Thursday, July 29, 2010

The 1st Golden Squirrel Award

This week was filled with travel to Chicago for a work conference, but I managed to squeeze some fun in the evenings. The weather was hot and humid - yuck! We did manage to wander onto the set of Transformers 3 that is being filmed in Chicago right now. Lots of trashed cars and Styrofoam rubble (see photo on the left) and production assistants telling you to keep moving. We perhaps dawdled  in order to snap some photos. I was using my iPhone and it wasn't until we were far away from the set that I remembered that I had my Flip video camera with me. UGH!

Now it's my vacation time and I thought I would jump the gun one day and announce the first winner of the Golden Squirrel award. (see my 7/23 blog post for a complete description of this prestigious award)

It's not a person this week, although it might technically be human. It's the one thing that has distracted me for almost as long as I can remember.

It's my hair. In the love/hate relationship that is "A Woman and Her Hair," this week has been mostly hate. The humidity in Chicago didn't help.

My hair has been nearly every possible natural color from blond to goth black.  It has been straight to curly (courtesy of smelly Lilt perms with its sponge wraps).

The worst was when I tried to highlight my hair in junior high school. Clairol had a new product for doing your own highlights; (Frost n' Tip) it was a cap with thousands of tiny little holes and, using a plastic crochet hook, you were supposed to pull your hair through the holes.  It's off the market now, but you can find it still being used in Gitmo for an alternative torture device.

We didn't give up the idea of "frosting" my hair, we just did it without the cap. Portion control was the issue with this - instead of thin strands, we grabbed chunks. It was awful! My 9th grade photo is the only proof I have and I keep the only copy of it locked up and hidden away. I suppose I should destroy the evidence.

I can link my ADD to my variety of hair styles. Unlike other parts of my life, I could control my hair and whenever I was bored with something, I would color or cut or torture it.

Right now my hair is long, but that could change. I colored it this morning and now it's very auburn. 
I picked up an over-priced hair style magazine at the airport yesterday and have started marking the pages. Not sure how short it will go, but it's going to be cut next week regardless.

Then I'll be able to stop being distracted by my hair.

At least for awhile...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday at the MSP Airport

I'm sitting at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport waiting for my 3:20 pm re-booked flight to Chicago. I am surrounded by a sea of humanity. It is so crowded that people are actually sitting next to each other instead of the requisite one-seat spacing.

I didn't know that Summer Saturdays and Sundays at the airport are one very long line after another. I got to the airport the recommended 75 minutes before my flight and found the line to check my bag was very long and moving slow. In the 45 minutes that it took to snake through the rope lines, I had a great conversation with three ladies - two traveling for work and another traveling home to Detroit after attending her 25-year class reunion in Owatonna. When I finally made it to the check-in kiosk, I was informed that I had been bumped since it was under 30 minutes before my flight was leaving. 

Delta was horribly understaffed and the agent was cranky and not very helpful. Sorry, sorry, sorry, everything is booked to Chicago - you'll have to fly out tomorrow. What about O'Hara? Without even looking at her screen, "No, those are all full, too. You'll need to go down there (pointing without looking up) to re-book your flight."

I went down there and stood in behind a couple of families to rebook my flight. Only, it wasn't the right line. I hadn't gone far enough "down there." The re-booking line had one agent and about 30 people in front of me. 

While standing in line, a wandering Delta agent handed me a shiny card with an 800# to call for re-booking, telling me and the other hopeless ones that it might be faster to re-book via the phone. She wasn't kidding.

I was on-hold for about 90 seconds before an angel of mercy named Mary came on and was extremely helpful and told me that she could re-book me on a Delta flight to Chicago Midway at 3:20 and she even had a reserved seat for me!

Unfortunately, I had to get back into the check-in line that was still an out-of-control conga line. This time I had a great conversation with a Shattuck-St. Mary's grad who was on his way to Seattle. He was dragging two huge hockey bags and a bunch of sticks taped together, so my my large suitcase didn't seem out of proportion.

About my suitcase; I don't travel light. 

As a matter of fact, I have a suitcase so big I could smuggle a 10-year old in it. It didn't look that big at Macy's when I bought it. A huge bonus with the suitcase is that I can pack lots of winter clothes in it for traveling to skating competitions, but this is a trip to Chicago in July for work. I took it anyway since I might find time to shop. 

Checked the bag and headed to the TSA line. Not bad compared to the Delta line, but the business man in front of me, who hadn't stood in the Delta line since he had a carry-on, was complaining to the TSA folks that they should have more staff. He better not miss his plane or it would be their fault.  Considering my journey so far today, I wanted to knock across the back of his head and tell him to mind his manners and treat people with respect.

