I read you the Jitterbug Perfume Intro

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A case for ADD/ADHD diagnosis

I recently informed my friend Miles that I started taking Adderall to treat my ADHD. His response was strong opposition:

“Read that article on Adderall.  ADD and ADHD didn’t even exist 20 years ago.  They created a diagnosis so they could sell pills, PERIOD.” 

Unfortunately, this seems to be a common response among my friends who feel that at 32, I sold out to Big Pharma to coast through life on a blue pill called Adderall. This was my response.

Dear Miles;

Okay, I am going to very polemic here and tell you I disagree with your assessment that ADD/ADHD should be discarded as a fictitious condition. But first, I am going to poke holes in your argument because when it comes to discussions about science, sweeping statements that lack sound scientific evidence hold no ground for me.  Just because a condition wasn’t given a name until 20 years ago, doesn’t mean that it’s non-existent and not worth study and treatment. Second, it’s been over 20 years! The condition has had classification since the 1980’s which makes it 36 years old. Alcoholism wasn’t considered a disease until 1956, before then, it didn’t exist either, but just because the disorder lacked semantic categorization does not mean that its effect was any less destructive than it is today. The spirit of scientific research and the scientific method is to move our body of knowledge forward – although I completely agree with you that monetary interests can shape the course of treatment and research.

In the last 20 years, important technological advancements in neuroimaging and genetic testing have resulted in a prolific body of research on the brain.  Moore’s Law holds in the field of neuroscience where electronic equipment like PET and MRI scans have seen drastic improvements in brain imaging, and new technologies in electrophysiology even allow scientists to look at individual neurons as they are firing! May I remind you that 36 years ago, this is what a computer looked like:

Image result for 1980 computer

We’ve come a long way from pack-man era technology of and I can assure you that some things known about the brain today might not hold true tomorrow, but there is without a doubt far more to discover.

Now, you remember when I moved to my studio how I agonized about picking the right bed sheets that combined with my sofa? I read hundreds of Amazon reviews over three weeks. You are also well aware that I am very reticent about medication and mind altering substances. Please trust me when I say that giving Adderall a try was not a decision I made lightly. I spoke to users, I read blogs, I read drug reviews and I read lots and LOTS of scientific literature while weighing the pros and cons.

I’m not talking about having read generic primers meant to be best-sellers, I’m talking about studies published in medical journals by reputable institutions and known experts showing that the brains of people with attention deficit are structurally different than those of normal subjects. SPECT scans repeatedly show that someone with ADD/ADHD has reduced blood flow to certain parts of the brain that include the prefrontal cortex – which is associated with attention, memory, and impulse control. Genetic markers have been found in people with ADD/ADHD that show poor expression of dopamine receptor gene, which is why a person with ADD/ADHD gets easily bored – they crave more dopamine and are more likely to engage in novel and risky ventures to get a fix. Other receptor genes and neurotransmitters like serotonin also are involved which explains why some with attention deficit manage their symptoms better with anti-depressants like serotonin-reuptake inhibitors. The scientific evidence – showing that an inability to regulate attention can be detrimental to learning, memory, and managing mood is so insurmountable and undeniable – that it would be like rebuffing climate change. Large sample sizes, timeliness, strong positive correlations, and a mix of qualitative and quantitative data of in vivo and in vitro studies make the case for attention deficit too compelling to ignore.

Attention deficit is correlated with other cognitive impairments.  The same neurotransmitters that are associated with alcoholism and other addictions (dopamine, serotonin), are associated with attention modulation which is why many ADD/ADHDers self-medicate with drugs and are more likely to develop drug habits.  The thoughts and ideas of an ADD/ADHDers jump around so quickly, that it’s hard to get one coherent thought before then next random one interrupts it. Drugs like alcohol slow thinking down so the thoughts aren’t as fast and intrusive. Do you think that if someone has a problem with alcoholism related to poor impulse control and anxiety that they don’t need treatment? In the same vein, don’t you think that is possible that the brain’s ability to modulate attention and motivation can be impaired enough to pose serious problems to learning which can translate to depression or anxiety?  If you are interested in reading more about the topic, try to find articles by Dr. Daniel Amen.  He’s got a repository of over 83,000 brain scans and writes extensively about depression, ADD/ADHD, and addiction.

While it is common for children to have problems with attention modulation as their young brains are developing, for some this issue persists well into adulthood due to a strong genetic component in conjunction with environmental conditions (such as sedentary office jobs) that are debilitating to an ADD/ADHDers way of thinking and learning. Yes, if I change my environment, my “symptoms” of attention deficit might disappear. I don’t doubt that! But for now, I have to pay the bills and need to be productive enough to keep my job while focusing on hobbies and side-projects that DO bring me satisfaction and a sense of personal growth.

I am very scared of becoming addicted and will be as mindful of the side-effects as possible. The man in the Times article you sent who wrote about his addiction to Adderall already had an unhealthy relationship with drugs. He experimented freely for the sake of partying. His callous and immature approach to drugs was bound to make him an addict. I can tell you right now, that I don’t know a SINGLE person that approached drugs for kicks in college that today doesn’t have some kind of addiction – even if it’s mild – to alcohol, weed or pharmaceuticals.  Right NOW my fear of being intellectually stagnant is greater than my fear of Adderall leading to a life on the streets sucking dick for crack – the latter is very unlikely. However, I do appreciate the heartfelt concern of friends like you, but accept that the ADHD is as part of me as my left arm. It’s why I’m quirky, ditsy, funny and spontaneous, but it’s a source of great distress for learning and project realization which I need to feel content and whole. You get it! This is where I have to end this long soapbox sermon. I’ve decided to make this my next blog entry and double my productivity for the day. Bang! Bang!

