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  • Meg N. Vitale 7:02 pm on 10/28/2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blog,   

    Mixed Messages and Twenty-Something Troubles 

    Dear World, Do you want us to become responsible go-getters, or would you rather still treat us like meddling kids? Make up your mind before you subject yourself to even more ranting posts from similarly frustrated college students.

    College is supposed to be a time where young adults take on more responsibility. Whether it’s working on time management skills, living away from home, and just dealing with how the world actually works, college is a time of learning. Advisors tell you to go out and get summer jobs, work on your resume, intern, and get some experience before you commit to real life. The advice is sound and students get their experience. But, it’s also a structured environment. They apply, interview, and either get the job or not. Not much variability in how it works out and being attached to some company does wonders for the getting in the door. However, when you are only a student trying to do something on your own, the results are not the same.

    As part of one of my classes, I am supposed to be writing a policy paper on an issue that affects adolescents. We were supposed to be working with a non-profit organization based in Trenton so that they could help us in developing the paper by putting us in touch with people and helping us get our foot in the door for certain elements of the research. The only stipulation was that our topic would have to be approved by them since they would be associated with the project, which is perfectly acceptable. Almost three weeks ago I emailed the lady who was supposed to be helping us requesting her approval of a topic we had chosen. I still haven’t heard back from her, but that’s not really the issue. I can admit to not following up. The issue is that we called the place twice after the lack of a response via email and have yet to actually be approved. While I can understand being busy, there is no excuse to go over a week without getting back to people who rely on your answer in order to move forward with a project. It’s really simple; you could just call us and tell us yes or no. We have deadlines, too, and the lack of respect for us really shines through. In addition to the lack of a response from them, we tried another place that might have been able to help us with the research. Although there was no one there that could help us at the time, they took a message down asking for their superior to call us. Nothing much from them either. However, maybe we aren’t being forceful enough. Maybe we need to be more annoying. Call and call and call until somebody gives us an answer. Maybe that’s the experience we need.

    This may just be a fluke case. Maybe us twenty-somethings are not pushed aside for better things, but I just find it ridiculous how they couldn’t take five minutes to call us back. It’s not like we wanted everything they had on the topic. All we needed was one word and it just wasn’t there. If this is the experience we should be getting, I’m not sure I want to even deal with it. Such a lack of respect for anything until it becomes a nuisance and you just have to deal with it. Not cool. At all.

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    • John Gallino 7:16 pm on 10/28/2010 Permalink | Reply

      Unfortunately I don’t think this has anything to do with age. The cynic in me would tell you that people just normally treat each other like shit, and that most people just aren’t very good at their jobs usually because they don’t really like them. They put in just enough effort to keep their boss from getting on their backs because they can’t wait to go home and do stuff they actually enjoy. From my brief time working in an office setting, it’s common practice for people to have to call someone again and again, to the point of annoyance, just to get a simple response. I’ve even been guilty of it myself a few times, deciding that “If they really care they’ll ask again later.” but I realize how shitty that is and try to get back to everyone quickly. In fact that’s one simple thing that is suggested to improve any small business – get back to people with the information they want as soon as you can. In a world where no one else bothers to do that, it commands a great level of respect.

      • John Gallino 7:18 pm on 10/28/2010 Permalink | Reply

        On a lighter note however, you can take comfort in the fact that your realization of this lack of common courtesy and your devotion to not submitting to it will probably take you pretty far in life. Sometimes all you need to do to stick out from the crowd is not be an asshole.

  • John Gallino 6:19 pm on 10/28/2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blog, , creativity porn, , , time management   

    There just ain’t no time… 

    No time left

    Lame stock photo to get you to read this post

    Yesterday I was thinking about how busy I seem to be, and how there’s just no time to do all that I want to do. I wish I was less busy doing this stuff so I had more time to do that stuff. It’s all rather ridiculous, but I’d be the first in line to vote for a 48 hour day.

    Anything that gets in the way is my enemy. Class is my enemy. Often sleep and eating meals are enemies. Things that slow me down and keep me from diving into things are my enemies. I can’t give my full attention to any one thing because I can’t allow other things to be neglected.

