KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Livin' La Vida AD/HD

I am an introvert and a homebody, and thus spectacularly suited for self-employment, but there are other reasons—3 of them, to be precise—for my not being gung ho about getting out and about. They are
  • My 46-year-old husband, Ed

  • Our 13-year-old son, Neil

  • Our 6-year-old son, Jared
They all have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), and getting them all out the front door on time for any event takes a herculean effort. By the time we're all on our way somewhere, or some or all of them are on their way somewhere, I'm mentally exhausted and out of sorts. AD/HD is a neurobehavioral disorder that impairs executive function, that part of the brain that keeps a person focused on the right task at the right time. Because I don't have AD/HD, my executive function is fine, so I'm usually the one who keeps everyone on track. I'll go as far as saying that my executive function has been supremely honed by being depended on by several family members.

Yes, I know, they could all take their AD/HD meds earlier in the day so that they could focus better during the getting-ready part of the day, but then the meds would wear off too early, leaving them all unfocused during the critical homework and end-of-the-workday time. Somebody please invent an AD/HD med that provides 24-hour coverage!

And yeah, I do like to be on time, so maybe if I didn't care about lateness, this all wouldn't be as big a deal as it is. But my daughter from my first marriage, Becky, now 25, doesn't have AD/HD, and by the time she was a teenager, she was pretty much getting herself ready each school day. I didn't have to prod her. And ya know, teachers like to start classes on time and bosses expect people to be at work on time, so it's not just me.

My having to herd the guys used to seriously get in the way of our going to church on a regular basis. It's pretty hard to feel spiritual when you've had to cajole, prod, and even yell to get 3 guys' attention multiple times to keep them on track so everybody won't be late. And it's super hard to feel spiritual enough to be helping lead worship as a worship assistant or as a member of the choir after having to do all of that. When the church we went to showed the full extent of its conservative nature (after the very liberal pastor we loved went on to lead another church upstate), we decided that that was no longer the church for us. But for me, the monumental work involved in keeping my guys on track for showing up at church on time had nearly already been enough to make me want to stop going each Sunday morning. And now, it doesn't make me enthusiastic about seeking out a different church to attend. Will the new church have anyone who will come to our house and light firecrackers under my guys' behinds? Probably not.

Here is what a typical school day is like, when Neil's bus arrives in front of our house at about 7:10 a.m. and Jared's arrives at the stop at the end of our block somewhere between 8:45 and 9 a.m., and with Ed (who is self-employed now, just as I am) responsible for getting Jared to his bus stop (because I was responsible during all of those years that Ed worked away from home):
6 a.m.: Ed and I stumble out of bed after our alarm clocks ring. We decide who will be the one to wake up Neil the zombie teen. This morning, it's my turn to do the impossible so that Ed can get some extra sleep. (Yeah, yeah, we should've figured that out last night, but bedtime arguments aren't conducive to romance, doncha know.)

"Neil, wake up." Gentle shaking. "Neil, honey, wake up." Firmer shaking. "Neil, come on. It's a school day. Gotta get up." Shaking and tickling. "Neil!" ... Ten minutes later, I'm pulling the zombie up into a sitting position, I'm tickling him, I'm jiggling him, I'm moving him all over the place.

"Huh ... wha ... ? I'm awake, I'm awake!" And then he flops back down, asleep again.

Repeat for a few more minutes. Finally, my entreaties for him to pick out what he wants for breakfast sort of get through his fog. The boy who for years now hasn't liked eating cold cereal for breakfast finds himself standing in front of the pantry that contains the cereal boxes.

I'm surprised, but I say, "Okay, pick out a cereal, then."

"Cereal?!" he says, indignant. "Why do you want me to pick out cereal?"

"Because you went there as if you wanted cereal."

"I did not! I don't know why I'm here!"

Eventually, he chooses prefab pancakes that have to be heated up in our toaster oven.

6:20 a.m.: I stay with Neil throughout his breakfast to make sure that he stays awake and keeps moving. He's surly through most of the meal because I dared wake him. But toward the end, I get him laughing by making Star Wars jokes. "I bet you'd be wide awake if I put on a Star Wars movie on the TV."

"Well, of course!" he says with a reluctant grin.

