Advertisements

Bridget and Maria Talk About LIFE – Now Conspiring

life

AKA The One Where Bridget and Maria Become Best Friends and Talk About LIFEThe boys took a week off from the podcast, which left Bridget and Maria to bond extensively over their love and hate for the new sci-fi movie Life – directed by Daniel Espinosa. Bridget brings up some Would You Rather questions and geeks out hard over Calvin the Alien, and Maria masterfully manipulated Bridget into liking her more than Sam.

Question of the Week: Answer the Would You Rather questions and give us new ones for next week!

Go on…Bridget and Maria Talk About LIFE – Now Conspiring

Advertisements

Power Rangers and Life Review – Cinemaholics

This week on Cinemaholics, I’m joined by Will Ashton and Maveryke Hines to review Power RangersLife, and Season 2 of Love. But we begin with a quick look at the new Justice League trailer and debate the merits of the DCEU, going all the way back to Green Lantern at one point.

Be sure to email us your amazing feedback, so we can discuss on next week’s show: cinemaholicspodcast(@)gmail.com. And if you like our show, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes. You can also download episodes on just about any device here.

Go on…Power Rangers and Life Review – Cinemaholics

A Day in Haiti

I woke up at 6am, sweating. I had done this every day by now, so the simple act of waking up consisted of only adjusting to the sound of the generator’s uproar and leaping from a bunk bed with no ladder.

I’m in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

One of the pictures I took during my 10 day trip in Haiti to set up eye clinics and document our work there

Ready to do my daily leap of faith from my bed, I peered out the window to see if the dogs I heard fighting last night had resolved things. Sadly, I knew that their differences would come back to light that night anyway.

No Internet meant checking my phone was a simple process of checking the time and making sure I didn’t need to add some charge before the power would go out. 60% meant I could forego charging my phone for charging my camera equipment.

The inconsistency of not knowing when I’d have power – or water – meant that my schedule was constantly in flux. I couldn’t charge anything during the night, at least for long, due to the inconsistency of the generator’s runtime.

Luckily, that particular morning gave me about an hour of charge time before we would venture out into the city for the day’s activities.

Living in a room with two elderly meant that I didn’t have time to shower in the morning, a habit I had grown accustomed to. Getting ready instead consisted of splashing water on my face and covering myself with insect repellant, a combination that made me sweat even more.

As always, breakfast consisted of oatmeal, black coffee, and any fruit that lay on the table. As I tried to multitask gathering my equipment and eating, I watched the doctors get a few sparse moments of rest before the taxing day would begin. I didn’t envy them.

The day was off to a great start. My GoPro had two fully charged batteries, a rarity. My Canon only had one fully charged battery, but the spare was gathering as much as it could in the corner of the room. As I slurped down my oatmeal and did a final check on my equipment, the truck came in through the gate.

Our guesthouse was in a convenient part of the city. We were only 5 minutes away from our main eye clinic, of which we had spent a full day stocking with equipment the day before. I had both cameras along with a harness, headgear, flashlight, snack, water bottle and handkerchief stashed into my bag and slung around my neck.

I was ready.

In Haiti, most people don’t have their own vehicle. If they do, it’s a motorcycle (they just say moto) or dirt bike. Public transportation solely consists of vans and pickup trucks with a makeshift roof.

After piling about 20 boxes of eyeglasses into the back of the truck, the rest of our team piled in with our escort hanging off the back and another sitting on top of the car.

I had a feeling that eventually, I would be hanging off the back sometime this week. I would do anything to capture the best video possible on the GoPro.

There wasn’t a single moment I was used to my surroundings in Haiti. The heaps of garbage, ditches full of waste, and irreverent faces of the destitute we passed all caught my attention fully, every single time.

The founder of the organization, HIS Vision, always seemed to notice this from me. Melinda would frequently tap my shoulder on truck rides and ask me how I was taking everything in. I always suspected that she knew exactly what was bothering me.

After a short trip, we pulled up to the clinic and saw an interesting site. The day before, the area was deserted. Today, there were over hundreds people waiting in the courtyard. Vendors were even selling food by the gate.

I began to record video for the first time that day as we pulled up. The shot panned the front line of people staring at the camera sitting precariously on my head. I have to wonder if they thought the camera was going to fall any second.

I had learned pretty quickly that Haitians don’t like cameras. I would learn this lesson even better in just a few short days.

But at the time, I was anxious and bold – ready to capture everything I could.

