So Many Goals . . . So Much Wasted Time

I have so many goals, and I have wasted so much time. I have other commitments. Is it even worth it to go for it? Why do I even think about this–why don’t I just do it?

My inner critical voice is too damn strong.


Darth Vader is Irish?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Darth Vader marched in our local parade.  (It’s amazing how much I focus on a parade and not on my History of Failure when I take my medicine.)

Anyway, the point is . . . they let these Irish into this country, and what do these Irish do? Try to take over the Galaxy. You know it’s true.

Irish Vader

The Force Will Be With Ya, Boyo


Where Do I Fit In? I don’t.

Where do I fit in? I don’t. I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m a fraud. And all this is on me.

I live in a neighborhood in which people pride themselves on their Irish heritage—and I’m largely of Irish descent myself—but my last name is not Irish.


The neighborhood is also heavily Catholic. My children go to Catholic school. I spent eleven years in Catholic schools and even taught in some Catholic schools. Yet I’m an atheist on the bad days and an agnostic on the other, slightly more tolerable days.


I’m a man and though I’m a father, I don’t have handyman skills, I cannot fix a car, and I’m afraid of bugs. I’m physically weak. In the end, I suppose that I am not too upset that I do not meet traditional gender stereotypes, but it really helps if a parent is also a breadwinner. I am not.


I have some serious social anxiety and very little self-esteem. Except when it comes to my field and to teaching. I’m different—I’m better—when I teach.

Once I told students that I was an introvert. They laughed. Immediately, I thought of the Vonnegut story, “Who Am I This Time?”


I’m pretty smart. I act like an idiot.


I fought to fit in at my high school. I won acceptance. I was proud of that and still am. You gotta fight for what you want. I went back and taught there, too. I was highly successful. I loved it. I was part of the family. Then I got fired. So I’m still an alumnus. But not really.


The neighborhood in which I live is actually a pretty good neighborhood. The public schools are atrocious, however, as I live within the boundaries of a large city. The surrounding areas are hardscrabble at best. But the neighborhood is filled with accomplished and, in many cases, upper-middle-class people. But I’ve never made it out of the working class. Check to check, that’s how we live. My wife deserves better.


I am artistic! Well, I was. No matter: I could not bring myself to do anything with any talent I may have had.


It took me a while, but I do think white privilege is real. Of course, I am over 40, which (supposedly) takes me out of the running for any jobs for which I might be hired. I should be loaning my whiteness to someone who can use it.


It’s never helpful to compare one’s self with others, but suffice it to say, I am the least successful dad in the neighborhood.


At one job I had, the students and parents loved me. I had so much success at that school. “You have a gift for relating to students,” the principal told me. No, it’s not a gift, I said. It’s empathy and observation. I watched how my favorite teachers interacted with students and learned from them. And I listen when they talk. I put the two together. It’s not a gift; it’s hard work, I said.

He waved me off. “It’s a gift. Trust me.”


At the same job, a few colleagues described me as “arrogant.” Arrogant? I don’t have any self-esteem! How could I be arrogant?


ADHD: If we started x, you know we also quit x. And probably re-started and re-quit.


I have ADHD but was not diagnosed until I was 38—just as I was about to lose my last full-time job. So to my friends and family, I don’t “really” have ADHD.


I won a scholarship to college but ended up with huge student loans because I could never get myself on track. My friends from college are all involved with the scholarship today, but I am not since I lost the scholarship.


Politically, I’m liberal. And I detest most liberals. For this reason, I hated graduate school. Well, that and because I could not get anything accomplished and began to develop guilt tumors.


I have a house, but no equity. I will inherit nothing. My children . . . I want to work for their benefit. I cannot get a job.


A few doctors have suggested that I have Aspergers. They did not diagnose me. Autism runs in my family. Both of my children have been diagnosed with autism. (One does not seem to have it, though.) But I’ve never been diagnosed formally with Aspergers or autism. Do I have it or not? If I do have it, is that my excuse?


I flunked out of college several times. Meanwhile, I wrote papers for other students.

I went to a well-known university and root for its sports teams. But then again, I’m not an alumnus of the school.