Get well soon so we can have dinner before you go off to Hollywood or Chile, or God knows where your projects will take you. Big hug Miles,

Sandra

(Thank you for your support dear reader! Please feel free to leave a comment or press LIKE at the top of the page. This way it looks like you care, which might or might not be true, but I’m insecure and I would like it if you pretended to care.)

 

Better be eatin’ than lonesome.

In this article I talk about my ex boyfriend Nash. For some good background information I would recommend reading the post I Loved an Alcoholic

I recently had a very candid conversation over dinner with my friend Miles – an accomplished writer I met while having a lonesome dinner at a posh bar in Ocean Beach two years ago and who’s become a trusting friend and confidant.  During this dinner, while we enjoyed the animated and verbose conversation that is typical of our weekly meet-ups, I finally made an admission that I had been too embarrassed to make, even to myself, after bringing up the subject of how I was having an uncharacteristically hard time dealing with disquieting emotions following my break up with Nash – my erratic alcoholic ex.

“I don’t know Miles. I feel like I replaced the anxiety I had with Nash – which was the result of endless arguing – with a totally different kind of restlessness caused by having to put up with myself.  As unreliable as Nash was, he was a constant. He was company that kept me from getting lost in my head,” I explained. “I’ve dealt with much heavier burdens with so much more tact. I’m embarrassed.  I was stronger as a teenager than I am now in my thirties when I should have better coping mechanisms,” I lamented to Miles while he enjoyed his grilled lamb chops.

“Look, you’ve gone through a lot of changes this year.  You broke up, you moved on your own, you started dating again and hopefully by now you’ve realized what I’ve been telling you all along – that you are an attractive and intelligent woman who is desirable to some very high achieving and intellectual gentlemen.  If your work-outs and hobbies are not enough to keep you occupied, I say get back on Tinder!” It was an unusual suggestion for Miles who had more than once pointed out the pitfalls of putting hopes on strangers met through online dating website.

“Nonono!  I can’t Miles.  First, I’m already seeing someone and it’s in that awkward phase, like when you are growing out your hair; we are still finding our rhythm but I really like him. Second, this problem isn’t a dating problem.  I don’t want the next guy I let into my life to be someone I need.  Should the relationship end – a real possibility in any relationship – I would be right back where I started and probably more emotionally compromised.  I want to avoid putting myself in a situation where I end up depending on some unsuspecting guy and thus risk pushing him away before he gets to know me; I already have the natural urge to move fast and over-indulge when I like someone, or something.  Truth is, all I need is to have access to occasional and even superficial interactions that will take me out of my head-space from time to time – a girl, a guy, a dog.  Just knowing someone is there, sleeping in a room 10 feet away, will be enough to help me avoid another panic attack.  I just don’t want to go through that hell again.”

“So what exactly is making you anxious?” He looks at me confused.

“Currently, it’s several things.  I’m worried about my job and my future work prospects.  I’m afraid that any day now my car will die on me.  I’m concerned about my injured knee from falling so hard in roller-derby and that it could be permanent.  What else…hmmm…I’m still grappling with my goal to be more open and communicative regarding my needs and wants.  Then there’s that guy I like.  Heck! Not being able to define what I need or want, which seems to be a constantly mutating and moving target, is enough to fill my head to the brim with thoughts.  I ask myself all the time: Is what I want also what is best for me?  Without an answer, I sometimes find myself paralyzed by uncertainty.  Ultimately though…I…”

“What is it?”

“Errrr…” I stammered, covered my face in embarrassment which is a very rare emotion for me, and blurted out “I’m feeling lonely Miles.  I don’t think it’s good for me to be living alone,” I sighed, relieved as if I had popped a tumescent boil on my brain, “I’m really lonely.  Even when I was dealing with PTSD I had my parents and brothers to provide distractions even if I wasn’t speaking about it, but in my 32 years, I have never been alone until now.”

“I knew it!” He proclaimed smugly. “Now, you always claim you are an introvert Sandra but you are too garrulous and intense.  You need to interact with people to expel your energy.  Look how fast you talk and how much you move your hands when you talk!  You operate as typical Jungian archetypal extrovert,” he remarks.  Miles always enjoys psychoanalyzing me using Jungian analytic psychology having read the entire man’s collective works.  I always appreciate his erudition and how he’s unafraid of putting a mirror to my face.  He knows how to ground me.

“No, I am an introvert!” I insisted defensively. “I don’t share about myself during my interactions. I’m always probing and I hardly talk about myself.  When I ask ‘How are you doing?’ I am actually asking ‘Has anything of tremendous importance happened to you that will impart a lifelong lesson as to what I should do, avoid, or change in my life?’  Then, if the information seems interesting enough, I tuck it away for reference.  An extrovert doesn’t really analyze his or her interactions, but I do it constantly and have been doing it since I can remember.”

“To reference what?”

“I don’t know.  I’m trying to learn about human nature, I guess.  People are a fountain of information.  I try to compute everything that I make a conscious effort to observe, question, experience or read up on.  Sometimes, my thinking and analyzing whirls out of control without any particular direction, sometimes my brainstorming leads to epiphanies and, on rare occasions where I’m emotionally compromised, I can become paranoid.  That’s what happened when I had that panic attack in January,” I winced, putting my hand over my heart as I remembered it’s erratic pounding and the almost painful feeling in my chest which made me consider calling the ER at three in the morning with the hopes that a first responder would knock me out with a punch, put me in a straight jacket, and sic me with horse tranquilizers so could finally sleep after more than 48 hours of sleeplessness caused by my scheming mind.  It had been a sudden and profound sense of loneliness had triggered the attack. I continued, “A clusterfuck is what I am.”

“So you serious about this then? You seemed so excited when you found your new place.”

