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‘I’m Sorry, I’m Busy’: A Chaotic Schedule and Added Stress of Those Who Don’t Understand

Published December 13, 2014 by harleyquinnly

I am not writing this blog to sound pretentious or as a ‘look at me! I’m so important because I’m so busy!’ I am writing it because I have been under an immense amount of stress from grad school requirements but additional stress has been added by ‘friends’ that do not understand the work it takes and why I am unavailable for long periods of time. I constantly tell them ‘thank you, but I have to work on my paper’ and send them pictures of the piles of papers/books taking over my house, and yet every time I have a due date, I am bombarded with guilt trip text messages (“you could make time if you wanted to”) or people that flat out refuse to speak to me. I am tired, and tired of it. So here is a look at my typical week’s schedule. This is why I am unavailable and why someday I’ll be called doctor.

(Side note: I am eternally grateful for the wonderful friends I have that understand my schedule, never complain at me, and appreciate when I am able to see them. Thank you.)

This is literally my home office. And I'm normally a super clean person.

This is literally my home office. And I’m normally a super clean person.

I will gladly acknowledge that it is not the easiest to be my friend. I have to check out for weeks at a time when due dates come up. I am not always available for a hangout. Sometimes I have to go months without seeing people. I could remember to check up on people more often. But I do not deserve the added stress just because I am an extremely busy person.

Just one pile of books.

Just one pile of books.

The Schedule

Weekdays: 

8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Work

Yes, I am a full time student and I have a full time job. I don’t choose to have this life, it was what I was dealt. I am financially unable to only attend school without working and I happen to like food and shelter. I am also unwilling to take out tens of thousands of dollars of student loans I will never be able pay off. There are next to no jobs for history Ph.D.s and those that do exist often do not pay enough to survive on, much less added loan payments. Excuse me for being financially responsible. (I am not throwing shade at those who have students. You do what you have to do. I’m meaning the unnecessary ones).

6 to 7:30 p.m.: Workout then Dinner

The commute home takes me an hour due to traffic, idiocy, and a lack of infrastructure for growing populations. I workout for half an hour (just because I’m busy doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be healthy). I make dinner quickly and watch whatever is on tv at the time, usually a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory.”

I love Sheldon. And feel like a villain the more I'm in school.

I love Sheldon. And feel like a villain the more I’m in school.

7:30 to ~11 p.m. Schoolwork

I spend every evening of every single workday working on schoolwork. This month I have large essays due that require a lot of incorporated reading. I literally do not leave my ‘command center’ I’ve set up on my kitchen table every. single. evening. Therefore, I do not have time to do anything else.

My "command center" on my kitchen table. I live here.

My “command center” on my kitchen table. I live here.

Me in my favorite recliner.

Me in my favorite recliner.

My One Free Day

I usually allow myself one evening a week for free time. Think about if you were working from 8 a.m. until ~10 p.m. without a break. What would you feel like doing on your rare break? Sometimes I get free movie tickets and go see a movie with a friend/date. Other times I just want to veg out on my couch with my non-judgmental friend, Netflix. I apologize for not instantly running to you for your social needs. Also, with only one night out a week, I can only see so many people in that limited amount of time.

Weekends

Hey, it’s the weekend so I have all this free time, right? Nope. Because I work during the weekday, weekends are the only time I get to get work done for long spans of time. When I have papers due, these are the days that I write them.

9 to 10 a.m. Breakfast and Wake Up Time

I usually let myself sleep in until 9 a.m. This is catch-up sleep for me. I get up, make my eggs and tea, and relax for an hour on my couch. I am human and need a little relax time interspersed.

10 to 10:30 a.m. Shower

After breakfast, I shower. Unless I have to see something or do something outside my house, I don’t do hair or makeup and stay in yoga pants.

10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. or sometimes until 4 a.m.

I work on schoolwork the entire day, taking about an hour for lunch and dinner. I sometimes stay up until 4 a.m. because I have a due date and it’s okay if I’m completely sleep-deprived at home rather than at work. These are full days working on schoolwork. I understand people don’t get that I have so much of a workload I have to work this long on weekend. I do.

My dinners usually look like this.

My dinners usually look like this.

So, in conclusion, I have taken time out of my study schedule to detail my schedule. Hopefully it inspires further understanding but I’ve done all I can do. This is my life, please understand or at least respect it.

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Common Cultural Mistakes While Traveling

Published March 4, 2013 by harleyquinnly

This may come as a suprise, but other countries have different customs than we do in the United States. Some of these may be older but many are common. For those of you traveling abroad for Spring Break this is just a quick reminder of cultural faux pas. Please help fight the somewhat accurate stereotype of the stupid American.

This post is mostly from an article in Time and some additions from myself on common mistakes made while traveling. While these specific examples are helpful the overall point is that cultures different from our own exist. This does not make ours better and theirs worse so we need to be respectful when we travel. In addition, do a little research on these customs before traveling to a different country. It’s not that difficult, doesn’t take up too much time, and will save you from looking like just another “stupid American.”

 “World’s Worst Cultural Mistakes,” Time http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/worlds-worst-cultural-mistakes (accessed December 28, 2012).

