REM -Swan Swan H

No particular reason for sharing this, except that I heard it the other day and remembered just how wonderful it is. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to have too much REM in your life.

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group Swan Swan H (2011 Remaster) · R.E.M. Lifes Rich Pageant ℗ 2011 Capitol Records, LLC Released on: 2011-01-01 Producer, Studio Personnel, Mixer, Associated Performer, Recorder: Don Gehman Studio Personnel, Mixer, Associated Performer, Recorder: Greg Edward Studio Personnel, Mastering Engineer: Robert Vosgien Composer Lyricist: Bill Berry Composer Lyricist: Peter Buck Composer Lyricist: Michael Stipe Composer Lyricist: Mike Mills

R.E.M.

Swan, swan, hummingbird
Hurrah, we are all free now
What noisy cats are we
Girl and dog he bore his cross
Swan, swan, hummingbird
Hurrah, we are all free now
A long low time ago people talk to me

Johnny Reb what’s the price of fans
Forty a piece or three for one dollar?
Hey captain don’t you want to buy
Some bone chains and toothpicks?

Night wings her hair chains
Here’s your wooden greenback sing
Wooden beams and dovetail sweep
I struck that picture ninety times
I walked that path a hundred ninety
Long, low time ago, people talk to me

A pistol hot cup of rhyme
The whiskey is water, the water is wine
Marching feet, Johnny Reb, what’s the price of heroes?

Six in one, half dozen the other
Tell that to the captain’s mother
Hey captain, don’t you want to buy
Some bone chains and toothpicks?

Night wings, her hair chains
Swan, swan, hummingbird
Hurrah, we are all free now
What noisy cats are we
Long, low time ago, people talk to me
A pistol hot cup of rhyme
The whiskey is water, the water is wine

Songwriters: Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, William BerryFor non-commercial use only. Data from: Musixmatch

Raynor Winn – The Salt Path

Winn and her husband Moth, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness called corticobasal degeneration, became homeless after a bad investment and decided to walk the 630-mile (1,010 km) South West Coast Path.

I loved this book in many ways. It was such a wonderful glimpse into life on the edges of what we so oddly call ‘civilisation’. I got a feel for the freedom of it, the peace of it, the quiet, the fresh air, and at times I was envious. You get to experience life in a different way when you’re open to nature, and to the randomness of strangers. And it was described so beautifully, so evocatively, I do feel that through those descriptions I experienced a little bit more of rural Britain. The bit about the salted blackberries stuck in my mind for a long time afterwards. 

But it wasn’t glamorous and the precariousness of their situation was ever present. What was most fascinating was the different reactions people had to them when they said they were homeless compared to when they said they were on a hiking/wild camping adventure. 

The glimpses into the world of the homeless were interesting and important to read. How the country dwellers were priced out of their own homes, living a hand to mouth existence, how the city homeless lived in a dangerous, violent, harsh world. Something has gone very wrong with our country. 

The reason it has taken me so long to get round to writing a review is the deep anger I felt about a couple of bits of the book. The fact that they could be dumped into homelessness like that, losing a house and farm they had lived in for decades, because a ‘friend’ has caused their financial ruin and they hadn’t been able to get any legal aid. What an absolutely fucked up situation. Their bravery and decency and humour in the face of it all was amazing, and I felt such huge warmth towards Ray and Moth the whole way through the book. But personally, I was raging on their behalf. And don’t even get me started on Poppy. Who the hell exploits other people like that? Definitely not a ‘friend’. 

So for me it was quite an emotional and difficult trip, reading this book, not the inspirational and life affirming journey it may have been for other readers. Well, in some ways it was those things, but the anger took precedence in my ADHD mind. I left it well over two weeks before writing this review and the anger has subsided somewhat but it is definitely still there. 

Book and cup of tea, whilst guarding my seeds and seedlings on their little trip out of the greenhouse.

My ADHD Brain, Episode Nine: The Inner Life

So, apparently a lot of people don’t have an inner life. I’ve always thought I have a good imagination but this is one thing I simply can’t imagine. It’s like trying to grasp that space is infinite. I know that it is, but the imagination just can’t quite deal with it. Thus my imagination can’t quite cope with the notion that some people do not have an inner life.

