I had a great idea for a subtitle for my blog, which I hope never to use: 'Boomerific...Waiting and Dissertating.' Really, if I have to wait until I'm dissertating for Boomer to come, I will just perish. But I'm feeling hopeful. There's been a lot of non-bloggable adoption madness lately, very stressful, very confusing, which Dawn
, and Shannon
have been coaching me through. Have I mentioned how cool this little adoption blogging community is? It's like just happening to stumble upon a support group, but one that is super cool. And you don't have to wear nametags and drink bad coffee. I spoke to Dawn on the phone yesterday--neat to put a voice to a blog personality--and she is WAY cool.
Speaking of non-bloggable subjects, I am with this post about to cross a line I had previously drawn for myself. Recently there's been a bit of a hubbub at the Chronicle
about grad students blogging, something about blogging being public writing and worrying about the same things you would when submitting articles. Someone even mentioned that you should not post pictures of pets. Well, I am still blogging after reading said articles and frankly, I don't give them a lot of weight. First, this is not an academic blog. I talk about social issues from time to time, but the forum is explicitly not a professional one. The other blog, which I never update, is specifically designed for that purpose. This one is about adoption and the daily goings-on of a person who just happens to be in grad school and will someday want a job. I doubt anyone looking to hire me is going to look at this blog as anything more than mildly amusing, if that. What I write here has nothing to do with my professional qualifications, unless an employer is going to use illegal or unfair criteria for hiring.
So. That being said, there are still things I won't write about. I assume that everyone--family, friends, colleagues, and many more unknowns--reads my blog. I assume this because I've removed things in the past after discovering that people I never thought read the blog had stumbled across it (it wasn't mean, just stuff that was kind of private). I know that not everyone deletes cookies in the grad lab so I can assume a fair number of my colleagues read me. And really, I can't say I hold my professors in such high regard that I believe they would never google me just for fun. This age of blogs and technology is kind of new that way--it's hard not to be found, and harder still to control the parts of your life you want to keep separate. I'm rather resigned to that. So there are some subjects that I keep mum about, mostly so that I don't make public something that is private to someone else. I am fairly open about myself, but a person should have the right to determine what their own level of openness is going to be.
Until today one of my only yet-unblogged life issues (though I refer to it off-handedly) is ADD. I have hesitated because in a lot of circles ADD is considered to be a bonafide disability that necessarily means you won't be as productive in work and life. You can see my wariness: what if someone who is thinking of hiring me finds my blog and says, "whoa. we CANNOT hire someone who has trouble with follow-through and detail." But that kind of statement would reveal an attitude about ADD that's at the very least incredibly simplistic and in most cases just plain innaccurate.
And maybe it will play out the way I fear. I would like to credit my colleagues and future employers in higher education with more knowledge and understanding than this. But even if it does cause me a bit of trouble on the employment front, it's worth it. I am a successful grad student, just as I was an outstanding undergrad: My grades are top-knotch, my teaching is solid (God, I love teaching), and from what I understand my reputation is solid as well unless I am missing the announcements for the "I Hate Sster" campaigns held in the conference room each Thursday. I do need to work on publishing and conferences, but that is coming in its own time and I am not by any means in jeopardy of losing my career completely.
But. Lest you think I'm some kind of academic goddess, let me tell you: it is HARD. Freaking, freaking hard. On the one hand, having an ADD brainstyle (I'll talk about that at more length in the future) is incredible well-suited to the academic life. One of the things that allows me to do really good literary analysis is my ability to hyper-focus when I'm really into something, which works for my writing as well (would you believe me if I told you that my academic writing is much better than the stuff I do here? it is). Also, the fact that every semester, nay, every day is different works incredibly well for someone who is absolutely stymied by any kind of rigidity. In other jobs I've noticed I start to lose interest, and then focus, after about 6 months, and at a year it is just unbearable. Teaching and research is new every day and is dynamic enough to keep my attention. I need something that is a good combination of novelty and structure, and the university teaching life is about as good as it gets. (Of course, there's also the fact that I love literature and am into theory, but that stuff is for the other blog I never write on and this post is more about brainstyle and fit). In fact, from what I've read and my own observation, a pretty large number of people who are in the humanities in academics are on one end or the other of the ADD brainstyle spectrum. So I don't think I'm some kind of freak.
What makes ADD hard in academics is the part that is about developing your own projects. Wait: that is what makes it good, but also hard. Let me explain. On the one hand, being in charge of your own ideas
for an ADDer. But being in charge of your own schedule
So here I am in a phase of my program in which I am in charge of the majority of my days--long, empty days full of paper--and it's hard to organize myself and get it done. I am doing it--and pretty well--but it's a struggle. And I want to be able to talk about that on the blog. I want people to read this and say, "OK. I'm not alone in this. And I can see someone else who works the same way that I do and IS getting it done." I want to talk about some of the ways I am trying to organize my professional life and struggling through that process.
The biggest piece of it for me was changing my orientation towards ADD. I have been 'diagnosed' in the last couple of years (just to make sure my forgetfulness wasn't some kind of early-onset Alzheimer's) but being 'diagnosed' doesn't help much. All it does is identify you as some kind of impaired person. ADD is NOT a disability in my opinion. It is a way of thinking, a way of approaching life and work that is at odds with a predominently linear-oriented world. And it's NEEDED. People with ADD brainstyles, instead of being methodical and mathematical, see connections between things, and see function where others see category. They are creative, and impulsive, and have an incredible ability to focus when interested. Their penchant for empathy--because of over-identification with others emotionally--makes them the kind of dreamers who start humanitarian organizations. They also make superb literary analysts because of their ability to think in terms of interconnectedness and metaphor. (A big help in orienting my thinking has been Lynn Weiss's excellent book on Adult ADD
). I think that funny term 'differently abled' really applies here.
I hope that by writing about it I can continue to help myself get through this new phase in my program (because for an ADDer, DOING is the key, actually physically putting things down) and connect with others who have similar issues.