Bear In A China Closet

I have to give it a real effort when I work at my job now. I’ve had a lot of jobs. But Like I said, I have to really FOCUS.

In recent years, I began recalling lines my father repeated to me. DISCIPLINE AARON. I never really remember the context, I just see the words. DISCIPLINE popped into my head when I played tennis with my old roommate. He’d get so frustrated that he wanted to quit. We’d only been playing for about ten minutes, just warming me up when he told me I better stop screwing around. He would just rather go home. DISCIPLINE. An old friend of mine from the ravioli place said he thought I lacked discipline. But he said it like Mr. Miagi coaching The Karate Kid- “Aaron, you-a wrak DISCIPRINE!”

Get-that-through-your-thick-skull, my Dad said, with gravity. He said it slow. I hear it now. He made such an effort to make it clear. He said it in a way that suggested he knew it might not get absorbed very easily. Get that through your thick skull.

A couple years back I played bottle hockey with the fellas. We played after work, on the big metal tables at the ravioli place. I had a hard time learning the game. It annoyed the guys a little that I couldn’t understand the simple rules, rules about spinning quarters and stuff. I told my friend Dan that I didn’t have space in my brain for stupid rules. I thought that 100% of my brain time should be spent doing whatever it wanted to do. Really it was just laziness and it made me kind of stupid.

Oh yeah, so I have to give it a real effort at my restaurant. I value the job, and I’m grateful to have it. So that means I have to learn about wines and listen and pay attention and all that shit. It’s a struggle. I get really stressed out. A person yelped about me and said I was RETARDED, capitals. I’m not retarded actually. It’s a little frustrating, that shit. Because I’m not retarded.

I was in the class for smart kids in Kindergarten. The EARLY birds. I was the man. I remember in third grade I had my reading level assessed and I was told I had a FIFTH grade reading level. I read novels like Touchdown For Tommy. This one kid had a NINTH grade level, but you know, fuck ’em- I ran around and shit. I got a perfect score on my jr. college placement test when I was 18. I was told I could “take any English class Bellevue Community College offered.” …So that’s somethin. It’s the little things. The best little thing was probably my old girlfriend’s college papers. She was a great student. She went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she majored in accounting. Anyway after a few B papers, she asked her (required) writing teacher what she needed to do to get an A. After he read a paper that had been over-hauled by me, he noted on her paper- “This is what you need to do to get an A.” When you don’t have the big things, it’s gotta be the little things.

Absent minded, I say. I try to argue that ADD doesn’t exist but I know I have the worst case of it. Everyone swears they have the worst case. Exposure to Ritalin came at age 24. I was living in Seattle, working at a coffee shop. I decided I should see a shrink one night while taking the trash out behind Tully’s Coffee. He diagnosed me with ADD on the first visit. In a later visit I asked him if it was what I said that gave it away, or how I said it. He told me it was “both.” Anyway, he prescribed me a bottle of Ritalin that I used infrequently over the next couple of years. Probably 30 or so 5-milligram pills that I took in 5 and 10-milligram doses. Ritalin definitely played a role in my jr. college triumphs over math. Prior to Ritalin I failed math three times. Performance Enhanced. And my English classes became awesome. I understood everything. I absorbed everything. I liked class. The craziest part was feeling normal. I felt that class on Ritalin was just like a normal person not on Ritalin. I felt normal for understanding everything. Dan once told me I need Ritalin. He pointed to me and said “You know what you need? You need Ritalin.”

Engage Your Brain, my Dad would say.

I don’t know man- My last college professor, when addressing our intimidation of the novel Ulysses, he told us that all those lines that we thought we were skimming over, we were really taking in, even if we thought absolutely nothing was going in.

All these justifications, excuses- “We’re not meant to be idle, we’re meant to run around, and fight for survival” Or “Well, intelligent people take longer to process, because they’re processing more blah blah blah-” all that bullshit I tell myself- I’m still an idiot. I leave the toilet seat down. Or up. I leave my zipper down. I forget stuff. I lose stuff. I don’t listen. So like when my mom would be upset and say “I told you, and you weren’t listening!”

My old step-dad had a nick-name for me, it was DESTRUCTO OBLIVION. Spacial Awareness is something I was told is very important. Also, I’m a Bull In A China Closet. One time I called myself a bear in a china closet but I was corrected. I’m in-fact a BULL In A China Closet. My older brothers called me Air-head. I was okay with it. When I worked at the coffee shop in Seattle, I heard the girls talking about Aaronisms. I perked up- “Oh, like things I say that are clever?” I was told, no, that an Aaronism was like when I forgot to dump out the mop bucket.

Engage Your Brain when I need to remember seat numbers at the restaurant.

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