Sunday, October 28, 2007

Living With ADHD

My son has ADHD.

There's a certain isolation in having a child who's been diagnosed with ADHD. There are those who blame the parent for not being "firm enough", and there are those who understand completely what you're going through (they are usually the ones with kids who have ADHD, or who have a relative with a child with ADHD). The relief of knowing that it is an actual, physical disorder is indescribable. Yes! I have something tangible I can fight!

But not everyone sees it that way, and that can be both frustrating and painful.

ADHD is a disorder that involves how the brain processes chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which are neurotransmitters:

"Dopamine has many functions in the brain, including important roles in behavior and cognition, motor activity, motivation and reward, regulation of milk production, sleep, mood, attention, and learning."

"In the central nervous system, serotonin is believed to play an important role in the regulation of anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, sleep, vomiting, sexuality, and appetite. Low levels of serotonin may be associated with several disorders, namely increase in aggressive and angry behaviors, clinical depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, tinnitus, fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and intense religious experiences. If neurons of the brainstem that make serotonin—serotonergic neurons—are abnormal, there is a risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)."

Thank you, Wikipedia.

Now isn't that scary?

I just read the most incredible article on kids with mental disorders; it almost made me cry, because it hit exactly on the isolation a child and parent feels when they're dealing with a mental disorder (like ADHD or bipolar disorder). It talks about the hard decision a parent must make on whether or not to medicate, and all of the consequences, both good and bad, of either decision.

When people like your pharmacist tell you that "all you need to do is be firmer with him", it makes you feel terrible, like you're a lousy parent. Why can't I help my child? Why can't I make him stop hurting himself? What am I doing wrong? (By the way, that pharmacist no longer makes personal comments like that to me, not after I told him that at least now my kid wasn't a danger to himself anymore.)

But I know I made the right decision. He's happy, well-adjusted, making good grades and friends and is no longer trying to hurt himself. So it was kind of comforting to see that my child isn't alone; that other parents have struggled with this decision, and with the knowledge that there are those who judge them for making either the decision to medicate or the decision to not medicate.

Does having a child with ADHD make me a better writer, a better person, a better parent? I have no idea. I know I'm less likely to sweat the small stuff now. Dishes not done? Carpet not vacuumed? I'll deal with it when I get to it. Kid needs help with his homework, or wants to talk to me about a problem with a friend or why someone thinks he's "crazy"? I'm all over it.

These days, I count any day when my son doesn't punch himself in the face a good day.

Friday, October 19, 2007

All Better Now... I Hope...

I feel a great deal better today, so I plan on working. Thank God. All day yesterday and all morning today I've been haunted by the voice of Dorie from Finding Nemo: "Just keep working, just keep working, working, working..."

It's getting annoying. Really.

So I'm going to shut her up and get back to work.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's All HER Fault!

You know who you are, you cold-giver, you.

Sigh. So much for getting work done this week. My sister-in-law graciously passed along her head cold once she was done with it. Fever, sinus problems, body aches... ack. I planned on having Cat of a Different Color halfway done by the end of the week, and it looks like it ain't happening.

Maybe I'll work this weekend, if I feel up to it. I want to take part in the Psychic Anthology open call, at Samhain Publishing. I have a story plotted out and a few thousand words written in it, but if I don't get Cat done soon it just won't work out.

I told you. It's all her fault. (Sniffle.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Old Friends

I attended the wedding this weekend of someone I've known since I was five years old, and ran into someone I've known since I was twelve. Talk about a blast from the past! Most of the time when I go to a wedding I sit there and wait until I can go home again (I don't dance, I don't really drink, and Dusty keeps muttering about stopping at Taco Bell on the way home), but this time I got to sit and catch up with one of my friends, and make plans to catch up with the other.

Here is us in 1983:

And now us in 2007:

And yes, in both pictures I am the dork in glasses.

Where did the time go? (And when did she go blonde?!?) You don't realize how much you miss old friends until you see them again and think, "Damn, I missed so much!" (like, when did she go blonde?) E-mails and chats just don't feel the same as meeting face to face and seeing expressions you remember, hearing a voice that's matured from thirteen to thirty-something; that connection is missing, that special spark that made you all friends to begin with.

