Friday, March 28, 2008

Smothered in comfort

Hi. Here I am!

Unlike my recent post about being one's own best friend, my lack of updates lately can't be attributed to any magnitude of self-loathing. Rather, I've been plagued by a bout of indifference lately. I'd start a blog post or six and write a portion of it. Before I could finish, apathy would overtake me.

That's strange behavior for me for several reasons. One, I really like writing this blog. Two, I have an opinion on pretty much everything. Even if I lack interest in something, I have an opinion as to why I don't care. Three, I know for sure that I'm not depressed, because I know what being depressed feels like. And I'm not in denial about being depressed, either, because (believe me) I considered that. In many other aspects of my life, I'm genuinely happy.

My case of the "I don't knows" and the "whatevers" seemed to start several weeks ago when my ADD coach and I started talking about a career change for me. She has posed a number of questions to think about concerning career stuff, and oftentimes I replied with "I have no idea" or something to that effect. Seeking for a new opportunity is kind of a big deal. I've been at my job for several years, and to a large degree, I enjoy what I do. But life at the employer's much less than ideal. I've done what I've been able to try to improve my situation, but On most mornings, I debate calling in sick but decide not to because I'll have to have to return to the office the following day anyway.

Given that I know what I like to do professionally and my current situation stinks like discount sushi, you'd think that I'd be papering the city with my resume. Instead, I've been doing little thinking about getting a new job, much less applying for a new one.

My indifference nagged at me for weeks, and I decided to investigate its source by journaling about it. But Little Miss Motivated put off writing all week. On Saturday, I tucked my journal into my purse as I headed out on errands, and insisted to myself that I sit down and write while I was out. After grabbing some lunch, I pulled out the journal and bargained with myself that I could put away the journal after I wrote for 15 minutes.

Instead, I wrote for 40 minutes and filled seven pages. I started off with the question of why I've been so indecisive about all things career. But amazingly, my writing veered into a direction I never imagined. I ended up writing about a relationship I had that didn't work for me, which I tolerated for a number of years. Just like the job, I would try to improve things, but my needs felt on deaf ears. Ultimately, sticking up for myself resulted in the end of the relationship. And you know what? The end of that relationship was probably the one of the best things that could have happened for me.

I never realized how much my job was akin to that relationship. In both cases, things weren't terrible. But they weren't great, either. And over time, after trying to do what I could to remedy each situation, I just got used to the way things were. Even though the job and the relationship aren't/weren't doing much for me, I got comfortable with them.

And therein lies the problem. For me, getting too comfortable is the eighth deadly sin. I possess a healthy competitive streak, and if I'm not constantly learning something or achieving something on any scale, I get dormant. And blah. And...yes, indifferent. The achieving part of my job left the building quite a while ago. But why have I stayed? Well, there's the paycheck. And the work's pretty interesting for the most part. I'm also pretty good at what I do, so for me it's a secure and comfortable situation.

But there's also a wee part of me, despite the competitive streak, that typically feels that I can't do better than the current situation that I'm in. That this job is as good as it gets. I know that I get this feeling when I know it's time to make a necessary change. Indeed, that's how I felt about the relationship that's no longer. And that's probably why, in my journal, I described being so comfortable as "a very deadly illness". A page later, I knew I'd finished sorting things out in my head when a powerful sentence spilled onto the page:

"Always remember that doing the thing or making the choice that is outside of the comfortable is going to be what brings you closer to being the ultimate, wonderful person who you know that you are."

To be honest, typing an entire line from my journal into this post felt risky and revealing because I know that people other than me would be reading it. But I know that every time I push myself to take a risk, the rewards pay off nicely. And now, I think I'm ready to take more leaps.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A victory of Olympic-sized proportions!

As Day One of Daylight Savings Time draws to a close, I have achieved the unthinkable. All timepieces in my home accurately reflect the correct time! Here's the play by play, in the order of victory:

Cable box: automatically at 2:00AM
Bedroom clock: when I went to bed (yes, after 2:00AM!)
Stove clock: late in the morning after washing dishes
Sports watch: before switching to my dress watch
Dress watch: halfway through the afternoon
Bathroom wall clock: at around 10:30PM

And I didn't need to change the clock on the answering machine because I never changed the time last fall!

Normally, this process takes me days, or sometimes more than a week. Check out the video to see how fantastic I feel about this!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Snakes on a Brain

(Note: I realize that many people have extreme fears of reptiles. If this applies to you, please skip this article!)

Last week, I took a little break after making substantial headway on one of my latest tasks at work. The excellent Mark Morford had a new column, so I surfed over to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Web site. As I enjoyed Mark’s latest musings, a title in the “most read” box got my attention:

New threat to our way of life: giant pythons


Here’s America’s real threat. Forget the tanking economy, disappearing glaciers, and terrorist cells. Oh yeah, and forget my work. A new cause celebre had commandeered my thought processes, especially with this quote from a government geologist:

"We have not yet identified something that would stop their spreading to the Bay Area."

Did I mention that the giant pythons currently reside in the Everglades? You know, in Florida, diagonally across the country from San Francisco?