Take a particular conversation I had with someone recently. And this is a highly intelligent person, by the way. He was talking about how the National Trust have started to mention on displays if a property was owned by a slave owning family, and he was saying that it’s a good thing and I was like “yeah, it is, but they’ve been putting this stuff on labels for years, like if a family made its money from the tobacco industry or the cloth trade, or they were part of the East India Company, so you already know when you’re walking around their posh house, don’t you?, and you’re admiring stuff but at the same time thinking about how the money was made, and it’s all part of the same story” And he was like, “well, I agree, but I don’t think they put that stuff in the info, and they don’t make the link between the trade and what that meant for people”. And that’s when I realised, no they probably don’t, but my brain had always filled in those gaps and made those links without me even realising that I hadn’t just read it on an info board. 

I like a good NT property, a nice Stately Home with gardens and landscaped park, and I’ve been visiting them for many years. When I go round the house my brain is usually saying something like this:

“So it was built in 1871, oh that’s interesting because at the same time the Paris Commune was happening in France, which seems incongruous somehow, all that noise and revolution there, and the quiet here…. Oh look, that’s a pretty tapestry, look at their beautiful hands holding up that fruit there, what elegant fingers, I wonder if this was a stylistic thing at that time because presumably not everyone had such lovely hands, I mean people are the same aren’t they, it’s just the depictions that change over time…the information board says that they made their money from coal mining, just think that all this beautiful stuff was built off the backs of children working down mines… the air feels quite fresh in here, but I can’t see an open window, I wonder where it’s coming from…  I can imagine these rooms empty of people and me running round them barefoot [cue visuals of me in a music video or film running round the empty house with bare feet]… Hm, OK, I don’t like the ceiling very much, very oppressive, very Victorian, how did they manage to imbue their interior decor with that aura? … onto the next room.” All of this will probably take about 2 minutes, maybe as many as 5 if something really grabs me.

This isn’t just how my brain behaves in stately homes, this is how my brain behaves ALL THE TIME. Until recently I thought this was normal. Now whenever I tell this to someone they look at me like I’m mad. So I asked my highly intelligent friend what he would be thinking of in the same situation. He paused and then said “I would probably notice a painting, and be a bit interested and then read the label, then I would take in the general view for a few moments and move on”. 

Wow. Just wow. I don’t even know how to do that. But, my god, life would be far less exhausting and confusing if I did.

Soccer Mommy – Circle the Drain

A friend of mine recently posted this on facebook as a recommendation and I absolutely love it. Great tune and fantastic lyrics.

I wanna be calm like the soft
Summer rain on your back
Like the fall of your shoulders
But everything just brings me back down
To the cold hard ground
And it keeps getting colderIt’s a feeling that boils in my brain
I would dial back the flame
But I’m not sure I’m able
I’m wobbling out on the wire
And the lights could go out
With the break of a cableThings feel that low sometimes
Even when everything is fineHey, I’ve been falling apart these days
Split open, watching my heart go round and around
Round and around
Circle the drain
I’m going downI’m trying to seem strong for my love
For my family and friends
But I’m so tired of faking
‘Cause I’m chained to my bed when they’re gone
Watching TV alone
‘Til my body starts achingAnd I think there’s a mold in my brain
Spreading down all the way
Through my heart and my body
‘Cause I cling to the dark of my room
And the days thin me out
Or just burn me straight throughThings feel that low sometimes
Even when everything is fineHey I’ve been falling apart these days
Split open watching my heart go round and around
Round and around
Circle the drain
I’m going downThings feel that low sometimes
Even when everything is fine
Hey, I’ve been falling apart these days
Split open, watching my heart go round and around
Round and around
Circle the drain
I’m going downRound and around
Round and around
Circle the drain
I’m going downSource: LyricFindSongwriters: Sophie Allisoncircle the drain lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Library Trip

I’ve just been to the library for the first time in over a year. The kids and I pretty much skipped over the threshold. Came back with my bag bulging!