Here's hoping we don't go another twenty-some years between seeing one another again; maybe I can talk them into going with me to the next Romance convention or something? Hmmm....

Friday, October 5, 2007

Youz Going To The Liberry After You Eat Your Hoagie?

Okay, I'm from the Delaware Valley, and I am guilty of each and every one of these "language violations". I admit it. Which is why I had to laugh when I read this gentleman's take on them, and why I decided to share. (Isn't random surfing of the web wonderful?)

If you aren't from the Tri-State area, it may not seem as funny, but maybe you'll think about how you express things where you're from that makes the rest of us look at you and say, "Huh?" Like around here, it's soda, but my friend from Ohio took forever to unlearn pop. =)

Now excuse me while I take my banned book back to the liberry...

Language Pet Peeves
by Art Wolk
Delaware Valleyisms

Here are just a few of the expressions used in the Delaware Valley that are my personal pet peeves:

“Let’s go down the shore”:

Say this to people who live more than one hundred miles from Philadelphia and you’ll get blank stares. “Where,” they might wonder, “are we going exactly? To the foamy water at the edge of the ocean? And when we get there, do we dig below the sand until we’re “down” the shore?

“I want a hoagie.”

Non-Delaware Valleyans are likely to ask: “Are you talking about a small hoe for a small garden? Or perhaps you’re asking for anyone with the same given name as Hoagy Carmichael [composer of hits like ‘Georgia on My Mind’].” The last thing they’ll think about is a sandwich.


Everyone in the Delaware Valley (including all of New Jersey) knows what these eateries are. But use this term on non-Delaware Valleyans and they’ll assume you mean people in the act of eating (dining). My wife and I once ventured to Virginia Beach and asked where we could get “diner food.” Everyone, without exaggeration, everyone had no idea what we meant.

“youz” or “yehz”:

The first of these two is pronounced exactly like the plural of female sheep (i.e., ewes), but has nothing to do with them. In the Delaware Valley, these words are used instead of the word “you.” The reason is obvious: the speaker thinks that “you” is only used when referring to one person. So, obviously, a pluralization is needed, hence the “z” or “ehz.” A typical use would be, “What do youz (or yehz) want?” Go to almost any diner in Southern New Jersey, and at least one waiter or waitress will use it.

“hon” or “sweetie”:

Speaking of waitresses, it’s obvious to me that I must have had a romance with most of them, because they call me “hon” or “sweetie” the first time I enter their domain. I have to admit that I didn’t call my wife, “hon,” until we were dating for three months. Even so, the first time I used the word, I braced myself for a possible rebuff, then was tremendously gratified that she allowed me to use it. But Delaware Valley waitresses, especially those in diners, use this word the first time they clap eyes on you and have no fear of rejection. Perhaps in my next incarnation, I’ll be lovelorn and will eat in diners every day, if only to hear the intimate name they’ll use on me because I’m their special “sweetie.”


As a librarian, this pronunciation is particularly grating. After all, when I earned a masters degree in library science, I wasn’t taught anything about berries, let alone “truth” berries or “lie” berries.


This refers to the liquid put in car tanks that makes the vehicle run. If someone from the Delaware Valley pronounces this word like people living in the rest of the United States (i.e., “gahs”), Delaware Valley listeners will think he or she is trying to sound affected or high class.

“Alls I know”:

Does the speaker mean that he or she is a carpenter and is familiar with every type of “awl”? Well, no, it doesn't. In this case, a Delaware Valleyan means, “What I know about that subject...,” as in, “Alls I know is that Ben Franklin started the first liberry here in Philly.”


If one looks at changes in English words or phrases over the centuries, the most noticeable alteration is that the expressions or words become shorter and/or simpler. For example, two hundred years ago the place where things were manufactured was a manufactory. Of course, the latter term was changed to “factory,” the word in use today.