    For example, I’d really like to finish my screenplay that I started earlier this year and got halfway through. I do a lot of reading about screenwriting instead of actually writing. I write blog posts like this instead of actually writing because I’m an asshole. But if I ever were to actually sit down and try to write more of it, something in my head would go “Wait a second, aren’t you supposed to be editing those two documentaries? Don’t you have that paper to write due in two days? Did you finish color correcting that last bat mitzvah? And have you noticed you haven’t eaten in seven hours?”

    I’m not the kind of person with no hobbies and no major interests. I’m completely the opposite. If I could, I would learn to knit, I would read biographies of Thomas Jefferson, I’d cold call bands and ask them if they’d like me to make a music video of them, I’d go to those “blogger meetups” that occur sometimes and network with likeminded people, I’d do some freelance editing (whether a wedding video or a horror novel), I’d watch all 86 episodes of the Sopranos, I’d volunteer at animal shelters and learn to cook international cuisine.

    But fuck, man, there’s just no time for any of that. Seems like on the few days I don’t go to class, I wake up, make a sandwich, write a few blog posts and do some photo editing and the day is already gone.

    There’s no happy way to end this post, because it just sucks. But I will show you something that I would love to get into someday and learn to do. Music production. Watch the following two videos and see if you’re not inspired.

     
  • Meg N. Vitale 11:54 pm on 10/27/2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blog   

    The Issue with Equality 

    The inspiration for this post came from “Harrison Bergeron”, Kurt Vonnegut’s short story about a dystopian future where everyone is equal. I also watched the short film “2081”, which is based off the story and follows it pretty closely. There are still differences with the handicaps and Harrison, though.

    Here’s a link to the story: http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison.html

    And the trailer: 

    I am better than you at some things; I am worse at others.  This is how society works. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It’s how it should be.  Would you really want everyone to be the same as you?  Would you really want someone better than you to have the same weaknesses as you? And if you were better than them, would you really want to be at their level?  It might be tempting to say yes, especially if you are jealous of other people being more skilled at certain things; however, if you were to think about it on a macro scale, society would be screwed.

    Do you really want your doctor to be just as smart as the guy who bags your groceries?  And what about entertainment value? I’d much rather listen to someone with an attractive voice rather than someone who stutters over each word.  Let’s assume no one is prettier, smarter, stronger, faster, more creative, etc.  Then everyone should have a handicap. This handicap would more or less cripple society. And I do mean cripple, since some people can’t walk. No one should be able to. This logic can be applied to any of the things that are being handicapped. What about the intelligence factor? If everyone is equal, then the handicap should be applied to anyone who is not mentally challenged.

    I can the intelligence thing a step further. There should not be any schools since education would be pointless to the society.  The ballerinas should never practice.  Etc. Etc. Etc.

    Let’s assume that some people don’t have handicaps because they are in charge.  It defeats the whole purpose of handicapping. To quote one of the seven commandments laid out by the pigs in Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.  This leads to trouble. Society is screwed.  Fun.

     

    Going back to my original point, society works because people have strengths and weaknesses.  In economics, international trade works because of the same thing. There are two terms that can be applied to this topic: absolute advantage and comparative advantage.  Let’s say, for example, I can produce 10 books or 5 video games in a day and someone else can produce 6 books or 4 video games in a day. I have the absolute advantage, because I quite clearly am better at making both. However, the other person has the comparative advantage in video games because to make 1 video game, he only has to give up making 1.5 books where as I would have to give up making 2 books in the same time frame.  If we were to trade, we would both be better off because he would focus more on making the video games, which he is relatively better at, and I would focus more on making books. At the end of the day if we trade, we would both have more of both.   If I was to be handicapped and make the same things at the same rate the other person does, then I’d be wasting my skills and the people I might sell my video games or books to would also lose out.  It’s more ideal that I’m better.

    Everyone is good at something. Or at the very least, not the worst at something. And everyone has their weaknesses. Doctors are hopefully good at surgeries. Filmmakers are better at making films. Economists are better at doing it with models.  Society functions because everyone is not the same.  Equality is good to a point. Once it crosses that point, it’s not longer that great. There can’t be perfect equality, as hard as some may try on the educational front with making sure everyone is literate and educated. Some excel, but there will be people who fall behind.