 1. Touching Someone

It’s offensive in: Korea, Thailand, China, Europe, the Middle East

 Personal space varies as you travel the globe. In Mediterranean countries, if you refrain from touching someone’s arm when talking to them or if you don’t greet them with kisses or a warm embrace, you’ll be considered cold. But backslap someone who isn’t a family member or a good friend in Korea, and you’ll make them uncomfortable. In Thailand, the head is considered sacred—never even pat a child on the head. This is why international media viewed the hug between Michelle Obama and the Queen of England as a huge deal.

 What you should do instead: Observe what locals are doing and follow suit. In Eastern countries remember that touching and public displays of affection are unacceptable. In places like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, men and women are forbidden from interacting, let alone touching.

 2. The Use of Right and Left Hands

It’s offensive in: India, Morocco, Africa, the Middle East

 Many cultures still prefer to eat using traditional methods—their hands. In these cases, food is often offered communally, which is why it’s important to wash your hands before eating and observe the right-hand-is-for-eating and the left-hand-is-for-other-duties rule. The Romans used their right hands for eating and greeting while the left was used for personal hygiene. If you eat with your left hand, expect your fellow diners to be mortified. And when partaking from a communal bowl, stick to a portion that’s closest to you. Do not get greedy and plunge your hand into the center.

 What you should do instead: Left-handed? Attempt to be ambidextrous—even children who are left-handed in these cultures are taught to eat with their right hand—or at least explain yourself to your fellow diners before plunging in.

 3. Keeping Your Clothes On

It’s offensive in: Scandinavian countries, Turkey

 Wearing bathing suits, shorts and T-shirts, underwear, or any other piece of clothing into a sauna, hammam, or other place of physical purification. In some cultures, a steam room or a sauna is considered a place of purity and reflection, where the outside world (i.e., your clothes) should be left outside. In some Scandinavian countries it’s common for entire families to sauna together in the nude. Remember these people have different cultural standards regarding nudity than Americans. They will not sit and giggle at everyone’s parts. It’s like an everyday occurrence to them and serves as no big deal.

 What you should do instead: Sitting on a folded towel is considered acceptable. If you’re too modest to appear naked, strip down, but wrap yourself in a towel.

 4. Not Getting Lei’d

It’s offensive in: Hawaii

 It’s offensive to refuse or immediately remove a lei. Leis in the Hawaiian Islands aren’t just pretty floral necklaces that you get when you check into your hotel or show up at a luau. They’re a centuries-old cultural symbol of welcome, friendship, and appreciation.

 What you should do instead: Never refuse a lei—it’s considered highly disrespectful—or whip it off in the giver’s presence. If you’re allergic to the flowers, explain so, but offer to put it in some place of honor, say in the center of the table, or on a statue. Note that closed leis should be worn not hanging from the neck, but over the shoulder, with half draped down your chest and the other half down your back.

 5. Looking Someone in the Eye…or Not

It’s offensive to look someone in the eye in: Korea, Japan

It’s offensive not to look someone in the eye in: Germany, U.S.

 For Americans, not making direct eye contact can be considered rude, indifferent, or weak, but be careful how long you hold someone’s gaze in other countries. In some Asian nations, prolonged eye contact will make a local uncomfortable, so don’t be offended if you’re negotiating a deal with someone who won’t look you straight in the eye. As a tourist in Japan, the locals get obviously very uncomfortable with eye contact and some feel insulted.

 If toasting with friends in a German beer hall, your eyes had better meet theirs—if they don’t, a German superstition says you’re both in for seven years of bad luck in the bedroom.

 What you should do instead: Avoid constant staring and follow the behavior of your host—and by all means, look those Germans straight on.

 6. Drinking Alcohol the Wrong Way

It’s offensive in: Latin America, France, Korea, Russia

 Every culture has different traditions when it comes to drinking etiquette. Fail to consume a vodka shot in one gulp in Russia, and your host will not be impressed. Refill your own wine glass in France without offering more to the rest of the table, and you’ve made a faux pas. In Korea, women can pour only men’s drinks—not other women’s—and if you want a refill, you need to drain your glass. And if you’re in Latin America, never pour with your left hand—that’s bad luck.

 What you should do instead: Until you’re culturally fluent, leave it to your pals to pour.

 7. Blowing Your Nose

It’s offensive in: Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, France

 Some cultures find it disgusting to blow your nose in public—especially at the table. The Japanese and Chinese are also repelled by the idea of a handkerchief. As Mark McCrum points out in his book Going Dutch in Beijing, the Japanese word hanakuso unpleasantly means nose waste.

 What you should do instead: If traveling through Eastern and Asian countries, leave the hankies at home and opt for disposable tissues instead. In France as well as in Eastern countries, if you’re dining and need to clear your nasal passages, excuse yourself and head to the restroom. Worst-case scenario: make an exaggerated effort to steer away from the table. Let’s hope you don’t have a cold.

 8. Not Removing Your Shoes

It’s offensive in: Hawaii, the South Pacific, Korea, China, and Thailand

 Take off your shoes when arriving at the door of a London dinner party and the hostess will find you uncivilized, but fail to remove your shoes before entering a home in Asia, Hawaii, or the Pacific Islands and you’ll be considered disrespectful. Not only does shoe removal very practically keeps sand and dirt out of the house, it’s a sign of leaving the outside world behind.