"Luke, I am your mother," I say in a Darth Vader voice. "You must eat the incoming pancakes before the compound is overcome!"


"If you do not hurry, we will be overcome by furry Ewoks!"

"Heh, heh." He finishes eating and takes his AD/HD meds and vitamins.

6:40 a.m.: "Come on, Neil. You know the drill: brush your teeth, get dressed, get out lunch money."

"Al-l-l-l-l right!"

6:50 a.m.: "Neil, come on already!"

7 a.m.: Neil's AD/HD meds are finally kicking in, and he's finally moving at seminormal speed. By this point, he's as cheerful as he'll be—he was born a serious little old man—and he's now huggy, which is a nice change after all of the surliness. This transformation takes place every school day.

7:05 a.m.: Jared stumbles out into the kitchen from his bedroom, waking up a half hour early on his own. He comes over for some Mommy kisses and hugs, all soft and sweet, then plods over to the living-room couch, where Neil is playing a handheld video game while waiting for his bus. He snuggles up to Neil and watches the game over his brother's shoulder. It's nice that for once, the boys aren't fighting.

7:10 a.m.: The bus arrives, and Neil heads out the door with a good-bye to Jared and to me. I wish him a good day, and then I tell Jared that he can go in and wake up his dad.

Jared, now really awake and getting enthusiastic about the day, says, "Yay! I'll jump on him!" After a while, Ed stumbles out, followed by Jared. Ed heads to the shower, and Jared heads to the playroom, knowing that he's not supposed to go there on a school morning.

7:35-ish a.m.: It's time for me to eat breakfast with Jared. "Jared, come out of the playroom, please. Time to decide what you want for breakfast."

His whine has awakened: "But I need to finish putting this together!"

"You can do that later if you finish getting ready early or after school. Let's eat."

"Fine!" He's in full crab mode now. "I'll have the dumb cinnamon Life cereal, then."

Still trying to show who's boss, he grabs my usual place where we eat breakfast. I play along and pretend to pout.

He capitulates. "Fine! You can have your spot!"

I graciously tell him that he can sit in it today, and he scrambles back to it. Then he snuggles up to me and eats, being cute but talking my ears off. This yackiness apparently is something that comes with AD/HD a lot of the time. All 3 of my guys have it, and not even AD/HD meds lessen it. Imagine my plight as an introvert—someone who needs plenty of quiet time to feel centered—living with people who talk so much that sometimes I feel like running away for a brief vacation by myself.

7:50 a.m.: Ed's finally finished using the shower as a visceral alarm clock. He joins us for the last bit of breakfast time.

8 a.m.: I remind Jared that it's time for him to put his breakfast dishes away and brush his teeth. Ed finishes eating and follows Jared into the bathroom. Much conversing between the guys follows. Though Ed has just taken his AD/HD meds, they'll take a half hour to kick in, so he's still scatterbrained and thinking more like Jared's best buddy than like his parent.

8:15 a.m.: I can't stand all the talking because when their mouths move, their bodies stop doing anything else. "Ed, honey, ple-e-ease stop yacking and move Jared along!"

"Okay, honey. Jared, stop talking."

Yeah, like you weren't doing any of the blabbing, Ed!

8:20 a.m.: Everyone's teeth finally brushed, both of the guys start getting dressed for the walk to Jared's bus stop. Meanwhile, I've settled in at my computer to read e-mails from friends and colleagues and clients before starting on paying work.

8:40 a.m.: Jared's finished dressing in our living room. Ed's off in our bedroom. After a while, I notice that he—Ed—is taking a really long time to get ready ... and that Jared's bus will arrive in 5 to 10 minutes! "Ed, come on already, honey! You're going to miss the bus!"

"All right! I'm coming, I'm coming."

Uh-huh, sure you are. I've heard that 50 million times before, and it's never true. "Ed!"

8:45 a.m.: Ed finally makes his way back to the kitchen, dressed except for his sneakers. Jared's been waiting for a while now, his jacket on and backpack in place, and he'd taken his AD/HD meds 15 minutes before. He decides he's heading down to the bus stop without his dad. I'm still in my nightgown, not yet having gotten dressed for the day because Ed was supposed to be handling the trip down to the bus stop. I'm not inclined to accompany Jared down the block in my nightgown.