I even found my long lost library card (which had been hiding in plain sight in… er… my wallet) 10 minutes before I was going to go in and ask for a new one. I’ve had this card for about 3 years now without needing a replacement which is a record.

I know I have shelves full of books at home waiting to be read but the thrill of a new batch of library treats can’t be beaten.

Here’s my haul…

My ADHD Brain, Episode Eight: Out of Time

So, one of the biggest things associated with ADHD is that we are bad at time keeping and can suffer from time blindness. 

Personally, this isn;t my worst ADHD trait, there are other things I am way worse at, but I am not great either. I do find I can totally lose track of time, and can think of some particularly notorious instances  in my past of being hours late and missing stuff entirely because the thing I was doing beforehand distracted me totally. But at some point, and I think it was in my mid 20s, I flipped the opposite way. I now get quite stressed and anxious about the possibility of being late. I overthink and over plan to ensure I get somewhere on time which means I am often super early but usually a bit stressed on arrival. 

As with so many things in ADHD, it’s all about extremes. For me, if I have to turn up somewhere at a specific time I will do one of the following three things, and there is no inbetween. 

Option A:

Be very late, by which I mean more than 45 minutes late. This results from not knowing or seriously underestimating the process of getting there, or not being able to find the place due to crapness at directions, crapness at map reading, and total lack of orientational awareness. Or it stems from having forgotten entirely, or thinking it was on a different day or at a different time. Again, I have got much much better at this over the years, though I suspect a lot of that is due to online calendars. 

Option B: 

Obsessively prepare and stress, usually printing off huge wads of paper with maps and instructions, highlighting and annotating bits, maybe even writing myself a point by point plan (literally ‘go to ticket desk, make sure this is no later than 11.20, after getting ticket make sure I remember a loo stop but THERE WILL BE NO TIME FOR COFFEE OR SNACK, then find the correct platform number which can be done by looking at the big board located in the middle opposite Cafe Nero’). That is a real life example from something I did a few years ago. My friend thought it was hilarious so I always kept it, but I was kinda embarrassed because I thought everyone wrote themselves these kinds of notes. It works though, as I am rarely late nowadays. I now have form for turning up very early to things. I am that annoying person who turns up 40 minutes early while the trainers are still setting something up. This leads me to option C.

Option C: 

Turns up super early and is stuck making small talk with people who are trying to set up the event, who would probably rather I am not there. So, I decide to go in hunt for decent coffee/pastry or just ‘have a little wander’. This, of course, has the result of making me late because I get lost or lose track of time. So, I obsessively plan, get there waaaaay too early, then wander off and end up actually being late. Oh yes folks, good old Option C is my commonest scenario. 

Pixies – Where is My Mind?

A blimmin’ awesome song from a blimmin’ awesome band, and highly appropriate to my recent posts.

If you don’t listen to Pixies (and it seems an alarming number of people in my life don’t) then seriously, you’re missing out. As well as being superb in their own right I find that every time I listen to them I can hear so many of the bands that came after (I can hear Eels in this one, and Nirvana in most of them). Their impact continues to be huge.

Provided to YouTube by Beggars Group Digital Ltd. Where Is My Mind? · Pixies Death to the Pixies ℗ 1997 4AD Ltd Released on: 1997-10-06 Associated Performer: Black Francis Associated Performer: David Lovering Associated Performer: Joey Santiago Associated Performer: Kim Deal Composer Lyricist: Black Francis. Original release 1988.

Where Is My Mind?

Pixies

Whooo-ooh
Stop

Whoo-oooh, whoo-oooh
Whoo-oooh, whoo-oooh

With your feet on the air and your head on the ground (whoo-oooh)
Try this trick and spin it, (yeah) yeah (whoo-oooh)
Your head will collapse (whoo-oooh)
If there’s nothing in it and you’ll ask yourself

Where is my mind? Where is my mind? Whhere is my mind?
(Where is my mind? Where is my mind? Where is my mind?)

