Road Trips, Nertz and ADD

November 15, 2010 | By | 3 Replies More

I wonder sometimes if road trips will become a thing of the past. For my wife and me, they’ve certainly dropped a bit on the list of things to do, but that may simply be a product of schedules, interests and rising gas prices. We used to drive multiple many miles just to see things, turn around and drive back. In California, 13-14 years ago, we decided one day to take our kids to see the sequoias, so we drove 400 miles, saw them, said, “Cool.”, and drove back. In the same day. Now, a custom van makes it a comfortable option, but we take fewer of those trips.

Nertz is a card game that is best described as group solitaire on speed. There are different sets of rules, but we play a “Navy” way taught to us in the 1990s and almost always play in teams of two. We have since evangelized it across the continent and halfway across the world, and my wife taught it to many of her Korean students during our seven years there. After teaching the game to very good friends also stationed in Korea, we would often answer the door at 10:30 on a Friday night to Barb, pitcher of margaritas in hand, saying “Rick’s taking out his contacts and grabbing a bottle of wine….you guys up for some Nertz?”

Road trips and Nertz converged this past weekend as we decided to drive from Dallas (actually Rowlett), Texas to Memphis (actually Atoka/Millington), Tennessee to see Rick and Barb, our friends from Korea; a weekend which we thoroughly enjoyed and did manage to squeeze in several hours of Nertz playing. We left at 5:00 pm on Thursday with me driving the one way 7.5 hours (without stops) of 440 miles in a different (but now 11 year old) custom van, accompanied by my wife, two younger sons and the ADD-wired brain that has been my companion for near 50 years.

I sometimes wonder what it is like to be “normal”. I’m not sure what “normal” is, but for me, normal is a severe case of mental multi-tasking (most of the time) or a dogged hyperfocus on the solution of a problem, or a hybrid of the two, tending toward the former. I’m concentrating on the driving as much as I need to in order to keep my precious cargo safe, thinking of all manner of different things when my artist wife looks up from sketching designs for pieces she wants to create and asks, “I’ve been neglecting you. What are you thinking about?” To which I instantly reply, “Climate science…and two homeschooling blog posts for my blog and DI. Oh, and The Doors are providing the soundtrack with L.A. Woman….Simultaneously.” Unfortunately for me, The Doors got unceremoniously blasted out of my head with a staccato “bup bup bup Buuuhhhh!” of the horn refrain from Gershwin’s “Rhapsody on Blue.”

Normally, I welcome Gershwin into my reverie, but these intrusions too often take the form of ringtone snippets on an endless loop. So now I’m stuck with Gershwin, ping ponging between the chronological post on homeschooling for my site that I sort of promised Brynn Jacobs on another DI thread, a much smaller post for DI, also on homeschooling, the framework for this post, … and still the Gershwin. I never knew I had ADD, or as some of the medical world are calling it Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder without the Hyperactivity. Learned of it by way of diagnosing our son – Hey! That’s me! Of course, I don’t think of it as a disorder at all. Some days are more challenging than others, but I’ve adapted my work style to capitalize on that multi-tasking feature. As far as the rest of life, my wife will occasionally see the need to step in and force me to focus on finishing one task sooner than another, but she usually lets me run where things may lead me.

Indulge me a moment, please, as I share a glimpse into the particular ADD mind that is mine (for I do not know how others work). While driving, I’m simultaneously composing those essays, when {click} – I wonder what the chemical composition of Strongbow can coatings is that they exhibit iridescence when torched for one of my wife’s art pieces. {click} Don’t forget the Saxon math we used for a while for Brandon and Colin. {BAM!} (Gershwin again, on recycle) {BAM!} How is it that the Tea Party movement has gained such traction and how long can they maintain an interest without a coherent platform? {click} Brake lights. Hmmm…if a car traveling at 65 mph stops suddenly to avoid a deer and a car travelling at 70 mph is following, how far apart must they be in order for the second car to avoid a collision? {click} Make sure to link to Gatto’s site on the DI post {click} Assume standard reaction time of 2.5 seconds {click} Hey! Cool! Andrea’s phone is playing Bowling for Soup. That’s a better song than {BAM!} Gershwin again -sigh {click} I’m beginning to think there’s a partial Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of my mental soundtracks: I can identify the song but not the lyrics, or if I can identify the song, I can’t find its position (in my mind) again. But Heisenberg apparently doesn’t apply to quantum Gershwin, for I identify and know exactly where it is..

{click} more homeschooling {click} Answer question from [wife, son, son, pick one] {click} Hope Brandon gets that engine in okay {BAM!} I don’t watch Emeril. Why does he keep bamming me? Okay, I did read “The United Stated of Arugula” in which he played a part, but…{click}{click}

One would think that multi-tasking in a card game where awareness of many piles of cards is important. Sadly, my version of ADD is not an advantage for me in that game. I have to focus more than normal on only the cards in my hand in that game, and watch while my son knows all of his, mine, everybody else’s, who needs to play what and when so he can go out. But I don’t mind driving 440 miles to play with friends. Hope the gas prices hold out.

Such is the dangerous intersection that is my mind, which is why I am happy to become part of a larger Intersection.



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Category: Friendships/relationships, Humor, Psychology Cognition, Quality of Life, travel

About the Author ()

Jim is a husband of more than 27 years, father of four home-schooled sons (26, 23, 16 and 14), engineer delighting in virtually all things technical, with more than a passing interest in history, religions, arts, most sciences (particularly physics) and skepticism.

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  1. Cluttered = Smart : Dangerous Intersection | May 24, 2013
  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    I've been sitting on a draft of a travel post for over a week. Now, you've forced my hand: Why Take a Road Trip?

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