update

There are a few audio blog posts I have recorded and wanted to put up, but unfortunately my computer and my digital recorder are not on speaking terms at present.  So until I manage to fix their relationship those rambles will continue to be held hostage by the recorder.

In the meantime I will do my utmost to type up some posts, as I hate how empty my blog has been lately, and please do not think I forgot about it!

A Peek Inside?

First of all, I would like to say I am in no way an expert on anything, nor should anything I say be taken as good advice, especially if it goes against better judgement.  Don't be stupid, people.  (End obligatory I know nothing and just like to feel important disclaimer.)

"Multi-tasking more than my processors," "I simply do not have time to die, far too much to do!" "On a scale of one to crazy, I'm a penguin." Okay, so that last one was not my creation, but I love it very much.  To say I am random would be putting it mildly; to say I am all over the place would mean I probably got some sleep.  To keep up or understand me?  Good Lord, no one can.  Not even me.

I like to say I am always connected, always busy, always doing something.  Chances are, I am.  My ex used to tease me when I would open FireFox and there were two home pages set - he would say normal people only use one.  That is not something I can do, even in FireFox, which is my secondary browser.  My main browser - Chrome - loads with far more and is pretty much always running at least three tabs at a time.  Having just.one tab open?  That would be like only having one browser open or only one book (actually no, scrap the book analogy) or only one monitor or only one device.  Unthinkable!  How would I get anything done?

It sounds like I have a penchant for doubles; I do not.  People often question my setup, or my collections of notes, papers notebooks, Filofaxes (I have two, both for daily usage), questionable amount of trees stuck around as postits (I don't get a tree for Christmas, if that helps), and wonder how I manage.  I just laugh and tell them they have not seen my digital to do lists - most cannot comprehend me by that point.

Have I lost you yet?  I hope not.  I am trying awfully hard not to tangent here.

So why do I have so many notes and lists?  Am I some random, insane, crazy Oprah wannabe?  No.  Not at all.  I am constantly stressed, working on multiple things, and trying to figure things out.  People do not ask me what I am doing at any particular time; when my answer is four times longer than a tweet, well that is still normal.  I frequently have the moment of "oh my God sitting - it feels so good" because I have been running around doing things and had no time to breathe.  Of course, moments later I am up and at it again.  Or still sitting (but very differently, because relaxing and work do not look the same) and tapping away at my computer, because that is where my life is.  Seriously, I miss the constant go go go, busy days.  Two years ago I hated seeing empty spaces in my blackberry calendar.  Now, I find it very weird to see an empty rtm list even if it is the daily tasks.  Still weird.  Oh and I have maybe six lists in rtm, plus tags.  I like to keep things organized so when I never see them again I know at least they are labelled with words that are so cryptic I often forget what they mean.

Would you believe (eyebrow wiggle, would you believe this is ... boat nectar?) I have no job, am not in school, and have no social life?  Because it's true, I don't.  My calendar is so empty it scares me, and therefore is not directly visible on my mobile (android, widgets, home screens).  And - surprise, surprise - I hate it.

My brain needs stimulation.  My brain craves stimulation.  It shuts down if it does not have enough to work on.  A couple months ago, having finally finished school (I have been in school since I was 3), my brain tried that.  It was terrible, an absolute nightmare.  Have you ever been stuck in a state of depressed lethargy, even for a moment?  It was like that, but about ten times worse, lasted a couple months, entire time had no idea what was going on, oh and add the constant overpowering urge to be productive.

I need some stress in my life or I have no idea what to do - and trust me, I do not handle the unknown well at all.  By which I of course mean I do not handle it at all and panic.  Doesn't help that I have OCD, does it.  That being said, I do not react well to too much stress either.  It is a delicate balance, finding the right amount of stress to keep me at that happy point between so stressed going to the loo without thinking about a problem I'm trying to solve is just absurd and the "omfg hello brain remember me please turn on point."  But when I get that balance, I am unstoppable.  More than that, when I go to sleep I'm smiling.  Some people say exercise is invigorating, but nothing compares to that.

The reason I started writing this post (on my mobile, so I do apologize if I missed any typos from auto correct or just plain mobile) was to explain what it is like having ADD.  Not to say I failed, but it certainly did not go as planned.  Not that they ever do, mind you.  Do keep in mind I do have OCD as well, which does have some random attributed to it, along with the obsessive compulsive, anxiety nature it is known for.  Am I depressed or bipolar?  No.  Don't trust me, ask my doctor.  Yes that was the right punctuation.  I am saying not to accept me as the expert on that.