 What you should do instead: If you see a row of shoes at the door, start undoing your laces. If not, keep the shoes on.

 9. Talking Over Dinner

It’s offensive in: Africa, Japan, Thailand, China, and Finland (mostly amongst traditionalist people)

 In some countries, like China, Japan, and some African nations, the food’s the thing, so don’t start chatting about your day’s adventures while everyone else is digging into dinner. You’ll likely be met with silence—not because your group is unfriendly, but because mealtimes are for eating, not talking. Also avoid conversations in places a country might consider sacred or reflective—churches in Europe, temples in Thailand, and saunas in Finland.

 What you should do instead: Keep quiet! Or if you are talking, keep in mind that other cultures do not speak loudly, even outside. Always use your inside voice!

 10. Road Rage

It’s offensive in: Hawaii, Russia, France, Italy…and pretty much everywhere else. Just ask yourself: do you really want to go to a foreign prison?

 Honk on Molokai or fail to pay a police officer a fine, a.k.a. bribe, on the spot when you’re stopped for speeding in Russia, and you’ll risk everything from scorn to prison time. Remember, too, that hand gestures have different meanings in other countries—a simple “thumbs-up” is interpreted as an “up yours” in parts of the Middle East.

 What you should do Instead: when driving abroad, make sure you have an international driver’s license; never, ever practice road rage; and keep your hands on the wheel. And, in general, don’t be a douche.

 10. Signing Off with a Kiss

It’s offensive in: potentially anywhere

 The ease and brevity of global e-mail has allowed us to dispense with formalities that we might use over the phone or in person, but beware being overly familiar when e-mailing overseas, or using e-speak or emoticons that might not translate, like BTW, TTFN, LOL, or 😉 or ;-/ to indicate winking or confusion. E-mail sign-offs can also give pause. Americans and Brits send the merest acquaintances messages ending with xxoo, which an Arab recipient might find shocking and offensive. Similarly, don’t think the Chinese are summoning the devil when departing with “666” (that’s good luck), or that a French or Dubai pal has made a typo with “Cdlt” (a shortcut for cordialement) or “Aa” (slang for the Arab greeting Assalamu alaikum).

 What you should do instead: Stick to words, keep it short and courteous, and unless you know the recipient well, hold back on the kisses and hugs.

 11. Speaking Loudly

It’s offensive in: Europe and several other countries

 How can you easily tell and American from a European on a sidewalk or subway? If you can hear them from twenty feet away. In Europe, people conduct conversations not in whispers but quieter than our often boisterous language. A full subway car will have several people carrying various conversations but the overall noise level will never reach higher than a dull buzz. They consider the louder conversations rude and interrupting. Have you ever experienced someone speaking loudly on a cell phone in a store or elevator? That’s how they view our sound level of conversation.

 What you should do instead: Be aware of your speaking volume. Remember to always use your “inside voice” and never yell across a street or subway care. Observe the people around you.

 If you avoid these and other faux pas, you will not only have a greater interaction with the locals but they will also be more willing to give you directions, show you around, and talk more. How would you like it if a foreign visitor rudely came into our towns and expected us to follow their customs?

From Someone Who Likes Valentine’s Day

Published February 14, 2013 by harleyquinnly

Happy Valentine’s Day

I previously wrote a blog post on why we hate Valentine’s Day and immediately set down to write why I love Valentine’s Day. Then I discovered, ‘hey, I really don’t.’ The thing I enjoy most about Valentine’s Day really isn’t about the holiday, it’s just that the holiday gives me a chance to do those things. My favorite part is having a holiday with just the two of us, without having to go out and be with other people. We get uninterrupted “us” time on our short weekend getaway. That is my absolute favorite part. But honestly we should show love and affection without having to have a holiday to force us to do so.

However, I found a cheekily written article by someone who does like the holiday itself and thought I would share it for the sake of festivity.

Jennifer Wright, “Why I Love Valentine’s Day and Why You Should Too,” The Gloss, http://www.thegloss.com/2011/02/09/sex-and-dating/why-i-love-valentines-day-and-you-should-too/ (accessed January 31, 2013).

“I love Valentine’s day. And no, I’m not just saying that due to a healthy  dose of iconoclasm.

Okay. I am a little bit, because I think there are too many spray-tanned   girls running around shrieking giddily about how they hate V-Day, and how it’s  just awful, and I  was to be different like Daria  and Wednesday  Addams. But I am sincere  in my love for Valentine’s Day.

Why?

Why not? It’s fantastic. It’s a holiday. Holidays by their very nature  mean  parties and drinking and having an excuse to dress up in unusual  outfits. Who  hates holidays? You see people running around bitching  about how much they hate  St. Patrick’s Day? Really? Who? Leprechauns?

On a personal, stupid level, I love Valentine’s day because pink is my   favorite color. Look, if you ever ask me my favorite color, I will stare  at you  like you’re a moron and reply “puce.” Real talk: I’m going to  lie to your face.  That’s because I know after a certain age it’s  ridiculous to have a favorite  color, but secretly, I do, and it’s pink. I  like it because it’s a happy,  cheerful color that reminds me of cupcake  frosting, and Funny Face and  the “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”  number. However, because I want to be  taken seriously if I ever go into  meetings, I generally wear gray, black or  navy blue dresses. Valentine’s Day is an excuse to break out my little pink  Jackie Kennedy dress, and  that’s enough for me. If nothing else happened, I’d  like it just on the  merit of that. I think a lot of people have a heart  necklace, or a red skirt, or something else they don’t break out daily that’s  appropriate for the occasion, and I like that.

