285. variegated

Standard

paint-260701_640I finally scheduled an AD/HD assessment for myself. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that it isn’t until the end of the month.

When I called to speak with the clinic about setting up an appointment, they asked what I felt were my three biggest area of impairment.

And I froze.

Just three?

For how much I’ve thought and written about this, the bottom dropped out from under my completely and my mind went blank.

It was humiliating but illustrative.


The DSM-5 criteria for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (annotated):

1. Inattention: Six (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is inconsistent with developmental level and that negatively impacts directly on social and academic/occupational activities:

a. Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities.

My first semester in grad school in 2015, we had an assignment to review and analyze one year of professional journal issues related to our area of focus. I chose American Archivist. Or rather, I missed the “one year” part and ended up looking at all 77 volumes going back to 1938 and did a qualitative analysis of article titles and subjects covered. This is just one spectacular example of the types of “careless mistakes” I make on a daily basis. I can read through instructions multiple times and the last time I’ll focus on one intriguing detail that will blot out all the other steps.

b. Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.

During the time that it took to write the above paragraphs, I watched five YouTube videos, looked up diagnostic criteria for three other conditions in the DSM-5, read three blog entries, scrolled through my Facebook feed, went to pet the dogs, took photos of the sleeping dogs, refilled my water glass, checked email, looked through an ADHD resources website, refilled my water glass again, went upstairs to look for a book, forgot why I went upstairs and ended up wiping down the granite countertops in the kitchen…

c. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.

It’s not that I’m not listening. It’s that I’m trying to remember what you said ten seconds ago, because it was probably important, and I’m not taking notes. I should be taking notes. Where’s my notebook? Why don’t I have a notebook on my desk? Where are the notebooks in the building? Oh god, you just said something else that sounded important. What were you saying earlier again? Augh, why am I not taking notes? Oh, right, I was looking for my notebook. Where do they keep the notebooks again? I should really go get one. Oh gods, yes, you’re still talking!! I should really be taking notes…

d. Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace.

See a., b., and c. Also e.

e. Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.

It’s ironic that cataloging was the area of librarianship that most excites me, because I am not organized at all in my personal life. Things typically go where I’m going to find them. There’s always a moment at the outset of any task or activity where I feel utterly overwhelmed and overcome with anxiety about how to proceed. If I am working by myself, it’s usually not a problem—if I can sustain the mental energy and it’s something that interests, that is. Usually I start with the thing that seems most important, which may simply be the first thing that catches my attention and seems important. Because priorities are a tricky thing for me—either nothing is a priority, or everything is.

Yeah, I don’t understand priorities.

f. Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort.

This should not be interpreted as laziness. It’s more that a lengthy chapter in a book or an article looks like Mount Everest to me. I know that, to get through it, I’m going to have to take notes to keep track of all the details, and fend off all the other distractions that I know are going to crop up the minute I try to focus.

g. Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities.

Notebooks. Pens. Allergy medication. Sunglasses. Sunscreen. Books. Laptop. Flash drive. Car keys. Work keys. Canvas bags. Lists (oh god, lists). Food. Security badges. Etc.

h. Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli (for older adolescents and adults, may include unrelated thoughts).

See below. Also, having a conversation with me that stays on topic is near impossible. In the span of about thirty seconds I could interrupt myself 2-3 times with a related thought that quickly turns unrelated, which will lead to various anecdotes and things that I am suddenly able to remember that I would never be able to recall if I tried. Last semester I interrupted myself in a final presentation to comment that a thing I’d just explained sounded like a really interesting research question, and I almost didn’t get back on topic, even with my notes. I got lost during a piano performance once when someone sneezed or moved in my peripheral vision, causing me to lose focus entirely.

i. Is often forgetful in daily activities.

A frequent occurrence for me is to walk into a room and have no idea why I’m there. For a while I worried that this was a symptom of early-onset Alzheimer’s. In reality, what happens between the time that I set out to go get something and the time that I arrive is that I’ve gone down numerous thought holes and daydream tunnels, and was really only half focused when I decided I needed to go get the thing that I’ve arrived in the room to fetch. This happens to me at least three times a day.


People talk about AD/HD as if it’s a license to be whimsical and carefree.

It’s exhausting and stressful.