The team began setting up their stations at 8am, preparing the equipment for what would be a full day of eye exams and prescriptions. Because my station had not yet been determined, my sole function was just to take photos and record video.

The problem? Conserving battery was a losing battle against time. I took key shots of the crowds and “before” shots from the roof. To save battery, I knew my time was better spent doing physical labor inside the clinic, sneaking pictures along the way.

What I thought would be physical labor ended up being more akin to simply organizing boxes and making everything as clean as possible. To our benefit, the lack of electricity meant that our only light came from the barred windows, so there wasn’t a lot of light that would illuminate things like dirt and dust.

I learned that this was important because the Haitian people value appearance highly, and our goal was to position our clinic as clean, good-looking, and accessible.

The day started slowly, and I began to grow more anxious. I periodically snuck away from the clinic to explore more of the area – something that was not advised for very smart.

With my camera still placed on my head and recording, I began to explore the village we were in. Everyone stared at me with exact same expression that asked – “Why is this ‘blanc’ recording me?”

I wanted more action shots, so I began to run down the road at a brisk pace. After about 20 seconds, I noticed that some Haitians were also running behind me. Instead of thinking they were chasing me, I just assumed that we were racing. We ran for about 5 minutes before I stopped and ventured back. We didn’t say a word to each other.

100 numbers were handed out to 100 Haitians that day. Our goal was to see to all of them before dark, but there was a slight problem: we saw 19 by noon.

Not even halfway done, we struggled to move patients through the clinic quickly. I added to the confusion by tape recording brief and sudden interviews with the volunteers during their most stressed moments. I knew I would get the best insights this way at the sacrifice of their positive opinion of me.

Cornered in their small examination rooms with no air conditioning or windows, the two eye doctors were sweaty, exhausted and flustered. But they knew they had to keep their cool if they were to complete their work on time. I don’t think I’ve ever been more impressed with the patience of a human being.

For lunch, we huddled in a small office and ate PB&J sandwiches away from the public. Melinda stressed that it’s important we eat in private, as many of the people in the area would have no idea where their next meal would come from.

But I didn’t think much about them while I ate. I instead thought about the poor lighting in the clinic that was making it hard for me to snap pictures. I was thinking about the dwindling battery life in my GoPro and how exhausted my feet were from moving about so much.

The only times I didn’t think about this silly inconveniences would be when I started working at the reading glasses station. I knew I needed something to help the time pass more quickly, or I would go insane.

So I learned how to read prescriptions and give out the glasses people needed. Only one person was handling this station, Erin, and she had a lot of people waiting to receive their pair of glasses.

I thought matching the prescriptions would be pretty easy. The doctor would write down a number, and my job was to match the number with the one on the bags of glasses. The numbers were categorized according to each box of about 50-100 glasses.

It wasn’t long before I realized that this would be anything but easy, especially because most of the numbers the doctors prescribed didn’t match anything we had. Additionally, we had to test the vision of the patients once they had their glasses to make sure the prescription was correct.

It’s a good thing I work well with people. I don’t think I’ve ever had to be so persuasive in my life. Helping the Haitians pick glasses that they actually like cosmetically was a unique challenge, especially due to the fact that I don’t speak French or Creole.

I had to rely on the occasional availability of an interpreter and a short list of phrases that I happened to know. I was desperate enough to try to speak Spanish many times, which actually worked occasionally.

Once I started streamlining this station, I noticed that the patients were being moved along faster. Everyone was settling into a rhythm, myself included, but it also started getting dark.

The sun set unfairly quickly.

We had to resort to using flashlights to find prescriptions and finish up the last of the patients. I found that by attaching my flashlight to my headgear, I could navigate the clinic and provide ample light for the team.

I was growing anxious at the fact that it was pitch black with the exception of a few flashlights, and we had to clean the place up once we were done.

But no one missed a beat. As soon as the doctors finished the last round of patients, they didn’t rest. Everyone was dedicated to gathering everything up and getting it into the truck.

We would be going to a different clinic, a mobile one, the next day, so we had no choice to bring almost everything with us.

We finally managed to get everything loaded into the truck, but we wouldn’t fit in the truck now that we had more people with us – the eye doctors we were training – so I would have to ride on the back of a moto.

I thanked my lucky stars that I saved some battery (and memory) in my camera for the ride, and I was on the back of the motorcycle within a minute of being told I would.

The rush of being on the back of a motorcycle on the busy Haitian streets wouldn’t be matched until the next day. Each bump that gave us air reminded me of a loved one I had forgotten to say goodbye to before I left America.

