Verdict: Here’s to not Catching our Hair on Fire is the story of Stacey Turis, AD(H)D and giftedness survivor, whose narrative flows as fast and furious as her mind, and leaves you jittery and giggly from the rush.
Reading Here’s to not Catching our Hair on Fire feels like you have just met up with an old friend who has just gulped down a high caffeine drink and is catching you up on her whole sometimes ordinary and other times zany life with all its ups and down which are at times made more difficult, crazy and humorous because of author Stacey Turis’s “unreliable brain” that is battling with ADHD and giftedness.
In the introduction, Turis explains who she is and gives the reader a brief glimpse into her life with adult AD(H)D (Turis still considers herself ADD since she claims not be to hyper) and giftedness along with its symptoms which Turis writes include: “the anxiety, depression, and all-around fogginess that seem to go hand in hand with this wacky brain of mine”; “I’m like a radar gun picking up every wave in my range. Beep. Beep. Beep”; “I get blasted from every direction. Smells, sounds, every sense is on fire every second of the waking day”.
Turis recounts her childhood filled with anxiety created by her stepfather’s physical abuse and “mental torture” of Stacey and her brother, Chris. Turis’s strong personality, her so-called “inability to withstand injustice” and her loyalty to her friends manages to shine through the dark aspects of her stressful childhood and young adulthood. For example, to show solidarity with her pregnant friend, Stacey refuses to wear tight fitting gym clothes so less attention would be focused on her friend.
Turis continues with to tell her life story in great, and often funny details. From high school to college, and how she stumbles into work with local media, as the promotions and marketing assistant/runner to the local host to other various odd jobs that Stacey eventually left for various reasons such as chaos, office pollution or the boss who “walked around unabashedly with a hernia on his stomach that looked like one of the mushrooms from Super Mario was going to launch into space from his belly.”
The author’s adventures also include how she met the love of her life, her future husband, and the family they created together. The stories continue to be told with clarity and humor, and the author’s reactions, often exaggerated by her conditions are well depicted:
“To a casual observer, I was waiting patiently for him to share the thoughts and feelings… inside, I was blown away, my gut was slipping around. I couldn’t get it to stop and it was making me nauseous. My heart was reverberating through my ears, and I could feel my hands shaking as they were clasped together…. My armpits felt the usual thousand of fire ants clamoring to have their way with me and I have to for myself not to violently thrust my finger under my arms and start tearing at the delicate (and likely whiskery) skin with my unmanicured nails.”
The strongest aspect of the narrative that really directly addresses the author’s issues occur mostly towards the end of the book when Turis explains how she continues to cope with her “wacky brain” and her physical and emotional sensitivities, her lessening of her “stranger anger” and her “linear time thing” that make her only able to hold only two weeks of her past and look only about 48 hours into the future so she doesn’t get “overwhelmed and anxious.” Turis manages to convey sweet humor in her handling of the issues, while remaining sensitive and honest.
Turis’s rushing stream of consciousness can be overwhelming at times because it chronicles her life in such detail; however many of the off beat and surprising one liners and observations that Turis throws into her clear and evocative narrative is often worth the dizzying rush of information. Also, Turis’s voice is so genuine and candid, that it’s easy to become somewhat invested in her life story, as she lets you into the workings of her psyche and all the embarrassing details of her life lessons – like the time she had hemorrhoids and inserted a Tucks pad like a taco between her butt cheeks and it created a big, circular, wet stain across the buttocks on her jeans. The photos with their doodles and handwritten font scattered through also lends to the personal feel of this book.
Turis’s story is about a woman’s life, a life that has details that are heightened by her ADD and giftedness, and make her mind work overtime, second guessing, feeling anxious and out of control. What shines through all the seemingly normal ups and downs of her life story is the author’s sweet but spunky personality that keeps her surrounded and protected by love and good friends but also comes full circle to a point where Turis herself finds self-acceptance.
Here’s to not Catching our Hair on Fire is the story of Stacey Turis, AD(H)D and giftedness survivor, whose narrative flows as fast and furious as her mind, and leaves you jittery and giggly from the rush.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader