So. What’s. Happening.

Hello blogosphere.

I have been neglectful.  I’m so textbook ADD it’s boring.  With my blog here, I met with some success—readers, commenters, followers—and then dropped out.  My former therapist might have said that I am afraid of success, but I think it is the typical ebb and flow of ADD interest instead.

Here’s what happens from my side.  I start out on something (my blog, in this case), and I don’t have high expectations for it.  It is fresh and new and fun.  Then I get some positive feedback and suddenly the floodgates are open.  In a prose or fiction project, I usually can get 30,000 or 40,000 words.  Then I stall out.

Stalling happens when ambition strikes.  For the blog, I suddenly have readers who are interested.  Then I start to think book, best seller, interviewed by Oprah.  I even have fantasies about what I might say in an interview It all started with a little blog and a few readers, I would say, stroking my beard profoundly.  I don’t have a beard, but it would be part of my genius author makeover.  I would be rich and famous, pay off all my student loans, and Ralph Fiennes will play me in the movie version.  I’ll give self-deprecating readings to packed audiences like David Sedaris.

That mess gets so big, I put off doing any new writing for a few days.  Then, I feel as if I have to explain my absence in some way, which makes me put it off even more.  Suddenly, a new idea comes along and I’m off in a new (or back to an old) hobby.

My hobby with renewed interest is music.  I have a long history as an amateur musician starting with piano lessons at age 7.  My music background includes a stint as a keyboardist in a prog-rock cover band in the early 90’s (Any escape might help to smooth the unattractive truth/ that the suburbs have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth) and a job as head rock-and-roll guy at a performing arts summer camp.  Most recently, I learned my guitar chops playing in a basement for several years with a band of similarly off-balance personalities, including a recovered drug addict, an agoraphobic, and a male-to-female transgender,  all of whom held respectable jobs as teachers.

Half the band moved away, and the house with the basement in it had to be sold, and the remaining band member got carpal-tunnel syndrome and sold all the equipment, so I had gone back to plinking alone in my basement.  I had gotten to the point of not even touching a guitar in six months.

Well, the university got me a new MacBook and it had GarageBand on it, and lo and behold I was hooked on music again.  My music partner got her wrists back in shape and is playing and recording again, and lookout, I’m back in music again.  At the expense of writing.

(If you will indulge me, here’s a song I’m working on: Somber Song)

But even the music is not entirely fulfilling. I get the nagging feeling I’m wasting my time, I’m getting distracted, this is a foolish endeavor that I’m spending too much time and money on (just ordered parts to completely rewire my main guitar).

What I find hard in any endeavor is to find the middle ground.  Creativity and ambition fight each other.  If I can be good I can be great, the thinking goes, and that thought changes to I must be great and then I’m not great, so I’m not even very good and then hey, look, there’s my fancy camera that I haven’t touched in six months; where are my photography books?  When the going gets tough, I go on to something else.

Put another way, the small successes and the fantasy of the big success are far more stimulating than the hard work of following through to the end of meeting ambition’s goal.  Setbacks and boredom aren’t part of the big success fantasy, so it must be the wrong fantasy.  I’m on to a new fantasy (such as my music partner and I playing on SNL).

So today’s Sunday, and it’s a very special Sunday, because it’s the end of my spring break from the university.  Had a whole week with no classes or meetings, with the kids in school.  I had such grand plans . . .

The GarageBand application icon.

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Back in Black!

It’s been a month since my last post.  It’s been a month since my last post?? Shite.

What happened?  The Christmas season happened, I tell you.  And my regular mistake: I got my hopes up.

After a good Thanksgiving, with my friend Ritalin, I expected a great holiday season.  You see, this time of year is the longest of my semester breaks: three weeks.  Due to my spectacularly bad financial planning, I always have to teach in the summer, so I don’t get summers off like people think when they hear I am a professor.  I get a week between semesters from Spring to Summer and Summer to Fall, but spend that time working on the next semester’s stuff.

But Christmas break, I get three weeks!  Imagine all the things I would accomplish in three weeks!  Think of the writing I would get done!  I can begin the semester fully prepared this year!

None of that happened.  I did not write a word, other than to answer a few emails.  No poetry, no fiction, no scholarly work, no blogging.

I spent the first week recovering from finishing the semester.  Grades were not a hair-tearing-out affair, again thanks to the pharma, but they were stressful enough and I had to work hard on Sunday and Monday to finish them.

I went to the doctor that Monday to talk about a new formulation of Ritalin.  Unfortunately my blood pressure was slightly elevated, so he recommended I get it checked again and I’ve been fretting about that ever since.  I did start on Concerta, which does not have the up and down effect of Ritalin, but the up is not so high, plus I’m on a slightly lower dose (37 mg instead of 40).

Then, the rest of the week was spent preparing for Christmas and all the inlaws coming.  I had the symptom of irritability that week, but I usually do at Christmas.  During the holiday, the structure of the day is shot, and everyone has enormously high expectations, and any sort of self control about food goes out the window.  Pie with a bon-bon chaser?  Sure, only if I can have a double dark chocolate frappucino with.

Here’s the recipe: start with extra sugar/carbs/caffiene/alchohol.  Add to that financial pressure. Add to that big family meals.  Add to that boxes and bags and piles of new things to deal with. Add to that the burden of all the things of which I said I’m gonna do during my break because I don’t have time the rest of the year.

Basically, vacation was a big funk for me.  I do not learn.  I set expectations extra high for myself because of the new chemical me but felt the old sloth come back.  Meaning it was hard to get enough energy to take a shower some days. Meaning arguments and hurt feelings, and feeling uncomfortable in my own house.

Week 1 was getting ready for Christmas.  Week 2 was playing with all the Christmas toys (I’m on a new MacBook Pro, courtesy the University, which happened to arrive the last week of the semester).  Week 3 was spent saying, I gotta get started on work: I teach again starting a week from today, starting six days, three days, TOMORROW!!

This past Sunday was spent organizing syllabi and web sites needed for Monday that could have been done weeks earlier.  The entire off time was spent not doing the bills, or writing what I wanted to write.

I did accomplish a few things:

I read a couple books, nothing unusual for me, and while doing so thought about the fantastic book I will write some day.

I taught myself to use GarageBand and arranged/recorded a couple songs.

I ripped my entire CD collection to iTunes (about 220 CDs).

I kept at my work sorting through things in the basement and throwing stuff away.  I’ve probably thrown out 30 contractor bags worth of stuff since November.

I went through all of my boxes of “things I gotta file” and filed them.

I set up the kids’ new Wii and LeapPad.

None of these things seem monumental or terribly satisfying.

Once I got rolling this week, though, it felt good to get started.  I am still fighting resistance, still having put of things that I was putting off in December, but gaining forward momentum.  The most satisfying thing is to get the laptop keys clicking away under my fingers again, to see words forming in lines on the screen again.

English: ANGUS YOUNG Angus Young live with AC/...

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