     
    • John Gallino 12:11 am on 10/28/2010 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting points. Also helps me feel better about all the things I’m not good at.

  • John Gallino 2:02 pm on 10/27/2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blog, chase bank,   

    I don’t think my bank likes me very much 

    Chase Bank LogoJust went in to make a few deposits, as I normally do every few weeks when I cash the checks from the weddings I’ve shot.

    This time for some reason the banker asked me to come to her desk and sit down, verify my SS# and then proceeded to ask me questions about my business and how I usually get paid. Pointing out that I’m not “taking advantage of any of the features of my business account”.

    “How do you usually pay your bills?”

    “I don’t really have bills.”

    “You don’t have bills?”

    “No I live with my parents. All I have is small monthly payments for little things.”

    “And how do you pay those?”

    “Its just automatically taken from my account.”

    “Okay do you realize how dangerous that is?”

    “Well they’re from reputable companies like GoDaddy so…”

    Then she told me about this new thing they have where the money doesn’t leave your account until you approve it to prevent overcharging and double charging and stuff like that, which has never been a problem. She signed me up for it without asking then made me log into my Chase.com account but the password wasn’t working for some reason until I just said

    “Listen I don’t think I would really use this. Can we just move on?”

    I think she was a little taken aback, and then moved on to asking why I don’t have a credit card, and about all the benefits of having one. I basically told her I have no need for one. All I do is check my balance online, make deposits and buy stuff straight debit when I need it. She told me about her dad who runs a business and puts everything on a credit card and just pays it off at the end of the month. Personally I rather deplete my funds little by little than in big lumps at the end of every month, so getting a credit card never appealed to me. I know I need credit to buy a new car (which I have no intention of ever doing) and get a lease and whatnot, but I’ve been putting it off for years.

    So finally she got the hint and just gave me my deposit receipts and let me go. I don’t think I want to go back to that bank anymore though. They’ve been trying to get me to sign up for their credit card for years. So I’m probably not Chase’s favorite customer. All I want them to do is hold my cash and fuck off until I need it.

     
  • John Gallino 10:24 pm on 10/25/2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blog, brittanee drexel, cold case, , missing, mystery   

    I still wonder about Brittanee Drexel 

    In May 2009, I was working as a pizza boy. I worked Tuesday mornings, which was one of the slowest shifts possible. On more than one occasion I spent the entire six hour shift in the pizzeria without one delivery to make. But the owner was cool and I usually had nothing better to do on those days, so even though I barely made any money I worked there for quite a while.

    Fortunately we would keep the TVs on all day long, usually turned to Fox News if not a football or baseball game. So I would spend a lot of those days just watching the headlines for hours at a time waiting for the next person to order a pizza.

    That’s when I first heard the case of Brittannee Drexel. She had been reported missing, like thousands of people in the US every year, but something about her case stuck out for me. She was 17, pretty, and lived only a few hours away. She had gone down to Myrtle Beach for Spring Break without her parents’ permission and disappeared. The last picture taken of her was by a security camera at the motel she was staying. The night of her disappearance she was with some friends on a beach and decided to walk back to her motel room alone. She never made it.

    That was nearly a year and a half ago, and to my knowledge there’s been no real leads in the case. [Edit: This article may lead to something] Her friends have all been cleared. Though she suffered from depression, its unlikely that she ran away. She left all her belongings in the room. Most likely something happened on the walk home.

    So every few months I check on the story again and see if anything’s come up. There are thousands of missing children stories, but I consider this one “mine” and I’m still waiting for it to be resolved. I wonder if Britannee was physically pulled into a car and taken away, or if she maybe bumped into some normal-looking people her age with sinister motives. If she was upset and decided to take a walk around Myrtle Beach before returning to her room, or perhaps too drunk to even know what she was doing.

    I wonder if it’s possible that she’s still alive after so much time has passed. If she has a new, perhaps horrible life. A new identity — perhaps sold into sex slavery, if such a thing truly exists. There’s always that small chance that she never wanted to come home at all. Is she maybe living the life of a vagabond? Or is she under somebody’s floorboards?

    We’ll probably never know.

    PS. This is interesting: Missing White Woman Syndrome

     
    • Diane 11:06 pm on 10/25/2010 Permalink | Reply

      Oh man, I always wonder about missing people too. The story about the girl at the Metallica concert caught my attention, but they ended up finding her (dead).

  • John Gallino 12:50 am on 10/25/2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blog   

    Creative frustration 

    Lately I’ve been coming up with story ideas that I think are really cool, only to find out they’ve been done before. It’s kind of a bummer. For my senior project I’m gonna have to make a short film – the best yet. My first idea was to make a movie called SuperFocus Me, wherein I take Adderall daily and document the effects on my attention-span-enhanced life. But then I did some research and found out that Adderall is just an amphetamine, and I might as well be doing cocaine daily. So that ended that idea.

    I had that other idea that I mentioned a few days ago about a repressed housewife living the 1950’s who does some really deviant fucked up stuff to get a release when her husband goes to work. I still like the idea, and I want to make the film as dark and disturbing as I can. I’d like it to be the kind of thing that people keep thinking about days after they see the film. But it’s hard to reach that level of shock in audiences these days. Back in the 60s audiences who saw Psycho were equally shocked by the revelation of the killer as they were by a toilet being flushed on camera. Just a few days ago I wrote an extensive analysis of Eraserhead which is probably the weirdest film you’ll ever see, but that was only disturbing because of the surrealism used. I don’t want to result to surrealism to freak people out. I don’t think I could do it very well anyway. So I’ve been toying with a few ideas, but shocking todays desensitized audiences is going to be a real challenge. But I desperately want to. It must be this horror class I’m taking. These days you can’t really scare an audience anymore, but you can always disturb them and leave them feeling uneasy which I think I would have a lot of fun trying to do.

    I also had this interesting idea about a groom at a wedding, based on some of my experiences at weddings I’ve shot. The bride is sick and spends the whole reception puking in the bridal suite, so the groom is out mingling with guests and he has a lot of female friends that he’s kept in touch with through the years from college and whatnot. And while he goes around and talks to them he starts imagining what it would be like if he married them instead, and how his life would be different with each one. The concept of choices and their consequences are always interesting in stories, but this basic premise has been done a few times before. In film there’s of course The Family Man with Nic Cage (who Steph hates but I enjoy). There’s also a great little-known indie film starring Bill Murray called Broken Flowers which not only has a great and simple plot, but a really awesome unique soundtrack featuring lots of Ethiopian jazz. Jim Jarmusch is a crazy dude. Also I recently found out there’s a play called Some Girls about a guy who visits all his ex girlfriends for some reason. So this has been done many times, but maybe I could bring something new to it.

    As dumb as it sounds, it all really comes down to believing in yourself. Myspace didn’t stop Mark Zuckerburg from designing Facebook. IBM didn’t stop Bill Gates from creating Windows (or whatever). All it takes is for someone to go “Yeah I know it exists, but I can do it better.”

     
    • king roland 4:35 pm on 10/25/2010 Permalink | Reply

      that must be why my father had three kids.

  • Meg N. Vitale 8:23 pm on 10/21/2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blog, ,   

    TerraCycle 

    I don’t know how familiar you are with Terracycle, but I think this is very much worth sharing. Terracyle is an innovative company that makes money from upcycling garbage. Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. For example, if you ever made a bracelet out of Starburst wrappers, that would be upcycling. My favorite wallet is another example (it’s made from Spanish candy wrappers). For my sister’s birthday over the summer I gave her a Terracycle product. It was a wristlet made from chip bags, but looks nothing like the chip bags it was made from.

    However, Terracycle does not just make bags.

    Terracycle’s first product was a fertilizer made from, as they call it, worm poop. They liquefied it and put it in used, but clean, soda bottles. To distribute the fertilizer, they used nozzles from other products that may have gone through an image change i.e. the color of a Windex nozzle changed and could no longer be used with the product for consistency sake. This product (sans the label) was completely made from items that would have been thrown out, which is awesome, because it’s green.

    Now, Terracycle collects juice pouches, chip bags, yogurt cups, pens, cell phones, and more to make new products sold at a variety of stores. The best thing of all though is that you can give them back their own products for them to make additional goods. If you visit http://www.terracycle.net, they have their products on the site.