Wayy out in the water, see it swimmin’

I was swimmin’ in the Caribbean (whoo-oooh)
Animals were hidin’ behind the rock (whoo-oooh)
Except for little fish (whoo-oooh)
Bumped into me, swear he was trying to talk to me coy koi

Where is my mind? (Where is my mind?)
Where is my mind? (Where is my mind?)
Where is my mind? (Where is my mind? Where is my mind? Where is my mind?)
Way out in the water, see it swimmin’

With your feet on the air and your head on the ground (whoo-oooh)
Try this trick and spin it, yeah (whoo-oooh)
Your head will collapse (whoo-oooh)
If there’s nothing in it and you’ll ask yourself

Where is my mind? (Where is my mind?)
Where is my mind? Where is my mind?

(Where is my mind? Where is my mind? Where is my mind?)
Way out in the water, I see it swimmin’

(Whoo-oooh)

Yeah, our feet on the air and our heads on the ground (whoo-oooh)
Try this trick and spin it, yeah (whoo-oooh)
Our heads will collapse (whoo-oooh)

If there’s nothing in it and we’ll ask ourselves (whoo-oooh)

(Whoo-oooh)

Songwriters: Francis Black, Thompson Charles Michael Kittredge Iv

For non-commercial use only.

Data from: Musixmatch

My ADHD Brain, Episode Seven: The Invisible Pixies

My ex used to say to me on a daily basis, sometimes in an exasperated tone, sometimes in a downright nasty tone, “Did the pixies do it?” or “Ah yes, another one for the pixies”. And no, he was not talking about the band (but that has set off trains of thought in my head and a delve into my music collection…). He was talking about me. 

I didn’t understand what he meant, only that in that moment he thoroughly hated me because I was an irreversably bad person. Now I have my ADHD diagnosis, and am observing myself, I know why he said this. It doesn’t make his treatment of me right, of course. 

I exist on different plains of consciousness. This is no great revelation as it’s something most people, probably everyone, has. We all know about subconscious, right? The thing is, for me it’s like there is a subconscious version of me alongside the conscious one, and she is really messy. I can tidy my whole house and organise the contents, so that everything has a ‘place*’ and then, 2 days later piles of stuff will have emerged, and the clear surfaces will be cluttered again. And I will think “how/when did this happen and who the hell did it because I have no recollection?”. But it must have been me. It can only have been me. And it happens every single time. I have now started leaving notes around the place to myself to make me stop, but subconscious me just seems to be ignoring them. 

This subconscious/autopilot zone can be helpful at other times though. If I have done something enough times or it has interested me enough for me to dwell on it, then it can move from the conscious zone, where it might be pretty hard work, to the subconscious. Then I am onto a winner, because I love to do things by instinct. Cooking is a good example for me. I am in a lot of social media groups for people with ADHD and I know cooking is something a lot of people struggle with. However, I am pretty good at it and I enjoy it. Looking back I think it’s because I’ve always been interested in food, and come from a family of people who like to cook properly, so I learned repeatedly over many years, just absorbing it. I have always struggled to follow recipes and I probably always will, but I have a fairly large repertoire of things I can just make by instinct. I also absolutely never weigh or measure things like rice or pasta, but I mostly manage to make the right amount, because I instinctively just know. I do have recipe books, and I do use them, and the first time I follow a recipe is usually a painful and stressful experience, but once I get the jist I can do it on instinct next time, and instinct will tell me if the texture is OK, or what ingredients I could add or substitute. 

The thing I cannot master, however, is meal planning. I have tried and tried. I even have a planner on the wall that I never use. My strategy is usually to look at what’s in the fridge, see if anything edible is growing in the garden, open the ‘cupboard of tins’ if necessary, and rustle something up. I am often not even entirely aware of what I’m doing, as I am in pixie zone, but it turns out just fine 9.9 times out of 10. 

So, cooking has mostly entered the pixie zone, or ‘magic zone of instinct’. I am trying to get gardening into it too, and have had some good moments, but I think it still needs work. I wish I could get driving into it too, and all the other things I find really hard, but have had no luck as yet. And conversely, I wish I could pull the messiness and the disorganization up into the conscious zone so I could control them but, again, I have had no success with this. 

