my limits, and only got drunk once. The rest of the time I’m a Good Girl™.
G. is always good for the herbal blessings; sometimes I participate, but most of the time I don’t. He’s also the permanent Dessert Queen, and his choices are always scrumdiddlyumptious. Just as some people have a knack for pairing foods with wines, G. is a master at matching for the munchies.
Other people drop by from time to time, and they always are a welcome presence.
Oh…one other thing: many of us are gay or lesbian, so I blend right in.
The point of All This
The Dementors feed on your loneliness. They strike while you’re at your lowest ebb, because that’s when you’re most vulnerable.
There are various ways to fight them: professional help—whether a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other form of counselor—is always at the top of my list of recommendations. Group therapy can also help you cope by putting you in touch with others who can share their experiences and help you that way.
For me, my group therapy is Friday Nights at Ed’s.