It is 8:59AM right before my college writing class and I have ADHD. It is not my fault. I have been told since childhood that Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder is a chemical imbalance in my brain that causes me to lose my focus. As the instructor begins, I wonder to myself if I would notice if no one had ever told me. I wonder if I will do well today.
Class began with attendance as each student present stated their name so they could be marked off the list. I readied my voice to sound as masculine as possible when my turn came because nothing feels worse than having your voice crack the only time you’re mandated to speak during class. When one classmate’s name was read I noticed it was the same as Mr. Fantastic from comics I read as a kid. I wondered if I could take him in a fight even with his super bendy arms and legs.
After attendance my instructor detailed the first writing assignment. I checked out again when we were told it wasn’t due for two weeks. I started noticing when people would come in late. It provided a beat for me to keep my attention up at the front of the room. I made up stories in my head for why each person was tardy. There was the girl who was obviously hung over from ladies’ night at Billy Frogs, the guy who heroically saved a bunch of orphans from a horrible school bus fire, and the other guy who heroically saved himself from a horrible bong fire. I wondered what story someone would make up for me if I was late.
I laid my book and notes I had taken out in front of me. I’d actually completed the reading for a course for the first time in memory. In previous classes I had mastered the skim and B.S. approach to learning. The instructor drew a stick figure and I copied it into my notebook as if playing follow the leader in order to keep up. The figure was supposed to show us where the point of view comes from in each story.
The discussion began with a story about a man bleeding to death atop a horse. I added input early to avoid detection should I tune out later. It happened rather immediately as I began to imagine being atop a horse with my femur protruding from my skin. As others discussed the imagery I thought about being atop the horse, and how easy it would be to give up and accept fate. I wondered if I should accept my fate and just draw a robot in my notebook. The story ended before telling us whether the man died or not. I wondered what the man on the horse would do if he had ADHD. He probably would have just sat there on his horse thinking about how he’d never get to eat ice-cream again. Next he’d wonder if he’d prefer mint ice-cream or cookies n’ cream as a last meal. Then he would have bled out. I guess it was better as written.
The instructor said something important. I didn’t quite catch it, but I heard enough to know I am no longer on the right page. I deploy a soft cough to cover my page flip and look through my notes to find something to contribute. I remember liking this story. We are talking about a man that finds himself in a diner while the owner is deported. I know the setting was used to describe the man in the diner, but my mind goes to the owner and how no one notices him leave.
I thought of Harry, who was in my first grade class last year. I remember how calloused my principal was when he told me the boy’s father had been deported and he would be put into foster care for a solid two weeks before they would try to deport him back to Mexico to live with his mother who did not want him in the first place. My principal’s exact words were, “That’s life.” Harry’s father, who might not have even been his father in the first place, brought Harry with him from Mexico after his mother abandoned him. Prying into that situation always seemed like a poorly conceived plan. I thought about having to tell my class that they would never see their friend again that day, his best friend Randy cried most of that afternoon. I had the class write Harry letters and I think they made it to his new school before he was shipped back.
All of a sudden it was break time and my bladder reminded me that it was full. In the bathroom I did my best to listen to conversations going on and keep urinating in a forward trajectory. Most of the conversations were about the homework, the upcoming weekend, or pandas. I wasn’t really involved with any of them. I am pretty sure I washed my hands, I may have only rinsed. Using soap after peeing just wastes water anyhow. It’s a fundamental principle of water conservation. I might have used soap though. I paced the hall three times before retaking my seat.
The back half of class was about using others to inadvertently highlight another character. I flipped to the diagram of a stick figure point of view I had copied earlier. I drew a fumanchu on it to inadvertently highlight my character. The fumanchu is a completely underrated facial hairstyle. I estimated the time it would take me to grow one out to maximum proficiency. Unfortunately my facial hair grows in like ginger toothbrush bristles. The estimated time was roughly four years and thirty-seven days anyway, so I decided against it.
My instructor said something important about using a snapshot to depict a certain theme or emotion in my writing. I thought of a snapshot of myself riding a merry-go-round in second grade. I thought about how I started taking pills for ADHD that year. The little yellow ones were Ritalin, the blue ovals were Zoloft to counter the depressive side effects of the Ritalin, and the white chalky tasting ones were clonidine for sleeping, since the first two pills kept me up nights. Over the years I grew tired of popping fifteen milligrams of “you are not fucking good enough” three times a day.
Then class ends and my instructor asks if there are any questions. I sandwich the right side of my tongue in between my molars in order to not blurt out, “Where do baby storks come from?” I think it’s comical, but not everyone would.
It is 11:04 right after my college writing class and I still have ADHD. It is not my fault, yet it is mine to carry. I have carried it since childhood and the load feels familiar now. I did well today.