I attended graduate school to earn my Ph.D. I contracted even larger student loans (but no sexual diseases, thankfully). And, of course, I never graduated. I have a useless Masters and 100 hours towards a Ph.D. I asked them if I could finish once I was diagnosed with ADHD and laid off, but they said no. So basically, when I had the time and the tools to do it, I couldn’t.


I’m a former stoner. But I can’t even roll a joint.


“You want to fail.”

“You don’t want to work hard.”

“This is all your own fault.”

“You have it easy compared with other people.”

No, No, No Shit, and Whatevs.


I am an adjunct professor. I do not have an office. I do not know the full-time faculty. I do not know if I will be teaching ________ course next semester. I do not know if I will be teaching next semester. Generally, I teach the worst courses on college campuses. My voice counts for nothing. Students call me “professor,” but I am not a real professor.


I’m not a Baby Boomer. I’m not a Millennial.


Teacher to Students:

Don’t burn y’all bridges.

Students to Teacher:

Have you burned any bridges?

Teacher (to Students? Himself?):

All of ’em.


I prepared myself to be a good teacher. But being a good teacher, I have learned, means nothing in terms of career advancement. Dude, I need money. Anyway, the woman who hired me at one of my lucrative part-time jobs does not know this, but I took a class with her once. I actually peer-reviewed once of her essays; that is, I had to read her work and offer constructive commentary. The professor reviewed our comments later and took me for task for not being honest with the woman who would later hire me. She’s a dean now and I had to laugh when I learned that she never taught a class. But knowing what she is capable of intellectually, maybe that’s a good thing.


I’m impressed with my own intelligence, obviously. Until, of course, I take a look at where I am at. I might need to re-think that one.


Yes, this sounds like classic imposter syndrome. I am well-aware of what the imposter syndrome is. But it’s not the imposter syndrome. At one point, it may have been. But now, it’s reality.

This is not in my head. This is my life.

And it’s all my fault.

Dear Doctor: Stop Telling Me to Go Easy on the Adderall

My doctor has got me so freaked out about becoming “acclimated” to Adderall that I do not take it as much as I should.

But when I take it first thing in the morning? When I do not try to “hold off as much as possible,” as he suggests? I feel great. I have awesome days. I get things accomplished like a real person.

And you know what? I am a better person, too. I’m a better father, a better husband, a better teacher. I’m more satisfied. I’m more social—and more social in positive ways. I become grateful, thankful. I become patient. I become kind. Without the Adderall, my brain just cannot carry out any of these behaviors. Writing a thank-you note, for example, is as difficult for me as it would be for most people to design, demolish, and rebuild a basement. That’s not hyperbole.

I’ve given up on so many dreams—ah, forget the dreams, so many goals, so many goddamn goals. I have had to set them aside. Unfortunately, the judgment, the reproach, remains, and so what I’m left with are unfulfilled goals, guilt, and the habit of negative self-talk.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Supplements help, I think. So does exercise. But I need that medicine.

I can’t wait around any longer—I’m 45—my time is limited.

A Shout Out

Wow, this is an outstanding description of who I am–I wish I had written it! This is the kind of post that motivates me to get back into real blogging…


This is a shout out to the people who didn’t get diagnosed with ADD/ADHD until they were adults.

This is a shout out to the adults who spent their entire life being told they were lazy year after year, because they didn’t do well in school and a shout out to the adults who were called stupid so often they began to truly believe, and even worse, accept they were dumb.

This is a shout out to the adults whose parents refused to acknowledge ADHD was real, and refused to give them the medication or treatment they desperately needed and a shout out to the adults who were told repeatedly it was the parents’ fault, or their diet, or even lack of exercise, and was not a condition.

This is a shout out to the adults who thought they were going insane as they tried to piece together their life, tried to figure out what…

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The Algorithm of Shyness, Part 1

I’m trying to figure out the situations in which I am shy (or anxious). I’m not always shy, but often I am. What are the common denominators?


Anxiety Antibiotics

Anxiety Antibiotics

Struggling with anxiety? Heck, we all are. Well, here are some proven activities that will nibble away at your fears and worries!