And, then there's “jeet.” This Delaware Valleyism is three words in one, specifically, “Did you eat?” The conversion is a masterstroke of simplicity: we've gone from nine letters and two spaces to just four letters. This would make “jeet” an obvious word for inclusion in new dictionaries, if it weren't for the fact that Delaware Valleyans would be the only people who'd use it.

There's one other reason: after first seeing “jeet,” the people who put together the Oxford English Dictionary would need smelling salts to regain consciousness.


If this word is used on a Delaware Valley news station or web site any time between November 1st and May 1st, hysteria on an unimaginable scale ensues, because virtually everyone assumes they won't be able to get out of their houses to purchase food until July. One day last year, I happened to be in the egg section of a supermarket, but there was not a single egg to be had…unless you wanted the twenty-five eggs on the floor. I immediately knew that a newscaster somewhere in the Delaware Valley had used the three consonants “s,” “n,” and “w,” with an “o” precariously placed in the third position. I was right: 2-4 inches of snow was predicted (hence the egg/food fight). This begs the questions: Didn’t most of these people live through the 31” snowstorm in 1996? And, why doesn't the memory of that storm help them remain calm whenever less than half that amount of snow is predicted? The obvious answer: they’re from the Delaware Valley!

Here’s an addition from Bill Price (South Jersey Writers member):

“If you axe me…”

(I’ll be dead or horribly wounded!)


*Thankfully brought to my attention by librarian Marie Schultz.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Banned Book Week

This week is Banned Book week with the American Library Association, something I wouldn't have even known about if several of the authors over at Samhain Publishing hadn't mentioned it.

To quote the ALA, "Banned Books Week emphasizes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them."

I looked at the site; being a mom, I'm always worried about what my kids are reading, watching or doing on the internet. What I expected to see was The Anarchist's Cookbook or The Kama Sutra. What I got was:

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

... and the list of books considered classics goes on and on. Authors such as Judy Blume, Alice Walker, George Orwell and Maya Angelou, to name a few, are challenged in schools and in a lot of cases (if only temporarily) banned from being used in those schools and libraries. Usually for "sexual content", "inappropriate language" or "anti-family".

I am of the firm opinion that if you don't like it, don't read it. If you don't want your kids reading it, inform the teacher what your objections are, and perhaps a compromise can be reached. But don't tell me what my kid can and cannot read based on an assumption you've made about the material covered in the book. I don't know how many times I heard "Don't read Harry Potter, it promotes Satanism!" Actually, if you read Harry Potter, the wizards celebrate Christmas! Yet Harry is in the top ten challenged books on the ALA's list.

So, if you see a crazy redhead in Walmart today singing, "All we are saying is give books a chance!" you'll know who it is.

Favorite Quotes

"I had the right to remain silent, but I didn't have the ability." Ron White

"So let me get this straight. You want me to kill the little guys, kill the big guys, crowd control those I can't, buff the team, debuff the boss, keep myself alive, AND keep you alive, all while waving a stick and dressed in a towel?" - Anonymous Role Playing Gamer

"I think that statue over there is a statement on modern life. The statement is, "Well, shit." - Varric, Dragon Age II

"Why is it all claws and guns? Can't we piss off a fuzzy planet? Still dangerous, but hey. Bunnies." - Joker, Mass Effect

"Last night, I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky and thought to myself, "Where the heck is the ceiling?" - Dilbert

"Aim at the high mark and you will hit it. No, not the first time, not the second time and maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect. Finally you'll hit the bull's-eye of success." - Annie Oakley

"It is only when you fall that you learn whether you can fly." - Flemeth, aka The Witch of the Wilds, Dragon Age 2

"The very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, 'You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.'” - George Carlin

"I hear there's a wild bridge tournament down the street. And you know Bridge. It's a lot like sex. If you don't have a great partner, you'd better have a good hand." Barry Weiss, Storage Wars

"You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe." - Marcus Cole, Babylon 5, "A Late Delivery From Avalon"

"I aim to misbehave." - Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." - Albert Einstein

“If you think you can or think you cannot, you are correct.” - Henry Ford