Creative Nonfiction First Full Draft

[Dining Hall Conversation piece (forthcoming)]

[study about facial recognition and AD/HD (forthcoming)]

[Sorting piece (forthcoming)]

Attention: What you are focused on — how long you can maintain that focus — Hey, come back here! And how much control you have over it [see this post with more material on Attention (that stuff is not yet in my own words however)]

Imagine a television set that represents your mind, the current program is your state of focus. If you are concentrating on doing laundry, that’s the channel you’re watching. The picture is vivid, the lines sharp — and you are able to interpret (mostly) without issue the elements of the images before you. Now, you hold in your hand a remote control. Your remote is of normal shape, size, color, and composition. Its face has two buttons; one for channel up, and one for down (and maybe some numbers? Sure, why not! (That way if you’re watching one thing you don’t have to go through all the other channels sequentially)). Even better, you have one button for each channel… This is no ordinary remote control, no siree, this has the latest technology so every time some new “opportunity” for focus enters your radar, up pops a new button. Now your average human being watches one channel, then maybe changes to another channel by pressing a button, and then when that program is over they change to a different channel, or wait to see what’s on next, and so on and so forth.

AD/HD inattentive subtype
The remote is broken. The channel up and down buttons are sticky — sometimes they get stuck. Your TV changes channels indefinitely. Or even better, other times they don’t work at all. You’re sitting there watching a program vital to your social survival such as “What your spouse did today” or even “What cars are coming at you at 70 mph on Soldiers Field Road during Rush Hour”. Suddenly a new program pops up, “Watching a seagull circle overhead” or even “Zone out and think about something else” (always a classic)

So, your TV just freaks out and changes the channel once it sees something it likes. You mash the buttons on the remote desperately; maybe you manage to switch it back– but only briefly, before you notice it’s happened again.

You’re lost in the program forever. Seconds become hours become days… waiting for boredom to breathe life back into your remote, allowing you to seize control once again.

Enter psychostimulants
Methylphenidate methyl a-phenyl-2-piperidineacetate C14H19NO2 Molecular weight: 233.31. Bioavailability: 11-52% when taken orally. dextro,levo-methylphenidate 50:50 racemic mixture: Ritalin® (Ritalina®). dextro-methylphenidate: Focalin. Also Concerta® (time-release), Metadate®, Methylin®, Rubifen®.
Adderall 25% Dextroamphetamine Saccharate 25% Dextroamphetamine Sulfate 25% Amphetamine Aspartate 25% Amphetamine Sulfate. Amphetamine 1-phenylpropan-2-amine C9H13N

Suddenly your remote transforms before your eyes. It is now shiny, perhaps even crome-plated, and the buttons are well defined and respond cleanly… most of the time

I don’t remember… How many times have those words passed from my lips? I don’t remember exactly, surely thousands. My girl reassured me, told me not to worry, that she’d remember for me. The hours she spent copying, transcribing each word — well, most words… leaving out the worst, and the best — each day of those early days, each moment, each throb of the heart as it sputtered to life, the fumes of yesterday still pungent, unburned, waiting to explode in a new direction. I lay on my thin mattress, the knotted boards below pressing up through the foam, my sweetheart’s three latest letters in hand. I’d open one, read it through, drink in every word no matter how it made me hurt, or sigh — wince or blush. Give away emotion under that veneer of everything’s bueno. Todo bien. Each letter holding an entry from her journal. Her place of venting, rushing, bubbling, open and closeness. Her memories open to me — flowing across the thousand miles between us. The thousand miles between today and those days only months, years ago when it all began. “I don’t remember,” I could no longer speak those words. She had given me hers. My own memories now sketches where they had been only white-blackness, a swirling soup of places, words, memes… blended and blurred and fused into a chaotic oblivion.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder is a neurobiological disorder.
People with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder tend to have inordinate amounts of trouble maintaining attention-discipline, may be impulsive, and especially at younger ages are often hyperactive — uncharacteristically so for their age and level of development.
There is no way to diagnose AD/HD without a frame of reference.
There is no value judgment, just a comparison and then an observation.
Individual A is an aberration, though they belong to an identifiable sub-group with defining characteristics
Individuals with AD/HD are often severe underachievers.
AD/HD has been associated with certain personality traits that can be seen as other defining “symptoms”: High energy, creativity, alternating extreme empathy/unempathy, strong sense of intuition, trouble/frustration making self understood…

The more I read, the more I see the brain as a massive, unbelievably powerful, organic, living — and always a bit quirky — computer. Recent research has found that individuals with AD/HD tend to suffer impairment to their executive brain functions. Their brain’s manager, the sorter, is broken.

to be continued shortly…