Naturally, I’m creeped out by the story. But forget that. The logistics of potential migration of giant pythons to northern California fascinated me. By my underestimation, I spent the next several minutes on my employer’s dime trying to figure out how the giant pythons would get to the Bay Area. Obviously, they wouldn’t take I-10 to the 101 because they can’t drive. And they don’t have identification, so forget about flying. (Plus, it’s been done before.) Amtrak now requires ID, so the train’s out, too.

Or suppose the giant pythons wanted to go it alone. How would they cross the Rockies? They lack the necessary hands, feet, or paws for scaling the mountains.

This story was too important for me to keep it to myself, so I shared it two guys I work with. Not surprisingly, H. made some silly analogy about men being pythons and women being rattlesnakes. Citing a line from the article, I actually agreed with him:

Lifestyle: When young, the pythons spend much of their time in trees. In adulthood, their weight makes tree-climbing too difficult.

Next, I mentioned to S. that perhaps the military could consider drafting the giant pythons as a secret weapon. S. claimed that my idea wouldn’t work because it lacks the element of surprise. To which I remarked:

“You wouldn’t be surprised if a giant python came after you?”

When I went out at lunchtime, I reflected on my question to S. What would I do if confronted by the beasts? First of all, I’d scream like a little girl. And I’d run, of course. But the shoes I was wearing weren’t conducive to escaping from giant pythons. I could perhaps kick off my shoes, then run into a building and take the stairs to the highest floor. That’s the best option I could think of. I’m quite proud of my plan because I’m now prepared for what seems like the inevitable.

Back in the office, all thoughts of giant pythons slithered from my head. A new assignment and an upcoming conference call fortunately brought my focus back to work. I’m lucky that I got in gear so quickly, because on other days, I’d need a giant python chasing me to do some work.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Friend or Foe?

Welcome to all Experiencing ADDvantages readers!

When I started on Ritalin 2 years ago, I realized an interesting residual effect of being medicated: I made many poor choices in friendships.

Taking Ritalin felt like that last piece of one of those 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles was finally put into place in my brain. I felt like a truly functioning human being. But as excited as I was about Ritalin, I only wanted to confide in a few trusted pals about it, including G. When she and I met several years ago, I think both of us thought the other was the sister that neither of us had. Both of us loved beauty products as much as we loved our favorite sports teams and flying to new vacation destinations.

The week before G. and I headed for a warm winter getaway, I excitedly shared my medication news with her. Immediately, the lollipops and rainbows in that conversation exited stage right. G. noticeably feigned enthusiam for my news, and the reason quickly became clear. She felt that I could easily manage my ADD with natural cures. And while not mentioning it directly, I could tell that she believed ADD to be a ficticious diagnosis.

Now, I don't think Tom Cruise and the Thetans got to G. before I broke my news. Nor is G. a skeptic about pharmaceuticals. In fact, she takes many of them herself. I explained to her that ADD isn't the just little kid that runs around the restaurant. It's also the adult who has never read a book in a Starbucks because the conversations and espresso machines derail one's train of thought.

I can't remember how our conversation ended that night, other than me feeling alienated and misunderstood. I swept the matter under the rug while we were away, and didn't raise it again for another 4 months. I decided to tell her how the ability to focus and concentrate had changed my life. She mentioned the natural cures yet again, and then remarked that my home must be really clean because one of the Desperate Housewives took Ritalin and then cleaned her entire McMansion in one fell swoop. When I told G. how Ritalin works on the ADD brain, she changed the subject on me. Within a couple of days, the friendship was over. It wasn't only because of the lack of support for my ADD. I'd also had enough of her passive-aggressiveness, which permeated our friendship.

Because my mind felt off and awkward for most of my existence, my self esteem had always resided at the lowest levels. I know for sure that's what kept me from saying anything in response to the hurtful remarks that G. had made to me even before I went on Ritalin. In some respects, I felt as if I was lucky to have any friends at all. As a result, I tended to befriend many people who fell into two camps: Camp Narcissist and Camp Commiserate. The former includes people who should be named Mimi, because that's all they talk about. And the latter includes fellow low self-esteemers who like you best when you're down in the dumps like them.

To be sure, I had chosen these folks as my friends. But now I realized that the friendships either had to change or cease to exist. In some cases, I indeed salvaged the friendships, and usually this came from talking about my struggles with ADD and how they affected my life. Many friends of mine had no idea how much I was trying to overcompensate for my distracted brain. But in a lot of other cases, the friendships had to die on the vine.

On the flip side, I treasure the friendships that I have. These pals enrich my life. To be honest, I'm also very cautious when making new friends. I'm not aloof with people; I easily make acquaintances. But I do consider whether the person will enrich my life or only cause grief. Oftentimes, I don't figure out the latter until a few months down the road. But fortunately, I've been spot-on about the former, and have forged some wonderful friendships since ADD-Day.

A couple months ago, I saw an excellent quote in a magazine from the actor Jack Black: "A friend is someone who doesn't f----n' want anything from you. Just wants to hang." Reading that reminded me of several people I know, which are the ones with whom I could sit on a park bench and drink a Slurpee and tell stories and just have a blast all afternoon. They're the ones that call to see if you're doing OK when you're feeling blah, and the ones whom you buy crazy regional snack foods for when you're travelling because you know how psyched they'll be to receive them. (Of course, vice versa on both accounts). After reading the quote, I dialed up a few pals and told them, "I just read something that reminded me of you..."