But maybe you don’t think pink. That’s fine. Your loss, loser.

You like parties?

Oh, good, because one of your friends is having one! I almost guarantee  you  they are. Oh, for heaven’s sake, go check Facebook. Yes, you’re  invited. Go  there, dance on a Monday, buy some champagne ostensibly “for  the party” and  drink half of it yourself. Will it be fun? Yes, it will  be! You’ve got half a  bottle of Bolly in your belly, and it’s fine,  because even though it’s a  Monday, it’s also Valentine’s Day! Now get up  there and sing all the words to “Tonight I’m Fuckin’ You”!

Wait, you say you’re a hermit? Hey, that’s cool. Me too. Valentine’s  Day was  made for hermits like us! Why? Because this is the day that  you’re most likely  to have a romance start without having to endure any  manner of social  awkwardness. Like, normal outside non-lepers, they go  out to “the clubs” and… I  honestly have no idea. They do things, and  then they are dating people.

But hermits like us? We really have to wait  until someone sends us a 50 page “sonnet” (words written in crayon, blood, none of them rhyming) that likens us  to a minor  battle in the Peloponesian War (THIS IS A LOVE TIP FOR MEN READING  THIS  ARTICLE) before we can realize that they’re interested in us. There is a  higher than average possibility of this happening on Valentine’s Day. I’m not  saying it’s necessarily going to happen, but the odds are way better than they  are on your run of the mill day.

It’s a day full of a lot of possibilities, that’s what I’m saying.

And yes, the possibilities extend as much to single people as they do to  people in relationships. I think one of the principal complaints leveled against  Valentine’s dayis that it’s a holiday to make single people feel bad. No. It’s  not. It’s a holiday to boost sales for greeting card companies and florists – just like every other holiday. And, like every other holiday, it pretty  much is what you make it.

You’re worried that you’ll feel like a loser because no one gets you a card  or flowers? Jesus, God, do you have any idea how many people love you? If you  want some drugstore candy, just talk to your friends/family/fellow lepers  beforehand. Say you sort of want to celebrate. Or just slip them a note saying “you’re my Valentine now, bitch. Gird your loins. I’m buying you something  meaningless or edible.” Either way.

I have a pact with one of my friends that, regardless of whether we have  boyfriends/girlfriends, we are always each other’s Valentine. So we do something  to commemorate the day. Sometimes he gets me flowers, sometimes I rip off a  Barbie Doll’s head, hide her body in his apartment weeks beforehand with a heart  shaped piece of cardboard on which I’ve scrawled “You Make Me Lose My Head Like  Anne Boleyn.” Obviously, there are different ways to say “I Love You.” If you  have romantic love that is fantastic. That’s seriously great.  But romantic love  is just one piece of the love pie, not the crust,  filling and whipped cream on  top. There’s nothing wrong with a holiday that reminds us to say “I Love You” to  people we, you know, love. And it’s better when it’s an excuse for you to buy  them an ice cream cake which you will “share” with them.

Ultimately, Valentine’s Day is just another holiday. It’s supposed to be fun.  Figure out what will make it fun for you, and then do that. I can’t say what  that is, but I’m guessing ice cream cake and champagne is a good start.”

So to all, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Common Myths about Adult ADHD

Published January 30, 2013 by harleyquinnly

Image

I have noticed several articles lately that have painted those with ADHD in a poor light and furthered false stereotypes. Contrary to these articles, all of us are not running around stealing everything we can get our hands on and spending the majority of our lives unemployed or in prison. Also, the disorder affects people differently. There are two types of adult ADHD: hyperactive where the person is more physically impulsive and inattentive: where we just can’t pay attention and the disorder is more about internalized chaos.

 In this post I simply hope to raise awareness, foster understanding, and counter the recent articles that imply we are all hopeless and will always be a menace to society. The following myths are ones I’ve encountered, heard in conversations, and read in articles. I have cited the sources and recent myth-busting articles after the text.

 Myths

 -ADHD is not a real disorder

I’d really like to smack someone every time someone says this-I hear it often in my presence as I don’t have a neon blinking light on my forehead that I suffer from it. Several medical studies consider it a biological disorder, meaning that it’s connected to genes often passed through offspring. Recent studies have shown that kids with ADHD have genes that their more attentive counterparts don’t have (see Note 1). ADHD has been recognized as a legitimate diagnosis by major medical, psychological, and educational organizations, including the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Education. The American Psychiatric Society recognizes ADHD as a medical disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – the official mental health “bible” used by psychologists and psychiatrists. You could read these articles, or you could just observe me or anyone else suffering try to work a desk job without any medication.