*This will take huge effort and send me into a state of frenzied misery, which makes the very quick undoing of the hard work even harder to bear.

My ADHD Brain, Episode Six: The Moral Maze

For me personally, and I know this is the case for many others with ADHD, the hardest thing is actually dealing with other people’s judgement and, worse, their obvious disappointment when they realise that I’m actually a ‘bad person’. Of course I’m not, but a lot of my behaviours can make it seem that way. Even a lot of traits that aren’t that bad (being a crazy emotional romantic, having a good creative problem-solving mind) aren’t viewed in a positive light by our culture. I am essentially a Marianne Dashwood in a world where we’re all supposed to be Eleanors.

I thought it might be helpful to highlight some of the ‘problem’ behaviours. So, read these descriptions of behaviour and ask yourself to reflect on what you would think of a person who did this. I have added some statements in italics which I think represent how people view the behaviour. I have encountered some of these from other people, but many of them come from my very vocal inner critic.

  • Is always late, sometimes very late, sometimes very late even when they know it’s important not to be
  • Is obsessed with not being late and so gets into an anxious state and turns up way too early for stuff
  • Forgets your birthday, even though you always remember theirs
  • Forgets people’s names, even people like colleagues or neighbours that they should remember
  • Gets people muddled up, even if they have had whole conversations with them in the past and should remember
  • Seems careless about people (see previous three bullet points)
  • Is very open about their thoughts, feelings and personal life. Have you no shame? Quit the oversharing!
  • Talks on and on about themselves and their opinions.
  • Doesn’t listen properly to others
  • Frequently relates the conversation back to themselves, eg ‘Oh I totally get what you mean, It’s like when I…”
  • Interrupts and talks over people. Wow they really are full of themselves! (Especially when combined with the previous three bullet points). 
  • Lets you down when you have trusted them with a simple task. It really isn’t difficult or time consuming, so it must be that they don’t care. 
  • Daydreams way too much and often seems to be in a fantasy world. Seriously, you’d have thought they’d grown out of that by now. 
  • Doesn’t respect money. Always short of money, getting into debt, unable to build up savings. And yet they have nothing to show for it? Where did it go? Honestly, some people are so spoilt and careless. 
  • Doesn’t prioritize friendship. They rack up credit card debts and can’t afford to go on holiday with you. But then they blow £100 on a water feature for the garden. Well, that just shows me how they prioritise their lives. 
  • Gets angry. This doesn’t apply to everyone with ADHD but is something I think we are more in danger of and is certainly something I can relate to. RSD, as discussed previously on this blog, is a major factor here, but also lack of impulse control. I can get angry as an immediate, knee-jerk response to something, without being able to slow down. I also feel things deeply. I am as likely to be angry about something happening in Yemen as I am about something happening at my children’s school. And both will get me absolutely incensed with rage. I am getting better at dealing with this, though I do believe anger isn’t always wrong or bad. For many situations it is actually the most rational response.
  • Doesn’t respect property and possessions. Their house is messy, some of it is in need of redecoration or repair. Piles of stuff accumulate in corners, on chairs, on surfaces. Cupboards are badly loaded with items that can tumble or fly out when you open the doors. And then there are all the things they regularly lose or break like the lovely framed picture you got them, or their third smartphone of the year. 
  • Doesn’t take their role as a parent seriously. They haven’t memorised their children’s birth weights, have lost the little red books, forget appointments, rarely sign their kids up for schemes and events before the deadline, are usually zooming up to the school gates at the last minute with those poor, stressed kids. 
  • Has no self control or self motivation. This one is exactly what it says on the tin. I am thoroughly shit at both of these and no technique I have ever tried has alleviated the problem. In our culture this is definitely considered one of the biggest moral failures and one of the things I have been judged for most. Seriously though, if you want to lose weight you just need to stop eating so much food. If you want to stop pulling your hair you just need to try really hard, it’s just mind over matter. Yeah, I am trying really hard, but you’re telling me it’s not good enough. Thanks for that.
  • A hopeless dilettante. I find so many things interesting, and I can imagine doing those things so vividly. I start in a rush of enthusiasm. But then I realise it’s more commitment and energy than I realistically have, and/or it’s falling too short of how it was in my imagination, so my enthusiasm vanishes, and I can’t motivate myself to do anything for which I have no enthusiasm. My life is scattered with incomplete projects and the debris from short lived hobbies. Honestly, your problem is you just can’t stick at anything.
  • Is commitment-shy. Ah yes, this. I am always tormented by the possibility of the ‘other’. I could be in a really happy relationship but can’t ever really shut off the thoughts about ‘but what if I was going out with him instead..’, I can be in a really great job but after a while (it’s usually around the 10 month mark) I am constantly signing up to alerts for new jobs and getting a thrill when they drop into my email inbox. I love my house that I’m in now. I have great plans for it over time, and I intend to live here for a long time. But I’ve been here over two years now and that’s a long time for me to have lived in one house, so inevitably I am signed up to Rightmove alerts and get weekly thrills from all the possibilities of other properties I could be in instead. Why can’t she just learn to appreciate what she has? How spoilt!
  • Can’t put down roots. This is related to the previous point. I recently worked out that since the age of 18 (that’s 24 years) I have lived at 15 different addresses in 7 different cities/towns. I have had 7 ‘proper’ jobs, as in permanent contracts (and I left all of those  within two years), and many many other temporary or freelance, so many that I can’t actually count them. And the weird thing is that whenever I move on from a place or a job, however much I enjoyed it, I don’t miss it or look back at all. I just think ‘well, that was fun’ or ‘that was nice’, and I shrug and move on, without regret or sadness. Even now, going through a period of looking back at my life (triggered by the twin events of passing 40 and getting diagnosed with ADHD), it is more of an academic exercise. I don’t ‘miss’ anywhere. I don’t feel ‘homesick’ about anywhere. So I really shouldn’t moan that I have no community and very few local friends. It’s my fault, to be fair! 
  • Is self obsessed, going on about themselves and their worries when the world is full of much more serious issues and suffering. Get a grip you navel gazing, overprivileged narcissist. 

