Dr. Ned Hallowell

Dr. Ned Hallowell

For many of us with ADHD, Dr. Ned Hallowell is a God. Ok, a demi-God. The only person who’s heard, “You saved my life” more is Jesus. Possibly.

My own copy of Driven to Distraction, (co-authored by Hallowell) as I’ve mentioned before, has so many torn strips of post-its stuck to its pages it looks like a porcupine. I’d meant to present it, along with Delivered from Distraction, and Married to Distraction, to Hallowell for signing. I left the post-its in Driven to drive my point home, and hoped he’d get a laugh.

It was not meant to be – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Plan is hatched

I was to meet Dr. Hallowell at The Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Toronto. I’d already interviewed him by telephone for an ADDitude Magazine article, and was looking forward to meeting him in person. He was in town to promote his latest book, Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (2011, Harvard Business School Publishing).

During our phone interview, I’d mentioned that Canada was in the midst of a federal election.

“What can we do to get mental health issues on the table?” I asked.

“Get someone famous,” he said, and offered to introduce me to his pal, Heather Reisman.

It was Reisman’s chain of bookstores, Indigo Books, that was hosting Hallowell’s event that evening.

“Cool,” I thought, as I phoned his publicist to arrange an interview and get a press pass to his talk.

The plan is executed…sort of

I took a table at one of the hotel’s bars and began to empty my briefcase: MP3 recorder; notebook; pens (one for notes, one backup); the three books I’d brought for signing; the newspaper offered by the waitress who took my order for a glass of Perrier. An expensive glass of Perrier. With lime.

Before long, my table had a comforting resemblance to my desk. Still, on this hot spring day, I began to sweat in nervousness, anticipating our meeting.

Time passed. The oversalted, mandatory mix of dried-up pseudo-food arrived, unceremoniously plunked on the one strip of table not taken up by journalistic necessities.

I waited.

Soon, I began to realize that I would have the dubious distinction of being stood up by Dr. Ned Hallowell, psychiatrist and Patron Saint of ADHDers.

But hope springs eternal, and I’d come a long way for this meeting.

The plan is put aside…Zoë has time to ruminate…

To pass the time, I began to journal in the notebook I’d brought.

From my Journal:

Zoë working with Rick Green, Director and Producer of documentary, ADD & loving it?!

Zoë working with Rick Green. "I think it's going well," she reports.

I’m ready to kill Ava & Rick Green (whom I’d worked with that morning) for telling me not to change! I have a sexy little suit in the car that would have been way more comfortable and appropriate. I feel so out of place.

I’m sweating like a pig and starting to smell bad. Instead of designer black shoes (which are in the car), I’m wearing equestrian barn boots – that I’ve actually worn in the barn.

I’m writing in a dollar-store notebook (not on a laptop) and I’m wearing jeans. I think I’m breaking some sort of dress code and the only thing that’s saving me is my tailored black jacket – which now has dark wet patches under the arms where I’m perspiring profusely – it’s vintage wool. I haven’t seen another pair of jeans yet and I’m thinking I’m SO ADD.

To make matters worse, there are black and white signed photos of movie stars all over the walls and I’m expecting an actual actor to walk in at any moment.

The only thing saving me is how preposterous this whole thing feels and therefore how funny.

I’m 15 pounds overweight, I’m wearing a tight silk blouse, and I don’t know if I can suck in my gut one second longer. Another fiasco-in-progress.

Did I mention I’m at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Toronto, waiting for Ned Hallowell to arrive from the airport to be interviewed by me?

A six-year-old girl just walked in with her mom. Even the kid is better dressed than me, in a frilly little dress.

Oh thank God, another pair of jeans just walked in. Something tells me they’re not a $12 pair of previously-worn ones, like mine.

What am I doing here?

Hallowell’s late. I think his publicist underestimated travel time from the airport.

Oh damn. A couple just sat right beside me.

“Oh good, they have oysters,” says she.

“I told you,” says he.

Little Miss Princess-dress walked by again, this time with her Prissy-Pants sister in tow. I’d like to grab her sister’s designer handbag and ditch my hemp bag with the ripped pocket where my car key pokes out.

Did I mention I want to kill Rick and Ava?

The couple beside me keep slipping into a foreign language I can’t recognize. The waitress just brought a drink with an umbrella in it.

They switch to English to order some off-menu food. I don’t touch my nasty over-salty snacks: fossilized fries and dried peas and fruit. Yick. Welcome to Toronto. Where the F is Ned?

She orders a Margarita. When it arrives, she asks if it’s made fresh. OMG. Ned, where are you? Stood up by Ned Hallowell. That must be some kind of distinction.

Think I’ll go check the other bar again. Maybe I’m in the wrong one. Can I trust these people with my stuff?


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