Just a few minutes in, we stopped in the middle of the road by a large group of Haitians socializing on their motos. It’s hard to describe the scene. Many of them were offering rides and taxi to the ones without vehicles. Some were fighting about food and money, while many were just passing by. We had stopped because we ran out of gas.

And I had run out of battery.

I knew that this was a prime opportunity, however, for me to capture some honest footage of the people, and there was still some light left for me to do it.

I used this opportunity to switch out the battery. I knew my spare still had some life in it, but I also had to switch the memory card because it was full.

The anxiety was palpable. I was surrounded by people who didn’t like the fact I had a camera on my head, and my only protection was one of the female volunteers with me, Stephanie, and our Haitian driver, Jimmy.

Somehow, I still managed to fidget with the camera enough to switch everything out in time for our last few minutes of driving.

The scenery, and my up-close angle of it, was breathtaking.

All I could think about as we ate dinner that night was how many more memories I was about to make. I prepared my equipment for the next day, charged everything I could, and then found out that we had no water for showers.

But I didn’t care much. I was more focused on getting to sleep as soon as possible. I climbed the bunk bed without a ladder by the only window in the room. I turned on my flashlight and read Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises for about an hour before I finally stopped sweating and was ready to fall asleep to the sounds of the generator right outside and the vocal Haitian nightlife.

I was sweaty, aching, and perpetually terrified about what would happen next. But I’ve never felt more alive.

Day 3 of my adventure in Haiti was complete.

More of my work around the web:

Yes, It’s Possible to Be Both Introverted and Extroverted

Should Everyone Get a “Trophy”?

10 Tips to Write Better, Faster and With Insight

What if You Don’t Love What You Do?

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 11.04.09 AM

Have you ever had that realization that you hate your profession?

Go on…What if You Don’t Love What You Do?

Leaving “Stuff” Behind

Screen shot 2013-05-07 at 5.46.40 PM

“Those who save their life will lose it. Those who give up their life will save it.” This is a famous passage from Luke 9:24 that I believe almost anyone can grab value from.

Why?

I’m rapidly learning how to give up the things I have clung to in order to gain something far more valuable. I don’t want to generalize, but it has to be said that a common attitude among new professionals like me is that we need to conserve everything we have and avoid any and all risks that threaten our current status.

Example: I left the town I graduated college from and worked for about 5 months. It was a great experience, but I eventually needed to make the next step in my career. I made what I still believe was the right choice and took a job in the same town I went to school in.

It hasn’t been easy, only humbling. Still, time has passed and eventually I’ll have to leave again for whatever is next. And this definitely won’t be easy.

Life here is comfortable. I have everything I need, and yet I am certain that my ambitions don’t lie here. Rather than cling to the life I know and love, I have to give them up for something that will eventually be better. Something that will be fulfilling.

The hard part is leaving “stuff” behind. I’ve built a life here. I have so many things I’ve invested in here, so the idea of leaving them behind is daunting. But it’s necessary.

Some of you have taken risks in the past. You’ve moved on from them and may find yourself clinging to what you put aside before.

I never realized how easy it is to fall into this trap, so I encourage you to let it go, as I need to.

Claim that confirmation you have. Make the sacrifices you need to make so that you can finally settle on what you want in your life once and for all.

If this seems impossible to you, but you still have that desire, surround yourself with those who challenge you. Talk to someone older about what they’ve learned and accomplished. Find ways to encourage yourself and build a clearer vision.

In short, stuff is stuff. We can gain it. We can lose it. What we won’t always have access to is opportunity. Know the right opportunities from the flimsy ones. Seize the opportunities that are worth sacrificing your “stuff” for.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out New Professional News every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

Choice Vs. Fate

Choice or Fate

Are our lives governed by choice or fate?

It’s hard for me to pick a side, mostly because this is a competition between the vanity of choice and the evidence of fate, but it became easier for me thanks to a strange event that happened to me yesterday.

Yesterday was one of those days where little choices had a huge ripple effect for me.

I’ve been training for a Color Run in a nearby town that is 5k. So, everyday, I have been running in order to build up my endurance so that I can perform very well. Interestingly, I have no real motivations for why I am training so hard.

I am going with friends so there is no pressure to outrun anyone. I can already run the 5k without too much effort, yet oddly, I have made it a personal goal to perform beyond my usual expectations.

Enter the events of yesterday. I was tired, sore, and thinking about anything but running. I had already run the full 5k the day before, and I desired rest. I ran into an old acquaintance, however, who made a biting remark about my weight since I last saw him.