    In conclusion, I’m certain I love what the company is doing. I would definitely rock a binder made from chip bags or really anything else. As an avid recycler (I go out of my way to find a recycling bin and will hold onto whatever if there are none around), this is amazing. BONUS! Upcycling is more eco-friendly.

     
  • Meg N. Vitale 12:11 am on 10/19/2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blog   

    Suspension of Disbelief: Superman Edition 

    Disclaimer: Plot points from Superman (1978) will be revealed.

    Until recently, I never understood how people could be so critical about the plot points of movies. There were always people on IMDb claiming how unrealistic certain elements of the story were. I always thought that it was a movie, not everything had to make perfect sense. After all, the only thing that you would need to do is to suspend your disbelief and realize that in Hollywood, anything could happen. As a fan of movies that involve superheroes and fantasy and insane action sequences, I thought I could accept anything that was thrown at me.

    I was wrong. There is a point where your suspension of disbelief just crashes down due to the sheer absurdity of what just happened. I reached that point while watching Superman. In an effort to save Lois Lane’s life (he realized too late that she was in trouble), Superman shoots up into space and using his super strength and flying abilities changes the direction of Earth’s rotation. The result? He goes back in time and saves her life. As much as I can believe, or more actually suspend my disbelief of, not being recognized with glasses on, flying, super strength, X-ray vision, and being weakened by Kryptonite, being able to go back in time the way he did, makes absolutely no sense to me.

    Time cannot be changed by altering how the Earth rotates. Are we to assume that if Earth just stopped rotating that everything would remain just as it is for all eternity? I do not think so. While we measure time by using the positioning of the Sun and Earth as guides, it by no means is dependent on where they are. Time passes regardless of whether Superman wanted to go back a few minutes by turning the Earth the other way. If anything, his actions would have postponed nightfall. Nothing else should have changed.

    As crazy as it sounds or as common sense as this may be, apparently there are limits to how much can be accepted. Some things just do not make sense. For me, it was the messing with how time flows. For others, it might be how stupidly oblivious the people of Metropolis are. Regardless of where this line falls, I think everyone has a point where s/he realizes what is happening on screen just seems a bit crazy.

     
  • John Gallino 9:51 pm on 10/18/2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , blog, depression, medication, paxil, , SSRI   

    And here’s hoping this helps you too – my recent struggle with depression 

    I wrote the following this past January, around the time that I felt I was at the end of my rope. I wrote it because I felt, or I knew, that I wasn’t the only one going through a rough time. But for one reason or another, I chickened out and never published it. I decided to keep it to myself. But I read it this morning and I feel like I’m ready to put it out there, and to add to it now that some time has passed. I don’t necessarily still agree with all that I wrote, but I’ll try and address that in my addition afterwards…

    January 2010

    I’m depressed. Much too often to be normal. In fact, i would say I suffer from clinical depression. Looking back, I think I have for years. So I’m going to get help, because I’ve realized I do have a number of issues I’ve been in denial about for a long time and I think maybe they are connected and it’s time to do something about it.

    Last night at my brother’s birthday party I believe I had my first anxiety attack, or was on the brink of one. It’s the last straw and it’s time to get better. I am not going to put up with this.

    I had an unusual upbringing. I feel ashamed about my family sometimes. I have issues with my racial identity. I spent most of my childhood living under the illusion of a marriage. I desperately want to get away from my family. I feel like they’ve smothered me my whole life. I have to face these and many more issues. I’ve lived too long pretending I am perfectly mentally healthy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty solid, but issues are issues and they should never be ignored.

    I have social anxieties. I don’t like parties. Talking to kids my age that I don’t know freaks me out. I’m judgmental. I can’t approach girls. I’m shy. I become antisocial. Stuck up. But sometimes I’m fine. It’s weird. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

    But things will get better. I want to be better.

    I’m not the suicidal type. I prefer to be proactive, to realize that my state of mind is temporary. Sometimes I manage to channel it into artistic productivity. But I’d prefer if it didn’t happen at all anymore.

    But I spend too much time alone, with too little to do. I’m often unmotivated. I don’t want to see my friends. I don’t want to do any of the things I need to get done. I don’t want to work out. I feel like I have very few friends that I can call up to do something with. I’m growing apart from them. We’re moving in different directions. It’s nobody’s fault.

