I don’t know why, but I’m back to needing 8-10 hours of sleep a night, like I have through so much, too much of my life. And insufficient sleep doesn’t just make me tired during the day, it’s not a misery I can just push through, it makes me narcoleptic again. I actually nodded off the other day while going through the testing I had wanted to do back in my 20s, which would probably have caught my ASD and my ADHD, and I could have been dealing with it for the past 30 years rather than continuing to believe if I just tried a bit harder I could actually meet the standards others held me up to, rather than seeing how I was different and finding more suitable ways to do the same things. Ways that actually work for someone like me. So the testing is important, in case there’s something else it can find that can give me some answers instead of more questions.
But that’s beside the point. I’m tired. And fortunately I now make a living driving for Uber, so this morning, when I was still exhausted at 5:00 am after getting to bed at a reasonable time, I went back to sleep and vowed to skip my 7-9 AM shift, which would otherwise have netted perhaps $30. Because I can, and because if I don’t, I might have to miss part of my evening shift, or my last orchestra rehearsal before our last concert of the year. I missed the rehearsal last week.
So I woke up late and sat at my little desk in my tiny apartment while the sun came out just outside my window. In Portland, Oregon, that’s a big deal. Especially this year. Especially to anyone who has Seasonal Depression, as I do. And I kept spinning my wheels, surfing the web, reading my Facebook News Feed, knowing I’ve got things I need to do, and I decided a change of scenery would help me get my mind on track, and it would get me out in the sun, which would be good, so I packed up my laptop and went to a nearby café. Where, as I tried to get on their internet, I remembered it doesn’t work for my notebook computer, just for my tablet computer and my cell phone. No problem. I’ll set up my cell-phone’s Wifi hotspot and use my cell data minutes for a little while. But that didn’t work either. OK, worst case scenario, I can research articles on my phone and use that information for the writing I came out here to do so that I can get it in by deadline, if I work really hard at it. And my phone refused to pull up any of the websites I need. So I popped open my cell phone plan management tool to find out why… nothing. I could certainly sleuth this on their full website using my notebook, if I could GET online with my notebook.
At this point, I wanted to throw something. But then the nice staff, who didn’t intend for their network to be insufficient, would have to pick up the broken shards of my lovely teal mug, and the customers would have their pleasant morning exploded into by my frustrated outburst. So I refrained, drained my coffee, packed up my notebook and phone, and went somewhere else. But first I went to the bathroom. Where there was no place to put my notebook while I was on the toilet. OK, I can prop it on the sink, as I sometimes do when there’s no table, shelf, chair or baby-changing station. But the sink didn’t have a flat edge, it had a sloped edge. I couldn’t even get it to rest without sliding when it was right under the faucet, which is a place I NEVER want a computer to be. Dammit, fine I’ll just put it on the floor, ANOTHER place I never want it to be! This is a bigger deal for someone with ADHD, people. We have extremely strict routines we use to make sure that we have a habit of never putting valuable things in places where we might forget them and step on them, spill on them, leave them behind, or any of the other myriad things that we are far too capable of doing. This isn’t just a routine, it’s strict behavioral hygiene that makes it possible to function on a day to day basis. Which is why having to put my notebook computer on the floor was just the last straw on this otherwise fairly tolerable day.
I swear I’ve about had it. I’m living in a 10’ x 10’ room, the entryway of my apartment, with a shared bathroom down the hall for which I have to take a key and a roll of toilet paper every time I need to use it. I can afford half the rental on a house in the area of town I want to live, and I have someone I get along with who will rent the other half, but my income is not conventional and neither is hers. She has someone to co-sign, but a lot of places don’t allow that. There’s this ray of hope that we can pull it off, but only if we find the right opportunity. Until then we’re in this sucky situation that is just one frustration too many and leaves me with very little reserve for all the other things that go wrong, which is why a single, seemingly insignificant setback can knock me right off my stable emotional ground.
This is nothing new to anyone who doesn’t fit what our culture deems “normal”, by which they mean “acceptable”. But look at a bell-shaped curve and remember; there may be a whole lot of people who are clustered in the center of the graph, but those of us who aren’t in that region, who are out on the fringes, we’re part of the graph, and we can make things work by doing it in a slightly different way, like me making the income I need by being a rideshare driver, but we hit wall after wall because society has come to accept alternative solutions less and less over time, the same way big box stores have made little nook-and cranny, unique alternatives a thing of the past. The fact that landlords can insist on a slew of requirements means they don’t HAVE to find a place for someone like me. I understand; if I owned a house, I’d rather rent it to someone who is less likely to damage it while they live there, and for that, I want assurances that people living on the fringe can’t give me because they don’t have the standard documents. Because they’re not standard.
Figure 1, Bell Curve (Abhijit Bhaduri, 2015) Creative Commons: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode.
And social services have even more requirements, even more restrictions. If I go into an apartment, I can’t have a vegetable garden in my backyard to work on, and I know myself well enough to know that a community garden offsite is not going to work for me. ADHD; out of sight, out of mind. Gardens don’t handle that very well. And what about the rabbits I want to raise? The chickens? And how am I supposed to support myself if I can’t afford my health insurance because I’m spending my money on groceries because I have no way to raise my own food?
I’m ready to start guerrilla gardening, at least. Just plant some herbs and sweet potatoes out in the meadows on BLM or State Forest land and hope they make it to harvest time. There’s some land like that out in the area of town I want to live in. But first I need to find a place over there to live. There’s nowhere here on my end of town but yards and public parks.