[…] to write a work of genius is almost always a feat of prodigious difficulty. Everything is against the likelihood that it will come from the writer’s mind whole and entire. Generally material circumstances are against it. Dogs will bark; people will interrupt; money must be made; health will break down. […] But for women, I thought, looking at the empty shelves, these difficulties were infinitely more formidable […][1]

And for a woman with ADHD….? Well, I don’t know about a work of genius. I’d just settle for getting this chapter of the PhD written and handed to my supervisor but here’s some things I’m going to add to the great VW’s list of distractions…

Facebook – Love it or hate it (personally, I bloody hate it) those email notifications make producing any completed work (even of distinctly dubious quality) fairly unlikely. Do you think that spending hours untagging yourself from dodgy photographic likenesses counts as extenuating circumstances?

Emails – Again, probably not something old ViWo had to contend with. Letters don’t count for her because they ended up being pored over by scholars and therefore contribute towards her already formidable corpus. Alright for some, eh?

Cats – Miaow when they want in, miaow when they want out. The warmest place to sit is the laptop keyboard except when you’re looking for that quote you can’t find, because then they’d much prefer to snooze on page 324-5.

Sharpening pencils – Or its modern day equivalent, devising a new electronic filing system for one’s pdfs.

Blackberry – Is the plural of Blackberry, still Blackberries? Even when we’re referring to the brand name? In any case, you wouldn’t catch Virginia in the drawing room IM-ing Leonard in his study  because she couldn’t be arsed to walk downstairs. No, she’d just send one of the staff. Unfortunately, my staff aren’t as compliant – they’re too busy miaowing outside the living room door and vomiting hairballs onto freshly laundered clothes.

Wikipedia – If my supervisor, advisor, or examiner is reading this then let me add the disclaimer that I do not ever resort to, will not ever resort to, and do not ever condone, usage of the people’s encyclopaedia of  everthingness. Nuh-uh. Not me. Still…all that restraint is bloody distracting, no?

Having A Room of One’s Own – A Room + Sole Possession (and therefore sole responsibility for domestic maintenance of said room) + ADHD + Impending Essay Deadline = Inevitable Temptation to Clean Vs Inevitable Conversion of Remaining Order to Total Chaos. This is known in ADHD circles as The Law of Terminal Procrastination. Guess Woolf never saw the potential irony of this one in her original thesis.

I will be adding to this list from time to time in the name of procrastination therapeutic discussion. What have I missed? Add your own entries in the comments…

[1] Woolf, V. (1929) 1998. A Room Of One’s Own and Three Guineas, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 66-7.

Alma Mater…

January 24, 2010

I don’t know, kids these days… this week I was using the library of my former university. I spent five years here, during which time I completed my BA, MRes, collected some dubious life experiences, a few generalised anxieties, several more specific neuroses, one or two odd housemates, and a boyfriend. I lost four mobile phones, three purses, two fateful games of duzzy fuck, and  an ovary (never did find that bastard).

Anyway, it’s always had a reputation of being a very left wing and politically active university. Over the last few years, however, I worry that the students are less politically engaged than they used to be and more concerned with cultivating a particular image of the politically aware. Gone are the days when students combed the charity shops looking for a bargain – most of the students seem to spend a fortune on maintaining that charity shop-chic look from their favourite designers. Gone too are the marches, the demos, the sit-ins – ‘somebody else was supposed to be organising it but, like, it was the X-factor final and, y’know?’

So I’m glad to see that even in these days of relative apathy, that good old medium of protest, the toilet door graffito, has not gone the way of the placard:


Sorry for the bad photo – the lighting in those toilets is not good and I’m pretty sure the girl washing her hands was wondering why I was taking photos of myself in a toilet cubicle so I had to be quick. What I love about this toilet door is that at the top there you have an admirable call for equality on the basis of sexual orientation. Just underneath this there’s a reflection on the nature of oppression and a concise but passionate protest against Zionism. At the bottom of the same door, however, somebody has felt the need to add this little observational gem:

Also a protest...

A beintot, Internet x

Dear J…

January 18, 2010

This weekend was your 30th birthday. It was also 7 years ago this weekend that I first met you. You had invited my housemate to you your birthday party and she had dragged me along despite the fact that I hadn’t slept for two nights owing to an essay deadline. I had made the deadline (just) but was unable to sleep, and just had to sit it out until the caffeine of about 40 coffees had begun to leave my system. They say you meet people when you least expect to.

