Unsuspecting. Guileless. One of the greatest ironies about the idea of “unplugging” is that I have lost sleep over the last few nights thinking about what I was going to write next here. And, as my mind often goes, other ideas creep in. Packing for the trip to Seoul. Cleaning the house. Shining my shoes. Getting my suit from the cleaner. The sanity of my fiancée as she assembles her bouquet out of buttons (I’ll explain some other time). I asked for this, though. Anything but the grammatically dripping ghost of professional apprehension floating above the bed. In spite of my email (still unchecked at ten in the morning) being full of sixteen student papers awaiting my discernment, in spite of the five and half hours of less than restful sleep, in spite of the inside of my eyelids that are coated with sandpaper, I am here. Writing.
Although the format I’ve chosen for my writing classes (final drafts sent via email) forces me to be online, my job requires far less of me in terms of being “connected” than many other people out there. Nonetheless, I find myself often fighting the urge to click over to my email or to check the headlines. It is this short attention span that led me to believe I had a legitimate case of A.D.D. In fact, about a year ago, I was going through this amusing spell of walking around the house having forgotten to zip up my fly. While I exposed myself to no innocent adjummas (or corrupt ones, for that matter) and Nic may or may not have seen my junk before (we have messed around before, but I swear we haven’t had pre-marital sex. Really. Honestly…a-hem.), the real concern came from a time when I left the burner on after warming up some coffee. I had been working on some editing for my novel (the fifth major revision) and was immersed in a bit of research on the ‘net or cruising for a synonym or two at my favorite website, but the untended open flame that was discovered by Nic an hour later was cause for concern.
So, off to the psychiatrist to take care of this absentmindedness. In the following weeks, my performance at work soared. And I needed it, often finding myself buried in the development of two courses, the creation of PowerPoints to explain to a group of novices about the necessity of subjects and verbs or the reading of thirty-five intermediate-level five-paragraph essays. After about three weeks, my dude was about to bump up my dose of Metadate (a cousin to Ritalin) because my listless window-gazing had returned. But I wanted nothing to do with the increase. So I attacked the other problem that was perhaps interrelated with my lack of attention span: early onset insomnia.
It was this inability to shut off my brain (and Nic’s twitchy REM sleep) that often led to three hours tossing and turning, worrying about the grammar and writing lessons. On top of the stimulant in the morning, my dude had me on a nightly dose of Xanax which, as I would later discover, is simply masking the problem. I became addicted, losing my ability—however scant that ability was—to fall asleep without the Xanax (I also began waking up after four hours and would be unable to get back to sleep). At the end of the spring semester, I waned myself off all forms of medication. Eventually, though not to the level I wanted, I was sleeping better and was back at the writing (starting work in earnest on the second novel).
When I was a kid, I didn’t read much. Incidentally, I didn’t watch more than an hour of TV a day. I would much rather have been outside climbing a tree and fighting off the invading armies across the street or riding my bike to the arcade, pockets jangling with quarters pilfered from dad’s change box. And as I got older, my last 4.0 GPA in second grade was but a distant memory, most subjects suffering from the inability to sit still for an hour. Now, so far removed from those early days, I wonder what came first for me: the “A.D.D.” or the channel-surfing and net-staring habits of the generation in which I grew up.