“I know, that was short lived.  Remember when I was staying at the house with those two engineers while I pet sat for ten days.  I felt super at ease.  They weren’t talkative, and our interactions where sparse, but knowing they were there made me feel relaxed.  At least with them, I’d be thinking about something and before I could obsessively pursue a train of thought, one of them would walk into the living room pulling me out of my reverie and directing my attention towards easygoing conversation.”

“Sandra! You are not actually as neurotic or as big a ‘clusterfuck’ as you portray yourself.  You have lots of youthful energy and combined with your over-active imagination, can come across as intense.  You need to surround yourself with intense people.”

“Hahaa! Neurotic?! Me?!” I repeated, feeling a little indignation over the negative connotation of the word neurotic.  I consider myself one of the more rational humans puttering on this planet.  I racked my brain looking for a defense against the word neurotic, but unable to remember the definition of neurotic, I stopped, and conceded, to my dismay, that my dear friend might be right.

“Look, I wrote a best-selling novel about a neurotic guy.  That guy was me.  I am neurotic,” he pointed a thumb to himself, then points his index finger at me, “and I can tell that you are neurotic.  You’ll be fine.  You’re normal.  Keep doing your sports and hobbies and you’ll slowly find your rhythm again, but you need to be more forgiving with yourself and give yourself time to heal and reflect because I think you are more raw from your break-up than you realize,” He leans back, crossing his arms confidently and nodding at me.

“I’m normal?” I chew the statement pensively.

“Yes,” he bobbed his head, “you are NORMAL.”

“Normal….okay. Good to know,” I exhaled, feeling grateful to have had a sympathetic ear, “I’ll work on letting that sink it.”

“I think we need to get you some baklava ice cream cake for dessert.”

“Yes please! You know it.”

That time I was sexually harassed by my college professor.

In order to fulfill my undergraduate requirement in International Relations at UC Davis, I had to complete two economics courses – both chosen with great temerity as they where they only courses where my poor understanding of math and graphs could expose me as a great fraud that should have never passed third grade.  I got sexually harassed in only one of those courses, and to be fair, it hardly ruined my whole college experience, it only added to the tapestry of awkward encounters that enhance my understanding of human motivation and behavior.

I’m going to call this guy Prof. Wierdo because I don’t remember his name and as you will eventually find out, he was also slightly insane. He was a tall, balding, lanky white guy with bulgy eyes and a peppered mustache. He looked to be in his late 50’s.

So, I chose this class, which was the Economics of Something-or-Other, because it explained economics in conceptual as opposed to mathematical terms.  On Rate the Professor.com, students gave Prof. Wierdo a mediocre grade of C because of his insipid PowerPoint presentations and his poorly worded exams.  Indeed, some female students pointed out his “weird” tendency to stare at the babes sitting in the front row, and while there was a consensus that his class was difficult, some students suggested that the best way to pass it was by memorizing all the slides.  Taking their advice to heart, I enrolled in the class, memorized EVERY single slide, and just regurgitated the slides VERBATIM during the exams.  No critical thinking was required. Out of a class of about 100, I got the second highest score in the class – meaning someone memorized the slides better than I did.

I took this class around the time that I was preparing to apply for graduate school.  I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to study, but I knew I would eventually need letters of recommendations. Ever the planner, I decided to start developing a rapport with Prof. Wierdo as well as with some other professors whose classes I had excelled at.  Wierdo also taught at the UC Berkley School of Public Health and considering my outstanding grade in his class, I thought a letter of recommendation from him would look good on my application. For two months, I attended his office hours to discuss grad school programs – Urban Planning, Public Health, and Social Work.

Two months later, I had my list of potential programs and was sending out applications. On the last day that I planned to meet with him, Prof. Wierdo canceled his office hours but offered instead to meet me a little later at The Graduate – a student hang out with cheap beers, booze, and burgers.  I agreed to meet in order to ask him for a letter of recommendation. You see, I was in a precarious situation. My Spanish Lit professor who used to show up half an hour late to class if he graced us with his presence at all, had agreed to write me a letter, but in his extreme flake fashion, was not replying to my e-mails regarding the recommendation he had agreed to write. In such a short time-frame, I could not afford to have another professor flake on my letter of recommendation.

After my late afternoon class, I rushed to The Graduate to meet with Prof. Wierdo. Pay attention to this part, it goes from normal to weird fast.

“Let’s have a beer!” he suggested, “I’m buying.”

Sure, why not? We started talking the usual grad school bullshit. I asked him about his work experience and his research and before I knew it, the conversation veered to his personal life – his Graduate thesis, his work experience. I took small sips of my beer.

“So you live in Berkley and commute here?! That’s a two hour drive!” I exclaimed.

“Yes, I bought a house with my wife when real-estate was cheap.”

“I can’t imagine it ever being cheap in the Bay Area,” I took a sip of beer. “What does your wife do?”

“She is disabled.”

“Uhmmm…” Yikes! Change the subject to something less perilous.

“She has multiple sclerosis and is wheelchair bound,” he confessed.

“Errrr…that’s not good.”

“We used to be very active, but now I have to take care of her, and it’s a total burden,” he rambled as I scanned my brain for other topics.  “I have no life outside of work anymore.  She needs help with everything from going to the bathroom and wiping to bathing,” he continued, sounding increasingly agitated.

“It sounds like a difficult situation for you, but she is lucky to have such a devoted husband,” I pointed out, trying to look sympathetic despite feeling increasingly gawky.

“Yes, it is very difficult. I haven’t had sex in over two years! I’m very sexually frustrated.”

What the…?! Damn this trusting face! “Uhmm, that is unfortunate,” I mumbled, taking ever larger swigs of my beer.  I wish there was more foam for me to look at.  I should comment on the lack of foam in my beer.

“We used to have a very active sexual lifestyle.  We were swingers, you see, we’d attend orgies, and have a great time smoking weed and doing cocaine.  It was hot and intense.”

An image of Professor Wierdo’s lanky skinny body – covered in liver spots, and writhing among naked limbs – became seared into my mind.

Where’s he going with this?!  Sandra, you are in uncharted waters. Whatever you do, don’t let your face collapse to show panic, cuz you’re panicking right now.  DON’T PANIC.  Relax your face…that’s right, try to look serene like you hear this kind of shit all the time…relax the corners of your mouth and nod in agreement.  I nodded slowly, my expression frozen into what I hoped was a natural looking smile but surely I looked constipated instead.  Now, focus on getting that letter and don’t fuck this up!

I racked my brain for something thoughtful to say. “It’s good that you met someone that you could experiment with,” I proclaimed, trying to place emphasis on his wife, “those relationships require trust and you managed to find that.  She must be a really wonderful and adventurous woman. Sex isn’t the most important thing anyway, love is.  The important thing is that you love her.  Nobody can replace that kind of love….that YOU have…for HER… your wife.” Taking large swigs of my beer despite the growing ball of anxiety in my stomach, I looked around at the honky-tonk décor in the The Graduate desperately trying to come up with another topic of discussion. “I love the energy in this place.  Can I get you another beer?” I offered, figuring that if he was divulging so much after one beer, then two beers wouldn’t make a difference.

“Sure,” he replied.

At the bar, I ordered another round of beers enjoying a reprieve from the awkwardness of the situation.  Ask him about internships, give him that application and tell him you have to go to a birthday party.  Breathe and look NORMAL.

I took a deep breath and returned to our table with the beers.  “Thanks again for meeting with me.  So I’ve been looking at internships and there is one in Washington that sounds really cool,” I commented instantly in an attempt to take control of the conversation.

“You don’t need to go to Washington for an internship.  You could try a summer research position at the School of Public Health.  I have some colleagues doing research in Latin America that might be interested in having another bilingual person on their team.”

The ambitious part of my brain perked up.  An internship at UC Berkley would be a big boon to my career.  “Are you serious? I would love a research position at Berkley!” I smiled from cheek-to-cheek thinking how incredible the opportunity would be.

“Send me your resume and I will pass it along,” he offered.

We talked for a bit about the rising cost of university education, and the lack of funding in public services.  Once I finished my beer, I tell him I have to get ready for a birthday party.  As we walk out into the parking lot, I took the folder with the instructions for the letter of recommendation out of my bag.

“I live two blocks this way, but I will walk you to your car,” I said, buying myself time to broach the subject of the letter.  “Thanks again for meeting with me these last few months.  It’s been great to have the advice of someone such as yourself.  Your offer to pass my resume to your colleagues means the world to me.  I would do anything. Seriously, what a great opportunity.”

“Anything?” He asked.

“Yes! I mean, it’s Berkley!” I gushed.

“Would you give me a BLOWJOB?!”  He blurted out loudly, placing special emphasis on the word “blowjob” as if it was a 10 foot neon sign on the interstate.

I kid you not, this is how the fucking conversation went down and I will never forget that plain sentence, unadorned by adverbs or adjectives, and the instant mortification I felt afterwards.  How the hell did we go from talking about internships to me sucking his cock? You want an internship? Sure, I’d do anything! Surely you’ll suck my cock then.  My heart insisted I run away, but my brain was too wired by rules of etiquette to allow a mad dash to the opposite end of the earth where I wanted to dig a hole and hide.  What do I say?  Look NORMAL!!  SPEAK SLOWLY!!!

“Hmmm, no.  I’m sorry.  I have a boyfriend and I love him very much,” I explained, slowly and deliberately, as if THAT was the reason I was not accepting his invitation.  I focused on taking steady breaths while reminding myself that everything I said could put me and my future in some kind of jeopardy.

“Why would you say you are going to do ANYTHING?” He bellowed in exasperation, throwing his hands in the air.  “Don’t say you are willing to do ANYTHING if you aren’t willing to give a blowjob.  That’s misleading!” He berated me as he ran his fingers through his thinning scalp; his eyes darted wildly around in a look of sheer panic.  He’s losing it.

“I’m sorry for misleading you.  It wasn’t my intention,” I offered him a sincere looking smile while sounding apologetic but confident.  I was not sucking this guy’s penis by ANY means.  “I meant to say, I would do ANYTHING as far as research that your colleagues needed from me.  I was talking within the context of the conversation which was in regards to school and research and not sex.  I’m sorry if I gave you that impression.”

“Yeah! Well you shouldn’t say that,” he grumbled sounding peeved, yet the tinge of worry that crept into his tone meant that I had gained some foothold to manipulate the situation to my advantage. That letter was as good as mine.

“I understand,” I soothingly replied as if to a child, “again, I am sorry for being so general, it really wasn’t my intention to mislead you.  I really respect you as an intellectual and a teacher,” I complimented him, hoping that appealing to his ego would somehow diffuse his agitation. “It’s an honest misunderstanding.”

What I uttered next made me cringe as the words slipped out of my mouth.

“Maybe if I was single…” I somehow managed not to puke in my mouth.  NOPE.  Not even if he was the last guy on earth.  If he was the last guy on earth, I would find him, hunt him down with a club, and maybe make a lampshade out of him.  Mankind wasn’t worth saving if it meant repopulating the earth with this guy’s genes.  Sorry mankind! You had your run, it’s time for the cockroaches to take over.  “Anyway, I need to head back home because I have a birthday party to attend,” I reminded him, “I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to advise me.  Now that I have some schools picked out, could I rely on you for a letter of recommendation?  It would mean the world to me,” I said, making my eyes as wide as possible to emphasize my innocence as I hand him the folder requesting the letter of recommendation.

“Yeah.  Sure,” he grunted, and grudgingly took the folder from my hand.

“That is very magnanimous of you Prof. Wierdo.  You’re awesome!” I managed a big pseudo smile. “The deadline is at the end of the month. If you can’t make the deadline, just let me know and I will make other arrangements.  Thank you for your time!” With that, I started to walk away.

“Ok. Are you coming to office hours next week?” He practically shouts after me.

“No, not next week, I’ll be headed home, but the week after” I respond, hoping I sounded casual.  “I’ll see you in two weeks,” I said, waving as I scurry away, “thanks again!”

Prof. Wierdo did keep up his end of the bargain and wrote my letter in a timely manner. When I got into UCLA, I asked one of the advisers to tell me what about my applications stood out, and she commented “You had great grades, and a strong statement letter, as well as heartfelt letters of recommendations from your professors.  The one by your economics professor was particularly strong.” You’re kidding me?!  I didn’t press on what that meant.  I was just happy to have gotten my way. I tell you this much though, I’m very careful to clarify that when I use the word ANYTHING in a conversation, sexual favors are excluded, everything else is negotiable.

Panic Attack: That Time I Ate a Weed Cookie

I’ve had two panic attacks in my life. The first one occurred years ago as the result of weed cookie induced paranoia The second one was a result of a self-induced neurotic breakdown that occurred a month ago, however, I’ll cover that in a later posting.  This posting is about my weed induced panic attack.

Now, I’ve been asked by many people if I was a stoner due to my dreamy and aloof demeanor, but that is just my personality. When I’m high, I barely function. Two years ago I picked up the habit in order to better deal with Nash, my alcoholic ex.  Smoking pot was the only way that I could tolerate Nash’s negative Nancy attitude. When I smoke, I get all philosophical and view the world from a metaphysical deconstructivist perspective.  I would think to myself: What does it matter if my life sucks? I am just a cluster of oscillating strings permeating different dimensions and the fact that I get to bitch about my relationship is pretty darn miraculous.  YES! My life and my relationship is a miracle and it isn’t so bad! See how smoking weed can help?

On THIS particular night, I was home alone and took my typical two bong rips before going to bed.  In authentic stoner fashion, I got a hankering for sweets yet was too lazy to make my way to the grocery store. So, I raided the cabinets for a sweet morsel and lo and behold! I found HALF a chocolate chip weed cookie home-baked by my gregarious drug peddling neighbor.  I eyed the dubious cookie for a second trying to determine the repercussions of consuming it on a work night, and decided that it could do no harm since my boyfriend had consumed three and at no point showed obvious signs of toxic weed poisoning.

So, I ate said chocolate chip weed cookie, surely making nom nom noises the entire time, and silently congratulated myself for showing such self-restrain in the face of my usual ravenous munchie escapades of Cheetos, chocolates, and chips.  Good job there Sandra! You kept it under 2000 calories this time!  Not long after, I lazily lumbered off to bed and fell asleep swiftly enough – face down in starfish pose.

About one hour later, I woke up abruptly confused and disoriented by the sudden thunderous and manic beating of my heart. Panicked, I pushed myself up and wailed “WOAH! What is happening!!!” as my eyes darted around the dark frantically looking for the culprit of my acute distress. Was there an earthquake? Did a rapist break into my house? Or worse…A fucking poltergeist? I’m going to die alone with a poltergeist!

My heart kept beating as if I has just completed a 100 dash spring. Confused, I called out for my boyfriend.  To no avail.  But, my wailing did wake up my puppy Lupita who, in sensing my distress, tried to soothe me with little licks and nibbles on my face. Still, weed tends to desensitizes me and even the negligible amount I had consumed had turned me numb.  I felt like a gelatinous amorphic blob unable to feel the boundaries of my body.  Oh my God, I thought to myself, How am I going to keep breathing if I can’t feel my diaphragm? Isn’t breathing supposed to be automatic and shit!? GASP! Could the THC have broken my medulla oblongata!?! To me, that unfortunate self-diagnosis meant that every breath had to be taken consciously, so that’s what I decided I needed to do to stay alive.

I gasped for air for what seemed like hours, but could just as well have been minutes, fearful of dying of prolonged apnea if I fell sleep.  In a last ditch attempt to fight for my life, I managed to mastermind a speedy exit from the bedroom to the living room by dragging my body and face along the wall to the couch – somehow managing to avoid eviscerating myself on sharp corners and tripping on dog toys.  I’m sure I looked like realistic depiction of a brain eater and trust me when I say that pitiful display hardly qualifies as “Sandra’s Most Smarty Pants Moments” award.

So I sit down on the couch to watch T.V. However, intimidated by the sheer technological feat required to turn on the television and select a T.V. show on Netflix to stay awake so I could…you know… fight for my life with every breath! I just sat in the dark instead, on the couch, gulping for air and preparing to die.  Oh Death, be not proud!* I realized then the power of California medicinal grade weed cookie and respected the capacity of 5 dollars worth of the herb to eradicate 60,000 dollars worth of a college education just to turn me into a dry-mouthed, wailing, mouth breather.  I momentarily lamented that I was going to be its’ first recorded fatality.  I could imagine the indictments at my funeral from the most vociferous pot heads:  “Way to ruin weed for the rest of us, SANDRA! Justice Kennedy was going to give us the Supreme Court vote until you fucked up and DIED! Booo to you!” Then the headlines: “Children with Cataracts STONEWALLED from having Access to Weed by THIS WOMAN” and my sulking stoner face would be forever plastered on the cover of Time magazine.  Just my luck.

Eventually, I managed to fall asleep without dying, obviously because my medulla oblongata kicked into gear at some point.  My first thought when my alarm went off was: I’m still fucking high! Knowing that I couldn’t even exit my parking spot without hitting a cat, a homeless man, and a garbage can before reaching the end of the alleyway, I decided to wave my little white flag of surrender and call in sick.  Having to do this upset me because I like to save my sick days for days when I am not actually sick and want to have fun at the beach**.  I slept until three p.m.  Once I was sure I could exit the house without being overwhelmed by the flapping of a butterfly’s wings, I walked over to my neighbors and chided him for peddling his toxic weed cookie on me. He simply laughed, took a chug of gin from his flask and blubbered, his eyes blinking slowly and not quite in unison, “You’re weak!” no shit! “I had seven today and I still have work to do.”