I was intrigued that you were vegan. It was something I had thought about and dismissed as not being feasible. It was the first time but certainly not the last that you showed me that anything is possible with a little bit of determination. I didn’t speak to you much that night but I remember thinking you were unlike anybody I had met before. You were standing by the stove stirring several different curries, calmly stepping over your friends as they wrestled, naked but for a pair of shorts and a smattering of tattoos, on the floor. You were quiet. I would have been tempted to say shy, but that wasn’t quite it. You spoke when you had something to say, something worthwhile to contribute, but your voice was gentle. This was especially noticeable in comparison with some of the others in that room whose conversation always dominated. I felt their voices like bindweed, reaching out and strangling mine. You were also very thin, I noticed. Since adolescence my boyfriends have been skinny. I think it’s less that I find skinny attractive, and more that I tend to find bigger builds too masculine. You had very dark hair  (though not quite as much as you have now) and dark brown eyes, the colour of chocolate, and they melted when you smiled. I learned from other people that you were in your third year of a music degree and that you played in two bands. You didn’t talk much about yourself.

A week or so later my housemates and I had a house party. You and your friends came round. They were teasing you about your obsessive compulsive tendencies. Somebody opened a computer and pointed to various parts inside it. “What does this bit do, J?” they would ask. And you would reply as if reciting a textbook from memory. I couldn’t work out whether you were unaware of the joke or just pretending that you were. Later that evening, I showed you round the house. I showed you my bedroom which I had just finished painting and was very proud of.

Because I was so proud of it and had only just finished it, it was very neat and tidy. I can see how this first impression of me might have been more than a little misleading. I had furnished it with old fashioned furniture from the local antique/junk shop, and I had a big old armchair in one corner where I was writing a children’s story about mice. You asked about the room and the writing. We sat and talked and I found that I liked talking to you. You were interesting and interested. There was no trace of ego but you were firm and confident in your beliefs. Occasionally we sat in silence, thinking about something one of us had said. Each silence that settled between us made the loose thread beginning to tie us together grow tighter. It was in one of these silences that one of the others came to fetch us back downstairs. You and the boys left shortly afterwards. I stood in the hall and watched you go. I remember thinking that if you looked back as you left, I would know then that this was a beginning. And standing there, framed by the doorway and the winter night, you did.

We’ve had a lovely weekend. On Friday night we went out for drinks with friends and then on Saturday we braved the rain and indulged your love of the city by visiting the Tower of London. Afterwards we went to the Rootmaster bus just off Brick Lane and had a dinner so delicious that it should probably be illegal.

A totally vegan restaurant on the top of an old routemaster. It really doesn’t get much better.

Happy Birthday, J, I love you x x x

Entirely Off-Topic…

January 13, 2010

One for the cat-lovers:

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

Audrey says, ‘Mwah ha ha ha ha’

2010: I Resolve…

January 10, 2010

Right, I’m sidling up a little late here on the New Year resolutions. But hey, I have ADHD so that’ s ok. Just as my day seems to start  2 hours later than most people’s, and my bills are paid several days later than most people’s, so too will my 2010 start on January 10th. So without further ado, HAPPY NEW YEAR, Internet!

Here are my resolutions for the next 355 days:

1) Finish first draft of PhD

2) Be happy

Ok, so these are sort of vague, but this is a blog about ADHD and many of my posts here end up kinda long, so for my fellow ADHD-ers out there, I thought I’d cut to the chase and keep it simple. However, in the spirit of January hyper-organisation (which inevitably gives way to February lethargy), I have made a list of a series of sub-resolutions which I hope will enable me to achieve those two main goals for 2010.

