Compulsive Pimple Popper

“Stop digging a hole in your face”
“Don’t stay up too late”

I hear both of these phrases from JB with annoyingly predictable frequency.

Annoying because I’m adult, and predictable because I consistently ignore his sage advice.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am a compulsive pimple popper. Perhaps hyperfocus explains my tendency to pop, squeeze, pick.

Perhaps the blame lies with early puberty, where 10 year old me rocked both bra and acne. Innumerable life lessons circle around a childhood filled with horrifically permed red hair, boobs, and acne.

Karma hooked me up in high school with clear skin, and those boobs became a definite asset. Ahem.

But the appearance of the tiniest of red spots on my face sends me careening toward a magnifying mirror with sharpened nails on the ready. Which then makes the tiny spot a giant spot. Which then makes me poke at it some more. Which makes it…

you see where this goes, right?

Right this very minute I have two giant zits on the side of my face. Yes, this is my big Wednesday issue.

–Despite strong empirical evidence against effectiveness, my hands keep straying toward the bumps, moving toward the pop, squeeze, picking cycle.
–I have managed to NOT pick at the nose ring bump, rendering any other avoidance of face picking to null.
–Laying off the make-up to help the nose ring heal (make up is technically dirt, you know) results in zits just hanging off my face, unfettered by paint.

Leaving me with no other alternative.

No, I haven’t developed a multiple personality.

This will sound like I have developed a multiple personality, but I haven’t. Well, maybe a little, but not in a you-need-to-call-the-white-jackets sort of way.

Zach starting kindergarten pushed me into different head-space. See, we weren’t supposed to still be living in this house. I was supposed to be finishing a master’s degree. We should have been done with the renovations.

But we are, I didn’t, and we aren’t.

Living life has a way of readjusting–or obliterating– priorities and goals.

All of these stream of consciousness ramblings in my head– because what y’all get technically counts as organized– led me to a few conclusions.

Scattermom remains my first baby. Right now my most pressing daily challenges are parenting, and living/parenting with ADHD.

Scattermom did a lot for me– both as a writer, and as a parent. But instead of making me feel like a boss, she often makes me feel– well– scattered.

Then it occurred to me that she may very well have an expiration date based on how comfortable my children are with my blogging their lives.

Also important? It’s not always true that I’m randomly spinning around in multiple directions. Sometimes my ideas (and focus) result in such impressiveness that I’m surprised by my accomplishment.

Those are the moments/days of The BonBon Ninja.

Ah– The BonBon Ninja makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to those that believe SAHMs sit on their spreading asses while munching bonbons.

I’ll have you know that I don’t even like BonBons. The BonBon Ninja is the one that replaces candyland ennui with painting cardboard boxes. Or sewing halloween costumes. Or … whatever else.

Which leaves one. Lately she’s knocking the loudest– hello, nose-piercing and tattoo. She’s been quiet for so long that it became easy to ignore her importance.

What to do about the tattooed, pierced woman that– in a parallel universe– spends her day on a coffee-shop patio; chain smoking and drinking double espressos, utilizing both written and spoken words to change the world? She deserves a space that protects and nurtures the part of her identity independent from butt-wiping and cardboard box repurposing. A place where she doesn’t have to worry about the desperately yearning stares from moms, or ninjas.

To be fair, Stephanie existed before any of the rest.

Being 18 with Unmedicated ADHD: A Tattoo Regret Story

I have tried many times to explain what it’s like to be ADHD to a typically-brained person. That I can even attempt an explanation is largely thanks to being medicated. Back in the day? When I self-medicated my attention problem with non-pharma options?

Well, those are the days that led to myriad of impulse-driven errors in judgement. Thankfully none of those lapses in good sense resulted in anything like, oh, prison.

A rocking 0.4 GPA and resulting loss of scholarship? Joining the navy because the air force recruiter was at lunch– yes.

Eighteen years old, heading down to the beach with my roommate, $85 for the phone bill in my pocket (Error of Impulsivity #1) we drive past a tattoo parlor.

I turn the car around (Error of Impulsivity #2) and in we went (Error of Impulsivity #3). A brief conversation with a tattoo artist whose name I cannot recall, and a quick flip through tattoo books.

You see, I wanted a tattoo in an abstract, “it would be cool” sort of way, but that vagueness was as far as my grand plan had gone.