And that my friends, was one of the times that I was reminded of my mortality and learned a powerful lesson about how eating weed could lead to a lost sick day.

 

*This is from a John Donne Holy Sonnet called “Death, be not proud.”

**IF my boss is reading this, I haven’t had a chance to call in sick to play hooky at this job yet because the few times I called in sick have been because I was legitimately sick. Hopefully next year that won’t be the case.

How to Tinder Like a Boss

How Tinder works

For those of you living under a rock or recently released from solitary confinement, this is how the app TINDER works. A picture of a potential mate living within your established mile radius will pop up on the screen with a 500 character description.  If you find the person in picture attractive, you swipe left if you don’t then you swipe right. Basically, it gives you the power to judge like a nefarious Caligula making snap judgements about another humans worth based on looks. FUN!

The importance of proper technique

The beauty of Tinder is that if you keep going on dates that turn out to be failures, then it is not Tinder’s fault, it’s YOUR fault.  You are the filter and believe it or not the pictures and profiles can be very telling if you can spot proper clues.  Being a person of discerning in nature, I swipe about 200 NO’s for every 1 YES. Nope, I’m not a beauty queen nor a model, I’m just a reasonably intelligent woman with aspirations and a healthy dose of self-esteem.

My profile

I keep my profile low key.  I do have a couple of bikini shots because it just so happens that I like going to vacations to the Caribbean and it’s one of the few times I look genuinely happy devoid of a cynical smirk.  The other pictures show my energy and creativity.  They say “Hey! I’m doing stuff” and hopefully a guy that likes my profile says “I also like doing the same stuff!” My 500 character description is simple. I show humor, pathos, I reveal a bit of sensitivity and a smidge of attitude.  Basically, it says I’m nice, smart and low key, but don’t fuck with me.

My thought process

STEP 1 – The Snap Judgement:……NO, NO, NO, HELL NO, WHAT THE?!, NO, NO, NO, GROSS!, UGH!, I’M GONNA DIE ALONE, SIGH!, NO, NO, NO, Fuck this!, I should get back to work, NO, NO, NEVER!!, Oh! He’s cute!

STEP 2 – I Read the profile:

  • Are there many spelling mistakes?  There’s nothing wrong with being dyslexic, but considering that the profile is like a resume that guys use to get laid, one has to wonder about his intelligence if he is not at least getting a friend to proofread it.  If the guy says he’s foreign, he has a pass to make tons of spelling mistakes, but I find that they are actually better spellers than the natives.
  • Does he talk about what he does? At 32, I need a guy pursuing an advanced degree or working full time because otherwise I assume he is lazy and has self-esteem issues.  I don’t want to go out to dates to Chick-Fil-a or Denny’s.  Are they unemployed? I keep swiping.  Ambition is a big turn on for me and a very rare trait to find. An ambitious, brainy guy will Google proper foreplay technique and understand the placement of the G-spot because they hate to suck at anything they do – ain’t nothing wrong with exploiting that.
  • Does he reveal hobbies and interests? I reduce the probability of an awkward date – one full of fidgety silences where I end up praying that my best friend careens off a road and calls asking for immediate help – by making sure that the potential suitor shows that he has interests in hobbies that I am also into.

STEP 3 – I scope out the pictures:

A TINDER profile can have up to six pictures, so like a cryptologist looking for bomb coordinates, I use a discerning eye to weed out wierdos and reduce the likelihood of getting dick pick texts from random strangers.  They need to have more than one picture on their profile, otherwise, I keep swiping.  I like pictures that reveal a person sense of humor, interests, and hobbies.

I swipe NO for the following:

  • Selfie pics of them at the gym or at home with their shirt off. This guy is probably really into himself and most likely not looking for anything deeper than to be told how hot he is.  A six pack does not necessarily translate to good conversation or decent sex. NEXT!
  • Too many pictures of them with girls. This sends a confusing message.  Are you showing off what a player you are? Is that your sister, or your girlfriend? Are you in an open relationship? Did all those girls dump you? What is wrong with you?! NEXT!
  • Too many pictures of them with dudes.  This also sends a confusing message.  I don’t like the game of “spot the same guy in all the pictures” because it reminds me of an SAT question. Be realistic guys – IF you are the least attractive among your friends, don’t put pictures of yourself with your hot friends because in my giddy excitement, I might expect your hot friend to show up.  Don’t try to fool me! NEXT!
  • Pictures of children**I don’t want to complicate my life much more than it already is. I won’t swipe NO if there is a picture of a kid because it might be a niece or nephew and they are trying to show what lackadaisical fun they are.  However, I keep that picture BURNED into my memory and remember to ask! I don’t want the baby bomb shell dropped after several sexual encounters in which, one day, out of the blue, he kicks me out of the bed mid coitus because he just remembered he has custody of his 5 year old that day.  ALSO, children aren’t usually the problem, it’s potentially neurotic and insane ex-wives or girlfriends that are the problem. Children are the glue that bind those potentially hazardous women to a man…and therefore, like Velcro, to an unsuspecting woman.  I’m smart. I don’t wear Velcro.

STEP 4 – First Contact:

Once I’ve been matched, I make it a point to contact that individual.  You Tarzan, me Jane.  Let me now place you under a microscope via irreverent witty text banter.  This part is the prelude to an actual date and is very important.  I ask questions about one of their interests, figure out if they have a job, and try to gauge their sense of humor.  The point is to establish enough rapport to avoid a disastrous first date.  I’m a curious person and get very talkative on dates, so once I have enough fodder, I proceed to set a date.