The gate area resembles a Mumbai marketplace with people everywhere - leaning against the wall, sitting on the floor, lines going every direction.

The gate agent announced that this flight is overbooked and you could get a $400 credit voucher if you would take a flight later today. I'm tempted since I can always use a flight voucher...

I just don't think I could take spending another four hours waiting in the airport.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Golden Squirrel

I've been getting a lot of "Squirrel!" comments since I did my "Squirrel! blog post.  Of course, it distracts me from what I'm doing, but it did give me a fun idea.

I'm going to create a Golden Squirrel award that will given to the person, place or thing that most distracts me during the week. I'll need to find a cool graphic of a golden squirrel to put on the blog and perhaps on a certificate that I can present to someone if they are the person who is most distracting me that week. I'm going to guess that it is more likely to be a place or thing rather than a who, but nevertheless I shall have one prepared. (I love the word nevertheless because it is three words rolled into one!)

Thought I found the perfect graphic above, but then I realized that it is just going to annoy and distract me because it keeps rotating.

So now finding a "golden squirrel" trophy will be my quest during the next couple of weeks. I'm sort of starting my vacation today and I can see this obsession for the golden squirrel leading me to travel to strange places. 

Technically, the vacation doesn't start until next Friday, but I'm in Chicago for work Sunday through Wednesday with a great group of co-workers who will make the conference seems less like work and more like fun!  I'll blog from the conference for this blog and the work blog.

Then Thursday afternoon, I'll start my time off by having the permanent crown put on at the dentist office. (try not to be envious)

After that, the real vacation starts and I'll be sharing the joy that is the Six Best Days of Summer - The Freeborn County Fair in Albert Lea. If you're a city slicker and have never been to a real county fair (going to see either "Carousel" or "State Fair" musicals does not qualify you), you are missing so much. Fear not, I shall share with pictures!

July 30th is also the start of the 2010 Quilt Minnesota State Shop Hop. It's 16 days of fun and shopping. I'll do more than a few posts about these very cool quilt shops.

And to end the day - an amazing sunset over the Target Roseville parking lot. (Sure, I could have left it at "an amazing sunset," but adding the Target parking lot created a certain ambiance for the visual.)

Okay, in just one blog post, I have managed to reference squirrels, quilting, sunsets, musicals, county fairs, Target and Chicago.  Don't you think that takes a certain amount of skill?

Well, I never promised to stay on topic.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Note: this post based on my own experiences and, as with all my posts, are my personal opinions and may not reflect the opinion of my employer.

Before I worked for Hazelden, my knowledge of addiction was limited to what I'd learned from media and common observation. The last three and half years has brought my level of understanding to a different level. Not just from learning the talking points, but from meeting individuals who are survivors and for whom each day is a struggle and a miracle rolled into one.

My naivety was evident to everyone when one of my co-workers shared that she was a recovering meth addict.

"A meth addict? But you look so normal!"

I guess I had this vision in my head that all meth addicts must be stick thin with paper-like skin and pock marks from where they picked at themselves. She was healthy and happy and had a great complexion. Every once in awhile, I'll still be surprised by admissions of past drug or alcohol addiction by someone. It's a great reminder for me that addiction is an equal opportunity disease.

I've learned that the stigma attached to addiction is because alcoholism and drug use has been viewed by many as a moral or character flaw. And although addiction/alcoholism was recognized as a brain and physical disorder by the medical profession years ago, that belief is still held by many. Sometimes it may be easier to judge someone's character than to understand a very complex disease.

Maybe because sometimes it is easier to be angry at a living, breathing person than an abstract concept of the disease. It may be hard to separate the pain that the disease is causing you when the pain is delivered by someone who is supposed to love you.

There have been many times when I've talked about addiction as a disease that individuals have told me that I'm wrong and I don't understand the way it really is. Many of the comments came from people who have lived with an addict/alcoholic and perhaps have emotional scars from the experience. I can't blame them for feeling that way and I'm not sure anything I share with them (either scientific fact or stories of redemption), would be heard.

It's not about forgiveness, it's about understanding.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I have good days and I have squirrel! days. I'm fortunate that my squirrel! days don't become squirrel! weeks. Today has been a squirrel! day.

If you haven't seen the animated Pixar film "Up!", you might not understand what a squirrel! day is. 

Meet Doug the dog. His master has given him a special collar that allows him to talk, but he has one small problem - ADD. He gets a bit distracted by things such as small furry rodents and when he's done being distracted, he gets back to you, albeit not as a continuation of the conversation, but starting the conversation again.