So what is it like having ADD?  Many people compare it to watching tv with all the channels on at once.  I have no idea where they got that from, I do not feel like that ever.  For me, I used to describe my brain as having many different trains of thoughts at a time.  At any given moment, there will be at least three going - and that's medicated.  Getting me to focus on one thing is incredibly hard.  Usually I keep something going in the background so I can focus on working; while I was finishing my dissertation it was The Mummy films.  Frequently I find myself wanting a third monitor so I would have more space to pull up windows, because two just isn't enough.

Let me put it this way - there is a reason I am always doing a bunch of things at once, that I seem to know everything (I know I don't but I do get that sometimes), that I cannot have a chair without wheels and the capability to use it, that I prefer L workstations to desks, that I am permanently attached to a mobile that never gets calls or texts, and that I can interrupt all the time when people are trying to have a conversation with me and a while later understand everything they said.  If were to look at an ADD assessment test, it pretty much describes me.  For all the noise and chatter and static I am supposed to be hearing, I'm not.  Am I frustrated my brain and thoughts are so organized, or that I am always twitching or fidgeting, and cannot sit through a lecture longer than an hour?  Not quite, yes but also my OCD kicks in and makes it impossible to stop, and yes.  I hate not being able to sit still, or focus long enough, or any of that.  It really does make university hard, especially in history.  And I do have more random thoughts and ideas cluttering up the place - figuratively and literally.  I am always making notes for later, lists, etc.  But am I frustrated at its lack of organization or that I cannot organize it all?  Not so much.  My brain is full, but it is not full of static or chatter or random indecipherable and therefore frustrating entities.  I know what is going on in there (not all at once because my field of vision (scope) is limited so I would have to pan around to see them all but when I can all of them are immediately clear), what frustrates me is I cannot deal with all of them!  Think of an ever growing in pile (not my one stack of to get to, read, process asap stuff) but an inbox for tasks or something.  You want to see it empty, with everything done (not because it fell in the bin).  But if it keeps getting more and more added, you can't keep up.  You want to scream "I'm only one person!" At it.  But you can't.  Because it's in my brain.  And that's sort of what it is like, some of the time.

In case you have never tried, it is really hard to explain what goes on in your head.  This is not my first, nor will it be my last, but it still does not show what I want.  It's busy, it's weird, it's always doing something.  It loves research, loves organizing, loves lists, loves to be neat and tidy and productive.

When I was rereading Sherlock Holmes, I found myself having a great many moments of individual personal connection with the title character.  When he first explains the cocaine to Watson, for instance, I finally understood a lot more about my thinking and suddenly so much more made sense.  Of course I admire the man's genius and talents, but it is in the subtle character traits that I find him most appealing; there I see answers to unasked questions.

I was not diagnosed with ADD until I was 20 and in third year of university.  When I was a kid it was overdiagnosed, and even still a lot of people do not believe on adults having ADD.  They, clearly, do not know me.  I am not on a caffeine high, or a sugar rush, or in the midst of manic episode.  There is so much going on in my mind and so much I want to do; sometimes it is overbearing.  I know I cannot do it all, but everything is there, and how can I say one is better than the other?  Sometimes, scarily, it does stop me in my tracks - literally.  This has always been the situation, so I learned to deal with it (at least a bit) but it happens.  I get trapped in my own mind - by my own mind.  Every undone (as in not done) task is a looming failure, and I am smaller than any punctuation mark.  Even modern poetry cannot save you now (which is assuming you would let it, personally I'm not a fan).

So what's it like being me?  Busy.  Random.  Try and keep up.  Not physically, mentally.  The connections I make and see as plain obvious are a couple steps ahead of normal.  I just missed that part.  What's it like having ADD?  Busy.  Very busy.  Always busy.  But I love the right kind of busy.  It's just hard to get that right.  And random, well at least I'm not boring!

Human Rights in the Circle of Life

From the day we arrive on the planet and blinking step into the sun
There’s more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done …

If I asked you to consider those words for a moment, it is quite likely the rest of the song would come to mind.  While “The Lion King” was a very influential film for me, it has nothing to do with why I chose those words to begin a discussion on Human Rights Day.  My motives, dear reader, are far more obvious.