 -ADHD only occurs in children    

ADHD does not magically disappear once you turn eighteen. Several American health insurance companies seem to think so in their coverage of treatment for children and cutoff of treatment once that person has turned eighteen. The symptoms do appear differently in adulthood, such as less hyperactivity and more inattention. In a way, ADHD can be more debilitation for adults because children are expected to have shorter attention spans and be hyper while adults are expected to deal calmly with all the still, boring, and minute details of life. For adults, sitting down to do bills (as an example) is fine for a short amount of time but once that person has reached their limit they get an insatiable mental itch to get up, do something else, be more active. Or perhaps that person has already been distracted by absolutely anything and has now forgotten what they originally sat down to do.

 -All adults with ADHD are hyperactive and bouncing off the walls

I personally do not always have the urge to randomly start running a marathon (although sometimes I do). I once described it to my boyfriend: I drew up a picture from several cartoons that show miniature versions of that person inside their brain running its operation-I said that sometimes having ADHD is like having all those little people running around with their heads on fire. While hyperactivity is and can be part of it, the less visible and more common component is inattentive. In the inattentive type, the person is more likely to struggle with distractions, forgetfulness, poor time management, disorganization, etc. For example, we are notorious for losing our car keys, even if we just had our hands on them and/or they are in our pockets.

spongebob-brain-fire

 -People on stimulant medications are addicts

Ok, first of all I want to say that yes some medications are overprescribed. However, this does not mean that absolutely every single person taking them does not need them and only does so under the advice of drug-happy doctors or because of an addiction. This medication does help people that need it. As someone who needs the medication, I greatly envy those who can make it through a day without it. For myself and many others, getting through a single day is a panic-inducing struggle without help. It is true that if quitting a medication, such as Adderall, the person must step down slowly so not to experience withdrawals, but that is more from chemical issues rather than personal ones. Some do get addicted to these medications, but those are more often illegal users and not what this article is focused on.

 -People with ADHD are drug or alcohol abusers

I have read/heard a couple of times that people with ADHD are more likely to be addicts because they take medication. Actually people who are not medicated or do not receive help with the disorder are the ones more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs (see Note 2).

 -“Everyone” has ADHD these days

Yes technology and our fast-paced lives have decreased our society’s attention span but that does not mean that absolutely every single person has ADHD. Those with the actual disorder have it much worse than being distracted by Facebook or a text message and suffer in their everyday lives. Everyone has problems focusing at some point or other but those with the disorder have it every day. For example, if you’ve ever been sad for a short amount of time that does not mean that you have clinical depression.

 -People with ADHD don’t want to focus and are lazy and/or stupid

I would loooove to be able to sit still, not take medication, not forget things, etc. It’s not that we don’t want to focus, it’s that we can’t. We simply do not have the ability. Some people have said that those with ADHD just need to try harder: would you tell someone with poor eyesight to just see better?

People with ADHD are of above-average intelligence, recent studies show. They certainly aren’t lazy. In fact, many well-known, high-achieving individuals from the past are thought to have had ADHD, including Mozart, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, George Bernard Shaw, and Salvador Dali. The list of high-achieving ADDers in business today includes top executives, such as David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airways, and Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s. People with ADHD tend to be higher in intelligence than a lot of the average public. ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence. It is a disorder of regulating attention, and affects how well you can sit there and get stuff done.

 -ADHD isn’t a big deal

People with ADHD struggle in all areas in their lives: professionally, personally, and everything in between. ADHD is also very tough on relationships because of inattention during communication, irritability from having to sit still, frustration with conditions, miscommunication, and/or a lack of experience with or understanding of the disorder.

I’m sure I’m missing some myths-feel free to include them in the comments. Have you had a hard time dispelling these myths? Have you never heard of these?

 Notes and Further Reading

1. A study published in Molecular Psychiatry in 2009 identifying specific ADHD genes: http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v14/n5/abs/4002139a.html.

2. A study on substance abuse amongst those with ADHD: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18316421.

3. Margarita Tartakovsy, “Nine Myths, Misconceptions, and Stereotypes about ADHD,” Psych Central, http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/06/24/9-myths-misconceptions-and-stereotypes-about-adhd/ (accessed January 30, 2013).

4. “Seven Myths about ADHD Debunked!” ADDitude, http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/873.html (accessed January 30, 2013).

What It’s Like to Be Me…a Ph.D. college student with three jobs…and more

Published January 22, 2013 by harleyquinnly

Contrary to what the title may suggest, I am not writing this to complain about my lot in life. I am simply venting in an attempt to create an understanding of why my life (and potentially that of others) is the way it is.

This post has been a long time coming. Since beginning college at age 17/18, I have lost many friends and had several conversations/arguments of why I’m never around, always busy, or too tired to live a life similar to that of my peers. I have been accused of avoiding people, not truly living my life, giving up my young age, etc. Recently, out of frustration I told someone to please attempt to imagine what it is like to be me. He replied, “Does anyone know what it’s like to be you?” Good point, maybe this will help.

When I, often regrettably, tell someone I can’t go out because I’m tired or have homework it is because I am tired and have homework. Any single mother, serious college student, workaholic, etc. has been/is there. For example, I attend a university as a full time student to earn my Ph.D. degree. I concurrently work a forty-hour-a-week day job and teach two courses at a nearby community college. I also sell books online. Lastly, I am researching and saving maniacally to buy my first house this summer. This doesn’t leave a lot of time (or money) for going to movies, clubbing, or that elusive free time everyone keeps talking about. At the same time I am suffering from a couple of chronic illnesses and fighting a potentially life-threatening situation. Don’t you think all of these things are constantly in the back of my mind? This hinders me from being your beck-and-call girl.

