I’m Just Petting Ratso

I think I am the only person in the world who doesn’t have Attention Deficit Disorder.  It seems like 98% of the people I meet claim they have A.D.D.

Why do people want to have A.D.D?

As a species, we seem to be cultivating A.D.D.  Like it’s some sort of badge of honor.   We ingest information too quickly to process it. This leads to struggling to focus on one task or idea. I get that.

The thing I don’t understand is how a lot of people seem PROUD of this and loudly proclaim self-diagnosed A.D.D.

I  don’t mean to poke fun at people who truly have it or have kids who have it.  It certainly does exist, just that, like almost every other ailment under the sky, it is wildly over-diagnosed (or self-diagnosed) and I feel like sometimes it’s a big fat cop out.

“I can’t call you back,  I have A.D.D.” or “I can’t hold down a job/relationship, I have A.D.D.”

It would be so much more glorious to have an honest world where we just said “I can’t call you back, I don’t feel like it” or   “I can’t hold a job because I daydream too much.”   “I struggle with relationships because I was raised by wolves and people frighten me.”

Wouldn’t that be more interesting/honest?

I don’t have A.D.D.  Like, at ALL.

I can stare at the same page for DAYS. .  I can be very content with stillness, solitude and silence.

Many years ago, I was maybe 19 , I did lots of drugs.  As will happen when you do lots of drugs, I lost my apartment.  I  found a friend who agreed to take in me and my cat, Ratso, on the condition that I wouldn’t do drugs while staying in his house.   Of course I agreed to this. And, of course, as soon as he went off to work, I was in the bathroom shooting heroin into my jugular.  Okay.  That’s a mild exaggeration.

That night, my friend came home from work. I was lounging in the living room with Ratso.  Probably doing nothing at all. I was really good at that.

Not actually Ratso

My friend coming home made me need to do more downers so I went into the bathroom and popped about fifty more.  Then, as he made dinner,  I sunk into the couch.  And nodded out, spilling forward, belly on thighs, head hanging down over my knees.

“Hey, Maggie, you’re STONED!” My friend said.

I jolted to consciousness, looked around as I wiped the drool from my mouth, saw that Ratso was nearby, and said “I’m not stoned, I’m just petting Ratso.”

Ratso and I were out on our asses the next day.

These kinds of violently self-destructive trajectories don’t last long.  Either you die or you clean up.  I cleaned up.

But it is maybe as a result of this that I can focus FOREVER.  I’m not saying my brain is always working at its very best, but it IS focused.

This is fortunate since I now have three jobs.

Yesterday morning,  I wrote for about 90 minutes, then went into the real estate office to start learning the ropes. My “boss” is  a lively, warm woman who is a fellow vegan AND has a dog she adopted from death row at Animal Control in Harlem – where Mickey came from.  We’re a good match.

I spent a few hours learning real estate stuff then changed into yoga togs, went to the yoga studio, and taught yoga.

The transitions, from writer to realtor to yoga teacher all in the space of nine hours, were a little disorienting.  It’s possible that by the time I was done teaching yoga, I felt like I had A.D.D.  So I just sat.  Staring at the peeling nail polish on my toes for a while.  It’s really good to stare at your toes.

There is a passage somewhere in one of William Burroughs’ books about staring at his own shoe for an inordinate amount of time.  As I stared at my toes, trying to reset my brain and mind after a day of startling transitions, I probably had Burroughs in the back of my mind.

I love that Burroughs had such a keen sense of enchantment.  He famously zonked himself on drugs for long periods of time, but then he would un-zonk and pour out some writing, streaming that shit directly from the collective unconscious, the place where dreams dwell.

I love how he blended the mundane and the awful and the magical.  I love that he stared at his shoe for a long long time.

As a result, I had a dream about Burroughs last night.  I only met him two or three times in life. He was polite and he had wolf eyes.  I love people with wolf eyes.

In the dream, he was very much alive, albeit very old.  Somehow, he and I had grown quite close and he was telling me his body was wracked with pain.  So I gave him a neck rub.

Then, I woke up.  And felt like William Burroughs was with me most of the day.

I think, when people run around proclaiming they have A.D.D and can’t focus and can’t sit still or be alone, maybe they are killing off the place where dreams live.

I don’t want to kill my dreams.



4 thoughts on “I’m Just Petting Ratso

  1. I adored Burroughs as I was trying hard to make sense of the mundane in a very small town, and it seemed he had my back most of the way. I however was never fortunate enough to get to meet him. He did inspire me to write, and to accept my idiosyncrasies, even if the rest of the world thought I was a little too far gone. Huuuu anyways, I often wonder whether or not if I hadn’t gotten drawn into the world of beatnik writing or the comforts of Lenny Bruce and George Carlin, maybe I would have a tolerance to self psychosis. Not only ADD, but Bi Polar, or bouts of depression seem to be on a lot of peoples agenda, as the new drug of choice. When did our society become infatuated with this weakness as a standard to living as opposed to picking your normal lazy ass up and just dealing with the world or your issues like everyone else…..What is the point of excuses instead of responsibility???? I would love an answer.

  2. AND BiPolar Disorder. Every other person I meet seems to be bi-polar. Maybe the ADD ones just avoid me, because they are busy running over to Maggie, but the Bi-Polar set seems drawn to me. “Some days I am just so crazy UP! and other days I feel so DOWNNNNN.” Yeah, well, welcome to being a human being with feelings. I know there are people who are really Manic Depressive, and it sucks big time for them, and can be very difficult for their friends and family as well, but I think Bi-polar might be just as over diagnosed as ADD. Back in my ‘going real fast and not going to sleep much’ days, a number of my fellow cranksters were getting diagnosed as bi-polar. “Did you tell the doctor that you’re doing speed?” I would ask, and they would look horrified, as if I were a madwoman. “Hell no!” was usually the response. Gee doc, some days I’m just so crazy UP! (just did an 8-ball) And other days I just feel completely DOWNNNNNN. (Crashing, can’t find my connection anywhere). Or people who get diagnosed as Bi-polar because they are really sad about the loss of a loved one. When did having real genuine strong emotions become an illness?
    Oh, thanks Maggie. I love you.

  3. I think you nailed it, Leigh. Having genuine strong emotions is now an illness.
    I love you too. So there.