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.