STEP 5 – First Date:

The Swagger – I show up dressed a little nicer than I do at work.  Since I want to meet someone special who will understand me on intellectual and physical levels, I want my date to respect me, want to get to know me, and not just get inside of me.  My focus is on looking put-together, color coordinated, and NOT slutty.  Basically, I dress as if I was meeting his Grandma.  I avoid make-up and let my freckles and wrinkles shine through because it’s only downhill from there baby!  The problem with make-up is that should one engage in fun drunken sex, layers of the stuff will invariably migrate across your face like Pangea and leave one looking like a homicidal child eating clown from a Stephen King thriller.  Remember Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong…or something like that.

The Location – I like meeting at low key places that are inexpensive and boisterous enough to facilitate fun conversation and people watching opportunities.  Personally, I would never eat a salad on a date just to seem dainty. I eat with gusto, mostly because I’m usually starving, but also because they love seeing a girl show enthusiasm when she eats.

Payment – PIPE DOWN! I’m talking about payment for FOOD and not for sex, but I don’t judge.  I’ve been stupidly giving sex away for free all these years and totally understand why a woman would want to charge for it.  ANYWAY, I’m a proud person and don’t feel comfortable with anyone paying for my food, especially if I just met that person.  I throw my card down as soon as I can to prevent a skirmish over a check.  Ladies, here’s why I do this: By the end of the night I get to hear some horror stories about how shitty women are to them and I am compelled by guilt to prove to them otherwise.

My final advice for women

I would encourage women to be themselves.  Dress natural, act natural, and don’t be afraid to make a joke at their expense.  If you are looking for a potentially serious relationship, don’t start off by masquerading as someone you are not.  If you’re smart flaunt it! Don’t dumb yourself down because you should be with someone who will respect you as an equal partner.  Most of all, have fun and remember that if your experiences keep ending in a disaster, it’s totally within your realm to change the outcome by changing your approach.  Don’t be afraid to set high standards for yourself if you are looking for something more serious.

LADIES and GENTLEMEN! BE A GUEST BLOGGER AND SHARE YOUR BAD TINDER EXPERIENCE WITH THE WORLD. FEEL FREE TO E-MAIL ME AT lessonsinreality@gmail.com. TURN YOUR NEGATIVE EXPERIENCE INTO SOMETHING WE CAN ALL LAUGH AT.

I Loved an Alcoholic

So, I figured I would give you guys the rundown on what prompted this blog.  This posting won’t be funny, like you probably expected; then again, breaking up with your boyfriend because he’s an alcoholic who took you for granted for 3 ½ years, is no fun. Despite the timing, the break-up itself isn’t the reason for this blog, it’s the fact that now I find myself with free time because I only have to take care of myself and nobody else.  For those of you in similar situations, I hope this particular posting makes you feel understood.

From the beginning, my relationship with Nash was about trying to position a round peg into a square hole (no sexual pun intended).  We were polar opposites.  I was 27 and he was 23.  He struggled to finish high school; I was college educated.  He had a small and uncomplicated list of interests composed of surfing, skateboarding and watching TV.  Period.  My interests were in politics, art, history, medicine, music and languages.  We only had surfing in common and that was it.  Still, in my post-divorce frame of mind, I figured that simple was good because, at my age, smart guys were going places and I wasn’t much of a follower.  I had my own trail to bushwhack and I didn’t want to risk falling for someone who could muddle or confuse me with his own demanding, and ambitious, goals, which is what had happened in my marriage.  Nash and I didn’t talk much.  We cuddled a lot and had sex and that was good enough.  In the meantime I got my intellectual stimulation from books and friends.  In retrospect, I probably was gullible, but I truly believed his ostensibly uncomplicated demeanor would make having a relationship easier.  But it turns out I’m the type of person who can love a house plant if I give it a proper name and personify it.  I am that naïve.

What made me fall for Nash was that he was emotionally transparent and affectionate.  After he finally seduced me (took him a whole month) he told me plainly:  “I want you to be my woman.”  You see, I have relationship Asperger’s, a very accurate, albeit fictitious disorder, where I am blunt and unafraid to express my true feelings – be they platonic or otherwise.  I expect reciprocation of my penchant for direct communication because I am impatient and I don’t like assuming or guessing what the other person is thinking, which I find to be a general waste of time.  As long as we both lay our cards on the table in a reasonably civil manner, I feel, in my naiveté, that I can safely proceed according to the established rules we have both agreed upon.  Now, some men are understandably terrified of this intensity of honesty, which is ironic considering they all resoundingly agree — at some secret man convention, or wherever they commune and bang on drums — that women have trouble communicating their feelings.  But I find that when presented with honestly-expressed emotions, some men leave me watching a trail of dust and others are bewitched, as if struck dumb by a curare-tipped dart.  I don’t care for the wimps.  My motto is:  Take me as I am or fuck you.  Nash came across as someone who knew what he wanted and it seemed like a relationship founded on open communication might not be a problem for his philistine aesthetic.

Three months after we met, we moved together from Los Angeles to San Diego to surf better waves and to wrest our souls from the gridlocked traffic and barbarous commutes to our respective jobs.  I didn’t say I was a genius.  I am a right-brained gut-thinker.  My gut was satisfied with tacos that day and that was the day we decided to move, all right?!