So, if you’re casting about for some resolutions of your own, or you’re naturally curious, or if you have finished the rest of the internet and are running out of distractions to fuel your compulsive procrastination, then read on. Those sub-resolutions can be summarised as follows:

1. Sleep Well, Eat Well.

At the risk of sounding like a January issue of a trashy women’s mag, I reckon this one is pretty important. I am currently half-way through a two-week detox. Very modern and trendy of me. I’m not doing one of these totally hardcore all-juice diets with skin brushing etc. I just want to be able to get up in the morning without a struggle. Even when I go to bed at 10pm (very rarely) it’s a completely traumatic experience to get up before 10am. And since nobody needs 12 hours sleep and lots and lots of other people manage to get up at 6am on a regular basis and still have a life, I think I need to address this asap. I definitely need to make some improvements to my health and fitness and since I’m an all or nothing kinda gal I decided to go the whole hog and cut out the booze, the coffee (by far the hardest), salt (suprisingly easy since I used up our salt de-icing the steps), processed food, bad carbohydrates, and most other fun things. The result was a horrible headache for the first two days but now I am fully embracing the fennel salads and the chamomile tea. I am even going to bed at about 10pm (instead of 3am) and yesterday I woke up feeling a million roubles. V good start to the year – am patting myself on the back with smug smile (cannot wait to sit down to a lovely Sunday Roast made with marmite roast potatoes though- mmmmmmm). Is J’s birthday on Saturday so am finishing this healthy eating lark on Friday so that we can go out for a nice bit of dinner and a beer. However I am definitely going to allow myself NO MORE than two cups of coffee a day for the rest of the year, and will keep taking multi-vits, eating brown rice, going to the gym (yak) and getting into other healthy little habits, particularly as all these things are supposed to help with the ADHD.

2. Get Organised

Ok, this is another one that crops up on everybody’s list every year but I reckon that it’s worth giving it another go. And let’s face it, when other people say they need to be more organised they’re talking about a whole different kettle of fish to the chaotic life, house and finances of the average ADHDer. In previous years I have spent three days obsessively writing hundreds of lists and crafting elaborate filing systems that even I didn’t understand by the end of the week and had no hope of maintaining. So this year I have devised a simple yet foolproof filofax/google calendar double whammy that cannot fail to help me achieve all my lifetime dreams. No, honest it’s great. Actually I’ll do another post on this. Other things in this category include working through this book and implementing the advice therein.

3. Make Life Simpler

Sometimes I don’t know how much of my problem is ADHD alone and how much is that my life is genuinely cluttered with stuff that I have to do but that I don’t really want to do and that I only have to do because it is something that: a) I didn’t say no to when asked; b) was incredibly enthusiastic about to begin with but predictably got bored with; c) agreed to do out of a sense of guilt; or d) feel that I ought to do in order to be the kind of person who is involved in hundred of different exciting projects while still living in a whirl of social events when in actual fact I just want to stay at home with my cats and my slippers and my J and meet up with some mates to do the occasional pub quiz every so often. Well, maybe I need to find a healthy balance of the two somehow. Nevertheless, I am absolutely not going to say yes to another thing or invite stressful events/people into my life this year. Not unless it would be an unmissable professional/social opportunity, and only then if another commitment can be ditched to make room. Also, I probably need to address the fact that there are a few people in my life who take more than I’m willing/able to give for whatever reason. I need to do a post on that too. Remind me.

4. Trash Clutter

Every single day I hereby resolve to delete junk emails, and emails that do not interest me or apply to me (seminars on Medieval literature etc) and to unsubscribe from email lists that I never bother to read anyway. Ditto snail mail. I will also clear out my wardrobe and excavate my desk. Oh, and I will FINALLY put up the mail organiser/mirror type thing that I bought in 2007 to go behind the front door.

5. Time It

I will use a timer to set myself tasks for 15 minutes. Even I should be able to find the motivation to tidy up for 15 minutes, and if I set a timer when I decide to have five minutes to play on the Internet then I stand a chance of not accidentally losing 2 hours. This might work for studying too. Set the timer for 45 minutes at a time and see how much I can get done in that time. After each of the 45 min slots, I can have 15mins to fuck about. Brill.

I am feeling very positive about all this de-cluttering and have high hopes, which is nice. Maybe it’s all those herbal teas and salads but I feel sort of….happy! Tomorrow I’m going to visit my granny who is currently snowed on. She can’t get out to get any food or speak to people. I’ll be a bit like red riding hood taking her a basket of goodies – hope I don’t meet any nasty wolves on the train to Suffolk. Gotta get up early to get to Liverpool St station so am off to have a bath and read a book till bedtime. Lovely.

Bonsoir, Internet x