In one of the trailers from the movie, he's talking to Carl (the old guy voiced by Ed Asner) "Hi there! My master has given me this special collar so that I may talk...Squirrel!.....Hi there!"

There are many days that I feel like I'm Doug the dog.  

If I'm trying to have a conversation with a person, whether in person or on the phone, do NOT have a window nearby me that I can see out of! Especially if the window looks out on a wooded, grassy area that may contain squirrels, deer, pheasants, or any other type of small woodland creatures.
I was chatting with a co-worker recently and her cube is right by a window on the "garden level" (the nice way to say basement). During our conversation, outside of that window, I spotted a pheasant. Without taking a breathe, I went from talking about a project to how I had never really seen a pheasant that close to our building.  Her comment to me? "Squirrel!" 

It's good to have co-workers who know your weaknesses and can laugh about them with you. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Trip to the Dentist

I have a dental appointment this morning to have the prep work done for my very first crown.  I had a root canal done in late March and I'm finally getting around to getting this part of the work done. I blame the delay on my ADD. Most of the day, my teeth are out of sight, out of mind. It's only in the very early morning and at bedtime as I'm brushing (and flossing!) that I remember.

And I shouldn't use ADD as the full excuse because, just like maybe 99% of non-dentists, non-dental hygienists and non-orthodontists, going to the dentist is not something I really look forward to.javascript:void(0)

or maybe I should blame it on painful childhood memories.

My childhood dentist was a gentleman named Dr. VonBerg. He was always old and I think his nurse was his wife. Up until the time I was about 12, I rarely had cavities (I credited it to the apple tree in our backyard - why? I have no idea). At age 13, I had to get braces put on and I had to have four teeth pulled prior to the installation. That was when my view of Dr VonBerg went from old, gentle guy to very scary guy with long needles. On the day of my first extraction and about 15 minutes after I got my first shot of novacaine, he realized that he had numbed the wrong side.

I was also the worst patient for my orthodontist. I got the braces on when I was 13 and didn't get them off until I was 18. I would always forget to wear my headgear! My monthly appointment was always the same - Dr. Sletten would ask me about the head gear and I would lie and say, "I wear it every night."

I think he tried reverse psychology on me the final year by telling me that I was so close and if I wore my headgear faithfully for the next month, he would take them off the next month.  Sorry, Dr. Sletten, reverse psychology doesn't work on ADD girl.

I finally got my braces off and was amazed at the feeling of my lips sliding down my teeth without get caught in the barb wire. My teeth were nice and straight (my parents were about $1200 poorer) and I've liked my smile ever since.

So, when I started having pain in one of my teeth, my current dentist said that there were two possible options - they could do a root canal and then I would get a crown OR they would have to pull the tooth and I would have to get a bridge.

Absolute mortification! The idea of losing a tooth and looking like a hillbilly with missing teeth was giving me nightmares. And it didn't help that my mom has bridges and when she's tired of having them in her mouth, she'll just pull them out and put them on the end table in her living room. (We always call in advance of bringing guests to visit her and tell her to make sure her teeth are in)

So, off I go to the dentist and hope it will be somewhat pain-free. I'm thinking the most painful part is paying the bill "at the time of service." 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Decision Day for LeBron

Tonight, LeBron James will be announcing where he'll be playing basketball next year. While I'm not a person who cares much about pro-basketball, the story is more human interest than sports for me. If you're a sports person, it's about strategy and if you have a business focus, it's about the money. 
I heard that the New York Knicks have told LeBron that he could make billions (yes, BILLIONS!) if he plays for them because of all the endorsement deals he would get in a major market like NYC. President Obama suggested Chicago Heat since he's all about anything Chicago.  Rumors abound that he's going to the Heat.

I hope he stays in Cleveland. For me, if he stays in Cleveland, it tells me that he loves the game and if he goes anywhere else, it's about the money.

He needs to follow the example of our local boy, Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins. LeBron grew up in Cleveland and he is worshiped by the community. To his credit, he has given much back to the community, but Cleveland will be devastated if LeBron leaves.

Isn't it interesting that he made a deal to make his announcement on an ESPN broadcast where all the ad revenue is being given to the Boys & Girls Club? My inner cynic wonders if the philanthropic gesture is to soften the community outrage if he leaves Cleveland?  It will be saying, "I'm going for the money, but aren't I a wonderful and generous person?"  

I'm gonna hope that LeBron proves me wrong and stays in Cleveland. I hope he will be a great example to our youth that it is about the love and the joy of playing the game.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Passion or Obsession?