Advertisements

211. plash

Standard

TOBThis week and next I am working at a risk management and reinsurance company in Minneapolis through a temp agency. It’s been a bit of an adventure figuring out what exactly I’ll be doing, because at first it seemed that they thought I was an idiot or something. Then they discovered that I had print experience, scanning, proficiency in Microsoft Office, mail room, etc.

Essentially, I’m working with a four-person temp team that the company I’m working for has outsourced a lot of their office support needs to.

Mostly, it’s a lot of waiting around for a project to come up. On my first day, the girl I’m filling in for basically told me to bring a book. Thankfully, today I was doing mail runs (and scoping out cute males around the office–I’ve a crush on the cute guy who sits around the corner), which mostly involves doing a walk-around of both floors to check designated drop trays for any out-going mail.

For my first two days there while I was “training” (i.e., they were figuring out what I was going to be doing), I basically hung out at the front desk with the receptionist. She’s an early-middle-aged Latina with, as I soon discovered, a pretty massive inferiority complex. In the few days I’ve known her, it’s made me wonder how irritating I come across when I give in to negative thinking. She’s also one of those individuals of a certain age where you keep your head down, do your job, watch the clock, and check off the days until retirement.

Let’s call her “Paulita.”

To her credit, Paulita has been working on expanding her mind through reading and exploration of history (she calls it “research”); and she is curious about many things. However, we had a conversation yesterday morning that tested the limits of my tact and incredulity.

Even though it’s technically not allowed, she goes on the Internet to read articles and look things up. For example, yesterday afternoon we were talking about the Civil War and a visit she had to the birthplace of Robert E. Lee. In that conversation, we learned that Lee married the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, George Washington’s wife. The relation is through her son from her first marriage to Daniel Custis, who died in 1757.

Ah, Wikipedia.

Yesterday morning, while Paulita was on break, I found an article from LiveScience.com on Google News: 3,300-Year-Old Tomb with Pyramid Entrance Discovered in Egypt. She’d mentioned a fascination with ancient Egypt the day before, so I showed it to her when she got back. She mentioned something about wondering if the pyramids were built before or after Stonehenge, and I recalled learning that the very earliest of the Egyptian pyramids (c. 2,670 BCE) were built around the same time as construction on the Salisbury plain began. The circular bank and ditch enclosure of Stonehenge were first excavated around 3,100 BCE, whereas the stone rings weren’t erected until around 2,600 BCE. The Pyramids of Giza were built during the Egyptian 4th Dynasty (c. 2613 to 2494 BCE).

(I looked up all these dates just now. Don’t worry, memory usually prevents me from going full-scale nerd most of the time.)

During all this, Paulita mentioned “Biblical times” at several points, most confusingly in reference to Stonehenge. I’m assuming she was using this phrase to mean “ancient,” but at this point my brain started going into damage control mode. When I mentioned that this kind of building was going on all over Europe around this time in the Neolithic period, that it wasn’t just Egypt, she seemed slightly perplexed.

“But, how is that possible?” she asked. “When God confused the languages and spread everyone out to different parts of the world, how could there have been time for them to have built Stonehenge?”

… big eyes.

“Um… what was that?” I asked, trying to sound as if she’d used a Spanish phrase that I hadn’t caught.

“In Genesis,” she replied. “Have you read the Bible? The Tower of Babel? Men wanted to build a tower to reach to the heavens so they could become like God, and God confused their language so that they couldn’t understand each other and finish building it?”

It was at this point that a sort of United Nations general assembly popped up in my mind. On the one hand, I didn’t want to be “that” kind of atheist and tell her outright that the Bible is a book of myths that never actually happened. On the other hand, I totally wanted to be “that” kind of atheist who tells a well-meaning Christian lady that her holy book is a collection of myths that never actually happened.

Finally, I said, “Oh, yes. That. I was raised Christian” (here she made a gesture as if to say, Then you know all about it!) “… but, you know, there’s nothing in the historical record that I know of that mentions anything like that.”

Her eyes widened a little. “Oh,” she said, sounding dubious but intrigued.

I tried to steer the conversation towards some of the reading I’ve been doing lately about human evolution; about evolutionary differences between Europeans and Africans; how one group of Homo sapiens went south and developed darker skin to cope with the sun, and another went north and developed lighter skin to cope with lack of sun. Their languages evolved differently with them, depending on where they went and how cut off they were from other tribes. And during the Neolithic period, humans started settling down, building huge stone monuments like the Pyramids and Stonehenge as community gathering places to mark transitions in life– birth to death.