    I feel like a loser a lot. I feel like everyone is out doing more interesting things while I mope at home. These are all known symptoms of depression. I can’t deny it. I’ve had these feelings as long as I can remember.

    I don’t know if I can afford therapy. I don’t know if that’s a possibility. But I have other options. I’m going to try my counselors at school, see what they say. I’m also going to do things. I’m going to fill up my time. For years I’ve felt that while I am going to school, I have no time to do anything else. That’s bullshit. I know people who are taking four classes, two internships, and attending every club meeting and social activity they come across. They are filling their spare time with activities, and I am spending mine on bullshit. I need to get over the fear of not having enough leisure time, because the truth is I have too much. Way too much.

    I’m better than this. I am above this. I am a man filled with potential and I won’t let a mental disease stifle my flame. I’ll try meds. I’ll try therapy. I’ll try finding more to do with my time. I’m determined to treat this and live a better, fuller life.

    This is nothing to be ashamed of. By admitting I have a real problem, I’ve already taken a critical first step. This year I will deal with my ailments and I will come out a better person because of it. Fuck yeah.

    So that was nearly five months ago, and soon after that I decided to talk to my doctor, who prescribed me Paxil and suggested I talk to a therapist as well. I took the pills and still have yet to see a therapist, which is admittedly the wrong thing to do. I heard one person describe it as “pouring soap on dirty dishes, but not bothering to scrub.” However, therapy is expensive and inconvenient, and I thought I’d try and handle it on my own first. It’s working out okay for me, but by no means does that mean you should take the same course of action.

    First, a word on the pills. Paxil is one of several types of prescribed medications for anxiety and depression known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRI’s, and they’re extremely common. There are many brands and varieties, and most people have to try a few before they find one that works well for them. I was lucky with Paxil and have experienced no side effects, but I know people who’ve gotten terrible nightmares, sexual side effects, digestive side effects, etc. from Paxil and had to switch to something else. I won’t go into the specifics of how they work, because in a way nobody really knows. They’re prescribed for all types of anxiety disorders, and depression is a problem rooted in anxiety. More on that later.

    But back to the pills. The sad truth is that in our society, depression is seen as a sign of weakness, and medications come with a stigma attached. Movies and television shows love to write plot lines about characters going through a rough time who eventually manage to “kick the pills” and get their life back on track. That’s not how it works, and that’s not how you should look at these medications. The truth is that depression can be a crippling and debilitating thing to live with, and if a daily pill makes you feel like your old self again — like you’re ready to tackle the world and contribute to your own life and that of others — than I don’t see how there is anything wrong with that. It should not be seen as a “bad habit” or a crutch. Some people need their 8 hours of sleep. Some people need their coffee in the morning. Some people need their prescription drugs. Will the drugs change you? Yes, but if you find the right one for you, it will change you for the better, and there is nothing wrong with anything that makes you a better person.

    Personally my Paxil doesn’t make me feel “high” or like I’m drugged up on happy pills. I just feel…normal. Beautifully, wonderfully normal. Depression, like I said, is rooted in anxiety. If you know me at all, you know that I am very easygoing, and not a worrier by nature. I never thought of myself as a person prone to anxiety, and up until that episode in January, never felt an anxiety attack in my life.

    But think about what anxiety is for a second, and you’ll realize depression is just another flavor it comes in. Depression to me stems from over-rationalization. It’s true, unfortunately, that if you really think about life for a while, you realize there is “no point” to anything you or anyone else does. Yes, we are all going to die and one day be forgotten. This is a fact. The difference between the old me and the new me is simply in how I reacted to that fact. The old me would see that as an excuse for lack of motivation. At my lowest low, I went days, maybe weeks, waking up every morning with no desire at all to get out of bed, talk to anyone, or do anything. Why bother? Nothing seemed to peak my interest, and life felt much like waiting for a bus. I walked around with this daily feeling that “one of these days, something will happen and things will change.” I had no idea what I was waiting for, but I knew something was missing.