Choosing a tattoo right after self-medicating (Error of Impulsivity #4) resulted in this:


Yeah– that’s a hand-rolled cigarette he’s smoking (Error of Impulsivity #5).  Cough.  Ah– am I glad not to be 18 anymore. 

Anywho, I’ve been unsatisfied with my body art for a really long time.  It’s really hard to take myself seriously with a cartoon devil on my shoulder. Regardless of how incredibly the thing has stood up to the test of 18 years.

Deciding to get that tattoo has served as a symbolic reminder of what would become several years of just really dumb choices.  Some I gladly share in the interest of either being funny, or demonstrating that a lot of my life success happened in spite of myself.

Then there are the choices that I would seriously consider sending the way of  Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind; learning life lessons be-damned.

Eighteen years I’ve had a monkey; devil on my back.

Then I had kids and my life started being more 4-foot pool than underground club named Hell (ahhh… I *miss* that place). 
Want to take a wild guess on how stereotype assignment works out when you literally have a devil on your shoulder? In the Bible Belt?

Do I care that a bunch of vapidly boring, cloned soccer moms gave me the stink eye over Hot Stuff?

Define care.

I cared, not because I gave a shit what those type of women thought about me and my opposite-of-a-flower-tattoo. I cared because the body art didn’t make me feel any antidisestablishment pride.

More than that, my body art/tattoo no longer provided me (or anyone else) with an accurate symbolic picture of the person that clawed her away from the life that the 18 year old was trying to lead.

Comparing the 18 year old and 36 year old versions of me still results in astonishment that life turned out so well. Certainly I attempted self-sabotage with alarming intensity.

Me and crows have a decently long history that started back when my Dad died. (Note: Since that post I’ve realized that atheism deals with belief in a deity, which doesn’t preclude believing in the possibility of paranormal. And since I never did, nor will I in the future, believe that crows could be a god… well.)

That said, science and PBS’s Nature eventually went on to provide a scientific explanation for my crow following.

I’m still fascinated with crows– they are a fascinating bird. Seriously, watch the link– you’ll never look at them the same again.

— Crows are known for being attracted to shiny items.

–Taking a crow tattoo suggests a mystical nature, or at least an expanded consciousness.

— In some Native American cultures the crow is a power animal that helps you to find balance living in present, release past beliefs.

I like all of that, but I love the crow tattoo Joe did.


Ways to Repurpose Cardboard Boxes into Storage

I told y’all about that time I took a reciprocating saw to my living room couch, only to discover that the bulk of its shape was formed by cardboard, right?

That moment changed my life– and not just from listening to the myriad of excuses from JB on why I can’t have a reciprocating saw. For all his concerns, you’d think he’s afraid that I’m going to cut a hole in the wall, or something.
The real life changing moment came when I started considering how often I paid considerable amounts of money for products that could be disposed of in curbside recycling. Which led me to all the various ways one can repurpose cardboard boxes.

Thus began my love affair with repurposing our heavy-duty cardboard boxes.

These repurposed cardboard diaper boxes lasted Z at least 6 months.

15 month old Z rocking diaper box covered in contact paper.

66 month old Z rocking his box fort.

They’ve been building various forts, beds, and hotels from these boxes all summer. Finally, a common interest.

He and E intend to grow up to be hotel typhoons (tycoons).

This has also been the summer (for me) of committing to using what’s here before buying from the store. Homeless clutter needed clearly labeled homes.

Liquor boxes are perfect– separate compartments and very strong.

So many boxes and some left over spray paint… I do love to paint.

I do love to paint.

See, the clutter just needed someone to believe in it again– to look at what-some-would-consider-trash and find future purpose.

I dig it.

I mean some of these boxes were just another brick in the wall, you know?

I had to take down a few parts of the hotel.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And, *weep* look at him, cleaning his brush!

Double imitation, double flattery, mega cheese.

You’re with me so far, right? Nodding your head, and considering all the various storage things that can be made from a leftover shoe box.

Liquor boxes, being designed to hold large glass bottles full of liquid courage are made from some really heavy-duty cardboard. Then the separate compartments? Begging to be a felt storage unit!

The best is the cost– NOTHING.

And then? Well then I saw these rough edges and thought: bias tape. But I didn’t want to use my good bias tape, because well… I have no idea. Ah-ah! Homemade bias tape– can’t be that hard!

This is where I entered the Ridiculous Zone.

Normal people don’t end up in these creative places.

At this point, the only remaining option was to:

When Pinterest Changed the World

You’ve heard of Pinterest, right? And then, because one cannot have yin without yang; Pinterest, You are Drunk? I have a personal submission for the second link: remember, laughing at other people without also laughing at yourself makes you an asshole.

I am a procrastinator. I make To Do lists only to willfully ignore every item. I seek pressure-filled, adrenaline-rushed situations. Setting soft deadlines for myself is like putting mashed cauliflower on a plate and calling it potatoes: a nice thought, but not fooling anyone.

In a few weeks, each of the Small People start schools in different zip codes. For those keeping notes, ADHD folk (yup, that’s me) generally struggle with multiple transitions. Multiple transitions involving two people that regularly take 20 minutes to walk a mere five feet? Valium anyone?

Sane Other people might be spending these next two weeks soaking in time with the kids, making lunch menus, planning outfits and updating the family calendar.

Or finishing the other important things like emailing Z’s new principal a head’s up that the child is capable of reading Harry Potter level text– but might prefer to speak his made up dragon language on testing day. Or perhaps dropping off his immunization records.

To that end, getting E’s health form filled out.

Or buying that other car, since the insurance company totaled out the Scion.

Instead of doing any of those things, I am sifting through mountains of paper and spray painting stuff.

To thine own self be true, right?

Wistfully reminiscing about that timeI was alone in my home for an entire weekend.

Because pinterest didn’t exist back then–

Finding Focal Length: Headphones and Loud Music

I had, until a few weeks ago, forgotten that one of my earliest ADHD coping methods for finding focal length included headphones and loud music. Which seems odd since headphones and loud music once saved my job.

Photo Courtesy off Monster Beats- Beats by Dre

Do whaaa?

Back in the day, my Other Self worked in a 6×8 cube. Only statisticians got the 8×8 cubes, but I love closet-like hidey-holes. The noise level and opportunities for distraction?

Shakes head— I feel like the failure of corporate america can at least be partially blamed on the inventor of the cubical. Listening to the incessant hum from fluorescent lights ranks up there with water boarding, but with the addition of Mary Jo telling Sally about her most recent date; and Bob’s conference call; and whispered conversations–infinitely more distracting– it’s enough to make even the typically-brained go all squirrelly.

Let’s also remember that I did not get diagnosed and medicated for my ADHD until I had been at the aforementioned job for about a year. And while my mouth didn’t get me fired, my mistakes were making it harder to ignore my delightfully rambunctious personality. *cough*

And it’s not like I spent an error-free decade working retail. I lost a $500 bundle of cash one night, eventually finding it several hours later just sitting there on the window sill. But money either balances, or it doesn’t at the end of the night. Years of practice turned those errors into a money-finding skill that was a large part of my success as a customer service manager.

Go figure.

I’ve said it before medication helps; without it I’m reduced to less. Accomplishing less, being less than what I want for my life.

Do I have a disability? Technically. Does it make some areas of my life more difficult? Absolutely.
Should I use that as a reason (excuse) for not trying? Hell To the No.

Enter stage left: Coping Mechanisms for finding Focal Length

Perhaps overly simplistic, but it seems to me that the easiest coping mechanism for ADHD includes avoiding that which distracts. Okay, fine– but short of designing my own sound-proof room, noise and interruptions remain part of living in the real world. Plus, too quiet is as much a distraction as too loud.

Hunh. I just remembered a time in college and that time I left my too-quiet apartment near midnight and ended up at Perkins (similar to IHOP) so I could study for exams.

Anyway– as I discovered in that 6×8 cube, full of noise and drop-in visitors, was that a strategically placed filing cabinet, once all the drawers were pulled open, became an obvious door. And that distractions that I chose– music– helped me ignore all the other nonsense going on around me.

I’m annoyed with how much time I spend online– especially since most of it is motivated by urges to write. But because my kids are used to being able to interrupt me– honestly, how much focus does facebook require?– we are working together on forming new habits.