"Argh! Ed, you're making me crazy! Jared's out the door and heading across the neighbors' yard and down to the bus stop—by himself!"

"Okay, okay!" And out the door he hobbles, his right leg not yet totally healed from the Achilles tendon tear that he sustained on Super Tuesday.
It's the same routine Monday through Friday, throughout the school year. (Summer is divine, not only for the great weather but also because I don't have to get anyone but myself moving in the mornings.) And just imagine with how little joy I looked forward to going through the same routine on Sundays after having done it 5 weekdays in a row.

Can you see why I'm exhausted before my workday even begins? I love my guys, but geez, it can be hard being the only person in the house who doesn't have AD/HD.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Embarrassing Mistake

Wanna see an editor look ridiculous? Here's your chance. Enjoy!


Friday, April 25, 2008

Two Jordans: One Home, One Dead in Iraq

My nephew, JordanMy nephew, Jordan, who just turned 21, is back in the U.S. from Iraq after a stint with the U.S. Marines—for now—though he is not home yet. I am so glad that he's safe.

Jordan HaerterBut on the front page of the Long Island newspaper today is the photo and story of another Jordan, 19 and also a marine, who was killed in Iraq. My husband, Ed, worked for years with the mother of the 19-year-old Jordan. It's so sad and shocking to Ed. The last time he saw that Jordan, the boy was about 11 years old.

I just can't see any good in this stupid war.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Nothing to See Here; Move Along

I've been quiet here lately. It's not that life hasn't been interesting enough for me to comment on. It's just that you might find it boring.

I've just been in the editing zone for several days, editing manuscripts that are well written and interesting while my sons are home from school during spring break, which means no getting up groggily at 6 a.m. to roll two children out the door and onto the bus. The weather's been all mellow springness, all blue skies and budding trees and flowers. I sip my imported white or green Chinese or Japanese teas, edit a while as I listen to classical music, e-mail some friends, check the news, talk with the kids, kiss my self-employed cabinetmaker husband, edit some more ...

Nothing here to see—just a woman enjoying her life. Move along ...

publishing spring break cabinetmaker tea

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Flying the Flag of Hope

Obama '08—change we can believe inThe last 7-plus years under George W. Bush's reign of greed and imperialism and stupidity have been demoralizing. For a while, my husband and I flew a custom "Impeach Bush and Cheney now!" flag, along with our peace-in-many-languages flag, on the large flagpole in our front yard. But now we're looking forward with hope, and our peace flag shares the flagpole with a custom Obama '08 flag, which reads "Change we can believe in." (The house you see isn't ours; it's the house across the street. This is the view through one of our front windows.)

The Human Connection

I got the sweetest phone call yesterday from an author about my copyediting of her fun guidebook to all things Texan. It's always such a pleasure to hear from a happy author.

She thanked me, in her lilting Alabama accent, for my kind comments on her manuscript and for the catches I made. She was so friendly that she made my Texas accent come out of hiding. She said, "This is my ninth book, and it's the first time any editor has ever made nice little comments like that on my writing. I just had to call and thank you—and see if your voice was as nice as your notes sounded."

What a shame she's had to wait that long!

I'll never understand editors who do nothing but edit and don't take the time to work in a little praise where it's due. Authors put their hearts into their work, and who are we editors to only perform grammar and diction surgery with cold precision without relating to the authors as people? Do you go back to see the brusque, superefficient, emotionless physician, or do you instead prefer the physician who takes a few moments to listen to you and explain things to you—to connect with you?

I did a heavy edit of the Alabama author's manuscript, and she was still thrilled with my work. Yes, I made some good catches, but I also made sure to let her know when I saw her sense of humor shining through or when her description of a historic event was particularly engrossing.

Yes, be professional, but don't forget to be human too.

By the way, I got an invitation to visit my author if I ever make it down to Alabama. I have a few other invitations to countries around the world. Now to save up for the cost of all of those flights ...

publishing authors being human

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Campaign-Season Lament

'bama's bitter band of bourgeoisie
is so distressed, it wants a recipe
for something new, but then, you see,
Cindy McCain swiped it from the TV.

John McCain can't remember a thing;
he changes his course like a bird on wing.
Then he says that he said no such thing,
till the next time his thoughts take a swing.

