I did it.
I went all the way.
I exposed myself.
I went to my first CHADD meeting.
* * *
I was excited! The blogger extraordinaire — ME!! — making his big, public debut. I brought my Jeff’s ADD Mind business cards. I brought copies of my latest post, the review of The ADHD Activity Book. I wore my ADHD outfit – black jeans, black boots and a white and gray striped shirt. [note 1] And the part I am most proud of, I printed the directions to the meeting directly from the CHADD chapter website. I was sure I could not get lost since the directions had to be written by an ADHDer for an ADHDer.
Like a Talmudic scholar I analyzed the directions, parsing each word to determine its true meaning.
“Piece of cake,” I thought. “I can’t get lost with these simple directions even if I’ve never been there before.”
Famous last words.
For me, driving to a new place is like driving in the desert. Everything looks the same.
“See that grain of sand over there? Make a left, go straight for twelve sand dunes, then make a right.”
Which grain of sand?
“That light brown one.”
They ALL look light brown!!
(How do people ever find a f*cking thing with these kinds of directions?)
I followed the directions provided by the CHADD chapter.
Take Meadowbrook Parkway South to Hempstead Turnpike East.
Okay. I know that parkway. No problem.
Southbound was going smoothly…until it wasn’t. Traffic halted. There was an accident ahead. But it didn’t take long for it to clear and I was again looking for “Hempstead Turnpike East.” I suspected I passed the exit but the sign didn’t say “Hempstead Turnpike East.”
When I saw road signs for the beach I knew I went too far. (FYI to non-New Yawkers. When you go north or south on Long Island (it’s an ISLAND, get it?), you eventually reach water: Long Island Sound when going north; Atlantic Ocean when going south.)
I found a place to turn around. Now I was northbound. You know what? Still no sign that says “Hempstead Turnpike East.” But I went with my earlier hunch and found the correct exit. [note 2]
At first light, turn right onto Merrick Ave.
Perfect!! I found this street without a hitch!
Go approximately 2 miles. Make a slight left onto Bellmore Ave.
I found this slight left by accident. (“This looks important. I’ll turn here.”) It might have been helpful if the directions said that this was a BIG intersection. In fact, it’s a major fork in the road and there’s a large diner on the right hand side. Hard to miss that diner even if you’re nearsighted like me.
Turn left onto Prospect Ave. 0.1 mile on your right.
I found this by accident too. I could barely read the street signs (it was 7:30PM and it was already dark and I’m in a panic) but I figured that maybe, just maybe, this street was at the traffic light. I was correct. It would have been helpful if the directions said, “At the traffic light…..”
I parked, scooped up my business cards and copies of my book review and searched for the entrance. I try a few doors (“Why is it locked? Isn’t this the place?”). I found an unlocked door and headed down the stairs. There were two women at a sign-in table. One of them asked for five dollars.
“I didn’t know this meeting cost anything.”
It’s free but we pay for the room.
“I hope this comes with coffee and donuts,” I joked.
I was kind of right. There was coffee and Oreos™.
As I was led to the support group meeting…panic! “Shit, where’s my cell phone? Did I put it down on the table? Is it in my shirt pocket?”
Whew! Found it.
The phone was squeezed under my arm. Attached to that arm was the hand that was holding a hot cup of coffee. At least I spilled it on the floor and not on my shirt.
“Here it is.”
I expected a large group.
There was a man, a woman, and a doctor.
With some difficulty I controlled my mouth (to a degree).
I was quite impressed by the doctor.
I handed out my business cards and copies of my book review.
“I hope everyone has a sense of humor.”
The crickets chirped.
The man said, “I think I saw your blog.”
The woman said, “I don’t own a computer.” I figure she’s not a regular reader of my blog.
At 8:30PM we went to the main meeting room for the parent workshop: “AD/HD: To Medicate or Not to Medicate.” The speaker — James B. Snyder, MD — was extraordinarily knowledgeable. As he addressed parent concerns about stimulant medications, he touched on the nuances of prescribing medications: if you give drug X, check blood pressure regularly…blah, blah, blah.
He never mentioned that ADHD was a gift.
I gave out a few more of my business cards.
Still no adoring blog fans.
I stood off to the side for most of the workshop, behind the sales rep from Shire plc. (He was there “to observe” and the speaker made a point of saying that this was a CHADD meeting, not a drug-sponsored meeting, and therefore he (the speaker) was free to say whatever he wants to say.)
I drifted from the book sale table in the back to the information table on the side to the table that had lemonade and Oreos™.
Eventually, I sat down.
* * *
I’ll be going to more of these meetings. It feels good to be in the presence of so many “gifted” people.
And now that I’ve been there once, I won’t get lost.