281. maffick


Friday evening I had a pretty positive experience in my summer practicum class, and I have been trying to hold on to the feeling that went along with it.

We recently had an assignment to put together a mock resume and cover letter for our target jobs. I had an anxiety attack reading job requirements for entry-level cataloging jobs, realizing how much I still don’t know and how much is expected of candidates.

What I ended up taking away from Friday though was feedback that my resume and cover letter was actually pretty strong, that I know more than I think I do, and most everyone is worried that they’re unqualified for the job they really want.

It’s one of the downsides of ADD and anxiety that my brain tells me that I’m not good enough, that I’m far too behind and will never find a salaried job or able to support myself, and that no one will ever love me—or be willing to accept my crazy.

One comforting thing about the ADD community is that these kinds of feelings are almost universal, so it’s not just me.

Something I’ve been thinking about recently is how to manage my dating life as a demisexual, because dating doesn’t work the same for us as it does for everyone else.

Mainly, I’ve been thinking about attraction.

There are several different kinds of attraction¹:

  • Sexual attraction: attraction that makes people desire sexual contact or shows sexual interest in another person(s).
  • Romantic attraction: attraction that makes people desire romantic contact or interaction with another person or persons.
  • Aesthetic attraction: occurs when someone appreciates the appearance or beauty of another person(s), disconnected from sexual or romantic attraction.
  • Sensual attraction: desire to interact with others in a tactile, non-sexual way, such as through hugging or cuddling.
  • Emotional attraction: the desire to get to know someone, often as a result of their personality instead of their physicality. This type of attraction is present in most relationships from platonic friendships to romantic and sexual relationships.

What I have observed is that (at least in most people) most of these attractions overlap. They might overlap in different ways, and some attractions might be more dominant than others, but they seem to work in consort towards bringing people together.

For me, it’s rare for any of these to overlap. I might experience aesthetic attraction for a guy, but not have sexual or romantic desire for him. Similarly, I might be emotionally attracted to someone, but not aesthetically or romantically.

In short, sexual attraction is basically the last stop for my brain, which takes the long way around through every other type.

It’s rare to meet a guy who either understands this or is on the same wavelength. I’ve never met anyone like that, at least. Most gay men seem to run on aesthetic and sexual attraction, with little thought to romantic or emotional.

This is ironic for me, with my ADD brain, since impulsivity is a hallmark of the condition. Maybe it’s that sexuality is based in a different area of the brain, or that my sexual desire is bogged down by anxiety.

This is relevant because my previous sexual history back when I was much more active needs to be explained.

What I think was going on in those days was that I was applying a “fake it ’til you make it” mindset, working under the assumption that I needed to overcome internalized homophobia by having as much sex as possible.

What I learned was that I just wasn’t into the sex. A handful of the guys I found attractive, some I was sexually attracted to, but at no point did I encounter anyone I wanted to date.

A friend of mine pointed out later that some of that was probably where I was finding these guys—hookup apps, mostly.

Even outside that though, in social circles, work, and volunteer settings, I still never met anyone. Statistically, that should have happened, right?

Or were all my chances in my early twenties, when I was closeted?

Where does one meet a guy who’s fine with dating a guy who takes longer than others to connect? I don’t belong in the queer community, am unlikely to find a guy amongst the heterosexuals, and I’m too principled to change myself just to snag someone.

It seems a problem without a solution.

I skipped Minneapolis Pride again this year, mainly because I don’t need additional reasons to feel bad about myself.

It’s not a place where I fit in. I’ve never been much of a reveler, and my body image issues prevent me from wearing anything short of long pants and a short sleeve shirt.

Also, I don’t belong to any kink/fetish communities and my identity isn’t sexuality or gender nonconformity-based, which seems to be a big thing at Pride. Cataloging and role-playing games are more compelling, and I haven’t found any guys in those realms.

Maybe it’s just the community I find myself in now, but it seems like almost everyone I know is into leather, bondage, drag, pop culture, etc. A relationship founded on shared core values and a deep emotional bond feels almost outdated for my age group.