Hillary Clinton's always preached gun control;
her friend led the Million Mom March patrol.
But now she's in PA, gun owners to console,
raisin' up a rifle in photos oh so droll.

All this silliness may drive me to drink
'cause it's put my mood in one big kink.
I want to know whether they'll rethink
and stop the political slither-and-slink.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Shrinking the World Through Editing

It's a small world after allIt is just so cool to have clients from all over the world. It makes me feel part of an effort to further international understanding and enrich the world's literature.

I got a joyful e-mail yesterday from a physician in Egypt whose manuscript I copyedited. She was thrilled to let me know that her article has now been accepted for publication in a large U.S. medical journal. We've corresponded for several months now and have shared photographs of our children.

And yesterday I also heard from a physician in Saudi Arabia whose article has been accepted for publication in another U.S. medical journal, contingent on my editing it to polish the English. The author will be my first client from that nation.

Without leaving my computer, I've had the privilege over the last 13 years of getting to know a little bit about men and women from Czechoslovakia, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, and Turkey too. I can't think of anything more enjoyable—except perhaps one day getting to meet some of my authors in person.

publishing authors international understanding

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My Favorite Daughter

My daughter, Becky, and granddaughter, Ana

Today is the twenty-fifth birthday of my favorite young woman: my daughter, Becky, aka mother of my granddaughter, Ana. Happy birthday, sweetheart! And may your daughter always bring you as much joy as you bring me.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

It's Spring, Damn It

I'm damn cranky. That's because it's spring, when a middle-aged mother's fancy lethargically turns to thoughts of sleep.

This is that damnable time of year that I long for the school year to be done with, damn it, so that I don't have to spend 15 damn minutes trying to awaken a tall, gangly, dead-to-the-world eighth-grade boy at six damn o'clock every damn weekday morning. Because I've always promised myself that I'd never let a minor child of mine go off to school in the morning without some parental hugs and cheer, I have to get up way too damn early 5 days a week. Why the damn schools think it's damn smart to have teenagers start classes at the crack of damn dawn, I'll never know. The zombie teen's first-grader brother doesn't have to be up until 7:30 a.m., damn it, and of course the little one is the easy one to awaken.

Summer and sleeping in on weekdays—ah, the perks of self-employment—can't come too damn soon. The school year here on Long Island runs until damn near the end of June.

Damn it!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Friday Grandchild Blogging

Ana the Easter Bunny

This adorable Easter Bunny is my granddaughter Ana, who will celebrate her first birthday in May. She's cruising and trying to walk unassisted. I have no idea how she managed to grow so fast! The strong arms supporting her are those of my son-in-law, Li, who went out and had Anastasia tattooed on his arm shortly after Ana was born.

Li son-in-law EditorMom

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Uncle Sam Wants Your College Kids' Data

This pisses me off greatly. I'm very glad that my daughter is no longer a university graduate student and that my sons are too young to attend a university, because all U.S. college and university students' data must now be handed over to the military.

The Department of Defense has ruled that military recruiters must be given access to universities' student directories if recruiters from potential employers are also given access, according to the Army Times:
... Students can opt out of having their information turned over to the military only if they opt out of having their information provided to all other recruiters, but schools cannot have policies that exclude only the military, defense officials said in a March 28 notice of the new policy in the Federal Register.

The Defense Department "will honor only those student 'opt-outs' from the disclosure of directory information that are even-handedly applied to all prospective employers seeking information for recruiting purposes," the notice says.

Directories are an important recruiting tool because they include the names, birthdates, phone numbers and academic pursuits of college students that can be used to identify people with knowledge and interests that are particularly useful to the military.

The new policy also no longer lets schools ban military recruiters from working on campuses solely because a school determines that no students have expressed interest in joining the military. If other employers are invited, the military has to have the same access.

Federal funding can be cut off if colleges and universities do not give recruiters and ROTC [Reserve Officer Training Corps] programs campus access. While student financial assistance is not at risk, other federal aid, especially research funding, can disappear if a school does not cooperate. ...
I want the military to keep its hands off my kids and their data. For now, I'll keep collecting evidence (their essays, artwork, etc.) that my sons are pacifists, so that one day, if they remain pacifists as 18-year-olds, they can use what's in my files on them as documentation that they have always been conscientious objectors.

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