This is obviously a condensed version of a lightly meandering conversation that was interrupted by co-worker and the phone ringing. But hearing Paulita attempting to cross-reference history with events in the Bible was… jarring.

It was a stark reminder to me that almost half of Americans still believe that the Bible is real history, and actually happened.

I just…

… can’t…

… mind…

… stuck…

… snrgsflmsnojrssss…

209. avoirdupois

Standard

2505_mb_file_2eab8The first couple of days back in an office this week were rough. Not so much the being on a schedule again, although that was certainly an adjustment. Leaving the apartment by 7:40am every day was not fun for this not-morning person.

I’ve been contracted this week and part of next week by a real estate company to gather and put together evidence for an upcoming legal case brought by a former employee. Auditing terminated employee files is tedious, mind-numbing work, made bearable by audiobooks and the reality that it’s work.

(And I’m so grateful to be gay and know that my wages will never be garnished to pay for child support. Seriously, guys. Keep it in your pants.)

The downside of this is that it’s allowed for reflection on how much I hate doing this kind of work. However, my work background makes it damn near impossible to find work other than this. Without further specialized education, the likelihood of finding a non-entry-level job is remote, at best. And getting lucky is something that doesn’t happen to me often.

This is happening on the heels of last week’s game retreat. It might not have been so bad had it not seemed an extension of my real life, where I seemed to lose most of the time. In general, I just don’t get the rules of play. I don’t understand how to strategise, how to posture, how to read other people, or how to plan multiple steps ahead of my current position.

The best example I can extend for what usually goes on in my head during times like these — whether playing a game, reading comment from an editor on a piece of writing, or paging through file after file of someone who was fired for not showing up to work (again) — is a bit from Jason Robert Brown’s The Last 5 Years, where one of the characters, Cathy, a struggling actress, is auditioning for a role. The gimmick is that we hear what’s going on in her head while she’s singing:

«When you come home…» I should have told them I was sick last week, they’re gonna think this is the way I sing. Why is the pianist playing so loud? Should I sing louder? I’ll sing louder. Maybe I should stop and start over—I’m gonna stop and start over… why is the director staring at his crotch? Why is that man staring at my résumé? Don’t stare at my résumé. I made up half of my résumé. Look at me, top looking at that, look at me! No, not at my shoes, don’t look at my shoes, I hate these fucking shoes. Why did I pick these shoes? Why did I pick this song? Why did I pick this career? Why does this pianist hate me? If I don’t get a callback I can go to Crate and Barrel with mom and buy a couch. Not that I want to spend a day with mom, but Jamie needs his space to write since I’m obviously such a horrible, annoying distraction to him… what’s he gonna be like when we have kids? «And once again…» Why am I working so hard? These are the people who cast Linda Blair in a musical. Jesus Christ! I suck, I suck, I suck, I suck… «When fin’lly you come home to…» Okay, thank you, thank you so much.

This is basically what’s going on in my head all the time.

I’ve been feeling a growing sense of deep, inner dissatisfaction with my life, where I am currently, and what I’m doing. It’s leaving me feeling isolated, distracted, and unable to truly connect with the people in my community and life. Last night I went to play games with a couple of friends, and just couldn’t enjoy myself in their company. Ended up getting into an argument with a friend of a friend over whether Dallas Buyer’s Club is transphobic. I insisted that it’s exploitative (and not a good representation) of the LGBT community. She thought that Jared Leto’s character was beautiful and moving.

Hilarity ensued.

Were that this were the only instance. I’ve felt at odds with just about everyone lately.

Today, I decided to do a couple of Tarot spreads (one with my Rider-Waite-Coleman deck, and another with my gay Tarot deck) to try to mine at what’s going on with these dark feelings. I’ve recently been neglecting this aspect of self-care, and it rather feels as if I’ve been putting off housekeeping for a while and now my house is untidy.