This is not an exhaustive list. There’s bound to be more I haven’t thought of. If you have ADHD, please do add more in the comments. 

I am not saying that these behaviours are good. I can see why someone might find them annoying, upsetting or even offensive. But please understand, this is default behaviour for many of us with ADHD and it’s because of our brains, rather than anything to do with our hearts, our souls, our morality. Now I can look at the list, and see how it happens and why, I can begin to try and adapt. I take a lot more care to try and slow myself down in the moment, to stop myself taking over a conversation and to stop and listen to others. But it is hard work, and I won’t get it right every time. What I am saying to others is, please understand that these behaviours are the result of my ADHD, they are not because I don’t care or feel or take an interest in the people around me. I don’t breeze through life saying and doing whatever I want without a care in the world. I am not a bad person. It might just seem that way at times.

Jimi Hendrix – Live at the Newport Festival 22nd June 1969

As I am supposed to be educating my children in our spare time I thought I should start their musical and cultural education in earnest. So today we watched this. Had the whole set on the TV. The kids wandered in and out but mostly they were captivated, stopping by to dance, comment and ask questions. I don’t blame them. Everything about it is fab -the sun soaked atmosphere, the dogs on blankets, the crowd yelling at that photographer to get down!

R said this is his “favourite music ever” and that he wants to learn the guitar. S says the “guitar sounds crunchy and strong”. At one point they were both jumping and spinning round the living room in a mixture of break dancing and wrestling. 

I totally blew their minds by saying that the young people in the crowd are Grandma and Grandad’s age and older. “Even the pretty lady?”. “Yes, the pretty lady is about Grandma’s age now”. That got me sceptical, wide-eyed stares. “How old were you mummy?”. “I wasn’t born yet”. Wider eyes “Really? Not at all, not even a little bit born?” 

Ah, the passing of time. Tricky one to get your head round.