Melissa over at The Marketing Mama blog asked her blogger friends to write about what they are passionate about. (Of course, Melissa asked us to do this last week...oops!)

You'd be a pretty smart cookie if you assumed that someone with ADD would either have lots of things they are passionate about or have very fleeting passions - think "Passion of the Week."

It's the former and the latter for me. I have many areas in my life that I'm passionate about, but I would argue that my "Passion of the Week," is more like an "Obsession of the Moment." And Melissa asked us to write about our passions.

Individuals with ADD love anything new and out of the ordinary because it engages our senses and gives us something to learn. (I swear that I love to learn regardless of what my grade school teachers thought) My two big passions (quilting & social media), do both.

There are my shallow passions such as the importance of having Diet Coke for the judges at all skating competitions (wait, that's an obsession...), having a tan, or having cooler toys than the other kids, but I have two passions that keeps my ADD brain engaged for hours on end.

Quilting - Although I've been dabbling in quilting off and on for the last 20 or so years, it has really been in the last twelve months that I've added it to my list of borderline obsessions. My most relaxing times are spent working on quilts. I took vacation time last week and my prime focus of my staycation was quilting and getting this quilt finished before the end of July.

Ask any quilter about their stash and while they might deny having one, if you search their house, you will find fabric in places you would have never imagined. I got rid of the books in my home office and have now filled the shelves with fabric. Front hall closet? More fabric.

When you have ADD, there is a problem with starting projects and then losing interest in them and not finishing. That rarely happens with my quilts. I love the sense of accomplishment when it's finished. Not only do I have a Facebook photo album just for my quilts, but I also carry around photos of quilts to show off. 

You have your kids, I have my quilts.

Social Media - I love talking about social media and how it is changing our lives and our world. I was naturally attracted to social media because it was new and unknown (i.e. shiny object). In December 2008, I wrote a paper for a graduate class on the use of social media by nonprofits and that paper launched this passion. I've been fortunate enough to stealthily add social media responsibilities into my job description.

The other great thing about social media is that it is constantly changing and in order to keep up with the trends, you have to be constantly learning and searching out new information.

I love tweeting, blogging and friending. But I do get strange looks from friends and family members when I talk about social media. It is still a foreign concept for so many people. They may "get" Facebook, but that "whole Twitter thing" doesn't make sense to them. 

There are many awkward moments when in the course of conversation, you mention that you were just tweeting about that or that you just became Mayor of your neighborhood Starbucks. The unknowing will look at you as if you either have a third eye (not that there's anything wrong with that) or you're a stalker. And even though I know I'm not a stalker, I start to wonder...
ADD'ers get a bad rap for not staying with a project through to completion, but the fact that the two passions mentioned above have been a big part of my life for over 20 years and 2 years respectively, should help prove different. Give me a project that is creative and challenging and I'll see it through to the end.  
What are you passionate about? Is it a passion or an obsession?

Friday, July 2, 2010


Whenever I hear the name Wetterling in the news, my attention is immediately focused on what is being said. These last three days of local news covering the 20-year investigation of the kidnapping of Jacob Wetteting in October 1989 has gotten my hopes up for closure for Jacob's family and friends.

His mom, Patty say in interview yesterday that she didn't know what to think or what she wants. I think we can all understand that emotion.

Whenever I hear news about Jacob, I don't think back twenty years - I think back ten years. It was ten years ago that I was invited to serve on the Wetterling Foundation Board of Directors and I had the opportunity to meet the Wetterling family.

Whenever I hear news about Jacob, I re-experience the heart-stopping emotion I felt during my first conversation with Jacob's father, Jerry.

I met Jerry at the Wetterling Foundation offices in St. Joseph, Minnesota for an interview prior to joining the board. During our conversation, he said three words that impacted me as none ever had, "After Jacob's abduction..." As much as I had heard and read about the story, nothing prepared me for this.

I was talking to a man who had his child kidnapped and still didn't know where he was. I was having a one-on-one conversation with someone I had only seen in the news - on the news where the bad news is something that is happening to someone else, not you or someone you know.

Jacob became a real child to me (even though by this time, Jacob would have been about 22 years old). He stopped being a news story and became someone I cared about.

When I was serving on the board, I had clueless people say to me, "Are they still looking for him?"

As if that was the entire purpose of the foundation. The mission of the foundation was to prevent this from ever happening again.

As if a parent would ever stop. No parent would ever want to hear this from their child, "Why did you stop looking for me?"

I pray for the best outcome - whatever that may be.