  • When you’re feeling anxious, try to think of someone from history who has had it worse than you. Once you pick an unfortunate soul, you’ll start feeling better instantly.
  • Do three sets of ten “slug steps.” To perform a slug step, lie down on a couch or spread out on a recliner stretched to its maximum. Position yourself in such a way that you feel comfortable and boneless. Then think about something you have to do that you do not want to do (focus on social situations with your more successful friends) and hold that thought for five seconds. Do ten repetitions, take a short nap, and then do another ten reps; repeat.
  •  Tired of the same-old same-old? Try mixing it up by focusing on past failures or things your parents said that still reverberate in your head!
  • Calm yourself with caffeine. Most people think caffeine is a stimulant, and, in a way, it is. Yet when you adhere to a wider interpretation of the word relieve, caffeine has been shown to relieve anxiety symptoms. Feeling scared? Grab a soda pop!
  • Take up a hobby. You will feel better in no time!
  • Take in a concert, stroll through a crowded mall, or visit a city like Mumbai. You’ve heard the expression, “There’s safety in numbers”? Did you know that the original expression went, “There’s serenity in numbers”? The more eyes on you, the stronger your empathetic vision is.

I’ll be back with some more tips soon. Keep a hold of yourself!

How Many Jobs Have I Left Because of Anxiety?

How many jobs have I left because of anxiety?


One really good one, though. I left because the anxiety was too fatiguing. I suppose I could say I was tired–and I was–but it was more than that. I was mentally fatigued. I once had an old burlap bag I carried around my books in. I grew attached to the bag and refused to throw it away, but by the end, the bag was so worn on one side that literally two or three strings of material were all that prevented the books from falling out. (Eventually, I stole a new bag. I went to confession, though, so it’s all good.) But that’s how I felt: like one or two strands of mental strength was all that was holding me together.

I was good at that job, too. I was teaching English at the high school where I had always wanted to teach. Then I effectively ran and hid. Things were never the same. That was a dozen years ago. I was fortunate enough to return to the school a few years later, but that did not exactly work out.

By the way, I’d like to find someone other than me to blame for that, and so if you need service hours or something and you’re willing to take the blame, please let me know–I would appreciate it.

Gen X and Screwing Up

I read lots about Millennials and their struggles, and I can relate. But I don’t think they are so different from Gen Xers. The bad thing about being a Gen Xer now is that nobody wants to hire us because we’re too damn old.

45 years old and I am washed up.

Living the the USA is ticking me off, baby.


Activate Background Knowledge

Let’s be very clear: I’m in charge of my own life. I am responsible for my own decisions. And I’ve made some bad ones.

Yet anxiety and ADHD, not to mention a poor grasp of myself and my social roles, played a leading role in many of those bad decisions, particularly the worst ones.teach

I pushed a kid into a wall and lost my job and my career. I’ve been impulsive before, but this wasn’t impulsive; I was attempting to be Super Teacher. I was attempting to rewrite the kid’s life, and I even envisioned a later chapter for him: Years later, he’d be driving home from work, thinking about how it was all turning out ok, and he’d think back upon his sophomore year in high school, how he was going nowhere, pulling all Fs at the midway point of his first semester, when he ran into a buzzsaw, a teacher who would not accept failure.

That’s all I imagined, probably because I wanted the memory to be about me. That’s one of the things anxiety and its friends do: they make it all about the self.

Why didn’t I just let him fail? I had tried to motivate him and I had spoken to his mother. I did what I could, right? No way; I was going to be the Super Teacher. I had to be. If I wasn’t, if others were better than me . . . well, that meant I wasn’t good enough, didn’t it?

Throughout my entire life, I never felt like I was good enough at anything. I felt weak, ugly, and unathletic, a misfit who had little to offer the world. Everyone else was better than me. Couple this self-esteem with anxiety, and I had a hard time leaving my room in college. And the ability to study and write came and went; the one thing I could do was often not an option because I could not concentrate. I managed to pull things together and landed my dream job—how I wish I were there today—and I started out strong before blowing it and running my career.

Now I’m a middle-aged adjunct. I cannot get hired full-time because of my age, and my student loan payments are more than my monthly salary, when I have a job.

I’m still a hell of a teacher.

Anyway, this blog will not be as depressing as this posting, I hope.

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