Oh and I choose to be here? As in you’re insinuating my crazy schedule is completely my fault? Well yes, it totally is but excuse me for pushing myself to fulfill my ambition and dreams. How hard are you willing to work for a dream? Am I to be punished for success? (That happens but that will be another blog post later).

Despite my complaints, I do have a few very wonderful people that understand when I have to disappear at the end of each semester. They patiently wait for me to clear my schedule and resist the resentment resulting from believing I don’t want to see them. I love you guys, you rock.

So if you have someone that has been a ghost in your life lately, maybe they are actually busy or have something going on you don’t know about or don’t understand. Talk to them. Please, at least try to understand. How would you feel if you were going through that? It sounds elementary but it is amazing how many people lack empathy. Don’t immediately become offended and defensive because you feel you are no longer that person’s patron saint. Be supportive and they will definitely notice and love you for it.

The End of Courtship?

Published January 16, 2013 by harleyquinnly

A while ago I wrote an article regarding peacocking and the end of romance. This much more seriously written article is from the New York Times describing “hook-up culture.” In thinking about this, it makes me sad. Instead of actual dating we just hang out and have sex. Oh how romantic. It definitely isn’t the plot of a favorite romance movie. Then I started thinking about my own life, which is never a good thing and often depressing. I realized after reading this article I have not gone on a first date since I was fifteen years old. Granted I haven’t dated a lot of different people but since that first date when I was fifteen it’s all been group hangouts. Facepalm.

So guys, if you are interested in someone and get the Herculean courage to ask someone out…TAKE THEM ON A DATE! Not to a bar with your friends, not to your frat-boy apartment to watch a movie, etc. Please take him/her to dinner, movie, activity, whatever but a date with just you and him/her. And ladies, we need to stop agreeing to these things. Now I like doing the non-date things after date(s) have happened, but not for the initial getting-to-know-each-other phase.

Now think about it, when is the last time you’ve gone on a real date?

Denise Hewitt, “The End of Courtship?” The New York Times, January 11, 2013, http://shine.yahoo.com/work-money/single-america-thatll-cost-190100225.html (accessed January 16, 2013).

MAYBE it was because they had met on OkCupid. But when the dark-eyed musician with artfully disheveled hair asked Shani Silver, a social media and blog manager in Philadelphia, out on a “date” Friday night, she was expecting at least a drink, one on one.

“At 10 p.m., I hadn’t heard from him,” said Ms. Silver, 30, who wore her favorite skinny black jeans. Finally, at 10:30, he sent a text message. “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?” he wrote, before adding, “I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.”

Turned off, she fired back a text message, politely declining. But in retrospect, she might have adjusted her expectations. “The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary,” Ms. Silver said. “Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret.”

“It’s one step below a date, and one step above a high-five,” she added. Dinner at a romantic new bistro? Forget it. Women in their 20s these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along. Raised in the age of so-called “hookup culture,” millennials — who are reaching an age where they are starting to think about settling down — are subverting the rules of courtship.

Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other “non-dates” that are leaving a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.

“The new date is ‘hanging out,’ ” said Denise Hewett, 24, an associate television producer in Manhattan, who is currently developing a show about this frustrating new romantic landscape. As one male friend recently told her: “I don’t like to take girls out. I like to have them join in on what I’m doing — going to an event, a concert.”

For evidence, look no further than “Girls,” HBO’s cultural weather vane for urban 20-somethings, where none of the main characters paired off in a manner that might count as courtship even a decade ago. In Sunday’s opener for Season 2, Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver), who last season forged a relationship by texting each other nude photos, are shown lying in bed, debating whether being each other’s “main hang” constitutes actual dating.

The actors in the show seem to fare no better in real life, judging by a monologue by Zosia Mamet (who plays Shoshanna, the show’s token virgin, since deflowered) at a benefit last fall at Joe’s Pub in the East Village. Bemoaning an anything-goes dating culture, Ms. Mamet, 24, recalled an encounter with a boyfriend whose idea of a date was lounging in a hotel room while he “Lewis and Clarked” her body, then tried to stick her father, the playwright David Mamet, with the bill, according to a Huffington Post report.

Blame the much-documented rise of the “hookup culture” among young people, characterized by spontaneous, commitment-free (and often, alcohol-fueled) romantic flings. Many students today have never been on a traditional date, said Donna Freitas, who has taught religion and gender studies at Boston University and Hofstra and is the author of the forthcoming book, “The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy.”

Hookups may be fine for college students, but what about after, when they start to build an adult life? The problem is that “young people today don’t know how to get out of hookup culture,” Ms. Freitas said. In interviews with students, many graduating seniors did not know the first thing about the basic mechanics of a traditional date. “They’re wondering, ‘If you like someone, how would you walk up to them? What would you say? What words would you use?’ ” Ms. Freitas said.

That may explain why “dates” among 20-somethings resemble college hookups, only without the dorms. Lindsay, a 25-year-old online marketing manager in Manhattan, recalled a recent non-date that had all the elegance of a keg stand (her last name is not used here to avoid professional embarrassment).