Here’s what came up:

Rider-Waite

  1. Page of Wands
  2. Six of Swords, reversed
  3. Strength
  4. Nine of Pentacles, reversed
  5. Page of Pentacles
  6. Five of Swords
  7. Empress, reversed
  8. Knight of Cup, reversed
  9. Death
  10. The Fool

Bursten/Platano

  1. The World
  2. The Protector (→ Empress), reversed
  3. Sage (→ King) of Swords
  4. Ten of Coins
  5. Three of Wands
  6. Hermit, reversed
  7. Strength, reversed
  8. Man (→ Knight) of Cups
  9. Ace of Swords, reversed
  10. Five of Swords, reversed

I’ve written a little about my explorations into Tarot and my applications of Jungian psychology as a replacement for divinatory interpretation. Each card is only a token for exploration.

Psychological Tarot Spread (Cross)The most interesting cards to come up out of the twelve were The World, the King of Swords, and the reversed Hermit.

Usually, The World is a commentary on accomplishment, integration, and feeling complete. These days, I’m feeling anything but those things. It feels as if I’m constantly carrying the world on my shoulders, the weight pushing my mind and emotions down into despondency. The reversed Six of Swords is a continuation on this, the feeling that the past is always with me.

The reversed Hermit in the “future application” position says to me that isolating myself isn’t having the positive net effect it could have. The hyper-judgmental King of Swords residing in my “id” sounds more like Starbuck’s mom in Battlestar Galactica than a helpful mentor.

… why is it so hard to love one’s self?

106. review

Standard

What’s a year, really? 12 months? 52 weeks? 525,600 minutes (or, when I asked Google, 525,948.766 minutes)? Does the earth wake up as it’s hurtling around the sun at a dizzying 67,000 miles per hour (that’s 107,000 kilometers per hour for my metric friends) and think, “I say! This looks awfully familiar. Haven’t I been here before?” After all, it doesn’t have much else to think about. It’s cleared its orbital zone, except for the occasional stray asteroid or comet that waltzes into its path that occasionally crashes into it.

This is nothing compared to how fast we’re hurtling around our home galaxy. The sun (and therefore the earth as well and all that’s on it) is moving at an incredible 483,000 miles per hour (792,000 km/hr). We orbit once every 225 million years.

225 million years ago (Mya), the earth was in the beginning stages of the Mesozoic Era, in the middle of the Triassic Period known as the Carnian stage; with the continents having just formed into one massive supercontinent known as Pangea. There were no ice caps as the continental mass was centered around the equator, and earth was hot and dry. Tiny dinosaurs called archosaurs were beginning to evolve, along with the ancestors of the first mammals—tiny shrew-like creatures called adelobasileus that appeared about 225 Mya.

That should give us some perspective on what has happened in the past galactic year.

The primates (our direct ancestors) appeared about 65 Mya. The genus Homo didn’t appear until around 2.5 Mya, and even then, Homo sapiens (modern humans) didn’t evolve until about 200,000 years ago. Putting that in terms of mean solar time, if we were to set a timer for 60 minutes…

  • 5 minutes after we hit “start” (when the earth began its galactic “year”), the first mammals begin to appear;
  • 15 and a half minutes later, North America separates from Africa;
  • 42 minutes later a meteor crashes into Chicxulub, in the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, resulting in the mass extinction of 80-90% of marine life and 85% of land species, including the dinosaurs;
  • 43 minutes later, primates appear;
  • With a minute to go, at 58 seconds, upright walking hominins appear;
  • At 59.81 seconds, Human and Neanderthal lineages start to diverge genetically;
  • At 59.85 seconds, Heidelberg Man develops speech;
  • Modern man appears just milliseconds before the timer goes off.

We’ve barely been on this earth. We can trace our first modern male ancestor back to about 60,000 years ago, but in terms of the galactic “year,” all of recorded history is but a fraction of a millisecond.

If that though doesn’t fill you with awe, wonder and amazement — nothing will.

Then there’s an illustration on Wikipedia of the Earth’s location in the known universe, which is equally awe-inspiring. As Douglas Adams wrote, describing the horrific torture device known as the Total Perspective Vortex,

When you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little mark, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says, “You are here.”

All that is to say that 2011 was a pretty awful year for many of us, and we weren’t sorry to see it go.

I did have hopes going into 2011:

  • By now I’d have at least gotten more established in musical theatre;
  • That I’d have found a day job that was enjoyable and would be more financially stable;
  • That I’d be in a serious relationship by now;
  • That come early summer I’d have a home church in SafeHouse, and possibly even a relationship with Seth;
  • That I’d have achieved more success with my compositions.