Headphones, the focal length technique that I dusted off about a month ago. HEADPHONES?! Suddenly all the bad word music of my youth– and I’m not talking about damn and hell– became available again. I also can’t hear the Small People’s conversations and negotiations (bonus points for them learning how to cooperate without me); my dogs barking at the squirrels; the squeaking AC; the loud thunk-thunk of a washing machine that hates to wash clothes; the woodpecker that refuses to accept that we don’t have wooden gutters; and the dude next door playing cornhole.

I’ve missed my music filled with wholly inappropriate Small People verbiage. I can think of no justification for either of them quoting 2 Live Crew. But I will never give them up, you try replacing the memory of your first censorship: my mom ripped the cassette tape to pieces– with tongs, while she was wearing oven mitts because she was so horrified by the lyrics.

So tonight when I’ve spent the past thousand (4) days having various people all up in my face (my mom had her second knee replacement) and my kids are loosing their minds because it’s 105 degrees outside and they have to remember not to jump on people, or leave toys out? And I need to check out, but there is no where to go?


I can’t hear the sound of mom’s knee-bending machine, or what’s on the tv. Or the normal grunts, groans, coughs, and sighs.

Nope, I just went from Blister in the Sun to Straight out of Compton, which may seem odd to some, but is beautifully appropriate to me.

How to Laugh at Yourself: Running Calendar

There will probably be grammatical errors. It’s now 10pm. I woke up at 4:30am after having gone to bed at around 1am. Why would someone deliberately choose such foolishness? My mom had her other knee replaced this morning and I’m the long-standing Holder of the Clothes Bag.

I spent a lot of time at that hospital today, and since I wasn’t worried about the outcome of the procedure– it’s, you know, knee surgery–I got to look around at my fellow Holder’s of the Clothes Bag. I love people-watching; hospitals are a people-watcher’s crack.

I even started two different posts in that waiting room. One funny and one not– but I’m so damn D’OH right now that I’m sitting on the floor in the bedroom that served as both sanctuary and prison, next to the same window that my parents nailed shut (so that I couldn’t sneak out) wondering if 16 year old me hid a cigarette in here somewhere.

Which means part of my brain is actively scanning for possible hiding spots for a two decade old Newport: or worse, a generic Army Issue King-Sized Cigarette.

Yeah, I’m punchy. But grateful, because this also serves as a lovely reminder of why Stephanie don’t want to be birthing no more babies AND I got to have lunch with my college roomie without kids. Which hasn’t happened in… how old is my oldest kid?

Weeeeee—- see that distraction? I need to go to bed. So tomorrow I’ll share the stories* of Bunky Breaks the Trailer, or Little Joe Loves Jail, or Camo Family’s First Elevator Ride but first I need to laugh at myself.

I try to be fair.

This dry erase monthly calendar is not for August 2012. Nope, it’s from last August, and it still hangs on my master bathroom door.

*Everyone of those stories are hand-to-heart true. For about the hundredth time I wish I owned a spy camera.

How to Laugh at Yourself

My headphones delivered the loud BING of an incoming text message right about the same time I began to suspect I was lost.

I carefully shifted my vibrams to my left hand, so as not to dump out the shells I had collected, and…

What? Wet barefoot running shoes don’t make for happy feet, but it doesn’t mean they can’t perform an admirable impression of a happy bucket.

read the incoming message from my husband: “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, got distracted by some shells at the tidal pool. Be back shortly.”

I was peripherally aware that the tidal pool was less than a half mile from our hotel, having mapped out my intended running route earlier in the day.

Twenty minutes later my post-partum bladder upgraded its urgency alert from mild to severe prompting me to send another text.

“Can you go out on the balcony and look for me?”

Several minutes of -“can you see me now”- and he determined that I had missed both our hotel and its loud hip-hop-party-hosting neighbor.

By about a mile.

One would assume that walking from beach to hotel, then hotel to beach, more than twice a day for 3 days would have imprinted the building on my brain.


Or maybe I noticed the bright red boat that had spent the day anchored 200 yards off-shore directly across from our room.


All I could do (continue to do) is laugh at myself. I can even applaud my response as a positive character trait after reading the findings from a small research study that suggests that “laughing at oneself may be the foundation for a good sense of humor”.

Note: “How to Laugh at Yourself” is going to part of a regular series where I share my embarrassing ADHD moments and how they taught me not to take my mistakes (or myself) too seriously. I hope y’all enjoy them!