    Depression is much like the symbiote in Spiderman that turns Eddie Brock into Venom and Peter Parker into emo Peter Parker. It affects everyone slightly differently, based on the type of person you are to begin with. I am nonconfrontational and I hate to be hassled, so rather than deal with life I just wanted to sleep through it. I napped almost daily and slept long hours. I am an introvert, so I shut away from people (more than usual) and dreaded going to school or work. For other people, depression makes their mind race. They suffer bouts of insomnia staying up at night thinking about everything wrong with the world and themselves. They may turn to drinking or other vices to cope. Your mileage may vary.

    Now the new me sees the pointlessness of life in a positive light. I realize now that most people tend to take life a bit too seriously and forget that the real “point” is to enjoy the ride. That means different things to different people. For me, it means enjoying the little things that I’ve always loved, like a cup of coffee in the afternoon or a 20 minute drive with my favorite music. A big part of leading a happier life is knowing yourself, and what brings you joy. I like to take walks, so I take walks. I like shopping alone, so I shop alone. The other major part is putting things in perspective, and realizing that much of what you feel anxious about or fear is not nearly as big a deal as you thought. I felt anxious and extremely uncomfortable in certain social situations, especially with people my own age. I would dread being in the cafeteria at school during the rush hour. The massive amounts of students that I felt were looking at me and judging me made me want to run to my car and race to McDonalds for lunch. But now, that anxiety is gone and I feel totally relaxed in that setting, which is one of the biggest clues I found that the Paxil was working well for me.

    There are two important quotes that were helpful to me in the past few months. The first being “Don’t sweat the small stuff” which is a rule to live by. If it won’t matter much to you tomorrow, or next week, you shouldn’t freak out that much about it today. Everything will pass, and almost everything you do will be forgotten, so allow yourself to make mistakes. Allow OTHERS to make mistakes. Be forgiving and understanding and always, always, always imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes. Before you send that text, read it over and think what you would feel if you received it. Just little things like that will make a big difference in your positivity levels. There is a virtue in being able to let things go, and leave the past in the past. If you screwed up, or your best friend screwed you over, it’s done. Now think of what you could do to resolve the situation in a positive way, and take it from there. It’s a vital skill.

    The other quote is “The mind is it’s own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, or a hell of heaven.” Don’t ask me what that’s from. I don’t know and don’t care, but it is extremely true. To everyone on this planet, they are the star of their own life story and everyone else is just supporting cast. Remember that the world lives outside of your own mind, and that your mind is actually an incredibly blurry lens to view it through. How is it possible that two employees can work at the same place, doing the same job, and one loves it and the other is ready to hang himself? Why does the richest country in the world have one of the highest suicide rates, but nine times out of ten when I see impoverished african children on TV, they are smiling laughing and playing? Because the mind can spin any situation any way it wants, and happiness and misery are always possible in any scenario. Your attitude is really the only thing you have control of when it comes it dealing with your own realities.

    So yes, for me, I needed the help of a pill to realize most of this and get me through the days. To be honest, on a typical day, I feel fantastic these days, and I’ve been on Paxil daily for over three months. There’s downsides of course. I am now dependent on a drug to keep me happy. If I miss a pill, it can and has thrown my psyche out of wack and I can feel depressed or upset for up to a week before my brain chemistry gets back on track. I have no idea how long I’ll be on the drug, refilling my prescription one month at a time. There are definite downsides to medicating, and if you can afford therapy and do without the drugs, I would encourage you to try that whole-heartedly. But to me, it’s always more about the ends than the means. Do what you need to do to find real happiness in your life, because your youth is a terrible thing to waste.

    And it would be real cool and writer-ly of me to end this thing there, but I have one more thing to say. I have a theory that depression is in fact, not an illness. In fact, some researchers claim (google it yourself, smartass) that depression actually serves a practical function in the mind. It may be your brain’s way of forcing you to deal with a major dilemma in your life. That feeling of not wanting to see anyone or do anything may actually be your brain forcing you to focus all your thoughts and energy on the thing that’s ailing you. It’s just a theory, and I don’t know if I believe it completely, but it’s an interesting thought. Many scholars and poets in the past have lamented that the more knowledge you attain, the more misery you’ll carry on your shoulders. The world can oftentimes be a cold and disgusting thing, and its the smartest and the most philosophical of us that realize these things first, and get really really bummed out about them. Nowadays in this era of informational abundance, I think it’s extremely common for people in our age groups, who are just starting to grow up and face the realities of adult life slowly but surely, to feel overwhelmed by it all. Part of the reason I wrote all this is because I have seen MANY, if not MOST of my friends deal with depression in one form or another, usually unbeknownst to them. And because of the stigma that’s attached to it, I suspect that many more are suffering daily behind closed doors, afraid to talk and afraid to seek help. I have a strong belief that people are a lot more alike than they are different, and so I know that what I experienced has to be pretty widespread especially amongst college students.

    And hey, maybe you’ve read all this and you’ve thought “I don’t agree. I’m fine and I’m happy.” That’s fantastic, but you probably know someone who isn’t. Maybe this could help them out. Awareness and support from each other is really the only solid cure for this epidemic.

     
  • John Gallino 9:05 pm on 10/18/2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blog   

    My life story, in less than a page 

    I had to write this for my acting class, so I figured I’d throw it up on here too for those of you who don’t know my background too well. I would seriously encourage any of you fellow StF members to write something similar up so we can get to know each other a bit more.

    I wish there was some other way to tell you that my name is John Gallino, and I’ve been roaming this Earth for a little over twenty one years, mostly in the suburbs of Bergen County, New Jersey. Today I live with my mom in a small apartment in Maywood, but I grew up and went through the school system in New Milford, where my dad still lives with his second wife and my half-brother. The two towns are about 10 minutes apart, so I was always able to see my parents pretty frequently.

    They divorced when I was 8 or 9, and though it was an amicable separation, it still greatly affected the rest of my development. I was a single child until I was 14, so I always knew how to entertain myself alone. But when my parents split up and my mom moved to Maywood, it was decided that I would spend weekends with her. I had no friends in Maywood so most of those hundreds of weekends were spent in the house. I watched cartoons and pro wrestling, drew pictures, read books, studied, and spent lots of time on the internet for most of them.

    Because of that, and the fact that my step-dad – who lived with us until just recently – was a web designer, I learned a lot of computer, graphic art and web design skills at a young age. In my high school graphic arts class, I was pretty much miles ahead of everybody. So one day when a local photographer called my high school asking if anyone would like a position as an assistant in his studio – working with photoshop and whatnot – my teacher recommended me. A few days later I called and got the job, and met with the photographer, Steve Belner, who ended up spinning my life in a new direction completely.

    In a few short weeks I fell in love with photography and bought my own professional camera. The following summer I started going to weddings with him and shooting my own pictures. Though at first he didn’t use many of mine, the practice was invaluable and eventually I got better and better. When I finished high school and left for Ramapo College, I stopped working weekly in his studio but I still kept shooting weddings with him. About a dozen a year, but it wasn’t enough. I figured I needed to make more money, so I tried getting a job at Starbucks. I applied to three of them, but because I wasn’t available on weekends (because of the weddings I was still doing), none of them called me back. That’s when I decided to say “Screw it!” and go into business on my own, photographing weddings and bar mitzvahs and things of that nature just like Steve taught me.

    I still talk to and work with Steve today, but make much more money working for myself. It’s not enough to move out of my mom’s place, but it’s about as much as most of my friends make working 30 or 40 hours a week. Luckily I work 30 to 40 days a year and have much more fun doing it.

    Somewhere along the way in my college career, I took a film class because it sounded interesting. I fell in love with film immediately, but it wouldn’t be until a few semesters later that I decided I wanted to be a full-blown filmmaker and changed my major from Visual Arts (with a concentration in photography) to Communications (with a concentration in digital filmmaking) to reflect that.

    Today I mostly avoid politics and disregard religion. I am only interested in art and media, and spend much of my free time either consuming or creating it in various forms. It’s the only thing that keeps me happy, which can sometimes be a struggle because I have problems with depression. But when I’m creating something, working on an idea or excited about a new project, that is when I’m on top of the world and filled with enthusiasm. I have some experience working in a big office for a large corporation, and I hated every second of it. I’m the type of person that needs to be his own boss, and work with small teams of people rather than some anonymous corporate entity miles away. Am I an entrepreneur? I don’t think so. I’m just picky. I’m picky with friends, with jobs, with relationships and most everything else. I have very high standards for everything, and for myself above all, and that’s led me to where I am today.

     
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