Voices carry

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

I don't have what you'd call an addictive personality. There are few substances I haven't idly sampled and lived to tell about. Nicotine was a long-term habit, pretty much the best part of 35 years, and I've always been a hard drinker, but I feel like the one who got away, as far as horrible addictions go. I thank first-person journalism because I don't have to withhold my feelings, but I have had many family members who've been beset by that monster.

But when I get anal about something—anal retentive, which means I can't let something go, referring to Sigmund Freud's psychological stage—I'm like a dog with a bone. Particularly if I'm chewing on a bone. Or alphabetizing books. Or reading Twitter. If I'm going to be a gardener, I'm going to take the master gardener classes. If I'm going to learn app design, I'm going to sell cutting edge apps on the open market. If I'm going to do a master's, I'm going to do two—at the same time.

You get the picture. It's related to my ADHD. I know that because my shrink told me it was back when I considered—and tried—taking medicine for it. ADHD-positive people call it hyper-focus. People who have a problem with it, call it “obsessive.”

But I've always considered it part one of the best things about me. I have an incredibly long attention span when I'm working on something that interests me. But my interest can drop like a penny when something more interesting comes along. I took the anti-ADHD drugs for a few months, but I quit them because I lost that hyper-focus. I also lost the bad temper, and the busybodiness, and my tendency to have a whole separate conversation going in my head when I'm talking to someone. But none of that “better human being” stuff was as important as sacrificing one of my favorite attributes about myself.

I often think about that when somebody is telling me about shortcomings. Usually I think about it at the exact moment they're telling me. Usually I think about it at the exact moment they're telling me right before I move on in my head to categorizing the contents of the freezer.