Once I found a new job in San Diego, I retreated into my all-work, no-play bubble, but the red flags soon started popping up like prairie dogs in a drought.  It started out small.  I would wake up at 3 a.m. to the muffled hiss of a beer can being opened in the kitchen, or I would find beer cans in the bathtub.  Any time of day, there was always a cold beer in his hand.  Having taken a leisurely approach to finding work, Nash, being unemployed, had more time to watch TV and guzzle beer.  He paced himself for a while, but then he started binging, disappearing for entire nights and not answering my phone calls, only to materialize in the mornings drunk on his ass as I was heading off to work.  Soon, the physical toll of his drinking started manifesting itself.  Drinking to excess, he would black out and couldn’t recall conversations or events.  He was sickly all the time with bowel irritations and vomiting.  Then, he started asking for rent money, at which point I became so annoyed I started tracking his consumption.  He was averaging 15 beers a day; and, with the increased drinking, he became more irritable and moody.  On a nightly basis I came home to a pig-sty of a house, a refrigerator empty of food, and, eventually, inevitably, to an affectionless boyfriend because he had already passed out by 8:00 pm.

One of my biggest regrets was the complete loss of my sexual drive.  It’s hard to feel sexy and want to get naked with your live-in boyfriend when, 10 minutes prior to demanding sex, he calls me a cunt and describes my vagina as “nasty.”  Of course, I suppose to some men a vagina can look like a gaping sore if he’s in the throes of the blue Johnnies from over-imbibition.  I’ve also met men who covet vaginas, attending to them, and worshipping them, as if they were rare orchids.  Furthermore, as someone who considers men as potential progenitors of a new generation that I would mother, the idea of being impregnated with a sickly baby that might turn out to have macrocephaly or retardation was also doing a number on my already freighted psyche.  Ultimately, my biological need to be with a healthy mate suitable for reproductive purposes made Nash a poor genetic selection.  Not that I wanted a baby, but I’m programmed to look for a healthy mate who could keep up with my active lifestyle.

Why did I wait so long before leaving him?  Simple!  I thought I could change him, heal him, nurse him back to health, and one day he would appear, reborn, the young man I had fallen in love with.  Ah, the delusions of a woman!  Truth be told, his lifestyle wasn’t sustainable and I couldn’t fathom how he could rationally continue to live like a pustule.  It also irked me that I had invested so much in the relationship and had lowered my bar pitifully low for how I expected to be treated, that I felt that surely he would see the writing on the beer-stained walls and stop bumping his head on it!  I’m educated, I cook, and I take care of the people who matter to me, and yet I was in a constant state of incomprehension how callously I was being treated.  Surely he knew how special I was?  He eventually did … after I left.

Leaving wasn’t the hard part.  I came home after a particularly exhausting day to the usual — a house of slacked-jawed surfer dudes in a tribal-like semi-circle around a totemistic pyramid of beer cans.  I became “Argentinean bat shit angry,” as my friend characterizes it.  Picture me muttering obscenities under my breath while cleaning up beer cans.  It’s actually very dishearteningly un-Argentinean.  The contradictory voices that had kept me too confused to make a move sooner finally violently collided in agreement that it was time to move on.  I had a new job, new goals, and no time for drama.  A good friend offered me refuge, in exchange for taking care of her insane cat while she gallivanted around the country.  I left Nash and was out of the house within a week of the kind offer.

Our break up did both of us good.  Gone were the daily shouting matches — and that alone was a blessing!  The stressed induced psoriasis break-out that I developed on my tongue disappeared.  Without me to pay his rent and provide him with false encouragement, Nash drank more, smoked more, and consumed more cocaine than ever before, which was exactly what I feared he would do.  I tried to prepare myself for his imminent suicide, but, thankfully, two weeks later he checked himself into rehab.  He admitted to me afterward:  “Whenever you were upset, I would think if what I could say to get you to calm down knowing that I had no intention of following through on my promise.”  The entire time I thought I was helping him be more responsible by providing emotional support to help him treat his addiction, but the reality was I was preventing him from hitting rock-bottom and getting treatment sooner.  That is what an enabler unwittingly does.

I moved to my own place and enjoyed the opportunity for solitude and reflection.  My goal was to try to spend a year alone discovering myself … whatever that means.  Anyway, being alone became quickly boring.  I’m an introvert and I like my space, but I enjoy the open exchange of ideas with people.  I wanted to meet new people, explore new hobbies, and see if I could remove the cobwebs from my vagina and remind her that it’s not just there for peeing or bleeding. I promised myself to compromise no longer; my next relationship has to be intellectually stimulating, physically engaging, and imbued in honesty.

So, I joined Tinder.

Nice to Meet You!

My name is Sandra and I’m a 32 year old introverted female with textbook case ADD, a penchant for binge eating, and an appreciation of fine chocolates. I have an Urban Planning degree from UCLA and currently work as a Compliance Coordinator at a renewable energy company in San Diego. This blog is an attempt to track my personal growth as I grapple with adult ADD, depression, and a need to find meaningful direction in my life. Being responsible hasn’t gotten me very far; so, let’s see how far I get when I throw caution to the wind and do whatever the fuck I want to, like the 90 year old curmudgeonly lady that I am one day destined to be.

Warning: Your religious and prudish grandmother would not approve of this blog. There will be swearing, subject matter of a prurient nature, and plenty of griping about the elderly.  I don’t care for censorship, although I will change names to protect the pathetic.  In essence you will get a peek at a disturbed, opinionated, and slightly emotionally unhinged woman who attempts to employ humor and off-the wall commentary to deal with her Lessons in Reality. You can’t call 911 and sic the men in the white coats and tranquilizer guns on me because I will deny everything in this blog, change my picture to your picture, DOX you, and inform the authorities that YOU are catfishing ME.

About you

  • You’re the type of person who likes to look under bandages and pop infected boils. (You’re a little twisted.  I like that!)
  • You’re probably bored at your mind-numbing job and feel the need to connect with someone as equally, or more, fucked up than you are. (Let’s be best friends.)
  • You want to feel good about yourself, so you try to read about someone who has it worse than you. (Congratulations, bask in your schadenfreude!  Your life is awesome as far as you know.)