When a child is born and lets out his first cry, what is his reality?  Young children are told they can do anything they want to, that the world is theirs to explore.  But when they get older, they become cynical as more and more often they find their effort to be wasted.  Yet, people keep going – they continue to live, to love, to laugh.  Why is that?  Try as one might, it is impossible for anyone to know everything, explore everywhere, help everyone, or understand why.  So are we all united in this sense of failure?  Are all who try to change the world – only to see thousands more innocent lives lost – dreamers with no sense of reality?  Is “The Circle of Life” a sad song?  No.  People everywhere know they share something with the rest of the world – we are all human.  We may look different, sound different, act different, think different – but we are all human.  No matter what the reality of our current situation is, we are all united through our shared humanity.  When a newborn baby lets out that first triumphant “Ready or not, world, here I am!  Now clean me and feed me and WARM!” cry from those tiny little lungs, a new human being has begun life on this planet.

Sixty-three years ago, on the tenth of December 1948, a very different cry echoed forth, heralding a new existence.  After two years of dedicated hard work the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was voted into being by the United Nations General Assembly, and for the first time in human history there existed an official, universal statement of what every human was entitled to by simply being born.  At long last, an understanding had been reached about what it meant to be human; after all, existence cannot be more clear than at birth.  For those of us born after that momentous occasion, we were born with the understanding all human beings are born free and with dignity and rights; those born in recent decades, in the “developed” world, have never had to question our entitlement to these rights – they are fundamental human rights, after all.  And while we take these rights for granted – as we should – we sometimes forget what it means to not have them.

Instead of focusing on people and places who cannot feel secure in these rights – including life – all around us today, I would like to look back at the past.  Call me a sentimental old coot, but when we forget where we came from and how we got here we are doomed to repeat our forbearers’ tragedies.  So let us take a moment and think about this auspicious day in history.

The year was 1948.  World War II had ended three years ago; people were slowly pulling their lives out of the rubble.  The first half of the twentieth century was almost over, but what hope was there for the next fifty years?  After so much fighting – first the Great War, which was supposed to be “the war to end all wars” and then another World War – who could sincerely believe it was over?  A time when “like father, like son” could easily mean a widow burying her sons; the World Wars were but a generation apart.  How could anyone sincerely believe in change when the men fighting the First World War did so to protect their sons from having to suffer like that – only to see it happen while they enlisted?  So many promises went broken, tears shed with the words “you promised to protect us!”  Individuals were not the sole receivers of this wrath, governments too were accused of ailing.  Perhaps most of all was the group of nations hat gathered in the wake of the Great War and promised the world they would work together to make sure it never happened again – but then it did.  Now, in 1948, a similar effort was made – only this time, they succeeded.

Like a phoenix rising from its own ashes, out of the devastation left by World War II came the understanding people everywhere have rights and these rights need to be recognized and protected.  It started slowly, as was to be expected, but quickly the notion of human rights grew and gained momentum.  To quote US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, “Because the human experience is universal, human rights are universal.”  With the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the idea human rights are universal became official – it became real.  The concept was now justified and supported by international agreement.  In December 1948, sixty-three years ago, humanity got its first rights.

People at the time were skeptical about how much this could really matter; after all, they suffered through two World Wars that obviously violated everyone’s rights.  As we can see, that changed and now we take them for granted.  But have we forgotten where they came from?  The rubble left by World War II has (for the most part) been cleared away as people, cities, and nations rebuilt themselves in the aftermath.  More than one generation has lived without war, not having the same dreadful fear that gripped the first half of the century.  For us, that all seems so far away, distant and long in the past.  World War II ended in the 1940s, before the “peace and love” of the 1960s, before the internet, long before terrorism was such a threat.  But was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights really all that long ago?  Numbers are just numbers; they have no real meaning.  So let me put it this way – 1948 was the year my father was born.  I am twenty-three, university graduate, still trying to start my own life – yet my father, whom I love dearly although he hates it when I mention him in my blog, was born before December 10, 1948.  Other than his birthday having passed this year (I did remember), what does that mean?

It means when my father was born he had no universal human rights.  Not just him, no one had them.  Sure, they may have had ideas about what it meant to be human and what it should entitle one to, but until the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was voted into being, none of that meant anything.  Today Universal Human Rights turns 63 – happy birthday!  Take a moment and think about any birthdays, 63 and higher, you celebrated before today.  Those people were born without the same guarantees to life and security that you were.  Remember that it took until the end of 1948 for that to happen.  For me, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is almost as old as my father – almost, but he is still older.  That is a daily reminder of how much more there is to do, and even though I will never do it all, at least I can do my part.  My wish for Human Rights Day is to make human rights a human reality.

It’s the Circle of Life, and it moves us all
Through despair and hope, through faith and love …

December 10, 1948
Human Rights became universal.  Thank you.