The curse of being an introverted gay man on the asexual spectrum.

So what am I doing about this?

To start, I’m trying to be aware of when I’m attracted to someone, and what type, trying to think of them all like indicator levels. With this hypothetical guy, the overall rating is 43%:

Whereas with this guy, it’d be 78%:

Second, I’m trying to do better at boundary setting. This can be difficult for ADD brains, thanks to under-performing anterior cingulate cortexes, which regulate things like impulse control.

So I’m trying to be aware when my anxiety activates and resist the impulse to fall back on mirroring the other person’s behavior, which is how I find myself in unhealthy situations.

Having to write a manual for this from scratch is SO MUCH FUN.


204. static


Storm-cloudsIt’s been a rough day, folks. Not only has it been blisteringly cold in Minnesota, but on Sunday the city of Minneapolis has declared a snow emergency effective until April 1. Or whenever they feel bothered to clear all the snow from the streets. For apartment dwellers such as I, this basically means that we’re screwed. Parking is not unlike musical chairs, if the loser of the round were transported to the middle of Siberia when the music ended.

The other night, I had to park three blocks away from my apartment and walk home in 4°F weather, walking right into the westerly wind, with ice crystals blowing into my face.

This, on top of dealing with my landlord, whose idea of fixing the gaping hole in my ceiling was to slop some spackle over the hole without coating the area with primer sealer first and letting it dry. This is the assessment my friend Amanda gave from looking at the picture I posted. And, of course, because my landlord decided to play incompetent contractor as well as negligent landlord, he hasn’t addressed the actual source of the moisture, which is why there was more wet plaster and debris on my floor on Friday.

Plus, there have still been no bites in my job search. Last week I reformatted my resume, editing it down to one page, with a second page of relevant, “FYI” work history information. But I worry that there are simply way more experienced and qualified candidates out there, ahead of me, and that my lack of specialized training (e.g., database, programming, project management) has come back to haunt me.

Yes, it’s a matter of rebranding the skills and experience I do have to fit the needs of a potential employer. But dammit, Jim, I’m a writer, not a nine-to-fiver.

Yesterday afternoon, one of the temp agencies called about a short-term civil government position that sounded like a great match for my skills – and would’ve paid $15/hr. (This is good news since my rate up until now has been $11-$12/hr.) The recruiter said he’d get back to me either yesterday evening or this morning. I finally got a call from one of his colleagues this afternoon who told me that they’d “decided to go in another direction,” whatever that means. But she had another position to discuss with me that would’ve paid $14/hr and also sounded like a good match. She called back a little while ago to say that they’d cancelled the position.

So… things aren’t going very well right now.

Ugh. I’m so tired of looking at job postings and thinking, “Well, that doesn’t sound too bad. I could probably do that for a month before wanting to walk into traffic.” Or looking at job descriptions and thinking that it seems like a great fit before getting to the bit where they say, “Must be bilingual.” Around here these days, the languages are often Spanish, Hmong, or Somali. Or they’re looking for someone with database experience. Or X+ years experience as an executive assistant.

The jobs I want require experience that I couldn’t get without back to school. Writing and editing jobs require either an English or journalism degree, or equivalent experience.

To say the least, it’s discouraging.

And now my car is breaking down. I have no idea what’s going on, but it’s been randomly dying when I pull up to stop signs. And then it works fine for a while.

In many ways, all of this seems to be a mirror to the state of my romantic life at present.

Sorry, just writing about all this is depressing me even more.

Here. Have some Stephen Fry.

The powers of the placebo are so strong that it may be morally wrong to call homeopathy a lie because the moment you say it then a placebo falls to pieces and loses its power. I am a great believer in double-blind random testing, which is the basis of all drug testing. People still insist on things like holistic healing and things that have no real basis in evidence because they want it to be true—it’s as simple as that. If you’re dying of cancer or very, very ill, then you’ll cling to a straw. I feel pretty dark thoughts about the kind of people who throw straws at drowning, dying men and women, and I’m sure most of us would agree it’s a pretty lousy thing to do. Some of these people perhaps believe in the snake oil they sell or allow themselves to believe in it.