After an evening when she exchanged flirtatious glances with a bouncer at a Williamsburg nightclub, the bouncer invited her and her friends back to his apartment for whiskey and boxed macaroni and cheese. When she agreed, he gamely hoisted her over his shoulders, and, she recalled, “carried me home, my girlfriends and his bros in tow, where we danced around a tiny apartment to some MGMT and Ratatat remixes.”

She spent the night at the apartment, which kicked off a cycle of weekly hookups, invariably preceded by a Thursday night text message from him saying, ‘hey babe, what are you up to this weekend?” (It petered out after four months.)

Relationship experts point to technology as another factor in the upending of dating culture.

Traditional courtship — picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date — required courage, strategic planning and a considerable investment of ego (by telephone, rejection stings). Not so with texting, e-mail, Twitter or other forms of “asynchronous communication,” as techies call it. In the context of dating, it removes much of the need for charm; it’s more like dropping a line in the water and hoping for a nibble.

“I’ve seen men put more effort into finding a movie to watch on Netflix Instant than composing a coherent message to ask a woman out,” said Anna Goldfarb, 34, an author and blogger in Moorestown, N.J. A typical, annoying query is the last-minute: “Is anything fun going on tonight?” More annoying still are the men who simply ping, “Hey” or “ ’sup.”

“What does he think I’m doing?” she said. “I’m going to my friend’s house to drink cheap white wine and watch episodes of ‘Dance Moms’ on demand.”

Online dating services, which have gained mainstream acceptance, reinforce the hyper-casual approach by greatly expanding the number of potential dates. Faced with a never-ending stream of singles to choose from, many feel a sense of “FOMO” (fear of missing out), so they opt for a speed-dating approach — cycle through lots of suitors quickly.

That also means that suitors need to keep dates cheap and casual. A fancy dinner? You’re lucky to get a drink.

“It’s like online job applications, you can target many people simultaneously — it’s like darts on a dart board, eventually one will stick,” said Joshua Sky, 26, a branding coordinator in Manhattan, describing the attitudes of many singles in their 20s. The mass-mailer approach necessitates “cost-cutting, going to bars, meeting for coffee the first time,” he added, “because you only want to invest in a mate you’re going to get more out of.”

If online dating sites have accelerated that trend, they are also taking advantage of it. New services like Grouper aren’t so much about matchmaking as they are about group dates, bringing together two sets of friends for informal drinks.

The Gaggle, a dating commentary and advice site, helps young women navigate what its founders call the “post-dating” landscape, by championing “non-dates,” including the “group non-date” and the “networking non-date.” The site’s founders, Jessica Massa and Rebecca Wiegand, say that in  a world where “courtship” is quickly being redefined, women must recognize a flirtatious exchange of tweets, or a lingering glance at a company softball game, as legitimate opportunities for romance, too.

“Once women begin recognizing these more ambiguous settings as opportunities for romantic possibility,” Ms. Massa said, “they really start seeing their love lives as much more intriguing and vibrant than they did when they were only judging themselves by how many ‘dates’ they had lined up.”

THERE’S another reason Web-enabled singles are rendering traditional dates obsolete. If the purpose of the first date was to learn about someone’s background, education, politics and cultural tastes, Google and Facebook have taken care of that.

“We’re all Ph.D.’s in Internet stalking these days,” said Andrea Lavinthal, an author of the 2005 book “The Hookup Handbook.” “Online research makes the first date feel unnecessary, because it creates a false sense of intimacy. You think you know all the important stuff, when in reality, all you know is that they watch ‘Homeland.’ ”

Dodgy economic prospects facing millennials also help torpedo the old, formal dating rituals. Faced with a lingering recession, a stagnant job market, and mountains of student debt, many young people — particularly victims of the “mancession” — simply cannot afford to invest a fancy dinner or show in someone they may or may not click with.

Further complicating matters is the changing economic power dynamic between the genders, as reflected by a number of studies in recent years, said Hanna Rosin, author of the recent book “The End of Men.”

A much-publicized study by Reach Advisors, a Boston-based market research group, found that the median income for young, single, childless women is higher than it is for men in many of the country’s biggest cities (though men still dominate the highest-income jobs, according to James Chung, the company’s president).  This may be one reason it is not uncommon to walk into the hottest new West Village bistro on a Saturday night and find five smartly dressed young women dining together — the nearest man the waiter. Income equality, or superiority, for women muddles the old, male-dominated dating structure.

“Maybe there’s still a sense of a man taking care of a woman, but our ideology is aligning with the reality of our finances,” Ms. Rosin said. As a man, you might “convince yourself that dating is passé, a relic of a paternalistic era, because you can’t afford to take a woman to a restaurant.”

Many young men these days have no experience in formal dating and feel the need to be faintly ironic about the process — “to ‘date’ in quotation marks” — because they are “worried that they might offend women by dating in an old-fashioned way,” Ms. Rosin said.

“It’s hard to read a woman exactly right these days,” she added. “You don’t know whether, say, choosing the wine without asking her opinion will meet her yearnings for old-fashioned romance or strike her as boorish and macho.”

Indeed, being too formal too early can send a message that a man is ready to get serious, which few men in their 20s are ready to do, said Lex Edness, a television writer in Los Angeles.