Looking back on it now, none of those hope and dreams came anywhere close to being met:

  • I started a temp job in February that I ended up loving; that seemed like it might lead to a career until it abruptly ended at the end of November;
  • I had a horrific experience music directing Sound of Music where I had little support from theater staff or production crew (including the director); was constantly undermined by a number of key auxiliary cast members (my principles and orchestra rocked though); and subsequently never wanted to direct another musical again;
  • I had my heart broken by Seth in the worst possible way on my birthday, which led to becoming an atheist and losing that community I was looking forward to being a part of in SafeHouse, along with my faith (although in a way, my coming out as an atheist was as inevitable as my coming out a gay man—that is to say, both should’ve happened much sooner);
  • I had a string of unsuccessful and very disappointing dates, flings and relationships, all of which left me feeling less desirable, more defective and unlovable, and less hopeful of ever finding a guy who wants to commit to me as much as I do to him;
  • My trumpet sonata was premiered in Tacoma in June, but sadly that performance hasn’t led to more opportunities like I thought it might. I’d sort of hoped that trumpet players might hear it and want to pick it up to learn it, and maybe even commission new works for trumpet from me, which would lead to more visibility, more musicians knowing my name and my work, and commissioning more and more work. But no.

Add to that that at the end of this year (on Christmas Day, to be precise), I gave my dad the last $225 dollars that I owed him for my car, whereupon he gave me the title to said car; and I told him and my mom and that I wanted nothing more to do with them again— at least so long as they hold their fundamentalist beliefs about homosexuality.

  • So, to close out 2011, I divorced the family that I’ve had for twenty-eight years.

That’s heavy stuff.

I feel even less sure of myself going into 2012 than I did going into 2011. That beginning was similar to this year’s: with not knowing what my job prospects are; waiting to hear from the temp agency about job possibilities while sending out resumes in the chance of striking gold; and generally feeling miserable, lonely and depressed.

Pathetic.

I’ve said this before, but I feel as though I seriously fucked up in college. Majoring in music composition seemed like the perfect idea, and the future seemed so certain. Everyone thought that I showed great potential and talent as a composer. I’d be a working composer by, well, twenty-eight.

What I didn’t factor was that I had no business sense or training. That I’d had my head in the clouds during high school and college, focusing so narrowly on the Arts, on music and writing. That I’d failed to develop any Real World skills. And the economy drying up.

Then I’d graduated with said degree in music composition and…

… now what was I going to do?

Most of the people I know who are successful figured out fairly early what they were good at and wanted to do, and started doing it. They got the education they needed or cultivated the skills and the experience. And I feel as though I realized too late that I started down the wrong career path, and it’s a dead end. I’m not even good enough at what I am trained at. I’ve worked a variety of office jobs. I do okay, but always seem to find myself in situations where opportunities to impress my supervisors arise, and I try, but quickly find myself in way over my head.

And I crash.

So I don’t know what to do. A few hundred years ago I could’ve found gainful employ with the Church directing a choir, or with the nobility as a court musician, or even as a writer. And I’m apparently barely passable as any of those. Today you have to be extremely good and extremely clever (or lucky) to make it like that. I’m detail oriented, yes; but I lack the organizational and strategic-thinking skills that are needed to be truly successful.

This is normally where a manager comes in: someone who recognizes that an individual possesses talent—but not necessarily savviness. Often that means just being in the right place at the right time. And I’ve no clue how to make that sort of thing happen. Ira Glass randomly discovered David Sedaris reading his diary in a Chicago club in the early ’90s—a discovery that led to the publication of the SantaLand Diaries, his account of working as a seasonal elf in Macy’s SantaLand during Christmastime in New York City.

He got lucky.

Artists have a somewhat symbiotic, commensalist relationship with society. We don’t really contribute anything tangible to society, aside from making it more aesthetically pleasing perhaps. Kind of like remora fish and sharks. We provide “valuable services,” but the shark could get by just fine without us.

So while hurtling through the universe at 483,000 miles per hour, circling a nuclear fireball at 67,000 miles per hour, at the bottom of a deep gravity well, I’m looking hard at myself and must conclude:

I feel like a failure.