That’s why James Randi is so good, because he knows what magicians know: if you do a card trick on someone, they will report that it was unbelievable, they describe the effect the magician wanted, and they miss out all the steps in between that seemed irrelevant because the magician made them irrelevant, so they didn’t notice them.

People will swear that a clairvoyant mentioned the name of their aunt from nowhere, and they will be astonished if you then play a recording that shows that thirty-two names were said before the aunt’s name, none of which had any effect on them. That’s because they wanted to hear their aunt’s name; they wanted the trick to work, so they forgot all the failures in the same way as people forget all their dreams that have no relevance to their lives, but they mark when they dream of someone they haven’t met for ages that they see the next day. I would be astounded if everyone had coincidences like that—yet people say that is somehow closed-minded of me!

— “Last Chance to Think” Interview (2010) by Kylie Sturgess in Skeptical Inquirer. Vol 34 (1)

49. occlumency


My apologies, friends, Romans. Countrymen.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

This time two years ago I was getting settled into a job at Target as an overnight team member (glorified expression for night stockperson). It wasn’t a bad job. The hours were crap, and it put a serious crimp on my social life—after all, it’s hard to spend time with people when they’re getting off work at 6 or 7, and you have to run off to work at 9pm, and then work until 6:30am.

Fast forward to November of 2008, I got the job at the recording art school and returned to the land of the living. It went okay for a while, but then after my “introductory period” my boss, Tina Nevala, started to ignore me. (In hindsight, what she did was make sure I’d stick around and then start treating me like just another piece of office furniture.) I’d try to say hello, be pleasant, but was met by cold indifference, or less. And it started getting worse. The workload got progressively larger, and my boss would point out every single flaw with what I’d do, criticising me for not being both a full-time receptionist and full-time administrative assistant. And never a kind or positive word in that entire time.

It got progressively worse from there. This past month the school was preparing for its largest Fall start ever, getting student records and forms in place before they get to orientation. I was exhausted, and our receptionist decided to take the week off, which meant I was spending half the day down at the front desk (which meant that I had to be a full-time receptionist as well as do my own job).

Then last Friday, the 16th, after a hellish week of working full-time and getting through dress and tech rehearsals for the show I was musical directing, Tina calls me over to the director’s office, who proceeded to inform me that my work at the school is no longer satisfactory and that they were letting me go. Basically, she decided that now that they’d gotten through the busiest period that I was expendable—after she’d worked me practically to death, and made me feel like a total failure, she went a step further by saying in not so few words that I just wasn’t good enough.

Part of me is relieved to no longer be working there. It was a crappy job, not the best pay, driving to and parking in downtown Minneapolis, for a boss who didn’t appreciate me at all and went out of her way to make me feel as small and as bad about myself as possible. Fortunately there were people there who were supportive and made being there somewhat bearable.

But part of me is terrified now because I don’t have a job, and there are still bills to pay. I’ve been distributing resumes for the past few weeks; dusted off my Monster and CareerBuilder accounts; and that Friday I actually went home and started sending out resumes like crazy. Monday I’m going into a temp agency to do some testing and start getting some assignments. At this point I just need a job.

I really want to start teaching piano more—full-time, or as close to, if possible. I love having students, and watching them grow from the minute they step into my studio to the day they leave at the end of the year for summer break. The only trouble is that a lot of families are cutting back due to the economy, and music lessons tend to be luxury items nowadays. So I’m working on getting my name out there, getting referrals from students, applying at various music studios around town.

Basically, I can’t waste my life in an office, pushing papers and trading hours for a paycheck. Hours that I can never get back, and those hours should be going towards something that counts.


That’s the news, friends. I shaved too. Had facial hair of some sort for the past five years, and this is the first time that I’ve been bare-faced in ages. It’s interesting to see how my face has changed!