“A lot of men in their 20s are reluctant to take the girl to the French restaurant, or buy them jewelry, because those steps tend to lead to ‘eventually, we’re going to get married,’ ” Mr. Edness, 27, said. In a tight economy, where everyone is grinding away to build a career, most men cannot fathom supporting a family until at least 30 or 35, he said.

“So it’s a lot easier to meet people on an even playing field, in casual dating,” he said. “The stakes are lower.”

Even in an era of ingrained ambivalence about gender roles, however, some women keep the old dating traditions alive by refusing to accept anything less.

Cheryl Yeoh, a tech entrepreneur in San Francisco, said that she has been on many formal dates of late — plays, fancy restaurants. One suitor even presented her with red roses. For her, the old traditions are alive simply because she refuses to put up with anything less. She generally refuses to go on any date that is not set up a week in advance, involving a degree of forethought.

“If he really wants you,” Ms. Yeoh, 29, said, “he has to put in some effort.”

Getting Over a Breakup…or Anything

Published November 12, 2012 by harleyquinnly

As the third anniversary of the stupidest decision I’ve ever made is coming up, I’ve wondered if there are stages of working through the grief. And how do you know when you’re done with it? Every time I’ve gone through a rough patch, I’ve been able to trace defined steps of grief: shock, manic action, depression, acceptance, and realization. The one time I truly believed the world was falling down, I oddly didn’t have any of these normal steps. It was overwhelming shock, emotional and physical pain, and then nothingness. I shut down completely and went emotionally numb. I had no idea of what a normal way to cope was. Now a lot of people may be thinking, ‘Jeez, it’s been three years, get over it already.’ I’m over “it” and what happened, but not quite the trust that I have the ability to survive anything like that again or cope like a normal person. Sometimes I wonder, what’s going to put me back in that mental/emotional place I don’t ever want to go again? I found this article that sums it up, the healthy ways to cope. It’s specifically for breakups, but I think it could apply to other grieving times as well.

Mark Banschick, MD: Getting Over Him In Six Steps
By Mark Banschick, MD
Posted: Nov 8, 2012, 3:00:57 AM
Huffington Post

You’ve been dumped. It feels like hell, and you don’t know what to do. What will it take to get over a nasty affair, or worse, an unexpected divorce? And will you or your kids make it?

The key is to your recovery is to take back control and own your life. Acceptance is mandatory. As hard as it sounds, there’s no moving forward as long as you’re mired in regret, anger or fear. This is not to say that you don’t have to protect yourself, and sometimes, your children. He may be manipulative. She may be dangerous. Acceptance does not mean passivity, it means living in the present, the future and not in the pain of the past.

Here are six steps to feeling yourself again:

Mourn: You sacrificed a lot for your marriage and it didn’t work out. Feeling hurt, anger, remorse, guilt, or shame is normal. You will have to go through the steps of grief one by one: denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance. Get a good therapist and grieve properly. You may still be angry with your narcissistic ex wife or your adulterous husband, and that is a part of the healing process. If, however, you get stuck in one of the phases of grief like anger or depression, make sure that you’re in good hands.

Admit: Admit that you cannot control everything. It is hardly productive to focus on the “what ifs” of the past. Admit that breaking up cost you something — be it emotionally, financially, or both. Bad things do happen to good people.

Trust: Have faith that you won’t feel like this forever. Healing is what your body and soul really wants. And healing is what your children want. Perhaps this is an opportunity for spirituality. Many people are comforted by the sense of being held by a God who cares. If you’re not inclined toward religion, perhaps get in touch with the grandness of the world. See your story as the part of a complete human experience. Meditate and observe. It can liberate.

Forgive: Forgive yourself, forgive the universe, and if possible, forgive your ex. Understand that everyone carries their own injuries, and that he or she may be fighting his or her own demons.

Make Centered Decisions: To forgive is not to forget. Become more aware so that you can move forward. If this means self-protection, then self-protect. If it means allowing your kids to see an ex you hate, but who is a loving parent, allow it to happen. Wounds of the past should not prevent you from making sound decisions. Plus, taking care of business properly feels good.

Accept: You are now in a place where you can understand what happened to you more clearly. Maybe your narcissistic husband or boyfriend did not truly love you. Acceptance is necessary, and at some point, you need not fight the past. It means seeing things clearly.
In the aftermath of a divorce, your emotions may seem overwhelming. I urge you to experience them all, from the outrage to the hurt to the self doubt and the fear of what comes next. Grief work is required, and it’s a necessary component of healing.

Grief is the spiritual equivalent to the body slowly healing a bad wound. It gets triggered time after time, overwhelming when least expected. But it gets worked through and the wound ultimately heals.

Life is not fair.

Loss hurts. If he left you, then you are holding a bag of resentment and hurt. If you left him, you’ve been grieving the loss of your marriage for some time. It’s a big loss. We all want to rage at the world, or crawl into a depressed spot when we feel the injustice and randomness of our pain.
Acceptance heals. Real acceptance is a gift — for you and for everyone else in the world. If you try and shortcut your healing, you will not get there. Losing a relationship is a loss and grieving is required. Just know that there is hope, a brighter tomorrow and that true acceptance can help you and your children get there.

Acceptance is an evolutionary good because acceptance doesn’t mean passivity. It means freedom.

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