He claimed to be joking, but the remark sunk in all the same. I felt challenged to overcome my tiredness and prove this old friend wrong. I set out to run somewhere I had never run before.

Notice how choice and fate continue to string along here. I didn’t choose to have this friend challenge me. It just happened. Right place, right time. The rest of this story would never have happened had he not said anything.

I went to a nearby high school and used their track, late at night, to run for just half of the 5k. That seemed reasonable in my head, although I had no idea why I was bothering to run in that very place at that very peculiar moment.

I stretched and embarked on my run, constantly being faced with the choice of how long I should push myself. I was even tempted to quit early because someone was eyeing my bag that I left laying by the track field, and I was worried he would give in to temptation. Regardless, I made the uncharacteristic choice of pressing on.

Soon, my side started hurting. It turned out that I really was too sore to carry on, and I was on the brink of calling it a night. But some unexplainable force kept me going. I made a choice to keep going, despite the fact that I had no reason to make that choice.

As I was running, I noticed a group of three students playing tennis in the courts adjacent to the track. As I kept running, I kept diverting my attention to them, even though I wasn’t very curious.

As it turns out, I managed to run the entire 5k and broke my record for average time per mile. I was ecstatic that I had overcome my physical limitations and successfully pushed myself for the first time in a while.

Funny thing. I finished the run just as I was passing by the courts and was compelled to yell out to the group of three, asking if they needed a fourth player. They were inviting and asked me to join them.

It turns out that the tennis racket I’ve been keeping in my car for years (even though I never use it) finally came in handy, despite all the reasons in the world I had for leaving the thing at home.

I joined them on the courts and played for a good two hours. My partner and I even won 6 games to 5.

It was a great experience and I made some great friends, but I can’t shake just how powerless I felt when it came to how this event happened. Despite all of the reasons why I shouldn’t have made any of the choices I made yesterday, I still made them and it led to a fantastic event that I could have never predicted to happen.

I’ve never been one to care too much about free will and predestination. The idea of whether or not we really have control over our lives.

But I have to be honest and say that even though free will is a much more desirable philosophy, I can’t help but recognize the evidence that we are not the supreme arbiters of our own lives, even when we feel like we are.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

3 Types of Friends You Should Have

3 Types of Friends

You’re in your early twenties going through a multitude of dramatic life changes. Who doesn’t need a friend at this point of your life?

Well, the truth is that the right kind of friend can make this tumultuous time much more bearable, and I posit that there are 3 general types of such friends:

1. The Rival

Tread carefully. The word “rival” has a bad reputation for indicating a person we have harsh, jealous feelings towards. I’m not going there with this.

My rival is my best friend. The person most similar to me professionally and personality-wise. Their purpose in your life is to have someone there to challenge you. To measure yourself against.

Some of you cringe at that last statement, but let’s be frank. We push ourselves much harder when we have someone to motivate us, and a rival allows us to avoid complacency.

I have the fortune of having several friends like these that I graduated college with. I’m fortunate because they are good people with great ambitions, and I always have friends like these to remind myself that I have a lot more to work for.

2. The Partner-In-Crime

Don’t actually commit crimes here, but what I’m describing is that friend in your life that you just have fun with. You don’t talk about work, stress, aspirations, or even relationships very much with friends like these. They are there to help you unwind, relax, and focus on the positives of life.

In my life, my partners-in-crime are there for me to forget about my worries for a brief part of the week and just have people to laugh with.

3. The Kindred Spirit

This is more open for interpretation, but I’m not necessarily referring to a soul mate here or anything romantic. A kindred spirit is that rare type of friend that you only see occasionally but typically turn to when you need to have a deep, meaningful conversation.

You turn to these people, not just
because they are good listeners, but because you know that they will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. They tend to be friends that are very different from you. Maybe an opposite gender or someone older.

The importance of having friends like these is that you have someone who you connect with and have an unconditional relationship with. For me, my kindred spirits have been siblings and long-time close friends. I don’t see them often, but when I do, I know that I can tell them anything.

I’d say that these types of friends can be important for any stage in your life, but the reason I’m narrowing it down to new professionals like myself is because this is truly a vulnerable time for us. Mainly because it is the period of our lives where we feel most invulnerable, which is honestly a tragic illusion.

Forcing these types of friendships is absolutely pointless, but I do encourage you to seize an opportunity to foster friendships such as these and put effort into the types of people you surround yourself with. You will surely see it turn out for the better.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

 

%d bloggers like this: